So, this week is going to be a living hell, considering to homework I have to deal with (I’m already an MS student. Could the professors please stop being jerks?). As such, I can’t see how I’m going to have tome to write the upcoming Open Development post. However, it does not mean I can’t make any blog post- so instead of making an in-depth splat examination or setting material post, I’m going to do something a little different- that is, presenting my cosmology, physics and metaphysics in general.
Now, there are many different ways to approach this subject- we could, perhaps, start from the different realms and planes of existence, or the Powers that Be which rules them. We could define the splats and their place in the setting. We could search for a united paradigm and try to plug concepts from CofD into it. However, we are going to start from a much more basic principles- the CofD’s “units of measurements”.
What am I talking about, you ask?
As we have already established in the previous blog posts, we could define each of the different “supernatural fuels” as the “Dimensions of Measurements”- that is, basic physical sizes which could be used to measure the strength of certain supernatural phenomena in the setting. Those values are both quantified (that is, come at discrete values. There is not such thing as half a Vitae or two thirds Mana, right?) and extensive (that is, if you take to bottles of Essence, you have twice as much Essence than you have in a single bottle. Sounds easy, right?). Each of those sizes also have a related trait, a conjugated variable which represents how much energy is found in the said dimension. Some systems are quit easy (like Blood Potency and Vitae) while others are highly complicated (Primal Urge, Renown and Essence). While I’ve planned to examine each of the dimensions at its own time and place, I will instead cover all the major dimensions (that is, the 10 “fuels” from the main gamelines) and investigate what exactly those fuels mean in the physical context.
Let’s start from the easy ones, shall we?
We have already established 2 different dimensions- Vitae and Essence. Vitae is the carrier of Life, the quality of disorder which is found in every living thing. Life is the dimension which makes the inanimate animate, that elusive force which revives a still body and makes it to move, breath and think. It is the quality which brings chaos to the world, creating disorder in the natural order to silence and stillness which is the world without life. Vitae is found in every living being- in the blood, in the breath, in the emotions which we feel, everything which makes this physical body work and preform the basic actions of what we call “life”. When equating to one of the “natural dimensions”, Vitae is the analogue for Entropy- both are based around disorder, in one way or another, and both have the tendency to spontaneously grow. However, Vitae doesn’t just animate dead things- it also preserves them, by reversing entropy and transforming it into vitality. Another strange quality of Vitae is that it is not identical- it remembers the source from where it came, generating some sort of field- the animation field- which makes it that Vitae would carry the memory of its origin, at least for awhile.
If Vitae is Entropy, its conjugated variable- Blood Potency- is Temperature. Just as entropy spontaneously rise, Life also increase, causing the vampire to “heat up” with age- and as a consequence, rise their Blood Potency. Vampire have to get to a deathlike state- torpor- where they are barely animated in order to “cool down” and return to more human-level Life concentration. As such, Blood Potency dictate the level of how much the vampire if alive- or animated- and in fact represents what is known as Animation. However, Animation, life Force, work through all kinds of mediums- while most vampires channel their Life through their blood, and as such rely on Blood Potency, others- like the strix- work through different mediums. Shadow Potency represents a much more tangible form of Life, one which exist through shadows and breath instead of flesh and blood- but it is still Animation, and it is still Life.
Essence is an whole other story. Representing the quantified level of Existence, Essence in fact encompass many different, unrelated phenomena which just happen to share the same units, and as such follow the same rules. Think like how many different things the units of length or time can represent- everything has the same units, but you definition of what you actually measure would give you an whole different meaning to your answer (just see how many time operators exist in Quantum Mechanics. Apparently, no two theoretical physicists can’t even agree about what time is). The thing is, that Existence could represent many different concepts, and each such concept exists on a different Frequency, and resonate different with the physical world in order to Influence it, and be influenced by it.
