SpotThe page that indexes all your questions about Beings, with the answers (and/or creative evasions).

Q. How long have the Beings been in existence?

A. Between 5,000 and 1,984 years.

Q. Do Beings have technological or scientific knowledge different from us? Or do they learn what we’ve learned?

A. They learn what we’ve learned — and then lose anything specialized when they’re passed to a new Master. Most Beings are pretty technologically inept, frankly.

Q. Are Beings considered animals under the law or something else? Even in human form?

A. It varies by region. In the US they’re treated as something between a child and a piece of property. For a fun evening, get a group of half a dozen freshman law students together, wait a few drinks, and ask how rational they think that is.

PoeQ. Would falling in love with a Being under your control be taboo? Is it against the law (per bestiality)? Can a Master prostitute their Being?

A. Again, the law varies by region, and the morality depends on who you ask.

Q. Does Rick Santorum lead rallies against Human-Being marriage, saying “I told you so!” and referencing the gay marriage issue?

A. Alas, Mr. Santorum has bigger fish to fry.

Q. Patrick has indicated that the First Law of Robotics (can’t hurt humans directly or allow them to come to harm) applies to Beings. It is the whole thing or just the first half?

A. Just the first half. Whether they allow any human other than their master to come to harm is up to their individual discretion.

PatrickQ. Since Beings can blow up buildings and damage property, can they (knowingly or unknowingly) hurt a human through environmental damage even if they can’t hit a person straight on?

A. In some cases, yes.

Q. Does the military use Beings, and if so, in what capacity?

A. Some have tried. They make good couriers (like the one owned by George Washington) and good medical assistants (like the one that helped Florence Nightingale). A lot of other positions backfire, because of how they can’t harm anyone directly or knowingly, can’t read or write, and often have a really limited ability to improvise.

Q. What religion do Beings hold? The same as humans or something different?

A. They’ll follow the motions of whatever their Masters consider important, but the only thing they really worship is their Masters.

Q. Is every Being a different species of animal, like the Aces of Pandect? Or can there be two or more Beings that use the same animal form?

A. They’re all different. Well, mostly. For some reason, at this point there are two Cows.

ResedaQ. How many Beings are there at any one time on average? Has the number of Beings increased over the millennia or has it remained constant?

A. It’s increased, but the nature of Beings’ lives and memories means that nobody has an exact count.

Q. Do Beings grow old and die of natural causes? If so, what is their expected life span? Or are they more like elves? Can Beings die from traumatic injury or will they heal from anything like Jack Harkness?

A. They don’t die naturally, but there’s a short list of things that can destroy them. If you drop a nuclear bomb on one, for example, it won’t be able to come back.

Of course, in-universe it’s hard to tell the difference between “totally obliterated” and “so damaged that it’ll take the next 100 years to heal before it’s recognizable again.”

Q. Do you get a Holy Grail if you win the game the Beings play?

A. No, you get a Holy Grail by learning enough woodcarving to make one. (Collecting talismans from people’s pure hearts in order to summon it is also an option.)

CybeleQ. Are there any notable historical figures who had their own Beings?

A. Yes.

Q. Are Paris Hilton’s dogs Beings? Is Jim Carrey a Being???

A. Who knows? Although I have my suspicions about the Queen Mum’s corgis.

Q. What supernatural tales were inspired by the existence of Beings? Walking on water? Moving mountains?

A. Several popular anime.

Q. Can Beings turn into anything or do they have a set thing? Or is it like, they have a set thing that’s simple to turn into but they can learn more its just really difficult?

A. Each Being has a basic animal form, and can turn into variations on that form. For instance, Cybele’s appearance as a giant pink rabbit is a variation on her basic appearance as a normal-sized (but still pink) rabbit.

Q. What is a Being’s real form?

A. Any form they take is, for that moment, as “real” as they get.

Kara LynnQ. Does the gender mean something for Beings? Are they male, female, or something else? Do Beings care what pronouns are used to address them? I’m also curious what pronouns they use amongst themselves.

A. Gender means nothing to them, except to the extent that they’ll perform it to fit their Master’s preferences. Sex can also be changed whenever their Master orders it. Having lived through plenty of languages with a variety of pronoun systems, Beings will pretty much go with whatever the people around them use.

Q. If Patrick thinks Sparrow smells nice, how does he think Bianca smells?

Before the Contract: human. After the Contract: The most wonderful thing in the world.

Q. Does having a master make a Being stronger or weaker in terms of special abilities? Intellect? Personality?

A. It depends on the Master.

Q. Evangelion’s Angels ate from the Tree of Life, thus going on different evolutionary pathways than humans despite a common ancestor. Mushi are the first stage of life that emerge from the River of Light, predating even bacteria. How do Beings fit into the overall ecological structure of the planet? Are they part of the normal organism kingdom system we use? Or, like the Angels and Mushi, do they represent something that exists outside our understanding of how life emerges and evolves?

