Worldbuilding: The Origin of Species, Part 1

These next few worldbuilding posts will cover the origins of the different viral states — zombies, vampires, werewolves, plantsims, and witches. And some of the non-viral states, like servos. Aliens The fae and half-fae will definitely require their own separate post, and it’ll be a while before I get to genies and Bigfoots (Bigfeet?). The fae and half-fae will need their own post because I have a lot of ideas for them, and genies and Bigfeet I have, um, fewer ideas for. At this point in time. Plus I don’t know how I’d work a genie into the story. (Can we say deus ex machina, anyone?)

Anyway, this first post is short, because I managed to distract myself, and it’s almost 1:30 AM where I am. It’ll cover witches and servos. On we go!

The Origins of Witches

Though the Book of Wright, chapter 1, mentions witches as some of the last creatures the Lord Wright created when he created the world, witches and warlocks have been around for as long as the world of Albion has been in existence, since I created Albion after I installed AL for reasons unknown to all but the Lord Wright and the demigoddess Morgaine. Traces of witches and warlocks can be found in the earliest of recorded history, even in the Book of Wright itself — and not just in the “thou-shalt-not-suffer-a-witch-to-live” sections, either, but in other parts, even sometimes portrayed in a positive light.

The potential for witchcraft is inborn, a Sim either has it or does not have it. Legends state that all witches and wizards spring from two original “high witches,” one of the Path of Light and the other of the Path of Darkness. Some gossips even claim that Naomi Emrys was one of these original “high witches,” but that is, of course, ridiculous — she may be old, but she isn’t that old! (Or is she?) Witches and wizards begin to manifest their talents around the time of the onset of puberty, though astute observers can often see signs of magic developing in children much younger than that.

There are three Paths available to witches and wizards: the Path of Light, the Path of Darkness, and the Path of the Neutral Magics. Those who follow the Path of Light tend to focus their energies on life-creating magics, magics that cure illnesses, brighten moods, improve relations between Sims, etc. Those who follow the Path of Darkness focus their energies on magics of death and destruction. Spells to worsen moods, destroy relations between Sims, remove memories, even to raise the dead in zombified form. Followers of the Neutral Path can access limited spells in both the Light and Dark Paths. There are other spells that are available to all witches and wizards, no matter what Path they follow: spells to, for instance, clean the house and yard, spells and potions for birth control, cures for various viral states, spells to call familiars, even spells to freeze time. Of course, followers of the same Path cannot all access the same spells. There are differences in skill level as well as Paths, and different witches and wizards have different interests. One follower of the Path of Light might learn spells to, for instance, help plants grow for crops and various magical cures, while another might prefer to seek out spells that protect against misfortune or bring luck or love.

Currently in Albion, there are nine known* witches and warlocks. Six of these — Lady Morgan le Fay and her daughter Ravenna, Lady Morgause of Orkney and her children Sir Mordred and Lady Garnet of Orkney, and Princess Jessica Pendragon — are related, all ultimately getting their power from the Duchess Igraine, King Arthur’s mother. The other three — Merlin and Naomi Emrys and George Ferreira — have no blood relations in Albion who possess magical ability. Of the nine, five follow the Path of Light (Merlin and Naomi Emrys, Lady Morgan and Ravenna le Fay, Princess Jessica Pendragon); two follow the Path of Darkness (Lady Morgause and Sir Mordred Orkney); one follows the Neutral Path (Lady Garnet Orkney); and one, George Ferreira, has yet to begin his training and determine the path he will follow.

It is from witches and magic, though, that most of the other creatures of Albion and the surrounding environs — the servos, the zombies, the vampires and werewolves, even the plantsims. We’ll move next to one of the witches’ more obvious creations, the servos.

