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  1. - Top - End - #211
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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    On the subject of "Evil Magic", I have had, for some time, an idea for a setting where Spellcasters gain their power by making pacts with some variety of supernatural entity: Djinns, Faries, Elementals, and of course, Demons.
    Here's the thing. It's not considered evil to make a pact with a Demon, in fact, making a pact with a Demon is considered one of the safest ways to gain magic.

    Let me explain.
    Every type of pact comes with some risks, as the entity on the other end of the pact can change things or influence you in order to further their own agenda. The Fae, for example, are constantly in search of amusement. If you make a pact with them, you are basically getting magic in exchange for keeping them entertained. If you don't amuse them, they will amuse themselves at your expense. You might find your powers failing or misfiring in ways that your patron finds entertaining.

    Djinn are prideful. They won't make a pact with somebody they see as weak, and they have a habit of withdrawing their powers if the opponent is too "Weak", or using their influence to provoke conflict with powerful opponents.

    Even Celestials are dangerous to make pacts with, as they tend to be rather quick on the trigger when they see "Evil" happening. If a man, with blood on his hands and stolen diamonds in his pocket, shouts his innocence while being hauled away, a celestial sorcerer will have to very patiently explain to his patron why it's wrong to help him. Also, Celestials have a habit of withdrawing their powers if they don't think their sorcerers are doing enough "Good" in the world. Many celestial sorcerors end up penniless as they are forced to give generously to every charitable cause that comes along, or else risk losing their powers.

    Demons, by contrast, are safe because they are predictable. They all use the same playbook. First, you make a pact with a sorcerer with very generous terms, then you act as a good little patron, giving your sorcerer power whenever they ask for it, until one day when they need more power and you tempt them into making a second pact, one that grants you lots of influence. THEN you set about turning them into an avatar of death and destruction.

    The thing is, the world at large knows about this. They know that demons will ALWAYS try to tempt you into a second pact, and that the second pact ALWAYS gives them the ability to turn you into a monster. People who DO make the second pact are called "Warlocks", and are usually hunted down and made examples of. Most sorcerors just make the first pact, and happily use the demon's powers for years, ignoring the demon occasionally saying "You know, if you want more power..."
    Last edited by BRC; 2012-11-08 at 03:16 PM.

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  2. - Top - End - #212
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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    I like that one to done right it could be very interesting.

    Edit personally i like non-humans to feel non-human, particularly things like outsiders. Celestial/ demons with no understanding of how the human mind works because their own is so alien appeals to me.
    Last edited by awa; 2012-11-08 at 12:07 PM.

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    I don't like most of those patrons because they sound like they're being played rather stupidly to me. The Fae are okay, and I'm going to assume you mean that the Djinn want their users to go up against powerful opponents rather than not, and I just got confused by your formatting. But I have to disagree with the Celestials and the Demons.

    For the Celestials: why would a mere mortal know more about someone's innocence than divine beings? I could see disagreeing with their opinions on right and wrong or just not wanting to devote one's entire life to the cause of good, but, if your spirit buddies with extra perception into the nature of the universe say someone is innocent even when they don't look like it, it might be a good idea to look a little closer.

    And, as for Demons, they shouldn't just target the few people mad enough to take up a stupid bargain; that's a horrible return on their investment. Instead of giving people power and then waiting until they happen to not be busy to ask if they want a little more, they should wait until their users have reached their hour of greatest need and desperation, then come by to offer them the power to solve their problems, if they'll just sign on the dotted line. Think of the ordeal with V and the archfiends; if they had come at any other time he/she would have turned them down. Instead they came when his/her family was threatened, and (nearly) the only way to save them was to make a literal deal with the devils.

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    Part of it is that the Celestials who make pacts with petty sorcerers are pretty young, stupid, and innocent. Deceit simply isn't in their nature. They know Evil if they see it, but they are pure good, and before making a pact, they rarely know anything besides other celestials.
    They see the city watch dragging a man away in chains, they see the man shouting that he is innocent. From their perspective, the only violence that they see is being performed by the City Watch. They struggle with the idea of assuming the man is guilty from circumstance.


    As for Demons, every pactmaking demon does wish for the day that their sorceror finds themselves in dire straights, but they'll never get that chance if they don't make a pact in the first place.

    Hrmm, I should think about the rules of these Pacts. When a Pact is made, the Patron gains the ability to manifest in the world, but only in close proximity to the Sorcerer. These manifestations are incorporeal, but they can see, hear, and speak.

    Demons and Celestials are beings of the Outer Planes. They can manifest in certain locations on the material plane, and a sufficiently powerful sorceror can conjure a physical form for their patron to take. But otherwise, these are the only ways they can influence the world, and a Sorceror must actively seek out a Patron. So, a Demon can't just wait for a potential warlock to be in dire straights, unless those dire straights happen to occur someplace the demon can manifest and make it's offer.
    This is WHY the Demon must make that first pact, so that when the sorceror finds themselves with their back against a wall, with no hope in sight, they can appear and say "Hey, I can help".


    Consider Demons and Celestials like eager summer interns, knowing that only a few of them will be hired come September. The way they make an impression is by influencing the material plane, which means they MUST make pacts.

