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Old 07-15-2022, 12:09 PM   #1
agentdenton
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Default You got magic in my scifi game!

You can call it the force, psionics, mutant abilities, 'grokking' or whatever you want, if it's in a scifi game it's magic by another name.

I saw a thread about it on another site. Some people wanted nary an iota of it in their SF games, others asked about systems that did it right.

In my opinion, if you're going to have magic by another name, MBAN, in a sf game it should not eclipse or overshadow the science fiction parts. It should be fairly limited, have some sort of rationale and not just overwhelm technology.

So yes, by my definition here star wars is horrible. At first the force was limited. Sure vader could force choke a skeptic at close range, but he still had to climb in a fighter and use laser cannons to kill fighter ships.

Later palpatine could overpower an ENTIRE ARMADA OF SHIPS with just his force power. (I don't wanna hear about the 'diadumb' thing)

That is a really bad way to put magic in a scifi game as it basically dominates the game utterly.

Traveller had psionics, but they were not game breaking and could be countered by technical means. Ok

My current game, BL23C 7E, has 'matrix powers ' that are built in to 3 of the 12 races, each race has a serious nerf to it and low level powers are quite weak. Yes a matrix user can level up up and away to more potent abilities in time, but the non users can buy better armor, Shields, weapons, equipment and increase their skills, so a matrix user can't dominate a player group.

In the game matrix use has a type of explanation, one of the oldest races in the universe evolved on a planet with extremely high radiation levels and developed the ability to feed on and manipulate radiation as a survival necessity. It's possible this race genetically engineered matrix powers in two other races for it's own purposes.

Maximum level matrix power can destroy planets or whole sectors of space, yes, and are beyond a PC to ever reach. They make great plot devices.

If you run a scifi game what do you think of MBAN? None at all, some limited stuff, equal to technology or full on unstoppable force?

Last edited by agentdenton; 07-15-2022 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 07-15-2022, 12:19 PM   #2
Shostak
 
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

Quote:
Originally Posted by agentdenton View Post
If you run a scifi game what do you think of MBAN? None at all, some limited stuff, equal to technology or full on unstoppable force?
It should have a scientific (even if rather hand-wavy) explanation. Think Lovecraft’s treatment of magic as simply super advanced understanding of geometry in Dreams in the Witch House.
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Old 07-15-2022, 12:28 PM   #3
agentdenton
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
It should have a scientific (even if rather hand-wavy) explanation. Think Lovecraft’s treatment of magic as simply super advanced understanding of geometry in Dreams in the Witch House.
Yeee-eeeessss, I have often considered a lot of HPL as sf, especially stories like mountains of madness. Good call.
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Old 07-15-2022, 12:38 PM   #4
KarlKost
 
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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Originally Posted by agentdenton View Post

So yes, by my definition here star wars is horrible. At first the force was limited. Sure vader could force choke a skeptic at close range, but he still had to climb in a fighter and use laser cannons to kill fighter ships.

Later palpatine could overpower an ENTIRE ARMADA OF SHIPS with just his force power. (I don't wanna hear about the 'diadumb' thing)

That is a really bad way to put magic in a scifi game as it basically dominates the game utterly.

Traveller had psionics, but they were not game breaking and could be countered by technical means. Ok
Star Wars is horrible by any account lol.

Another possibility too is to have technology as magic. Things like nanorrobots, mind controlling devices and supercomputers, althought I know that's not exactly what you were looking for.
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Old 07-15-2022, 12:50 PM   #5
agentdenton
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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Star Wars is horrible by any account lol.

Another possibility too is to have technology as magic. Things like nanorrobots, mind controlling devices and supercomputers, althought I know that's not exactly what you were looking for.

Yeah, it it's something you could buy or acquire in a world, maybe not magic. If it's more like ''you were born to be a wizard/Jedi/chosen one'' then it's likely MBAN.
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Old 07-15-2022, 12:53 PM   #6
WingedKagouti
 
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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So yes, by my definition here star wars is horrible.
Star Wars was always a Fantasy story with a thin layer of SciFi coating.
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Old 07-15-2022, 12:55 PM   #7
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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Originally Posted by KarlKost View Post

Another possibility too is to have technology as magic. Things like nanorrobots, mind controlling devices and supercomputers, althought I know that's not exactly what you were looking for.
Sorry, I already rate those things as magic pretending to be technology.
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Old 07-15-2022, 01:42 PM   #8
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Sorry, I already rate those things as magic pretending to be technology.
It's the "pretending to be technology" that makes it science fiction rather than fantasy. H.G. Wells was explicit about that in discussing his own stories.

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Old 07-15-2022, 01:51 PM   #9
Fred Brackin
 
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It's the "pretending to be technology" that makes it science fiction rather than fantasy. H.G. Wells was explicit about that in discussing his own stories.

Bill Stoddard
It's all fiction but what got me was using those items as _realistic_ technology pretending to be magic.
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Old 07-15-2022, 01:54 PM   #10
ericthered
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

I like both hard science fiction games and soft "scifi" games. To me its all about signaling. The problem comes when someone thinks we are doing one and it turns out we're doing the other.

My current discord group is playing some very soft science fiction, with psionics clearly front and center. Its a fun game. I don't know that I handled everything the way I should have, but we could not have played that game without psionics in a space setting.

Our next game is going to have a single piece of super-science, depicted as the inciting incident, and that's it. Its a much more down to earth game. I think we're going to have a lot of fun doing that too.

I think people mostly get into trouble when they're not clear about what "magic" is available and how much of it there will be. Or when they think that science fiction is mostly about predicting the future, when its mostly about entertainment, and perhaps exploring the implications of one or two possible future situations.
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