Transcommunication mail (or t-mail, for short) is a spell device which exists in the form of bubbles. First invented in LY 750, by a master-adept Sorreter named Tannic. Though bubbles had been used for other purposes for three and a half centuries prior to the development of t-mail, in recent years t-mail has come to be considered the predominant use of bubbles, at least by non-magic users. Like all magical devices, t-mail first became available for use by the general public around 900, when Sorreters first started selling such devices to non-Sorreters, as part of The Plan which was the basis for the Coming of the Order. However, at that time such devices were fairly expensive, and mostly used by the rich (and the military). When the prices of many magical devices were lowered in 905, t-mail became very popular among pretty much everyone in the world, which led to a dramatic reduction in the sending of letters via postal services.
T-mail bubbles may expand when you activate them, to be used for visual as well as audio communication. They may also be set to voice-only, if you prefer (in which case they do not expand). When you activate a bubble, you tell it who you wish to call. A bubble belonging to that person will alert them that they have an incoming call, and if you identified yourself, it will tell them who it's from. They may then activate their own bubble to converse with you. Once a conversation is over, the bubbles are deactivated by saying "close," and automatically vanish. If no one is around when you call, you may leave a message, which they may activate later.
T-mail comes in various priorities; the higher the priority, the more the bubble costs. Therefore, personal calls often utilize low priority t-mail. Business calls are usually standard, while high priority is rarely used for anything but an emergency. A t-mail bubble is considered "closed" if it is a single person-to-person call, and "open" if it is a conference call between more than two people. (The terms "closed" and "open" should not be confused with the voice command "open," which activates a bubble to place or receive a call, and "close," which closes the connection and causes the bubble to vanish. It should also be noted that the bubbles are enchanted in such a way as to ensure that the context of such voice commands is understood, so that if someone uses the word "close" in the course of conversation, the bubble doesn't vanish. The connection only closes if it is clear the word was used as a command.) Some bubbles will also respond to the voice command "save and close," to close a connection at the end of the call, but rather than vanish, the bubble will remain in existence and can be used later to play back the conversation it was used for; of course, bubbles with this option are more expensive, as they utilize two separate types of magic.
Low priority bubbles have no particular protection built in to keep people from eaves-dropping on calls, but most people wouldn't know how to do that, anyway. Standard bubbles are nominally secure, but not truly hack-proof. High priority bubbles have special encoding to lock out any but the very best of t-mail hackers. The government has specially created t-mail which is not available to the general public, and this is super-coded, which means it's practically impossible to hack into, except perhaps by a specially trained master-adept. Of course, gangs which employ their own Sorreters may also have their own t-mail formats custom created to keep anyone from listening in, even government agents... unless the government is employing their own master-adept Sorreters, though there's no guarantee that government Sorreters will be better than gang Sorreters.
It should also be noted that certain people have made use of bubble-screens for transcommunication, which are made of the same material as bubbles, but are flat and much larger, usually hung from the wall of an office. These were prohibitively expensive, and mostly used by either nobles, businesses, the World Council, the military, and perhaps high-ranking gangsters. However, with the introduction of even larger bubble-screens for public showing of news and entertainment beginning in 912, it seems possible the smaller bubble-screens may soon be reduced in price, and become more common in ordinary household usage, while t-mail bubbles could still be used for portable communications.
List of bubble formatsEdit
T-mail bubbles come in different colors, to indicate their priority, encoding level, and whether they're open or closed. These are the ones that are commonly known to exist, though there may be others that are not known of. And even the types on this list may be given encoding beyond the normal levels.
- red= high priority, closed, coded.
- orange= high priority, open, coded.
- yellow= standard priority, closed, secure.
- green= standard priority, open, secure.
- blue= low priority, closed.
- white= low priority, open.
- indigo= high priority, closed, super-coded.
- violet= high priority, open, super-coded.
gang special formatsEdit
- black= closed, custom coded.
- grey= open, custom coded.