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how much can mind and life overlap?

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  • how much can mind and life overlap?

    I'm curious as to your thoughts about how much of Mind can be replicated with Life. I've got a player that keeps trying to do things like affect memory or decision making via Life affecting the brain. And I'm starting to worry I'm being overly restrictive

  • #2
    I don't think you are being overly restrictive. Life can certainly affect things under the purview of mind indirectly (such as commanding the subject's body to release certain chemical into the bloodstream or releasing specific neuroreceptors in the brain that affect mood, which would certainly influence decision making) but that doesn't mean that a life mage gets to dictate the conscious decisions of the subject. You can make somebody angry, but you can't decide *what* the subject does with that anger. Mind is able to do those things more directly, as it affects the metaphysical structure used to conceptualize the conscious mind (as consciousness can only be definitively said to have extremely strong correlations to functions of the body/brain, not to be caused by these functions). Mind can both make somebody angry, AND decide how the subject expresses that anger.

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    • #3
      ^
      What they said. If your feeling very generous maybe you could let them do something like mess with their hippocampus to shut down long term memory but that would be a blanket effect. Choosing specific memories would be a no go.
      For decision making I would not let it go beyond inflicting an emotional state and hoping for the best.
      The brain spreads it's functions out pretty well in a lot of cases and I should point out we still don't have a perfect understanding of how it does everything it does. Unless the character is a neuroscientist and probably a free councilor they probably shouldn't be messing with people's brains. Symbolism and interpretation tend to more important in magic then the literal science behind any of it.
      I would inflict some sort penalty or unintended consequence. Like messing with the frontal lobe would also mess with their ability to think in any form. Looking up effects if different brain injuries could be a fun way to flavour this.
      Last edited by Margul; 10-29-2018, 10:51 PM.

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      • #4
        Once you hit Life 3-4 you can flat up start removing/adding parts of/to the brain, or changing how they work.

        While I wouldn't let it be as delicate as Mind control and manipulation, you can certainly cause some massively potent effects on the operation of the brain and the capacities to make rational decisions, plan, and even access memory.

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        • #5
          Essentially treat Life spells on the brain as highly effective medications. If medicine can't believably do it, then you need Mind. My Thyrsus tries to get Mind 2 so as to do conjunctional spells to grease the wheels but even then it can't go as far as pure mind can

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          • #6
            Originally posted by HerbertIsBestBert View Post
            Once you hit Life 3-4 you can flat up start removing/adding parts of/to the brain, or changing how they work.

            While I wouldn't let it be as delicate as Mind control and manipulation, you can certainly cause some massively potent effects on the operation of the brain and the capacities to make rational decisions, plan, and even access memory.
            Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post
            Essentially treat Life spells on the brain as highly effective medications. If medicine can't believably do it, then you need Mind. My Thyrsus tries to get Mind 2 so as to do conjunctional spells to grease the wheels but even then it can't go as far as pure mind can
            I think combining these gives me a great metaphor for the limits that I believe the player will understand: Life mental manipulation is equivalent to sub-sonics, pheromones, medication, or surgery

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Margul View Post
              Unless the character is a neuroscientist and probably a free councilor they probably shouldn't be messing with people's brains. Symbolism and interpretation tend to be more important in magic then the literal science of it. I would inflict some penalty or unintended consequence.
              Thanks to magic, a Mage with Life effectively is a neuroscientist.

              The only time Mages might not know how a spell is going to affect a subject is if it’s the first time they’ve ever cast such a spell and have done no preparatory research at all, or in the event that the subject is in some way not operating as a normal example of their phenomena and the Mage has failed to make themselves aware of that or take it into account for their spell. Usually a Mage’s spells work exactly as intended, and the Mage has failed to understand or decided to ignore the consequences and that’s when you check for an AoH.

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              • #8
                At my table we normally treat Life-based mental manipulation as a bludgeon, and Mind as a scalpel.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lareath View Post

                  I think combining these gives me a great metaphor for the limits that I believe the player will understand: Life mental manipulation is equivalent to sub-sonics, pheromones, medication, or surgery
                  This sums up what I would have said as well. Life can manipulate brain chemistry, and possibly affect brain function in broad ways, but not elicit specific results. As said, Life can make someone angry, or happy, or sad, and hopefully they respond to those emotions as intended. Mind would cause a particular response or action, and the brain chemistry would likely adjust in response.

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                  • #10
                    There's already a published Life spell for giving people conditions, and I think that's pretty much it. There are a couple cool spells in creative thaumaturgy thread in the same vein, like Veiling body language and stuff like that. Life will only let you affects people physiologically: you can make them horny, tired, anxious, even angry... but you can't dictate how they feel about that or what they do about it. Not with Magic, anyways, you'll need good ol' manipulation for that.

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                    • #11
                      The brain is essentially a computer, and can theoretically be understood completely. If Life reflects behavioral and physiological psychology (who I disagree with philosophically) then Mind covers cognitive psychology, which is the one I personally think figures out how people actually *think* better.

                      Even so, you CAN get a lot done with Life if you know what symbols to manipulate. Perhaps science can be used as a yantra or effect fine-control neurotransmitter spells, at least til Life 5 cuz at Life 5 theres no way you can't figure this out with mage sight or knowing whats gonna happen.

                      BUUUT, if you can't do that mages still have more options!
                      A life mage can do conjunctional Knowing Time spells whose purpose is to tell what your life spell will do if you DO cast it, and study the results! So a thyrsus with modest time can practice on live subjects without endangering them! If the spell backfires, the thyrsus can study why, and the victim is only in the future, a future that vanishes as soo as present-day thyrsus tries something different.

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                      • #12
                        There's actually some push back from experts against people thinking of the brain as a computer. It's really much more complicated than that. But I say that's not that important, because Mage takes as premises a lot of philosophical claims that are unresolved or controversial in the real world. one of them being that there exists something called "Mind" that is different from your body. We can accommodate some modern understanding of how hormones and brain chermistry affect psychology, but it should be very limited as to not make Mind redundant.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EW-Matias View Post
                          There's actually some push back from experts against people thinking of the brain as a computer. It's really much more complicated than that. But I say that's not that important, because Mage takes as premises a lot of philosophical claims that are unresolved or controversial in the real world. one of them being that there exists something called "Mind" that is different from your body. We can accommodate some modern understanding of how hormones and brain chermistry affect psychology, but it should be very limited as to not make Mind redundant.
                          How so? I was thinking that neurons are either firing or not, a binary. Is that not accurate?

                          In terms of architecture and HOW you flip the bits I'd completely agree.

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                          • #14
                            The magic of Mage is all about Supernal symbolism. This means that when you use Mind magic to exert control over the mind of another your are not actually manipulating the structure or chemistry of their brain but the Supernal symbols that define their brain.
                            It's less brain surgery with magic scalpels and more using a magic pen to write "In a fit of rage, Bob attacks Steve with killing intent".
                            You change the underlying symbols and reality twists to match, at least until Dissonance erases your writing.
                            You need to be able to read and write Supernal, anatomy lessons aren't necessary. Though such knowledge may make it easier to understand what you are reading and writing.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post

                              How so? I was thinking that neurons are either firing or not, a binary. Is that not accurate?

                              In terms of architecture and HOW you flip the bits I'd completely agree.
                              I've seen many articles in this vein. Also, I believe neurons and neurotransmitters have a much more complex interplay than "on and off".

                              https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-do...not-a-computer

                              Now, I'm don't necessarily agree with that article 100%, but I find it convincing enough to recognize that the brain and human cognition are way more complicated than I understand.

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