Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Microstory 1423: The First Mage Games

Later Mage Selection Games would come with better organization, and a better understanding of how to measure a competitor’s potential to become a great town mage. That didn’t mean, however, that the first one went terribly. Well, at least it could have been worse. There were some bumps, and some mistakes they wish they could take back, but in the end, it got the job done, and all the winners went on to prove to be good choices. The source mages were careful to plan it out, so things wouldn’t just fall apart. They spent a great deal of time working on coming up with appropriate challenges, because they were going to have less help with it than they did for other aspects of the new government. While the Mage Protectorate was definitely going to be a democracy, that didn’t mean everyone had to be able to express their opinion about everything. They chose not to ask the people how they wanted to handle this competition. They didn’t even consult their experts all that much. If they alone couldn’t figure out what made someone worthy of being a mage, then they were not worthy of being mages either. Besides, letting a regular person design a challenge could put the entire process in danger. If the fastest runner on the high school cross country team, for instance, suggested every town mage had to be able to run a mile in five minutes, well, that person was obviously just setting themselves up to win. The source mages were the only ones entirely ineligible to compete, so they were the only ones capable of engineering it.

The contest would last the whole day, and be composed of a series of challenges, each testing various aspects of character. They didn’t come up with a list of character traits, though, and try to match each challenge with one trait. A given challenge could allow a competitor to exhibit multiple traits, and in different ways from each other. Some of them were physical in nature, while others were academic, and some were psychological or emotional. The scoring system proved to be, by far, the most difficult component to specify. Was athleticism more important than intelligence? Maybe, maybe not. They needed experience to understand which influenced time power aptitude the most, or if neither of them mattered. They didn’t have very many examples to go on, and they didn’t want a bunch of test subjects running around with powers, who had never gone through the competition. So, without this data, their best guess seemed to be their only option. They kind of had to surrender to the fact that the second time they tried this, in twenty years, was going to be better than the first. The town had to understand this as well, that nothing was going to be perfect. Even ignoring these issues, they didn’t know if they ought to only award points to the winner, or winners, or if losers simply received fewer points. The answer was obvious to most of the mages; just because a competitor wasn’t the best, didn’t mean they weren’t good at all. Few should be so bad at something that they received zero points for their effort. Still, how many points was a challenge worth, and how would they determine the increments of scale, and how they would rate a competitor’s performance with very little in the way of comparison? Standards. How would they set a standard, and how exactly would they know when someone reached, or surpassed it, and if someone surpassed it too greatly, did that just mean they needed to reexamine the standard? All of these questions took months to answer, and even then, as previously mentioned, the system proved to be less than ideal, and more importantly, not entirely fair. So the first Mage Games actually took place over the course of two days, which were separated by a month of repreperation time. They should have known that the best way to see how well the competition would go was to do a dry-run ahead of time. Even though history would remember the Mage Protectorate as having held four games total before it fell, there were technically five, but most agreed that the first one didn’t count.

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