On World Breaker's Hand, Genies, And The True Nature Of Bleak

Originally posted by Jenna Moran on RPG.net

You're 100% correct about what Miramie can do, or a typical Nobilis Strategist, or whatever. But you actually customize your World-Breaker's Hand a bit - I added a few more options in the final final post-editing draft to make this clearer. So it's fine to define your World-Breaker's Hand as "sweep aside the reality of this situation, leaving only 'wish'-fueled goofiness behind" - the kind of attack that's more likely to inflict Illusion on people than Corruption, if you know what I mean?

(You'd then get into arguments with Chuubo and Rinley over whether that really counts as a wish because that's not the wishing power of the heart, that's the chaotic influence of the Outside! Completely different!! ^_^)

It's possible that this is an unwise approach, mind, but I'm bringing it up anyway because it seems to fit where you're going.

Originally posted by Jenna Moran on RPG.net

Right.

Um. Hm.

OK.

So, there's two ways to look at wish-fulfillment. One is "wishes are immature: they're all about wanting gratification without consequence." It's like when a cynical realist scoffs at an idealist: "yeah," they say, "your ideals are great and all, but this is the real world."

The other way is "wishes are about building something better."

Like when the idealist scoffs at the realist: "yeah," they might say. "Just accepting the way things are and lowering your standards might be 'realistic,' but it's also what KEEPS things the way they are."

And the truth of dreams, love, hope, hearts, wishes, ideals, fantasies, ambitions, purposes, striving, and even creative chaos is—-

It's both. It's always, always both.

We learn realism. Then we learn idealism. Then we have to learn realism again. Then we have to learn idealism again. If you're an idealist, there will always be realists out there whose narrow-minded embrace of the status-quo is something you've grown past, and there will always be realists out there whose wisdom see through your nonsense and overambition. And if you're a realist, there will always be goofy airheaded idealists out there whose starry eyes you've grown past, and there will always be idealists out there who've accepted and seen everything you've accepted and seen but also gone beyond it.

Wishes are bleak when they're bleak. That's all it is. Wishes are bleak when they cut away the sense in the world. They're bleak when they're the idealism that the realist looks down on. They're bleak when the principal lesson you can learn from them is "possibly you need to do less wishing."

And they're Imperial when they're fundamentally reaching for something better—-when maybe they cause a lot of trouble, when maybe "do less wishing" is a big lesson you can learn from them, but when there's a hint of them of the idealism that's grown past realism.

And the way that comes out in practice: it's bleak if what you're really doing is cutting away at that part of the world that says "Sorry, you can't have what you want right now because the world is sensible and events have causes and everything connects to everything else. You can't have a kingdom spring into existence out of nowhere to answer that wish because kingdoms have history, and geography. Even if you could, being royal is mostly about being the descendant of the scariest bandits, rather than being a fairy-tale icon."

It's bleak if you go to the new-sprung kingdom and you ask someone about where they grew up and they give you this panicky look like their soul is dying, or they flounder frantically for their lines. It's bleak if the reason you can summon a new kingdom out of nowhere, complete with dancers and guards and people to carry your pavilion, is that instead of people and life what you really have is the jerking unliving legs of an Actual coerced into a dancers-and-guards-and-pavilion form. It's bleak if you're not creating a new reality through the power of your wishing heart, but rather forcing an illusion into shape. That's the World-Breaker's Hand, or Toxic, or at least a variant thereof, and not an Imperial miracle at all.

Well …

That's probably a bit too harsh. It's still Bleak if it's not that bad, not like horrible, but if horror is the failure condition when you push it too far, and where even at the lighter doses, it's still replacing sensible reality with something that makes, in the end, less sense. It's still probably bleak if all that happens when you ask people from the kingdom about their history is they stutter briefly and then repeat whatever the last thing they said before that is. It's probably even still bleak if you just use the fairy gold motif, where they're all real for a bit but it's dust and leaves in the morning.

The reason I thought along these lines is that you talked about this out-of-control dangerous power, and that strikes me as something where out of control wishes and unwise wishes are a little bit … bad. Or at least "you shouldn't dabble in this unless you're really careful, or unless what you're dealing with otherwise is worse."

And there are worse things, of course. I mean, a little bit of substanceless fantasy can be better than, like, having the world drown in nothingness, or, say, letting someone suffer from a harsh reality to too great a degree. In fact, really, it should be good in exactly the same circumstances that our cynical realist would be OK with a spot of idealism. You know. To entertain kids. To keep things from breaking down further. To organize volunteer labor. To comfort someone in grief.

Best wishes,

Jenna

EDIT: Put another way, the way to summon a kingdom out of nothing using vanilla World-Breaker's Hand is to delete the quality of the world that says "kingdoms are too complex and too real to appear out of nowhere just because this Ali guy wants to be a prince," and stand back.

Warning: in Nobilis, this may get the HG or players to give you a LOOK; while, in Chuubo's, the immediate impact may be big enough to produce a break from reality ("o/~ PRINCE ALI GLORIOUS HE ALI ABABWE o/~") and the long-term impact may fade rapidly into background noise as the world progressively de-emphasizes the comparatively less-real kingdom. In both cases you may need a greater/Major miracle before the kingdom's reality has non-local impact.

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