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SAWYERISM BETRAYED - Might turns back into Strength, Resolve will affect spell damage

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I don’t think there’s any real disagreement here, just people coming at it from different angles. Corrrect me if I’m wrong but rjshae is just saying that magic doesn’t need to make sense to us, like how it seems nonsensical that a wand’s damage would be based off its strength or how shapeshifting doesn’t make sense due to conservation of energy. You don’t need to explain how shapeshifting works it can just be ‘because magic’. Lephys is saying that magic needs to have some restrictions otherwise you get questions such as ‘why can’t magic solve x problem?’ These viewpoints don’t necessarily conflict.

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I've been trying to follow the discussion for the past couple of pages and kind of failed. I do feel an inexplicable urge to point out that the character system in Pillars (any game, really) is an abstraction of reality, rather than a literal portrayal of it. Changing attribute names etc. affects mechanics, but not the underlying principles of the world. 

 

There's going to be a disconnect, sure, but gameplay will always be disconnected, kind of like how in Fallout: New Vegas you get shot in the head and survive it, making you exceptional... Except then you have every NPC and their mom surviving getting shot in the face and coming for seconds. 

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I'm on Lephys on this one.  When things happen randomly "for plot" then it loses drama.  When a guy holds a gun against another guy's head there is a sense of danger because you know the rules is that guns can blow people's brains out and you wonder "How is he going to get out of this?"  If the gun then shoots flowers because magic, then this and all future situations lose their edge because you just don't know what could happen or whether the danger is real, the methods heroes use to get out of then cease to be clever because its just whatever the author wants to happen as opposed to genuine clever maneuvers, etc.  Knowing that a hole in a spacesuit could lead to someone dying creates drama, this is lost when you have characters running around in space wearing just gas masks with no ill effects.  Just my two pennies.

I think this is the crux of it, not the little nit picking details of the rules of magic and science or whatever.(Still an interesting discussion however)

 

Tension/Drama is lost due to Wile E. Coyote logic.

Edited by daven
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Magic has to have some kind of rules to provide "drama", but not necessarily rules based on physics or something else from the real world. Just look at David Lynch movies. Everything that happens there actually makes sense and has clear rules. That rules are not always obvious for the viewer, but you always know that there are rules.

One example for "irrational" magic that noone mentioned is LOTR. We never get a real explanation what happens there, we don't really know how mighty Gandalf for example really is. When he commands the Balrog to not cross the bridge, what was that? A simple command or threat without any magic involved at all? A spell? What kind of spell? A barrier? A mind trick? When he talks to Bilbo and does that Evil-Black-Gandalf-Thing, is it an illusion? Does he mess with Bilbos brain? Is it some kind of insight into Gandalfs true nature? Has Gandalf any magical powers at all? What is it whith that Gandalf the Grey/White thing? Is there some kind of hierarchy and how does it work? How do you become "the White"? And: Do we really need to know any of that?

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One example for "irrational" magic that noone mentioned is LOTR. We never get a real explanation what happens there, we don't really know how mighty Gandalf for example really is. When he commands the Balrog to not cross the bridge, what was that? A simple command or threat without any magic involved at all? A spell? What kind of spell? A barrier? A mind trick? When he talks to Bilbo and does that Evil-Black-Gandalf-Thing, is it an illusion? Does he mess with Bilbos brain? Is it some kind of insight into Gandalfs true nature? Has Gandalf any magical powers at all? What is it whith that Gandalf the Grey/White thing? Is there some kind of hierarchy and how does it work? How do you become "the White"? And: Do we really need to know any of that?

That's all explained in the Silmarillion. Tolkien had a detailed history and reasoning for all of it, but the reader knows about as much as the hobbits know, which isn't much.

Edited by Katarack21
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Do we really need to know any of that?

I kind of like having a general idea of what's going on and why things happen the way they do. It helps ground the story and keep the disbelief dangling from the gallows. LotR relied heavily on deus ex machinas - Tolkien had a fancy name for them, but really, they were deus ex machinas.


