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Old 03-21-2006, 11:17 AM   #71
Mercator
 
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

First things first: My copy of Powers arrived today!!! At last I'm going to see with my own eyes those new great power modifiers all the cool kids are talking about ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by joncarryer
Actually, probably not a pun. That is very likely the origin of the name of the phobia.
I just looked it up. The Wikipedia has something to say. Johncarryer, it seems you were right about the ethimology.

About allowing non-divine magic and meeting places for PCs: very interesting posts, all of them. I'll take time to comment on them tomorrow; today's been quite a day for me, and I need to rest a bit right now.

Bye,

M.
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Old 03-21-2006, 02:58 PM   #72
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Quote:
Originally Posted by joncarryer
Actually, probably not a pun. That is very likely the origin of the name of the phobia.
In greek it's a statement of fact. In english it's a pun.
I believe that there are many instances of these "full circle" puns.
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Old 03-22-2006, 11:00 AM   #73
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After a brief absence, here I am again. I'll try to summarise my impression on the last issues. Hopefully, I'll be a bit more concise than in my previous posts:

Natural and divine magic: Pesterfield and Joncarryer argue for the existence (or at least adequacy) of natural, mana-based magic in a world with active Gods. Both have good points. Greeks were inventing scientific thought at that time; as I understand W. Guthrie's theory, they were transcending magical or mythic explanations of the world (what he calls the Mythos) and creating a new, rational, God-free way of thinking (the Logos).

But the Return of the Gods must have put an end to that. I mean, if you see the legends come true before your very eyes, how can you deny their reality? The Spartan warriors that survives the Thermopylae (and everybody within several miles of them) must have brought back the tale of Zeus himself coming down to help them fight the Persians; the forests are growing back much faster than they should; the list is endless.

If anything, the effect on Greek intellectual life must have been devastating: The Mythos has come back; the Logos is no more. How can you hope to develop a scientific theory of the world if Zeus will smite thee down if it goes too far and denies the Gods? The whole philosophical paradigm must have been turned upside down. I think that, as a consequence, the leading philosophers will convert into theologues and of the philosophical schools (such as the Sophists, the Pythagoreans...) will become Mystery Cults, perhaps hiding their rational teachings under layers of religion and worship in order to fool the Gods (??) and the rest of society in order to survive.

In Joncarryer's setting, the Gods have been there all the time; the leading minds of the land (like broad-shouldered Aristocles ;-) ) have had centuries of time to reconcile faith in the Gods with systematic magical research and produce a theory of magic. In my setting, the Gods have popped up in a sudden, violent way, and imposed a new order (or rather the older one revived). If anything, only a few privileged minds must be able to take a deep breath and explore the reborn Mythos with a critical, inquiring eye. Even then, I think mana-based magic will be a spin-off of theology and priest work, not because of the origin of the power, but because the researchers will already be priests.

Getting the PCs Together: Very good ideas here. It seems that city Agoras and Mystery cults are two of the ways to go. The idea about the Olympics is excellent, and could be the basis of a mystery scenario, like solving the murder of a prominent citizen, favorite athlete, etc.

My God, it seems I can not be concise however hard I try! I'll have to drastically improve my English and writing skills if I don't want my readers to fall asleep. I want to ask you all: am I being boring or confusing? If so, I'll try harder to improve my posts. Can't promise you I'll succeed, though...

Bye,

M.
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Last edited by Mercator; 03-24-2006 at 04:10 AM. Reason: Remove any and all improper 'h's to avoid Joncarryer's Ro-Sham-Bo ;-)
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Old 03-22-2006, 01:04 PM   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
In Johncarryer's setting, the Gods have been there all the time; the leading minds of the land (like broad-shouldered Aristocles ;-) ) have had centuries of time to reconcile faith in the Gods with systematic magical research and produce a theory of magic. In my setting, the Gods have popped up in a sudden, violent way, and imposed a new order (or rather the older one revived). If anything, only a few privileged minds must be able to take a deep breath and explore the reborn Mythos with a critical, inquiring eye. Even then, I think mana-based magic will be a spin-off of theology and priest work, not because of the origin of the power, but because the researchers will already be priests.
Granted, expecially if there was no working magic at all before the gods popped up. I was really more playing devil's advocate than anything else. And to continue in that vein, if mana-levels increase in your world as a result of the gods' return, but not as a force that's directly controlled or granted by them, then as you say, the initial uses of magic are likely to be in the hands of the priests. Perhaps as well as the advantage-based magical gifts the gods can bestow upon their offspring or chosen favourites, one or more of them might consciously teach, or inadvertently let slip, some of the secrets of how to bend mana to one's will in the form of spells. For the first few decades, mortals might automatically connect magic use of this type with divine favour, especially as the priests aren't likely to want to divulge the news that anyone with a natural talent can do it, even if they figure this out themselves. But later in your history, you might want to have the occasional mortal with an enquiring mind manage to figure it out and learn a bit of independent magic. I keep harping on this because I just think that the inherent dramatic potential of something like this is enormous; will the gods consider any use at all of independent magic to be hubris? If not, then how much magic is too much? Would a natural talent for magery be considered a blessing or a curse?

