Consequences of magic in rpg settings

System-neutral discussion of campaign setting and game world design. Discussion of existing rules systems belongs in The Crunchy Bits and its sub-forums.
User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Wed May 09, 2018 1:25 pm

This thread if mostly for fantasy, but it could apply to sci-fi as well.
- How do you keep a enemy dead in a world with resurrection/advanced healing?
- How do you keep a site secure and inviolable in a world with teleport?
- How you defend a castle from moving earth/earthquake spells?
- Are famine and plague possible at all if clerics have create food and water and healing?
- How any secrets could be safe from psionic spies or wizards with mind reading spells?
- Do people polymorph/change colour/race/sex for fun?
- Are magical objects/constructs/robots common?
- Can public works reach epic scale?
in Mystara and other high magic settings there are examples of all the above but rarely designers thought of the appropriate countermeasures. I mean if there is a spell that can do that, it is likely people will develop a spell to defend themselves from it.
Also I believe designers normally do not account much for the consequences of high magic.
- If people do not stay dead easily, kill counts only if you destroy the body.
- If teleport is relatively common, there will be all manners of wards in cities and buildings. Neverthless, trade and tourism could be greatly affected, i.e. easily reaching the levels of the modern world in a fantasy world.
- If clerics exist, famine is hardly possible at all and plagues can exist only if magical.
- If mind reading exist, rulers and officials will all have something to defend themselves from it.
- We can see around us how easily transformation of bodies spread in our world (dying the hair, contact lens, tatoo, piercing, altering skin color, plastic surgery and so on), just imagine how much more could be done with magic.
- Do everyone wants to have a golem?
- There are magical bridges as big as spanning seas?

So the question is, did you deal with such topic in your games? Did you restrict similar magic in some ways? Players surprised you by exploiting some possibility of magic the setting/you did not think about?

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3113
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by willpell » Thu May 10, 2018 12:13 am

Sturm wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:25 pm
This thread if mostly for fantasy, but it could apply to sci-fi as well.
- How do you keep a enemy dead in a world with resurrection/advanced healing?
Resurrection spells in D&D work by calling back the soul from its eternal destination, and therefore things that steal or destroy souls thwart resurrection. (You can't heal someone back from death, so I'm not sure why you brought that up.)
- How do you keep a site secure and inviolable in a world with teleport?
This actually has a lot of really fascinating real-world parallels, though of course we can't transport physical objects, only information-"objects" such as videos and document files. But in both cases, the main answer is obscurity. Anyone can get into your house, but they can also get into every other house, so the best way to keep your house secure is to keep these people from learning, or more likely keep them from caring, who you are and which house you live in.
- How you defend a castle from moving earth/earthquake spells?
Build it on a magical solid cloud, obviously. :halo:
- Are famine and plague possible at all if clerics have create food and water and healing?
Neverminding whether these spells might simply stop working Because Plot, the problem can still exist...a famine is now not just a shortage of crops, but also a shortage of clerics. Perhaps the blight-fungus that's destroyed the entire grain harvest is also highly communicative among humans, and maybe the fungus actually feeds on divine energy that saturates clerical bodies, thusly it's a severe disease against clerics that rapidly debilitates or kills them, the higher-level the better. (You could also get into semantics and say that a fungus eating your flesh isn't a disease, much as green slime isn't a disease, but I'm not sure I'd want to go there.)

The biggest problem for a plague is the existence of Paladins, who are flat-out immune to a disease, thus they probably can't carry it either, and they can heal one disease per paladin level per point of Charisma bonus per day, so an infection isn't likely to get out of control if there are paladins around.

