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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    I coudl see it pulled out if there are some rules of magic that forces you to be more responsible... unless its really necessary.
    That would be fine and sounds like it would make both a nifty home-rule and a great source of plot hooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    Another one of my world-building turn-offs - when people try to cram too many things into them. .. WoD ... multiple separeted settings.
    As someone who loves the WoD setting I totally see where you coming from. Its sort of the kitchen sink issue put up by the OP but far far worse. The beauty of the system is that any two will mostly work side by side for a crossover-three becomes tricky and four (+) generally goes boom. It can work if one is fully developed and the others exist only enough to drive the story in the main rule set. Its basically something to allow any story to be told but trying to tell every story at once garbles them all. There is a reason thee are separate WoD games and that none need anything but the Blue Book (your mortal's guide). Do you think that is a world building issue or a storyteller reaching beyond what they can handle issue?

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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Once you get past Medieval-/Renaissance-level tech, you're getting into guns (which they wouldn't develop and which wouldn't last), so finding a sword in the ancient crypts that looks only a bit different from a modern sword but glows like the sun under Detect-Magic-O-Vision makes sense. And since all of the enchantments in use are pretty obvious ("hit stuff better" or "fire everywhere!" or "make shooty thing shoot farther") I don't see why finding a flaming longsword in the ruins that works like a modern flaming longsword would be out of the ordinary.
    This is one of my big pet peeves. Handguns predate two-handed swords and full plate armor. Any excuse not to develop guns applies equally well to any other technology. You can't say "they wouldn't develop guns because magic" when magic hasn't stopped them from developing anything else. If the wand of magic missiles hasn't killed the bow, why would it kill the gun? Why are they using armor when there are first level spells that can replace armor?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    I already said that if a civilization has a magical infrastructure, expecting them to take a break from working on tried-and-true ways to shoot magical fire, fly magically, store knowledge magically, and so forth to start developing primitive, unwieldy technological equivalents doesn't make any sense. They already have the magical equivalents in the form of wands, magic carpets, and so forth.
    They would do it because the technological equivalents of those magic items are a lot cheaper and more resource efficient. The same reason we switched from bows to muskets. Even though the muskets were much slower and less accurate, they could be fielded much more easily. Fielding an archer required weekly training sessions over the lifetime of the archer; he has to be raised from childhood and spend at least one day every week training to use a bow just to be a decent shot when he's a grown man. But you can teach a peasant levy how to use muskets in an afternoon and they'll be up to speed after a couple weeks of practice.

    Relying entirely on magic makes sense for a wizard who intends to do everything single-handedly, but for a wizard who is just a part of a greater society, it makes sense for him to find some simpler solution that he can hand out to the masses.

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    also remember in a society with magic the very smartest people will be working magic rather then the smart inventors will be studying magic not technology dramatically slowing technological growth.
    on top of that you can't just teach someone how to cast magic their are no shortcuts after someone invents a 9th level spell he can teach it to other people but if they want to use it they still need to be able to caste 9th level spells.
    Sir isaac Newton revolutionized physics. He also studied alchemy, magic, and summoning angels. He's remembered for the physics stuff, because that's the stuff that actually worked for him. In a world where magic actually works, it wouldn't be competing with technology. It would be technology. "Magic" wouldn't be opposed to technology any more than "magnetism" would be. It's just another force of nature that can be harnessed.

    And being unable to just hand 9th level scrolls to anyone is a pretty good reason to make user-friendly technology to apply those principles. Just like how real world computer experts and "super users" use the command line on their own computers but develop graphical user interfaces with simplified point-and-click options for normal users who don't understand what is happening inside the computer to make it tick.

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    that's not even including the tendency for wizards to horde and jealously guard their magic.
    Wizards hoard and jealously guard their magic so lazy setting writers don't have to explain why they aren't sharing their knowledge for mutual benefit in order to develop their knowledge base at an exponential rate. In the real world, everyone with a trade secret still shares their knowledge with the other members of their trade so they can all get better and more powerful. That's how guilds, trade unions, corporations, and universities accomplish more than individual crackpots working in isolation.

  3. - Top - End - #63
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    FINAL INSOMNIA EDIT: Been looking over the thread. I hope the rest of you all are enjoying the show and sorry if Rolling Dante and I have highjacked the thread.
    Yeah, I'm willing to take this to another thread or to PMs if people would like, or at least start spoilering my responses. In fact, I'll start spoilering them now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    *snip about murder*
    I'm going to stop arguing the murder vs. killing point, since I think we might be drifting close to crossing the "real-world politics" line. Suffice to say that murder is just a subset of killing and I feel that labeling killing as evil in a game about killing evil thing is not the brightest idea.

    I see a total disconnect between the artifacts as you describe them and as they are written. In both 3.5e and 2e D&D. they are not JUST things that the current civilizations can not make. That is one of their traits to be sure by not the be all end end all of what makes an artifact. They have a significant number of special rules, unique destruction methods off the top of my head. And it does effect their rarity because if the old civ could build them as relatively easily as they could build any other magic item (on a similar sliding scale of expense) then why didn't they when they would be so useful? There are a ton of ways that level of magic would be all over. It seems inappropriate so use such special items as a baseline for what the previous civ could do on a regular basis. And that's my issue artifact (particularly greater ones) could never have been commonplace. The only time I've seen that addressed is in forgotten realms when the rules of magic changed with the Karsus. Artifacts exist in D&D largely to act as McGuffins and story - if applied to the game in any more common way the whole concept of "game balance" goes out the window.
    Greater artifacts are certainly more MacGuffins than actually useful items, but lesser artifacts are more useful, as I said. Talismans of good, staffs of the magi, hammers of thunderbolts, and similar really aren't that much different from existing items, they're just slightly more powerful and currently not craftable.

    I'm not trying to suggest that ancient civilizations were based on churning out copies of the Hand of Vecna or anything. I'm just trying to show that your argument "There hasn't been any progress because the ancient items are all the same as modern items" doesn't hold water because there's an explicit category of items that cannot be made anymore.

    Yes. and if it has been happening for any length of time then there would be no more low level ruins to search after more than a few hundred years (being somewhat generous). Which means that low level adventurers need to find a different source of plot material. Its not that those things could not happen but it seems very inconsistent with the other material presented as normal in the majority of D&D.
    That's true, assuming that all of the dungeons are known, on the surface, easily-accessible, etc. In the real world we're still stumbling across new ruins, new cave complexes, and similar all the time, and we have things like Google Earth and radar that can penetrate several dozen yards of rock.

    Magic as technology entirely now. hmmm... Clockwork creatures-we still have not made those with 21st Century science so I'm fine in calling that magic. And frankly the same goes the above. The technology is there. Magic can be a tool for it but it is no more necessary than a physics degree is for being a blacksmith. So there is a ton of reasons to study non magical science and technology. also see below
    It's not just clockwork creatures; things like clockwork armor and Mechanus plate also require magic, even though in the real world they're things we could manufacture fairly easily with our current knowledge. As to a blacksmith not needing a physics degree, science is knowledge while technology is application of that knowledge. You can be a smith and personally create a sword based on rote training without knowing a thing about metallurgy--most smiths did learn about metallurgy, but it's possible to go without. You can study chemistry, architecture, and other scientific fields without needing magic at all.

    To actually create alchemical items or to create clockwork items without building the infrastructure needed to build the infrastructure needed to build clockwork items, however, requires magic. And as we've been discussing already, if civilizations are bootstrapping themselves based on found knowledge from prior civilizations, even if a prior civilization developed both the magical and the technological ways to accomplish those, it's much more likely that you'd have a clockwork golem wandering around that you could use to reverse-engineer the magical principles with than it is that there would be a clockwork factory still surviving in some ruin somewhere.

