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A Chimera is a creature made up of two different animals that are fused together in a process known as polymerization. This spell can combine animals to create an entirely new animal which contains the best traits of both parent species (bat radar, dolphin intelligence, sharks ferocity, etc). There are many applications for a chimera. Instead of spending thousands of years breeding animals for desired traits, a summoner can simply combine the animals with the traits that they desire. They can also be used for their hides or meat, which have many uses. However, these creatures are sterile once combined, and must be custom built.

The more I think about it, the more I see a problem with this, as the spell can lead to a number of bizarre creatures. A sharktopus (shark and octopus), or piranha-conda ( piranha and anaconda), a pigagle ( pig and eagle) and other random combinations can occur. Although hilarious, this cheapens the seriousness of the magic, making the whole thing seem like a bad SYFY movie. It would also force people to honor half remembered committments they promised they would make "when pigs fly".

What mechanism can I introduce to limit the madness that would result from combining completely random creatures like this?

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  • $\begingroup$ What rule of your world (or magic system) are you asking about? Does this even matter in your story? How does this involve creature-design and biology? are you asking for a biological reason why creature combinations you, the author, consider silly can't happen? I consider the use of electronics to create laser tag a cheapening of the noble art of electrical engineering - but it happens and super computers are still made. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 9 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ You may handwave than only some chimeras are viable. Some popular combination actually have additionally fine tuned variants of spells, which give them real boost. Sure, in theory one can combine all, however 99% of combinations is total waste of time (mana, ingredients, whatever). $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Jun 9 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ NB: I disagree that the magic system is in any way cheapened by pigagles and sharktopuses. Magic, like any other kind of natural force, requires a cost for use. One cost of magic use is, well, bizarre side effects of this sort. It's a feature rather than a bug. Ultimately, the madness will be self-limiting. People will simply tire of herds of stupid dolphin shaped dog-like beasts that spew bat guano all over the place. Sure, a summoner might be able to come up with a real winner from time to time, but people won't put up with him for long. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jun 9 at 22:45
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The simplest way to limit silliness would be to increase the cost of creating chimeras. There is a number of ways the cost can be expressed:

1) one-time expense on the ritual space of chimera creation - say, your containment circles need to be inlaid with solid gold

2) repeated expenditure on ritual components - this magic needs expensive stuff that is consumed during the casting, say it needs very rare incense to be burned

3) straight up expenditure of significant amount of magical energy, however it is expressed in your setting

4) a lot of time spent on study and research to create a successful chimera.

All those points, however, would make the creation of a chimera a rare, one-off event of significant magical impact. Not something you would butcher for leather, rather something like a powerful guardian for the wizards house. If you want your chimeras to be usable as meat animals, for example, we need them to be not much more expensive then breeding animals, but at the same time complicated enough to prevent silliness.

I think, we can tweak my point 4 for that. Say, creating a successful chimera needs a lot of research and a lot of trial and error. Most of the combinations do not actually survive, you need to be lucky to get the exactly right attributes of exactly right animals. Once you do get the combination right, you have a workable chimera pattern you - and other mages - can repeat at will.

The process of creating the chimera is not dirt-cheap, but still sustainable for most mages. They, however, prefer to use familiar and reliable patterns. The chimera experimentation is reserved for a small amount of mages that make it their life's work.

Unless you need to create an extensive game-mechanics, you do not need to define an underlying principle of successful chimera generation, just say that the combinations you like work, while the ones you don't do not.

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A key here is that the chimera gets the best proprerties of it's parents... but what is the "best"?

You could simply say "there is no best for the caster or magic can choose from, so the merging will not complete". It could also create failed experiments, a pigagle would simply die shortly after or even during the casting, so the remaining viable chimera's just happen to be the creatures that you like.

