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Old 08-16-2016, 06:23 PM   #1
Prince Charon
 
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Default [Magic] Enchantment Through Balance

A little while ago, johndallman made a post that gave me an idea, hence this thread. I'm not sure I like the title, so if anyone has a better idea, I'll ask a mod to change it.

Magic, especially permanent magic, has a tendency to balance itself. Thus, one common way to create magic items without taking a lot of time or needing a lot of energy (or even the only way in the setting) is to also create its opposite. Philosophically, you are not so much creating anything, as moving qualities from neutral items to change them. For example, creating a dagger that gives +1 to Knife skill requires creating another that gives -1 to Knife, or perhaps a club that gives -1 to Axe/Mace. Creating a flaming sword for Baron Soandso requires the creation of an icy sword, which a clever enchanter might decorate a bit, and sell to Count Suchandsuch for twice the money. An axe that does +3 damage might be made by creating a 'Merciful Sword' that does -3 damage, or three daggers that each do -1 damage, or a -2 spear and a -1 axe, and so forth. Essential Water might be created along with an equal quantity of Dehydrating Water (from this post).

An item might be balanced within itself: Thorvald the Tall is given a sword which gives +4 to attack rolls, at the cost of -4 to defence rolls. Since Thorvald is a berserker, he doesn't care about that, since he won't do any defending, anyway. After he gets himself killed, Gimli the Garrulous picks it up (it's a very fine sword, more than Gimli could buy for himself, and Thorvald certainly doesn't need it), and dies in his next battle, because he's a primarily defensive fighter.

A single item might have multiple effects on it, such as a flaming longsword that grants +1 to Broadsword, +3 to Intimidation, +2 damage, +2 to Dancing (Sword-dancing), and keeps an edge like a very fine blade. An item might also be used as a 'sink' for multiple negative effects from different enchantments, such as a club that gives -10 to Axe/Mace, and a number of other penalties, though I would say that forcing an item to give a penalty to its own use worse than -10 (or another number set by the GM) immediately shatters, both doing damage to anyone nearby, and inflicting some form of magical backlash (perhaps treated as a critical failure).

I'm a bit vague on the actual mechanics of this, beyond the idea that it should be faster and cheaper than Slow and Sure Enchantment, even when making things that would normally require it in the standard system.

One idea I considered was specific to RPM: the enchanting process is a permanent Greater Transform Matter and Greater Control Magic effect, usually with two or more targets. I'm pretty sure making it permanent requires Greater effects, but my experience with RPM is limited, and this style of enchantment could work in multiple magic systems, with some variations on the fluff (like 'exchanging aspects of the spirits of metal').


Thoughts?
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Old 08-16-2016, 07:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Magic] Enchantment Through Balance

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Thoughts?
Easily abused. You start mass producing the good swords and storing the bad ones in the bottom of a mine shaft. It is a nasty surprise for dungeon delvers of a future generation to find an entire armory of cursed weapons.

Still, in the present day you'll be able to produce magic stuff as fast as you can work the ritual and just hide those cursed items.

Now, if producing the positive item caused a negative item to spontaneously enchant randomly at a significant distance it might be more sort of controllable. Unfortunately, when someone else discover the negative item he can just destroy it and destroy your positive item at the same time.

So you get random chaos for a whole but no real net effect in the long run.

So I can see free magic items on the one hand or pointless chaos on the other but nothing really in between.
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Old 08-16-2016, 10:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Magic] Enchantment Through Balance

I'd suggest the best mechanic is that negative magic must not only be created, but also used.

This explains why such items are always cursed in such a way as to make the curse as permanent and long lasting as possible.

I would not work exact opposites though... it limits your curses too much.
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:30 AM   #4
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I'd suggest the best mechanic is that negative magic must not only be created, but also used.

This explains why such items are always cursed in such a way as to make the curse as permanent and long lasting as possible.
The "stickiness" of cursed items might be balanced with a "slippery" nature for the uncursed items (they leave an owner after a dramatic use) unless extra energy is used to transfer the slipperiness to a third item. But the stickiness would ensure the cursed item's use.

The fiery and icy versions are both beneficial. Perhaps one covers the blade with fire, and the other steals heat from the wielder?
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Old 08-17-2016, 01:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Magic] Enchantment Through Balance

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Easily abused. You start mass producing the good swords and storing the bad ones in the bottom of a mine shaft. It is a nasty surprise for dungeon delvers of a future generation to find an entire armory of cursed weapons.