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I kind of like having a general idea of what's going on and why things happen the way they do. It helps ground the story and keep the disbelief dangling from the gallows. LotR relied heavily on deus ex machinas - Tolkien had a fancy name for them, but really, they were deus ex machinas.

 

So what? The film "The Dragonslayer" revolved entirely around a deus ex machina and it worked pretty well. I don't know anyone who does not like it.

 

I'm tired of seeing the same "scientific" kind of "magic" again and again. Dr. Strange feels like Inception, which feels like Matrix and so on and so on. Movie and game magic these days has become nothing more than a physic simulation demo reel. There is no real difference between the Hobbit movies and transformers. Big beasts, impressive stunts, particle effects, something big crashes into something big and the physics are very believable. That is not magic. That is not even the Hobbit I read. Just compare it to LOTR 1.

 

Burton even managed to turn Alice in Wonderland into something rational.

 

 

 

That's all explained in the Silmarion. Tolkien had a detailed history and reasoning for all of it, but the reader knows about as much as the hobbits know, which isn't much.

 

I read it (that was when LOTR1 came out, so I dont remember everything). Creating the world from a song is not what I would call a rational and scientific approach. Of course there is a logic behind everything, but it is an irrational one.

 

Again: I'm not speaking about "no rules at all". But "Say Beetlejuice three times and he will appear" is a clear rule. We don't need an explanation how exactly he does the appearing. If I have a dragon in a game, I don't have to know that dragons evolved from lizards, I don't have to know how it breathes fire or why it eats virgins. It's totally sufficient to know that it does. Did you recognize that dragons these days don't even eat virgins anymore? And why? Because there is no rational explanation for it. That is so incredibly boring.

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Actually there's something to be said for not explaining the magic. Doing so makes it less magical, if you see what I mean. There should be a certain amount of mystery to it.

 

It's becoming hard to make sure it's getting differentiated.

 

In an effort to be clearer, I'm all for magic not necessarily being explained. i.e., by the author to the reader, in some sort of classroom lesson. Hell, maybe most of the characters don't know how it works. BUT, when it comes to meaningful interactions with the magic system, it ultimately has to work a certain way. Like, you can't have teleporting just sometimes work, but other times not work, for no rhyme or reason. Maybe the characters don't yet KNOW why it doesn't work, but any instance of teleportation either working or failing, there has to be a consistent reason. "Ohhh, it turns out that the more ducks that are around, the better chance it has of working. That time it worked, the characters didn't realize that there was a family of ducks about 30 yards away in a small pond that they couldn't see." See? That "makes no sense," but really it does. It doesn't make sense to us why ducks would affect teleportation magic, but if they do, they do. You can't just have it have no rules. It has to have rules, whether or not we (the reader/player) or the characters know the rules. The rules have to exist to at least be able to be figured out, even if they don't all get figured out.

 

I'm not saying you have to directly explain magic, necessarily. But it you don't even recognize its ability to be explained (on whatever level), you have problems.

 

So, I definitely agree there should be a certain amount of mystery to it. :)

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I read it (that was when LOTR1 came out, so I dont remember everything). Creating the world from a song is not what I would call a rational and scientific approach. Of course there is a logic behind everything, but it is an irrational one.

 

I think you're assuming that for something to be rational it must be rational under the rules of our world. That's not the case. The creation story in the Silmarillion is perfectly rational within its own framework.

 

Again: I'm not speaking about "no rules at all". But "Say Beetlejuice three times and he will appear" is a clear rule. We don't need an explanation how exactly he does the appearing. If I have a dragon in a game, I don't have to know that dragons evolved from lizards, I don't have to know how it breathes fire or why it eats virgins. It's totally sufficient to know that it does. Did you recognize that dragons these days don't even eat virgins anymore? And why? Because there is no rational explanation for it. That is so incredibly boring.

 

So long as there are rules there will be people who seek to codify those rules, and who look for deeper principles that govern those rules. Those people are doing science.

