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  • Food, Life and Matter

    Did a search to find more consensus on this, but I'm still not quite satisfied. I'd like to brainstorm situations in which you'd need Matter to make food, and in which situations you'd need Life, and whether you need a conjunctional arcana for one or the other.

    Example, do you need Matter or Life to make an apple? It sounds like you'd need Pattern Life to me, and an example somewhere in first edition had making algae protein bars be a life 2 spell (um what?), and some of that got salvaged in 2ED, but mostly in the Purview for Life. It seems like it would be intended for this, but no examples were put in for space, and its kind of irrelevant because with LIfe 3 you can make yourself immune to hunger anyway. But, I'm a hedonist, I like food...
    So it sounds like it could go either way. An apple fresh off the tree, is it matter or life? Because when you can pattern a tree that has apples already on it, do you really, really, really need that tree?

    Applesauce, however, I can clearly see being Matter. Its supernal imagery is clearly transitioned.

    Rotting apples. I saw someone discuss the hazy territory of if a steak is Death or Matter, and I can see some of that here. I think Life spells could possibly affect a rotting apple? Could you Perfect its life-pattern? Do we even care if an apple is so rotten that it is "dead". It seems Death is mostly concerned with animal corpses, I'm not sure how Death interacts with say, dead trees.

    Let's take another look at steaks. I don't expect anyone to respond to every paragraph I'm using, feel free to cherry pick! But um, steaks. So those are just meat right? I think at this point we're definitely not in the Life pattern, but, while the intention to use a chunk of raw meat for necromancy probably means we can keep the Death arcana in there, but, a cooked steak would definitely be Matter right?
    If I'm going to pattern a room-temperature, cooked steak, I can see myself needing Matter 4... but would I need Life conjunctional to make it nourishing, or is Matter alone good enough? Again, Life's purview is "food" so I'm interested in if it means controlling the symbols that make food food (nourishment) or if it can control food in the more obvious sense, like the steak's nutrition?

    And lets say we can come to an example that we all mostly think is food, but only controlled by matter, such as say... cheese. What if I use Life magic to create a genetically engineered plant that grows cheese inside waxy rinds, sort of like mini-goudas? The plant makes them, but, they're chemically identical to cheese, and are growing as long as you don't pick the bulbs. When you pick them and knowing they're actually cheese, are they now Life or Matter? A little different from the apple, because, while apples were a natural and easier example, this genetically modified plant is growing bulbs that are a part of it, but, what they are is cheese, an easy target for "matter"

    As a bonus round, I'd like to interject and ask if a Life mage can control blood outside her own body without using Matter, provided she doesn't lose control of the blood at any point and "spills" it. Example, could a thyrsus cut herself and then web the blood around her to create sick sick clothes?

    And I guess I have one question to ask... should different kinds of food require different arcana, Matter 4 for some, Life 4 for some, Matter 4 Life 1-3 for some... and then Matter 4 and Life 4 for the most exotic examples? Such as... the supernal turkey dinner, complete with everything (and tons of reach cost), would that be Matter 4 Life 4 for freshness, or just Matter 4? Oh, and I guess it would need forces 2-3 for heat.

    Hopefully I've collected enough examples to showcase how I'm finding this question still interesting, complicated, and not as straight forward as it could initially seem.

  • #2
    My answer:
    To create or change living animals and plants that produce food it's only Life. Note that many things can be considered "alive" or biologically active for a period of time after it has been separated from the main body. Seeds in particular can be considered alive for massive periods of time, theoretically up to millennia.
    To create or change organic matters that are dead it's Matter. Death can also affect some of it to a degree, such as for reversing the decay to make it more nutritional, but is unable to do stuff like transforming it into another type of organic matter.
    Forces is necessary to manipulate the heat of the subject.
    No conjunctional Arcana should be needed (unless you're Patterning things from one category to the other) and dot ratings depends on the nature of the spell (which Practice you're using) instead of the nature of the subject.

    Each Arcanum is also limited to what it can do. I already mentioned that Death is less useful for dealing with food, and Life is similarly not that great at making clothes out of blood. You can Shield the blood from dying outside your body, but you can't make it a solid without transforming it into another type of organic matter. Shaping the blood into a dress becomes impossible because it's not capable of sustaining that form. You could, however, remove someone's skin and fashion yourself a dress from that, which is guaranteed to gain all the attention at the evening ball.


    Bloodline: The Stygians
    Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
    Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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    • #3
      I disagree on the blood clothes, if the blood is still alive it can be given properties of more solid organs that could hold a form with Weaving without transforming it into another kind of organ, and it would just be Life. Also a weird, but interesting bit of spellwork.

      I pretty much agree with the rest of what Tessie said though. My rule is typically non-processed and raw food is Life, anything else is Matter, with varying degrees of temperature being provided by Forces. I’ll add that causing a plant to bear produce should probably only be Ruling.

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      • #4
        I suppose you could grant the blood cells cell adhesion properties. Would require quite a lot of blood due to the loss of plasma.


        Bloodline: The Stygians
        Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
        Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Tessie View Post
          I suppose you could grant the blood cells cell adhesion properties. Would require quite a lot of blood due to the loss of plasma.
          I think you’re over complicating magic with science for no reason.

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          • #6
            I was thinking more stockings or clothes that cling than things that drape, if I wanted a blood *dress* I think I'd need Matter 2 or something.

