Are Tides technological or magical?

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transplanar
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Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by transplanar » February 2nd, 2016, 11:50 am

Throwing this out there as a semi-hypothetical question. If it is answered in-game, just let me know, and feel free to ignore the rest of my post.

I have been intrigued by the idea that everything in the game is technologically based (albeit so advanced it appears to be magic). But the way Tides are presented, as some sort of universal force, makes me feel like the concept is straying more into the magical realm than being grounded in technology like everything else in Numenera. I hope that is not the case, and there is some sort of explanation of the nature of Tides explained in the game somewhere.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 2nd, 2016, 12:29 pm

This isn't explained in-game (and I really doubt that it will be), but you are correct: there is no such thing as "true magic" in the Numeneria P&P setting (barring the GM deciding otherwise under Rule 0).

However...

As with the earlier post on the nature of deities in Numeneria, this is in some ways a moot point: if, as a player, there are effects that you do not have an explanation for, and cannot have an explanation for (because, in this context, the developers don't give you an answer), is that really any different than just saying "It works because of magic"?

Put another way: Define the word "magic" in a positive, rather than negative, way. Note that "supernatural" = "not natural", so that's out (I checked -- this is how dictionary definitions define magic). Even if you limit yourself to a single act -- say, summoning a loaf of bread from nothing, you still end up having to use negative terms to get the meaning right. If I use a Star Trek replicator to summon a loaf of bread from nothing then most people would agree that's not magic -- if I do the exact same thing by chanting secret words and waving my hands over a hat, though...

OK, now my head hurts. :)

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Kirinyale » February 2nd, 2016, 12:44 pm

I'd also love to see tides explained a little better (and I certainly expect it to happen somewhere in the later stages of the game), but I haven't yet seen anything deeper than what Kickstarter page originally said:
There are unseen forces in the Ninth World, forces that have profound and lasting effects for those attuned to their motions. Like gravity or magnetism, the Tides are invisible, powerful, and with the right tools, perhaps controllable.
So, at the very least they are "real", but their origin is unknown. Whether they are just laws of the nature, or the result of humans tinkering with it, whether they are universal or local to the Ninth World on Earth... Although I don't know what the core Numenera lore says about them (and if it mentions them at all?).

Also, I'm still a bit fuzzy about the concept that only actions matter, but not motivations. And Indigo Tide is probably the hardest to grasp in this regard:
The Indigo Tide represents not only justice and fairness; it might also mean a desire for the greater good or an "end justifies the means" mentality.
Desire for the greater good. "End justifies the means" mentality. Where are actions in this definition? These look like pure motivations to me. Even "From the Depths: Indigo" novella failed to explain that for me: it showed very well that a desire for the greater good can easily lead to catastrophic results, but that kinda supports the argument that Indigo tide is strictly about motivations, whereas specific actions and their results don't matter in the slightest... or was that "actions, not motivations" bit only speaking of the Gold tide, not all of them? :)

As for technology and magic, I believe one of the goals of Numenera setting was to show that once a technology is sophisticated enough, it becomes indistinguishable from magic. :)

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 2nd, 2016, 12:56 pm

There is a bit more background information in the design document, but nothing that hints at why the tides exist or what mechanism makes them work. There is nothing in the P&P rules on the tides -- it is purely an invention of the inXile team.

I think the developers would like to keep motivations out of the tides: in pratice, I think they will be forced to consider them. If I kill a thief who stole from me, does that support the Indigo tide (thieves undermine society by their very existence, and he is guilty of the crime) or Red (I killed him because I was angry)?

We'll see, I guess...

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Kirinyale » February 2nd, 2016, 1:20 pm

MReed wrote:If I kill a thief who stole from me, does that support the Indigo tide (thieves undermine society by their very existence, and he is guilty of the crime) or Red (I killed him because I was angry)?
Great example. The more I think of this, the more it feels like "actions first" statement was really just about the Gold tide (which is, simply speaking, about giving something of your own to someone else for no immediate reward, no matter what your reasons are). I can't imagine how to properly explain any of the other Tides without bringing motivations into the picture.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Colin McComb » February 2nd, 2016, 2:07 pm

Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by GavinJF » February 2nd, 2016, 2:10 pm

Colin McComb wrote:Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?
Oh, great. You've activated Colin.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by pts » February 2nd, 2016, 2:16 pm

Colin McComb wrote:Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?
Yes, of course! But in a poetic mysterious strange way that reveals nothing, but makes the wait for the game even harder... 8-)

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 2nd, 2016, 2:19 pm

Well, as far as the mechanisms that they work by, sure.

My assumption, given the nature of the game, is that the mechanics would be left unexplained and the focus would be left on the philosophical and practical implications of following one tide or another. It would seem out of place (both for the setting and the game itself) to have a conversation that includes something like "Oh, yes, the tides are generated by a series of quasi-sentient colonies of nanobots that have infested the core of a secondary command processor located underneath the mountain over there. The different colonies of nanobots receive energy only when certain circuits of the AI are activated, so they have developed techniques to influence the AI. The AI itself is tied in with the DataWeb (when this processor is called upon during periods of high load or maintenance), it is capable of producing minor effects in the real world. The circuits that that nanobots reside are activated when sentient beings perform certain actions, and thus the tides were born..."