The Origins of Servos

Let’s face it: being a witch or wizard is hard work. You have potions to brew, spells to perform, reagents to make — and on top of all that, most witches and wizards have houses or apartments to clean, children to look after, dinner to cook … no one Sim can do it all on his or her own. Spouses, children and extended family are helpful — servants, if one can afford them, are even more helpful — but both have their drawbacks. Spouses, children and extended family generally have better things to do; servants are expensive and need feeding and keeping at the very least. Magical servants, though they can be summoned, are only available to witches and wizards who follow the Light path — and even in that case, they’re borderline useless, since they disappear as soon as the housework is done and need to be re-summoned, using up precious time, energy and reagents. With all this to contend with, what’s a poor overworked, overstressed witch or wizard to do?

Make a magical automaton and put all the housework in its hands, duh.

Chester of Gieke (a small town on the Glasonland-Gaul border) created the first servo some three hundred years before the founding of Albion. On top of being a wizard of the neutral path and thus shunned by his neighbors (except when they needed a magical solution to their problems), he was a bachelor and a very shy Sim. Rumor has it that he created the first servo as a female with which to share his life, even to marry!  Whether he wanted a female companion or just someone to clean the dirty dishes, Chester’s creation was a masterstroke of genius. Not only could it cook, clean and fix things around the house, Chester’s creation did not age, did not grow sick, did not need to eat or sleep or wash itself. A few hours in the sun, first thing in the morning, would give it ample energy to work the rest of the day. There were some drawbacks to it, of course. It could not reproduce sexually, though Chester’s creation and all subsequent servos possess the magical knowledge necessary to produce another servo, provided they have the necessary skill in smithcraft. Water caused an unfortunate reaction with the spells that went into the servo’s creation, causing it to “run amok,” sending jolts of magic into all sorts of unsuspecting passers-by. Chester was still trying to iron out that last kink when he died at the ripe old age of seventy-three — fifty years after he had first created the servo. His servo was able to hand over blueprints and such to other witches and wizards seeking the knowledge to build their own magical companions, and from those first experimenters, the knowledge of servo creation spread far and wide.

Though there are rumors that servos have gone through many different appearances, most servos are created by bespelling a suit of armor into life. The spell works in two parts. The first part endows the servo with consciousness, a willingness to work, and certain key skills — skills in cooking, skills in fixing things, skills in cleaning. The second spell is the “activation” spell. This is a particularly ingenious bit of work, for activation can be accomplished by anyone, even the most non-magical person in the Sim world. Upon activation — which, for the activator, consists of no more than pushing a button — the servo takes the personality, life goals, and skills of its activator, though not necessarily the activator’s gender. After that, there’s no learning curve. The servo is ready and willing to work and slave away while the creator or activator sits back and either eats bon-bons or sips those little umbrella drinks.

Creating a servo, though, is hard work. It takes a witch or wizard of the highest skill to accomplish it, and on top of that, the witch or wizard must possess a certain amount of skill in smith-craft to create the body of the servo — a pile of regular old armor just won’t cut it. As such, servos are quite expensive and thus are only available to the highest and wealthiest members of society (that is, among the  non-magical;  witches and wizards who can scrape together the cash to buy the metal to make the armor can create their own servo at any time). Furthermore, owing to the clandestine nature of magic in most other countries, servos are even rarer thereby — very few people are willing to take the risk of being this obvious about either using or patronizing those who use magic.

In Albion, there is currently one servo, Ambrosius, the steward of King Arthur. He was given to the King by Merlin Emrys in order to help convince the King to allow him to open up a magical school within Albion’s borders. (It worked.) Ambrosius has created, but not activated, two other servos. They will be given to Princess Jessica and Prince Kay upon their marriages/when they move out of the house.

*Some of these witches and wizards have children who may or may not be witches or wizards, but who are too young for their powers to show (i.e. Agravaine and Mordred’s brood.) Also, there are rumors of witches and wizards among the natives of Albion (i.e. the townies), but they have yet to show themselves in any concrete way …

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7 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: The Origin of Species, Part 1

  1. Cool, I wonder what George will be. Cause there are a lot of paths that could be cool. (Although I hope he’s not into all the death, destruction etc. stuff.) >_<'

    And it's interesting about Servos. I like that they'll be a legacy for the Albion Royal brats… Er, I mean Royal… uh… spawn? *twitch*

    And gee I wonder who/what was keeping you from writing… 😉

  2. So nobody’s quite worked out the trick of disguising Servos as humans–er, Sims– yet? (Easiest and least-hacktastic way to do it is to use Pescado’s clothing tool. I was astonished and delighted that it worked.)

