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Old 12-17-2009, 07:56 PM   #1
Black Rose
 
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Default Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

I'm sure it's fairly obvious, since I think the reason is to prevent munchkinism, but does anyone know the reasoning behind the change in the Conduct Power/TL spell from Third to Fourth edition? Specifically, the fourth paragraph in the 3rd edition version, which says

"The low-TL versions of this spell allow the mage to tap natural powerhouses, such as waterfalls, the wind, forest fires, volcanoes..."

The 4th edition goes out of its way to specify that "power" means

"any energy used by a machine to do its job. At TL8, this generally means electricity. Earlier TLs might use mechanical power from a waterwheel or steam engine; later TLs might use exotic forms of beamed power."

This is, quite clearly not the only way, which allowed for tapping geothermal vents, forest fires, and hurricanes... provided you could survive being near them.

So, does anyone know why?
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:34 PM   #2
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

Apart from the munchkin factor, the tech college is supposed to be about machines in the first place isn't it?
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

If y'all are interested in technology magic, I have a reinterpretation of the college as magitech with new spells (Copy Data, Display Holovid). The whole radiation/plastic things is gone - its' materials, energy and information subcolleges. Most of the info is from a GCA file, though.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Rose View Post
The 4th edition goes out of its way to specify that "power" means

"any energy used by a machine to do its job. At TL8, this generally means electricity. Earlier TLs might use mechanical power from a waterwheel or steam engine; later TLs might use exotic forms of beamed power."

This is, quite clearly not the only way, which allowed for tapping geothermal vents, forest fires, and hurricanes... provided you could survive being near them.

So, does anyone know why?
Well, I'll tell you the way I look at it. If you apply the spell to natural phenomena, you are obtaining mana by tapping the natural environment. But getting mana by tapping the natural environment is already an inherent function of magic! That's what accounts for a mage getting a 1-point reduction in energy cost at skill-15, a 2-point reduction in energy cost at skill-20, and so on: He's turning the energy flows in the environment into mana, or drawing on mana spontaneously formed from those energy flows.

On the other hand, the ability to get mana from machines is not an inherent feature of magic. The spell is a special adapter for that purpose.

Other than that, a machine normally has power focused in a specific place: current flowing through a wire, a driveshaft turning, steam in a boiler, that sort of thing. High-energy natural phenomena are dispersed through a much larger volume. Not the same thing at all.

And, finally, the extension to natural phenomena takes away much of the benefit to the mage of living in a higher-tech society. The invention of the windmill has little value if the mage can draw power from the wind. So instead of the picturesque technomage with a steam engine or a huge water wheel at hand, you get a mage who stands beside a running stream!

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Old 12-17-2009, 11:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

There's also the matter of where natural phenomena end. Using the 3ed spell, can you tap a constructed waterfall? What about one that uses gates in the river upstream and downstream of it? What about water pouring from one gate to another? That one's pretty far afield from nature, yet a watermill would work just the same(assuming it could be installed in a suitable position).

Personally, when I read that bit, I thought back to a thread on rec.games.frp.gurps titled "The Well of *Infinite* Mana", and considered it an ObviousRulePatch. Limiting it to technological sources permits the WOUM, which loses any energy you don't tap, but forbids the WOIM, which stores anything you don't use without limit. (And you can still add ancient abandoned WOIMs for plot purposes via GM finagling.)
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

And we're all missing the most obvious nerf to the Energy spells with the change from 3e to 4e, 4e removed the calculated kW energy from power cells and power sources. In 3e we knew just how many kW that water wheel could produce, just how much kWs that energy cell held. In 4e, there's no standard, not even recommendations, for the amount of energy produced or stored, thus rendering the Energy spells nearly unplayable.
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:50 AM   #7
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
And, finally, the extension to natural phenomena takes away much of the benefit to the mage of living in a higher-tech society. The invention of the windmill has little value if the mage can draw power from the wind. So instead of the picturesque technomage with a steam engine or a huge water wheel at hand, you get a mage who stands beside a running stream!
Though if you are drawing magical power directly from the wind or a running stream, you should probably expect the North Wind or the local naiad to show up pretty soon to stop you.

Personally I think those spells were a serious mistake brought on by overreading an analogy. If spell costs had been called something other than "energy" nobody would expect it to work in the first place. If you were going to allow converting energy into magical "energy", it at least should be an enchantment on the energy source, a cheaper form of the Power enchantment perhaps, not a spell that effectively has a negative casting cost if you happen to be standing near a generator.
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

Quote:
Originally Posted by cccwebs View Post
And we're all missing the most obvious nerf to the Energy spells with the change from 3e to 4e, 4e removed the calculated kW energy from power cells and power sources. In 3e we knew just how many kW that water wheel could produce, just how much kWs that energy cell held. In 4e, there's no standard, not even recommendations, for the amount of energy produced or stored, thus rendering the Energy spells nearly unplayable.
Given that 1kWh == 10 Energy, it is possible to calculate energy feeds of all devices, and of power storage devices up to TL8. TL9+ is more complicated . . .
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

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Originally Posted by Molokh View Post
Given that 1kWh == 10 Energy, it is possible to calculate energy feeds of all devices, and of power storage devices up to TL8. TL9+ is more complicated . . .
Only if you know what the power ouput of the device is. I'm sorry, but I couldn't even begin to tell you what the kW output of the engine in my Van is capable of producing, or the kW output of the water wheel, windmill, oxen driven mill, etc. 3e had rules to provide for that, 4e removed those, especially for the TL9+ settings where powering magic by electricity could become very "efficient".
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: Change from 3rd Ed to 4th - Tech (energy) subcollege

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I couldn't even begin to tell you what the kW output of the engine in my Van is capable of producing
746 Watts per horsepower.
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