17 thoughts on “[12.7 spoilers] Knots & Depressions

  1. Hopefully this makes at least a small amount of sense.

    Getting the second shot of the vaccine tomorrow. It may affect the posting schedule on Fri/Sat. The first vaccine had me euphoric at first and then I crashed hard, I hear the second dose is worse.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Second one can really sneak up on you too, yeah. Hopefully it goes well though! Seems like every person reacts differently to it.
      No worries if it causes some delays, health and safety come first.

      And thanks for the juicy knotty info and adorable sketches!


    • And to counteract the doom and gloom, my second dose was very uneventful and I just had a sore arm for a while. Congrats on getting the poke and I wish you a speedy recovery!


    • The lady that administered my second dose told me to drink lots of fluids, which I took to mean a full glass of water every ninety minutes. That kept the headache at simply “irritating,” rather than “debilitating.”


  2. Wildbow, underlining: The Carmine, for example, wasn’t with Charles & Edith when the Hungry Choir was made (or Yalda would have mentioned it)

    I like how different Jessica’s perspective is.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Unofficial Transcript:


    (C.pop modeled for doodles)

    Since Kennet is in the process of becoming knotted lets look at what that means!

    To start with, there are things going on that we’ve heard referred to as depressions. It’s annoying we missed this class while sleeping through the day. This isn’t about depressed feelings (well it can be but not usually) but about power.

    [doodle of houses labeled “flat town”]

    For most of us, flat ground is flat. Normal rules or mostly normal rules, and no big deal.

    What gets interesting is when you have someone powerful. Can be anything: a dragon, a god, a Carmine, a practitioner. The important thing is that they’ve got power to spare.

    This power has a weight but it’s not a physical, real-in-our-world type of weight. It’s about being able to make the rules or influence things. If the spirits pay a lot of attention to you then you can say ‘screw you mother Nature, I’m going to do my thing’ and she’ll say okay, sure. The rules start bending, the spirits start doing the equivalent of walking on the other side of the street instead of messing with you, and the ground basically dips under the weight of your ovaries/cohones.
    [doodle of godzilla]

    [doodle of hole in ground filled with something]
    These dips fill in with the excess power of whatever is making them, and that’s how a lot of Others make spmething that’s very similar to a demesne. This can be a natural defense, creating a mini-personal realm that the Other carries with them, making practices harder to apply to them because those practices are working on their turf for the last few inches, feet or miles.

    I think it can also be the opposite. The very powerless can have trouble affecting the world or establishing any presence. Forsworn and Cherrypops especially.
    [doodle of Cherrypop saying Hey!]

    [Page 2]

    [busts of Sable, Alabaster, and Aurum]
    Our judges have a territory that covers a lot of western Ontario + eastern Manitoba. This actually backwards from what we just established. Instead of getting powerful, having spirits move out of the way, and having rules start bending, there’s a kind of big, prearranged deal where the spirits and karma and everything will cooperate with anyone who takes the seat. So you don’t go from powerful to gradually becoming influential & having a demesne-ish space you carry with you, you take possession of the throne that’s the helm of this massive depression and you then get the power.

    You don’t technically have to be strong to make a claim for the seat, but it’s hard to make a play for one of the fours seats if you aren’t.
    [doodle of Cherrypop wearing a crown brimming with power]

    Different types of power mean different types of influence in a depression. The Judges seem to have a lot of shallow influence over a wide area, and some major influence in terms of things they focus on: karma, deciding whether someone’s forsworn, the creation of new Others that they have affinity for, yadda yadda. A lot of this seems to be unconscious & automatic. The Carmine, for example, wasn’t with Charles & Edith when the Hungry Choir was made (or Yalda would have mentioned it) but she could still have influenced the outcome bcause of her reach over her territory.
    [doodle of outline of something, with Charles saying oh no]

    Right now we have all the power sort of collecting in Kennet, instead of the Carmine Beast’s domain, because the body’s here, but there’s nobody managing it and no intelligence behind it, so it’s just… a lot of mess. More Others, more crises, and people are acting weird. And then there’s the fact we’re getting more knotted up. Which brings us to…

    [Page 3]

    Knotted Locales are areas that for some reason or another are being twisted up or the usual rules aren’t working. As a typical consequence, a knotted locale tends to also be harder to get to. This seems to work along similar lines as being Aware. To protect the innocent and innocent society, the weird stuff gets shoved off to the side with built in protections against casual access.

