ring of excellence

You don’t actually want to accumulate knowledge or power – you want the traits associated with it. You want to SEEM independent; you want to SEEM strong; you want to APPEAR to be an expert. People have lost touch with human motivation that goes beyond appearances. They are more shallow than ever; their only cause is portraying a persona that is determined by someone else’s desire. What results in this submissive attitude is a group of people who actually believe faking it is equivalent to being it. They actually praise fraudulent behavior, pretending to be tough when they tuck their tail behind their legs at the sight of confrontation. You’re not fooling anyone. 

Instead of plagiarizing someone else’s personality, look at yourself in the mirror and realize you’re not just a pretender, you’re a sham. You’re a D-list television actor. You need a grip on reality before someone like me humiliates you publicly.

tbh my favourite scene from Bartimaeus is still the bit in Golem’s Eye where that one guy (I think it was Nat’s boss? Idk it’s been fucking ages since I read the books) casts a stupidly overwrought spell to catch a stupidly overwrought demon but he fucks up so the demon eats him


the other trapped demons just fucking stand around gossiping about it

“Goodness, did you see that?” 

“Lucky bastard”

So You Want To Write… Magic

This entry’s is a big one, friends and neighbours. You can put magic in a lot of roleplays, in a lot of different ways. We’re going to have to talk about why you use magic in the first place, then how it interacts with themes, and then all the varieties and philosophies of magic. There is going to be distillation. I hope this inspires a conversational thread.

Why Am I Using Magic?
There are four reasons to use magic - actually, three, but we’ll pretend two of them aren’t the same for the moment.
Plot Device magic; when you need magic to enable or justify a plot.
Setting magic; when you need magic to reinforce an element of the setting, or enable the setting to exist.
Thematic magic; when you need magic to underline and support a theme of your narrative.
Mechanical magic; when you want a magical option for characters to take, expanding on your mechanical choices.

Plot Device magic is, say, Excalibur. The One Ring is PDM. You could argue The Force (oh, oh just you wait until I get the entry explaining sci-fi, faithful readers) is PDM. It’s usually vague, big magic or alternatively, very specific small magic with only one or two appearances in the story and setting. It enables a plot point, serves as lynchpin in a pivotal scene. Importantly, it largely informs the plot, not the setting. This is especially the case where the magic in question hasn’t been logically extended to include uses, economic and social impacts, etc.

Setting magic is magic that either enables or permeates the setting. Bending from the Avatar series is setting magic. Magic in Dragon Age is setting magic. Setting magic tends to be logically extended into the rest of the setting - it informs technological and social development. When the fact a character uses magic is regarded as significant by other characters, it’s usually setting magic - especially where the kind of magic or the application thereof is significant.

Thematic magic is very closely linked to setting magic. This is magic which reinforces a theme in terms of plot, character, or setting. Psychic powers and Warp Sorcery in Warhammer 40k are thematic. Vampiric Disciplines in Vampire: The Requiem are thematic. Magic that corrupts or transforms, magic that communicates something about a character or society, is very much thematic magic.

Mechanical magic can technically be any of the other three, but will usually exist with a system of some kind. Magic in videogames is always mechanical magic. In roleplays, any time you mention terms like tank, rogue, healer etc. you’re referencing a very light system, and that makes the relevant magic mechanical.

How Do I Use Magic?

Plot Device Magic is the easiest kind to use, because you can use it to pre-empt or fill in plot holes, enable specific scenes, and justify happily-ever-afters. It tends to be utilitarian, lacking in much personality or flavour, often just specific enough to make sense or justify its use. It catalyzes, ends, or changes plots. The One Ring is an excellent example - though it’s also a good example of thematic magic.
You need to foreshadow plot-device magic; have a character use a simple spell or item early on, or discover such a thing. The payoff comes when they use it cleverly or even just luckily to resolve a plot point, whether to escape an enemy or losing it to an enemy, forcing the characters to a new location or situation.

Setting Magic is, to me, a vital cornerstone of good fantasy. You use setting magic to justify things you want in your setting, which then enables your plot. Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra are heavily supported by the setting magic of Bending. Korra in particular makes some great use of this, but I only know that from second-hand sources. Dragon Age’s magic helps to shape the socio-political climate of Thedas, though it doesn’t go quite as far as it might (not yet, anyway), and allows for some of plotlines and character interactions of the game to happen. Setting Magic is closely linked to Thematic Magic, and the two strongly inform the tone of your narrative.

Thematic Magic is most prevalent in RPGs, but it’s also apparent in some fantasy fiction. You use thematic magic to underline elements of character, society, and setting. Is there a cult that uses blood-magic to achieve their ends? That’s thematic; it communicates something about the society, its members, and carries a lot of interesting implications. Is your character being slowly killed by their use of magic? That, too, is a statement - precisely how you implement it determines whether it’s about responsibility, or power, or mortality, or duty.

Mechanical Magic is best exemplified in D&D and Skyrim. It allegedly impacts the setting and world - but how often can a player character reproduce the feats mentioned in the fiction? This is magic-as-toolkit most of the time. It can impact playstyle, which is important and in a way implies personality and theme, but mechanical magic tends to be even more lacking in personality than plot devices.

