Predictamancy

Speculation, discoveries, complaints, accusations, praise, and all other Erfworld discussion.

Re: Predictamancy

Postby Nnelg » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:42 pm

BLANDCorporatio wrote:I think that "actionable intelligence" is supposed to mean (in mantimeforgot's interpretation) information that allows one to act and change the event in question. If that interpretation is correct, then by definition Predictamancy cannot offer actionable intelligence about fated events. Nor can anything else.

I don't think that definition of "actionable intelligence" is fair however. At the very least, one still has the "we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way" choice. "Wanda, you will study under Olive." "All right, I'll go pack right now!"- and history is suddenly different, as maybe her brother doesn't meet and get killed by Olive.

This. It's what I've been trying to say all along... :|


BLANDCorporatio wrote:I do like effataigus' spin on this though, where the Predictamancers become the makers of closed stable time loops.

In a lot of ways they do, but I was avoiding mentioning this phenominon because it has some Unfortunate Implications (in addition to the good ones, of course). I didn't want to give out any bales of straw, if you know what I mean... :roll:
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby Housellama » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:48 pm

BLANDCorporatio wrote:I think that "actionable intelligence" is supposed to mean (in mantimeforgot's interpretation) information that allows one to act and change the event in question. If that interpretation is correct, then by definition Predictamancy cannot offer actionable intelligence about fated events. Nor can anything else.

I don't think that definition of "actionable intelligence" is fair however. At the very least, one still has the "we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way" choice. "Wanda, you will study under Olive." "All right, I'll go pack right now!"- and history is suddenly different, as maybe her brother doesn't meet and get killed by Olive.

I do like effataigus' spin on this though, where the Predictamancers become the makers of closed stable time loops.

Effataigus' idea is pretty awesome. Although I could totally see Jack booping with Marie by doing the veil on the outside but making her see it as a giant neon bubble or something. Making her think that he wasn't fulfilling the prophesy and therefore closing the loop. Give her all sorts of conniptions.

Re your thoughts, BC, although not directed at you, since I'm agreeing essentially: That's the point. Just because you can't change the actual Fated event doesn't mean you can't make a change. It's not the event. It's never been about the event. That's the story that Rob is telling. What Predictamancers see is one tiny event. You can't change that event, but you can change everything else. If we say that Predictamancy gives no "Actionable Intelligence", or that the information is useless, then we're stuck. However, if look at Predictamancy as a fixed point within a variable framework, that Prediction becomes extremely actionable. Let me give an example.

Suppose you are Fated to end up on the wrong side of someone's sword. The Predictamancer sees you in the middle of a crowded area, debris strewn everywhere, his sword drawn and level with your chest, fire in his eyes. At the time of the Prediction, that person is an enemy. Neither the beginning of this incident nor the end of it is known. Just that you will be at the mercy of this person who is currently your enemy at some point.

There are several ways of interpreting this. I realize that there are a practically infinite number of reactions, but I'll limit it to three of the most common. The human instinctual responses. Fight, Flight or Fu...Friend.
1. Fight - This person is an enemy and an active threat. We make war on this person and reduce his forces until they are no longer a threat! Fast forward to the Prediction. You have alienated that person. The scene is a battlefield and he is standing over you and it is the last thing you see. This would be, in the gamer parlance, the Bad Ending.
2. Flight - You may be there at some point, but that doesn't mean you have to make it easy. So you run. You do everything you can not to be a target. Reduce your profile. Act as inconspicuous and non-threatening as possible. Fast forward. He runs across you by happenstance with a patrol in an abandoned ruin. You are alone and no threat to him at all. Maybe he kills you, maybe he doesn't. You haven't given him a reason not to, but you've also done nothing additional to increase his reason for killing you. This ending is ambiguous.
3. Friendship - Diplomacy. You lay down your arms. You work out your differences. You do what you can to make peace, and you work hard at it. You make it your personal mission in life to be this man's best friend, because you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that one day you will be looking up at him along the blade of a sword. Again, fast forward. He does indeed have you at the point of his blade, but this time the scene is a festival. Everyone's been partying, and you two have been sparring. He's got fire in his eyes because he's been drinking and he does love to fight. He has you on the ground, and you have yielded. Does he kill his best friend? Probably not. This would be the Good Ending.