    Okay, so. Servo questions, since the mageborn tend to make things pretty clear…

    Can Servos run away from their masters? Where can they go? Can they go anywhere at all, would anyone be willing to harbor a runaway magimechanical slave? Would the Church be willing to take in a Servo who had run away or whose family had died out? What happens, in fact, to an active Servo if the family it serves goes kaput (family in the larger sense or the household sense, whatever)? Can a Servo be a whore? Can a servo indenture themselves, or be loaned out to someone else? Is it possible (within the story) for a servo to learn magic or be afflicted with lycanthropy or vampirism? Could a stigma develop in Albion against owning servos, as it is basically slave labor, or is that the kind of thing most folk gloss over?

    Does it count as cheating to use Boolprop to ramp a Servo’s Neat score all the way up to 10?

  3. Andavri, I know what George will be, but I’m not telling … 😉 As for what was keeping me from writing, pretty much my own darn self!

    Hat, I kind of like Servos looking unique, so … making them look like Sims probably won’t be on the horizon for a while yet. 😉

    And … all those questions make me realize once again, why it’s a bad idea to write this kind of stuff at 1 in the morning. Somehow, you don’t think of these kinds of things!

    I don’t think there’d be anything in the programming, for lack of a better term, to keep Servos from running away. (Chester the Gieke was looking for female companionship, not a slave.) Though they are very loyal by nature and only run away if they’re being horrifically mistreated. As for where they could go, it would depend. Since they just look like Sims in suits of armor, they could probably get pretty far before someone realized, “Hey, why doesn’t that Sim ever open up his visor? And why is he sleeping in full armor?” provided that they moved quickly and didn’t stay too long in one place. As for finding someone to harbor them … yeah, they could probably do that. Servos are usually owned by the powerful and wealthy, anyone who is powerful and wealthy is likely to have some equally powerful and wealthy enemies. Or even just people who’d like to piss the first person off. The Servo could probably find one of these people to harbor them.

    I doubt the Church would be willing to take in a Servo in either case (unless they were playing a power game with someone important and the Servo ran away from them), considering how cagey they are about magic. But a Servo whose family went kaput (in the larger sense of family, if the household went kaput the Servo would probably go to another branch of the family) could hire him- or herself out to another family. Considering the intelligence and skills of a Servo, plenty of families would kill to get one.

    Yes, a Servo could be a whore. A Servo that identified as male and heterosexual would probably make a killing that way, since they can’t impregnate their partners and may not even count as Sims, so any laws against adultery might not apply against them. Might. They haven’t exactly tried this in a court of law. (Besides, who wants to admit in a court of law that his wife prefers a magimechanical vibrator to him?) They also could indenture themselves to another family if they needed a way to support themselves. In fact, I think that the Servo-family relationship might be classed in Albion as, legally, an indenture, not slavery. Some nobles might class it as no different than having a live-in steward and housekeeper. They might claim that the rent-free living arrangements are ample wages for the Servo.

    It’s not possible in the story for a Servo to be afflicted with lycanthropy or vampirism. Or plantsimism or magic or any other viral state. Zombism would also be impossible, I would think, since Servos are not technically “alive” and thus don’t have a soul that could return from the underworld. (Besides, Servos are hard to kill in the first place!)

    For now, the presence and ownership of Servos is something that most people gloss over. However, someday a stigma could develop, particularly if Albion and Reme come into tension and the people want to differentiate themselves from Reme. But for now, there’s only 1 Servo in the whole kingdom, so it’s not a huge issue.

