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    RedWizardGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    On that subject...

    Good and Evil, or Chaos and Order, as actual cosmic forces. I loath that trope.
    Yeah. It's kind of hard to get behind a conflict where one side is defined in terms of being disorganized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I'd argue that the world wars and the cold war are something we've seen general forward progress in spite of.
    At least for WW2 and the Cold War, it was a fight against the opposite of forward progress.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    Except magic does come with a cost in the Dresden Files. It's physically exhausting to use, for one, and there's forms of magic that have some major bad juju (it's been a while since I last read the books, a bit fuzzy on the details). While your ability grows--as it should, one major point of virtually all RPGs is developing your character in some way--you can still only cast so much before you're out of it or you risk pushing too far and injuring yourself. I actually like the magic is dangerous/exhausting/has some drawback more than standard D&D "you can cast precisely X number of spells every day, and doing so carries exactly no drawback or risk save for no longer being able to cast until you rest."

    Of course, your example is valid, and you have reason to be upset with that GM--but it's a case of bad GMing more than this trope. The GM didn't want magic that they perceived as too powerful or game-breaking, and prevented that in an extremely poor manner. I might not like Vancian spellcasting, but unless it's agreed upon well beforehand, if we're sitting down for D&D magic works like it says in D&D. That's basic respect for your players, and telling a player their abilities don't work as expected at the moment they try and use them "just because" is just crappy GM work.



    Granted I'm not far enough in to know exactly what you're talking about, but I have a suspicion that was more due to the 3 dragons than the 3 people. And in a world like Westeros, dragons don't particularly need to be magic to be devastating.

    Also, your mix of "spark of magic" plus training/practice/etc. doesn't preclude magic from having a cost. Heck, even with Vancian casting there's a cost, just not in a format that I find particularly meaningful (you can cast one less spell today). Completely no cost magic means fireballs from dawn to dusk, if you want to. As I mentioned before, I personally like how it works in the Dresden Files--it's mentally and physically taxing to cast spells, more so for more powerful spells. You won't be exhausted from casting basic magic, but doing a -lot- of magic quickly or trying for something really big will have a fatigue effect. Push it further, and you risk more permanent damage. I find that a lot more compelling than arbitrarily declaring "you may cast three spells of third level today."
    I'm describing a thought process and to that your missing the point of it.
    Also I agree but magic making your tired is not a cost too me.
    Cost = Souls potentially summoning demons, all of that.
    Magic making you tired just feels like it should be a basis for magic as a concept in general

    And no my thought and idea of spark of magic didn't preclude that I never said it did I just said it was one way too think about it. And the cost for it comes from how you go about getting your magic. And more.
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  4. - Top - End - #214
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    So in the back and forth between "magic needs a price" and "stop putting a price on magic"...

    In the "Greco-Sumerian" setting I'm working on, there are three "ways of magic" (longer explanations in the link) :

    Animism: getting a nature, elemental, or ancestor spirit to do it. Requires rites, chants, prayers, offerings, bargains, honoring taboos, etc.
    "Black": drawing on spirits and forces inherently warping and corrosive to reality, using sigils, seals, and precise wording to avoid being consumed
    "White": the power of the waking dream; go too far and get permanently lost in the flipside of lucid dreaming.

    Does that seem like too much price, not enough price, just about right? The right sorts of prices?
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    I don't think having a price on magic is bad per se, it's just a bad fit for games, because most of the prices that typically get brought up are either not really prices ("oh no, my magic attracts monsters, as an adventurer I would never encounter those otherwise!") or don't really matter to PCs (you aren't going to live long enough to care about your immortal soul or your age at death) or create really bad gameplay (dying randomly "because magic" is stupid).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I'd argue that the world wars and the cold war are something we've seen general forward progress in spite of.
    One could even argue that we have made progress BECAUSE OF those things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    At least for WW2 and the Cold War, it was a fight against the opposite of forward progress.
    In more ways than many people seem to realize.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    One could even argue that we have made progress BECAUSE OF those things.
    Eh, yes and no. WWII forced the US to get its head out of its proverbial hindquarters and get back to producing things, thus ending the Great Depression, and competition drives innovation (hence Cold War era military advances), but we don't need wars to achieve these things. We only need wars to force certain classes - pretty much in the rulership - to stop getting in the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I don't think having a price on magic is bad per se, it's just a bad fit for games, because most of the prices that typically get brought up are either not really prices ("oh no, my magic attracts monsters, as an adventurer I would never encounter those otherwise!") or don't really matter to PCs (you aren't going to live long enough to care about your immortal soul or your age at death) or create really bad gameplay (dying randomly "because magic" is stupid).
    More to the point, magic in games almost always has a price, but it's a "resource" rather than some sort of dark, forboding, unrecoverable slide towards doom.

