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Author Topic: Random thoughts on magic...  (Read 14770 times)
rikiwarren
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« on: December 23, 2002, 12:28:28 PM »

While I'm still rather new to TROS (I've made characters, and I'm dying to try it out, but I haven't played it yet. Mostly due to a lack of good players in the area.) I'd like to say that I'm really impressed with the game as a whole.

However, I'm having a little trouble with the magic. More with the way it has been described here than the way it is described in the book--but the seeds of my trouble are in the book.

This is mostly a style, or description thing. Not an actual rules thing. I'm just not sure about the whole scientific magic slant. It's not that I'm totally opposed to mixing magic and science, however, I do feel that the mix works better in a steam-punk or similar variant. Mixing discussions of molecules and medieval combat does seem a bit discordant. But my main problem is, once you open the whole scientific-explanation can of worms, it's going to lead us places we really don't want to go.

Coming from an SF writing background, I feel that in any given story, the rules of the world need to be consistent. If you black box the science, and don't try to explain it, then you can get away with almost anything. But once you start explaining things in detail, then people (like myself) start examining every aspect of the story. And everything needs to be consistent and correct, or it is hard to suspend disbelief.

Good examples of black-boxed science are most of star wars, and stories like Terry Bisson's "England Underway." In that story, the English isles start drifting around the world. The Bisson story is a good example, because he handles the science side very carefully. There are scientific discussions about some aspects, but he's very careful to not look directly at the issue of how and why the island is moving. As a result, the reader can suspend disbelief and just accept the story, and focus on the human elements, which are the real point of the story.

Bad examples are the US Godzilla movie. Unlike the old Japanese movies, the US movie tried too hard to make a "scientific" explanation for the giant lizard. As a result, I can't just sit back and enjoy the big lizard. I'm forced to think about it and how it was created. The scientific explanations don't work (for me at least), and end up seriously detracting from the story, rather than adding to it.

OK, back to TROS. I don't like the discussion of affecting molecules. I think it takes us into dangerous ground. For example, if we are going to allow mages to affect molecules, then we need to take molecules into account at all levels of our sorcery.

However, now we have trouble with the growth spells. If I cause a person to shrink to 1/100 their size, what is happening on a molecular scale? Where does the matter go? Is it being destroyed? Are the molecules themselves being reduced in size? If so, how does the shrunk person breath? The air molecules around him are now 100 times too big for his cells. Are the number of cells just reduced? Surely reducing the number of brain-cells would drop him to ant-like intelligence. And can a reduced anatomy even function properly?

Growing a target by 100 times is even more difficult, since it involves creating matter. And the target's skeleton is undoubtedly too weak to support its own weight.

Without the discussion of molecules, none of these problems exist. We simply black box the magic, and accept that the mystical forces take care of all these details. But once we start talking about how the magic affects molecules, I need an explanation for all of this and more.

I prefer to see the mentioning of molecules in the Vision vagrancy as a shorthand for the player. The character simply uses Vision 3 to affect things that he cannot see. Vision 3 doesn't give the character the ability to see the molecules. Rather, it gives him an intuitive connection to the non-visible target, allowing him to affect it.

For example, to use a fire/heat attack, several people have suggested using Move to agitate the molecules. I would actually prefer to use growth (to increase or decrease the heat) or Move (to concentrate the heat of a large area into a small point.)  Heat itself is something that can be affected with magic, however it requires a Vision 3, since it is not visible.
This avoids the whole molecule madness, and creates a style of sorcery that I feel mixes well with the general tone of the game.

Similarly Sculpture could be used to affect the form of an object, turning liquids into solids, or solids into gas. No need to worry about it at a molecular level.

Of course, this means there are several ways to accomplish the same task. Say you want to make an ice bridge across a river; you could use either Sculpture to solidify a path of water (which would be instantaneous, the water would be permanently "hard", and it would be the same temperature the water was originally). On the other hand, you could use Growth to freeze the water solid (Also instant, but since it is normal ice, it would melt normally.) You could also use movement to stop the motion of water, making it solid. But this would need to be maintained.

This raises an additional concern. When are the different durations used? When can an affect be considered instant/permanent and when does it need to be maintained?

Sculpture and movement are instant/permanent. But the object will then be affected by normal forces. For example, using sculpture to shape water needs to be maintained. Once the magic is gone, it becomes normal water once more, and rapidly loses its shape. In the hard water example above, I'm shaping the actual nature of water. Since water doesn't normally change in this way, it is not going to change back.

The hard water (and growth affects) could actually be either instant/permanent or have duration. If the sorcerer wants it to just be temporary (and be able to dispel it easily) it would need to be a maintained spell.

However, some of the spells in the book don't seem to be instant/permanent almost at random. A good example is Frozen. This uses movement to hold the air molecules around the target still. In my mind, once the movement magic stops, then the object is affected by the normal laws of physics. For example, you could use movement to freeze the person, but you would need to maintain the spell, otherwise the air would begin moving normally again.

Or, to look at it another way, if I use an instant movement spell to toss a rock at someone, that rock does not continue to move in the direction I sent it, completely ignoring all obstacles and plowing through all barriers. It becomes a simple ballistic object, it's trajectory set by the spell. It bounces off the target and ricochets down the hallway.

