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Forget not that I am a derp.

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  • Sunday
    Friendship is Card Games: Rainbow Dash Presents: Captain Hook the Biker Gorilla

    This week, we’re putting ourselves four degrees away from the source material. It’s a card blog based on a video based on a story based on a song based on FiM. Let’s get going.

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    6 comments · 148 views
  • 1 week
    Friendship is Card Games: Generations #2 & #3

    This week, we return to the union of modern ponies and 80’s villains. Well, the daughters of 80’s villains. Well, the minions of the daughters of 80’s villains.

    … Let’s just get started before I take this any further.

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    9 comments · 176 views
  • 1 week
    Alms Collection

    A friend alerted me to this situation, and so I'm sharing the news: Eponafest, an Italian pony convention set for May, is running crowdfunding to get some operating funds... and they're about halfway to their goal with a week left. See here for details.

    0 comments · 75 views
  • 2 weeks
    Friendship is Card Games: The Journal of the Two Sisters

    This is the main reason why I decided to skip over the comics a few weeks ago. I like the idea of the first card blog of 2022 using one of the oldest in-universe documents we have for source material. Let’s see what the diarchs thought of their first days on the throne.

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    19 comments · 277 views
  • 3 weeks
    Friendship is Card Games: d20 Pony, Ch. 5

    Happy Boxing Day! Needless to say, this one was prepped in advance. I appreciate all of you, but I’m not spending Christmas Day writing a card blog. Besides, who wants last minute gifts?

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    5 comments · 150 views

FoME Thinks Too Much: This is Your Brain on Magic · 12:08am Jul 12th, 2017

As you may hve gathered from a few of my stories, the topic of magic in the world of technicolor stick people fascinates me. The topic leads to many questions, from the nature of cutie marks in that world to how Pinkie Pie functioned before being endowed with horse powers.

But there's one aspect of the supernatural in the human world that is not a question but a demonstrable fact: It has incredibly dramatic effects on the human body and mind. Given "Mirror Magic," this seems like the perfect time for me too think too much about the subject, running through every available case study on the subject and see what I can conclude.

Case Study #1: Sunset Satan

A journey of a thousand miles began with a major misstep.

Magical Catalyst: The Element of Magic

Physical Alteration: Major. Aside from the most obvious changes to Sunset's appearance, she also appeared to have gained a few feet in height. (Convenient comparison here.)

Mental Alteration: Moderate to major. This was not what Sunset was expecting, as indicated by the streams of tears that boiled off of her face during the culmination of her transformation. And while there's no evidence for it, I personally like to think that marching a teenage zombie army on Equestria was the stolen magic talking and not the long-held plan that would demonstrate that Sunset had earned ascension.

Other Notes: Sunset transformed within seconds of donning the Tiara of Magic. Jailbreaking an Element of Harmony by way of taking it outside of its native universe leads to very volatile magic, and it apparently took her ambition and magnified it a thousandfold.

Case Study #2: Snimp and Snailment

Admit it; you'd forgotten about them until now.

Magical Catalyst: Sunset's transmutation magic.

Physical Alteration: Moderate, in the form of lesser expressions of their dark patron's corruption.

Mental Alteration: Mild to moderate. While they did behave more aggressively, the subservience to Sunset's will was already there. It's honestly hard to tell where Snips and Snails end and the imps begin.

Other Notes: Only really here on a technicality; they are transformed humans, after all. Interesting to note that their power was granted rather than taken, and they came out of their transformation more lucid than most villains.

Case Study #3: The Bearer-Analogues

The caption says it all.

Magical Catalyst: Friendship with each other and the alicorn thereof, rightful Bearer of Magic asserting claim over her Element, musical harmonization, iconic self-actualization, geode-shoots of the Stump of Harmony

Physical Alteration: Mild. Easily the least dramatic of all the transformations being considered; most of the body is completely unaltered, discounting wings where appropriate. Even the geodes endowed them with new outfits rather than new body parts.

Mental Alteration: None. Same girls as before, just with ears, way more hair, and possibly an extra limb or two.

Other Notes: Once again, power granted rather than taken, in this case without any dark taint to it whatsoever. The end result is a sort of sympathetic morphic resonance with the subjects' equine counterparts (or true form, in one case.) Incredibly harmonious, incredibly powerful, and incredibly short-lived once the Element of Magic returns home.

