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Old 07-22-2022, 09:16 PM   #21
whswhs
 
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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It's less "magic is everything supernatual" and more "supernatural things cannot be objectively categorized". Real thaumaturgical practices ("real" in the sense that people actually do them) are variously categorized as magical, miraculous, psychic, or some word in the native language of the practitioners with no direct English translation based on criteria that are no more empirically verifiable than whether the practices have any actual power, and observers of the practices may categorize them differently than the practitioners do. Fictional thaumaturgical practices are categorized however the author wants, and from a factual perspective, it's impossible to argue against those categorizations, not simply because Magic Don't Real, but because the real-life counterpart to magic has no widely agreed upon definition.
I'm not convinced that that's relevant. Fantasy is a literary genre that exists now; it sometimes has its own shelves in bookstores and libraries, and it's used to discuss books and movies and such. And one of its common features is magic, which is a concept that exists now and has a certain range of meanings now. The etymology of the words, or the historical development of the concepts, may be of some academic interest, but the meaning is defined by current usage.

It seems to me that a very common element in works that are classified as fantasy is what Terry Pratchett described as narrative causality. Fantasy builds up to a recognition, an anagnorisis, and what is revealed is that the world works through the actions of beings with agency, not merely at the human level, but in terms of how nature itself operates: there are volitional beings behind natural events. This contrasts with naturalistic fiction, where volition, if it exists at all, exists within human beings and in their actions in the social world.
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Old 07-22-2022, 10:05 PM   #22
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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It seems to me that a very common element in works that are classified as fantasy is what Terry Pratchett described as narrative causality. Fantasy builds up to a recognition, an anagnorisis, and what is revealed is that the world works through the actions of beings with agency, not merely at the human level, but in terms of how nature itself operates: there are volitional beings behind natural events.
While I agree that this is common to fantasy, fantasy and magic aren't the same thing.
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Old 07-25-2022, 05:50 AM   #23
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

Have we also seen the Conspiracy X take on magic/psi? Basically that magic/psi is caused by a fairly normal emanation generated by sapient beings that humans only have very limited control of ... Psionics are a more "scientific" way of controlling it, but old fashioned magical rituals, if they work at all, drive things on a semi-conscious level. Quite a lot of supernatural phenomena turn out to be undirected energy flaring off.

IIRC part of the reason the Greys have come over to bother us is that they are very much in tune with their own "psychic" powers and the "noise" generated by billions of us not being is annoying them.
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Old 07-25-2022, 09:15 AM   #24
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While I agree that this is common to fantasy, fantasy and magic aren't the same thing.
There are very few works of genre fantasy that don't have magic of some sort. There seems to be a close overlap between the two.

Magic seems to have two common variants (see chapter 2 of GURPS Fantasy). In one variant, magic involves calling on various sorts of beings that can exercise agency over nature directly, making narrative causality basic to the way the world works. In the other, magic involves procedures by which a human being can gain the capacity for narrative or agent causality over the world, bypassing the usual requirement to rely on mechanical or physical causality. Both of these seem to be tied to forms of narrative causality.
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Old 07-25-2022, 11:01 PM   #25
David Johnston2
 
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I name it "superpowers" and call it a day.
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Old 07-30-2022, 12:35 AM   #26
David Johnston2
 
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Magic is an extremely vague term that is less about defining a thing than defining someone’s attitude toward the thing. Call something “magic” and you are saying one of these things:

There is something about this I could never understand
There is something about this I don’t want to want to understand because that would make it less special.
While I understand this thing just fine, I don’t want other people to understand it.
There is something that we once thought we’d never understand and called magic then, and are still calling “magic” out of force of habit.
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Old 07-30-2022, 03:01 AM   #27
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Oftentimes the explanations of a particular thaumaturgical practice, and the terms and categories used to characterize it, are contentious even within their native cultural context. Is she a vile witch, or just a harmless cunning-woman? This even applies to the miracles of Jesus, with the 2nd-century philosopher Celsus polemically accusing Jesus of having practiced mageia—an obvious cognate of magic, but one that has exotic, sinister connotations analogous to the lowercase-v version of the term voodoo.
On the flipside of that, even by his definition of the intervention of outside powers, Abrahamic faiths absolutely do not forbid the practice of magic - what else is a prayer after all? Or the intervention of saints.

It's definitely not a well defined term in modern English, and I'm not convinced the root word specifies all that closely either. It's originally a title of a class of Zoroastrian priests, so it [probably] involved appeals to the devas, but maybe not always, and by the time it's borrowed into koine Greek it [definitely] includes stuff that's not clearly spiritual, or from our point of view even supernatural - things like astronomical predictions and herbal "alchemy".
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Old 07-30-2022, 03:41 PM   #28
Chris Goodwin
 
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I'd like to see magic in a "big grey spaceships" type SF game. By which I mean, the magicians are people who call what they're doing magic, and they call themselves wizards or sorcerers or another word meaning "spellcaster", and they fly around in spaceships that look like they would come from science fiction media, in somewhat realistic space where stars are compressed balls of fusing hydrogen, space is largely vacuum, and so on.

I mean, psionics in space are okay... wooden ships flying through "ether" or "phlogiston" or "crystal spheres" are Right Out. And if I wanted the Force I'd play Star Wars.

I'm okay with magic being scientifically studied and well understood, but... hokey religions, ancient weapons, etc.
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Old 07-30-2022, 06:41 PM   #29
malloyd
 
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I mean, psionics in space are okay... wooden ships flying through "ether" or "phlogiston" or "crystal spheres" are Right Out.
IMO those aren't even really scifi games. Being in "space", and not even real space, is not enough to qualify. Though I have said before than quite a lot of scifi games and franchises would work just as well if not better as "Islands in the Infinite Sea" as "Planets in Space"

Personally I'd rather not have anything supernatural, but the only SF settings I've run in decades all have a bit of psi or chi or similar powers, because my players really like them. They want to play guys with cool powers.
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Old 07-31-2022, 10:17 AM   #30
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Default Re: You got magic in my scifi game!

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I'd like to see magic in a "big grey spaceships" type SF game.
You might be interested in Glynn Stewart's Starship's Mage series, in which the starships work largely off magic, but mages are rare and most people wishing to apply force use assault rifles and helicopter gunships.
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