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The human body contains mana, the life force that can be used for use as a source for magic. The individual's capacity for mana slowly grows with time as the person ages into adulthood, finally reaching its limits during middle age, and then steadily declines. This serves as the basis for magecraft, the study of combining magic with science to advance both fields. A mage can substitute the mana of others for a magical source with no cost to themselves, transferring all the risk to the victim and leaving their own mana intact for use in less risky endeavors. Within each male sperm cell is a microscopic organism known as animalcule, a complete preformed individual representing miniature versions of human beings. These preformed humans develop and enlarge into fully formed human beings through the process of conception and birth. Magecraft allows individuals to bypass this long and convoluted process to create life in order to create a perfect servant loyal to its creator, known as a homunculus. These homunculi are grown within a specially built cauldron designed to hold magic brews. This brew is filled with various ingredients, such as eye of newt, as well as other lay ingredients, such as cow intestines, followed by magical words of power known as incantations. The most important is the sperm of the male containing the animalcule, which are produced by the millions within semen at one time. These various miniatures combine within the brew to create one single being. The resulting "child" emerges from this concoction as a fully grown adult, bound to obey its master's commands.

These homunculi must be continuously powered by a magical power source taking the form of a philosopher's stone, an item created from the soul of a human being. This gives the creature life and the ability to perform its tasks. Although they are intelligent, homunculi lack free will and individuality, making them the perfect servant to obey their master's commands. The one drawback of this creation process is that the resulting ritual damages the reproductive capabilities of the wizard, preventing him from having any future children or creating more homunculi. However, recent technological advances have allowed one to bypass this inconvenience. Cryomancy is a form of magecraft involving the study of creating low temperatures as well as their effects. This allows for the deep freezing and preservation of materials so they can be used in the far future. Sperm freezing is a revolutionary reproductive technology that provides a way for individuals to cryogenically preserve and store their seed within sperm banks, giving prospective parents various options. Technology has improved to the point where these banks can be small, compact, and consumer friendly, doing away with the large buildings and storage facilities of the past.

This can also be used to overcome the limiting capacity of homunculi. A wizard can simply store animalcules within these compact chambers and preserve them with a spell to be thawed out at a later date to create more creatures. This would allow for individuals to build their own private armies of homunculi within their own personally owned facilities whenever they so choose. As it is the most convenient option, many wizards would do this of their own accord in secret to go to war against others, creating a world where mages do battle with each other through their powerful servants.

How can mages be prevented from building their own armies of homunculi?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you looking for a hard scientifical-physical-natural based limit, or a soft moral-law-religious-philosophic based limit? $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2022 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ How powerful are your mages ? Do they have other options of waging war besides homonculi ? Which humans are source of souls for creating homunculi and can they effectively revolt against mages taking their souls ? $\endgroup$
    – 4dam
    Apr 3, 2022 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ This version of preformationism has a significant problem with infinite regression. If each sperm contains a complete miniature human, does that human contain a large number of even-more-miniature humans? Do they each contain many more tinier humans, and so on? This model only works if there have been a limited (and small) number of generations of humanity, and there will not be many more. You probably ought to consider the implications of that before solving the mage-army problem. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2022 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ The stuff about semen and cryonics is confusing and distracts from the question. There is no need to mention a problem if you already have the solution. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 3, 2022 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ I presume the way it works is performing the ritual once makes it impossible for you to produce live sperms. So you have to save up a freezer full of jissum before you do the first ritual. And that's all you will get for the rest of your life. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 3, 2022 at 17:36

5 Answers 5

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The Usual Way

Suppose the Lord-Around-These-Parts notices one of his Knights ordering weapons and armor in bulk. He has paid the local peasants to come to his property and do six hours of drills and formation marching every day. He marches his soldiers in columns across the countryside, waving flags of his own design.

This is heresy. The lord musters his army and uses it to crush the rebellion. The knight is executed, along with one in every twenty peasants. The Lord's baby cousin acquires the Knight's lands.

Building a private army is a huge logistical undertaking. You cannot do it in secret. The local power will notice. The local power is bigger than you. They come over and knock you down. The end.

The story for wizards is the same. They build their army a different way. But this way is even harder, more expensive, and harder to keep secret than the what the Knight did.

Like the Knight, the Wizard needs huge volumes of weapons and armor for his troops. They also need horses and wagons, and tack for the horses, and food and water, and barrels for the food and water, and blahdy blahdy blah.

IN ADDITION! the wizard needs three long hundred iron cauldrons, six hundredweight of boric salt, two bushels of butterfly testicle powder, fourteen tempered copper tubes, five score twain barrels of newt eyes, and blahdy blahdy blah.

Every armorer, every metalworker, every apothecary in the country, will know something is up. The King gets word. He sends his army over. Splat.

That's not how you do it.

