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Old 05-17-2020, 03:49 PM   #6
Christopher R. Rice
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Portsmouth, VA, USA
Default Re: Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Why air? In Chinese thought, the other five are xing (states of matter, loosely translated as "elements"), but air is not; rather, it's qi/breath/spirit, the underlying force that moves through them. In GURPS terms, you could nearly say that air is mana. See Chapter 1 of GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers for much more on this. It seems odd to use a Chinese setting and then discard a basic premise of the culture: Not just the five elements as such but the fundamental tendency to group everything in fives—five colors, five tones, five flavors, five basic emotions, five senses, five hollow organs, five solid organs, and probably others.
Because the wu xing are not the only collections of elements. The bagua comes in at 8, while the Japanese godai replaces Wood with Wind and Metal with Void. The Mahabhuta is your typical Earth, Fire, Air, and Water, but sometimes add Space and Consciousness. I wanted an element that represented Heaven/Void/Ether/Space. Mixing them up a bit I came up with a good system for the setting. I'm firmly of the mind that a good setting might begin with the real world, but it does not end there. Limiting oneself to only what is can force you not to see what could be.

Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
If you're looking for more advanced technology, you might consider porcelain as an expression of earth magic, and perhaps plate glass. Porcelain was a great secret of Chinese technology that Europeans struggled to penetrate; there's a book on this called The Arcanum.
That's not a bad idea. "Super" Porcelain might be highly useful for things other than decoration.

Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
And for fire you might look at gunpowder, perhaps not in handheld firearms but in bombs, rockets, and incendiaries, possibly magically aimed and timed for greater accuracy. For water-based technology you might look at processes involving other fluids, such as distillation, both of alcohol and of petroleum; they might even have reinvented Greek fire.
I am still up in the air about using gunpowder as I don't want firearms yet. I might though. I do like the idea of reinventing Greek fire.
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