This is really starting to look like a great Heroes of Horror or Elder Evils scenario....
- How any secrets could be safe from psionic spies or wizards with mind reading spells?
All sorts of Memento/Inception/Paycheck/Total-Recall/Johnny-Mnemonic type stuff. There are probably better examples, but the general idea is that if your brain can be manipulated like a suitcase, then it creates all sorts of jobs for people who can do this sort of thing, or have had it done to them. Erasing a secret from your own mind in order to keep it safe even from yourself.
- Do people polymorph/change colour/race/sex for fun?
This is an extremely touchy subject that I, in particular, probably shouldn't weigh in on much. Short answer is "yes", and "fun" isn't necessarily the reason, although it certainly can be one motivation. However, magic is generally not easy, so using it for frivolous purposes (or for free) is probaby uncommon.
- Are magical objects/constructs/robots common?
See "Eberron" for one example of a "yes" answer. I've tried to create a different paradigm for my Whiteleaf setting, with less emphasis on Warforged and more on things like intelligent magic items.
- Can public works reach epic scale?
If the local bardic tradition is strong, and pushes a huge sense of patriotism and aspiration in the populace, then you could create a setting which encourages the building of monuments, and even make the upkeep of public infrastructure into a source of personal pride, rather than an onerous chore that distracts the populace from what's on TV. (Oh, sorry, did I let my politics show a bit there?)
Also I believe designers normally do not account much for the consequences of high magic.
One of my mission statements as a worldbuilder is to avoid this kind of laziness. Though I arguably go too far in the opposite direction, writing extensive apologetics or explications for questions that the reader hadn't actually thought to ask as yet.
- If people do not stay dead easily, kill counts only if you destroy the body.
Murder would still be a crime, even if resurrection was trivial. It might become more akin to assault, rather than being one of the greatest of all possible crimes; then again, if the experience of being resurrected is particularly traumatic, it might remain ultra-heinous, and only true heroes would ever *want* to give up Heaven or even Hell in order to return to Earth.
- If teleport is relatively common, there will be all manners of wards in cities and buildings. Neverthless, trade and tourism could be greatly affected, i.e. easily reaching the levels of the modern world in a fantasy world.
Indeed, relative ease of travel was one of the most important transformational factors in our own history, and a medieval feudal paradigm is unlikely to survive. You don't need to be able to do the teleporting yourself, just as you don't need to be able to fly your own jumbo jet; if a serf can squirrel enough gold away, or take out a loan from a foreign investor, the feudal lord will rapidly find himself with no way to keep his fief operational.
- If mind reading exist, rulers and officials will all have something to defend themselves from it.
See this OOTS: 595 Trial of the Century
- Do everyone wants to have a golem?
Depends on whether they have to pay 40,000 GP (plus whatever the wizard charges for a bunch of his personal XP and 8 hours a day for several weeks), or if they can just find a Shield Guardian control amulet from ten thousand years ago just lying around in a cache they dug up out of their potato field....
- There are magical bridges as big as spanning seas?
This sort of thing IMO shouldn't be done in fantasy with magic, because it makes more sense in a sci-fi scenario as something you can do on a non-planet-shaped megastructure. I'd rather reserve the fantasy version for stuff like a literal Tower of Babel, that simply can't be made to work in realistic physics with any amount of Phlebotinum.
So the question is, did you deal with such topic in your games? Did you restrict similar magic in some ways? Players surprised you by exploiting some possibility of magic the setting/you did not think about?
Obviously I've never thought about this kind of thing... :oops: :twisted: :mrgreen:

Dalillama
Gnoll
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:52 am
Gender: female

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Dalillama » Thu May 10, 2018 1:35 am

Murder would still be a crime, even if resurrection was trivial.
Steven Brust's Taltos series is a very good treatment of this. (most if these questions, really). Revivification is common, but unusable on someone dead more than 3 days or whose brain or soul has been destroyed. Killing someone who can be revived is a lesser crime (like 2nd degree vs 1st degree sort of thing) than killing them qith brain damage (which gets you executed). Killing someone with a soul-eating Morganti blade denies them the afterlife as well as revivification, and the penalty for that is to lose your own soul as well.