There are four main forms of Essence- Primal, which has Spirit Frequency, Macabre, which resonate with the Underworld, Ethereal, which fits the Infrastructures of the God Machine, and Psychic, which is bound to the spaces of the Astral Realms. Each of the different Essence Frequencies represents a different form of Existence- Primal for Existence reinforced through Physicality (that is, physical existence), Macabre for Existence reinforced through Memory, Ethereal for Existence reinforced through Faith and Psychic for Existence reinforced through Cognition. Each of the different Frequencies is also a spectrum by its own right, including all forms of different Influences and resonances. In short, the difference between Essences is like the difference between different frequencies of light- with Primal being “optic”, Macabre for “radio”, Ethereal for “UV” and Psychic for “gamma ray”. Primal has the best resonating Frequency compared to the material world, afterward, Ethereal, Macabre and finally, Psychic.
Essence, representing “how much something exist”, is the analog for the dimension of Amount, making its conjugated variable, Rank, into Chemical Potential (which dictate how much of something may exist). Rank represents the Importance of the subject represented by the Essence- the more important it is, the greater the influence its existence has over the world. Uratha (and similar shapeshifters), however, don’t have Rank- they have Primal Urge. That size is similar to Rank, but different- it represents the Concentration of the Primal Essence in their body, but not the amount of energy they can contain. Instead, Renown, which represents the level interactions between the 3 main Essences of the Uratha’s body (Moon, Wolf and Soul), decide their effective Importance over the spirit world, being the analog of Enthalpy- or the strength of the bonds in the Uratha’s Essence.
Now that we finished with what we know, let’s start with some new, exciting things, shall we?
Mana is an easy one- the dimension of mage, the one which powers their magics and manipulates the symbols of creation, could easily be known as Truth. It defines how “real” something is- for example, the soul is more real than the body, and a word is more real than its image. It is governed by Gnosis, which represents Knowledge- for knowledge defines truth into form, giving it meaning and context beyond the primal awe one feels when stumbling upon a piece of the world’s truth. Knowledge takes the singular, unified Truth and translate it into the useful form of the Arcana- ten symbols of reality, five for the “subtle world” and five for the “gross” one. As Truth acts upon the world without actually touching it, it hints about the existence of a field similar to the one produced by electricity or gravity. The way that the Truth draws souls toward it also hint about the existence of some “Symbolic Field”- but unlike mass, Truth could also repel souls from it, and it could also be masked (see the Lie). That hints that Mana is more of an electric Charge than it is Mass. It is an interesting way to think about the Lie- some sort of cloud of “negative Truth” which blinds souls from seeing the Truth beyond it.
Another support for the charge analogy comes from the way it operates with the Abyss- the Abyss is not Truth, but the lack of it. Yet, just like the lack of Charge is a charge (see electron “holes”), the lack of Truth creates “Truth”- empty, hungry Truth which is drawn to “real truth” and wish to consume it so it would become True. The emptiness being defined as existence is a phenomena which belongs to electrostatics, which makes it as an appropriate analog for the Mana case. That would mean that Gnosis assigns the “sign” of the Mana- Gross or Subtle- but also its Frequency (Totemic, Fae, Demonic, Angelic or Necrotic). The Five Paths are an outcome of a resonance between the right frequencies and interactions between the right signs of the Mana.
After Mana, we have Pyros- the Divine Fire, the power of transformation and alchemy. Another easy one, Pyros is the dimension of Change- how well something can be transmuted from one form to another. As such, I think that the right analog for it would be Time, which is also responsible about allowing the world to change and evolve. Pyros speed up change, or even allow impossible transformation (like death into life), and by doing so creates a set of events which lead from one alchemical state to the other. That makes Azoth into the Power/Output parallel, or how much energy is used in order to drive the necessary change- or Advancement. Azoth, in that case, is the force which drives change forward, creating Wastelands and Disquiet as Change drives the Promethean forward, to make sure they won’t stay in a single place. The higher the Advancement, the more energy it takes to induce a new Change to the system. That would explain why Prometheans are so driven to move forward, and can never stand still for too long- they are defined by the change, it’s in their very fundamental energy. The connection between Time and Energy also support the Change=Time analogy. As Energy is Power multiplied by Time, our “energy analog” should be the way Advancement grows by the same variable (time, not Pyros)- Hope. That means, that Hope must be conserved.