 

Personally if I lived in a world with dragons I'd want to know their origins, how they breath fire and, if they do, why they eat virgins. That doesn't mean every story that is set in such a world has to explain any or all of those things. After all, there are plenty of other interesting things to explore in such a world.

 

As for there being no rational explanation for why dragons eat virgins that's nonsense. There wouldn't be a rational explanation in our world, but then dragons themselves wouldn't be rational in our world. In a world where there are dragons, where the rules are different to those of our own, there can easily be rational explanations. Indeed, it's easy to come up with some by drawing upon myths surrounding virginity in our own world e.g. virgins have some sort of purity to them which dragons need to live.

Edited by JerekKruger
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I think you're assuming that for something to be rational it must be rational under the rules of our world. That's not the case. The creation story in the Silmarillion is perfectly rational within its own framework.

 

OK. So in everything I said replace "rational" with "rational under the rules of our world" and "irrational" with "irrational under the rules of our world".

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OK. So in everything I said replace "rational" with "rational under the rules of our world" and "irrational" with "irrational under the rules of our world".

 

In which case I agree entirely :)

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I read it (that was when LOTR1 came out, so I dont remember everything). Creating the world from a song is not what I would call a rational and scientific approach. Of course there is a logic behind everything, but it is an irrational one.

 

I feel like you've got the wrong idea about logic or rationality, here. It's not a matter of what we understand and what we don't. There are rational rules to things we don't even understand yet, in the real world. Like... quantum entanglement. Before someone discovered that, it sounded like some made-up magical BS. But it's a real thing. Is it illogical for nature to work the way it works? I don't think it can be.

 

Logic is just the relationship between reality and reality. Whatever you want to call it, if you have a thing, then another of that same thing, you have 2 of that thing. You can't have a 2nd thing and wind up with 3 things. You would have to first get a 3rd thing.

 

So... creating a world from song isn't rational in our reality's rules. But, IF it were possible, it would have to make sense in its own reality's rules. It basically doesn't matter what those rules are, as long as they don't conflict with themselves. To look at it another way, "There aren't any rules" is actually a rule. It just conflicts with every other rule.

 

Also, yes, we don't have to use existing science to explain all magic, but if your fictional world contains existing rules of nature, and you add magic to it, the magic is not existing in a void. It's co-existing within a world of other rules. Imagine fire didn't exist. Then, you decide to invent it, using magic. Well, what happens when fire occurs? It affects temperature, burns different things in different ways, sustains its reaction in different ways depending on conditions, etc. You can't just make up how it interacts with everything else, and contradict the entire world. Magic can bypass existing rules of science, but all that means is that there's a new rule involving the interaction of magic with things. It's not a rule-less wasteland of "whatever I randomly decide to happen, happens." You have to at least make it clear that the magic somehow avoided existing rules of physics, etc.

 

This is kind of the main problem Might had. Even IF you decide that muscles generate magical power, they still also generate non-magical power, because they're still muscles from our world and contract to generate mechanical movement and force. So, what did Might measure? Your muscle power PLUS your magical power? So what was each, individually? Also, why can't anyone have muscle power without having magical power, since they're not the same thing?

 

Things beg questions, and if there aren't reasons for questions (even if you don't learn all of them), things get REALLY uninteresting.


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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It basically doesn't matter what those rules are, as long as they don't conflict with themselves.

 

Just like in the bible ... wait ... hm. Crappy book ...

 

Edit: "All things happen in threes" That sentence just came back to my head. Now that is what I call a rule. There is no rational explanation (or every possible rational explanation) why things tend to do that, not in our world and not on Sigil and I dont care if there is. All things just happen in threes. Except for the things that don't. But all others do.

 

Sry for the short answer, had a long day. Maybe tomorrow.

Edited by Lord_Mord

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Magic has to have some kind of rules to provide "drama", but not necessarily rules based on physics or something else from the real world. Just look at David Lynch movies. Everything that happens there actually makes sense and has clear rules. That rules are not always obvious for the viewer, but you always know that there are rules.

