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DannyJ


I'm just here to write.

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Mar
15th
2020

Borderworld lore snippets · 6:20am Mar 15th, 2020

Around half a year ago, a user called The Core Of Justice approached me asking for permission to use the setting and lore of my stories' universe for a fic of his own. His fic, which he has not yet finished work on, I understand to primarily concern a character called Entropy, a human apprentice of Discord. I am not involved in the writing of this story, but I have been corresponding with the Core of Justice for a while now, answering lore questions about a number of subjects, mostly related to Discord and the nature of magic in the Borderworld.

Since a lot of these lore snippets I've provided for him have not been detailed anywhere else, I thought I would collect and post the most pertinent of them here for you all. These are not the exact questions that the Core of Justice asked, the exact order he asked them in, nor the exact answers I gave, as I have edited them to flow better from one question to the next, to correct a few minor mistakes, and to be more general and understandable; a lot of our correspondence was more specifically concerned with the story he is writing, which I do not wish to spoil unnecessarily.

I hope you all find these interesting, and if you do, feel free to have a look at my essays on the Borderworld group, which provide much more detail on these and numerous other subjects, such as Equestrian history, geography, culture, and magic.


Does the character of Cosmos from the IDW comics exist in this universe?

No. The Borderworld does have a cut-off point from canon. It only follows show canon up to season six, EG canon up until a little after Legend of Everfree, and comic canon up to an undefined point, but definitely no further than the Ponyville mayoral election arc. The lore does reference some later canon here and there (Rainbow Dash's parents still exist, for example), but Chaos Theory onwards, and season seven onwards, is mostly just too incompatible with the rest of the established lore for me to make it work.

That being said, Cosmos was a powerful being in the comic, and can travel the multiverse, so it's not inconceivable that she could come through a portal somewhere and end up in this universe. But Borderworld Discord has never met her, and has no history with her, and the Borderworld is so different from the canon universe that not even its laws of physics are the same, so it's a total crapshoot whether her magic would even work at all. If it does, she would technically count as an outer god, and she may even still be more powerful than Discord, if she's using her own weird kind of alternate universe magic. On the other hand, her magic may be too different to work, in which case she'd be stranded and almost totally helpless. Or as a middle ground, her magic might conform to the new universe's rules, and become Borderworld chaos magic, in which case she'd still be a god, and still be powerful, but she'd be at Discord's mercy.

All of this also would also apply to Eris from the Nightmare Knights miniseries.

Are there any other draconequui in this universe?

Yes. There are many draconequus tribes still living in Jotunheim. They speak the Equestrian equivalents of the Norse languages, and are culturally similar to ancient Vikings, raiding and pillaging their neighbours. Most of them live near or along the Lost River.

Who were Discord's parents?

Depends on what you mean. Discord is an Eternal, and his spirit was born with the cosmos itself, so in that sense, he doesn't really have real parents, but he has also died and reincarnated thousands of times throughout his existence, so he's had a lot of birth parents and adoptive parents throughout his different incarnations.

Hixelkicks, Godmother of Chimeras (who appeared briefly in Just Dodge!) has been an adoptive mother to him through many of his lives, even though she's technically a much younger spirit than he is. As for his current incarnation, Discord's parents were Jotunheim draconequui from a tribe called the Frostclaws, which lived close to the Lost River at the time. His mother was a seer called Laufey, and his father was a berserker called Fárbauti, but Discord didn't know them growing up, as he was taken at a young age and raised among the alicorns by Odin in Asgard.

What were Discord's birth parents like?

Laufey was cold, distant, and bitter, but highly knowledgeable, protective, and an authority figure in the tribe. Fárbauti was hard-drinking, loud, constantly angry, and absolutely insane. Discord never met either of them until well into his adulthood, and never had any real relationship with them, but if he had been raised by the two, I imagine Fárbauti would have beat him, and Laufey would have murdered her husband.

What were Discord's adoptive parents like?

Discord's adoptive parents in his current life were Odin and Freya, the rulers of Asgard, who raised him alongside their true children (Thor, Tyr, and Baldur). This also technically makes him an uncle to Celestia and Luna, who were bastard children of Thor. Discord had a troubled relationship with them all, and never got the chance to reconcile with his parents or siblings before they all died in Ragnarok.

Does Discord still spread chaos elsewhere after his reformation like he used to in Equestria?

