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Thread: magical theory

  1. #1
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    In the ancient world, there were two metaphysical camps. The materialists,
    who argued that reality is composed of stuff, material stuff, and the
    dynamists who argued that reality is composed of forces, which were willful.
    The rain wants to rain. The sun wants to shine. Our ideas of soul, spirit,
    and animistic thinking emerge from this camp. Today, we are materialists
    who have coopted forces by subjecting them to materialist methods, namely by
    making them impersonal and subject to mathematics. Newton`s gravity is a
    perfect example. The product of the masses divided by the square of the
    distance between their center points. This is not a willful occurance.

    In adopting a thorough-going materialism, we invented science and abandon
    the concept of magic as a plausible force among educated people. People who
    cling to magic like to think of it as a science, people who do science
    certainly do not think of it as magic.

    There is nothing wrong with a scientific basis for spellcasting and the
    powers, but it certainly is different from a spellcasting based on some
    other theory of mentalism-produces-effects, like psionics, or dynamist based
    spellcasting. For a dynamist, all magic is willful. Mighty forces *come*
    to your aid. You don`t mechanistically employ them (mechanism is branch of
    materialism), because they choose to have an effect. This is one of the
    things the dice can be said to represent. Divine spells are granted by
    certain kinds of willful spirits, for the dynamist, arcane spells are
    granted by other kinds of willful spirits, perhaps less familiar to humans.
    The mention of "forces" in 2E priestly magic is a kind of intermediate kind
    of spirit, willing and requiring veneration, but having the personality of a
    god.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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    > There is nothing wrong with a scientific basis for
    > spellcasting and the powers, but it certainly is different
    > from a spellcasting based on some other theory of
    > mentalism-produces-effects, like psionics, or dynamist based
    > spellcasting. For a dynamist, all magic is willful. Mighty
    > forces *come* to your aid. You don`t mechanistically employ
    > them (mechanism is branch of materialism), because they
    > choose to have an effect. This is one of the things the dice
    > can be said to represent. Divine spells are granted by
    > certain kinds of willful spirits, for the dynamist, arcane
    > spells are granted by other kinds of willful spirits, perhaps
    > less familiar to humans. The mention of "forces" in 2E
    > priestly magic is a kind of intermediate kind of spirit,
    > willing and requiring veneration, but having the personality of a god.

    >Kenneth explains this rather well, if I do say so myself.
    >One thing to remember though is that knowing that a certain action
    (i.e.
    >the invocations necessary to cast say, a fireball) will almost always
    >result in a massive ball of fire exploding on your enemies (or
    >inconveniently placed allies) is not the same scientific knowledge. It
    >is not a mechanistic reaction, it is more to do with "asking nicely"
    >than "physics via invisible gears".

    >Arcane spellcasting is not use of some "special" kind of physics, it is
    >knowing the proper ways to persuade inhuman (and probably not even
    >sentient in a human sort of way) forces into doing what you want.

    Now, I think that your theories are dangerously wandering into reality a
    little. Wether or not you believe in the stuff called magic in real
    life, there certainly are some things happening that science can`t
    explain. However, we witness that science is constantly finding ways to
    explain things that were once impossible to explain.

    Following this line of thought, we reach the conclusion that everythting
    is natural. There are no supernatural things, just as there are no
    science and magic as two different things. Those two words merely divide
    nature into what we do and what we do not understand.

    Now, back to fantasy. I think that god is a manifestation of faith. For
    example, a large number people believe in Anduiras and he starts
    existing as focus of their belief. It is either just focused belief or
    belief focused in an individual(in case of belief in living being as a
    god). In real world, "mircles" happen because large number of people
    believe that it is possible. In fantasy, there are people called Clerics
    who can draw on that belief with their prayers and perform miracles.

    This was about Divine magic only. I guess Arcane magic should be even
    more natural. Or maybe Arcane spellcasters are individuals who learn to
    produce miracles on their own, with only their own belief? Or maybe
    wizardry could be considered just another religion?

