I'm still thinking about old technology that could remain in service.
I do like the idea of people politically opposed to the current poliferation of surveillance systems such as DNA scanning. Tracking the location of a phone would be possible if the phone was being actively used to surf the net or record a message, but not when the phone is inactive. The government needs a warrant to track locations, unless the person is on probation, bail, or parole. Probation, bail, and parole almost always come with a condition stating that the government is allowed to track your location without needing warrant. Tracking the messages a phone is recieving can also be done if the physical phone itself is bugged, though the government has to have a lot of evidence of bad behavior to get a warrant for that. Criminals do not care about warrants, of course.
I'll think more on the power issue.
I have made a decision regarding firearms. They won't be fully modern. By that, I mean the state of the art military rifle is roughly equivalent to the good old M14, as assault rifles and Picatinny rails haven't really become popular. Autoloading handguns are available and militaries use them all the time, but revolvers are still the more common law enforcement sidearms, and military vehicle and air crews often prefer them (You saw this IRL during the mid 20th century. The US military adopted autoloaders in the 1910s, but revolvers remained in somewhat common use among American troops for more than half a century afterwards, appearing in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam somewhat commonly, and American police used revolvers more than autoloaders until the 80s.). Submachine guns are still issued to infantry squads to provide lightweight automatic fire, and squad automatic weapons are roughly similar to the M14A1 (An M14 specifically designed for automatic fire support, with a foregrip and bipod, modified stock and upper, and other features that don't immediately come to mind. Was going to succeed the BAR, but military doctrine towards infantry weapons changed.).
I also imagine that the military probably doesn't issue steel helmets to infantry. The issue is that steel helmets are not very comfortable, especially in hot climates. Troops put up with them because they save lives. In this setting, however, any soldier in combat is using wards, which protect the full body. I am going to be making most shrapnel producing effects roll attacks, so wards are effective against shrapnel, one of the main uses for a helmet. With the proliferation of magical means of protection, it starts making sense to ditch the helmet for a climate-appropriate hat, since the soldier would still have good protection for the head. That comfort increase is worth quite a lot to a soldier in the field.
I'm going with this both because I really love M14s and because I think using older firearms and not having jet engines (piston engine airplanes are extremely common, as are helicopters) emphasizes that this is not quite the modern day. I also really like revolvers, which belong in New Old West.
I think the wireless transfer idea works if rural towns do have their own networks and maintain wired networks out to the boonies (the wires just hook into the tower, directing energy transfer over a distance not typically covered by the tower, which in turn powers a small hub that only covers one house). You pay for it through taxes, since tracking individual users on the wireless systems to charge them is too difficult, and the rural houses with wire connections just wouldn't bring in that much money. Since liquid lightning can double as both a magical and nonmagical power source, this would also mean conventional electricity is transferable over the air and doesn't come with a power bill.
I am not going to use the reduced lifespan thing.
The toy company idea definately makes perfect sense. I can see enchantment replacing video games.
The idea of magic tracking chips makes sense, especially for government employees liable to be kidnapped, restraining orders, worried parents, people who think they might be somebody's target, or people on probation or parole with terms requiring them to avoid certain places. I agree with you that sex slavery could be facilitated by facial alteration and mind effecting magic. Which also brings up the possibility of using enchantments as a tool for rape. I think I will present that as a problem law enforcement has trouble dealing with.
Military paratroopers just walking out the door and free-falling until the token calculates it is time to slow their descent should work.
We do have a communication network that phones jack into, and a wizard who knows what they are doing can attempt to mess with specific sites within that network. Yes, the network can support things like research, forums, and advertising.
I gun control exists in the form of mandatory background checks and mandatory registration, but civilians are allowed to purchase almost any small arm that isn't fully automatic. The player characters deal with the CR 4 and above monsters, but CR 1 or 2 monsters are typically shot by civilians or local law enforcement before they pose too much of a problem. To put it simply, when goblins can come screeching out of the boundary between the materiel world and whatever lays beyond and start wreaking havoc, it's reasonable for the civilians to own firearms to shoot them with. The issue is that monsters that hit CR 4 start having strong enough wards that you need somebody more powerful than a farmer with a rifle to deal with them. Illegal guns are the more common threat (there are quite a lot of them), but illegal magic is much more dangerous. SInce dealing with magical monsters and dealing with dangerous witches require rather similar skillsets, the same government agents are tasked with both duties. So, when illegal magic does get dangerous, the player characters get the call. This skews perception, as illegal guns are the more common threat but the players are much more likely to encounter illegal magic.
