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Author Topic: [Bronze] magic and 'magic items'  (Read 20202 times)
stefoid
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« Reply #90 on: February 15, 2006, 06:36:19 PM »

if sometimes the same task is important and sometimes it needs to be skipped...  do I as a designer really want to tell the players which tasks are important and which ones arent? 

No, you want to create rules where the players tell you.

That's what we've been talking about.  Have we still not managed to communicate that in a way that you can turn over in your mind, and make use of?

well, Ive been concentrating on a system that players use to resolve tasks.  Ive given no thought to whether those tasks might be steps in a process towards resolving a conflict or not.  It didnt even occur to me to think about that.  Then people have been saying, "no, that is too fine a granularity for the resolution system, nobody wants that"   which confused the hell out of me. 

now that youve backed off a bit and said well "yeah, you can actually choose where you want your granularity to be, but make sure you think about it first"  you are making 100% sense. 
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stefoid
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« Reply #91 on: February 15, 2006, 06:44:27 PM »

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if sometimes the same task is important and sometimes it needs to be skipped...  do I as a designer really want to tell the players which tasks are important and which ones arent? 

No, the players want to say that, and you want to write rules that give them the ability.

ok, now we are on the same page.


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Get yerself a copy of Dogs in the Vineyard. Vincent's not saying so because he's polite, but it answers these questions.

Im hoping the PDF arrives RSN.  Have to wait for more paypal money to come through before I buy Prime Time Adventures.

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stefoid
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« Reply #92 on: February 15, 2006, 06:58:45 PM »

if sometimes the same task is important and sometimes it needs to be skipped...  do I as a designer really want to tell the players which tasks are important and which ones arent? 

No, you want to create rules where the players tell you.

That's what we've been talking about.  Have we still not managed to communicate that in a way that you can turn over in your mind, and make use of?

well, Ive been concentrating on a system that players use to resolve tasks.  Ive given no thought to whether those tasks might be steps in a process towards resolving a conflict or not.  It didnt even occur to me to think about that.  Then people have been saying, "no, that is too fine a granularity for the resolution system, nobody wants that"   which confused the hell out of me. 

now that youve backed off a bit and said well "yeah, you can actually choose where you want your granularity to be, but make sure you think about it first"  you are making 100% sense. 

let me reword that slightly.  "yeah, you can actually let the players decide where the granularity should be".   

so if my task resolution system isnt flexible, then the players must execute each step in a process, or elect to skip the whole process - no middle ground.
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StefanDirkLahr
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« Reply #93 on: February 15, 2006, 07:17:37 PM »

I hope no one minds me jumping in here, but i think i can say something clearly. (for once)

The big lesson for me is this: You do not *want* a task resolution system - and this is why: resolving a task only tells you whether you have done something or not, but resolving a conflict will tell you whether you have got what you want, or not.

Does that make sense? (and am i using the terms a'right?)
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Stefan Dirk Lahr, dreaming the impossible dream
Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #94 on: February 15, 2006, 07:39:15 PM »

I hope no one minds me jumping in here, but i think i can say something clearly. (for once)

The big lesson for me is this: You do not *want* a task resolution system - and this is why: resolving a task only tells you whether you have done something or not, but resolving a conflict will tell you whether you have got what you want, or not.

Does that make sense? (and am i using the terms a'right?)

Totally, 100 percentedly.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
dindenver
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Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #95 on: February 15, 2006, 08:02:11 PM »

Hi!
  As far as Task vs Conflict Rez, this is what I see:
Task
 - Stakes are unknown/inconsistant Extremely difficult rolls may have little/no reward, easy rolls might have large rewards, etc.
 - Shallower learning curve (Typically models reality to a point and many players are familiar with this mechanic)
 - Risk<>Reward. Many times there will be risk with no reward and reward with no risk.
 - Granularity issues. Too many Steps between start and end can cause zaney results and discourage some players. Too few steps may abstract results, create almost arbitrary results and discourage other players
 - Ambiguity. What a player can and can't do can be hard to define. GMs may be flustered judging situations that they are not familiar with

Conflict:
Stakes are known. Players usually set stakes before rolling in most CR systems
Learning curve. Pre-roll narration, stakes setting, resolution and narration are all things most players need to learn to take advantage of what CR has to offer
Design challenge. The game has to define and use attributes effectively to allow this system to shine
Possible "broken" mechanic. some systems get stuck doing "follow-up" conflicts. These sort of break the concept of setting stakes and resolving the conflict in one interaction.
Randomness. You really have to design around the "one good roll or one bad roll will decide it all" potential weakness

