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View Full Version : Reasons for More Advanced Magic to be... Weaker?



Melville's Book
2014-08-02, 04:26 PM
If you're a fan of TVtropes, Older is Better. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OlderisBetter) I'm looking to justify it.

If you aren't into TVtropes, basically, in fantasy, there's a fairly common stereotype that the older something is, the better it is. I'm not referring to creatures here, though it's sometimes weird in those cases too. What I'm referring to right now are equipment, items, magic, and other such things. There's often some ancient magic that far overpowers what modern magic is capable of, the method to creating the mightiest types of items ever forged (for example, 3.5 Relics) has been lost to the annals of time and even the greatest modern crafters can't compare to these old methods, and the 5,000 year-old items forged by that one legendary craftsman, even after being left there to rust and succumb to the elements for so long, are significantly better than what modern crafters make. The general assumption appears to be that people are not learning, inventing new ideas, and improving on the old, but rather regressing in knowledge and ability.

In the case of magic, I'm looking for justifications for this phenomenon. Ones that make it so that people who found the secrets of the old magic could access the power, though; so, say, magic itself simply being drained away over time doesn't really work.

If you've ever thought about it, what are some of your favorite explanations as to why these wizards of old had better magic than current wizards, who have presumably been trying to refine and improve on magic ever since, inventing new spells and making new discoveries? The easiest answer is probably "they haven't been" but I want to hear some more creative ideas.

sktarq
2014-08-02, 04:32 PM
In the case of magic, I'm looking for justifications for this phenomenon. Ones that make it so that people who found the secrets of the old magic could access the power, though; so, say, magic itself simply being drained away over time doesn't really work.

If you've ever thought about it, what are some of your favorite explanations as to why these wizards of old had better magic than current wizards, who have presumably been trying to refine and improve on magic ever since, inventing new spells and making new discoveries? The easiest answer is probably "they haven't been" but I want to hear some more creative ideas.

A: This is a world rebuilt from a post apocalyptic ruin. Pre-apocalyptic magic had regain to heights yet untrod my modern wizards
B: the source of magic is fading in some way that it is harder to establish a connection to. An active connection works just fine but it is harder and harder to
C: The sum total of active magic in the world acts in some way to inhibit more magic from entering the world. When the old magic was done there were fewer casters and currently active magic items to push against, allowing for bigger better magic spells.
D: The rules of magic changed at some time-see Forgotten Realms for this one.
E: As a spell lasts longer it naturally grows. Leaving longer lasting spells bigger than newer ones

I'll add more as I think of them

EDIT:
F: A cost that drove the older spells power to the heights it did (and was considered normal and ok at the time) is no longer socially acceptable and thus not taught-evil god, blood sacrifice, etc. (inspired by Diemedos)
G: a blood-line thinning from a magical ancestor over the generations

edit-fixed lacquer measured growth of knowledge statement :smallredface:

Zaydos
2014-08-02, 04:45 PM
The easiest one is a cataclysm that wiped out knowledge of the most powerful magic from mankind, maybe the ancient magic was the work of a now extinct race.

Another option is that the older form of magic was more powerful but far more dangerous to use. So while modern sages could duplicate it, it'd be likely to lead to societal destruction.

Or taking example from sword crafting; magic was powerful and mages did not share their knowledge freely. So while there were really powerful techniques, many were lost simply because their masters didn't have any apprentice to pass it down to.

Demidos
2014-08-02, 04:53 PM
Formula limits and controls the magic, but also limits what can be done with it?

Magic is made stronger by suffering, the modern academies can't manage the same levels as the self taught.

jaydubs
2014-08-02, 05:31 PM
A few ideas:
1. Your setting is a magical dark age, much like the cultural and economic dark age following the fall of the Roman Empire.
2. Magic is the rewriting of reality. Each time a spell is cast, it tears at the rules of the universe. As the spell is cast more and more throughout history, the rules of existence are pulled ever closer to its demands, so the spell becomes more powerful.
3. It's natural selection of societies, Darwin Awards style. Powerful magic is incredibly dangerous. And considering most fantasy settings are fairly primitive, it's like giving medieval people access to WMDs. The current society is still around precisely because such magic isn't widespread. Yet. *dun dun dun*
4. Powerful magic has a life of its own. It not only wants to survive, it wants to be discovered and put to use. Think of the One Ring, for instance. So when knowledge is lost for whatever reason, it's the powerful spells that tend to be rediscovered.

QuintonBeck
2014-08-02, 06:24 PM
Something that started a joke in one of the groups I played in I've actually thought about making into something as an actual setting, albeit altered a bit. The joke went over when we were talking about why Ancient Dwarven items are so much better than any modern pieces in this particular setting. Joking around we said that the Dwarves were actually far FAR more advanced than any other race and in fact had already invented and crafted laser weaponry and the like but out of a sense of responsibility and fairness to the other nations kept all their technology locked away and only used their really old stuff (which is still more advanced than the stuff produced by modern craftsman) Obviously it doesn't hold up to scrutiny and was just a joke but it got me thinking about the whole "older is better" thing and an idea was sprung off of that.

The "ancient" magic isn't actually ancient, it's the magic that's been developed far FAR in the future after all the advancements were made by progressive generations of magicians in a setting. Now, you enter funky time travel paradox territory so it's very setting dependent, but at some point in the future magic users of the time are forced to flee and flee not the planet or the plane, but the time, leaping back to the "ancient" period of whatever time your setting is in. Thus their magic, far more advanced and capable than any known to the people at the time, becomes dominant and leads to the creation of 'artifacts' and the like but for some reason: lack of resources or lack of access to particular needed resources what have you, prevents the magic from being kept up and it degrades (whether a cataclysm or dark age speeds up the process is up to personal preference) Of course, this enters a closed temporal loop (getting to the future point where the future magicians flees back relies on previous events to have relied on the ancient artifacts they brought back yadda yadda) but if the event happens super far in the future that particular setting quirk might never explicitly come up or it could be a main plot point, either breaking the loop or ensuring it takes place.

Aedilred
2014-08-02, 06:28 PM
I couldn't help but think of this:
http://ih0.redbubble.net/image.13129311.3017/sticker,375x360.u1.png
I would apologise... but I don't think one's necessary :smalltongue:

I suspect the trope originates from real life, where for a startlingly long period of recorded history there was often at least an expressed perception that everything used to be better: whether that's because humanity was expelled from paradise, or a flood wiped out an older, more advanced civilisation, or an older civilisation was punished for its hubris, or just that all the heroes killed each other... right through to modern "hearth and home" appeals which hearken back to a golden age before everything went to the dogs - often just within living memory. The myth of the hero who will return in his people's hour of need and put everything back the way it was is relatively common, at least in the west: King Arthur, Charlemagne, Barbarossa, even Sir Francis Drake have assumed that role in popular culture.

