Small Updates to Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Hey all,

I’ve been debating this for a long time, but I’m going to be making some minor changes to Sufficiently Advanced Magic.

Up to this point, I’ve only really made corrections for typos and such. In this minor update, I’m making a couple minor changes for logic and consistency, rather than just grammar and spelling.

These are as follows:

  • In the old version, it said that people are only expected to reach Quart-B (25 to 29 Mana) before the end of the year. This was always expected to come across as easy compared to Professor Orden’s goal for Corin (reach Carnelian in 3 months), but in retrospect, it was absurdly easy. I’ve changed this to Quartz-A (which is anywhere from 30 to 59 mana). This is just a few lines in the text, but I think it’s a much more realistic goal that doesn’t feel as meaningless.
  • I fixed a continuity issue. In one of Corin’s classes, it initially identified Shapers as having Earth (Primary) and Transference (Secondary). Everywhere else, including the appendix and sequel, referred to Shapers as having Earth (Primary) and Enhancement (Secondary). I have updated the classroom scene to fix this continuity issue.
  • I’ve changed a couple sentences to make it clearer that Corin studied basics about attunements earlier, but that he’s three years behind in his studies and out of practice. This came across as somewhat weird and inconsistent in the older version. I may still need to make more corrections to this as I find them.
  • I’ve added a couple extra sentences to make this clearer, too. For example, when Corin asks Professor Orden about attunement levels, I added a line to indicate that he was just trying to check and see if she’d mention Sapphires. Logically (and from earlier in the story), he clearly already knows what attunement levels are. Similarly, I added a line after the first Magic Theory class emphasizing that he knows the very basics of how magic works, and that the first class was just reviewing things he hadn’t heard in years.
  • Tenjin was depicted as male in most parts of the story, but female in one of the statues. This has not been changed, but the statue section has slightly clarified to indicate that Tenjin can be depicted in different ways. (All of the visages can be.)

I hope that this makes the story as a whole feel a little more coherent and consistent.

There are a few things I didn’t change, at least for now.

  • I’ve considered extending the scene between Corin and Sera on the train to the university at the beginning and having them talk about life a little more (e.g. Corin’s mother, how long it’s been, etc.) This may end up being written as bonus content if I don’t add it to the book itself in the future.
  • I’ve considered making broader changes to make it abundantly clear that Corin does know the basics of magic before going to the school and simply needs to review them.
  • I have a longer rewrite for one of Corin’s scenes with Orden.

The reason I didn’t make some of these more significant changes is that I don’t want the Kindle/Paperback versions to deviate too far from the audio version (especially because of Whispersync). I may make more changes if I can book some time with the narrator to get the audio version properly updated.

I hope this helps give some insight into the process.

also hope this small update doesn’t break Whispersync, because if it does, I may have to roll it back.

22 thoughts on “Small Updates to Sufficiently Advanced Magic

  1. I thought that that the E to A grade scale for each Attunement class worked out as follows: Grade E is the basic amount (10 for Quartz, 60 for Carnelian, 360 for Sunstone, 2160 for Citrine, and 12,960 for Sapphire), and then D would be twice those figures, C would be 3 times those figures, B would be 4 times those figures, and A would be 5 times those figures, (i.e. 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 points for Quartz) and at Six times those figures you move up into the next class. This gives you a straight linear scale for E to A within each class. This seemed to work for the Quartz grade levels in SAM (Book 1).

    But these figures do not seem to match the actual cases quoted in Book 2 (On the Shoulders of Titans), i.e. it should be Carnelian D at 120, Carnelian C at 180, Carnelian B at 240, and Carnelian A at 300 Mana points; While you seemed to be going to Carnelian D at 90, and Carnelian C at 120 in the examples that I can remember. (I think you have a mental arithmetic problem).

    How do you want it to work? A Straight linear scale within each class is easiest to remember and work with. Just remember that each step in the letter grade scale (E to A) adds the class minimum amount to the total each time you go up a letter grade.

    Also I am not sure that Corin had enough mana points available to/in himself to transfer to Mara (in the Graduation scene/Winter Ball/Dance) in order to push her up to Sunstone (over 360) to fight Mizuchi, unless she was already up to about Grade B as a Carnelian, i.e. about 240 points, and even that would have been hard for him to have enough Mana points to do it.

    There is a separate problem that it may be possible for him to transfer Mana to Mara using his new Attunement to purify it, but there is still a problem about the type of Mana he is transferring. Corin should only be able to transfer Gray, Mental, Transference, and Life Mana types since those are the only ones that he has in his 2 Attunements. So what type(s) was he transferring to Mara and then a little later to Patrick in the same scene? Mara needs Life and Enhancement, while Patrick need Fire and Air. So was he transferring Gray Mana to Patrick, and maybe Gray as well to Mara?

  2. I seem to recall that there was somewhere (or perhaps in several places) in SAM a place that laid out the progression of Quartz levels (Grades E to A) as I used in my above message, i.e.10 points per Grade or 10 for E, 20 for D, 30 for C, 40 for D, 50 for E, and 60 is the next level (Carnelian), but I do not remember exactly where I saw that.

