Carnymancy is the magic of putting on a show to manipulate belief.
It is a form of magic that allows one to fight Fate and succeed, or - in the words of Parson validated by Jeftichew - "the magic of rigging the game."LIAB 63 Carnymancy does not seem to directly affect unit specials or other stats. Instead it affects the actual rules upon which Erfworld operates.
According to Hippiemancer Janis, the "rules" of Erfworld are actually influenced by what a unit believes. For example, units can be croaked by arrows because deep down, they believe they can. Janis believes Carnymancy is essentially the Foolamancy of belief, changing the context of a unit's information, and by magically influencing a unit's sense of reality, a Carnymancer can make reality work a little bit differently for them.Erf-b3-p86
In what is referred to as the "Curse of the Carnymancers", Carnymancers have a strong awareness of their own biases and cannot avoid hard reality by deluding themselves.
Carnymancers will often emulate the mannerisms of those who surround them to build up rapport.Hvs.tCF 210 For example, Dove Barstool behaves and talks differently around her fellow Carnymancers than she does when among Homekey units. Likewise, Charlie will typically use professional business language, but is also known to use carnival cant with his fellow Carnymancers, rainbows around Trammenis, and a gangster persona when speaking with Don King.
Perhaps even more so than Croakamancy, Carnymancy is one of the most widely hated disciplines and is almost always considered bad news. They hold a bad reputation as con artists with an us versus them attitude and their magic is little understood and feared. Even with their bad reputation, carnies are master manipulators and are experts at using another unit's biases against them. Capital sides almost never hire barbarian carnies for their magic, forcing them to hustle or sell entertainment.
Carnymancers describe Fate as the ultimate Carnymancer. It has "intentions" for certain units and will load the dice with Luckamancy and potentially even fudge the "rules" in order to enforce predictions.
- Belief Sense
- Can detect what another unit believes by touching them.Erf-b3-p86
- Rule Breaking
- The most common Carnymancy spells "break one rule, for one turn, for one unit." The stronger the Carnymancer, the more rules can be broken, like: Making a unit unable to be hit by any ranged attacks; allowing a scroll to be used by a non-caster; Keeping an incapacitated unit alive when it would normally croak (breaking the rule that incapacitated units croak at the end of the turn). This is known to have unnatural side effects, and it can only delay a fated death.
- This can also allow other disciplines to work outside their normal limits. For example, there are certain types of Dirtamancy traps that can take advantage of terrain features, but said terrain must be inside the same hex as the trap. By enchanting the Dirtamancer, a Carnymancer can temporarily extend their abilities, allowing them to break that rule and make a trap that can draw from terrain in a nearby hex instead.
- Telling Fortunes
- Carnymancers can tell fortunes, using Tarot cards to gain a perception of what Fate has planned.
- Rigging Prophecy
- It can adjust, swap, and subvert elements of a prophecy, effectively changing Fate's "desires" for a given unit. Can also "rig" things to limit Fate's ability to influence outcomes.
- Cheating Fate
- Able to loophole, or stall, Predictions and Fate. This does not always require actual spells, but Carnymancers are the best at it because of their mindset. For example, if a city is Fated to come under massive air attack, and no particular side has been weighted into being the perpetrator just yet, Fate could be satisfied by simply having the owning side attack itself.
- Cooking Books
- Cooking books well enough to fool an allied side's Moneymancer. When Dove was hired by Homekey, her first task was to hide mercenary expenses from their parent side Delkey during an audit.
- Rules Lawyer
- Can be used to trick contracts by manipulating how a unit perceives their intent when taking an action that would normally violate it. For example, it can make a unit perceive something they build as not being a trap, and therefore not counting as a trap attack violation for the purposes of a contract.
- Beneath Notice
- Can be used to magnify everyone's desire to ignore and avoid the Carnymancer, effectively making them "invisible".
- Abner Washboard a barbarian Carnymancer that is part of the group of Carnymancers that oppose Parson's passage through the Spacerock portal. Resides in the Magic Kingdom.
- Bugs Lifer a barbarian Carnymancer that resides in the Magic Kingdom.
- Charlie, the ruler of Charlescomm
- Lady Dove Barstool, a barbarian mercenary and another member of Jojo's gang in the MK. Met DigDoug and was hired by Posbrake.
- Jefferson Carver a barbarian Carnymancer that resides in the Magic Kingdom.
- Jeftichew, aka Jojo, formerly in service to Unaroyal, now residing in the Magic Kingdom. LIAB Prologue 22
- Monica Sobriquet a barbarian Carnymancer that resides in the Magic Kingdom.
- Sean Mattox, a Carnymancer that is part of the group of Carnymancers that oppose Parson's passage through the Spacerock portal. Apparently resides in the Magic Kingdom.
Real World References
Carny is slang for a carnival employee. They have long held a bad reputation as con artists.
Carnymancy appears to operate on world view.
- May reduce enemy abilities or make them irrelevant, similar to how carnival games are 'fixed' to be disproportionately difficult.
- May involve taming of wild units, which would correspond to the Arkenhammer, like in a circus carnival. This may also have something to do with Charlie's affinity for natural allies.