    And the math doesn't come close to covering what you are asking them to do. Creating enough magic items and/or advancing in level enough to cast many of the more socially useful spells (as in useful to society not charm) eats a huge amount of XP. Society has limited amount of XP available at a time-because people are born, grow and die. And only a small part of that will directed at either magic item creation or supporting the levels of casters. Casters are not common enough (at least in DM Guide, and the Cityscape splat-book on character levels found in population centres after you account for all the experts, rogues, aristocrats, fighters, and other non casters) to fill the role in society you are asking them to. If all your upper level characters in a city were casters with no experts, cleric, fighters etc and they pushed themselves and had little or no lives of their own I could just barely see it working. Also as you advance in level casters would be actually slightly lower in XP totals than their peers as some has gone to build items-so that seems even more skewed (A fighter has nothing else to do with XP than sit on it). Three low level experts socially acting as druids studying the harvest generation on generation will provide more help over the long term than a caster druid in terms of plant growth over the same time. Is it three to one yes, but those three are about the same cost to hire. No spell-casting fees and those three can help others who can then help others in turn through techniques and technology. That caters depending on level could cast plant growth how often in his "spare time"? He/She/It has a life to lead -other things to do XP to earn-so say three or four days a week-anything more and he is no longer a Druid he is the local plant growth machine that can also walk-basically would have to life for the community instead of in it. So how many spells you could expect the local wizard to cast for the town on a regular basis? Not that many really-besides if they did do that very often the the prices charged in the DM manual makes NO sense at all. If they are giving them out free often enough to be counted on to replace technological advancement.
    INSOMNIAC EDIT: Also making magic items is a massive drain on time-particularly the permanent ones like say flying carpets. Its a large process and during the construction time one can't be off earning that additional XP (which unless the DM is going to be VERY generous with RP XP then is dangerous and the NPC may well die-I basically say what works for the PC works for the NPCs just offstage) It just doesn't turn around very well. That wizard must be pretty high level to be making that item -that implies he/she/it has more important things to do with his time at least on a regular basis. So they can't punch out even enough flying carpets to satisfy a couple dozen people which would leave the rest of the city including those rich nobles who didn't have the connects to get a carpet, or even a family member who is jealous of his brother who did looking for a way to fly that doesn't need the one wizard in the city powerful enough to do it that way.
    In the future, could you please try to use paragraph breaks to make your posts more readable?

    Regarding the number of casters needed: if not destroyed, magic items last indefinitely. If you have just one wizard in one city making one flying carpet per year, after a hundred years that's a hundred flying carpets, plus however many are brought back by adventurers, plus however many the society had beforehand, and in the meantime he can spend the rest of his year making other beneficial items at a similar scale. If a society really wants a lot of flying carpets for whatever reason, that single wizard can make about 18 in one year. And all of that assumes no crafting time/gold/XP reduction, which a dedicated crafter would most likely have.

    Regarding time and XP needed: You can only spend 8 hours a day crafting, so it's perfectly possible to adventure and craft stuff at the same time without either the adventuring or the crafting suffering. That's not to say all or even most casters would be adventurers, but it's not the case that you'd need to craft a bunch of XP away, go adventuring for more XP, craft more, adventure more, and so forth.

    Regarding using the caster's time: The druid casting plant growth once per year at each community would take a few weeks in the spring, at best: wild shape into something fast, prepare plant growth in most of your slots, get to work. It's still efficient enough in the short term before you make enough plant growth items to go around that coming up with technological alternatives wouldn't necessarily be a good investment of resources.

    No they don't and more importantly DIDN'T I wasn't making that up as a hypothetical. It is easier to control the crossbows and the few people who can make them than the larger number of people who could use a longbow. And if the crossbowmen become unhappy it is easier to take them away and hand them to somebody new than take away someone's longbow and give it to someone else (the power being in the user not the tool in a longbow). Also you can keep many extra crossbows for when you really need them and only have a few out "in circulation" at a time. Then when war breaks out hand them to the most loyal people who can be picked at that time. The only people who need to keep happy with crossbows are the few who can make them, the few who hold your supply and just enough people to use them at the time you want to. Its not JUST about being able to put down the revolt if it happens but to have a large dangerous army when you want it (something the longbows were better at) and being able to prevent that group from being able to overthrow, threaten, blackmail, or otherwise impinge on the freedom of the leaders during peacetime (which the cross bow was better at).
    And as for your wand of scorching ray vs machine gun question. I'd want exactly two machine guns. One to give to a friend and one friend with another to point at the first if I ever want to take his machine gun away. Visa versa works too there. If anyone can use it I only need two friends who can be ANYONE I want-and I can change who-and they know that.
    You don't have a choice of just two machine guns; you're using the wands or machine guns as your army's primary weapon. Do you want something that requires training to use, to ensure that only a subset of the population can use and that that subset would be trained to use safely (the bows or wands) or something that anyone could pick up without having the discipline and training to use it well and safely (the crossbows or machine guns)?

    This is also edging close to gun control and thus real-world politics, so I'd prefer to drop this tangent as well, if you don't mind.

    Actually you seem to be making my point from earlier that the nifty stuff that ends up in adventures bag's of holding is less useful than the forges and tools they so often leave behind. Grab those and you get the tech to make the tech and so on-rather quickly works too if you have access to basic spells and a modicum of communication-oh and a supply of ready, willing, brave and slightly foolhardy types to set off the traps for you. And looking at what is found in the treasure tables and even your earlier post about protected magic items the ready to wipe off and run into battle with type stuff does seem well "cannon". And If you've got a magic sword that's protected why not a magic gun? And as for figuring out how to use that metal tube putting the fire in one end and all - adventurers are already casting identify, commune, and other divination spells left right and centre in order to get the command words and ID for the magical items they found-why would the gun be any different? It would also put the idea in their head and start experimentation - which since they have a working model as a guide then it shouldn't take too long.
    Hey, I'm not the one who said swords would be too damaged to use, you did; I just said that since we're talking about reverse engineering, you could posit useless rusted out swords and still learn more from them than from guns.

    And as for forges and tools...again, bootstrapping. If an adventuring party walked into a car manufacturing plant--not a working one they could observe, but one that's been shut down for many years--how exactly are they going to learn from it? Sure, you can cast a bunch of divinations, but those will probably be of limited use ("Er, what did Boccob mean by 'generator' and 'touchscreen', anyway?") and there's no way you could reverse engineer the computing, robotics, metallurgical, and chemical knowledge necessary to get it back up and running, much less build another one. If they walk into a Model T production plant, it'll definitely be a lot easier to figure out what's going on and they're have a lot more success divining and recreating it...but because they use magic and not technology, it's not at all likely that the the Model T plant would evolve into a modern plant instead of just some +5 Factory of Model T Construction.

    You're arguing on the one hand that ancient civilizations should have had much higher tech levels than we see in most settings, and on the other hand that it should be possible for them to figure out all this ancient tech and put it into use. You can't have it both ways; anything advanced enough to be more high-tech than enchanted Renaissance era stuff is going to be too advanced for easy reverse-engineering, and you're not going to go from enchanted Renaissance stuff to enchanted modern stuff because the existence and use of magic is going to necessarily cause their tech to go along different development paths.

    You won't have technological revolution if nobody is working on technology. True. But that works on the assumption that nobody is. Which doesn't fly with me. Nor does it seem to account for the experts and non spell-casters with access to Knowledge (Engineering) or (Nature) let alone the social sciences-or the fact that only in D&D do you need magical ability to copy the alchemical things people do in the RW and did centuries ago (making drugs, paint, dyes and various other real world applications that would get otherwise put under Alchemy)-and If you want to call it craft specialties I suppose that works but those would also have a Knowledge base that would just as appropriate to grow technology from.
    We're probably approaching this from different perspectives. If D&D chemistry requires alchemy and therefore magic, that tells me that either chemistry doesn't work for some reason (e.g. the four elements theory is true) or alchemy has been discovered to be better than chemistry. In many of the settings that I make for my own groups, I remove that requirement and allow for mundane crafting to make alchemical items, clockwork devices, and so forth--and in such a setting, I do include more advanced tech than the baseline.

    Saying that D&D alchemy, clockwork, and similar shouldn't require magic is one thing, and one I agree with. But to complain that settings that take that assumption for granted (when was the last time you saw a non-steampunk setting remove the spellcaster requirements for that setting and then make use of that) don't have advanced nonmagical tech doesn't seem exactly fair.