      1. It seems like a very odd scale, the first four steps are small and then the fifth step is big: for Quartz you went up in 4 steps of 5 followed by a 30 to get to the next Class (Carnelian).

        If you do not like my linear scale, then I suggest the following which is similar to yours for the first two steps but little larger for the 3rd and 4th steps (increases).

        A Quartz scale of 10, 15, 20, 30, 45 followed by 60 for the next level would be a little more reasonable, this gives step sizes of 1.5, followed by 1 1/3, followed by 1.5, followed by 1.5 and then a 1 1/3 to Carnelian. So three of the steps are 50% increase (1/2 or a factor of 1.5) and two steps are 33% (1/3 increase or a factor of 1.3333).

        This keeps D and C the same as your old scale, but moves B from 25 to 30, and A from 30 to 45, so that B and A cover the upper part of the range more evenly. And the numbers are easy to remember (all multiples of 5, no numbers like 22 or 33 or 44) Your scale is OK for the bottom part of the range but worthless for the top part of the range. My scale covers the range for 30 to 60 better, and keeps all steps to being either 50% (1/2) or 33% (1/3)

        After that just multiply by a factor of six for the next level (Carnelian):
        E is at 60, D is at 90, C is at 120 (these are the same as before), B is at 180, and A is at 270.

        Sunstone would be E at 360, D at 540, C at 720, B at 1080, and A at 1620. (Citrine E is 2160 as before).

        Citrine grades are are factor of 6 of the Sunstone grades, and
        Sapphire grades are a factor of 6 of the Citrine grades.

        Or from a different Point of View (POV), I am getting rid of your old Grade B, in order to get a better, more useful Grade A, i.e. remove the old 25 and add a 45 after the 30.

        Since there are no changes in abilities, just changes in the amount of available Mana to use, the whole E to A scale is rather arbitrary, and just a tool to track growth of strength and a way to compare two or more people. You could have had 4 or 8 or 10 Grades, and they could have have started with A as the lowest also. It is all a matter of accepted convention.

        Other Nations could be different as well in how they rank progression of strength within one Attunement level.

      2. I understand that the scale isn’t as clear as a linear one. It’s designed that way to make sure there’s a clear gap between the the top of a specific level (e.g. Quartz-A) and the bottom of the next level (e.g. Carnelian-D).

        This is because reaching the next level is a tremendous change in performance, far more than moving from something like Quartz-B to Quartz-A.

        The numbers are already being used in the story, so I’m not going to make changes. I appreciate your suggestions, however, and the time that went into analyzing this.

        Other nations use entirely different systems; not all of them even use the gem names.

        You’re absolutely correct that the grades between attunement levels are arbitrary; they’re just the scale one particular school came up with and have no actual influence on character power.

  3. You have never really told us in either Book what any A or B levels were in terms of Mana points. You have given us some examples of E, D, and C for Quartz and Carnelian. I am suggesting a minor modification of your scale , i.e. drop the 25 completely and replace it with a 45 after the 30, that covers the 10 to 60 range a little more evenly, particularly the higher part, so people, i.e. students have better idea of how they are progressing in gaining Mana power, over the whole range. With none of the individual steps being more than a 50% gain in strength.

    Slight change of subject:

    A good rule of thumb when dealing with compound interest is the old Bankers’ rule of 72 (it is approximately correct): Take the interest rate N% per period, divide 72 by N and that gives you about how many periods it takes to double an amount (with compound interest), i.e. 4% is 18 periods, 6% is 12 periods, 8% is 9 periods, 9% is 8 periods, etc. So even with a gain rate of 6% per week it would still take 24 weeks to double twice (i.e. increase by a factor of 4) or 36 weeks to grow by a factor of 8 (where a gain of 6 times is one Attunement level), or a gain of between 3 to 4% per week would give one Attunement level in a one year period of School, i.e. 2nd year. Which is about what the good students at your School might try to achieve, i.e. graduating with a rank of Sunstone after 2 years of School. Using a calculator, 1.03 to the 60th is 5.89, which is about 1 Attunement Level. In practice, things will not go so evenly, but these figures give a feel for the average net result for really good students to aim for: One Attunement level in one School year(in the 2nd year), or to graduate (after 2nd year) at Sunstone Attunement level, which I think you may have said (somewhere) about 10% might achieve.

    Minor Spoiler:

    I think Valia is about to have a major problem with it’s next first year class. The Tower was (will be) closed for long periods of time making it hard to get a Judgement to get an Attunement Level, and a number of teachers (and administrators) have been lost or seriously injured, which will impact the new 2nd year students’ (Corin’s Class) training as well. Valia may have to send it’s prospective Judgement students to either Caelford (via the Rail Road) or Dalenos in order to get an Attunement, plus this will cause a change in what Attunements many of those students will be getting, if they go to Caelford and Dalenos.