    Such dark, forboding, unrecoverable slides towards doom don't work well in games because they're either too fast, leading to unplayable characters, or too slow, leading to mages without practical price. And the character becomes less fun as he goes along because he has to be more and more judicious with his resources.

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    Mean spirited /one sided deconstructions.

    "Look, this trope doesn't work."

    Where this is true, it would tend to be a basic fact rather than something to point and laugh at in setting.

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    I've always been a fan of the idea that SOME magic has a price (Of the Terrible Variety), and that's usually the quick-and-dirty way to power.


    So, for example, a PC wizard becomes more powerful through a lifetime of study and practice. You could achieve similar levels of power much faster by paying some TERRIBLE PRICE, taking a shortcut instead of getting your magic the "Proper" way.

    This means that, yes, that the PC wizard can still be an individual of rare power in the armies of righteousness, despite the evil demon cult having a half-dozen spellcasters of roughly equivalent power. The Cultists got their magic by driving themselves mad and sacrificing babies.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    I've always been a fan of the idea that SOME magic has a price (Of the Terrible Variety), and that's usually the quick-and-dirty way to power.


    So, for example, a PC wizard becomes more powerful through a lifetime of study and practice. You could achieve similar levels of power much faster by paying some TERRIBLE PRICE, taking a shortcut instead of getting your magic the "Proper" way.

    This means that, yes, that the PC wizard can still be an individual of rare power in the armies of righteousness, despite the evil demon cult having a half-dozen spellcasters of roughly equivalent power. The Cultists got their magic by driving themselves mad and sacrificing babies.
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    Hrmm, idea.

    There are Cosmic Forces of Good and Evil. There is ALSO a cosmic force of "Balance" that seeks to maintain parity between the two.

    There is absolutely zero practical benefit to this "Balance". The world won't spin out of control if Good becomes dominant. In fact, Good becoming overwhelmingly dominant is straight up The Best Thing that could happen. But, this "Balance" thing exists regardless, for some reason, and it controls the degree to which the various cosmic forces can intervene in a given scenario.


    The result is that the various cosmic forces are inversely powerful based on whether Good or Evil is dominant somewhere. In the Kingdom of Kindness, dark cultists get astounding powers from sacrificing farm animals. Meanwhile, in the Empire of Blood mad sorcerers torture themselves for power, while scrappy resistance fighters are handed prophetic visions, boundless courage, and inexplicable talent simply for standing up to the local magistrate.
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    I think that a cosmic balance between Chaos and Order (as a desirable thing) can work, because it's easy to see how the extremes of both would be bad.

    Good and Evil, not so much. Every attempt I've seen did it by redefining "Good" as "Bright/Shiny, but actually jerks", which is missing the point entirely. "Light vs Dark" is vague enough to work I guess, but it's cliched as hell.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2017-09-29 at 03:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    The result is that the various cosmic forces are inversely powerful based on whether Good or Evil is dominant somewhere. In the Kingdom of Kindness, dark cultists get astounding powers from sacrificing farm animals. Meanwhile, in the Empire of Blood mad sorcerers torture themselves for power, while scrappy resistance fighters are handed prophetic visions, boundless courage, and inexplicable talent simply for standing up to the local magistrate.
    Given that's the way many stories, as well as many campaigns, are set up, that sounds about right.
    (Not the balance being the reason for it. Just the same 'end results'. When everything is good, evil usually has amazing relative power. When evil is everywhere, Good is relatively individually powerful.)
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-09-29 at 04:37 PM.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    There are Cosmic Forces of Good and Evil. There is ALSO a cosmic force of "Balance" that seeks to maintain parity between the two.

    The result is that the various cosmic forces are inversely powerful based on whether Good or Evil is dominant somewhere. In the Kingdom of Kindness, dark cultists get astounding powers from sacrificing farm animals. Meanwhile, in the Empire of Blood mad sorcerers torture themselves for power, while scrappy resistance fighters are handed prophetic visions, boundless courage, and inexplicable talent simply for standing up to the local magistrate.
    Alternative: the cosmic force of Balance is actually the only one. There is no cosmic Good or Evil, though whatever force there is leads people to believe that they do exist. Instead this one force continually grants power to the underdog, as it were, to maintain a constant state of struggle between those serving "good" and those serving "evil" in order to further its own purposes. Maybe it gains power from mortals asking it for help, regardless of the side they're on, and its own power is maximized when both sides keep asking for help to get the upper hand. Maybe it wants mortals to be stronger for whatever reason, and believes conflict is how they will become stronger. Maybe it just gets bored when things get too peaceful.
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2017-09-29 at 05:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Here's another trope that annoys me.