Magic A is Magic A

There are a number of different kinds of magic, under those four umbrellas. I’m going to try and distill it to some core forms from which everything else is derived. There are two broad categories to be aware of - internally consistent magic, and general magic. Internally consistent magic abides by thematic rules and restrictions, which can run from having as complex a set of laws as mundane physics, to ‘dark magic must be fueled by blood’. General magic is magic where we don’t have to care about the hows or whys. If you see characters in, for example, an anime casually tossing little magical effects around, that’s general magic.

Vancian Magic: Magic as toolkit, employed most notably in D&D. Magic which is prepared in advance, from a set list of spells, and has only the broadest thematic consistency. Tends to have uses consumed on cast, a limited number of times per day or between rests. Mechanical magic, through and through, usually.

Ritual Magic: Magic which is often thematic or plot relevant; requiring resources, time, and expertise to perform. If it’s powerful, far-reaching, and long-lasting, it’s probably involved in a climactic scene and a fairly standard high-fantasy world. If it’s subtle and not that powerful, you’re probably in a low-fantasy setting which might also be pretty grim and/or dark to boot. May have a terrible, terrible price - especially if there’s an option to empower or speed normal rituals with a bit of blood sacrifice. Importantly, Ritual Magic can be learned. Examples: Fullmetal Alchemist, Dresden Files, The Lovecraft MythosWorks nicely for setting, theme, and plot.

Alchemy: Often magic-as-science, Alchemy can overlap with other magical forms. Usually slow, requiring reagents and expertise. May also involve transformative or philosophical elements, such as mutagens or a search for enlightenment through understanding of the physical world. Like ritual magic, Alchemy can be learned by almost anyone. Frequently abides by rules which can be tested and verified. In contrast to Ritual Magic, Alchemy is not dogmatic, less reliant on particular locations, times, and incantations.
Works well for setting, theme, and plot.

Rule Magic: May involve true-names, incantations, magical music, or even mathematics. Tends to be comparatively limited in scope and may overlap with Theurgy. Often imparts control over something, or is linked to specific objects in a way that resembles Device Magic. Harry Potter features Rule Magic with a splash of Device - given that spells are activated by speaking the correct words and using the correct gestures, with a tool but are not otherwise limited.
Works well for theme and plot.

Force Magic: The Force. The Fade. The Warp. Chi. When calling on a power in the world, or near the world, this is what you use. The practitioner bends the magic to do what they want, from a ‘raw’ state or other resource. Sometimes reliant on a gift, or training, or focus. Kung-fu fantasy and Star Wars are probably exemplars of this form.
Works best for setting and theme.

Gift Magic: Mutations. Superpowers. Divine blessings. Magic inherent in the characters, often limited to one power or a small suite of thematically linked powers. Often hereditary, frequently a sign of being a protagonist, often the gift is the ability to use magic at all, which may then be focused through one of the other listed forms.
Works well for theme, setting, and plot.

Device Magic: This can often be great Setting-Magic - magic from devices, possibly even made on an industrial scale. Alchemical magical potions, pre-charged wands of fireball, Green Lantern Rings. The magic comes from devices which have been made. In low fantasy, the art of making these may be lost. In high fantasy, it might be a booming trade.
Great for setting and plot.

Wild Magic: Magic as a living thing that will do as it damn well pleases. Great for plot device and setting. You can maybe influence this magic, or take advantage of it, but remains like a force of nature. It may even have motive and personality of its own, however inscrutable to mortal minds.

Theurgy: Calling upon a powerful entity to intercede on your behalf. Whether a shugenja calling on the Kami to shake the earth, or a Cleric beseeching her god for healing, or a Demonologist summoning up an imp, that’s theurgy. The caster has no power, but they may have faith, or excellent negotiating skills, or a contract written in blood in some infernal ledger. Tends to be mechanical, plot, or thematic magic, but can inform setting well too. Probably the broadest kind of magic you’ll meet.

How Do I Construct Magic?
First, you need to decide why you want magic at all. Then where magic comes from. This will help you choose the form you’ll use. You can layer more interesting themes and mechanisms on top of the form with flavour - divination, necromancy, elemental magic, whatever you like. Often those can communicate something about the character, but depending on the form might be largely aesthetic.

Once you’ve decided why you’re using magic, and where it comes from, you can choose a form. You can then modify that form to suit what you’re doing, and blend forms to get the precise kind of magic you want. A lot of where you go from there is personal opinion. I prefer to keep my magic internally consistent and tightly woven into the setting, but maybe you’d like something a bit more off-the-wall.
As an example, when I built Crucible’s magic system, I wanted it for three reasons: To reinforce theme and tone. To enrich the setting. To offer interesting mechanical and narrative choices.

I ended up going with multiple forms of magic (ask if you want me to talk about it in more detail), but the primary Magic is essentially Force Magic, enabled by a Gift, with a potentially terrible price. This allowed me to make it tempting, but dangerous and rare reinforcing the verisimilitude of the setting, the dark tone, and importantly the themes of responsibility and sacrifice.