You see it crop up in the Middle Ages and early Modern era with reference to natural philosophy, political developments and the like, too: often people will talk about rediscovering principles known to the ancients, or reinstating ancient rights that have been allowed to fall into abeyance.

And of course there was probably a degree of truth to it for a long time: a lot of knowledge was lost in various collapses of civilisations, natural disasters, and the like. Some of the claims is also probably disingenuous: in a time when radical thinking is considered dangerous, it's safer to be "rediscovering" things than it is to be "inventing" them.

As to why it's become such a trope in fantasy, well, the above, but it also ties into the sense of romance. Other people have suggested some explanations for it, in which the idea of a post-apocalyptic society is common (as it was in real life). I'm not always a massive fan of post-apocalyptic fantasy, depending how it's done, but it can work well.

Another idea might be that the longer magic is around the longer it has to permeate its surroundings and therefore become more powerful, but as humans develop and lose their connection to the physical and spiritual in preference of the abstract and intellectual, it becomes harder to access (and because of the pursuit of the abstract/intellectual people look for answers in the wrong places). Civilisation itself acts as a barrier to understanding the older, more powerful forms of magic, although it might also be that the older magic is more elemental as well as more powerful, and thus harder to control.

I guess, in computer terms, maybe it's the difference between being able to use a graphical interface, no matter how proficiently, and being able to edit the source code. The older, "deeper" magic overrides the newer stuff because the newer stuff still relies on the old stuff to function; however, it's also much easier to screw up and break everything if you don't know what you're doing. And after years of putting layers between the users and the source, everyone - or at least the vast majority, leaving only a small, isolated and neglected population - is now so detached from the nuts and bolts of what's actually going on they probably have no idea even how to edit the code, let alone what to do with it if they were able to do so.

Kid Jake
2014-08-02, 06:51 PM
A fairly simple explanation could be that the gods smote all the old mages with their powerful ubermagic so that they wouldn't end up becoming a threat. So you can find all of these kickass spells from a long dead age but they can't be duplicated, because once too many people start showing them off; out comes the smiting again.

Quellian-dyrae
2014-08-02, 07:01 PM
For a setting where the idea is that magic has actually grown and advanced as a science over the centuries, despite the superiority of ancient magic:

Modern magic is less powerful, but far more efficient. Ancient magic required crazy elaborate rituals to get anything done. They were expensive, time-consuming, complicated, and often dangerous, but to give credit where due, they were beefy if you could manage to pull them off. Modern magic is much more refined, a trainable skill castable purely through personal power, and is perfectly capable of doing what you need it to do in 99% of cases, but since you're working with less raw power it can't quite stand up in direct comparison to ancient magic. The rituals still work, but you have to learn them somehow, assemble all the components, perform it right...it's not guaranteed by any means, and most mages consider it more trouble than it's worth.

Fable Wright
2014-08-02, 07:11 PM
In the case of magic, I'm looking for justifications for this phenomenon. Ones that make it so that people who found the secrets of the old magic could access the power, though; so, say, magic itself simply being drained away over time doesn't really work.
In the beginning, there was only one form of sorcery: artifice. In order to weave any magic, you had to tear out a chunk of your soul and place it in an object, before weaving the soul into a shape that would channel the magic to a purpose. Given time, this magic was extremely powerful: the longer the enchantment was set, the more power it would gain, and the stronger enchantments would become. However, as you can imagine, using this magic comes with a terrible cost to each practitioner. Ages ago, the ancient spellweavers realizes this, and sought a solution. After many days of debate, they came to an ambitious solution: They would create an enchantment that would gather magic into a form that could be easily woven into any shape, by those with the proper knowledge. Thus was the origin of modern spellcraft: a mage would merely use a small ritual to address the magic source, and shape the magic into a temporary enchantment. However, this magic would soon fade, as there was no soul forcing the magic to keep its form. This magic was undeniably weaker than the magic people know of today.

The idea of this magic-font spread quickly to other tribes, whose enchanters would bind their own souls to create their own fonts, and who would develop their own traditions of magic from the others. From those ancient traditions was created the schools of magic we have today: when you cast a Necromancy spell, you draw upon the font of Necromancy; when you cast an Evocation spell, you draw upon the font of Evocation. However, this only accounts for the manipulation of the best-developed fonts, the ones crafted by the greatest artificers of their age. When you cast a spell that draws upon metamagic, you are drawing upon a font whose magic is harder to access, less pliable to any mage. As such, as knowledge spread across multiple tribes, the use of the more obscure fonts faded, and so their power accumulated more than the common fonts; now, when one wrestles with the harder-to-use fonts, there is a distinct benefit, in that more power is channeled through their spells.

However, there are other fonts. Fonts not tied into one of the eight great schools of magic, and secret fonts that were not difficult to access, but who demanded sacrifice with each use. Obscure fonts whose magic was obscenely possible to weave, whose power carries unique traits. Or perhaps fonts just as easy to use as those of the modern times, but whose wielders died out before passing on their techniques. Those who tap into such ancient and unknown networks now wield power as great as the enchantments wrought by the original spellweavers, as the power has been left untapped since time immemorial, but to learn such ancient secrets is a trial few could master. The reward, however, would be ancient magic the likes of which the world has never seen...

Arbane
2014-08-02, 08:30 PM
IIRC, the Dresden Files RPG uses the idea that magic is weakened by overuse. The less people who know a given spell, the more powerful it is. So a spell that's been lost for thousands of years....

Exalted uses the explanation that most of the really powerful stuff in the setting was made by 300 godlike supergeniuses - when they died, there simply wasn't anyone left who COULD keep things working.

NichG
2014-08-02, 08:58 PM
Economics combined with the population growth of practicing mages. There's a certain amount of world-wide influx of magic-carrying material - Aetherium, if you like - from meteor showers and the like. When a mage creates a new spell, they must gather the stuff, build it into a focus, and then bind that focus to the astral - the material disappears, but the spell becomes something that can be cast by anyone. Initially, the limiting factor was the ability to collect the Aetherium, but quickly spells were invented to very efficiently gather all the incoming Aetherium, so the power of magic reached its pinnacle. As the number of mages increased, however, so did competition for the Aetherium. A mage in the olden days would have been able to expend 100 times the amount of Aetherium that a modern mage can afford when creating a new spell. In more recent ages, the creation of something approaching the power of old must be done as a collaboration between hundreds of mages rather than the work of an individual, just to get the needed resources together in one place.

