Archive for the ‘ Worldbin ’ Category

Worldbin: Magic

Ah, Magic. How does it work? Well, there are tons of explanations for it, and quite a few cop-outs. So here is a list of the most common ones, and ways to explain each of them, and expansions on them.

General Cop-Out: Entropic Manipulation

Basically, you can summon Laplace’s Demon. You make somewhere very, very cold, and use that energy to create something. i.e. you create a fireball by making the centre of the “ball” cold, and the outside hot. This is the best explanation for heat/temperature stuff. Also, it allows stuff to be created from nothing. Energy is mass, so if you cool a sufficiently large area enough, you can create stuff from nothing. This also explains why there are elemental planes. All the hot stuff goes to the plane of fire, and the cold to the plane of ice, because they are magic, or something. This can be extended – the plain of air is a very low-energy place, due to it being basically an endless sky, whilst the plane of earth is a very high-energy place, due to all the ground there. So those two planes act as buffers to stop everything spiralling out of control, as they act as two “sinks” for magic, stopping there being too much or too little. Which explains why it is so damn hard to destroy the world with a magical doomsday device.

Blood Magic

Now this is the classic “evil” magic. You kill someone to become more powerful. This does make some kind of sense. Say that all people are at least slightly magical, and that magic regenerates over time. Therefore, over a person’s lifetime, there is a maximum magic that could have used. This is the magic that you are stealing. Simple stuff. Now, of course, they may die well before their natural lifetime is up. Instead of getting the big lump sum of magic, you get the most probable amount that they would get. So you need someone young, to get more magic juice, and healthy, so that the chance that they may die is slim. That’s why they always need someone, or something hale and hearty. Secondly, blood magic is also sometimes used to heal people, or extend their natural lifespan. This operates on the same principle as the magic – you gain their most probable amount of healing that they are able to do, and this revitalises you by that amount.

True Naming

Now this is always a tricky subject, as there are two types of this. The first is that you cannot lie in that language – if you say “I am an eagle” you become  an eagle. That one’s simple. The second one is that you can make anything you know the true name of do anything you wish, with in the laws of physics, of course. Now, in the first example, you are basically talking with God’s voice, here. Think about it. It’s not going to be easy, as a syntax error can destroy the world, and will most probably take something out of you for speaking in it. You know, with great power comes horrific immolation, and all that. It is more of a crutch – you use it to give shape to the magic you use, instead of trying to do it all by yourself.

Now, for the second version, the problem with that is that everything has a true name. Say, for example that there are 50 different consonants. Say that 125 billion people have lived, and only humans have true names, and each name is different (this allows you to use ghosts and all that jazz). That means that each person have a unique name of 6 consonants, if no more people are to be born. Now you can’t just shout streams of random gibberish to use true naming, otherwise it’d be too easy, so you’ll probably have to picture who you are naming, and have some hair or skin or something – the standard fantasy staple. Remember, though, that this is just for one world, and not allowing non-sentient life. If you have a sprawling multiverse, you’ll need another consonants for every 50 worlds, depending on the amount of people that live and die in them. Also, it would be weird if everyone had the same vocal chords, wouldn’t it? So you would assume that the true name depends on the range of sounds that species could make. It would be hard to Name something that lives 20,000 leagues under the sea, or a living zeppelin, or an elemental, without extensive modification, though they would be able to Name each other.

Druidism 

This one is the standard earth/nature/hippie magic. You make flowers bloom, crops grow, and generally green the place up. If there is a big Gaia-thing in this is simple – she (it?) wants a bountiful earth, gives you some of her power, and so you go forwards and cause it to happen. If not, there needs to be some duality, as you are creating something from nothing. Although grass grows at your feet, it dies with your passing. You can cause the flowers to bloom, and crops to grow, but you are simply accelerating their lifespan, and so they die faster. It’s the “give with one hand, take with another” kind of thing – you are dedicated to balance, and both cultivate and cull. You see, just making things grow, per se, is bad for everything – the (eco)system collapses, and there is needless death and destruction. Everyone seems to forget the second part.

