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Gaining Power By Tea

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Nihilium 7th, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. Nihilium 7th

    Nihilium 7th Sage

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    I have been working on world where tea and the brewing of tea is very important and is seen as an art and philosophy. In this world, it is possible to gain certain abilities by drinking certain brews (eg. Strength, speed, healing, flight, control over certain elements, etc....). Before I go any further I would like to know what you Scribes think of this concept.
     
  2. Lvl20wizard

    Lvl20wizard Sage

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    It sounds good enough. I mean almost any concept of magical rules/aspects can become good if well worked on and given some solid thought.

    From what I have learned, any good magic system must have its limitations to be really cool. One can be as simple as that a finite component is needed to fuel the power (in this case tea), but it's always interesting as well to see some sideeffects or "downsides" of magic.

    Cultural wise I can't help but think of japanese culture especially with the whole philosophical and artful role of tea, which is a pretty cool thing to investigate with their tea ceremonies and whatnot:)

    What role do you think the brewers of this magical tea have? And how accessable is this tea in general in your world?
     
  3. IrelandBeaver

    IrelandBeaver Scribe

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    One question, is it the tea itself that gives these powers, or do the leaves that are used give the power? If it is the latter, then people could bypass the tea and eat the plants. There could be pros and cons if this is the case. For example, someone could chew the leaves and gain the powers, but for an extremely limited amount of time, or it could be that the act of making tea focuses the powers and eating the leaves raw could have devastating consequences.

    If it is the act of making tea, then what about other forms of cooking? Could you have the same effects if you use the plants as we use herbs in cooking today? If this is true, then perhaps certain leaves can have different effects, such as mind manipulation or spontaneous combustion, which could be hidden in foods and used for assassinations. Of course, this could lead to people creating ways to detect these types of tea.
     
  4. Nihilium 7th

    Nihilium 7th Sage

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    One could simply eat the leaves but it would probably poison or out right kill them. Brewing the tea isn't as simple as boiling it in water. It is a very complicated process that can change the effects of the drink (which are usually permanent unless a purging tea used.) by simply changing the Ph of the water or the time of day the leaves are picked. Cooking the leaves in any way besides brewing them would give temporary boosts and even that is tricky.
     
  5. soggymuse

    soggymuse Dreamer

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    I'm not sure I'd buy that the effects are permanent, to be honest, but I could believe the rest of it. AFAIK, the effects of plants (toxic and otherwise) are either temporary, or permanent in a "whoops, they took a sip and died" kind of way. Herbal remedies (the closest real-world equivalent I can think of to your teas) aren't cure-alls but have to be used until the symptoms go away, which to me suggests that unless your tea is altering your characters at a genetic level (which you would need a powerful explanation for if I were to believe that) the effects are only temporary.

    Of course, I'm not taking magic into account here, so my comment may be moot. The bottom line is, I like the idea of power-giving tea but I'd explore the permanence aspect a bit more.
     
  6. Mythos

    Mythos Troubadour

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    This sounds really interesting to me! It gives you a chance to explore a culture built up around tea and tea ceremonies, and it reminds me a little of Brandon Sanderson's magic system in his Mistborn novels. In those, it was metals that gave certain people powers. I think you'd have to decide which types of teas give powers. Is it one kind that can be boiled or mixed in different ways? Does the tea ceremony give the tea power? I also think it should be temporary, like @soggymuse mentioned.
     
  7. Nihilium 7th

    Nihilium 7th Sage

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    I was thinking of a process where one gains the tea's benefits permanently by continuously drinking it over a certain amount of time culminating into the "Final Ceremony" where a very potent brew is drunk. I think this would allow for a more philosophical/scholarly approach to the cultivating,preparing/mixing and brewing tea; as well as performing the ceremonies. The reason why the effects being permanent is important mainly lies in power balance. There are those who found an easier but temporary way to gain the benefits but many of them have a "violent" relationship with the "Brewers" which causes the conflict in the plot.
     
  8. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

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    I think most readers would naturally assume potion based magics are temporary, until you explain otherwise.

    The point that will ruin my suspension of disbelief is the variety of powers available. Sure there are dozens of distinct tea flavors. One makes you strong, one makes you psychic, one makes you shoot laser beams, another turns you into a Sea Anemone. I think all of the Tea Powers should have a common theme, they should feel like they belong together on a list.

    Maybe Coffee brewers, savages from the new world, have their own form of magic with radically different lists of powers.
     
  9. soggymuse

    soggymuse Dreamer

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    Snowpoint makes good points. Too many of us are gamers accustomed to JRPGs where you drink a potion that temporarily boosts your defense against fire magic, etc. I suppose there's a precedent with phoenix downs and healing potions, which heal you permanently (until you get hit again), but there's still going to be an element of assumption until you point out the differences. (Plus what I already mentioned about herbal remedies, and medicines in general, also being temporary.)

    I also agree that the variety of powers makes it harder to swallow. (Heh. Tea. Swallow. Hehe.) I don't know enough about tea to say how much of a variety there is of leaves, etc., but I would definitely consider having "schools" of beverage, eg. coffee gives you psychic powers, tea gives you physical powers, etc. I guess it depends on how much of the ritual is based on the tea, and how much is based on the magic: which element is the one that actually gives the powers? Can the ritual be done without the tea? Is it the ritual itself that matters, and the tea-making is just a focus for channeling the magic? Would any beverage suffice, or are there special plants from which the "tea" is infused (as opposed to earl gray or green tea or whatever)? When you said "brews" earlier, do you mean that each tea is a unique plant with its own magical properties, or did you mean more like Earth teas?