A. Well, now, that would be telling.

Q. Can Beings and humans interbreed? Can Beings breed with animals?

A. No, and also, no.

ResedaQ. Do scientists experiment on Beings?

A. Yes, although there’s not a lot of money in it. Most of the research in the US is funded by Cohen and Walker out of their own personal interests. Some things that get studied:

Attempts to document patterns in Being behavior. These haven’t made much progress, as every Being is different, and habits tend to change radically when they switch Masters.

Measurements of height, weight, mass, strength, and other qualities while they change shape. They have upper limits on size, but how they change mass in the first place is unknown.

Genetic testing. No matter what shape they’re in when the sample is taken, Beings’ DNA tests as “related to, but not quite, human.”

Q. Are Beings categorized as weapons or as biological materials? Do governments regulate Beings like alcohol or drugs?

A. Depends on what government you ask. For a lot of purposes they’re simply treated as pets.

Q. Can Beings be bought and sold legally, or is there a black market?

A. Selling them is legal, but not common. Since a Being’s Contract normally stays in place until its Master dies, any buyer has to trust that the seller’s heirs will honor the sale, and any seller has to trust that the buyer won’t murder them to speed the process up.

CybeleQ. Can human weapons kill a being? (And by human, I mean anything from a .22 pistol to a cruise missile.) What kind of Nazi insanity did it take to find out you could actually finish a being for good?

A. Yes, they can be killed, and it’s funny you should put it that way, because the people who figured this out were literally the Nazis.

Q. Can a Being kill animals?

A. If their master ordered them to. Any consequences would then be treated as the master’s responsibility.

Q. Are there conspiracies about or involving Beings?

A. Plenty!

Q. Do they speak a secret language, that only other Beings understand?

A. Kind of. There’s a lot they’ve forgotten. And a few humans who are picking it up.

Q. If Sparrow and Bianca wanted to travel overseas with Patrick in tow, would there be any regulatory complications beyond the normal “bringing a pet along” variety?

A. Only if they let it slip that he’s not a pet. Some airlines will insist that Beings pay full ticket price, even if they have a small animal form and stay in that for the entire flight. They claim it’s about dignity and respect, but let’s be real here.

Q. Are there devices that can tell the difference between a Being and a normal animal/human?

A. For a human, give them a pen and paper and ask them to write something. A Being won’t be able to. For an animal, there’s not much you can do except wait to catch them talking. Or hurt them and see if they regenerate.

PatrickQ. What happens if a person eats all of or part of a Being’s animal form? What if it’s their Master? What happens when one Being eats another? Do they gain powers? Get a stomach ache?

A. Any human who tried to eat one would probably spit it right back out. Beings don’t taste very good, and the cut-off parts would basically turn to dirt in your stomach. The’re sensible enough not to eat each other.

Q. What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen Being?

A. Twelve to fifteen miles per hour.

Q. What is a being’s chemical make-up? Is it made of energy? Do any earthly materials harm them, like how silver harms werewolves?

A. One part potassium, one part sodium, six parts iron, ten parts oxygen, two parts hydrogen…more or less. It varies by Being. Although none of them have any chemical Kryptonite.

Q. What is the purpose of the game? Where was it first played? Why the emphasis on intensely public battles using such powerful creatures?

A. That last one is kind of like asking “why the emphasis on the Frisbee?” in a game of Frisbee. For as long as they’ve existed, Beings have been fighting each other. At some point somebody started calling it the Game, and the name stuck, to be passed down through the ages.

Q. Do dog-like Beings dislike cat-like Beings? Do cat-like Beings eat mouse-like Beings?

A. Well, there’s definitely some animal instinct in the way Patrick and Reseda challenge each other all the time.

CybeleQ. Can Beings have personal feelings and opinions, or have them the same than their master?

A. Their main desire is to please their Master, no matter how the Master feels about it. They’ll also develop opinions based on their own experiences, so you get things like “I think Master would like this person if they ever met.” But they tend not to like things their Master truly hates.

Q. We know there are ~100 Beings. If one dies, does a new one come into existence to take the place of the dead one?

A. No. If you kill one, you’re out of luck.

Q. What’s the general distribution of Beings across the continents? Are there some regions with more of them than others?

A. There were none in Australia or the Americas until European settlers started bringing them. Because of their ties to human Masters, they tend to end up in areas of high population density.

Q. Do most people think Beings can harm humans?

A. Although their specific limits aren’t widely known, most people think of Beings as nothing to be afraid of.

ResedaQ. Will we get to meet Patrick’s former master?