Possession/Divine

These two are basically the same thing, when it comes down to it. You have some hugely strong magical bloke who wants to loan out his power to people. The God gives it to his priests, and the demon/devil/whatever gives it to whomever they made the bargain with. The question that arises when this stuff happens is why don’t the gods/devils/etc do it themselves instead of delegating all the time? Firstly, if they are sufficiently powerful, they could be delegating to thousands, or for gods, millions, of people, so they need to delegate in order to do so much at the same time. Secondly, they will all be powerful. If they are powerful enough, if they leave their realm, people will notice, questions will be asked, and things will be killed. I mean, if a demon prince popped up in the material plane, how long would it be before someone took a shot at him, and an all-out war erupted? This neatly brings us to the third point – safety. If I delegate my powers, and the idiot dies, I get my magic back, and the knowledge of what he did, without ever being in danger. It makes sense to loan your power out to someone, and them collect on it later, especially if your are a demon/devil/whatever, and you are simply doing it as a relief from boredom.

Well, that’s it. I know that there are other disciplines out there, and I’ll cover them in another post, if I ever get round to it.

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Worldbin: A Proper Villain

Every story needs a villain. Someone, or something, for the protagonist to struggle against, and ultimately overcome. In this post, I’m going to talk about designing a Big Bad, the most common type of Villain, and explain some of it’s idiosyncrasies. They can be the Evil Emperor, the Ruthless Warlord, the Omnicidal Nether-Horror, the Annoying Manager, depending on your setting and genre. If your story does not have a villain, then it is most probably a bad fanfic.

Note: The other 2 most common Villains are the Mindless Villain, and the Villainous World. The Mindless Villain is the Virus, the Zombie Outbreak, the Alien Invasion – an enemy that cannot be argued with, talked to, or even understood. All you can do is to defeat them before they defeat you. The Villainous World is a world in which everything – fauna, flora, mineral, you name it – wants to kill you. It’s either a Death World, and you are (perceived to be) weak, or it’s a (pseudo-)Intelligent World, which knows what you are doing, and doesn’t like that, so it tries to kill you. It may or may not have warned you first, though.

Anyway, back to the crux, or nub, or the piece. Designing a Big Bad Villain.

First of all, he must be Evil. Or Ruthless and/or Unprincipled enough to be hated, or at least detested by the Hero. Common ways of doing this are;

  • Hedonism. He’s a big eater, and only eats the finest pickled dove’s eggs on iceberg lettuce, grown on real icebergs. All fed to him by beautiful consorts, of which he has many. If they are also slavegirls, it intersects nicely with the next point, which is;
  • Slaver. He supports slavery, or at least treats his serfs like them. Even if they are indentured servants, and entitled to some legal protection, he doesn’t care. He’s doesn’t care about lesser people than him. This leads to;
  • Nepotist. He believes in Sovereign Power (Nobles have the right to rule because they are Nobles, and have the support of God) and sees all those without blue blood as lesser. He’s a bit of a dick, and may also be terminally stupid, having inherited his title or;
  • Homicidal. 3 Years Ago, he was 12th in line to the Throne. Now he’s King. Everyone that opposes him vanishes. If you try to rebel against him, he kills you, your family, your friends, your friends’ families, and the village you grew up in. He’s not a man to cross.

Secondly, he needs to have crossed paths with the Hero at least once, normally when he is rising to power, and the Hero is still young / is disillusioned / has taken up a life of prayer and meditation /is full of angst. (delete as appropriate) Whilst this happens, he does a completely, unambiguously evil act – killing their parents is the most conventional way of doing this. He might also burn down the lovely little idyll the Hero lives in, as well. Also, if the Hero has any younger siblings, he will either a) Kidnap them and force them into a life of servitude (if it’s a girl) or b) Kidnap them and indoctrinate them to become his lieutenant (if it’s a boy). If the Hero has any older siblings, they will give their lives to shelter the Hero, or give him time to escape. The Villain’s Henchmen might also rape, murder and pillage their way through the surrounding countryside, causing widespread death and destruction in their wake, just so you know that the Villain is Evil. Something you can play around with this here is for when, in the final showdown, the Hero confronts the Big Bad about the terrible event that he caused in the past, the Big Bad does not remember it, or considers it a small matter, or was simply an unintended side effect of a larger scheme. For the Hero, it might have been the most important day of his life. But for the Villain… it was Tuesday.

