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  • $\begingroup$ Is the following question within scope? worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/156548/… $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Hello. I am not a new user, but I have a question that I'm uncertain about whether it should go in Worldbuilding or Physics. Should I post it here to get feedback on this? $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Oct 23, 2020 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Qami This is the right place. Generally speaking, if your question is a real-world question with no direct worldbuilding conditions, it would go to physics. If it's a real-world question with specific and identified worldbuilding conditions, it should be here. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Oct 24, 2020 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ Quick question, why do you have to create a new question for sandbox everytime it gets "full"? In my opinion it is making things messier. On code-golf.SE, all sandbox posts are in one question to keep it organised. $\endgroup$
    – DialFrost
    Jun 27 at 11:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DialFrost I'm delighted to hear that on another Stack people are so well organized and courteous enough about maintaining their questions that they don't require Sandbox chains. Here, we have had difficulty in the past with people cleaning up their questions and comments. When they don't, the load/sort/scroll/manage time for the page gets so long that people stop using the Sandbox. This version of the Sandbox has been going quite a long time and I'm equally delighted that our users have been doing a better job of maintaining their questions. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 1 at 4:41

8 Answers 8


Graduated Questions List

In accordance with Sandbox Overflow!, answers containing graduated questions will be deleted. This answer is designed to be a repository for all those questions that have graduated. It is a community wiki answer, so add in your question here, at the end of the list, once it is posted on the main site!

  1. Gravity magic - How does it work?

  2. How can animals of various species organize themselves against a super-predator?

  3. How could indestructible materials be used in power generation?

  4. Modification to Chariots for Heavy Cavalry Analogue for 4-armed race

  5. In what ways would cryomancy affect the food eaten by medieval people?

  6. Comprehensive Worldbuilding Outline

  7. How can I design a glamour spell for a creature that meets certain requirements??

  8. Anatomically Correct Huldra

  9. How can I refine the rules of precognition to make it valuable in a fast paced enviromment?

  10. Ambush tactics for dummy witches?

  11. How can I build a school around a particular form of magic?

  12. How can existing methods of plumping, genetic modification, and gmo feeding be altered to accommodate the need for plumper, meatier human food stock?

  13. What is the lower bound for lightspeed? / What is the upper bound for Lightspeed?

  14. Designing a magic-compatible polearm

  15. How can power levels matter in a magic system that emphasizes control?

  16. How can religions without a hell discourage evil-doing?

  17. Why would non-kinetic weapons be used for orbital bombardment?

  18. Kinetic weapons - establishing an upper limit when dealing with grey goo

  19. How can an elder god's corporation remove suspicion from its plans while preserving its clandestine monopoly?

  20. How can you eliminate dreaming without affecting REM sleep?

  21. The North Star in the ancient world sky

  22. https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/152522/plants-and-animals-switch-places-how-could-this-have-happened

  23. How can I motivate mages to recruit individuals for a pyramid scheme of evil?

  24. How can I prevent corporations from growing their own workforce?

  25. How can having multiple casters for a spell create excess heat?

  26. How can you discreetly advertise underground death matches?

  27. How can I shift my country's immigration policy to a skills based approach?

  28. How big could dinosaurs get with super strength and durability?

  29. How can reincarnation lead to a second personality?

  30. How can a long lived species deal with generational shifts in society?

  31. Adapting to a sonic world

  32. How can my hammerspace safely "decompress"?

  33. Can We Prevent an Impact Winter Extinction with Modern Technology?

  34. What would cause a sapient race to evolve oral castration as a core cultural part of reproductive intercourse?

  35. How easily can a medieval granary explode?

  36. Long Term Evolution of Double Planet System in Close Orbit

  37. How to create fictional earth ecosystems with lots of megafauna which can plausibly coexist?

  38. How can an illness make one's eyes turn green?

  39. Utility of Class Crystals

  40. Why does magical defensive equipment not work in layers?

  41. Why Would Mages and Adventurers Wear Impractical Clothing?"

  42. Can an Earth-like world of shallow, global, seas be stable over geological time?

  43. Controlling the late-medieval world with just a network of agents and instant communication

  44. Space Piracy, a case study

  45. I can send small things back in time 500 milliseconds, which item listed would be most profitable to teleclone? (without extortion)

  46. What could reduce sunlight on an Earth-like planet?

  47. What kind of hooves do horses need to race on a river of lead?


Problems with Parthenogenesis

Sequinoans-or in other words, my take on Amazonians. While reviewing bits and bobs of my story, I've come to realize there is a serious problem I need to take into account; ie. parthenogenesis.

Early on in their history, Sequinoans were female settlers on a otherwise uninhabited* continent. No one is sure why they came by themselves, or why they hid away in this one spot (the Forbidden Woods) for so long, but they had or developed parthenogenesis and used that to survive.

With me so far? What I'm wondering is how parthenogenesis will impact their society in these isolated conditions; or, rather, how being surrounded by those who look and act like you, and perhaps even giving birth to them, would impact their society. Basically, how being isolated to a group of self-perpetuating clones would affect their relationships.

Why, you ask? I have figured out how they will tell each other apart-as they are altruistic and value society over the individual, their names will likely be occupations, like Chef or Weaver, with surnames being achievements like 'slew a Megahorn and made the most wonderful steaks from it' or 'wove the one net trap that Shadowstrike Lizard didn't escape from so we finally caught that nuisance'-so they will have identities.

But, I don't know how family relationships will be impacted by parthenogenesis, and the family is the foundation of society in my estimation, so I want to get that figured out, as I'm pretty sure growing up with multiple people that can be mistaken for your mother will impact this society so profoundly an answer to this may be the key to figuring the rest of this society out. No pressure.

Thank you for your input, I appreciate it!

1. Cultural Context:

The Sequinoans were originally Avradurians, a people known for being highly militant, organized, and patriarchal (if this sounds like they're sexist, there's a reason for that), as well as for their Karystals, the source of their power.

The Sequinoan's ancestors were born in June and thus possessed Moonstone magic, which is how they were able to gain parthenogenesis and avoid being wiped out by disease.

They left Avraduria to a new country because they wanted greater respect and equal treatment and couldn't get it in their highly traditional, lawful society, and when they discovered the only humanoids were humanoid animals, they withdrew and hid themselves away from the 'unnatural' and have strict rules against leaving their territory.

