Magic and Progress

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AuthorTopic: Magic and Progress
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #0
Hi, all,
Was thinking about the game and the concept of progress. It has been five hundred years since the begining of Blades of Exile. There is very little technical progress. However, I think there should be magical innovations.
For example construction golems, horse golems, household golems for mages. Levitation sleds for transporting goods. I think by now there must be some of kind magical lab which produces magical items for everyday household use -- like the Edison labs. There might be things like a magical freezer chest, light emitting crystals, miracle grow magic fertilizer (this could cause major problems) , etc.
I am also assuming there is some kind of imperial bureaucracy that deals with dangerous magic because of some of the major industrial damage which has occurred, think Golem Factory, Valley of the Dying Things, and the constant need for sewer and mine cleanup operations because of infestations of giant roaches, rats, goblins, and gremlins. A kind of covert Environmental Magic Cleanup Operation.

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

Star Bright, Star Light, Oh I Wish I May, I Wish Might, Wish For One Star Tonight.
Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Agent
Member # 1993
Profile #1
Go ahead, put that in a scenario ^_^

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Slartucker: * facepalm facepalm facepalm *
Dikiyoba: Are you unconscious yet?
Posts: 1420 | Registered: Wednesday, October 2 2002 07:00
Mongolian Barbeque
Member # 1528
Profile #2
I think that's a great idea — in fact, I've been thinking along similar lines myself.

For one thing, we saw a small amount of progress in this way with that journalist fellow in A Small Rebellion being the first of the new breed of newspayrus reporters.
Posts: 907 | Registered: Monday, July 15 2002 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #3
The BoE scenario At the Gallows, regarded by some as "Exile IV", deals with this sort of thing to some extent.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Guardian
Member # 2238
Profile Homepage #4
Inflation of magic = bad, in my opinion. We don't need a Warcraft.

I always had a feeling that Exile was really ancient. Magic was a closly guarded secret.

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DEMON PLAY,
DEMON OUT!
Posts: 1582 | Registered: Wednesday, November 13 2002 08:00
BANNED
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #5
Closely guarded? No way- as long as you've got 100 gp, then you can shoot out fire. It's just that you won't find teleporters everywhere in year 900 (Exile-ish era). Year 1,800, on the other hand...

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #6
Magic was closely guarded and surpressed in the era before Prazac, but she ushered in the Empire's golden age and encouraged the use and development of magic and magical research, as well as mechanical engineering and research.

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Encyclopedia Ermariana - Trapped in the Closet
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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
BoE Posse
Member # 112
Profile #7
Hmm. Surprised Stareye hasn't popped his head in yet. He loves this sort of stuff. In A Perfect Forest he's got a *mmpphh*

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Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3022
Profile #8
My opinion is that Prazac will fall - and fall hard. Rebels coming out of the woodwork, alliance with Avernum annoying the old loyalists, failing to receive much credit for saving Valorim, failing even to strike back at the Vahnatai, drugs running rampant, plenty of enemies. And so on. Pretty soon, unless another semi-invincible gang of four come to prop her up, her opposition will converge, and she will be out. Or at least, made into a puppet. Then, we may see a situation as seen in middle ages Japan - a shogunate, with a symbolic leader.

A number of candidates... From Valorim, Mayor Knight seems the most ambitious. There is also the general who was fighting the golems. Even the Anama might use the aftermath of A3 to further their advances - I'd put them as a symptom, not a cause of general magical distrust. Any replacement is likely to clamp heavily down on magic, again, if they know about successive incidents such as the Tower of Magi disaster, the Lyfan incident, the Valorim monster plagues, the Skylark Vale diseases, the Seleucia atrocities, the Gebra cults, the general proliferation of magic banditry. Magic is likely to return again to strict Imperial control. A backlash like that is inevitable - the only question is how far it would go...
Posts: 269 | Registered: Saturday, May 24 2003 07:00
Guardian
Member # 2238
Profile Homepage #9
What does that have to do with this topic?

Anyway... I meant "closely guarded" as in there aren't magic-everythings prancing about. But it doesn't matter, does it.

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DEMON PLAY,
DEMON OUT!
Posts: 1582 | Registered: Wednesday, November 13 2002 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 4389
Profile Homepage #10
It has a lot to do with the topic, WGS. If you read the whole post. :rolleyes:

Shifts in government on Ermarian have never really been explored within scenarios. With the emperor being a global leader with absolute power, it's easy to see how things could get out of hand pretty quickly. Changes in policy from parents to children would mean that major laws, standards and daily life could and would shift radically every generation or so.