    Lesser Demons, being backstabbing, greedy, and ambitious, will therefore make a pact with anybody who stumbles into a damned cave asking for a little magic. More powerful demons (Usually, those who have outlived a few Sorcerors) are usually a little more discerning.

    The same goes for Celestials. More experienced celestials will only form pacts with those they believe are ideally positioned or willing to do good. Newborn Celestials on the other hand, are so eager to make an impact on the world, that they will make a pact with just about anybody.

    Usually, after they've outlived a patron or three (Depending on how long the partnership lasted), celestials or demons go off to fight in the great cosmic war, with only some of them returning to make new pacts. So the overwhelming majority of pact-seeking outsiders are of the "Eager Beaver summer intern" variety.


    Djinn and Fae follow totally different rules. It's more difficult to get them to agree to a pact. They've got plenty of power already, and they don't need anything from you.

    Djinn DO have physical form on the material plane. They tend to reside in lavish homes full of paintings and statues of themselves, or in the harshest wilderness, killing great beasts and composing poems about themselves. A sorceror wanting to make a pact with a Djinn usually says something along the lines of "I heard stories about how great and powerful you were, and I had to see for myself". You never propose a Pact to a Djinn, you just give them an opportunity to propose it. You say something like "There's this dragon threatening my home, but there's no way I could beat it" or "Then the Warlock said that not even the mighty [Insert Djinn's Name Here] Could defeat him", at which point the Djinn, like your fitness nut coworker who keeps trying to get you to go to the gym with him, will say "I CAN HELP WITH THAT! Let me give you a hand!".

    Fey can flit between dimensions as they see fit, but they cannot take action outside their mystic groves or castles, both of which usually appear one night, stay around for a few days, then vanish at sunrise according to some pattern nobody can figure out (Except the Fae, and they're not talking). Because of this, seeking out the Fae is both difficult and dangerous. However, they can appear somewhere and make an offer, which is what they usually do. Usually, they seek out somebody stupid enough to make a deal that gives them lots of control.

    While most people who make pacts with the Fae are idiots, on average Fae sorcerors tend to be very intelligent. The stupid ones don't last very long. Their patron gets bored with them, then takes away their powers at the worst possible moment. Smart Sorcerors keep their patrons entertained. Many Fae Sorcerors live their life like actors on the stage, Adopting flamboyant personalities and seeking out drama and adventure. When a Fae Sorceror turns down a perfectly functional suit of armor because it "Dosn't look cool", that's a legitimate survival strategy. Same goes for making quips or using needlessly exotic weaponry.

    Basically, you make a pact with a demon by indicating that maybe, someday, you might become the type of person who would slaughter a village "For The Lols". You make a pact withe a celestial by being a good person who is willing to tolerate something with the intentions of a human rights activist and the judgement skills of a four year old. You make a pact with a Djinn by agreeing to become something they can brag about, and you make a pact with a fae by agreeing to become a reality TV star.
    Last edited by BRC; 2012-11-08 at 06:25 PM.

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  5. - Top - End - #215
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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    A thing that always irritates me is when someone makes a magic system for the sake of having a magic system. If magic plays no part in the world except as a way for PC's to get tougher then it's just pointless.

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    In my setting (which is actually designed for a series of books I might right, rather than an RPG), magic is used as an analogue to science. New spells are constantly being discovered, and some spells actually reshape the world after their discovery. The one school of magic in which this is most obvious is 'biomancy', an analogue to medicine. This school of magic allows ones to remove most diseases and even repair damage to the body, some individuals have even discovered ways to use it to sustain themselves indefinitely, giving them immorality. But it also has a dark side, just as they can destroy disease, they can also create it, and the world has been ravaged more than once by artificial plagues. Also, a sub-set of biomancy is in alteration of living beings. One of the earliest examples of this was a spell that allowed two creatures of different species to mate with eachother and produce a fertile hybrid, even if they naturally could not (for example, they could make a half-human half-wolf, even though those two species obviously could not reproduce through natural means). This was once used to create a variety of super-soldier races simply (like orcs). But soon enough, these artificially created races escaped into the wild. Now, creatures like orcs are multiplying out of control destroying everything they can purely because they were bred to be insanely aggressive and uncaring. They made a mindless killing machine, now they've situated themselves in the wild and are destroying entire ecosystems and ravaging cities for no reason other than to sate their endless inborn lust for violence.

    A recurring theme is magic is a double-edged sword, similar to science, it has its advantages, but also has caused huge problems for their world, more than once. In some nations infact, magic is illegal purely because of the harm it has brought in the past, and even in nations where it is legal the general populace is often paranoid of most forms of magic (except for the biomancers that fix them up when they get sick or injured) since most the schools of magic can do alot more harm than good.