A. I wouldn’t leave him out for the world.

Q. Can Beings be hurt by cold or heat? For example, if you were to put a Being in human form naked on the ice fields of Antarctica, would they freeze to death or shrug it off?

A. Shrug it off!

Q. Do Beings have a nervous system as we would understand it? A way to transmit thoughts through their body and into their limbs? If not, do we know how they gather sensory input? Do Beings have internal organs by default?

A. Beings appear to have the normal nerves and internal organs for whatever animal (including human) they are at the time. However, they don’t appear to be affected by damage that would disable a normal animal’s senses.

Q. If you ordered your Being to accompany your kids on their year abroad as bodyguard and tour guide, would it be painful/dangerous for hir? Being away from Master, I mean.

A. If they were out of contact for extended periods of time, the Being would start to feel some emotional distress. How much depends on the temperament of the Being, and what kind of relationship they and their Master have.

Q. How is art influenced by beings? Are they a theme in art at all? Is there a significant amount of literature featuring beings? What about TV shows, comics, movies and so on?

A. They’re not a world-changing theme, but of course Beings have appeared in or inspired various pieces of art over the years. A couple of anime. Some medieval iconography. A handful of silent films. One of the character selections in Street Fighter II. Loads of hard-to-regulate and morally-questionable pornography.

PoeQ. Can Beings reproduce at all, and if so, how?

A. New Beings can be produced, but not by other Beings.

Q. Since we know Beings can shape shift, does this include inanimate forms, such as metal? Can a Being shift into a form that could then be attached to machinery?

A. Their forms always approximate that of a living creature, although you could certainly wire yours up in various ways if you chose.

Q. So by approximate, you mean they have to resemble it fully? No partial representations allowed? So a chimera would be out, then?

A.They do have partial representations while they’re shapeshifting. It’s just not something they can maintain.

Q. How many Beings currently work in the pr0n industry? Given their shape shifting abilities, are they actively sought out by studio execs in the US and Japan?

A. Quite a few. They’ve been sought out for the purpose ever since cheap recorded sex became technologically feasible.

Q. If they can read/write in “the language of the contract”, maybe a studious Being has kept a log of the early days?

A. Maybe! Although if something like that exists, its whereabouts aren’t known to any of the humans doing serious research on the topic.

Kara LynnQ. What do Beings get out of the Game that makes them so willing to duke it out rather than live in peace?

A. Beings are perfectly willing to live in peace when that’s what their Masters order. However, the Game is the only thing that comes close to “following my Master’s orders” as something a Being has any intrinsic desire to do.

Q. Is it possible to genetically alter yourself to become a Being? Have crazy scientist people ever attempted to do so?

A. It’s not possible, but I’m sure that hasn’t stopped people from trying.

Q. An asteroid hits the planet and wipes out a large chunk of life on Earth. How devastating would that have to be before Beings died from it?

A. An asteroid big enough to take out a large chunk of humanity would probably take out some Beings as well.

Q. I’m allergic to cats, so would I be allergic to a cat Being?

A. Nope. Not unless you also had some kind of Being allergy.

Q. If a Being breaks a law, who is legally responsible?

A. Its Master.

Ann's BeingQ. Forget the legalities of ownership — aren’t there any laws relating to the Game itself?!

A. What Beings do to each other is seen as their own business. Governments tend not to intervene.

Q. Is there any substance a Being cannot stand? That is, is there something that Beings cannot stand to be near?

A. Nope, there is no Being Kryptonite.

Q. What are the limits of their mystical abilities outside that garden battle zone? We’ve seen them shapeshift (which given the whole cast and injuries in different forms has a stored body vibe to it) and heal but not much else. Basically can they do any other magic? Or even use their energy attacks outside the battlezone?

It’s complicated because Beings don’t think of those as mystical “abilities.” If anything, they’re limits — humans are the impressive ones, able to stay in one consistent body all their lives! The energy attacks are specifically designed for each other, and can’t be used on just anything.

CubQ. Is color a locked attribute as well as species – like, is Cybele stuck always being pink? We’ve seen Poe do a lot of serious shapechanging, especially within human range, but always with purple eyes, and Patrick likes yellow, brown and green…

Beings’ sigils and energy attacks are always a consistent color, and they do lean toward related color schemes.

Aside from that…a lot of the consistency in the comic is there as a visual aid to readers. Poe doesn’t always need to have the same eyes, Cybele can dress in any color scheme that fits a situation, but they’re drawn with purple and pink so it’s easier for you to recognize and connect with each new form.

Q. Would it be out of the question for a Being to ‘groom’ a future Master when their master declines due to old age or disease, or is it more whomever was handy?

A. In the event of an unplanned-for death, a Being might gravitate towards someone they were already familiar with (as Reseda did with Timothy), but they wouldn’t deliberately plan it beforehand.

