1. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    North Carolina

    Story Setting Development

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Antaus, Dec 11, 2016.

    I'm working on a story, one of my biggest to date, and there's something I've been puzzling over for a long time. Perhaps a little input from other people could help in this regard. It involves something that has no doubt been discussed before, but I will specify the source of what is stumping me a little more specifically. It's the age old magic vs tech discussion. Namely how magic, if it existed in a world, would affect the development of technology, and it's limits. I've already decided some things about the world setting.

    The world I'm creating is closer to Victorian England, and the world is already evidencing advancement beyond most medieval story settings. Flintlock style firearms are in common use, repeating firearms have just recently hit the market at king's ransom prices, restricted only to the wealthy elite, thus they are a status symbol right now. The common method of transportation is still a horse, or something drawn by them, i.e. buggy/carriage/wagon. Standard knight's armor is falling out of use due to being so cumbersome and easily defeated by firearms. The setting is essentially a world in transition, moving from medieval times to a very early modernistic age.

    Problem one involves the limits of magic, because it is essentially able to do anything in a fictional setting. There's just so much possibility I'm having problems setting reasonable limits for can and can't do. Magic by definition can alter the fundamental laws of physics and reality itself, allowing one to manipulate the forces of nature, even time and space itself. I'm needing help defining the upper limits and what is just impossible even with magic. I've already done some work myself. Also due to the length of the post, I've split it into multiple posts.
     
  2. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Schools of Magic

    Elemental: Manipulation of the four basic elements, earth, wind, water, and fire. Things like ice are a sub-school of water, and lightning is a combination of fire/wind, requiring moderate skill to approach. This school not only serves a number of utilitarian purposes, it can be and is weaponized as well. This is also the most common form of magic used by people. A lot of common people can manipulate the elements on a basic level. A little puff of fire to start a campfire, trying to call water to see if there is any nearby, small breezes, things of that nature. This is considerably easier than combat magic which requires years of training, thus elemental utility and combat magic exist as two different but related schools. Utility is fairly cheap and easily to learn, combat magic costs and is usually out of the economic range of the common people.

    Control: There are mind altering magics that can manipulate a person's mind, memories, personality, cause deep sleep, even mental domination. However use of this type of magic on another sentient being is VERY restricted and can easily run afoul of the law. It's also hard to maintain over time as the mind naturally fights against this. The longer a person is controlled the stronger the resistance becomes. Also trying to force them to do things drastically against their will, harming themselves, loved ones, innocent people, can encounter extreme resistance leading to loss of control.

    Detection: Just like it sounds, this school allows one to detect the presence of magic in the area, on objects, people, places, and so on. It also has forensic applications. One highly skilled in detection magic can pick up subtle hints others might miss. Every person manipulates magic in their own unique way, thus it's almost like a magic fingerprint. However since there is currently no way to turn this into physical evidence it can't be used in court. This method is however still considered valuable in finding suspects to investigate and gather physical evidence against when magic is used illegally.

    Necromancy: The manipulation of the dead, raising skeletons and other undead monstrosities. Creation of diseases and other ailments to affect the living and turn them into undead, all sorts of badness. Outlawed in all civilized kingdoms. It is still used in a very limited capacity by kingdoms and agencies for biological and magical study under supervised situations. Magic users are also taught a number of defenses against this, but not how to actively use it.

    This is also a very dangerous magic in that if one loses control of a raised entity, it can become feral and attack anything in sight. Simple things like skeletons and zombies only have the most basic instinctual intelligence and can't be reasoned with, only destroyed. Advanced necromancy can reanimate not only the body, but the mind as well. These result in intelligent undead which are the most dangerous, not only because of the intelligence they possess, but undead have proven to be completely without morality or compassion.

    It's a common mistake to think that intelligent undead are the person they once were. While they retain the knowledge and memories within the mind that once held them, they have no souls and are as such not truly the person that died. It is nothing more than an unnatural reanimation of a mind and body through magical means.

    Transmutation: This school allows one to manipulate objects and turn them into other things. It is limited in what it can do, most people can only reshape objects. Changing one material into another, like stone to cloth, is incredibly hard to do, and even most masters can only alter a about one ounce at a time with extreme effort. Not considered practical for creating valuable materials because it can also result in explosive failure and is very draining. Successfully transmuting one thing into another can leave a person drained and recovering for days. Using this against people or other living things is highly restricted and can once again easily run afoul of the law.

