Narrative Law

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Narrative Law: A natural science devoted to the study of events, their repetition, and the connection between events, expectations, and patterns. Regarded by some as a dubious science, Narrative Law remains a young discipline, and its adherents have uncommon difficulty in properly explaining what they research.

History

Early branches of narrative law were primarily religious in nature. Early scholars in many cultures, human and otherwise, noted how certain behaviours seemed likely to provoke specific reactions, and attributed these facts to the intervention of gods either benign or cruel. Parallels between stories and real-life events were occasionally brought up, but were also attributed to godly oversight. While some heretical groups or small religions attributed the Story as the root of the world, they considered this to be of divine origin and made few efforts to do more than 'prove' that their way of looking at the Story was accurate.

Early disagreement with this as a concept did not truly take root until the 18th Century. It is generally believed that one of the earliest proponents of Narrative Law was the renowned rationalist Rene Descartes. Also an early pioneer of Psychic research, Descartes posited that just as the body follows the laws of physics, there might be a seperate set of natural laws governing the mind. Although Descartes never denied that God might be at the root of narrative, he felt that the laws of the Story were governed too consistently, and too amorally, to be the direct oversight of a deity. His Principles of Narrative formed the basis on which many other scientists would develop, but the discipline was not significantly advanced for over a hundred years - in large part because of religious opposition; Descartes himself would abandon his studies due to opposition from his fellows.

Two more seminal scientists formed the root of later narrative development in the next century - Doctor Frederick Blake and Professor Ulrich Flemenschtein. Blake was a pioneer in narrative studies, taking everything that Descartes had written and studying it closely, working a vast array of theories and suppositions into a core set of rules that remain in use to this very day. Professor Flemenschtein, of course, was not primarily a narrative scientist, but his many travels had made him familiar with the concepts, and he painstakingly constructed the Laws of Singularity in his later years to account for much of what he experienced - although they have sometimes been challenged, they are generally considered to be accurate. Almost as importantly, Professor Flemenschtein granted to the discipline a respectability that had previously been lacking.

Over the next hundred years, narrative law continued to advance, and is now taught in several major universities and studied across the world. Superhumans in particular are required in many countries to take at least basic courses in narrative law before taking up their capes, due to their increased likelihood of encountering it noticeably in their day-to-day lives.

Also of note was the dark scientist and overlord known as Rex Mundi. Rex Mundi devoted much of his life to the study of narrative law, recognizing it as one of the causes of his early defeats at the hands of the League of Adventurers, and his successors carried on his work. Unfortunately, while Rex Mundi was perfectly happy to learn from major scientists in the field, almost none of his own discoveries have been revealed. It is generally agreed that the current Rex Mundi may well be decades ahead of the rest of the world in understanding how to manipulate narrative law.

Known Laws of Narrative

As a set of natural laws commonly agreed to have a psychic origin, narrative is an extremely difficult field to study. Observation of narrative laws in action has an increased likelihood of preventing them from occurring, and they can be altered due to the different ways in which different cultures view them. This effect tends to drive many scientists of more stable disciplines into mild hysterics, and prevented Narrative Law from being accepted as a natural science at all until well into the 1960s. However, certain basic root laws are agreed to be in effect, and most scientists can agree on the following.

The Prime Law

A common theory states that there is a Prime Law of Narrative that oversees all others. Exactly what this law is, no two people agree, but several options have been suggested, ranging from the extremely optimistic "Good Will Always Triumph Over Evil" to the somewhat more cynical "The Centre Cannot Hold". With no proof to date, even the existence of a Prime Law remains pure conjecture, but it is conjecture that many scientists have spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars debating.

Blake's Laws of Narrative

While Blake's Laws are considered to be far-reaching, they are also generally agreed to be generalized. Many scientists feel that calling them 'laws' may even be a misnomer, as there seem to be situations and circumstances in which they can be bent or even ignored outright. Still, they tend to form the root of most narrative law, and they are the laws taught to classrooms that learn narrative law first.

Blake's First Law: The Law of Action

"All else being equal, events will transpire at the moment that will cause the most excitement."
According to the First Law, the universe is structured much the same way as a story, and with similar effect. Given a choice between an unlikely but impressive series of coincidence or a likely event that does not cause a story to transpire, the more interesting approach will be taken. The First Law is one that is particularly difficult to prove, as even Blake admitted that it is far from constant. Nonetheless, events that should be governed by random chance have shown to be 52% more likely than they should be to transpire at a moment when they will cause the most confusion, excitement, or chaos.