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  3. #3
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Milos Rasic" <mrasic@TEHNICOM.NET>
    Sent: Sunday, May 05, 2002 10:30 AM


    > Now, I think that your theories are dangerously wandering into reality a
    > little.

    I will reveal myself as a died in the wool materialist and say that there is
    nothing except reality. Fantasy is only a re-arrangement of ideas about,
    visions of, and constructions of reality. There are no really alien ideas.
    When George Lucas created all the alien voices in the Cantina bar, he used
    regular voices played backwards and broken into different parts because he
    realized that an attempt to be alien without a firm hold on real speech
    would wind up sounding fake. Fantasy without being a rearrangement of,
    reversal of, or otherwise based on reality provides a sense of
    artificiality.

    > There certainly are some things happening that science can`t
    > explain. However, we witness that science is constantly finding
    > ways to explain things that were once impossible to explain.
    >
    > Following this line of thought, we reach the conclusion that everythting
    > is natural. There are no supernatural things, just as there are no
    > science and magic as two different things. Those two words merely divide
    > nature into what we do and what we do not understand.

    An excellent materialist argument for the non existance of magic. Hence you
    must already be a convert to the supposition that materialism has no place
    in a fantasy game. It certainly a fine premice for non-fantasy RPG`s, on
    the other hand.

    > Now, back to fantasy. I think that god is a manifestation of faith.

    I think gods are super beings transending the existance with which we are
    familair.

    > For example, a large number people believe in Anduiras and he
    > starts existing as focus of their belief. It is either just focused
    > belief or belief focused in an individual(in case of belief in living
    > being as a god).

    I think that Andurias was entirely unaffected by his worshipers (in the
    sense of his power) and that he only chose to interact with them because he
    created them and saw Azrai attempting to mess with creation as a personal
    attack.

    > In real world, "mircles" happen because large number of people
    > believe that it is possible. In fantasy, there are people called Clerics
    > who can draw on that belief with their prayers and perform miracles.

    Actually miracles don`t happen, they are just thought to happen. In
    fantasy, gods have unlimted power and can tell their clerics, "Hey, when you
    get to the Red Sea, raise your staff when you are ready to cross, and I`ll
    part the waters."

    > This was about Divine magic only. I guess Arcane magic should be even
    > more natural. Or maybe Arcane spellcasters are individuals who learn to
    > produce miracles on their own, with only their own belief? Or maybe
    > wizardry could be considered just another religion?

    Or maybe the whole belief makes magic paradigm should be abandoned.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Trithemius's Avatar
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    > I think that Andurias was entirely unaffected by his
    > worshipers (in the sense of his power) and that he only chose
    > to interact with them because he created them and saw Azrai
    > attempting to mess with creation as a personal attack.

    I am not sure about this. While we have talked about this sort of this
    before, off list, I still like the idea that people do matter to the
    gods. Perhaps they only matter up to the point where a god becomes a
    "proper god"? I don`t know. D&D certainly seems to make us think that
    belief has a power - Planescape suggests this, as does the mechanic of
    bloodlines and RP (to my mind).

    I could probably be persuaded the other way though.

    > Or maybe the whole belief makes magic paradigm should be abandoned.

    For Birthright, yes. For Unknown Armies or Mage: the Ascension, never.
    Different games, different motifs, different methods.

    --
    John Machin
    (trithemius@paradise.net.nz)
    -----------------------------------
    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."
    Athanasius Kircher, Ars Magna Sciendi.

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    "Power performs the Miracle." - Johannes Trithemius

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    Senior Member Trithemius's Avatar
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    > Now, I think that your theories are dangerously wandering
    > into reality a little. Wether or not you believe in the stuff
    > called magic in real life, there certainly are some things
    > happening that science can`t explain. However, we witness
    > that science is constantly finding ways to explain things
    > that were once impossible to explain.

