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Obscurity and Trivia-based magick.
You know that Knowledge is Power - of course, everyone else knows it too. What the bastards don't know is what knowledge is important. The world doesn't belong to the guy who knows how to make the hydrogen bomb. It belongs to the guy who knows that both JFK and LaToya Jackson were born on May 29th. What others see as random minutia, you recognize as an instruction manual for the Cosmos. Use it.
You were in front of your TV, ticket in hand, when the Pick-3 number for the day came up on the screen.
Nine. One. One.
Crap. You saw it coming, of course. The fact that you were $500 richer was nice, but you knew what everyone else in NYC was going to be saying.
911. Same number as the day, and the same day the Twin Towers went down one year ago. Well, whoop-de-fucking-do. Half the town was going to be insisting that this wasn’t a coincidence – that there must be some sort of ominous portent involved. Others would be repeating, like a mantra, this was nothing special. Coincidences happen. It’s no big deal.
You know better. 911 shows up in an expansion of pi at the 1533rd decimal place. Elizabeth the 1st was born in 1533, and everyone intelligent knows that she had Mary Queen of Scots killed in 1587, in Fotheringay. An anagram of Fotheringay is “Gaynor Thief”, which is an obvious reference to the theft of Matchbox Twenty guitarist’s Adam Gaynor’s prize guitar on September 18th, 2000. The guitar was returned, of course, exactly one week later.
Admittedly, the path at that point got a little more complicated. It took you from Matchbox Twenty to the atomic weight of cesium to 19th century Cloisonne moon flasks to Abraham Lincoln’s shoe size (14) to Streptococcus mutans to Chairman Mao’s widow’s birthplace to the KATE SMITH radio hour to . . . well, okay, it took a little while.
Doesn’t matter. In the end, it was obvious. On 9-11-02, in NY, the Pick3 winner was going to be 9-1-1. And it had zilch to do with the terrorist attack a year ago. That’d be the OBVIOUS connection, but you know better. Occam was an ass, and his razor is as dull as Helena Vnouckova, owner of the world’s largest napkin collection. The secrets of the universe are buried, and they are buried deep, under hundreds of thousands of millions of seemingly pointless minutia. It takes a truly talented mind to unearth them.
Of course, the central paradox of Ignotamancy is that you're full of shit. The chance that any connection you usually see between the billion bits of information bouncing around inside that skull of yours is meaningful is just about nil. Meanwhile, others are learning how to fix cars, cook meals, write laws, and cure cancer. Yeah, we know - there's some profound reason that before Joe McVicker invented Play-Doh exactly 200 years after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. You're going to be a blast at parties.
Ignotamancy Blast Style
Ignotamancers have no blast.
Ignotamancers gain charges in two ways: learning useless information, and finding ways to utilize the useless information they've already garnered.
Generate a Minor Charge: Learn 500 new pieces of trivia at one sitting. It doesn't matter if it's 500 digits of pi or the five hundred largest cities in Asia, as long as it's at least 500 pieces of new (useless) information. This generally takes the ignotamancer between one and four hours, depending on the format of the information. For instance, it's easier to gain information straight from a list than from an encyclopedia.
Learn a piece of obscure trivia about someone or something famous. While the trivia learned is inconsequential, the level of fame is not - a US Senator from a large state would probably do, but a US Representative wouldn't cut it.
Complete a difficult crossword puzzle (a NYT puzzle will do - but not one from a kiddie book or USA Today). Answer an unprompted "general knowledge" question that the nearest 20 people could not answer. (A question about the capitol of Kenya would count; even a question about the best way to get to Luigi's Deli across town would be okay. But you aren't going to get a charge for telling someone what your favorite color is.) Watch Jeopardy! (one you haven't seen before!) and shout the answers at the screen.
The Ignotamancer may not receive more than one minor charge from one of the above sources before needing to move on to something different. Thus, he will not gain two charges from learning 1000 places in pi at one sitting. On the other hand, he could learn 500 places in pi, watch Jeopardy, do a crossword, read an encyclopedia, surf the net for some flotsam and jetsam, and so on. The more sources, the better, for the ignotamancer knows that true power comes only by connecting completely unrelated information.
Generate a Significant Charge: Learn a piece of extremely obscure, hard-to-get trivia about someone or somewhere during an important day in history. Learning the mileage on the car JFK was driving in the day he was assassinated would qualify, as would finding out what he ate for lunch. (You don't get a charge if you learn both things, though - as noted above, it's all about breadth of knowledge, not depth.) Finish a thick (200+) book of tough crosswords. Win money on Jeopardy!. Answer an unprompted question that not one of the nearest 4000 people could answer.
Generate a Major Charge: Answer an unprompted question that not one of the closest 10,000,000 people could answer - note that it's likely that at least a few of those people are ignotamancers themselves. Learn a piece of trivia about someone or somewhere during an important day in history that no more than one other person knows about at that time. This includes the subject of the trivia, if it is about someone. For instance, suppose that the day he nukes Baghdad, Dubya tells his hairdresser (and no one else) that he used to have bad dreams when he was a child about being attacked by Donald Duck. Unless you're the hairdresser, you wouldn't get a major charge out of discovering this information. Not unless GWB was dead at the time . . .
