It is an argument against it if the element does not provide any utility that can not already be done better by other elements.
The main reason we approved it if memory serves is that it is the only (room temperature; lava is an exception but that has the obvious problem) major natural substance that exists in a state in between liquid and solid. Technically a gel. You can make a case for a few things like mud or sap but these more clearly belong as combo elements or simply products of another (plants).
However, as has been pointed out many times in past element discussions, "use not already done better by other elements" is not the only use of an element or only reason to consider it one. For example, much of what Ice does, being solid, can be done by Stone. Being slippery could be done by Water. Being cold is pretty much its only unique trait, but if we list everything Ice can do, it goes far beyond this.
Now, granted, Ice is far more common than things like Acid or Mercury, but that's intentional. The idea of the rarer elements was to fill in the list of what of the major but not super-common substances would make more sense having someone to control them in a universe in which there's plenty of room for it, or which ones would work better as combos etc. Rarity was not meant to mean it couldn't be considered an element, nor being the only useful thing that could do something, as multiple elements can exist that can do many of the same things as others, just in different ways. :)
It's more about what is a more unique substance (or energy), what's major substance types (again, not counting rarity but in form, since rarity really depends on the authors in fiction), different feels of things, etc. Also things that present dangers that a Matoran specialty could be better adapted to, etc. (like natural tar pits or knowing what types of mushrooms are poisonous, similar to heat or freezing, etc.).
Note that one problem with the "ban an element if another element already handles it is", which element, then, comes first? For example, the things that fungus does that plants do could cover most of the good of plants, and the rest could go under Stone or others, so perhaps Plants should be banned? Where do you start? So you see, that's a type of reasoning that strays from strict objectivity because you have to pick one to start with. Obviously, you would have to start with the canon ones, but from the POV of the EM, fungus is just as valid as plants.
Let's dispense with the quotes for now:
Re: uses of fungus -- Well, what are the traits of fungus? Much of it tends to be mushrooms. Here you get a lot of practical purposes. For example, natural water pool collectors, or shelves. Shelf fungus itself will make even better natural shelves obviously. Other stranger shapes of it like puffy fungus (not sure of the proper term) could have any use those shapes have. There's the many medicinal or nutritious uses, contrasted with poison uses (such as a stun poison, though evil beings could go beyond that).
In this case, of course, the fact that it's the third major branch of life and it's so alien compared to plants and animal life, so fragile in ways that plants aren't for example, growing in regular, easily recognized shapes that plants usually don't, etc. really should be enough. Having a Toa of Ferns because they're very different plants wouldn't make much sense, but fungus is not plants at all. That should leave it distinctly outside the control of Toa of Plants, I think we can agree if we look at it objectively, which means in the canon it wouldn't be controlled by anybody (merely because there was no story room for it). Well, here it is. :)
Re: Liquids, solids, etc. -- well, there's more to it than this. EM liquids include Water, Acid, Lava, and Mercury. Each has a (rather obvious) distinct trait that separates it from the other. Tar is semi-liquid normally so is the only main one (other than again the combo of mud, cooler lava, etc.) that is naturally in the gel state.For Solids, we have Earth, Sand, Stone, Iron, Silver, Gold, and others. Just starting with these, there is a major distinct trait in each case; Earth is technically solid and can pack together but can also flow like a liquid. Sand is the same but with larger grains so it's more abrasive, harder to walk on, yet has other obvious distinct traits. Stone is hard but brittle, Iron is hard but more malleable, Silver is about the same but channels protodermic powers, Gold is a soft malleable substance, strong enough to form basic supports but also very good when you need inherent flexibility.And then there's Tar which can go beyond the bounds of these, somewhat similar to Earth but in a more sticky or liquid-like way.Re: "tar accomplishes nothing special" -- but this is only so if you ignore what it does accomplish, and I don't know why someone would want to do that. Also, you clearly have your own philosophy about what should qualify as an element, which goes quite a bit beyond the canon one (which is simply, a major aspect of nature and is inherently arbitrary, re: the old points about how some cultures call wood an element, etc.). Accomplishing something special (especially when you're arbitrarily confining what counts as something to a