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Old 09-21-2019, 12:46 PM   #1
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Default Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

This is a lot like the the previous [GAME] posts such as Cross-Dimensional Fantasy Milieu and other collaborative worldbuilding threads.

Magic and science are often depicted as opposing worldviews; sometimes as differing cosmologies, and sometimes as opposing factions. The purpose of this jam is to build a GURPS-compatable setting somewhere to the "opposing factions" side of the scale.

The rules are simple: Answer one previous question, then ask one or two new questions.

When you answer a question, consider previous answers to that and other questions. You can elaborate on the world fairly widely, so long as the additions make sense in light of the previous responses. You are encouraged to take ideas mentioned in previous answers and weave them into your answers. Most importantly, make sure the world we're building is a coherent place that is suitable for adventures.

Your question(s) must be open-ended, and may or may not include an implied assertion about the world. It's recommended that your question expand on an idea established in any previous answer, but this is not needed so long as the question allows the next poster freedom. You may ask none, one, or two questions, (note the bold,) which can include clarifying grammatical questions under that heading.

Question 1: How are the factions of magic and science opposed? Many small cabals in an otherwise neutral society? Two (or more) large political entities in open warfare? Are many independent nations dominated by one ideology, with a widespread underground following the opposite one? Or something different?

Question 2: What is the TL? How evenly distributed is this tech level?

Last edited by PTTG; 09-21-2019 at 05:47 PM. Reason: Added bolding for clarification
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by PTTG View Post
This is a lot like the the previous [GAME] posts such as Cross-Dimensional Fantasy Milieu and other collaborative worldbuilding threads.

Magic and science are often depicted as opposing worldviews; sometimes as differing cosmologies, and sometimes as opposing factions. The purpose of this jam is to build a GURPS-compatable setting somewhere to the "opposing factions" side of the scale.

The rules are simple: Answer one previous question, then ask one or two new questions.

When you answer a question, consider previous answers to that and other questions. You can elaborate on the world fairly widely, so long as the additions make sense in light of the previous responses. You are encouraged to take ideas mentioned in previous answers and weave them into your answers. Most importantly, make sure the world we're building is a coherent place that is suitable for adventures.

Your question must be open-ended, and may or may not include an implied assertion about the world. It's recommended that your question expand on an idea established in any previous answer, but this is not needed so long as the question allows the next poster freedom. You may ask none, one, or two questions, (note the bold,) which can include clarifying grammatical questions under that heading.

Question 1: How are the factions of magic and science opposed? Many small cabals in an otherwise neutral society? Two (or more) large political entities in open warfare? Are many independent nations dominated by one ideology, with a widespread underground following the opposite one? Or something different?

Question 2: What is the TL? How evenly distributed is this tech level?
Question 3: Where would sciences like Astrology, Alchemy, Signumology, and Thaumaturgy stand?

Question 4: Is there a wide gap between TL and ETL? (ie is there a Niven's Law of Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology." operating)
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

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Originally Posted by PTTG View Post
Question 1: How are the factions of magic and science opposed? Many small cabals in an otherwise neutral society? Two (or more) large political entities in open warfare? Are many independent nations dominated by one ideology, with a widespread underground following the opposite one? Or something different?
Question 1a: Are magic and technology opposed mechanically through genre settings, or merely societally?
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Question 1a: Are magic and technology opposed mechanically through genre settings, or merely societally?
Answer 1a
Both magic and technology have a detrimental effect on the other. However the effects are quite different, magic wrecks havoc with technology at a local level, devices cease to function or are even destroyed in the presence of large enough magics. This requires a deliberate act on the part of the magic user and is not a mere byproduct of magic use.
However the presence of sufficently advanced technology makes magic difficult in the extreme, indeed individuals who wish to become powerful users of magic limit their access to the benefits of technology.

Question 5
Is there a middle ground that can be walked involving using both magic and technology? If so, is there a cost or detrimental effect for sitting on the fence?
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

Question 6: To what extent is the general population aware of the struggle?

Question 7: Which political and religious groups back which powers? Classical leftists and Marxists would back tech, but New Left types would plunk down for magic. Some churches see magic as diabolic, others see modernity as the greater threat. How do banks and bureaucracies see the opposing forces?
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

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Question 3: Where would sciences like Astrology, Alchemy, Signumology, and Thaumaturgy stand?
Answer 3: They are part of a spectrum of early arts that, while once considered full-fledged fields of their own, have collapsed into one of the two greater fields. Astrology is now a sub-field of the study of magic; no serious scientist considers the movements of the stars to have any scientific value aside from some entertaining mathematical ratios. Alchemy, however, is one of the seeds from which rational Chemistry has sprung. Thaumaturgists are laughed out of both houses of study; mages consider them sadly confused, while scientists see them as superstitious fools.