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Thu May 10, 2018 10:04 am

Thanks for your answers. Indeed my solutions typically have been to make such magic very expensive, or not always working (resurrection IMC only worked if the god/dess and the slain could get along and the slain is willing to return :)

User avatar
Illuminatus
Orc
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:56 am
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Illuminatus » Thu May 10, 2018 4:15 pm

I house-ruled that any ground that was sanctified on a regular basis was basically magic-proof. So any temple or shrine (or castle with a temple or shrine within it) was essentially immune to magical/extradimensional entry, scrying, or damage.

This was part of an overall plan in my campaign to make the main religion hostile to magic (and with major anti-magical powers), diminishing the quantity and effectiveness of wizards and monsters in society overall. It was basically just an outgrowth of my effort to come up with some justification for why things like castles and massed combat would still exist in a world of “transmute rock to mud” and “fireball.”

Since my campaign was loosely based on the BECMI known world, it was easy to weave in the hatred of magic as part of the ancient Thyatian/Alphatian rivalry.* When describing the last Thyatian/Alphatian war to the players, I narrated episodes of Alphatian ships dropping out of the sky like rocks in response to the prayers of the High Priests. It helped sell the whole idea that the faith could form an effective shield against the obvious powers of magic.

*It also puts more of a point on the Glantrian hatred of religion!

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Mon May 14, 2018 10:04 am

Illuminatus wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 4:15 pm
I house-ruled that any ground that was sanctified on a regular basis was basically magic-proof. So any temple or shrine (or castle with a temple or shrine within it) was essentially immune to magical/extradimensional entry, scrying, or damage.
That is quite interesting as related to temples. Not sure I would apply that to whole castles, as it would give IMHO way too much power to clerics, so probably also wizards should able to protect a whole place from teleport and scrying.
Definitely a ruler will need some magical protection in his/her residence, as any government buildings, as it is not always possible to have such places as undisclosed locations

sam
Gnoll
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:04 am

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by sam » Sat May 19, 2018 4:30 am

- How do you keep a enemy dead in a world with resurrection/advanced healing?
Use some kind of weapon/spell that can burn souls.I would set it as:If someone receives too much resurrection/healing,he will become a deformed monster.They can easily cure a person,but it will have serious consequences.
- How do you keep a site secure and inviolable in a world with teleport?
Arrange a regional spell that can affects the minds,let them “lose interest” to that place.
- How you defend a castle from moving earth/earthquake spells?
Use spell to lock its spatial position.
- Are famine and plague possible at all if clerics have create food and water and healing?
It is possible,if the “God of Famine and Plague” are more powerful than their gods.
- How any secrets could be safe from psionic spies or wizards with mind reading spells?
Actually not safe,so there is no secret.But if wizard or psionicist trying to use the secret, they will be destroyed by some kind of force.
- Do people polymorph/change colour/race/sex for fun?
I think it will.But I think that can cause mental disorders or even magical variations.
- Are magical objects/constructs/robots common?
Depending on the direction of civilization.
- Can public works reach epic scale?
Same as above.

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Sat May 19, 2018 10:59 am

Good ideas as well :-)

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3113
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by willpell » Sun May 20, 2018 9:53 pm

This is one of the best threads on the Piazza IMO....

User avatar
Boneguard
Deep One Priest
Posts: 948
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:00 pm
Gender: male
Location: Gatineau (Quebec) Canada

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Boneguard » Mon May 21, 2018 1:58 am

Economic.

Nor financial economy but spell availability economy.

Even in High Magic setting or Magiocracy/Theocracy, what percentage of the population are magically gifted? How many people can actually perform this? Do they have time to "waste" on riff raff and peasants? do they even have the inclination or the sense of altruism to do so? Does the Gods/Immortals feel the recipendary are worthy of his Grace and miracles?

Just because a spell exist and someone is known to be able to cast it, doesn't mean it is available. And if it is available, what the true cost...the one hidden behind that gold piece cost. That's the real economy in play and what prevents magic to simply solve or definitely deal with the issues or points you mentioned.
Roleplaying is not a Hobby...it's a Way of Life.

Consolidated projet thread

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Mon May 21, 2018 10:11 am

Thanks Willpell.