I always wanted to make a scenario with a new leader putting Ermarian into magical lockdown, as FZ was speculating. There's any number of stories which could revolve around that.

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fame fame fatal fame
it can play hideous tricks on the brain
Posts: 407 | Registered: Friday, May 14 2004 07:00
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #11
If Empress Prazac follows the Elizabethan style-- dowager empress married to empire she could be very effective. I think she would have thought about what to do with magic after having to deal with Garzahd and her crazed brother.

Changing the power structure of the empire so it was more of a kind of constitutional monarchy -- the Emperors family becomes a figurehead with massive wealth and symbol of state and power becomes concentrated in a kind of house of lords-- superpowerful characters 50+ level who have risen through imperial ranks or service. She would retire not die. Also instituting a kind of imperial civil service similar to the Chinese Ming empire.

I can imagine her doing a number of things if she is truly enlightened.

Founding an imperial college and library for magic and research so the most powerful mages were at the center of the empire. Creating a kind of mage tax where you have to send in a certain amount of your research to the central magical repository.

Creating a secret service to deal with magical problems. Similar to the Roman Imperial Hands.

Building an alchemical registry of potions, engineering marvels, and magical items.

Empowering the Anama or an official state religious body with inquisitorial power for certain types of magic-- demonic magic and necromancy. Also developing a mind blasting potion which would turn mages who practiced this type of magic into idiots.

Creating a one way gateway for low level rebels to another world entirely not on Ermariana. Higher level characters would be obliterated by magical energy.

Creating an imperial exploratory service where she could banish troublemakers and young nobles. Essentially sending them to the borders to deal with the Vahnati, Sliths, Avernites, and unexplored areas.

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

Star Bright, Star Light, Oh I Wish I May, I Wish Might, Wish For One Star Tonight.
Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 4531
Profile #12
I don't think that there will ever be magical progress, for the simple reason that magic is not like technology. Technology is a democratizing force because its fruits can be used by anyone. Magic, on the other hand, is an inherently centralizing force, because to use it you have to have spent years training as a mage (that is, you must be rich, well-educated, and priviledged). Any pesant soldier could use a gun if given one, but only a specially-trained mage could shoot fireballs. And you can't become a mage unless you get permission from the governmane and the magical elite. Therefore, I would expect that fantasy worlds involving magic don't change and progress the way the real world does. Rather, the world ends up under the thumb of a powerful elite and their hired mages. This sort of repressive society would stifle most people's creativity and fail to produce any technological progress, magical or otherwise. At least that's my theory on why so many magical fantasy worlds are stuck in the middle ages. This line of reasoning also opens up the possibility that the Anama will in fact advance socially and technologically due to their avoidance of magic, while the rest of the world stands still.
As for Prazec, she'll pursue enlightened policies for a generation, then be replaced by a successor who will likely be just as bad as Hawthorne. That's the problem with benevolant dictatorships. She may be well-intnetioned, but I don't see her actually relinquising her power and making the Empire more democratic. If anything, Stalker and the other rebels will force her to become more authoritarian.
Posts: 32 | Registered: Saturday, June 12 2004 07:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #13
In my series, the role of Prazac was a decentralizing one. She took a lot of the power from Solaria (the Imperial capital on Pralgad) and distributed it throughout the Empire.

At the same time, the Empire was growing in both prosperity and size. The consequnce was an inflation of the already belated ancient Imperial bureaucracy (which I based off the Chinese model and assumed dated to the start of the Empire). This meant the real power lies in the bureaucracy. It's just too huge to for one person, or even a small cabal of people in Solaria to handle. Although they try, realistically, the local leaders and bureaucrats hold the power.

This is about where the Empire stood at about the time of At the Gallows which takes place 400 years after the Avernum trilogy. So long as a regional leader does not bring down the Empire's military might (as they did in Stolgrad in the scenario), things run smoothly.

At about the time of Spears, Foreshadows, and A Perfect Forest, things are starting to shift in the other direction. Bureaucracies are being destroyed and recentralized. Magical control is being enforced much more strictly. Although in At the Gallows, the rules were still fairly strict. There were no real magic shops in the scenario. The Empire's golden age ended effectively after At the Gallows.

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Your flower power is no match for my glower power!
Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #14
The likelihood of magical progress depends on how you envision magic. Think about the identifying shops, some of which use magic: they're selling a magical service. Also the augmenting shops, and probably several others that aren't coming to mind. If these merchants can figure out ways to do what they're doing more efficiently and cut costs (thereby cutting prices), they'll compete better. That means they have an incentive for magical R & D, assuming that it is possible to make their spells more efficient, which seems highly likely.

