Why do fires go out in Mythic Europe?


My partner and I were discussing the Art and Academe rules for moving objects through substances, like fire. This sparked a question, namely, since fire moves upwards because it's moving towards the primary place fire exists- is that why fires go out? Does the fire just become more dispersed and rise up invisibly into the sky, with new fire being created at the point of burning?

Why do fires go away? If you created a fire in a sealed container using magic, would it remain if the container is "fire-tight" or would it dissipate over time?


It was already common knowledge at the time that fire requires fuel and air, even if the specific details were not understood. Fire ends if it lacks any of them.

A magical fire, however, in theory requires neither. It would end only when the magical energy that sustains it ceases.


This would seem to contradict the fact that there is a sphere of fire around the earth. What sustains that?

God's will.

So. I was kind of hoping for a discussion on, like. Why does fire in Mythic Europe need fuel and air? Is it very different from our own experiences and knowledge? Could this be used for a fun story?

Oh, sorry. I was not trying to shut down discussion. :sweat_smile:

The need for fuel and air should be undeniable, right? It's an easily observable phenomenom, and fire was used on day-to-day activities.

The sphere of fire is what I attributed to God's will, since it's lacks an apparent source of fuel (maybe there was an explanation at the time regarding what it burned. I would not be aware of it, however). It sits right atop of the sphere of air, which means this one is supplied. But it might very well be fully magical in nature.

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If I rememebr correctly, the fire species trapped in the heavier matter of the comustible finally all run out and fly off to the outside and the fire is gone.

Which we know is silly, because first half of the fire species within the log would need to burn, then half of the remainder... and then all of the fire species would never be able to escape.

Keep in mind there's a difference between what happens to fire, the phenomenon (what you're talking about, Rafael), and fire, the atoms (which Zaleramancer is asking about), because Mythic Europe is a world built on four types of fundamental building blocks - fire, water, air, earth - which are discussed in A&A. For simplicity, I'll call the fundamental building blocks of the universe using the latin art terms. My understanding my not be perfect, but it's alone the lines of fire, the phenomenon, is something that happens when matter has enough heat for Ignem to be released from its core. Those atoms don't die out when they cease to burn - burning is merely the visible phenomenon where Ignem is released from its prison. It then rises towards the atmosphere, first as fire, then as smoke and flying tinders, then as radiant heat. But it's mostly invisible and it doesn't fall down because it has cooled, so to speak (which limits the radiant heat explanation). Just bear in mind the die-shaped explanation of atoms. Ignem atoms rises because, no longer contained, it is lighter than Auram is, which itself is lighter than Aquam, which itself is lighter than Terram.

Fires go out because they run out of fuel, yes, and therefore no additional atoms of Ignem are released. If you created a fire in a sealed container, it would go out the same way we modern people expect it - the ancients knew fully well that the alchemical reaction necessary to release Ignem atoms requires air. As for magical fire created using your arts, well, it's magic. On the other hand, if you created a mundane fire in an air-tight container that magically refreshed it's air to keep the fire going, well, you'd get a weird result because magic. On the bright side, since no one invented the magic to examine atoms, you probably wouldn't be able to tell what happened to the atoms in there anyway, and you can safely discard any pretense that you're carrying out a pseudo-scientific magical experiment.


In terms of period understanding yes the fire requires fuel and air, but the fuel contains elemental fire bound within a mixture of elements in the material, and the process of burning it in air releases the fire. from there it may mix with the air (warming it) or other substances, depending on its use- What we think of as chemical transformation due to cooking or heating an object could be seen as it being infused with the fire "atoms" from the fuel (as opposed to transfering energy into chemical bonds). Light from a fire tends to radiate away, and so forth.
Essentially it works much the same way as how conservation of energy works today, in that it can take many paths after being released as opposed to one universal answer. the difference is that there is no law of conservation of the elements.


Thank you, this has been a very helpful answer. I do want to raise a thought experiment that explains a question I have.

Let's say that a hermetic magus uses a creo ritual to create a perfect sphere of hollow glass. Then, they use a Creo Ignem spell to fill the interior of the sphere with fire.

As the fire is already liberated from physical elements, why does it still require air to exist? Intuition indicates that the fire should go out, but the container is sealed and external factors cannot act on the elemental matter within.

Should the result be that the fire simply pools at the top of the sphere, possibly eventually melting it and being released? Does the fire break apart into smaller groups of atoms, which divide until they're no longer visible? If so, how can it do this- there is no space to expand outwards into and no force to physically separate the atoms.

