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The Problem of Demesnes

Canonically (according to S&S), Demesnes are found 4-5 miles apart from each other through Creation, with 1-2 miles apart near the Elemental Poles. Creation currently covers 141 million square miles. That's at least 9.4 million Demesnes, 1 for every 15 square miles! Since Demesnes tend to warp living things around them, they become a serious hindrance to Creation's denizens. Humanity would fracture into thousands of different sub-species before long, as they would inexorably drawn to the pure power of Creation. But building Manses to cap them all is impossibly expensive. How can this problem be solved?

Even the Blessed Island needs a solution. On the 7.5 million sq.mi. island, there's going to be at least 500,000 Demesnes (not even counting the tons on the Imperial Mountain.) If they're all capped by Manses, that means there's like 33 hearthstones for each Dragon-Blood. Unless the Scarlett Empress had a chamber filled with glowing Hearthstones that she swam in like Uncle Scrooge in his gold vault...

Wikizens can use this page to come up with ideas to deal with these strange and widespread phenomena.

The Flaring Solution

UncleChu proposed the following: "Flaring - the controlled burning of natural gas that can’t be processed for sale or use because of technical or economic reasons."

Lookshy freely distributes plans for building cheap, special Demesnes-taming towers that focus the potent Essence away from the area, allowing towns to grow in peace. Originally named Ventowers, they are commonly referred to as "Flarings." They require maintenance, so they cannot be erected in the wild and left alone, but the maintenance required is simple enough that even the smallest of communities can perform them.

Flarings stand from seven to ten feet tall, depending on the strength of the Demesnes they are capping. They have multiple "roofs" as are common with chinese or japanese architecture, but otherwise have no walls, only the bareset of structural support, and are hollow, allowing one to see the raging bonfire of Essence within. This Essence of course matches the aspect of the Demesne it caps, and provides the same amount of light as a bonfire. Anything thrown into the tower takes damage as though it were inside a bonfire. Thus, Flarings often serve as centers to festivals, as well as a means of waste disposal.

A totally feasible idea. Many of Creation's governments could have their own variations of these structures to build around their outlying lands to prevent the peasants and wildlife from turning into mighty insectoid warriors. However, by simple fact that the Flarings have to withstand the might of essence, they're gonna need some exotic materials, if not some of the 5MM outright. And no government in this Time of Tumult outside the Blessed Isle is going to leave resources like that sitting around just for the sake of stability.

Alternatively, the design of an essence plug (if not a defense-grid tap) is not only simple, it's an exercise for aspiring geomancers. Almost like a journeyman-level work, insomuch as it's like manse design, only about 20 times easier. No need to be so accurate, or ensure a hearthstone, or even make it truly stable - as long as your design has enough essence bleed-offs, you should be able to cap a demense with just basic geomantic principles, and just (as you mention) have a giant furnace of sorts. As long as your design doesn't have any essence build-up, it won't explode, and you'll be good.--GreenLantern

So while Flarings can be used very locally if resources for Manses don't exist, there needs to be a source of greater income and magitech that spanned all of Creation. We must look to a more glorious time in the past when everything was possible...

Every Grid Needs its Grid-points

GreenLantern proposed a little sumpinsumpin: "My gut feeling is that if it's within, oh, anywhere in Creation as we know it, it's already got a Manse, whether we realize it or not - the Realm defense grid... If you're going to hear about this wonder-fabulous realm defense grid, I'd imagine that you've got manse-like 'taps' on these things, that divert power to the defense grid. Nothing too ornate, able to go without maintainance for thousands of years, these low rocky domes (perhaps 15 feet in radius) are an almost ignored part of the landscape, and make excellent landmarks for over-land navigation. Traditionally they're ignored in the common parlance, as they're so easy to destroy, and so common. If you want to put a 'proper' manse on top, it's trivially easy to do so, and doesn't require the kind of massive deconstruction (and owner-annoyance) as destroying a proper cap would. Just an alternative theory."

Imagine the day the Grid was activated... small mounds littered across the ground as far as the eye can see, probably hewn of whatever rock is natural for an area, probably covered over in snow, vegetation, or sand, suddenly burn with the light of whatever aspected Demesnes they were covering, solidifying Creation, obliterating the invading Fair Folk. And then, with the threat gone, quietly returning to their subtle, dormant state, quietly channeling the essence of their Demesnes away from the land, keeping it safe.