TL;DR: As Moonstone Avradurians, Sequinoans will likely reverence the moon, seeing it as the source of their healing and survival, and as Avradurians, they will have a highly lawful, traditional, and warlike society, with a strict chain of command and an emphasis on combat, obedience to authority, and putting the tribe above oneself.

  • $\begingroup$ Consequences is a very broad ask. Remember that brainstorming and idea generation are not a good fit for this site. It looks like you're asking us to brainstorm "horribly flawed scenarios" such a question runs afoul of our POB, and too broad policies. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 15 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: thanks for the input! I've tried to clarify. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 15 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ It's a long established fact that questions asking "How would X affect a society?" are a poor fit for this site. Especially since you haven't established what the baseline society to be affected is. Your edit still leaves you question too broad and too POB. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 15 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ Lack of cultural context makes any answer equally valid. For instance, highly-individualist societies would need some time to adjust, whereas others whose ideals are to act like others will cope with it faster, but since we don't know which one yours is, hard to tell which sentence is best. Then, yes, checking the whole society is asking quite a lot. Here are some narrower approaches I'm thinking of, give or take : Mother/child relationships, identification of people, sickness spreading prevention, birthing rituals... And I guess that's only the tepee of the iceberg 🐭. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 16 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena: thanks for clearing things up! I'll add the context. And, I'll try to narrow the scope. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 16 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: I've added cultural context and will be looking on how to narrow the scope. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 16 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ You're still asking "How will X affect society?" Adding a description of the culture helps but your core ask is still off topic for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 16 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: ah, sphennings, thank you! You always tell it like it is, and I've grown to really appreciate that! I have now narrowed the scope-or I believe I have-and would appreciate your input. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 16 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ Similar to how when you wanted to know the effect on their society you needed to describe their current society. If you want us to talk about how their relationships could be affected by parthenogenesis you should describe what their relationships currently are like. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 16 at 1:49
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: thank you, but that's just it; I have no idea. That's why I made that the new focus of the question! Is....that wrong? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 16 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ It seems like you have some ideas you need to flesh out on your own. Then you can come to us when you have a specific problem that you're struggling with. When you do try to ask a question that follows site policy regarding brainstorming and open ended questions. You should also check that you're providing all relevant information after any edit that changes the core question. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 16 at 2:22
  • $\begingroup$ I've read back, it's much better. First, you avoid the immediate question "But how did they gain parthena... parthenothing thing so quickly"; Then we have some social foundations to work with. To strike more accurately the question contextual needs with "relationships", the demography can be important : you don't need complex systems like ID cards and last names if you're only 20 or 30. Well, without parthenongesis at least.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 16 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ [...] Then, since we are looking at families, how does birthing occur? That is, are they 9 months living eggs outside mom's body, or are they like human placenta embryos (without the "prior... Intense activity")? Something else. Finally, you can remove some rubbles like the Avradurians Karystals. If there's no description and no evident relationship with the new tribe, then it doesn't have to be told ^^. Same for the sickness Sequinoans had, if it's important to their history add one line or two about it, if not you can remove it.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 16 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ [...] Hmmm... And now I'm out of improvement paper now. I'll need some time to buy new ones from the sleep market. At this point however it's getting tricky to find such items now, so consider I cannot help much more... Until a spark lights up! $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 16 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: thank you for your feedback! It's taken awhile, but I've figured out most of the foundational stuff-I just need to figure out what I'm missing and edit the question accordingly. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 30 at 21:19

The viability of scripted armies

In the Year of our Lady 1150 AD, Balgatorix the Cruel was rejected from theatre school. He promptly took over North Kiltia and, still seeing himself a masterful playwright (and being highly distrustful of the big honchos in his corrupt military), he is obsessed with the idea of scripted armies. Those are groups of scripted soldiers that act without a leader or a hierarchy, with every individual soldier having a script describing their tasks for the duration of a campaign. Those scripts look something like this:

1. Reach Ystradgynlais by day 1 of the campaign, eat in the church basement
2. Reach Pontypridd by day 2, eat in Kidwelly's Tavern. Acquire a horse from Hywel.
18. On day 15, pick up a catapult from Bob in Glynneath. Learn how to operate and transport it.
19. By day 17, reach Fort Maesteg.
20. By noon of day 17, assault the north wall until either:
   - It breaches
   - A different team in your line of sight managed to breach a wall
21. Enter the castle and kill all those who take up arms against you.
22. End of campaign, go back to your home

The scripts get different soldiers to work together without even being aware of each other. Bob in Glynneath has his own script to have constructed a catapult by day 15, the owners of Kidwelly's Tavern have a script to have food for thirty people on day 2, Hywel will have as many horses as there are soldiers with scripts to pick up a horse, etcetera.

At no time is a scripted soldier paralysed for want of instructions; they are trusted to use their own insights when the script is not sufficient for the circumstances in the field. The default option is to fall back to the next instruction. Can't reach Ystradgynlais in time due to bad weather? Find food wherever and try to reach Pontypridd when you can.

Even if improvisation is allowed, the scripts themselves can be as complex as needed (stuff like "if you managed to enter the castle by noon, goto step #23, else goto step #67" is fine). They are limited in physical length; anything more than a few sheets of paper becomes hard to memorise. Scripts can include loops (stay here and cook food for any passersby who knows the password until day #84); and they can even include instructions where to find new scripts if a campaign has to have multiple parts. That does introduce another factor of unreliability; the best place to assign someone a script for an operation is while they are still in their home.

A script is limited in time, the way any commoner's conscription is limited in time when that recruit has a farm to tend. They last for one 'operation' that takes in the low months.

