31 thoughts on “[1.4 Spoilers] Notes on Practices #1

  1. Text: (Text is handwritten)

    Page One
    Titled Circles & Diagrams (text is drawn in an edgy and imperfect lettering)
    Diagrams are physical guidelines for spirits & other forces to follow

    Image to left: A simple hand-drawn circle
    Text: Think of lines like ditches, not walls. When something flows into them, it gets absorbed. When the ditch fills up, the circle is broken. A simple circle isolates an area.

    Image to right: A simple hand drawn circle, with another circle set concentrically within.
    Text: Double lines reinforce but also put a lot of whatever you’re redirecting into one area. If you’re filling it up with different forces or kinds of power, the ‘ground’ between the lines might suffer or collapse… (…According to Edith)

    In parentheses below that section: Is this a form of attack? If I want to break a diagram then do I hit different portions with different kinds of power? What kinds of power are there?

    Image to bottom right: two quarter-circles with a broken triangle set within.
    Text to left of this image: Part of the goal is ‘hallows’, marking out areas for specific kinds of power. Lines separate (misspelled) the areas. Having defined areas strengthens a region like a support pillar, but might make it weak to stuff like opposed elements? (Hallows = ‘home’ for immaterial (misspelled) things?)

    Page Two
    Four runes are depicted at the top, all broken with dots in the broken area. ‘Fire’ is an up-pointing triangle, underlined. ‘Water’ is the same, pointing down. Air is an up-pointing triangle, underlined, with a line through it. Earth is the inverse of air.

    First image to left: a part of a circle with lines radiating out, pointing away. Accompanying text: ‘RADIATE – power source in circle. Push out. Drain?

    Second image to left: a part of a circle with lines radiating out, pointing away, each topped off with a horizontal bar. Triangles are set within the circle, below the extensions. Accompanying text: ‘BLOCK – Ward off stuff. Edith marked each one with its own triangle.

    Four images are set below. ‘Insulate’ is a partial circle with a horizontal bar resting on it, a line sticking up and away. ‘Turn’ is a partial circle with a scythe shape sticking out. ‘Jet’ is a triangle pointing up and away. ‘Pull In’ is a triangle with only one point touching the circle.

    Text: ‘Where stuff goes matters (obviously)’

    Three images appear below, with triangles set at different parts of the circle:

    • One on the outside, pointing away (text: ‘more’ outside, ‘less impact’ within)
    • One sticking through the circle wall, with arrows drawn through it (text: ‘+Flow’, weak border)
    • One with the triangle within the quarter-circle. ‘More’ inside, ‘Less’ outside.

    Page Three

    Three diagrams are depicted. One is very top heavy, with intersecting triangles and radiating lines on the top half only, marked ‘IMBALANCED’. The second has a number of circles stuck on/in it, mostly to the left and top, marked ‘No’. The final is symmetrical, with circles sticking out at three points and through the border, at three points, marked ‘Yes??’

    Another example diagram modification is marked ‘EXTENSION’ and has a circle connected to the larger circle by a line. Accompanying text reads: Stabilize or include sub diagrams? Can act as supporting pillars.

    Between a partial circle with ‘Yadda blah’ within it and a partial circle with the zodiac sign for Leo below it, we have text: Writing or symbols apparently act as “support pillar” (If accurate/applicable) – Make up for imbalance?

    The more complex awakening ritual diagram is depicted at the bottom of the page, with accompanying text: Awakening (underlined)

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I wonder if there might be situations where you might want to deliberately create an unstable and imbalanced containment of energies, like some sort of magical rocket engine or something.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I wonder if an absolute madman of a practitioner could use oaths and the spirits that enforce them as a method to ferret out information. If the practitioner awakened a new mage, and then got them to speak an absolute truth as part of an oath, could this be used to generate an answer to a true or false question? For instance “I swear that (insert item here) is located in North America.” Would the spirits instantly evaluate this and then forswear the new practitioner if it was false? And if so, by continuously inducing awakenings, could the morally bankrupt practitioner obtain information about nearly anything?


    • Remember that someone needs to specifically call you out in order to be forsworn — and if they’re determined to be wrong, there are big consequences. Not to mention, Awakening someone means taking some measure of responsibility for them, and i can’t imagine awakening a bunch of people that immediately get forsworn would be looked upon favorably.