    Boolprop is never cheating. Boolprop is the Way by which the demigods and goddesses of the Sim universe let their will be known. 😉

  4. Ahh, but the nifty part about posting at one in the morning (instead of just writing at one in the morning) is that people can ask you questions that might help expand things! And heck knows I’ve learned a lot from your blog.

    I’ve only got one Servo who looks like a Sim, and that was because I wanted to see if using the Clothing Tool would work. (I also have one stuffed under the foundation of my cathedral, because pregnant teenagers spin into default formalwear, not their own damn formalwear.)

    I sort of figure if pets and teenagers can run away, Servos who are furious with their meatsacks ought to be able to run off, too. I’d forgotten you switched to Phaenoh’s Servos– they’d have an easier time of hiding than Amaryll’s androgynes or my funky wooden puppets. (Although the whole ‘never takes off his armor’ thing makes me think of Don Quixote. Maybe if a runaway Servo just keeps insisting the local mill is actually a giant…)

    Those families who’d kill to get a Servo… Literally? Would any of them kill to get one that ran off back? (As a point of pride, maybe.)

    Gigolo Joe could make a pretty good living, huh? Good to know– although you’d think the full plate would chafe. I suppose it makes sense, really, since there’s no other sexual, extramarital, no-strings-attached recourse for women. With a chance of not falling on the Church’s bad side, unless the Church begins to perceive it as a widespread problem (those horrible well-groomed Vikings!) and stipulates that it’s just as bad as regular old prostitution.

    I’m pretty sure Servos can’t be plantsims anyway… at least there’s no texture file for it. (Vampire, werewolf, and good, bad, and neutral witch, yes. Zombie, not that I spotted. Sims Wiki says they can be zombies, but apparently there’s no texture change.) And they are hard to kill– I don’t know if anything works besides cowplants and satellites. Which is kind of a shame, if only because it keeps me from going overboard with plantsims and servos. Although if they don’t have real souls (at least storywise), I guess Servos are the ultimate Velveteen Rabbits?

    Speaking of Reme, do Reme and Glasonland have opinions about Servos, or is it more along the lines of ‘icky magic, get it!’?

    The Testing Lands may feel the full force of the cheat panel (could NOT deal without Maxmotives), but the Lady intends to go lightly on her chosen people, even if that means their needs bottom out and they die. Sucks to live in the real world.

  5. Very good point, Hat! I’ll have to remember that for the next time I press the post button at 1 AM. 😉

    Er … ok, so maybe there aren’t too many families who would literally kill to get a Servo. But I betcha there’s at least one. People kill for all sorts of stupid reasons, so why not Sims? I imagine, though, that it would take a Nero-type personality to actually go through with it — and I’m sure Reme will serve up a Nero-type emperor sooner or later. If it already hasn’t served up three of them. 😉

    There might be a bit of … extra equipment to make the full plate a little more comfortable for the Servo’s partner. Hey, who knows what’s going on under those covers? 😉 And I’m sure that the Church would have a problem with it. If they have a problem with masturbation (which they kind of do), they’d have a problem with magicimechanical vibrators. The question is how big a problem they would have with it. (And who was being confessed to, since they’d probably find out about it in confession. A monk would probably be shocked and scandalized, especially since a woman essentially pleasuring herself with no real consequences kind of flies in the face of patriarchy. Whereas a nun might think, “Hmm …”)

    How in Wright’s name would a cowplant make a Sim smoothie out of a Servo … for that matter how would a cowplant digest a Servo? I would think something like that would kill the cowplant! … But EA isn’t always the greatest at backwards-compatibility and sense-making of this type. And yeah, the ultimate Velveteen Rabbits pretty much covers it!

    Reme and Glasonland would have opinions on Servos. I imagine that Reme would be a little less tolerant of them, but then again, I see Reme as being less tolerant of magic, generally. (Glasonland has anti-magic laws on the books, but I think for the most part you can get away with things if you aren’t hurting anybody/aren’t too obvious about it/are of sufficiently high social standing, i.e. Morgan, Morgause and their mother. Though, if you get to a high social standing by way of magic, oh boy, you’re in trouble if anyone finds out!) Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Emperor of Reme doesn’t have a Servo or two or three or twelve working in the palace. I guess the best way to describe the Reman government’s attitude on magic is, “It’s icky and sinful, except when we’re using it for our nefarious purposes.”