That's it for the individual scripted soldiers. Now scripted armies involve many (thousands) of those people working in concert. Those armies have several qualities; some of them are weaknesses that I have explicitly compensated for. Specifically:

  • Critical scripted soldiers could fail at their task and derail the entire operation - no scripted soldier is critical. The most important tasks are always assigned to multiple people; at least five folk would be picking up that catapult. There is also a certain strength in numbers.
  • Enemies could intercept the instructions - they are encrypted. Even so, soldiers are encouraged to memorise them rather than keep them on paper.
  • Soldiers could get confused or panicked when something goes very wrong and the battlefield becomes a bloodbath - due to a combination of political ideology, peer pressure, and mild hypnosis; every soldier in the scripted army is essentially a zealot. They will trust their script as they trust Balgatorix the Master Playwright. A scripted soldier will march into his death; the only way to get him to give up is to specifically invalidate every next step of their script, which will lead them to conclude that the campaign is over and they'll return to their homes.
  • Scripted armies cannot negotiate since they lack a leader - Balgatorix sees that as a feature. The tyrant does not believe in taking quarter or anything less than a total victory.
  • A scripted army is vulnerable to ambush as they wouldn't effectively evade enemy armies - the scripted soldiers tend to travel in small groups and aren't recogniseable as an army until they have banded together and/or picked up a catapult, which would only happen when necessary, e.g. in the last few days before a planned assault.
  • Spies could infiltrate the army - hard vetting takes place before anyone gets their own script, and someone who walks along without seeming to know what to do is super suspicious. Even so, once someone has infiltrated this army, all they could do is report on its current movements; nobody will say out loud what they are going to do next, and it is impossible to impede the army by assassinating the leader because there is no leader.
  • Some actions on the field require creative action and decision-taking in the moment - under certain circumstances soldiers can be instructed to band together in small groups of five to ten, one person among them the leader. They can take independent creative action for as long as that phase of the script lasts. Still, crucially, those small groups do not make a full hierarchy; there are still no colonels or generals responsible for the army as a whole.

One final asset of scripted armies is the flexibility of their starting position. Like a great chef, a scripted soldier can come from anywhere - even the enemy's citizens can be converted to zealots. So these armies can 'spawn' within enemy territory.

Given these qualities, I want to know a good ratio of scripted armies to regular armies; so their overall applicability to the various aspects of medieval warfare. For example, it is obvious that you can use scripted armies for mundane repetitive tasks like maintaining fortifications, gathering supplies or intel, mapping terrain. There's going to be tasks that work under some circumstances but not on others (marching from A to B can be done easily, harder to do so if there's an ocean in between and you need to charter a boat at the right time of month); and there's probably roles for the army in a war that cannot at all be carried out by a scripted army.

I would like to know if someone considers a ratio between those. How much of a war can rely on scripted armies? A scripted army doesn't have to be 100% as effective as a conventional one in a specific use case, as long as it isn't 0% effective at it.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My answer to this question would be pretty straightforward. I think it's answerable as it is, however I'd like to know just a lil' more about conscription's scripts : How often are they given to troops, and how long can they last? That is, it seems like it's days, but is it more a monthly script or a biweekly one? Besides, are there possibilities to jump instructions if ordered, à la "book where you are the hero"? For instance : "If you managed to enter the castle, go to order n°492, else go to order n°380". $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 22 at 11:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I'll add that information, thank you. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Apr 22 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ There never was a "typical war". The performance of a scripted army is going to be dependent upon the strategic goals and doctrine of a nation, as well as the strategic goals and doctrine of whomever they are going to be fighting against. This is before we take into account the military capabilities, manpower and equipment of the belligerents in a conflict. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 22 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ This is rather broad since even if you gave us an idea of your nation's doctrine, material, and capabilities as well as those of their enemies, you're still asking us to assess individually every possible task and it's ability to be "scripted". Can you instead try asking about the scriptability of specific tasks you are having trouble assess on your own? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 22 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Ok, ignore all that. I'm going to have to rewrite it again. But first, could I ask what it is you mean with "there was never a typical war"? Because I am a software developer, and I have never written the same program twice, there's always peculiarities about the environment, the use case; and you can make analogies like Agile/Scrum as different military doctrines, etc. for every other parameter. And all that said, one can still ask about software development, there is still established precedent and people can write strategy in the abstract. Why can't you with wars? $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Apr 22 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ There are military historians who have developed theories of war but those theories abstract away details that need to be filled in before you can meaningfully apply those theories to a specific conflict. Similar to how you can't predict whether a software project will be successful just by knowing "We're doing scrum". Perhaps they're doing scrum poorly. perhaps scrum is the wrong way to organize the work. Perhaps scrum is the right tool and they're structuring it right but a key engineer is going through a rough divorce and needs to take time off blocking everyone relying on him. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 22 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ And unlike a software project which is relatively collaborative, a war has two competing nations with differing strategic goals, planning opposing operations to accomplish these goals, and responding tactically to the realities on the ground when defending against opposing operations and conducting your own. We often think of software in terms of a greenfield project starting fresh. No war has the luxury of starting fresh. The current state of both nations politically and economically greatly informs how they can wage war. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 22 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings The divorce thing is Murphy's law. Scrum doesn't guarantee project success because nothing guarantees anything, but you can write in the abstract e.g. that Scrum is suitable for projects with shifting requirements. And really, I am only asking for the abstract. If someone says that my military plan sounds plausible but X would make it fail, that's great; I can decide for myself whether X will happen in my story. Contrast that with an answer that the plan has a very low chance of success, I can consider whether my readers will think my story plausible if I make the plan succeed. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Apr 22 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Sphennings You're thinking too much about the details here. Yes, the outcome depends of local conditions, but you can actually answer theorically, comparing "traditional" commanding vs scripted commanding. It's hereby not too broad $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 22 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena To say "X% of a military could be scripted" requires analyzing trad vs scripted for every potential task a military could take, and then assessing how much they could script. You'd then need to know the tasks a nation intends on using their military for. To assess is X scriptable for every task, is a very broad ask. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 22 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena The military goals of a nation, shape how then structure their military. A nation concerned with border defense, is going to prioritize different tasks, and as such have different scripting potential, than a nation that is prioritizing projecting force in an offensive war against a neighboring state. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 22 at 19:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @sphennings I'm confident that as soon as I limit it to a specific kind of war, e.g. a proxy war that doesn't involve territorial defense but is based on harassing an overseas enemy with short term local operations - then people will VTC the question for being story-based. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Apr 22 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm Depends on the specific question you ask. Given the diversity of ways how murphy's law can be applied to a war there's a lot of room for "authorial discretion" with questions about strategy, operations, and tactics. That makes it a challenge to ask questions about war that are a good fit for this site. Which is why I was suggesting asking "Could you script X?" rather than asking "What percentage of an undefined nation's military could be scripted?" $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 22 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings But I don't want anyone to apply Murphy's Law to a concrete scenario. That would just be fishing for ideas. I am not asking for anything that might cause a plan to fail, I am asking for the viability of a plan. I'm asking for an estimate, a reasoning in the abstract. A general planning a naval landing will take into account a finite number of things when determining likelihood of success, and those include elements like the tides and weather, not random events like a pack of whales beaching at the same time in the same place and giving the defenders unexpected cover. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Apr 22 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Nobody will judge the viability of Scrum as a strategy by how well it operates when the scrum master is going through a divorce and not doing his job. A strategy like Scrum is judged first in the abstract using models for human behaviour, and then tested over thousands of iterations of actual projects. We don't have the means to carry out a thousand war games so I'm content with just the abstract reasoning phase, accounting for expected risks. Known unknowns. That's all I need, not Murphy's Law. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Apr 22 at 20:49


The Premise This is for a world of mine, where each sentient race was created by a different god. Each god characterized its sons with some of its core elements. So the god of wit created an inventive race, and so on. So, the goddess of war created a race, too.