On a slightly different tangent, Greek myth has generally tended to have the gods take interest in mortal doings only sporadically and subject to the whim of the moment. With the gods indisputably in da house (or on da mountain), and actually around and about, how much interest are they going to be taking, and how much attention and effort is this going to require of them? Does every prayer to a god require personal and focused attention to show any results, or do the gods have the equivalent of answering machines for relatively minor requests and only have to pay personal attention to requests for earth-shattering intervention? If the latter, will it be obvious to the priests manning the the temples, and might there not be a number of priests here and there willing to risk divine wrath to see just how far they can go with passing their own agendas off as the will of the gods? If one of the gods just happens to drop into one of their temples for a flying visit, an notices that the priests there are aggrandising themselves by putting words into the god's mouth, are they going to be amused by this, or is it "goodbye acropolis"?

Just a few questions you might want to think about.

And no, your writing style doesn't bore me, but then I tend to run on at the keyboard a little myself, so go figure.

One last note. I tend to understand and forgive people who insert an extra "h" into my name when they've only heard it spoken because, after all, it's silent in that position and John is a very common spelling. But when the correct spelling is sitting right there in front of you, I have to wonder. Don't make me Ro-sham-bo you; the name's Jon, J-O-N (well, actually, Jonathan, but still J-O-N) :-) <- note the smiley, and don't get too worked up over this.
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Old 03-23-2006, 07:00 AM   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joncarryer
[...]Perhaps as well as the advantage-based magical gifts the gods can bestow upon their offspring or chosen favourites, one or more of them might consciously teach, or inadvertently let slip, some of the secrets of how to bend mana to one's will in the form of spells.[...] I keep harping on this because I just think that the inherent dramatic potential of something like this is enormous; will the gods consider any use at all of independent magic to be hubris? If not, then how much magic is too much? Would a natural talent for magery be considered a blessing or a curse?
Good points all. One of my original ideas for a source of Patrons was to have a few real-life exceptional minds become religious leaders of local city cults (like Plato leading all the Athenian "clergy") or of Mystery Cults of some sort (Pythagoras and his now-really-underground-and-supersecret School would be a good example). They could be working out on various magical theories without knowing of each other's work (...or not?); perhaps just now, after 50 years of magical activity, they are beginning to succeed. This way, in the beginning I could keep mana-based magic as a plot device, a background element to base stories and Patrons around, not a resource for PCs. Later on, I can introduce breakthroughs in magical research at convenient moments to make it available in the form of spells or systematic techniques of some kind. It follows that, for the moment, talent for magery is not relevant since the body of knowledge to use it does not exist yet. But I will certainly advance the world time line...

The theological status of all this is going to be hard to decide... I think it should be an act of hubris to use spells indiscriminately in the traditional fantasy-RPG way, summoning critters and throwing curses around (we *don't* have fireballs here!) once and again. A mage should be genuinely pious to be allowed to use mana-based magic. I'd expect Magery to come with some kind of Pact (not to use it in the city patronised by God X, not use it if the omens are not good, use it only when at sea) or Duty (quests, week-long "spiritual retirements" form the world); it should be something that shows the Gods the character is worth it. If not... well, Divine Curses begin to pile up, nasty critters always attack you first (reminds me of Frodo wearing the One Ring), bad Luck ruins your efforts at everything... we all know how bad the Gods took hubris, don't we ;-) ?