Also, it was NOT true that just anyone could pick up a gun and use it with any decent effectiveness until fairly recently, and even now a first-time untrained shooter would be likely to miss his mark. Guns had the advantage over bows that they were easier to learn, but they still require extensive (although somewhat less now) training. Similarly, if one could come up with a simpler way to cast, say, Far Sight so that one wouldn't need as high Mage Spells in order to do it, the same sort of thing would happen. This would be the democratizing effect that normal technology has had on Earth.

However, depending on the strength of magic, other technological development might be slowed. If one can cast a Telekinesis spell, there's not much need to work on lever technology -- probably a bad example, but maybe more relevantly, if one can easily cast Bolt of Fire, there's not much need to try to figure out chemicals to make lighting fires easier. Magic might stall industrialization and technological development in a society that was poised for it, just as, say, slavery does.

At least, so I would speculate.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 643
Profile #15
Does this magic society really have to have all its citizens magically talented? sure there would be more then there is now, but almost anyone can make use of wands, scrolls, crystals it seems. Heck, you could have a printing press for magic scrolls :rolleyes:

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Fine Meal is people!!!
Posts: 289 | Registered: Saturday, February 16 2002 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3368
Profile #16
Magical technology seems like an oxymoron to me

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"Like most of life's problems, this one can be solved with bending"
Posts: 287 | Registered: Tuesday, August 19 2003 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 4531
Profile #17
I guess there are two different models of magic. Exile/Avernum tries to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand, mages seem to all come from a few elite Empire-controlled schools at which they go through an extensive apprenticeship, and are presumably indoctrinated with Empire propaganda. On the other hand, magic items are everywhere, and lots of people know a little magic, and the difference between a fighter and a fighter-mage is a few skill points put into mage spells.

My guess is that there are two classes of magic, "mundane" and "elite". Mundane magic is the type that adventurers, shopkeepers, and alchemists use, and includes all the spells that players can learn. Learning mundane magic is pretty easy and not tightly controlled. Elite magic includes things like summoning demon lords, making monster plagues, creating magic barriers and quickfire, making permanent magic items, and other things characters can't do. Elite magic would be extremely hard to learn and be restricted to those very, very loyal to the Empire (or the Tower of the Magi for Avernites). Perhaps the ability to use mundane magic is even granted by a spell cast by an elite mage. This division isn't explicitly stated in any of the games, but it seems to be implied by the double standard mentioned earlier.
Posts: 32 | Registered: Saturday, June 12 2004 07:00
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #18
Most people nowadays don't understand engineering or science that well. Yet we use toasters, television sets, and other items. Technological items don't have to be understood to use them. Most aren't built for the engineers to use them until you get to more complex things like electron microscopes and other stuff.

There is no reason that simple magical items cannot be mass produced. Things like glow crystals, scrolls, books, magically waterproofed clothing, lanterns. With the amount of books and scrolls available in Avernum there probably is a magical equivalent of a printing press-- there would have to be for there to be a daily newspaper.

Harry Turtledove has a written series called The World At War, a magical equivalent of World War II, and there is magical progress-- spells and weapons become more and more powerful throughout the book. Soldiers use wands instead of rifles, and drop bombs from dragons.

One more thought-- If Empress Prazac wanted to maintain empire she would have one more enlightened policy for magic. She would set up imperial trade cities for the Vahnati and the Avernites where philosophy, goods, and magic would be exchanged. These would have ambassadors and would charter adventurers to find new trade routes for goods-- magical items and other items in Vahnati and Avernite lands.

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

Star Bright, Star Light, Oh I Wish I May, I Wish Might, Wish For One Star Tonight.
Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #19
There's still an interrelationship between magic and technological advances. In teleporters, there are always efforts to increase mobility and decrease the energy requirements, possibly by mechanizing certain parts. There are conveyor belts, automated printing presses (albeit infused with magic when dealing with scrolls), factories that use complex machinery, etc.

The most magically inclined people, the Vahnatai, were also the most advanced industrially, as we can see by the golem factory and Rentar's fortress. As creating the plagues would take too much energy to do with magic alone, mechanization is brought into the picture, and there's no reason to assume that it will not advance as magical progress is occurring as well.