    If you care to know what the schools of magic are, there are seven:

    biomancy: I have already explained for the most part, only thing I didnt mention is that biomancers can enhance their own physical abilities using their magic (its easier to use biomancy on yourself than someone else, so sadly they cant do this for other people all that well), infact biomancers fill the role of monks in DnD, though they also have cleric-like abilities.
    alchemy: changing materials into other materials, mostly a crafting profession
    conjuration: making things appear out of nowhere, such as fire or lightning, unlike alchemy conjured things are only temporary and typically dissipate within moments
    enchanting: giving materials properties they normally couldn't have, I might change this into rune-making since the traditional idea of enchanting overlaps too much with biomancy, if i do change it to rune-making it'll be the only school of magic that does not require one to be born a mage
    spiritlogy: i really need a better name for this. simply this school allows one to mess with people's souls, such as killing people through eye contact or even transfer their own soul into a new younger body (it is the most widely dispised school of magic, infact you cant learn it in schools normally, the only spell of this school that is tolerated is the one that allows you to analyze someone's soul, its the only way to detect a lich, someone who has transfered their soul into another body, but this is problematic since if you even learn one spell in a school, you can rather easily figure out more, so there's always the risk that your lich-hunter could decide to abuse his powers)
    psionics: the ability to control and alter people's minds simply, they're often called warlocks
    mysticism: the ability to control magic itself, countering spells, increasing one's resistance to magic, even causing the mana in a mage's body to 'combust', which almost always kills the unfortunate mage, obviously a widely feared spell among mages of all sorts, though it has few ways to influence the material world beyond messing with spells others have cast.

    One thing that magic teaches in my setting, is that some things are better off never being discovered. Science in our world has also brought horrible things that this world would be far better off without.

    As for my races, they are somewhat monocultural (though they dont inhabit single nations, all the city-building races have multiple countries which are often at war with eachother, the various dwarven kingdoms for instance are well known for their endless conflicts with eachother, resulting in most dwarven nations being highly militarized). Each race was designed as a thought experiment, simply what human civilization would be like if our instincts were different. For example, elves aren't nearly as prone to passion or being overwhelmed by their emotions, they're very logical and practical. Dwarves only have to sleep every few days, and can easily work tirelessly for most of a day, they typically perceive other races as lazy purely bc they cant work nearly as hard as they can, and of course need to sleep and rest alot more than dwarves do.

    There are also gods in the setting, which do exist, though the main theme behind them (and the story in general) is that people in power often aren't very trustworthy, and even most gods can't be trusted, since most are indifferent or openly hostile towards mortals, and the few nice ones are often foolish or questionable, for example some good gods won't judge others, they're happily aid both good and evil individuals regardless of the consequences. Infact, there's only one god who really can't be construed as evil in anyway, and all he really does is try to keep the world from being destroyed. well, maybe there's two if you count the goddess of death, ironic i know but she isnt exactly a clone of hades, infact she actually overthrew the original god of death whose sole interest was erasing reality because he found it to be too miserable and depressing, she herself actually allows souls to continue to exist, infact her primary domain is rebirth rather than death

    I dont think highly of real-world religions myself, so I put real gods in my setting to show why you shouldn't blindly trust such beings, real or no.

    Obviously, one thing I don't like is the whole good vs evil thing. Wheather or not pure good or pure evil exist in the real world is a highly debateble topic, and just bc someone does something with good intentions does not mean it'll have a good outcome.
    Last edited by xBlackWolfx; 2012-11-17 at 05:49 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gbrngfol View Post
    A thing that always irritates me is when someone makes a magic system for the sake of having a magic system. If magic plays no part in the world except as a way for PC's to get tougher then it's just pointless.
    Please elaborate. What pointless magic systems are you thinking of?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Please elaborate. What pointless magic systems are you thinking of?
    Magic that, if removed, means the world would change in precisely 0 ways, except that the PCs couldn't be wizards. I've never seen an offender quite that bad, to be honest: Most worlds with low-impact magic systems at the very least have villains and monsters that have magic.

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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Star Trek comes to mind. Every season or two there's one episode with a supernatural element, that immediately is never mentioned again. But that's a sci-fi setting and every third or fourth episode an incredible technology is introduced that is also immediately forgotten.
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    Quote Originally Posted by xBlackWolfx View Post
    spiritlogy: i really need a better name for this.
    How about Animology or Animancy? It's based off Anima which is Latin (always good for magic) for soul or breath of life.

    Also, I like how you put in both the positive and negative uses of your magic.
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    Default Re: World-Building Turn-Offs

    Another possibility for spiritology would be auramancy, or "breath magic", since the latin "aura" for "breath" is tied closely to the concept of the soul or spirit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    Magic that, if removed, means the world would change in precisely 0 ways, except that the PCs couldn't be wizards. I've never seen an offender quite that bad, to be honest: Most worlds with low-impact magic systems at the very least have villains and monsters that have magic.
    Thank you. You explained that much better than I can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Being a paralel world to the real world.
    This one I have to defend. Parallel histories can make for very interesting campaign settings.

    The obvious and too-used one is "what if Germany built the atomic bomb first", but there are plenty of other diversion points in human history. What if the Roman Empire never fell? What if China ruled the seas and colonized the New World, centuries before Europe even heard of them? What if the American colonies lost the War of Independance? Or if France won the Seven Year War? Or if the Aztecs or any other civilization native to the Americas developed gunpowder before Europeans started landing? If the Soviet Union won the space race, would it have still fallen in the 1980s? If the Challenger disaster never occured, would the US Space Program have kept chugging away, and what would come of that?

