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A Thread For Random RPG Musings


tkdguy
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5 hours ago, tkdguy said:

Runequest allows everyone to know some kind of magic. Maybe it has a few ideas you can use for your campaign.

I've looked at it. Basically, I decided to drop the whole idea of Battle Magic in favour of "it cancels out".

 

But, yes, Rune Magic is one of the things I am thinking about.

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9 hours ago, archer said:

If you're a highly-skilled magician, you need to know ancient languages and have a ton of knowledge skills. If you want to be the guy who actually makes magic items, you're going to need crafting skills and maybe metallurgy skills. And that's in addition to years spent in magical apprenticeship and actually practicing your magic.

 

You aren't going to be practicing your Running. Or building up your Endurance. Or even learning how to properly defend yourself on a physical level. If you ever go adventuring, half of the magical goodies you find aren't going to do you much good because you can't wield a magic sword or shuffle around in magic armor.

My assumption is that wizards have patrons, often members of their own family.

 

More importantly, they will have similar backgrounds and basic educations to the other members of their family. So a wizard from a noble family, for instance, will have received the same martial training as their siblings. They might not have kept it up, or improved it, but they will have had it in the first place. But that is also true of their siblings - not every noble is a brilliant warrior.

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44 minutes ago, assault said:

My assumption is that wizards have patrons, often members of their own family.

 

More importantly, they will have similar backgrounds and basic educations to the other members of their family. So a wizard from a noble family, for instance, will have received the same martial training as their siblings. They might not have kept it up, or improved it, but they will have had it in the first place. But that is also true of their siblings - not every noble is a brilliant warrior.

 

Your previously-stated assumption was that everyone knows magic. That sounds a lot like "there will be people from every background who are wizards".

 

It's difficult to believe that there will be wealthy patrons for every wizard if wizards are very common. And obviously, wizards would need to produce something of great value in order to satisfy their patron. At the least, I would expect patrons to be demanding if he knows he can replace his tame wizard with someone who appears more competent (or someone who promises more). Sounds like it could easily devolve into a system where the wizard tries to rip off his patron for as much funding as possible before he's forced to find new employment. :D 

 

In the real world, you had inventors and thinkers like DaVinci who produced paintings to satisfy his patrons and held demonstrations of his inventions as spectacles for his patron.

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3 hours ago, archer said:

 

Your previously-stated assumption was that everyone knows magic. That sounds a lot like "there will be people from every background who are wizards".

There are people from every background who could be wizards with the right training and education, just like there are people from every background who could be doctors or engineers in our world.

 

There's a big discrepancy between "could be" and "are".

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7 hours ago, assault said:

There are people from every background who could be wizards with the right training and education, just like there are people from every background who could be doctors or engineers in our world.

 

There's a big discrepancy between "could be" and "are".

 

Your description of, "high school girls casting love spells" gives the impression that magic is common, perhaps to the point where not using magic is noteworthy.

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1 hour ago, IndianaJoe3 said:

 

Your description of, "high school girls casting love spells" gives the impression that magic is common, perhaps to the point where not using magic is noteworthy.

Using magic and being a wizard aren't the same.

 

Using magic can be as simple as offering prayers before you leave the house in the morning. Being a wizard is more than that.

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On 10/8/2020 at 2:37 AM, assault said:

In a fantasy game, why wouldn't you play a wizard?

 

If being a wizard in that game-world entails enough burdens on you, it might not be any fun.  It might be that wizards have other things required of them that only wizards can do, and for the rest ... the "fun stuff" ... they have people for that.

 

I think it simply boils down to world or campaign design.  If the GM doesn't have wizards as a viable character concept/class/whatever, then you can't play one.  I mean, who in a near-now campaign of reasonable fidelity to real life in any genre wants to play the CEO of <insert major corporation name here> or head of government of <insert any real sovereign state here>?  Those individuals have world-shaping powers if they choose to exert the resources needed, and I think it's clear that they can very easily have lots of people killed if for some reason that becomes important to them.  But that isn't among my power fantasies of choice.

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8 hours ago, assault said:

Using magic and being a wizard aren't the same.

 

Using magic can be as simple as offering prayers before you leave the house in the morning. Being a wizard is more than that.

 

Would being a mechanic be a good analogy?

 

Some people repair cars for a living (wizards). Some people fix their own cars (dabblers). Most people just pump their own gas and change the brake light when it burns out (amulets and daily prayers).

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27 minutes ago, Ragitsu said:

One of my favorite DM/GM perks: I get to concoct completely off-the-wall names for my Non-Player Characters and the players have to say these names :yes:.

 

I like to reuse names from Classic D&D modules: Flerd Trantle, Gleep Wurp the Eye Biter, and Fage the Kexy come to mind. Yes, those were some of the names of pregenerated characters.

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On 10/8/2020 at 5:37 AM, assault said:

To use Conan as an example: why would you play a Cimmerian barbarian rather than a Stygian wizard?
 