The people started out with a very low ability for magic and no technology. As they advanced, they got more magically proficient and developed weapons and tools, not through magic but through being industrious. Now there is certainly going to remain an impetus for creating the newest weapons that are magic-less and any army grunt can use without having to rely on the magical talent of a mage, but instead on the prowess of blacksmiths, engineers, etc.

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Drakefyre's Demesne - Happy Happy Joy Joy
Encyclopedia Ermariana - Trapped in the Closet
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You can take my Mac when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the mouse!
Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #20
As sort of a sidenote, despite the intense centralization of magical knowledge that occurred during the Stewart and Hawthorne reigns (judging from, among other things, VoDT), the University of Valorim at Lorelei was making its fledgeling efforts to start out in A3. Depending on whether Prazac chooses to sponsor this university or not, it may succeed and even spread and found new universities in Gale or Krizsan or Sharimik, or it may founder and die. I think that would have a significant impact on the future of academia in Valorim.

Also the massive influx of Avernites would have an impact, as they tend to be more free-thinking (which is why they got sent down there in the first place). Prazac will have to be more lenient with them than Hawthorne was, or else she'll have a civil war on her hands, and that would be a disaster of even greater magnitude than the Empire-Avernum war, I would think. This means that poltical theorizing and philosophizing will be possible in the Empire for the first time since, well, since a long time ago, probably. Perhaps this would be the cause of reforms....

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 4256
Profile #21
One problem for the use of magic in Ermarian is the widespread destruction being wreaked on the magical centers of Avernum/Exile and then to some extent the empire. With the tower of magi destroyed it would be a huge oportunity to claim that magic was the cause of all the problems while at the same time there is no centralized location for the study of magic. Though Patrick's tower might work for Avernum/Exile and I'm sure that there are other places of study for the empire than the school in VoDT, magical centers tend to be the centers for misuse of magic as well, and get destroyed or shut down fairly often.

As to the gun/technology vs. wands/magic the skill is in making the gun or wand a lot more than in shooting it. It seems that if wands could have a lot more spells stored in them they could easily become gunlike.

The Politics of it would be confused by the immigration of Avernites once they got their portal fixed, but it is possible that they would not put pressure on the Empire government to loosen up controls on magic. Is the new Avernite population under the control of the Empire or is it an independent entity

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"Let's just say that if complete and utter chaos was lightning, he'd be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are false'."
Posts: 564 | Registered: Wednesday, April 14 2004 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3022
Profile #22
I kinda doubt the immigration from Avernum will impel the Empire to loosen up. Looking at our history, the reverse is true - an influx of people with different cultures would often produce a hardening of stances, to resist change - I'm sure many in the Empire would talk of slippery slopes - allow the Avernites, and Avernite ways too much freedom, and what next? A Republic? And I deeply doubt any magical trade between Vahnatai, or with Avernum. If that happens, Prazac will have a civil war on her hands.

I'd really like to see a scenario on the start of an Imperial civil war. Plenty of scope for moral dilemmas, and so on. Imagine if the Anama took on a hardline stance, rounding up mages and 're-educating' them, and performing terrorist attacks on important magical apparatus, such as the Avernum-Empire teleporter... The player can join, or rebel. Imagine if Prazac decided to eradicate the Anama, once and for all...

BTW, is At the Gallow etc neccessarily Avernum canon? Can't we start afresh on the Avernum thread?
Posts: 269 | Registered: Saturday, May 24 2003 07:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #23
No, of course it's not cannon. Every designer is free to work in their own universe and use whatever things they like. Certain things should be discouraged such as resurrecting Erika and killing Rentar-Ihrno.

A lot of Blades history was adapted long ago when the community was young. Since then, we have tried to adhere to these standards. I try to steer clear of doing anything at about the time of Avernum. That's why I put AtG and the rest of my works far into the future.

Remember AtG takes place 400 years after the events of Avernum, plenty of time for events to take place and still hold continuity. It's not necessary, but it would be nice. AtG will not be remade in BoA, but several scenarios will follow. If you want to conform to them or not, it's up to you.

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Your flower power is no match for my glower power!
Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #24
(Old, traditional rant...)

It would be nice to know what the community has decided, based on what evidence in the games, in some sort of available form. Since old threads (e-mails? IMs? chats?) have been lost, it would be a nice touch to bring together a sort of historical project for BoA.

Especially since Jeff changed the bloody dates for the Avernum universe.

I feel fairly secure in working on a scenario based in the Avernum universe that is about sliths and their history, because that hasn't been a major part of community-defined history as far as I can tell. It seems that the Empire has been the major focus.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00

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