    There’s a degree of knotting happening when it comes to stuff like depressions, because we’ve got that thing I mentioned where the ambient spirits are being filtered out, or discouraged, or they pause, or any number of other things. Then there’s a shift in traffic, spiritually, and this changes how things work.
    [doodle of a bunch of spirits looking at wall with a hole in it. A big one is saying “weird stuff ahead”, and a small one is being turned away by the wall while another is going into the hole.]

    That’s only spirits. It can be karma too, a big natural flow of right or wrong that draws in the best or the worst people. Another example is what Bristow mentioned in class, with incarnations. If you have a little garden where you’ve messed with Nature, like by creating an area in a forest where it’s always spring, then that can easily end up knotted.

    The built-in protections can take a lot of forms. That glade that’s all spring-y in the middle of winter might settle into the midst of mountains, accessible only be certain paths and passage through a waterfall. It can take more time to get there. It could be that when you’re trying to get in, bad stuff keeps happening to distract you, like car accidents, lightning strikes, and people picking fights with you.

    This can cut the other way, as Lucy found out when dealing with that god-clay baby thing that Gashwad attacked. Some predatory Others will cultivate and use a localized space as a trap and make exit really hard. Some locations are just predatory or dangerous on their own, and then naturally gather their own Others as guards & digestive systems.
    [doodle of Lucy fighting the god-clay baby]

    [Page 4]

    In addition to the stuff that can happen or make life harder when you’re trying to enter and exit, there are knotted places that get nasty while you’re in there. Depending on the rules that are being filtered or twisted up, you could find yourself in a knotted place where nobody can die, or where the rate of aging changes depending on how old you are, with kids basically staying kids forever and adults taking days to age into people so old they barely look human anymore. As I mentioned with the guards on the last page, these places can naturally draw in & filter out certain types. Certain stripes of Aware can find it hard to avoid getting into places when your usual innocent would have to drown without being seein in certain connected currents under moonlight before they could wake up sputtering on those strange, knotted shores.
    [doodle of Cherrypop lying down and koffing on a beach with a weird moon in the background]

    Innocents might also find it easy to end up there, if their mindsets are right. A kid with terminal cancer might find it easier to get to that place where nobody can die. The kinds of people who get filtered for are also the sorts of people who stay or reinforce the knot. At least until they stop being a great fit. If that kid comes to terms with his mortality, he might find his way out. Or he might get offed, like how Peter Pan apparently killed the kids in Neverland who grew up.

    Speaking of, dangerous Others love to use knotted places as hunting grounds. They only get dinged for hurting innocents if word gets out, if there are witnesses, or if people become Aware. So any place where visiting innocents are cut off from support and can’t go home without figuring out the riddle or navigating out of the knot is unfortunately prime hunting ground. Most big knots have something out there.
    [doodle of Cherrypop saying me!]
    This is all stuff Kennet is trending toward as we get closer to the deadline. Becoming an Other’s hunting ground, rules, becoming harder to enter/leave… so what do we do?

    [Page 5]

    Gathering info, figuring out what to expect: any practice that deals with realms of any sort is probably going to have some sort of know-how when it comes to knotted places. Jessica knows a bit as a Ruins-explorer, Zed deals with Technomancy which is very hooked into landscapes both digital and framed with wires & tech, and even Jude knows some stuff.

    Jude says: when a Lost location or Path settles down on Earth it usually becomes pretty snarly to access, and it can be a problem if the usual ways we have for leaving paths aren’t available. So one thing I guess is that you should be careful because the area or the realm that surrounds the knot can also mess things up.

    There are some others that might interest you, once Lost, now called Found or Founders. They gather up mundane objects on the Paths that aren’t entirely Lost and that have traces of Earth on them, and like someone tied to a thousand balloons that picks up enough heavy stuff they can start drifting to solid Earth. Some make craters on impact, and craters can be like depressions. “Imagine Snowdrop landing in some hard to reach place, creating a depression, and filling it up with her special rules about truth. It gets knotted, because of course, it filters for certain types of Other, innocent or Aware, the knotting gets worse, and as it does, the rules do too.” Because there’s a narrow band of places that fit the bill of being remote enough but not too distant from humans + human sentiment, they tend to cluster. This can give us Founder-inhabited island chains where each island has a rule, or areas with rules that overlap. Founders aren’t always powerful but you usually have to deal with them somehow as part of dealing with the knot. Can be true for Others tied into knots.

    “When using the Gate of Ivory, our view of Paths changes. If you notice an object isn’t changing, it’s probably one of those earth-touched things a would-be Founder prizes. Keep+ trade.”

