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Alibear

Is your Fantasy gaming stuck in time?

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Okay, well I thought you were going with the idea that magic ebbs and flows and has times of High Magic and times of No Magic. During times of High Magic, the wizards would have figured that relationship out, and it is hard to imagine that such knowledge would disappear once discovered, given the role it would naturally play in keeping dynasties in power throughout the ebb times.

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Okay, well I thought you were going with the idea that magic ebbs and flows and has times of High Magic and times of No Magic. During times of High Magic, the wizards would have figured that relationship out, and it is hard to imagine that such knowledge would disappear once discovered, given the role it would naturally play in keeping dynasties in power throughout the ebb times.

 

 

Imagine we have a city of 50, 000 people, only a handful are what we call wizards and most are busy with their normal lives, practacing spells, blowing shit up, designing magical weapons, spells and potions. How many do think have nothing better to do than try and figure out the link between magical winters and gold? How many have nothing better do but spend their time in the local Inn chasing the buxum and flaxen-haired Olga? How many are star gazing? How many are Alchemists? How many are runesmiths? Elementalists? Blood mages? Yada yada yada. We're talking pretty obscure magical theology here.

 

Maybe some do figure it out, write it down, tells all his mates and everyone has a glass of wine to celebrate. but they're poor can't do anything about it and 10 years later they are all dead and nobody has a clue.

 

edit: and don't forget if you are a wizard in The Time of Heroes the magical winter happened 30 years ago or more, way before you were born, why would you even question it?

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I do think that, in order for 'forgetting' magic to be plausible, you'll need longer time-frames between low and high magic tides.  Think of it in generations (with roughly 20-25 years per generation).  If your grandparents could wield magic, then you're likely to believe in it, even if you can't do it yourself.  I think you'd need at least 2-3 generations without magic (so, your grandparents or great-grandparents could do a few tricks but not much else) for skepticism to become the norm.  So, I'd make each phase roughly 2-3 generations long.  So, 2 generations of no magic followed by 3 of waxing magic then 2 of full magic and finally 3 of waning magic.  That's 10 generations or a cycle of roughly 200-250 years.

 

 

 

We're not just talking forgetting that magic exists, you have to believe it exists then actively pursue it. Do you believe Santa Claus exists? Probably not. Old people lie to young people about magic all the time. Tooth fairy? Cross your fingers and hope to die? God? Fairies at the bottom of the garden? Ghosts? Tarot? Sixth sense? It's all horeshit if you can't see it or do it yourself.

 

edit: and if you do have faith it only affects 1 in a thousand anyway. Most that do have faith are proved wrong anyway.

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Young Dude, "You are telling me stories, Grandad, magic isn't real!"

 

Grandad, "I am not, I saw a wizard when I was your age and he pulled a penny from my ear!"

 

Young Dude, "You are a senile old fool, Grandad!"

 

Grandad, "Magic is real!"

 

Young Dude, "Prove it!"

 

Grandad, "I can't actually prove it, but its real alright!"

 

Young Dude, "Right. Is it time for your nap, Grandad?"

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Imagine we have a city of 50, 000 people, only a handful are what we call wizards and most are busy with their normal lives, practacing spells, blowing shit up, designing magical weapons, spells and potions. How many do think have nothing better to do than try and figure out the link between magical winters and gold?

 

Quite a few, actually. A society without its inquisitive knowledge-seekers stagnates and goes nowhere. You're describing a world without anyone like Pythagoras, Euclid, Kepler, or Newton (and the schools of scholarly study they gave birth to). It simply fails a basic plausibility threshold for me, that's all.

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Quite a few, actually. A society without its inquisitive knowledge-seekers stagnates and goes nowhere. You're describing a world without anyone like Pythagoras, Euclid, Kepler, or Newton (and the schools of scholarly study they gave birth to). It simply fails a basic plausibility threshold for me, that's all.

