Realism vs Magic

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Realism vs Magic

Post by CromTheConqueror on Sun May 29, 2011 10:42 pm

This is on my phone so typos will be abundant. Maybe.

Anyways, I think we should try and put focus into percieving this world not as a realistic fantasy world but as a realistic world with fantasy in it. Put less an emphasis on magic and as much as possible on realistic elements. I think that will signifigantly add to the legitimacy of the world. In some ways I think we are already doing this but still something to keep in mind.

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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Admin on Mon May 30, 2011 11:31 pm

Well, it'd help if you extrapolated those thoughts.

We've taken great strides so far in limiting magic. The number of users has been restricted, and the limits are demanding. We have also always limited the presence of other creatures than humans, so there are no generic monster crabs and the like. We have a small handful of humans that have been altered that live in remote areas where they have a chance to survive.

There has also been a large focus on realism, there's just always been a struggle to figure out where that realism is.

One can also not forget that a world that is touched by magic will develop far differently than our own. I believe that what we've gotten so far has reflected this in the most realistic light possible (that we can think of now, anyway). The ability to cast magic was discovered and slowly mastered as humans are likely to do. Its power was feared, worshiped, sought after, etc. I feel we have accurately portrayed it as a technology to a superstitious people. The problem is that, like computers, the world will be changed due to it.

So what aspect are you thinking about exactly?
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by CromTheConqueror on Tue May 31, 2011 4:22 pm

I genuinely believe we are doing a great job I just want us to keep it up. I think part of it is also just supplemental. It's easy to get carried away with great cities and wars and forget about simple things like craftsmen, farming villages, and old taverns where people for generations have been going to drink. This was more of a check to make sure we continue to keep the focus we've had and maybe keep that more in mind during our writing. I'd like to imagine that when we're done someone could read this and think this could have been the real world if some cosmic accident hadn't thrown everything in another direction.

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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by GrayWatch on Tue May 31, 2011 7:31 pm

I think the difference here is one of style.
What RoKK is at the moment is High Fantasy where magic is dangerous and/or hard because that's how magic works. But despite it's danger it's still prevalent. A good rule of thumb is that if there are more noteworthy mages in the world than reigning kings on the continent, it's High Fantasy

While certainly Crom's examples will all be prevalent throughout such a setting, they will, by and large be of little note, mentioned off the cuff unless in one's backstory. This is simply the nature of High Fantasy settings, little things tend to not be mentioned, because the protagonists have bigger worries. There are powermad warlords to stop, and would-be-god mages to deicide upon. Things which weigh more heavily upon the mind as it were.

The setting where you tend to see emphasis on small details is Low Fantasy, where magic is hard and rare, generally because of a different set of rules regarding magic, generally setting it up to be a Zero Sum Game of some sort which actively discourages sharing information between practitioners, and generally results in any teaching being of the One Master, One Apprentice only variant. An alternate low fantasy is where magic just isn't very useful, and all but the most esoteric effects can be replicated more easily with mundane actions.


But I digress. My point is that while what Crom is looking for is quite nice to include, it's simply not relevant on the scale RoKK currently operates at. If you do make it relevant, then I would recommend scaling RoKK back to operate at Low Fantasy instead of it's current state.
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Admin on Tue May 31, 2011 10:33 pm

BI! Thou art back? I hope so.

You make a pretty good point. However, if the main issue is the detail in which we portray RoKK then there is no need to move from High to Low Fantasy; we have all the time in the world to flesh out the small things.

As it is, magic cannot do everything itself. Magic can't spontaneously create food, can't easily heal others, can't ensure success on the battlefield. Magic can only supplement each of these. One may use magic to water crops or till soil, for example. As for the battlefield, having magic greatly improves the chance of success, but a cast fireball is completely out-ranged by an archer and demands calm in the face of gratuitous murder. Magic also takes far more skill and training to wield effectively than soldiering.

Where should we focus on taking steps back, and to what purpose would that affect the world as it is?
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by CromTheConqueror on Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:21 pm

I disagree with BI in that adding more realistic style isn't something we should be concerned with but I do think think his analysis has some merit in that the focus isn't on homely instituitions as RoKK is more epic in scope. I also think Chaos question hits it right on the dot. Where should it scale back?