Thirdly, he needs a Plan. This is crucial. Every Villain needs a Plan. It can be as simple as “Kill The Hero”, “Rule The World” or “Live Forever”. Alternatively, it can be a multi-stage complex scheme in which countless projects weave together, culminating in a (seemingly) unstoppable nefarious strategy to “Conquer The Multiverse” or “Become A God”. Bonus points will be awarded if it appears to be one of the former, but is actually one of the latter variety. The Plan can allow for the Hero’s victory. He might defeat the Villain in the Western Marshes, but that was just a ploy to allow the Villain to succeed in the East! If this happens, remember – It’s All Part Of The Plan. That evil, evil plan which the Hero has to stop, for the sake of all Mankind! (or something similarly dramatic)

Now you have a Villain with the Hero knows, hates, and has a plan. Now you have to give him the means to carry this out. And this means that you have to give him some redeeming qualities. Take Julius Caesar. He worked to undermine the dictator Sulla, and participated in at least 2 coups. He arranged show trials in his career as a lawyer, and managed to get himself elected Pontifex Maximus – the chief priest of Rome, a position which gave him tremendous power. He became the governor of Spain, where he began to annex his Roman allies and expand his governorate. He managed to become Consul, and when he was declared an enemy of the state when the political tide turned against him, he marched upon Rome, caused the Roman Civil War, and disbanded the Senate when he assumed emergency powers, hunted down Pompey, his former mentor, and ruled until he was killed on the floor of the Theater of Pompey. The resulting power vacuum quashed any hope of Roman Democracy, and Emperor Augustus ruled after him, and the Augusto-Caesar line lasted until Nero. But them again, he strengthened the dying Roman Empire, got rid of the corrupt and inefficient government, and brought civilisation the most of Europe. So, it all balanced out in the end. (well, kind of)

Here are a lot of things Villains have, and how they could achieve it;

  • A Huge Empire. They are a statesman without peer. They can soothe old wounds between embittered countries in an morning, and have them pledging allegiance by afternoon. The bureaucracy he has set up runs smoothly, and everything ticks over like a finely-tuned machine.
  • A Devoutly Loyal Legion. These are people he has saved. They used to live in squalor, and were treated like filth. He might even have been one of them. But now he has raised them up from the slums where they used to live, and they are so, so grateful for what he has done to them. He might even have cured them of something horrific that caused them to be outcasts in the first place.
  • Monstrous Minions. This one of the easiest ones to answer. The reason you have hoards of trolls, orcs and swamp creatures under your command is simple. The world is a horrible place to live, especially in the outer regions, so you need personnel who can deal with those conditions. In the marshes, the Swamp Creatures keep the Empire safe. The Orcs patrol the Sunless Wastes, where their aversion to light is not a problem. Trolls defend in the Sulphurous Deserts, as only those hardy enough, or with significant regenerative capabilities can survive there for long. They have both. This is why, when they are drafted in to fight your peasant uprising, they are so ineffective. They have never been trained to fight on a field, in lines, or in formation. They have no idea what to do.
    Note: You can mix this one with the Loyal Legion one above, if you wish, as they work together very well.
  • His Evil Mines Of Evil. Everyone knows there was an obscenely advanced race that came before, of which the Hero has one of their fantastical weapons. The Big Bad has found a veritable treasure trove of Precursor Artefacts down in this mine, and send people down there to dig them out. This may be purely so he can use them for his own gain, or maybe it is for the good of the Empire, but either way, he’s getting them out of that hell-hole one way or another.

