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Old 08-01-2021, 04:25 AM   #11
RedMattis
 
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

Mages and using magic in the setting is (technically) outlawed. Most of the powerful mages are ageless and either bored or entrepreneurial. Even before this mages were well known to create various chimeras or worse (undead f.ex.). One rather unimportant mage the players came across in a mage-refuge created human-spider chimera servants for himself to manage his magical spiders that produced silk which he sold for use in expensive magical clothing. The same guy was looking to create human-spider chimeras which could produce the same silk, but at least that mage was smart enough to kill or keep the "failed" babies instead of just letting them out in the wilds like some other mages.

My main empire might be a bunch of xenophobic religious fanatics, but their reasons for deciding to ban the mages guild and execute one of the guild leaders were fairly well justified. Didn't help things afterwards when said guild leader knew and spoke some kind of Word of Power that killed himself most of the royal family and about a thousand innocent people.

A Wizard Did It is pretty much the standard explanation for strange stuff. Gods and "Demons" are even worse though, and are often at fault for the real disasters.
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:55 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

I highly recommend this video on hard & soft worldbuilding.

For the most part, explanations are unnecessary. Creatures exist. If you're doing seriously hard worldbuilding, then anything from different evolution to extraplanar crossover to wild magic is valid. Hand-waving "gods" is totally fine.
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Old 08-01-2021, 11:29 AM   #13
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

"I'm not saying it's aliens.......but it's aliens."
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Old 08-01-2021, 04:34 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

Well let's face it, it would be frustrating to master the Hybrid Control spell and not have any hybrids to use them on.

Last edited by David Johnston2; 03-16-2022 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:53 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

As has been noted, you don't really need a back story for the various magical creatures. I'd note even if you decide on a detailed back story you don't really need to come up with game mechanics unless it's likely the PCs want to get in on the action. You just need a back story.

There's a number of fictional precedents which deal with the origin of magical species. There's the otherwise forgettable old rpg called Fifth Cycle that explained dungeons, magical races, monsters and artifacts as the consequence of a previous age of lost high magic. Kind of a Gamma World back story for old school D&D. There's also James Kahn's World Enough and Time which is an After the End setting where genetic engineering created elves, centaurs, monster etc just before the end. Original D&D has something of a post-apocalyptic vibe.

That in turn could lead to lost secrets of creating magical creatures as a treasure or alternately something that needs banishing. In general I think it would be more useful to look at the implications for the world than working out game mechanics.
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:28 PM   #16
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
Which is of course where everyone knows the "natural" animals come from too. What is this "evolution" of which you speak? Millions of years? Nonsense the world is only thousands of years old itself.

Another common one is that animals exposed to high levels of magic - either under enchantments or living or breeding in highly magical places - tend to be mutated by it.
I would note that fantasy evolution may well be Lamarckian.
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Old 08-02-2021, 06:55 AM   #17
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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Another common one is that animals exposed to high levels of magic - either under enchantments or living or breeding in highly magical places - tend to be mutated by it.
"Magic as a mutagen" is a concept I'm fond of, with it typically being something of a targeted mutagen (altering traits rather than causing cancer). The original setting for my Malofae (cat-folk, basically) had as their origin a large tribe of humans who knew shapeshifting magic, and used it to take on a form more fit to the jungles they lived in (basing it on a large predatory cat). Frequent use of this over several generations meant they gradually changed to simply be born in this form (and eventually the methods of shapeshifting magic were lost). Similarly, humans who stayed in areas that had an excess of a certain "flavor" of mana ended up transforming as well into the various other races of the setting. Mana consumption (it's not so much being around it as it is using/consuming it that has the mutagenic effect) was less pronounced amongst lesser animals, of course, so you didn't end up with them mutating nearly as much.
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Old 08-02-2021, 09:20 AM   #18
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

Being a descendent of divinity (or of any other highly magical or eldritch/outsider, or just "special" entities) has a long history as origin story: Echidna_(mythology), for example. Lilith is another. Any being of primordial chaos is another good bet.
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Old 08-04-2021, 09:56 AM   #19
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

If I have a setting where wizards (including PCs) building monsters is appropriate (and I do on occasion), I generally come up with a custom spell, or more likely pull out the invention rules and have magery as a prerequisite for the inventing. Making a new magical creature should be a development process.


I'm also likely to make places, times, and materials that help and assist with the process, so it integrates into the world and can be fought over.
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Old 08-04-2021, 05:12 PM   #20
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

Hybrid spells and magical mutation can also justify one offs that they've never seen or even heard of and will never see again. Which helps with balance and keeping things interesting.
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