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Author Topic: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]  (Read 2141 times)

GeekyBugle

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #30 on: June 11, 2021, 10:34:59 PM »

In my game non-humans aren't ppl, therefore not children but spawn.

No, the end doesn't justify the means, never not IRL nor in my games.

Since an orphanage is full of the innocent blowing it up (by whatever means) would be evil (this extends even to your world where non-humans are ppl.

Let's use a different example, lets say that by exterminating all huwhite ppl the world would trully become paradise and everybody would join hands and sign kumbaya.

Does the end (paradise on earth) justify the means?

Now do it the other way around, do the means justify the end?

Lets say you were capable of harnesing the divine power and were able to eradicate all huwhite ppl by snapping your fingers (so no suffering or fear for them). You did it using God's power, does it make it Good?

IME when the players start doing those things you describe have happened in your game it's the fault of the GM for not making clear the rules of his world and not enforcing the alignment.

I don't think that I'm seeing you flip it the other way around.  If destroying innocent lives is Evil, regardless of the method used, then saving innocent lives is Good, even if you use necromancy and curses.  Just as shiny divine energy cannot redeem senseless slaughter, nor can gothic aesthetics condemn magic used to help and preserve others (with the proviso that the gothic magic can indeed have side effects that need to be considered).

I also think you're getting into some philosophical definitional questions, but I say it depends on your framework.  In the standard of most games, there literally does not exist an authority that can say the future with any accuracy, since the future of game worlds relies on dice and player decisions, so I'd fight the hypothetical about ethnic cleansing being known to cause utopia, even before we look at how often that has historically worked.  But absent the hypothetical-fighting, it comes down to your moral framework, of either doing the most good, or embracing rights absolutely.  If you could preserve the lives of hundreds of trillions by killing billions, then you clearly should, just as we accept that we need to go to war to stop an aggressive enemy and accept that we will be killing a measure of that enemy's civilians, the truly innocent among them, as collateral of the violence we need to stop an aggressive nation from waging war against us.

But plenty of moral systems do not accept the idea of necessary sacrifice or the greater good, and condemn any such calculus.  If you believe that killing the innocent is always wrong, and that, e.g., the bombing of a tank factory in WWII is unjustifiable because the people making the tanks for your enemy are not combatants (and would probably be jailed or shot for not supporting the regime controlling them), then you would condemn the bombing, even knowing that more soldiers (yours and theirs both) would die if the factory stood.

When I use D&D good-as-planar-force, I myself emphasize that Good and Evil are bits of physics.  They're not sentient, they can't plan or look ahead, and it's all about what decision you make in the moment.  In my campaigns, the forces of Good and Evil don't care how many lives you saved by killing an innocent crucial to the evil plans of the Dark Lord; what matters is that you killed an innocent.

But (also IMC), actually using the planar energies utterly swamps the residue left from deeds, unless the deeds are truly epic in scope.  For most of the examples (clerics and aligned outsiders), you either need to keep a code of conduct or lack free will and aren't really capable of attempting to do Good with Evil and vice versa, but in the specific case of wizards who use aligned spells, they can pretty easily disconnect their actual alignment from how those around them tend to perceive them.

Now, D&D is also quite different than most moral settings in that D&D is explicitly mirrored.  Good is the metaphysical opposite but balanced pole of Evil.  What one can do, the other can do in reverse.  In that model, you need to take into account that if bad ends corrupt good means, so therefore should good ends redeem bad means.  In settings and moralities without that cosmic balance, you can say "No, bad ends or bad means make it bad, full-stop."

But when you just call specific magics evil (or, as you point out, good) without looking at what they actually do, and who they actually do it to, you end up disconnecting the actual essence of Good and Evil from what people tend to consider them.

Okay, you're thinking strictly on D&D "morality" terms, I'm not, I'm creating a world where there's one God, there's Demons and the Devil. Morality isn't subjective but objective, at least for God and those who follow his commands.
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GeekyBugle

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #31 on: June 11, 2021, 10:36:42 PM »
A good question on this for Geeky: are there outside elements at play 'judging' magic, like in Ravenloft with the Dark Powers?

Yes, you're involved in a fight of Good vs Evil, you're on the side of God and fight against the enemies of good. God is judging you. which is why there's grave consecuences to dabling on black magic.
Quote from: Rhedyn

Here is why this forum tends to be so stupid. Many people here think Joe Biden is "The Left", when he is actually Far Right and every US republican is just an idiot.

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

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GeekyBugle

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #32 on: June 11, 2021, 10:37:50 PM »
Your gameworld, your rules, but I strongly advise that you disconnect the magic-as-physics from magic-as-morality. 