Taboo: You've only got so much space in that brain of yours for information, and there's no room for useless crap. You know, like how to change a tire, fix a computer, bake a lasagna, perform the Heimlich maneuver (though you'll be quick to point out when you see the maneuver being done that Heimlich was a vegetarian). And what time does your flight leave for Vancouver, again? During any given period of time, the amount of useless information you learn must be considerably greater than the amount of useful information you learn, or you lose all charges. On that note, you cannot have any knowledge skills above 10% unless they are completely esoteric, and you cannot have ANY skills besides Triviamancy above 50%. You simply don't have the time to focus on anything else but your craft.
Random Magick Domain: Ignotamancy is powerful magic for dealing with obscurity. Ignotamancers are singularly good at drawing order from chaos, in that they can recognize what is truly important.
Starting Charges: Newly created ignotamancers start with five minor charges.
Charging Tips: Ignotamancers find it easy to get at least 4-5 charges a day, and can often get more. A little Jeopardy, a little surfing on the Internet, a few hours in the library, and they're all set. Significant charges are a lot harder to come by, but with the advent of the Internet a hard-working Ignotamancer can usually pick up a sig charge or three every week by just combing through the 'net looking for dirt on important people and places. Of course, the very fact that it's on the 'net means that most trivia about people and places isn't as obscure as the Ignotamancer needs, hence the slow rate of sig charging.
Ignotamancer Minor Formula Spells
I Remember Reading Something About That
Cost: 1 minor charge
Effect: This spell is identical to the Cliomancer's Trivia spell in all ways but two. The spell may not be used to learn information of more than a couple paragraphs in length - you can't pull up city maps or complete instruction manuals. On the other hand, you are not limited to material currently within the realm of public information. Anything that was unclassified to the public at any point is fair game. In fact, if you spend one extra charge, you have access to any classified written information that has had at least 1000 readers. You won't be getting launch codes with this spell, but the material in classified operations manuals for large corporations or organizations is fair game.
Cost: 1 minor charge
Effect: You can cast this spell to treat a check you just failed as a success, as long as you failed the check by 10% or less. This spell cannot be used to cancel matched failures or fumbles. If you do it in combat, it does not take an action.
Cost: 1 minor charge
Effect: You can cast this spell to help you choose between two or three courses to take in the immediate future, in support of an immediate goal. This is an excellent spell to cast to determine whether the guy you are chasing ducked down the right-hand passage or left-hand passage, or whether it's wise to leave the place you're hiding, instead of turtling for a few more minutes. Best of all, you'll never go wrong when deciding whether you should buy the veal or the duck at your favorite restaurant. This spell does not predict the future, though - you can't walk into a casino and cast Clarity to determine whether to bet on red or black at the next spin of the roulette wheel.
Tip of the Tongue
Cost: 2 minor charges
Effect: This spell allows a target to remember a piece of information that they have forgotten, even if the knowledge only spent a split second in their short-term memory.
Example: You're tracking down a Mechanomancer that tried to kill you with an exploding football. You have a photograph of the clockworker, but no other information. You could walk into a bus station, flash the photo, cast the spell, and be 100% sure that the gal behind the counter will remember where and when she saw the guy last, even if she only saw him for a moment.
Example: Alfred has noticed that someone has been following him around for the last two weeks, and is eager to find out more about his tail. Alfred casts the spell, asking, "Who hired the man tracking me?" Suddenly, he's able to connect together a few dozen disparate facts into a more coherent picture of what's going on - "The guy who hired your tail is the same old man responsible for the warehouse fire down at the docks last week, and he's got a daughter that just graduated from Vassar last year with high honors." Alfred begins combing the newspapers looking for information on police suspects regarding the arson, as well as cross-referencing the local phonebook with the last names of Vassar grads.
It may be that the police have no suspects (or that they're not reporting on the investigation in the papers), and that the Vassar lead is too difficult to follow up on, but it's a start. Heck, it's possible that Alfred has already memorized the list of Vassar graduates from 1945 on.
I'm already posting errata!
I've managed to skim through most of it, not wanting to fully understand the whole package at once you know, cause that would just break taboo, but I'm liking the concept behid this, the charging up is difficult which is great, as I think that Ua could use a few, not lots, but a few more slow charging schools..
Interesting school of magick. Quite well thought out.
Niggle | profile | Oct 07, 02 | 2:53 am
500? Jesus. Most people can't handle 50 pieces of information at a time. Are you suggesting that all Ignotamancers have either 75+ Mind stat or Eidetic Memory?
Jeopardy... A worthless Videomancer obsession. No really, you should be able to charge off any trivia show of substantial difficulty, including, but not limited to things like WinTuition, Greed, Who wants to be a Millionaire, Weakest Link, Freind or Foe... whatever. Also, in the same vein a good game of Trivial Pursuit, Malarky, Balderash, and other trivial knowledge games should be good fr a minor. Gives you a reason for joining mensa anyway. By the same token, Crossword puzzles could be expanded the same way.. Mensa puts out some pretty challenging worthless trivia tests. ;)
Niggle -- yes, at the time I assumed they had eidetic memory, at least for the purposes of useless minutia. Since then I've redone the school a bit -- now, to generate a minor you just need to put the time in (no need counting the individual chunks of info).
Perhaps a revision to Lookin' Smart might be to change the meaning of 'smart'. For the duration of the spell, the Ignotamancer uses a blend of trivia and self-assurance to seem incredibly intelligent. Any random collection of useless facts spouted at onlookers will sound like the Theory of Relativity, and nothing will convince them otherwise. Anything that might detract from your appearance of god-like intelligence, for example being poorly dressed or having a serious BO problem, will be dismissed - after all, all geniuses have some little eccentricities, right?
Regis2001 | profile | Nov 10, 04 | 2:56 pm