The Pahilam The pahilam are red-skinned humanoid with tought skin and a penchant to violence and physical labour. They can survive for long times without nourishment, and are quite quick of foot. They are organic as others races, they are sexual with male and female individuals. Since the pahilam are a race bred by a god of war, strife, violence, discipline and hardship. Since most of them live in a matriarchal society (with other races as brothers-in-arms/servants/allies) that is set in a fertile land. So, they could be ant-like in some degree.

Or, to be clearer, they could have some sort of hive-like society. I don't want them to form a hivemind, but some elements of social insects and social mammals (naked moles) could be interesting.

So the question could be: what kind of repercussions could have this kind of nature on society?

First of all, I think of something like "few female, powerful and mighty, and lots of males". Polyandry is one of the few elements of their society that players have already seen. And then? Do they need something in particular? If they do not lay eggs, but give birth to human-like infants, could their race survive? I've been thinking of the pahilam as a "race with few people, with several and numerous servitors of other races". Is it viable?

I fear that this question is still a tad too subjective and opinion based. I'm trying to make it more objective and punctual.

  • $\begingroup$ If you're asking about the decisions of an individual, in this case a god of war, then the answer is entirely dependent upon how you choose to write the character in question. As a good rule of thumb if you're asking "How would you do X" then it's not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 17 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ Your current ask is still basically "Design this race for me" that's not a good question for this site. Try instead to focus on the difficulties you are having designing this race, and ask for help solving that specific problem. Instead of asking us "What race would a god of war create?" ask yourself "What race would my god of war create?" $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 17 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ Pahilam, phailam, they're the same, right? Is it just a typo? Anyhow. Yes, I think your fears are founded on the opinion-based topic. Some would say that giving them Wolverine's claws would be perfect, while I'd say that giving them pouncing abilities with firebreath would be nice, too. And both answers would be valid and very difficult to set apart in terms of quality. I'm not sure how you can turn the question around yet...[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 17 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ [...] But first, let's clear up some doubts you have and that'd help both you and the questions you might have : In which biomes the Pahilam spawned? What do you mean by war Goddess? Is she specialized into logistics, tactics, ruses, raw war strength, honor...? War is very generic by itself, there are many aspects to it : See Athena the wise goddess of war and strategy vs Thor who's more thunderous, for instance ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 17 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ - Well obviously I don't want to unload the creative process to you. I'm really trying to focus on the right question to make. - Yes, pahilam is right, phailam is a typo. Sorry. - Maybe the right question is "what makes a realistic sentient race" but I feel it's still too subjective. - Talking about war, the goddess is the violent face of God. Could be linked both to general warfare and to duels and savage frays. She can appear controlled and impassive, but under the ruse the goddess is pure destruction. She could be considered similar to Kalì. $\endgroup$ May 17 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ Realistic is a highly subjective metric. Often it's a function of how you present information to your audience rather than the facts of your world itself. For instance there are popular works of fiction which include all sorts of impossible phenomena, such as magic wands, unforgivable curses, holy spirits, resurrection, or rings of invisibility. Even in the hands of a hack author it doesn't take much to get readers to buy into all sorts of impossible things $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 17 at 18:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FilippoOliveri You can unload some of the creative process, but we need a direction, intentions to work with. If you add constraints like what is more precisely your goddess, what kind of environment they live in, what you don't want to see, it'll make your question less opinion-based while still remaining creative for answerers. That's why I often make a conditions/intentions list in most questions I make, like this one about furniture. [...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 18 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ [...] An alternative is to ask more like a reality-check question. What is it? Choose one path among many options and confront how believable it is in the given context. E.g. : If you know they'll live in a desert : My Pahilams are great runners, would they hunt well in an Arabian-like desert? With the answers, you'll know if you're taking a path coherent to your world or not. This can help in the final choice. Notice I also focused more the question : Instead of taking it whole, I focused on a single part, the running ability. It often helps to avoid looking for opin-onions :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 18 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ Don't just tack more and more text as you revise your question over time. This is especially true if you're changing what you're asking to comply with site policy. To rewrite of the question so that every part of the post is clearly in support of what you're currently asking for. Focus on making the current question readable. If anyone wants to know how the question has changed over time they can always read the edit history. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 19 at 15:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ After the edit your question is much more readable. However you're still asking "What would my character do?" It's your god so they will create whatever society you want them to create. Instead of asking us to create the society for you, try creating it for yourself, and ask us for help with the specific problems you encounter while trying to do so. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 19 at 19:26

This was the first question I asked in world building, but I never received a satisfactory answer. With your help I would like to revisit the question and hopefully get some productive answers.

What would an observer detect visually physically and with average instrumentation in the area of an object with the following properties:

  • The dimensions of the object are at this point arbitrary, But for starters it's approximately 1 mile in diameter (1609.34m), 10ft. (3.048m) thick in all axis, and a rest mass of 500 tons.

  • The object preferably is a solid ring, of unknown composition. Willing to describe the object held together by handwave force (Or whatever you can come up with to be comfortable to make a ring spin at this admittedly ridiculous speed.)

  • The object is spinning ridiculously fast (Speed depends on the answers, I need the object to display odd characteristics particular to relativity). The speeds are about %20-%30-%50+ the speed of light.

  • The artifact is located in an area of unoccupied space, outside of any planetary atmosphere but within the orbit of its host star. 6-8 AU perhaps, but not closer than 1 AU.