      Liked by 1 person

    • From what we’ve seen introducing someone to the world of magic is a serious responsability, that’s why the Kennet Others did it all together, to spread the burden between themselves.

      My guess would be that if you do that and the newly introduced practitioner gets forsworn you’ll probably suffer some consequences for being the one to initiate someone who immediately got forsworn.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My understanding is that the spirit-adjudication is something like (bear with me here) a blockchain.

      Where when you need to evaluate a statement (such as “I Swear The Macguffin Is In North America”), the spirits nearby who overhear you see whether they can evaluate that Y/N, and if they can’t, they query neighbor spirits, who query neighbor spirits, who query neighbor spirits…until eventually, word gets to a spirit who is in fact right next to the MacGuffin, and can rule on your question, possibly killing your assistant.

      So yes, I think you could get this information…but as cromlyn pointed out, karma is probably gonna slap you down hard if you start trying to brute-force this. Especially since the blockchain you’re trying to query is comprised of pissed-off spirits who get points for ruining your day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This raises the question of whether something is considered a lie if it is objectively untrue or whether the practitioner simply believes it to be untrue. If someone lies without knowing it, are they forsworn? This could raise the possibility of getting around the no lying rule by altering your own memory or state of mind. This would even give insane and delusional practitioners a very severe advantage.

      If on the other hand objective truth is what matters it raises the question of how infallible the spirits are. If I made a statement about the nature of our reality (God is real, the most logical statement is always true, etc) would the spirits know the answer. Furthermore, could one manipulate the spirits to make something appear as true or false. By extension of that, what happens when different spirits disagree.

      There is also the question of paradoxes like ‘this statement is false’. In the real world paradoxes like that is simply a curiosity but in a world where truthfulness is the basis for an entire magic system it matters a lot more.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What “SeeYou” said seems correct, but also there’s a difference between being wrong and lying / making an oath. If Albert is looking for Bethany and Chance knows where Bethany is, then A might ask C where to find her. If B lied to C and said “I’ll be at the warehouse,” and C relays that to A, then only Bethany is getting hit for that lie. Chance was truthful, albeit wrong.
      THAT SAID, by misleading Albert, even if it was done in good faith, Chance might suffer some bad Karma. He would have been safer to answer “Bethany told me she’d be at the warehouse,” because even if she had lied and wasn’t found there, he would have been completely accurate.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The system would need to be more complex for reasons others have already specified, but I could see this mechanism being used by a family or commune of families to divine absolute truths, for profit, power, or pure pursuit of knowledge.
      It would hinge on having “main line” families that remain mostly ignorant of the Practice, and “dead end” families with no anterograde connections to the family or families, i.e. no kids, limited contact, no moral responsibility for individual “main line” family members, and some sort of two-way compact that turns their familial relationship into a “duty” instead of a “bond”.
      Siphon off ‘extra’ kids into the “dead end” branches and make them Practice for benefit of the “main line” until they have been exhausted of value (i.e. are karmically impaired but not Forsworn) or are at a ripe old age, then pit them and a second “dead end” practitioner near the end of their life, one way or another, against each-other in one of these truth-seeking competitions.
      Ask an impossible question. Call the bluff. Go through the rigors of the adjudication of spirits, until either the oath-maker or oath-taker, or both (due to accumulated backlash), are forsworn. Execute the forsworn one(s), and replace them with new “dead end” practitioners. Ask another question. Repeat until one is left or all current questions are answered.
      The death toll would be tremendous, but if the family or families is large enough, they could keep a nursing home Valhalla full of retiree mages so that they could play Twenty+ Questions with any threats they face or artifact they wanted to acquire. A very rudimentary example:
      “X has a secret weakness” -> T
      “X’s secret weakness can be exploited by [Younger Dead-End Practitioner 1]” -> F
      “X’s secret weakness can be exploited by [Younger Dead-End Practitioner 2]” -> T
      … Younger Dead-End Practitioner 2 is a Heartless who is very good with Water.
      “X is vulnerable to Water attacks” -> F
      “X is vulnerable to Invasion” -> T
      etc. etc.
      That’s a lot of dead people to answer a couple questions, sure, but think about this repeated over hundreds of years, where X is a near-immortal with a critical Role that could be usurped or blackmailed…


  4. Man, Pale feels like such a good introduction to this setting.
    I only read Pact’s first chapter a long time ago and got a bit overwhelmed, but all of this is really sparking my interest to try reading it again.