I'm asking because in my game, we have had a few discussions about how the strange physics affect the use of Magic (such as creating eels from water with Rego magic). So I was wondering if it is inkeeping with the physics of the game that a Hermetic Magus could capture some fire, permanently, within a sufficiently impermeable and durable container.


Since the fire is created, it will last as long as the magic that fuels it does. So, unless the caster is a Merinita, it won't last forever, Unless you've used a Momentary Creo ritual. But then once created, it's a normal fire, and then it needs fuel, and air, so it will die out.

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Real world a fire in terms of what you are thinking is burning gases. What is released is not flame but heat and light. If you make a glass sphere heat and light will both escape the glass jar.

No real need to bring physics into this. The fire behaves as you would expect unless it's magical in which case it depends on the spell.

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Alright, I can't help but feel like my question is being misconstrued.

I want to bring physics into it. If you are uninterested in discussing Mythic Physics and how those affect fire, this thread is not for you.

I am, shocking as it may seem, aware of how fire works in real life. Responses based on how fire actually is are not hhelpful.

It's like if I asked "What causes thunderstorms in Mythic Europe?", and your responses were: Well, in the real world, it's caused by X and Y.

X and Y are not true in Mythic Europe
In many people's games, this will not matter- I support ignoring it in those cases. However, I'm actually interested in hearing people's thoughts on this.

If fire is a substance then, like air, it can be affected by physical objects. How is it affected? Would you need materials that do not naturally occur because of how easily Fire can permeate through solid surfaces? Or because it can destroy things easily?


No matter what you decision you reach, it shouldn't be closer to reality than phlogiston.

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I think it's a mistake. See, I like mythic europe physics. One of the primary reason I enjoy it is because it means if someone brings real world physics into the game (thermodynamics, gravity, speed of light, etc.), I can look at them and tell them all of that is irrelevant, please look up your spell guidelines. science is and should be, mostly irrelevant. Inevitably, we have a conversation like here. Someone wants to know how the physics behave. They wonder if modern electricity can be tapped with a different set of atoms. They want steam engines and railroads, and rockets. They want to split atoms and wonder if it still blows up like a nuke. In so doing they forget a few things (in my view):

  • Most of these questions have no answers. Modern science was built on refuting everything the game says is true. You can't ask Aristotle the result of an experiment performed in the 16th century. The guy has no idea. Incidentally, this means you can't deduce much. Part of the reason is these were theories based on things unseen that couldn't easily be proven the way modern science tries to prove things;
  • You get away from the core of the game. The core of the game is medieval fantasy. Not that a renaissance fantasy can't be interesting, but the setting's premises aren't built to sustain the age of reason;
  • Advancing the game trying to modify scientified advances creates a nightmare. Because it turns the gamemaster into a world designer, who has to bother creating an entirely new physic. It's a mistake. The beauty of aristotelian physics is that it (mostly) avoids contradiction with the spell system. There is more to gain with the game by dabbling in original research, creating new hedge tradition... than there is creating a new set that advances physics.

Replicating the scientific mindset is, in my mind, a mistake. While the main advantage of modern physics is explaining things as they are, the main advantage of aristotelian physics is not explaining things happening in your game, but explaining the odd behavior of your spells and how modern science can be safely ignored. But maybe, as you say, the thread is not for me.


This forum is a tar pit.

My point is this- sometimes to understand Mythic Europe physics you have to look at real world physics as allegory. Species are particles, light is made from the element of fire. When something becomes hot it is because of particles of the fire element are absorbed by it. Mythic Physics comes from an attempt to explain real world physics.
So if you put fire in a jar it will escape because some of it will be emitted as light and leave through the glass in the way that light does. Some of it will be absorbed by the glass and heat the glass until the glass re-emits it to heat the outside air.
Now if you want to use ReIg to contain the elemental fire you can do that, but it will neither emit light nor heat the glass when it is so contained.

This is the exact opposite to all of the games I have been in. Science is a process, not a list of facts. What Zaleramancer is asking is fascinating to me, and I wish I had a useful contributions to add. I nevertheless am eager to find out what other people think. Maybe there is a way of looking at it that allows atoms of fire as objects and also as instances of a process. Sort of like the quantitative and operational defintions of number that Grassmann/Hamilton were exploring that got unified by Clifford.



You know, it should be possible to disagree with someone without insulting everyone in the room, or even the person you're talking with.