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Ninmu Nanmu C002 P040 by JohnColburn Ninmu Nanmu C002 P040 by JohnColburn
Okay here's a new page. Took longer than I wanted but that's pretty normal. Had some anxiety/depression issues followed by medication changes and all of that led to many days where I couldn't really work at full capacity. I'm mostly okay for now, got this page done, and can hopefully make decent progress on the next one before I run into more trouble.

Thank you everyone for your patience and support. Check out my patreon page if you're looking for more ways to support these comics.
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:iconmusetry:
Musetry Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2017
I'm gonna guess Danger learned already that you don't argue with your superiors. Granted, Rude as Anarchy's being, Anarchy ALSO has a point he's just not seeing.
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:iconwilloflava:
WillofLava Featured By Owner May 25, 2017
The last thing Anarchy said does not bode well. Is she going to talk herself into fighting the master?
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:iconluca0483:
luca0483 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Student Artist
Cindere. I don't think i have heard word before. Is it alchemical / chemical?
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:iconjohncolburn:
JohnColburn Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Probably you can't find it because I cheated a little. It should actually be "Cinder", but I added an extra E because I liked that better as a name. Most of the sources I've seen use a few similar symbols for cinder, ash, and pearlash. The symbol I used here actually ended up being kind of a combination of all three symbols (I swear I found this specific symbol somewhere, but now I can't find it again x_x).
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:iconayeba:
Ayeba Featured By Owner Edited Mar 27, 2017
I failed to noticed that Beard-guy had gotten a name. Is that 'Lord' as in 'offical mage' or an actual formal title? Would anyone say 'Lady Bio'? 
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:iconjohncolburn:
JohnColburn Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
The title of Lord/Lady is not an official title within the Circle, but it's used in a couple ways. The most relevant is that it's one of the traditional ways for an apprentice to address their master; If Anarchy followed the 'rules' of apprenticeship, he would refer to Bio as "Lady Bio", "My Lady", or "Master". As a side effect, it's common for any mage to use Lord/Lady when referring to any other mage who is much older or more experienced.

The only people likely to say "Lady Bio" would be the apprentices of other mages, or possibly a mage who is trying very hard to flatter her. We all know Anarchy's not going to say it.
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:iconayeba:
Ayeba Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017
Imagine if Anarchy ever finishes her apprenticeship. She'd be "Lady Anarchy". Not sure how she'd feel about it, but I'll take a wild guess and say she won't be fond of being called that. 
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:icondraconic-wolf:
Draconic-Wolf Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2017
Glad to see you found a good way to do the bubbles! And hope you feel better.

Might have not noticed it before, but it appears we have our first not obvious metaphor name~! (Or attribute)
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:iconartificer-urza:
Artificer-Urza Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2017
So is she going to kick ass because she doesn't fight like a conventional mage? Go Anarchy! Rebel against dickish authority! Anarchy! Anarchy! Anarchy!
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:iconayeba:
Ayeba Featured By Owner Edited Mar 21, 2017
I'm reasonably sure Anarchy should be happy she's fighting Argent rather than beard-guy. We know she's reasonably good at fighting, just not sure how much that'll help if the opposing party throws up a wall or fire or whatever else he can conjure up. Then again, Bio's reaction in frame 3 hints that this probably isn't an easy match. 

Both Argent's build and body language in frame 4 suggests he's more of the physical type. I also recall that Venus tried to hit Anarchy with her staff rather than "pure" magic, D&D wizard style. Or even Harry Potter, come to think of it. It may seem like physical aptitude combined with magic is not uncommon in this world. Or maybe it's the opposite; pure magic causes excessive amounts of fatigue? Well, the sample size is really small, making it hard to tell. 

Speaking of which; beard-guy looks pretty fit for someone his age. Since Argent is his apprentice, maybe he practices -- or has practiced -- the same type of physical combined magic his apprentice appears to favor. Disclaimer; I may be totally wrong about Argent's fighting style here. 

I'm curious about utility magic in this setting. Would a mage at any point use some minor levitation for pure convenience, like fetching a set of keys from a nearby table? Can you use magic to make an object weigh less, be less affected by gravity, or store something in a 'hammer space'-like dimension? Can magic cure diseases? 

Also curious if Beard-guy even knows what bigot means. Don't laugh; many people don't. 

On the bright side, Bio gets to see Anarchy use her 'magic' in action. Yay! I guess that was your plan this entire time as well; a good way to move the plot forward. 

I just love how defiant Anarchy is despite being rather clueless about what's going on. Her natural state of being is at least 50% rebel. Wonder what else she and Danger did before the whole adventure started. 
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:iconjohncolburn:
JohnColburn Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Lots of mages use physical enhancement magic and many are trained in various types of hand-to-hand combat. The main reason is that it's almost always easier to use magic on yourself than it is to use it on anyone else; you could cast a spell on someone directly to injure or kill them but that can be very difficult (especially against other magic users). Enhancing your own strength, speed, etc is less difficult, more reliable, and often just as deadly assuming you have some fighting skill to begin with.

