Page 1544 - A Thousand Words

8th Jun 2021, 6:00 AM in Magical Mystery Cure
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A Thousand Words
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Newbiespud 8th Jun 2021, 6:00 AM edit delete
Newbiespud
Definitely a trope I end up questioning a whole lot, in retrospect. "Wow, this rare ancient magical tome from a thousand years ago from one of the most brilliant minds in history, never before seen by modern eyes! ...Only the very last page is important to the plot." Meanwhile, my inner bookworm is screaming about the other 599 pages.
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26 Comments:

PhantomFox 8th Jun 2021, 6:43 AM edit delete reply
Interesting the elements are still in their case. I can only assume they're replicas or possibly blanks to enchant new magic onto. Or it was just forgotten or too much hassle to edit out.
NeverHelm 8th Jun 2021, 6:50 AM edit delete reply
This is Discord's Ponyville, they are probably just a taunt from him.
you know that guy 8th Jun 2021, 8:34 PM edit delete reply
Plastic keychains, maybe
Kittoradra 8th Jun 2021, 10:27 PM edit delete reply
Just make sure you don't add too many links to those chains, because those keys bite! Ate through my last door, they did! Now I need to bake another one, and the dishwasher is allergic to wood!
Balrighty 8th Jun 2021, 7:58 AM edit delete reply
In the words of Palpatine: DEW IT!!
DM Anonymous 8th Jun 2021, 9:06 AM edit delete reply
Same, yeah the most recent terminal entry is what matters but what were they thinking a century or so ago?

Also the classic dangling a powerful shiny spell in front of them and seeing if they take proper precautions, especially when they IC/OOC know it's spoopy stuff. And that little delight/slight concern as a DM when you realize that if they bite down hard enough, they could wind up being the end game crisis bad enough to unify the rest of the factions against them. Friendship is Universal Annihilation.
Draxynnic 8th Jun 2021, 9:29 AM edit delete reply
It is a nice resolution here. You'd EXPECT most of the material in some ancient book, particularly if it's on some practical topic like science, engineering, or magic, to be stuff that was known to modern experts in the field - either because it's been repeated by other writers who have seen the book and/or knew the writer, or because the material has since been independently rediscovered. It's the one or two bits where there's something that genuinely HAS been lost, and that nobody's figured out since, that actually makes them valuable.
Digo 8th Jun 2021, 9:36 AM edit delete reply
"You know, they really should put the warning at the beginning of the book."
Anvildude 8th Jun 2021, 3:29 PM edit delete reply
For me the thing that drives me nuts is when they just TEAR OUT a page from the book! Not only does the page always come out really cleanly (I mean, have you _tried_ to tear a page out of a book? And that's with modern, weak paper, not vellum or parchment or old-school heavy papers!) and it's always only the one page where whatever it is STARTS.

Complex prophecies and spells and whatnot might take up more than one page! And why could you not have just taken the whole book with you and not damaged it? What if the book's necessary for the thing to work!?

That's one of the things I was rather pleased about in the Mummy movies with Brendan Frasier. Nobody went tearing pages out of the book of the dead.
LupisLight 8th Jun 2021, 4:41 PM edit delete reply
Tearing out a page and leaving the book DOES make sense in certain scenarios. For instance, when stealing the whole book would be too conspicuous; stealing a book might, say, leave a conspicuous space in the bookshelf letting whoever owns the place realize instantly a book has been taken, and probably even _which_ book was taken. If you tear the important page or pages out and leave the book itself in the same place you found it, it will take a lot longer for anyone to realize it has been tampered with.
Godzfirefly 9th Jun 2021, 3:46 PM edit delete reply
All completely valid points...except that a lot of those villains also murder people on their way in or out...or they set off an alarm...or they leave the book on a table, open to the torn out page. (Doctor Strange's villain did pretty much all of those at once, by the way...)

All of that makes sense narratively...we need the heroes to know what is stolen to know how bad things are, after all. But, from a common sense perspective, it is definitely faster and easier and more practical to just steal the whole book. Especially if someone is going to know a theft/burglary happened anyway.
albedoequals1 8th Jun 2021, 4:44 PM edit delete reply
albedoequals1
Good catch indeed. I've lost count of the number of magic stories propelled by someone carelessly reading the curse out loud because yolo. The Mummy, The Shaggy Dog, etc. Not the least of which is Magical Mystery Cure
LupisLight 8th Jun 2021, 4:53 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, careful there, Twilight - ancient magical texts and scrolls with spells have an irritating tendency to by set off just by reading them aloud or even just looking at them, even when there was no intention to actually cast any spell. Intentional trap like Explosive Runes notwithstanding, you'd think whatever wizard scribed those things would have had the common sense NOT to leave their powerful magic on such a hair-trigger. Modern explosives are probably safer than magical grimoires and scrolls!
Draxynnic 9th Jun 2021, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
In most cases, yes. Plastique requires an electric current - from memory, you could expose it to fire and it wouldn't go off. From memory, in fact, high explosive is often safer than low explosive, because high explosives often require specific conditions to detonate - this depends on the specific form, but the more unstable forms like nitroglycerine generally aren't the ones that people prefer to use nowadays so I wouldn't really consider them 'modern'.
Kittoradra 8th Jun 2021, 10:24 PM edit delete reply
This brings up an interesting question, though: What is it that makes magic work? If it's just the words, then people saying random things should be getting magical effects to occur all the time! In most settings, especially ones where magic takes "a long time" to learn, the words are just another focus to channel the magic. All the actual work of the spell is managed more directly, so "accidentally casting a spell" would be a rare and unusual occurrence on its own because it would mean the power was already prepared and was just waiting for a final catalyst to set it off.
Wulfraed 9th Jun 2021, 9:25 AM edit delete reply
In the case of this spell, it could be the nearness of the Elements -- and it is the Elements implementing the magic, not the words themselves.