I'm not really interested in a lay line system. I'm more interested in the whole "magic in the air" thing with the cities having wireless power transfer.
How about magitek that replicates not-so-modern technology that would still be relevant in the setting more so than in real life, but does it better than the mundane version?
That's a good idea. I'll try and think something up.
Some thoughts on Bob x3’s ideas:
Goggles of detect spells. Detect poison and disease for food inspectors (and germaphobes), detect magic/charm for police officers on the beat or security guards manning checkpoints.
And if doctors can detect disease, that should increase life spans.
Jackets with Endure Elements. Air conditioned jacket, yes please!
Shouldn’t even be all that hard to have an unobtrusive battery housing in the bottom, and it is a pretty good idea for a climate like the American West. Especially if you do physical labor.
Endless bullets! Magazine with Abundant Ammuntion. Shooting speed is still limited by the fact that the barrel heats up and warps.
Also, alchemical bullets. Put a little alchemist’s fire, liquid lightning, portable winter, or intelligent acid into a hollow round.
Since you already have class defense (ward), consider adding magical enhancement bonuses to it. A vest or something you can use to drain batteries to power up the ward.
I was going to use the Automatic Bonus Progression from Unchained.
Universal translator! Well, in one direction. Comprehend languages. Great for doctor's offices, customs, police stations, etc. Probably a fairly regular potion business too, actually, and the kind of thing it'd be handy to always have around. Probably the magic item version goes where they're more often used. Or as an app on your smartphone.
I imagine that they have to work by translating intent, rather than providing a direct translation of the worlds, given issues like highly varied vocabularies. Granted, translating intent could be… interesting in those many situations where you need to be noncommittal or give a canned response instead of what you really want to say. Basically, the translator says what’s on your mind, not what came out of your mouth.
Disguise self masks, for the ultimate masquerade party or the celebrity in the city.
Burning disarm "taser". Drop your weapon or get burned!
Could be especially useful as a firearm attachment. If it fails to work or the suspect turns out to have spellcasting, the agent is still armed.
Feather fall pins for everyone at risk of falling. Construction workers, people riding a plane, hell, probably even skydivers. Better than a parachute, much smaller.
Huh. Never considered that, but it is a good idea. Also negates the need for a bulky safety harness.
Mount, except in moped form. Some kind of kiosk (like zipcar?) or something where you can summon up a moped for a couple of hours.
Could also use it to rent bicycles, I imagine.
Prestidigitation microwave, make whatever food you have exactly the right temperature and taste like whatever you want.
Doesn’t even have to be a microwave. Could be more like an oven that automatically knows the correct settings for whatever is in it.
Unseen servant... well, like a regular servant, but invisible and affordable by everyone (as long as they can pay their lightning juice bills).
Like a roomba that does even more?
Endure elements potions for short term hostile environments.
Could see this being popular for physical labor in hot climates or for military or sporting use.
Lightning juice generator in the cities run by the government and staffed with alchemists or self sustaining in some way. Pumps out lightning juice to the rest of the city. Paid for by taxes.
I was thinking we burn alchemist’s fire to generate electricity, and the electric company is a government monopoly like PE&E.
Magic bullets. Super fast, ward penetrating, designed to short out batteries, designed to dispel magic, whatever you think would make a good bullet. I strongly recommend that you find some kind of "shorts out magic energy" bullet you're happy with or your players are eventually just going to target the batteries themself or wherever the lightning juice is stored on a piece of equipment whenever they want to disable someone's gear. Oh, which means you'll need to figure out what happens when batteries are broken. The more dangerous it is the more likely the players will weaponize it in a way you don't like. Because they're going to weaponize it if it does any damage.
I imagine that breaking the battery just shuts down the device, unless the fluid comes into contact with a spark (liquid lightning is, well, bottled electricity, but is inert until exposed to a spark so that mechanics can touch it without getting zapped). Shooting a battery is like shooting the magazine on a rifle, though. You wouldn’t try to make that shot in combat. Ward penetrating bullets are a thing. That’s what enhancement bonuses do, in part.
Televisions have been replaced by a Silent Image (or any of the enhancements) and Ghost Sound that can be programmed by the broadcast. So, 3D projections replace tvs. Richer people can afford higher level illusion spells that come with smell, heat, and other senses. Alternatively, the theater is massively more popular than our world as awesome special effects can only be done in person and not broadcast to TVs. Movies are made for TV only (and are mostly made by just recording theater performances).
