• Member Since 19th Sep, 2015
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Cursed Quill

Afflicted with the Editor's Curse. Corrections offered without malice. Unrepentant Discord fangirl.

More Blog Posts23

  • 47 weeks
    UnDeserved: FiM/EqG's terrible moral

    I watched entirely too much pony this morning. It got me thinking.

    EqG 1: Sunset Shimmer not granted higher power by Celestia, takes Element of Magic, becomes demon.
    2(RR): Sirens not granted magic by default, must take it, are demonized for their acts. (weakest version)

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    0 comments · 77 views
  • 58 weeks
    Explaining Pinkie Sense: Pwny Pony Pinkie, Brainhacker Extraordinaire

    So I've produced several (mostly scientifically-worthless but possibly making for good stories) hypotheses here:
    1. Pinkie's social powers and memory derive from memory-hacking everypony she meets. Ponies, specifically.
    1b. This is pid (pony ID) based, so pool clones do not benefit; this is whgat Pinkie actually acts like without her mental powerup.

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    2 comments · 80 views
  • 72 weeks
    7.7 unicorns and the Dumb Story Idea

    I initially thought, on seeing the Starlight Glimmer tag, what with th

    Sunset Shimmer. Twilight Sparkle. Starlight Glimmer.

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    2 comments · 72 views
  • 73 weeks
    Points of Canon mini: ❧ s7e20 "A Health of Information"

    ❧Polymorph effects are getting more and more common, yet we keep running into things that they should solve ("It Isn't the Mane Thing About You").
    ❧Swamp Fever doesn't require the whole lifecycle to reproduce…or Zecora just had some of the spores still on her to give the doc. (On the flipside, kudos for actually making it infect those it came in contact with.)

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    0 comments · 134 views
  • 78 weeks
    Points of Canon à la Oliver: S7E15 ❧"Triple Threat"

    This episode confirmed a surprising amount of fanon. It also singlehandedly said "no" to my gripes about failings of new changelings, which I had reposted yesterday…
    renegade, traditionalist, changelings

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    1 comments · 162 views

The Spellbook Problem · 9:57am May 12th, 2017

The Spellbook Problem is a subset of the magic-schooling problem. If unicorns are specialists first and foremost¹…how can spellbooks(/teachers) have a language and technique set that is meaningfully enactable by those specialists in not understanding magic?

That is to say, how can you apply reductionism to a moustache spell, whose component steps don't necessarily have anything to do with the disguise specialty of the pony who invented it, in a way that makes them performable by another disguise specialist?

And how can printing a book of spells be profitable enough for it to occur, if only the tiny slice of generalist wizards and an equally-tiny slice of applicable specialists (maybe! they have little reason to study thaumolexography²) can use it?

Why would Ponyville(an earth pony town)'s Golden Oak[s] Library have spellbooks?

A bunch of this, especially that last, is made less important by Twi living there, being the librarian, having Celestia's ear; and by the appearance of Sunburst, Sunset Shimmer, and Starlight Glimmer, as Twi was flat-out the only pony shown using or having spellbooks for much of the show.

¹ Spike, "Boast Busters": "I thought unicorns were only supposed to have a little magic that matches their special talents!"
² the way of writing down magical procedures

Report Cursed Quill · 172 views · #magic #unicorns
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Comments ( 3 )

Are we ever shown the process of teaching young unicorns? Do they go through manual steps, or is it all intuitive?

Hmmm. I suspect any unicorn powerful enough to be enrolled in CSfGU could learn any basic spell, at least. So that's enough of a population for at least a few spellbooks.

Another idea, that has been kind of hinted at by Estee: When you get your mark and some kind of assorted cutie-mark spell, you probably want to record it so future generations of generalist magic unicorns know it. So spellbooks could be a bit like diaries, not really mass published but lots of them written by unicorns who want to preserve their legacy.

As for Golden Oaks in particular, remember it had that creepy hidden passage with a spellbook embedded inside. Maybe the process of Ponyville becoming a Canterlot suburb started earlier than we thought, maybe the least librarian was a secret dark mage who snuck into the Everfree Castle library and swiped stuff, and also used the town library budget to buy lots of spellbooks.

4530161 Magic Diaries makes sense, but then you have more of a problem of reproduction (unless of course there's a "print copy" spell, which…is one of those spells I always want and strangely is in pretty much no magic systems ever. (D&D's amanuensis is halfway decent, but it just re-copies the book. In your handwriting. With ink you have to supply. At speed not good enough to abuse, and only good enough to consider.) And…

I don't think we have. For some reason, even in stories about magic schools, actual teaching of magic still never really happens more than one scene or two per industry-published work.

I don't have the encyclopedic grasp and access of canon that Oliver does, but …hmm. How to put it.

We were at least shown that there are steps of teaching teleportation in S7e2…and not consciously enacting one of them leads to a problem for the characters.

We also see Starlight, in "Every little thing" and others in the Crystalling pt2, referring to spellbooks when they know of the spell in question, implying that it's complicated enough to want to refer to it and hard to memorize (see also "Boast Buster"'s "25 types? wow") but not complicated enough that one cannot do so with the book in front of you.

Stlll, only magic-aspected unicorns or cerapterra princesses that have ever used spellbooks in the show, because I know Rarity would, had she the ability, have butterfly wings all the time.

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