What does happen is that existing Masters will plan for and groom their successors. That’s essentially what Jany’s grandmother did for Jany, and it’s probably what the Tiger’s previous Master would have done if Walker hadn’t volunteered herself as ready for the job, no guidance necessary.

Q. Something I’m curious about is how far Beings’ selective honesty extends. Like, I know one can’t say “I’m Jason” or “my name is Jason”, for example, but could ze say “this is Susan, and her name is Jessica” if ze was talking about other Beings? Would it have to be “call me Jason. she goes by Susan, and she’s known as Jessica”? That would get suspicious…

A. If they were trying to be undercover, it would be telling, all right. But names are meaningful, powerful things, and Beings are exquisitely sensitive to that — it’s not a trait you can work around without fundamentally changing who/what they are.

p-cow1Q. How is it that Beings cannot lie that they have a specific name? Is it that they can’t think that way? They are emotionally compelled not to lie?

A. The lying isn’t the problem; we’ve seen Beings lie or be deceptive in a couple of situations, either on direct orders from their Master or just because they knew it was what their Master would want.

It’s names, specifically, that they have trouble with. Names, and words in general, have power; to apply a new name to something that didn’t have it already is an exercise of power that Beings aren’t able to do.

Q. Could Beings use their animal identity as a name? With multiple languages you could even find a name that sounds halfway normal, for example, My name is Cat, my name is neko, my name is Kassi.

A. Afraid not. The limits are based on underlying meaning, so you can’t get around them with clever phrasing. A Being can say things like “I am the Cat,” but it’s just a characteristic like “I am a blonde” or “I am tall”, not an individual identity.

Q. Is that “name” issue for Beings linked to the fact that they do not, and cannot have an identity, or that they cannot have a permanent identity?

A. Yes! If a Being had a permanent, settled identity, and a name to go with it, they would be able to say “My name is ___” just fine.

Q. ‘If a Being had a permanent, settled identity…’ That would seem to imply that it’s theoretically possible. Or am I reading too much into your answer?

A. Yes, it is theoretically possible. (Though not necessarily humanly possible.)

p-cow2Q. How many distinct forms – as in, injuries won’t transfer between them – do Beings have?

A. Three distinct forms. Human, animal, and monster.

Q. I love how their sigils have similar elements, but are completely different. Do you have a method of creating them and deciding what motifs they have, or is it just whatever looks good?

A. All the sigils start with the same base, and then get lines and shapes added based largely on what looks good. (And/or on what shapes in the Paint Shop Pro library I haven’t used much yet. I may have to come up with almost 100 of these by series’ end, and they all need to be passably distinct…) Some of them were built around a loose theme, inspired by their personality or their animal form — Cybele’s has hearts, the Tiger’s has stripes.

In-universe, they’re supposed to be reminiscent of the sigils used for “magic”, but not exactly the same. (Especially since I think some of the “magic” ones look kind of dumb, heh.)

Q. Kara Lynn had standing orders from when she was serving Jany’s grandmother, but how strict are those orders? Could a Master order (and have the order fulfilled) a Being to never get a new Master, even after the existing Master’s death?

A. Kara Lynn followed her previous Master’s orders because Jany renewed them (saying “Just keep doing all the things to help my family that you were doing before” without getting all the details). A Being whose Master just died might still go through the motions of following some old orders out of habit…but they’re going to be drawn to finding a new Master no matter what.

p-kaguyaQ. Lizards are cold-blooded. Is Kara Lynn, in the lizard form, affected by environment temperature, e.g. is she slowed down by cold? And in general, how far do the biological characteristics of Beings’ animal forms resemble those of the corresponding animals? Say, since snakes are deaf, would a snake-Being in snake form be deaf too? (And would it still be able to receive orders from its Master without hearing them?)

A. In general, Beings have excellent and wide-ranging senses in any form. A snake-Being would have good hearing, Patrick in dog form still has sensitive color vision, and so on.

So Kara Lynn isn’t physically slowed down by cold, but she doesn’t like it. And she’s drawn to heat sources more than the average warm-blooded-species Being.

Q. Can a Being Contract to another Being?

A. No. Nor can they be contracted to animals. (For the record, there aren’t any sapient extraterrestrials in this universe.) It only works with humans.

Q. Do Beings ever get jealous of their Masters, if they’re paying attention to other Beings or other people? Probably different from Being to Being, but I know their emotions aren’t quite human, so they might not at all.

A. Yes, Beings can get jealous. (That’s what’s going on in this strip with Patrick, for instance.) It varies from Being to Being, and it also depends a lot on how secure they are in their Master’s affections. The current version of Patrick has a hard time trusting in his importance to Bianca; a lot of the other Beings we’ve met are more secure.

p-vultureQ. Can the Cows be aurochs? Can Beings in general be extinct animals?