I could see magic making special effects WAY easier. That would maybe kill the movie industry. Since we have magic smart phones, perhaps televisions were never invented, and instead programming was marketed as something to watch on a phone. Those are small, though, so perhaps people can buy projectors for their phone to use a wall or something as a screen to make the image bigger. You are, of course, correct that Ghost Sound and Silent Image should work fine. In fact, I imagine that a phone really is just a piece of polished wood or metal with those two enchantments, a battery, and some sort of enchantment to let one phone find other phones so it can send messages. That also means you don't pick up the phone and talk, but rather record and send a message, get a recorded message in return, and so on and so forth.
Another thing is coming up with some magitek that doesn't replicate modern technology. I was thinking about what you said on the issue of maybe not emulating too much modern tech. I already have cars, smart phones, planes, and guns, so I need to come up with some stuff that the modern world doesn't have.
Why would the government ever consider paying for "gender reassignment?" I don't think an elective cosmetic surgery is something usually covered by healthcare.
Gender reassignment is not considered elective if the patient has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The British government pays for gender reassignment surgery in most circumstances, and here in California the state provided health insurance for low income people does cover surgery in some cases. I'm creating a socio-politically modern country based off of the American West with heavy British and Australian influence, including a British style healthcare system, so the idea isn't really out of place.
Also, I think you're getting into a little too much detail for a campaign setting. You're going to have to remember ALL of this on the fly if you're running a game.
That is something that worries me, yes.
You seem to be basically making Shadowrun at this point, by the way (not counting your last paragraph). Or maybe Bioshock.
I do play Shadowrun, but I don't want to make a cyberpunk setting, use the real Earth, or make international corporations that powerful. I certainly did take initial influence from the idea of mixing fantasy and technology, but I'm not going to end up with something that matches the cyberpunk theme (I wouldn't say I'm making a punk setting at all, actually. Much closer to the modern Hawaii 5-0 if you gave those knuckleheads magic. Or the monster-of-the-week episodes of Supernatural if those guys had actual law enforcement powers and the existence of magic was common knowledge. I own the Pathfinder version of Gumshoe to facilitate the necessarily increased focus on noncombat elements, though I do tend to have storylines where there isn't too much investigation every now and then to provide additional combat.) I did just beat Bioshock Infinite, but the worldviews of Ryan and Comstock are not the basis for this setting. I try to portray the government as flawed but not bad or powerless. After all, this setting places players in the shoes of government agents.
I mentioned something below that I should really emphasize - I generally don't run games above 12th level. In fact, for me a campaign generally starts out with 4th level characters and goes to 12th level. I find that 9 level campaigns better fit my attention span and college workload much better than going from level 1 to level 20 would, and I consider the levels from 4 to 12 to be the sweet spot within what the Pathfinder system does best. This also means that I don't really need to take 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells into account at all, because nobody ever gets to be that powerful, and 6th level spells are quite rare. The 4th level starting point also makes my focus on government agents easier, because I take the logic that the government hires military and law enforcement veterans, and new PCs have 3 levels where they could have been off serving in the military or doing police work before becoming a government agent.
Also got some thoughts on security. When you have common access to magic that changes people's appearance or makes people invisible, things are a bit different.
First off, the question has to be asked of how common cosmetic magic is. I want to say that small changes are very common. Widening or narrowing a nose, changing eye color, reversing hair loss, making hair straight, curly, or wavy, changing hair color, making lips fuller or thinner, getting or removing tattoos, and such are not difficult changes to make using magic, and they aren't prohibitively expensive for most people. Hair or eye color changes cost the equivalent of, like, 20 to 30 bucks, while facial tweaks can go for a few hundred. More involved changes like height changes, racial changes (switching from human to elf and stuff like that), weight loss, and so on are more difficult, and are much more expensive. Taking off weight or changing someone's height is at least a couple thousand dollars, getting more expensive as the patient gets heavier or the height change gets bigger, and changing race or gender costs somewhere in the tens of thousands (Public healthcare [Think Britain's NHS] usually won't pay for gender reassignment for transgender individuals, but there is a movement to change this.). Of course, this is a boon to criminals, which is why IDs are required and records are kept of who got what for anything more involved than a color change. For high intensity procedures like race changes, the police have to be sent a notification, do to the chance that somebody might be trying to avoid detection. It is also considered necessary that the police be able to know what somebody's facial structure currently looks like and used too look like, both for hunting fugitives and for trying to locate missing persons who could be in danger. It is very illegal to change somebody's fingerprints. There are of course illegal cosmetic magicians who will modify your facial structure and fingerprints with no questions asked (this can cost you a lot of money, naturally), so this is certainly not a completely effective system. Still, it's surprising how many criminals get caught because they weren't smart enough to get their cosmetics done off the grid. As an aside, it is somewhat common for minorities (think Amerindians, Mestizos, Africans, and South Asians, also Elves) to get facial tweaks to get some features of the majorities (think Caucasians and East Asians). Tieflings sometimes try, but if you cut off their horns, recovery hurts a lot and they grow back.