    And if a wizard want to make something fly yes he can get there in several ways. However, there are plenty of reasons not to use magic. The single largest is that magic is very expensive to buy and someone with technological skill will look to undercut the cost. I can buy wizardry acting as a brain drain to normal technological advancement but for every one that does you have a wizard who uses magic to learn how to make and sell airplanes or other technological gizmo much faster because of his magic and he can sell that tech cheaper than the wizard down the road can do with his spells-esp after you take getting the wizard to where you want the gizmo, rare components in magic item manufacture, repeatable treatment etc. The wizard who invented the technological version can even delegate the construction once he or she discovers it and use the proceeds to fund more research or an endless stream of hookers and "invigorate" potions. The spellcasting only wizard has to trudge off and actually cast the spell every time that king fellow wants it cast disrupting his day, he can only be in one place at a time (a few short term exceptions), his spell choice for the day is being set by someone else and if he wants to avoid that he has to give up some of his very self to pay the XP cost of the item - double bad if he isn't high enough to make a permanent item. Also the tech researching wizard can pass this new family business down to his children even if they are not casters. Thus it would make more sense for a wizard will his ability to analyze, support, fabricate, and conjure to use his skills to research new non arcane tech than almost anything else-at least from a financial point of view.-Like an Edison coming up with invention after invention as his employees toil away one his old designs that rake in gold from far away lands except where his competitors can be found like that damnable sorcerer Tesla!
    Here's the thing, though: the existence and usage of magic introduces the problem of startup costs and conceptual biases.

    Regarding startup costs: Sinking funding into developing nonmagical means of flight profits later. Enchanting more of the same known, reliable means of flight profits now. The Wrights' first functional airplane used bicycle parts they had on hand from their shop, an engine from a car manufacturer, and other things that required a technological society's existing infrastructure and economy of scale to bring down the cost to the level that two hobbyists could build it. Not every wizard would try to figure out and build all of that from scratch when he could just enchant something to fly for a fraction of the effort and cost.

    Regarding conceptual biases: Coming up with airplanes is hard and unintuitive. A lot of first efforts to build a flying machine tried to duplicate flying creatures' motion, which, as we know, doesn't work too well for human-scale machines. So they moved on to experiment with other things. In D&D, though, it does work, with golems and animated objects and such, not to mention all the creatures like dragons who shouldn't be able to fly but do anyway. So one of two things would likely happen: one, they get stuck on the flapping wings model, because they're not just feeling around for a working model, they're trying to duplicate something that they know will work...or two, the flapping-wings model does work, because the same laws of physics that allow rocs and dragons to fly works for that too.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    This is one of my big pet peeves. Handguns predate two-handed swords and full plate armor. Any excuse not to develop guns applies equally well to any other technology. You can't say "they wouldn't develop guns because magic" when magic hasn't stopped them from developing anything else. If the wand of magic missiles hasn't killed the bow, why would it kill the gun? Why are they using armor when there are first level spells that can replace armor?
    Once again: you cannot assume the same development path as real-world history. We developed gunpowder at least as far back as ancient China, where it was used for fireworks at first rather than weaponry, and the recipe is simple enough that you can stumble upon it by accident and refine it from there. In D&D, they have dancing lights and other means to make pretty lights in the sky, and you have to be a magic user to do anything alchemical.

    As for why they have anything at all resembling real-world weaponry, well, we got on this tangent due to a complaint that, given a several-thousand-year history of ancient civilizations, current civilizations should be much more advanced because they have the ancient civilizations' knowledge to draw upon, and we should see more advanced technology than Medieval/Renaissance tech. My point was that, given that they use magic instead of technology, that any advanced tech wouldn't be easy to reverse-engineer given a society that already knows, uses, and relies on magic, and that any technology advanced enough to rival magic (flying things, computers, etc.) wouldn't be bootstrappable from their perspective, it makes a lot of sense that they'd advance magically rather than technologically. I don't know why the ancient civilizations developed what they did (though I can think of several reasons: spells aren't permanent where physical items are, someone discovered that you can augment items with more permanent magic in ways you can't duplicate with spells, they developed this stuff before discovering magic, and more), I'm just arguing why, given the premise that the ancients have this stuff and magical versions of it, current civilizations would look more like that than like modern Earth.

    They would do it because the technological equivalents of those magic items are a lot cheaper and more resource efficient. The same reason we switched from bows to muskets. Even though the muskets were much slower and less accurate, they could be fielded much more easily. Fielding an archer required weekly training sessions over the lifetime of the archer; he has to be raised from childhood and spend at least one day every week training to use a bow just to be a decent shot when he's a grown man. But you can teach a peasant levy how to use muskets in an afternoon and they'll be up to speed after a couple weeks of practice.

    Relying entirely on magic makes sense for a wizard who intends to do everything single-handedly, but for a wizard who is just a part of a greater society, it makes sense for him to find some simpler solution that he can hand out to the masses.
    See above response to sktarq regarding magic items being long-lasting enough to fill society's needs and individual casters' efforts being a sufficient stopgap measure while magic items are in production that technological advancement wouldn't necessarily happen.

    Sir isaac Newton revolutionized physics. He also studied alchemy, magic, and summoning angels. He's remembered for the physics stuff, because that's the stuff that actually worked for him. In a world where magic actually works, it wouldn't be competing with technology. It would be technology. "Magic" wouldn't be opposed to technology any more than "magnetism" would be. It's just another force of nature that can be harnessed.
    Exactly!


    @sktarq and Xuc Xac: In case it's not clear, given all the tangents we've taken, I'm not at all arguing that real-world technology wouldn't or couldn't develop alongside magic. I'm just trying to show that it's not at all the cast that a society must develop real-world technology, integrated with magic or not, when they already have magic and are building off previous civilizations that also used magic. It's entirely possible to have magitech or magic-punk settings that have both magic and technology or use +3 laptops of enhanced graphics, I just don't think it should be anyone's pet peeve that a given setting doesn't have that.
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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Waaay to many zeros for dates in the worlds past.
    I sometimes err on the wrong side of this. There was one particular incident in the backstory of *insert that magic system*, where my original history involved a 90% die-off in the able-to-fight population due to a massive war. (now retconned to only about 40% dieoff; similar to the plague and such like)
    Somehow one thinks that pre-Industrial civilizations cannot recover from that to original levels within 6 generations... (about 120-150 years) At least with historical growth rates.


    Also I then noticed that the war involved going from first invention of a magic engine (without the steam) in a "western europe with magic" setting to supersonic flight and ray guns in about six years (although to be fair, stuff is alot easier due to magic).
    Perhaps I overestimate the impact of the founding of the world's first magi-technological university, perhaps not.


    The point being that you don't need to have ancient civilizations with super magic technology. This civilization you are in could be that super-magic civilization!

    Someone had to do it for the first time, why not you? Tell the story of the Newtons and Faradays of your setting, or of the people and society around them that they change.


    My pet peeve:
    Settings that have all the best deeds, legends and so on, in the past. I absolutely hate twilight era settings where all the cool stuff goes away... and the story is set when they have already gone.
    Why not tell the story of the cool stuff? No one's gonna be writing epics about the time after the heat death of the universe. (which is what having a fading of past glories seems like to me)

    Basically, I dislike too much "glorious past". I want that past to BE here. Not sit and look back and sigh about the good old days.

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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    My pet peeve:
    Settings that have all the best deeds, legends and so on, in the past. I absolutely hate twilight era settings where all the cool stuff goes away... and the story is set when they have already gone.
    Why not tell the story of the cool stuff? No one's gonna be writing epics about the time after the heat death of the universe. (which is what having a fading of past glories seems like to me)

    Basically, I dislike too much "glorious past". I want that past to BE here. Not sit and look back and sigh about the good old days.
    Eh... it really depends on the tone the setting is trying to set. It works in A Song of Ice and Fire, and it works in post-apocalyptic settings.

    Standard heroic fantasy though? You're right, there's basically no way for the "we've destroyed what our ancestors built up for us and now we're all just waiting to die" tone to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    I sometimes err on the wrong side of this. There was one particular incident in the backstory of *insert that magic system*, where my original history involved a 90% die-off in the able-to-fight population due to a massive war. (now retconned to only about 40% dieoff; similar to the plague and such like)
    Somehow one thinks that pre-Industrial civilizations cannot recover from that to original levels within 6 generations... (about 120-150 years) At least with historical growth rates.
    Well, didn't China have a population decrease of over 50% during the 14th century due to plague and Mongol invasions? They took 200-300 years to recover, IIRC.