A. The Cows can’t become aurochs, even the one that used to be the Auroch. Once a species or subspecies goes extinct, a Being can no longer take on that form.

Q. If humans successfully bring back extinct species such as the Auroch, would the Being that was formerly the Auroch and is now cattle, go back to being an auroch?

A. Sadly, no. Selective breeding is great for trying to re-fill the archaeological niches we’ve emptied, but it’s creating a new breed, not bringing back the old one.

To get the Being formerly known as the Auroch to revert to its old form, you would need time travel. Or cloning a new auroch from preserved DNA, Jurassic Park style.

Q. Assuming all wolves went extinct, what would Ilsa become? A dog like Patrick? Another canine like a dingo or a fox?

A. Dogs are directly descended from wolves, so yes, she’d become a dog.

Q. If someone nowadays figured out how to make a new Being, could there be a new Mouse? Or would it being dead not matter when it comes to that and it still technically counts as existing?

A. There could be a new Mouse, yes! It would be a newly-created Being from scratch, no relation to the original Mouse.

p-mouseQ. Did someBeing inherit the Mouse’s animal form(s)?

A. No, that’s not how it works. Beings aren’t Time Lords!

Q. What makes a name True, since Timothy was able to Contract as Camellia before, I think, he started using it regularly?

A. Your true name is the one you identify with, whether anybody else knows it or not. (Entering into a mystical Name-based contract locks it in, though, so the contract would still apply even if your name changed later on.)

So Camellia chose a name she’d decided on that nobody had ever actually called her, and it worked. Jany could have entered the Contract as Saturn39, the username she goes by online. If everyone addresses you by a nickname, that’s perfectly valid, even if it isn’t the name on your birth certificate or the one you sign your checks with.

Q. What if a human doesn’t have a name? It’s clear that they’re still capable of making a contract using a pseudonym (as with Timothy), but what if they don’t have a name that they can identify themselves with? Would something like that make a Contract difficult to make or at the very least make it easier for the Being to say their Master’s name?

A. This one’s simple: putting a name on the Contract will formalize it as True.

Q. Is there any chance the Master of the Being in captivity is dead? Would the Being know even if separated from its master that the contract had been broken by death?

A. If the Being’s most recent Master had died, it would have lost the emotional drive to get back to him, and would instead be driven to find someone new to Contract with. It would probably still have all those clear memories of him, but without the feeling of loving or missing him included.

Q. I know they don’t have a “kryptonite” (short of being away from their masters), but what exactly gives them strength? It’s clearly not just their physical limitations or the amount of practice they have. Is it their personal happiness (as measured, by how well they please their masters), or some other set thing?

A. It’s mostly from having a Master, being loved, following their Master’s commands, and fighting. Not necessarily in that order.

Q. Is “I, [your name here]” really the whole of the Contract, or are we-the-readers just not seeing the fine print?

A. Yes, there’s a lot more to the Contract. It’s a whole program, and humans who enter it are just filling their names into the “____ is the person you answer to” slot.

Q. I really want to know if Beings can be based on sea animals and/or insects/arthropoda. We’ve only really seen land animals, so…

A. There are several Beings based on sea creatures. Their creators weren’t able to study oceangoing creatures very well, so the types are usually vaguer — Kaguya, the Sea Monster, can be anything from an octopus to an eel to a crocodile.

No bugs. Their creators wouldn’t have wanted to make their own plagues.

Q. If a Being’s Master shared a name with somebody, would they be able to say their name? So for example, if a Master contracts as John Smith, if there was another person called called John Smith, would the Being be able to say their name? How would they refer to them?

A. The Being wouldn’t be able to say the other John Smith’s name either, and would have to come up with some kind of workaround. For instance, Patrick could refer to George Washington as “George” or “the first President” or “the guy on the one-dollar bill.” This gets awkward when your Master has a common word as part of their name, but you still have to work around it. Ann Walker’s Being could say “an assistive walking device” instead of “a walker;” Poe would have to use words like “a basin” or “a small sea” or “Huron/Erie/Superior/[other lake name]” if he needed to refer to a lake.

Q. If I contract with a Being using my full name (i.e. “I, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt…”), and a Being can use a shortened nickname of their Master’s but not their full name (i.e. “Bee” but not “Bianca”) then could my Being refer to me as “John” or “Jacob”?

A. The thing to remember about Contract functions is that they’re not specific and inflexible. There’s not a simple rule like “as long as you say less than X% of the Master’s Name, it counts as a nickname.” It’s more like “if the Master honestly perceives something as a nickname, it counts as a nickname.”

Trying to wrangle around a rule via sneaky technicalities isn’t going to work, because the Being (and/or the Contract) will recognize that you’re trying to pull a sneaky technicality, and respond accordingly. It’s like someone trying to be a dick on a forum — even if they’re not breaking any specific forum rules, a moderator can still make the intuition-based call of “this stops now on the grounds of you being a dick.”