But maybe I'm wrong... :)

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Kirinyale » February 2nd, 2016, 2:54 pm

Colin McComb wrote:Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?
Not anything that will be told in the game. Not me, anyway. ;)
But, since you're already there, could you please at least help with that actions/motivations thing? :)

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Kirinyale » February 2nd, 2016, 2:56 pm

MReed wrote:"Oh, yes, the tides are generated by a series of quasi-sentient colonies of nanobots that have infested the core of a secondary command processor located underneath the mountain over there. The different colonies of nanobots receive energy only when certain circuits of the AI are activated, so they have developed techniques to influence the AI. The AI itself is tied in with the DataWeb (when this processor is called upon during periods of high load or maintenance), it is capable of producing minor effects in the real world. The circuits that that nanobots reside are activated when sentient beings perform certain actions, and thus the tides were born..."
Damn, did you just take all the mystery out of it?! :mrgreen:

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Tadziomencel » February 2nd, 2016, 5:04 pm

Well if there would be anything explained about Tides in the game, then I want no spoilers of this kind. There can be some explanation in the Torment supplement for Numenera PnP about this, that would be published after the game is out if I understand currently (I have it in my rewards anyway, and wait for it patiently). Basically I understand that tides are a physical force, that may as well exist in our world but, since the past civs could even manipulate laws of physics (Numenera PnP says so) they may be man(or some other being)-made law of physics :P

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by omphaloskepsis » February 2nd, 2016, 7:25 pm

MReed wrote:I think the developers would like to keep motivations out of the tides: in pratice, I think they will be forced to consider them. If I kill a thief who stole from me, does that support the Indigo tide (thieves undermine society by their very existence, and he is guilty of the crime) or Red (I killed him because I was angry)?
The system isn't wholly formed yet. All it needs is another set of axes. Perhaps Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic?

...just kidding. Though seeing posts about Chaotic Indigo and Lawful Blue would be fun for a while.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Sardaukar » February 2nd, 2016, 7:42 pm

GavinJF wrote:
Colin McComb wrote:Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?
Oh, great. You've activated Colin.
No problem, I'll just pass him off to one of my companions...ah, crap.

And now I have Cypher Sickness, too.

Well played, InXile. Wellll played.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by transplanar » February 2nd, 2016, 8:22 pm

Colin McComb wrote:Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?
I think a decent compromise would be to at least explain the basic nature of the Tides, so there is at least some definition to the possibility space of what they really are. The reason I'm not crazy about it being "magic" is that magic can sometimes feel so ad-hoc and arbitrary, whereas a force of nature might be more interesting.

I wonder though if the Tides are strictly based on sentient creatures, or based on actions performed within an particular area. For example, if some nano discovered that making the Red tide strong enough caused a volcano to go off and destroy some city he hated, could he martial an army of automotons to do Red tide-y things to shift the tide, or can it only be done through willful action of intelligent creatures? Though that's further complicated by the fact that your first intro to the tides is by hearing about the animals attuned to them so... yeah, I feel like a few of the finer points could use some clarification. Not necessarily a full explanation, or perhaps portray several interpretations from various NPCs/factions and let players read between the lines and interpret what they will.

Based on what I'm hearing here, they are either a by-product of nanomachines (which PnP Numenera mentions as being a major source of magic) or possibly some as-yet unknown force of nature, like gravity or electromagnetism. Or perhaps... they are an artificial law of nature, introduced by some reality-bending prior world? Now that would be interesting, perhaps allowing the player to catch a glimpse at some godlike being from one of the past worlds.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Anaeme » February 2nd, 2016, 8:42 pm

I hope the Tides are magical, I hope deities exist in the world.

This business of 'everything must be technological' just diminishes the whole setting in my view, and erases the 'wonder' ingredient from the world.

Whatever makes Earth not reducible to a technological construct today, will still be there in a world set a billion years from now.

I hope the developers take liberties with the Numenera setting and use it as a springboard for creating something more interesting

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Infel » February 3rd, 2016, 12:03 am

For me... Who cares if it's magic or technology? Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from technology. What is magic, anyway? It's different in every setting.

For me hmm... Now that I think of it. In the setting we have psychics, we have nanobots, we have all the weird things that people can not explain. And I always been a big fan of belief makes it real. If enough people follow some road of thinking the ruts will be created. The whorls in the psychic field?
Currents in the shared subconscious? The tidal surges seem to be able to do things to souls and minds..
QuelI->EXmY[purr]->{
{fill}
 <- {iz & goor} ee {giran};
  } am {quo & memu} ee {wi-p swel};
    } am {ciol} ee {hymeli};
     }=>{nux najala};
  }
}-> EXeC->{RW};

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by vv221 » February 3rd, 2016, 4:36 am

This discussion is not really tied to the beta, and would most probably benefit from being in a publicly available section of the forum.
Unless transplanar wants to keep it here for some reason, I’ll move this thread to the "TTON: Story Discussion" section tonight.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Tadziomencel » February 3rd, 2016, 6:08 am

Well Specter in game tells you to treat Tides like gravity or magnetism, so I guess there is no need for further explanation in-game until much later. And as I said earlier we may treat it as a law we haven't yet discovered or the one created by civilization that could even change the laws of physics, or at least create new ones. Who knows maybe destabilizing enough atoms/ quarks/ something much smaller in the universe in the controlled fashion may change their movements in a way as to create a new law of physics? Quantum physics already sounds dangerously modifiable by sentient beings already.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by kilobug » February 3rd, 2016, 7:15 am

My own take on that is that Tides are handled by a network of nanobots, probably connected to the datasphere, that can both analyze and somewhat alter reality, either through a distributed kind of AI, or through a "Tide control center" located under ground or in orbit or whatever, as an experiment or partly-failed attempt to alter morality done by one of the previous civilizations.

But of course, it could be about anything else.

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