    I think I've made my point; being a parallel history to our own world is hardly a World-Building No-No.
    Last edited by The Grue; 2012-11-19 at 01:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Grue View Post
    This one I have to defend. Parallel histories can make for very interesting campaign settings.

    The obvious and too-used one is "what if Germany built the atomic bomb first", but there are plenty of other diversion points in human history. What if the Roman Empire never fell? What if China ruled the seas and colonized the New World, centuries before Europe even heard of them? What if the American colonies lost the War of Independance? Or if France won the Seven Year War? Or if the Aztecs or any other civilization native to the Americas developed gunpowder before Europeans started landing? If the Soviet Union won the space race, would it have still fallen in the 1980s? If the Challenger disaster never occured, would the US Space Program have kept chugging away, and what would come of that?

    I think I've made my point; being a parallel history to our own world is hardly a World-Building No-No.
    I *think* he meant like Narnia or something, where it's a completely unrelated fantasy world you can reach from the real world through secret magic portals or something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Greco-Roman-era magitech works pretty well, actually. The Romans invented a ton of stuff that didn't show up again for a long time, including the steam engine, and just didn't bother doing anything with it; for Roman magepunk, all you have to do is assume is that the stuff they invented has a magical basis instead of a scientific one (steam and concrete elementals!) and go from there.
    The Romans didn't have the necessary metallurgy to actually utilize it though. Recreations using the same materials explode. So they understood steam, they just weren't anywhere near harvesting it properly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Iceforge View Post
    I was thinking their general "creation" history from Tyrants of Hell, where basically the story is that devils started as a group of celestials fighting the disorder of chaos that are the demons and grew evil in their methods to destroy them while remaining lawful, not that each individual devil started out as angels.

    Never did read a lot of that material, only the story on the first few pages, as to be honest, its not really my thing and my experiences from games that includes the blood war is not good, so maybe I got it wrong, but when you read the start of Tyrants of Hell (Fiendish Codex II) it does sound like the origin of Devils (as a "species") was that they used to be angels/celestials but they diverted away from good
    That's what the fiendish codec said, yes. But both FC books actually had huge gaping issues with their fiction. Fiendish codex 1 wants you to think that the Abyss is both the abyss and Limbo, and ignore the real limbo entirely, for example. As alternate rule sets you could use they are okay, but as anything approaching canon they are attrocious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Umbraeques View Post
    And indeed similar to English within England. Some cities, 50 or so miles apart can have accents so different that it takes quite considerable effort for each to understand the other. Local slang and even word order in some sentences can vary tremendously.

    The same is true even within the US; take the stereotypical New Yorker say, and drop them deep in the country in Louisianna and see how well they can communicate with the locals.

    TV has homogenised the language somewhat, but local variations exist that almost could be a seperate language. I suspect this may be true for all nations and/or languages (with sufficient speakers/locales).
    AD&D had a nod to that, actually. The alignment languages existed because of an ancient pact, wherein almost everything Good teamed up with each other and declared war on all Evil. The two sides developed languages of divine sympathy with each other, which over time began to evolve chaotically and lawfully base on cliques and patterns within each side.

    I especially like that the coalition of all good things broke up because after curb-stomping evil into the darkest pits and recesses, they wanted to follow tem into the trenches and burn them out. Genocide. The more goodly portion couldn't abide such even more blatantly evil acts, and the gran army fell apart. It also explains why goblins and orcs and such were just straight evil, and always murdering the player races; they are still basically living in the dug-outs and bomb shelters from the prior genocide, and are still fighting the war that most of the world has forgotten. It's also when Llolth corrupted the drow.

    I actually find first edition AD&D had a very rich, well-woven implied setting that the authors and creator were just too dense to actually pass on.

    Anyways, back to the OP. Something that occurs to me is that many worlds have multiple nations, and races, most if not all with armies, castles and the like - many disliking each other, yet no major conflicts appear to belongoing or have happened recently.
    Or the opposite, where there's a war, but it doesn't matter. I hate war campaigns because invariably it doesn't work out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimsage Matt View Post
    Eh, energy is energy. Just becuse you run off negative rather then positve don't mean yer evil.

    Also, Blood magic. I love stuff like dat. Biological energy used for magical purposes. Nothing "evil" about it. If you only use your or volenteers anyway
    This actually gets into a lot of things. It makes sense as an entire package, but not if you cherry-pick. Necromancy is evil because the body is sacred as you are defiling it for your own ends, and creating a twisted creature of evil because you think you're important enough to shuck the rules. If violation of the sacred rest Of the dead is not a Thing, then necromancy isn't as cut-and-dried evil. Same with undead being evil (ironically, undead are evil because violating their rest is evil and perverts them, just as often as being an evil bastard in life will use you with undead caricaturization in death), and with ends not justifying the means. It's an entire system which works, but pick away a single block and the whole Jinga tower falls.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    How is something still evil when it's used for good?
    Objective morality, where evil is not a concept based on human philosophy but a tangible, measurable phenomenon akin to radiation, which can not only corrupt you via exposure (similar to being irradiated or contaminated), but can also eventually solidify into matter, generate cells, conglomerate a living creature of ephemera, which then gains sentience which it uses solely to propagate more evil.