    I feel that my opinions in this regard are probably not relevant.
    At least not to a discussion about a fantastic world. There is a reason
    I am not a member of lists that discuss this sort of thing all the time,
    and that is because I`d rather not do it. I am interested, primarily, in
    the game metaphysic. I am quite willing to assume (as they do in Ars
    Magica) that models of reality that we have discarded are 100% accurate
    in the game-world. Yes there is pholgiston and a lunar sphere, yes it is
    demons of sickness that make people ill.

    > Following this line of thought, we reach the conclusion that
    > everythting is natural. There are no supernatural things,
    > just as there are no science and magic as two different
    > things. Those two words merely divide nature into what we do
    > and what we do not understand.

    Who said things were supernatural? I am pretty sure I didn`t. Inhuman
    maybe, but ducks are inhuman too and they are certainly natural.

    > Now, back to fantasy. I think that god is a manifestation of
    > faith. For example, a large number people believe in Anduiras
    > and he starts existing as focus of their belief. It is either
    > just focused belief or belief focused in an individual(in
    > case of belief in living being as a god). In real world,
    > "mircles" happen because large number of people believe that
    > it is possible. In fantasy, there are people called Clerics
    > who can draw on that belief with their prayers and perform miracles.
    >
    > This was about Divine magic only. I guess Arcane magic should
    > be even more natural. Or maybe Arcane spellcasters are
    > individuals who learn to produce miracles on their own, with
    > only their own belief? Or maybe wizardry could be considered
    > just another religion?

    In my conception of Birthright gods benefit from worship but they are
    not soley composed of it. Haelyn existed before people began to worship
    him, he merely became stronger when the human-divine partnership of
    worship began. Magic doesn`t come from within, the gift to use it yes,
    but not magic itself. The only inherently magical species on Cerilia are
    the ancient ones - the sidhelien, the dragons and, in some people`s
    campaign`s, the giants. For all other peoples the act of magic is the
    act of interacting with an external force, be it one that is
    understandable by everyday persons (i.e. gods) or one that lacks any
    human guise (i.e. mebhaighl).

    --
    John Machin
    (trithemius@paradise.net.nz)
    -----------------------------------
    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."
    Athanasius Kircher, Ars Magna Sciendi.

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    "Power performs the Miracle." - Johannes Trithemius

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    << I am not sure about this. While we have talked about this sort of this
    before, off list, I still like the idea that people do matter to the
    gods. Perhaps they only matter up to the point where a god becomes a
    "proper god"? I don`t know. D&D certainly seems to make us think that
    belief has a power - Planescape suggests this, as does the mechanic of
    bloodlines and RP (to my mind).
    >>

    I still think deities derive power from worship. Why else do most of them
    try to gather as many of them as possible? Also, it tends to be a rule that
    gods of greater stature have more worshipper. Of course, you might say that
    it works the other around: a god of greater stature has more worshippers
    *because* she is of greater stature. But that still doesn`t invalidate my
    first point: given the behaviour of most priests, and given the assumption
    that they try to act in the best interests of their god, isn`t the fact
    that they try to convert people to the worship of their god some sort of
    indication that gods need worshippers and gain some sort of benefit of
    having more worshippers? So yes, deities gain power from worship.

    But it ends there. The fact that deities accumulate power from worship,
    doesn`t mean that ordinary people can too. Or at least, not directly. It
    also doesn`t mean that worship can automatically elevate you to godhood. In
    my eyes, deities gain power from worship *because* they are deities. You
    have to be a deity before you can gain power from worship.

    Note that this happens to stroke nicely with rulership in Birthright. You
    need to have a bloodline before you can ruler. Merely having subordinates
    doesn`t mean you automatically get a bloodline.

    That`s how I see it, anyways.