Glamour comes up next- the power of emotions, hopes and creativity, it is the the dimension of Imagination, defining the quality of fantasies and dreams. The Wyrd, the force which binds imagination into form, would be Story- for words give meaning for feelings, and speech realize hopes and fears into reality. Contracts are the outcome of establishing a Story between two parties- the changeling makes a pact with a primordial force of nature by recognizing the image hidden beneath reality, while the Wyrd bind the pact through equivalent exchange spoken by word and ink. The way that the Wyrd binds chains of events reminds me of momentum, actually, making Imagination into the analog of Space and Wyrd into Force- the Wyrd push or pull Imagined events into form, conserving the forces which happen in each collision between fantasy and reality. Again, as Wyrd represents Force, in order to find our Momentum parallel we need to think about Stories advanced by time- that would create Icons, or tropes which are so essential to all stories that the represent the raw power behind the Story which is told.
The next value we have in our list is Plasm. The weird resource which leaks from the Underworld and ghosts is probably the quantized form of Death- making it the direct opposite of Vitae. Plasm is the quality which different dead matter from inanimate one- there is a reason why dead flesh is not the same as dirt. It was once alive, and now it isn’t- but it is not perfectly still. Transitions like rot and decay take place, filth and taint spread. The cycle moves on, turning life to death and death to life. Plasm isn’t just the negative of Vitae- it is a Dimension by itself, for Death is not merely the lack of life. It is the power of transition, boundaries and endings- and decay forms as the powers of Death dissipate from the dead into the Underworld, for Death, by its nature, preserves. Life is the one to induce change.
The best analog for Plasm is Mass- Death acts like gravity, after all. The deader you are, the lower you sink, until you reach the Ocean of Fragments which sits in the end of the Great Bellow, the place to where all Rivers flow. Death draws death, and as the Memory of the dead fades, the powers of death induce mutations formed by the high concentration of necrotic energy. Now, the interesting thing that we don’t really have real life conjugated variable to mass, as thermodynamics doesn’t deal with gravity- but analyzing the units of the product would introduce something similar to the diffusion constant of the object. As such, Psych should somehow represents how death “diffuse”, or spread through time and space. As Taint feels like the right parallel for diffusion, the way that Taint change with time should give us Psych- or how much energy needed to introduce death.. or how much energy is gained. Psych is, in fact, how strongly does the system draws Death into it, like Gravity, making it into Fatality.
Our next subject of interest is an interesting one- Pillars and Sekhem. Similarly to Essence and Mana, Pillars are divided into a number of forms- Shadow, Heart, Name, Essence and Spirit. Each of those forms is connected to one of the Mana Frequencies (Heart to Totemic, Shadow to Necrotic, Name to Fae, Essence to Angelic and Spirit to Demonic), and 4 of those are related to the Essential Frequencies (Primal to Ab, Macabre to Sheut, Ethereal to Ka and Psychic to Ba. That leaves Ren without a Essential Frequency, which may hint about the existence of an unknown, low frequency region of the Twilight which we are yet to discover- I’ve thought it may be Hedge Ghosts, but they use Glamour instead of Essence). That may hint that Pillars are divided by Frequencies- but they also bind other “supernatural dimensions” into them- Ab binds Pyros, Sheut binds Plasm, Ren binds Glamour, Ka binds Vitae and Ba binds Satiety. That makes me think that the type of Pillar works more like a Colour Charge than Frequency, and that Pillars, or Souls, behave like the Strong Force.
As we are yet to even have a good mathematical model for the strong force, we have no clear analogy about what Soul and Sekhem may be other than the fact that the Soul binds all other dimensions together. Sekhem is even a greater mystery, as it is treated through the game as an extensive variable instead of an intensive one- that is, something that actually exists. That may mean one of two things- 1) the people in the setting measure things wrong 2) there is something more to the whole thing. Now, it is clearly possible that option 1 is the correct one- we do so in our daily life, when we measure intensive sizes such as current and temperature simply because they are much easier to measure than the extensive ones (charge and entropy). However, Sekhem is seen as something you can practically hold in your hands, while it still dictates how much energy is found inside a Pillar. That makes me think that Sekhem is more of a conserved value, such as Icons and Hope- even thought the Devourer tries to remove it from the world by consume it all. On the other hand, it may be the homogeneous value, while Souls being the conserved one. That would mean that the change in Sekhem through time is the desired conjugated parameter. By itself, Sekhem seems to be the dimension of Creation- it gives life without death, responds to the movement of Fate and Law to make things out of nothing and forms relics and abominations out of its flow. The way that Creation change with time is Civilization- culture is the expression of the Souls which bind it together, and more powerful the Civilization, the higher is its Creation capability and the more energy is found in each of its Souls (hence why the Judges wished to make cultures which they could feed to Ammut- for those without culture can’t be judged).