    This could lead to a large scale effort to give artificial Attunements in place of Judgements to many prospective students in Valia. The question is how ready they (the Valian National government) would be to do this, and how long it would take them to set it up (and how many they could do),

    The Tower being closed will also cause problems in gaining experience after graduation.

    At some point, Tenjin may be rescued, or some kind of deal will have to be made between him and the group holding him. I do not know what you are planning.

    1. The update is already out, but it may take a few days before it’s available to people who already purchased the book previously. I’m not 100% sure how that process works.

      That update has the requirement for Quartz-A in the text. Moreover, the whole chart has been up on /r/climberscourt and the Discord channel for a while, so plenty of readers already know it. I’d rather not make a change like that at this stage.

      Thanks for the feedback, though!

    1. The update is already out, but it may take a few days before it’s available to people who already purchased the book previously. I’m not 100% sure how that process works.

  4. Well, the number strengths of Mana levels are what is really important ( and even those depend on the definition (way to measure or quantify) of the amount of 1 Mana point is) compared to an arbitrary Letter Grade. But I think your Grade system is not as useful (and therefore misleading) as it could be by not having a Grade between 30 and 60.

    Then the use of a letter Grade in the way you did, particularly in a School setting, gives the impression of a passing versus failing grade system, but in those systems all of the grades are closely spaced in the upper part of the range, i.e. everything below about 70% is failure and non failing grades only cover the range of about 70% to 100%, but your system has ALL of its grades in the bottom 50% and none above that.

    You should consider how your Grade scale would be most useful in the adult world after graduation, where passing and failing is an arbitrary school convention, and what is more important is how much Mana each person has available to use in casting/using spells. A more evenly spaced scale is a lot more useful in the adult world, even if it is not strictly linear. (It is impossible to make a linear scale fit a geometric model). A better system would be nonlinear, where each level (grade) is 30 to 50% more than the previous level (grade).

    1. If you’re looking at the numbers purely in terms of being used as a sort of XP chart, going linear is absolutely the route that makes the most sense, and that’s what my original design was.

      The reason I changed it was to make a clear representation of the fact that the school is measuring not only mana, but their idea of combat effectiveness, and effectiveness has tremendous spikes when between “A” grades and the “D” grades of the next level.

      Linear mana increases don’t accurately represent the actual combat ability of a character, because abilities “unlock” at each attunement level that are major changes to the character’s performance. Whether or not a Carnelian-D is actually worth twice as much on the battlefield as a Quartz-A is a different discussion, of course.

      I absolutely agree that these grades aren’t very useful outside of a school environment, which is why you rarely see adults using them unless they’re explaining something to children. There are other classification systems that are used; for example, Sera explains early in the first book that Permafrost Cascade is a “Rank 4” spell, which is a whole different ranking structure.

  5. About the only use for them that I see is to set various goals during the school year that students should be trying to reach, so that they have some idea of of their progress, and even then you need some more levels as I have already argued.

    So I am done arguing about this matter, and I will pretty much ignore them when they come up.

  6. I can see different ways of organizing spells, by the amount of Mana used, by the Mana Type(s) used, and even by complexity, i.e. how different Mana types are used in addition to the amounts, plus of course by Attunement type and level, if that matters (it might not for many spells), possibly even by restricted or secret/forbidden.

    An interesting question is whether Attunements from the forbidden tower or any of the Restricted Attunements use any Mana Types not used in other Attunements from the other Towers, as well as the question of how does anyone use Mana types that are not in one of their Attunements. Enchanters could do it if they have a source (probably a Mana crystal) of that different Mana type to transfer to some rune diagram/item they are making/using. I think that Corin has wondered about that already.

    A related and VERY interesting question would be the possibility of creating a NEW artificial Attunement that uses a different not previously used Mana Type. (This might be one of those forbidden magics that no one is supposed to study). It also raises an interesting historical question: did the towers have fewer Attunements in the past?, i.e. have the Towers ever added any Attunements to list of those that they give out in Judgements, or for that matter added new Attunements to the Restricted or Forbidden categories? ( I know your answer will be NO COMMENT, but it is worth thinking about for us (you may be already thinking about it)).

  7. Another interesting question: How well, if at all, do Attunement Marks work on other continents of that World? Does proximity to the Towers make a difference?

  8. Or from a different historical perspective: have any Attunements that Towers gave out in the past, been removed from the list of Attunements that can be currently earned? Particularly what were the Attunements given out in Judgements in the Tower in the center of the continent that I think the nation of Lavia was destroyed for trying to invade. (answer: NO COMMENT)

  9. One possibility, is that the Attunements for the Lavia Tower, got divided out and reassigned to the other Towers, as well as to the Restricted and Forbidden lists.

  10. We have already seen some hints that proximity to the Tower, i.e. being IN the Tower, does make at least some difference in how well Attunement Marks work.

  11. I found some typos and other minor edits — some of which you may have already taken care of in the recent update. Is there a way to forward you the list?

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