8
$\begingroup$

Imagine a group of people with an "invisibility" power that make them unnoticed and immediately forgotten by everyone. This power would be a mix of the witches spell in "His Dark Materials" and the powers of the Silence from Dr Who, not a true invisibility (like Susan Storm and the invisible man have). Otherwise they're normal humans.

This power is hereditary, and activates during puberty. Once activated it cannot be switched off or otherwise controlled. Invisible people can't ever go back to being normal and will remain "invisible" at all times for the rest of their lives.

However, other supernatural creatures can see them. They often hunt them for their skin and bones, and use these to make "invisibility" amulets and clothes that grant the wearer a bit of their power.

Invisible mothers often abandon their babies, so that they can have a normal childhood and be safe from the hunters. They grow up in foster families or orphanages and once their power activates, everyone they ever met forget about them and every paper and photograph proving their existence become blank.

I've thought about making the invisible people forge alliances with other creatures and have them raise their children. The problem is I don't see anything better than the invisibility amulets they could offer in exchange for protection.

The invisible people tend to move around a lot. They travel fast, since they can enter any ship or boat they want. Because of that, they may give birth in every country of the world.

They can see each other once their power activates, but they have difficulties to communicate using computers, letters or phones because any recording of their faces or voices glitches a lot and tend to fade away, and their writing disappears in a few minutes.

I'd like them to share common traditions and cultural traits, and form a social network together, but it's hard to build a common culture in this setting.


My questions are about the social and cultural impact of their power:

How can they have a common culture in these conditions? What kind of traditions would they develop?

Does the "drop the baby" strategy sounds coherent? How would they choose where to give birth?

In the mixed-race packs/families scenario: What could they offer to other supernatural creatures to be accepted as part of their group, without fear of being killed and skinned?

Is there any other cultural/social/psychological consequences of their power I forgot?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ English is my second language, feel free to correct my grammar. $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Aug 26 '15 at 8:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ can the invisible people see each other? $\endgroup$ – Medi1Saif Aug 26 '15 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ @MediSaif Yes, once their power activate. $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Aug 26 '15 at 9:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Invisible mothers often abandon their babies, so that they can have a normal childhood and be safe from the hunters. who is hunting them? I thought the hunted were the supernatural creature who could see them. And do the amulets actually work? $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Aug 26 '15 at 10:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And are those creatures sentient? $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Aug 26 '15 at 10:57
15
$\begingroup$

Money

As a community they are going to be rich, really really rich.

They can walk into any bank vault and walk out with the contents or any penthouse and walk out with the jewlery. They can be the perfect assassins and spies. Their services will be invaluable as long as they remain secret and forgotten. They could walk up to the president in a meeting and sprinkle poison in his coffee without having to change out of their bath robe in the morning because they were sleeping beside his bed and using the presidents bathroom that morning.

What could they offer other supernaturals? Mortal cash. Lots of it and anything which that can buy. They could also offer security. A vampire might like having a bodyguard who can walk up the Slayer and snap an explosive collar around her neck while being ignored or a spy who can sit in on the Vatican's super-secret anti-vampire "lets bless the water reservoirs and pacific ocean" summit.

Communication with mortals

They have difficulty communicating with normal people and using their money since their recordings and writing disappear. I see 2 options here. Recruit a superstitious human willing to believe that the writing that appears in front of them then fades is messages from god. Have him transcribe your instructions into writing that does not fade as it appears and mail it to the appropriate legal firms. Give him "gifts from god" etc to keep him in good condition and cooperative.

Actually you'll probably want a number of people like this but I suspect they wouldn't be hard to find.

Your invisible now have legal entities under their control. They can send written instructions to legal firms representing them who are paid in cash and gold.

Alternatively recruit some of the supernatural beings to act as their agents in exchange for mortal wealth and/or amulets etc from the elderly dead. Again the other beings can interact with the human world on their behalf and take dictation.

Factions

If there's a lot of them there's likely to be clans or factions of invisibles who will want to remain secret from each other as well.

Some are going to be richer than others, some might employ different strategies to defend themselves.

Some might defend themselves through obscurity, leading quiet lives while others are going to have their own teams of hired ex-marines hunting any vampires, witches or djinns that come sniffing too close.