If you are going to make a good Villain, be sure to check out the 36 Stratagems, a Chinese book detailing 6 sets of 6 ruses to help you win. (In I Ching, six is the number of Yin that is associated with the dark schemes involved in military strategy. As thirty-six is the square of six, it therefore acts as a metaphor for numerous strategies) They detail the Stratagems for Winning, Dealing With The Enemy, Attacking, Causing Chaos, Gaining Ground, and When Near Defeat. They are invaluable when you need inspiration on how the Villain could deal with the Hero.

Also, there is the Evil Overlord List. It deconstructs the traditional Villain Clichés, and within it contains 100 Rules any competent Evil Overlord should follow. These include; not taking the Hero’s love interest as your consort, not assuming that the Hero died in that fall, not leaving people alive as an example to others, and never playing fair. Check them out. They’re both good reads.

Well, I think that covers most of the tropes and clichés commonly associated with Big Bads. Don’t hesitate to tell me if I missed any. Hope you enjoyed that.

 

 

Worldbin: Creating Realistic Characters

In most games you play now, most of the characters are quite shallow and two-dimensional. This happens because the writers either try to make too many characters appealing to you, and fail, or, most commonly, they just didn’t care. Take, for example, Gears of War. Or Halo: ODST. Or Black Ops. Now tell me something about the characters that isn’t related to how well they can shoot, or how badass they are, or even what their full name is, in some cases. Most characters can be summed up in two adjectives and a noun. The hot, nerdy scientist. The arrogant, loud-mouthed rival. The evil, British antagonist. When the entirety of a character can be said in three words, something is wrong.

The most common set-up is the Five Man Band. It goes a bit like this; (I’m stealing this shamelessly from TvTropes, here)

  • The Hero— The leader of the group. He’ll be a upstanding American bloke, no matter what the setting is, and will adhere to American values, be exceptionally noble, generous, and perfect in every way.
  • The Lancer —  The second-in-command, usually a contrast to The Hero. He’ll make snarky remarks, and bring a touch of humour to the game. He’ll probably be a bit more laid-back than the relentlessly meritorious Hero.
  • The Smart Guy — The physically weak, but intelligent or clever member. He’ll be the youngest, and might wear glasses. He will probably have no real-world knowledge, but can hack a computer in 4 seconds, and will talk constantly in long, long words.
  • The Big Guy — The strongman of the team. May be dumb. Or mute. If he has any characterisation at all, it’ll be that also he is a bit thick and clumsy, but will be soft on the inside, until his comrades are attacked.
  • The Chick —  A peacekeeping role to balance out the other members’ aggression, bringing them to a nice or at least manageable medium. Also the love interest. Because the Hero will be white, she’ll be Black (But not too Black), Asian or Latino. If it’s fantasy or sci-fi, she might have differently coloured skin. Most likely Blue or Green.

Now keeping this set-up is fine, as it is a tried and tested set-up, and should be easy to work with. However, characters need to be expanded on in order to make them both believable and likeable. (unless it’s the antagonist, in which the player should hate him with an ungodly passion) The simplest way to do this is to add another layer to the character, via backstory, sidequest or dialogue, that either explains why the character is how they are, or gives you an insight into how they think, and how they became who they are now. In both cases, this should give you greater understanding and empathy about the character, and maybe even raise some moral questions. In better cases, this should help the plot along. An example.

(Mild Metal Gear Solid 4 Spoilers in the next paragraph. Nothing big, though.)

Johnny Sasaki, from Metal Gear Solid 4. He’s a bit thick, and has a profoundly stupid haircut. He wets himself in combat, and is overpowered many times throughout the series, and is a bit of a joke character. Solid Snake frequently escapes because of his incompetence, and his bouts of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He constantly draws fire, attracts unwanted enemy attention, and is mostly useless in combat. However, it is later revealed that he never had an injection of the combat nanomachines that every other soldier has due to his fear of needles. These nanomachines control your hormones, share your senses with your teammates, and give people a “combat high” – quicker reactions, faster aiming, and better accuracy. However, when Liquid Snake shuts down all the nanomachines, he suddenly becomes extremely useful, as hardly any of the other soldiers had ever had to fight without their nanomachines doing all the hard work for them, and becomes a great asset to the team.