Sort of. He does still fight with Order's forces whenever he finds them, and he sometimes spreads chaos for fun on other planets, which can include causing social upheaval, such as with the sandwich incident he describes in Part of a Pantheon. In general, though, he only spends a few days or a week messing with other planets before going home, no widespread nation-breaking chaos like he unleashed on Equestria. And he does try not to do anything which he knows would make Fluttershy angry.

What kinds of time-related magic does Discord have?

Most applications you can think of are at least possible for him. Aside from the time-looping seen in Just Dodge! he can also remotely view the past (as seen in the season four episode Princess Twilight Sparkle), locally distort time by making it run faster, slower, or backwards for certain places or people, and he can actually time travel.

Unassisted, he is able to travel into the past in a way that changes it and creates a new timeline, similarly to Starlight Glimmer's spell from the season five finale (though as a rule he doesn't like doing this, because he doesn't replace his local version, so unless he wants one universe with no Discord and another with two, he has to return to his original timeline eventually). With the aid of a time machine he owns (as seen in the IDW MLP comic Discord's Magical History Tour), he can also time travel into the past without changing it or switching timelines, similarly to Twilight in the season two episode It's About Time.

What are the limits of Discord's reality-warping?

Discord doesn't warp reality. He warps things in reality. Strange as his powers may seem to ponies, nothing he does actually breaks his universe's laws of physics. Aside from a few unique abilities related to the Fundament of Chaos, everything he does is just regular chaos magic, and is at least theoretically possible for other mages to replicate.

Do other draconequui use chaos magic?

Yes. There are a few draconequui who use magic the way Discord does. All draconequui are capable of channeling magic through their claws like he does, but it doesn't come as naturally to them as it does to unicorns, so not many actually know how to. And even for those who do, structuring and organising a spell is harder with claws than with a horn, so most use chaos magic because it's easier. In a small tribe of a couple hundred draconequui, I'd say around a dozen would be magic-users, and of those twelve, ten of them would be chaos mages.

Just like any other species, draconequus chaos mages are physically and mentally affected by their magic. They start as odd children, grow into eccentric adults, and end up as mad old men. By their old age, a draconequus chaos mage's mutations are extreme enough that Discord would not look particularly unusual in comparison. Chaos mages in draconequus tribes are usually trained as shamans, mystics, and witch-doctors, but a few become berserkers instead, warrior-mages who fuel their chaos magic with rage and use it on the battlefield.

Because most chaos mages are abnormal, and often dangerous and mad as well, they're usually kept at arm's length by the rest of their tribe unless they're needed, but it varies how much respect they're shown in society. Some tribes honour their shamans and mystics, and have them serve as advisors to the chieftain. Others shun witchcraft of any kind, and call upon it only when absolutely necessary. Most tribes have a healthy fear and respect for the berserkers, though.

Can only draconequui be chaos mages?

No. Chaos mages in general can be almost any species. All you need to begin training as a chaos mage is a bit of chaos magic, and almost every mortal soul has at least a trace amount. Obviously, someone with an extremely non-chaotic personality, like Maud for instance, would have a much harder time of it, but anyone can build up their chaos magic if they really try at it. The only way it would be impossible for somebody to become a chaos mage is if they either had no soul, like the Nameless One, or had a completely pure soul with zero chaos in it, like the Tree of Harmony.

How strong is a typical chaos mage?

A trained and experienced chaos mage would be fairly powerful by Equestrian standards, or at least they'd appear so. As stated in the magic essays, chaos magic resonates with a lot of high-level spells and likes to cause big changes, so chaos mages can cast a lot of impressive-looking spells quite quickly and make it look easy, much like Trixie with the Alicorn Amulet, or Rarity with the Inspiration Manifestation.

Of course, even a decent chaos mage isn't quite on the level of either of those two examples, because of the hidden drawbacks of chaos magic, namely that most of their spells are extremely temporary and unstable, and the chaos mages themselves have far less control over the magic than they might want to let on. Chaos mages are also still using their own magic for their spells, not artefacts, so they wouldn't have as much power to waste as either Rarity or Trixie did in those examples.

For an example from my own writing, the very last scene of chapter six of To Keep the Fire Burning contains a fight between one notably powerful chaos mage and around ten deer warriors.

What are chaos demons?