What all this cosmetics business can't do is change somebody's DNA. Even if you change your race, you will have the same genes you used to have before (So, if a human becomes an elf, then has a child with another elf, the child will be a half-elf, not a full elf). Only a spell like Alter Self and Polymorph can mimic DNA, and those spells don't last very long (12 level is typically the highest level game I'll run, and those spells are 1 min/level in duration). As a result, public attitudes on police DNA collection are much looser. When you get a photo ID or driver's license, DNA is collected and stored, and your ID has a DNA marker on it (along with arcane glyphs that function as watermarks, and others that identify the government office the ID originates from, the employee who created it, and when it was created). Police can legally take a DNA swab if they pull you over in a car or otherwise have cause to verify your identity, and they compare that sample to your ID and the national database. Thanks to divination magic, DNA analysis takes seconds. You see it done at security checkpoints all the time, too. Another common security method is tattooing. Alter Self only reproduces the subject's tattoos if the caster knows about those tattoos, and magic means tattoos can be changed or removed. It is quite common for people with security clearances to have secret tattoos that change shape and location frequently (sometimes even weekly or daily for really high security stuff), and only reveal the tattoos to security personnel or coworkers. That way, if somebody is acting suspicious, they can be asked to show their tattoos. If the proper tattoo isn't present, it is a gigantic red flag. For stuff like guarding the president, you may even have to show your tattoos (which change daily) every single time you get secure access to something. It isn't a flawlesss or impossible to subvert system, because Alter Self could allow you to mimic somebody else long enough to clear a checkpoint or traffic stop, and it isn't unheard of for corrupt government employees to falsify IDs and DNA records or skilled mages to "hack" the system, but the system certainly isn't ineffective, either. Also, the existence of Alter Self means that criminal trials don't always consider DNA evidence a smoking gun.
The existence of mind control magic means that anyone who works with secure information is taught to be very paranoid about any sort of strange or unusual behavior from coworkers. Security tends to be extremely quick to detain people and examine them for mind control magic (a simple detect magic isn't enough, because almost everybody pings when you scan them with that), and codephrases are very common (like, you don't say the right morning greeting to someone, you get detained and questioned). Getting detained often is pretty much part of having a security clearance, as it happens to everybody. In fact, not having been detained in a long time is often cause to be detained. When people can take the form of other people without too much effort, facial modifications aren't hard to get, and mind control is a thing that exists and isn't horribly difficult, you need to have constant suspicion of everybody with a security clearance. This is one area where paranoia is a good thing.
There is also invisibility magic. Expect to see a guard wearing heat vision goggles if people sneaking around invisible is considered a security concern, and don't be surprised to see heat vision cameras. Heat vision goggles are also kept in almost every police cruiser. In fact heat vision is so effective and so readily available that invisibility actually isn't considered to be anywhere near the security threat that Charm Person is.
There is no teleportation magic at all in this setting, so that isn't something that needs consideration.
I should also mention that I tend to view this setting as more on the optimistic side than the pessimistic side. I won't say the government isn't involved in really shady stuff, because at times it is, but at the same time the courts do take people's legal rights seriously, and the average income and economy in general is relatively comparable to Great Britain (So, there is definately poverty and there are low income working class people, and the economy isn't without problems, but standard of living is pretty high and this is considered quite a wealthy country.). I do not have or want an Orwellian police state, but at the same time DNA checks are very necessary when people change their appearances so much (though the police systems do not keep records of DNA checks that are run unless security clearances are involved, do to questions of how much ability to track the average civilian should exist), and things like Alter Self and Charm Person have to be taken into account. This country has equivalents to America's 4th and 5th Amendments (1st, too, in fact), and the courts tend to be rather careful about broadening search power, but storing everyone's DNA and using it to check identity whenever the police stop somebody isn't considered unreasonable. What the police won't do is disappear you, or line you up against the wall and shoot you, or torture you to make you confess, or bust into your house without a warrant, or any of that stuff. Police certainly aren't allowed to beat people, and if a cop gets caught on camera doing it there will be a public outcry, but like the real world it can often fly under the radar if it isn't caught on camera, and excessive force can be difficult to prove in court. Not to say that most cops will beat you if you make them angry, because that is not at all the case, but if it does happen, don't be surprised if the cops get away with it.