    Enchantment: This school of magic deals largely with magic left at a specific point, place, or object, and designed to trigger under a set condition, such as a command word, proximity, or a number of other variables determined by the caster. These can be as mundane as sounding an alarm, or as dangerous as a lethal attack. While most people think enchantments to be simple magic traps, they are in fact more complicated. Enchantments can also be cast directly on a person as well, but are dangerous and most illegal as well. They can be designed to do just about anything, though most that are cast on a person are from the control school.

    Enchantments also have the interesting use of being used as, in some kingdoms, a form of judicial punishment. Most commonly they alert an authority or cause a person immense pain when they commit a certain action such as a crime. In harsher kingdoms they can even be set to kill when triggered. They also have therapeutic uses as well in a similar manner such as causing someone to feel guilty, repulsed, or even sick upon performing a specific action. This is most often a closely monitored form of personality reformation and reprogramming and one of the few legal uses of control magic on an intelligent being. Mostly commonly by those seeking relief from mental or physical addiction.

    The largest difference between enchantments and the spells they employ is the way they are used. Enchantments placed on people last far longer than a normal spell, and those placed on an object or place with a trigger condition can lay dormant for years, decades, or even centuries without dissipating. However they will slowly lose strength over time and eventually disappear altogether. An enchantment is in itself a separate spell used to make another longer lasting.
     
  3. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Biomancy: This school is the study of living objects and is considered the exact opposite of necrmonacy. Biomancy is used to heal, and can even bolster the immune system against illnesses and diseases to preserve life. It is what is used to teach necromancy defense as they operate through opposing magical energy types, like fire and water. It also has combat applications in the form of physical augmentation of strength, dexterity, agility, running speed, endurance, even reflexes and cognitive reaction speed. It can't make someone smarter and also runs a serious risk. If used too long, or too much at once, it can lead to permanent disability or even death from pushing the body too far past its normal limits.

    Healing magic also has limits. It only works on physical damage by radically accelerating the normal healing process. With small wounds like cuts and scraps, the person doesn't experience any real side effects except mild weakness at the point of healing. Moderate injuries can leave the patient physically exhausted and hungry as a result of using energy stores to accelerate healing. Massive injuries often times can't be fully healed as it would put too much strain on the body. Skilled biomancy users in situations like this will often do just enough to prevent death, then let doctors and surgeons take over.

    Biomancy also can't heal old injuries. Things like scars or physical disabilities that the body has already recovered from become permanent and irreversible even by magic. This also applies to birth defects both physical and mental. If used fast enough on a new injury it can help the body to fully heal and prevent both scarring and disability. Can't regenerate lost tissue/organs/limbs. It's also known to be useless against cancer. Because cancer is an unhealthy mutation of the body, using healing magic can actually cause it to spread faster. It also can't 'cure' illnesses, but it can bolster the immune system to make it fight things off faster and more effectively. This is also limited and certain illnesses involve the corruption of the immune system can't be fought off magically.

    Restoring the dead to life isn't possible, the dead are dead, period. The only way biomancy can help is to delay the effects of death. Most people who die begin to suffer permanent brain damage after three minutes of oxygen deprivation, using biomancy to preserve the body can delay this for up to ten minutes, to allow for magical and/or medical healing in attempts to revive the person. Beyond this death is considered permanent and irreversible.

    Defensive: This school of magic deals largely with energy barriers, and other methods of defending and/or defeating opposing casters. Rather than magically attacking, this school is meant to either stop an attack or prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Casting most often requires some sort of verbal or somatic component. If this can be recognized fast enough an opposing caster can attempt to disrupt the spell, then it becomes a short but strong contest of will to maintain or disrupt.

    Energy barriers are generally a square not more than ten feet, twenty feet is considered a powerful barrier, and most masters can't go much beyond thirty. Domes are possible but are generally limited to skilled magic users. They also require a constant influx of energy to maintain and are taxing over the long term.

    Null fields cancel out all magic that come into contact with them and generally exist as invisible domes projected around the caster. Very taxing to maintain and generally limited to master users. Even the best can only maintain a null field for 2-3 minutes before collapsing from exhaustion.