    - the Falcon

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    << In my conception of Birthright gods benefit from worship but they are
    not soley composed of it. Haelyn existed before people began to worship
    him, he merely became stronger when the human-divine partnership of
    worship began.
    >>

    That`s exactly how I see it too. It`s just like being blooded doesn`t mean
    you automatically collect RP either. Keep in mind though, that even if
    you`re blooded, if you don`t collect RP, you can`t spend. If we assume that
    rulership reflects or is parallel to divinity in some way, that would also
    mean that a god who is not worship, doesn`t have any real power, or at least
    not on the same level as a worshipped god, just like a non-ruler scion does
    not command power on the same level as a ruling scion.

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    On Tue, 2002-05-21 at 19:35, the Falcon wrote:
    > << I am not sure about this. While we have talked about this sort of this
    > before, off list, I still like the idea that people do matter to the
    > gods. Perhaps they only matter up to the point where a god becomes a
    > "proper god"? I don`t know. D&D certainly seems to make us think that
    > belief has a power - Planescape suggests this, as does the mechanic of
    > bloodlines and RP (to my mind).
    > >>
    >
    > I still think deities derive power from worship. Why else do most of them
    > try to gather as many of them as possible? Also, it tends to be a rule that
    > gods of greater stature have more worshipper. Of course, you might say that
    > it works the other around: a god of greater stature has more worshippers
    > *because* she is of greater stature. But that still doesn`t invalidate my
    > first point: given the behaviour of most priests, and given the assumption
    > that they try to act in the best interests of their god, isn`t the fact
    > that they try to convert people to the worship of their god some sort of
    > indication that gods need worshippers and gain some sort of benefit of
    > having more worshippers? So yes, deities gain power from worship.
    >
    > But it ends there. The fact that deities accumulate power from worship,
    > doesn`t mean that ordinary people can too. Or at least, not directly. It
    > also doesn`t mean that worship can automatically elevate you to godhood. In
    > my eyes, deities gain power from worship *because* they are deities. You
    > have to be a deity before you can gain power from worship.
    >
    > Note that this happens to stroke nicely with rulership in Birthright. You
    > need to have a bloodline before you can ruler. Merely having subordinates
    > doesn`t mean you automatically get a bloodline.
    >
    > That`s how I see it, anyways.
    >
    > - the Falcon

    Hmmmm, isn`t it a bit "chicken and egg" ?

    How about the deification of Haelyn etc, or the second generation gods ?
    (Laerme Cuiraecen etc) Some gods have mortal progeny (i.e. Hercules
    etc). Power from worship however, I`ll go along with - the more
    followers a god has the more stature as a god, especially w.r.t. other
    gods, or as a member of a pantheon at least marginally. How to handle
    non-specific deities ? (gods not exclusively worshiped but worshiped as
    part of a group of gods)

    In BR couldn`t you just accept that gods have an incredibly high
    bloodline - one that is augmented by worship - the more worshipers in
    the gods` domain, then the god gains in bloodline ? (the `you` is not
    specific - I`m discussing this generally)

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  9. #9
    Senior Member Trithemius's Avatar
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    Peter sez:
    > How about the deification of Haelyn etc, or the second
    > generation gods ? (Laerme Cuiraecen etc) Some gods have
    > mortal progeny (i.e. Hercules etc). Power from worship
    > however, I`ll go along with - the more followers a god has
    > the more stature as a god, especially w.r.t. other gods, or
    > as a member of a pantheon at least marginally. How to handle
    > non-specific deities ? (gods not exclusively worshiped but
    > worshiped as part of a group of gods)

    It does discuss this briefly in BoP (IIRC).
    I am not sure that Cuiraecen and Laerme were "born". It seems that
    Cuiraecen has a lot more to do with Haelyn than with Neserie. Ditto
    Laerme w/r/t Avanalae. I believe that Cuiraecen probably just "emerged"
    from Haelyn as one of Haelyn`s aspects became so important that it
    warranted a new deity.