Replying to Boneguard, I tend to think given how D&D and fantasy settings are generally described, unless it is explicitly stated that wizards are very very rare, magic will be generally available. Even if wizards are rare, people with power and money will be able to hire them.
Even if wizards are generally self-centered and egoist, some of them will have spouses and children, or brothers and sisters, and will perform magic for them, thus giving them a great advantage. Therefore those without wizard relatives will try something to obtain magic too.
What I mean is the situation you describe could be realistic only if magic is for some reasons extremely rare. This is not the impression most fantasy settings give, unless you have decided so for your campaign, obviously.
Even if for some reason magic is extremely rare, I think this would intensify the consequences I listed above, not lessen them, because in this case only the most powerful and rich would have access to such magic, and they would have therefore an incredible advantage over those without it.
And if you imagine a situation in which magic is so rare a medium country has just One powerful wizards, then enemies of that country will go out of their way to kill or kidnap him and probably will eventually succeed.
To conclude, I think only two possible situations can be internally consistent in a setting:
- Wizards (and maybe clerics too) are rare and live in hiding, forming a sort of secret society with a strict code that forbid them to sell any magic to others. This scenario obviously will lead to someone not respecting the rules and being punished, and the constant risk that anyway some greedy ruler will manage to obtain magic others have no access to, and rule the world with it.
- Wizards and clerics are relatively common, their magic influence society and therefore countermeasures have been developed to limit their powers. And by relatively common I mean it is enough each medium city (20,000 inhabitants) has at least a powerful one (10 level or more). This or even less is more than enough for magic to have a crucial influence on society as mentioned in the first post.
I get what you are saying with spell economic and I appreciate the suggestion as it could be a limiting factor, but it is not enough to really make some decisive magic unavailable.

User avatar
Illuminatus
Orc
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:56 am
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Illuminatus » Tue May 22, 2018 5:22 pm

Sturm wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 10:11 am
Even if for some reason magic is extremely rare, I think this would intensify the consequences I listed above, not lessen them, because in this case only the most powerful and rich would have access to such magic...
I don’t think magic would have to be all that rare for the rich to monopolize it. The “wizard economy” could operate along the lines of the Medieval/Renaissance patronage system, like the real-world "arts economy" did. Artists (and high-end artisans) aren’t “extremely” rare, but the way for an artist/skilled artisan to get ahead in the Medieval/Renaissance world was to work for a sugar daddy. The aristocracy holds nearly all the wealth and power in a medieval society, so markets for high-status goods or services revolve around them.

I’ve always used this rationale to explain why magic items aren’t available in stores in any campaign I've ever run. The first thing a merchant does when he gets his hands on a magic gewgaw is trot over to the local castle and sell it to the richest noble in the joint, with whom he probably has a standing contract. The uber-wealthy serve as a vacuum that sucks all the excess magic out of the campaign.

(Of course, this would lead to further problems once the PCs BECOME the noble uber-wealthy; but none of my campaigns ever seemed to last that long, so…problem solved on that front.)

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3113
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by willpell » Wed May 23, 2018 9:24 am

"Excess" magic, indeed.... harrumph

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Wed May 23, 2018 9:52 am

Illuminatus wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 5:22 pm
I’ve always used this rationale to explain why magic items aren’t available in stores in any campaign I've ever run. The first thing a merchant does when he gets his hands on a magic gewgaw is trot over to the local castle and sell it to the richest noble in the joint, with whom he probably has a standing contract. The uber-wealthy serve as a vacuum that sucks all the excess magic out of the campaign.
This indeed make much sense. Unless magic items are relatively common, it is very likely only rulers could have access to them, and adventurers will have only treasure hunting to acquire them.
The pervasive and decisive classism in medieval-renaissance societies is another huge point easily overlooked by fantasy settings world builders.