Q. If, as a Master, you were to trade/exchange one Being for another (ignoring that this breaks Contracts), would you notice any difference in the behavior of the new Being compared to the old one? Assuming the new Being has adjusted to you, and your needs/desires haven’t changed.

A. Different Beings would turn out slightly different even with identical Masters and circumstances. They all have their own “base temperament,” related to their animal form — for instance, the Dog will tend to being more emotionally expressive than the Lizard.

To go with a computing metaphor: imagine the Master’s desires are a program, and the Beings are different machines with slightly different specs — one has more RAM, another has a better graphics card, and so on. The software will run a little differently on each because of the hardware differences.

Q. Is the beings short memory perhaps related to the lifespan of their masters? It seems like changing one’s personality and desires every few decades would be detrimental to one’s memory.

A. Exactly right.

Beings don’t have infinite memory, any more than they have infinite anything-else. They have the best their creators could give them, but it’s limited.

When a Being gets a new Master, their views and emotions change to line up with what that Master wants — so they start losing their sense of feeling about the previous Master. (The current state of Patrick is an exception.) The old memories lose their sense of emotional connection, and, as a result, start to fade.

This usually happens long before they would be overloading their physical memory capacity. A Being who’s been with the same Master for 50 years will have no trouble remembering how they met, but a Being who has had 5 Masters in the same timespan will only remember the first one vaguely, if at all.

Fun fact: a Master could counteract this process, by ordering their Being, “Retain a clear memory of Thing X.” That would safeguard Thing X from the natural fading process, until the next Master came along. So a Being has the capacity to remember something for thousands of years!…if it has an unbroken line of Masters ordering it to hold on to the memory.

Q. Could a Being be irreparably damaged (in any way that affects their functionality) through multiple forced erasures of their masters’ names from their Contracts?

A. It would not be irreparably damaging…just hella traumatizing. The more traumatized they are, the harder it is for them to function, and the longer it takes to recover.

Q. Do Beings never have a breaking point, apart from not having a master?

A. You can reduce them to inanimate dirt by erasing the right (wrong?) part of the Contract.

Alternately, nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Q. Are Beings able to use being powers to teleport back to their Masters’ sides if they need them? If so, would a battle be required to accomplish it?

No, Beings can’t teleport, not even within the battle dimension.

Q. Can Beings really get [doll-size] when human? I assume they can’t, since you’ve only shown them shrinking in animal form, but it is an Important Question.

A. Sadly, no. They can get anywhere in the possible human size range, which is a really wide range once you get to the farthest outliers (record-setting Jyoti Amge is 23″ tall!), but they’re not going to be able to wear Barbie clothes.

Q. Could Patrick (who is taking classes for this) could be commanded to retain his memory of the English written language even into his next Contracts? Could his next Master order him to “remember how to read and write English”?

A. Yes! As discussed after chapter 19.

However, when it comes to reading and writing, Beings are inherently limited. They’re built on a Contract of written words, which instills a barrier to processing writing in any other language. And creating original words of their own…that’s about as inaccessible to them as having original opinions.

So even if every new Master immediately ordered Patrick to remember the learned skill, he wouldn’t make it to the level of a human.

Q. In revelation of Jany’s new exploration in to Things, what would happen if, say, she liked things the other way around? Could a Being strike its master if under a direct order and the Master liked that kind of pain? And even if it’s not a direct pain thing; BDSM has things like fireplay which aren’t necessarily painful, could a Being perform that if instructed?

A. Unfortunately for the masochists of the world, the Contract doesn’t have any exceptions to the “don’t hurt humans” clause. Ordering your Being to hit you would get the same reaction as ordering your Being to use your real name: stubborn refusal and/or panicky apologies, depending on that Being’s temperament and how secure it feels.

If something is intensely stimulating without being harmful, it’s okay — so a Being could inflict some temperature play. It just couldn’t do any of the fireplay that involves actually setting a person on fire. And if you gave it successively more dangerous orders, they would get harder and harder to follow as the Being’s inhibitions kicked in.

Q. Does the Beings’ disadvantage in reading make it harder for them to read road signs? Not having original opinions doesn’t prevent them from saying original sentences. Is that worse in writing?

A. Road signs are designed to be as clear as possible for people with a wide range of abilities. You don’t need to know the word STOP to get the meaning of a big red octagon. What would give a Being trouble is a cross-country journey where you have to track a lot of individual street/city names.

Writing has a special level of power that speech doesn’t. That’s why all the magic requires you to write out the sigils, why each Contract is physically written down, and why Beings can talk but not write.