I would allow Frozen, if you replaced Movement with Sculpture. On the other hand, Armor of Air needs to be done with Movement, since the armor needs to move with the character. And it needs to be maintained (hence the duration 1).

That makes sense to me (and possibly only to me).

-Rich-
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2002, 01:26:00 PM »

I mostly agree on your points about molecules. I won't allow anything that deals with molecular sculpting in any game I run, because it's not the kind of fantasy I want to play.

As for duration, think of it this way.. If the end result is a natural occurence, then it does not need to be sustained. If I freeze water into an ice bridge, it does not need to be sustained, because ice is natural. If I use sculpture to shape it into a bridge of solid, but unfrozen, water, it is unnatural, and will collapse as soon as I release the spell. If I turn you into a frog, then you will remain a frog, because a frog is a natural creature.

Some areas are grey, however.. If I shrink you, do you revert to natural size when the spell is released? I'd say no, even though a mini-sized human is not natural. The reason why, in my explanation, is because it is not natural for a human to grow suddenly many times in size.

This is simply my interpretation. The system is purposefully loose, so that we are each able to use it in ways that fit our style of play.
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rikiwarren
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2002, 02:15:43 AM »

Basically I agree with you. With only two small hitches. I allow some things to be unnatural but stable, much like your mini person. I'm not sure why, but I would throw the hard water into that category. I guess it's because most sculpture effects are instantanious/permanent, and I want to be consistent.

On the other hand, a strict natural/unnatural division would be easier to judge in the game. But it would contradict even more of the spells listed in the rulebook.

I'm also leaning strongly towards having the sorcerer decide weather the effect is instantanious or needs maintained for growth, sculpture and similar effects. So the sorcerer could decide weather the shrinking spell was instantanious (and the target permanently shrunk) or temporary (and probably needs a duration--thus increasing the difficulty).

This would be useful, for example, when casting on yourself or your friends. You don't want them permanently minified, so at the cost of increasing the difficulty, you only have to cast one spell (instead of one to shrink and a second to enlarging again).

But I still haven't thought out all the ramifications of this (for example, how much more difficult will the spell become, and what effect will this actually have--does it actually benifit the sorcerer at all, etc.).

-Rich-
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Bob Richter
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« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2002, 10:54:29 AM »

The unfortunate thing is that TROS Sorcery DEMANDS physical examination, due to the nature of the Temporal vagaries. Take out Movement, Sculpture, and Growth, and you can get the high-level physics out of TROS.

For me, it is impossible to imagine a universe NOT composed of molecules, and the various powers of TROS Sorcerors assure that they can deal with them.

Quote from: rikiwarren
Basically I agree with you. With only two small hitches. I allow some things to be unnatural but stable, much like your mini person. I'm not sure why, but I would throw the hard water into that category. I guess it's because most sculpture effects are instantanious/permanent, and I want to be consistent.


Water, however, is fluid. If it were not, it would be ice. I would argue that you could use Sculpture to bind water in a semi-frozen state (trapped, but energetic,) but as soon as the Sorceror stopped sustaining the spell, the water would still be fluid and energetic and would do what all liquids do -- go to the lowest point not otherwise occupied.
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prophet118
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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2002, 05:28:33 AM »

i doubt very seriously if the sorcerers from TROS would call them molecules, or atoms, or anything of that nature... however they still exist, and to do alot of effects, you use vision to see what you are doing... if that guy who started this thread is still going to have vision in many spells he has people do, then he accepts that on an atomic level, something is going on that needs the magus' watchful eye...

if the term molecule, or any other science term bugs you, take it out, but dont remove that actual mechanics behind doing said spells
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Henry Fitch
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2002, 05:57:50 PM »

I agree with Rik. If the game was intended as a hard simulation of an alternate world where magic is possible, the molecule business might make sense. Since it's not a simulation at all, that business serves no real function and detracts from the atmosphere of magic immensely.

I propose a whole new set of Vagaries based on effects seen in folklore and fairytales, to be created by somebody with more time on their hands than myself!
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prophet118
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2002, 07:12:57 AM »

well if you want to have fun with different effects... go pick up the white wolf game "Changeling: The Dreaming"...which happens to be one of my top two fav games...

now then, as for a new list....nah ya dont really need one, ya just have to think of a way to use the old ones the way they are...nothing is a magical and mystical as "i shoot a fireball out of my hand", or "i cast mage armor, now its harder to hit me, because the spell says so"..

doing the armor of air spell in this game basically hardens the air around youj, and lasts for a damn long time, and gives you a better armor value than some of the armors do.., but it is just hardened air...

as for fireballs and the like... they can be done, but it isnt as simple as "i throw a fireball" the player in my game who did it, we felt that vision, movement, and as little bit of growth would do the trick... though in hindsight we probably didnt need growth...after everything was calculated in, the TN was like 5.. not too too bad
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rikiwarren
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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2002, 09:07:43 AM »

Quote from: Bob Richter
The unfortunate thing is that TROS Sorcery DEMANDS physical examination, due to the nature of the Temporal vagaries. Take out Movement, Sculpture, and Growth, and you can get the high-level physics out of TROS.