very, very narrow list) is not the primary consideration either in canon or EM per se. It helps give additional reason to make something an element, sure, but I think of it more as "being unique and more like a basic building block than a combo".In the case of tar, being a gel that can have a variety of sources (rather than all plant residue or whatever), and behaves in ways not the same as any other element is enough.Re: "Matoran are doing fine without tar" -- Actually I strongly suspect that Ga-Matoran at least use sap for the equivalent or the hut that "sank" would have leaked and they'd have drowned. Either way, the ability to survive without it is not the same as it not giving an advantage. Again, you could already make that case for many canon elements. Ga-Matoran seem to generally get along fine without Ko-Matoran being involved for example.Also, don't forget that being a main element means it will have at least some Toa who control it. There the usefulness gets really obvious; far beyond "hey Matoran, need something to keep those bricks in place?" now you can make sticky patches on the ground to trap an enemy's feet, shoot a flowing beam attack with more oomph than water but not quite as dangerous as ice or stone, spook a more gullible one in dim lighting by animating it to seem eerily organic (versus a very slow moving rock monster or an obvious water animation, etc.), or easily encage a foe despite even strong attempts to shatter the cage.Re: "hut in the middle of a tar field" -- I never meant to imply they would do such a thing. Only that Tar Matoran would likely be better at extracting it for use in building huts. :) But they probably would feel more comfortable living near one. Although, your point about Ta-Koro is a good one but it seems you haven't realized it works against the anti-tar conclusion -- I suppose a situation like that but replace lava with tar could indeed make for an effective defense.Keep in mind that the flammable types of tar are not all that I consider to count in this element. Gooey, dark substances are the rule; the other traits vary (and given that this is artificial physics from protodermis anyways, even varieties you don't happen to find in real matter can exist).Let's do a quote on this one:
For example, a rock could be transmuted into something else of the same size made out of rock; a pile of sand could become glass; carbon could become diamond; and so on. The key was that you could never go beyond the limits of the material provided, unless you provided a cost.
My protodermis theory actually provides a way to be very similar to that, interestingly. The easiest examples would be switching a molecule from behaving like limestone to behaving like (say) granite. With more cost you could transcend boundaries of categories and switch to other categories. But I'd rather save the exact mechanism for when I post that theory along with the retelling so yeah. Suffice to say, I consider a "mysterious process" of that kind of full alchemy to be possible in the EM (and anywhere else there's protodermis; even if my proposed method were not correct other methods could do the same basic thing).
Elemental names have been shown to be somewhat misleading anyways. Iron is "metal", not just iron, and what I call Plant Life is actually called just "The Green" in canon, if I'm not mistaken.
Well, for the EM we took that poetic name of Iron as a basic guideline (not that this is canon) for "Iron-like varieties of metal", while some of the stranger ones like Gold, power-channeling Silver, and Mercury got their own.With Plant Life, I forget if Greg ever actually used it, but it IS the basic definition. It's at least "Jungle" on Bara Magna, and "The Green" is a poetic name that means at least "Plants", even if it includes for example dead wood. The wood is at least produced by what was once living, if you find it naturally. (I suppose Toa might be able to make dead wood on the spot, but yeah.)
Well, there's still the
Methinks you forgot to finish a thought here. :)Re: "I'd toss" -- Just so I don't repeat myself over and over, from now on consider part of all my replies to this kind of thing to be "your own preferences for a system of what would go on your own elements list is valid but is largely a matter of personal taste; ours is intentionally less stringent than that."Yes, a road could be made out of earth (as I say I think most EM roads we actually mentioned are, to be fair), or Stone but tar could be more durable than Stone. (Technically I would consider its hardened state to BE stone, actually, but probably of a type that in hot weather might cross back over into a very tough gel state and be controllable again.) It could also be easier for a non-Toa to make a smooth road with it, simply by collecting it from a natural source and applying it, unlike Stone.Re: Po-Matoran making smooth stone road -- well, only if they chisel it out from bedrock or the like. If they're laying stone pieces down over a dirt route it'll be like a Roman road, which is better than nothing in general but for wheels less than ideal, and would fall out of place eventually as the ground settles, etc. Tar Matoran could do a much better job. True, Tar can crack but can also be more easily readjusted.
