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Monday, December 28, 2009

[Milieu][RPG] Rarity of Magic/k Response to SHARK-

SHARK, my reply exceeded the charactr limit of the comments section, so I have posted it here.

Let me begin by thanking you for continuing this dialogue. :)

The first part of my response will deal with the game as a game: Have you seen how steep the 'XP' curve is for purchasing magic in my system?
--I have a player whose character is perhaps 7th-Magnitude/Level, and he is still only capable of casting 2nd-'Level' spells, and not for lack of trying. Granted, he has slightly diffused his energies by pursuing established spell-use and Shadow Magicks, but when I recently asked him for a ball-park estimate of points he's spent toward the Arts, his answer was roughly 2/3rds the total 'xp' he has earned.
---I designed the system expressly for the purpose of allowing a magicker to gain many low-power spells, but to severely retard their matriculation through the 'spell levels'. Given that, what would you expect a PC or NPC be able to accomplish that would out-live his own existence save create new spells and leave them hidden away in a spell book or a few scrolls? :)

Given that the above applies to NPCs equally, most 'breakthroughs' in magic come in the form of daisy-chaining 0th - 2nd or perhaps at best, 3rd-'level' spells into more costly (although, often more useful) spells than 4th or higher ones, as the casting-costs are cumulative (easier to calculate using a Spell Point system than the so-called Vancian method).

Now, from a setting perspective: Urutsken tend to be fairly bigoted and xenophobic folk, and that is taken to the next level when dealing with individuals pursuing lost arts and mysteries. There is little in the way of inter-cultural exchanges regarding such esoteric subject matter, especially in light of the general populace' fear of aberrations, which mages most certainly are perceived as in all but the most stable of metropolitan areas.
--That, coupled with high death rates due to environmental factors of a relatively unfriendly planet, predation by Humanoids and Monstrous Beings, and human-on-human warfare, most folk of that mental calibre are put to good use reasoning-out the functions of Ancient technology, rather than allowed to selfishly pursue dangerous, unstable, and Monster-attracting practices.
---What few number who do learn more than a few parlour tricks are fortunate if they are able to sequester themselves (almost invariably alone, or at most with manservants and support personnel) in a reasonably safe redoubt in the Humanoid and Monster-infested wilderness, and escape the attention of any of the three (other humans generally see them as complicit in aiding the non-human forces in the world and beyond), and with such little power at their disposal in comparison to mages in other game-systems, often fail to stay alive in the process of their studies.

Now, on an institutional level, there is at least one international group, a true cabal, known as the Kherstic League, who, when they find practitioners, give them one chance to join, or they are slain, and the research absconded with. The League is the only game in town, as it were, and their aims are fairly simple and straightforward: control knowledge of the Imperial Magick which still operates, albeit in a damaged and unstable manner, to this day, and slowly release its applications (perhaps the term 'technomantic' is best, here) as human society becomes more stable and less likely to destroy itself, or summon Lovecraftian-level non-friendlies to dominate or devour humanity's best bastion amid the Shattered Stars.
--The secret of the Kherstic Shards is at once amazingly simple, and on the other hand, such a vast paradigm-shift (Teslan v. Edisonian, with the former being centuries ahead of his time, and the latter being short-sighted and conniving), that its revelation would likely destroy the fabric of global society, undoing thousands of years of reconstruction and re-integration virtually overnight. In essence, the League is willing to sacrifice the lives of (wilfully-)ignorant practitioners to safeguard the hope for a better, stronger future position for all of humanity, and see it once-again take its place as the masters of the sidereal realm.
---Moreover, many folk who (in other games) would become M-U's, instead become involved in technology and restorationist projects, and take great pride in their accomplishments, regardless if they give a hoot about Humanity, or simply enjoy the privileges and notoriety that comes along with serving the temporal leaders who facilitate their research. Now, add the fact that most of these folks are also working with the League, wittingly or unwittingly, and the circle is more or less complete.

If I have not addressed your questions, please let me know, and I will attempt to do so.

Best, :)