    If you use subjective morality, then yeah.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Evil is what evil does. Otherwise we could also call natural processes evil.
    Evil is a naturally occuring thing, though. That's one I the more whitewashed beliefs that feed midieval style games. Wolves are evil, because they are a natural evil thing. Lions are good, because they are naturally good and majestic. Etc. Ulceration of wounds is a natural process, but still considered evil, and a sign o evil contamination. Moreso when diseases is caused by demonic influence and not any actual pathogen.

    Radiation is dangerous and uncontrolable, but the sun is not evil. When I push big rocks down a slope, they are dangerous and unctrollable, but neither rock nor gravity is evil.
    Rolling rocks down a hill can be evil. It depends on what's in their path and how much you knew about it.
    Rolling rocks downhill, and rolling rocks downhill onto sleeping campers are not the same act whatsoever, even though they have some overlap (rocks, hills, rolling).

    Quote Originally Posted by The Grue View Post
    This one I have to defend. Parallel histories can make for very interesting campaign settings.

    The obvious and too-used one is "what if Germany built the atomic bomb first", but there are plenty of other diversion points in human history. What if the Roman Empire never fell? What if China ruled the seas and colonized the New World, centuries before Europe even heard of them? What if the American colonies lost the War of Independance? Or if France won the Seven Year War? Or if the Aztecs or any other civilization native to the Americas developed gunpowder before Europeans started landing? If the Soviet Union won the space race, would it have still fallen in the 1980s? If the Challenger disaster never occured, would the US Space Program have kept chugging away, and what would come of that?

    I think I've made my point; being a parallel history to our own world is hardly a World-Building No-No.
    the problem with those world building techniques is you get stuff that starts to become less interesting once you veer off. Take Terra Fulminata, a game system based around the roman empire discovering and using gunpowder to make guns. The history in it is rich and lush, and then you get tithe point where they stop using real history and it sort of pales in comparison to the stuff that actually happened.

    One of my turn-offs in worldbuilding, or settings in general, is a sense of replicability. The feeling that if something can be done in isolated incidences, it can be replicated perfectly every time by everyone anywhere, and the kinks are all worked out. You see this a lot in magic. The reason spells were as quirky as they are in D&D and similar settings is because these formulas always work. But playin around with spontaneous thermal generation is dangerous. It's not just a matter of deciding what else you can do with a level three effect and dumping money into it.

    Romans had steam power, so they should have trains, power tools, etc., right? Well, no. Because steam power isn't as consistent or harnessable. There's a world of difference between knowing that necromancy can animate zombies, say, and safely summoning a thousand evil spirit's to power a thousand zombies all seen together into a war machine. Or back to the steam power, knowing a steaming kettle generates force doesn't tell you how to get the most steam for your buck, what to burn, how to bleed off excess heat and pressure, why metals can withstand it, which configuration of pipes is necessary, how to vent the steam without losing all of it, etc.

    But consistently you get things designed from a 20th century viewpoint; "Just use metal to corral it!", with absolutely no nod to the difficulty involved, all the planning and engineering that goes on before hand. You get a lot of assumptions about possibility which are ahead of their resource capacity, and after a while it gets mind-numbing. Breaks verisimilitude.
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    Re: Spiritology-

    The original definition of necromancy is the binding and talking with and general association with dead spirits. Since 'spiritology' involves messing with spirits, including your version of a lich via spirit transfer, and seems to be just as ill-regarded and forbidden as mucking around with undead- why not call it necromancy? If a player mixes it up at first, it already sounds like there'll be some redefinitions from the status quo, so it doesn't upend too many expectations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the_david View Post
    Calling something a homebrew world, then taking the standard pantheon from the main book.
    This tells me that the gods are not important in anyway and that they don't play a role in the campaign.
    Why should they be?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiuiS View Post
    The Romans didn't have the necessary metallurgy to actually utilize it though. Recreations using the same materials explode. So they understood steam, they just weren't anywhere near harvesting it properly.
    Hence my point with Roman magitech working well. In reality, they worked out a few prototypes, saw that they couldn't scale the steam engines up beyond toys, and went "Ah, who needs steam power, we have slaves." Add in hardness and fabricate and such, and now you're cooking with gas. Er, steam.

    One of my turn-offs in worldbuilding, or settings in general, is a sense of replicability. The feeling that if something can be done in isolated incidences, it can be replicated perfectly every time by everyone anywhere, and the kinks are all worked out. You see this a lot in magic. The reason spells were as quirky as they are in D&D and similar settings is because these formulas always work. But playin around with spontaneous thermal generation is dangerous. It's not just a matter of deciding what else you can do with a level three effect and dumping money into it.

