I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy geek. One of the fantasy powers I enjoy the most in books and movies is time-traveling into the past. As Ann and I began thinking about magic spells to create for Mage Faire, I realized that finding a way to create the experience of time-travel was something I desperately wanted to try. Ann is not the time-travel fan that I am, but she has happily tolerated my obsession over this.
Early on, we had to decide what kind of time-travel experience we wanted to create. There are many versions of revisiting the past in fictional literature and cinema, including
(1) You can go to any time in the past and change it, as many times as you like, but you risk the creation of paradoxes such as preventing your own parents from marrying (think: Back to the Future)
(2) You go into the past, but you can’t change it no matter how you try (as in The Time Traveler’s Wife)
(3) You can enter your memories of the past without interacting with them (Christmas past in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol)
(4) You can enter someone else’s harvested memories without interacting with them (using Dumbledore’s Pensieve)
(5) You can rewind your past and do over (using the Dagger of Time in the Prince of Persia).
We ended up developing two different kinds of time-travel/memory magic. These are both still works in progress, so keep in mind that we may still modify some of what I describe below by the time Mage Faire launches. We also hope to produce a YouTube video illustrating Memorata magic within the next few months.
When you cast the Revisitus Memoratum spell, you are transported to a location and time in your own past. You will see your past self as well as other mages that happened to be there, but they will not notice you (like A Christmas Carol). You can walk around and do magic while revisiting. You can also freeze time, so that only you can move around.
However, there are some Back to the Future aspects to Revisitus Memoratum as well. Every time you revisit the past, your revisit becomes part of history too. You can go back multiple times to the same memory, each time seeing not only your original past self, but all other past selves that have revisited there too. It gets crazy and crowded with past selves if you go back lots of times to the same memory. It is silly fun just to chase your past selves around, like a crazy game of tag. And it is fascinating to watch your past self perform some world-building magic, experiencing your creation of something from a different point of view. You can also plan out elaborate group performances with “yourselves”.
One issue with Revisitus Memoratum is time paradoxes. You will probably not be able to resist going back into your past and deliberately changing things that would interfere with what your past selves did. For example, if I moved an artefactum around and customized it, I could go back and Destructo the artefactum before my past self made all those changes. It turns out that creating a time-travel paradox like this, even in a computer game, often does not end well. Paradoxes can destroy the very fabric of the virtual space-time continuum — that is to say, the game crashes! We are currently working on ways to have you survive such paradoxes. For now, we just try to resist the temptation of creating them.
The other type of memory magic is Extractus Memoratum: harvesting your own memory in order to make it available to other mages (and they won’t even need a Pensieve). Entering another mage’s memory will be much like entering your own, except that revisits don’t become part of the memory. We expect this to be a key type of user-generated content in Mage Faire. You can harvest silly fun things you have done, or puppeteer magic/dance performances, or demonstrate how to do magic for future mages, or show off a clever magic shortcut or trick that you discovered in tutorial memories, or show off multiple avatar looks that you have created, or show off one of your estates that you have customized, or perform your own magical play with guild/circle members, OR create treasure hunts with clues in memories, OR do things we can’t even imagine now! Whew!
There will be some limitations on what you can do while revisiting another mage’s harvested memory. Your ability to do magic there will be greatly curtailed to minimize the creation of paradoxes, and you will not be able to re-harvest someone else’s memory as your own.
There will be contests to create the best training memories for introducing spells to new mages, and contests for the most fun and entertaining memories to provide as “easter egg” merriments in the Faire. Memorata village will be dedicated to housing many of the contest-winning memories, and for making the current contest submissions available for revisiting. We may also encourage some mages to act as Witnesses — they harvest their memories of awesome busker performances or public events and generously make them available later for others that missed out.
Your harvested memories will be stored in thought bubbles associated with a gold statue of your own avatar. Memorata will eventually become filled with golden mage statues, each with one or more fun memories to enter and explore. Our current plan is to have these statues magically grow in size as they are revisited, so that mages can see at a glance which memories are the most popular.
Well, that’s all I can say about memory magic for now. I hope you will enjoy revisiting and sharing memories in Mage Faire as much as I do!