 

Yes but only 1 in every thousand can do magic so it will be a dead end for most of them. I in every 1000 enquiring minds which leaves 999 for other intellectual pursuits. They won't just be interested in Magic, they'll be interested in all other scientific fields as well.

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The ones who don't have the shiny hoarder gene have short brutish lives but the ones who hoard gold get to be immortal, fly, breath fire, teh good stuff... basically anything it can learn in the Time of Heroes it can carry over in the Magical winter if it has enough gold. I like it.

 

Explains why they sleep for long periods. They don't have enough ambient magic to sustain a lot of activity. The hoard keeps them alive during the Winter.

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Yes but only 1 in every thousand can do magic so it will be a dead end for most of them. I in every 1000 enquiring minds which leaves 999 for other intellectual pursuits. They won't just be interested in Magic, they'll be interested in all other scientific fields as well.

 

Fair enough. I guess we have very different notions of High Magic if you only imagine 1 out of every 1000 scholarly intellectuals being capable of magic. And what, exactly, does it mean to be "capable of magic"? Isn't it just a learned/trained skill/discipline like chemistry (alchemy) or physics (thaumaturgy)?

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Fair enough. I guess we have very different notions of High Magic if you only imagine 1 out of every 1000 scholarly intellectuals being capable of magic. And what, exactly, does it mean to be "capable of magic"? Isn't it just a learned/trained skill/discipline like chemistry (alchemy) or physics (thaumaturgy)?

 

That was the topic of a good thread a little while ago.  Some folks argued that magic was fantasy's technology equivalent, subject to the same tropes of research, reproducibility and communication.  Others thought that magic should be less reliable, less predictable and much more of an art.

 

In Alibear's world it would make sense for magic to be closer to the latter than the former.  It is also worth pointing out that, during high magic, gold is not a source of magic, it is ambient and ubiquitous for those sensitive to it and able to use it.  signal to noise would be faint at best and there would be no reliable sensory apparatus nor the coherent community and global resource to create something like the Large Hadron Collider.  There is also the master/apprentice style learning scheme where there is more incentive to keep secrets than to share them.

 

That kind of thing can quickly collapse into supposition and hearsay when things begin to stop working.

 

 

Doc

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You make a lot of sense, Doc.

 

However, my notion of High Magic means that magic is so ubiquitous and commonplace that little about it is a secret to anyone; even peasants are aware of it in their everyday lives (though they wouldn't understand the mechanics of it). To my mind, High Magic is the kind of milieu that gives rise to cities full of shops selling enchanted swords, boots of levitation, and rings of protection the way we find shoe, clothing, and electronics stores everywhere in the modern world. It is the classic D&D "magic is everywhere and easily obtained" environment. Competing wizard schools vie for knowledge, expertise, and influence much the same way universities and science labs do today. Etc.

 

What I think I'm hearing is a description of a world that cycles between Low Magic and No Magic, rather than High Magic and No Magic.

 

(As a point of reference, Middle-Earth is a Low Magic world.)

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I want to have some people live lives where there is just no magic to be seen, I want them to question if it even exists. I want sensible people to scoff and jeer, but then when it returns, eat humble pie and look like fools pretend they always knew magic was real and deny they ever said otherwise

FIFY, human nature being what it is and all. ;)

 

I have decided that Armour which takes the 'real' disadvantage will only work half as well against firearms. I think this is a good way to faze it out.

 

I don't want to make bullets AP, mostly cos they're not and that would have issues with cover and such like.

Well, bullets do have pretty good penetration (I don't mean the game Adv) compared to arrows. I've done this in the past as "AP, only vs. medieval armor" or something like that, but either way works.