Thanks for the ideas.
I was going to go with wheeled cars. Motorcycles, too (Can't have a New Old Western without big, loud motorcycles.). Automobiles can run off of either alchemist's fire or liquid lightning, with liquid lightning cars being very much the newer style (it used to be that all cars used alchemist's fire). Liquid lightning cars are the more numerous vehicles. This is because liquid lightning vehicles are a good bit cheaper than alchemist's fire cars, accelerate quicker and more smoothly, are much quieter, and are more comfortable. Not everybody who lives in the city needs a car, but those who do will typically purchase liquid lightning vehicles. Alchemist's fire vehicles have their advantages, too. They have much more horsepower than liquid lightning vehicles, making them the superior vehicles for off-roading or moving heavy loads, they are more durable, and they are much easier to repair and maintain. This makes alchemist's fire vehicles very common in rural areas, as the extra horsepower is often useful and the ability for somebody who isn't a mechanic to learn how to maintain their vehicles themself is well appreciated. Alchemist's fire is used for the vast majority of work vehicles that need a lot of heavy lifting or off road ability, and for almost any vehicle the military sends into a combat zone. Police cruisers are more likely to use liquid lightning unless they are built for rural police departments or highway patrol (both of whom prefer alchemist's fire), because the superior acceleration of liquid lightning vehicles can make it difficult for alchemist's fire vehicles to chase them down in an urban environment (on a wide open road or rough terrain, however, the superior horsepower of alchemist's fire should eventually win out). There are some who feel like liquid lightning vehicles just aren't impressive. Alchemist's fire vehicles go vroom (sometimes really loudly) and vibrate when the engine is working hard, while liquid lightning vehicles whoosh quietly and don't vibrate much at all. Some people just can't get past that, and feel like a car needs to make a lot of noise to be a real car. These people will buy alchemist's fire vehicles even if liquid lightning would be much more practical for their needs.
Dragonchess Player wrote:
Under the new system, I think I'll rule that an NPC alchemist can make magic items if they have an extract equivalent to the necessary spell.
I put a lot of text out, I guess. In short form, my restrictions on spellcasting and magic items were directly at odds with the theme of the setting, so I lifted the whole 24 hour magic item thing and the part where magic reduces lifespans, and made Arcane magic much more common.
It's the writing things down part that always gets me. That and the temptation to play Bioshock or Shadowrun: Returns instead of working.
I added some materiel to the post above this one about some social problems that exist.
My unifying concept could be industrialization of magic. Like Eberron, this setting uses Arcane magic as technology. Cars and trains run off of alchemist's fire or liquid lightning, those magic tablets that let you talk to anyone over any distance have liquid lightning batteries, golems do a lot of the factory work, cosmetic magic is readily available (law enforcement just loves that), and so on. Arcane magic is basically mainstream, and is almost a science. Yet there are also darker forms of magic, called Psychic magic, that are more dangerous than the Arcane, and which scare people because they involve dealing with spirits and let people summon demons and walking corpses. People also don't understand it like they understand Arcane magic. Then there are the monsters that slip in through the veil between the materiel world and the fey realm, which haunt people's dreams. And steal children. That too. The players are the government agents who deal with those monsters, and intervene when Psychic mages start doing evil crap like demon summoning. Then we have all the New Old West stuff about how industrialization, mass communication, and centralization have crushed the myth of the freedom of the frontier, and about how modern society isn't quite so enlightened as people like to think. Political and economic corruption, wealth inequality, the drug trade, racism against Native Americans, racism against Indian immigrants, bigotry against elves and asimaar, and even worse bigotry against tieflings are all problems (Tieflings still get lynched over really flimsy stuff every now and then. The demon blood freaks people out.).
Is it? I mean, I realized that you were correct in that magitech means that magic has to be technology, and I decided that my technology should be based on magic items powered by alchemical batteries.
I decided to go with a different idea. I tagged the "really dangerous and scary" thing to Psychic magic only, while letting Arcane magic be common and producing alchemical batteries to power magic items so they don't run out after 24 hours. I switched Witches from Arcane to Psychic, so they can be all spooky and mysterious while Wizards are common and more scientific.