A demon is basically a spiritual parasite which corrupts and takes over a soul, and then brings about a physical change in their body. Sometimes they're pre-existing entities that possess vulnerable souls, and sometimes they're created from their host's own soul, based on the darker aspects of their own personalities. The Nightmare Forces are examples of the former, while the demons of the Equestria Girls series are the latter.

Chaos demons are demons born specifically from chaos magic, and they come in both varieties, but most of those we see are the self-created kind. Unlike other demons, though, they're not intelligent. Chaos magic often mutates its users and drives them mad, and chaos demons are the extreme end result of that. They're basically just savage, hyper-aggressive monsters, with no traces of their former identities left. Discord found them useful in the Eternal War, so he used to collect any he found, contain them in prisons like the Eye of Chaos, and then unleash them upon his enemies. He couldn't control them or make them listen to him, but he could at least throw them in the direction of a deserving target.

Could a human in Equestria use magic?

Coming to Equestria by itself shouldn't do anything. In the Borderworld's magic system, it isn't the world they live in that prevents EqG humans from using magic. Rather, it's a limitation of their physiology. Humans don't usually use magic because they don't have a natural channeling point like most creatures in Equestria do, or at least, they don't have anything like a horn that allows them to do anything obviously magical. It's different for Sunset and the girls because the Elements of Harmony change their physiology when they go through those transformations, enabling magic use, and when they're not transformed, they're using magic with their geodes rather than with their bodies.

In other words, any human in Equestria using magic is either making use of an artificial channeling point, like a wand, staff, or pendant, or they had to undergo at least a minor transformation first. It wouldn't have to be anything drastic or noticeable, but the point is that no human would automatically be able to use magic that way. Fortunately for any hypothetical world-walking humans, artificial channellers are not especially rare in Equestria. Wands and staffs and the like are commercially available, if a little pricey.

What are talent spells?

In the Borderworld's magic system, cutie marks are created from a person's unique soul signature, and unicorns can also use their soul signature as a basis to create spells suited for their special talent. Rarity's talent spell, for example, is her gem-finder. Talent spells are deeply personal, so unicorns sometimes teach each other their talent spells as a gesture of trust and affection between friends, lovers, or family (though nobody is ever as good with a talent spell as its creator).

Can chaos mages have talent spells?

Generally, no. Talent spells are based on creating a spell structure from one's soul signature, but even if the chaos mage knows their soul signature, chaos magic doesn't use structured spells, so a chaos mage would be unlikely to have a talent spell.

What is Twilight Sparkle's talent spell?

Twilight's talent spell is called Strange Magic. It's basically a magic analysis spell; it allows her to quickly discern the structure of any spell she sees being cast, so she knows how to replicate it without being directly taught. She still needs to actually put the spell together herself, though, and it still requires skill and knowledge of magical theory, so she can't just recreate any spell instantly after seeing it once.

What is Sunset Shimmer's talent spell?

Sunset has one of those really vague cutie marks that are open to interpretation, and she specialises in pyromancy spells, so a lot of ponies in-universe mistakenly believe that her special talent is related to fire. But in reality, she just knows a lot of fire magic because she trained in it a lot with Celestia. What Sunset's cutie mark actually symbolises is sunrise and sunset, meaning beginnings and endings, which represent her determination to finish what she sets out to do, and to see it through to the bitter end, no matter what.

So her talent spell is actually a very simple one. It's called No Rest for the Wicked (yes, all talent spell names are music references, because JoJo), and all it does is energise Sunset's body to keep her awake and alert if she's tired or losing consciousness. Useful for late night studying. If she's already awake, it just acts like an extra shot of adrenaline, so it's useful in combat too.

How skilled/knowledgeable are Twilight and Sunset?

Twilight has a working knowledge of almost all kinds of spells. She's kind of a jack of all trades, master of none. She's not as good with shields as Shining Armor, or as good with illusions as Trixie, but she's far above average on both fronts. The only major gap in her knowledge is oneiromancy (dream magic), because it's very obscure, not taught in schools, and she never got around to asking Luna to teach it to her. Also, she doesn't do much fighting, so her combat spells are rather basic, as you can see in the show; she mostly just flies and uses force beams.

Sunset Shimmer is similar, in that she has a good working knowledge of all magic types, but her baseline is more uneven than Twilight's, because she has both more specialities and more gaps in her knowledge. Sunset never had any reason to study time magic like Twilight did, she's not as good with shields because she didn't have Shining Armor to learn from, and she also has less experience with high-level transformation magic because she never had the raw power of an alicorn. On the other hand, Sunset is a master pyromancer, very skilled with mind and emotion-altering magic, and uses more elemental spells (fire, ice, lightning, etc.) in combat than Twilight does. In the World on Fire timeline, she's also a world-class swordsmare.