Q. What’s the difference between big red octagon and letter S? Would it be easier for being to learn hieroglyphs? Or is the multiple-letters-form-a-word part which is hard for them? Or are the signs also harder than for humans, but being easier in general makes them still easy enough to get the meaning?

A. The wild thing is, those symbols are processed differently by the human brain, and we still don’t have a full understanding of how or why. (The reason we know it at all is mostly from people who have strokes, or other accidents that damage part of the brain, and lose the ability to interpret written words — even though they can see shapes perfectly fine.)

Beings could learn that “drawing of a bird” means “bird” pretty easily. Any less literal meanings, especially sounds or abstract concepts, would be harder for them to wrap their heads around.

Q. Do Beings automatically learn their new Master’s language? Like, what would happen if Ilsa’s next Master only spoke, say, Japanese. Or would she just find someone who already speaks German? What about people who speak a signed language?

A. Beings are automatically fluent in the language(s) of their current Master. Their knowledge of the previous Master’s language(s) will still be strong in the beginning, and then start fading. So in this example, Ilsa would instantly know Japanese, and would remember German and English for a while, but lose most of it pretty quickly.

We’ve seen Patrick use bits of Arabic and German, because he used to be fluent, and still remembers a few phrases. He was jumping randomly between languages (Hebrew, German, Malachim, and English) when Cohen first met him, because he was between Masters and didn’t have a “default” language to settle on.

Sign language works the same way as any other — if the Master is fluent, the Being is fluent.

Q. On that note, what if the Master needs a translator? Like, if that Japanese Master needed to speak with someone who only knew German, would that allow Ilsa to hold onto German longer? What if a Master needed a language the Being had previously known but had lost by the time this Master contracted them? Or how about if a Master wanted to learn a language? Could a newly contracted Being hold onto a language they knew from their previous Master long enough to teach their current one?

A. Memories that are already lost can’t be ordered back, including a Being’s memories of how to speak a language. But if you catch it early enough, you can order a Being not to forget its previous language, which will buffer it against the memory loss.

And yes, you could go on to learn the language from that Being. You’d just have to be a really good/fast learner, because they’re not natural teachers.

Q. What if Master knows some language but it’s not his first language, while it was first language of previous Master: will the Being knowledge of the language fade to match how well his current Master speaks it but not disappear completely?

A. Exactly right.

Q. Similar to that question about the Mouse, with the taxonomy of Beings, I assume that there are quite a few gaping holes which could be filled. The obvious question raised is undoubtedly already answered, but what if a non-sophont extraterrestrial lifeform were discovered? With the religious aspects of the whole thing, is it even possible that a Being could be created with those parameters?

(Insert nightmare scenario here about a Tribble Being.)

A. Yes, the tribble Being is a possibility.

The main factor here is humanity’s threshold for scientific understanding of animal species. By the time you get to spaceflight, that’s a lot higher than it used to be — vague notions of “big cats, you know, not lions, the other ones” or “lizards, just lizards” aren’t going to cut it. You’d have to get a really deep and complex understanding of what makes a tribble, the evolutionary history of the tribble family, how they differ from other species in the order Tribbolata.

Q. Has there ever been a time where a Being has (at least semi-flawlessly) integrated into society without being discovered? For example, using a nickname (to avoid the inability to say their name) and having their master nearby to do any reading for them?

A. Short-term, yes. It’s hard to keep up — there’s never been a Being who pulled it off for the length of a whole human lifetime. But if the Being plays the part for long enough to accomplish a goal, has a small group of supporters to back them up, and “leaves town” before being discovered, it may be that nobody ever thinks back on it and realizes something was off.

Marian did it with the Donkey, having him impersonate Josh for a while before “ascending to heaven” (with help from the Dove), and nobody was ever the wiser. Hannah had the Raven play Jesse Riverton just long enough to get her family to Canada, then set his house on fire. All the official records assume that’s what killed him.

Q. Can you give us a brief recap of how spellcasting works, and what people have achieved with it so far?

A. How it works:

  • Pick a pentacle that has the powers you want
  • Create an image of the pentacle by hand (drawing, carving, etc)
    • If you want to affect a specific person, come up with an unambiguous way to identify them
    • If you’re teleporting, you need 2 pentacles, one at the start & one at the end
  • Give an order, using the Language of the Contract
  • If you drew it perfectly, and pronounced it perfectly, and have enough understanding and strength and emotional investment to match the scale of whatever you’re trying to do, the thing will happen.

They’re single-use. The pentacle comes off the page (slab, etc) and manifests in its big glowy floating form, then vanishes.

