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Science in Exalted

There are no "laws" of gravity. Plants do not grow where it's cold, but it's not because they need heat to thrive. Everything is based off of Essence and spiritual energy. That's fine to say, but what about the gritty, technical "how" of the workings?

Solar energy and Essence

The Wyld is pure, unfocused Essence; it's easy to draw Essence from the world around you when that is the complete makeup of said world. Unfortunately, it's this overabundance of Essence that makes Wyld-taint, that causes Wyld plants and animals to twist and deform. In order for there to be order, the vast majority of Essence must be removed from an area, only flowing along the orderly, narrow paths called dragon lines. Other than this, Essence must be distributed very mildly.

The Unconquered Sun showers the world with Essence during the day-- enough for plants to go, animals to thrive, and Exalts to absorb for their peripheral pools. Luna does so at night, but less. The light of the Maidens does not shower Essence on the world, but rather, their Essence is tied up in fueling the stars and their prophetic abilities. Essence, then, is both the Incarna's gift to Creation's inhabitants, and its tribute to Gaia-- for without her, they would have nothing to be gods of.

Manses and the Wyld

If we continue the theory of over-abundances of Essence causing wyld-taint, the explanation for why there's no such thing as "Manse 6" is obvious: the world can only handle so much Essence congealing in one place. Demesne/Manse 6 is really another name for Wyld.

Spirits, spirits everywhere

This is something I first heard brought up by Mnemosynis that explains the other scientific similarities quite well. As stated in GoD, there is a spirit for everything. To my mind, this means there are gravity spirits which cause things to fall down instead of up; even if you can breathe underwater, going too far down beneath the sea could cause you to fall prey to the crushing power of angry water elementals that do not like you traveling so deeply into their domain.

Electromagnetism? What's that?

IIRC, there is neither electricity nor magnetism in Creation. A lightning bolt is just a blast of Elemental Air, and isn't conducted by metal (which is why metal armor works properly against Air-DB's Elemental Bolt Technique). The closest equivalent of magnetism exists in the form of properly enchanted jade needles' tendency to point to the appropriate Elemental Pole. -- Arbane

More to come!


Nice; I look forward to seeing more of this section:) It's nice to see interesting features, more along the lines of what I enjoy, on the wiki:) Have you glimpsed at my Treasures of Creation Section yet? It's mostly filled with locations, monsters, artifacts and stuff as opposed to scientific musings but the feel is similar:)\\ In terms of an actual comment, this is interesting. I like your thoughts about essence, and gods. You might want to consider mentioning the Pattern Spiders and the Web of Fate -- I've seen it used as an excuse for 'why things work the way they do' in Exalted. I dunno if this is your cup of tea, but a nifty thing to do might be to have a section for a few physical laws or somesuch that don't exist or work differently in the real world;P Goes a long way toward making the fantasy.\\ -CrownedSun

A partly-baked idea I saw back when Creation was new: the thought that in Exalted, the 'laws of physics' might be just that: products of a legislative body. If the Gods wrote down the laws of physics in a book, what would happen if someone stole or rewrote that book...? -- Arbane

The Sidereals book makes it pretty clear that the official answer is "laws of physics" = "the way that Autochthon programmed the pattern spiders". Presumably before the pattern spiders were built, the laws of physics were a scheme that the Five Maidens developed to save themselves some thought in handling common situations. Not that your ideas aren't at least as interesting as the official doctrine, but there actually is a supplement that addresses this question. --MF

That's cool. :) I started coming up with these ideas before Sidereals was released, and they're kind of fun to expound on, regardless. For a game that doesn't want to deal with the pattern spiders and Yu-Shan, these are a fun alternative. --Dissolvegirl

It should also be kept in mind that 'that's the way the pattern spiders make things happen' is a rather poor explanation, since the pattern spiders don't really affect creation. They affect things that affect creation; altering destiny, and changing the way things work. The odds are the pattern spiders determine the base laws of creation from one step removed;P -- CrownedSun

"Fate" means a great deal more in Exalted than it does in common usage. I believe I recall an example given that things fall when dropped because it is the written fate of all unsupported things of weight to fall. -- Kicker

