The Olesian Obstruction is
the idea that a "depiction" (a Krean magic
spell of the Persuasive echelon) will increasingly approach, but never quite
reach, a true portrayal of the desired possibility. This sub-entry explains the
concept of such a barrier and examines its implications for
Krean mages. The Olesian Obstruction
takes its name from the sorceress Olesia Altheasis who first noticed the
predicament (pre-3200 b.S., exact dates unknown).
Alternative Terminology. Other synonyms include the “Definitional Barrier”, “Descriptive Barrier”, “Expressive Barrier”, and “the Olesian Barrier” (which is somewhat easier to pronounce than the formal, alliterative “Olesian Obstruction”).
Concept. Krean magic is divided into three tiers according to the methodology used in spell-casting: Magic Mechanical, Magic Persuasive, Magic Existential. Magic Persuasive, the “arch-school” of the Krean Arcane Pyramid, entails “defining” the desired possibility and “persuading” the First Wave to substitute that for the existing reality. 
The Infinity Hypothesis. According to the Infinity Hypothesis, any possibility can be infinitely elaborated upon; there are no limits on the level of detail that comprises a particular piece of reality.
The Olesian Obstruction. The degree of detail one can provide is commensurate with one’s perception and corresponds to the devices/senses used in making that observation. (That is to say: smart, observant people will notice more things than slower or absent-minded people; your eyes will only allow you to perceive colours and shapes – if you want to discern scents, you need to use your nose.) Since the delineation of any possibility extends ad infinitum but human capability does not – a mage can never put the “finishing touch”: A spell will increasingly approach, but never quite reach, a true portrayal of the desired possibility; it will at best be an approximation. This is akin to perpetually cutting a piece of string into halves; with each division the segment becomes smaller but will never completely disappear. This concept is known as “the Narrative Barrier” or “Olesian Obstruction”, after the sorceress Olesia Altheasis who first noticed the predicament.
Corollaries. The issue of the Olesian Obstruction brings with it the following corollaries, which we try to summarize in the following:
Subsequent scholars have pointed out that the hypothesis known as the Olesian Obstruction leads to an impasse: Since reality is collectively created by every being in Existence and is at any rate an infinitely thorough rendition (given that it is the most probable – thus most elaborate – of all possibilities), it should theoretically be impossible for any individual to replace it with his definition of an alternate event: an individual can never match the degree of accuracy created by the whole cosmos. Yet from empirical facts we know that Krean magic works. What explains this conundrum? Either the proposition that a possibility can be infinitely elaborated upon is wrong – yet evidence suggests otherwise, for no mage or assembly has hitherto hit a wall beyond which the Web will not allow them to proceed – or the possibility painted by the spell undergoes a transformation to reach the requisite level of detail before it is incorporated into the Lace.
Dessa’s Theorem: The Solution
Dessa (ca. 3180-2990 b.S., a contemporary of High Queen Rezar) proposed the following explanation: When the mage puts down his definition, the First Wave takes care of the rest, filling in the gaps: Once one sufficiently identifies the “essentials” of a situation allowing the First Wave to discern which possibility one wants from its depths, it will put the finishing touches to the spell, rounding off the possibility.
But why does the First Wave complete the deficient handiwork of the magus? Why does it volunteer thus and bail him out?
Early Theories: Bordering on Mysticism.
Before A.R.’s rather elegant solution (see below), earlier theories ascribed to the First Wave the role of a Divine Creator pursuing an active stake in Its creation. But (i) since worship is the highest expression of one’s admiration for an entity and everything it represents and (ii) since the First Wave, by virtue of being the aggregate of all the webs of possibilities, also harbours the surreal, this had the embarrassing consequence of a process of logic leading to the worship of what is at least partly, by definition, the illogical!
Rationalizing the Intervention of the First Wave: A.R.’s “Necessity Theory”.
In ca 2980 b.S., profoundly dissatisfied with this flirtation with mysticism, A.R., who was to become the founder of the Order of Absolutes several decades later, found a way to explain why the First Wave intervenes without resorting to semi-theological entities. In so doing, she paved the way for the Krean Classical Age (ca 2800 b.S:) and the secularisation of Krean magic. The gist of her theory is as follows:
Why does the First Wave complete the deficient handiwork of the magus?
A mage can “force” a possibility into the Lace but the only way for something to exist in the Possibility Probable is for it to become the most plausible among competing versions. The answer therefore, argued AR, is “out of necessity”. Like iron dust attracted to a magnet, any possibility forcibly injected into the Lace will always fall into its most probable configuration. To be integrated into the Lace, it has to establish causal connections with everything else (recall: Savere edor edora) therefore in the process of being incorporated into the “whole picture” that possibility inevitably becomes the most elaborated.
NB: A useful rule of thumb to commit to memory is that the First Wave will always substitute the most probable version of a situation in order to minimize inadvertent disruption to the Lace.
What flows from A.R.’s rather radical suggestion?
Problem: a Cosmic “Lottery”?
The First Wave, according to Dessa and A.R., picks up from where the mage has left and concludes the integration of the possibility into the Lace. There is a problem however: Infinite variations from the last line sketched down to the minute details are possible, so a mage might end up with something entirely different than he envisaged. Hence it is vital to “describe” in essentials – because if one nails the defining characteristics of a situation, the lottery on ancillary issues will not matter.
Point of Certainty – or: the “Uncommon Denominator”
This is why it is said that “true masters paint with broad brushstrokes” – they know the laws of nature so well that they can anticipate the most probable outcome and thus which eventuality a spell-in-the-making will lead to. Thus spoke Emperor Dearan of the White Advisor, “Do you know what discipline, what complexity of thought is required to achieve such simplicity? His strokes are wider, more impressionistic than mine – yet were you to take a magnifying glass and inspect them, you would see that every strand was put there for a reason...” Such unerringly accurate minimalism is the mark of great distinction. With the barest of interventions masters can bring to life the character of a situation because they can identify the lowest distinguishing attributes of their vision, the point at which one can tell without the shadow of a doubt the spell will resolve thus and not so. This is the “Point of Certainty”, sometimes humorously alluded to as the “Uncommon Denominator”.
 Compendium’s Note: This, of course, is an oversimplification. The reader is encouraged to consult the overview on Krean arcane arts and the entry on Magic Persuasive. [Back]