Occlude- to cause or to become closed, to absorb or absorb and retain (in chemistry), to force (air) upward from the earth's surface (in meteorology)
These Occlusions (Occluders? Occlusionary Points? Occlud0rs? too good a word not to use --UncleChu) act just as Flarings do, except instead of just burning away excess essence, they redirect it to the Defense Grid, or back into surrounding Creation, or they just absorb it. Products of the First Age, or even of the Primordials, plugs to keep Essence under control. They are everywhere, and made to last, but not indestructible. Not at all. Demesnes still spring up all over Creation when these mounds become dislodged, destroyed, or otherwise compromised.

Perhaps the Occlusions keep themselves hidden and inconspicuous to all but the most seasoned geomancers, preventing random anarchists and Bad Things from purposely destroying them to screw up local settlements. Thus only accidents knock them open, or huge local expenditures of Essence... the same kinds of things that might create a Demesne might only be untapping one.

More from GreenLantern: The first-age ones that power the grid are most likely more complicated, and encased in some sort of uber-solid substance, probably acting as some sort of actual manse, with the hearthstone long ago removed, and placed into an array at the Imperial Manse, which powers the weapons half of the grid. My guess is that most of Creation is covered in proper first-age defense-grid taps, but anywhere there's been a lot of action would have lost them. In particular, during the Baloran Crusade, the Fair Folk would've wanted to not only weaken the defense grid's power, but also 'untie' the wyld essence flows of the region. By uncapping those Demenses, they allow significantly more 'unfettered energy' to distort the places they've been, both essentially giving the places a bit of Wyld taint as it is, and pushing people out, letting the Wyld proper in as well. Other places, such as Lookshy, would want to maintain these structures, as they're obviously a part of Creation's defense (even if helping power your enemy, the Imperial Manse would still wipe out Lookshy even if all of the taps in the Threshold were removed). In addition, the first-age taps are propbably much more sturdy than the more modern "senior projects" of aspiring Dragon-Blooded geomancers.

Don't Worry, Man, Its Natural

Other people may feel that as there are no canonical explanations to tame Demesnes, it must mean there's nothing taming them other than the old ruinous Manses that the Fae didn't turn into screaming hemp ants. Perhaps that's fine. Still, considerations must be made.

Demesnes life-shaping properties, for the most part, would have to have a small area of effect, a square mile at the most (and that's still a big area, one sq.mi. for every 14 normal sq.mi). S&S states itself that creatures are drawn to these places of power, so if a Demesne was anywhere near civilization, its borders would probably be very clearly marked, and even so, probably often ignored. Think of how many youngsters would be drawn in while searching for youthful adventure, or how many broken-bodied farmers, sick of their toils, would go to lose themselves in the enhanced power of Demesnes?

Another less canon-shaking alteration is simply to lower the occurrence of Demesnes. Boooring.

Fatty Plug Spirits

Maybe there're little gods or elementals expressly designed for the task of capping Demesnes for the safety of Creation. Not a bad gig... get to bathe in Primordial Essence Saunas forever. Or other spirits that move in right away to gorge on the essence flows, preventing them from washing over the land around them. But spirits can be slaughtered, or they could leave, and so you still have the crazy Demesnes waiting out there... but in less numbers.

Lookshy Lighting and Power

JohnBiles ponders...

The thing for me is that it seems wasteful to simply cap off Desmenes or to be burninating off the power. Given the tone of First Age civilization, something that makes sense to me is that a lot of Desmenes may have been, in the first age, turned into power stations which, instead of being designed to empower the Exalted, were set up to power their horde of magitech devices. Various kinds of conduits were created which would absorb the essence from Desmenes and pump it into storage batteries or into facilities which required large amounts of essence, such as the factory cathedrals.

(I also agree there should be a fair number of Manses hooked into various defense grids.)

In some civilized areas, these stations have been maintained fairly well and provide power for a wide array of devices, enabling, say, Lookshy to have streetlights, air conditioning, and other luxuries that many places can only dream of. The Realm would especially benefit from this, having had the least damage inflicted during the Fair Folk Invasion, which would have wrecked a lot of these power stations.

Regular Ol' Capstones

I've always gone with the idea that most of them just have a capstone of some kind on them. No manse, no hearthstone, just a big weird old rock in the ground off in a clearing in the woods that your parents always told you was a place of power. It's a good starting point for local legends. ~ WeepingStar

Other Ideas?