He is set up originally as a comedic sidekick with some legacy appeal, a standard flat character. But the game explains why he is less effective than everyone else, which, although originally is a nice bit of trivia, and becomes a (minor) plot point later.

Here are a few things you should not apply to your characters, unless you can do it very well.

  • They are the last of their kind.
  • They are the secret heir to the throne.
  • They have sworn vengeance against the murderers of their parents.
  • They have an evil sibling they have to kill.
  • They are stuck in an unwanted arranged marriage.
  • They were abused when they were young. (Seriously, it’ll be trite and spoil the tone, and maybe even destroy the character. Be careful with this one, it’s exceptionally hard to pull off well. Look, don’t even try OK? And don’t say I didn’t warn you…)
  • They are subject to prophecy / are the chosen one.
  • They were born in extreme poverty.
  • They are grieving over the loss of a loved one.
  • They are suffering from a terminal illness.

Now, I’m not saying that these are bad, per se, but just that if you do not construct your character from the ground up with these traits inbuilt, and just try to slap them onto them later, then there is a high chance your whole character concept will fall apart. Here’s some ideas, taking these ideas above, and modelling some possible characters around them.

  • The foolhardy, highly religious character is plagued by visions of the future every night, most of them concerning how he is going to die. This explains how he charged into combat readily, as he knows how and when he will die, but he is so obsessed about death and the afterlife because it is such a prevalent theme in his life.
  • The gallant paladin is conflicted over whether to depose his brother who stole the throne from him, as under the current occupant the country is finally better than ever, and the populace love him for all the improvements he has made. He is happy to seem how the country is now, but he cannot forgive his brother, and is conflicted by this quandary, and instead retreats back into his puritanical teachings for solace.
  • The cheerful spoony bard is in fact noble herself, as in stuck in an arranged marriage, but she requested a grace period in which she could see the world before she takes a much more active role in running the the estate. Her fiancée is likeable, open-minded, and is fairly comely, and she’s quite fond of him, too. It’s a professional, mercantile affair, and will benefit both of their families greatly.

Ah, well, these are just a couple of ideas. Feel free to steal them if you wish.

Worldbin: Space Travel.

(Sorry for the gap – I was in Scotland. Nice place, wide open skies and blisteringly cold, but no internet)

Space, as I have already said before, is big. And because it is so big, when you travel across it, you have to go into ludicrous speeds in order to get anywhere anytime soon. Here’s a few real-world projects that have been floated about how to accelerate stuff in a vacuum.

Ion Drives

An ion drive (also called an ion thruster) is quite simple. Space is not empty – it has about 1 atoms/cm3 (this can rise to 1000 atoms/cm3 in gas clouds, however), normally in the form of Hydron nuclei – protons.  Your ship fires these backwards via electrostatic or electromagnetic force, and Newton III means you accelerate because of this. Now, the speeds at which you accelerate are very, very small. However, the energy needed to use the drive is also very, very small, and can easily be powered by solar cells. It is a lot more effective on smaller craft, like probes, as you can have a body that is mostly ion drive. But for larger ships, you need to factor in things like living quarters and air recycling. Also it will take years to get up to any decent speeds, which is not useful for crewed missions. However, as it accelerates, it will move quicker, and cover more space, so fire more protons, and so move quicker still. That’s nice. Also, to slow down – just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow electric field.

Railguns

Yes, you read that right, railguns. Now, I hear you cry, how can a railgun launch ships into space? The atmosphere is too thick and too turbulent to launch from Earth, and without a space elevator, how could we construct one in space? Both are realistic points. Without power beaming, carbon nanotubes and batteries a magnitude more efficient, we cannot have a railgun in space. But we can have one on the ground, as long as we sort out the atmosphere first. Now, I’m not talking about pseudo-scientific weather magic, nor putting the railgun on Mount Everest. All you need is magnetised ice. Ice itself is not magnetic, but if you add iron filings to the water as it congeals, then you can accelerate it in a magnetic field. To launch someone, you will need quite a few megaton, maybe even gigaton, blocks of this ice, as well as your ship. (NB- the ice blocks must be larger in size than the ship, otherwise this will not work at all)