Seconded.  You don't want a morality argument every time you cast a spell.  Make some clear rules and stick to them even when the result does not agree with your intuitive sense of morality.

It's not about MY morality, it's about the game world, and about giving it internally consistent rules.
Quote from: Rhedyn

Here is why this forum tends to be so stupid. Many people here think Joe Biden is "The Left", when he is actually Far Right and every US republican is just an idiot.

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

ScytheSong

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #33 on: June 11, 2021, 11:32:35 PM »
A good question on this for Geeky: are there outside elements at play 'judging' magic, like in Ravenloft with the Dark Powers?

Yes, you're involved in a fight of Good vs Evil, you're on the side of God and fight against the enemies of good. God is judging you. which is why there's grave consecuences to dabling on black magic.

So, to move on from my original white/black as seen by the Catholics, this gives me some ideas for a mechanically White, Grey, and Black magic in your universe.

First, White Magic is easy: does it have, at its base, the practitioner submitting their will to God? If it is a prayer at heart, it's White. "Bless this endeavor, Lord", "Heal my friend", "Smite these Demons" all work as white magic. If white magic is attempted in an unholy effort, there's a chance that it will either not go off or do something unexpected that conforms to God's Will (and probably tally as Grey or Black depending on the caster's intent).

Grey Magic is like the White Magic of the Inquisition. If it's based on "natural" processes, it's Grey. Alchemy, potions, spells that rely on correspondences or whatever your magical "physics" and are neither submission to God's Will or consorting with demons fall into this category.

Black Magic retains it's definition for the most part. If the magic-user is exerting their will over the wills of spiritual beings, or especially if they have entered into a pact with a demon (or demons), their soul is tainted and their magic is Black.

This will give the "Cleric" type magic user mostly White magic, the "mage" or "hermetic" type mostly Grey, and leave most of the Black magic for the bad guys. I'd suggest that there be a relatively easy way to clear "Grey" stains from your soul, but "Black" redemption needs a larger effort (look at Faust, for instance).

GeekyBugle

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #34 on: June 12, 2021, 12:26:30 AM »
A good question on this for Geeky: are there outside elements at play 'judging' magic, like in Ravenloft with the Dark Powers?

Yes, you're involved in a fight of Good vs Evil, you're on the side of God and fight against the enemies of good. God is judging you. which is why there's grave consecuences to dabling on black magic.

So, to move on from my original white/black as seen by the Catholics, this gives me some ideas for a mechanically White, Grey, and Black magic in your universe.

First, White Magic is easy: does it have, at its base, the practitioner submitting their will to God? If it is a prayer at heart, it's White. "Bless this endeavor, Lord", "Heal my friend", "Smite these Demons" all work as white magic. If white magic is attempted in an unholy effort, there's a chance that it will either not go off or do something unexpected that conforms to God's Will (and probably tally as Grey or Black depending on the caster's intent).

Grey Magic is like the White Magic of the Inquisition. If it's based on "natural" processes, it's Grey. Alchemy, potions, spells that rely on correspondences or whatever your magical "physics" and are neither submission to God's Will or consorting with demons fall into this category.

Black Magic retains it's definition for the most part. If the magic-user is exerting their will over the wills of spiritual beings, or especially if they have entered into a pact with a demon (or demons), their soul is tainted and their magic is Black.

This will give the "Cleric" type magic user mostly White magic, the "mage" or "hermetic" type mostly Grey, and leave most of the Black magic for the bad guys. I'd suggest that there be a relatively easy way to clear "Grey" stains from your soul, but "Black" redemption needs a larger effort (look at Faust, for instance).

That almost is what I envisioned, almost.

My idea was to have the "cleric" perform miracles, it's not magic, it's channeling the divine power or asking God to perform a miracle.

Besides this I had thought to have magic, where white magic is done by harnesing the background preternatural radiation left over after the creation. Gray magic has a little of this and a little of something other, maybe some blood magic done with the caster's own blood or willing donors? And Black magic comes from the devil or is done by blood magic by torture and human sacrifice.

This has the side effect of nerfing the cleric and the MU but it's compensated by removing the weapons and armor restrictions.

As an example the cleric can make holy water just by praying over it for a certain ammount of time (haven't settled the exact time yet).

There's also no need to prepare prayers/spells, it's cast at will. And both have access to all levels, limited by their own power not by slots, no fire and forget either, both can cast any number of spells their own power allows.
Quote from: Rhedyn

Here is why this forum tends to be so stupid. Many people here think Joe Biden is "The Left", when he is actually Far Right and every US republican is just an idiot.

