Ask Luna #49

From: Joe

Hi Luna! I was wondering whst Talsid and other council mages think about being exposed in the books? Are they even more upset with Alex, do they think normals will consider it fiction so they are unconcerned, were names and identities changed to prevent identification? Or do they have a different reaction entirely?

Honestly, I’d be surprised if they even knew about it. You’d be surprised how disconnected most mages are from the mundane world. Something as out-there as fantasy books wouldn’t even make it onto their radar.

But yeah, names and identities are changed. I actually have to double-check each of these posts before I put them up, just to make sure I’ve got them all straight. It’s really confusing having so many names for each person.

From: Lili

Hi Luna, I have a couple of questions that may seem odd?

1. It’s been established that magic type is based on personality, but the ability to do magic can sometimes run in families. If you have identical twins and one is a mage, how likely is it that the other twin will also be a mage, and are they likely to have similar types of magic, or could it vary depending on how their personalities turn out?

2. What if someone had multiple personalities/dissociative identity disorder? Could you have two personalities with different types of magic? Could you have one mage personality and one nonmagical personality, or more?

3. Is it possible to possess another person, and if some spirit/entity/other mage possessed someone, would the possessor get the abilities of the host?

1. Some mages actually did some experiments based on exactly that (based off non-mage experiments – I think there’s something about identical twins that appeals to scientific types). Far as I remember, the general conclusion was that yes, most of the time, identical twins had the same magic level classification – if one was a mage, the other was, too, which isn’t likely to be coincidence given how rare mages are. There were some variations in type, but they were pretty minor.

2. I’ve never heard of anything like that. I don’t think you get multiple personalities with multiple magic types, at least not naturally.

3. Grey area. Possession is one of those things that’s forbidden by the Concord, so the teachers are kind of iffy about teaching us about it. I did poke around a bit (given past experience, I had kind of a personal interest) and they told me that suppressing someone’s personality enough to possess them would knock out their magical abilities too, though there might be a transition period where you had access to both. But it didn’t sound like they knew for sure.

From: Jonathan

Hi Luna!

I have been thinking about Alex’s abilities, and there are several contexts in which I would like to see him test them. Has he thought about working on medical experiments? (Or scientific experiments in general)? For example, I think he may make searching for cures for diseases much more efficient. My question is, are there limitations on his ability that would make this unproductive? If not, would he consider it? One can imagine how much time he could eliminate from searching for a cure to AIDS, and so on.

Secondly, K. Anders Ericson’s research on what greatness is and how to achieve it shows that ten thousand hours of focused practice are one part of the formula. It takes ten thousand hours of practice in part because one has to experiment to find the best path. Another part of the practice is internalizing the lessons one learns in the experimenting. My question here is in line with my previous question. Could Alex’s abilities shorten the time it would take for him to achieve mastery in many different areas? He could become seriously dangerous, graceful, talented, etc.

Thirdly, there are some ways in which Alex’s abilities would obviate the need to develop excellence. He could use a shortcut for aiming, for example, so that as a sharpshooter he could just see where the bullet would go, and pull the trigger only when it is right. (This is a bit of an exaggeration, as one would have to take time to hold the gun correctly, etc., so practice would help.)

Lastly, I was thinking about some possible limitations or even drawbacks of his ability. One limitation would be wisdom. Simply because one can see where a course of action would go doesn’t tell you why that course of action is the best. It will give Alex a large amount of accurate data, but figuring out why some course of action is right is very difficult. Thus my question- is there a danger in relying upon the talent and not upon understanding? I personally would be tempted to shoot from the hip, as it were, rather than spend the time on thinking things through.

I am very much looking forward to reading about your next adventure!
My friends and I love this series.

All the best,

Experiment-wise, I don’t think Alex’s abilities would actually be much use. For the simple ones where it only takes an hour or two and you get a yes/no answer, sure, but from what I’ve been told, the kind of experiments you need to cure a disease are a lot longer and more complicated than that. I’ve never heard of diviners working in the medical business, anyway, so there’s probably a good reason why they don’t but life mages do.

As for the other questions, they all kind of tie together. Yeah, Alex can learn things slightly faster than normal. Normally, though, he just short-cuts the whole thing, pretty much how you describe. So he doesn’t need to learn marksmanship the regular way – he just knows what he has to do to hit a target. He’s told me a couple of times that often he doesn’t have a clue WHY something works or HOW it works – he just knows THAT it works. So, he could know which wire to cut on an electrical circuit to make it turn off, without knowing anything about electronics. He just sees cause and effect.

And I hadn’t thought about it, but yeah, I guess that could make you bypass understanding a bit. I’ve noticed that he’ll often jump into situations he doesn’t really understand because he’s counting on being able to figure things out on the fly. But then I kind of do the same thing, so I guess I’m not one to talk.

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