    Someone had to do it for the first time, why not you? Tell the story of the Newtons and Faradays of your setting, or of the people and society around them that they change.
    Funny you should say that, one of the elves in one of my settings was a steampunk-style inventor by the name of Faraday Kilstead.
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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    Settings that have all the best deeds, legends and so on, in the past. I absolutely hate twilight era settings where all the cool stuff goes away... and the story is set when they have already gone.
    Why not tell the story of the cool stuff? No one's gonna be writing epics about the time after the heat death of the universe. (which is what having a fading of past glories seems like to me)

    Basically, I dislike too much "glorious past". I want that past to BE here. Not sit and look back and sigh about the good old days.
    Funny you say that. My current setting started out as "why not play during the good old days?" Bring on all the elven kings, dwarven cities, dragons, and giants.
    I eventually got back a bit more to the point where the elven kings where still fighting to establish their empires and the building of underground cities was only starting to really become a thing. But it's so much more fun to do all the things than to loot the ruins some thousand years later and find the sword that once used to kill dragons. Get that sword fresh out of the forge or take it from the hand of its fallen last owner and get into the dragon killing game yourself.
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    Heh. Etherworld is post-apocalyptic, in that the world ended. It's been nearly a thousand years, the survivors are still only getting together thanks to just having invented the necessary travel technology, and already there are groups that are essentially about Prime World Nostalgia.

    The fun thing being, of course, that no one actually has any good records of the prime world most people use it as more as a mystical paradise or metaphor without really knowing what it was like.

    Just imagine that we were all living on terraformed asteroids in five hundred years and were talking fondly of Earth before the nuclear war, when there weren't any wars or poverty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    As someone who loves the WoD setting I totally see where you coming from. Its sort of the kitchen sink issue put up by the OP but far far worse. The beauty of the system is that any two will mostly work side by side for a crossover-three becomes tricky and four (+) generally goes boom. It can work if one is fully developed and the others exist only enough to drive the story in the main rule set. Its basically something to allow any story to be told but trying to tell every story at once garbles them all. There is a reason thee are separate WoD games and that none need anything but the Blue Book (your mortal's guide). Do you think that is a world building issue or a storyteller reaching beyond what they can handle issue?
    World-building, because they already have populated the world with all those things and it's just confusing. That setting I was working on for example - it started with combining few similiar ideas, so I managed to get 4 types of characters in one setting, then I made backstory connecting them together. But as I worked on this backstory , that involved creatures from another dimension, I started to think about impact they made on the world and what they want, and suddenly I got myself Asia devastated by Demons from another dimension, Europe fighting loosing war against said Demons, Hong Kong as alone mega-city defending itself from them and each with their own characteristic types of player characters. And before I realized it, whole setting started to look more like an insane mashup that has no sense, rhyme, reason or climate at all. So I cut it into 4-5 smaller, but more focused. Just because GM wont reach for them, it doesn't change that those thing are already there and are messing with tone you are trying to estabilish. And I personally think that people have enough of settings who are supposed to be for as many people you can, and would rather preffer smaller settings, but aimed for specific audience.

    2b) Everything assumes "medieval Western Europe plus magic" as a baseline, without actually taking into account what magic can do. This is similar to sktarq's #15, but more so: not just why individual casters don't do interesting and logical things with their magic, but why the world looks the way it does at all given the existence of magic. Something like the Tippyverse is one way to do it, where you start with a vaguely-medieval-European framework (there are normal cities, normal traders, normal currency, etc.), add spellcasters, and extrapolate, but there are lots of directions you can take this.
    There is a good reason why magic haven't changed anything - it haven't canged anything yet, the possibilities are there, but nobody had tought about them until this point. Personal Computers and American Express were possible long before people revolutionize the world with them, but guys in charge tought they wouldn't catch up and investing in them would be a waste of money.

    And Tippyverse is my turn-off - it's just wizard power fantasy and it's backstory basically goes how it goes because creator said so (I refuse to belive that large scale wizard war described in Tippyverse backstory wouldn't end with all wizard casters exterminating each other, heavily damaging the world in the process, but with some guys just deciding to stop and live in their small utopias to show how Tippy's favorite class is awesome).

    5) Settings with nothing to do. The opposite of the "this setting is meant to run one plot" problem, these settings don't have anything to really hook you to run adventures in them. Spelljammer was an awesome setting thematically, and it was nice to have a "D&D! In! Space!" setting, but without an overarching theme (like "ongoing major war" in Warhammer 40K or Dragonlance or "explore everywhere" in Star Trek or Eberron) or a bunch of smaller hooks to let you run one-shots there or just wander around and interact with the world (like "escape the Mists" in Ravenloft or "explore the Outer Rim" in Star Wars) it kind of fell flat.
    For me theme is the most important thing in a setting. One of the main reasosn why I dislike Tippyverse is that it was made without a central theme, around which you could build stories - it was made basing on exploration of the rules and that's, quite frankly, a big red light for me to get the hell away from any setting. Get the idea and theme first, then, if necessary, toy with rules to reflect what you want, but don't start with the rules, because then you get idiocies like this one. And don't tell me "but Tippyverse's theme is to explore how the world governed by 3.5 rules would look like" because that's exploration of the rules. When you think about theme and world, you should forget about rules entierly and once you're done with that, look for the system that fits your new world the best.

    The problem with the concept of "fantasy country X" is that if the author and/or the readers are largely ignorant of the place being spoofed, then you have to resort back to big, meaty stereotypes to telegraph what's what.
    Which is why people say that guys who knows feudal japan only from anime make terrible Legend Of The Five Rings players.
    Last edited by Man on Fire; 2012-09-18 at 04:29 PM.

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    I dislike Static settings. Settings where things have remained the same for generations, and the PC's are either trying to maintain the Status Quo by stopping the Big Evil Thing, or trying to change the Status Quo by defeating the Evil Thing that has been making life terrible for all these centuries. In a lot of settings everything interesting happened hundreds of years ago, or just under a year ago. I like my settings to feel like something happened last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that. Like the current conflict is the result of a chain of events.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    Eh... it really depends on the tone the setting is trying to set. It works in A Song of Ice and Fire, and it works in post-apocalyptic settings.

    Standard heroic fantasy though? You're right, there's basically no way for the "we've destroyed what our ancestors built up for us and now we're all just waiting to die" tone to work.
    I don't like those kinds of settings. ^^ Post apocalyptic makes me want to play an engineer out to rebuild everything and do it better.

    Standard heroic fantasy still has too much of the "ancient sealed evil in a can" and "ancient sword of the ancients" tropes for me to be fully comfortable reading a stereotypical one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark View Post
    Well, didn't China have a population decrease of over 50% during the 14th century due to plague and Mongol invasions? They took 200-300 years to recover, IIRC.
    Yeah, which was why a 90% dieoff taking only 120-150 years was a bit too short to believe. I retconned it to 50% dieoff so it was ok again. =D

    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    (I refuse to belive that large scale wizard war described in Tippyverse backstory wouldn't end with all wizard casters exterminating each other, heavily damaging the world in the process, but with some guys just deciding to stop and live in their small utopias to show how Tippy's favorite class is awesome).

    Get the idea and theme first, then, if necessary, toy with rules to reflect what you want, but don't start with the rules, because then you get idiocies like this one. And don't tell me "but Tippyverse's theme is to explore how the world governed by 3.5 rules would look like" because that's exploration of the rules. When you think about theme and world, you should forget about rules entierly and once you're done with that, look for the system that fits your new world the best.
    I do a bit of both, but oftentimes, I let some exploration of consequences guide how my settings develop.

    I don't build settings from top down, starting with themes and the world.

    I start from the bottom, the magic system, the basics of the world (what is different or not about physics, etc.). And then I build up from there, choosing how the world develops to get to some final end point I want to see.

    There is rather alot of flexibility in the extrapolation of various underlying explanations. Just because all wizards are proud and refuse to serve others does not mean that the setting builder could not have a few of the more cooperative types make peace and bunker down until everyone else is dead.
    Or you could go the other way and have the ending magical war devastate the land until life has to start over. Either way is plausible, same starting condition and same underlying rules.

