Shadowrun: Astral Experiments II

   Here we have a few more bits of Ninja (in cooperation with Mitsuhama Laboratories) Magical Symbol and Circle Research:

   1) Do symbols that resonate with spirits pass through bounce off, or stick to purely astral spirits of the appropriate type? Experimental setup: Make several square pieces of paper with one inch to a side each with one symbol printed on them that should resonate with the spirit. Drop on spirits. Observe with cameras and astral sight to catch reactions of both the papers and the spirit.

   In general, they pass through: The spirits tend to note that this feels “itchy” or “tingly” or “like when you’re standing near a deep bass speaker”. There is enough resonance for them to feel it, but there doesn’t seem to be much effect otherwise. According to some theoreticians, a perfectly resonant – if likely extremely complex – symbol that resonates perfectly with an individual spirit is possible, and would focus a spirit, anchor it, and allow it to draw more magical energy into itself. Practical conjurers say this is a spirits “True Name”, and only applies to free spirits, since those bound to a summoner cannot fully resonate with any other focus.

   2) What happens when a spirit enters a circle smaller than it is that is powered by said spirit’s type? Experimental setup: Make a flat and a toroidal barrier with final barrier size of three inches that are both powered off of the same type of spirit (chosen by what we have available) and mount these on poles and extend the poles towards manifested and non-manifested spirits and document results (such as activation point, apparent barrier strength, speed of activation, damage to spirit, pain to spirit, result of trying to remove and repeat, force exerted on pole if any …

   If the circle is only marginally smaller, it will sometimes either “suck” the remaining bits of the spirit inside as the standing wave starts setting up a potential well – roughly equivalent to a human falling into a pit trap while still partially outside it – OR injure / strip force from the Spirit as the barrier forms and bisects it OR the spirit will disrupt the forming barrier and potential well – and usually move. The more powerful the spirit, the more likely it is to simply disrupt the forming barrier: the initial energy of a barrier is relatively small.

   If the circle is much smaller, the barrier generally does not form successfully: spirits are not entirely homogenous, hence the attunement of the circle to what does lie inside it is unlikely to be correct, the flow of energies inside the spirit disrupts the standing wave and forming barrier, and – if a barrier does form – it excludes the active energies that are sustaining it. On the other hand, having a circle designed to contain them pass through them tends to be painful and annoying for the spirit. The larger the circle, the greater the effect. Faster-moving circles seem to have slightly greater effects as well.

   The activation point is hard to define: The circles show signs of activity as they are extended towards a spirit, but instantly fail again since they block out their own power source – and the activity is minimal anyway. The barrier strength is invariably poor. The force exerted on the pole is negligible if the spirit is not manifested, manifested spirits effectively resist being poked and exert forces on the pole.

 3) What happens if a spirit gets trapped inside a moving barrier powered by that spirit type? Does the barrier bounce off, break, or push the spirit. Experimental setup: make a wheel. engraved with a flat barrier and roll it at a spirit; observe with cameras and astral sight to check if a barrier formed, the spirit’s reaction, and the movement of the wheel.

   The spirit is generally pushed around by the barrier. They can, of course, opt to fight it. As a rule, unless the spirit is wholly inside the circle for at least a few moments, the results resemble those generated by a too-small circle.

   4) Do the processes that power a toroidal barrier need to be within the physical component? (I have assumed as much but have never bothered to check.) Experimental setup: take one of the previously-made toroids and put a person capable of activating it just outside of the toroid. Try to activate the toroidal barrier. Observe with astral sight.

   The nearer symbols will resonate, but those on the far side do so spottily. No barrier is formed, but a bit of static is sometimes apparent.

   5) Do barriers based off of several different spells cast by the same caster printed on the same toroid interfere constructively, destructively, or not interact at all? Experimental setup: Print a toroid with three lines with each designed to function off of sustaining a different spell that a subject can cast. (subject will most likely be The Ninja in this case) Attempt to cast and sustain each spell pausing to observe with astral sight between each one.

   They interfere unpredictably, but normally destructively. The problem seems to be that a given magical system only has a limited symbol catalogue; you essentially get the partial-circle and damaged-circle problems as random symbols from various circles resonate and interact with inappropriate spells. Multiple circles using different traditions work fine as long as only one is active at a time. If they have the same effective and actual radius and two are activated at the same time they can interact constructively (although not linearly). If they have different effective radii the smaller barrier takes precedence.