As for utility magic: Yes, all of those things are possible. In general it's just a question of effort, skill, preparation, and so on. To single out one example: Mages generally keep their staves in a sort of "hammer space" state for convenience. Storing an object in this way is normally very difficult, but the materials and construction of the staff make it much easier.

As always, thanks for you in-depth comments. Sorry it took a while to reply and also sorry I'm not responding directly to all of your points; things are still kinda crazy for me =/.
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:iconayeba:
Ayeba Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2017
Please don't feel an excessive need to reply just because I comment. There have been periods where I have opted not to comment because I've been down even when I wanted to.

I remember Bio downing a mage in chapter 1 page 19, and maybe a few more off-screen. While she did parry some projectiles using her staff, it would appear she's less of the physical type, at least compared to most other mages we've seen fight. I'm curious; will we ever get to know her affinities?

Come to think of it, I don't think we've been told what the different spheres of magic is. We know of Force and Life & Matter. I assume the latter two are different spheres and not the same one. If they are, that leaves 4 spheres of magic in the dark. Curious what they are. Thinking of other magic systems (and my own, for that matter), 'space/time' might be a candidate or two. The Cloak of Shadows doesn't really fit into any of the categories, so I guess 'Illusion' or some kind of light-bending is another one. There could be a 'psychic' or 'spirit' or 'soul' realm. Not sure what Venus used against Venus, but it could be that or maybe something in the Life magic sphere. Now, if there are fireballs/ice bolts etc in this world, they could be a separate realm 'elemental' which may or may not include lightning. It's not my best guess, but it is *a* guess. Finally... Eh... 'Void', 'Entropy' or something, maybe? 

Speaking of which; Bio mentally mentioned that Life and Matter were essential to Anarchy's shapeshifting skills. Life is self-explanatory, but matter? I can see it because she is constantly changing her attires, but I find it reasonably easy to imagine a shapeshifter only capable of changing themselves and not their clothes. 

Bio also mentioned that Anarchy had high energy levels and a mana barrier. The former sounds like some form of MP. The latter sounds like an innate/constant spell, maybe related to her Force affinity? Or more likely, her 'martial arts' training. 

Regarding the utility magic; how 'costly' would it be to levitate a set of keys. Put in another way; imagine that a mage put on shoes and noticed he had forgotten his/her keys. Is it more likely that the mage would levitate the keys to him, or just undo the shoes and walk to pick them instead? 
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:iconjohncolburn:
JohnColburn Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Bio is definitely a less physical sort of mage. She knows the basics of staff fighting and such, but she wouldn't rely on it unless forced to. We'll definitely get around to her skills and specialties eventually.

As for "spheres" of magic, it's more complicated than that but also it's not. Different groups, traditions, and scholars have various systems for classifying magic. Many of those systems are like the one you describe; there are X types of magic and you use energy from one or more types to cast a spell. The reality, though, is that no single system has ever perfectly described every possibility.

It's not a coincidence that I use a rainbow of colors to represent magic energy. When you break magic into spheres or other categories, you can think of it like naming colors. It's easy to describe the rainbow as having six colors, and it's a useful tool for learning and communication, but how many colors are there really? There are hundreds of "named" colors just in the English language. You can divide and classify them in lots of different ways but all of the colors are still there. Every system that classifies magic is a simplification of the truth because the truth is that there are infinite variations.

And at the risk of going too deep, all of this is also sort of an analogy for other systems of classification. Mages try to fit infinite types of magic into a system of six spheres just like societies try to fit billions of people into a system of two genders. Even if you add more spheres and/or genders, aren't you always simplifying the truth? Where do you draw the line? What value do you gain from classifying things (or people) and how do you balance the benefits against the drawbacks? We need labels and classifications to cope with the complexity of the world but it's easy to take them too far.

I don't know if I'll ever really be able to express ideas this complex with my comics, but I'd like to someday ^^;.

Anyway... as for Anarchy's affinities, transforming a living creature requires both Life and Matter. The short explanation is that the Matter component is what allows Anarchy to change size. It would be possible to do this with pure life magic, but would require Anarchy to consume and/or excrete the difference in mass. The matter component also allows altering clothing (as you mention), makeup and tattoos, as well as fine control over things like hair and nails.

As for the energy level / mana barrier thing; This is one of the basic principles of the magic system for this setting. The first step in using magic is gathering energy, but holding too much energy is dangerous. One solution is to divert some of the energy directly into a barrier that shields you from the rest of the energy. This is a fairly simple technique that requires minimal concentration, but it doesn't scale well; you need to strengthen the barrier as you gather more energy, and eventually you'll be using all of your incoming energy just to maintain the barrier. It's a good method for someone like Anarchy who is constantly burning magic energy to power enhancements and transformations. By comparison, for Bio to use a ranged attack spell she needs to gather a much higher level of energy and then dump it all at once; for this reason she uses a different method that requires more skill and concentration but allows for higher peak energy levels.