An alternative to this is that a pigagle could be possible, but you have to do painstaking research to make it possible. This would turn into something akin to quantum computer research. Not its difficulty but its q-bits. There are many types of q-bits to research for viability, and without enough data the researchers just had to pick one of the more promising one's and continue research as researching each one individually is massively expensive and if the chosen one works also redundant. The rest of the world now continues that research simply because the startup costs of researching another q-bit and getting to the level of the currently chosen one is so immense that no one wants to do it. That applies to your pigagle as well. Making frivolous combinations is a waste of research time, money and effort. Why do it? People stick with creature and trait combinations they know and can advance.

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As another answer to the question "what is best?".

Example is your Pigagle. What are its best properties? Flight is probably considered as one, but mankind has started viewing a good property of pigs their edibility and amount of meat they can produce. That is completely terrible for flight and a bad idea for survival... so the "best" characteristics have to be chosen.

For this choice I usually go for a simple explanation. When you cast a healing spell that only heal friendlies, the magic heals just the friendlies. So the magic is ingrained with some form of intelligence based on the caster's intelligence. If the caster would think someone a friendly at that point in time and recognize them as such, the magic will gain that recognition and be able to make it's selection.

When making a chimera, the traits considered best are selected based on this as well. However, how do you select what "best" is when chosing between badly matching traits? Does the pigagle become fat and unable to fly? Does it become lean, yield less meat and require more food for the same weightgain?

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Rule of law and transparency. (What's in a name.....)

All magic-users have magical-names (one each), either given them by others or chosen by themselves (more accurately, they need to find out what their magical-name is to start practicing magic), it is by invoking this name that the spell-caster is able to call upon their power. A central registry of magical-names is held by the authorities.

Without the spell-caster uttering their magical-name during the casting, the spell won't work.

Each time the spell is cast, a creature is created, but in the process of that casting - a long chanting that makes the creatures fuse - the name of the spell-caster is spoken and incorporated into the fusion process, leaving a trace for other sufficiently advanced spell-casters to find.

  • The tell: A simple incantation enables the animal to speak and forces the animal's creator's name from it's mouth.

  • There would need to be some suitable punishment devised by the elder magic users at this point, cleaning the sewer drains out that flow from the town perhaps.

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  • $\begingroup$ I do not see, how of itself it prevents a significantly quirky mage from creating flying pigs. Mostly, this solution would rather prevent strong mages from working with chimeras, in order not to disclose their true names. $\endgroup$ – Cumehtar Jun 9 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ Timing there. @Cumehtar I was in the process of editing when you commented. Lawfull chimera creation wouldn't attract punishment, why would it discourage anyone? Unless you want to edit the question to reflect why they shouldn't know each other's names. $\endgroup$ – Chickens are not cows Jun 9 at 13:08
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Why do you need the spell to exist in the first place? Granted there are possible applications for the results of it but that doesn't make it essential. If you see it as causing more trouble than's it's worth do away with it.

The other option is a little more "because I said so" but it may also work, the Polymerization spell is a piece of ritual magic with a number of variations, each variance is specific to the animals being made into the chimera on the day and the list of variances that are known to be compatible is very short. Experimenting with new variations is possible but generally lethal and extremely frowned upon by the magical community. This lets you as the author get away with a bunch of cool monsters while creating clear boundaries around what it is and isn't possible to do with the spell.

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Maybe the purpose of the polymerization spell is not to create Chimera, its just a useful side effect of casting it with inadequate parts. Maybe the true purpose of the polymerization spell is so dangerous that sane individuals are not willing to risk casting it correctly. This way new non-lethal recipes are only discover on very rare occasions. This would also only work if there where more correct recipes than incorrect ones.

For example say the true purpose was to create a creatures that consumed everything around it even itself in an instant, and unfortunately for the caster the range of the consumption vastly overlaps distance you need to be cast it from.

But ever so often there is a mad wizard who decides to cast the spell for revenge or regret, and inadvertently creates something new like a pigon-rat, or a griffin.

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