I just feel that it's still not an Element. It's more of a cop-out to stick any given thing as an element, I think.
Well, I don't see it that way. And it IS an EM element. It need not be a Katuko element to be an EM element. :) You could even tell an EM story if you wish while entirely ignoring the existence of Tar. I don't consider it a common element. For the most part if you simply don't have the Tar Shard get visited it would be easy to live most of your life never encountering it (as with several of the lesser elements like Plasma).It's true that at the get-go we intentionally try to expand the list, but there's no set number of how big the list need be, and artificially inflating it is not what we want. Tar has a unique and fundamental enough of a "total set of traits" compared to other more fundamental, naturally-found and not combo-like substances/forces total sets that if we just toss any emotional bias aside, clearly it belongs on the list, albeit as an obscure one.
Like, the Sisters of the Skrall were a nice way to have a psionic-using species around, whereas Toa of Psionics sounds iffy because they breaks the "rules" of the other elements.
That's a fair point -- on the other hand, I never considered those extra restrictions to be necessary. There's no logical reason the GBs CAN'T add special cautionary restrictions to some elements, so the judgement on the iffy question here can easily come down as it did. However, in my own fanfics at least I see no reason Psionic energy can't be absorbed, for example.So, that rule-breaking (or rather extra rules) was Greg's own idea and is not essential for Psionics to be an element.
I could get right behind a tar-dwelling species of some sort, but making them Toa element sounds to me like people absolutely have to have Toa do everything
I wouldn't put your emphasis on it, but calmly trying to figure out what is more "elementary" and what is more combinatory and having Toa control all "aspects of nature" (major types of substances and forces) makes sense. :) There's no reason Toa can't do this.Re: "instead" -- why must the two be contrary rather than complementary? Having Tar be an element makes it more likely for there to be Tar-dwelling other species as well, and the EM certainly smiles on having strange new species at will. :) (Within reason lol.) You could even suggest one yourself right here and now!For example, having a Toa of Stone didn't harm the canon's ability to have Vatuka stone monsters; if anything it helps enable it. There were also (briefly) snow-based monsters in the GBA game. (Elementals).
Air is everywhere around us. Air can be used for floating and gliding, for breathing underwater, to create pressure or suction. It fits into the environmental theme.
Yes, while Plasma is trickier to do that for, but possible. More to the point, Tar also fits into the environmental theme well which is a big reason we accepted it. I at least like the alien feel of a region of tar pits.And please note that EM still holds to the idea that the main six elements are just that. Air being far more common is thus appropriate. Tar is a secondary element, and one of the more obscure ones, like Sand (in some regions) or Iron (which is highly rare in any obvious natural setting in real life, unmixed into ore), yet the Arena setting can easily be adjusted to make there be at least one place where it's very common.
I can potentially get behind tar pits being a place. Just not an element. Making tar an element just seems to be like grasping for elemental straws because every other aspect of nature has been "filled in" by an element.
I think you've actually hit on the reason right there on your own, though -- if you strip away the negativity from this third sentence, you'd just agreed that tar is a distinct aspect of nature (the Bionicle definition of element), rather than for example a combo or whatnot. :)We COULD have justifiably made it a combo... but then so could Fire be a combo of Plasma and Plants or Plasma and Air, or Iron a combo of Stone and Fire/Plasma (which is normally how metals are extracted from ore), Lightning and Magnetism could have been Electromagnetism, etc. Bionicle is at times bold with going right for the more obvious fundamental aspects of nature but unfortunately at other times timid. The EM intentionally goes all bold, all the way. :) There's a clear difference between water + earth = mud and multiple ways to arrive at Tar.In any event, the distinction is not that important, other than for the Shards Contest, as there would be Toa of the combo elements as well, Matoran of them, etc. via Element Keys, plus there are minor Shards for all the combo elements too (we just won't likely feature them in the CC).