Which means that powerful magic can still be created, but only when its done by entire societies. So instead of spells of personal power directed towards the ascension of individual mages to godhood, you'd see the invention of spells of civil engineering and the like - things that provide running water for an entire city in the desert, things that allow a country's military to make use of airships, etc. Ancient mages used their magic to make a spell that lets a person burn a scar into a mountain with a word and a thought, but modern mages work together to make a spell that enables a city to become a living thing that digs its own tunnels into said mountain instead.

To make matters worse, the old spells are potentially susceptible to looting by planar expeditions, so much of the ancient magic has since been cannibalized or stolen, leaving only the best-hidden stuff (and consequently, the stuff made by the most crafty and powerful mages of old) around.

Incanur
2014-08-02, 11:45 PM
The whole idea that magic should get better as a result of innovation and refinement assumes a progressive scientific model. If magic instead relies more on individual skill, inherent ability, willpower, or whatnot, then there's no reason to assume it would improve over the years. Perhaps there simply haven't been any recent magical geniuses to the level of the mages of old.

Depending on whom you ask, music, poetry, and literature function this way. How many Homers or Beethovens are around today?

Sartharina
2014-08-03, 12:28 AM
One of the reasons I have 'advanced' magic be weaker than 'old' magic is because "Magic is like science!" is the exactly wrong way to go about handling magic. The more people try to codify, define, and explain magic, the more it goes away (or becomes harder to actually harness).

Magic is like an invisible unicorn, running all over the place doing whatever the heck it wants, logic and consistency and everything else be damned. Wizards and spells try to control the unicorn by lassoing it, breaking it, and riding it, and having to deal with obstacles the unicorn can handle freely on its own, but become a serious problem when you stick a rider on it. More sophisticated/advanced magic put that unicorn in power armor that gives more direct control and power to the rider, but also make more obstacles become apparent and restrictive. First, you start off with the unicorn running freely through a meadow with streams and trees and bridges, able to navigate around them deftly. Then, you put a rider on it, and those bridges and low-hanging branches are a problem. And then you put non-waterproof remote controls on its hooves for greater control so it doesn't take actions you don't want while riding, and those rivers and streams become a problem as well. Then you put it in a ridiculously bulky suit of power armor to augment its strength and completely control every part of its movement, and those closely-condensed trees become a problem as well... and so on. The older magics unchain that unicorn and let it run free again, with a bit of leading to where it wants to go by enticing it in their direction, and showing it new possibilities - but trying to augment that with greater sophistication causes the unicorn to start being mentally conditioned to the will of the wizard, and losing its creativity and free will to go where it needs to go.

And, as wizards abuse this poor unicorn by trying to study it like a science, it finds itself less and less capable of what it used to be able to do.

NichG
2014-08-03, 01:16 AM
Depending on whom you ask, music, poetry, and literature function this way. How many Homers or Beethovens are around today?

Hard to say - there may be quite a few, but there's so much other stuff out there that it may be much harder to find their works (or to reach a critical mass of people all knowing their works sufficient to make them be remembered forever). The most likely place to find a modern Homer or Beethoven would be someone writing or composing for TV series and movies; some older films have continued to be remembered after almost 8 decades (Gone with the Wind, for example, is 75 years old), still alive from almost as far back as the birth of the medium. Will it survive a millennium? Well, thats intrinsically very hard to say - all we can say is that it isn't forgotten yet. So because of that difficulty, its almost impossible to say who the Homers and Beethovens of our generation are going to be or if they exist.

Towards the topic of the thread, this suggests that if you want to mirror that effect, the thing to do is to have the potency of magic be a function of it being remembered and recognized by people. The more scholars throughout history who 'discover' records of an ancient spell in dusty libraries and cryptic cyphers, the more powerful the magic becomes. In that sort of picture, magic is driven not primarily by universal/physical rules, but by the collective unconsciousness of the people of the world. Sort of the reverse of how Whitewolf's Mage works.

Sartharina
2014-08-03, 01:25 AM
Towards the topic of the thread, this suggests that if you want to mirror that effect, the thing to do is to have the potency of magic be a function of it being remembered and recognized by people. The more scholars throughout history who 'discover' records of an ancient spell in dusty libraries and cryptic cyphers, the more powerful the magic becomes. In that sort of picture, magic is driven not primarily by universal/physical rules, but by the collective unconsciousness of the people of the world. Sort of the reverse of how Whitewolf's Mage works.Or you go the opposite way, so that the magic is diluted the more it's known, and finding an ancient ritual that now only you know is much more powerful than the pop mageries of the day.

Slipperychicken
2014-08-03, 01:35 AM
Maybe the old spells were refined and perfected over time? The new magic is less efficient and more error-prone because it hasn't benefited from centuries of patches, user feedback, live testing, and updates. Since the old magic was lost, that means "new" scholars are still struggling with issues the ancients had already solved. This explains why magicians want to study those artifacts and texts so badly: if they can reverse-engineer old magic, that means they can pick up where the ancients left off instead of reinventing the wheel.

Telok
2014-08-03, 01:47 AM
I actually did this once in a 3.5 D&D game. I took a few of the old AD&D spells and put them in an old old book-like tome. The old Haste, double actions but it aged you a year. The old Fireball, uncapped damage and it filled a volume of space with fire. The old Lightning Bolt, the one that bounced. The spell Clumsiness, which has no direct analog in 3.5 D&D. And Duo-Dimension, a strange old spell that never mde the jump to 3.5 D&D.

Sadly nobody looked in the book. They cast a spell that copied the non-magic, non-spellbook parts and then sold it to an antiquarian.

Gavinfoxx
2014-08-03, 02:18 AM
For a setting where the idea is that magic has actually grown and advanced as a science over the centuries, despite the superiority of ancient magic:

Modern magic is less powerful, but far more efficient. Ancient magic required crazy elaborate rituals to get anything done. They were expensive, time-consuming, complicated, and often dangerous, but to give credit where due, they were beefy if you could manage to pull them off. Modern magic is much more refined, a trainable skill castable purely through personal power, and is perfectly capable of doing what you need it to do in 99% of cases, but since you're working with less raw power it can't quite stand up in direct comparison to ancient magic. The rituals still work, but you have to learn them somehow, assemble all the components, perform it right...it's not guaranteed by any means, and most mages consider it more trouble than it's worth.

I came here about to say exactly this... but then Quellian had come up with the idea before me. So I will just +1 this suggestion!

SiuiS
2014-08-03, 03:23 AM
The reason for older magic is better is because of the unspoken conceit that so very many people miss due to being way to close to it.


D&D and most fantasy stories are post apocalyptic.
Older magic is stronger than newer magic for the same reason a nuclear powered electric grid is better than a steam driven piston moving clockwork.

Literally.

Older stuff is from before the world fell apart; before the dwarves were cut down by the orcs and both fell to ruin. From before the elves met their fugue and faded into the woods and mountains. From before the gods and giants faded to leave men at the helm. Etc.



You want to subvert this? Write yor story in the old days when the magic was stronger.

Cloud
2014-08-03, 08:42 AM
SiuiS pointed a great reason for D&D; and others have suggested a similar thing to this but specifically in the Warhammer Fantasy world magic used to be more powerful because there was more of it to work with. In that world the daemons of chaos need a constant flow of magic to survive in the mortal world, and so to stop being overwhelmed and destroyed by them magic is drawn out of the world on purpose. In Mage the Awakening the supernal realm of magic and the mortal realm used to touch, but because of a disaster there is now an abyss between the two which is only growing, literally separating humans from magic over time, which is why it continues to weaken compared to ancient history. So basically I guess just two different takes on there used to more magic in the world so of course spell users could perform better work. In D&D I find that the whole this is currently post some great era after a fall works well, but well there are plenty of gods and other events to justify other outcomes. Maybe the god of magic dies and stays dead and magic is now dwindling.

Shpadoinkle
2014-08-03, 09:32 AM
In the video game Path of Exile there are gems called Virtue Gems (AKA skill gems) which allow the bearer some super-ability, whether it be summoning zombies or fireballs, firing off a dozen arrows at once, or slamming the ground with your weapon so hard it crates a shockwave to damage your enemies with.

There are also older variants of these gems, called Vaal gems, which are far more potent, but require a certain number of souls to power them before they can be activated. Instead of summoning only two skeletons, a Vaal Summon Skeletons gem instead summons a small army of them. Instead of one fireball, a Vaal Fireball gem summons a spiraling wave of them to lay waste to anything surrounding the caster.

Most virtue gems, by the time the game takes place, are "normal" gems and have been refined to be able to be used without the soul sacrifice part. The older, more 'primitive' gems are more powerful, but require a much more difficult and time consuming investment to even be usable.

Coidzor
2014-08-03, 11:11 AM
Or taking example from sword crafting; magic was powerful and mages did not share their knowledge freely. So while there were really powerful techniques, many were lost simply because their masters didn't have any apprentice to pass it down to.

Or they or their successors were murderhobo'd. Or they had a sorta Sith deal going on and the inevitable situation where master and apprentice would just end up killing one another rather than one being the victor caused much of the knowle

Or certain techniques were kept within certain bloodlines and some Voldemort-esque figure spilled onto the scene and decided to remove entire branches of the magical family tree. So 20 thousand years of research were lost within a single generation and despite 5K years having passed, not much progress has been made.

Knaight
2014-08-03, 12:19 PM
How about this:

Magic is a group of characters. It's not a force, but a set of alien wills appealed to with rituals. Modern magic is legitimately more advanced - the wills involved are smarter, able to carry out far more complex tasks in far more predictable ways, as they are able to understand both complex requests and the subtleties in simpler ones. The old magic is more powerful though - it appeals to a more brutish, simple sort of will, capable of exerting far more power, but unable to do anything with any finesse, carrying out even simple spells without any real precision. Still, if you're willing to risk getting caught in the blast of your own combat spell, or an effect running out long before it should (time is a hazy concept for the older wills), that power is there.

Mark Hall
2014-08-03, 12:38 PM
Modern magic is less advanced because techniques have been forgotten. Those who once knew techniques have vanished, and the deities who taught the first techniques are no long doing so. Rediscovering ancient techniques of the perfect (or, at least, less imperfect) magic improves magic for a time, until the techniques are forgotten again.

This is somewhat similar to what Deadlands did with Hucksters... while Hoyle's Book of Games is a near-perfect representation of magic, the later editions are corrupted.

VoxRationis
2014-08-03, 01:01 PM
Elves breathe magic, dwarves shed it like water off a duck's back, and humans absorb and deaden it. There weren't as many humans in the old days, and magic was therefore more powerful and easier to get ahold of. But population growth is difficult to curb in the long run, and the number of humans is making magic harder and harder to cast.

sktarq
2014-08-03, 01:54 PM
For a setting where the idea is that magic has actually grown and advanced as a science over the centuries, despite the superiority of ancient magic:... The rituals still work, but you have to learn them somehow, assemble all the components, perform it right...it's not guaranteed by any means, and most mages consider it more trouble than it's worth.
I really like this idea-mind if I use it my games?

Quellian-dyrae
2014-08-03, 01:59 PM
By all means!

JusticeZero
2014-08-04, 03:20 AM
Latest project, if you find items you can't replicate, it because it was made by priests of one of the light gods that are now deceased.
Also worth noting that the trope in question is not universal. Some settings have very modern gear. If you find in an ancient ruin, it's probably because the last group to take residence brought it.

Slipperychicken
2014-08-04, 07:19 AM
Latest project, if you find items you can't replicate, it because it was made by priests of one of the light gods that are now deceased.

To be fair, there are items of truly exceptional quality which we still can't replicate IRL, such as the Stradivarius musical instruments made around 1700. Scholars have tried in vain to reverse-engineer the wood and techniques, but to this very day there has been no successful replica. There are still no instruments which can match their quality, and musicians often remark that playing on one seems to challenge them to struggle to be as good as the instrument. It's thought there were any number of unique circumstances surrounding their creation (special wood conditions relating to an ice age ending, properties of wood from a specific Croatian forest, Stradivari's own secret techniques and formula, and so on), which have been thusfar difficult or impossible to replicate.

Just wanted to emphasize there are nonmagical reasons for something old to be superior. Maybe ancient and powerful magics could have been the result of similar circumstances or craftsmanship.

TheTeaMustFlow
2014-08-04, 09:36 AM
Could be that the past was less civilised and more violent, meaning more xp and more high-level wizards doing awesome research (you know, to pass the time between wiping out armies), while modern magical R&D is done by low-level academics who could barely incinerate a platoon.