Childcare

If you're richer than Bill gates with a load of puppet corporations under your command you're not going to leave your children to the foster system. They're going to have trust funds for their care as if they were orphaned children of billionaires and since you're invisible you can check in on them and make sure they're being cared for well. Even if their parents are not rich some of these kids are going to feel like they have some kind of guardian angel looking out for them because in reality mom saw the bully make them cry and made sure something awful happened to the bully.

Finding out you're not actually an orphan and that mom and dad were really close by the while time, that the occasional feeling like someone was hugging you when you were sad was actually real the whole time is going to be a very common shared experience among them.

Medical care

Giving birth might actually be a problem. If none of the staff on the maternity ward can see you they can't really help you. You could die halfway through childbirth while the medical staff ignore you. They're going to need their own staff of invisibles with medical training to give birth.

Actually that brings up another issue. They can learn anything that can be learned from a book but if they want or need any skill/craft that requires training from masters/craftsmen who can interact with them to teach then they're going to have to learn the skill at a young age. Expect bright 11 year olds to find themselves pushed into medical/nursing/ob-gyn training by order of distant guardians or the conditions of some trust fund so that when they finally turn invisible they're already trained enough that they can help the clan/family.

Care for their incapacitated or sick may also be a problem. If you're invisible crossing the street becomes far more dangerous and if you're hit people will keep walking past you ignoring your cries for help. If the clan has any structure for caring for their sick it's going to need to be staffed with their own kind. Secret hospital wards filled with invisible people and invisible staff. A mortal nurse/doctor would have trouble feeding and caring for patients they are incapable of perceiving and/or remembering exist.

They're going to need a significant shared culture simply because they're going to have to rely on each other for a lot of things.

Internal service economy

It doesn't stop at medical care. Any services that invisibles want that require interaction with another attentive human are going to require other invisibles to do it. Need a haircut? good luck with a mortal hairdresser. Want your nails done? the person doing it needs to be able to see your nails. Massage? Ditto. Therapist who can actually hear you and remember what you say? Need an invisible.

So even if a lot of them are spies or assassins others will make a good living providing "human" services internally.

Secrecy

They're likely to have traditions of enhancing their secrecy with fronts and double bluffs. It is after all their most effective defense.

If they have to worry about vampires.Some are going to have front individuals. It's easier to live inside a fortress with guards and anti-vampire defenses if everyone believes the crazy billionaire is a paranoid recluse (but visible mortal) loner rather than the family of 4 who actually live in his 20 room suite with him.

Anyone who does know about them who has need to defend against them will probably have pressure sensitive floor tiles etc to defend against a knife in the back. This includes the invisible's themselves if they have any competing clans or conflicts. Indeed some of the more powerful people in the world might try to recruit them as their own bodyguards. An invisible bodyguard who can see invisible assassins is useful.

Communication with each other

They're likely to have face-to-face meetings or summits or to communicate through any medium that doesn't fade. If Carved stone doesn't fade they can use that, if damage they do to living beings doesn't fade they can communicate through a writing system based on vegetables with scalpels stuck into them in patterns. It's very hard to have all forms of communication fade unless all their effects on the world also fade.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! Excellent answer full of good advice. I like the ideas of them having their own hospitals and using the remains of their own dead as rewards, this way they won't be hunted as much. I'll wait before accepting your answer in case someone brings a different perspective. $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Aug 26 '15 at 11:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I cant do better than this answer, but I can add. What about them hiring normal people as scribes? If they stand behind the scribe and dictate, surely the message can be written word by word before it fades from memory. The memory gap with the Silence only happened on sight. I dont know the "His Dark Materials" details, so I could be missing something big there. Rulers would want invisible assassins, and would give them dormitories guarded from the Hunters if possible. $\endgroup$ – DeveloperWeeks Aug 26 '15 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ I know this question is a year old, but if this works like the Silence ability, then there's nothing stopping a trigger-happy Secret Service agent from shooting the guy who suddenly popped in next to the president (as happened after spoiler spoiler Apollo spoiler). $\endgroup$ – chif-ii Dec 20 '16 at 18:50
3
$\begingroup$

How can they have a common culture in these conditions? What kind of traditions would they develop?

I suspect this would be a group of loners, or small group dynamics. I think it would be very unlikely to be one continuous culture across the globe.

Does the "drop the baby" strategy sounds coherent? How would they choose where to give birth?

