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Old 11-05-2023, 10:44 PM   #11
Johnny1A.2
 
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Default Re: Tolkien magic and game applications

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I suppose the elven way is having a really good understanding of the way things are meant to be and so creating things that are close to perfect, and the Istari bend reality with permission under authority, whilst Morgoth's people actively hack reality.
At one point, Tolkien noted that Melkor/Morgoth had done something paralleling Sauron's creation of the One Ring, but on a vastly greater scale.

Melkor infused his native Potential, or Power, whatever we want to call it, into the very essence of the Universe. Only a few places specifically shielded by the other Valar was protected from this. As he did, the power and status of his 'core self' was decreased, because even Melkor's potency was ultimately finite.

This is how Melkor declined from being godlike (small g) in the early ages of the history of Ea, down to a super-powerful tyrant-spirit by the time of the Silmarillion. The Morgoth of the First Age could no longer reshape entire planetary surfaces by his own will by himself. But he gained a terrible level of control over the physical universe in so doing, and spread his taint into everything, more or less, even the material bodies of Elves and Men.

When he boasts to Hurin that he created the universe and because of that, everything in Ea bends slowly to his will...that's not entirely a lie. It's not all true either, of course. Melkor did not create Ea, and he isn't God. But, because he infused his native power into everything post-Creation, things do tend to bend his way to an extent, because he's tainted everything with his vast power. Sauron was able to make the One Ring in part because of the 'Melkor element' infused into everything.

Tolkien mentions that the element of gold is particularly heavy with Melkor's will, but silver not so much. Water is almost free of it (presumably because of Ulmo's counter-influence.) But the taint is pervasive.
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Old 11-05-2023, 10:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: Tolkien magic and game applications

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I would note Galadriel's comment to Frodo that the word "magic" seems to apply both to what the elves do and to "the deceits of the Enemy," which in her view are entirely different things. I tend to think of this as akin to the difference between magia and goetia, or "Truth" and "the Lie."
Well, partly it's that mortals such as Hobbits tend to use the word 'magic' to mean a bunch of different things, lumping them all together.

For ex, both Elves and Men are telepathic. That is, any of them can potentially learn to communicate mind to mind. Most Men don't live long enough to learn that on their own and few of them have teachers to make up for it, but the Numenoreans had it. Mortals call that magic, but it's an innate ability of sapient beings.

(Aragorn mentions in LOTR that 'senses there are other than sight and smell', that's part of that.)

Some of what mortals call magic is actually examples of what we would call technology. This is esp. true of the Dwarves and the Noldor. Items like the palantiri and the Silmarils fall into this category. So do the Rings of Power, though they probably overlap with 'true' magic.

Some Men think Hobbits are magical, because of their ability to move around so quietly and stealthily, but the Hobbits know it's not magic. It's that sort of thing.
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Old 11-06-2023, 03:25 AM   #13
namada
 
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Consider Tolkien's middle-earth. What forms of supernatural power are portrayed in his writing? What is going on? How does it work? What is the "true nature" of it?

Now that you have developed a comprehensive conceptual framework, how do you manifest all of that in an RPG that stays true to his writing?

If you would use an existing game system then, OK , how would you do it? If you are going to invent out of whole-cloth then what would it be?
If you're looking for the best adaptation of Tolkien's Middle-Earth into RPG form, look no further than The One Ring RPG. Then convert that to GURPS, because that particular system is so abstract as to be pointless IMO, whereas GURPS provides some level of realism that I can actually absorb & connect with.

But yeah, The One Ring is a really good translation of Middle-Earth, in terms of lore and playability. Though, I only have experience with the first edition, none with the second edition.
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Old 11-06-2023, 04:59 AM   #14
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Default Re: Tolkien magic and game applications

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Tolkien mentions that the element of gold is particularly heavy with Melkor's will, but silver not so much. Water is almost free of it (presumably because of Ulmo's counter-influence.) But the taint is pervasive.
Huh, I guess that's why Dragon Sickness / Gold Sickness (what Thorin temporarily suffered from after claiming Smaug' horde) was a thing, then. That's certainly an interesting bit of world-building - Tolkien rarely ceases to impress me.
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Old 11-06-2023, 09:14 PM   #15
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Default Re: Tolkien magic and game applications

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But yeah, The One Ring is a really good translation of Middle-Earth, in terms of lore and playability. Though, I only have experience with the first edition, none with the second edition.
Second ed's changes make it much more random, makes spending hope less powerful and more painful, nerfs the value of songs... the only point I can see where it's better is in the travel rules...
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Old 11-07-2023, 08:27 AM   #16
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Default Re: Tolkien magic and game applications

The first form of the first edition, the two softcover books in the slipcase, encouraged a lot of guided but essentially freeform game mechanics. Players had trouble with this, and the second form of the first edition, the hardcover book, made things more explicitly mechanical. My understanding of the second edition is that things have been made even more mechanical still, taking away more of the player and referee interpretation in favor of game-specified and more randomized results.

I happen to think the original slipcase edition was best as far as game mechanics go, though it is less convenient for finding rules.
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Old 11-07-2023, 02:03 PM   #17
Johnny1A.2
 
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Huh, I guess that's why Dragon Sickness / Gold Sickness (what Thorin temporarily suffered from after claiming Smaug' horde) was a thing, then.
In part, yes. The long presence of Smaug amplified the effect, too, and Dwarves are particularly vulnerable to it.


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That's certainly an interesting bit of world-building - Tolkien rarely ceases to impress me.
Heck, 'gold fever' is a real thing in real life, for that matter.
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Old 11-07-2023, 05:17 PM   #18
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I used the second edition of Big Eyes Small Mouth when I wanted to run a campaign set in Middle-Earth. It looks like I still have the protocols for that campaign, including the magic rules and racial templates. If you'd like a look, private message me with your e-mail and I'll send you a copy.

Basically I used Magic for what a few player characters could do, I limited Dynamic Sorcery to powerful beings such as Tom Bombadil, and I made up a new trait, Maker, for characters who could make works of craft with magical power but not cast spells. The animistic flavor of the Japanese supernatural material was a surprisingly good fit to Tolkien's world.

OK, I'll send a private message.
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Old 11-09-2023, 08:52 PM   #19
xerxes
 
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Default Re: Tolkien magic and game applications

Thanks for the various comments in the thread.

I had been thinking of using In Nomine as the rule set for a Tolkien-based game. The Songs might be more like the the "natural magic" mentioned by some folks in this thread. And, the sorcery rules would be more like...well...sorcery.

So, mundane humans are composed of 5 Forces, a Soldier is composed of 6 Forces and a Celestial of 9 Forces. What do you think about generating elves if I use In Nomine?
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Old 11-09-2023, 09:04 PM   #20
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What do you think about generating elves if I use In Nomine?
Elves are both ageless and deathless assuming new bodies in Valinor if they die in Middle Earth. Able to return to Middle Earth too apparently.

If that's not equal to a "full" Celestial it's closer to one of them than to a Human. 7 or 8 maybe?
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