 

I do think that, in order for 'forgetting' magic to be plausible, you'll need longer time-frames between low and high magic tides.  Think of it in generations (with roughly 20-25 years per generation).  If your grandparents could wield magic, then you're likely to believe in it, even if you can't do it yourself.  I think you'd need at least 2-3 generations without magic (so, your grandparents or great-grandparents could do a few tricks but not much else) for skepticism to become the norm.  So, I'd make each phase roughly 2-3 generations long.  So, 2 generations of no magic followed by 3 of waxing magic then 2 of full magic and finally 3 of waning magic.  That's 10 generations or a cycle of roughly 200-250 years.

I tend to agree that time frame makes more sense, but YMMV. I also really like the gold idea, but given how ubiquitous gold is in most fantasy games, it does seem unlikely that no one has figured that out before now. Especially assuming writing is a thing that exists, knowledge doesn't get lost that quickly.

 

My main question is, while this is an interesting exercise in world-building, how does it affect the PCs? Even with a relatively quick transition from no magic to peak magic, over the timespan of a typical RPG campaign it's still going to be relatively stable. So how do you see the fact that magic levels were different X years ago and will be different Y years from now, how does that drive the story and how does it affect the players of a day-to-day basis.

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If the PCs start on 175 points then they will not be able to buy any one-off magical effects, cast any spells, have psionic powers, call on the divine for help, own a magical heirloom* or the like. I will allow them to set aside some of those points for a 'radiation accident' at some point down the line.

 

If and when they move into contact with magical properties, greenskin shaman willing to pass on his knowledge with large gold reserves, and/or I decide I want to slowly bring magic back online then they can either use that reserve or use any XPs they may have saved up to start learning simple spells.

 

*If anyone does want to own a magical heirloom it won't actually do anything magical or have any magical properties.

 

 

The most important thing is that the PCs don't have any way to difinitively detect magic one way or the other. For any of this to work the PCs can't be sure if magic is real or not.

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We're not just talking forgetting that magic exists, you have to believe it exists then actively pursue it. Do you believe Santa Claus exists? Probably not. Old people lie to young people about magic all the time. Tooth fairy? Cross your fingers and hope to die? God? Fairies at the bottom of the garden? Ghosts? Tarot? Sixth sense? It's all horeshit if you can't see it or do it yourself.

 

edit: and if you do have faith it only affects 1 in a thousand anyway. Most that do have faith are proved wrong anyway.

A big difference here is that, in the real world, none of those things have ever existed thus there has never been proof of their existence.  The world you're positing, however, has had concrete evidence of magic's existence in the past.  Not only that, history would show a patter of magical cycles where there are times that magic plays into great events with relative frequency and other times where it's not mentioned at all.

 

Compare this with real-world "lost" knowledge like Roman concrete.  Scholars knew of it and believed in its existence but no one knew the recipe.  Lack of that recipe did not lead to disbelief.

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Of course, but we still have people who believe in things which are patently ridiculous in our very old world. So we'll have lots of people who do believe and some who don't in the game world too.

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I think that it might not be entirely natural. Magical creatures and societies might have an incentive to "encourage forgetfulness" during magical droughts...

 

You're paranoid, Doc! 

 

Great idea though.

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I don't buy it.  1 in a 1000 isn't as uncommon as you think.  That would mean that 1.5 kids at my high school would have been able to use magic.  And sure, medieval societies are going to have fewer people than we do today, but 1 in a 1000 means that every village should have somebody who can do it.

 

In 1200 AD, France had 13 million people.  That gives you 13,000 wizards.  You think that none of them have lots of gold?  You think there aren't wizards who just love being rich, and horde gold purely for its monetary value?  Then when the magic fades, they're like "hey, I don't know what you guys' problem is, but my magic works fine."  It won't take long for people to put two and two together.

 

This sort of thing should also be common knowledge among races that have longer lifespans than humans.  Bob the Elf is 1,000 years old.  Of course he knows that magic is real.  If you're going to have these characters be available as PCs, then the players should know immediately.  Bob is like "oh yeah, magic fades every 30 years or so, but gold is a magical battery,  I thought everyone knew that."  