For a while, anyway.

Case Study #4: The Sirens

The children of the depths, what beautiful music they make.

Magical Catalyst: Metabolized negative emotional energy

Physical Alteration: Mild. While the Dazzling's Stands phantasmal projections of their true forms certainly diverge from the human norm, the singers themselves echo the Rainbooms in altered appearance: ears, hair, and wings.

Mental Alteration: None. This is who the sirens are, merciless predators. It's just that at this point, they aren't starving and scrounging for scraps anymore.

Other Notes: The sirens are the ones with the most right to their magic in this rundown, excepting Princess Twilight. The energy they use to fuel it may not be their own, but it isn't that different from a unicorn using the calories she got from her lunch to power her telekinesis. Of course, that only holds up until they get vital organs shattered by a giant energy horse.

Case Study #5: Midnight Sparkle

"Did someone say magic analysis?"

Magical Catalyst: Spectrocapacitor full of unwillingly siphoned magic.

Physical Alteration: Moderate. An interesting middle ground between "ponied up" state and Sunset Satan's demonic grotesquery.

Mental Alteration: Major. All sense of restraint and consequence goes out the window once Midnight ignites her thaumogoggles. Consumed only by her drive to know, she'll happily take apart universes to find out how they tick.

Other Notes: All Twilights are attuned to magic to some degree. After all, this one built a device that interacts with a fundamental force foreign to her universe. It's possible that that affinity and some connection with those who know the other Twilight had her go dark angel rather than full demon. Still, that angel tore apart the fabric of space and time just to get a more accurate thread count.

Case Study #6: Daydream Shimmer

Magical Catalyst: Spectrocapacitor full of willingly donated magic.

Physical Alteration: Mild. Under the new outfit, the war paint, and the energy projections, that's still pretty much Sunset.

Mental Alteration: None to mild. It's unclear if any of Daydream's clarity of purpose in her clash and reconciliation with Midnight is caused by her boosted magic, or if that's all her.

Other Notes: Daydream is definitvely weaker than Midnight in terms of raw output; without Spike's intervention, Midnight would've won their beam struggle. This is likely because Sunset was drawing on the barely regenerated dregs of her friends' magic rather than the wealth of power Twilight had extracted. If alicorn ascension is possible in the human world, repeating this experiment now could lead to Sunset achieving hers.

Case Study #7: Gloriosa Everfree

No, I'm not calling her Gaia. No rocks for teeth.

Magical Catalyst: Geode-shoots of the Stump of Harmony.

Physical Alteration: None to moderate. Even with as many as five of the geodes, Gloriosa was still human. Only with the last two did she overwhelm her system and go full dryad.

Mental Alteration: Mild to massive. While some of Gloriosa's behavior can be attributed to stress, there definitely seems to be an addictive component to it as time goes on, as well as some impaired judgement. The defensiveness and paranoia in the cave doesn't help.

Far more notable is her rapid mental degradation once she transforms. One can actually track it over the course of the climax. At first, she's almost Bond-villainous as she seals away Twilight and Sunset. Then her understanding of how others might percieve her actions quickly dwindles over the course of the musical number, and by the time she confronts the rest of the Humane Seven as they struggle against her, she herself is struggling to get the words out. Once Rarity mentions the spa, Gloriosa go bye-bye. Eventually, she's barely even an ego, more a conduit for the growth magic that willingly encases herself at the core of her bramble dome.

Other Notes: Gloriosa was able to handle the lower level of power for as much as a few weeks, but once she went over the edge, it was a long, fast drop. The slower erosion of her sanity might have left little stability once she started taking a jackhammer to it.

Case Study #8: Juniper Monstar

"So I have this script I've been working on..."

Magical Catalyst: Rogue magic-infused hand mirror, harmonious resonance cascade

Physical Alteration: None to moderate. While Juniper might see herself as very different when she first sees the mirror, her actual appearance doesn't change. It's only when the mirror's subdimension holds more ill-gotten magic than it can contain that she goes Monstarous. At that point, she shows Sunset Satan levels of growth, but beyond that, claws, and cheekbones sharp enough to draw blood, she still seems human.