            So it seems a thyrsus could "transmute" food and water through Life, it just takes waiting for your manufactured creature to produce what you needed. Good to know! Although, I'd still go for matter anyway because being able to shape-shift clothes and equipment is super valuable.

            I like the reasoning that one could "restore" rotten food using Death by fraying the death-pattern? If I caught that right.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post
              I think I'd need Matter 2 or something.

              So it seems a thyrsus could "transmute" food and water through Life
              Nope! Matter need not apply. Thyrsus can do food, but not water because water isn't alive (Life does let you skip the need to drink water at all though). You could certainly get all the possible bacteria, parasites, etc. out of water, or take a plant like a watermelon that stores lots of water and get your hydration needs met that way.

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              • #8
                So, the principle I'd start from is that an organism is Life while alive, and Matter when dead. So this means to me that the first thing you have to do is look at when you eat the specific food.

                Generally speaking, animal product is Matter, because the animal it came from is dead. However, plant matter tends to be Life, because it's alive when you eat it. As a general rule, I'd allow a Reach to be spent to do it with the other Arcanum for the purpose of making something edible. Then you have more in-between cases like spices and herbs, where in terms of gameplay, I wouldn't demand one Arcanum or the other, but for the purposes of theorycrafting, I'd say dried herbs and spices are Matter, but fresh herbs are Life.

                For a case like applesauce, I'd use the same lens that you do: does it seem like something that's still alive? Does it still have the potential to grow? An apple is a seed for an apple tree; applesauce... you'd have to do something really fancy to contort it into an apple tree, so that reads as Matter to me, too. I think that can be easily generalized into any kind of processed food: once you've applied heat, the plant is dead. A gray area can exist for the fineness of chopped foods.

                To me, there is no case in which Death plays a significant role. Death can be used to animate non-plant food, but so can Matter. Death can govern the process of entropy and decay, so it can stop food from spoiling or rotting, but it can't make food unless you came up with some serious mental contortions through the Unmaking Practice. (That said, reading further, I think the process of aging stuff like wines and cheeses would be a reasonable application of Death; i.e., you're making it more dead.)

                It might be more illuminating to actually map out a couple spells and see if you can make them make sense, since the very concept of food isn't one that the Storyteller system handles, y'know, at all.

                ... and now you have me thinking about how to write an entire system around food, etiquette, and hospitality. Dammit.


                I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
                Guanxi Explanations: 1, 2, 3.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for responding so thoroughly! To me these sorts of questions are valuable for scenarios where survival (as a skill and as a trope) are important, or where you might have to live poor or do walk-the-world stuff. The Sundered World is a particular one I think about a lot.

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                  • #10
                    Another thing you should think about is whether the spells are Lasting and how long Duration is needed to gain/retain nutrients and energy if they're not Lasting.


                    Bloodline: The Stygians
                    Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                    Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                      To me, there is no case in which Death plays a significant role. Death can be used to animate non-plant food, but so can Matter. Death can govern the process of entropy and decay, so it can stop food from spoiling or rotting, but it can't make food unless you came up with some serious mental contortions through the Unmaking Practice. (That said, reading further, I think the process of aging stuff like wines and cheeses would be a reasonable application of Death; i.e., you're making it more dead.)
                      That seems more life, since its the action of bacteria/fungi which are still alive for the process.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Exthalion View Post
                        That seems more life, since its the action of bacteria/fungi which are still alive for the process.
                        Arcana are not mutually exclusive. Decay is explicitly in the purview of Death so you can definitely Shield something from rotting or spoiling with Death. Ageing foodstuff could work, but you'd have to manually ensure the conditions in which it ages positively or risk spoiling it. Fermenting foodstuff should also be possible, either advancing an already ongoing fermentation process or applying a Reach to a decay inducing spell to make sure the food decays into an edible state.


                        Bloodline: The Stygians
                        Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                        Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tessie View Post
                          Another thing you should think about is whether the spells are Lasting and how long Duration is needed to gain/retain nutrients and energy if they're not Lasting.
                          Well for me it would totally be lasting when consumed! But I think that's best as Storytellers preference because if the spell can end while its still in someones system, how and why and where is important for say, a loaf of bread thats really arsenic for a well timed assassination!

                          But if I had to argue the case, after food left the stomach its occult pattern changes and the spell is "lasting" then, even as waste its lasting.

                          But the simplest one is to say, eat it, and its lasting. no drama in it turning back after a day if you can always make more, and anyone with patterning can bust out a months duration no sweat sooooo... Theyd hafta deliberately decrease it to make timing relevant!

                          For stock-piles of food or with sleeper dissonance timing is more important but I still think thr drama is usualky over when the foods eaten. But if not, then, if its still being digested it could change back horrifically, but if the nutrients are in the blood stream its now lasting.

                          Molecular truths are only part of the fallen world after all.

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                          • #14
                            As demonstrated by Sarda, Time can make food. In that it lets you eat the dinner you might have hypothetically made were you not a Time mage

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                            • #15
                              I think there is some overlap. Fruit comes from a living being, but is not alive. A steak used to be alive. I would say either Arcana can generate them.

                              Matter for things like dehydrating food, processed food, making rations or a gourmet meal. Life for things that require fermentation, like wine or miso.

                              So to sum it up:

                              Raw organic materials: Life or Matter
                              Raw inorganic materials (like water or salt), inorganically processed or cooked food: Matter
                              Organically processed food: Life or a Pattering of Matter
                              Last edited by KaiserAfini; 11-23-2018, 02:09 PM.


                              New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


                              The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists

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