Hmmm -- that leads to a potential... Since this is Discord's Ponyville -- it could be that the whole cutie mark swap is HIS idea, inspired by the words of the failed spell (for all we know, Discord is disguised as the Elements, so would be close enough to hear Twilight recite the words).

Twilight managing to restore the marks, and then rewriting the spell into something functional would then be a shock to Discord.
Cliff_Robotnik 9th Jun 2021, 6:30 AM edit delete reply
I played with this trope before as a DM... Find a library of a legendary ancient Mage AND stop it from self destructing(because a 800 year old wizard has LOTS of tim to play with Glyph Of Warding.), only to discover the Wizard had a organization method that's somewhere between "non-Euclidian" and "nonexistent"... And most of his spell books have spelled interspersed with, of all things, entirely nonmagical (almost) culinary recipes and research, with just as much time and effort put into it at the magic stuff, if not MOreso... Because once you figure out Superior Wish, your sort of done researching magic... And he still had 600 years left.

So they had a NPC researcher spending 24/7 cataloging everything... And ended up becoming a planar-class chef as a side effect.

He knew several thousand variations on how to prepare dried Jerkey alone... He can not even count the pasta variations, and doubts even a dragon could.

It was later revealed this NPC was a dragon, so no, even a dragon couldn't count that high.
(And in my setting, dragons are Ageless beings, and a handful out there being older then the planet!)

Never did find out where he stored his notes on Superior Wish, but they found the recipe for Superior Fish, which became the gillman Bard's favorite.
RuBoo 9th Jun 2021, 7:52 AM edit delete reply
Hmm... Just what is between “non-Euclidean” and “nonexistent”? I’m not exactly Twilight Sparkle, so I don’t really have a dictionary handy. Although I suppose it would depend on how the dictionary handles hyphens... There could be quite a lot, if it’s treated like a space or even its own character, or there could be very little, if anything, if it’s treated as if it’s not even there.
ZecterThree 9th Jun 2021, 7:38 PM edit delete reply
I think it's something like "the books all had a game of musical shelves, all of them don't want to sit next to each other, and there's enough shelves for all of them to squish in. Next thing you know, a third of the books have bent space so their shelf area is bigger for them and no one else, and then some of them decided to play again, but upside down."
Or something like that.
Cliff_Robotnik 10th Jun 2021, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
Actually not far off...

The flip side of that place was tha lair of the Dragon known as "The Skies Many Eyes" and "The Azure Tempest", as dragons in my setting have Titles and achievements instead of names, a multi-headed blue dragon whom is one of the oldest generational dragons known of(she is a non-character herself as a Archmage manages to barely cast some variation of Sequestor on it)... HER library was so big it took up a large sized Demiplane, and is PAINFULLY well organized... The PCs can't really benefit from it much as the energies of the Demiplane are hazardous to non-dragon entities, and anyone with less then half dragon blood need to have some Sierious willpower to last long there... Or magic immunity.
Cliff_Robotnik 10th Jun 2021, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
Actually not far off...

The flip side of that place was tha lair of the Dragon known as "The Skies Many Eyes" and "The Azure Tempest", as dragons in my setting have Titles and achievements instead of names, a multi-headed blue dragon whom is one of the oldest generational dragons known of(she is a non-character herself as a Archmage manages to barely cast some variation of Sequestor on it)... HER library was so big it took up a large sized Demiplane, and is PAINFULLY well organized... The PCs can't really benefit from it much as the energies of the Demiplane are hazardous to non-dragon entities, and anyone with less then half dragon blood need to have some Sierious willpower to last long there... Or magic immunity.
ZecterThree 14th Jun 2021, 11:40 PM edit delete reply
Huh, neat place!
Ebony Sable 10th Jun 2021, 1:54 AM edit delete reply
Words starting with "nonev" and "nonew." So, "non-event," "non-even," "non-eviscerated," things like that.
Guest 10th Jun 2021, 1:36 PM edit delete reply
Also noneukaryotic, non-European, nonexample, non-exclusive, etc.
Guest 10th Jun 2021, 1:39 PM edit delete reply
Or maybe it was something completely _nonexceptional_ like Dewey decimal system, but the NPC researcher wasn't a very smart dragon.
Cliff_Robotnik 13th Jun 2021, 5:21 AM edit delete reply
As the DM, I can assure you that was not the case. XD