Magic and Sci-Fi

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Jame Rowe » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:44 pm

I've long been thinking of writing up a magic system for Traveller, based primarily on GURPS 3rd Edition Magic, and I have two questions.

First, is there anything I'd have to do to get permission to convert it? Especially since I'm thinking about possibly publishing it?

and

Second, what is the general thought on using magic in a technological setting? My fiancee thinks it won't work because one "will" or "has to" overpower the other. That is, if you have tech and develop magic, your tech will stop advancing, or if you have magic and develop tech, the tech will cause magic to die out. Is there a way to integrate magic and tech without either stopping the other?
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby IanBruntlett » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:53 pm

Jame Rowe wrote: Second, what is the general thought on using magic in a technological setting? My fiancee thinks it won't work because one "will" or "has to" overpower the other. That is, if you have tech and develop magic, your tech will stop advancing, or if you have magic and develop tech, the tech will cause magic to die out. Is there a way to integrate magic and tech without either stopping the other?
Here's some inspiration, I hope...

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover had Psionics. The idea was that Darkover was colonised by Terrans and later on forgot about. Humans and natives interbred resulting in some parts of the population (red haired IIRC) gaining psionic capabilities.

Babylon 5 had both technomages and (government licensed) telepaths.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby rust » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:05 pm

Jame Rowe wrote:I've long been thinking of writing up a magic system for Traveller ...
You are aware that there is already such a system, Flynn's Guide to
Magic in Traveller by Samardan Press ?

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/7 ... -Traveller
Second, what is the general thought on using magic in a technological setting?
There have been several space fantasy systems and settings with both
magic and technology. They usually assumed that magic and technology
covered different fields, for example with magic aimed at peoples' minds
and behaviour and technology used as a tool box to influence a society's
environment - if one wants to charm a person, one uses magic, if one in-
tends to build a house, one uses technology.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Claybor » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:14 pm

If you are looking for ideas, Netherell for Twilight sector has a magic system too.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby steelbrok » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:15 pm

Shadowrunhas never seemed to have any problems using both
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Moonstruck » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:26 pm

You used to be able to role for "Special" on the old CT, Psionic Taents table. I used that to make some "Runetouched" abilities for a PC once. Never went so far as to have spells or primitive magic. Most of the "magic" in MTU is just high TL tricks. 8)
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby IanBruntlett » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:58 pm

Here's something I'd forgotten about...

The Strontium Dog TU has a chapter (No 7) titled "Sorcery and the New Church".

The Judge Dredd TU has a chapter (No 8) titled "Thought crimes" which is described as having "Psi Division, psykers, new Psionic talents and powers, and a range of psionic equipment"

I'm not sufficiently familiar with these books to comment further.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Traveller-61 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:39 pm

IanBruntlett wrote:Here's something I'd forgotten about...

The Strontium Dog TU has a chapter (No 7) titled "Sorcery and the New Church".
The SD book some rules on sorcery and a list of a bout 20-ish spells that can be used by PCs and NPCs.

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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Jame Rowe » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:39 pm

Thank you all for your feedback. I'll look at Flynn's thing when I get both some money and a paypal account* at some point.

I work at Wal*mart, so I have some money coming in; however, I am not so fond of either credit cards or Paypal so unless DTRPG takes debit cards I'm going to be a while.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby AndrewW » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:34 pm

Jame Rowe wrote:I work at Wal*mart, so I have some money coming in; however, I am not so fond of either credit cards or Paypal so unless DTRPG takes debit cards I'm going to be a while.
If the debit card works through something they do accept (like Visa or Mastercard) they do.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Rick » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:08 am

Another source might be useful - there was an article in one of the Signs and Portents issues entitled 'Gods of the Space Age that might provide a basis for technological magic users.

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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby alex_greene » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:45 am

Might I suggest you look at the universe next door?

Mongoose Legend has a setting where you have access to magic of a number of different types. Common Magic is energy-inefficient, and in terms of its cost in internal energies it comes across very much like Traveller's Psi, and you also have Divine Magic which allows for larger effects. However the most flexible and versatile system is that of Sorcery, which allows the magic user to come up with a number of different, very powerful, effects at variable internal resource cost.

Perhaps you could have a Sorcery skill akin to the psionic skills (or use an existing one - I have long speculated that the "Special" Talent in Traveller referred not to a different kind of psionic Talent but to actual magic) and add a Manipulation skill to enable your character to create different effects, adding your Special and Manipulation skills together and multiplying them by 3 to get the number of factors you can throw into Strength, Intensity (the scale of the effect), Range, Duration, Targets and Combine (how many different magical effects you can throw in).