The first area I'd like to see magic scaled down in our world is in items. Less fantastical but still usefulness. In DnD you have maces that spit acid and potions that let you fly. In LoTR you have elven magic with lembas bread that can give you energy for a days work with only a bite and rope that stays tight when you wish it but can slacken at a tug when it needs loosening. That kind of subtler would be great in our world with enriched soil that breeds crops faster, water skins that purify whatever water goes into it, and blades that never dull. More of that and less swords that unleash fireballs.

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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Admin on Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:29 pm

Well there certainly is that, there's just also swords that unleash fireballs. The swords that do so are very expensive, and aren't the sort of thing that armies would be given. They would be given to esteemed individuals instead. For things like blades that don't dull, clothes that mend themselves, etc., those might be given to elite soldiers. Arrows that burst into flame upon impact might be given only to the most skilled of archers. The vast majority of people aren't running around with some enchanted trinket.

One of the problems with scaling back just what kind of items exist is that magic has a very literal interpretation so far, as opposed to DnD where you can spontaneously make feathers that cause you to gently fall to the ground. The same effect might be created by an air cushion or simply thrust that counteracts gravity, although those spells would be hard to work successfully. For example, I'm not really sure that a compass that's enchanted to always point North really exists, but it sounds like something very DnD, even if its mundane. Therefore, for the useful yet mundane sorts of things, it's hard to come up with a good list.

It's also harder to convince a king that he should invest his resources in more mundane enchantments when very flashy ones with more immediate benefits are available.

Also, I've put some thought into potions, and I believe that they will be VERY mundane in effect compared to most High Fantasy I'm aware of. Something along the lines of fluid being an imperfect base for enchantments that severely limits what they can accomplish. A somewhat complex potion would probably be in a small vial, and every drop equates roughly to a mouthful of water. It would probably be more efficient to have the same vial simply collect water magically. The trade-off is that while the potion is towards the outer edge of what potions can do, it takes a lot less time and input than the enchantment.

There's also a line between magical potions and the type of stuff an apothecary or herbalist might dish out, so that needs to be kept in mind.
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by MidgetNinja on Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:44 am

The way I see it is we're a little to zoomed back at the moment to really focus in on the realistic interpretations of a society where magic is not an entirely uncommon thing.

That said there are two distinct things we ought to take into account, or for that matter establish with clear finality, before we make any further progress.

That being the each nature of humanity in this fictional setting vs. the reality.

For instance, my interpretation, and indeed the one I've been writing all my pieces from the view point of, is our version of Humanity is effectively immortal, and death of old age is only a by product of the corruption of the mana fields resulting from the imprisonment of the Death gods beneath the surface. As such the average life span would be wildly varied, with some living only a few decades, and a few not unheard of cases surviving a few centuries.

I distinctly recall Chaos mentioning something to this effect once in the chat box a while back, though nothing has been said of it sense, and I've taken it to heart.

The other issue of humanity is the nature of their power of belief. My personal take on the matter was if you got enough people to believe something it would turn out to be so, in one manner of speaking or another, thus creating and feeding these deities that would go on to power the various purported abilities of religious paraphernalia, rituals, prayers, etc...

The first of these two facts isn't so much a hurtle to jump as something that can be handled realistically in the context of the world if it is treated right. The later though is a bit more troublesome when you consider why anyone would need a doctor or a farmer, when sufficient shows of faith to one religion or another can solve all your problems with a few ritualized hand waves.

I now open the floor to discussion...

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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Admin on Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:37 am

I said that death was caused by the Death God's radiating the antithesis to life across the planet, when life finally can't hold up to the corruption of death. I still stand by at least that general concept. As for people living a few centuries, I think I said it was very rare but it could and I'd support that it did happen. Some groups of people that live very close to the burials of Death Gods, especially those that might be close to a shallow grave for one (relatively shallow, as in there are varying degrees at which they are buried and sealed) will live much shorter lives than the norm.

So far I stand by gods and goddesses not being able to do very much with their power. There's a lot of things I'd like for them to be able to do, but they won't be able to do extremely flashy things unless they are the major or only god for a very large populace, like a half of the known civilized land. This is definitely a topic to see what everyone likes and why.
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by CromTheConqueror on Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:23 pm

I think ages should pretty much be normal but possibly extended through something that removes the corruption of death (extremely rare though). As for gods I think we should mantain they can do quite a bit but it's mostly subtle. Such as a paladin of some order having much faster regeneration than a normal soldier so he can fight day in and out refreshed or a priest who can cast some type of ward to keep the dead away. Flashy things like instant healing ect should be kept to a minimum though not unheard of.