Blake's Second Law: The Law of Ignorance

"Narrative law cannot be deliberately invoked."
The Second Law sums up the difficulty in the study of narrative law - deliberate attempts to invoke a given aspect of narrative law are rarely successful, while forgetting even for a moment that a certain phrase or action has a typical result returns the chance of that result occurring to its usual level. Interestingly, deliberately invoking narrative law in order to prevent it from occurring does reduce this chance as compared to accidental invocation, but not nearly as much as invoking narrative law in the hopes that it will occur. The Second Law is profoundly uncomfortable to many scientists, as it implies active agency, but many consider it to be a result of psychic interference by the person invoking it.

Blake's Third Law: The Law of Continuity

"There are no loose ends, only sequels."
Once begun, a story must end. Blake's Third Law notes the massively increased chance that, if a personal story or series of events leaves an issue or confrontation unresolved, the chances of that issue occurring at a later date are increased by a whopping 520%. The Third Law is considered to be among the most firm of Blake's Laws, and every superhuman is known to keep an eye out for it.

Blake's Fourth Law: The Law of Information

"No secret can remain so."
Considered by some to be less a law of narrative and more a function of human psychology, this law refers to the simple fact that conspiracies, dark secrets from a person's past, and hidden stories that should never have been revealed seem to be given to the people that they would matter most to at the moment when it is most important for the information to come to light from a narrative standpoint. Deeply aggravating to many who would prefer not to have their deeds brought to light, the Fourth Law can often be avoided simply by ensuring that it is not important to anyone but you what you did. Even that is not precise, of course, but it works.

Blake's Fifth Law: The Law of Power

"Power begets a story."
For whatever reason, those with powers that transcend the usual physical laws - specifically superhumans - are far more vunerable to the effects of narrative law than those without. Furthermore, normal humans who interact with superhumans on a regular basis also find that narrative law has an increased impact on their lives, as do normal humans who have significant interactions with the supernatural. Confusingly, this effect also seems to affect national or cultural heroes, or anyone who garners major fame, if not to the same degree. The Fifth Law is commonly used as an argument in favor of narrative law having a strongly psychic origin.

Flemenschtein's Laws of Singularity

In his journeys, Professor Flemenschtein came across many variations, universal alternates, and apparently homegrown mimics of himself, his teammates, and his enemies. In studying them, he created the concept of the archetype as applied to narrative law, that within a given story of whatever scope narrative law could not easily differentiate between different beings or objects with similar psychic resonances. His results were organized into the Laws of Singularity, which govern the ways in which objects and people can keep their uniqueness in the face of the many strange events that can occur.

Although there are ten Laws of Singularity, it is the first two that are most often referenced:
Flemenschtein's First Law of Singularity: All narrative beings are both unique and archetypal.
Flemenschtein's Second Law of Singularity: A narrative being may only have a single reflection.

The Laws of Singularity are more debated than Blake's Laws, but are generally considered to be accurate. The most obvious way of demonstrating this is to compare the number of dimensional alternates on the planet to the number of alternates of any given person. Statistically, there should be some individuals with two or three alternates, but there have only been a very few such recorded events, and they never last long-term. For whatever reason, singularity is an important concept to narrative law.

Zhang's Laws of Cultural Relativism

Zhang Cho developed the Laws of Cultural Relativism in response to a perceived European bias in narrative studies. Initially, Zhang was simply trying to add a Chinese understanding of narrative law, reconciling his own nation's fables and traditions with the apparently-contradictory results that narrative law claim should have been occurring in his country. What he found instead astonished him.

According to Zhang's Laws, while certain aspects of narrative law are nearly immutable, many other aspects can be interpreted or changed based on the cultural backdrop in which they occur. Successfully shaping superstitions and beliefs seemed to be sufficent to create notable, if modest, shifts towards certain types of behaviour being supported or discouraged by narrative law.

Zhang's Laws have been used as fuel by dozens of groups over the years, realizing that simply changing the way that the world thinks about an action or group could be sufficent to encourage or discourage their philosophies. They have also come under fire more than any other aspect of narrative law, both from religious and scientific groups, due to their suggestion that natural law could be different in different areas, and that Divine Right might not be universal.

Criticism

Narrative Law has come under heavy criticism from many religious groups for the way in which it ascribes natural causes to events that they claim are the divine province of God. In particular, the notion that justice or closure could be deliberately manipulated in nature draws the ire of many fundamentalist groups, who decry narrative law as godless or even Satanic in origin.

On the other side, many scientific groups find narrative law to be an uncomfortable discipline at best, and refuse to consider it to be a proper field of study. Since the advent of quantum theory, this argument has dimmed slightly, but remains noticeable on most major university campuses.


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