You get a long railgun – several km in length, and in quick succession (and I do mean quick), you fire your ice blocks, then the ship. As the ice hits the atmosphere, it will “burn up” and release high-energy, high-pressure water vapour into the atmosphere in a trail behind it, like a comet. This will mean there will be a low-pressure “tube” where the ice has passed. The second block will go further than the first, as it has less atmosphere in the way, and will extend this “tube”, as well as dropping the pressure of the original tube. As this goes on, you should create a low-pressure, stable area where you can fire you ship. If you time it right, the “tube” should start to collapse at about the time when the next ice block moves through it to stabilise it. But when the ships passes through the near-vacuum, it will collapse behind it, propelling it forwards, and accelerating it further.

The big downside to this, however, is that when the “tube” collapses, there will be some atmospheric fallout because of it. For example, the shockwave. This will deafen anyone without ear protection in a 20km radius, and flatten anything within 5km. All free-standing structures (i.e. everything that isn’t a bunker of 1 storey tall) in about 10km will be destroyed. Then there will be the second shockwave, as the atmosphere rushes backwards, which will do the whole thing over again. Yay. Also – the weather. If you’ve ever seen one of those super-storm things on the TV, you will now be able to see it in real life. And the atmosphere will be exceptionally ionized, due to the passing of the charged ice, meaning that there will be al lot of lightning. So really, this thing is only viable in the desert, where everything is tightly tied down. But still – think of the speeds you would obtain!

Project Orion

This is actually an older idea, first mooted back in 1946. However, you may know it by another name – nuclear propulsion. (Un?)Fortunately, the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (or, to give it it’s full name the “Treaty banning Nuclear Weapon Tests In The Atmosphere, In Outer Space And Under Water”) means that it will never get off the ground. The idea behind it is very simple.

1. Construct a large ship (most likely a colony ship) in Low Earth Orbit, with a large dish at it’s rear that could collect the energy.

2. Move it away from Earth via Ion Drives, or Solid Fuel Rockets, whatever.

3. Detonate many, many nuclear bombs behind it.

You see, nuclear bombs no not need oxygen to work. Only the critical mass. The energy released would propel the ships forwards as it landed on the collecting dish, which it could then use.

The downside to this is that there would be some serious fallout. As in nuclear fallout. The amount of it, and the danger it would pose, would be determined by how far the ship was away from Earth, in which direction it was facing, and how powerful the bombs would be. The “ideal” situation would be when you spend 6 months moving the ship away from Earth, and then hit the big red button. The EMP would do minimal damage, as Earth would be shielded by the Sun, and the fallout should have dissipated and decayed enough to be safe by the next time Earth came around.

So, in summary;

Ion Drives – clean energy for probes to hit c and to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Railguns – launch small crews to Europa, but destroy the surrounding countryside.

Nuclear Propulsion – get rid of the excess nuclear stockpile in order to launch generation ships to Proxima Centauri.

Worldbin: Space. It’s Big.

One of the things that people don’t realise in sci-fi, is how big the universe is. It is 4.2 light-years to Proxima Centauri, our nearest solar system. That means that anything you send there will get there at least 4.2 years later. More so, for slower things, like ships. And at least 8.4 years for the return journey. Therefore, even if we could colonise other Solar Systems, they would really be on thier own.

So, just to stay intra-solar, which is probably the best bet to start off with – colonise the planets, make a Dyson Sphere and Solar Sails, create a post scarcity society – the usual stuff in SF. But even that is quite far away. Say, for example, that someone on Mercury wanted to talk to someone on Neptune, they would have a delay of 4 hours and 12 minutes. And if we could go at a 0.01c (which is still pretty quick – 10 million km/hour), it would take them 17 days to get there.

Therefore, if extra-solar civs are like islands in an ocean, with little or no contact, then intra-solar civs are like city-states – close enough to interact, trade, and talk, but far enough away to be independant.