    Divination: This is considered a very hard school of magic to learn in some respects. One of the easiest things to learn with divination to simple location. Be it a person or a thing divination can be used as a means to locate something and is not too hard if unopposed. The limit of location is based both on distance and skill level of the caster. Even masters are generally limited to about 250 miles.

    Against those with no magical training, locating them can occur without any knowledge of it happening. Novice magic users might have the hair on the back of their neck stand up and know something magical is happening. Skilled users may know it is divination and attempt to hide from or disrupt the spell. Against master magic users this is very dangerous, no only will most easily detect and know what it is, they can even look back through the divination and see who's on the other end.

    On objects divination can also be used to know who came into contact with it recently, though most can't see past a week to eight days. If the object was exposed to intense emotion it can give a diviner glimpses of what left such a strong impression. Again it has forensic applications, but is not considered legal evidence.

    Seeing into the past is possible but very hard and overlaps with temporal magic, masters usually can't see more than a decade or more, and it's not admissible in court because it's not 100% accurate. The further back one goes the less accurate things become. It's not because events appear inaccurately, the further back one goes the cloudier and murkier things get making them harder to see. It's also been proven that a skilled user can alter the perceived course of events, thus it's inadmissibility in court.

    Seeing into the future is also possible, but it is a well known fact that what one sees is not what will happen, rather what is most likely to happen. Master level diviners can even see multiple possibilities, but this is even more limited in the further forward someone looks, the less accurate things become. This is because the future is unfixed and always in motion. This has also had the interesting effect of dispelling illusions regarding fate, destiny, or a fixed and unalterable future course of events.

    Illusion: Illusion spells most often are just that, things designed to trick the senses, but are not limited to sight. They can be in the form of optical illusions, false sounds, even smell. This school of magic is more refined than some might think. Novices are generally limited to basic things like fake walls, weird sounds, or simple smells, however the more advanced casters can combine these to interesting results. Illusions can appear in the form of people that don't really exist as well. Not only can they appear as people, master casters can make illusions solid to the touch.

    It has been proven that a master caster can make a human illusion that can be touched and smelled, and if the caster is in visual range, they can even make the illusion act and speak. Naturally this makes them potentially dangerous with violent possibilities. Another interesting aspect is leaving a humanoid message. With an enchantment effect one can leave a one time or repeating message triggered to activate under a certain circumstance. Master casters can even program them with limited responsive capabilities such as answering simple questions, though this takes a long time and is not an easy task. Advanced illusions can be made solid, however novice illusions can not only be passed through, they are also sometimes partially transparent.

    Spacial: The school of spacial magic largely deals with transportation over short or long distances. This magic is unique in that it exists and operates in two separate and distinct forms. Teleportation and fixed point portals. Teleportation involves a caster moving themselves, others, or objects from point A to point B through a process of dematerializing, moving through space, and then rematerializing at the destination. Normally, even for a master caster this is limited to around a mile in distance, and can also prove lethal if one accidentally teleports into a solid object. Teleportation can also be potentially resisted by someone if they are unwilling.

    Naturally teleportation has combat applications, however it's not something someone can do instantly and takes 3-4 seconds to perform under optimal conditions by a skilled caster. Null fields and energy barriers can also prevent teleportation through them. This isn't normally lethal and if teleportation is blocked, a person will rematerialize directly in front of the blockage instead of their intended location. Size and mass also make teleportation more difficult as they increase, fortunately failed teleportations aren't dangerous. The only thing that happens is a loud 'whump' sound followed by a mild outward rush of air.

    Fixed point portal operate on the principle of spacial folding in that the portal brings a small portion of the destination to the starting location, allows a person to step through, then space pulls itself back into shape. They also require two points to be magically bound together. Remaining open permanently isn't possible either, as the longer an FPP is open, the more space tries to pull itself back into its original shape. If held open too long space will forcibly pull itself back into space with violent and potentially lethal shearing force. When this happens space has to recover from the effect and can take several hours or even days before an FPP can be reopened.

    Because an FPP can't remain open indefinitely, each use requires a properly skilled caster to open and maintain. Naturally this has open market potential, but it's not cheap. Naturally the larger the portal, the harder it is to open and the more energy it requires to maintain.

