Conversations between Maleos and Headmaster Ossian

Headmastery

Ossian conducts research by reading the temple records, casting Divination spells, and performing alchemical lab work.

  • The church's writings are mostly the parables.
  • New parables are very occasionally added to the Church lore. Basically, if something happens that should be passed down, it gets turned into a parable.
  • Can be factual or allegorical. Depends on the parable.
  • One of the duties each initiate priest must complete as a part of his or her learnings, is to write out an exact copy of the parables. Isle has between 20 and 30 copies of all the parables. If you put them all together, they would probably form a 12 to 15 volume set of books. The paper for this is very expensive, but the result is massive redundancy.

Divine Magic

Ossian's magical metaphor is based on the temple library and laboratory.

  • There is no difference between Arcane and Divine magic.
  • He visualizes himself as accessing things - looking up the proper book, getting the exact materials he needs, whatever.
  • Of course, his mental library and lab aren't exact copies of the temples, just based on them. They're much larger now. They've grown with him
  • Kindly walked Maleos through his version of the Detect Magic spell. Because Maleos knows nothing of Alchemy, he had to dumb down some concepts a bit. Maleos finds this model incredibly intriguing because it's the first magical metaphor he has become aware of that appeared to treat Magic as a collection of information and resources, rather than as a singular substance to be shaped and molded.

On Penitence

Maleos asked Ossian if his deeper understanding of the Parables offers him any insight into how to best temper his curiosity over time with a healthy amount of Penitence. Because Pelor's beard, dat Parable of the Impenitent Mage.

"For me, it's always been a simple matter of tempering my drive to learn and experiment with my desire to maintain my skin. One learns fast to be cautious when one grows up in an alchemical lab. Sure, if I'd paid more attention to the Parables when younger, I could've learned that lesson with less pain… but youth doesn't always know how to listen."

"For what it's worth, I'm listening as intently as I can. What painful mishap brought the lesson fully into your awareness?

"Forgetting to remove the heat before pouring the distillate of fireweed into the syrup the first time I tried to make a firestarter."

*visible wince* "Forgive me. I know nothing of the Alchemical craft, but every part of that sentence sounded very painful."

"It was."

(Is he scarred?)

(Not from that. They were superficial burns, and he was treated quickly. He has other stains and scars, but those are mostly from a long life in labs and temples.)

On Free Will

"Forgive me for asking this… and please tell me at once if you fear I am straying into impenitence… but do you believe that the gods in any way influenced this event? Or was the lesson entirely avoidable through prudence, common sense, and safety precautions?"

"Now that's a deeper question than I'd bet you think it is."

*exhales, trying not to grin but utterly failing* "I've given it some thought, actually. And I have concluded that it is deeper than I can see."

"I've come to the same conclusion."

*shakes head* "You're closer to the Gods than me. Have you asked those above you in the Temple?"

"When it comes right down to it, we speak of little else."

*looks around the room, slightly antsy. Taps fingers on the table rhythmically* "Do you suppose the Gods would be offended if we were to perform a simple test?"

*chuckles* "When it comes right down to it, I do little else…."

Maleos proposed the idea of flipping a coin before making each decision, on the grounds that if the Gods wanted to influence the behavior of the decision-maker by causing their plans to devolve into a huge disaster, they could just as easily influence the coin flip.

"Hear me. We live in one of two worlds. Either the gods cared whether or not you were burned that day, or else they did not."
"It appears that you have taken away from that experience the lesson that you needed to be more cautious when performing your Alchemy, and carried that lesson with you throughout your life. Would you say this is accurate?"

"Among other lessons."

*nods* "Among other lessons. But it is clear to me that was a fairly prominent one. And certainly if you had remembered to remove the heat, the accident would not have occurred, correct?"

"Assuming I'd completed the recipe correctly, yes."

"Right. So. Am I interpreting the Parable of Free Will correctly by positing that the Gods would not *force* you not to remove the heat if you had, in fact, remembered to remove it?"

nods*

"Would they have compelled you to forget? Striken the wisdom from your mind before you could act upon it? Or would that be the same as forcing you not to remove it?"

"How would we know?"

"A fair point. I am asking you if you believe they would; not if they could. Do you believe them morally capable of the deed? Would it conflict with the principles it is implied the Gods possess in the Parable of Free Will?"

"I believe it would conflict with free will."

"I believe the same. (Supposing we are mistaken about that, I sincerely hope we learn the easy way.) But supposing that the Gods would not choose to manipulate you so directly, if you had removed the heat— say, if a more experienced Alchemist had noticed your mistake and shouted at you to stop— the Gods would have needed to wait until a later step to teach you the Lessons you learned that day. Make it all the way through the Firestarter recipe, and they would have needed to teach you it another day, in some different way. Make them wait long enough, and they might decide that you are, in fact, Cautious, and do not need the lesson after all. Does this make at least some sense?

nods again*

"All right." *rubs hands together* "Now we get to the interesting bit. What if, on that day, you had taken a Merchant out of your pocket, and said to yourself 'If it comes up City Hall, I need to be more Cautious. If it comes up Caravan, I'm already Cautious enough to create my first Firestarter," and then flipped it, and had honestly made up your mind not to perform the conversion if it came up City Hall. Presupposing that the Gods wished to teach you Caution, and presupposing that the Gods saw no reason to burn you if you learned the lesson through other means, and presupposing that the Gods would like to see you learn the lesson sooner rather than later… would they not have influenced the coin toss, rather than influence the dangerous fire concoction?"