  • I concede a mass spinning at this speed or even close to it is impossible, for a myriad of reasons. However there are an equal number of existing physics thought experiments that pose a spinning disk, cylinder or rod. None answer the question I am asking sadly

There are numerous Thought Experiments about spinning disks at luminal speed but none, that I have seen, mention what I am asking. There have been mentions of Frame Dragging, which leads me to things like the Unruh Effect. However I am still unclear if these would be connected to this device. Furthermore, what the visual or detectable effects these phenomenon would exhibit. If an external source of light strikes the object, I assume it will reflect blue anti-spinward and red spinward? I find it hard to believe that there would be no other detectable effects of a point of mass spinning near luminal speeds confined to such a small area. Especially quantum effects?

Would it's gained inertial mass create any gravetic anomalies? For that matter, if the spin were high enough, could the resulting gravity produce a singularity? Could this singularity contribute to holding the object together?

I have heard that this object would be "Screaming in the radio band" Why? This would not extend into the visual or other EM bands?

Something, tells me SOMETHING has to be going on in the center of the ring wlke it spins around it taunting Einstein.

Another effect I'm imagining may happen would be if dust were to collide at random with the object if things like The OH My God Particle would be produced, At the higher spin speeds,

"Oh My God" particle.

The Oh-My-God particle (OMG particle) was an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray detected on 15 October 1991 by the Fly's Eye camera in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, U.S. At that time it was the highest-energy cosmic ray that had ever been observed.14 Although higher energy cosmic rays have been detected since then, this particle's energy was unexpected, and called into question theories of that era about the origin and propagation of cosmic rays.

If anyone is interested, the pretext to this story is this. Please note the Tech involved in discerning this artifact is irrelevant to any answer, what the artifact is, it is. Any technology required is subject to plot.

In the near future, ~2070ish, an early colonization ship was sent to a nearby solar system, Epsilon Eridani. The trip is to last ~12 years earth time, ~5 years ship time. Even before reaching the planet, fly by probes were launched from the colony ship, voyager style, to investigate the system up close. The anomaly was detected at some point on approach of the colony ship.

Picking out a thin ring shaped object like this from any random point in the solar system requires some justification. Also describing the object, and attributing to it a proper sense of bewilderment, within the 4th wall and "out off character" descriptions will also be a challenge.

I need to know what should be detectable and what (unknown to me elements) this experience would contain, and avoid as much as possible relativistic gotchas. Feel free to assume where you feel needed, As this would give me some answers itself.

  • $\begingroup$ I've taken the freedom to edit the question for some of the grammar and added properly a list. I'll come up with a feedback a bit later. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 7 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, so here we go. First, concerning my edit : When putting things into parentheses "()", it's easier to read if you set them before the ending point of the sentence rather than after. Then, to the content itself : You're currently asking multiple sub-questions in one big one, I think it's wiser to focus your mind on either the big one (what can be detected from a spinning ultra-ball?) or take each smaller one apart (Would this spinning ultra-ball reflect light in blue/red? Would gravitationnal anomalies develop around it?). [...][...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 7 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ [...] The way you approach the overall issue is yours : Taking the big one will give more a general introduction to the topic in regards to physics believability, while with the smaller ones you'll be more able to control what you want in your world. But don't ask all of them at the same time, it dilutes your proposal and make it harder to understand what you want. That's what is lackingly lacking in your question, to my eyes. [...][...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 7 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ [...] To further improve clarity, double check your sentences, ensure they're bound together, especially around commas, points and other punctuations. For instance, I had an hard time grasping the link between "[wondering about dust], If things like this would be produced, At the higher spin speeds," and the "Oh My God" particle wiki article you give later on. Written more clearly : "[wondering about dust]*.** (point "." rather than comma ",") For example, if things like the "Oh My God" Particle would be produced : (+quote to article, therefore use ":" instead of comma)*" $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 7 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Thank you for the edit and advice. Focus has always been a struggle. My mind is always on the before and next not where it should be. $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Jun 7 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ Like most people ^^. Here's a trick to flow with the waves 🏄🏽‍♀️ : Write once all that comes to your mind. Wait a day or two then come back to your text and remove everything that clutters it (it should be easier to spot them as you should have forgotten a bit your train of thoughts). Finally, make a corrective-only pass : Grammar, word choice, clarity, and so on. In the last two parts, you're strictly forbidden to introduce totally new ideas, but you can get help from someone outside to look out for inaccuracies or writing mistakes. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 8 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ As far as site protocol should I post as new or update / edit the old question? $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Jun 8 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ You can directly edit the question, like I did actually. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 8 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ I mean when I decide to post the question to public? $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Jun 8 at 14:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd VTC this question. You want us to predict what technology in 2070 will do. 99.99% of all human technology was invented in the last 150 years. 2070 is 50 years(ish) from now. Heaven only knows what capabilities humanity will have at that time. If the question were to specifically exclude any future reference and specifically indicate today's technology ("Don't worry how we got today's tech to this distant star system, just pretend it's there...") then I could go with this Q. As written, it's opinion-based (i.e., we're guessing). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 8 at 16:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, please note that the help center states, "To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers." Telling us what you've already considered is simply telling us that you already have an answer to the question but don't like it. If you think about it, that's not our problem. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 8 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ Finally, you're going to need to give us a whomping good explanation for why your original question was inadequate or couldn't be edited to account for your change of focus (or simply be given a bounty to get more answers) or you should expect this to be closed as a duplicate of your first question. It's not simply against the rules to ask a question a second time, it's considered unbelievably bad grace. We close re-asked questions regularly. ("I didn't receive a satisfactory answer" isn't a whomping good reason. It's not even close to whomping good.) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 8 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, the reason I'm asking again. The reason I'm re-asking the question: Outside of answers of "its impossible it'll fly apart". I received 1 answer that identified a single observable effect. And that was the "screaming in the radio band" comment. Also, I did offer 1000 pt bounty, it was default awarded to that comment. $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Jun 8 at 16:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Oh, but I haven't noticed JBH; I must have become blind x). Let's take the issue out, which is asking about 2070 scanning technology without knowing such technology : Do what Asimov made in most of his books : Ask about a 2070 civilization, but for the question constrain to what is known today in physics theory, or better yet with the best practical technology people made. Otherwise you'd need to tell what their scanning technology is capable of. The further you go from known tech and principles, the more you'll need to describe it. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 8 at 17:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Gillgamesh Yes it changes between mountain and volcano, but it also changes if you're blind or if you have a sismometer or a sattelite, the factors, difficulty and range to detect something varies with that, even more than said object. If you don't tell what you have at your disposal, you're asking two questions instead of one, one being fundamentally unanswerable because it's your world, your tech. I guess that's JBH's train of thought. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 8 at 22:39

How can continued compound interest gained from human sacrifice lead to negative rates of return?