MF: "The way Autobot programmed the spiders" isn't necessarily incompatible with this, anyway; someone had to decide what Autobot told them, after all, and that entity is really the eminence gris from which the laws of physics descend. In my vision of the world, even though there are mechanistic things like the spiders, those things only exist and function through the agency and attributes of a higher power - somewhere, there is a Yozi whose nature is the successor function - because of it, we have mathematics. Somewhere else, a Yozi embodies recursion - creating the infinite complexity of language, branching trees, and fractal geometry. Etc. - willows

You should write up more of your Yozi ideas, willows. - Quendalon

I agree with Quendalon, willows. It'd be nice to perhaps bounce off of them in furthering my own thought processes on how stuff works. --Dissolvegirl

Dissolvegirl, have you considered adding stuff to A Taxonomy of Madness? - Quendalon

Oooh.. I just might. I love the Yozis, especially She Who Lives, and designing yozis and demons sounds like a ball. I'll have to see if any ideas float to the surface of my brain. --Dissolvegirl

Question for you all: in our world, Einstein's Laws of Relativity apply. Would they apply in Creation? Or does the presence of "immovable" static locations(ie, the Elemental Poles) negate that, so that there really is only one way of looking at things that is correct? -Fifth

Well they can't be 100 percent immovable, because the borders of creation shrunk when the Great Contagion hit. So unless the outer 4 poles are deep in the Wyld they moved in towards the Elemental Pole of Earth - Malikai

AFAIK, the elemental poles ARE deep in the Wyld. Probably some wacky pocket of Creation separated by the Wyld, is what I'm guessing. --Dissolvegirl

What then marks the borders of creation and keeps them stable? No one lives out that far, eventually the wyld should creep in to the point where its right on top of and maybe even seeping through the nomad lands. The impermanece of their living patterns wouldn't be enough to hold it back. - Malikai

The Wyld does, in fact, seep through into the settled lands of the Threshold. It pools in pockets of Creation. One example is the Wyld region that canonically exists in the heart of the city of Nexus. - Quendalon

The Firewander Wyld zone is the result of a weapon detonated during the Fair Folk Invasion. Not the natural ebb and flow of Chaos. The point I was trying to make was how has it been held back for so long if not by the elemental poles. Yes it does seep into settled lands though probably not as far as the Threshold nations, the shores of the sea are (relatively) close to the Elemental Pole of Earth, which is the only stabilizing and immutable constant. - Malikai

Well, how was it held back before the elemental poles? There are things. Consider the current state of affairs - just because the periphery is uncomfortable living space for mortals doesn't make it bad for gods and elementals; from what I can tell the South is prime elemental territory. There is also the stabilizing force of mechanistic destiny. - willows

Einstein's Laws of Relativity? You must be joking. If there's no such thing as electromagnetism, then light doesn't even have a speed. If things fall because the gravity spirits pull them down, then space doesn't curve. (Actually, I could give a detailed argument for why the Law of Universal Gravitation makes no sense whatsoever in Creation, due to its being flat, but anyone who would understand the differential equations involved could probably come up with the same thing themselves, and it's hard to put differential equations into HTML. Shorter but less rigorous version: Creation cannot be assigned a meaningful mass.) --MF

There was no Creation before the Elemental Poles. They were part of the Primordials' original setup. - Malikai

Malikai, you realize that that makes no difference? What I am trying to call to your attention is that you are assuming that the EPs are the only thing holding Creation together, while there are obviously numerous forcer at work that could be doing the same thing. - willows

Saying it couldn't be done without them is much different from saying they are the only factor. - Malikai

MF - I'm talking about relativity as in "You cannot tell if you are moving or if the universe is moving." That sort of thing. -Fifth

Ah. Sorry. I know too much physics to function normally in society. --MF

Actually, I was wondering... why can't you assign Creation a meaningful mass? Is that because it would only be meaningful in relation to itself or objects in it, and therefore any value would work? I like physics, you see, but I haven't taken higher-level courses in it. -Fifth

A summary of my arguments: The obvious way to assign Creation a mass would be to model it as a plate of finite extent, thickness and density. Unfortunately, the extent of the plate fluctuates constantly due to Wyld phenomena, the thickness may vary as tunnels are opened to the Labyrinth (explicitly noted as a possibility in the Abyssals book), and the density is ill-defined due to the chaotic nature of Essence flows and the non-linear relationship between Essence and matter. Furthermore, the nature of gravity distortion at the Wyld boundary does not fit the plate model at all. Lastly, Yu-Shan is defined as part of Creation, but its spatial relationship to the rest of Creation is unclear, and its mass is necessarily a non-negligible fraction of the mass of Creation as a whole, which would lead one to expect a gravitational asymmetry which is not observed. --MF