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3113
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by willpell » Wed May 23, 2018 7:23 pm

Sturm wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:52 am
The pervasive and decisive classism in medieval-renaissance societies is another huge point easily overlooked by fantasy settings world builders.
Overlooked? How about deliberately rejected. I mean, medieval Europe was also spectacularly racist, nobody wants to bring *that* into their D&D campaign. (Well, someone somewhere probably does, but the publishers have made a pretty definite stand on the issue.)

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Thu May 24, 2018 9:02 am

Well more than racism there was localism. Racism as a concept is mostly a construction of the XIX and XX centuries as a idiotic and artificial categoryzation of the human specie in a few artificial "races". Medieval and Renaissance men not necessarily had this kind of perception: for example there is a Scotland report about a "Black Queen" who was received at court with full honours in the XVII century. The Scotland nobles at the time had the utmost consideration and respect for her and much less for the peasant girls around them, and still some of them probably sponsored African slave trafficking. Slavery and massacres were not motivated by racism, only by unscrupulous men willing to impose their power.
There was international trade but it still happened that people from a foreign country could be lynched for futile motives because the mob identified them as scapegoats of something, for example this happened in Florence to two frenchmen.
Nations were unifying into the modern countries we know but well into the XIX century it happened that neighbouring towns could have fights with multiple deaths over rivalries, feuds or perceived slights.
So the whole picture is much more complex that designers usually imagine or know. A full bleack depiction is wrong as a rosy one, but in general I think a bit more realism would not hurt. For example PCs should face distrust in foreign towns and countries, or even risk hostility if they behave in some way perceived wrong by the locals..

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3113
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by willpell » Thu May 24, 2018 9:36 am

Sturm wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:02 am
a "Black Queen" who was received at court with full honours in the XVII century. The Scotland nobles at the time had the utmost consideration and respect for her and much less for the peasant girls around them, and still some of them probably sponsored African slave trafficking. Slavery and massacres were not motivated by racism, only by unscrupulous men willing to impose their power.
I have often said that most "isms" ultimately boil down to classism, which itself mostly boils down to plutocratic elitism, which is rooted in the desire to believe one deserves what one has inherited, stolen, competed ruthlessly for, or otherwise malfeased one's way into (it's a function of the just-world fallacy....they must convince themselves they earned their dumb-luck advantages, or were justified in cutthroat actions, yet they remain subconsciously guilty because they can't get away from believing that justice is true while their justifications were not). Still, treatises on "miscegenation" were a thing (and I think they went back at least to the puritans - still not quite medieval, but closer than the Age of Pseudoscience), and the fact that "undesirable" groups of Europeans, such as Poles, Italians and Irish, have seldom been brutalized with quite the same vigor as the "African Savages", Indians, "Orientals", "Saracens" (that one was mostly religious, but the fact they were mostly brown likely did not go unremarked), and Jews (who I would think should be considered as White as any Anglo-Saxon, but I'm probably the only one who holds that opinion).

True racism may not be as big a factor as economic disenfranchisement, but I suspect it is still A factor, much as I wish otherwise. Of all possible bigotries, this one has always seemed the stupidest, yet it is second only to sexism (however you think of it) in how people pervasive it seems to have been on Earth. Which is all the more reason to get Elminster to whisk us off to Toril posthaste.

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Thu May 24, 2018 2:15 pm

willpell wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:36 am
which is rooted in the desire to believe one deserves what one has inherited, stolen, competed ruthlessly for, or otherwise malfeased one's way into (it's a function of the just-world fallacy....they must convince themselves they earned their dumb-luck advantages, or were justified in cutthroat actions, yet they remain subconsciously guilty because they can't get away from believing that justice is true while their justifications were not).
That's so true and well said :) still widespread racism as in the XIX-XX century, i.e. the almost universal belief among Europeans/Caucasics they were the superior race, did not exist as such before, but yes people were led to fear, hate and kill everyone who was different from them, when convenient to the ruling elite obviously. To better explain, most medieval and renaissance Europeans never had the chance to see a non-Europeans, but maybe they hated with a passion the inhabitants of the nearby town. So maybe the European goat herder who was willing to swear "inhabitants of that place" or "catholics" were the evil incarnate and was willing to kill them on sight, had no particular opinion or hatred toward non-europeans, unless he was taught so. Children are not racist nor elitist, they must be taught so, the point is in medieval-renaissance times probably elitism was taught to everyone, while racism was not. Racism became a subject in schools only once schools existed and began to teach a general wrong idea about the rest of the world. In a fantasy setting probably you should take into consideration what do people tell children?
To hate some group because this and that? To consider some group inferior or not?
In fantasy there is also the matter of demihumans and humanoids. Humans could be too busy being racist toward demihumans and humanoids to be racists among themselves. Anyway something a designer should take into consideration to give some depht to his/her world.

