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Corrupt regimes and lack of magical research and development!

Grytorm

Registered User
Validated User
I think with Ermor it was less somebody thought that enslaving the dead was a good idea and more that waiting for the second coming of the Prophet Shrouded in White was really a letdown, maybe we can speed up the process a little.
 

Mr Blobby

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- I am differentiating between between 'looking different' and 'being fundamentally different'; generally, many innovations were in training, not kit - the Roman Legions were so successful not because they were better-kitted [though it was pretty good], but they had scale, uniformity in kit and discipline.

- I would argue that gunpowder made national armies possible. They are easier to train than archers or mounted knights [years to train a longbowman, for example], and cheaper than the latter [all that plate armour]. Yet, the manufacture of muskets and powder was sufficiently complex it could only be done by larger powers - normally only the King.

- My mistake. I should have said said: 'we have to remove the idea that technology/science moves *significantly* forward within mortal lifetimes from our minds too.' The 'Alexandrian phalanx' was not 'new technology', simply the apex of the development of the phalanx over centuries - for them to gradually increase in armour, the spears to grow in length and for the troops to be professionals, not citizen-levies. Professionalism of warfare is *vital*; not only are they more physically capable, but are able to follow complex tactics - such as feigning retreats, combined arms attacks, ambushes etc.

- Unless our militaries are much more advanced that they let on, no you don't have experience of laser starships. Columbus would have seen galleys *in action* - though perhaps not in battle - and would understand the general manoeuvrability / top speed / range of oar-power. And his 'secondary sources' would have been historical commentaries from actual naval battles - not fiction [though naturally Columbus' sources wouldn't be 100% accurate]. Lastly, Columbus was a competent, fairly experienced sailor in his own right.

- We owe so much to military R&D. Not just the internet, but others too - I heard that the modern smartphone relies on ~20 bits of tech which were developed for the military. The USA has it's interstate network because of military concerns - Eisenhower [drawing off his WWII experience] believed the country needed a good alternative method of transporting troops etc than the railways.
 

Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
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I read that as "We owe so much to military D&D"...

We certainly do, we certainly do.
The Cold War was actually the biggest LARP in history as Russia, the US, etc., engaged in a massive homebrew campaign that inspired Paizo's "Kingmaker." Computers were made to handle dice rolling.
 

Jere

Allohistorical
Validated User
A decadent and corrupt magic system held in the grips of few. That sounds like a standard D&D campaign to me.

Magic is taught teacher to student
Guild's control everything
Magic is locked away by a few
Liches strive to steal all the secrets and use them for their own power
Dragons hoard mighty artifacts

etc.
 

atavist5

Registered User
Validated User
It's always seemed like D&D magic already had a weird monopoly. Most arcane magic, not all obviously, but most, is combat-oriented, either offensive or defensive, and it seems to be a prime purpose of a lot of utilitarian spells that it would assist in combat first, be able to do other things second. A lot of the secondary stuff is construction or destruction, or stuff you might have a private security company do.
 

Mr Blobby

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Validated User
In D&D's defence, it might be because they expect 99% of games to involve magic killing / blowing up / summoning / healing, not say making it rain during a drought for a farmer, producing everlasting fire for a blacksmith's forge, creating a magical quill which never needed ink or a nifty spell which instantly cleans & irons your clothes. It could be argued that such 'mundane, but useful' uses of magic do exist, but are simply not listed.
 
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Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
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In D&D's defence, it might be because they expect 99% of games to involve magic killing / blowing up / summoning / healing, not say making it rain during a drought for a farmer, producing everlasting fire for a blacksmith's forge, creating a magical quill which never needed ink or a nifty spell which instantly cleans & irons your clothes. It could be argued that such 'mundane, but useful' uses of magic do exist, but are simply not listed.
The current Iron Kingdoms RPG scaled magic back from the d20 days. When asked why there's not much mundane but useful items in the setting currently, Doug Seacat noted:
There are definitely purely magical items still being produced, there are just incentives not to do so in any bulk or regularity. The Fraternal Order of Wizardry in particular is a group that still has expertise in magical item creation (and certain feats geared toward reducing the penalties with such, with more likely if we ever get the chance to delve into them in greater detail). Similarly, religious organizations like the very large, pervasive and powerful Church of Morrow and the various Temples of Menoth would be creating regular magic items for notable members of their faithful.

The main thing is every such magic item was probably created for a specific reason, individual, and purpose. For example, say the military commissions the Fraternal Order to enchant a firearm as a special gift of recognition to an honored officer for particularly commendable and lengthy service. The cost to produce them is usually much higher than their actual value in terms of practical use (something which unfortunately is difficult to represent given the way item creation and market cost are so tightly related in the rules; this is one reason we added the risk of HP loss when making these items). In the case of a commission like I mentioned, the wizard enchanting such a firearm would probably demand a much higher price from the military for this commission than the item's materials and production cost would ordinarily warrant. So the production of such firearms would be considered extravagant and limited to special cases, rather than being widely distributed.

The nice thing is that most items will outlast their original purpose and owner and therefore can sometimes fall into other hands, which can serve as a special sort of treasure for adventurers to encounter. So long as any given item has an applicable background and these items remain relatively rare, there is really no contradiction in having the occasional true magic item. True enchantment still has certain benefits over mechanika to the user, just carrying an associated (and sometimes unacceptable) risk to the person (or persons) fabricating them.
Menoth had nothing to do with the Gift, and the emergence of arcane magic among humanity is considered one of the signs of the so-called "Betrayal of the Twins." The first slight leniency shown by Menites regarding arcane magic was the incorporation of steamjacks into the Protectorate military structure after the Civil War and later the establishment of the Vassals of Menoth, considered a pragmatic necessity to allow the Menites to fight on even footing with their enemies.

That Infernals were likely involved in "The Gift" has been a known supposition for some time, although the specifics have not been well known outside of the original Circle of the Oath and certain tight-lipped Thamarite organizations. But this is one reason for the attempt by certain later wizard orders to "redeem" their power through good works and dedication. This is one of the fundamental precepts of the Order of Illumination.

Consider the quote on p. 300 of the IKCG, by Severin Copernicum, Founder of the Order of Illumination: "Our powers were granted in the bleakest hour, by the darkest of powers. It falls to us to bring light from that darkness, and promote the spark of knowledge rather than the fires of damnation."
And this gets back to the origin/nature of magic mattering in the fiction. IKRPG's non-divine human magic isn't believed to be from an amoral source, which is different than D&D.
 
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LordofArcana

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Validated User
In D&D's defence, it might be because they expect 99% of games to involve magic killing / blowing up / summoning / healing, not say making it rain during a drought for a farmer, producing everlasting fire for a blacksmith's forge, creating a magical quill which never needed ink or a nifty spell which instantly cleans & irons your clothes. It could be argued that such 'mundane, but useful' uses of magic do exist, but are simply not listed.
A little token that could cast prestidigitation at will would do amazing things for people's quality of life. In a game that wasn't mechanically centered around violence it would probably be considered overpowered. Continual flame is also really neat from a infrastructural position as all of a sudden you don't need dozens of flames everywhere for people to do things at night.

But yes, magic that would be useful during normal life isn't well represented in D&D.
 

Ulzgoroth

Mad Scientist
Validated User
- I am differentiating between between 'looking different' and 'being fundamentally different'; generally, many innovations were in training, not kit - the Roman Legions were so successful not because they were better-kitted [though it was pretty good], but they had scale, uniformity in kit and discipline.
Social technology is also technology.

I don't think there's a well-defined difference between things that are 'fundamentally' different and things that aren't. None of the recurrent strategic features you mention went anywhere with the gunpowder you describe as a game-changer, for instance.
- I would argue that gunpowder made national armies possible. They are easier to train than archers or mounted knights [years to train a longbowman, for example], and cheaper than the latter [all that plate armour]. Yet, the manufacture of muskets and powder was sufficiently complex it could only be done by larger powers - normally only the King.
Gunpowder troops were a secondary element in the Spanish Tercios (or even tertiary in early days), which were very much formed a powerful national army. And of course the Roman Legions obviously weren't built on gunpowder.

Spears have provided an effective basis weapon for relatively low-training infantry throughout most human history. Crossbows probably could have filled that role for non-firearm ranged weapons, but I'm not sure to what extent that was significant. And, of course, national armies have certainly produced cavalry.

A lot of the Early Modern transformations were driven more by socio-political development than hardware.
 
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