    EDIT: alot of my stories tend to involve some form of progress or other. The impact of magic in society is one of the more common areas I explore with a fantasy story.
    Most of the time, the end result is usually a magi-tech Post-Singularity society or a Tippyverse totalitarian utopia; but it's the process by which you get there that you have stories to tell about.
    Last edited by jseah; 2012-09-18 at 05:03 PM.

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    The biggest things I find off-putting are societies poorly conceived(usually suffering from Planet of Hat syndrome) and worlds that are irredeemable. The latter essentially means that it's a grimdark world, and on top of that no one is trying to make things better: even WH40k doesn't fall into this trap, as many are trying to make things better, they just often lack the means to fix everything or their focus is to narrow.

    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    I don't like those kinds of settings. ^^ Post apocalyptic makes me want to play an engineer out to rebuild everything and do it better.

    Standard heroic fantasy still has too much of the "ancient sealed evil in a can" and "ancient sword of the ancients" tropes for me to be fully comfortable reading a stereotypical one.
    Interesting that you would say this, because most of the Poswt Apocalyptic stuff I've seen has a very strong undercurrent of "X screwed up, think you can do better?"


    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    And Tippyverse is my turn-off - it's just wizard power fantasy and it's backstory basically goes how it goes because creator said so (I refuse to belive that large scale wizard war described in Tippyverse backstory wouldn't end with all wizard casters exterminating each other, heavily damaging the world in the process, but with some guys just deciding to stop and live in their small utopias to show how Tippy's favorite class is awesome).

    For me theme is the most important thing in a setting. One of the main reasosn why I dislike Tippyverse is that it was made without a central theme, around which you could build stories - it was made basing on exploration of the rules and that's, quite frankly, a big red light for me to get the hell away from any setting. Get the idea and theme first, then, if necessary, toy with rules to reflect what you want, but don't start with the rules, because then you get idiocies like this one. And don't tell me "but Tippyverse's theme is to explore how the world governed by 3.5 rules would look like" because that's exploration of the rules. When you think about theme and world, you should forget about rules entierly and once you're done with that, look for the system that fits your new world the best.
    All this right here just told me that you have no idea what you're actually talking about. There are several themes that you can build stories around while in the Tippyverse, especially if you alter when exactly in the history you go into things. He's run multiple games in the setting, at different points in the 'progression'.

    Also, considering how much amazing stories happen in the Real World, which is constructed without such a guiding theme as far as we can tell, I seriously question your premise about mandating that the theme comes first. Yes, you need to match theme to mechanics, but nothing in that statement enforces any particular order.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    Yeah, which was why a 90% dieoff taking only 120-150 years was a bit too short to believe.
    But that's pretty much the number for all of the Americans after the first colonialization. If you have a smaller and more densly populated area, it could likely even go much quicker.
    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    I dislike Static settings. Settings where things have remained the same for generations, and the PC's are either trying to maintain the Status Quo by stopping the Big Evil Thing, or trying to change the Status Quo by defeating the Evil Thing that has been making life terrible for all these centuries. In a lot of settings everything interesting happened hundreds of years ago, or just under a year ago. I like my settings to feel like something happened last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that. Like the current conflict is the result of a chain of events.
    Which I think is another case of simply way too many zeros. Say all of recorded and still remembered history fits into 500 years and it should mostly be fine.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-09-19 at 08:03 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tavar View Post
    All this right here just told me that you have no idea what you're actually talking about. There are several themes that you can build stories around while in the Tippyverse, especially if you alter when exactly in the history you go into things. He's run multiple games in the setting, at different points in the 'progression'.
    Don't care, for me good setting or game itself should provide the themes to explore itself, so GM and players would know what to expect when they sit down to the table. Sure, you can excuse generic systems, like GURPS, Savage Worlds or even D&D, but if I pick up specific game, I would like to know what to expect. If I play Dark Sun, the game is going to be about question "what could you do if circumstances were bleak enough?", if I play Vampire: The Requiem the game is going to be about pros and cons of immortality and if I play Exalted it's about consequences of our actions. Tippyverse doesn't give me the most important thing, the meat of the game. It's like if I came to restaurant, ordered steak, got all spices and was told to kill the pig and cook it for my own.

    Also, considering how much amazing stories happen in the Real World, which is constructed without such a guiding theme as far as we can tell, I seriously question your premise about mandating that the theme comes first. Yes, you need to match theme to mechanics, but nothing in that statement enforces any particular order.
    If I want real world, I take my dogs for a walk. I play the games for stories my character can be a part of.

    Also, notice that I said "get the idea and the theme first", because most stories and games starts with an idea and then appriorate theme to that idea is found and injected by the author. Rules can come when you know what you actually want to do.
    Last edited by Man on Fire; 2012-09-19 at 10:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    1) "Clap your hands if you believe" and "a Wizard did it" - the whole concept of believing something making said something true is a mire of ridiculousness and too few people think deeply enough of the repercussions and logical end-result such phenonemon would have. In general, attributing loads of setting points to poorly defined common reason eats away my suspension of disbelief and logicality of a setting.
    I am ok with this...but ONLY if the repercussions are explored. Small Gods is a fascinating book, for instance...

    But yes, when used as an easy out to avoid explanation, it doesn't work at all.

    8) "Writers have no sense of scale" - this is a bad problem with fantasy, with histories spanning millenia with nothing changing when you could easily condense the important events into decades - but it is even worse among Sci-Fi settings, where whole planets are treated like villages in a fantasy setting. In fact, I could say fantasy and sci-fi have opposite troubles - in fantasy, creators cram too much stuff in too small an area. In sci-fi, creators put in too little, when conceivably every planet, even the boring uninhabited ones, could have enough stuff to explore for a campaign or two.

    So freaking true. Use the sense of scale appropriate to the story you're telling. If it's a hardscrabble life on the streets, well...one city is probably plenty for most of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    Another thing I dislike are badly used "no stats" - characters who are said to be so powerful that players cannot match them. It's not really bad itself, I mean, Cthulhu in pathfinder is good example - power beyond anything, one that game overs you when he wakes up, because he is a very old god. Same with that giant bird from deadlands or Cain. But guys like Stone from Deadlands, who is just Revenant who made pact to get a lot of power, or that religious leader whose name I forgot - these are normal guys in that setting, jsut strong, nothing in their files puts them above players' usual level, there is no reason for them to be best in everything and have no stats.
    God yes. I hate this so very much...it's one of my few pet peeves with Dresden Files, a LOT of chars are unstatted. I mean, don't get me wrong...I'm ok with very, very high stats, where justified. Throw the kitchen sink at it if they deserve it. They need not even follow standard char creation rules or the like.

    But the entire point of me paying money to use a system, or reading and using it, is that you've done some of the prep work for me. It's that interactions are well defined, and not something I need to invent. I can ALWAYS ignore written stats if I need to. If no stats are there, I *have* to make stuff up.

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    If you throw a laptop, a few dozen books, and a Glock into an area full of bad weather, wild animals, deathtraps, and other hazards, they wouldn't last more than a few years at best. Throw a sword into the same conditions and it'll be battered but workable.
    A sword is made out of steel, which rusts when exposed to the elements. Stainless steel is not really much of a thing in historical swords. A glock is made primarily from composites, and what metal it does have is vastly higher quality and is much, much more likely to survive.

    I can conceive of no particular reason the sword would survive but the glock would not. And hell, we DO find even swords and books from long, long ago on occasion. Why shouldn't such things exist?
    Last edited by Tyndmyr; 2012-09-19 at 11:26 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    Don't care, for me good setting or game itself should provide the themes to explore itself, so GM and players would know what to expect when they sit down to the table. Sure, you can excuse generic systems, like GURPS, Savage Worlds or even D&D, but if I pick up specific game, I would like to know what to expect. If I play Dark Sun, the game is going to be about question "what could you do if circumstances were bleak enough?", if I play Vampire: The Requiem the game is going to be about pros and cons of immortality and if I play Exalted it's about consequences of our actions. Tippyverse doesn't give me the most important thing, the meat of the game. It's like if I came to restaurant, ordered steak, got all spices and was told to kill the pig and cook it for my own.
    Once again, you don't seem to actually know what you're talking about: the setting has many themes you can build off, depending on when the game in question is set.


    Quote Originally Posted by Man on Fire View Post
    If I want real world, I take my dogs for a walk. I play the games for stories my character can be a part of.