For me, it is impossible to imagine a universe NOT composed of molecules, and the various powers of TROS Sorcerors assure that they can deal with them.


I disagree. It depends on how you interpret the Temporal Vagaries, and how you define physics in the game world.

First, narrative physics are often different than real-world physics. Look at science fiction stories. You can find a whole range of how the world's physics are defined, from detailed hard science fiction, to soft space opera, to worlds where physics are completely changed (many steampunk stories fall into this category).

I read a great SF novel once, based on physics inspired by the classic elements (air, water, fire and earth). The author had done a great job of extrapolating a whole range of technologies based on this premise.

In my opinion, rpgs are trying to simulate narrative worlds. We are trying to recreate movies, novels, comic books and the like. And like those sorces, we can move as close to or as far from reality as we need to create the appropriate atmosphere and style. The only real requirement is that we keep things as consistant as possible within our game world.

As I said, I think the rule book lays the seeds for the highly-scientific interpretation that the magic system seems to recieve. But it doesn't demand that interpretation. I would even argue that many of the example spells and effects described in the book demand distinctly non-scientific explanations.

If you insist on real-world physics, you must accept a whole range of limits. Growth and reduction spells must be severely limited. Sorcerers hair and nails shouldn't grow when they age. Invisibility becomes very problimatic. And the list goes on and on.

The real-world physics directly contradict many of the example spells and effects in the book.

In fiction (or at least good fiction) magic is depicted with symbolic or sympathetic logic behind it, not a hard-science logic. For me, this type of logic is more narrativly satisfying--and also allows many of the magical effects seen in stories (and in the TROS book), without getting mired into the mess of mixing magic and real-world physics. (as an aside, this is different from most games, which really have no logic behind their magic systems).

A typical example is requiring something with a symbolic link to someone before you can affect them with magic. For example, knowing their true name, having a lock of their hair, or having an item with their "spiritual resonance" (a prized possession or one with a heavy emotional content).

As a personal preference, I prefer a more symbolic interpretation of the vagaries. Back to my earlier example, Growth can be used to grow or reduce things. In an more-symbolic interpretation an object's heat would be an element that could be affected by magic. It could be gown (made hotter), shrunk (made colder) or moved (to dissipate the heat of an object, or concentrate the heat of an entire room onto one spot). The magic manipulates the object's heat directly. These effects still require Vision (since you're affecting reality at a level not normally visible). But we don't need to define it in terms of adgitating molicules.

Quote from: Bob Richter

Water, however, is fluid. If it were not, it would be ice. I would argue that you could use Sculpture to bind water in a semi-frozen state (trapped, but energetic,) but as soon as the Sorceror stopped sustaining the spell, the water would still be fluid and energetic and would do what all liquids do -- go to the lowest point not otherwise occupied.


Well, how do you explain the Frozen spell (pg 128)? The solid state of the air remains, even after the instant magical effect expires.

OK, bad example. I can't explain it either.

Your interpretation of the hard water idea is perfectly valid. But it isn't the only way to describe the world. We are already accepting that it is a world in which magic works--which means it (probably at least) isn't our world. It works according to a different set of laws. And different things may be possible.

In my game, I'd allow not-naturally-occuring-but-stable states. To use a semi-scientific example, it's like the difference between coal and diamonds (ignoring, of course, the fact that diamonds are naturally occuring). It's the same element, but the two molecular configurations have very different physical qualities.

If water had similar multiple states, magic could be used to shift it between states, and each state would remain stable.

Or, to move back to the more symbolic magic, the liquidity of the water is a part of the water's form, and the form can be affected by sculpture. If sculpture allows instant (and therefor "permanent") changes of an object's form, it should be able to do that to the water's liquidity.

-Rich-
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Bob Richter
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2002, 09:13:08 PM »

Quote from: rikiwarren
Quote from: Bob Richter
The unfortunate thing is that TROS Sorcery DEMANDS physical examination, due to the nature of the Temporal vagaries. Take out Movement, Sculpture, and Growth, and you can get the high-level physics out of TROS.

For me, it is impossible to imagine a universe NOT composed of molecules, and the various powers of TROS Sorcerors assure that they can deal with them.


I disagree. It depends on how you interpret the Temporal Vagaries, and how you define physics in the game world.


No it doesn't. That's just a PART of physical examination. The fact that you even have to consider the concept of alternative physics proves my point.

Quote
]In my opinion, rpgs are trying to simulate narrative worlds. We are trying to recreate movies, novels, comic books and the like. And like those sorces, we can move as close to or as far from reality as we need to create the appropriate atmosphere and style. The only real requirement is that we keep things as consistant as possible within our game world.


That first statement I would accept as a given. The second I would differ. TROS is built to simulate the semi-fantastic world of Weyrth, not a Movie, novel, or comic book. Weyrth and TROS have a very serious trend toward gritty realism, including a speed-of-light limit on the Movement vagary (which suggests Einsteinian mechanics.)

So, for RPGs generally, I would agree with this paragraph, but for TROS, I disagree.

Quote
If you insist on real-world physics, you must accept a whole range of limits. Growth and reduction spells must be severely limited. Sorcerers hair and nails shouldn't grow when they age. Invisibility becomes very problimatic. And the list goes on and on.


I see no need to limit Growth and Reduction beyond the limits they already have. Make something too big, and it dies. Make it too small, and it dies. Invisibility? Glamour. It's an illusion. (non-temporal. Physics isn't even an issue.)

Though, come to think of it, movement-based invisibility could be very amusing. (and not at all physically impossible, at that.) :)

Quote
The real-world physics directly contradict many of the example spells and effects in the book.


Name three.

Quote
In fiction (or at least good fiction) magic is depicted with symbolic or sympathetic logic behind it, not a hard-science logic. For me, this type of logic is more narrativly satisfying--and also allows many of the magical effects seen in stories (and in the TROS book), without getting mired into the mess of mixing magic and real-world physics. (as an aside, this is different from most games, which really have no logic behind their magic systems).


If that's the kind of magic you want, you will have to look elsewhere for it.

Quote
A typical example is requiring something with a symbolic link to someone before you can affect them with magic.


And physics enters into this...where?

Quote
As a personal preference, I prefer a more symbolic interpretation of the vagaries. Back to my earlier example, Growth can be used to grow or reduce things. In an more-symbolic interpretation an object's heat would be an element that could be affected by magic. It could be gown (made hotter), shrunk (made colder) or moved (to dissipate the heat of an object, or concentrate the heat of an entire room onto one spot). The magic manipulates the object's heat directly. These effects still require Vision (since you're affecting reality at a level not normally visible). But we don't need to define it in terms of adgitating molicules.


Yet all of the heat-afffecting example spells are MOVEMENT effects, clearly unseating THIS interpretation.

Quote
Quote from: Bob Richter

Water, however, is fluid. If it were not, it would be ice. I would argue that you could use Sculpture to bind water in a semi-frozen state (trapped, but energetic,) but as soon as the Sorceror stopped sustaining the spell, the water would still be fluid and energetic and would do what all liquids do -- go to the lowest point not otherwise occupied.


Well, how do you explain the Frozen spell (pg 128)? The solid state of the air remains, even after the instant magical effect expires.


Child's play. Frozen uses a Movement effect to arrest the motion of particles, draining energy out of the system and reducing its temperature, actually freezing the air!

This is completely different from the Sculpture effect we were talking about with the bridge...

Quote
Your interpretation of the hard water idea is perfectly valid. But it isn't the only way to describe the world. We are already accepting that it is a world in which magic works--which means it (probably at least) isn't our world. It works according to a different set of laws. And different things may be possible.


Magic in TROS can bend, but not break, the laws of physics. Movement introduces energy. Sculpture sets boundaries. Growth makes things bigger and smaller. Think of the Temporal Vagaries as additional laws of physics and you get the idea. :)

Quote
If water had similar multiple states, magic could be used to shift it between states, and each state would remain stable.


But it does. Water has three basic states in which it can be said to be water: Solid (ice), Liquid (water), and Gas (vapour.) These states can be changed by increasing or decreasing the ENERGY of a body of water. In TROS magic, you would use MOVEMENT for this.

Quote
Or, to move back to the more symbolic magic, the liquidity of the water is a part of the water's form, and the form can be affected by sculpture. If sculpture allows instant (and therefor "permanent") changes of an object's form, it should be able to do that to the water's liquidity.


The form can be changed, yes, but not the energy (that's Movement.) So a volume of water can be solidified and given a definite form, but this is not a stable state. Thermodynamics dictates that whenever you stop Sculpturing it, the whole thing decays downhill and its a puddle again.
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Henry Fitch
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2002, 09:51:09 PM »

I have to disagree with Bob's "Weyrth and TROS have a very serious trend toward gritty realism". A lot of the mechanical elements mimic real life or a scientifically consistent "other real life", but things like Spiritual Attributes move it decidedly away from being a World Simulator and towards being a Literature Creator. Seen in that light, the magic system can't be evaluated on the grounds of realism, it has to be judged on whether it improves the actual play output as real-time literature. In my opinion, that goal would be better served by more folkloric and less scientific definitions within the system.

 - too-tired-to-completely-make-sense Henry
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rikiwarren
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2002, 12:28:15 AM »

Quote from: Bob Richter
Quote from: rikiwarren
Quote from: Bob Richter
The unfortunate thing is that TROS Sorcery DEMANDS physical examination, due to the nature of the Temporal vagaries. Take out Movement, Sculpture, and Growth, and you can get the high-level physics out of TROS.

For me, it is impossible to imagine a universe NOT composed of molecules, and the various powers of TROS Sorcerors assure that they can deal with them.


I disagree. It depends on how you interpret the Temporal Vagaries, and how you define physics in the game world.


No it doesn't. That's just a PART of physical examination. The fact that you even have to consider the concept of alternative physics proves my point.


Hmm. I'm not sure I understand your point. I can easily run TROS magic while still avoiding dipping into high level physics.

Quote
TROS is built to simulate the semi-fantastic world of Weyrth, not a Movie, novel, or comic book. Weyrth and TROS have a very serious trend toward gritty realism, including a speed-of-light limit on the Movement vagary (which suggests Einsteinian mechanics.)