Effects we’ve seen so far:

  • Teleporting (first appearance, chapter 5)
  • Compelling obedience from Beings that you aren’t the Master of (can be overridden by direct orders from Master) (first appearance, chapter 6)
  • Enabling non-Masters to view a Being’s battles (first appearance, chapter 25)

Effects we’ve seen attempted, but not successfully:

  • Acquiring knowledge (first appearance, interlude 2)
  • Whatever Josh was trying to do (first appearance, interlude 4)

Q. Are the shape shifting abilities of Being defined in the Contract, or some other way?

If they’re in the Contract, are they written permissively (“you can shapeshift into these kinds of things”) or exclusively (“you can’t shapeshift into anything but this”), and can that be rewritten to expand or restrict their abilities?

A. A mix of both. Patrick’s Contract defines his available animal-shapes in relation to “dogs”, but “dogs”, in turn, is defined by…all the dogs currently in existence. (This is why the Auroch-Being turned into a second Cow-Being after aurochs went extinct. No more referents.)

In theory you could write two sets of animal-shape referents into the same Contract, but it would be exponentially longer and more complicated, because you have to make sure every clause refers to both sets without overlap or conflicts. One dropped semicolon and you’ve got a Being that freezes whenever it tries to grow a tail.

Q. If a human in the battle world were to fall and scrape their knee, or hurt themselves/get hurt in some other way, what would happen to the wound when they returned to the real world? We know damage to Beings carries over- but does it do the same for humans?

A. A human who gets hurt in battlespace doesn’t get hurt IRL. The one effect it does have is that, if a Master is injured seriously-enough within battlespace, it counts as a loss for their Being and the battle will end.

Q. Has anyone explored the limits of using being deliberately prolonged battles as a way to get extra hours in a day, such as a writer bringing a manuscript to work on?

A. They have, yes!

Things in battlespace aren’t “real”, with the exception of injuries to Beings. So you can’t, say, take in a manuscript and write a bunch of notes and then come back and have the notes intact. What it’s good for is thinking, brainstorming, processing. You could take in your chem notes and have a few extra hours of studying. Or challenge your therapist and get an extra-long session.

Q. If you killed a Being’s Master, could you convince that Being to make a contract with you?

A. Beings don’t instantly lose all their custom settings when their Master dies, so if you killed a Master, the Being’s immediate reaction would be hatred and horror, and it would run away from you as fast as possible. (And, whenever applicable, toward someone it thought of as good and kind). But you could conceivably make the next Contract if you gave the Being enough time to cool down, assuming someone else didn’t get to it in the meantime.

Q. Can a Being have two Masters, whether via contact manipulation (writing in a second name) or someone sharing a name with their master? Let’s say a Master is named John Smith, and the Being runs into another guy with the same name. Can the second John Smith give orders, as his name is technically on the contact, or is there weird magic in play to prevent multiple Masters?

A. It’s definitely not an option in a Being Contract. The Being can’t state the name in any context, but the individual who states their name at the “signing” is the only Master, regardless of whether anyone else has the same true name.

In my head there isn’t supposed to be any risk of identity-confusion with spells cast by someone else, either…although I haven’t worked out the mechanics of why not.

Q. Could a Being alter its own code if ordered to do so? I mean they have hands when they’re in debug mode. Basically I’m asking if there’s alterations to their coding they could make that won’t force them to space out.

A. No, they can’t. Partly for the same reason they can’t write, partly for the same reason your computer has to restart in order to install updates.

Q. When a Being’s parts break down, does their matter become a specific composition of dirt? While these days, shipping dirt all over the place is an economy in itself, it seems like it might be possible for a dedicated researcher to narrow down their source of origin from there.

As a codicil, would Ann be able to discern if that loam’s legit?

A. A Being breaks down into whatever kind of dirt/clay it was originally made from. And Walker has definitely investigated samples of all the Beings she’s…uh…worked with. But if she investigates this particular pile, she’ll find it has a really mixed/random composition, and hypothesize that that’s just what happens once a Being is fully decomposed.

Q. Must Beings turn into adult versions of their animal forms? Can Cub become a real cub, and can The Cat, turn into a kitten? 

A. We’ve seen kitten!Reseda before! And tiger-cub Blake, and of course Patrick is regularly described as a puppy.

Q. Can The Dove become a pigeon (doves are basically white species of pigeons) or is The Pigeon a separate Being?

A. The Dove can become a pigeon, yes.

Q. Whatever was the result of that experiment where Cohen chopped off Patrick’s head to see which part grew back? 

A. The smaller part disintegrated into dirt; the larger part regenerated a copy of the smaller part.

Q. Could this hypothetically mean that if you could actually cut a Being completely in half you might get two beings out of it? Or would it more likely be that since we can never be able to cut them down to the molecule EXACTLY the same size, one half would always collapse into dirt?

A. You know what, I’m going to say that if you could cut a Being perfectly in half, down to the exact same number of quarks on either side, then you could get two Beings. But I don’t know if that’s physically possible. Feels like the kind of thing quantum mechanics won’t let you do.