Larkas
2014-08-04, 09:43 AM
To be fair, there are items of truly exceptional quality which we still can't replicate IRL, such as the Stradivarius musical instruments made around 1700. Scholars have tried in vain to reverse-engineer the wood and techniques, but to this very day there has been no successful replica. There are still no instruments which can match their quality, and musicians often remark that playing on one seems to challenge them to struggle to be as good as the instrument. It's thought there were any number of unique circumstances surrounding their creation (special wood conditions relating to an ice age ending, properties of wood from a specific Croatian forest, Stradivari's own secret techniques and formula, and so on), which have been thusfar difficult or impossible to replicate.

Just wanted to emphasize there are nonmagical reasons for something old to be superior. Maybe ancient and powerful magics could have been the result of similar circumstances or craftsmanship.

That myth has actually been shot down time and again (read "Comparisons in Sound" here (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stradivarius)). Which actually brings us to another possibility: people might actually romanticize about the magic of old, but it is actually no more efficient than the today's magic. Sure, maybe it was cast differently, and maybe its effects were a little bit different, but on average, ancient magic is no different from modern magic. Of course, that can still lead to some mysteries. How could such a backwards civilization be able of casting such advanced magic? Did they develop it themselves or were they tutored by *gasp* aliens?

JusticeZero
2014-08-04, 11:30 AM
Right, it's the wood that makes the Stradivarius special.. Specifically, a step in procuring the wood. It's been duplicated and isn't hard to do.
In other news, we can replicate the Toledo blades now. Turns out that the process involved both the addition of hydrogen from adding biomass to the metal at an early stage of smelting, as well as needing a bit of Vanadium, which hadn't been discovered but which was present in the mine that was in use at the time. When the mine went dry the secret was "lost".

SouthpawSoldier
2014-08-04, 07:40 PM
Which actually brings us to another possibility: people might actually romanticize about the magic of old, but it is actually no more efficient than the today's magic.

Of note in various fiction (Dresden Files is the one that comes to mind first, but I know I've seen it elsewhere) is that magic IS belief and faith. Simply believing that a chant, diagram, et al. will have an effect or ampllify a spell causes it to do so.

veti
2014-08-04, 08:29 PM
Time is a cruel and destructive process. If something has survived for thousands of years, while everything else that was created at the same time is forgotten dust - there's probably a reason for that.

Ancient magicians cast millions of spells and created thousands of artifacts. 99.99% of them no longer exist. It's not surprising that the remaining 0.01% are of exceptional quality. Maybe modern techniques could reproduce them, but at prohibitive cost (think, the pyramids). Or maybe the creation process requires elements that either no longer exist (specimens from extinct species, someone personally anointed by a god who hasn't been heard from in centuries, access to wide open spaces that are now densely populated...), or we don't know what they are and it would cost a mint to research them.

TheCountAlucard
2014-08-05, 12:20 AM
I suspect the trope originates from real life, where for a startlingly long period of recorded history there was often at least an expressed perception that everything used to be better: whether that's because humanity was expelled from paradise, or a flood wiped out an older, more advanced civilisation, or an older civilisation was punished for its hubris, or just that all the heroes killed each other... right through to modern "hearth and home" appeals which hearken back to a golden age before everything went to the dogs - often just within living memory. The myth of the hero who will return in his people's hour of need and put everything back the way it was is relatively common, at least in the west: King Arthur, Charlemagne, Barbarossa, even Sir Francis Drake have assumed that role in popular culture.

You see it crop up in the Middle Ages and early Modern era with reference to natural philosophy, political developments and the like, too: often people will talk about rediscovering principles known to the ancients, or reinstating ancient rights that have been allowed to fall into abeyance.

And of course there was probably a degree of truth to it for a long time: a lot of knowledge was lost in various collapses of civilisations, natural disasters, and the like. Some of the claims is also probably disingenuous: in a time when radical thinking is considered dangerous, it's safer to be "rediscovering" things than it is to be "inventing" them.

As to why it's become such a trope in fantasy, well, the above, but it also ties into the sense of romance.Robert E. Howard said it better more than half a century ago. :smalltongue:


"...Alone of us all, Rinaldo has no personal ambition. He sees in Conan a red-handed, rough-footed barbarian who came out of the north to plunder a civilized land. He idealizes the king whom Conan killed to get the crown, remembering only that he occasionally patronized the arts, and forgetting the evils of his reign, and he is making the people forget. Already they openly sing The Lament for the King in which Rinaldo lauds the sainted villain and denounces Conan as 'that black-hearted savage from the abyss.' Conan laughs, but the people snarl."

"Why does he hate Conan?"

"Poets always hate those in power. To them perfection is always just behind the last corner, or beyond the next. They escape the present in dreams of the past and future. Rinaldo is a flaming torch of idealism, rising, as he thinks, to overthrow a tyrant and liberate the people."


Depending on whom you ask, music, poetry, and literature function this way. How many Homers or Beethovens are around today?Well, The Simpsons is in, what, its twenty-fifth season? And there are at least seven movies with that Saint Bernard. :smalltongue:

Tyrrell
2014-08-06, 10:41 AM
It is very setting specific but in Ars Magica many of the most powerful traditions of magic come from the Grigori, angels that came to earth prior to the flood and sired the nephilem. The most powerful of the magicians in the setting (with a few exceptions) are cursed by a magical force that makes them distrusted and disliked, even by one another. This significantly hinders cooperation by large groups of magicians leading to the breakdown of the original magic of the angels into many different more limited traditions. In the setting, human innovation meant that these more limited traditions all had some tricks that were something that the unified and mighty proto magic couldn't do.

But basically if magic is stolen/handed down from the gods in a pretty pure form and people can't get their act together to convey all of its subtlety to future generations, then you get older is better.

In Ars Magica the order of Hermes and to a lesser extent the order of suleman counteract this trend by being a synthesis of many pre-exisiting traditions and in the case of the Hermetics, partial elimination of the deleterious social effects of the "you don't trust me" curse. But you wouldn't have to have those sorts of groups in your setting.

Incanur
2014-08-06, 02:07 PM
This thread is a nice testament to how deeply ingrained the progressive worldview has become. :smallsmile:

In many ways it's more appropriate - based on historical worldviews - for fantasy to have a regressive or cyclical understanding of time. Think the end of Buddhist Law (http://books.google.com/books?id=TBkqqPMgUuwC&pg=PA85&dq=buddhist+law+%2B+decline+%2B+heike&hl=en&sa=X&ei=B3ziU8W8Is6BogSM6IHoCg&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=buddhist%20law%20%2B%20decline%20%2B%20heike&f=false) and inevitable decline in The Tale of Heike, for example.