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Thu May 24, 2018 2:23 pm

To continue on the above and yet return to the original topic, another consequences is how people see wizards and clerics. We have no examples in the real world of classes of people wielding real, personal power (as a power independent of the support of others). Such people could be easily hated and feared, or decide to take power for themselves, or fight among themselves.
While the wizards against clerics theme has appeared in settings (Mystara, Dark Sun and others) full persecution of wizards and clerics is more rare, probably because designers prefer not to hinder spell casting PCs, but it probably could happen easily.

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3113
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by willpell » Fri May 25, 2018 2:30 am

Sturm wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:15 pm
Children are not racist nor elitist, they must be taught so, the point is in medieval-renaissance times probably elitism was taught to everyone, while racism was not. Racism became a subject in schools only once schools existed and began to teach a general wrong idea about the rest of the world.
Actually there are studies that seem to indicate that babies are extremely racist, or rather xenophobic. Of course you can find studies that seem to prove almost anything, so the matter isn't decided one way or another.
In a fantasy setting probably you should take into consideration what do people tell children?
Agreed. IMC one of the things that distinguish humanity from other races is their attitude towards the young.
Humans could be too busy being racist toward demihumans and humanoids to be racists among themselves.
Indeed, although I don't know if it still counts as racism when there are unquestionable huge differences, such as orcs being strong and stupid, or elves living for a thousand years. There might also be bigoted assumptions that aren't true, but it would be hard to get players to avoid metaknowledge on the subject.

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Fri May 25, 2018 10:12 am

Well children have different phases. When younger than one/two year old, it happens they are scared of people with a different look, haircut or skin tone. But later I see they understand people come in many different shapes and simply accept that, unless taught otherwise. Obviously a parent who fears people looking different will immediately transmit this to the child, even if he/she does not teach that in specific words.
In fantasy, it is reasonable people will have several assumptions and prejudices on different races, but the Designer/DM should also decide what's the prevalent attitude toward other races:
Do humans assume all orcs are evil and must be killed on sight? People commonly justify enslavement and killing of orc babies or there are limits, at least for fear of massive reprisals?
Do common people fear wizards, hate wizards, or what?
All important decisions that should be made in a setting but often are not.

User avatar
willpell
Black Dragon
Posts: 3113
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:10 pm
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by willpell » Sat May 26, 2018 4:56 pm

Went on an extended digression about how this works out.

User avatar
Sturm
Green Dragon
Posts: 4484
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:26 pm
Gender: male
Location: Genoa, Italy
Contact:

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by Sturm » Mon May 28, 2018 11:25 am

Replying there!

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 258
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by MPA » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:23 pm