    Romans had steam power, so they should have trains, power tools, etc., right? Well, no. Because steam power isn't as consistent or harnessable. There's a world of difference between knowing that necromancy can animate zombies, say, and safely summoning a thousand evil spirit's to power a thousand zombies all seen together into a war machine. Or back to the steam power, knowing a steaming kettle generates force doesn't tell you how to get the most steam for your buck, what to burn, how to bleed off excess heat and pressure, why metals can withstand it, which configuration of pipes is necessary, how to vent the steam without losing all of it, etc.

    But consistently you get things designed from a 20th century viewpoint; "Just use metal to corral it!", with absolutely no nod to the difficulty involved, all the planning and engineering that goes on before hand. You get a lot of assumptions about possibility which are ahead of their resource capacity, and after a while it gets mind-numbing. Breaks verisimilitude.
    Well, to be fair, most of the time when 20th century engineering principles are applied to D&D settings it involves wizards doing it, i.e. exceedingly-intelligent scientifically-minded people who can conjure up all the material and labor they could possibly need given enough time and money. Someone who already knows enough chemistry to work with alchemy, enough thermodynamics to work with fire spells, enough craftwork to work with fabrication, and so forth--not to mention all of the mathematical and material science knowledge implied by arcane formulae and material components--should have little trouble coming up with and testing wacky inventions.

    Once one guy has the principles down, spreading the knowledge to the common folk who lack all of that background knowledge will be more difficult, which is why every setting isn't currently steampunk, but there are enough Intelligent people with the right Knowledge to implement things if it's beneficial enough for society.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weirdlet View Post
    Re: Spiritology-

    The original definition of necromancy is the binding and talking with and general association with dead spirits. Since 'spiritology' involves messing with spirits, including your version of a lich via spirit transfer, and seems to be just as ill-regarded and forbidden as mucking around with undead- why not call it necromancy? If a player mixes it up at first, it already sounds like there'll be some redefinitions from the status quo, so it doesn't upend too many expectations.
    heh, actually, they would make sense. Someone who uses that type of magic can also create a zombie, of sorts. Remember when I said that they can kill someone simply by making eye contact? What they're actually doing is severing their soul from their body, but since the body itself isn't harmed in the process, it continues to live on, and can be controlled and programmed like an automaton if the mage also knows psionic magic. If left to its own devices, it'll act highly impulsively, not 'eat your brains' impulsive, but acting like his mental faculties have been dramatically reduced, since without a concious soul the body will only carry out automatic instinctive actions. Someone with psionic magic however can remedy this and make it appear as if the person is still alive and well, minus the fact that they're no longer concious and their will is actually that of the mage controlling it.

    They also have the ability to astral project, though I havent thought up much practical use for this yet.

    So yeah, necromancy would be an ideal name, outside the fact that in modern fantasy fiction most people think of necromancers as mages who make armies of walking rotting corpses.

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    Something that bugs me is aliance/morality stasis.

    As an example:

    I've been laying SW:TOR recently, and when I arrived on Alderaan, I learnt that there is a civil war between the various noble houses, with House Organa supporting the Good/Republic side.

    Because of course, if Princess Leia's adopted family is good, then all their ancestors 1000 years must also be good. On top of that, I later discovered (via a lore unlock) that House Organa have basically been The Good Nobles for thousands of years, ever since Alderaan was first settled.

    Now that is longer than most real-world nations have existed, or even civilizations. The idea that one nation/clan/family would consistently be "they good guys" for even a fraction of that time is absurd.



    It would be nice, for once, to have a setting where - when the story revisits a setting a few hundred years later - we find that, for example, the "good church" has become corrupted and /or schismed; the noble houses have merged/split/etc so that the current heroes are decended from earlier villains, the militant order of religious fanatics have calmed down and become a harmless charity/social club/etc; the orc ravening hordes have established a nation that is no better or worse than any other kingdom, and enjoys just as good/bad relations with them as they do with each other; etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wardog View Post
    Something that bugs me is aliance/morality stasis.

    As an example:

    I've been laying SW:TOR recently, and when I arrived on Alderaan, I learnt that there is a civil war between the various noble houses, with House Organa supporting the Good/Republic side.

    Because of course, if Princess Leia's adopted family is good, then all their ancestors 1000 years must also be good. On top of that, I later discovered (via a lore unlock) that House Organa have basically been The Good Nobles for thousands of years, ever since Alderaan was first settled.

    Now that is longer than most real-world nations have existed, or even civilizations. The idea that one nation/clan/family would consistently be "they good guys" for even a fraction of that time is absurd.



    It would be nice, for once, to have a setting where - when the story revisits a setting a few hundred years later - we find that, for example, the "good church" has become corrupted and /or schismed; the noble houses have merged/split/etc so that the current heroes are decended from earlier villains, the militant order of religious fanatics have calmed down and become a harmless charity/social club/etc; the orc ravening hordes have established a nation that is no better or worse than any other kingdom, and enjoys just as good/bad relations with them as they do with each other; etc.
    I think something like that happened in the "Red Faction" series, of which I have only played Guerilla (The third game)

    IIRC
    In the first game, it's the martian colonists fighting against the oppressive Ultor corporation, with "Red Faction" being the main rebel group. They win when word of Ultor's abuses get back to earth, and the EDF (Earth Defense Force) shows up, kicks out Ultor, and takes over the Martian Colony.