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13 million gives you about a hundred people capable of becoming wizards... not all of them make it that far. Even if 40 or 50 make it to the full height of their powers they are spread all over the country. Some, but not all go to the White Tower to study. 

 

As I said earlier, there are no elves.

 

Bob the Elf is dead and has been for hundreds of years. Like all the other elves and dwarfs died when the Dragonlords came back to life and hunted them all to extinction for betraying them the 1st time round. 

 

And with all due respect it doesn't really matter if you don't 'buy it' I just need to sell it to my players.

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It depends on what you want from your campaign.  Even if you're able to use magic doesn't mean you necessarily ever will learn or even be aware of it.  And being able to use magic may simply mean you can only cause very small effects, like slightly nudge probabilities so you're a little luckier, or small charms that protect you from spiders, etc.  Of all the people who can use magic, only a few may ever be able to do anything significant with it, and not all will be trained.  So even 1:1000 could mean magic is pretty rare, at least of any significance.

 

I like the idea of a campaign with lots of hedge wizards, wise women, and minor spell flingers.  People who can't stand up and throw fireballs but can do little things like light a fire or purify water.  Folks who create dubious magical items and can create small effects.  They can curse your enemy (for a little while, with a minor effect) or help you remove a little curse.  They can try to heal your daughter's disease, or at least lessen its effects.  They mix things like aspirin and such.  Every village having someone like that is kind of a neat flavor to a campaign.

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This is exactly how I picture it too, Christopher.

 

And how that works in hero terms is:

 

If you want to buy a one-off power you can; either a spell, a wish, a rune, a cantrip, a family heirloom, whatever, makes no difference you can do it but you can't have more than 20 active points without GM permission. You can even buy several of them.

 

If you want to stick those in a power framework you can too but that power framework needs to take a Requires a Skill roll with a -1 per 10 AP and the skill roll is a Power Skill.

 

That power skill unlocks a certain style of magic associated with it. A list of spells. That also comes with a lost of normally associated skills depending what the power skill is and how you learned it. 

 

e.g. seanchaidh are the rememberers and storytellers of the northern clanholds and pass on all knowledge orally. They have certain skills and spells associated with them and their warrior lifestyle which is totally differenet from the Wizards and Knights of the White Tower.

 

If you want a to come up with your own spell list then we can talk through that. Strictly GM permission land.

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A big difference here is that, in the real world, none of those things have ever existed thus there has never been proof of their existence.  The world you're positing, however, has had concrete evidence of magic's existence in the past.  Not only that, history would show a patter of magical cycles where there are times that magic plays into great events with relative frequency and other times where it's not mentioned at all.

 

Compare this with real-world "lost" knowledge like Roman concrete.  Scholars knew of it and believed in its existence but no one knew the recipe.  Lack of that recipe did not lead to disbelief.

 

This has happened quite a bit, actually.  Ulfberht swords, Damascus steel, vitrified fortresses, the construction of Zheng He's treasure ships, all lost.  It took the advent of computation to decipher Incan khipus and figure out what the Antikythera Mechanism was for.  We only figured out how they got the stone to the Pyramids at Giza a few weeks ago.

 

I prefer rare-magic campaigns so I tend to make it really difficult to learn and often combine it with a lost knowledge effect.  On top of that I usually define magic as not working by rote--the caster has to adjust each casting for the present circumstances; it's generally not possible to just recite the same magic words every time and expect it to work.  This latter effect has little effect on gameplay, it's still just "Incantations", but it makes a big difference for the campaign.

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We did figure out how they moved the stones for the pyramids? And no alien tech?

I thought they figured that out some years ago?

 

For each huge stone block, 8 wooden parts that are shaped like a crescent with a flat edge. Put 4 at each end of the block, flat edge to the stone, curved edge outward, and you make the stone a kind of huge oversized axle and the wooden parts become a pair of wheels. Now roll it.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

Would a palindromedary count as alien tech?

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