Alchemy is a branch of magic practiced by witches that involves transmuting materials in the natural environment into various other materials through the use of mana, akin to the life force within humans. The relationship between mana and magic operates similarly to currency in trade and commerce. It revolves around the 1st law of alchemy known as equivalent exchange, in which the level of input to magic be matched by an equal amount of output resulting from said magic. In simplified terms, the amount of mana applied to a spell will determine how powerful the spell will be. The amount of mana content in a human being is determined at birth, ranging from power levels between 100 and 8999, with exceedingly rare individuals reaching levels over 9000. Mana level determine a person's magical potential and affinity. However, the average human cannot access their mana all at once, effectively killing them by draining their life force. Instead, and individual uses a limited amount of mana at one time, similar to how a human uses a limited amount of brainpower as needed to avoid over-stimulation, limiting their abilities.

When a person dies, the mana contained within the body is released in a metaphysical burst, quickly dissipating with no trace. A clever witch use this knowledge to capture that mana at the point of death and use it to fuel their own magic to make a stronger spell, or to create powerful magical items. Whenever a witch lacks the appropriate level of power for their usage, they have the option of using the power of others to amplify their magic. This is summed up within the 2nd alchemic law better known as the law of compound interest, in which the accumulation of mana from others (the sacrifice) added to the original principal (user's mana) leads to stronger magic. Due to this effect, ritual human sacrifice has become the holy grail of alchemy, providing for potentially unlimited returns in power, and has allowed for a black market to develop using living beings as magical resources.

However, the hustle and bustle of acquiring individuals for the process is often expensive and dangerous, risking run-ins with law enforcement of nations and high costs. To avoid this, a witch can instead use their unborn child as the ingredient for the ritual. All the mana needed is already present within the fetus at around nine months, before it is brought to term. In addition, it is naturally unresisting, making this the perfect workaround to save time, money, and effort. This provides the witch with a number of benefits. One is the ability to create powerful magic artifacts. This includes the philosopher's stone, an immensely powerful item used to amplify alchemy for a limited amount of times at zero cost. When the power of an item runs dry, a witch can simply use the ritual to create a new batch as needed, cutting down on effort, time and expense. A witch can also use the ritual to slowly increase their own mana content. The loophole gives witches to game the system, giving them an incredible advantage over their peers. As it is within the laws of alchemy, no rule has been broken, preventing higher entities from interceding.

However, the results turn out to be different than expected in practice, as the rate of return from each child depletes in value as time goes on. The amount of power gained from the ritual steadily declines with each new sacrifice, until it is miniscule enough to make the process worthless. If continued, the process eats into their own mana, making them weaker than when they started. In this sense, the law of alchemy is working in the opposite direction against the witch, which should be impossible.

How can the magic of compound interest lead to an increasing rate of negative returns?

  • $\begingroup$ "To avoid this, a witch can instead use their unborn child as the ingredient for the ritual. All the mana needed is already present within the fetus at around nine months [...] This provides the witch with a number of benefits. One is the ability to create powerful magical artifacts within a short span of time." Uh... You mean one every year? And two for twins? Perhaps I feel too much time is passing each time, but it doesn't look like to me as a "short span of time". Excluding the inconvenience to carry the baby (and not have a miscarriage), this is will very likely come up in comments. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 11 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ Similar to your previous questions it seems like you're wanting to start a discussion to generate ideas, and brainstorm, rather than ask for help resolve some specific issue you're having with building your world. Instead of the open ended "how can X?, figure out how it happened in your world, then come to us if you have a specific problem. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 13 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings I believe that I fixed the issue. Is this better? $\endgroup$
    – Incognito
    Jun 15 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ Not in the slightest. You're still asking us to brainstorm potential solutions for your self imposed problem. Brainstorming is explicitly called out as a poor fit for this site in the help center. If there's a rule your magic system follows then you can make up whatever fluff you want to explain it. But so can anyone else. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 15 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Incognito Ty for the edit about time. I think you need to bring in some author intentions in order to bring a scale when evaluating answers. Can you expand on what you are looking for more precisely as viable answers? Are you looking for a more physical approach to mana, like seeing at it as a currency (since you talk about interests)? Or perhaps you want the most gruesome solution, since your world is quite dark with all these sacrifices? The first should be relatively easy to make it less discussion prone, the second might need some description to distinguish a "better" answer from others. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 16 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena What about the changes that I just made? $\endgroup$
    – Incognito
    Jun 16 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Incognito Your edits did nothing to address the fact that your question is asking us to brainstorm and generate ideas for you. Both are explicitly called out in our health center as not suitable for this site. If you ask this question it is likely to be closed. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 17 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Incognito I think you didn't understand what I meant ^^'. When I asked about intentions, I see it more like a specific section just dedicated to that. To give you a sample... Here? If you read after the question, I let out some text about what I want and don't want, starting from "It's important for me to keep the basic concept about chained ferryboats" and up to the end. That's what you need to add. [...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 20 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ [...] In order to be visible, you can put them after your question, use a bulletpoint list or section, and quite importantly explicitly tell "I would like that/I don't want that" (or any similar sentence). Be clear that it's your intentions, your overall goals on the issue you're facing, not just what the world currently is (aka context). Sooo... show your intentions as the worldbuilder : Being ultra-dark and creepy, following compound interests mechanisms, limiting by biology, etc... That's not something I can think about in your stead, since it's your world and what you want to tell. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 20 at 0:49

What's the essential difference that discriminates "invincibility against physical damages" does/doesn't protect from?

I've built a magical character. As the title suggests, she is "invincible" against damages that usual role-playing games would classify as "physical". As a consequence, the magic protects her from:

  • Blunt weapons

  • Blades

  • Bullets

  • Being crushed/ripped

  • Fall damage

  • Extreme pressure/vacuum

On the contrary, the magic doesn't protect her from damages that usual RPGs wouldn't classify as physical. This includes:

  • Electrocution

  • Extreme heat/cold

  • Strong acid/base

  • Laser

  • Radioactivity

  • Biohazards

Though essentially I've set such discrimination solely for preventing Mary Sue, I'd like to see what's the scientific cause of this discrimination.