I like these ideas, mainly because I've always hated the way science works (or rather, doesn't) in many fantasy games. I don't see why you shouldn't be able to apply the scientific principle to such things as astrology, spirits and Essence. It's just too much like fuzzy, brainless new age crap otherwise - "celestial bodies millions of kilometers away are controlling your day-to-day activities, but we don't know how and we don't know why, but we feel good about it!" Bah.
Also, I don't see why there must be spirits for everything. The elements obviously have some intrinsic characteristics, both physical and ephemeral. Gravitation could be due to the fact that the Earth element tends to pull things together into ordered, stable forms. Plants grow because wood energies tend to evolve into complex, living shapes, etc. IMO, basic laws of the Exalted universe work automatically, while spirits oversee things, balance each other's powers and generally control how things funciton (not the function itself). You shouldn't be able to make everyone fly by slaying the local gravitatation spirit, however fun it would be. Resplendence

If you don't see why there must be spirits for everything, then you don't get animism. (Not that Exalted's animism is classic animism by any stretch, but we're not going to get into that here.) In Exalted, everything has intrinsic characteristics, but those intrinsic characteristics are defined by their spiritual nature. Everything has all sorts of tiny gods clinging to it. Killing the local god of gravitation doesn't make everyone fly, because his job is not to hold things to the ground; his job is just to make sure that smaller gravity spirits keep their noses to the grindstone. He's just a middle manager. Kill him, and things keep on mostly the way they ought to, except for the occasional abberation when the tiny gravitation god of a particular object gets a wild hair and decides to take his object out for a walk.
My own personal take is that least gods are tiny corks that keep demons and the Wyld from seeping into the world. Slaughter a bunch of gravitation gods, and some gravitation-aspected demon will use that as a gateway to crawl into the world. Yeah, now everyone can fly... at the whim of Auzhizi, the Wind From The Earth! - Quendalon
The subdivision of spirit-run reality into smaller and smaller units is requires an infinite number of spirits (for example, forest spirit/tree spirit/leaf spirit/leaf cell spirit/leaf cell mitochondria spirit/leaf cell mitochondria molecule spirit/etc/etc/ad infinitum), which is why I don't see it that way. I see your point, but having a managable number of spirits which manageable functions is more interesting for the game, really.Resplendence

I don't think there are necessarily spirits for everything, but if you believe Sidereals, then it stands that everything in Creation apart from the subtler laws of Essence dynamics are the result of spiritual choice, embodied in the Pattern Spiders, who continually weave the laws of physics they were programmed to weave into the fabric of Destiny. So, you can apply scientific principles to things, they're not totally arbitrary, but there is an aspect of design there, and there arevery few rules that are properly immutable. - willows

I would say the difference between Creation and the Wyld is that the former is not at all arbitrary. There is order, predictability and above all cause and effect. Everything happens for a reason and in an understandable manner. In such a world you can apply the scientific principle to understand it. The science will be very difference from the science we know, but it's still science. Science in Creation doesn't even require anyone to know about Pattern Spiders, just their work - a little like early scientists fared well with Newtonian physics and didn't need modern physics until they had the means to see the world beyond Newton's clockwork universe. Anyway, my point is that there is no reason why Creation couldn't be scientific, and that the occult sciences in the PG really can be scientific. On some plane very abstract properties of the Exalted world, like whatever makes Stunts work, must work in some way - although probably not in a way that very many can percieve or understand. Resplendence

The way I interpreted Exalted, and the White Wolf Universe in general, is that the consensus makes things the way they are. The laws of physics exist to an extent because people need them to exist. Crops grow when cared for because this is something that need to happen. The universe is a reflection of the perceptions of man's collective consciousness. The demons, exalted, gods and spirits are all things that people need (or want really) to exist. The wyld is the outside of consensual reality. This is why it changes and mutates, it also taints people because they begin to accept the wyld as reality. Maybe this is way off base but, I think everything is as it is because that is the way it's wanted. Does that make any sense? [Miguel]