The basic problem is that I am trying to emulate Eberronish magitech, and Eberronish magitech requires that magic be very commonplace, so that it can become technology. That was never going to happen under the restrictions I placed on magic. Something had to change. What I decided to change was the restriction on magic items and the commonality of Arcane casters.
Any ideas for magic items based off of level 1 or 2 spells that could be powered with alchemical batteries?
I also posted something about a Western setting I proposed in a thread about a different topic:
Rosita the Riveter wrote:
Maybe spin Heroes of the West into an entire campaign setting, but also use Heroes of the East heavily? A Wild West setting with a strong mix of European, East Asian, Mexican, African American, and Amerindian themes would be sweet. California would have a much larger Chinese-American population without the Chinese Exclusion Act, so perhaps play up that angle, with a fantasy setting where such a thing never happened, and the East Asian demographic is much larger. Also needs the threat of war. Perhaps the West is British, not American (so add in some Australian flavor), and Britain might well end up embroiled into a Great War of sorts, which might well lead to raids on the West, since the Royal Navy is no longer capable of taking on all its rivals at once while protecting the Empire. But, the English should be hella Anglo-Saxon, instead of that Anglo-Saxon/French/Neo-Classical mix of Victorian England. Should also be much nicer to the Irish, treating that whole invasion business as unifying the islands into one people, all of whom are vital to the nation, and the Irish should be portrayed as not poor and marginalized for once. Also, after her tribe was massacred, an Indian witch became a necromancer, using the fallen bodies of her kin to fight for revenge. Later on, she became a lich, and is more interested in wanton slaughter than any sort of justice. She's a major threat. Setting also needs Eberronish magitech, because that just plain works.
Now, if I am going to have magitech cars and cell phones and all that jazz, this would have to be a New Old West setting more so than a classic Western, but I still think I could have something here. In fact, New Old West might actually be an excellent genre fit. After all, my setting dispenses with adventurers in favor of making the players government agents, and a lot of the freedom of action inherent to Pathfinder just isn't around in this setting because of the government focus and the existence of stable countries with professional law enforcement, instant mass communication, and highly efficient travel networks. I think that might match up really well with the New Old West theme about how the days of the wide open frontier and freedom to make your own law and justice are gone.
When I say stupid idea, I mean I am trying to do something that isn't going to work. In essence, I was trying to combine magitech and "spellcasting is rare, occultist, scary, and dangerous" into the same setting, but they aren't compatible. They just aren't. LazarX has it right:
What I need to do is drop the restrictions I put on magic, drop the whole reduced lifespan business, and make the technology run off of magic like it does in Eberron. This does not really invalidate the underlying idea of my setting. The biggest things I want for my setting are a reliance on alchemy, a reliance on firearms, and modern socio-political constructs.
As LazarX also says, magic and technology need to be tied together. You know how Eberron has all those machines running off of bound elementals? My setting could have alchemists create something called, say, liquid lightning. Put it in a storage tank, and you have a battery that can power enchantments so that they don't die after 24 hours. When the battery dies you just dump out the spent fluid and pour more in. If you need something a bit more powerful, use alchemist's fire. In fact, liquid lightning is created by using alchemist's fire to generate the initial energy, then binding that energy into a more stable and long lasting (but weaker) form. So, now we have alchemy doing major stuff.
I think that firearms should prove superior to wands in this setting, largely because I want firearms to proliferate. I think cost is a good enough way of explaining that. I do want alchemical ammunition to be easily available, though, and I think alchemists should make the gunpowder, so it can be low smoke and resistant to moisture because magic.
There was an idea I had back before I tried to go all low-magic that I think could be useful for making monster hunting the focus of the game. Armor isn't used in the setting, and each class gets a defense bonus to AC. This defense bonus represents wards. Wards are magical shields that are created by drinking a magic potion and powered by the drinker's inherent magical energy. Everybody has magical energy in their body, but only spellcasters and alchemists know how to manipulate it. An alchemist can, however, create a potion that manipulates the drinker's magical energy, regardless of whether the drinker actually knows how to use magic themself. In fact, a non-spellcaster isn't using their magical energy to cast spells, so they can produce stronger wards than a spellcaster could. Wards only activate a millisecond before an attack hits and only over the portion of the body where the attack is aimed (maintaining a constant shield would take far too much power), and only work against physical attacks. Wards can do things like stop bullets at close range, provided they activate quickly enough. Sometimes they don't activate in time to stop an attack, and sometimes an attack is strong enough to break through. Since these wards basically replace the function of the armor system, firearms remain useful weapons, because they often will penetrate wards, just like arrows and swords will often penetrate chainmail under the rules as written. Still, while wards won't stop everything, they'll stop enough that you certainly want them.