Knaight
2014-08-06, 02:44 PM
This thread is a nice testament to how deeply ingrained the progressive worldview has become. :smallsmile:

In many ways it's more appropriate - based on historical worldviews - for fantasy to have a regressive or cyclical understanding of time. Think the end of Buddhist Law (http://books.google.com/books?id=TBkqqPMgUuwC&pg=PA85&dq=buddhist+law+%2B+decline+%2B+heike&hl=en&sa=X&ei=B3ziU8W8Is6BogSM6IHoCg&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=buddhist%20law%20%2B%20decline%20%2B%20heike&f=false) and inevitable decline in The Tale of Heike, for example.

The regressive or cyclical understanding of time is fine - the issue is that the magic is explicitly more advanced, even in the title. If you use the D&D standard with the glorious past of great empires and the present that is a pale shadow of it, it's a much simpler process.

Melville's Book
2014-08-06, 05:11 PM
The regressive or cyclical understanding of time is fine - the issue is that the magic is explicitly more advanced, even in the title. If you use the D&D standard with the glorious past of great empires and the present that is a pale shadow of it, it's a much simpler process.

Even in D&D, rules exist (and by the fluff of many spells themselves, are often used) for the invention of new spells. Admittedly, D&D is possibly the single most progression-restrictive game in the RPG world, as outside of the aforementioned inventing of spells, no methods exist by which to really advance anything in new directions. Not just magic, but anything; D&D runs on the assumption that while things might have worked differently in the past and modern techniques might have been developed for fighting or smithing or whatever, things existing now are either incapable of changing or PCs aren't allowed to bring about those changes.

That's not saying anything against D&D, it's simply a system that wasn't designed with innovation in mind.

Of course, D&D's "standard" still isn't really given any explanation whatsoever, except for the occasional "lol we sundered ur weave, magic is teh suxorz nao". So the topic still bears discussion worth having.

Knaight
2014-08-06, 05:33 PM
Of course, D&D's "standard" still isn't really given any explanation whatsoever, except for the occasional "lol we sundered ur weave, magic is teh suxorz nao". So the topic still bears discussion worth having.

Sure, but the fluff of individual creatures, or artifacts, or whatever else frequently alludes to various things that were greater in the past and are now long gone. The whole idea of living in the shadow of the past comes up a lot, and in that context weaker magic makes perfect sense.

sktarq
2014-08-06, 05:39 PM
Sure, but the fluff of individual creatures, or artifacts, or whatever else frequently alludes to various things that were greater in the past and are now long gone. Actually at least some of the 2e DM's guides expressly said that as part of creating your own world (which it had a section on) one should have a greater time in the past. As a source of artifacts, dungeons, and loot if nothing else.

Couronne
2014-08-06, 06:05 PM
How's about...

Magic is a constant renewing resource, but there is only so much of it available in the world and it flows into everyone who is magically attuned. Therefore, the more people there are who have become magically attuned, the more people have to share that fixed pool of magic. In the past, there were fewer wizards around so their share of the magic pool was much larger than the share available to today's far more numerous wizards. Ancient wizards' spells were much more powerful because each wizard had access to more of the magic, even at lower levels.

Yes, you can become more powerful as a wizard today, but it is a zero-sum game and you will ultimately be taking away some of the power of lesser wizards.

This lends itself to several possibilities:
1) A wizard who desires more power and is willing to exterminate other wizards to get it.
2) Wizards disguising themselves as anti-magic lobbying groups to discourage people from taking up the profession.
3) The potential for a wizard to renounce his or her powers and thus gift his or her current share of the magic to another nearby wizard.
4) One day, if the population continues to grow, the magic will become so thinly spread that it might as well not exist.

Slipperychicken
2014-08-06, 11:04 PM
This lends itself to several possibilities:
1) A wizard who desires more power and is willing to exterminate other wizards to get it.
2) Wizards disguising themselves as anti-magic lobbying groups to discourage people from taking up the profession.
3) The potential for a wizard to renounce his or her powers and thus gift his or her current share of the magic to another nearby wizard.
4) One day, if the population continues to grow, the magic will become so thinly spread that it might as well not exist.

5) Wizard guilds set up "turf". If you take magic from the guild's turf without authorization, bad things happen to you. If you're in the guild, follow the rules, and pay your dues, you get access to a portion of the magic.

6) Governments require licenses to use magic (ostensibly to conserve it), and do bad things to anyone who flaunts the ban.

7) The amount of magic increases when there's more wonder, beauty, and belief in magic in the world. Magicians dedicate themselves to maintaining and improving the world's supply of magic by performing mysteriously charitable acts, entertaining people, and leaving odd enigmas around the world for people to wonder at.

Oneris
2014-08-07, 01:03 AM
a) Sacrificing a soul produces a great amount of magic, and ancient wizards sacrificed thousands of lives to power their strongest spells. Modern day wizards just don't have that kind of ruthlessness to do the same.

b) An active inhibitor of magic has leaked into the world, and eats away at any spell as they are being cast. Find a way to protect a spell from the inhibitor, and that spell can work again to its full potential.

hifidelity2
2014-08-07, 07:20 AM
I actually had this happening - to Characters within their living memory

I ran a standard GURPS campaign and at the end the PCs managed to complete the story-line and defeat the baddies by destroying all Manner in the world (As the baddies were magical creatures it destroyed them as well)

Then I restarted a campaign in the same world but 50 years on (game time !) with new Characters. Manner had recovered but only to a low Manner zone so all magic at -5 and many items dont work. A couple of the old PCs were around and so became major NPCs that could wax on about the good old days , and how they had it tough and nothing like the easy time the current POCs have it etc etc

Ettina
2014-08-07, 10:27 AM
Maybe magic artifacts gain power over time? So back 1,000 years ago when Old Greybeard the Wizardly was using his magic staff, it was fairly normal power or even weaker than the staves made today, but while it was sitting in Old Greybeard's tomb, the staff has been soaking up ambient magic and slowly growing in power. Now, 1,000 years later, it's unstoppable.

Although I like the idea of just letting older magic be weaker. In one of my stories, I had a character fighting someone who used a dark forbidden ritual to get loads of power. Flash forward to his grandson, and people have figured out a way to get the same power without doing anything evil or even all that difficult.

Super Evil User
2014-08-07, 11:20 AM
a) Sacrificing a soul produces a great amount of magic, and ancient wizards sacrificed thousands of lives to power their strongest spells. Modern day wizards just don't have that kind of ruthlessness to do the same.

This is from FMA, isn't it?

Frozen_Feet
2014-08-07, 12:10 PM
The sensible answer to this would be "because they wanted something else than raw power".