Same Prediction. Same event. Three very different outcomes. All based on how the person who received the Prediction reacted to it. If that's not actionable intelligence, I need to go back and relearn the definition. Yes, I realized this is a contrived example, but that doesn't make it any less valid. I challenge anyone to produce a situation that the outcome couldn't be drastically changed based on the actions leading up to it.
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby TazTheTerrible » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:28 am

Housellama wrote:Taz, this applies to your statement that it doesn't give anything meaningful

In that statement I was referring not the practice of predictamancy, but to the 4-dimensional "block" view of a universe, or differently put, a view outside of time and space where the entirety of the universe's time line, all of the past and future, are visible as solid state. I'll go into explaining this a bit further in my post.

BLANDCorporatio wrote: At the very least, one still has the "we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way" choice. "Wanda, you will study under Olive." "All right, I'll go pack right now!"- and history is suddenly different, as maybe her brother doesn't meet and get killed by Olive.
Sure. But wouldn't it have affected other prophecies if she had?

That's another thing about prophecy and predictamancy as an infallible natural force. Any prophecy filtering back to the past has to not only create a stable/self-consistent time loop with its own events, but with those of every other ongoing and future prophecy as well.

I'll take a sort-of-tangent into the block universe for a moment. Basically the out-of-time perspective of a universe. Now, this is a fun mental exercise, but it doesn't actually serve to tell us anything meaningful. It is an imagined perspective of what things might be like outside of time, outside of the universe, but using only in-universe information. All it basically tells us is "Stuff happens", and potentially it even misrepresents time as a dimension. It's hard to be sure of whether or not it is.

The reason I'm talking about this is because I like talking about the nature of prophecy. And purely as a natural force, I just don't see it as likely. At least not with a single universe. Basically as something that calculates all the possible eventualities and makes prophecy that way, you'd need something that can represent the entire universe as data, basically generating the equivalent of multiple universes and seeing what happens to them. If it were a sort of re-iterative force, basically finding stable time loops by sending information back in time and just "experimenting", somehow discarding paths that don't end up self-consistent, it would seem odd that there would be one and only one stable time line as a result. It seems instead like there should be none or (near?) infinite, and we'd only be seeing one.

Another issue is something I've touched upon but not explored as thoroughly as I could have yet: Prophecy is tailored to sapients. This is something we do clearly see in the story. Taking the ambush prophecy for example, Marie could tell Jillian she was going to be ambushed, but not where, not how, not by how many units, which units or over what kind of terrain. Other prophecies as well. They tell of an event, or some discrete package of information, but they cannot give any specifics like the time of day, who will and won't be present, what everyone will be wearing etc.
Before I drag on too long with this: My point is predictamancers don't see a vision. Not in the sense of taking a viewpoint directly from the future anyway. They get information based on concepts that they understand. This is information that would be really hard to extract from a natural force. A force of nature doesn't understand the concept of "ambush" and wouldn't be able to tell why out of five thousand possible battle situations, 17 qualify as an "ambush". That's something that requires a sapient mind to understand.

So here's another possibility that has some merit: Predictamancers generate prophecies by sending information back through time, and the natural force in question isn't prophecy, but a mechanism that prevents paradox. This would cover some of the bases, it would explain why prophecy is in sapient concepts (it originates from a sapient) and why long term prophecies start off as vague with no side-information (the more vague your statement, the lower the odds of it generating a paradox). It does leave certain questions unanswered though like why the need for 100% self-consistency and why only prophecies can be communicated and not things like general warnings or information that is useful to a past-self regardless of certain events coming to pass.

Also it needn't actually be the predictamancers that send the messages of course. It could technically be any sapient with the ability and knowledge.
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:46 am

TazTheTerrible wrote:In that statement I was referring not the practice of predictamancy, but to the 4-dimensional "block" view of a universe, or differently put, a view outside of time and space where the entirety of the universe's time line, all of the past and future, are visible as solid state. I'll go into explaining this a bit further in my post.


Just say Alan Moore and I know what you mean :D (Not to say he's the first or only with the idea, of course)

TazTheTerrible wrote:Sure. But wouldn't [an easy/hard way choice] have affected other prophecies if she had?


I don't know. Were there other prophecies?