 

In that confrontation, who usually wins? ;)

 

In low fantasy stories with magic, while minor spells may be easy enough for the average person to use, real power is costly. In stories with Conan or Elric, and other early authors in the genre, the most potent spells require invoking some supernatural entity, and bargaining with or somehow compelling it to service. But that builds a debt that has to be repaid sooner or later. Even Dr. Strange was eventually called in by all the entities he drew power from. In Lovecraft's stories invoking supernatural beings eroded the very sanity of the magician. The Valdorian Age mentioned earlier on this thread uses that guiding principle in its magic system.

 

In other words, throwing around a lot of wizardly might can bring short-term gain, but at the cost of long-term pain.

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On 10/11/2020 at 7:20 AM, IndianaJoe3 said:

 

Your description of, "high school girls casting love spells" gives the impression that magic is common, perhaps to the point where not using magic is noteworthy.

 

Yeah, the impression was that this was some sort of a unique setting.

 

What we're presented with now is "this is no different than the world of Dragonlance" where Raistlin is sent to the local magic school to learn spellcasting alongside the other local kids whose parents don't know what else to do with them.

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On 10/11/2020 at 1:00 AM, tkdguy said:

Has anyone ever played in an Arthurian campaign? I've never played Pendragon, but King Arthur and several of his knights were written up in Deities & Demigods/Legends & Lore book.

 

Never a purely Arthurian campaign, but I have made 'file off the serial numbers' knightly orders with a strong Arthurian vibe and given players the chance to play one plenty of times. And they, not being dummies, caught onto source of some of the adventure ideas and more. They had a blast at the time or so I tell myself, but it's been awhile, a long while.

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On 10/11/2020 at 1:00 AM, tkdguy said:

Has anyone ever played in an Arthurian campaign? I've never played Pendragon, but King Arthur and several of his knights were written up in Deities & Demigods/Legends & Lore book.

 

I did try to start up a campaign set in France during the Carolingian Cycle, the mythology surrounding Charlemagne and his paladins, which was a major inspiration for the later Arthurian mythos. Drawn from the Matter of France and the Song of Roland, with additional inspiration from Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, and an incident in Michael Moorcock's novel Stormbringer. Its initial focus was dealing with intrusions by powers from Faerie, and a recurring witch antagonist, although I planned to introduce conflicts with the Saracens and rebellions within the Frankish Empire.

 

It sadly fizzled out after only a few sessions. Real life issues and all. :(

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15 hours ago, archer said:

 

Yeah, the impression was that this was some sort of a unique setting.

 

What we're presented with now is "this is no different than the world of Dragonlance" where Raistlin is sent to the local magic school to learn spellcasting alongside the other local kids whose parents don't know what else to do with them.

I'm wounded! 😀

 

But you are correct - it's all a bit middle class.

 

If magic is fully integrated into a society, it ceases to be magic, and instead becomes physics and part of the social structure.

 

The physics part means that it tends to disappear in terms of game mechanics - it cancels out except when it doesn't.

 

The social part is more interesting.

 

An anecdote: I based the idea of teenage girls casting love spells on something a young woman I met in Papua New Guinea said. But what I forgot, until now, is that she also described the PNG Prime Minister as having "many powerful magics".

 

This suggests that magic and social position are intertwined, which is how it should be.

 

The question then becomes (assuming Kings exist): does a person become King because they have magic, or do they have magic because they are King?

 

The first is the capitalist answer, and is therefore wrong. Clearly, the King is King because they have magic, and they have magic because they are King. They are literally the chosen representative (and likely a descendant) of the Gods. They can still be defeated, murdered or usurped, but not casually.

 

Can there still be other forms of government besides monarchy in such an arrangement? Yes there can. Because you can easily replace the term "King" with "High Priest", and everything still works. Then the High Priest is the representative of the Gods, and secular government can take whatever form you desire. Indeed, this may be the Will of The Gods.

 

Reduce it to a village level, and the most influential religious leader is the most powerful wielder of magic. Secular affairs are routinely managed by the local Elders, or when needed, by an assembly of all the adults. (Or in certain matters, all the women, all the men or some subgroup.) So your peasant commune or tribal village still can exist. They can also form larger groups with other such communities - doubtless meeting to share in rituals on occasion.

 

But then we still have the question of what does magic actually do in game mechanical terms, and what impact does that have on Player choices. And yes, a great warrior is likely to have great magic, even though the category of "wizard" has largely disappeared. There may be Priests, Shamans, Druids or Prophets filling part of that space - but, ah, yes, they aren't PC types. They are pretty strictly NPCs.

 

So that's my answer to my original question, but there is still the other question (what does magic do?) remaining.

 

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A quick PS to my previous post.

It's possible, of course, for individuals to seek magical power outside the normal means available in a community. In many cases, such power is "evil", although it's not necessarily the case.

Zelazny's Lord of Light is an example of this. While Sam's goals are notionally altruistic and thus not "evil", he goes outside the normal social structures, both divine and mortal.

 

The Ring of Gyges is another case of the introduction of magic from outside normal society, and its consequences.

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