What is Starlight Glimmer's talent spell?

Starlight's primary talent spell is called Pieces. It has the ability to remove the part of the soul governing cutie marks and special talents. She can store these pieces of soul in any number of ways, such as in jars or by binding them to rocks, but they have to be contained, or else they'll try to return to their rightful owner. Once removed, Starlight can then use a different spell to draw information from a soul piece, which will allow her to emulate the soul's special talent to a degree.

It's not perfect, though; the soul only governs the magical aspect of special talents, not actual knowledge or muscle memory. So removing Lyra's cutie mark, for instance, wouldn't instantly make Starlight able to play the lyre, nor completely take away Lyra's musical ability. Starlight would just have an easier time learning to play, and Lyra might not find it as easy anymore.

It works much better for copying talent spells, though. Talent spells are built around a person's soul signature, and so are cutie marks, so Starlight can work out a pony's soul signature from a soul piece with the information spell. Then, once she has that, she can reconstruct another unicorn's talent spell from their soul signature. This is still manual work, though, relying on Starlight's own knowledge of magical theory. She doesn't instantly know another unicorn's talent spell. Rather, she just gains the most important piece of the puzzle for figuring it out. But considering that the average unicorn can create a talent spell even with only a basic understanding of magic, figuring out the rest usually isn't hard for Starlight.

The Equalisation spell she used on her village in her cult leader phase is also one of Starlight's talent spells. It's basically just a more complex version of Pieces. It does everything else Pieces does, but instead of just removing a pony's cutie mark, it replaces it with an equals sign, which actively suppresses natural talent and knowledge. To compare the two, Lyra wouldn't automatically become a terrible musician if she were hit by Pieces, like I said, but she would if she were hit by the Equalisation spell instead.

What are Celestia and Luna's talent spells?

Celestia's special talent is her connection to the sun, so her talents spells all relate to the sun. The most obvious and well-known one is her ability to move the sun in the first place, called Here Comes the Sun, but she also channels sunlight in various other ways. She has a spell which draws power from the sun to heal and rejuvenate herself called That Lucky Old Sun, which is the source of her agelessness (it works on others as well, but not as effectively). She has another spell which summons sunfire for a concentrated beam of extreme heat and light, called The Sun is Burning. She can channel sunlight to give herself extreme heat and light resistance with a spell called Walking on Sunshine. And she probably has other talent spells which utilise sunlight, but I haven't actually thought up many beyond what I've said.

Luna's special talent is primarily her connection to the moon, though her cutie mark also symbolises her connection to the night in general, and her other associated spheres such as dreams. She has several talent spells which are similar to Celestia's. Her spell to move the moon is called Here Comes the Moon. Her spell to heal and rejuvenate herself with moonlight is called Blue Moon. Her spell to summon concentrated moonlight in a focused beam is called The Killing Moon. And her spell to channel moonlight to resist extreme cold is called Dancing in the Moonlight. I can detail a few more of Luna's, though. For one thing, the Borderworld's moon generates illusions of darkness like a night sky even when the sun's out, so Luna has a talent spell which allows her to create this illusion on a smaller scale, called Dark Side of the Moon. She has another one which creates a portal to the Dreamscape so she can physically travel into dreams, called Dream On. And she has a spell she uses inside the Dreamscape to shape and change dreams called Dreamweaver. And again, like Celestia, she probably has more I haven't thought of yet.

How powerful are Celestia and Luna?

In terms of raw power, I'd say they're fairly strong, mostly because they can draw additional power directly from their respective heavenly spheres whenever they need it. Twilight's Kingdom is a good benchmark. Twilight in her battle with Tirek was wielding the power of all four alicorn princesses, and I'd say that power was about 60% Royal Sisters, and 40% Twilight and Cadance, but either Celestia or Luna could achieve that level of power or greater on their own if they took the time to summon it up.

In terms of skill and how they use their power, that's a different matter. I'd say Celestia is the more knowledgeable sister, since she was learning new things and practising her magic for a thousand years while Luna was trapped, but she's also not done any direct fighting in a long time, so it's not a stretch to imagine she's gotten rusty at combat magic. This is my explanation for why Chrysalis kicked her ass at the wedding. Luna, on the other hand, has not had as much opportunity to learn, but she was once considered a war goddess, so she's almost certainly the better fighter, not just with magic, but with conventional weapons too.