Or you could go and look up an external system such as Mage: the Awakening with its Gnosis rating (like Psionic Strength) and its Arcana (individual magical skills which can generate a variety of different effects).
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Dunia » Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:12 pm

Define magic.

You can have a group of humans that have discovered a small amount of ancient/alien tech that is just hugher tech than others know of, maybe nano-robots they inject (as a part of magical initiation) that allows them to do certain things that cannot be described by ordinary science.

Or have Psionic Abilities that are unknown to others, for really, what is the difference between magic and psionics?
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby hdan » Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:37 pm

I generally don't like mixing magic into my sci-fi, but....

Magic is usually defined as a power that follows the laws of magic rather than the laws of physics:

Some accepted of the "Laws of Magic":

Law of Contagion - Sort of like Quantum "spooky action at a distance".
Law of of Sympathy - Like attracts Like.
Law of Synchronicity - essentially, things that happen at the same time are probably connected
Law of Reciprocity - what ever you do comes back at you three-fold. Sort of like spell karma.
Law of Names - something's name has power over it
Law of Words of Power - some words can affect reality by being uttered

Magic seems to work on the idea that everything in the universe is willful and can be bargained with. Also, if you "know the rules", you can bend reality to your will, though of course not without cost.

Or the RPG/Video Game version:

There's a universal power source that can be tapped into by the talented. This power can deflect the stream of reality in various ways, and may represent the "fluid" through which time passes or some such. Sometimes, this power source must be "soaked up" over time (mana pools) or maybe carefully teased into meta-magical structures that can be employed as magical tools (the D&D/Vancian model).
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby alex_greene » Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:22 pm

Magic has a long history. At its heart the term refers to "something the Magi (Persians) would do," Iran being at the time the furthest place most people could name.

Still is, for some.

The Persians' "magic" amounted to basically being very, very smart and paying attention. Conjuring tricks, distractions and misdirection, careful observation of the stars and planets in the night sky amounted to them acquiring a mystique which went far beyond their actual capabilities.

To the lay person whose knowledge of the world barely extended beyond the back yard gate or maybe the town round the hill where they'd take the oxen to slaughter every year, these strange men of swarthy skin passing through speaking alien tongues and possessing strange knowledge would seem like the sort of people who could conjure up spirits of the air and fire to do their bidding, and I'm sure many a romance and daydream probably arose from the image of a Persian scholar in his loose silk robes scrawling what looked like alien incantations on the ground which might have been nothing more than arithmetic written out in Farsi, or maybe Greek.

Come on up to the present day. When people think of magic these days, they get a fixed idea of Harry Potter wand-fencing with Voldemort, or Charmed, or The Covenant or The Craft. Somehow, it doesn't quite seem to fit in with traditional images of the original Craft of the Wise, with their insistence on the Wiccan Rede of "An It Harm None, Do As Ye Will," and the Magicians' Four Pillars of Wisdom - "To Know; To Will; To Dare; To Be Silent."

Think of modern magicians as possessing an uncanny amount of knowledge, from sources unknown to the characters, and able to alter probabilities in strange ways that others would consider uncanny if they didn't know otherwise.

Give them abilities such as being invisible to CCTVs and sensors, an uncanny ability to track a person down with little more than a drunkard's walk algorithm, and a seeming ability to walk through walls and penetrate locked doors with no trace or clue of how they do these things. Also, give them abilities such as a really good memory, the ability to slip into suspended animation, the ability to hypnotise people and themselves, and exotic skills that people from their backgrounds couldn't possibly know. Having weird phenomena following them such as not leaving a shadow or a reflection would also add to their rmystique.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby hdan » Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:54 pm

I can dig going for a "technomage" type of magic where the practitioners are using "weird science" tricks and deliberately obfuscating their methods. Maybe having some special devices or implants that allow them to sense energy beyond the usual for humans, and the sense of showmanship to convince people of their Mighty Powers of Prestidigitation.

I didn't think the OP was going that way though. It sounded more like he was going for mana/force wielding super powers. But then again, I haven't read GURPS Magic, so I could be way off base here.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby alex_greene » Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:10 pm

If you insist on thinking of magic as being like a collection of superpowers, you'll have missed the point of it. If you think of science as a bunch of toys, again missing the point.