    I don't actually know anything about tea (despite being British :eek:) so I don't know if there are different plants to make the different teas, but if you're treating your tea as more of a herbal infusion type thing (which can be made up of completely different types of plants with completely different medicinal properties), then I could definitely buy that the teas give different magical properties, too.

    I like the way you're building up the rituals, that it's not a one-time deal and that the cultivation/etc. are steeped in cultural importance. (OMG how am I making so many puns without even trying?) The conflict sounds really interesting, too.
     
  10. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

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    It's an interesting idea - but I'm unclear how does this differ (except in name) from just the concept of gaining power from potions?
    (Standard tea is effectively a potion that has a bit of caffeine in that gives you a boost).

    Are you limiting your teas to just the one standard tea plant (i.e Camellia sinensis) or are these teas from other plan sources (such as mint etc.)
    Is it the additives (such as bergamot oil used in earl grey) that give the powers?
    Is it the tea leaf preparation e. tips of the tenderest leaves only used, or method of drying?
    Is it the ritual around it that imbibes the brew with power?

    It sounds like its just a potion with a different name - or is it more?
     
  11. Nihilium 7th

    Nihilium 7th Sage

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    The growing and choosing of the tea plants that grant abilities is a very complicated process. For example, just drinking Earl Grey (Which is called the Barons Brew) won't give any gifts if grown and prepared normally; it would be normal tea. Not every plant gives abilities although certain traits can be enhanced or added (If prepared by one who knows the "Art Of Tea" Earl Grey would give the drinker a "regal calm".

    As for the reason behind the power giving properties; it is everything. If a plant is tended by a Cleric (Specially picked, sown in a special type of soil, given a certain amount of attention, etc) the composition of the leaf will change over time. Even the time of day and whether or not it is dried could affect the plants benefits. The brewing and drinking of the tea are two separate ceremonies which prepare the drink and drinker for the drinking process.
    Long story short, every step is important to the preparation of the tea. Even emotions affect the processes.

    As for the plants used; some common plants grant abilities (certain types of mint and ginger). Certain mixes and blends also have effects. The powers granted aren't to extensive. Different schools have an area of specialty be it elemental, psionic, medical, etc. I haven't decided how many schools I'll make yet.

    As for the coffee brewers, I wasn't sure if I'd have them be a school of brewing; savages or a society built on machinery and industry.
     
  12. soggymuse

    soggymuse Dreamer

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    Yeah, the more I hear, the more awesome it sounds. :D
     
  13. Jesse Booth

    Jesse Booth Scribe

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    Perhaps this is a simple form of alchemy, where the most easily accessed effects of a reagent are distilled down through simple brewing? It's an interesting idea. Not as powerful as a proper potion, but more powerful than simply eating the ingredient.
     
  14. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

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    I think the unique element is Tea Drinking culture and social elements. This is a type of magic that would be integrated into society. Regular potions and alchemy are usually occult elements disregarded by polite society.
     
  15. mowque

    mowque Dreamer

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    If you are looking at the cultural/social side of tea protocol, I'd look at the extensive (and well researched) Japanese tea ceremony and history surrounding it. Even without magic they turned drinking tea into an Event, of high magnitude. Could give you ideas.
     
  16. Valentinator

    Valentinator Minstrel

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    It's a very interesting idea! But this permanent effect of the tea bothers me a little bit. Won't it result in turning the whole population into mages? What happens if you drink all types of tea once after another? Will you turn into an all-powerful super-mage? What happens if you cook a large volume of tea and give it to several people. Will it turn them into mages with identical abilities?
     
  17. evanator66

    evanator66 Minstrel

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    Interesting idea. There should be a downside, such as the tea being addictive if used too much. The leaves should also be hard to grow, requiring some sort of magical enhancement on the fields to grow. The teas would be very powerful if they didn't have side effects. Maybe the tea leaves each grow in nearly inaccessible locations.
     
  18. Nihilium 7th

    Nihilium 7th Sage

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    The plants, minerals, water and conditions for the teas that grant power are known only by those of specific orders. One of the main plot points in the story is that society is starting to get weary of the Orders and Schools that keep the secrets hidden away. As for the affects caused by overdosing or drinking multiple teas, it all depends on the quantity, fortitude and knowledge of the person drinking the tea. Results go from death to powers equaling a demi-god (you'd have better chances of inning the lottery two times in a row.).
     
  19. JRBoschen

    JRBoschen Acolyte

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    As an avid tea drinker, I love this idea! I would recommend you also look up "tisane" as an alternative. I use tisane instead of tea in my books. Tisane is herbal tea-it's throwing herbs, spices and plants in water. I like the ideas of having it be sacred in order to create a magic source.

    How tea is created is up to you! The tea could be grown, cultivated, roasted in a very specific way as it's been done for thousands of years in China or Japan or "insert your world name". Or, you could make it a newly discovered thing in your world. More like someone picked a few different herbs and plants and boiled them in hot water.

    I think you should also make it appropriate to your timeline and the technology in your story. Does this take place in ancient times, where people would literally be picking a plant they find and shoving it into their mouth to try? Or in your world, is even finding something plant-like a holy and unnatural discovery, therefore you would cultivate and steep it in a special ceremony?

    Run with it, and see where it goes :)
     
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