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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Caligstro Smith on Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:52 am

For understanding of how Created Gods are created, we can basically just turn to the Lovecraftian method then, yes? That's how it sounds like it works?

I have some more to add to this, but it's a little more specific and questioning, so I'll probably be posting that in a separate thread to keep the directions of intent from blurring/distracting from each other.
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Admin on Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:07 pm

I'm unfamiliar with the 'Lovecraftian method.' Explain?
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Caligstro Smith on Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:23 pm

Oh, it's actually pretty cool, and it seems (from my understanding) to be pretty much the same as how created gods come into being in RoKK. (It's also a little like how Order of the Stick seems to regard the gods, although since its primary purpose is to be funny/entertaining, rather than consistent, it's not quite the same).

Basically a created god comes into being the moment a mortal begins to TRULY BELIEVE that that god exists and has power over whatever power the mortal BELIEVES the god to hold power over/influence/govern/whatever. HOWEVER, the strength of that god's power (and therefore its ability to directly affect the things which it governs/answer prayers/whatever gods do) is directly proportional to the number of mortal beings who worship it (TRULY worship it - it can't just be half-assed/for the sake of worship/for the sake of empowering the god). Thus, powerful gods are those which have huge numbers of true believers/followers.

It is also possible to worship multiple gods, provided they still truly believe in all of them. Generally it doesn't work very well to worship multiple gods which govern the same exact things though, as your belief/faith in each is then divided. It CAN be done, it just requires a very specific/abstracted mindset which the average person doesn't generally apply to their religious beliefs/thought processes, so it usually ISN'T done.

Finally, (this isn't addressed in existing RoKK stuff yet I don't think, but it's how the Lovecraftian way works), once created, a created god will never disappear, even if its number of worshipers drops to zero. It will, however, be powerless, so it might have well disappeared.
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Admin on Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:35 pm

Wow. That sounds almost exactly like the same system. I was hoping it was more unique, since I'm the person who came up with it, but at least I can say I had no influence from Lovecraft (I've only read Beyond the Mountain of Madness or w/e it is).

There's a difference in what happens to created gods once they no longer have worship, and it seems to stem from something else. Belief is more like a storage of power, rather than something that unlocks higher levels of power when it's present and seals it when it's gone. A Created God who has no more worshipers keeps the same amount of power they had when they were no longer worshiped. They can still use their power, and it will become less and less, until there's nothing left and they cease to exist.

They can use that remainder of power to convince mortals to believe in them again, and that's basically all they try to do at that point. However, they can also be reinvented, since what they do is dependent on what people believe they do. If the new believers think the god does something differently, or if the god tries to get them to believe that they do something differently (like manifesting some written story about what they can or cannot do), then that's what they'll start doing. It can also change their appearance, what gender they are referred to as, etc.

However, although what a Created God does is dependent on what believers think the Created God does, it doesn't mean that thinking that the god is omnipotent makes it so. It just means that they believe the god governs all things, so then the god tries to show its believers that's what it does (which is REALLY hard and forces the use of a LOT of belief) to make sure they keep believing.
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Caligstro Smith on Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:41 pm

Chaoswizkid wrote:A Created God who has no more worshipers keeps the same amount of power they had when they were no longer worshiped. They can still use their power, and it will become less and less, until there's nothing left and they cease to exist.

Actually, I don't know whether it works like this or not in the Lovecraft Mythos. I understand that's how it works in RoKK, but I don't know of an instance where this matters/happens in the Lovecraft version, so I don't think there's an answer on that front. But yeah, very similar systems. Total coincidence, but there you go. It is a nice system. I likes it.


Last edited by Caligstro Smith on Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by GrayWatch on Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:56 pm

As I recall the Created God system also required an accretion of belief onto a known figure.

If 100 people believe there is a god responsible for thunder, but do not imagine any specifics thereof, then you don't get a thunder god.

If 100 people believe that thunder comes when Jorgund, the Herald of the gods, slams on his drums to summon the warriors of the gods to battle, then Jorgund not only exists he does just that.

Well okay, probably not for just 100 people, since to get the sort of belief that results in a god they'd all have to believe in the exact same image of that god in the way iron believes in metal. Not something most people can do. But if enough people believe then this happens.
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Re: Realism vs Magic

Post by Caligstro Smith on Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:03 pm

Well yeah, the belief needs to be specific. I just kinda left that assumed. My bad there.
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