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

HappyDaze

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #35 on: June 12, 2021, 12:38:53 AM »
Your gameworld, your rules, but I strongly advise that you disconnect the magic-as-physics from magic-as-morality. 

Seconded.  You don't want a morality argument every time you cast a spell.  Make some clear rules and stick to them even when the result does not agree with your intuitive sense of morality.
They did it with using the Force in D6 Star Wars, and for many, it is considered a great way to do it.

HappyDaze

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #36 on: June 12, 2021, 12:41:24 AM »
A good question on this for Geeky: are there outside elements at play 'judging' magic, like in Ravenloft with the Dark Powers?

Yes, you're involved in a fight of Good vs Evil, you're on the side of God and fight against the enemies of good. God is judging you. which is why there's grave consecuences to dabling on black magic.
Are this god's views directly communicated to its chosen, or is there no direct conversation with the divine and people are left to interpret signs of its favor/disfavor?

GeekyBugle

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #37 on: June 12, 2021, 01:14:58 AM »
A good question on this for Geeky: are there outside elements at play 'judging' magic, like in Ravenloft with the Dark Powers?

Yes, you're involved in a fight of Good vs Evil, you're on the side of God and fight against the enemies of good. God is judging you. which is why there's grave consecuences to dabling on black magic.
Are this god's views directly communicated to its chosen, or is there no direct conversation with the divine and people are left to interpret signs of its favor/disfavor?

Yes directly communicated, but most choose not to hear.
Quote from: Rhedyn

Here is why this forum tends to be so stupid. Many people here think Joe Biden is "The Left", when he is actually Far Right and every US republican is just an idiot.

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

GeekyBugle

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #38 on: June 12, 2021, 01:16:41 AM »
Your gameworld, your rules, but I strongly advise that you disconnect the magic-as-physics from magic-as-morality. 

Seconded.  You don't want a morality argument every time you cast a spell.  Make some clear rules and stick to them even when the result does not agree with your intuitive sense of morality.
They did it with using the Force in D6 Star Wars, and for many, it is considered a great way to do it.

But it's not a God, therefore some don't see an issue with it. I just want to make something different, and yet there's charges about MY morality. When all I want is some internally consistent logic/mechanics. To the world I'm creating.
Quote from: Rhedyn

Here is why this forum tends to be so stupid. Many people here think Joe Biden is "The Left", when he is actually Far Right and every US republican is just an idiot.

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

Manic Modron

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #39 on: June 12, 2021, 02:48:39 AM »
Maybe borrow/steal from Ars Magica a bit.

Divine Powers are White magic:  Adjuration (control, banish the supernatural), Blessing (protective and inspirational aspects), Cursing ( smite those who oppose the Divine Will), Intervention ( sometimes God needs to step in a bit more directly), Transcendence (overcome the limitations of the material), Understanding (moments where the Divine Plan is clear), and Wonders (conjure holy items, creatures, and the elements).

Infernal powers are black magic:  Consumption ( draw on life of others for your own use), Diablerie ( dealing with things from outside God's Creation), Effusion ( unnatural dominance of the natural world, without the ability to create), Malediction (direct damage to either fate (misfortune) or the world (withering and blasting curses)), Phantasm (Illusions and hallucinations), Psychomachia (control of thoughts and emotions).

Any other effects would be Grey, neither gifted from Heaven nor sold by Hell.  Dealing with spirits, fae, elementals, ghosts, magical beasts, alchemy, wisdom gleaned from the stars and the potency of herbs.   Okay, sometimes sold by Hell and maybe guided to by Heaven, but depending on neither.  Just things you can learn if you pay attention or have the right teacher.

Regardless, I'd leave motivation out of the equation for what magic is what.

Calling down divine fire to lay waste to a horde of undead, but catching some humans in the blast isn't Black magic even though you have killed innocents.  It is manslaughter, reckless endangerment, inappropriate use of Divine Resources, etc..  It is certainly going to get a very stern angel coming down to Have Words With Thee and possibly getting your Theurgy License revoked, but it is the act that is evil, not the magic.
 
Using a Phantasm or Psychomachia to trick or force a crime lord into confessing in court or make a serial killer walk off a ledge to a Disney Villain Death might do a lot of good, but you are still damned because the tools you are using are breaking Heaven's laws just by picking them up.  To avoid cries of "foul!" and "I didn't know!" there is probably a section of an angelic choir dedicated to making sure that somebody about to learn Black magic is told at least once that it is a horrible plan.