I understand that the easiest interpretation to fall into is, everything is fixed in a hypershape of spacetime. It's not the only one though, and it tends to muddle things later when we reinsert choice into the system (which makes sense even in complete determinism, but that's beyond the scope of this post).

Another interpretation is not Moore's eternal present, but Moore's craft of storytelling. From a meta (our) perspective, this interpretation is actually correct. An event will happen, because someone stood down at their desk, thought of writing a story, and planned for certain things to occur. What occurs around them is sometimes left for a process of discovery, of letting the story and characters grow organically.

Which interpretation is correct in Erf-universe remains to be seen.

And ps, yes the idea of prophecy as creating stable loops is cool.
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby mortissimus » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:05 am

TazTheTerrible wrote:The reason I'm talking about this is because I like talking about the nature of prophecy. And purely as a natural force, I just don't see it as likely. At least not with a single universe. Basically as something that calculates all the possible eventualities and makes prophecy that way, you'd need something that can represent the entire universe as data, basically generating the equivalent of multiple universes and seeing what happens to them. If it were a sort of re-iterative force, basically finding stable time loops by sending information back in time and just "experimenting", somehow discarding paths that don't end up self-consistent, it would seem odd that there would be one and only one stable time line as a result. It seems instead like there should be none or (near?) infinite, and we'd only be seeing one.


But if you discard hacking into the calculation machine on that basism how do you explain Parsons bracer?

I think from what we have seen, it is likely that there exists a calculation machine in the workings of Erfworld. Predictamancers can only predict stuff that by their prediction becomes a closed stable time loops.

And though we have only seen one time-line we don't know know what "all existence" consists of. Apparently it at a minimum has beings that do not conform to Stanleys basics: breathing the air, speaking the language, finding Erfworlders familiar and safe, but other than that we have no information.
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby TazTheTerrible » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:25 am

Parson's bracer is something that gives you odds. Odds of events happening are (generally) estimations based on guesses and generalized rules of how stuff works. You can predict the odds of future events without knowing every last atomic detail of the situation. There might even be an Erfworld mechanic that literally "rolls" random numbers to determine the outcomes of various things. In fact, from what we've seen, there are strong indications that this is in fact the case.

Actually predicting the future with calculations and a 100% degree of accuracy cannot be done with statistical analysis. It requires you to simulate the meaningful information of the entire universe down to its most basic component. But what you're doing then, in essence, is simply creating another universe. Also, the engine doing the simulation can't be part of the universe, or it would have to simulate itself as well. It could be the engine the universe runs ON, but then we still get back to my original point, you couldn't really do it with a single universe, because to calculate the future you have to simulate it in its entirety, which would be not meaningfully distinguishable from a proper universe/timeline in its own right. And to find stable time-loops, it would have to run a very great deal of iterations.

More plausible is the non-calculating but simply self-repeating force, with a component that somehow prevents temporal paradox. But again, in this case it seems unlikely that this would result in only one stable time line. Instead it would be more likely that many different time lines were possible and the current story showed only one of them.

Personally, I think the most likely explanation is someone or something has its breath on the "dice" of the universe. Because with all the back and forth violation of causality, it would seem like the simplest way to avoid paradox is, in the event of a paradox coming up, to simply change the conditions that would lead up to it a bit.
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby mortissimus » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:44 am

TazTheTerrible wrote:You can predict the odds of future events without knowing every last atomic detail of the situation.

...

Actually predicting the future with calculations and a 100% degree of accuracy cannot be done with statistical analysis. It requires you to simulate the meaningful information of the entire universe down to its most basic component.


I have a hard time figuring out how this can be done without simulating the universe in the same way:

CharlsNChrg: Tell me the odds that learning what happened to my Archons right now will be worth giving up those calculations in the future.
LordHamster: ...
LordHamster: I don't know if this thing can even DO a calculation like that. Predicting the future?
CharlsNChrg: Try it.
LordHamster: Fine.
LordHamster: I'll be damned.
LordHamster: It says there's all of a 4% chance it's worth taking my deal, even after spending this calculation.
LordHamster: 4.14 percent.


http://www.erfworld.com/2009/10/summer-updates-039/

The Bracer can determine the odds of just about everything.

TazTheTerrible wrote:But what you're doing then, in essence, is simply creating another universe. Also, the engine doing the simulation can't be part of the universe, or it would have to simulate itself as well.