- May involve mesmerizing the enemy with flashy production values, if Carnymancy was the extra element in the Vanna "Wheel of Fortune" linked Turnamancy spell. Since carnivals involve fooling the "townies", are there links to Foolamancy?
- Carnymancy might serve to alter the 'rules' (or morals) which a unit 'plays' by. To keep this distinct from Hippiemancy (which alters a target's perception and might 'suggest' a course of action a unit would already be open to under a given circumstance), Carnymancy might instead influence that unit, to change what they consider to be an acceptable course of action in a given situation. As it is a form of Stagemancy, along this line of thinking it would also not be unreasonable for Carnymancy to be used to 'teach' a unit a new 'trick' (e.g., 'teach' them a new Special such as Archery).
- As indicated by the Predictamancer Marie Lavraie, like a carnival carny it may be that carnymancers take non-carnies as stooges or suckers to be played. It is possible that carnymancers lie to these suckers as required to manipulate or alter Fate. After all, who but a master cheat would claim to be able to cheat Fate itself?
- Charlie's Archons are fanatically Loyal to him to a degree seen in no other side. Even the decrypted Archons find it hard to think badly of him. Also notable is the fact that Charlie can pop them faster than any other side. It is possible that Carnymancy can influence the natural Fate magic responsible for designing units in production according to the Carnymancer's desires. However, this may simply be a loyalty bonus from the Arkendish.
- Can be used to manipulate Fate so as to railroad Erfworld into going down a specific path like a cheating game master. The Titans are the most prominent users of this ability, but Carnymancers frequently try to impose their own will on Fate as well. This allows Carnymancers to cheat Fate, in a struggle to railroad against the Titans themselves. For example, when Parson tried to determine the odds of casting a Carnymancy scroll, the Titans' Carnymancy made his Mathamancy Bracer say zero, but Charlie's Carnymancy allowed it to show the "true odds" for a fraction of a second. When Parson attempted to use the scroll, an event conspired to prevent him from casting it.
- It is worth noting that from what we see, most Carnymancy involves making the Fate technically come true, but in a very different way; Jojo averts Lady Sylvia's fate of croaking in a fire, but she still croaks in fires (twice), just much later in life, and at the Battles for Goblin Knob and Spacerock instead of wherever she was first caught in a fire.
- Being in the Fate axis, could involve the alteration of cause and effect, totally redefining the show.
- May be able to emulate the abilities of other magic schools (more than normal, since many schools of magic can emulate other schools). This would explain why the Arkenhammer has so many different and wild abilities.
- Because it breaks game rules, Carnymancy might be capable of such feats as modifying archery attacks so that they could hit targets across hexes off-turn instead of hanging in midair, or preventing a specific unit from being injured or incapacitated by falls, and so on.
- It may provide a means to dispel or cancel other magic, as Jojo claims that he has a spell that can send Parson (who was summoned by magic) back to Stupidworld.
- Alternately, its effects might operate further outside the rules, as Sylvia suspects that, when they both served Unaroyal, Jojo might have made a deal that would prevent her from ever being permanently croaked.
- It has been said that Love cannot be directly influenced by any spells, aside from a handful of minor effects from Hippiemancy (which can prevent violence or cause intoxication, but cannot create true love). Wanda and Jack speculate that even the Titans cannot control it, and Love is said to mess up the dice. It may be that Love forms a bridge between natural Thinkamancy and Carnymancy.
- Carnymancers might be able to change a unit's fate entirely, or transfer one unit's fate to another. It appears that the Carnymancer makes a 'deal' with Fate, at least when the Carnymancer is trying to cheat a unit's Fate. The exact nature of this bargain is unclear. It is also possible that the unit affected by the deal may then owe a debt to Fate (or whomever), which may have to be paid back in some fashion.
- The effects of Carnymancy must somehow be distinct from the effects of Luckamancy, as they each occupy a separate magical axis, and Luckamancy so far seems less permanent than Carnymancy (one 'borrows' to produce its effects, the other makes a 'deal'; one operates within the 'rules', the other changes them). However, they both may involve some form of cosmic 'debt' that will be paid back in some fashion. Luckamancy pays back good luck (numbers) with an opposing force of bad luck for the unit's side or good luck for the enemy. Carnymancy pays back good Karma (fate) by rigging the rules in one unit's favor while rigging the rules to another unit's detriment (possibly trading one units fate for that of another).
- Based on Jojo's statement in LIAB 90, that the Carnymancers should work their specialties, "stir up trouble" and "Get 'em in a real lather," Carnymancers can likely cause both negative emotions and conflict between two or more units.
- This is also fitting with Charlie's work style. As a ruler and Carnymancer, his Rules encourage his units to cause problems so that he can be hired to solve them.
- Similarly, Carnymancers may also be related to modern day con artists for their tendency to trick 'marks' into participating in their scams.
- Alternatively, Carnymancers may adhere to a 'trickster' archetype, where their actions are not exclusively meant to harm or inconvenience an individual, but may also help or instruct. At times, however, the two might be difficult to tell apart.
- In Digdoug Episode 13 Dove helps Digdoug make a lightning trap on Homekey's tower, something that normally requires a storm in the same hex. What exactly happened is not enumerated, but we can surmise that Carnymancy can partially extend across hex boundaries.