Zapdos flies in until August 14th!

“The Electric- and Flying-type Zapdos is weak only against Ice-type and Rock-type attacks, and it isn’t doubly vulnerable to either type. It’s also resistant to Ground-type attacks, so the tactics you’d use against other Electric-type Pokémon won’t work well against Zapdos. Ground-type Pokémon will still take the least damage from Zapdos’s Electric-type attacks, and Dragon-, Electric-, and Grass-type Pokémon will take reduced damage, too.”

Best Defenders against Zapdos:

  • Golem w/ Rock Throw/Stone Edge (deals the most damage per second, rock type moves super effective, reduced damage from Zap)
  • Piloswine w/ Ice Shard/Avalanche (super effective damage, resists Zap moves, not the bulkiest though)
  • Rhydon w/ Mud Slap/Stone Edge (Resists Zap moves, super effective rock move, no effective fast attack)
  • Tyranitar w/ Bite/Stone Edge (tank, super effective rock move, no resisted damage though)
  • Dragonite w/ Dragon Tail/Outrage (resists Zap moves thanks to Dragon typing, solid damage ouput, tanky)
  • Glass Cannons: Articuno, Jynx, Alakazam, Gengar, Aerodactyl, Flareon (all have the potential to deal heavy damage but will faint quickly when hit)

Remember the odds of capturing Zapdos are best when the ring is smaller, scoring Great/Excellent throws as well as curveballs improve your chances (if you can’t do Excellent throws, settle for less). Make sure to wait for it to stop moving and use all the golden razz berries you can. Good Luck!

The Greatest Virtue (the greatest fault)

Steggy Positivity Week, day 2
Prompt: AU or Crossover

Summary: News never rests. Even when it gets in the way of relationships.

AO3 link here.

Their desks press against each other. Before Steve came, Yauch had sat across from her, and before him, Hodge. She’d been just about to complain about who was doing the hiring, picking up weak reporters and bullying ones, none of whom even bothered to stick around for very long. And then Steve had come in with a box in his arms and a messenger bag over one shoulder, and said, “I think they said this was mine.”

Of course, Peggy had told him dryly, “Your investigative skills are clearly excellent,” and subtly watched him unpack his things. She refused to raise her expectations simply because he was pretty.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

I've yet to see an ocelot fact today so I thought I'd just throw this in the ring: Although ocelots have excellent eyesight ocelot kittens are actually born blind and won't open their eyes until a month after birth



Flames MASH, requested a long time ago by saaders and finally fulfilled! Tag your results :)!

so when did the Carstairs become blond?

*scratches head* Well, probably a few hundred years ago? We meet Jem’s uncle, Elias Carstairs, in Clockwork Princess, and he is blond. 

He was stocky, perhaps in his late thirties, with a scar that ran along his jaw. Tousled, fairish hair, and blue eyes, and skin tanned by the sun. It looked even darker against his starched white shirtfront. There was something familiar about him, something that teased at the edges of Tessa’s memories.

He came to a stop in front of them. His eyes flicked to Will. They were a paler blue than Will’s, almost the color of cornflowers. The skin around them was tanned and lined with faint crow’s-feet. He said, “You are William Herondale?”

Will nodded without speaking.

“I am Elias Carstairs,” the man said. “Jem Carstairs was my nephew.”

- Clockwork Princess, page 526

Hi Cassie, I hope you see this. I had a question regarding to Charlotte and Henry Branwell child Matthew Fairchild in Nothing But Shadows, a part in Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy! I noticed that Matthews last name was Fairchild and not Branwell, why is that? Is it because Charlotte is the Consul and the consul’s children must take their last name? I’d also like to say I am looking forward to read TDA and TLH in the future :) (by the way if I messed anything up in my question I apologize) And the cover of Lady Midnight is absolutely gorgeous! — heronstairsangel

Clockwork Princess, page 518

“Charles Fairchild,” Charlotte had said proudly, holding up the small blanket that Sophie had knitted for her, with a neat C.F. in the corner.)

“Charles Buford Fairchild,” Henry had corrected.

Charlotte had made a face. Tessa, laughing, had asked, “Fairchild? Not Branwell?”

Charlotte had given a shy smile. “I am the Consul. It has been decided that in this case the child will take my name. Henry doesn’t mind, do you, Henry?”

“Not at all,” Henry had said. “Especially as Charles Buford Branwell would have sounded rather silly, but Charles Buford Fairchild has an excellent ring to it.”

Henry and Charlotte’s children are all Fairchilds; Clary and Jocelyn are descended from them far down the line. As Henry had no brothers or sisters, the Branwell name is not in current use (though an Ascending Shadowhunter could pick it up and start using it.) Clary has no Fairchild, Branwell, or Morgenstern (as of CoHF) relatives other than her mom (kind of lonely, but that’s Shadowhunters for you, and Clary’s story would have been a different one if there had been active Shadowhunter relatives in the picture!)