After Pillars comes Aether- a dimension which seems to be closely related to that of Essence (at least, of the Ethereal Frequency). Being described as the “byproduct of Essence burning” or the “heat released in the process” seems to hint about a connection to entropy… or Luminosity. After all, even in real life Luminosity is closely related to Amount, being a product of the “amount of photons”. And just like a chemical reaction release energy in the form of heat and light, Essence use provide some sort of supernatural Luminosity, which is Aether. Demons are being able to harvest the said energy and use it for their own needs, living on the light produced by God in creation. In that case, Aether represents the light which is produced when Existence is burned to produce to work of God- turning it into Divinity. That also fits the scheme of Going Loud (that is, burning the existence of a Cover for power), and also relates to why Ethereal Essence produce Aether while others don’t- they do, but just like Luminosity, Aether is a subjective dimension. It is measured through the sensitivity of the subject to the qualities of the property- for Luminosity, it is how much the eye is sensitive for the frequency of the light. For Aether, is how much the demon is sensitive to the frequency of the Essence- and as they are mostly focused around Ethereal Essence (as former angels), they barely recognize other frequencies of Essence. That may mean that other “demons” may be able to glean Aether from other frequencies. I may need to think about it.
With Aether being Luminosity, Primum would be Radiance- or how much the light of Aether burns. The measure that Divinity shines through the world depends on how holy it is, or its Sanctity. The higher the Primum of the demon, the more Sanctified it becomes, turning into a manifestation of God himself. Now, that may mean that demons may become like their own God and maker when they reach the higher limits of Primum- and I say “like dah?”. The God Machine is no god- it is simply the strongest demon out there. Man made or not man made, the God Machine works upon Divinity, eating Existence to produce its light. Demons steal that light for themselves and become more and more divine, sanctify themselves in a form of a clockwork monstrosity cloaked in holy light.
Finally, we have the (for now) last Supernatural Dimension- Satiety, and it is really an interesting one. Unlike the other dimensions (but Pillars), Satiety is bound at the edges- it can be no higher than 10 and no lower than 0. That bound region may hint on a familiar variable- angle, which is by itself bound between 0 and 2π. However, unlike angle, Satiety does not seem to be periodic- having 0 Satiety is not the same as having 10 Satiety.. at least, on the surface. After all, usually the physical effect of the angle is symmetric, being bound between 0 and π, as represented through the cosine/sine of the angle. In that case, Satiety of 10 gives value of “1” and 0 gives “-1”, and as such it is the cosine value of the “real”, periodic dimension. Satiety, in that case, is a function which measures the Hunger of the Beast- but Hunger by itself is a function of a periodic variable- Need. The Beast is the incarnation of Need- it can’t have enough, and as such, its Hunger goes up down and in order to satisfy its never ending Need. At low Satiety, its Need driven its Hunger to lash upon people, awakening Heroes and inflict nightmares in order to move the Beast from its comfort zone. At high Satiety, the Need force the Horror to fall asleep, make it vulnerable to Heroes and force to awake it be force. The Beast is never safe, its Need can never be satisfied- no matter how much they eat or starve themselves, their Needs become cyclic, making sure they would never find rest.
As such, it is no wonder that their Supernatural Potential value does not correspond to Satiety- for it governs the Need of the Beast. If the Need is Angle, than the Lair must be the Torque- which makes it connected to the Space/Force analogs- Imagination and Story (which makes perfect sense). Take Imagination, multiply it with the Story it tells and divide it all with Need of the Beast, and you get the Lair. Unlike Hunger, which is bound, Lair does not care about the value of Need- it keeps rotating the Need for more and more, and higher the Lair the wilder the fluctuations in the Hunger, for more and more Need is being gathered. And that value, the cross product of Imagination and Stories, makes the power which awakens Need into life, the power of fantasies and desires. It creates a Dream.