    I am also of the opinion that priests are abberrant in their worship
    behaviour. They tend to devote themselves to a single god, whereas most
    people will propitiate whatever god is appropriate. I realise that this
    flies in the face of what most people see the temple system of BR
    representing, but it seems unlikely that the vast majority of a populace
    actually worship one single deity. That being said, nearly all worship
    is pantheonic, i.e. shared around. Jim Bloggs, a farmer of Roesone,
    doesn`t worship Haelyn exclusively, he gives homage to all the deities
    at their appointed time.

    Peter sez:
    > In BR couldn`t you just accept that gods have an incredibly
    > high bloodline - one that is augmented by worship - the more
    > worshipers in the gods` domain, then the god gains in
    > bloodline ? (the `you` is not specific - I`m discussing this
    > generally)

    I wouldn`t do this myself, since it implies that the deities are just
    like you and me, only bigger. I think that the champions of the gods
    were selected to become the vessels for the dying gods divinity. Lots of
    people got bloodlines, only the champions became new gods. This was not
    accidental, it was deliberate IMO.

    --
    John Machin
    (trithemius@paradise.net.nz)
    -----------------------------------
    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."
    Athanasius Kircher, Ars Magna Sciendi.

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    "Power performs the Miracle." - Johannes Trithemius

  10. #10
    Senior Member Trithemius's Avatar
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    Falcon sez:
    > I still think deities derive power from worship. Why else do
    > most of them try to gather as many of them as possible? Also,
    > it tends to be a rule that gods of greater stature have more
    > worshipper. Of course, you might say that it works the other
    > around: a god of greater stature has more worshippers
    > *because* she is of greater stature. But that still doesn`t
    > invalidate my first point: given the behaviour of most
    > priests, and given the assumption that they try to act in the
    > best interests of their god, isn`t the fact that they try to
    > convert people to the worship of their god some sort of
    > indication that gods need worshippers and gain some sort of
    > benefit of having more worshippers? So yes, deities gain
    > power from worship.

    Perhaps the priests believe that, just as human lords seek more
    subjects, so do the gods? Often people do things that *they* believe is
    the will of their god.

    Another alternative perhaps is one that Hero Wars gives us. The gods are
    ultimately static. By becoming immortal, all-powerful, and
    indestructible (effectively) they also become unchanging.

    Falcon sez:
    > But it ends there. The fact that deities accumulate power
    > from worship, doesn`t mean that ordinary people can too. Or
    > at least, not directly. It also doesn`t mean that worship can
    > automatically elevate you to godhood. In my eyes, deities
    > gain power from worship *because* they are deities. You have
    > to be a deity before you can gain power from worship.

    Ergo my comments about the bloodline allowing regents to coalesce
    "worship energies".

    Falcon sez:
    > Note that this happens to stroke nicely with rulership in
    > Birthright. You need to have a bloodline before you can
    > ruler. Merely having subordinates doesn`t mean you
    > automatically get a bloodline.

    Well, you can be an unblooded ruler, but a blooded ruler can use their
    superior abilities to command loyalty (i.e. RP) to usurp your position
    with relative ease.

    Falcon sez:
    > That`s how I see it, anyways.

    I have actually clarified my position, in my mind, now. I believe that
    the gods are eternally gods, lack of worship won`t rob them of their
    divinity or condemn them to floating about in the Astral. However, I
    believe that, to a certain (unspecified) extent, worship can effect the
    power of the deities. Extensive worship might make a deity increase in
    power, but not to an unlimited extent.

    I`m a bit leery of getting too technical here. I don`t think that
    deities really benefit from having hard and fast principles or
    stat-blocks, ala Deities and Demigods.. Still, I think this sort of
    thing can assist in forming a coherent cosmology of the setting.

    --
    John Machin
    (trithemius@paradise.net.nz)
    -----------------------------------
    "Nothing is more beautiful than to know the All."
    Athanasius Kircher, Ars Magna Sciendi.

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