    Also, notice that I said "get the idea and the theme first", because most stories and games starts with an idea and then appriorate theme to that idea is found and injected by the author. Rules can come when you know what you actually want to do.
    Care to actually read what I wrote, and reply to that, instead of something completely different?

    Nothing mandates that you need a central 'theme and idea' in order to create a setting in which you can run a game that leads to stories. Yes, individual games likely need this, but a setting can be large enough to hold many games, likely with different stories, themes, and ideas. Exalted is actually a good example of this: consequences of our actions is one theme in Exalted, and certainly a prevalent one, but it's not the only theme, and it's certainly possible to run a game without large amounts of that theme present.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    A sword is made out of steel, which rusts when exposed to the elements. Stainless steel is not really much of a thing in historical swords. A glock is made primarily from composites, and what metal it does have is vastly higher quality and is much, much more likely to survive.

    I can conceive of no particular reason the sword would survive but the glock would not. And hell, we DO find even swords and books from long, long ago on occasion. Why shouldn't such things exist?
    I don't want to start down this tangent and derail things again, but a recap of the argument:
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    Recall that we were talking not about what technology would be usable immediately by whoever found it but what would be reverse-engineerable by whatever civilization found it. We can (and have) taken swords that are rusted, pitted, fragile, and otherwise not suitable for combat and restored them to a museum-presentable state, and a D&D-level civilization would likely do the same, but that's because (A) both we and D&D people know how swords work and (B) they don't have to actually work after restoration, they just have to look like they'd work, and it's any replicas you reverse-engineered from the sword that would have to be serviceable.

    If a magic-based civilization without any knowledge of guns, advanced composites, small piece manufacturing, or similar were to pull a Glock out of wherever it had been buried and filled up with dirt and sludge, the chances that they could figure out (A) how it worked, without a working gun or ammunition to tinker with, or perhaps even what it was supposed to do if it was damaged enough, and (B) how to recreate it, parts and materials and all, without the metallurgical and composites knowledge that RL technology presupposes are fairly slim. Further, even if the knowledge of its function was there and they figured out generally how to recreate it, they wouldn't have the technology needed to make the technology needed to make the gun, and as gunsmiths throughout history have discovered, trying to fire a gun made of inferior materials probably won't turn out well. And that all assumes that, in a world where you need magic to do chemistry for whatever reason, the people who discovered the gun could make gunpowder or an equivalent in the first place.

    So the overall point of that and other examples is that even if prior civilizations had full-scale D&D magic and full-scale RL technology, current magic-only civilizations like those in standard D&D settings aren't guaranteed to develop technology along the same lines as RL technology as was asserted because higher-than-Renaissance tech, particularly anything relying on digital technology or chemistry or anything else magic substitutes for in D&D, would be both difficult-to-impossible to reproduce without the existing infrastructure of a RL-technological society and difficult-to-impossible to reverse-engineer due to the completely different conceptual and scientific worldviews the societies would have.
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    Settings or worlds that function using unusual physics. I stop reading as soon as it becomes a discussion of how gravity functions on a mobius-strip shaped planet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryn0528 View Post
    Settings or worlds that function using unusual physics. I stop reading as soon as it becomes a discussion of how gravity functions on a mobius-strip shaped planet.
    Another one I love. My interest goes up as soon as someone writes a world that is on the inside of a cube with interior three small suns and seven giant moons that orbit each other.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    I don't want to start down this tangent and derail things again, but a recap of the argument:

    Recall that we were talking not about what technology would be usable immediately by whoever found it but what would be reverse-engineerable by whatever civilization found it. We can (and have) taken swords that are rusted, pitted, fragile, and otherwise not suitable for combat and restored them to a museum-presentable state, and a D&D-level civilization would likely do the same, but that's because (A) both we and D&D people know how swords work and (B) they don't have to actually work after restoration, they just have to look like they'd work, and it's any replicas you reverse-engineered from the sword that would have to be serviceable.
    Except that isn't what happens. You pick up the shiny magical sword, and if it's shinier with magic than your existing one, you immediately start swinging that one.

    As for restoration, WW2 era submachine guns have been dug up and fired their entire magazine(buried with them) entirely without a problem. "pull trigger, thing on other side dies" is pretty easy to understand. If it wasn't, we wouldn't have crossbows. Anyone who can understand the repeating crossbow can pick up the precepts of the firearm.

    If a magic-based civilization without any knowledge of guns, advanced composites, small piece manufacturing, or similar were to pull a Glock out of wherever it had been buried and filled up with dirt and sludge, the chances that they could figure out (A) how it worked, without a working gun or ammunition to tinker with, or perhaps even what it was supposed to do if it was damaged enough,
    Guns frequently have ammunition in them. Modern ammunition is good for ridiculous periods of time. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together is gonna figure "hey, we best clean the dirt out".

    You don't need to know jack about small piece manufacturing for it to change society. So you have artillery pieces and long arms instead of concealable handguns. Still a massive setting change.

    and (B) how to recreate it, parts and materials and all, without the metallurgical and composites knowledge that RL technology presupposes are fairly slim.
    A gun is fundamentally easy to construct. It's something explosive or very flammable inside a pipe, with a ball after it. Oh, they ain't gonna make a glock first time around, but they damn well are going to figure out how to make a firearm and start down that technological path.

    Further, even if the knowledge of its function was there and they figured out generally how to recreate it, they wouldn't have the technology needed to make the technology needed to make the gun, and as gunsmiths throughout history have discovered, trying to fire a gun made of inferior materials probably won't turn out well. And that all assumes that, in a world where you need magic to do chemistry for whatever reason, the people who discovered the gun could make gunpowder or an equivalent in the first place.
    Explosives already exist. Hell, the reagents for fireball are pretty obviously a reference to gunpowder. Or, yknow, any explosive spell would also serve. It really doesn't matter HOW you get the explosion, and it need not be anything like modern formulations that are carefully designed for no smoke, a minimum of dust, and maximum power.

    If you can make a sword, you can make a gun. Perhaps not in mass, or extremely accurately, or whatever, but you can definitely make one. From there on, natural discovery and improvement will result in development.

    So the overall point of that and other examples is that even if prior civilizations had full-scale D&D magic and full-scale RL technology, current magic-only civilizations like those in standard D&D settings aren't guaranteed to develop technology along the same lines as RL technology as was asserted because higher-than-Renaissance tech, particularly anything relying on digital technology or chemistry or anything else magic substitutes for in D&D, would be both difficult-to-impossible to reproduce without the existing infrastructure of a RL-technological society and difficult-to-impossible to reverse-engineer due to the completely different conceptual and scientific worldviews the societies would have.[/spoiler]
    Digital? Who said anything about digital? You can make a perfectly fine firearm without higher-than-renaissance tech. We know, because historically, they did so rather a lot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Except that isn't what happens. You pick up the shiny magical sword, and if it's shinier with magic than your existing one, you immediately start swinging that one.

    As for restoration, WW2 era submachine guns have been dug up and fired their entire magazine(buried with them) entirely without a problem. "pull trigger, thing on other side dies" is pretty easy to understand. If it wasn't, we wouldn't have crossbows. Anyone who can understand the repeating crossbow can pick up the precepts of the firearm.
    I admit, using a Glock was a mistake on my part. The original point I made was that Renaissance-level guns, if subjected to the same stresses and damage as swords when buried in tombs or underground for centuries, would come out the other side looking like a metal tube with little hint to its function, and then I tried to make a point about modern storage (books and hard drives) by saying "throw a laptop, a book, and a Glock in a hole," when talking about bootstrapping guns should have been a separate point from that and I honestly started to get my arguments mixed up. Also, I assumed from the big deal made about the fact that AK-47s can be buried for years, dug up, and fired contrasted with guns' routine maintenance requirements that that durability was the exception, not the rule, for modern firearms.

    If they're all that durable, I will concede the point that modern-style guns would be usable if left behind by ancient civilizations. I still maintain that producing more of them without modern metallurgy, manufacturing processes, etc. would be impossible, and that without the background knowledge we have from historical guns and without examples of Renaissance guns to work with (as those would not be as durable as modern ones nor as intuitive as point-and-shoot), getting from point A of no guns to point B of gun tech that is widespread, understood, and good enough to rival magic is not guaranteed at all.