    Indeed, indeed, the real world does suck. Where’s a Lady with a good Maxmotives (or a motherlode!) for us, huh?

  6. Reme must be a very interesting place to live. Although considering the Remans can and do hold human slaves, I wonder if Servos would be much in demand. Sure, okay, they never get tired and it takes less time to build a Servo than raise a slave… but how do the costs compare? Although– all you’d have to prove to get a guy and his whole family chucked into the salt mines is seditious intent, right? If you really wanted a chance to gain possession of his slaves and/or Servos…

    Actually, I just got through a bit in my book about the fourteenth-century religious attitude toward sexual pleasure and procreation– they were pretty down on any sex that had no chance of producing offspring even within a marriage (begging the question, of course, of whether you were supposed to stop having sex once you knew she was pregnant). Although I can certainly see why a) a woman might prefer to confess to a nun about it and b) why a nun might see it as a lesser sin than a monk would. (Medically, it’s probably an eyebrow-raiser, too– women have more blood than men, which makes them more passionate. Sexual intercourse and menstruation both are required to keep a woman’s humours balanced– how is a metal creature going to do anything for her humours?)

    See, the cowplant thing? That’s one reason I think wooden servos make sense. Wood is digestible! By some species, anyway. And how would a Servo contract vampirism, and wouldn’t it be compelled instead to suck on appliances if it did… Learning magic is another story, depending on your storywise view of magic– but it seems more possible than the rest. … Course, it is pretty cool to have a robot werewolf vampire witch pirate ninja running around…

    P’raps the idea in Reme is that these things were created by foul and loathsome magic, but with a proper decent master they can be put to good use? (I’d guess Morgause fell into the ‘not too obvious about it’ category, as well as being highborn.)

    And how come when I finish making something to sell, I have to actually hunt down somebody to sell it TO instead of just saying “Okay, I’ll sell this now!” and instantly getting my profits, huh?

  7. Servos probably wouldn’t be too much in demand in Reme. They’re like super-slaves, but real slaves are thick and cheap enough on the ground that most people aren’t going to go out of their way to get a Servo. And it would take more than just seditious intent to get a guy and his family chucked into the salt mines. Seditious intent is pretty much ubiquitous among the Reman ruling class. (Exception: people who are related by blood or marriage to the Emperor, and even then …) You’d have to prove that they actually did/were about to do something serious.

    Hmm. So some things never change! (The Roman Catholic Church’s attitude on sex without the possibility of procreation isn’t that much different today, though I don’t know what their advice is to pregnant couples/couples where one or both members are infertile for whatever reason.) And I don’t know what a metal creature would do for a woman’s humors … but I could probably make something up if I had to! Maybe the exertion works off some of that extra blood?

    If Servos had to suck on appliances, they would starve in Albion, since Albion is rather short on appliances. And you know, there’s nothing in Albion that would stop a Servo from becoming a pirate. Or a ninja. But probably not both, given the eternal and undying emnity between those two groups. 😉

    … If Servos need a proper and decent master in order to be put to good use, then how would the Reman Emperor justify having them, again? ❓

    Morgause fell into the “highborn” category, though she didn’t go about wearing her magic around her sleeve the way Morgan did at times. (Morgan was more mischievous in her youth, Morgause … devious.) Of course, it was pretty much open knowledge in and around the court that Morgause was a witch — she just didn’t set her sister-in-law’s skirts flopping around her ankles on a regular basis.

    Do you have your Gold Sales Badge? Because I hear that makes selling stuff really easy, especially with the Dazzle interaction. Just make sure you can take a nap when you’re done, or use the–damn, no energizer in real life, either …

    And where’s MY money tree??

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