 

One example for "irrational" magic that noone mentioned is LOTR. We never get a real explanation what happens there, we don't really know how mighty Gandalf for example really is. When he commands the Balrog to not cross the bridge, what was that? A simple command or threat without any magic involved at all? A spell? What kind of spell? A barrier? A mind trick? When he talks to Bilbo and does that Evil-Black-Gandalf-Thing, is it an illusion? Does he mess with Bilbos brain? Is it some kind of insight into Gandalfs true nature? Has Gandalf any magical powers at all? What is it whith that Gandalf the Grey/White thing? Is there some kind of hierarchy and how does it work? How do you become "the White"? And: Do we really need to know any of that?

Yep all you have to do is read Tolkien’s and his sons’s other books. You’ll get your explanations.


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So what? The film "The Dragonslayer" revolved entirely around a deus ex machina and it worked pretty well. I don't know anyone who does not like it.

I'm tired of seeing the same "scientific" kind of "magic" again and again. Dr. Strange feels like Inception, which feels like Matrix and so on and so on. Movie and game magic these days has become nothing more than a physic simulation demo reel. There is no real difference between the Hobbit movies and transformers. Big beasts, impressive stunts, particle effects, something big crashes into something big and the physics are very believable. That is not magic. That is not even the Hobbit I read. Just compare it to LOTR 1.

 

Burton even managed to turn Alice in Wonderland into something rational.

 

Skimming through the plot summary, I assume you refer to the ashes, which isn't a deus ex machina, but actually a rifle hanging on the wall that fires off in the final act - and the rules of magic seem to be consistent in the movie. 

 

I'm not sure why you equate verisimilitude and internal consistency with "scientific" magic, though. Having consistent rules isn't the same as having a detailed physical explanation for how magic works and is, in fact, a prerequisite for any kind of magic use; if magic is utterly random chaos, you can't possibly learn to use it since you can't repeat its use with any certainty. 

 

I mean... I'm not even sure what your argument here is. 


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So what? The film "The Dragonslayer" revolved entirely around a deus ex machina and it worked pretty well. I don't know anyone who does not like it.

I'm tired of seeing the same "scientific" kind of "magic" again and again. Dr. Strange feels like Inception, which feels like Matrix and so on and so on. Movie and game magic these days has become nothing more than a physic simulation demo reel. There is no real difference between the Hobbit movies and transformers. Big beasts, impressive stunts, particle effects, something big crashes into something big and the physics are very believable. That is not magic. That is not even the Hobbit I read. Just compare it to LOTR 1.

 

Burton even managed to turn Alice in Wonderland into something rational.

 

Skimming through the plot summary, I assume you refer to the ashes, which isn't a deus ex machina, but actually a rifle hanging on the wall that fires off in the final act - and the rules of magic seem to be consistent in the movie.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChekhovsGun

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It's a serious video, btw.

 

Thank you. That was basically all I wanted to say.


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On the other hand, sometimes magic beyond human understanding is the whole point, as in, say, Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; it's not supposed to be a rational system at all, it's magic, to the point that at one point a character deliberately drives himself insane so he can perform magic better. Maybe magic isn't fully systematized in such settings, or maybe human minds can't grasp the system, or maybe it's rational in a different way, etc.; ultimately, it's something outside the grasp of the human mind, either way. 

 

Note: The idea that becoming more insane allows you to perform magic better is actually an organized, rational relationship. Also, if human minds can't grasp the system, then a human mind could not have devised the system. We can make up something that we pretend isn't able to be grasped, but we have to grasp it in order to invent it.

 

In other words, in order for something to not make any sense at all, it would have to follow a fixed set of rules that we couldn't comprehend. You cannot invent those rules if you don't comprehend how those rules would even work, so you just have to go "Ehhhh... it follows a fixed set of rules that we can't comprehend." Which, again, you can do. But then, nothing at all can even question your system in any capacity, which doesn't make for very interesting or functional fiction.

 

"Then the protagonist did incomprehensible things and won the day!"

