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In a world I've been creating, space and time are mutable. Not in the traditional sense, but because non-sentient magic crystals warp space and time as their means of reproduction.

Now, this warping can't affect sentient creatures or their artifice, allowing people to exist for more than 15 minutes without being wiped, and this is all well and good. By actual issue is that the crystals make monsters in the space they shape. All the time. They're always making new breeds. And this is also fine, but it leaves a dilemma.

How can I justify any given type of creature being created more than once?

There's no guiding intelligence behind this system of constant re-creation, and I'd rather not say "Because reasons."

As an added detail, anything created does have to abide by the laws of physics, though given the presence of magic these are obviously a bit more pliable than our own. Basically, no generation of Cthulu's daydreams.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! An interesting first question, to be sure. Can only monsters be created, or could there also be, say, deposits of salt? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jun 24 '15 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ Also, related: Development of society with random encounters $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jun 24 '15 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ When the randomisation occurs the entire area is effectively wiped and remade (though anything man made tends to be left behind) So, yes, materials can form that way. There's even some cleverly designed mines that exploit it. $\endgroup$ – kjelfalconer Jun 24 '15 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ Make the warping of space fractal or recursive, like a space-time echo, each one creating x monsters of type y. $\endgroup$ – Scott Downey Jun 24 '15 at 13:27
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What you're asking for are meta-principles, or meta-laws, and those are fun. For an imaginary world you can specify whatever you like - as long as you abide by them. If you don't like the results, you can (as one strategy) produce an opposing set of principles, and have the two sets of principles locked in eternal conflict.

But here's a possibility: Rupert Sheldrake's "morphic resonance". The existence of forms predisposes other forms to follow in the same pattern. If you posit the equivalence of "morphic noise", then new creatures will be approximately like the parents, but not necessarily exactly. Small differences, such as color, might be common, but the greater the deviation from existing forms the lower the probability of it occurring.

Or try this: the language of the crystals limits the results of their creation, as a sort of magical proof of the Shapir-Whorf Hypothesis. And by language I don't mean a spoken (or even conceptualized) language, since the crystals are not sapient. It is common in literature to speak of "the language of rocks" or "the language of trees", so I'm more thinking of the patterns of behavior and underlying forces which cause the crystals to produce new creatures. This is, of course, pretty non-sensical from a materialistic viewpoint, but once you get into the realm of magic all that pettifoggery ceases to matter.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've accepted this one, since it's the closest to what I eventually decided to use, but all the answers were great and I think there's elements of most of them in the final state. Also, pettifoggery. That may have also tipped it. $\endgroup$ – kjelfalconer Jun 25 '15 at 8:11
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It seems obvious, at least to me: when the same thing (your crystal) performs the same action, the result will be the same.
Some minor variations in it's ambience result in minor variations of the same theme.
Thus, only a greater change in the environment leads to a different type of monsters. It might also be that not every monster created in this way can survive, much like only some combinations in for example mammalian genome result in a living organism, while others simply are not viable, which, in your case, would result in no monster being created (or, if you prefer: only a damp spot)

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 Looks as obvious to me too, I was wondering what was the point of this question actually… :O $\endgroup$ – o0'. Jun 24 '15 at 16:19
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Patterns, a specific pattern might work well and be used again by the same crystals, and as it reproduces, it's 'offspring' might keep some of the patterns, maybe altering them a little. So the same kinds of creatures would tend to pop up in the same places.

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If the crystals warp space as a means of reproduction, then the way they warp space is subject to evolutionary pressures. Assuming that offspring crystals may exhibit slight changes in their composition or behavior from their parents, then if a specific pattern of creation or procedure is more likely to allow offspring crystals to form, that pattern could end up favoured by the offspring.

You can take this further by having different "breeds" of crystals, each of which has its own "preferences" for the kinds of stuff it makes. Some players may be skilled in identifying these breeds, since predicting the behaviour of crystals seems like an important survival skill in this world.

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If this was a programming question i'd say "use a pseudorandom number generator". This is something which looks unstructured and random to the viewer but actually uses a fixed sequence of seeds to create the "randomness". Think of a world in Minecraft, which consists of millions of cubic kilometers of random-seeming terrain, all of which is totally reproducable from the world's seed value, which is just a short alphanumeric string.

This could be the key to reproduceability in your world: whatever is driving the crystals could be effectively using a list of "seeds", allowing the same creatures to recur. Perhaps the seeds are some natural feature of the higher-dimensional space which the crystals inhabit for example. Maybe there is some element of "evolution" in the choice of seeds used.

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Consider Conway's Game of Life starting on a random configuration. A number of static and dynamic patterns will result.

Likewise, if seething sea of quantum fluctuations at the planck level gave rise to random quarks, these would generally form into protons, electrons, etc.

In both cases there are random elements which still must adhere to a set of rules, and can exhibit complex phenomena (but not all imaginable phenomena).

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  • $\begingroup$ This. GoL is actually a very good visualization of what the OP wants, perhaps a couple of relevant GIFs would improve this answer? $\endgroup$ – mikołak Jun 25 '15 at 8:14
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Patterns repeat all the time in nature, e.g. the moon continues to maintain the same orbit around the Earth and we continually see the same cycle of New-moon - Crescent - Half-moon - Full-moon regularly, and also causes the tides to come in and out with the same period every time, even though there is no sentience involved.

There's no reason why, depending on the nature of the warping, the crystals don't keep passing each other at the same vectors every time (as they are each moving on their own repeating pattern which is dictated by something akin to an orbit or something), and therefore create the same shaped monsters.

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They have some random system that given some time will create a monster. If we assume that the system is truly random, it will start at a random state, its state will evolve randomly over time, and then at some random time it will pop out a monster. In such a system a high likelihood of the monsters being of specific type corresponds to the states corresponding to such type being more stable, so that the system spends more time in such states. Such states are called attractors. All it really means that if you are at or near such a state then random fluctuations towards that state are more likely than fluctuations away from the state. This arises naturally whenever the random fluctuations are bound by some relation to the current state of the system. This is almost always the case to some degree.

In your case we actually know this to be the case. A truly random system would be exceedingly unlikely to generate viable monsters, but we know the random fluctuations of the system often do generate monsters anyway. This implies the systems has strong attractors that correspond to viable monsters. This requires the system actually is the type to have attractors. While deliberate design could produce a system that uses attractors at one level but true randomness at another, this is extremely unlikely to happen naturally. Thus it is entirely natural to assume that some types of monsters are much more likely than others because the attractors corresponding to them are stronger.

Sorry for the unclear explanation, but the short version is that if we assume a natural system that creates viable monsters as a side effect then having some monster types be highly likely is actually the probable outcome.

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I think the simplest way to address this problem is to attribute each instance of warping to the interactions of a finite number of crystals. This way only finitely many types of warping can occur. If each type of warping creates a specific type of monster, then there must be repetition amongst the monsters created.

For example, suppose that the crystals are randomly distributed throughout space. Further suppose that warping will occur whenever between $n$ and $m$ crystals interact. This can create $m - n + 1$ different types of warping resulting in $m - n + 1$ different types of monster. Because this process is repeating and $m-n+1$ is finite, at least one type of monster must also be repeatedly created.

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