    Red Faction 2 just kind of happens on earth.

    Red Faction Guerilla: The EDF is oppressing the martian colonists in order to force the colonists to send lots of resources back to earth. Red Faction is now a Martian independence movement.

    Heh, that would be a fun series of campaigns

    Part 1: "The Goblin Warlord Krazah has found an ancient artifact and is uniting the Monstrous races for war! The council of five kings has ordered you (the PC's) to retrieve the artifact and stop his armies before it's too late!"

    Part 2: "You are goblins/orcs/whatever. Ever since the Champions of the Five Kings killed Krazah and stole the artifact, the Council of Five Kings has been using it to put your entire race into forced labor. You (The PC's) must lead the resistance against the oppressors, strike down the Five Kings, and bring peace to the land."

    Part 3: "Ever since the Five Kings were killed by assassins working for the Sons of Krazah, the land has been in chaos. The five kingdoms, as well as the Goblins, are all embroiled in a massive war. Only YOU (The PC'S) can find the lost artifact and bring peace to the land."

    Part 4: "When they found the artifact, goblin and human alike hailed them as Peacemakers. At last, the long cycle of violence could end. However, as we crowned them our new rulers, we learned that they were not wise. They were cruel, greedy, petty-minded thugs who killed without mercy, financing their reign by looting the possessions of their victims. Only YOU (The PC'S) can defeat these tyrants"

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    That sounds pretty damn fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    Heh, that would be a fun series of campaigns

    Part 1: "The Goblin Warlord Krazah has found an ancient artifact and is uniting the Monstrous races for war! The council of five kings has ordered you (the PC's) to retrieve the artifact and stop his armies before it's too late!"

    Part 2: "You are goblins/orcs/whatever. Ever since the Champions of the Five Kings killed Krazah and stole the artifact, the Council of Five Kings has been using it to put your entire race into forced labor. You (The PC's) must lead the resistance against the oppressors, strike down the Five Kings, and bring peace to the land."

    Part 3: "Ever since the Five Kings were killed by assassins working for the Sons of Krazah, the land has been in chaos. The five kingdoms, as well as the Goblins, are all embroiled in a massive war. Only YOU (The PC'S) can find the lost artifact and bring peace to the land."

    Part 4: "When they found the artifact, goblin and human alike hailed them as Peacemakers. At last, the long cycle of violence could end. However, as we crowned them our new rulers, we learned that they were not wise. They were cruel, greedy, petty-minded thugs who killed without mercy, financing their reign by looting the possessions of their victims. Only YOU (The PC'S) can defeat these tyrants"
    I would play the living snuggle out of that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Hence my point with Roman magitech working well. In reality, they worked out a few prototypes, saw that they couldn't scale the steam engines up beyond toys, and went "Ah, who needs steam power, we have slaves." Add in hardness and fabricate and such, and now you're cooking with gas. Er, steam.
    That's a good point, but (despite how PCs skew the dynamic) magic is supposed to be rare, as a standard. Once you've got the magic to do so on a regular basis cost-effectively, I can't see why you fulfill a contract for thousands of government utility works when it interferes with continued study of newt eye as it relates to thaumaturgical workings using Kriorpt's principle of vortices or something. It relates to my second point, really. I'm not sure which is the progenitor though.

    Well, to be fair, most of the time when 20th century engineering principles are applied to D&D settings it involves wizards doing it, i.e. exceedingly-intelligent scientifically-minded people who can conjure up all the material and labor they could possibly need given enough time and money.
    That's the thing, though. Say conjuring up all that material and getting the labor and all is possible but unlikely. I don't get how "at great cost, with laborious care and over a long, long period of time" becomes a done deal any schmuck with leel our spell access can do; it cuts out the limitin factors that are most important; initiative, focus, discipline an drive. It like saying humankind can come up with schematics and you can buy basically anything, do every one of us has a smelting forge in our backyards. It just strains my belief.

    Wizards and such are scientific minded, but they are also independent-minded. It comes with wanting to bend reality to your whim. A wizard can generate lasers, a scientist needs a device, a power source, and he can't transport it.the kind of person who learns fireball and lightning bolt for use is the kind of person who doesn't go in for public works (admittedly a generalization).

    Someone who already knows enough chemistry to work with alchemy, enough thermodynamics to work with fire spells, enough craftwork to work with fabrication, and so forth--not to mention all of the mathematical and material science knowledge implied by arcane formulae and material components--should have little trouble coming up with and testing wacky inventions.
    I agree. But there is no testing; there's success. No prototype. No refinement. No process. It's a binary switch, from no to yes with no side effects. We go from living in caves to having clean, renewable energy with no emissions an almost no overhead. It's the magnitude of the ahift, I suppose. There's no granularity. No advancement, just a sudden surge.