    You don't need to know jack about small piece manufacturing for it to change society. So you have artillery pieces and long arms instead of concealable handguns. Still a massive setting change.

    A gun is fundamentally easy to construct. It's something explosive or very flammable inside a pipe, with a ball after it. Oh, they ain't gonna make a glock first time around, but they damn well are going to figure out how to make a firearm and start down that technological path.

    Explosives already exist. Hell, the reagents for fireball are pretty obviously a reference to gunpowder. Or, yknow, any explosive spell would also serve. It really doesn't matter HOW you get the explosion, and it need not be anything like modern formulations that are carefully designed for no smoke, a minimum of dust, and maximum power.
    While the material components for fireball are an in-joke reference to gunpowder, the fact that chemistry in D&D requires magical knowledge as noted before (and also, I suppose, that using it for a fireball is apparently more effective than just lighting it on fire) means that gunpowder and other chemical stuff might not work the same way it does in real life. Every explosive, flammable, caustic, etc. substance in D&D is alchemical as far as we have examples for, so (A) it's not as easy to accidentally stumble upon things like gunpowder or rubber or the like as it was in real life, if it's possible at all, and (B) it's possible that gunpowder might not work at all, even if it is discovered, without the appropriate alchemical preparation.

    If you can make a sword, you can make a gun. Perhaps not in mass, or extremely accurately, or whatever, but you can definitely make one. From there on, natural discovery and improvement will result in development.
    Natural discovery and improvement that are reliant on the laws of physics working as they do in the real world, the technological infrastructure necessary to make the tools for improvements and so forth, and the desire to work on that when a magical infrastructure is already in place that provides tools and weapons superior to their technological equivalents.

    Digital? Who said anything about digital? You can make a perfectly fine firearm without higher-than-renaissance tech. We know, because historically, they did so rather a lot.
    We weren't just talking about guns, we were talking about all modern technology.


    In case you missed my note the first time around, I'm not claiming that you cannot have magic and technology coexist in the same setting, because it is possible for technology to advance despite magic and there are plenty of settings that combine the two. I'm claiming that people who think that technological development is inevitable in settings where magic is already well-entrenched and the laws of physics might be different from our world, and that technology must advance from Medieval/Renaissance levels to modern or near-modern levels or the setting is stuck in Medieval stasis and thus doesn't make sense, are wrong. I'm basically trying to provide counterexamples to those claims, which include the discussion about "But ancient civilizations must have had advanced tech and their stuff would be lying around too for current civilizations to duplicate" you're continuing.
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    This is one of my big pet peeves. Handguns predate two-handed swords and full plate armor. Any excuse not to develop guns applies equally well to any other technology. You can't say "they wouldn't develop guns because magic" when magic hasn't stopped them from developing anything else. If the wand of magic missiles hasn't killed the bow, why would it kill the gun? Why are they using armor when there are first level spells that can replace armor?
    I totally get where your coming from on that. I think in my setting I attempted to resolve that by having both magic and technology be a work in progress.

    Some societies will not develop a certain technology, others will develop it first. I also treat spells and magic as a form of technology or as something needing to be discovered. A lot of spells in the SRD I've labeled as not discovered yet. Basically nobody has thought of a way to cast such a thing just yet. I figure it can take years, even centuries to develop a new spell just like a piece of technology. Also the limited number of people who are able to cast spells, and even more limited number who can make magic items.

    Also some societies won't even know how to cast specific spells. Like how the Amerindian civilizations never developed the wheel.

    But yes, I too hate that "Well magic replaced technology." well why have any technology?

    My presonal turnoff is when people try to cram everything they can int othe setting. Like in published D&D settings - every one must have Mind Flyers, Yuan-Ti, Beholders etc. I would really preffer if most of D&d unique monsters were unique and keept on one part of the world.
    I agree whole heartily. However sometimes I don't think this is the fault of setting makers in some cases so much as its appealing to the players.

    In my own homebrew setting, its basically just humans and maybe a few variations of human. And while some are like "Cool," others react pretty negatively that they can't be a drow, kitsune, half-elf or orc. I've got one player in particularly who pretty regularly tries to argue specifically for more player races on the basis that it would "make sense," or some such. Ultimately I think sometimes setting makers do it more to placate others then of their own free will.
    Last edited by Tzi; 2012-09-19 at 05:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    I'm claiming that people who think that technological development is inevitable in settings where magic is already well-entrenched and the laws of physics might be different from our world, and that technology must advance from Medieval/Renaissance levels to modern or near-modern levels or the setting is stuck in Medieval stasis and thus doesn't make sense, are wrong.
    To a certain extent, when players get to play and mess about in a setting and it spontaneously breaks when they In-Character start asking inquisitive questions about how the world works and trying to build better things (aka. incremental improvements and general "let's make better stuff" attitude);
    not advancing becomes something you have to explain instead of just assuming it happens.

    I've seen it happen all too much and avoid playing a scientist/engineer-type character in too many games due to a feeling (from reading the background) that it would punch too many holes and get vetoed immediately.

    I have yet to play a game with a pure scientist character whose main motivation is to dig into the setting knowledge; ask "why" and don't stop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tavar View Post
    Once again, you don't seem to actually know what you're talking about: the setting has many themes you can build off, depending on when the game in question is set.
    Like? Because I don't see any, this is a setting build on the simplest basis, without anything to build the themes around.

    Care to actually read what I wrote, and reply to that, instead of something completely different?
    Okay, now you pissed me off:
    [quote]Also, considering how much amazing stories happen in the Real World, which is constructed without such a guiding theme as far as we can tell, I seriously question your premise about mandating that the theme comes first. Yes, you need to match theme to mechanics, but nothing in that statement enforces any particular order.[/qote]

    Tell me, what part I don't answer to. C'mon, tell me how my line about not wanting real world in my game doesn't reply on your long line about real world. I don't want real world and I don't want real world's stories, how that doesn't answer your opinion that real world has amazing stories? How is my clarification of what I said not answering to you twisting my words?

    Nothing mandates that you need a central 'theme and idea' in order to create a setting in which you can run a game that leads to stories.
    Well, this is thread for our world-building turn-offs. This is my turn-off, my prefference, nothing have to mandate anything.

    Yes, individual games likely need this, but a setting can be large enough to hold many games, likely with different stories, themes, and ideas.
    But it's good to have one theme that ties them together, especially that it may keep you from throwing some ideas that just doesn't work together in one world.

    Exalted is actually a good example of this: consequences of our actions is one theme in Exalted, and certainly a prevalent one, but it's not the only theme, and it's certainly possible to run a game without large amounts of that theme present.
    But it is a central theme, THE theme game was intended with, just like theme that violence may be an easy choice, but rarerly a good one.

    I don't know why are you so up the arms to defend tippyverse so much. This setting is rigged with things I find my personal turn-offs, especially that it puts emphasis on things I hate about 3.5 (overpowered wizards, spells to make everything easy, enforcing of status quo), why cannot you just accept that somebody may dislike it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    To a certain extent, when players get to play and mess about in a setting and it spontaneously breaks when they In-Character start asking inquisitive questions about how the world works and trying to build better things (aka. incremental improvements and general "let's make better stuff" attitude);
    not advancing becomes something you have to explain instead of just assuming it happens.
    Granted, you need an explanation, but how many stories have you heard about characters who "just happen" to come up with the idea of guns and gunpowder and then, when asked how and why their character would happen to come up with them, respond with something along the lines that it's "logical" for it to happen because it happened in real life? I'm all for incremental changes in settings, and I abhor Medieval Stasis as much as the next guy, I just find it vastly more immersion-breaking to equate having more RL technology with making progress and hamfistedly try to shove it into a setting instead of incrementally improving what's already there, magic and magical things.

    If players ask why there isn't more apparent progress in D&D settings, just ask them what you would do with your time if you were a genius in a world where magic worked: would you rather be credited with the invention of the steam engine and the handgun, or the spell engine and the owlbear?
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    Trying to think of ones more unique to me (not easy).
    Nation states have a moral alignment and act within that moral alignment: realpolitik what’s that?

    Anyone can do magic: how can civilization survive like that without descending into anarchy? It’s like if everyone had the potential to construct an atom bomb in their basement, someone somewhere would set one off.

