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Old 07-30-2021, 07:46 PM   #1
Prince Charon
 
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Default [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

Where does all the bizarre magical life (and unlife, and never-living) in a setting come from? Perhaps some evolved naturally, but that isn't necessarily true for all of them. Some might be the result of critical failures (e.g. a demon appears and attacks the caster, and is either driven off, escapes, or wins, and sticks around this world, or marks it as a place to return to) or critical successes (e.g. an often-repeated spell to give a horse wings becomes permanent and inheritable). Others might have been intentional creations: some spirits or fey might be the result of a caster making an illusion or Phantom (probably with Independence and Initiative, if we're talking about the standard system) permanent, and material beings could result from a permanent Shapeshifting or Creation effect (though if elves or dwarves are the result of permanent 'Create Servant' variants cast by humans, they probably aren't going to admit it). Some might have been created by Secret Spells (or other magics) that have since been lost, or are known but still secret; 'Create Vampire' is certainly possible in the standard system, as long as the GM agrees on the description and prerequisite path.

One example that occurred to me is that the Create (<element>) Elemental spells might have an alternative prerequisite path, something like 'Magery 2, nine spells of that element, and Create Servant.' The Summon (<element>) Elemental and Control (<element>) Elemental spells could have been invented later, and the new prerequisite path discovered after, or the Create spells modified for it.

Another option, which fits a wide range of magic systems, is to have creatures (or plants, et cetra) reproduce while transformed. For example, two lions are transformed into gryphons and then mate. The female is kept in the transformed state until she lays her eggs. Thus (unless the specific magic system precludes that), the eggs remain gryphon eggs, and hatch baby gryphons, even after the mother reverts to a lioness. Repeat with separate lion pairs until you have a viable breeding population.

Spun off from Development of Spell-based Magic through TL0, as while both assume that many or most magical species originate in the Stone Age, this thread is not limited to the standard (spell-based) system.


Thoughts?
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Old 07-30-2021, 08:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

GURPS Bio-Tech had two different elements I think could go a long way to justifying Fantasy Wizards toying with the creation of new life. One is the alternate timeline of Alexander Athanatos, where Hippocrates, rather than instituting the concept of patient confidentiality and the Hippocratic Oath, took a less ethical approach to the study of medicine and pushing the boundaries of medical knowledge, leading to his students eventually discovering the existence of chromosomes and DNA.

The second thing are the Magical Biotech spells from GURPS Bio-Tech, which includes spells like Create Chimera and Manipulate DNA to create hybridized creatures and allowing them to breed true.
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Old 07-30-2021, 08:26 PM   #3
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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Originally Posted by LoneWolf23k View Post
GURPS Bio-Tech had two different elements I think could go a long way to justifying Fantasy Wizards toying with the creation of new life. One is the alternate timeline of Alexander Athanatos,

The second thing are the Magical Biotech spells from GURPS Bio-Tech, .
A third way is from Gurps Magic p.217. That's the Alchemical potion of Hybridization. It'll not only make the many things affected by the control hybid Spell but also the many varieties of humanoid Half-Whatevers even if no natural cross-breeding would be possible.

Even cat-girls. :)
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Old 07-30-2021, 10:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

I generally have the gods make them. In my Chalice World setting the chimera races were all created by a trickster god called Chimera who though mixed races was a nice practical joke.
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Old 07-31-2021, 05:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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I generally have the gods make them.
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.
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Old 07-31-2021, 07:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

My preferred explanation is "whatever created the 'non-magical' ones": I find the assumption that anything not found in reality needs a special explanation to be annoying. It's fine if that's what people want, but having any kind of separation between "magic" and real world science tends to dull the fantasy for me.
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Old 07-31-2021, 08:35 AM   #7
Emerikol
 
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
My preferred explanation is "whatever created the 'non-magical' ones": I find the assumption that anything not found in reality needs a special explanation to be annoying. It's fine if that's what people want, but having any kind of separation between "magic" and real world science tends to dull the fantasy for me.
I generally agree on this but I don't have an issue with a few monsters created by unnatural means. I just think the vast majority came about naturally.
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Old 07-31-2021, 03:43 PM   #8
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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I generally agree on this but I don't have an issue with a few monsters created by unnatural means. I just think the vast majority came about naturally.
Bringing crazy wizards into a setting solely for the purpose of creating magical beasties is probably a mistake.

On the wand-hand, if you're going to have crazy wizards anyway forbidding them from creating magical beasties (and especially pointlessly weird things like owlbears) is probably a different mistake.
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Old 07-31-2021, 06:50 PM   #9
Prince Charon
 
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Bringing crazy wizards into a setting solely for the purpose of creating magical beasties is probably a mistake.

On the wand-hand, if you're going to have crazy wizards anyway forbidding them from creating magical beasties (and especially pointlessly weird things like owlbears) is probably a different mistake.
For purposes of this thread, the crazy wizards are going to be around anyway, because these are magical settings (and there might be some systems where With Great Insanity Comes Great Power, or vice versa), so monsters and other things are some of the likely results.
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Old 08-01-2021, 02:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Fantasy] On the Origin of Magical Species: A Wizard Did It

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Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
For purposes of this thread, the crazy wizards are going to be around anyway, because these are magical settings (and there might be some systems where With Great Insanity Comes Great Power, or vice versa), so monsters and other things are some of the likely results.
I have GMed a couple of AD&D PC wizards who thought "Making weird magical creatures? That sounds like fun!" and set off to develop spells for the job. The rust-sparrows are probably the most useful product, provided you make sure they are always under control.
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