November 8, 2011
With the re-appearance of the Erenatl portal technology (seen in Book 2 and now again with the arrival of the Grisgol), I think it’s about time I explained portals and other magical transportation methods within the laws of magic physics.
You may wonder why I’m calling in magic physics to explain these elements that until now we’ve only really seen enshrined in machinery and devices, as that would make them seem to be wholly technological effects, like heating up a meal with a microwave.
Simply put, consider that microwave. It’s using long-wave radio signals to vibrate liquid molecules in the food, which it’s generating those signals using a magnetron which exploits a known action of physics to do so. In effect, the microwave is using a method of physics to create an effect that otherwise exists only in nature, something humans have been doing for millennia. The technology used by spellcasters to create magical items is little different, since we have reconciled much of magic with physics already within these articles discussing Magic Physics. Consequently, it’s entirely possible to create a machine to create just about any magical effect, provided you understand it well enough and are smart enough to engineer the machinery needed.
Of course there are arguments for why you would do this if you could summon breakfast with the snap of your fingers to begin with, the answer to which is usually to remove the effort of having to consciously snap your fingers where you could have something else monitoring for an appropriate situation where you would want to summon breakfast in the first place.
Now, on to magical transportation, which we’ll break down to two methods: Long-way and short-way.
Long-way transportation is something we’re all familiar with, it’s the action of traversing the actual span of space, typically using a mechanism to travel at a set speed that allows us to traverse it in a given time. Walking across a field for example is long-way transportation. Short-way reverses that idea, it cuts out the space inbetween so that we don’t have to walk as far or as fast or as long, we just show up where we want to be. Consequently, whereas long-way tends to focus on moving faster and faster, short-way tends to focus more on bending space.
So then we get to our two mainstream effects: Portals and teleportation. Portals are an example of short-way transportation, in that they bridge the origin point and the destination point by creating an arch that passes through a second region, often another plane. Meanwhile, teleportation is an example of long-way transportation, covering the distance in a blink by reducing the traveller(s) to bits and bytes of information stored in radiation that is re-assembled at the destination point after crossing the separating space at extreme (often luminal) velocities.
Portals have been discussed before, by way of manipulating the Incarnum frequency of the planar shell we can create a bridge to another plane of existence. By taking that one step further, we can fine-tune our portal to show up wherever we want it to on the other plane. There is a problem of self-exclusion here however in that for a portal to lead to a location on the same plane, it needs to tune the ambient planar frequency to…the same planar frequency. As a consequence, most intra-planar portals tend to have two portals with synched exit-entrance points so that there’s an arch through a second plane back into the original one. This is difficult to master and very difficult to make precise, often resulting in leagues of distance between the two points on the second plane, but its the method the Sovices use in their Omnigate network system to great effect, created through technological means.
Note that there is a knowledge checkpoint in creating portals here: Incarnum planar frequencies. If you don’t know about Incarnum, you cannot know how to create portals, it’s a necessity. Of course, there are slight loopholes available, the Sovices for example don’t know what Incarnum is in its full sense (they have no knowledge of magic whatsoever in fact, outside of Maeter), but they know that other realms of existence exist and that they are encased in a specific kind of energy with a frequency that they can locally tune into to create portals, which they recognise as wormholes. But if you don’t know about planes, planar frequencies, or anything about Incarnum, you cannot create portals, at the very least not with intent or accuracy or even reliable safety.
Moving on to teleportation. Of course there are many things we could describe as long-way transportation, a simple haste spell for example increases the speed at which you can cover a span of road, and they use various methods to do so. Teleportation is simply the most recognisable and most potent form of long-way magical transportation from the layman’s perspective of things.
Teleportation creates two magical devices, one at the origin point (the transmitter) and one at the destination point (the receiver). Neither of these two things are particularly long-lived, and if one fails to meet its function it also leads to terrible consequences. A malfunctioning transmitter for example might bash you at luminal speeds into an intervening wall, and a malfunctioning receiver might mangle the reconstruction of the spellcaster if indeed it manages to reconstruct anything at all. In many ways then, teleportation magic suffered a similar origin to the transporter technology of Star Trek fame.
The transmitter is a simple item, it breaks down as quickly as it can the body or bodies of those being teleported, as well as their belongings, and stores that information as pulses of radiation (this conversion being why teleportation is considered transmutation magic) that are fired in a pre-set direction from the origin point. In this manner, the spellcaster must know or have some knowledge of the destination, or else the alignment cannot occur and those transported will simply vanish into nothingness as the spell dissipates.
Then the receiver waits patiently at the destination point until it starts receiving the radiation from the transmitter. As soon as it can do so, it begins reconstructing the elements to reproduce exactly what was transported. In some ways you could say what is produced is a new life and the original has been destroyed, but in truth this would be a Theseus’ Ship argument in that what is used to reconstruct the entity is the radiation the entity was original converted into. Figuring out the transmitter’s code was the simple part, the hard part of developing teleportation magic was originally the reconstruction process, and which claimed a digit or three from the original spellcrafter that developed it: Michael Arcanon.
Early teleportation magic also suffered from a deceleration issue, as the energy stored in the radiation pulses led to a critical deceleration period as it arrived at the receiver, resulting in a fairly noticeable sonic boom. Abjuration effects were noted for causing substantial damage to teleportation effects in their early days, as there were initially no checks to ensure that the path of travel did not make its way through an area warded against such magic, resulting in a number of low-key deaths, as well as some significantly more obvious maimings.
Before the development of the isolated transmitter and receiver, natural elements in the environment were used. The Erenatl teleportation used bolts of lightning, though this proved inaccurate as one could rarely foresee where a bolt would strike, if indeed it would strike anywhere near your destination. The portal technology uses a similar method, but creates and holds the bolt in place. Whilst effective and certainly dramatic, this method is very inefficient, requiring a great deal more energy that simply creating the isolated elements themselves. Consequently, Arcanon’s development of them was considered a significant triumph.