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Offline Chaosmark

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Scientific Magic
« on: March 17, 2008, 02:39:27 PM »
As some of you know, I've recently started my own homebrew campaign. The mechanics system is a modified Risus, which includes the magic system. I really like the concept of a formalized, 'scientific' magic system, and I've been trying to quantify it for a while now. I think I've finally gotten the hang of it, and so I'd like some other opinions/suggestions for it. This is nowhere near finished, and is honestly something I finally thought up while lying in bed. Tear it apart, rip it to pieces, and find the gems within the trash. (Siren: this could REALLY use your physicist's touch)

Keyword: Power Calculations
Something important to a scientific system of any sort is the ability to quantify effort and results. This allows something to be repeated and tested. This also allows for the player and GM to determine exactly how much a certain spell can do, instead of a generalized, handwavy answer. I certainly don't expect Joe Blow off the street to be able to do magical calculations in his head, or even at all, so if this became a generally released reality, there would be a chart of some sort to help make quantification easier. But, I can expect my magic player to do it in this campaign, since he's an intelligent engineer.

Keyword: Units
If we're wanting a scientific magic system, you need to have units to denote quantity. In the real world, we use Newtons to measure force (one newton moves one kilogram one meter in one second). There would be a magical equivalent, named after the man who first decided how to quantify magical force; for now, we'll call them magic newtons (abbr: MN). Similarly, there would also be a unit for moving around heat, and other forms of energy. However, most mages will be concerned with the first two.

Edit: This link gives a good idea of what I'm looking for here. http://www.strolen.com/content.php?node=1782#8320

Keyword: Power
With this system, you have to have a way to measure magical ability, and the establishment has gone for the simplest way possible: how much force can you put out? There will be a standard set of tests for apprentices to take (once every year or so during their training) which shows their progress and capabilities. At the end of training, they'll be given an even harder set of tests, designed to test control, capabilities, focus, and skill (all of which matter when casting spells). In my game, I'm quantifying power in a cliche, and skill with certain types of spells as cliches named with those types (Wards, Scrying, Offensive Magic, etc.). I don't have anything for the others, except that control is purely a player thing. They decide when to use spells and when not to.

So, with those three defined, how do they interact with the rest of the world? Well, one can go with the decently scientific approach, and say that magic must obey the major laws of physics as we know them (Conservation of Energy, Force=Mass*Acceleration, etc.), or one can be more loose with it, using the above things as a light veneer of flavor to add to a campaign. Just throw in some of the keywords here and there, figure out how widespread 'scientific magic' is, and how much it affects the game world. In the end, do what seems to fit your idea of a world.

Comments, thoughts, suggestions?
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 06:12:36 PM by Chaosmark »
P(A|B) = P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B)

By the power of Bayes!

Acolyte Lithil Darkheart – Level 1 Necromancer
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Offline Pariah

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Re: Scientific Magic
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2008, 02:46:33 PM »
Possibly just have MN be Mana?  I know it's horrible and feels like cheating, but yeah. Abraham Mana, the writer of the Codix di Majik, was the first to try and codify knowledge of magic.

Quote
Random Magic Test

Control ---------------------------------------------  1 -> 7
Accuracy/Knowledge of how to work the spells -------  1 -> 7
Power/Ability ---------------------------------------   1-> 7

1 - None what so ever
2 - Presdigitation
3 - Average mage
4 - Average adventuring mage
5 - High level adventuring mage
6 - High Mage
7 - Currently writing college level textbooks on magical theory.
You can further break it down by adding + or - to the numbers, breaking each area up into thirds, but making it far more complicated than I feel like dealing with.

Exp.  Hydo, the local apothecary is a 3/4/2 mage.  He's spent a good deal of time studying to make up for the fact that he has very little actual ability in magic.

Exp. 2 Jon, 14 yr old Sorceror is a 1/2/5 qualifying as a danger to all those around him.  Far too much power with almost no control.

Advance him 10 years, and he learns suppress his magic, passing himself off as a normal human being 4/2/5
They were immediately and absolutely recognizable as adventurers... They were hardy and dangerous, lawless, stripped of allegiance or morality, living off their wits, stealing and killing, hiring themselves out to whoever and whatever came. They were inspired by dubious virtues.  China Mieville - Perdido Street Station