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Author Topic: Effects of Magic on the Real World  (Read 1552 times)
jjafuller
Member

Posts: 7


« on: July 12, 2011, 07:31:25 PM »

I am not sure if this topic has been addressed before, if so let me know and I'll take a look at the other work. Right now this is just a kernel of an idea, but I think after a little fleshing out it could be an interesting scenario to look at. For now I am just going to link to the blog post where I toyed with the idea. I'll update this post with links of development material as they become available. For convenience I'll cross post the post here so you don't need to go to my site to read it.

Quote
One of the major issues I have associated with fantasy settings is that a world filled with magic is essentially medieval plus wizards. It seems even more silly in the context that many settings purport to be thousands of years old. So, what I want to do is make a basic game that could help model the effects magic on an otherwise realistic world.

Originally, I was thinking about setting this up in the ancient / dark ages since my interest is primary on the fantasy realm. Player knowledge would become a significant hindrance though. Effectively players would have unfair knowledge about technological development that could be leveraged with magic. In order to deal with the problem, the game should likely be set in modern day.

I am thinking of setting up a small self contained scenario for this, kind of like Lady Blackbird, with pregens. I want to keep the characters disassociated from the players in order to avoid weirdness. The scenario would kick off when the group uncovered a set of "items of power." That essentially give those in possession of the items the ability to wield magic. Magic should not be limited in functionality, other than the final result of the effects cannot create paradoxes.

The question becomes, how to model the interaction of magic within the world. I'm thinking a basic die mechanism that can be used to measure the degree of success when attempting to use magic for something. And, while the player always succeeds, their margin of success determines the level of complication created by the act. Complications would scale relative to the effect desired.

As far as complications are concerned, I am thinking about creating some tables that could be rolled against in order to generate some ideas. But, complications that are directly relevant would be preferred. The trick of the matter is trying to figure out how something like, an unlimited supply of free gasoline would affect the world.

What would be the best way to model such a thing?

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ADGBoss
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Posts: 415


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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2011, 05:54:59 AM »

Very interesting.

I think that to begin with I would ask a number of questions regarding magic and the nature of such.

1. What is magic, really? Is it the creation of God / The Gods? Is it technology that is super advanced? Is it alien tech? Is it just a branch of science that was discovered and then abandoned?

2. How are the items and magic controlled? Acts of will? Tapping into 'The Force'? A simple switch and or word?

3. How does magic interact with mundane (for lack of a better word) technology? Can they be used in synthesis? Are they antagonistic? Can they even co-exist at all?

4. What is the scale? For instance if the protagonists only make free gas for themselves, no big deal. If they make free gas available to everyone, there would be economic and possibly even political or criminal ramifications. Big Oil might quickly move to outlaw magic.

One thing I might suggest is some kind of control mechanic or even an X,Y axis where X is success or failure and Y is degree of power. The Degree of Power would increase how many people notice the magic and its effect on the rest of the world.
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jjafuller
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2011, 09:26:47 AM »

1. What is magic, really? Is it the creation of God / The Gods? Is it technology that is super advanced? Is it alien tech? Is it just a branch of science that was discovered and then abandoned?

Since I am focused on the ramifications of the magic, rather than the source I am not planning on defining this. It would be a question to be answered in play.

2. How are the items and magic controlled? Acts of will? Tapping into 'The Force'? A simple switch and or word?

Originally I imagined this as simply "acts of will," but I don't really want to define it as such. Much like the first question, the specific activation mechanism need not necessarily be defined.

3. How does magic interact with mundane (for lack of a better word) technology? Can they be used in synthesis? Are they antagonistic? Can they even co-exist at all?

The level of synthesis would be relative to the sophistication of the user I would expect. It would be much simpler to use magic to spin a wheel than interface with a Mac. I'm a software developer, but my binary is a bit rusty, so I don't think I would be able to make something interface directly. But, I could probably pull it off by chaining a few effects today.

4. What is the scale? For instance if the protagonists only make free gas for themselves, no big deal. If they make free gas available to everyone, there would be economic and possibly even political or criminal ramifications. Big Oil might quickly move to outlaw magic.

Yes, I think intent is important, as is scale.

One thing I might suggest is some kind of control mechanic or even an X,Y axis where X is success or failure and Y is degree of power. The Degree of Power would increase how many people notice the magic and its effect on the rest of the world.

I definitely what to address scale. However degree of power may not necessarily be directly relevant. For example, knocking over the statue of liberty during the ball drop would be pretty big scale, but not require as much power as say, compiling a brick from energy.
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stefoid
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Posts: 657


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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2011, 04:12:45 PM »

Governments would treat real magic somewhere between drugs and nuclear weapons.
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happysmellyfish
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Posts: 49


« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 05:52:18 AM »

Just want to bump this a little, because the idea of intelligent political gaming is nice.

To kick things along a little, have you considered using Shock: Social Science Fiction?
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jjafuller
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2011, 12:49:58 PM »

To kick things along a little, have you considered using Shock: Social Science Fiction?

Unfortunately I have been neglecting this thread due to work on some Game Chef stuff (bad timing on my part). I'll take a look at Shock, I think I have heard of it but I have never looked into it before.
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happysmellyfish
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2011, 04:32:01 PM »

The rules are fairly light, but they have a nice grid system that plots social shocks alongside the people who have to deal with them. It has a focus on technology, but there's no reason you can't replace Artificial Intelligence with Magic Spell X.
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jjafuller
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2011, 06:55:39 PM »

The rules are fairly light, but they have a nice grid system that plots social shocks alongside the people who have to deal with them. It has a focus on technology, but there's no reason you can't replace Artificial Intelligence with Magic Spell X.

Yeah, it definitely sounds interesting. I purchased it from the author through the un-store, still waiting on fulfillment though.
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mark2v
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 05:07:51 AM »

I have a view that magic would be the equivalent of energy with no cost. IE magic is perpetual motion.
To top that off magic is energy at no cost that can be controlled.
Yes a wizard might have a personal physical cost, or a mental cost. But a “continual light spell”  (To quote the classics) is not the same a burning a torch or lighting a light bulb.
In the modern world this concept would change everything at its base.  A large portion of what we do, the damage we cause, the wars we wage, are based on gaining access to energy. 
Magic would change that.
So in my view, if you build a world that has had magic for a long time; it would not resemble our world in as much as industry, transportation, technology, communication, and so forth will be magic based.
If magic were to just happen in our current world. The fight to control it or suppress it would be fierce. Those who controlled it could liberate the world or dominate it.
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Mark 2 V
jjafuller
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 06:56:31 PM »

@happysmellyfish, I got Shock I am going to start looking into it this weekend. It looks pretty good so far.

@mark2v, I'm inclined to agree with you. The war for power would very likely be the war to end all wars.
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jjafuller
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 06:47:18 PM »

@happysmellyfish, I had the chance to read Shock. You were just about spot on with that call. This accomplishes almost exactly what I'm looking for, albeit the tone is slightly off. So, from this perspective I think I might be better off created a focused "playset" for Shock, rather than trying to create an entire separate game.
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