As an aside, The areas I can think of for mana-based magic consistent with this setting are:
  1. Divination (of course!)
  2. Summoning (and banishing!) creatures of all sorts; related to this, spirit magic, perhaps as part of the normal cult to the familiy ancestors.
  3. Blessings and curses; perhaps better if they just come from the Gods; good creepy curses to use for for (and against!) the PCs could be in the line of slowly Leeching attributes, skills (amnesia!)...
  4. Omen reading. This is an exception to all previous restrictions on magic. Everybody should be able to read natural signs for omens of the future; I'd make it part of a learnable Skill (Theology (Greek)?) instead of a power.
  5. Shapeshifting of some kind. IIRC, only the Gods used to shapeshift in the myths, but it fits the literature that they grant a favourite with the power occasionally to escape some creature or prison. Related to this, invisibility.

Quote:
If one of the gods just happens to drop into one of their temples for a flying visit, an notices that the priests there are aggrandising themselves by putting words into the god's mouth, are they going to be amused by this, or is it "goodbye acropolis"
I want this setting to be low-fantasy/horror. This means that the Gods will affect the world only indirectly and subtly. Apollo will not come to Athens every second Monday and stomp the Acropolis if the priests are getting cocky; it wouldn't be very terrifying the 5th time that happens (not for the players; the poor Athenians would be scared to death every time). I rather expect that, if a priest *repeatedly* neglects his sacrifices and prayer, or publicly claims to speak the Gods' will when it's not true, or somehow undermines people's faith, he will meet a nasty end that will set an example for the rest. Plot Idea: If somebody like Plato can talk, say Hephaestus or Athena into revealing some mana-related magics, perhaps he is able to hide his own misdemeanors from them?

Quote:
Don't make me Ro-sham-bo you; the name's Jon, J-O-N (well, actually, Jonathan, but still J-O-N) :-) <- note the smiley, and don't get too worked up over this.
[Looks at the avatar name several times to make sure] Ouch. I'm sorry; for some reason I always read an "h" there. I guess this shows the virtues of copy-pasting and/or careful reading ;-) JONcarryer, then; I'll keep it in mind!

Asking as a non-native English speaker, though: what is Ro-sham-bo? It sounds like some horrible Chinese curse, or something like that. What is gonna happen to me? ;-)

M.
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Old 03-23-2006, 09:41 AM   #76
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IIRC, only the Gods used to shapeshift in the myths
Circe had Shapeshift Other(pig). I think she was just a sorceress, not a diety.
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Old 03-23-2006, 11:08 AM   #77
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Circe was the daughter of Helios, a Titan and god of the sun (well, one of the gods of the sun...)

Oh, and Hjhohnhahthhahn, I'll remember what hyou hsaid... :)
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Old 03-23-2006, 11:42 AM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
Asking as a non-native English speaker, though: what is Ro-sham-bo? It sounds like some horrible Chinese curse, or something like that. What is gonna happen to me? ;-)
I don't actually know for certain what it derives from, but there are many who claim that it is Chinese for rock-paper-scissors, and is often used as a timing chant when playing this game.

However, the usage that I was referring to, the provenance of which I'm also completely clueless, was referring to a different game used to settle disputes or make decisions, in which two men take turns kicking each other in the nuts until the issue is resolved. I think I first heard it used in this context on South Park, so they may well have made it up out of whole cloth.

Jonatan (Wait, who stole my 'h'?)
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Old 03-23-2006, 03:26 PM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joncarryer
However, the usage that I was referring to, the provenance of which I'm also completely clueless, was referring to a different game used to settle disputes or make decisions, in which two men take turns kicking each other in the nuts until the issue is resolved.
Hmm. If that is a widespread practice up there in Toronto, you people must have quite a social life. Male puberty is surely quite short and cruel. ;-)

On the other hand, I guess the system settles disputes quite conclusively; much more efficient than the standard Internet flamewar. Let me find my combat boots...

Quote:
I think I first heard it used in this context on South Park, so they may well have made it up out of whole cloth.
I wouldn't put it past them. I must have missed that episode.

To put this somewhat on-topic: This sounds to me like the kind of thing Greek heroes would do to settle disagreements. A bit of mutual breaking of bones and smashing of family jewels, and the winner is who's right. Good clean fun...
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Old 03-23-2006, 03:45 PM   #80
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Lol. Except you'd have to call it roshamboikos, or something.
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