Telling a salamander to go into an orphanage and burn everything that it can perceive is certainly murderous, but more like assault with an arcane weapon and less like possession of contraband. At least on a cosmic level.  Individual countries might have anti wizarding laws on the books, but nobody is going to hell just for calling up a sylph.  Using it to crash a ship onto a reef is probably not going to look good in your record, though.

HappyDaze

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2021, 02:50:08 AM »
Your gameworld, your rules, but I strongly advise that you disconnect the magic-as-physics from magic-as-morality. 

Seconded.  You don't want a morality argument every time you cast a spell.  Make some clear rules and stick to them even when the result does not agree with your intuitive sense of morality.
They did it with using the Force in D6 Star Wars, and for many, it is considered a great way to do it.

But it's not a God, therefore some don't see an issue with it. I just want to make something different, and yet there's charges about MY morality. When all I want is some internally consistent logic/mechanics. To the world I'm creating.
Just sort through the input you're getting and ignore anything that doesn't fit with your world. If anyone is unintentionally addressing your personal morality, it's probably just because they don't have all of the information about your game world that you do and they're either seeking more information or are just filling in the holes as they see them (and not necessarily correctly). If they are intentionally trying to have a discussion on your personal morality, just ignore that input.

Manic Modron

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2021, 03:07:47 AM »
You could twist some Grey effects to be controversial or distasteful, but still not have them be genuinely Black. 

The classic fireball might just be an expression of magical principles in most settings, but once the way to do it is to summon a salamander, twist its head off and chuck it like a grenade, then it might say something about the kind of person who uses it on the regular.

You get one sort of wizard who thinks that elementals aren't real creatures anyway and another sort who look at you like you just strapped a bomb to a Labrador retriever and threw a stick where you wanted it to explode.

GeekyBugle

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #42 on: June 12, 2021, 12:56:55 PM »
You could twist some Grey effects to be controversial or distasteful, but still not have them be genuinely Black. 

The classic fireball might just be an expression of magical principles in most settings, but once the way to do it is to summon a salamander, twist its head off and chuck it like a grenade, then it might say something about the kind of person who uses it on the regular.

You get one sort of wizard who thinks that elementals aren't real creatures anyway and another sort who look at you like you just strapped a bomb to a Labrador retriever and threw a stick where you wanted it to explode.

You're thinking of a classical D&D fantasy type of game, this isn't going to be that. Think Conspiracy X but only with supernatural enemies. And you're on the team that knows monsters exist and are hunting them.

Which is why I either manage to create a coherent system of White/Gray/Black magic or I make all MU NPCs (With the exception of the Cleric).

It's also a monoteistic world. You have God and against him Demons and Demonspawn. You're on the side of the angels.

It might not be something most find fun or it might be a hit who knows?
Quote from: Rhedyn

Here is why this forum tends to be so stupid. Many people here think Joe Biden is "The Left", when he is actually Far Right and every US republican is just an idiot.

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

Manic Modron

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #43 on: June 12, 2021, 07:35:17 PM »
My intent is to brainstorm out of generalities, not make assumptions.

The overall takeaway is the same.  White magic is the stuff that directly supports God's aims.  Black magic is the stuff that is antithetical to those aims.

Set your campaign with a few key Virtues.  As examples, lets say Truth, Courage, & Love.  White magic clears away illusion and reveals lies, bolsters the resolve of champions, as well as protecting people and showing them the Light.  Black magic then spreads deceit, undermines the will of others, & strips away life and brings Darkness.  Grey magic is just tools and guns.

Hang your own trappings on whatever you need, but if you want a coherent system, I'd say keep it simple.  Otherwise players will probably be more inspired to find moral loopholes the more fine your lines are.


amacris

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Re: Magic is but a tool... And yet... HELP! [No Politics please]
« Reply #44 on: June 14, 2021, 04:40:41 AM »
You're thinking of a classical D&D fantasy type of game, this isn't going to be that. Think Conspiracy X but only with supernatural enemies. And you're on the team that knows monsters exist and are hunting them.

Which is why I either manage to create a coherent system of White/Gray/Black magic or I make all MU NPCs (With the exception of the Cleric).

It's also a monoteistic world. You have God and against him Demons and Demonspawn. You're on the side of the angels.

It might not be something most find fun or it might be a hit who knows?

I think it's awesome that you're doing this. Objective "God-given" morality is great for gameplay -- it creates interesting mechanics and allows for a certain moral clarity of action that can be really refreshing if you've spent the last 50 sessions in ambiguity. I wrote some rules for ACKS/BX magic that translates the spells into White, Black, Grey with penalties / corruption for mis-using Grey and Black. Hit me up on DM if you want me to send them to you.