What I meant about cleansing is that typically, water is seen as "pure" -- and thus it was given the arbitrary healing properties we saw in Mask of Life. A clear blue ocean is a symbol of openness and purity. Make that an ocean of tar and you just get goop, dirt and pollution....I didn't call earth cleansing. There's a semi-colon between each comparison there.
And this is where the problem with your reasoning comes in. First of all you're arbitrarily limiting the qualifications to a random list of traits while excluding others that would be just as reasonable. Second, you're saying the fact that tar isn't cleansing helps rule it out while not helping rule out earth -- this argument appears self-refuting. You allow for earth because it has other attributes; the same is true of tar; just not the same ones and possibly attributes you didn't happen to pick for your initial arbitrary list of qualifications.
I'm saying that "virus" does not fit any definition of "element" I have seen.
It's one of the major branches of life (I think we meant it as a more poetic name for microbes in general but not sure, but in any event viruses are very Bionicle), with unique traits, which has even been controlled in the same basic way as elemental powers in-story, just not happened to be called an "element". Makuta will channel the power through their hands, materialize a virus, and make it do what they imagine and think of having it do. This is virtually identical to what for example a Toa of Plants does with his element, but is clearly not plants.
but making a Toa of Virus sounds like perhaps the most ridiculous element so far.
As I often point out, "ridiculous" simply means "able to be ridiculed" which includes everything. What one person finds ridiculous depends on his point of view; another may find many of the things he sees as reasonable as ridiculous.And in the EM we enjoy being a little silly in order to challenge the imagination and the mind. Many people write perfectly non-silly stories that avoid even a hint of anyone they know of laughing at it that also tend to be very boring and unoriginal. Yet original stories (like robots on a tropical island) tend to be the most ridiculed when they come out but also the most loved due to being original and imaginative. :)I for one have no pride to speak of, so if someone laughs at me, that's cool. But if after calming down and thinking things through more, they might go, "wait, that actually works and I can enjoy it!" that's way cool! If some never do, that's okay too -- that's how personal taste goes.
I mean, what does it even do? Create a virus? Any custom-tooled virus affecting cells in the target? How would you even get/produce Virus Elemental Energy?
Katuko, do you remember on the old forums I used to often talk about what I call "Mocking Tone Fallacy"? The point was that you can make anything sound ridiculous (without it being justified per se) if you phrase things like this, yet the same thing often can seem interesting if you phrase it in a more curious or neutral way. Maybe you're missing out by choosing to have a closed mind to it before you even start?But if we take away the negativity, these are good questions (which could be asked of any element). By making it negative you risk taking the fun out of the discussion, and the whole point of Bionicle and its fanfics is entertainment, not negativity. And you're being needlessly antagonistic, which could make even obviously reasonable things seem unreasonable and cause other problems... Just take a deep breath man. :P Just have fun with thinking about it -- don't make it a negative. That's not to say constructive criticism isn't good, but emphasis on constructive belongs there. :)Anywho, to the questions:What does it do? The EM definition says: "short-lived beneficial or harmful microbes, lifespans depend on energy used to create them"Create a virus? I must wonder if you would bother to ask this if you were being calm and rational about this. Isn't that obvious?Custom-tooled virus affecting cells? -- Sure, that's a fair definition. Basically anything Makuta can do with theirs or what real-world viruses can do. So, splice in new equivalents of DNA (protodermic "code"), imparting powers, transformations, control over certain life functions (like controlling a mind or paralyzing muscles). Except "cells" in this case means "protodermis molecules".How would you get Virus Elemental Energy? Again, where in the world is this coming from, Katuko? I don't see how you could, in a calm and rational state, need to ask this, any more than you'd wonder how Toa of Fire get Fire Elemental Energy or Toa of The Green get Plants Elemental energy. This comes across as antagonistic. You're better than this...