    I can only seem to describe it slant wise. Part of the trouble with world yielding is that stuff gets glossed over, so it's only really a turn-off when it's presented as a lack of understanding on the creator's part. And part of it is personal choice; I'd rather play out the science than roll a successful spell raft check and have the ST say "you succeed, and your city aims +1 science".
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiuiS View Post
    That's a good point, but (despite how PCs skew the dynamic) magic is supposed to be rare, as a standard. Once you've got the magic to do so on a regular basis cost-effectively, I can't see why you fulfill a contract for thousands of government utility works when it interferes with continued study of newt eye as it relates to thaumaturgical workings using Kriorpt's principle of vortices or something. It relates to my second point, really. I'm not sure which is the progenitor though.
    Magic really isn't all that rare if you look at the demographics. Even a small thorp of 20-80 people has a 5% chance of having a magical power center such as "a temple full of priests or a single sorcerer cloistered in a tower" with the possibility of a full caster being "the actual, official ruler of the town," and that rises to an 87.04% chance for a metropolis of over 25,000 people; to put this in perspective, Rome at the height of the Roman Empire had at least 18 times that many people and 19th century London had about 1 million people, so it isn't hard for a city to qualify for metropolis status. Such magical power centers have a 61% to be good-aligned or Lawful Neutral, and thus have a good chance to want to improve the city's technology levels, standards of living, etc. either by having the citizens' interests at heart or by wanting to improve the city's efficiency and such.

    In the largest cities, the highest rolls can give you lots of casters. You can end up with a result of 496 spellcasters, 248 wizards and sorcerers (each has 4 16th, 8 8th, 16 4th, 32 2nd, 64 1st) and 248 clerics and druids (4 18th, 8 9th, 16 4th, 32 2nd, 64 1st). Even if you assume that druids wouldn't contribute to the infrastructure, sorcerers can't be relied upon to have the right spells, you need to be at least 5th level to have enough slots to contribute, and only half would be of the appropriate alignment to care about urban development, that leaves 2 18th level casters, 2 16th level casters, 4 9th level casters, and 4 8th level casters, and you can do a lot with 12 mid-high level casters.

    And that's all assuming no non-core full caster/manifester base classes and PrCs (which, if included, would at least quadruple the number available), no scaling up the chart for larger cities (ELH has the Planar Metropolis which allows for epic casters, but even without going epic that gives you more high-level casters) or multiplying proportionally (e.g. a city of 50,000 people has double the numbers above, London would have 40 times that number, etc.), and other variations.

    That's the thing, though. Say conjuring up all that material and getting the labor and all is possible but unlikely. I don't get how "at great cost, with laborious care and over a long, long period of time" becomes a done deal any schmuck with leel our spell access can do; it cuts out the limitin factors that are most important; initiative, focus, discipline an drive. It like saying humankind can come up with schematics and you can buy basically anything, do every one of us has a smelting forge in our backyards. It just strains my belief.

    Wizards and such are scientific minded, but they are also independent-minded. It comes with wanting to bend reality to your whim. A wizard can generate lasers, a scientist needs a device, a power source, and he can't transport it.the kind of person who learns fireball and lightning bolt for use is the kind of person who doesn't go in for public works (admittedly a generalization)
    The point is not that any schmuck with spells can make any technological advancement, it's that any wizard who does come up with an advancement can immediately use his resources to put it into production. In the real world, a talented inventor can come up with a great idea, but he has to convince people to finance him, create the infrastructure to produce his invention, secure the materials, etc.; even if a humanitarian inventor comes up with the solution to world hunger or something, there's no guarantee that the invention is actually practical, and if it is that it will actually be implemented.

    A humanoid-itarian wizard, on the other hand, is his own board of investors, engineering team, marketing department, mining corporation, and so forth, so the barrier for an invention entering mass production is much lower, and the only hurdle he has to clear is his own time, energy, and motivation. On top of that, once a wizard invents a spell he can make scrolls of it and allow others to learn it and reproduce the invention perfectly, and the methods of production of magic items, constructs, etc. can be taught directly or propagated via golem manual-like means. Thus, not only is the wizard his own invention infrastructure, any other wizards can assist him by adding production time and resources with no more specialized knowledge needed than the actual invention itself.

    So in a magical world, improving the technology level looks less like a medieval process, with guild secrets and trade caravans and government ownership of resources and such, and looks more like modern engineering with open-source designs and free availability of resources and independent startups and such.
    Last edited by PairO'Dice Lost; 2012-11-22 at 09:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiuiS View Post
    I can only seem to describe it slant wise. Part of the trouble with world yielding is that stuff gets glossed over, so it's only really a turn-off when it's presented as a lack of understanding on the creator's part. And part of it is personal choice; I'd rather play out the science than roll a successful spell raft check and have the ST say "you succeed, and your city aims +1 science".
    I work around this by having the protagonist in the background story finally realize that the most useful magical invention she made was essentially a magical calculator. The magic system being very friendly to making computers since spells have a scripting language built in.

    The magic system has an inherent Technological Singularity built in that they can theoretically reach in the Stone Age. (but likely won't until after some mathematics is developed)

    The sudden massive surge in magic technology in the history was of course due to this, later accelerated by the formation of a university. And the protagonist, who managed to survive the inevitable blowing up of said civilization, only realized what enabled it after everything was said and done.

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