Hm, maybe a solution lies in Erf having different physics then our universe.
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby Nnelg » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:45 pm

TazTheTerrible wrote:Personally, I think the most likely explanation is someone or something has its breath on the "dice" of the universe. Because with all the back and forth violation of causality, it would seem like the simplest way to avoid paradox is, in the event of a paradox coming up, to simply change the conditions that would lead up to it a bit.

That's pretty much what I imagined. I considered it more of a form of iterative analysis from an out-of-time perspecive, tick by tick recalculating and approaching the "stable" universe that we see.


mortissimus wrote:The Bracer can determine the odds of just about everything.

That's perfectly fine. With enough processing power, you can calculate the odds of pretty much anything. But you'd need omniscience on a quantum to make them more than just odds. (Or in Erfworld's case, you'd have to know every stat and the RNG.)


"Mathamancer, what are the odds of Wanda entering Haffaton's service?"

"Uh, ~15.49%. First they'd have to capture her, assuming they want to, and she'd rather go down fighting. Then they'd have to get some powerful turnamancy. There's just so many different possibilities, and for this exact one to happen so many things have to go right."


"Predictamancer, what do you see?"

"Wanda will enter Haffaton's service. I so Predict it."
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby TazTheTerrible » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:51 pm

Nnelg wrote:
TazTheTerrible wrote:Personally, I think the most likely explanation is someone or something has its breath on the "dice" of the universe. Because with all the back and forth violation of causality, it would seem like the simplest way to avoid paradox is, in the event of a paradox coming up, to simply change the conditions that would lead up to it a bit.

That's pretty much what I imagined. I considered it more of a form of iterative analysis from an out-of-time perspecive, tick by tick recalculating and approaching the "stable" universe that we see.


That's fair. I'm personally still hoping for an in-universe factor to it as well, simply because it could lead to a greater narrative pay off, but that's a preference more than a theory. Seems we're in agreement of sort then, cool. :)
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby TokraZeno » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:14 pm

bladestorm wrote:Or it could just be that the Predictamancers are able to look at future possibilities. The more they see the same thing, the more likely it is to transpire. To use Delphie as an example:

She did ten readings into the future concerning the new heir. In nine of those, a caster was popped instead of a warlord. Of those nine, seven were born female. As the day of the popping came closer, all ten visions were a caster, and nine were female. She knew it was going to be a female caster.


It's a nice thought, but you're getting into mathamancy territory there.
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Re: Predictamancy

Postby bladestorm » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:36 pm

TokraZeno wrote:
bladestorm wrote:Or it could just be that the Predictamancers are able to look at future possibilities. The more they see the same thing, the more likely it is to transpire. To use Delphie as an example:

She did ten readings into the future concerning the new heir. In nine of those, a caster was popped instead of a warlord. Of those nine, seven were born female. As the day of the popping came closer, all ten visions were a caster, and nine were female. She knew it was going to be a female caster.


It's a nice thought, but you're getting into mathamancy territory there.

Both Mathemancy and Predictamancy are in the class of Hocus Pocus, which deals with seeing the unseen. Mathemancy see the numbers behind the event, Predictamancy sees the events that are yet to be. Findamancy sees the locations that are yet to be seen by other means. So aside from my use of a designated number of visions, it is pure Predictamancy. So a revision of it without those annoying numbers that indicate a different form of closely related magicks:

Delphie's predictions indicate that an heir will be popped. Upon the initial revelation of this prediction, the details are too cloudy, but she knows it will be an heir. After a week of flip-flopping between a male and a female heir, it finally sticks to female, with a vision of a male heir being so randomly rare that she can be assured that the heir will be female. Visions of a male heir are still visible, but the images are hazy. The female images, though, become more clear, clear enough so that she starts to see whether it will be a caster or a warlord. Regardless of that outcome, most visions also show massive destruction and loss for the Side. After another few weeks, there are no more male heir images, and only a handful of visions have anything other than a caster. Some visions even start predicting the caster type. With only a few turns left before the popping, every vision ends in ruin for the Side-- visions of the Side surviving a very few. The only portions of the visions that changes is how much pain and suffering happen before the Side is destroyed and the yet-to-be-popped unit goes into service under Haffaton.
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