Mental Alteration: Mild to major. At first, it's unclear how much of Juniper's infatuation with the mirror is magically compelled and how much is her desperation for validation. By the time she's transformed, she's delusional and paranoid, only returning to reality when Starlight goes for the mirror. Still, even at her worst, Juniper has a sort of 4Kids-esque morality: Sending people to other dimensions is just fine, but she seems far less willing to actually harm anyone.

Other Notes: Juniper is easily the person on this list least suited for the responsibility that comes with power, and it shows. Fortunately, she's also among the least ambitious. In the end, she just wanted people to like her for who she is, not just as a convenient gofer. The mirror remade her into the vision that so enthralled her, and larger than life so that no one could ignore her.


Given what we've seen, what trends can we discern? Some definitely stand out:

• It's better to give than take: Power that "belongs" to its owner, whether through donation, intrinsic thaumobiology, or dumb luck, is safer for the wielder's body and mind than power taken from another by force.

• The human body is magically morphic: A significant amount of magic stored within a person causes that person to assume a form that can better contain the new power. This applies even to attuned artifacts; it just takes a higher level of energy to prompt the transformation process.

• Uncle Ben was right: Great responsibility is the best way to handle great power, especially if it's power you've only stumbled across. The more careless will fall far more quickly than those with good intentions, and exercising restraint is a must if you don't want a deus ex machina to the face. Of course, that part may just be narrative causality.

Nothing especially world-shaking, I know, but I hope this was interesting all the same. Feel free to chime in with your own observations in the comments.

Comments ( 26 )

Yay, I get to see the post before all the errors are corrected!

I like to think that there's a Glittershell transformation for Humanoid Snails. :pinkiehappy:

Author Interviewer

goddammit I watched the whole history of the world again

One thing of note that you don't seem to touch on is how magic seems to gravitate towards people with strong desires or ambition. Twilight wanting to learn, Gloriosa wanting to protect her camp, Juniper wanting to be famous, etc.

You really shouldn't link Bill Wurtz if you want people to finish reading your post. :derpytongue2:

While the Dazzling's Stands phantasmal projections

I laughed so hard when I saw this. It also reminded me of that one other time you referenced Jojo. Now I really want to see you write a crossover with that franchise.

Sigh, ok, need to get these out of my system:

the Dazzling's Stands

You may think these are stands, but it was me, Adiago! (It's close enough, leave me alone)

No rocks for teeth.

There we go.

Great breakdown. Also I'm like 7 minutes in to that History of the world video and I'm laughing my ass off.

I personally like to think that marching a teenage zombie army on Equestria was the stolen magic talking and not the long-held plan that would demonstrate that Sunset had earned ascension.

I don't know if it's AS stupid as it looks. Assuming she's got a way to spy back through and the whole thing wasn't a crime of opportunity: She's got the main key of the rainbow friendship bananacannon, luna's still chibified, her replacement magic mcmagic foil just followed her back to nonmagic land, and no one there seriously believes in magic. She could either kill Twilight, head back through, and do a showdown with the sun, or spend timey-wimey 2.5 years taking over the (as far as she knows) world. Everything after that is poor improvisation, unexpected malfunctions, and a hefty dose of crazy from isolation (which we've seen does bad things to pony brains).

Reminds me of another school of thought where "magic" is essentially power driven by will. More of a DC comics sort of thing, but it seems to tie in.

There's the counterargument that the guy that gets vast cosmic powers and uses it to get free netflix and summon infinite cheetos makes for a fairly boring tale.

Oh, I'm well aware that it's because of stuff like that; I'm just saying, it's a connection to be made if we're going to be overthinking things.

Well, if we are overthinking stuff then we have also to consider that magic seems to pull a reverse Arisian Lens, as the Y chromosome is apparently detrimental to manipulating magic.

Snips and Snail, IIRC, didn't do anything. Then, we are talking about Snips and Snail, so maybe it's less genetics and more them. Also, we have a pretty small sample.

You could make a religion out of thi—

Pfffffft :rainbowlaugh:

The question is, does it come with a talking cat advisor and a mysterious, masked figure who throws armor-piercing pairs of scissors?

4599101 4599151 4599488
Given what I've done with Sunset, it was too perfect not to include.

True. That could even help explain the Bearer-Analogues' first transformation. As the fireball approached, more than anything, they wanted to keep each other safe.

Sadly, I've only ever seen two episodes of JJBA. I just know a lot of the tropes and memes through pop cultural osmosis and following ScarletWeather.