"Wait, why do you bring science when the question addresses magic?" You might ask. It's because in my world, magic exists solely for science education; to help people IRL understand science. Physical laws in the real world applies in my world; magics are just for demonstration of said laws.

The character in question is to demonstrate Classical Mechanics; in this view, it is reasonable to set that her invincibility is for physical-only.

I thought it would be fun to demonstrate her imperfect invincibility. So how?

  • $\begingroup$ Just a comment from the OP: Sorry for being a troll here few months ago. I hope I've finally gotten what worldbuilding is. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Dannyu. There's work to do here. (a) You're allowed to ask one and only one question. It's actually a close-the-question reason to ask more than one question. (b) If you're asking about why a particular RPG has imposed this "discrimination," you're on the wrong stack. That question would be addressed to Science Fiction & Fantasy. (c) If you're seeking help creating and consistently using rules for a fictional world of your own creation - then this question doesn't make sense. You tell us why the discrimination exists. If you don't want it to exist, don't have it. (*continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 25 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ (d) RPG games (and fictional worlds in general) are not required to obey the physical laws of the Real World. In fact, asking if there is a scientifically rigorous explanation for (of all things) magic makes even less sense. The RPG has this discrimination because the developers thought it was necessary to balance the game. "Perfect" things (like perfect invincibility) is not only godlike powerful, it's horribly boring. Restrictions, conditions, and limitations exist to give people challenges to overcome. Honestly, this discrimination has nothing at all to do with science. (*continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 25 at 4:35
  • $\begingroup$ (e) Which brings me to the core issue with this question (which is not ready for Main): what is your worldbuilding problem? What rule are you having trouble developing? Please keep in mind that explaining the existence of a rule, while a valid question on this Stack, isn't actually a very good question. It's artistic (because the Real World doesn't have magic...), and artistic isn't what we do here. So if you're committed to asking "why does this discrimination exist," you must modify your question to include your goals and expectations, your limitations, conditions, and restrictions... $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 25 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ ...and it wouldn't hurt to explain why it matters. Remember, the RPG discrimination exists to balance the game, not to reflect anything about the Real World (or even common sense). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 25 at 4:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH In my world, magic exists solely for educational purposes; to help people IRL understand science (and more prominently, math, cryptography, and CS). As a consequence, what would be boring is to say "magic is magic". To address your (e), tbh, I came up with this question just for fun. It's just a sugar to add to my already-built world. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ If I understand you correctly, you've already built the world and use it as an aide in Real Life to teach people. For that purpose it would be helpful to have a science-based explanation for the discrimination. Am I correct? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 25 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Yes. Though it's not that this question plays a major role in the education. It's just to share the fun; from watching the character in question having troubles because she is not "perfectly" invincible. $\endgroup$ Jun 25 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ I understand, but the explanation would help people understand why you're asking for something that would otherwise not make sense. You might consider editing the question to better explain the rationale. (And to get rid of the multiple questions....) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 25 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ This seems like a very subjective question invincibility doesn't have a technical definition so every worldbuilder can and will have their own idea of where to draw the line. Questions that hinge entirely on worldbuilder discretion are not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 25 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with JBH, and since last edit it's better. However, I don't entirely agree with @sphennings, invincible do has a common enough definition (and noticing only the bad thing isn't the most helpful :/). However again, when you say invincible to physical attacks, do you mean our character won't budge by a centimeter (for instance this short 10s scene), or can they be thrown off by these forces (like when superman gets thrown against cars and buildings)? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 25 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ Also, to be clearer, do you want us to look at a physical/chemical principle that makes this invincibility, or at something more concrete your character is or has that makes it? For the first case, answers would be like "This specific thermodynamic law is not working on her when hit by big swords, so it makes her invincible", in the second "she's entirely made of springs, so big swords bounce back.". Of course, both examples are quite silly, but it's to showcase the difference in what can be asked. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 25 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena they're asking where to draw the line which is arbitrary and even if there's a commonly accepted line that will be subjective and opinion based. We don't answer questions about genre conventions. If you want to follow them that's OK and if you don't that's also OK. Regardless it is your choice and we do not support questions where the answer is ultimately entirely at the discretion of the worldbuilder. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 25 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Like I've written, saying it's not possible is not helping. Really. If you want to help improve a question, give proper guidance, tell them how could they draw the line beyond telling they need to draw the line. As it is, it looks more like a "don't do that or we'll close the peck out of you" x). This doesn't entice querying for help, which -more seriously- is SE's reason of existence before any other rules. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 26 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Explain to me how letting someone know that their ask will be poorly received isn't helping. Unfortunately I cannot read OP's mind and suggest an alternate ask. If I could do that I'd be reading minds and fixing Qs on main. There are plenty of other sites with far less structure than WB. Part of what makes WB unique compared to other sites is the structure, only asking specific answerable, non POB questions, is built into the DNA of WB. SE is built for pearls not sand and the structure is there to support this. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 26 at 3:09

Concealing the Otherworldly Infection

Entities from another dimension are attempting to remake life on Earth in their image. To achieve this, they have sent one of their own across the dimensions to the city where the story is set. The entity is a great invisible presence that can cover broad sections of the city (though not everywhere at once), and has a small amount of telekinetic control over the areas it envelops. The entirety of its consciousness is contained within this field. In addition to leeching energy off the city's power grid, the entity can infect people in order to absorb their minds. It does this with the intent of "saving" them so they can live forever as part of it. Its goal is to eventually do this to the entire city (and eventually the world). To conceal its activities, it replaces its victims with doppelgängers of themselves that are under its total control (they are essentially empty containers being controlled by mental copies the creature has constructed of its victims within its mind). However, I'm not sure to what extend such concealment would even be possible.

For one, the people the entity targets experience obvious and severe symptoms. The symptoms are consistent from person to person, and only vary in how soon they emerge in each individual. This means it's likely that people would at the very least notice the presence of an "unknown disease". The infected experience migraines, fatigue, and nausea, frequently zone out and enter catatonic hallucinatory states, and experience surreal dreams and visions in which the entity speaks to them in a human guise. Meanwhile, the entity is actively growing parasitic infrastructure inside their brain so that it can control them, and eventually absorb their consciousness. It also replaces every cell in their body with alien cells, so it can reconfigure their physical form like the creature from "The Thing". The entity exercises more and more control on them over time, to the point that it can control them and the victim believes that it is they who acted, and even invents justifications for why they did what they did (because neuroscience), but it is in fact the entity that made them act. Another facet of the infection is that it compels victims to write down alien symbols and seek out and read a mysterious book analogous to The King in Yellow, which quickly becomes infamous due to association with the infection (and in lieu of any theories of transmission, some people start to think that reading the book actually causes the infection to develop).