Yes, it makes sense, but as soon as you try to make any rational discoveries in such a universe, everything falls apart. Scientific thought of any kind becomes very fuzzy, if not downright impossible. You need a baselines reality that follows rational laws of cause and effect for a predictable world. Dress this up in Essence, spirits, etc that doesn't need to be easy to understand or discover, but without a structured, predictable functionality behind the scenes, you basically have the Wyld. Anything you dream up will become true - that's the Wyld, and Creation isn't like that.
Also, I question the need of such things as the Contagion. Who'd want or need that? A modest amount of hardship and challenges is enough for human needs. You don't need to destroy the world. Furthermore, why does the need of the millions of oppressed across Creation don't simply crush the needs of the few who benefit from it? Resplendence

I'd like to hear your explanations on a few physics, chemistry, and ecology subjects in Creation:

  1. burning
  2. rusting
  3. air resistance
  4. helium balloons
  5. hot air balloons
  6. terminal velocity of an object
  7. color of an object with/without a light source
  8. the ecology of the areas of the Blessed Isle that are directly east and west of the Imperial Mountain. Do weird species of plants occur in these areas that are in shadow much longer during the day?
  9. If my PC climbs the Imperial Mountain and puts a prism on top of it, will I wreck the above ecology?


9: No! That's the kind of thing little gods exist to deal with. Helium? Does helium even exist? - willows
Well, you could use Charms to speak in a funny, high-pitched voice, so it's not needed for that. Resplendence

Actually, there's probably a much easier fix for most of this- Aristotle had a convenient explination back in the day. Elements move towards their elemental affinity- so, air moves upward towards air, fire moves upwards beyond air (but cannot exist normally away from its fuel), earth moves towards earth, water flows downward, and wood moves towards the surface of the earth/water. This isn't to say that these things can break the other forces that hold them or move 'on their own'- just combine it with a basic knowledge of momentum, to understand that elementals are happiest around other elementals of their type, but can't break 'the law of friction' or what have you (they aren't allowed to move on their own outside of certain specified ways). This means you have a situation where wood/earth combinations are bouyant but pure earth is not, hot air balloons work just fine (fire and air), etc. - Arafelis

I concur with Arafelis. Thus, if helium exists, it is air with a great deal of fire in it, and there's an explanation for why the Haslanti airships can fly without magic. Air resistance doesn't actually exist; it is the nature of things moving through air to slow, but not as much as it is the nature of things moving through water to slow, absent a continuing force. There is no such thing as terminal velocity; if you fall from the top of the Imperial Mountain, you'd better have a perfect defence of some kind. Color exists in the absence of light, but unless you use some magic (like the Shadow Body Style) to alter the law that you only see things which are illuminated, you can't determine this fact. I would suggest that it is not a wierd ecology, but simply one dominated by shade plants and fungi, which live to the sides of the Imperial Mountain.

The subdivision of spirit-run reality into smaller and smaller units is requires an infinite number of spirits (for example, forest spirit/tree spirit/leaf spirit/leaf cell spirit/leaf cell mitochondria spirit/leaf cell mitochondria molecule spirit/etc/etc/ad infinitum), which is why I don't see it that way. I see your point, but having a managable number of spirits which manageable functions is more interesting for the game, really.Resplendence - I disagree. The leaf exists as variable x, a quantity of Essence assigned the "leaf" tag by the Loom. As such, x interacts with all other things in the manner defined by the "leaf" tag. A "leaf"-tagged object does not have an active controlling consciousness, or "spirit", until it is separated from its larger unit, such as a "tree"-tagged object. While a "leaf" is part of a "tree", its consciousness is a single component of that of the "spirit of the tree." One can assume, however, that "tree spirits" have some degree of independence, as they are subsidiary parts of a "forest spirit," but can be interacted with as individual components. I think. Everything in Creation consists of shaped packets of Essence, which is one form the Wyld can take, assigned functions and patterns of interaction with other objects, as well as a subsidiary consciousness or "spirit" to maintain its individual existence independent of the Loom. "Spirit", or shaped consciousness, is another form of Wyld potentiality, usually found paired with Essence. Unshaped consciousness is called the Fair Folk, who have to self-define, lacking the defining authority of the Loom (why this works I don't know). But back to the point. "Leaf spirits" don't really exist for functional purposes, so they exist, just behind the scenes. Like subatomic particles. They are there, but you don't need to interact with eah of them individually to boil water or turn on the TV. Or negotiate with the forest spirit. I'm gonna build a page around this later. - Han'ya