    [Page 6]

    [doodle of Avery drawing Zed]

    Zed: “Digital and pocket realms either have or share a lot of the same qualities as knotted areas, if they aren’t actually knotted already. Usually it’s pretty formalized and there’s standards for access, passwords, exits, but the kind of realm work I do moves lightning fast, and as a result Raymond and I deal a lot with stuff that’s pretty mid-late to endgame stage knotting.”

    “In aviation engineering, one of the basic things at work is that air taking longer to travel over a wing reduces the air pressure, while the air passing beneath remains constant. This gives us life. With flows of spirit, karma, principle, elements, and anything else being distorted around the knot, you get the constant rules in much the same way, but they’re aimed at Death, Time, Direction, Fate, or other things, not physics.”
    [doodle of wind flowing around wing next to doodle of sword labelled “war” flowing around a house]

    “It can start gradual with those who aren’t paying attention looping around to end up back where they were, and then progress to stuff that affects the wary, then stuff that would turn back a lot of practice that would circumvent it.”
    [doodle of Lucy wielding sword]

    “Ray and I don’t have that luxury. Stuff in technomancy moves so fast that if we’re not logged in when it twists on us, we’re in an endgame situation right away. So I’m going to describe what these situations look like, if pressure builds up enough that stuff starts breaking.”

    (I pause to ask about whether this is a danger)

    “I don’t know. I think the risk is that if things get too intense right at the end of Summer, then Kennet might get weird on you as the knotting gets to be its worst. Maybe someone might exploit it or force it to break. In that case, it would be good to know what to look for.”

    [Page 7]

    Dangerous late-stage knots:

    The Knotted Noose – spirits or forces conducive to healthy life and survival bail out and we get flooded with negative influences. This is really common and Zed estimates about 75% of knots a practitioner deals with go this route. Sometimes it’s intentional, to get humans out of an area. Bad goes in, good goes out, things get unsustainable, so humans leave. Zed’s recommendation: get the innocents out and then burn it down or let it burn itself down.

    Inversion – Strong pressures from the knot’s flows and forces push at the location, but the locations is strong enough to withstand it. There’s nowhere else to go in the face of the pressure except… in, or across, or down, or up. Things flip around.
    [doodle of city repelling forces, then getting flipped upside down]

    Sometimes this is piecemeal and we get a few areas inverting and absorbing whatever it is that’s causing the pressure. Sometimes it’s the entire city. (Bristow talked about places like this, and Tashlit has a crime boss brother who lives in one). Transgressive with a lot of usual rules and conventions upended, sometimes depending on the forces that helped make ’em. Can be a collection point for Aware, those on the border of human & Other, + those who fall through the cracks.

    Primed Knot – high influx, not enough venting, stuff will start to concentrate into key points. The knot is the equivalent of a pressure cooker and either something goes badly wrong or the knot will develop its own depression and expand, or both. A lot depends on if someone’s at the helm & the power in play.
    [doodle of building bloating up from forces]

    Hollow Knot – High outflow, not enough influx. Area is drained of spirit, karma or other forces. Inhabitants may also be drained, becoming shells of their former selves (or sometimes Others!) Become those places where there’s no life, joy, or hope, just going through the motions.
    [doodle of a ruined building with forces leaving it]

    [Page 8]

    Jessica: Jessica says Zed is catastrophizing and this is pretty funny because he’s typing up her comments to send to me ’cause her hands are full with BHI stuff.

    Jessica’s experience is less robust, but she has general tips:
    – Knots are natural, common, and everyday, we just don’t notice them a lot of the time. Even the innocent might notice time flows differently in some places, or it’s weirdly easy to get lost in other places.

    Key things to look for are the power source, Other, or any major phenomenon that drives the knot, and the things that make a knot a knot: this isn’t just about flow, but stuff getting entangled, limited, or drawn out as multiple threads of things going on meet. Deciphering the knot means dealing with the source first and the feedback loop or points of complexity second.

    (Zed says he explained this when talking about the airplane wing. Jessica says he did a bad job.)

    Oddfolk (that Bristow called Subhumans) come about when generations come and go in a knotted space, adapting to that peculiar environment. These knots are almost always stable. Not a concern for Kennet, but good to touch bak on.
    Other types of Other that tread very close to being human, may spontaneously manifest, change from regular people to Others as the area changes, or migrate in as a knotted location (esp. endgame type knots like Zed listed) sets up. There are subtypes of these guys for each type of knot, including knots Zed didn’t get into. Some knots are unstable and their inhabitants may recognize this instinctively, living in kind, like we all might live if we thought the Earth was going to get hit by an asteroid tomorrow.