"Wait... what did he do? How did he win the day?"

"Well, we don't know. He just did. It's magic, and it doesn't make sense."

"Did the villain die or something?"

"The villain had things occur to him and the protagonist, because of occurrences, was victorious!"

 

In the end, all an "incomprehensible" magic system does is blatantly say "I'm going to ignore how or why any of this is happening, and just force it to happen because I want the results." It becomes almost the same thing as forced character writing in books and movies, when Character X does something completely out of line with their character or the plot/world just so that Y can happen. You know, "Oh, I want this character to dramatically die here, so even though they have the advantage in this fight, I'm going to have them hesitate, or have something preposterous happen, JUST so I can say 'see, that's why they lost the fight and died... because of that occurrence I just threw in there, when I could've just changed the context of the fight from the get go so that this character could reasonably die in this fight.'"

 

This basically comes down to Sanderson's First Law.  Mysterious unknown magic can mess things up for your protagonist all it likes, but the protagonist can only use understood magic to solve problems, or it's just a deus-ex.

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So what? The film "The Dragonslayer" revolved entirely around a deus ex machina and it worked pretty well. I don't know anyone who does not like it.

I'm tired of seeing the same "scientific" kind of "magic" again and again. Dr. Strange feels like Inception, which feels like Matrix and so on and so on. Movie and game magic these days has become nothing more than a physic simulation demo reel. There is no real difference between the Hobbit movies and transformers. Big beasts, impressive stunts, particle effects, something big crashes into something big and the physics are very believable. That is not magic. That is not even the Hobbit I read. Just compare it to LOTR 1.

 

Burton even managed to turn Alice in Wonderland into something rational.

 

Skimming through the plot summary, I assume you refer to the ashes, which isn't a deus ex machina, but actually a rifle hanging on the wall that fires off in the final act - and the rules of magic seem to be consistent in the movie.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChekhovsGun

 

That's it, the name briefly escaped me. Thank you.


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I'm fine that they're trying out new things to fix a gameplay mechanic. Giving Resolve some extra purpose might not be a bad thing at all. 

From a role playing perspective, I actually really liked the idea of Might (Strength) affecting the damage a spell does while Intelligence affected the duration/range of a spell. It allowed the tired Wizard concept to branch out into a few different tropes it usually doesn't enjoy. See, in classic DnD you can only ever have the Bookworm Wizard who is supposed to be the smartest guy in the room as a result of the meta-game need for the wizard to be intelligent, and yet most of the time he employs the very simple solution of casting a fireball into the room. It always struck a bit of a discord with me that someone so intelligent had such a basic answer for every problem. 

It made sense to me that a character who was of a stronger build physically would be able to channel his spirit more forcefully into his magical abilities. A higher Might, Low Intelligence wizard suddenly makes sense both in how they are built and in how they are played. I imagine a strong wizard would approach most problems with an explosion of fire and lightning. Meanwhile the classical intelligent wizard is still plenty useful as he prefers to employ debuffs and crowd control spells, which are the kind of spells I would expect from someone who is thinking more strategically to employ. 

Strong Wizard played like it made sense. Intelligent Wizard played like it made sense. I really enjoyed it, and liked that Pillars was willing to take a step away from DnD's rigid establishment. 

I'm okay with Resolve being the magic stat instead as I can still wrap my head around it logically. It's the classic Charisma Sorcerer vs Intelligence Wizard argument that I always liked, which is real similar to why I liked Might as the damage stat in the first place. I really *dislike* wands not being affected by Resolve if they're going to be obviously shooting magic, however. That can't make sense if we're making Strength and Magic damage separate. Guns can be explained away as needing enough STR to guide the recoil, bows can be explained away by saying you can get more power in the draw. I don't know how you explain that your magical wand is using your strength when your magical magic is using Resolve. 

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Finally. That and the AD&D style multiclassing that was announced recently are the two things I had hoped for most when it comes to this game. If they indeed stick to this change, I'll be a happy panda.


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