    Magic users have free reign: in a setting where say mind control is possible with magic, no steps are taken by nations to limit the influence of magic users from dominating the court or any random village for their own gains. Any attempt to stifle a magic user’s freedom of movement and actions is a sign the nation is evil and bigoted.

    Easy cross country, continental, oceanic travel: in the past a voyage across the sea might mean you’re not going to see home again for years. In most fantasy worlds I’ve read about, maybe a week tops.

    Vampires are cool: I prefer my vampires to be disgusting creatures living in the sewers as parasites of civilization, not suave lady-killers that are the ultimate predator.

    Empires Evil, Kingdoms good: plenty has been said on this on many other threads, but its major pet-peeve of mine.

    There are no females of the bestial or monstrous race: The only non-human females are elves, who are just skinnier (aka prettier) humans with pointy ears.

    Half-bestial or monstrous races are only the product of male monster raping a female human: well if they don’t have women of their own.
    Last edited by GenericGuy; 2012-09-19 at 10:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GenericGuy View Post
    Easy cross country, continental, oceanic travel: in the past a voyage across the sea might mean you’re not going to see home again for years. In most fantasy worlds I’ve read about, maybe a week tops.
    Well, if you went all the way around Africa and to China perhaps. But Columbus made his first trip to America and back to Spain in seven months, which included a three months stay in America and a one month stay on the Canary Islands. During the Roman Empire, getting from Rome to any place on the Mediteranean Sea by a fast ship in good weather would take about a week. From Gibraltar to Alexandria abot two weeks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Except that isn't what happens. You pick up the shiny magical sword, and if it's shinier with magic than your existing one, you immediately start swinging that one.
    That's the point that seems to be being missed. If the ancient high-tech civilization had guns and laptops and magic swords, then the current civilization doesn't need to find only pristine magic swords and rusted junk. There would also be Glocks +2 and Laptops of Wisdom in pristine condition too.

    Quote Originally Posted by GenericGuy View Post
    Anyone can do magic: how can civilization survive like that without descending into anarchy? It’s like if everyone had the potential to construct an atom bomb in their basement, someone somewhere would set one off.
    "Anyone can do magic" doesn't mean "anyone can cast wish". A world where any first level commoner can cast magic missile once per day isn't as dangerous as a world where the first level commoners all have guns. Our world hasn't descended into anarchy and we live in a world where anyone could theoretically build an atom bomb in their basement. There was a 17 year old kid who made his own yellowcake uranium and built a nuclear reactor in his garage. Not everyone does it because it's really hard to do and you have to be smart and dedicated to pull off that high level engineering, but low-level stuff like making a lamp shaped like an elephant that lights up when you pull the trunk is within easy reach.

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    If they're all that durable, I will concede the point that modern-style guns would be usable if left behind by ancient civilizations. I still maintain that producing more of them without modern metallurgy, manufacturing processes, etc. would be impossible, and that without the background knowledge we have from historical guns and without examples of Renaissance guns to work with (as those would not be as durable as modern ones nor as intuitive as point-and-shoot), getting from point A of no guns to point B of gun tech that is widespread, understood, and good enough to rival magic is not guaranteed at all.
    Guns would be usable if they were enchanted like the swords from that same civilization. If they are still usable, they can be reverse engineered fairly easily. Right now, at this very moment, knockoffs of AK-47s are being produced with Iron Age tools in workshops all over Africa and Central Asia. And why do they have to be good enough to rival magic? They have to be good enough to rival magic for wealthy adventurers to use them, but they only have to be better than a spear for the military to buy 10,000 of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Regarding the number of casters needed: if not destroyed, magic items last indefinitely. If you have just one wizard in one city making one flying carpet per year, after a hundred years that's a hundred flying carpets, plus however many are brought back by adventurers, plus however many the society had beforehand, and in the meantime he can spend the rest of his year making other beneficial items at a similar scale.
    Well, when you put it like that, the Glocks+2 really are conspicuously absent.

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    You don't have a choice of just two machine guns; you're using the wands or machine guns as your army's primary weapon. Do you want something that requires training to use, to ensure that only a subset of the population can use and that that subset would be trained to use safely (the bows or wands) or something that anyone could pick up without having the discipline and training to use it well and safely (the crossbows or machine guns)?
    History says "something that anyone could pick up". Most militaries didn't want to plan their wars 20 years in advance, so "two weeks to train a musket brigade" was deemed superior to "two decades to train longbowmen". The peasants might rebel but so what? They could have rebelled with bows too. Either way, they'll be fighting your loyalists who are similarly armed, so it's a wash.

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Regarding startup costs: Sinking funding into developing nonmagical means of flight profits later. Enchanting more of the same known, reliable means of flight profits now. The Wrights' first functional airplane used bicycle parts they had on hand from their shop, an engine from a car manufacturer, and other things that required a technological society's existing infrastructure and economy of scale to bring down the cost to the level that two hobbyists could build it. Not every wizard would try to figure out and build all of that from scratch when he could just enchant something to fly for a fraction of the effort and cost.
    Why would a wizard need to do all that from scratch when the Wright Brothers didn't? The wizard who makes an airplane would be doing it after previous generations of wizards had already set up that infrastructure. The wizard aviator would have the benefit of scavenging parts from earlier inventions too.

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Once again: you cannot assume the same development path as real-world history. We developed gunpowder at least as far back as ancient China, where it was used for fireworks at first rather than weaponry, and the recipe is simple enough that you can stumble upon it by accident and refine it from there. In D&D, they have dancing lights and other means to make pretty lights in the sky, and you have to be a magic user to do anything alchemical.
    You can't really say they wouldn't develop gunpowder for fireworks when they already have dancing lights, because they weren't looking for fireworks. They were looking for an immortality potion and mixing random things together based on symbolic properties rather than chemical properties. They stumbled across it like a thousand monkeys banging on a thousand typewriters and eventually producing "To be or not to be? That is the question!" at random. Gunpowder was discovered in the real world in the Middle Ages, but it didn't have to be. It didn't require any pre-existing infrastructure. It's just a mixture of three naturally occurring substances that can literally be picked up off the ground. It could have been discovered at any time before or after that if someone had just stumbled on the right mixture of stuff by chance.

    A lot of world-changing things were discovered that way. Someone tries to make something, and it doesn't work, but they accidentally stumble across something else useful. Unfortunately, in most settings as they are written, research either works as intended or just fails.

    And gunpowder isn't even necessary for a civilization to develop guns. They just need to have the concept of flinging stuff really hard. If they have the idea of the blowgun (or even the pea shooter), then someone could try to think of ways to make stronger guns to launch heavier and deadlier darts. Several countries experimented with using compressed air for rifles as a safer and more portable alternative to gunpowder (non-flammable and easier to resupply in the field), for example.

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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    I just find it vastly more immersion-breaking to equate having more RL technology with making progress and hamfistedly try to shove it into a setting instead of incrementally improving what's already there, magic and magical things.

    If players ask why there isn't more apparent progress in D&D settings, just ask them what you would do with your time if you were a genius in a world where magic worked: would you rather be credited with the invention of the steam engine and the handgun, or the spell engine and the owlbear?
    Well, I agree with you on the RL technology part, not every magic system will lead to technologies that look anything at all like RL. But I would disagree on the lack of impact of technology.

    One of the very first things I have seen players do (and been that player at times) is to find a way to automate things. Wizards are expensive. People are expensive (or if not, prone to revolt).

    You find a way around the need to have people do things to get things done (or reduce the number of people needed or reduce the quality of people needed).
    That is the essence of technology. Requiring less people for the same result. (same number of people for better results is the same thing)

    In a pseudo-medieval magical world, one of the first things I would be trying to do is to make a cart that goes without a horse or a wizard. This of course assumes that magic is automatable at all, which in some systems isn't.
    If it isn't automatable, I have no interest and would set about finding some other way to get rid of that horse.
    Last edited by jseah; 2012-09-20 at 04:22 PM.

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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    You can always just say "Your device does not work". Mixing charcoal, sulfur, and salpeter does not make gunpowder. You also have to know the right ratios and preper it in the right way, or you get something that just burns without a bang. And good luck with a combustion engine. Let me see how you get that crude oil to become an aerosol.
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