So, for RPGs generally, I would agree with this paragraph, but for TROS, I disagree.


I know of a number of novels, movies and comic books that also have a serious trend towards gritty realism. TROS may be attempting to simulate those works of fiction--but it is still (in my opinion) more of an attempt to simulate fiction than reality.


Quote
I see no need to limit Growth and Reduction beyond the limits they already have. Make something too big, and it dies. Make it too small, and it dies. Invisibility? Glamour. It's an illusion. (non-temporal. Physics isn't even an issue.)


Explain how Plague of the Dwarf works using physics? Where does the extra matter go to or come from? How is the shrinking or growing performed at the molecular level? Why doesn't the change in size have the logical real-world affects associated with it. According to the spell description, I can increase someone to 10 times their size and they will still be able to operate normally. In fact, their strength and toughness will increase. However, a 60 foot man's skeleton would undoubtedly collapse under its own weight. Likewise a 6-inch tall person would have a hamster-sized brain--and therefor, I suspect, a hamster size intelligence. But when I shrink them using this spell, their intelligence is uneffected.

And in the story at the beginning of the sorcery chapter, Oujha shrinks the barbarian so small he can be lifted on Oujha's fingertip. Yet the barbarian is not killed (or otherwise apparently affected) until he is dropped into the burning candle.
 

Quote
If that's the kind of magic you want, you will have to look elsewhere for it.


This statement really upsets me. Why would I have to look elsewhere. I can run my style of sorcery perfectly without changing a single rule. I am merely choosing to interpret the system in a different way than you do.  We should each be free to interpret the system as we wish.

And I would even argue that my interpretation is a better fit for the TROS rules. Growth just doesn't stand up to any sort of scientific examiniation. Having a wizard's hair and nails grow when they are aged does not stand up to a scientific examination (this has been discussed in a different thread).

There is one reference to using Vision when spells effect molicules--and I am simply choosing to see that as an explanation for the player (who does live in a scientific world) rather than a litteral discription of how magic works. I am not alone in this. And there is one spell that I feel needs a duration and the addition of Summoning (Frozen). But I would argue the point on Frozen, even if I was using a more-scientific style of magic.  

Quote
Quote
A typical example is requiring something with a symbolic link to someone before you can affect them with magic.


And physics enters into this...where?


That's my point. The system of magic I described is based on symbolism, not on physics.


Quote
Yet all of the heat-afffecting example spells are MOVEMENT effects, clearly unseating THIS interpretation.


I can't find any heat-affecting spells in the book. I've seen several examples in this forum, but in the actual rules... If you find one, please let me know.

Quote
Quote
Well, how do you explain the Frozen spell (pg 128)? The solid state of the air remains, even after the instant magical effect expires.


Child's play. Frozen uses a Movement effect to arrest the motion of particles, draining energy out of the system and reducing its temperature, actually freezing the air!

This is completely different from the Sculpture effect we were talking about with the bridge...


I'm sorry, but this explanation has several problems. First, Frozen doesn't use Vision, so (even by a scientific explanation) it cannot be affecting the individual particles.

Second, even if it was litterally freezing the air to a solid, the spell description says that it only affects the air at a distance of one inch from the target. That's a very small volume of air, and when frozen solid, it would hardly be strong enough to stop someone from moving. It would probably be microscopic--or a thin layer of frost at best.

If, instead, it affected a massive volume of air (again, we would need to adjust the CTN) and created an inch of air ice around the victem--well, I imagine that having an inch of any substance frozen to absolute zero wrapped around your body would cause a considerable amount of damage. But this spell doesn't cause any damage from freezing (though the victem will eventually suffocate).

I believe that, based on the spell description, it merely solidifies the air. It doesn't change the temperature at all. The air is simply held magically in place. No matter how much force the victem uses against the air around them, it does not move. This is not affecting the individual molicules, rather the volume of air as a whole.

My argument was, while movement can be used to create this affect, without the continuing presence of magic to keep the air in place, Newtonian physics will take over and the air will be able to flow freely once more.

Quote
Magic in TROS can bend, but not break, the laws of physics. Movement introduces energy. Sculpture sets boundaries. Growth makes things bigger and smaller. Think of the Temporal Vagaries as additional laws of physics and you get the idea. :)


Are you serious? Magic in TROS often deliberately breaks the laws of physics. Even with a scientific examination of the system. Movement can throw the laws of thermodynamics right out the window. Being able to instantly accelerate something is not just bending the rules, it's completely ignoring them. Growth does the same for the conservation of matter.

Quote from: Bob Richter
Quote from: rikiwarren
If water had similar multiple states, magic could be used to shift it between states, and each state would remain stable.


But it does. Water has three basic states in which it can be said to be water: Solid (ice), Liquid (water), and Gas (vapour.) These states can be changed by increasing or decreasing the ENERGY of a body of water. In TROS magic, you would use MOVEMENT for this.


OK, maybe I wasn't clear. There's a big difference between the diamond-coal states and the ice-water-vapor states. In water, the water molicules are the same. It is only the amount of energy in the system that changes. The diamond-coal thing is an actual molecular change.