    In settings that juxtapose law and chaos and good and evil, the idea that a balance between good and evil is somehow preferable or necessary.
    It would work if it was a backward reactionary definition of "good"; like if it was "good" as defined by the spanish inquisition or as defined by ayatollah khomeini.

    It would also work if it was excessive and stupid good. Like the antivillain Allegro the Panda from Powerpuff Girls, who wants everyone to be happy and to that end uses his magic to basically make everyone high all the time, causing chaos and destruction as doctors and firemen abandon what they were doing to party and stare at their hands

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    @Weapons: To he fair, comparing a broadsword, Minnie ball, handgun hollow point round, handgun FMJ round, rifle round, anti material rifle round, birdshot shell, buckshot shell, and slugs could be a completely different thread. So technically, we are both right, but the reason why is that we are both being incredibly vague. Ballistics is another topic entirely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    In more ways than many people seem to realize.

    Eh, yes and no. WWII forced the US to get its head out of its proverbial hindquarters and get back to producing things, thus ending the Great Depression, and competition drives innovation (hence Cold War era military advances), but we don't need wars to achieve these things. We only need wars to force certain classes - pretty much in the rulership - to stop getting in the way.
    I don't think it's anything as subtle as that. I think it's just that less people means less unemployment. The same thing happe ed after the black death.

    Either that or Huitzilopochtli has rewarded us with prosperity for this bloodshed

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    It would work if it was a backward reactionary definition of "good"; like if it was "good" as defined by the spanish inquisition or as defined by ayatollah khomeini.

    It would also work if it was excessive and stupid good. Like the antivillain Allegro the Panda from Powerpuff Girls, who wants everyone to be happy and to that end uses his magic to basically make everyone high all the time, causing chaos and destruction as doctors and firemen abandon what they were doing to party and stare at their hands
    Yeah, but it is like Segev said: you need to add non-good elements to good to make it work, which means you're really not actually having conflict between good and evil and any philosophical merit of the exercise is shot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Either that or Huitzilopochtli has rewarded us with prosperity for this bloodshed
    This is clearly the true answer. Between Huitzilopochtli and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we have learned that we must increase bloody piracy in order to improve the world economy and stop global warming!

    I'd rather not actually debate the other point. While I know I brought it up, taking it into a debate gets far too much into politics.

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    Balance between cosmic Law and Chaos is easy to make work, but balance between cosmic Good and Evil really can't be made to work in the same way.

    When you're weighing Law and Chaos, you have stasis at one extreme and unstable mess at another. It's easy to see how a bit of both leads to a third option that's superior to either.

    When you're weighing Good and Evil, you have Heaven at one extreme and Hell at another. Bit of both is just Earth, really, and while Earth is better than Hell, it's kinda hard to see how it's better than Heaven.

    So if you want "Balance of Good and Evil", then you need a different justification for balance than "it is better". My favorite is "it is inescapable, and attempts to make it not so screw everyone over".

    If that's too abstract, here is how it works: for each good deed there must be an evil deed, and vice versa. In cosmic terms, the moral sum total of existence is 0. This is the balance point.

    So everyone who is trying to do "more good than evil" is acting on false premises. They will, inevitably, cause as much evil as they cause good.

    Good gods cheat their way around this by directing who suffers and why. On Earth, they allow people to commit evil and get away with it... so they can then compensate to their victims in afterlife, while roasting the evil-doers in Hell.

    Yeah, it may not be nice to let good people suffer in life, or torture evil people in various imaginative and horrifying ways, but on these necessary evils Heaven is built.

    (A similar relationship exists between Creation and Destruction. Everything created must be destroyed so the sum total of existence remains 0, but good gods conspire so that would-be destroyers only blow up things which have already run their course or who no-one would miss anyway.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Balance between cosmic Law and Chaos is easy to make work, but balance between cosmic Good and Evil really can't be made to work in the same way.

    When you're weighing Law and Chaos, you have stasis at one extreme and unstable mess at another. It's easy to see how a bit of both leads to a third option that's superior to either.

