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View Full Version : Sufficiently advance technology is indistinguishable from magic



TheThan
2012-02-07, 03:32 PM
So Iíve starting a little creative writing project that sort of focuses on this concept. Iíve spoilered the back story so you donít have to read it if youíre not interested.

background

The background for the story, is that it is a post apocalyptic wasteland. The reasons, nobody quite knows, they only have vague knowledge that technology caused it. Over the years this has lead to widespread belief that nearly all forms of technology is not only dangerous, but evil. A religion has sprung up around the concept. Now any sort of technology beyond a specific level is considered evil, and using it punishable by banishment into the desert (basically a death sentence). This religion has such strong control over the various colonies that technology has in effect become magical to most people.
Enter mages. Mages are people who roam the desert and ruins of the previous society in search of artifacts. They know and understand the technology (at least how to use it). They travel and adventure and generally are equivalent to PC status. ďNormalĒ people see them as being able to use magic, and generally fear them, even when they help out.


Now one thing I wish to put into the story is that notion that people only really see what they want to see. So when a mage pulls out a flashlight to see in the dark, an observer wouldnít actually see him use a flashlight, instead he would see the mage cast a light spell.

What Iím looking for is to create a list of objects/tools/equipment that can simulate DnD style spells to some degree for use in my little story. They donít have to be an exact fit, but they have to at least produce a similar effect. So far here is the list Iíve come up with, but I'm not satisfied with what I have, I know there is more out there than that. So if you have any ideas feel free to post them here.

list of stuff.

items
{table=head]item|Spell

Acid splash| a vial of acid
purify food and drink| water purification tablets
Flare| a flare gun
light/daylight| a flashlight
message| two way radio
sleep| sedatives
Burning hands| flamethrower
shocking grasp| a taser
disguise self| makeup kit
ventriloquism| two way radio/speaker
mage armor/shield| body armor
fog cloud/obscuring mist| smoke bombs
daze monster| flash bang
shatter| tuning fork
know direction |compass
cure wounds |first aid kit/medical supplies
knock| skeleton key/lock pick set
pyrotechnics| fireworks
clairvoyance| binoculars
fireball| explosives (tnt etc)
cloud kill| chemical weapons
finger of death/power word kill | guns
power word blind | tear gas
Charm person |aphrodisiac
invisibility| camoflauge/ghillie suit/active camouflage system
feather fall| parachute
alarm| motion sensor alarm
hideous laughter| laughing gas
buff spells like bullís str/haste |illegal drugs like cocane, pcp, speed etc
spider climb | suction pads/magnets
darkvision | night vision goggles
far stride/mount/phantom steed | bicycle/moterbike
grease | vial/can of lard

[/table]


I might eventually turn this into a campaign setting, so every little bit helps.

[edit] added stuff to my list.

Rakmakallan
2012-02-07, 05:56 PM
I would just like to point out something that seems wrong to me about the trope you are using as a title. Technology is based on natural principles, whereas by default, magic is considered supernatural. So, would not someone notice eventually that technology deals with reproducible and predictable effects, when magic consistently bends or violates naturals laws? This might seem appropriate in your idea where society is largely made up of ignorant, uneducated, religious derps, but in general I think it is unconvincing.
Other than this, your project looks original enough and promising so far. I would like to read more.

TheThan
2012-02-07, 07:00 PM
Well think about it like this.
Everyone knows that fire produces light. If you want light, you need fire. But a mage can produce light without the fire by using a wand. We recognize that heís got a flashlight. But to these ignorant, uneducated religious derps, its a magical wand. Heís doing something they ĎknowĒ canít be done and it scares them.

To be more accurate, I'm looking for bits of technology that can simulate some of the magic effects we see in fantasy. it doesn't have to be an exact match.

so for instance, a hang glider can simulate the fly spell. its not perfect, but it can work. (obviously the material components is the hang glider).

[edit]
The people who have figured out what the technology is, and what it's used for (maybe even tried to reverse engineer some of it), have been branded heretics and kicked out of the community. They become wandering adventures known as Mages.

Dragon Star
2012-02-08, 03:41 AM
Well, if this is post apocalyptic, you can get away with plenty of sci-fi thingys. Like a jetpack for fly and a teleport device and so on. Also, some kInd of pheromone for summon monster/NAtures ally, a gun for Mahon missile, a grenade for fireball, drugs for haste, camouflage kit for invisibility, fore field generator for mage armor/shield, flash grenade for glitter dust, radiation injection for polymorph/alter self, special clothing for resist energy, some kind of entanglement grenade for web, some kind of gas for sleep, an injected drug for charm person, a motion sensor for alarm, another injected drug for ray of enfeeblement, parachute for feather fall, spring boots for jump, drugs for expeditious retreate, a radar for locate object, laughing gas for
Hideous laughter, injection for blindness/deafness, drugs for bulls strength etc., suction pads for spider climb, night goggles for darkvision, smoke grenade for obscuring mist/every other cloud spell...