I'm not talking about a simple temperature change here. I'm talking about actually restructuring the nature of the water itself. Now, I doubt this could be done in the real world (despite several science fiction stories that also use the idea of solidified-but-not-frozen water), but since I haven't seen working sorcery in the real world either, this just doesn't bother me.  As a gamemaster, I think the effect is cool enough and consistent enough with the other effects, that I would probably allow it.

-Rich-
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2002, 11:28:34 AM »

As I see it, TROS magic is trying to re-create the "gritty realism" of literature with a trend toward "historical fiction" in application. That being said, I think the "scientific element" is there as a guideline and a way to make the many possible interperetations of the vagaries a little more concrete. I play pretty fast and loose with magic myself (magic just seems like that to me), and others--like Rick McCann, who wrote the magic system--really like taking into account all the different little details on the edge of "science." It's a preference thing, and I think that the rules support both modes of play. It isn't possible to really hold to "pure" science and still call it magic...but references to science make it easier fro some folks to get a handle on what's going on.

All things in Moderation, eh.

Happy disintegrating,
Jake
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Bob Richter
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« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2003, 08:41:51 PM »

Quote from: rikiwarren
Quote from: Bob Richter
Quote from: rikiwarren
Quote from: Bob Richter
The unfortunate thing is that TROS Sorcery DEMANDS physical examination, due to the nature of the Temporal vagaries. Take out Movement, Sculpture, and Growth, and you can get the high-level physics out of TROS.

For me, it is impossible to imagine a universe NOT composed of molecules, and the various powers of TROS Sorcerors assure that they can deal with them.


I disagree. It depends on how you interpret the Temporal Vagaries, and how you define physics in the game world.


No it doesn't. That's just a PART of physical examination. The fact that you even have to consider the concept of alternative physics proves my point.


Hmm. I'm not sure I understand your point. I can easily run TROS magic while still avoiding dipping into high level physics.
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Only if you decide that the low-level stuff is all there is. You can only avoid high-level physics by eliminating it from the game world. For myself, I find it impossible to imagine such a world.

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TROS is built to simulate the semi-fantastic world of Weyrth, not a Movie, novel, or comic book. Weyrth and TROS have a very serious trend toward gritty realism, including a speed-of-light limit on the Movement vagary (which suggests Einsteinian mechanics.)

So, for RPGs generally, I would agree with this paragraph, but for TROS, I disagree.


I know of a number of novels, movies and comic books that also have a serious trend towards gritty realism. TROS may be attempting to simulate those works of fiction--but it is still (in my opinion) more of an attempt to simulate fiction than reality.


No. TROS is *NOT* a Literature *Simulator*, but a Literature *Creator*. Its Rules are designed to reflect the Reality of the Setting.

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I see no need to limit Growth and Reduction beyond the limits they already have. Make something too big, and it dies. Make it too small, and it dies. Invisibility? Glamour. It's an illusion. (non-temporal. Physics isn't even an issue.)


Explain how Plague of the Dwarf works using physics? Where does the extra matter go to or come from?


Nowhere. There is not extra matter. No matter is created or destroyed by the spell.

This is the first rule of what TROS sorcery CANNOT do. (p 110)

It's just COMPRESSED.

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How is the shrinking or growing performed at the molecular level?


The distance between molecules is increased or decreased. Seems simple enough to me.

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Why doesn't the change in size have the logical real-world affects associated with it. According to the spell description, I can increase someone to 10 times their size and they will still be able to operate normally.


The spell description is a little vague, but it looks (to me) like the target LOSES ONE POINT of HT and EN for each 10% growth. So making someone 10 times his present size would be, what, 900% growth?

I think someone with -80 or so HT is probably dead. You?

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And in the story at the beginning of the sorcery chapter, Oujha shrinks the barbarian so small he can be lifted on Oujha's fingertip. Yet the barbarian is not killed (or otherwise apparently affected) until he is dropped into the burning candle.


Actually, he is effected. His strength is lessened to the point where he cannot successfully damage a finger. His toughness is reduced to the point where he is easily burned to death in a candle flame. His mass was uneffected, but I assume the Sorceror in question was using Movement to float him anyway...


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If that's the kind of magic you want, you will have to look elsewhere for it.


This statement really upsets me. Why would I have to look elsewhere. I can run my style of sorcery perfectly without changing a single rule. I am merely choosing to interpret the system in a different way than you do.  We should each be free to interpret the system as we wish.


You don't find that the descriptions of the Vagaries and their Effects constitute rules? You would have to change those. Where's the Growth effect for adding heat to a system? hm?

Your examples just don't jive with the TROS Sorcery Rules.

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Growth just doesn't stand up to any sort of scientific examiniation.


As shown above, it does.

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Having a wizard's hair and nails grow when they are aged does not stand up to a scientific examination (this has been discussed in a different thread).


It's a side-effect of the Additional Laws of Physics I was talking about (that is to say, the Laws of Magic.)

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There is one reference to using Vision when spells effect molicules--and I am simply choosing to see that as an explanation for the player (who does live in a scientific world) rather than a litteral discription of how magic works. I am not alone in this.