   6) What happens if a toroid is crushed but still intact (has a unbroken line of symbols) is activated (as in a uninflated but inflatable toroid)? Experimental setup: Make a toroid designed to be inflated with all the proper symbols. Activate while deflated. Observe. Deactivate. Inflate. Activate. Observe. Deactivate. Deflate. Repeat once to insure .

   It will not activate properly while deflated: the best you can get is destructive interference and semirandom resonances. The relationships between the symbols are necessary. In fact, the maximum level of feedback-headache occurs when a circle is close to being correct, but isn’t quite – as in, for example, a mostly-inflated toroid. You will also have to take aspirin and a few hours rest after this attempt.

   7) Nuclear Waste disposal via molds (for a rune of appropriate type) and a spirit. 7a. does this generate possibly usable power? 7b. can this help get rid of nuclear waste? 7c. In a high magic zone (made from a quickened energy to mana spell [unless one can be sustained from outside the barrier or maybe on just with the caster on the other side of a thick lead wall] and sustained by another spirit of a different type), does this produce radicals in the mold and/or the cleaned waste? Experimental setup: Make a small test reactor that runs on waste shaped into a symbol and provided a process to resonate with. Test the resulting waste from a to see if it is now significantly less radioactive. In a high magic zone, does this produce radicals in the mold and/or the cleaned waste?

   Yes, picking the correct isotopes to take advantage of the increased activity of low-range radioactive nuclei will allow the creation of a system that yields usable power when exposed to high magic levels. A similar procedure will allow the creation of a mundane magic-level detector, although accurate calibration at that level is difficult. Incidentally, the connection between radioactive decay rate and magic level tends to throw doubt on the short-term radioisotope dating techniques and requires minor corrections in those who’s scales span multiple magic cycles.

   With the development of closed-cycle nuclear reactors, and then fusion reactors, nuclear waste is not such a big problem – but yes, this is one way to help get rid of some components of it. The accelerate decay of the lighter radioactive isotopes will take care of that.

   A massive flux of magically-charged high-energy particles applied to the proper elements can produce traces of both several known magical materials and a few unknown ones. It will take a good deal of time and/or improvement in the technique to get enough for effective analysis though.

   8) Circles within circles: do a series of smaller circles in the shape of a symbol resonate properly? a. when small circles are activated. b. when smaller circles are not activated.

   A) No, and B) yes – but this produces EXCEEDINGLY “blurry” symbols and is inefficient. This can in fact be tested fairly readily in the case of small circles with a few watchers that make up a single symbol or by micro-engraving them. Those would be hard to activate, but they’re easy to make.

   9) What happens when two toroids that should generate barriers if they are close enough to have intersecting barriers when they are simultaneously activated (using a spirit to activate each and having them race to activate the barrier as soon as possible from their mutual summoner’s command with a fair starting arrangement.)

   If one barrier is higher-force, it takes precedence and the other forms a distorted sphere against it. If they are equal, the one which activates first takes priority. If they are activated closely enough to simultaneously so that they are both building at the same few microseconds – a feat which is difficult to accomplish – the two barriers clash, radiating wild waste energies. One barrier will be open to an apparently-random selection of the metaplanes and the other one will be open to the remaining metaplanes. The properties of the interface zone will be difficult to analyze, since – if you actually manage to obtain this result – you will have effectively violated Rule B (no poking holes in the universe) since the result of an unsealed cascade of energies to and from the metaplanes is essentially a metaplanar rift. This is valuable, since such rifts are at the core of keeping small amounts of magic working during low-magic intervals, but you have – of course – no ready method on hand to seal or control such a rift, much less harness it to power other effects. Some dice will have to be rolled on this one.

   10) A continuous circle that forms a barrier uses all the waste energy given off by the operation it is attuned to. It is not limited to energy that passes the symbols or near them.

   Not quite accurate at first: the symbols generate a magical standing wave as the waste energy from the attuned operation washes over them. The standing wave is reflected in astral space as a spherical barrier – which reflects back the energy that would be lost in other directions. The barrier necessarily leaks energy in the plane of the symbols, which is lost to the system. Toroidal barriers leak energy more quickly, and thus are more difficult to maintain at a given power level unless they’re pumped up with external energies. As input energy reflected from the barrier builds up inside the circle, the energy-leakage, the amplitude of the standing wave, and the force of the barrier rapidly build up to their limits – which occurs when the net leakage equals the net input energy. Feeding energy to the barrier itself is essentially amplifying a secondary effect – but it tends to feed raw, unpatterned, energy back into the interior of the circle. Since that energy is NOT attuned to the symbols, it’s contained by the barrier.

