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Old 03-14-2019, 01:38 PM   #41
jason taylor
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

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Occult practitioners are, have been, and will be, a part of the real world. Thus a hard sci fi story could feature a witch. Her spells might be bushwa, but she could be a real person earning her living as an occult practitioner.

That said, a spirit quest, even an ambiguously real one could fit.
Actually that's true. Putting religion into a sci-fi is not the same. It is not unreasonable that whether we live in a materialistic universe or not is one of the last things discovered; probably discovered at a level far beyond what is suitable for any kind of narrative except a cosmological or mythic one. Poul Anderson in Technic History had religion take the ambiguous role of seeking truth, goodness, and beauty, playing Russian Roulette with ones destiny and making heavy weather about it that we do at the present time (in that sense both Klingons and Vulcans certainly have a religion as it fulfills those purposes). He also had alien races with religions of their own as well as humans who were religious. What he did not have is certainty.

What constitutes "magic" is a definitional matter though. FtL travel is hard to do without so most writers handwave it and use a lot of technobabble. Psionics in many if not most cases really is indistinguishable from magic and is often treated as such by having rituals, etc.

Actually I would suggest going back to the beginning and rereading The Golden Bough and then adapting that for Space Opera.
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:14 AM   #42
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

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What constitutes "magic" is a definitional matter though. FtL travel is hard to do without so most writers handwave it and use a lot of technobabble.
You spark a memory of a story I read waaay back when, about an FTL drive that worked because the drive crew were able to become so thoroughly convinced the ship had reached its destination that they would warp space-time around them to make it so - basically working magic. Complications arose when someone talked to a drive-crew member before a trip, and left a seed of doubt behind. Turned out to be all it took to completely randomize their destination...
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:10 AM   #43
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

One of the game world we play in most frequently with GURPS is Fading Suns. It's a high-magic setting blasters and laser swords and psychics and it very blatantly has zombies and priests with blatant occult spellcasting. It works because it is very Science fantasy, you can play and technologically proficient character with all of the technobabble that explains how a ancient alien gate propels your starship faster than light but there are legit malevolent beings that inhabit darkness and bookish priests that can blast things with flames from their bare hands with the right incantations and gestures and it's just accepted.

I think you have to have a little bit of that doubt that science is any more real than magic in your setting. Magic wouldn't work so well with a hard cyberpunk world, but it fits fine in Shadowrun where ancient spirits are running wild and nobody is completely sure why the super advanced technologies work.
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:01 PM   #44
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

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Occult practitioners are, have been, and will be, a part of the real world. Thus a hard sci fi story could feature a witch. Her spells might be bushwa, but she could be a real person earning her living as an occult practitioner.

That said, a spirit quest, even an ambiguously real one could fit.
If a setting has psi in it, then what happens if that occult practitioner has some kind of psionic talent?

I like playing with this. There's a Babylon 5-style Psi Corps, where the training is military style, rigid, everything is done by control and rote, but there've been occultists and witches for centuries, and if and when psionics start working they're likely to be the first ones to figure it out. There's a semi-friendly rivalry; the Corps hates it when a perfectly good psionic gets ruined by witchy mumbo-jumbo, and covens are saddened by all of the marching and the barking of orders when it's really supposed to be about the feeling, maaannnnn.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:19 PM   #45
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

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If a setting has psi in it, then what happens if that occult practitioner has some kind of psionic talent?

I like playing with this. There's a Babylon 5-style Psi Corps, where the training is military style, rigid, everything is done by control and rote, but there've been occultists and witches for centuries, and if and when psionics start working they're likely to be the first ones to figure it out. There's a semi-friendly rivalry; the Corps hates it when a perfectly good psionic gets ruined by witchy mumbo-jumbo, and covens are saddened by all of the marching and the barking of orders when it's really supposed to be about the feeling, maaannnnn.
This reminds me of something in the Aeon/Trinity. The healer Psions (Vitakinetics) are split into two groups, the Medical Science faction, and the New Ager/Shamanic/Ritualist faction.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:57 AM   #46
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

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This reminds me of something in the Aeon/Trinity. The healer Psions (Vitakinetics) are split into two groups, the Medical Science faction, and the New Ager/Shamanic/Ritualist faction.
It also reminds me of Nakor from Raymond Feist's novel series. One of the most powerful wizards in the world but doesn't believe magic exists. It's all tricks, just some of them are tricks that manipulate the fabric of reality. Part of his philosophy is that all the mumbo jumbo about "magic" is just a crutch, and if people would figure out what they were really doing they could just do it without all the burning incense and incantations.
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Old 03-16-2019, 11:52 AM   #47
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

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It also reminds me of Nakor from Raymond Feist's novel series. One of the most powerful wizards in the world but doesn't believe magic exists. It's all tricks, just some of them are tricks that manipulate the fabric of reality. Part of his philosophy is that all the mumbo jumbo about "magic" is just a crutch, and if people would figure out what they were really doing they could just do it without all the burning incense and incantations.
(While sounding like Burt Lahr) I can give up killing cats and goats (and be grateful for the chance) but I like incantations and incense smells good! Also, I want sparkles, genuine Disney-surplus technicolor sparkles!
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:46 PM   #48
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

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Who says magic has to be inexplicable?

You have to define what magic is. In GURPS, for instance, magic is the ability to effect change using an energy called mana. It's very quantifiable, and in high- or ultra-tech settings there are even spells that deal with contemporary technologies, like mana coprocessors and so on. The only reason magic usually seems mysterious or inexplicable is that it's usually practiced by low-tech cultures that haven't developed the scientific method yet.
I like the idea of reserving interaction with mana to living organisms. It makes using both people and living tools less stupid at high technology levels.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:06 PM   #49
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

A lot of the stuff in Dune really sounds more like magic than anything else.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:50 PM   #50
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Default Re: Magic in Space Opera

J. S. Morin's Black Ocean setting, is a space opera fantasy. It is a blend of fantasy (magic, wizards, magic items, and gods) with science/space opera (lasers, blasters, computers, spacecraft, defensive shields, etc.). FTL travel is conducted by a spacecraft launching into orbit on reactionless thrusters, its anti gravity supplied by a magic "gravity stone", then either a wizard or a magic "astral drive" pushing the ship into Astral Space, the navigation computer determine its astral depth (which is a logarithmic type determination of its speed), and a the thrusters pushing the ship in the right direction. Advanced Technology (A-Tech) can be disrupted/destroyed by nearby magic use, so Wizards normally only use Primitive Technology (P-Tech).
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