Sturm wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:25 pm
This thread if mostly for fantasy, but it could apply to sci-fi as well.
- How do you keep a enemy dead in a world with resurrection/advanced healing?
- How do you keep a site secure and inviolable in a world with teleport?
- How you defend a castle from moving earth/earthquake spells?
- Are famine and plague possible at all if clerics have create food and water and healing?
- How any secrets could be safe from psionic spies or wizards with mind reading spells?
- Do people polymorph/change colour/race/sex for fun?
- Are magical objects/constructs/robots common?
- Can public works reach epic scale?
in Mystara and other high magic settings there are examples of all the above but rarely designers thought of the appropriate countermeasures. I mean if there is a spell that can do that, it is likely people will develop a spell to defend themselves from it.
Also I believe designers normally do not account much for the consequences of high magic.
- If people do not stay dead easily, kill counts only if you destroy the body.
- If teleport is relatively common, there will be all manners of wards in cities and buildings. Neverthless, trade and tourism could be greatly affected, i.e. easily reaching the levels of the modern world in a fantasy world.
- If clerics exist, famine is hardly possible at all and plagues can exist only if magical.
- If mind reading exist, rulers and officials will all have something to defend themselves from it.
- We can see around us how easily transformation of bodies spread in our world (dying the hair, contact lens, tatoo, piercing, altering skin color, plastic surgery and so on), just imagine how much more could be done with magic.
- Do everyone wants to have a golem?
- There are magical bridges as big as spanning seas?

So the question is, did you deal with such topic in your games? Did you restrict similar magic in some ways? Players surprised you by exploiting some possibility of magic the setting/you did not think about?
Some good points. Here are some points I would point out, if no one has already:

1) Magic can exist in any RPG, whether it is Gamma World, Travelers, Marvel Superheroes, Star Wars etc.

2) Magic can also be rare and even nonexistent in certain planes and dimension (presuming the above RPGs exist in one or more these).

3) In "Immortal Storm" one of the settings was in an outerplane that was similar to our own, where magic just didn't work even for the Immortals.

4)In some places magic is very limited or altered, such as Hollow World, the inside of of the planet Mystara.

5) As for Clerics, they don't get every spell just because they are there. They get whatever spells the Immortal grants them. So in this case, yes it is possible that some Clerics have believers who are impoverished and possibly starving, but may see this as a test of their faith. Although this doesn't apply to PC's, unless they ticked their Immortal off.

6)The same for MU's. They don't get every spell just because they are there. Some spells they can't get either because of lack of resources or a find a ranking MU who is willing to teach them. So every MU you run into may not have a fireball spell or Golem running around.

7)Most nobles on Mystara are Immortals in disguise or closely watched by Immortals in some fashion. So it is highly unlikely anyone is just going polymorph into an Emperor's General of the Army, walk up to his throne and slit his throat.

That said, I would encourage GM's to allow crossovers of Fantasy and Sci Fi. Even if you lack the imagination, there are plenty of films out there to get your ideas from. Sci Fi would be an excellent way to get super high level out of dungeons and into a dimension to assist a rebellion against an evil planet conquering Federation. Or have Sci Fi characters' hyperdrive malfunction and crash land on Mystara, and have to fight off monsters and bandits until help arrives.

The same can be done with Immortals, where they also find themselves in another dimension involving themselves in vast galactic rebellion. How does the Immortal (or Immortals) become involved, which side do they support?

I suppose gods can also be used, if your GM allowed you to attain divinity. It works if the Gods are played on game ability scores and not the "gods can do anything they want" mine frame.
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

User avatar
MPA
Ogre
Posts: 258
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:53 am
Gender: male

Re: Consequences of magic in rpg settings

Post by MPA » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:31 pm

willpell wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 7:23 pm
Sturm wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:52 am
The pervasive and decisive classism in medieval-renaissance societies is another huge point easily overlooked by fantasy settings world builders.
Overlooked? How about deliberately rejected. I mean, medieval Europe was also spectacularly racist, nobody wants to bring *that* into their D&D campaign. (Well, someone somewhere probably does, but the publishers have made a pretty definite stand on the issue.)
Speaking of racism, I found many Dungeon and Dragon fans, were highly angry that Heimdall was played by an African American. Never mind that Hogun (Warriors Three) has always been Asian. So yeah, there is probably a reason why race/ethnicity has been overlooked or perhaps ignored?
-----
My PC is the Celestial level Immortal Krull, "Patron to all Chaotic humans, especially warriors".
I use the rules based on the RC and WoTI.

Locked

Return to “The Squishy Bits”