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Old 05-16-2020, 03:37 AM   #1
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

So I'm doing some worldbuilding and I want to seek some opinions, thoughts, and ideas from you fine folks. First, some background: The campaign setting is TL3^ with some higher TL elements, namely the printing press, bureaucracy, smithy technologies like cast iron, and medicine. The world of Asphera is a magical one (I'm using Sorcery) and magic itself is fairly common. Maybe 1 out of every 100 people have some kind of magical spell they can cast. Magic itself is broken into six groups: Air, Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood. Magic is an inborn trait. You have it or you don't. Chi powers on the other hand can be learned. There is external and internal alchemy as well. The setting is kind of high fantasy, but not into epic fantasy. I'm using mostly a pastiche of the Warring States/Qin Dynasty era of Chinese culture with a few other things thrown in. There is also a horse culture (Mongolianish), a desert nomad culture, ocean travelers, and a few others.

That said what I'm seeking are the possible ramifications for having access to crafters who can also perform magic. What technology might be possible having access to supernatural powers? What might change in the campaign setting because of it? And what cool ideas would you use if you were running such a campaign.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

If you're willing to have metal-magicians who turn out high-quality steel in quantity, they can sell that steel and become wealthy. With that material, mundane smiths can make high-quality weapons, which become much more readily available than they were in historic TL3 settings.

Likewise, if earth magicians can make it relatively cheap to build (and maintain) fortifications, then every petty noble has a decent fort.

Overall, this kind of craftsmanship makes many fantasy tropes far more plausible: everyone of significance has a stronghold and a well-armed warband, without using up the whole economy supporting that.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

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.

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. 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.
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Old 05-16-2020, 12:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

I think refining, shaping and sorting are the big undercurrents of early effects.
You can seek, analyze, purify and separate components for raw materials or use then shape and refine or manipulate for a tremendous impact ob the overall economy. Most of those spells wont be terribly dramatic or obviously useful to adventurers, especially in combat but if widespread enough could support alternative tech levels.
With a smaller base individuals could have Higher TL and demand higher prices for specialized goods made by them or under their supervision.
Wood can help craft quality bows and arrows in shorter time by seasoning, shaping,and even lamination processes.
Earth can build structures as if they had access to modern machines, improve mining techniques.
Water can clean up polluted water, make aqueducts and plumbing easier and improve personal and community hygiene.
Fire can burn hotter without needing special fuel, be focused as in a blowtorch, heat things more evenly, provide cold lights.
Air makes great climate control, either large scale with weather spells or smaller such as air conditioning and chasing away flying insects. Also useful for tracking scents or distributing them.
Metal can shape and refine, eve merge for alloys to create stronger materials, or lighter as needed. Cool things (unless your using that for fire but I usually read metal as cold and ice related) and harden things at the risk of making them more brittle (So Metal adds DR and if over a certain %increase adds Brittle, while Wood would add HP or IT:DR and at a certain point possibly Homogenous)
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
I think refining, shaping and sorting are the big undercurrents of early effects.
You can seek, analyze, purify and separate components for raw materials or use then shape and refine or manipulate for a tremendous impact ob the overall economy. Most of those spells wont be terribly dramatic or obviously useful to adventurers, especially in combat but if widespread enough could support alternative tech levels.
Yeah.

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
With a smaller base individuals could have Higher TL and demand higher prices for specialized goods made by them or under their supervision.
That's not a bad idea. Masters who can do the "impossible" is great for hooks and for worldbuilding.


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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Wood can help craft quality bows and arrows in shorter time by seasoning, shaping,and even lamination processes.
Or make bigger/stronger bows by shaping woods that normally wouldn't work for stuff like that. (I'm thinking ironwood.)

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Earth can build structures as if they had access to modern machines, improve mining techniques.
The mining techniques is the most interesting part here. Of course, folks are going to make fortications using earth mages - that's the most logical use. But also houses and other buildings I'd think. Building foundations would last forever.

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Water can clean up polluted water, make aqueducts and plumbing easier and improve personal and community hygiene.
Aqueducts! I hadn't considered that. Plumbing is neat too. Maybe enchanted pipes or something.

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Fire can burn hotter without needing special fuel, be focused as in a blowtorch, heat things more evenly, provide cold lights.
"Witchlights" are going to be a thing in the campaign, basically heatless fire via the Phantom Flame spell.

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Air makes great climate control, either large scale with weather spells or smaller such as air conditioning and chasing away flying insects. Also useful for tracking scents or distributing them.
Good point.

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Metal can shape and refine, eve merge for alloys to create stronger materials, or lighter as needed. Cool things (unless your using that for fire but I usually read metal as cold and ice related) and harden things at the risk of making them more brittle (So Metal adds DR and if over a certain %increase adds Brittle, while Wood would add HP or IT:DR and at a certain point possibly Homogenous)
Cold is the lack of heat so that falls under fire.
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

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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.


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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.


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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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Old 05-17-2020, 07:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Common Magic for a TL3 Wuxia Fantasy Campaign

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Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
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.
Side comments: I honestly thought you were using Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. (Typical four, plus Metal and Wood.)
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Old 05-17-2020, 08:16 PM   #8
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Side comments: I honestly thought you were using Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. (Typical four, plus Metal and Wood.)
Nope. Something else. :-)
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Old 05-17-2020, 07:25 PM   #9
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That's not a bad idea. "Super" Porcelain might be highly useful for things other than decoration.
There's always ceramics. I work for a manufacturer of (among other items) ceramics (e.g., some darn fine ceramic kitchen knives).
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Old 05-17-2020, 08:18 PM   #10
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There's always ceramics. I work for a manufacturer of (among other items) ceramics (e.g., some darn fine ceramic kitchen knives).
How fragile/breakable is it though?
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