  In the end, I don't think one is better than the other, you just have to pick the right tool for what your game is about...
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
stefoid
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« Reply #96 on: February 16, 2006, 03:15:05 PM »

Steve,

Just a quick note that I do have a reply for you that I'm sitting on vis-a-vis the cultural history of sorcerers/priests, a short reading list, etc. I'm sitting on it, however, because I think this conversation with Vincent should take precedence to that discussion. When it's done, I can either post here or fire it off in private e-mail. I just did not want you to wonder why I have not yet replied.

hey.  Actually you set me on a path that has colided nicely with some of the other ideas in this thread.

From the limited reading Ive done specifically on the subject, it seems that the concepts of sorceror and witch (male and femal equivilants) did exist, and that I was correct in the assumption that these guys were seen as being badies who practiced magic for their own beenfit, rather than the benefit of the community like a 'proper' preist.

I also came accross the concept of gods who were specifically associated with magic, and their attendant spirits.  So now sorcery is starting to look less like the odd one out (gandalf and harry potter) and more like something that can be integrated with theurgy and shamanism, being pretty much the same thing (or a miture), just with a different emphasis, which is great.  Because then all magic can be about relationships/connections to supernatural entities, which can itself be based on generic relationship/connection rules structure that applies to mundane relationships as well.

And the really cool thing about the gods that were associated with magic is that I already wanted to present in the setting as a general concept: the movement away from a set of old matriarchal pantheon of gods to a new more militant patriarchal pantheon of gods - this is a general theme in ancient history, new patriarchal gods brought in by militant invaders to settled agricultural comunities.  That and the fact that sorcerors are now despised and persecuted fits very well - they used to worship the magic gods that existed in the old pantheon, but those gods are not popular or well represented anymore, and thats one of the reasons.  it all fits.

I think you should post to this thread because you never know what ideas are going to come out of discussions even if they do drift off topic.

thanks in advance, and thanks to everyone else for their contributions as well.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #97 on: February 16, 2006, 05:10:58 PM »

Im aware that the ancients had the concept of a sorceror as a practioner of magic, but thats as far as my studies have yet taken me.

Here's a point I want to hit a couple of times in this post, to clarify what I'm saying above: regardless of the practitioner's usage, magic functions the same way. This may be easier to understand if you remember that it is priests who developed, studied, and advanced magic, not as a seperate skill, but as a part of their priestly duties. All historical magic is of the type a gamer would call theistic or divine magic because priests invented it and it is all based on interaction with the divine/supernatural world.

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This is suprising to me.  You say preists and sorcerors were one and the same.  I have to admit that for some reason I asociated the term sorceror with practioners of magic who did so to benefit themselves (so usually what you might term 'bad magic' whereas a preist is someone who works 'good magic' on behalf of the community.  Is that a fair historical statement or did I just make that up?

I have run across the term "sorcerer" referenced in only a few sources as a practitioner of magic apart from priests. It seems to mainly appears in certain tales and stories as a sort of monster, rather than as an actual cultural occupation or a particular person. I am as yet uncertain whether or not this is modern reinterpretation of the source materials (because in most cases I have not seen the original stories that the author derived their opinion from).

Given some thought on the subject, I would argue that "sorcerer" is often the term given to the priests of foreign gods. Take note of the Finnish peoples and the Lapps in this instance: the whole people, every Finn, is referred to as a "sorcerer" -- a worker of magic -- by those outside the group, and numerous stories and superstitions abound about not messing with a Finn because it will bring you ill-luck, and sailors buying wind for their sails from Finns.

(There are, in fact, numerous sayings about Finns and magic: "Trying to hex a Finn is like trying to drown a fish." and something along the lines of "Finns are wizards, they have darkness in their blood." and so forth.)

However, if you would have asked a Finn or a Lapp, their magic is based on the worship and veneration of their deities and its use is nothing more or less than the use of the sacred/divine knowledge given to them by the gods and spirits. In fact, Finnish magic is shamanic in nature.

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I also assumed that sorcerers were not associated withdivine worship as such, or if they were it wasnt the source of their sorcerous powers.

This is a bad assumption for the reasons noted above (since magic was a development of religion, existing as a religious practice, and even in its most base forms, its practice is the practice of appeals to supernatural forces, characterized by gods and spirits, in order to accomplish material events).