Not being alone doesn't make one RIGHT. In this case, I believe you're quite wrong. TROS Sorcery doesn't show any signs of being what you call "symbolic," and effecting molecules is a very reasonable and practical way to do things with TROS magic.

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And there is one spell that I feel needs a duration and the addition of Summoning (Frozen). But I would argue the point on Frozen, even if I was using a more-scientific style of magic.  


Frozen is a bad example spell. (Eh. I just re-read it an I was wrong about what it did.) It uses Movement to produce a Sculpture-Type effect (hardening air.)

I don't see where it needs a duration or Summoning, though. It works until you stop concentrating on it...

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A typical example is requiring something with a symbolic link to someone before you can affect them with magic.


And physics enters into this...where?


That's my point. The system of magic I described is based on symbolism, not on physics.


It is, however, my point. Physics DOESN'T enter into this. Magic adds a number of additional Laws to the Universe. One of those is requiring a symbolic link to effect something.

A realistic universe, such as Weyrth, can still have symbolic elements to magic while retaining realistic physics.

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Yet all of the heat-afffecting example spells are MOVEMENT effects, clearly unseating THIS interpretation.


I can't find any heat-affecting spells in the book. I've seen several examples in this forum, but in the actual rules... If you find one, please let me know.


Ignite, Combust, and Burn are all heat-effecting.


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Well, how do you explain the Frozen spell (pg 128)? The solid state of the air remains, even after the instant magical effect expires.


Child's play. Frozen uses a Movement effect to arrest the motion of particles, draining energy out of the system and reducing its temperature, actually freezing the air!

This is completely different from the Sculpture effect we were talking about with the bridge...


I'm sorry, but this explanation has several problems. First, Frozen doesn't use Vision, so (even by a scientific explanation) it cannot be affecting the individual particles.


Who says you have to be able to SEE particles to EFFECT them? Frozen clearly does not.

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I believe that, based on the spell description, it merely solidifies the air...The air is simply held magically in place.


Precisely correct. I was wrong about how frozen functions. I was getting it confused with one of my spells...:P I apologize.

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My argument was, while movement can be used to create this affect, without the continuing presence of magic to keep the air in place, Newtonian physics will take over and the air will be able to flow freely once more.[/quote]

Quite, and thus the fact that the Sorceror has to continue sustaining the spell himself for it to have any real effect.
The effect DOES dissipate under other circumstances.

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Magic in TROS can bend, but not break, the laws of physics. Movement introduces energy. Sculpture sets boundaries. Growth makes things bigger and smaller. Think of the Temporal Vagaries as additional laws of physics and you get the idea. :)


Are you serious? Magic in TROS often deliberately breaks the laws of physics. Even with a scientific examination of the system. Movement can throw the laws of thermodynamics right out the window. Being able to instantly accelerate something is not just bending the rules, it's completely ignoring them. Growth does the same for the conservation of matter.


I am DEAD serious. That statement is almost word-for-word off page 110.

Movement simply becomes a force in newtonian dynamics, and Thermodynamics has nothing to do with it (the Laws of Thermodynamics only act on closed systems.)

The term "instantly" means "inside the space of an instant." Define for me a length of time, t, to serve as the length of an instant, and I can give you a force which will cause the acceleration of any object of mass m to velocity v in less than t time.

Instant acceleration does NOT break the laws of Physics. Neither does moving something at the speed of light. Light does it all the time, after all.

Of course, Insantly Accelerating something to the Speed of Light would probably Destroy the Universe, but nevermind that. :)

Growth OBEYS the law of conservation of matter. It even explicitly SAYS it does in the vagary description!

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Quote from: Bob Richter
Quote from: rikiwarren
If water had similar multiple states, magic could be used to shift it between states, and each state would remain stable.


But it does. Water has three basic states in which it can be said to be water: Solid (ice), Liquid (water), and Gas (vapour.) These states can be changed by increasing or decreasing the ENERGY of a body of water. In TROS magic, you would use MOVEMENT for this.


OK, maybe I wasn't clear. There's a big difference between the diamond-coal states and the ice-water-vapor states. In water, the water molicules are the same. It is only the amount of energy in the system that changes. The diamond-coal thing is an actual molecular change.


Yes, it is. Then again, a Diamond is made of Carbon, which can take on very complex molecular arrangements (which H20 really can't.) Furthermore, a Diamond is NOT the same thing as coal. Ask the ancients. There is no stable state of solid water above the freezing point.

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I'm not talking about a simple temperature change here. I'm talking about actually restructuring the nature of the water itself.


Fine, give it the crystalline-bonded structure of ice and watch it shake itself apart.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2003, 03:25:59 PM »

Just a note on moderation--

Let's use some. Keep our quote/replies more managable in size and easier to read.

Thanks.

Jake
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rikiwarren
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2003, 05:09:24 PM »

On Growth:

Simply compressing or expanding the molecules themselves doesn't explain the way the spell effects are described, nor the way the spells are described in the flavor text. And it introduces a whole slew of additional problems.