Signumology, at least, has a few adherents in temples and monasteries, though they simply don't get the results that "secular" mages do. Some consider them a mere branch of magical studies at best, hucksters at worst. Nonetheless, they are distinctly independent of the larger magical field.

Question 8: What are the differences between this world's geography and Earth's?
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Question 1a: Are magic and technology opposed mechanically through genre settings, or merely societally?
Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Answer 1a
Both magic and technology have a detrimental effect on the other. However the effects are quite different, magic wrecks havoc with technology at a local level, devices cease to function or are even destroyed in the presence of large enough magics. This requires a deliberate act on the part of the magic user and is not a mere byproduct of magic use.
However the presence of sufficently advanced technology makes magic difficult in the extreme, indeed individuals who wish to become powerful users of magic limit their access to the benefits of technology.
Per Niven's Law of "Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology." I never bought into the whole Magic vs Technology thing.
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:17 PM   #8
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Question 8: What are the differences between this world's geography and Earth's?
Answer 8: This world's geography is a "Print the Legend" rework of Earth. Somewhere between magical realism and pulp adventure. A heightened reality stressing drama and adventure.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

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Per Niven's Law of "Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology." I never bought into the whole Magic vs Technology thing.
I think the defining feature is that Magic involves an element of magical thinking. Sure, sure, mana and ozmic particles provide a sufficient handwave, but Magic is shaped through contagion and as above, so below. Of course, if that works when analyzed rigorously, they become natural laws and can be scienced... but if they vanish when examined, yet function in the field, you'd be hard pressed to unite it with scientific thought.
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Campaign Jam: Magic Vrs. Technology

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Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
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Originally Posted by PTTG View Post
Question 1: How are the factions of magic and science opposed? Many small cabals in an otherwise neutral society? Two (or more) large political entities in open warfare? Are many independent nations dominated by one ideology, with a widespread underground following the opposite one? Or something different?
Question 1a: Are magic and technology opposed mechanically through genre settings, or merely societally?
Answer 1a
Both magic and technology have a detrimental effect on the other. However the effects are quite different, magic wrecks havoc with technology at a local level, devices cease to function or are even destroyed in the presence of large enough magics. This requires a deliberate act on the part of the magic user and is not a mere byproduct of magic use.
However the presence of sufficently advanced technology makes magic difficult in the extreme, indeed individuals who wish to become powerful users of magic limit their access to the benefits of technology.
Answer 1
Yes. There are factions, they are rather evenly divided, 'technologist' factions tend to live in the large cities, centers of manufacturing and while this would normally mean they are close to the centers of power, the magic factions maintain their presence within the cities as well (uneasily). However the more magically inclined factions tend towards the rural, where technology is ruthlessly kept in check. This means the technologists control the flow wealth, and sometimes resources (those more difficult to acquire with low tech), while the magical factions control food and 'low tech 'resources' such as wood, stone, low grade textiles (wool, hides, cotton, silks, etc, generally in a lower quality state).

As well any ruler worth his salt knows to balance their decisions between these factions, even if the technologists make bold claims about better crop results, better fabric qualities, etc.


Follow Up On 1a
For every level of TL above 0 a device or technological practice is, it generates an 'anti-magic field', lowering the local mana level. An object of only a few pounds literally only affects itself (field size equal to 1 foot per 100 pounds), while large objects, or endeavors with lots of participants can cover a significant area. So a TL 4 Musket (a prized piece of tech indeed!) would have an innate MR of 4, it wouldn't affect it's user* or anything else, whereas a production line building muskets might reduce the Mana level by -4 for a mile or more. This is why most cities are are at -3 to -5 to the local Mana levels.

Likewise, simply knowing sufficient advanced sciences or technological skills gives the practitioner a magical resistance (for every TL they buy above world baseline they must also purchase 1 level of MR). This does not carry over to "usage" skills like Firearms, Gunner, etc. Only to the crafts and hard science skills.

Because of this, most mages of low to middling power wear rough handspun garments, or crudely hand tanned leather. Their tools are almost all hand made, even if of beautiful quality, anything else invites dreaded "technological corruption"*. Beware a Mage that wears metals, or carries tools made with advanced technological techniques (they are either potent or charlatans).