So, now we've just given all player characters force shields that function like armor from a mechanical point of view. What if this was a common inherent ability of many magical beasts? That would explain why the government has skilled warriors like the players to go fight these things. Also explains why the monsters aren't killing everyone and why the setting itself is reasonably pleasant. If we go by the logic that the players are some of the more skilled and powerful government agents around, it could be that they actually kill a pretty large proportion of the more dangerous monsters, so that the average civilian doesn't have to worry about that kind of stuff. The only reason the players haven't wiped them out is because most magical beasts are extraplanar, and people have no means of travelling to other planes (No Plane Shift in this campaign setting. That planar travel is impossible is important.).
Now, as I said before, I wanted "spellcasting is rare, occultish, scary, and dangerous". This doesn't fit everything above, but I have an idea on that. I can have alchemy and Arcane magic be commonplace in this setting, keep my idea where the Divine spellcasting classes don't exist and Shamans and Witches are Psychic spellcasters, and make it so that the Psychic spellcasters are rare, occultish, scary, and dangerous. Perhaps because only Psychic spellcasters can summon demons, and are also the only ones who can do stuff like raise undead and bestow curses (I'd have to go through the Arcane spell lists and remove the spells that do this stuff, of course). Also, make human sacrifice a necessary part of raising undead, to emphasize why playing with corpses is such an evil thing to do. Also, people are iffy on whether to trust spirits, and Psychic casters work with spirits a lot. So, basically, Arcane magic is commonplace and totally acceptable, Psychic magic is rare and scary and occultish. Also explains why magical healing is slow to catch on with civilians. The classes that can do it are rather rare and scare people. Government agents like the players would use it all the time, though, because they have to work with Psychic spellcasters (or be Psychic spellcasters) if they want to have the know-how to deal with demon summoners and necromancers.
Also, the classic adventurer is pretty much dead. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but the player characters would work for the government. Which explains where they get all their firepower and why they can butt into the local sherrif's business.
So, now we have a way to power personal magic items, trains, planes, and cars, and alchemists have just become important. Now I need personal magic items that those liquid lightning batteries could power. Any ideas? I still want to mostly rely on level 1 or level 2 spells as much as possible.
Can magic items be recharged or are they just only good for a single day?
You'd have to reenchant it.
Is the magic cutting lifespan caused by something? You say that people who use potions more often have the same problem, is it caused by the magic itself in some way?
Allowing magic into your bloodstream and internal organs on a constant basis for years on end eventually wears your body out. Average life expectency in the major nations of the setting is typically around 85. A martial PC probably expects more like 80 years (they drink a fair number of potions, especially since greater potion availability and Automatic Bonus Progression replaces the magic item system), a lower power PC caster can expect about 75 years and a higher power PC caster 70 years. The highest level spellcasters can expect 65 years. So, pretty much any player character is exposed to enough magic to get a reduced lifespan, (though a PC shouldn't expect to be so powerful as to only expect 65 years).
You're going to need to be a lot more specific on the spell list changes. Is planar binding out? Is mind control/charm person out? Does healing heal broken bones?
The only changes that effect this issue are the ones already laid out. Other than that, there aren't many spell list changes at the 1st and 2nd level.
Are there laws regulating magic use? Alchemy use?
Yes. Spellcasters have mandatory government registration, and any use requires a license. This is enforced by government employed spellcasters. Alchemy is treated much like any HAZMAT is.
Where do alchemical weapons (and other things made with Craft (alchemy)) fall under this?They fall under alchemy.
Does using them still cause your lifespan to shorten?
Only if you injest it several times a month over a period of years.
How widespread is the knowledge of magic and alchemy? People nowadays probably can't tell you the first thing about a transistor but they can still tell you whether one computer should be faster than another.
Alchemy is something maybe one in two hundred can use proficiently. Spellcasting is something maybe one in ten thousand can use. Which gives a nation the size of Britain about 6,200'mages in total. Of those, maybe five hundred have seen 6th level.
What is the tone you're going for? Are you looking for cyberpunk, high fantasy, swords and sorcery and submachineguns?
No. I don't want cyberpunk at all. I'm going for more "Eberron, but with guns and alchemy, and with spellcasters that are largely occultish and feared. Main campaign focus is on monster control and hunting dangerous mage criminals.".