  5. I have read Worm, Pact and Ward and rarely commented. I just wanted to say that I am so excited about Pale and I already think it is amazing. 🙂 I’m so glad to be back in the pact-verse and our protagonists seem very human.
    Poor forsworn Charles is being beaten down in such a realistic way, all the details about him smelling and just making a bad impression are wonderful and really contribute to the “forsworn” concept in such a realistic way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just a small technical criticism:
    It’d be nice if clicking on these images would open up the full size versions, currently you can do this by right clicking, clicking view image, and then removing the ‘?w=584&h=742’ part from the end of the URL, but it’d be nice if it were more convenient 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just how much DOES intent matter here? If you don’t intend it to be a magic circle, then it’s not a magic circle? If you intend it to be documentation, then that’s what it is, and it can’t do anything magical?


    • I don’t think at least in form of Practice intent is particularly important because this kind of practice is reliant on the fact that these sigils have been used for these purposes for so long that as long as you’re awakened (so as long as the spirits know that your actions are to be acknowledged more because your word is inviolable therefore making you trustworthy in their eyes) the old bargains and deals that were initially made to give these sigils their power automatically come into effect so long as they’re properly constructed. These diagrams don’t work because you expect them to work, they work because the spirits see it as a fundamental truth that when a specific diagram is drawn that the spirits will enact the displayed effect. Unlike many aspects of the craft this is more like math, physics or engineering than poetry or art. 1+1=2 or in this case Symbol+Power source= effect.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The reason the symbols written on this page don’t have enact an effect is probably because they don’t have a power source for the effect. If you hooked one up to these symbols they’d probably what the designs depict.


      • The girls haven’t been using power sources so far. I don’t think they need to ‘pay’ for services rendered, they were chosen by the local Other community to do magic and stuff, and have the goodwill of the spirits.

        Just a guess, but I think the spirits can recognize reference materials; the journal this is written in may even be explicitly labeled as such. This is probably also an area where intent matters.


      • Also Verona took pains to leave the elemental symbols incomplete, to leave the example circles unadorned, to attach the example of non-elemental symbology to fractions of a circle. Indeed, the only exception to this is her diagram of the Awakening ritual, which has the inverted triangle which could be construed as referring to elemental water.


        • Hmm… I see what you mean, although it seems strange that she wouldn’t also leave the circles broken as well. And I also have to wonder how effective these symbols would mean if drawn by an innocent.

          That’s not the symbol for elemental water, though: the underline indicating orientation is part of the symbol, and the Awakening circle image doesn’t have that.


    • It’s not a magic circle/rune because it doesn’t have a power source

      frr Oynpx oyrrqvat uvzfrys bhg gb pbafgehpg jvaq eharf


  8. I was initially confised, because the Awakening ritual diagram shown doesn’t seem to match the description we were given:

    “Lucy looked at the circle as it had been drawn thus far. A triangle about three feet across was contained within a circle, which was ‘strung’, for lack of a better word, with five lesser circles spaced out around it. That diagram was in turn surrounded by another ring strung with more circles.”

    In the diagram we’re shown here, the triangle is inside a circle strung with seven smaller circles, inside a circle strung with five circles, inside a double-walled circle strung with five circles.

    But then I realized that the innermost ring of seven circles, which holds the food offerings, must have been drawn after that description was given. Because that ring was definitely on the inside by the triangle, given they physically handed the offerings over.

    I wonder if there’s some significance to that being drawn last, given it would be more natural to do it at the same time as the triangle?


  9. This is reminiscent of the magic in Witch Hat Atelier. Very satisfying to see magic circles that aren’t just aesthetic dressing and have rules to them.


  10. Nobody knows what a blockchain is anymore. This whole time I was hoping to see what the returning hat symbol/drawing would be. Seems like the diagrams alone can make someone a stronger than average practitioner, if they have the brain for it. Especially with the help of a familiar and implement which improve focus and meticulous attention to detail.


  11. This feels very ‘real’, in terms of how actual occultists practice here. Or maybe it’s that you’ve made a very convincing system? Either way, props for this – the extra material really helps to flesh out the story.

    Liked by 1 person

Reply - No Pact spoilers!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s