In both cases, it is a method. Not a technology.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby rust » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:03 am

hdan wrote: Some accepted of the "Laws of Magic":

Law of Contagion - Sort of like Quantum "spooky action at a distance".
Law of of Sympathy - Like attracts Like.
Law of Synchronicity - essentially, things that happen at the same time are probably connected
Law of Reciprocity - what ever you do comes back at you three-fold. Sort of like spell karma.
Law of Names - something's name has power over it
Law of Words of Power - some words can affect reality by being uttered
This is a rather scientific or proto-scientific approach to magic, an attempt
to determine "natural laws" of magic similar to the "natural laws" of scien-
ce, and a very late development in the way people thought about magic.
The original idea was more like the conviction that everything was "alive"
and had both needs and abilities, and by caring for the needs of a part of
nature one could encourage it to use its abilities in one's favour. The idea
was not to follow a law of magic or to dominate a part of nature, it was mo-
re like a deal of the kind "I do something for you so you will do something
for me". And since every part of nature was an individual, it had its indivi-
dual needs. The magician's task was to find out what a specific part of na-
ture needed or wanted, and then to provide it in return for something that
would benefit him or his community.
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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Egil Skallagrimsson » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:03 am

Jame Rowe wrote:I've long been thinking of writing up a magic system for Traveller, based primarily on GURPS 3rd Edition Magic, and I have two questions.

First, is there anything I'd have to do to get permission to convert it? Especially since I'm thinking about possibly publishing it?

and

Second, what is the general thought on using magic in a technological setting? My fiancee thinks it won't work because one "will" or "has to" overpower the other. That is, if you have tech and develop magic, your tech will stop advancing, or if you have magic and develop tech, the tech will cause magic to die out. Is there a way to integrate magic and tech without either stopping the other?
Why use Traveller as the base system? If you want lots of magic, why not use D&D or RQ (or Leg End) as the base, and add on stats for weapons above TL3?

It took me a while to come round to psionics in MgT, but have found the system works well, doesn't overwhealm everthing else, and is clearly part of the 3I. If using Trav in a home brew universe, would probably just lump psionics in with "Deception", "so, after role playing a ritual, you try to fool the Emperor into believing that your mental powers can cure his son, roll deception + Int + 0 (this emperor is pretty gullible)".

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Re: Magic and Sci-Fi

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:53 pm

Egil Skallagrimsson wrote:
Jame Rowe wrote:I've long been thinking of writing up a magic system for Traveller, based primarily on GURPS 3rd Edition Magic, and I have two questions.

First, is there anything I'd have to do to get permission to convert it? Especially since I'm thinking about possibly publishing it?

and

Second, what is the general thought on using magic in a technological setting? My fiancee thinks it won't work because one "will" or "has to" overpower the other. That is, if you have tech and develop magic, your tech will stop advancing, or if you have magic and develop tech, the tech will cause magic to die out. Is there a way to integrate magic and tech without either stopping the other?
Why use Traveller as the base system? If you want lots of magic, why not use D&D or RQ (or Leg End) as the base, and add on stats for weapons above TL3?

It took me a while to come round to psionics in MgT, but have found the system works well, doesn't overwhealm everthing else, and is clearly part of the 3I. If using Trav in a home brew universe, would probably just lump psionics in with "Deception", "so, after role playing a ritual, you try to fool the Emperor into believing that your mental powers can cure his son, roll deception + Int + 0 (this emperor is pretty gullible)".

Egil
One reason to use magic is as a substitute for the Jump Drive. The Jump Drive defies physics as we know it, so why not just use magic and teleport a starship?

Suppose we took a map of the Traveller Universe and wrapped it around a star. The Imperium has 11,000 worlds, but the surface area of a Dyson Sphere at about 1 AU is equivalent to one billion Earths. Now lets say the "Gods" built this Dyson Sphere and decided to run a simulation of one billion star systems. They Build a Dyson Sphere out of hexagons, each hexagon is a massively parallel quantum computer that simulates an entire star system with planets and stars. The people living in the simulation, for the most part don't really know its a simulation, they think the Jump Drive is an item of technology, most of the repair manuals for Jump Drives don't go into the specifics of how they actually work. the secret of the Jump Drive is closely kept, and the main one is that it isn't really technology, and the other secret is that everything seen experienced and felt is technology. The Jump Drive is a program cheat, basically by entering a certain code in a computer, a teleport within the simulation is effected, the number of hexagons one can teleport to is determined by the Jump Drive number, and a certain amount of Jump Fuel disappears with very jump, most of the people not educated in Jump Drive physics think its technology, those that are realize that it is magic on one level and technology on the other, such as in the movie The Matrix. Now the Matrix Movie simulated our hum drum world of today with most of the people in it not realizing that it was actually the future, but with the right "magical incantations" you can access various functions of the simulation that most of the denizens of this simulated universe were not meant to access. A couple functions that are in everyday use in the guise of "technology" are grav technology and Jump Drives, but a few others go beyond this and actually practice magic. There are certain authorities running the simulation that do not like this, so part of the trick to practicing magic is to do so while concealing that fact from the authorities.

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