1)   If I used Plague of the Giant to make someone 900% bigger, per the rules on page 130 they would gain +1 ST and +1 TO for every 50% of size, or +18 ST and +18 TO. EN and HT are unaffected.  However, if the molecules were simply expanded, they would be ten times less dense. That means their toughness should go way down, since my sword should pass through them like they were tissue paper. Also, if something is grown enough, it would become buoyant and float away. And blowing someone up ten times their size is getting pretty close to Macy's Parade size. And Growth 3 can do even greater effects.

2)   Shrinking would increase the person's density, and should therefore increase their toughness (not decrease it). Their skin would be ten times harder than normal skin--which at the very least would provide some additional armor. As you said, it would require Movement to lift the person. But there's no evidence in the text that he used any additional magic. Also, when the minified barbarian was dropped on the candle, it would crush the candle--imagine a 200 lb barbarian stepping on a candle wearing stiletto heels. Sure, the hypothetical Movement effect could still be in effect--but again the scene doesn't make any reference to additional magic use. Finally, his sword would weigh the same amount it normally did. When he swings it, it would have the same momentum. It should, therefore, do some damage to the magician's cuticle.

3)   Most importantly, if I shrink or grow someone by 10X, then their blood cells are going to be 10X too big to accept oxygen molecules. With no new oxygen getting into the blood, they will quickly suffocate and die.

Plain and simple, I don't like the extra baggage that this requires. It's easier just to accept that the magic grows and shrinks them. That their weight increases or decreases with their size. This would also be consistent with the strength and toughness modifiers listed in the book.

My problem with using a scientific approach is that I feel it may distract from the story, instead of enhancing the story. For example, during game I would hate to have to stop and argue with a player over the physics behind the game. Magic should be strange and wondrous and at times defy explanation. Basing it on science, for me, makes it mundane, and opens the floodgates for rules-of-physics-lawyers.  

On Frozen, Instantaneous and Maintained spells:

On pgs 120-121 TROS lists four types of spell duration, Instantaneous (with possible permanent side effects), Maintained, Constant, and Dormant. Frozen was listed as Instantaneous--not Maintained. So I assumed the frozen state of the air was supposed to be a permanent side effect.

However, looking more closely at the example spells, all the spells are listed as either instantaneous or constant.  Some, like Flight are listed as "Instantaneous (but maintainable)". A smaller number (like Regrowth) are listed as "Instantaneous (but with permanent effect)." Both Frozen and Curse of the Dwarf are just listed as "Instantaneous." I'd been interpreting that as "Instantaneous (but with permanent effects)" but it is not clear.

On causing Newton to roll over in his grave:

The Movement vagary says, "A target may be instantaneously transmitted through open space. Acceleration/deceleration is instantaneous." Now, we can argue over the definition of instantaneous, but I'll leave that up to the dictionary:

inĚstanĚtaĚneous
Pronunciation: "in(t)-st&n-'tA-nE-&s, -ny&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Medieval Latin instantaneus, from instant-, instans, n.
Date: 1651
1 : done, occurring, or acting without any perceptible duration of time

For any value of time T > 0, T is perceptible. Therefore T = 0.

To me that means that speed S can go from 0 to 327,857,019 in time T = 0. This is infinite acceleration. And since F = M * A, it will require an infinite amount of force. This, to me, is not merely bending, but actually breaking the laws of physics.

Now, the laws of Thermodynamics come in. Assuming the Universe is a closed system, instantly accelerating something to the speed of light will require more energy than the Universe has available. The Universe, after all, has a very large but ultimately finite amount of energy.

However, the spell Fold performs this miracle twice. Once to accelerate the person's molecules and once to decelerate them. Also, in spells like Fold, the effects of momentum, inertia and so forth do not seem to apply. While they do apply for Flight.

For a non-scientific magic, this is not a problem. Newton's laws hold for Movement 1 and 2, but once you hit Movement 3, they simply go away on a holiday. For a more scientific magical system, the inconsistency should be a problem.

Again, I don't want to be arguing over these issues at the gaming table. I don't want to have to use my physics books as a reference for a game, or debate over the real meaning of a word. The more tightly-defined and scientifically accurate you try to make the magic, the more you are going to encourage these types of debates. A looser system will tend to sidestep all these problems.

On FireMaking:

Ok, I was criticized for not reading the description of the vagaries because I proposed using Growth to affect heat. Yes, the Growth vagary does not say anything about growing or shrinking heat. On the other hand, the Movement Vagary also doesn't say anything about heating or cooling objects. It only discusses three aspects 1) speed 2) maneuverability and 3) animation.

So, yes, I have expanded upon the written rules--but then so has everyone who has proposed movement based heat effects. I just chose to do so based on the symbolic meaning of the words, rather than on physics. But we all have (and should) expanded on the rules.

Ignite, Combust and Burn: I can't find these spells anywhere in the TROS rulebook (I even looked in the index). What page are they on? Is it possible we are looking at two different sets of rules?

Again, based on reading the TROS rulebook, I feel that the rules could equally support either a scientific-based magic or a looser, more symbolic magic system. If you want to play it more like hard SF, then be my guest. More power to you.

But I don't want to, and I resent the implication that I need to or that I am doing something wrong.
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