Magic is not repeatable. There is no 'one formula' for casting a Fireball. Each Mage comes to their techniques their own way. Maybe they sat under the ancient oak in the heart of the forest and listened as it whispered it's secrets and passed on it's duty to the trees, or stole a piece of wool from the back of one of the Skelfilegur flock. Regardless of how, each Mage grows his power and knowledge individually, despite learning the rudimentary fundamentals at the feet of their master. A prized few apprentices might even be gifted the old master's fetishes or methods as he passes from the world.

Mechanically, this means for every level of Magery a Mage buys past 0, they need to take some corresponding 10 point Disad for free. If they violate the disadvantage, an Alcoholic being deprived of alcohol, they lose that level of Magery. This can be a Dependency on a substance or item, in this case going without the item or substance does not deal damage, but rather they lose the associated levels of Magery. You can reduce the cost of Magery by this... but I wouldn't. Magery is potent enough as it is. To make up for this, I recommend having no No Magery zones, just increase the penalties for casting, and decrease the rate of FP/ER return correspondingly.

What does this mean for Alchemy? Because repeatability trends toward technology, actual Alchemy (the magical practice) has no workable recipes. Alchemists do not teach† their "recipes", and their individual knowledges are closely guarded secrets. They will train apprentices in the practice, the general knowledge, and use them to gather materials (and teach them how to safely handle dangerous materials), but each budding Alchemist must discover their own 'how it works' for them. Indeed, so closely held are recipes that Guild Wars have broken out when recipes were stolen and distributed rendering them unworkable. Yes, most Alchemists do probably repeat their steps (certainly over the course of a lifetime), but each batch is done slightly differently than the last to avoid catastrophe.

The detriments of magical energies upon technology. As mentioned, such deleterious effects can be produced, however this takes a deliberate engagement of spells or rituals. Spells are the simpler method, brute force method, and there are many known to the Mages. However as technological devices inherently resist the effects of magic, this can be difficult for the novice. Instead their is the sure and sure method or Ritual Magic. By slowly attuning and aligning magical forces, a Mage can raise a local force of energy, and unstable and chaotic force. Such a force imparts causes technological devices to malfunction, however it makes spells inherently riskier as well. Effectively this raises the local Mana temporarily to Very High. This has the standard effects on magic as well as imparting a Malfunction penalty on all devices equal to their inherent MR. If a device normally has no Malf rating, it gains one for MR 1, and then further levels increase the Malf rating correspondingly. Frex, a crucible steel sword (TL 5 materials) has a Malf Rating of None and an MR of 5. If a Mage set off a magical storm, increasing the local Mana level to Very High, it would first gain a Malf 17, then this would be reduced to a Malf rating of 13. So any failure on a roll of 13 or higher is a critical failure use (if you want to develop different Malfunction Charts for types of devices have at it).


* For anyone with Magery, they take a penalty of half the objects TL to any magical practices, be they Spells, Alchemy, or Ritual Magic. Thaumaturgy and Hazardous Material (Magic) are not affected.

† For each other Alchemist that know a recipe beyond one, each 'user' of that recipe takes a -1 to their skill.


Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Question 5
Is there a middle ground that can be walked involving using both magic and technology? If so, is there a cost or detrimental effect for sitting on the fence?
Answer 5
Yes. But it is a tough road to go. Alchemy is currently on this field of study, it walks precariously betwixt pure nonsensical magics and repeatable "natural philosophies". There are those in the more theoretical magical guilds, that study the philosophies, that actually believe that Alchemy and it's natural cousin (yet unnamed) should be separate philosophies, though they haven't gained traction yet.

For a Mage to walk both the path of magical power and the power of philosophic technology is a difficult one. Many have found themselves burned out bereft of magic and sanity. Though stories tell of the few that can master both and wield either power as is needed.

Quote:
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Question 2: What is the TL? How evenly distributed is this tech level?
Answer 2:
I recommend a world baseline of 3. Whether by magic or tech, most people live lives at this level and work and have tools of this durability and quality. Cities of industry might climb to 5 for the types of goods it produces and the background "anti-magic level" (Low Mana), but the commoner lives an ugly short brutish life of TL 3; whereas magical enclaves would 'drop' to 1 or even 0, but should still be treated as a luxurious quality of life of TL 3 for most people in such a commune (Mages might live rougher, but that's the trade off they might make for their power).

Any higher and the above ideas of mine should be temper, tossed out, or at least really, really given a good long thought as it will make Mages rather weak.
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