Think of nuclear bombs. For a while, nations competed of who could make the biggest boom. But they quit when they realized schorching all of Earth several times over wasn't in anyone's best interest. So instead of making even bigger, stronger nukes, they went back to personal-scale and tactical-scale weapons, looking for more precision and ease-of-use instead of firepower.

Think of civilian weapons. A 9mm handgun is better than a taser, and an actual mace beats over Mace spray. The former are largely banned and the latter endorsed because we don't want people killing or maiming each other.

Think of buildings and consumer electronics. Back when they were costly and hard to make, they were made to last because breaking such expensive piece of equipment and having to pay for it all over again would've been disastrous. Nowadays, they're dirt cheap and we expect to be able to make better ones in few years, so there's no point in trying to make them durable - it's easier to just buy a new one.

Think of computer operating systems. Which is more powerful, having to manage your computer by programming everything you need from scratch with Assembler, or using a simple GUI to click icons and have pre-made programs do what you want?

Based on these examples, you should be able to come up with at least some answers to your questions. For example:

Older combat magic is more powerful, because it was meant to destroy whole army units or fortifications. By contrast, modern combat magic mostly targets singlular targets and only restrains or deals non-lethal damage.

Old enhancements were made permanent, because they consumed resources that were hard to regain. Nowadays, enhancements are not permanencied because if you lose one, the guy over the corner can recast it.

Modern spells are easy to cast and even a simpleton could learn them, but effects of said spells are limited to a handful of weak effects sanctioned by local government. By contrast, old spells took longer to cast and required extensive education to master, but they allowed for a much wider variety of effects; likewise, screwing up with them and doing serious harm was much easier.

The Oni
2014-08-08, 07:58 PM
There was a thread regarding Magic Guilds and the industrialization of magic that might provide a solution? Greybeard wizards are all about hands-on experimentation and research and fully understanding the nature of their magic. Modern magic doesn't care about that - they want spells-in-a-can that produce reliable, if mediocre, results every time. The formulae are written down and the users memorize them without really questioning or examining them.

So you have ancient wizards with wicked-powerful spells because they took the time to master them the old fashioned way, and you have the Nouveau Arcane who *use* magic but don't *get* magic.

NichG
2014-08-08, 08:50 PM
Think of computer operating systems. Which is more powerful, having to manage your computer by programming everything you need from scratch with Assembler, or using a simple GUI to click icons and have pre-made programs do what you want?


This particular example strikes me as odd, because we have certain professions where people are still doing the highly efficient, low-level programming because that is what the job requires (e.g. anything where 'high-performance computing' is a buzzword). It seems to me that the analogy you give works for general civilian magic, but doesn't preclude there being groups who specialize in the high-end stuff (groups that, statistically, adventurers might be much more likely to belong to/interact with), because there is still a need for those things in more extreme conditions than day-to-day life. After all, once you get into the military, those weapons that were banned for civilian use become standard and I don't think anyone would try to go fight on a battlefield armed only with a taser and a can of mace spray.

Angelalex242
2014-08-09, 01:35 AM
Well, Tolkien is essentially a world like that.

First of all, anyone who saw the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor was supercharged. They were 5 times the elf anyone who never saw the trees was. But then Morgoth Poisoned the trees, and Faenor said 'F you, you are not busting my gems to revive them'. And thus the elves of future generations were diminished.

Numenor was like that too, except they hit their Zenith in the 2nd Age. They were so badass they made Sauron a kitty cat. They were so badass they assaulted Valinor, and the Valar essentially had to punt to Eru Illuvitar to deal with them. The Nuemnoreans (later Dunedain) never really got their groove back, though Aragorn personally became closest, even he was only a shadow of what Numenor could do. It helped his son that he was half elven (even if mortal style half elven.)

Jay R
2014-08-09, 09:07 AM
Several possibilities occur:

1. All the junk made 1,000 years ago was thrown away 999 years ago. The only things that survived were worth preserving for 1,000 years. You're comparing the absolute best of 1,000 years ago with today's average.

2. Perhaps magic items slowly absorb magic over time, if they are used. An ordinary +2 sword that has been used to slay many dragons has absorbed power from them, and is now a Dragon-Slaying sword.

3. 900 years ago, there were great, epic characters. They made great, epic weapons with which they fought an epic war that nearly destroyed the earth, and did destroy all the epic characters and monsters. It hasn't been possible to reach that level (because the challenges at that level are gone), so there are no longer any people making items that good.


a) Sacrificing a soul produces a great amount of magic, and ancient wizards sacrificed thousands of lives to power their strongest spells. Modern day wizards just don't have that kind of ruthlessness to do the same.

5. Perhaps they eventually learned that producing higher level magic risked the wizard's own soul. Once that was known, wizards stopped making items on that level.

6. The best items are made out of meteors, and most of them were found and made into items hundreds of years ago.

7. Nobody knows why, and many wizards are trying to find out. They hire the PCs to seek out weapons from various eras for their research.

Super Evil User
2014-08-09, 09:28 AM
I dunno if this was already mentioned, but maybe they came into contact with a god that gave them power? The modern world's more secular in nature, which makes their magic less powerful.

Frozen_Feet
2014-08-09, 09:32 AM
It seems to me that the analogy you give works for general civilian magic, but doesn't preclude there being groups who specialize in the high-end stuff.

They're not meant to be mutually exclusive. Think of the real world - existence of civilian self-defence tools and laws doesn't prevent me and other nutjobs from wearing platemail or training how to beat people with farm tools. We just tend to be comparatively rare and legally held from actually using our stuff and skills in battle. The point is that technology "advances" based on what majority of its users require from it. The old, powerful stuff may still exist somewhere, but it's not available to you and not needed in the context of your everyday life.

NichG
2014-08-10, 01:58 AM
They're not meant to be mutually exclusive. Think of the real world - existence of civilian self-defence tools and laws doesn't prevent me and other nutjobs from wearing platemail or training how to beat people with farm tools. We just tend to be comparatively rare and legally held from actually using our stuff and skills in battle. The point is that technology "advances" based on what majority of its users require from it. The old, powerful stuff may still exist somewhere, but it's not available to you and not needed in the context of your everyday life.

Well, what I mean is that there'd be 'new, powerful stuff' too given your scenario - it'd just be restricted from civilians. I mean, taking the firearms example, even if someone does end up with a firearm in a place where they're illegal for the general population, its going to be a modern weapon and not a Napoleonic-era rifle. The new stuff is still more advanced than the old stuff, its just more restricted to specialized groups.

Bulhakov
2014-08-10, 06:37 PM
I always liked the "magic is like music" comparison. It also nicely explains why spells are often so limited to very specific effects and conditions. Spells are like melodies not scientific algorithms and usually cannot be broken down into simpler parts and/or recombined.

Low level mages can only perform well known simple "tunes", but it takes a "genius composer" to create new "music".

So you can think of the modern mages as "pop artists" and the ancient mages as "classical composers".

(I'm not a huge fan of classical music myself, but the explanation works)

Slipperychicken
2014-08-10, 08:10 PM
a) Sacrificing a soul produces a great amount of magic, and ancient wizards sacrificed thousands of lives to power their strongest spells. Modern day wizards just don't have that kind of ruthlessness to do the same.

This sounds good. I'd say that there are plenty of modern wizards willing to commit genocode to power their magic, but they don't have access to legions of sacrifices like the ancients did. I'm envisioning the ancients being like the Aztecs, slaughtering victims in droves because it was more acceptable back then and no-one was around to stop them. You could even have your villains be the ones trying to bring those practices back into use.

Angelalex242
2014-08-10, 08:36 PM
Well...the trouble is, some evil faiths DO, in fact, have lots of sacrifices. Hextor, for example, easily is organized enough to have his people conquer a town, and sacrifice everyone in it to power a spell.

Orcs may be less organized, but they still conquer other towns of humans or humanoids on a regular basis. Every time they succeed, they have the sacrifices for a super spell.

Thus, the 'power magic' would still be in semiregular use, and it'd be a known fact evil faiths conquer towns for the sole purpose of powering big magic.

Segev
2014-08-18, 08:46 AM
A thought I had just now made me come looking for this thread to share it:

What if the "ancient magics" are also alien to this dimension/plane? The other one, from whence they came, is actively flowing backwards in time. For this not to be painfully obvious, the travel and communication between the two must be heavily restricted, but the ancient magics and powers came in the distant past from the very potent might of the other dimension's end-times stepping over. They bring with them hyper-advanced magics or sciences and resources harvested from millenia of industry.

Something about the two dimensions is highly toxic and corrosive to things of the other; it is because those hyper-advanced tools were so well-crafted that they still exist today. But attempts to study them inevitably crack the protections and cause them to fall apart. The best that "modern" artisans and mages can do is see that cracking it open causes a small explosion and releases a fine powder. Perhaps, like the primitive scientist who finds modern electronics and witnesses that when it breaks, smoke comes out, they assume it is that "magic blue smoke" or that fine powder that makes it work.

This corrosive, toxic effect doomed the colonies in the ancient past (from the other plane's far future) to die out. Eventually, the conditions just were too much, and they couldn't stay, or their life-preserving techniques failed. Hence the ruins, rather than the extant eternally-cyclic empire going back and forth.

Conversely, the other dimension or plane would similarly have "ancient magics" that are more powerful than what they can now do; these are from the main setting's own far future, doing much the same.

Jay R
2014-08-18, 09:54 AM
Perhaps because the ancients were able and willing to enslave others and force them to work for decades just to make one item. This is, after all, why the pyramids would be harder to knock over than any modern building.

Segev
2014-08-18, 10:29 AM
Perhaps because the ancients were able and willing to enslave others and force them to work for decades just to make one item. This is, after all, why the pyramids would be harder to knock over than any modern building.

There's apparently dispute over that; I've heard claims that Egyptologists believe that the pyramids were too sacred/important for slave labor, and that work on them was considered some sort of high honor.

I'm not sure of the veracity of this, but I have heard it disputed.

Jay R
2014-08-18, 11:14 AM
There's apparently dispute over that; I've heard claims that Egyptologists believe that the pyramids were too sacred/important for slave labor, and that work on them was considered some sort of high honor.

I'm not sure of the veracity of this, but I have heard it disputed.

You may be right. Fortunately, that is irrelevant. The point was about taking decades to build, using tens of thousands of people's labor. I suspect that today's wizards could make items just as powerful as ancient ones if they were willing to take that much time and effort to do it.

Knaight
2014-08-18, 03:58 PM
This sounds good. I'd say that there are plenty of modern wizards willing to commit genocode to power their magic, but they don't have access to legions of sacrifices like the ancients did. I'm envisioning the ancients being like the Aztecs, slaughtering victims in droves because it was more acceptable back then and no-one was around to stop them. You could even have your villains be the ones trying to bring those practices back into use.

The Aztecs didn't slaughter victims "in droves"*. There was human sacrifice, but it was to the tune of 4 people per year, it was considered a high honor to be sacrificed, so on and so forth. That's 4 more people than is acceptable, but it's hardly a non-stop orgy of human sacrifice. What slaughtering "in droves" did happen was within the context of warfare, and even then, it's not like that was particular to the Aztecs - there were plenty of wars in the 20th century involving huge amounts of civilian casualties from attacking cities, and even in the 21st century there are some very bloody wars, there's ethnic cleansing, etc. Even if you look at the nations which aim not to attack civilians, the incidental killing of lots of civilians to kill a handful of combatants is routine.

*Within the context of human sacrifice.

VoxRationis
2014-08-19, 10:55 AM
That sounds like revisionist propaganda to me. While the precise scale of the Aztecs' killings are difficult to determine owing to the lack of impartial observers, the Aztecs instituted regular wars for the purpose of finding sacrificial victims. That's not a necessary construct for sacrificial practices which amount to 4 people per year.

Knaight
2014-08-19, 01:15 PM
That sounds like revisionist propaganda to me. While the precise scale of the Aztecs' killings are difficult to determine owing to the lack of impartial observers, the Aztecs instituted regular wars for the purpose of finding sacrificial victims. That's not a necessary construct for sacrificial practices which amount to 4 people per year.

The Aztecs instituted regular wars for the purpose of having a bigger empire, the exact same way that tons of empires elsewhere did. They may have been a particularly nasty occupying force, but it wasn't related to the human sacrifice.

Tyrrell
2014-08-19, 03:05 PM
There is the Shadowrun answer; magic is cyclical over a very long period - 1000's of years in the case of shadowrun. If you are living in low parts of the cycle the magic of past is going to be much more powerful.

VoxRationis
2014-08-20, 10:59 AM
The Aztecs instituted regular wars for the purpose of having a bigger empire, the exact same way that tons of empires elsewhere did. They may have been a particularly nasty occupying force, but it wasn't related to the human sacrifice.

Edit: Anticipating that this real-world discussion might violate some precept of the forum rules, I am deleting my reply. Just know that I dispute your assertion, based on every source and description of the Aztec society that I have read.