   Theoretically, it is possible to attune your personal energies to those of the symbols and simply push a magical effect through the standing wave’s potential, bypassing the actual barrier. In practice, this is extraordinarily difficult.

   11) The facing and materials do not matter as long as they are not inherently magical on their own.

   With the exception of radioactive materials – which aren’t technically magical – this is pretty much true. Radioactive materials tend to disrupt things.

   12) Magical materials influence symbols based on their general magical properties.

   More or less true of course, although this is simply an observation on which to base the further experiments noted below.

   13 Barriers leak waste energy like any other magical operation.

   Also true, and also simply an observation on which to base the further experiments noted below.

   14) Simplified toroid barrier construction; You can simply drill holes of an appropriate depth in a surface of sufficient depth and install them at the correct depths.

   True. In practice, pipe is usually easier, but this could make for some exceptionally durable toroids.

   15) Do incomplete lines of barrier symbols absorb energy?

   In general, no. Individual symbols and even short sequences may resonate, but this doesn’t create an amplifying resonance if the sequence isn’t closed. It’s detectable, but not very useful.

   16) “The Onion” This consists of a toroidal barrier inside a normal barrier set to run off the toroidal barrier’s waste energy with some space between the two barriers. This could make a safe area of high magic (by powering both with the reverse lightning spell) that has access to the meta-planes without risking the loss of containment for anything that comes through. In essence the toroidal barrier protects the person activating the whole thing from getting killed of otherwise incapacitated by anything that comes through while the flat barrier provides a cage that stops such things from escaping. This is also useful for making prisons for spirits if the flat barrier nearly touches the other one in one area to allow the “guard” to change.

   This will work just fine – except for the fact that it leaves the physical components of the external barrier potentially exposed to the things that you want to contain.

   17) Power siphon. Make a set of runes that should resonate with the Renraku barrier, go to outside the barrier and watch them as you move away. If they resonate, go back to the barrier and try to tap the resonating symbols to power spells. I would suggest doing this in Mitsuhama, but the Renraku barrier is too good a resource to pass up. It is the biggest supply of waste magical power I am likely to see in the immediate future.

   Unfortunately, symbols only resonate with magical energies and disturb the pattern of it’s flow: this is a bit like trying to get power from a rock in a river: the rock may be creating a wave, and may be responsible for some odd phenomena, but it’s not really a power source. The waste energies can be tapped directly in any case; they’re producing a modest high magic zone all around the barrier.

   18) Abbreviated Circles: How few symbols can be used to make a flat barrier? Toroidal? Does the Spacing matter aside from needing to be regular and consistent?

   The spacing should not be more than the average width of the symbol, limiting the possible number of intertwined flat barriers to three. In theory, three symbols should do to make a flat barrier. In practice, they have to be so large to provide a place to stand in the center as to be impractical. It is easier to make it work – the excitation energy needed is much smaller – if a simple border line is included as long as the operator can see it or knows it’s there. A minimum of 27 symbols is required for a toroidial barrier, but – once again – in that case they have to be very very large and it’s very very awkward.

   19) Fractured circle: Make a circle that does not quite close and is made of a flexible material so the circle can be moved from closed to a line. Observe while the attuned process is active and moving the “circle” from closed to a flat line. Repeat several times at different speeds.

   The barrier collapses almost instantaneously as soon as the separation of the symbols at the end begins to exceed the average width of the two symbols involved.

   20) Sharpness Effects Testing: make two otherwise identical toroids out of the best (oricalcum wires) and one of the worst (chalk) symbol mediums. Use tiles mounted on a frame to simplify the process. Activate each using the same practitioner and observe for differences. Repeat activation and observation as necessary to measure response time, strength (tested by using the same focus as a melee weapon against it multiple times and measuring the average effect), waste energy output, and any other properties barriers are known to possess.

   Oricalcum circles power up slightly quicker, can be maintained with less effort, and – after the first time they’re powered up – are slightly tolerant of damage: damaged symbols and distortions of the setup will not necessarily prevent an oricalcum circle from activating. The effect seems to grow more powerful as the circle is used more. Waste energy output is unchanged.

   Some tools to order to speed up these experiments:

  • Plastic molded symbol tiles for each symbol I have found in the proportions I have been using them with room for error/redundancy.
  • A robot to move/hold the tiles (ideally it or a sequence of them can hold them all and move a barrier’s worth all at once in programed patterns with precise positions in 3d with precise timing)
  • Some improvements to the flying saucer: add three long poles to mount sensors, laser targeting guides, and other systems that will be interfered with by the spells outside the area covered by the spells.

   All of that should work just fine.


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