Still, in the present day you'll be able to produce magic stuff as fast as you can work the ritual and just hide those cursed items.

Now, if producing the positive item caused a negative item to spontaneously enchant randomly at a significant distance it might be more sort of controllable. Unfortunately, when someone else discover the negative item he can just destroy it and destroy your positive item at the same time.

So you get random chaos for a whole but no real net effect in the long run.

So I can see free magic items on the one hand or pointless chaos on the other but nothing really in between.
Now I'm thinking of Fall Out but for magic with burial sites of toxic magic rather than radioactives.
Who says you can just destroy magic any more than we can toxins?
Perhaps it can only be negated with its opposite useful magic. Nature preservers are out to bring all + items with their - counterparts for "real" balance and harmony.
Sword of Fire; sword of ice. If ever the sibling weapons meet, there would be a very nasty "dispersion" of energy as they negate each other violently.
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Old 08-17-2016, 01:16 PM   #6
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Now I'm thinking of Fall Out but for magic with burial sites of toxic magic rather than radioactives.
Who says you can just destroy magic any more than we can toxins?
Or perhaps dumping cursed items and letting them sit without being used is how dungeons are formed: demons are summoned, local wildlife swells, and mutates, and the dead walk again.

Which then makes me wonder how you fix such a site. can you? or are you stuck just sending fearless adventurers in again and again to kill the vile spawn?
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Old 08-17-2016, 01:57 PM   #7
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Or perhaps dumping cursed items and letting them sit without being used is how dungeons are formed: demons are summoned, local wildlife swells, and mutates, and the dead walk again.

Which then makes me wonder how you fix such a site. can you? or are you stuck just sending fearless adventurers in again and again to kill the vile spawn?
If all the magic items are cursed the "fearless adventurers" won't go. You're going to needed Devoted Crusaders who'll do unpleasant things without thought of personal reward.
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Old 08-17-2016, 02:08 PM   #8
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If all the magic items are cursed the "fearless adventurers" won't go. You're going to needed Devoted Crusaders who'll do unpleasant things without thought of personal reward.
Local authorities dole out the rewards. And the monsters may themselves have loot unrelated to the location. Heck, they may BE the loot. Essence of mana-fungus, haemolymph of crypt ooze, or good old generic demon blood, etc.
Only noobs steal the weapons and armors of tainted dungeons. I'm looking at you, Klepto McTheiferson.
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Old 08-17-2016, 02:57 PM   #9
ericthered
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Default Re: [Magic] Enchantment Through Balance

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
If all the magic items are cursed the "fearless adventurers" won't go. You're going to needed Devoted Crusaders who'll do unpleasant things without thought of personal reward.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Local authorities dole out the rewards. And the monsters may themselves have loot unrelated to the location. Heck, they may BE the loot. Essence of mana-fungus, haemolymph of crypt ooze, or good old generic demon blood, etc.
Only noobs steal the weapons and armors of tainted dungeons. I'm looking at you, Klepto McTheiferson.
Indeed. How is all of that treasure and positive items making it back to the dungeon? I suppose it could spontaneously generate with everything else .... but then we've gone a ways from our origin. Though spontaneously generating magic items as a feature of dungeons along with the monsters doesn't sound all that out of line with DF.

My mind actually went down a post-apocolyptic route where the great mages of old fought great wars and now we, the survivors, have to deal with the fallout. No, fallout refers to radiation. These are 6 legged lizards with no eyes billowing clouds of thick persistent toxic smoke, among other things.
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Old 08-17-2016, 03:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Magic] Enchantment Through Balance

I like this idea. Great genesis for a campaign...

Magic had worked like 'normal' with GURPS rules, then one sorcerer discovered a new process and starts cranking out magic items left and right making a fortune in the process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Easily abused. You start mass producing the good swords and storing the bad ones in the bottom of a mine shaft. It is a nasty surprise for dungeon delvers of a future generation to find an entire armory of cursed weapons.

Still, in the present day you'll be able to produce magic stuff as fast as you can work the ritual and just hide those cursed items.
Rivals get jealous, they spy, they scheme, they wind up killing the sorcerer and stealing his notes...

Enter the PCs, they discover the secret behind the process and a map to the old mines where the 'bad' items have been dumped and lying unguarded for years. Bad calls to Bad. 'Things' have moved in. The PC's have to deal with the whole mess. ... Oh, and there's all those rivals who are feverishly working to translate the stolen notes into a workable process so they can start the whole mess over again.
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