It's creating living things, even. I'd toss Virus under Life, perhaps.
Well, Life is one of the three Legendary powers. So it's an ingredient in Plant Life, Fungus, and Virus, as well as what is considered non-elemental in the EM with animal and sapient life.
Apart from that, it breaks elemental convention, so to speak.
Well, in some sense yes, but this is semantics. Adding any element by definition breaks past "convention" of "the old list of elements is all that was established", at the very least. Yet by a more objective, open-minded definition we could say it fulfills elemental convention by applying existing rules more universally -- non-mental life like Plants can be an element and distinct material forms like Stone and Iron are separated (and same with forces with Lightning and Magnetism), so since Fungus and "Virus" are inherently distinct from Plants they get their own.Which use of "convention" you have in mind is subjective. I would go with the latter more meaningful one personally, since adding any element always makes the list different yet this was done canonically so it's okay to do so (plus it's fanfics anyways).
These better fit as abilities, or else you're opening up for making a Bacteria element
Not according to the "convention" that made Plants count as an element. :) Also, given that these are not really cells but are protodermis molecules, I believe we meant that all microbes count under virus and the name is more poetic. All of them are particles rather than large-scale solids (so like Earth rather than Stone), are alive (like Plants), non-mental (so distinct from Insects and Animals), and can affect other living (or even non-living) things (this is where the somewhat poetic "virus" name comes from; but both viruses and bacteria can affect other cells).
if judging by Sulfur and Silver and Mercury apparently being their own elements already, you should just grab the periodic table already and go to town. Toa of Noble Gases. Toa of Nuclear Energy. Toa of Viscous-yet-still-pliable-Rubber.
Be careful what you wish for. :P But this isn't the intent of Sulfur and Silver -- keep in mind protodermis isn't actually any of these things, but these two have some major distinct traits that others on the atomic element don't, while also being "basic" to environments (although Silver is different intentionally along with Gold due to the "precious" alien environment of the Enlightened planet, Izumal. Both are also more commonly known by everyday people. If we were for example to have an element of Magnesium, even though it has unique traits, it's not so commonly known.The same basic problem is there with "Noble Gasses" (and we prefer one-word element names, not sure what could go to that, although Blue Energy is one exception but it doesn't have that kind of feel IMO). Also, I consider those to be major components of Air.Nuclear energy I believe was actually suggested before, and Radiation did make the list of combos, but not accepted as a main element since its primary use is inherently and very dangerous. Antimatter got the same answer.Rubber is on the combo list as well, as is Plastic. :)
Combo elements are fine by me. Elements that are made out of minor, more specific ideas such as tar; or which grab elements off the periodic table (Mercury for liquid metal, when a Toa of Iron could already move metal almost as easily as liquid) just strikes me at moving away from the idea behind BIONICLE elements.
But this strikes me also as essentially saying nothing except the obvious -- since it's different, it's clearly moving away from the exact idea of (previous) Bionicle elements. I see no reason why tar or mercury shouldn't exist in Bionicle. The canon just didn't choose to focus on those things. This is fan fiction.
And you say on the one hand that something is fine with you, but on the other hand, apparently going beyond what Bionicle elements do is not fine with you. Then why even have the discussion? (Although I find it enjoyable as long as it stays civil and constructive.) But combo elements go beyond exactly what Bionicle did as well. It only rarely even hinted at the idea, and our list goes far more complete than any canon list of combos. Why does the latter reasoning not prevent you from saying the former thing? I'm genuinely curious; it doesn't seem consistent to me.
In both cases, we are taking things given an official nod in the canon to their logical conclusions. Combos are given very basic justification but barely delved into, so we do go there. Likewise, an elements list that is at least in some cases free to go down to the more "elementary" dividing lines (like Electromagnetism being separated into its two main parts), is also used here except we just take off the arbitrary canon plot constraints since the EM doesn't have those same plot constraints.
Once again, sorry for wallotext but hope this helps and was interesting. ^_^