    When you're weighing Good and Evil, you have Heaven at one extreme and Hell at another. Bit of both is just Earth, really, and while Earth is better than Hell, it's kinda hard to see how it's better than Heaven.
    I think you have to imagine a kind of puritanical heaven wherein people do nothing all day and all night except dance around their deity singing "hosanna hosanna hosanna"...and a rock-and-roll hell that's more like a really good party that took a really bad turn and now the building's on fire, the toilet is backed up, there's a big brawl going on, folks are choking on their own vomit, and several people have contracted syphilis

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    I don't see that as Good versus Evil, but rather, Pure/Holy versus Impure/Unholy. Which is another differently working pair and one where you don't have to play zero-sum games. (Balance between Holy and Unholy can work, but you could just forget about balance alltogether.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Yeah, but it is like Segev said: you need to add non-good elements to good to make it work, which means you're really not actually having conflict between good and evil and any philosophical merit of the exercise is shot.
    That's why for the first example I specified khomeini and the inquisition. They were following real world philosophies regarding what is good and what is evil that held a lot of sway.

    As for the second example, I think we can all agree that wanting people to be happy is a good motive, but there are good reasons why people are not perpetually happy; things happen that need to be reacted to. Granted not to the extent and level that some people react (like you shouldn;t panic from watching sensationalistic news programs, that's all bs and doesn't affect you), but if you're in a building that's on fire or something you can't just say "I'm comfortable with this", you have to react.

    And there are also any number of real world good intentioned but impractacle or downright impossible ideas that have caused far more harm than good.

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    Doesn't the cosmic balance version of good and evil usually draw specifically on the traditional Christian morality in which sex, homosexuality, alcohol and so are evil? I recall Good is usually portrayed similar to Law but with moral overtones, which was basically how things worked before D&D divided Law and Chaos into Law, Chaos, Good and Evil.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    Just in case anyone's thinking "Hey, this is really cool, I'll use it in my next adventure!"

    I would lynch any DM that made me do any significant amount of actual linguistics to figure out a puzzle in dwarvish if my character knew the bloody language. In a movie or a book, sure, but that is not the kind of thing that makes a graceful crossover to a crew of 3-5 player-controlled murderhobos. I suppose if you know your players would be into it it might be fine, but in Role playing games I think it's generally better to skip over the nitty gritty elements of the linguistics.
    Oh, you'll get a translation when it comes time to solve the thing (it'd be 5e, where it's stupid easy to cover all your language needs), but the first thing you get will be a bit of Dorikeep Dwarvish .

    I have to admit, I don't mind the cosmic battle of good and evil, but the idea that they're essentially elements like fire and water is absolutely stupid. In real life, as has been mentioned, good and evil are moral principles, not tangible forces (note: I adhere to a religion where some might argue otherwise. That's the work of beings with strong good and evil allegiances, not some sort of karmic energy), and law and chaos working that way is even worse. Admittedly, it wouldn't be hard to give each alignment a "signature element" - Good could get Light and Evil Shadow (because I do adhere to that trope rather strictly), Chaos could get "entropy" (necrotic without the automatic necromancy association), and Law could have something like Force or Gravity (creating physical restrictions on behavior; "you must fall down," "you cannot pass this point," etc).

    Angels defaulting to good and demons/devils to evil...would work, if there weren't explicitly evil gods who use angel servants. If evil gods only use demons/devils, then it works as a model, otherwise it just falls apart. I adhere strongly to an objective good/evil dichotomy, but trying to say, "Oh, this character is only Good" or even "more Good than Evil" is such a vast simplification of real life motivations and actions that I much prefer alignments as non-mechanical features if you must have them at all.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    When there are a million different elves and one or two subraces of every other race.

    Seriously, take any noun or adjective you can think of and try to not find an elf of it.
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    Bohandas's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Doesn't the cosmic balance version of good and evil usually draw specifically on the traditional Christian morality in which sex, homosexuality, alcohol and so are evil? I recall Good is usually portrayed similar to Law but with moral overtones, which was basically how things worked before D&D divided Law and Chaos into Law, Chaos, Good and Evil.
    That's what I'm saying. I just didn't want to call it out by name

    And it isn't specifically Christian morality, it's Abrahamic morality. All of the abrahamic religions share the same heneral sentiments on these sort of issues

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Also, if we go with sensible definitions of good and evil I could see how the side of evil could desire a balance between good and evil. If everything is ruined and destroyed than there will be nothing left to ruin and destroy

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Quote Originally Posted by 8BitNinja View Post
    When there are a million different elves and one or two subraces of every other race.

    Seriously, take any noun or adjective you can think of and try to not find an elf of it.
    DND had a ton of subraces for everyone but human. Even races with the human subtype were often crossbreeds or "formerly human but now something else entirely." I suspect it was to avoid accusations of racism but I do not know for sure.
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    Mate, we have a PrC for skydiving dwarves and a feat that lets you turn Turn Undead into Rebuke Hippos in this game.

    Nothing is out of reach of a 3.5 character.

  30. - Top - End - #240
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    I'm not sure if evil would be all about ruination and death, domination and sadistic hedonism seem like more sensible things given human behaviour.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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