I could go on and on, but I have to go to bed.

Krazzman
2012-02-08, 04:58 AM
Holopad -> silent Image
Gun -> magic missile
Crossbow -> bolt
Portal-Gun -> Dimension Door
Scorching Blade (like the flaming one you get in Fallout 3) -> Flame Sword
Binoculars -> far seeing?
Bycycle -> Far stride or mount/phantom steed or so on.
vial of fat(molten) -> grease
turning a robot on -> summon monster
painkiller -> either cure or similar spell that gives HP or Temp. HP

TheThan
2012-02-08, 02:40 PM
Oohh you guys are really on to something. But I want to keep the technology at about our level, so star trek style transporters are a bit too advanced.
Anyway thanks for the contributions. Feel free to keep them coming! i've updated my list o' spells up at the top.

Thinker
2012-02-09, 01:25 PM
RC Cars (and other remote controlled devices) -> Animate Object
MAV's (micro air vehicle) -> Arcane Eye
Sonar -> Detect Secret Doors, Find Traps
Infrared Goggles -> See Invisibility
Night vision Goggles -> Darkvision
eReader w/ access to Wikipedia -> Legend Lore
Infrared Sensors -> Alarm
Flamethrower -> Scorching ray
Boombox/speakers -> Ghost sounds

Krazzman
2012-02-09, 02:21 PM
eReader w/ access to Wikipedia -> Legend Lore


You mean a tablet with a built in encyclopedia, internet will probably be down there, but good idea.

Megaphone - Ventriloquism?
Pepper Spray - daze?
reading - read magic!
THC - calm emotions
spring knife/butterfly - summon dagger (oddly specific)

Thinker
2012-02-09, 03:09 PM
You mean a tablet with a built in encyclopedia, internet will probably be down there, but good idea.


I don't know why there couldn't be a cabal of mages maintaining a network and some wifi hotspots.

TheThan
2012-02-09, 07:30 PM
Nice, I especially like the megaphone, Ereader, boombox ideas. Not sure on the mage cabal idea Iíll give it some though. I can use military UAVs for arcane Eye. They have to be equipped with cameras for the pilot to see by anyway (otherwise crash into a hill). Any sort of sedative works for calm emotions, it doesnít really have to be THC.

Dragon Star
2012-02-09, 09:49 PM
What level of spells do you want to go to? It would be kind of weird, but I'm sure higher level spells could be justified.

TheThan
2012-02-09, 11:01 PM
What level of spells do you want to go to? It would be kind of weird, but I'm sure higher level spells could be justified.

I don't really have any cap on spell level, I'm just collecting a list of "spells" to use.

Talentless
2012-02-09, 11:18 PM
Tactical Nukes:

Range from Persistent Burning Thundering Sickening Intensified Meteor Swarm.
To Apocalypse from the Sky level destruction.

Also, do you want Kill-Sats or not? Hell, that could actually be what kicked off the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

We technically have the knowledge and capacity to put them into space, but no major First World country really wants to open that can of worms by putting them up there.

Tank - Apparatus of the Crab?

Machine Gun- Issac's Greater Missile Storm

Cigar Bomb - Explosive Runes

Ornithologist
2012-02-09, 11:34 PM
I would also suggest that a tazer could also be sleep!

For entertainment value, I would say a polaroid camera could be called a soul stealer! Not that it would work, but that general people or even the PCs think it does!

Heck, a fancy lcd Watch with several gizmos could function for many things.

For another thought to this what are some things you could have the general populace using that aren't for the correct usage.

I'm thinking most people will have access to small handheld mirrors for their convenience, i.e. cds.
People are using plastic bags as either clothing, blankets, or home insulation.

Infact, having a plot line around the PCs having to raid all of the mirrors in town for the one that has the important info on it sounds hilarious. especially, if they have to keep the tech component of the CD's on the down low.

Thinker
2012-02-10, 01:33 PM
Nice, I especially like the megaphone, Ereader, boombox ideas. Not sure on the mage cabal idea Iíll give it some though. I can use military UAVs for arcane Eye. They have to be equipped with cameras for the pilot to see by anyway (otherwise crash into a hill). Any sort of sedative works for calm emotions, it doesnít really have to be THC.

The only reason that I suggested MAC's instead of UAV's is that the former are more maneuverable and small enough to go into areas like dungeons. Some of the smaller ones are also hard to distinguish from bugs if you're not paying attention.