Has the world had magic this entire time and developed into the modern world or did magic suddenly appear at some point in history? Either of these open up a giant horrendous mess but the question does need to be answered because the only way "can do everything the modern world can" can be true is if it was the modern world, and then magic suddenly appeared.Magic was always there. When I say that the world can do anything Earth can, I mean that it has the industrial capacity, not that it has necessarily thought something up. The question is what should be done with alchemy instead of technology.
I do not Otherwise most of medicine would be ignored for "renewable, reusable ability to heal all injuries regardless of what they are or how you got them".
There isn't anyone around who can pull that off, though.
How are the fantastical creatures explained? Science + giants/dragons = the laws of biology quietly crying in corner.Dragons are inherently magical, and magic is understood as the ability to violate laws of science in a consistent manner.
Ditto angels/demons/any creature made of pure <ideological concept>. Plus how those interact with religion.
We don't have any beings made of ideological concepts, and religion exists but cannot provide magic in and of itself. We do have lots of demons, but they are also inherently magical.
How is spontaneous magic explained? Prepared is pretty easy to explain away as "another kind of science" but spontaneous requires that magic just appear whenever they feel like it.
Spontaneous caster know how to cast a narrow range of spells well, and so have short rituals to cast spells. Prepared casters don't because that inhibits flexibility, so they have much longer spell rituals. They get around this problem by doing most of each ritual in the morning, then finishing the ritual when it is needed later on.
Just how rare are the people above 4th level? Just what kind of population does the world itself have? I ask because even if it's 0.001% that's about 3,000 people in the US. Which is a lot of people.You have it about right, and the government has their hands on about a third of them. Unfortunately, the rest are typically trouble. Which is why the government employs thr player characters.
And the US isn't even that big as far as the big countries go.
Eh? The US is the third largest nation in the world by population and fourth largest by land size.
My world operates on the logic that there is no inherent conflict between science and magic, and that combining the two is a distinct possibility. The main method of using magic for a civilian is via alchemy, or the creation of magical potions. These can maintain potency for about a year. Enchanting items is much less common, as an item lacking spiritual significance (an artifact in D&D/Pathfinder terms) won't maintain a charge for more than a day (I have systems to compensate for the loss of magic items, but they aren't relevant to this topic.). Spellcasters tend die earlier than non-spellcasters, losing between 5 to 20 years depending on how powerful a mage gets (the more powerful you get, the lower your lifespan). Alchemists are not spellcasters, so they live normal lifespans (Unless they drink the potions they make on a constant basis. If you imbibe magical elixers on the scale of a PC Alchemist, you'll lose about as much of your lifespan as a spellcaster would.).
Alchemists are also faster, easier, and cheaper to train than any spellcaster would be. As a result of this and the superior storability of alchemy compared to enchantments, the Alchemist character class completely dominates the use of magic among civilians. For every one NPC spellcaster, you'll see several dozen NPC Alchemists. Where spellcasters pull ahead is sheer power. Most NPC Alchemists don't have the class features of a PC Alchemist, as PC Alchemists only have them through extra training the average Alchemist never gets.
Generally, you won't see very many NPCs above level 4. This means that, in practical terms, we are working with a metric ton of NPC Alchemists who have access to 1st level extracts and a fair number with 2nd level extracts. In terms of spellcasters, a handful of Arcane or Psychic spellcasters with 1st level spells, and a smaller handful with 2nd level spells, are available. The setting doesn't have the Divine spellcasting classes, except for the Shaman, but the Shaman is considered Psychic (Witches got bumped over to Psychic, too). Magical healing is generally the task of Shamans, Witches, and Alchemists, and sometimes Bards. Healing potions are also easier to come by than they would be in other campaign settings. Nobody can cast Speak with Dead, and no magic is going to let you speak with plants or animals, and certainly not with a god. Occult Adventures content features pretty heavily in this setting, and from a thematic point of view it replaces Divine spellcasting.
The technology level is fully industrialized. Anything modern Earth is able to produce, my setting could produce. It may or may not produce a particular modern device, depending on whether the setting could do that task better with the magic level I provided, but determining what magic does best and what modern technology does best (and what is done best by a mixture of both) is the whole point of this thread.
So, given the specified spell and infusion levels, a very high reliance on alchemy compared to spellcasting, and the ability to technologically produce anything Earth can produce, what Pathfinder-based magitech can you guys come up with?