Well, those are all the known, main dimensions of the CofD- but those are definitely not the only ones. There are other dimensions in our own world which are yet to be presented in the gameline- from well defined things like magnetization and electric dipoles to unknown theories such as weak interactions. The darkness of the world is still deep, and there are many things hidden in it, waiting to be explored.
So let’s sum everything up-
- Analog- Entropy/Temperature
- Representation- Life/Animation
- Life is a conserved value
- Contained in different mediums (Blood, Shadows, Dreams, Memories, etc)
- Exact nature and properties depend on medium
- Vitae generates an Animating Field to induce and recognize Life
- Rise Spontaneously
- Bound by Ka
- Analog- Amount/Chemical Potential
- Representation- Existence/Importance
- Primal Urge is Concentration Analog, representing Spirituality
- Renown is Enthalpy analog, representing Recognition
- Existence is a conserved value
- Has 4 known frequencies (Primal, Macabre, Ethereal and Psychic) and one theoretical frequency
- Exact nature and properties depend on frequency
- Influence through resonance with the object
- Each frequency is bound by a different Pillar Colour Charge (Primal- Ab, Macabre- Sheut, Ethereal- Ka, Psychic- Ba, Unknown- Ren)
- Analog- Electricity/Voltage
- Representation- Truth/Knowledge
- Truth is a conserved value
- Mana in free field (without Gnosis acting upon it) is neutral and contain all possible frequencies (“white light”)
- Under Gnosis, Mana gains a sign to its charge- Subtle (negative) or Gross (positive)
- Under Gnosis, Mana collapse to a single frequency- Totemic, Fae, Demonic, Angelic and Necrotic.
- Exact nature and properties depends on charge and frequency
- Mana generates a Symbolic Field through which it acts upon the object
- Influence through resonance with the object
- The Abyss is the lack of Truth, creating a “quasi-particle” carrying a Truth Charge
- the Lie is “Truth Faraday Cage”
- Each frequency is bound by a different Pillar Colour Charge (Totemic- Ab, Necrotic- Sheut, Angelic- Ka, Demonic- Ba, Fae- Ren)
- Analog- Time/Power
- Representation- Change/Advancement
- Pyros is an homogeneous value
- Elpis (or Hope), Advancement moving through time, is a conserved value and analog to Energy
- Flux (or Decay) is negative sign Pyros
- Bound by Ab
- Analog- Displacement/Force
- Representation- Imagination/Story
- Glamour is an homogeneous value
- Icon, Story moving through time, is a conserved value and analog to Momentum
- Bound by Ren
- Analog- Mass/Gravitational Potential
- Representation- Death/Fatality
- Plasm is a conserved value
- Taint, or Fatality moving along time, is an homogeneous value and analog to diffusivity
- Plasm generates a Fatalistic Field which draws more Death toward it
- Bound by Sheut
- Analog- Strong Force
- Representation- Soul/Creation
- Soul is a conserved value
- Sekhem is an homogeneous value
- Civilization, or the change in Sekhem through time, is the intensive value
- Soul has 5 different Colour Charges, with each corresponding to Essence frequency, Mana frequency and binds a certain dimension.
- Exact nature and properties depend on Colour Charge
- Sekhem acts under a field generated by Fate and Law
- Ab resonate with Totemic Mana and Primal Essence and binds Pyros, Ba resonate with Demonic Mana and Psychic Essence and binds Need, Sheut resonate with Necrotic Mana and Macabre Essence and binds Plasm, Ka resonate with Angelic Mana and Ethereal Essence and binds Vitae and Ren resonate with Fae Mana and binds Glamour.
- Analog- Luminosity/Radiance
- Representation- Divinity/Sanctity
- Formed from the burning of Essence
- Properties depend on the frequency of the burned Existence and sensitivity of the subject (creating three theoretical demonic breeds based on known Essences and one theoretical breed based around theoretical Essence)
- Analog- Orientation/Torque
- Representation- Hunger/Dream
- Hunger is a bound value, being a function of Need
- Need is an homogeneous and periodic value
- Lair is the product of Imagination, Story and Hunger
- Myth, Dream moving through time, is a conserved value analog to Angular Momentum
- Bound by Ba
Well, that’s it for this week! Hope you like it, and hopefully, next week we’ll manage to get Demon in the First Temple.