To describe it using generic tabletop RPG terminology: Every round, Anarchy spends a free action and 10% of his current MP to gain 5MP, for an effective max of 50MP. On the other hand, if Bio has her staff equipped she can spend a simple action and 1% of her current MP to gain 10MP, for an effective max of 1000MP. The exact percentage cost and MP gained could be modified by character stats and/or equipment. (This is just a rough example, would probably be different if I were serious about making it a game.)

And finally utility magic: For your specific example, many mages would indeed use magic for something like that.
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:iconayeba:
Ayeba Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2017
There's an inherit difference between genders and magic. You can fail to conjure/produce/summon magic. You can't "fail" to be a gender. Well, I suppose that's a loaded statement, but what I meant was that you will always be you regardless of any labels applied to you. Hopefully that made sense. 

I do get your point, though. Classifications are always simplifications, but hopefully more useful than not. The reason why I feel it makes somewhat more sense to have defined spheres of magic is to make it easier to teach them to someone. If most magic in the world is some sort of inherit magic -- like Anarchy's -- classification makes less sense. But if a good portion of the magic users are taught rather than self-learned, classifications can make it easier to grasp the fundamentals. It is probably easier to learn a second illusion spell once you've figured out the first one, for example, and that allows for faster growth. I imagine the more advanced a mage is, the more the lines between the spheres start to blur. 

Consider an analogy to Alchemy vs Chemistry. While the ultimate goal of Alchemy was to create gold or make someone immortal, alchemists occasionally managed to produce more or less useful recipes. But every single of those recipes were discovered through coincidences and experimentation. A chemist, on the other hand, can predict the result of an experiment before it is even done, because she/he understands the basics behind the processes. I imagine something similar would be true with magic. But just as with magic, the more knowledge a chemist has, the more the lines start to blur between chemistry, physics, quantum physics and whatnot. I admit it's not a perfect analogy. 

As for taking the labels too far; I can do nothing but agree. Though we may not completely agree in our definition of 'too far'. It would obviously not make sense to define 7.5 billion genders for the 7.5 billion people of this world. Two genders is arguably too few. Then again, the two genders are a useful limitation when designing public restrooms. While I don't know how large portion of the population that don't identify themselves as male or female, it makes little sense to create a third restroom type that will hardly see any use. And if you do that, maybe a fourth group will require their own restroom? But maybe the toilets could be designed in non-gender divided fashion? I have to admit I'm somewhat relieved I'm not in a position where I have to make hard decisions like that. 

On the topic of magic systems; as a huge fan of roleplaying games, I have seen a good amount of different systems. I wonder if you're familiar with Mage: The Ascension / Mage: The Awakening. They have a fairly fluid magic system. The spheres are called 'Arcana', and are divided into two major types: Subtle Arcana (Death, Fate, Mind, Prime, Spirit) and Gross Arcana (Forces, Life, Matter, Space, Time). Whenever a character wishes to cast a magic, she or he has to have the required level of proficiency in all the Arcana affected. For example, affecting the weather might require Forces, Matter and Space, though not necessarily all at the same level. While travelling into the future might "only" require extremely high levels of Time, it would also be useful to combine that with Space to ensure that you don't accidentally wind up in the same space as something else, telefragging yourself. A divination could depend on various Subtle Arcana depending on what you're trying to learn. And so on.

It's up to the game master to decided in each separate case what skills the player requires in order to pull of a spell. Or more commonly; it's up to the player to convince the game master that he or she can do it. While it's not in my interest to convince you to follow such as system, I would like to know if this is closer to what you have in mind when it comes to magic. 

Also on the topic of magic; are there any theoretical limits on magic in this world? Can you for example completely brainwash someone? Change the past? Permanently alter the fabric of space? Resurrect the dead? Strike an intelligent conversation with a non-intelligent animal? Rewind time? I assume there are practical limits to everything. I just wonder if there are also theoretical limits. Not that practical limits are pointless; it is, for example, theoretically possible to run out of unique messages in twitter (see what-if.xkcd.com/34/), but we really, *really* don't have to worry about it. 

Finally, on the topic of MP; I find it interesting that you can seemingly generate mana out of thin air. That begs the question, what is 'mana'/'energy'? Does it have an inherit cost, outside of time invested?

