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Old 07-11-2019, 06:28 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Salt Lake City
Default Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

In my new world system, I placed the discovery of arcane magic in the Neolithic. And I need some ideas on how this would work out. I use psionics as the beginning point, but have not worked out how arcane magic is discovered except people are born with it (sorcerers from 3.5/Pathfinder). So, what do you guys all think?
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:56 PM   #2
Mysterious Dark Lord v3.2
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Default Re: Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

Try to find a way to work it in with shamanism, as shamans are an acceptable form of primitive magic worker.

(The title of the thread reminded me of an adventure published in 1st Edition Pyramid, where an paleotology expedition found an intact perfectly-preserved sabretooth tiger. Then they discovered that the sabretooth had such huge fangs because it was ... a VAMPIRE! Hilarious.)
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Old 07-12-2019, 05:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

If going with 3.5 and sorcerers, I would offer you an old idea of mine that the familiar be limited to the sorcerer class and be the physical manifestation of the sorcerer's fetch/spirit ally. The sorcerer's spell list is then the powers that your spirit ally can grant or arrange for you. I was also tempted by giving the familiar an ego score and letting PCs pile upgrades onto it in return for loss of reliability (yes, your familiar can be a cave bear, but if it is, don't rely on it doing what you tell it to all the time...) Perhaps use warlock for those whose relationship with their totem is less equal.

Alternatively, see if you can find rules for the old Arabian adventures Shahir, part of whose shtick was that his familiar actually went out and found spells for him to cast easily re-fluffed to your fetch going out to recruit a compliant spirit to work your magic for you.

Depending on how fantasy you want your world, go with wizarding as a serpent-man thing that humanity can steal (doesn't everyone love a serpent man precursor species?) and replace their familiar with an upgraded staff (there was a Dragon article offering you precisely that - Bing suggests #338 - I think Paizo are still selling the pdfs aren't they?)
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Old 07-15-2019, 12:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

I'd put some very profound limitations on magic. Most of GURPS magic has been based on Medieval or later technology. Stone-age weapons and armor wouldn't stand up to those abilities. Curb damage to a few dice, limit DR to the 5-8 range. NPCS like the Thunder Lizard Priests may be able to exceed these limits but only because they posses the sacred stone or have undergone the trial of fire.

For themeatic purposes, rather than having enchanted weapons, make weapons more powerful if they are made with the bones and teeth of mystical creatures or engraved with glyph of power. Generally make acquiring magic more of a spirit quest and less of a library session.
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:30 PM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Default Re: Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

Non-humans. Whether that's from corporeal mortals like elves, or incorporeal creatures like totems, spirits of the area, etc.

That also allows differences in magic between tribes. The wolf tribe wasn't taught any water magic, for example.
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:26 PM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

In my current campaign, set in a world going from Neolithic to Bronze Age, magic is animistic (based on interaction with spirits). I've represented it mostly as Path and Book magic from GURPS Thaumatology; that is, it normally requires minutes or hours of ceremony to establish contact with the spirit world, gain the attention of spirits, ask them for specific help, offer sacrifices, and then close things off. I do allow a secondary sort of magic based on cinematic abilities, understood as powers inherent in the mortal user's own spirit. Those two seem to work fairly well.
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

In my setting clerics i.e shamans were first. The first arcane casters imitated what shamans did but instead of channelling divine power they learn to harness the ambient mana independently.

There are arcane creature who use mana as inherently. As part of dealing with them the shaman learned about mana and how it can be manipulated.

Using GURPS it mean instead of using unlimited mana, they learn to channel the ambient mana in its place. A useful skill if they were near the threshold.

Using OD&D in the form of Swords & Wizardry, it meant that they learned to cast spells like Detect Magic, Light, Protection from Evil using the ambient man, i.e. spells found both in the clerical spell list and the magic user spell list.

However the magic user was in the shadow of the various religions and churches until quite recently (four centuries ago). Arcane spell casters were specialized scholars within the mother religion.

Then four centuries ago a major empire collapsed, its social order broke down including the major religion. A chance would have it this time, the arcane scholar grew an independent tradition giving birth to the magic user.

Because this empire was the greatest to date and it storehouse of knowledge was the enough to kickstart the traditional independent magic user. Prior to this arcane knowledge was so interwoven with religion that it wasn't viewed as a separate thing in various human cultures.
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Old 07-20-2019, 10:47 AM   #8
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Salt Lake City
Default Re: Discovery of Magic in the Neolithic

Thanks everyone, good suggestions all around.
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