If you do manage to get faster-than-light travel (which is possible, it just needs an implausible amount of energy), then you still don’t get around the communication problem. You would have to use physical messengers which would transmit the data. A more useful version would be to create a wormhole. Then the communications would be almost instantaneous, and bulk matter transmission would also be available. However, once you had created the wormhole then you would have to move it to your destination at realtivistic speeds, and if your only one breaks down, they you would have to wait for a replacement. I’m not even going to speculate what would happen if you moved a wormhole through a wormhole.

And as for people who imagine an entire galactic civilisation, and the communication system that that would entail, the distance from the Sun to the centre of the Milky Way is 26,400±1,600 light years. Unless you lived for an exceptionally long time, and/or your metabolic rate made rocks look like mayflies, then carrying out a communication over that distance is not worth thinking about. And don’t even get me started on all that pan-galactic stuff…..

Worldbin: Mag-Lev Volcanoes.

Yes, this will be exactly what it says on the tin – floating volcanoes.

I was re-reading The Player Of Games by Iain M Banks recently – I would recomend it, it’s a great book – and one of the characters makes an off-hand remark about putting floating mountains on a new Plate – a section of the world that they were on at the time. So I took that idea and ran with it for a while.

I started out with magnetic fluid that became less magnetic and more dense the cooler it got. Now you have a strata’d magnetic ocean, with the most magnetic stuff at the top. Now, below it, you have the lava-stuff. This follows the same principle as the fluid, and starts out below the ocean. However, the fluid is more pronounced in the heat vs. magnetic and heat vs. density arrangement than the lava-thing is.

The second thing is that both fluid are like mercury – if they have the option, they stick together, and align together.

Thirdly, the further you go down, the hotter it gets.

So at the moment a vertical slice would look like this;

Air Above

V.Magnetic fluid.
Less Magnetic fluid.
Quite Magnetic Fluid.

[Gap due to the repulsion – Vacuum? or just low pressure?]

V. Magnetic Lava-stuff.
Less Magnetic Lava.
Extremely Magnetic Lava.

Heat.

(Both the lava and fluid will be in convection currents, as they heat up, rise, cool and fall again)

Now the lava will get hotter and hotter until it reaches a critical mass, or average temperature, or whatever. The fluid above will contract and align opposite to it, in order to stick together. Eventually the Lava will “force” it apart, due to the strength of it’s magnetic field, and fly above the ocean, where it will settle and cool, levitating above the fluid.

And – Viola! – a floating volcano.

Now, when the volcano gets too cool, it will get less and less magnetic, and heavier and heavier, and eventually it will fall into the fluid below. This will cause the fluid to part around it, and so will make a path for the sub-critical lava below.

This should cause a nice periodic graph of islands above the fluid, as more islands “cheat” up as islands fall, until too many cool at once, and there isn’t enough critical or sub-critical lava below it, and it waits for the lava to heat up enough for the cycle to repeat.

There you have it – MagLev Volcanoes. And the Physics for them too.

Worldbin: Flotsam & Jetsam #1

NB: Worldbin is where I chuck campaign worlds. I’ve filled up 3 maths textbooks with this sort of stuff, and this is cheaper. Mainly fantasy RPG, but some sci fi / cyberpunk / whatever.

Flotsam & Jetsam is a twinned hollow-world with shared borders.

What that means is that it seems like a normal place, but if you go above the cloud layer, mine deep enough, or sail far away from the central landmass, then you go into the other one.

Environmental and Atmospheric conditions on each are not exactly the same, Flotsam being heavier and more humid than Jetsam, so when you cross over you can tell. Kinda.

Apart from that twinning, it is a plane of forgotten things – as indicated by the name. Objects that time forgot tend to end up there, one way or another. Unfortunately, sometimes there is good reason that these are not known of. Basically, a new doomsday device, ancient super weapon or eldritch artefact turn up every couple of days, and so the world is full of apocalypse cults, treasure hunters and esoteric monastic orders trying to find these as and when they appear.

If you have ever player Paranoia, think of it as a endless Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues.