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To Rise Above · 7:05pm Aug 7th, 2014

Wow. I don't know why Mandatory Fun worked so well, but I am immensely glad to see so many people enjoyed it. More than 1,200 views, 188 favorites, 15 new watchers, top of the featured box, all in under 24 hours. I am flabbergasted, flummoxed, and fully flattered. Really, the only other thing I could ask for is John Perry suffering the feature box and explaining why the story sucks because of its overdependence on pop culture references. (Never let it be said that I have unrealistic expectations. :raritywink:)

Again, thank you all. The rest of this blog is some further detail on the concept of "transcendence" in the context of earth pony magic. If you're not interested in my headcanon, you can move on to the rest of your feed or close the tab.

Still here? Okay, then. Again, this is all my own thoughts on the matter. You're free to borrow them, but by no means are they meant as canon for anything outside of my own stories.

Earth pony magic is usually passive, continuous, and subtle. Its underlying theme is "fundaments." Foundations. Substructures. The unappreciated but necessary ground level, without which everything above collapses. This is often expressed through the earth, unsurprisingly enough. Earth ponies can augment the fundament beneath their feet, both to make it more valuable, as on rock farms, and to make it more fertile. This ties in with their best known gift, an affinity for plants, the vital bottom of the food chain. Plants flourish under an earth pony's care, growing, flowering, and fruiting far faster and more often than they would normally. Earth ponies also continuously bolster their own bodies, the requisite framework for their consciousnesses and magic, unconsciously boosting their strength, stamina, and dexterity.

Transcendence is what lets party ponies do what they do, and it's perhaps the strangest expression of earth pony magic, because it focuses on a fourth fundament, the fundament of reality itself. Understanding just what that fundament is is the path of transcedence. As Cheese noted in Mandatory Fun, the path has five steps, which I will detail below:

Awareness, to Look Outward
There is far more to existence than what a pony can sense.

The first step of the path is recognizing that the path exists. This isn't nearly as simple as it sounds. Earth ponies are a sensible lot, their mental health usually as robust as their physical. Every step of the path entails a sacrifice of sanity, and becoming aware of it carries one of the steeper costs in that regard. That cost paid, the neophyte transcendent can accept that the world does not begin and end at what she can perceive. Paradoxically, she then begins to dimly perceive the ultimate fundament of reality.

Flexibility, to Look Inward
Magic allows actions that aren't strictly permitted by the laws of reality

The second step of the path is to start walking it in earnest. Now that the transcendent can sense the ultimate fundament, he can begin drawing on it to fuel his magic. When he does, he finds himself capable of vastly more than before. Doors open to him that he thought were walls, or empty space. The versatility of his magic skyrockets, and he finds himself abandoning a bit more common sense as a matter of course. After all, sensibly, he shouldn't be able to appear behind mirrors or call up an extra pair of legs, but didn't he do just that?

Realization, to Look Everywhere
There is a limit to how far those laws can bend. Equestria exists beyond that limit.

The third step of the path is to reach what seems to be its end. The realization hits like a splash of cold water; this shouldn't possible. The strongest unicorns can't call up cheese wheels ex nihilo or use their manes as drills. But then the transcendent starts looking around, and she realizes that her actions pale in comparison to her world. Her tattered sensibility starts questioning things that once seemed beneath contemplation. What is the purpose of winter? Why do ponies use doorknobs? How do mules always show up just in time to hear offensive comments? Compared to her world, the transcendent is a bastion of logic and reason, and thus she further seeks the clarity of madness.

Extrapolation, to Look Nowhere
The world as a whole is impossible. As a part of that world, so am I.

The fourth step of the path is to look back and consider the journey. It's all well and good for the transcendent to claim greater sanity than his surroundings, but the transcendent is still an earth pony. For all the costs paid to the path, he cannot deny his roots anymore than a tree could. He came from this illogical, unreasonable world. What does that make him?
This more than any other step is a make-or-break moment for transcendents. Many go completely mad from the contradiction. Some go completely sane, or at least as sane as they were before they began, blocking out all the progress they've made as a defense mechanism. But a lucky few can make the next leap. Whether that luck is good or bad is a matter of debate.

Acceptance, to Look Through
I can't exist, yet I do. No rules need apply

The fifth and final step of the path is to see the destination at last. The question of the world's sanity is dismissed as irrelevant, for the transcendent understands the world for what it truly is. The glimmers and hints regarding the ultimate fundament's identity resolve into perfect, beautiful clarity: its name is Macromedia Flash. Equestria doesn't have to make sense, because it isn't a consistent universe. It's a work of fiction, a tale told by many storytellers, each with his or her own voice, and no two quite agreeing. Gravity is a consensus. Causality is a convenience. The transcendent has transcended logic and law, and is free to embrace her nature as a cartoon character.

Most earth ponies avoid even learning about transcendence, beyond knowing of its existence and its status as something to be avoided. They like their sanity, and once begun, the journey cannot stop. It can end, whether by abandoning the path, going mad, or reaching acceptance, but transcendence rejects stasis. Every story must reach its conclusion eventually.

In any case, this is how party ponies are made. Mandatory Fun shows how the magic could be corrupted—indeed, Trixie's point-and-drag spell suggests that the Alicorn Amulet was made with a transcendent in mind—but thankfully, those who would use the power selfishly do not survive the process. Well, not to anypony's knowledge. It might explain a few things about Discord...

Report FanOfMostEverything · 4,271 views · Story: Mandatory Fun ·
Comments ( 31 )

You know, I think this could fit to my head canon. I just don't see the reason for limiting it to earth ponies. If I ever do decide to use this(I almost certainly won't) then I probably won't limit it to the one species. In fact, it'd be open to all species(sapient or not) capable of magic.

Definitely stealing this idea for something...

Of course, since Pinkie Pie is a pre-Mending Planeswalker as well as a Party Pony, her journey was simultaneously hastened and drawn out, made more direct and more convoluted, and begins before and after it may or may not even show the start of an end. She sees not only the realm of Macromedia Flash, but also the physical realm of patterned pieces of paper known as "Magic cards." And it tastes of Snozzberries.

This feels like it might be in some way related to Screwloose's origins... :trixieshiftright:

2351525 Of course it's not strictly limited to earth ponies, but the combination of patience with non-attachment to sanity would be even rarer among pegasi than among earth ponies (besides the path itself being longer, since deep contemplation of the firmament is required for them to begin grasping the fundament), and a unicorn would first have to bend her power to emulating earth pony magic (or cheat with the Alicorn Amulet).

Student of Transcendence (I have no idea what cost to give this)
Creature — Pony Monk
Level up {X}, where X is one plus the number of level counters on Student of Transcendence.
Level 2-4:
3: Student of Transcendence gains one of flying, vigilance, first strike, and lifelink until end of turn. Activate this ability a maximum of X times each turn, where X is the number of level counters on Student of Transcendence.
Level 5+:
Whenever Student of Transcendence becomes the target of a spell or ability, you may exile it, then return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with five level counters on it.

Well that's way too wordy.

That moment when fanon is a better canon than headcanon.

Head Canon accepted.:trixieshiftright:

2351741 Hm. The flavor makes me want to make it blue, but it's abilities are mostly white. I suppose there's enough overlap to make it both, so I would cost it at WU, maybe 1(wu). Also, there's some rules weirdness with having X represent multiple things on the same card, even if intuitively it's obvious which X is which. Messing with the wording a bit and fixing some formatting brings it to:

Student of Transcendence 1(wu)
Creature — Pony Monk
Level up {X}{1}, where X is the number of level counters on Student of Transcendence.
Level 2-4:
3: Student of Transcendence gains your choice of flying, first strike, vigilance, or lifelink until end of turn. Activate this ability no more than X times each turn.
Level 5+:
Whenever Student of Transcendence becomes the target of a spell or ability, you may exile it. If you do, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with five level counters on it.

But yeah, way too wordy; there's a very good reason most levelers have simple abilities

And this is why you're a genius :twilightsmile:

It all made a scary amount of sense. Does this mean that Party Ponies are a sub of Earth Ponies? If that's the case, do Unicorns and Pegasi have their own subs too?

Well, in my headcanon, only earth ponies have the necessary foundation in foundation-based magic. A unicorn or pegasus could learn of transcendence in theory, but neither could sense or draw power from the ultimate fundament, no more than they could draw it from the ground beneath their hooves. Of course, alicorns have all forms of pony magic, so theoretically...

In any case, this is just how I've done it. Also, the only two definitive data points are both earth ponies, so there's that. (Three if you count Ponyacci... who is also an earth pony.)

You're more than welcome to. I'm sure you'll do cooler things with it than anything I have planned.

Indeed. Hers is a most curious perception of the world. There are times when she forgets how sane she's supposed to be, and what is or isn't real. My Pinkie Pie would probably find Wonderland somewhat prosaic.

Not all can accept what they extrapolate, and some reject it more strongly than others.

Party ponies are indeed limited to earth ponies according to this setup. For unicorns and pegasi to discover their analogous philosophies, they would have to delve into the deep esoterica of their tribes' magic, exploring its depths and limits and coming out the other side with hard won knowledge. What that would knowledge would be, I cannot say. (Not because I'm being coy, mind you. I seriously have no idea.)

2351741 2351857
Well, the obvious comparison is Transcendent Master, but that's not quite it...

Transgressive Transcendent 1UB
Creature — Pony Monk Rogue
Level up — UB, Discard a card.
Level 1-4> Players play with the top card of their libraries revealed.
Level 5+> Players play with the top card of their libraries revealed.
You may play the top card of any library. (You control the spell and/or permanent that card becomes.)

FASCINATING. Some of it overlaps what I think, too!

I used to think, "gee, would it really be fair if only Earth Ponies could be party ponies?" Then I realized that, DUH, life is not fair, or we'd all have wings and horns and stuff. You have to have your hooves rooted in the earth to be able to rise above it. The deeper the roots, the higher the heights, which is why the Great She was born on a rock farm. It's also why her greatest disciple comes from Neigh Jersey, because SOME ponies think it does not get lower than that. You develop a sense of humor about that or die. It requires being down to earth, or humble--humus and humility coming from the same root word.

The Party Pony steps off the cliff of reality, one hoof happily dangling in the air, and thinks, "oh, what the hell. I might as well tell the truth." This is why sensible rulers of the pre-United Equestrian kingdoms kept a party pony permanently on their staffs. A unicorn king really needs a funny looking earth pony with a balloon to say, "hey, King! You're being even funnier than I am!" Otherwise they can let all that power go to their heads, and the next thing you know, their functional vocabulary has shrunk to about seven words plus evil laughter. [Actual true fact: the word "fool" comes from the Latin word "follis," which means "bladder." That's what an original fool's bauble is: a blown up bladder on a stick, or a balloon. I TOLD you Pinkie was deep.] Celestia actually doesn't need a staff party pony. Either it's because she's got the earth pony thing going on for her, too, or because she instituted Chuckle-Lot, or for some other reason.


Oh, my. Steps three and four. So true.

Of course, this just underlines why there are so few party ponies, and why they are usually made, not born, and chosen by Joy Herself (although rarely as directly as Pinkie chose Cheese.) It would be cruel to force most earth ponies to go through all of that. They would indeed crack up. Only a mad pony would try. Plus, ultimately, you can't teach funny. It is instructive yet painful to watch most politicians try.

those who would use the power selfishly do not survive the process.

And those who try get a swift kick to the karma. It requires a degree of radical detachment from material things, and that's not easy for an earth pony, either.

Incidentally, I've always thought that the ability to grow plants, etc., waned as that power gets channeled into party pony magic, which is why you do not want a party pony running your farm for you in your absence.

Also, not so coincidentally: the story was such a success because it is good. :pinkiehappy:

I was wondering how you'd react to this. Seeing it mesh somewhat with your own take on party pony magic is quite gratifying.

Most earth ponies avoid transcendence for a very good reason. The path is a perilous one, and they're entirely content with physical enhancement, passive geomancy and biomancy, uncommon sense, prehensile hair, tactile telekinesis...
Really, earth ponies have no reason to be jealous of the other tribes, even without sanity-shattering power. Flight and spellcasting aren't all they're cracked up to be, especially when they come with preening and a second brain jutting out of your skull.

Neither Royal Sister could be reached for comment on the subject of transcendence. :trollestia:

This. I love this. It's well thought out and has given me an absolutely marvellous skeleton of a plot to weave into the story I'm planning, and actually increased the depth of it heavily, by helping me work out what I was really going for in other parts of the story.:twilightsmile: Thank you for this.:pinkiehappy:


Hmm... I think I'm going to sit on the couch thinking for the next couple of hours about transcendence of the human variety, and thus far have come up with the conclusion that all universes, planes of existence, everything that exists, is made and does not exist... However it does and as such can be anything
Thinking of a world creates it while not thinking of that world won't matter because it already exists.
We are one side of a coin where we are more stable than most other dimensions but there are many of these "coins"
...I'm going to continue thinking on this :facehoof:

I do love inspiring people, and I'd love to see the story when it's published. Shoot me a PM then. :pinkiesmile:

Anything that gets people thinking can't be a bad thing. Just avoid sacrificing... oh, let's say more than ten percent of your sanity.

I certainly won't ask you to make yourself miserable for the sake of my ego. I will treasure your approval and call myself completely satisfied. :twilightsmile:

Ten percent eh?
I can live with that :eeyup:

use their manes as drills

Wait... that happened? I'm betting that's Pinkie, since you're writing about zany Earth Pony magic, but... did Pinkie Lagann actually happen?

2353430 It'll be a while coming.:twilightblush: I have quite a bit of planning left to do before I can actually start writing. But it'll God willing be relatively soon.:twilightsmile:


This is what I get for mostly ignoring Fluttershy-centric episodes.

Holy new headcanon, Batman.

Why can't I favorite a blog post?

And what of human pinkie?

It is unclear how, or indeed if, transcendence works in the human world. However, Pinkie clearly has access to some kind of supernatural lore. Consider the scene in the first movie where she plucks one of the balloon designs off of her skirt and inflates it. That happens before Sunset unleashes magic upon that universe. I can't say for certain whether it's through party person powers, but there's definitely something there.

Thread Necromancy Activate!

A pegasus equivalent could start with the fundamental form of weather: Waves and imbalances. Weather is largely caused by waves of pressure, temperature, and moisture accumulating and trying to equalize. Eventually it could be extrapolated to control many wave-forms, such as earthquakes.

Ooh, I like it. Alternately, it could lead to elemental control over heat, moisture, and electrical charge with no need for clouds, just air.

4271978 If you have ever read the Circle of Magic, it includes a weather witch who's real power is wave manipulation. The first time she showed this was stopping the tide. Later she demonstrated earthquake and lava manipulation. That is where I got the idea.

Manifesting lightinig, fire, and contrails could be the first step. It is possible to maintain a state at the first step, and the second step is difficult.

perhaps the final step allows for manipulation of destiny and the threads of fate, a la Rainboom.

Further Thread Necromancy:

Unicorn Transcendence is the most difficult. Unicorn magic is fundamentally the power to assert a separate model of physics over the real reality. "I reject your reality and substitute my own" is a real principle of their power. To truly reach Transcendence, a unicorn must become master of their own mind while simultaneously surrendering their mind to every possible physics model. Having so many possible setups in their minds forces them to think at right angles to reality. Thinking in impossible geometry, where the angles of triangles add up to 27 degrees even on a flat plane, while keeping the mind intact is nearly impossible.


My own headcanon on unicorn transcendence is as follows:

Unicorn spellcasting differs from the magic of the other two tribes in that it always requires a level of thought. For anything beyond simple telekinesis or light, the unicorn must deliberately shape their magic into the desired spell. Long practice may make this feat semiconscious and almost instantaneous, but there is always that step.

A Shaper has bypassed that limit. They have learned to understand magic on so deep and intimate a level that they no longer need to learn spells or deliberately shape their magic into the necessary patterns. They simply desire that something happen, and magic responds. Obviously, this process is not without its dangers. For once you have reached the point where you can reshape reality by simply wanting to do so, it becomes extremely difficult to stop. And though a Shaper’s magic will always take the most efficient possible path to accomplishing her will, that energy still must come from somewhere. Most Shapers kill themselves, either through accidentally doing something that gets them killed or by simply draining themselves dry without fully realizing it.


Somewhere, an ascended pegasus is the ultimate electromagnetic communication blocking weapon.


Some Shapers probably have rigged up magical batteries to bypass that issue.

You know, Twilight did ask Cadence to make some auroras for the Friendship Festival in the movie. That implies some very impressive electrokinesis...

I like this.
It reminds me of certain discussions on the nature of CHIM in the Elder Scrolls series, although I don't personally hold to the "CHIM knowledge you're in a game and access to the Construction Set/Creation Kit," variant.

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