The Wizard does not create an army for open warfare. He creates a small force of a dozen homunculi. He gathers the materials over several years to avoid detection. They act as a team of assassins and saboteurs. They can be teleported into place. Their appearances change for every mission. They can replace anyone and strike at any time. They are perfectly loyal. They will never betray their master from any form of torture.

Each Homunculus contains a Scroll of Arcane Immolation inside its chest. They can self-destruct to prevent another wizard tracing them.

The king's personal guard already contains seven different homunculi from five different wizards. He doesn't suspect a thing.

Extra: Wizards build their towers in remote places like Cliffs and Swamps and the Isle of Man. So perhaps it is easier to formation march your troops without anyone else seeing.

HOWEVER! It will be extra obvious where the huge supply train is going. No one ever goes into the Bog of Inequity. They are afraid of the wizard. So when even a single loaded wagon is seen heading along the Swamp Road, they know for sure the wagon is carrying something for the wizard.

Extra Extra: This assumes the Wizard must acquire all their supplies by mundane means. This is a reasonable assumption. If the wizard is powerful enough to teleport or conjure everything they need, then chances are they are powerful enough to not need a private army at all.

You don't need a private army when you can cast Heightened Empowered Big Space Rock on the King's fortress any day of the week.

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Free will is an emergent property.

/Although they are intelligent, homunculi lack free will and individuality, making them the perfect servant to obey their master's commands/

That is always true for an individual. Also true for 2 or 3 or 5 individuals.

At 10 indviduals sometimes some unusual things happen. There will be some actions by the homunculi that were not commanded. They might make something, or show up somewhere. The homunculi themselves will struggle to explain why they did what they did. What they all did.

As you add more individuals, behaviors of this sort become more likely. The homunculi, if pressed, will try to explain the purpose these actions were supposed to serve. They will try to reconcile their autonomous actions with those commanded by the master.

When there are a lot of homunculi, there will definitely be weird stuff going down. Your army will carry out your commands and then decamp in masse to another site. They might divert a river. They might destroy a city and then build a new one. It is not random but it is inscrutable. In the service of these strange objectives, the homunculi show flawless organization with one another. They participate in a mass mind. The mass mind which they have become a part of is not just them. It is something far larger and older.

Rumor has it that a wizard in ancient times figured out a different end run around the homunculous problem and did raise a homunculous army. That army left. It still exists, out in some wild lands. It is not clear what they are doing out there.

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  • $\begingroup$ They don't fully understand why the humungulous ritual works the way it does. The secret reason is the ritual regathers parts of the Big Thing that all the humungouses are part of. One day the ritual stops working because they ran out of parts. Everyone is confused. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 5, 2022 at 15:07
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Creating army this way is just not worth it

First

Creating army is a huge undertaking, weapons, armor, provisions etc. (not to mention ingredients for rituals) It's very hard to conceal. So if any neighboring powers would find out about wizard creating an army, and they eventually will, they'll most probably crush him preemptively, before he builds up his numbers. Also not to mention, people from around the wizard's domain would most probably want him dead for taking their souls (but this is just a theory, because you didn't specify how the soul extraction process works)

Second

According to your process of creating homunculi i deduce that wizard has to use his own sperm to create them, which means he can only create finite number of homonculi, after he completes ritual for the first time he can only use what is stored. So if multiple wizards want to be safe, it would just turn into a contest who can ejaculate into cold jar for longest amount of time, without creating an army, because numerical advantage is king.

Closing thoughts

If wizard wants to project his influence he should use relatively small number of homonculi backed up by subterfuge, assassinations, political meddling, bribes and his own magical firepower. Creating giant army of homonculi consumes way too much time and resources.

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Laws and taboos. Given the consequences in prior centuries for trying to make a Humanculus, It wouldn't surprise me if some form of taboo developed around the process this taboo can be further strengthened laws with severe penalties for any who dare violate the taboo.

Rumors and conspiracy theories. Spread this information, Making humongous cost you your soul, Making a himanculous makes you impudent, Lowers your intelligence and gives you bad luck for 7 years. Print newspapers warning Of the Dangers of Humanculus making.

Open charities for those suffering from the Tragic side effects of humanculus making. The end just let people's fear and paranoia take them from there.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe it is spelled "Who-among us" $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 5, 2022 at 15:03
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Wizards can make trouble in so many different ways. You need a general system for keeping wizards controlled, not just stop them from making homunculi.

Nobles spread rumors that wizards are dangerous. All peasants are convinced that if wizards get out of control, they will start sacrificing babies to their dark masters.

If Wizards try to set themselves up as nobles, peasants in the area would either flee or rebel. And the neighboring nobles would ally to eradicate this threat to the "natural order".

For a wizard to be able to work in peace, they need the protection of a noble. That same noble will keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't step out of line.

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