    Don’t worry, Jessica says, yet I can’t help but feel more and more like Kennet is going to get hit by an asteroid at Summer’s end.

    [Doodle of LVA holding hands and look up at a meteor]

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I’ve really got to try an exercise in ecology of Otherspace, the systems and patterns evolve even if Other’s strictly don’t.

    And an interesting difference in opinion between Zed and Jessica (author underlining unreliable narration) – in one, the natural state of the world is very flat, and it takes energy/potential to overcome this. In the other, the natural state of the world is neutral and rippling, and it’s just that most weights and potentials locally cancel each other out means it appears flattish in most areas.


  5. It’s sort of ironic that Zed’s explanation of how wings work is wrong. The reason why wings fly isn’t because the air over the top of the wing takes a longer path than the air under the wing, though that’s a pretty common misconception. If that was true, then wings that were giant humps would be the best, and they’re not. They fly because wings redirect the air after the wing downwards (and it should be noted that both the top and bottom of the wings contribute to this).

    Here’s a page on NASA’s website talking about it: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/bernnew.html

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you for mentioning it so I didn’t have to.

      It does make me wonder though, how such common misconceptions which are nevertheless wrong interact with Practitioner speech. I would guess not much, because spirits are also susceptible to those misconceptions, but it’s still interesting to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My guess is that they’d probably be accepted by the spirits as true unless someone called them out on them, in which case they’d be gainsaid, because the spirits default to believing the words of Practitioners.

        Liked by 2 people

    • One of the big dangers in science communication is that correcting a misconception can often lead to misconceptions of its own. This post — as with other incautious corrections — presents an alternative explanation as if the entire premise was wrong… and it’s not.

      The Bernoulli effect is an accurate description of the aerodynamic forces on a wing. Lift occurs because the air pressure above the wing is lower than the air pressure below the wing, and the air pressure above the wing is lower than the air pressure below the wing because the velocity of the air is higher. The only part of the common description that is actually wrong is WHY the velocity on the top of the wing is higher.

      Now, it is true that wings generate lift by deflecting the flow of air, thus creating a lift force according to Newton’s third law. You weren’t WRONG about that. But it turns out that if you do the math (with the correct air velocity), you get the same answer for both approaches! This equivalence is not a coincidence — the Bernoulli effect describes it in terms of conservation of energy, and Newton’s third law describes it in terms of conservation of momentum, but since the mass in the system is changing, these conservation laws are equivalent!

      There isn’t even a meaningful argument to suggest that one description is more complete than the other, because neither is complete in isolation — the Bernoulli principle doesn’t explain why the speed of the air over the wing is faster, and Newton’s laws don’t explain why a wing redirects the air.

      In my opinion, the best description is neither of these, but instead the Coanda effect: The front edge of the wing pushes the air aside as it moves forward. If the air were to flow in straight lines afterward, it would produce a vacuum as the top wing surface sloped back down. This produces a force that pulls down on the air to keep it against the surface of the wing, and by Newton’s third law that also pulls the wing up.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. Okay, so not related to the current chapter (which is fun!), but something I’ve been meaning to mention for like… a long long time:
    I really love the mana system in Pactverse.

    “What’s this?” you all say “Pact doesn’t have a mana system!”
    Well… yes and no, and for that, we need to dig into the origins of the word mana (or at least, one of the claimed origins. I’ve heard a couple).

    See… Mana is a word in various Polynesian languages (the one I know best is Maori), that means “prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma – mana is a supernatural force in a person, place or object.” – but also “to be legal, effectual, binding, authoritative, valid.”
    This word leaked out into video games, and became “Spiritual power”, which morphed into “Spiritual energy”, which, in many games just turned into a power bar. That’s fine: energy bars are a great video game mechanic and play well, but they don’t feel magicy.

    Pactverse on the other hand does feel magicy. It feels magicy in the sense of people having… well… “prestige, authority, control, influence, status, charism and… spiritual power” which is… ummm… pretty close to what Mana is all about.
    There’s also associations with “connection to the land” “Stewardship” and sort of… ones adherence to traditional rites and protocols tied into the word… with people of high Mana having the right to change or redefine said rites.

    You can find a definition of the word here: https://maoridictionary.co.nz/word/3424
    Its, VERY pactversy, and I would be so keen on polynesian mythology/pactverse crossover (for one thing, I would totally expect there to be multigenerational Demesnes, held by a family, rather than just a person)
    Hell, I’d write it myself, if I trusted myself to not horribly misrepresent things.

    Liked by 6 people

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