"That question presupposes a lot. Would they have influenced the coin toss? It is possible. But it is also possible that they would not have. All depends on how strictly you interpret the meaning of free will, I suppose."

*shrugs* "I suppose, yes. But this seems like a fairly simple and obvious test to perform. I thought perhaps there might already be some obscure parable about it, it seems so obvious. Is there?"

"How would it be simple and obvious?"

"It gives the gods an opportunity to direct our growth in a less ambiguous way… it gives them a more efficient tool for doing so, basically. It uses Luck, so the Gods do not unduly reveal themselves by influencing it. Before each majorly painful lesson in our lives, the Gods could give us an opportunity to back down and reconsider our course. This is especially important in those novel situations where the Will of the Gods is not known to us in advance."

smiles "I see. Well, I suggest you think about this potential experiment more before you try it. You may find some… shortcomings."

"Yes, yes… if it worked, everyone would use it for everything, to the point where they might as well write detailed instructions in the sky on what we should do that day."

"How would you actually be able to tell if it did work or not? Do you plan on just flipping a coin before every action you take? What if that action has more than two choices?"

"Well, not before *every* action. But you could easily do it every now and then throughout your day. It's easily the *worst* way to plan important decisions, of course. But the goal of the experiment isn't to plan better. It's to provide a convenient vector for divine intervention. You wouldn't even need any paper to record the results. Just make notches on a stick for whether it came up Guildhall or Caravan, and a second notch to indicate whether heeding the coin flip turned out to improve or worsen the outcome."

"How often can you immediately make that determination? I would have said blowing myself up was a worse outcome than the alternative, but as I look back, I'm not so sure that's the case."

*It suddenly dawns on Maleos that Ossian may not have been *allowed* to make a Firestarter at that point in his life.*

"I… see. That's one of those lessons us young folk have trouble with, as I'm sure you well know. I thank you for sharing it with me. And, I suppose it's a moot point anyway, since the Gods seem to have no trouble communicating with us directly if they so desire. Farmer Mirle's Vision, for example."

smiles again*

"What? What'd I say?"

*shakes head* "Nothing in particular, son, nothing in particular."

For a brief, paranoid moment, Maleos suspected that Ossian somehow knew perfectly well about his Vision. But then he realized there was a simpler reason for him to smile at that moment.

(Incredibly poor bluff check) "The thought just crossed your mind of the Gods ever sending me a vision, didn't it? I would stifle a laugh, too. Can you imagine that? Me, as worthy as Farmer Mirle?"

*confused look* "No… why would you think that?"

(Slightly worse bluff Check) *shrugs* "I dunno. Just seems like the funniest thing I could make out of my comment. It looked like you were laughing kinda. Never mind."

His response is just "hmph."

Talking about the weather

"So… Let me make sure I've got this straight. Humans are responsible for growing our own food. The Gods are responsible for providing favorable weather so that food can grow. But when weather conditions are not favorable, we have spells that can slightly adjust those conditions. Magic in general being humans using their free will to manipulate the world through the power of the Gods, through their grace and with their blessing?"

"You could always look at it as us asking the gods for a little help."

"Mmmmm. Yes. Do you feel that's a more accurate way of looking at it?"

"Sometimes."

*nods* "Fair enough, then. So we occasionally ask the gods for help, by way of casting a spell that affects the weather. Does the inverse also happen? If we haven't been growing enough food lately, or growing the right food, or otherwise holding up our end of the bargain, do the Gods have ways of asking us for help? Or, I guess instead of help, I should say 'increased effort?' "

"There are those of us who think these rains might be one of those times. We have to figure out what they're trying to tell us, of course."

"Hmmm…" *frowns* "…I don't suppose there's a spell for that? I mean… if Magic is us asking for the Gods to help, and if the Gods *have* a message for us in the first place… and there's any doubt at all as to what the content of that message is, then surely it's not that much of a stretch for us to ask for a clarification, is it? If the Gods want something from us, isn't it in their interests to tell us? We may not be worthy of the Farmer Mirle treatment as individuals, but surely if we sacrificed enough time and effort into a Divination spell designed specifically for that purpose… I don't know. Is this even making sense?"

"Of course there are spells for that. And also dedicated individuals… you may know them as priests." *smiles* "But the will of the Gods is not often something as simple as 'fetch me that water, would you, now that's a good boy.' Often it's a bit more involved than that."

"Hmmm. Can you give me a particularly involved example? What was required, how did we discover what was required, what happened when we provided it?"

there's a parable for that
a few, probably

"I'm aware of… *some* of those parables. But since I don't know which parts are allegorical, can you give me an example of something that's happened within your lifetime?"

"Well, this one year, there were terrible rainstorms, so bad that the farmers had problems planting their crops…"

"…keeping in mind of course that I specified that there was already an outcome for you to tell me about… Or wait. Are you saying this has happened before?"

"How often do you think our homeland is rocked by godly omens? This isn't something that happens every Thursday."

"I suppose that would depend on how you define 'godly omens.' But am I correct in interpreting your response to mean that, to your knowledge, this is your first one?"

(I don't feel like I'm getting along with this guy right. I need to get my Social on. Is he scared? Is this as trying a time for him as it is for the rest of us? More so?)

Take a step back and look at how you're addressing him. What I mean is that you're talking to a guy who's been pondering questions about the gods for his entire life as if you can get the answer from him today :)

"I'm sorry… *of course* you're already doing everything that can be done… I apologize deeply, Headmaster. It was the haste and folly of youth for me to think otherwise. I am relieved to learn that such a spell exists, though."

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