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this challenges the assumption that sorcerors work magic on their own behalf.  What was the notion of demons in relation to gods and spirits?  were they clearly differentiated enities in the minds of the ancients?  did demons have any magical power?

Not necessarily.

Some bronze age cultures had no real concept of "demons"...not "demons" that granted magical powers, at any rate; the conflation of magical power and evil demons is very much a Judeo-Christian concept, which would thus obviously not exist during the time period being discussed.

However, the point I definitely want to make clear is that, depending on the culture we are talking about, and the period of its development, gods and demons had very little difference between them. They were, more or less, one and the same. Particularly in discussing the religious history of the ancient Middle East, as I understand it, some demons gained more social power and became the main gods, gaining more positive, human-friendly aspects in the process as well.

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Being a different cultural tradition is more than enough reason for me to make the distinction between theistic and shamanistic magic.

Fair enough. Then realize instead is that while "sorcerer" and "priest" may be different aspects of the same thing. I would suggest, perhaps, not making magic "divine" or "arcane". That is, magic is not different in its practice (except as culture demands), but is instead "communal" and "personal" -- without making one "type" good and one bad, one "selfish" and one "selfless".

In fact, a quick study of magic in the ancient world will reveal that many commoners practiced magic as well, crafting charms and talismans against evil spirits, or to please the gods, bringing themselves fortune, protection, etc.

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This is definately a fantasy setting.  I dont want to model the bronze age exactly, I just want to steal its most romantic bits.  so definately in the 'gameplay first' camp.

Ok.

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Could you give me some of the sources you are familiar with?

If you can get your hands on it, try to find Frazer's "The Golden Bough" -- not the one volume abriged edition, but the fourteen volume treatsie on the subject of magic. Ah, good, it is in the public domain: here. It's huge, but it is foundational to later studies, even if much of it is outdated at this point. Start on that.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
stefoid
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« Reply #98 on: February 16, 2006, 06:40:22 PM »


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I have run across the term "sorcerer" referenced in only a few sources as a practitioner of magic apart from priests. It seems to mainly appears in certain tales and stories as a sort of monster, rather than as an actual cultural occupation or a particular person. I am as yet uncertain whether or not this is modern reinterpretation of the source materials (because in most cases I have not seen the original stories that the author derived their opinion from).

a sorceror being seen as a sort of monster by some groups is perfect.

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Given some thought on the subject, I would argue that "sorcerer" is often the term given to the priests of foreign gods.


again, perfect. 

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Take note of the Finnish peoples and the Lapps in this instance: the whole people, every Finn, is referred to as a "sorcerer" -- a worker of magic -- by those outside the group, and numerous stories and superstitions abound about not messing with a Finn because it will bring you ill-luck, and sailors buying wind for their sails from Finns.
(There are, in fact, numerous sayings about Finns and magic: "Trying to hex a Finn is like trying to drown a fish." and something along the lines of "Finns are wizards, they have darkness in their blood." and so forth.)
However, if you would have asked a Finn or a Lapp, their magic is based on the worship and veneration of their deities and its use is nothing more or less than the use of the sacred/divine knowledge given to them by the gods and spirits. In fact, Finnish magic is shamanic in nature.
this is great, Im soooo going to steal this. 


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this challenges the assumption that sorcerors work magic on their own behalf.  What was the notion of demons in relation to gods and spirits?  were they clearly differentiated enities in the minds of the ancients?  did demons have any magical power?

Not necessarily.

Some bronze age cultures had no real concept of "demons"...not "demons" that granted magical powers, at any rate; the conflation of magical power and evil demons is very much a Judeo-Christian concept, which would thus obviously not exist during the time period being discussed.

but demons could do magical things...?


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However, the point I definitely want to make clear is that, depending on the culture we are talking about, and the period of its development, gods and demons had very little difference between them. They were, more or less, one and the same. Particularly in discussing the religious history of the ancient Middle East, as I understand it, some demons gained more social power and became the main gods, gaining more positive, human-friendly aspects in the process as well.

I suppose this started from what we would call cultists.

 Im not trying to explain demons or give them any motivatons at all.  The great majority of people will assocaite the term demon with a powerful, evil entity.  And I think thats fair enough, although Ill leave room for various groups such as sorcerors and cultists who think otherwise.  The fact that 'exorcist' is a well-known occupation certainly backs up the evil monster view.


