Thread: Yrth technology
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:01 PM   #38
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: Yrth technology

Originally Posted by griffin
But this can certainly be explained by magic. What I don't understand is why things like street lamps aren't handled by magic. Refrigerators replaced with boxes with the Preserve Food spell, bathrooms featuring magic toilets, etc. I know in some of the Forgotten Realms based video games you see the magic street lamps in large fantasy cities (I don't own any of the Forgotten Realms D&D books, so I don't know how accurately the setting is being represented).
Because if you run the analysis, there will not be enough magicians to make it work. In pretty much any RPG magic system, a mage able to cast a useful technology substitute spell has put at least as much effort into getting that good as a modern professional, so you are talking about at best a couple of people per thousand. Often a lot fewer, because RPG spell lists tend to start out pretty tactical - you have to hit high levels (or long prerequisite chains or whatever) to get enchantments or spells with permanent durations or otherwise lasting effects. And they can't do it very often - a few times a day maximum, often a few times a *year* for enchantments.

For Yrth for example, 1 in 1000 gives you about 40,000 of these guys. Figure 20 spells each (20 points is a *lot* for a professional skill), divided by the just under 1000 spells in magic, and on average there are about a thousand of them who know any particular spell. By and large 1000 enchanters, pumping out a handful of items a year each for the entire continent, is not going to be enough to meet demand for anything even vaguely mass market.

To be sure there sometimes are lasting spells that are enough easier they should have *some* effect (Shape Earth in GURPS, Continual Light in AD&D) but they're always in much more short supply than the "we can substitute magic for technology" proponents postulate. They have to be, RPG magic must be cast at rates analogous to craft production in order to have any balance against other character classes, and handicraft production is simply not fast enough to substitute for a common technology. You after all pay a premium for handcrafted anything now.
MA Lloyd
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