Does the Storm King exist in this universe?

Yes, but his circumstances are vastly different from the canon Storm King. In the Borderworld, there was a god of storms and warfare called Boreas. Long story short, he ruled over the griffons and led them to war against ponies for Discord, until the griffons rose up and killed him, sealing him into the Idol of Boreas. If you've watched The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone, then you know what happened to the Idol. After it was lost, Boreas's spirit escaped. In the Borderworld's universe, it is currently ambiguous what happened to his spirit. But in another universe, another timeline, the spirit of Boreas eventually reincarnated into a yeti-like creature, who became the Storm King.

In the Borderworld's canon, the Storm King is an interdimensional invader with a fleet of airships, on a quest to plunder and pillage magical artefacts from all over the multiverse. In this interpretation, this is who the canon Storm King was as well. He traveled through the multiverse, landed in canon Equestria, and set up his empire there in Southern Equestria with Tempest Shadow's help, until he was killed in Canterlot. This is why he has no backstory in the movie and seems to come out of nowhere, and why nobody in Equestria had ever heard of him before. The Borderworld's Storm King is like a what-if version of his canon counterpart, where instead of ending up in canon Equestria, he went to a universe very similar to his own, sailing through the Nexus and landing in Jotunheim.

This version of the Storm King still has his fleet and his minions, and the same personality, but he doesn't have an empire, he doesn't have Tempest or the parrots, and basically his entire campaign in this universe so far has been raiding the Jotunheim countryside and being a thorn in the Skeleton King's side. He is set to appear in Something Cosmic.

How did the timeline of To Keep the Fire Burning diverge?

The World on Fire timeline diverged from the Borderworld's main one in the episode The Times They Are a-Changeling. Thorax starved to death in his cave without ever meeting Spike, and Equestria and the Crystal Empire never let their guard down enough for Chrysalis to kidnap everyone, so the season six finale never happened, and the changelings never became skittlebugs. This eventually led into the situation described in the World on Fire essay, which covers the following events in more detail. The Changeling War occurred approximately two decades after season six, as Flurry Heart was old enough to fight in it.

In the main timeline where Thorax survived (which again doesn't follow season seven canon at all), the skittlebug transformation did happen, but only to some of the hive, and there were still changelings loyal to Chrysalis who fought for her. The changelings had a civil war for a little while, which was eventually resolved with a peace agreement negotiated with Equestrian assistance, but this all basically led to the same outcome. Chrysalis eventually betrayed the peace and murdered Thorax, most of the same events described in the World on Fire essay happened, and the world ends up basically the same, only this time most of the changelings are colourful instead of black. In my opinion, this is the worse timeline.


And that's it for now. I may post another of these if I collect enough snippets in future correspondence for it, which I likely will. I'd like to thank The Core Of Justice for prompting me to write much of this. Go give him a follow if you're interested in his upcoming fic. And if any of what I wrote about here interests you, or if you were wondering about something which I referenced in these snippets but did not explain, go have a read of my essays on the Borderworld group. Please? I-I put a lot of work into them, a-and PLEASE SENPAI NOTICE MEEEEEEEEEEE

Comments ( 3 )

I can't believe Twilight stole my OC Stand. I'm not even mad.

Just like any other species, draconequus chaos mages are physically and mentally affected by their magic.

Now there's an interesting tidbit. The sort of feedback loops that occur from those sorts of effects explain all kinds of personality quirks both in and out of Equestria.

It's called No Rest for the Wicked (yes, all talent spell names are music references, because JoJo), and all it does is energise Sunset's body to keep her awake and alert if she's tired or losing consciousness.

"Uggghhh..."
Twilight frowned and adjusted her glasses. "Something wrong, Sunset?"
Sunset rested her head on her notes. "Studying for finals without magic suuuuucks."
"Haven't you done it for several years now?"
"It just means I get to dread it ahead of time."

Also, I do love how many interpretations I've seen for Sunset's mark.

It's always a delight seeing more information on the Borderworld. Fascinating stuff throughout. Thanks for sharing it.

Maybe Celestia can also channel solar energy after indulging in a lot of cake or such to burn it off. I imagine that would be Fat Old Sun.

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