    Temporal: This is considered the most difficult and dangerous school of magic to exist. As a result not only is it approached by only the most seasoned master, it's also illegal without appropriate sanction and oversight by kingdom authorities. The reason for this is because time is hard to manipulate and can have lethal results for both the caster and others. One of the main problems is that time flows in a given direction and doesn't appear to want to be diverted. This has also resulted in two schools of thinking as well. Some think time is a fundamental force of nature that resists attempts to manipulate it, others think it's possible time is an entity with a consciousness too vast to ever truly be understood by a mere mortal.

    The most common use of temporal magic is the acceleration or slowing of time in a small area of effect. Completely stopping it is nearly impossible and no master in a century of the current setting has been able to do so. Time travel is impossible in any form, it is theorized to be possible, and experiments have occurred in the past, nearly all being lethal. As a result it remains a speculative subject, nothing more. One of the reasons temporal magic is so dangerous is that if it is accelerated or slowed, time resists and tries to pull itself back into a proper flow.

    If the user loses control he can be caught up in the flow and his aging process affected. Unfortunately once this process starts there is no known way to stop it, and and a person will either grow old to the point of turning to dust in seconds, or regress past infancy and simply cease to exist. Another nasty side effect is known as temporal psychosis. Though not fully understood, it's believed a person's mind either becomes unstuck in time, or loses the ability to perceive it in a normal manner. Most are reduced to babbling or hysterically laughing lunatics who lose their grip on reality.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  4. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Ceremonial Magic: This isn't really a school of its own. Ceremonial magic is what they refer to when several casters gather together to perform a specific task. With proper time and concentration a group of casters can get their energies to work in concert with each other. Because of this the results can easily be much larger and more powerful than what a single person can achieve. This usually isn't used in a combat fashion because it is slow process, requires immense concentration, and on the battlefield ceremonial magic tends to paint a target on them for enemy casters.

    This is usually used for things like extending the distance of location divination and weather manipulation, such as bringing rain to a parched area, or reducing/stopping excessive weather. Father nature (so called in the setting) is still a force to be reckoned with and completely stopping things like tornadoes or massive weather fronts/blizzards is almost impossible. More often than not ceremonial magic will attempt to divert these things around important areas.

    This area still isn't 100% developed on use/limits.

    Technology


    This is where I'm really getting somewhat stumped. I do have some ideas about the interaction between magic and the development of technology. I'll list them below and discuss things further.

    Magic Crystals: There is a type of crystal in the story, as of yet not properly named, that has an enhancing effect on magic. This comes in the form of focusing it into a more effective and refined result. Because of this most 'serious' magic users have one somewhere on their person. The crystal only needs to be in close proximity, such as touching the body or being in a pocket to work. It also glows when in use. The size also limits it's usefulness, the larger the crystal the more energy it can handle.

    Overcharging a crystal can destroy it, but they don't explode, they just crack and/or shatter. They also have a limited lifespan. The more a crystal is used, the cloudier it becomes, and over time it will turn black, slowly losing effectiveness in the process. These crystals aren't needed to use powerful magic, but they do make it both easier and reduce the overall amount of energy needed to achieve the same result. Although relatively common, they are still somewhat expensive, as such most common folk can't afford one over a quarter inch in size.

    Storage: Magic crystals also have other uses. Not only do they refine magic, they can also be used to store energy. The amount is obviously limited to size. This energy remains until it is actively triggered and used in some fashion, although if a crystal is cracked it can lose energy to a bleed off effect. This can be used in a number of ways, such as a crystal being charged with energy, then the person keeps it until later when they recover, as such they have an outside source of energy to draw from for magical use. Among casters this is very common place and considered a trick of the trade.

    Using crystals charged by someone else is possible, but the overall effect is reduced. Magical energy is personalized and doesn't completely mesh with another person. They can even be rigged to explode if someone else tries to use them. The effect can be disarmed, but one has to be careful.

    Crystals can also be used for artificial lighting, as once charged it can be set to slowly allow the energy to bleed off in a very luminous fashion. Both the size of the crystal and the amount of light given off determine lifespan before requiring recharge, which can last a few minutes, to several hours, or even days. This is a basic function that doesn't require huge amounts of energy to achieve, so even large crystals can be made into light sources with only a moderate amount of magic used.

    Multiple people charging a single crystal is also considered dangerous, because the personal energies tend to clash and can damage or destroy a crystal, even to potentially explosive results. Some exceptions to this are people who are related as their energy is similar, and has a lower chance to cause a problem. The only people known to be able to multi-charge a crystal as it is known, are identical siblings, twins, triplets, etc. Because their personal energies are almost identical it rarely causes problems. The next closest example is the energy of a parent and child, or two non-identical siblings.