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Fair enough. Then realize instead is that while "sorcerer" and "priest" may be different aspects of the same thing. I would suggest, perhaps, not making magic "divine" or "arcane". That is, magic is not different in its practice (except as culture demands), but is instead "communal" and "personal" -- without making one "type" good and one bad, one "selfish" and one "selfless".

It will depend entirely on whose viewpoint you are looking through, as to whether its good or bad.  I dont see a real difference between communal/selfless and personal/selfish however.

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In fact, a quick study of magic in the ancient world will reveal that many commoners practiced magic as well, crafting charms and talismans against evil spirits, or to please the gods, bringing themselves fortune, protection, etc.

yeah, this is perfectly OK as well.  I see two things as influencing magic - the relationship/connection to the entity, which could be as high in a commoner as in a preist, but also the situation in which the magic is being performed - environment, ritual knowledge and sheer numbers.  The latter seperates the professional priest/sorceror from the ardent commoner.  But there is nothing stopping the  commoner from performing simple rituals and working small magics as you suggest - making an offering to the house shrine for instance, for the usual request of protection from wandering evil spirits or whatevr.

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Could you give me some of the sources you are familiar with?

If you can get your hands on it, try to find Frazer's "The Golden Bough" -- not the one volume abriged edition, but the fourteen volume treatsie on the subject of magic. Ah, good, it is in the public domain: here. It's huge, but it is foundational to later studies, even if much of it is outdated at this point. Start on that.

excellent!  ta.
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Tommi Brander
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« Reply #99 on: February 17, 2006, 01:57:22 AM »

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Speaking of Vincent, here's some reading.
If doing the cool stuff is very important to the game, let the players do it. Do not specify the kinds of effects they can achieve and do not specify what they need to do to get it.

I agree there is a fine line between giving players enough information to provide an imaginative hook, and giving them too much information so there is no mystery about it - its like if the movie shows you the monster, it becomes unscary.  youve got to hint at the monster.  so for plausibility's sake, or authenticity or whatever, I think the players need some guidance as to the extent of effect they can achieve and the extent of the effort required to get there.
Of course, nothing wrong with guidance.
All this talk about mystery confuses me; what is the mystery?
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just on your example, for me, its getting too meta-gamey at this point.  the fact that I (the player) think my own effort is cool should be enough, without other people voting on it - to use an analogy, for me that takes it from being a drama whoe to more like a reality TV show.
If you find it cool, the others will, too. Excitement tends to infect other people.
Oh, and specify what you mean by metagamey, please. It is not very exact term.
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stefoid
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Posts: 319


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« Reply #100 on: February 17, 2006, 06:40:49 AM »

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I agree there is a fine line between giving players enough information to provide an imaginative hook, and giving them too much information so there is no mystery about it - its like if the movie shows you the monster, it becomes unscary.  youve got to hint at the monster.  so for plausibility's sake, or authenticity or whatever, I think the players need some guidance as to the extent of effect they can achieve and the extent of the effort required to get there.
Of course, nothing wrong with guidance.
All this talk about mystery confuses me; what is the mystery?

whatever is hinted at but largely undefined.

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just on your example, for me, its getting too meta-gamey at this point.  the fact that I (the player) think my own effort is cool should be enough, without other people voting on it - to use an analogy, for me that takes it from being a drama whoe to more like a reality TV show.
If you find it cool, the others will, too. Excitement tends to infect other people.
Oh, and specify what you mean by metagamey, please. It is not very exact term.

forge-speak for out of game stuff
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lumpley
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« Reply #101 on: February 17, 2006, 06:51:19 AM »

I'd like to suggest - I'm not a moderator here, just a guy making a suggestion - that we've given Steve a ton of stuff to work with and sift through, and maybe it's time for us to let him work and sift.

This is a self-serving suggestion! What I want is for Steve to make some new magic rules and post them, or else to work on some new magic rules and post about the problems he's having. It seems like time for that to me.

-Vincent
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stefoid
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Posts: 319


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« Reply #102 on: February 17, 2006, 09:46:21 PM »

yeah, i feel a lot better about magic as a concept in the game now, and thanks to everone for offering system advice - ill come back in a few months to tell you how its been going
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #103 on: February 18, 2006, 07:36:38 AM »

Don't wait that long! Hang around. Discuss Actual Play.

You're part of the Forge community now.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


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« Reply #104 on: February 19, 2006, 02:19:53 AM »

Don't wait that long! Hang around. Discuss Actual Play.

You're part of the Forge community now.

it might take me months to get actual play!
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