The biggest issue is the bottleneck of the portal. Sunset would have to march her zombies one by one (hurrah, hurrah) into Equestria, where they'd be easily picked off by the three alicorns and five heroes of the realm waiting for Twilight's return.

Also, given Sunset's size increase, it's entirely possible that she couldn't fit through the portal anymore.

Yeah, that may just be a statistical anomaly... or one of the parallels with Equestria. (Or it's appealing to the target audience, but I've never liked Doylist answers to Watsonian questions.)

Seriously? You at least need to watch part 4.

I love it when you think too much, FOME :pinkiesmile:

You should do it more often :pinkiehappy:

You know, it’s almost like the EqG movies do the same thing over and over again. :unsuresweetie:

And while there's no evidence for it, I personally like to think that marching a teenage zombie army on Equestria was the stolen magic talking and not the long-held plan that would demonstrate that Sunset had earned ascension.

My headcanon, too. Now we need someone to write a story where Sunset explains her actual sinister master plan, in tones half embarrassed, half wistful, while the rest of the Humane Six get increasingly panicky as they realize how close the Eternal Sunset of the Spotless Mind was.

Well, if nothing else, it's good to take note of the trends. The rules of magic in the EG movies are pretty weird, but there are some consistent elements.

Great notes! A couple of points: The siren's astral forms may need their own separate entry. Was this something they were able to do in Equestria? The comics seem to say no, or at least they never used it on StarSwirl. Does that suggest that this additional power was something they gained here in EQG world?

Also Gloriosa: Her level of mental affect before she uses all 7 geodes is hard to tell. She could have been slowly becoming addicted to the power, as you pointed out, or it could have just been the fear of losing her home and livelihood and failing the brother that she very well may be a legal guardian for. I feel like in MLP I could definitely see a character doing what Gloriosa did for most of that movie with zero outside mental influence. But another thing to remember: Even if Gloriosa was mentally affected by the geodes, she was still using 5 at a time for most of the movie. The girls use the magical equivalent of a single geode for that same movie with no negative affects, but I would suggest this means that any human can pick up and wield a limited amount of magic (1-2 geodes worth) long-term without negative consequences, even if they aren't using harmony magic.

Also, any idea where the magic for Juniper's mirror came from? That really bugged me.

I personally like to think that marching a teenage zombie army on Equestria was the stolen magic talking and not the long-held plan that would demonstrate that Sunset had earned ascension.

Why not? It's working great for Nicol Bolas so far.

Or, is the problem that putting on the Element made her try to fast-track it, and she skipped straight to the Hour of Eternity?

4599895 At the end of Legend of Everfree, Sunset asked the same question as the camera cut to the cracked portal at CHS, which was leaking magic.

The villains certainly tend to be formulaic. Fortunately, that means that magic behaves in regular, predictable ways and can be subject to scientific scrutiny.

The sirens' FIENDship is Magic comic is an atrocious pile of anachronisms and contradictions that is best forgotten if not burned. The trio being able to deliver ultrasonic wails makes much more sense than, say, three aquatic creatures trying to invade the landlocked capital of the nation by way of a talent competition when all of Equestria was going through an inexplicable Greco-Roman phase with the sole exception of pony Merlin.
Sorry, but I really hate that comic. In case I hadn't made that clear.

As for Gloriosa, stress and fear definitely could've been major contributing factors, but again, by the peak of the climax, there's barely anyone there anymore. No amount of desperation to save your home makes you okay with getting incorporated in a dome-bush's support pillar. Heck, Sunset even explicitly says Gloriosa isn't the one in charge by that point.

Sunset skipped a lot of steps there. Destroying every other settlement on the plane, reworking the culture into a conveyor belt of self-perfection and death, twisting the local deities to her fell purpose, reprogramming the honored dead to harvest the key ingredients for her unstoppable army...

Seriously, no lazotep, no arthropod gods, and a bunch of zombies who'd be lucky to clear the Trial of Solidarity? 2/10, unworthy of service to the God-Pharaoh.

Now I've just got this picture in my head of Nicol Bolas writing Sunset's report card.

Ran across your link from A 14th Century Supplement, and it's uncanny how similar your conclusions on how magic affects EqG humans are to how I've been handling how human magic works in a humans in Equestria story I've been laying foundations for.

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