Actually the 'drop the baby' at a nice home almost has to happen, how would an invisible mother raise an infant? a baby floating through the air as it is breast fed... On top of that you said people forget them, so how would the child remember their mother? A bigger issue is, how does the mother get pregnant? Do they only have sex with others of their own kind? or do they act as a succubus or ghostly intercourse with men in their sleep?

In the mixed-race packs/families scenario: What could they offer to other supernatural creatures to be accepted as part of their group, without fear of being killed and skinned?

Invisible people have the ability to be the best intelligence officers in the world. they can collect information, and as we all know information is power. This would allow them to be very powerful indeed.

Is there any other cultural/social/psychological consequences of their power I forgot?

I think it would be easy to fall into either a need for power being fairly powerless when people forget you and not have an 'identity' or trying to force yourself on others consciousness by turning into a 'poltergeist'. Moving stuff around, pinching people, making noises etc.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for foocubi, makes an excellent tie-in with existing mythology. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Aug 26 '15 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ The image of a floating baby suckling the air is interesting, but these people aren't really invisible, just unnoticeable / unremarkable / unseeable / unmemorable. I still don't know how to name this power, and used "invisibility" by default. I like the succubus connection. $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Aug 26 '15 at 14:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @SpaceLizard The ultimate in wallflower power... $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 26 '15 at 14:09
2
$\begingroup$

I would expect that such a race would wipe out humanity in very little time long before they had a chance to realize how useful the slave labor force could be. They would have instant access to free food, which would then deprive the humans of food. Over time, the humans would tend to starve and die out. Likewise for water sources or any other consumable.

Presumably this would extend to any other animal. After the humans are extinct, they'd have to hunt for food themselves, but that's easy since nothing bothers to run away. Because nothing ever fights back, they would quickly dominate the planet, reproduce like crazy, and eat the entire world's food supply before going extinct themselves now that there's no food to support a population that size.

If the mutations leading to their memory power didn't occur until long after society started forming, they would be more likely to control their power. Still, people are notoriously bad at using their brains when life seems good. The early ones would have done major damage to their ecosystem thinking they're invincible, then there would have likely been a giant, unseen war while the smart ones reined in the party types.

Since then, they would have to develop a pretty strict code of conduct to keep the humans (or at least some food/water supply) alive, much like the Masquerade. They would likely keep their population size low to make out-of-control members from doing any major damage.

Another thought to consider: In any real world, people would have to notice these guys because of their effects on the planet if they had any major population size. It would be hard to quantify them, but we would end up doing tighter and tighter experiments on them, and eventually would discover the secret.

Now, you're adding other non-human, "supernatural" beings, who I presume have tons of other weird powers and so forth. In this case, it could very well end up being the other supernaturals who keep the invisibles in check. Vampires certainly wouldn't be happy if the invisibles killed off their food supply.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Good point. I'll work on the population control mechanisms, either by increasing the incentive to kill them (why use them as spies when you can make clothes from their skin and be invisible yourself?) or by having only a small number of their children inheriting the power/curse (which is more stable but more boring as well). Thanks for your answer! $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Aug 27 '15 at 6:31
1
$\begingroup$

I could imagine that at least one common tradition would be celebrating the day their power activate by exchanging stories of how they found out or how it happens to each!

An other tradition could be exchanging stories of how they could escape from a hunter and the commemoration of friends who have been catched/killed maybe even a kind of feast day!

But these traditions would mean they have some kind of community and possibilities to communicate.

The story of drop the baby is plausible, but how could they choose where to leave them? Do they know or do they have the ability to know who is a hunter or not?

As a consequence maybe they would have a kind of secret life as if they have a partner who has not the power to become invisible this would end up with many Problems as they might ask them where they have been etc. I guess such relationships won't be easy.

What could they offer? Hm i guess they could be good spy's and messengers for delicate information and stuff

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ The hunters can be any kind of supernatural creatures: vampires, witches, djinns, anything. The invisible people don't have any special powers outside of their invisibility, so they can only tell creatures apart from humans because of how some of them look, and because the creatures can notice them. That's one of the reasons I asked where they would prefer to abandon their babies. Would they rather leave them in an isolated place (low risk of meeting supernatural strangers), or in a crowded orphanage (lost among dozens of other kids), or other more secure locations? $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Aug 26 '15 at 9:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.