    Airships: In the story setting they also have limited use as mechanical batteries used to power engines. The reason this use is limited is because the technology is a closely guarded secret of one kingdom. In the story mechanical technology is a very new concept and in most kingdoms it's limited to extremely simple things mostly powered by hand. One kingdom did develop an engine powered by charged crystals. These engines however are very large, cumbersome, and currently limited to military applications, namely airships.

    Other kingdoms have airships, but they're basically a ship held aloft by a giant hot air balloon. The engine driven ships are very easy to tell apart as they sport six tall metal masts, three on either side of the hull, with propellers that spin at high RPMs. They're faster, more maneuverable, and can support larger and more heavily armed vessels.

    Weaponry: Medieval weapons are still the most common type used in the story setting and bows/crossbows exist alongside firearms. There are several reasons for this. The first being that flintlocks, and the more recent repeating firearms, are still a new technology less than a century old. They also remain expensive and even flintlocks tend to be out of the economic reach of the common person. Hunting among the populace is still done almost exclusively by trap or bow.

    Many kingdoms have also started to introduce riflers onto the field of battle, and as mentioned above this has resulted in full plate armor starting to fall out of common use. Now most soldiers on the field use partial plate to allow for protection with increased mobility. The range of rifles is still limited as they have yet to discover how to rifle barrels, but they now use bullets instead of musket balls which are more aerodynamic.

    Repeating rifle are still very new technology and utilize rotating barrels, but they don't have cartridges yet. Each barrel has to be manually packed with powder and bullet. Thus reloading with a soldier trained in their use takes about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Canons also exist on the battlefield and ships. There are also those who watch world trends, and have noted that while slow, the cost of firearms has dropped since they were first introduced. Initially flintlocks were so expensive that only the wealthy could afford them.

    Now that repeating rifles have appeared, flintlocks are losing their position as the premier weapon. This is causing a trickle down effect and now the well to do can afford them. As a result the wealthy use repeating firearms, the well to do use flintlocks, and commoners still use bows. Many estimate that with another shift in technology, what replaces the current repeating firearms will push flintlocks down far enough in price that they will largely replace bows altogether.

    There are also prototype magic firearms. They are being designed on the principle of using a crystal and magic to fire an energy bullet. While these weapons are in the prototype phase nothing has emerged as a viable market possibility, because results remain inconsistent and most weapons are overly large and cumbersome. They're really closer to unreliable hand canons.

    Conclusion: As you can see in the magic crystal section, they not only act as lights, but also batteries. Because of this it's likely that the development of mechanical electricity as we know it, either won't occur, or be severely delayed, as will traditional batteries. However I'm not 100% sure what else magic will affect. I don't intend to explore every last possibility, otherwise I'd never get to story writing, but I want to cover enough to present a believable alternate technological development possibility.

    Traditional medicine exists as well. As listed in the magic section, with the limits on healing magic, there is still a robust and viable market for the study and development of medicine.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  5. blklizard

    blklizard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2016
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    30
    One approach is that the world produces x amount of magic so one can only use so much before it's used up. On an island, you have a small amount while, on a continent, you have more. Let the setting affect more how magic is available so people cannot just spam spells. Another approach is the risks behind using the magic. Shorter lifespan or needing human sacrifices can really limit how much magic one can use. The third approach is magic running out in your world and the upper class try desperately, through technology, to find alternate ways to maintain their control of society.

    Technological advances benefit the commoners the most since they had little to no knowledge of magic. Why not have a group who wishes to vanquish magic by unlocking inventions and technologies that would render magic almost useless? They might be hunted by the governments who are trying the maintain control with their magic. Magic means power but something that undermines magic is more feared.

    You can also have creatures who are immune to magic and seek to kill humans. What better way to motivate beings into discovering something new than facing death?
     
  6. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    North Carolina
    There is one idea in there that peaked my interest. The possibility of a magic vs technology groups. Now that I think about it, that would be a natural development of having both in the same world that is just beginning to approach a more modern age. Magic is not only costly to learn, but also requires an inborn degree of talent one either does or doesn't have. Technology on the other hand requires nothing more than intelligence and understanding to develop and can be used by anyone. Good food for thought on social ramifications.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice