1. Infel

    Infel Senior Member

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    Magic Consuming an Inordinate Amount of Calories

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Infel, Aug 1, 2018.

    Ladies, gentlemen, I've been thinking a lot about the cost of casting magic spells. I've been thinking about how crazily one single mage could change the course of a battle by collapsing a mountain or torching a line of cavalry with a fireball. I've been thinking, nonstop, about what kind of cost magic would have to have on the bearer to make it not so darn overpowered in a wartime scenario.

    I present for your consideration, as a half-joke half serious idea, the idea that the energy for spellcasting comes directly from fat-storage and calorie consumption.

    It is wartime: you are one of the kingdom's three arch-mages. You weigh one thousand, two hundred and twelve pounds (totally). War is coming, and you, knowing your duty, have been preparing. You consume six thousand calories per day. The lower echelons of society must donate extra resources in the form of taxes so that you alone can eat, can gorge yourself in preparation for the onslaught you know to be coming. Day after day you drink gallons of milk and butter, feast on whole turkeys and sheep.

    Then, the day comes.

    Six stone golems carry you out to the battlefield, heaving under your mass, their granite bodies cracking. They set you to the rear of the battlefield, prop you up on pillows and rugs so that you might crane your neck to see the enemy.

    The battle begins. A rain of arrows shoots out from the opposing army.

    You know your time has come.

    You thrust out a hand, commanding from your mind the air itself to freeze, to harden above your allies. It condenses, solidifies, as the arrows impact a hovering shield of ice. You throw your arm to the side, and the ice and arrows fall harmlessly to the earth.

    You look down.

    Your arm is rugged, full of tight, flawless muscle--no longer the saggy, swaying mass of flesh it had been in your tower. That spell had cost 350,000 calories. You feel literally a hundred pounds lighter. You have only 11 spells left before your body is as tight, and hard, and muscular as the strongest warrior in your front line. After that, it will take years to re-accumulate your strength--literal years. Is this battle truly worth it? How many spells can you afford to use? What, truly, is the cost of such conflict?

    Your body feels instantly fatigued. Quickly you reach to a basket at your side and consume eight avocados and a tub of peanut butter. It's not much, but it will do.

    You do the math in your head--your swollen, babylike head: your army has provisions for only two years worth of campaign. If you use too much power now, half the army will starve while you eat to regain your strength.

    No, you decide. The only way is to end this war quickly.

    You stand. Three hundred pounds vanish from your lower half, channeled above you, into a raging inferno. Your legs are now the legs of Rich Gaspari, as you hold the molten fireball above your head.

    This will be their end, you think.

    You order a nearby servant to fetch you sixteen roasted hens.

    Guys, I think I'm onto something big.
     
  2. Jenissej

    Jenissej Member Supporter

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    I like this. I like this very much.
     
  3. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I love this idea. Small scale versions where a mage casts a big spell and it makes them pass out and wake up voracious are one thing, but I love the logical extreme you've taken it to.

    That said, the post-magic body would be atrophied rather than ripped, no?
     
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  4. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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  5. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I think the muscles would be there (unless the weight loss is so extreme the muscles were burnt up, too) but I wonder about all the extra skin. That's something a lot of real-world extreme dieters have to deal with...

    Cool idea, though! There always has to be some cost to magic...
     
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  6. pyroglyphian

    pyroglyphian Active Member

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    Just use your magic to replenish your fat, no?... Fat spell or something.
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    That'd be like eating your own leg to ward off starvation...
     
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  8. Infel

    Infel Senior Member

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    I'm not sure! I assumed that the mage would know his body was going to shrink, so he'd make sure he was ripped before hand. But I'm not sure if the human body actually works that way.

    That extra skin though.... eww haha.
     
  9. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Active Member

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    Hey, this isn't such a bad idea! Magic that doesn't pose many consequences for the user is just...boring (or a world where magic is a part of everyday life). I know I did something similar to this where, every time my MC used her powers (mostly by accident), she felt weak afterwards. Only after she learned how to control her "magic" does she not have any uncomfortable side effects.
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Your mages have been carrying around hundreds of pounds of weights all day every day for months/years. They'll have good muscles underneath.
     
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  11. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I was assuming, because they'd have to be carried around, that the muscle would atrophy. It depends on how buff they were before and how long they're immobile, I guess.

    It's not too wild to say that the magic consumes muscle tissue as well, though. It could even eat away at their bones! I'm thinking of how pregnancy can cause osteoporosis -- I'm no biologist, but that indicates to me that the body has some way of consuming itself beyond fat reserves. Magic could do that, I reckon.
     
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  12. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, you're right, I wasn't thinking of the part where they're carried. Still, even just lifting an arm to feed yourself would be like lifting a hundred or two-hundred pound barbell, right?
     
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  13. Infel

    Infel Senior Member

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    So many questions... truly we have opened pandora's box.
     
  14. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

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    Yeah, I'm confused on where the muscles came from. Shouldn't this guy just have turned incredibly skinny?

    Other than that, I think it's great, though I can't help laughing a little.


    Also, even if he had worked out a bunch before, would he just have a bunch of really loose skin sagging all over his body?
     
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  15. Infel

    Infel Senior Member

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    Well I assumed that since it was magic, and these wizard's know how to use it, they'd cast in a manner that made them use up ONLY fat and not muscle. To be honest, I just had a funny thought in my head of this enormous, thousand pound mage wheeled out to the battlefield only to leave him as this gorgeous Fabio-esque, musclebound warrior with flowing hair.

    But I think if they kept going AFTER they were muscly, using the very last of their energy, they'd go full All Might and become this emaciated skeleton of a person. But that would be a last resort, I imagine.

    As for the saggy skin.... I don't have an answer for that haha! The fatal flaw in my beautiful plan!
     
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  16. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I had a whole thing that I was starting to type:

    I definitely love the basic concept :) but I do have a question about the specific details: does the calorie usage have to precisely match the energy of the spell you're casting?

    Officially, 1 calorie is the amount of energy necessary to heat 1 gram, or 1 milliliter of water by 1 degree Celsius. Unofficially, a kilocalorie (which heats 1 kilogram, or 1 liter, of water by 1 degree Celsius) is referred to as a Calorie or a food calorie.

    100 food calories, therefor, could heat 1 kilogram of water from the freezing point (0 degrees Celsius) to the boiling point (100 degrees Celsius), and if you wanted to turn a patch of land into a scalding hellscape, then it wouldn't be particularly difficult: 1 kilogram of Earth gains more temperature than 1 kilogram of water from the same amount of heat, and 1 kilogram of air gains even more temperature than that.

    However, you wouldn't be able to conjure anything. 1 gram of mass was destroyed when the "Little Boy" atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima released 18 trillion calories (18 billion food Calories) of energy, so it would cost 18 billion food Calories to create 1 gram of mass. At roughly 3500 food Calories in a pound of fat, generating 18 billion food Calories of energy would require burning roughly 5.1 million pounds of fat.

    You may be able to enchant something which already exists (gathering 1,000 kilograms – 1 metric tonne – of Earth, shaping it into a stone soldier, and giving it a semblance of life), but you would not be able to create something which does not already exist.​

    But then I realized that it wouldn't go like this.

    "burning" 1 pound of fat into 3500 food Calories of energy wouldn't remove any noticeable amount of mass from your body; rather, it would convert the pound of high-calorie biomass (fat) into a pound of low-energy biomass (waste) which would be removed from your system via the usual ways that the body removes waste matter.

    If you can see the mass disappearing from your mage's body, then you're looking at mass-energy conversion, not biochemistry, and destroying 1 kilogram of mass would create 1000 Hiroshima bombs worth of energy.
     
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  17. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

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    Random thought: 6,000 calories would not be nearly enough to maintain a weight of 1,212 lbs. Professional Strongman Eddie Hall, who weighs around 385 lbs, stated in an interview that he eats approximately 9,000 calories a day to maintain his weight. Then again, he exercises hard for hours a day, so it's not the greatest comparison.

    Also, according to a few calculators I used online (I dug way too deep into this, sorry!), if he were 40 years old and was an average height of 5'10, his basal metabolic rate, the amount of calories his body burns just existing on a day-to-day basis, would be ~8,200.
     
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  18. pyroglyphian

    pyroglyphian Active Member

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    Hmm yes... unless the blubber spell added more fat than it took, I guess. :unsure:
     
  19. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    I wouldn't approach it so physically in a fantasy story. You only have to make the reader suspend disbelief and nobody will do the calculations you came up with. And people who will do them will only do them for fun, not expecting a fantasy story to be hard science fiction. ^ ^

    I think, magic can absolutely speed up energy conversion and draw that energy from the storage in the mage's body.
    As for the waste... It might appear around him, too, being teleported out of his body alongside the energy itself. Because that would be the other question: If the body does convert the fat to energy, how do you get the energy out of the body to fuel the spell without burning the skin up?

    [​IMG]


    As for the scale problem:
    Maybe the energy needed is just a kind of leverage to move other energies. For example, if you want to create high or low temperatures (to create fire or ice), you would need a kind of heat pump. The spell would be such a heat pump and the energy from the body fat would be what it needs to power the pump. Therefor the amount of energy needed and the energy moved can be related but need not be equal. The larger the effect you want to achieve and the faster you want to achieve it the more energy it will burn in the same amount of time.


    Anyway, my point is, you can just handwave some of these things.
    But I like the idea of keeping the loose skin problem. Maybe there is a special mage assistant or apprentice who will speak a spell to remove excess skin on their masters. :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
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