Another magic system comparison, if you don't mind. In the Shadowrun RPG, there is no concept of 'mana points'. When a magician casts a spell, she or he channels mana from the vicinity through his or her own mind, and tries to control it as tightly as possible. Game system-wise, each spell has an associated 'drain cost', which varies with the Force at which it is cast. Force determines how powerful a specific casting of a spell is. You can, for example, cast Invisibility at force 1, but everyone and their mothers would easily see through it. When casting the spell, the player rolls his/her Willpower number of dice. Each 5 or 6 reduces the drain by 1. Any remaining drain after this reduction is applied as stun damage to the character, to a possible limit of 0 damage. In other words, you can theoretically cast magic all day, but sooner or later you will suffer some drain/stun damage, and eventually it will knock you unconscious. It doesn't help that existing damage makes it harder to resist further damage -- it is hard to focus when you're already fatigued. Also, it is possible to cause yourself physical injury if you cast magic at a higher force than your magic attribute ('throughput', sort of) allows. 

Did I mention I'm a huge nerd for roleplaying games and magic systems?
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:iconjohncolburn:
JohnColburn Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
The main problem with your first point is that you're comparing "magic" directly to "gender", but I'm comparing "magic" to "people". Just like a given person will be whoever they are regardless of labels, a given spell still does whatever it does regardless of labels. You can't really compare "failure to cast a spell" to "failure to be a certain gender"; you'd have to compare "failure to cast a spell" to "failure to create a person". And, of course, people fail to create new people all the time; we don't assign categories or labels to a person who wasn't born for the same reason you wouldn't assign categories or labels to a spell that wasn't cast.

That said, we seem to agree mostly on the practical side of the idea. I'm not trying to say that labels and classifications are always bad, I'm just saying that they have consequences. The Circle of Mages has a fairly rigid system of classifying magic into different categories; when Bio reads Anarchy's affinities, she's doing so according to the Circle's accepted classifications. What I hope to convey, however, is that classifying magic in this way has a major impact on how people use and perceive magic. I'll be trying to give the impression that the system in place is helpful but far from perfect and that most people don't question it even when its flaws become obvious. I'll use that as a parallel to our systems for classifying people whether it's by gender, race, sexuality, or whatever else.

Anyway, moving back to easier topics like RPG rule systems...

I'm very familiar with both Mage and Shadowrun. Parts of Ninmu Nanmu are definitely inspired by each of those. The setting resembles Mage in the sense that there are various traditions who compete with each other and that a mage's tradition has a huge influence on how they practice magic and, to some extent, what they can and can't accomplish with their magic. From Shadowrun I've taken the basic idea of the astral plane (including astral perception and projection), the idea that magic functions by drawing on ambient astral energy, and that channeling said energy is inherently exhausting and/or harmful. I've probably stolen other bits and pieces from both settings, but that's some primary inspiration.

As for theoretical limits to magic: Almost anything is possible. "Change the past" is the only thing on your list that I'd rate as strictly impossible; if actual time travel is possible it's completely beyond the abilities of humanity, even using magic. Beyond that, magic can't completely ignore the laws of physics; the more you want to bend the rules the more energy you'll need to use, and standard physics will take over as soon as the magic runs out.

As for where "MP" comes from: I already sort of mentioned, but the energy of magic comes from astral space (basically). This energy is essentially unlimited, at least on the scale of individual magic users. My game rule example was just supposed to illustrate the basic concept that a magic user will gather energy at a certain rate but also needs to spend that energy at a certain rate to avoid damage, resulting in a natural 'max MP'. All of that assumes that the character is playing it safe; if they need to they can gather energy more quickly, skip paying the percentage, and risk exhaustion or injury to cast spells faster or with more power. If I tried to write out detailed rules it would probably end up being really similar to the drain system in Shadowrun, except that drain is a calculation instead of a die roll. That would probably be a pretty boring game mechanic but fortunately I'm not making a game; These "rules" are just here to help me keep the setting and story consistent, and I can bend them as necessary to make the story work.
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:iconayeba:
Ayeba Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2017
Just letting you know I've read your reply. Just that this time, it's me who's feeling kind of down. 

You made me want to play a RPG with you, though. 
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:iconjohncolburn:
JohnColburn Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, thanks for letting me know. I kinda guessed it was something like that. I guess we're both having a pretty rough time =/.
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:iconlevia-the-dragon:
Levia-the-Dragon Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2017
Huh, so he's a coward as well as an asshole...
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:iconfreedominator:
freedominator Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2017
omg so cool
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:iconjester-tlf:
jester-tlf Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2017  Hobbyist
That must have killed her momentum, having the apprentice fight for him.
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:icontrekie140:
trekie140 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2017
Ot anxiety and depression myself. Worst combination of two already terrible things. Take as much time as you need, you're working way harder than me and I'm struggling.
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:iconjohncolburn:
JohnColburn Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the support, and I hope you're doing alright as well. It's easy to forget that lots of people deal with these issues.
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:iconannieroshino:
AnnieRoshino Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Let her fight the old man!
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