Should doctors actually study one of the entity's late-stage victims, they would find that the person's cells were no longer human cells. Eventually, somebody would discover these strange cells in the environment (the entity uses the cells to construct bodies for it to control, they can survive independently for indefinite periods and congregate together). It wouldn't take long before somebody discovered that large numbers of people in the area had bodies made up entirely of these cells. (There are different variants of these cells just as in a regular human body, but they can easily revert to their default form, which allows the entity to break down the bodies of its servants and reconfigure them into new forms.)

How could the entity conceal itself and its plan from humans, and conceal the extent of its biological tampering from medical science? To the point that the protagonists, who have some idea of the truth, would be unable to prove what they know to the authorities? This presents major difficulties, since you need only collect cell samples from one of the doppelgängers, or do a brain scan on one of them, to provide proof for the sinister nature of what is going on.


The issue with this question is that there are too many unknowns. First there is the infection itself: I'm not quite sure how to achieve what I want. I have a fair degree of uncertainty as to what the realistic, observable effects on the brain and body would be of such a process. It's important to me that the antagonist is able to rapidly reconfigure the beings under its control, but I don't know if replacing all the cells in the body is even necessary for it to do that. (Perhaps it could initiate the process only when it actually needs to reconfigure the body? Or perhaps it's just very effective at manipulating human cells. But reading the answers to this question led me to think that highly specialized microorganisms would be required. I have no solution to the "speed of change issue", and no explanation other than "the entity violates the laws of physics and we don't know why".)

But even if I figure out those questions, it might be that it's just not remotely plausible that the entity could pass its infection off as a regular disease. If the physical effects don't give it away, then the dreams, hallucinations, and unusual behaviour of the infected will. The entity would have to deliberately infect extremely few people in order to avoid detection, which would slow its progress considerably. (The entity chooses secrecy not because humans have any way of killing it (they don't), but because it wants to avoid attempts to protect people's minds from its influence, especially when it has relatively little power and occupies only a tiny corner of the globe.) Possibly just flat-out making people disappear might be more convenient for it, since if there's no explanation for the disappearances it has less likelihood of being found out, whereas having a bunch of people in the population would noticeably different biology would attract attention to it.

To sum it up: I am not sure whether to ask 1) What the likely symptoms of an infection that replaces/transforms every cell in a person's body would be, and whether they'd necessarily be highly visible, or 2) How the entity could keep people from looking into it too closely, either making people think it's just some weird disease that people eventually recover from, or taking deliberate steps to avoid scrutiny (such as by having its hosts deliberately avoid doctors).

  • $\begingroup$ Both asks aren't the best fit for this site. With 1, besides the required symptom of cells changing you as worldbuilder get to decide any other side effects you want. Questions up to worldbuilder discretion are not a good fit for this site. Similarly you get to decide how visible the change will, which makes that ask not a good fit either. With 2 you're not establishing a fact of your world, you're asking about the specific actions and decisions of your entity. Decisions are a function of story and you can write them however you want. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 27 at 2:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (a) That's a really long question. (b) You don't appear to be asking for help developing a world rule (on-topic). You appear to be asking for help developing your plot (off-topic). (c) Have you done research into medical diagnostics? Why wouldn't "hide the real problem by assigning symptoms that are generally true for a wide variety of illnesses" solve your problem? (And knowing how medical diagnosticians operate would help you ask a good question! If you can, binge-watch a couple of seasons of the TV show "House.") $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 27 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH The symptoms aren't necessarily arbitrary. Something I'm trying to figure out is what symptoms would likely arise from every cell in the body being rapidly replaced like this. My first inclination is that this would be medically impossible; that the person undergoing this change wouldn't survive the transition from having all-human cells to having all-alien cells, and they would probably die horribly as if they had been exposed to a fatal dose of radiation. But I'm actually not sure what would happen. Perhaps I should ask that question instead? $\endgroup$
    – Skallod
    Jun 27 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Skallod It's weirdy you're trying to figure out what symptoms are then, since you say that "The infected experience migraines, fatigue, and nausea, frequently zone out and enter catatonic hallucinatory states, and experience surreal dreams and visions". That's quite clear and well-defined symptoms, here.[...][...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 27 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ [...] Hmm... It's more worldbuilding than story actually, but what seems to bother you is that you look like you're still at the stage of choosing which worldbuilding puzzle to make, rather than trying to fit that silly piece on one you're already making. Beyond "having multiple unknowns at once", it's that your question sounds like "I've made a list of symptoms, what symptoms should I add/remove/change so it's not detected?". However, the process of mind-transfering and symptoms (be it clinical or biological) cannot be determined by induction, it's something "as you wish it to bee".[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 27 at 9:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ [...] As I look at it, I believe it's more likely people have an answer about your doubts if you do it that way : Drop your poker coins upfront and affirm that you're symptoms are the ones you want : Cell change, nausea, mind bogus, etc.. Then, confront it to reality (#reality-check) : What would be the most glaring clues doctors would notice as not a normal illness (e.g. : brain changes), and what's the key element that would make them notice them (e.g. : When they perform an MRI on the brain)?[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 27 at 9:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ [...] With the answers now, you have the structural weaknesses you need to work on, the symptoms your entity has to hide or that you have to remove. Afterwards, if you decide to keep the symptom and work around it, it's just a matter of asking yourself what can go wrong on the key element. This by altering world : Changing symptom or medicine -like reducing technology or medical fundings-, or story : They didn't perform the key check since the doctor on this case made a diagnosis mistake or were led to a false lead (noone's perfect), and well, there's aquaponey with the kids on thursday.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 27 at 9:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Regarding lisibility (ie. the reason it looks longer than it actually is), you should write each symptom in a bullet point list, further explained by paragraphs if it's too complex to be told in one line. The idea is to make a break and put emphasis on these since they're important :). Then, distinguish more clearly the context, the description of your world "as it is", and the issue/question you have. I usually do this by adding section titles ("World context", then "My question") and setting the question in their own paragraph. The overall goal is to give the eye landmarks. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 27 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena This is extremely helpful. Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Skallod
    Jun 27 at 17:53

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