Comments and Discussion

I came up with this problem while doing my demographics work in the Lookshy area. I determined there was a settlement for every 23 sq. mi. of land, which meant villages and Demesnes were often in WAY too close of proximity. Yet if they were all capped with Manses, Lookshy would have access to totally sick numbers of hearthstones. Which they do, but probably not twelve THOUSAND. Hearthstones would become like super-powered currency. I myself will probably go with Occlusion mounds, occasionally mixing them up with Flarings, and Manses all around the towns and cities. --UncleChu

One thought - I figure that, in general, "one demense per 15 square miles" is more like "one point of demense per 15 square miles" - so that, if you have a level-5 demense, it's the only demense within about 75 square miles. So Creation probably has, in total, 10 million "points" worth of Demense, of which perhaps 10% is actually capped with Manses or other suchness - if you assume a Pareto spread of levels, that'll get you something like 800,000 "public works" projects, 100,000 L1 hearthstones, 25,000 L2, 5,000 L3, 1,000 L4, and 200 L5. Then you look at everything in the Wonders of the Lost Age book that needs a hearthstone to power it, and that'll take out probably half of your hearthstones - leaving 5 level one's for each DB to split among their elite thaumaturgist mortal minions and L2 for themselves. Then every fifth DB gets an L3, and the extra-special leaders get the L4's and L5's. -- Ialdaboth, or at least that's who GreenLantern thinks wrote this, based on the change log

I demand you include Pareto theory in all future posts. And possibly posts others make. That is all. -- GreenLantern
Your math is excellent, that's the kind of stuff I likes to see! However, have some new factors: The 10 million Demesnes number includes the land area that is underwater. That may affect your numberology. Second, S&S states that 25% of Manses are Lv1, 30% Lv2, 25% Lv3, 15% Lv4, 5% Lv5. Finally, the "15 sq.miles" is the area of a circle with a 4.5 mile diameter, as Demesnes average 4-5 miles from each other. I'm not familiar with Pareto, but surely this average would take into account the various power levels, so you'd need a smaller "sq. mile" chunk if you were going to use one point of Demesne per square miles.
Hearthstone-power is definitely a consideration, especially for JohnBiles's power system. Why build a fragile infrastructure to transfer power from Demesnes when you can build a Manse and just have a portable energy generator, the hearthstone, wherever you want. The "power-generators" would have to be significantly easy or cheap to construct, or you may as well just build the Manse for the cool Hearthstone. --UncleChu
Unless you're a Sidereal with Neighborhood-Relocation technique, it's harder to steal a power grid than a hearthstone :) And given the difficulty of manse construction, I would expect other solutions would tend to be easier because they can't send the power as far as a Hearthstone. --JohnBiles

S&S does indeed state that 25% of Manses are Lv1, 30% Lv2, 25% Lv3, 15% Lv4, 5% Lv5, but the keyword has to be remembered. The keyword is "Manses" not Demesne's. Yes, most Manse's aren't particularily powerful, but there's a reason for that. The Dragon-Blooded just don't have the skill to properly cap a level 5 Demesne in the Time of Tumult (I can't remember where I read this, but it might have been in S&S). Thus, there are alot of Manses that only produce a level 2 or 3 hearthstone, that are actually capping level 5 Demesne's. Instead of having the full power stone (something the geomancer couldn't pull off), the excess energy is funneled into other things, like power displays (fire fountains, light displays, etc), defense systems, and other interesting things that help the Manse. This basically means that most level 4 and 5 manses in Creation today were built in the First Age. So, while Manses may be only 5% in the level 5 range, that doesn't mean that only 5% of the capped Demesne's are level 5. For all we know, there could be a perfect spread of levels 1 through 5, and the discrepancy is simply based on the fact that very powerful demesne's are just exceptionally difficult to cap properly. --SmileyTPB

The numbers have changed significantly in 2nd Edition. According to Oadenol's Codex, "Few people live more than a week's ride from the nearest demesne, and a traveler can sometimes walk from one demesne to the next within a day." That gives us a range of 15-75 miles between demesnes. Could someone more mathematically oriented than myself run the numbers on how many demesnes we might expect in creation under the new schema? - Eric Minton

I made the math and with your numbers there is between 45 thousand and 1 million demesne. With those numbers I assume that demesne near cities are generally caped. - Black Angel

was that figure not just talking about minimum distance? also I like the thing where it's minimum spacing per points of demense instead of demenses themselves