Why Do So Many People View Science and Magic As Incompatible?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Shadow Lodge

Doctor Doom. Brilliant scientific mind, and a decent sorcerer as well. On occasion he blends science and magic to achieve what neither are capable of alone.

I'm actually surprised there aren't more examples. I can't really think of any off the top of my head.

Well, one. The Laundry Files, where the main character (and the Laundry in general) combine computer software and Call of Cthulhu-style magic to fight against the Mythos.


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Neal Litherland wrote:

I'd disagree that this is the standard response players have. Rather I should think that if you're playing in Golarion then unless you're banning characters from certain regions there's no reason to outlaw certain things. It's the players job to explain how a mercenary from Alkenstar wound up in Ustalav taking part in Carrion Crown, but it's not out of the question.

The issue I was discussing isn't trying to sandwich power armor into a low-tech setting; rather it's when there IS a setting where these things are part of the canon and a player wants to explore it as part of a concept why do so many people knee-jerk to say no? If a DM is building a certain flavor or world then it's pretty common for that tone to be explained to players before creation, which should eliminate most of these discussions. But if someone's running a Golarion module or adventure path, then why not bring in something exotic? As long as the player understands that there will be difficulties associated with rarity, cost, and other issues that come with maintaining advanced technology instead of simply using magic.

You do know that's part of the reason they segregated all the non-standard stuff into its own little corners, right. So that groups that didn't want to, wouldn't have to deal with it.

If I want to run a published module (that doesn't include the tech I don't like), but don't want to include firearms, I don't have to. You can argue all you want that I should have to, because there are guns over in some other corner of the world, but I don't have to. I don't have to run the game at all. I certainly don't have to run it for someone who wants to force things I don't want into it.
I consider myself perfectly free to change anything about the published world or even adventure that I want. I don't care at all about published canon. I certainly don't consider myself bound by it. All of that is in service to the campaign I'm running and if it doesn't work, I'm happy to ditch it.

Now, personally I'm a nice guy and a bit of a soft touch. I'll try to find a way to compromise and will probably be more likely to give in and let you play something even if it leaves me frustrated and less happy with the game than to over apply the ban hammer.
But the notion that I have to, that I'm obligated to allow every last published bit of material just because I want to run a published adventure irritates me.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
Doctor Doom. Brilliant scientific mind, and a decent sorcerer as well. On occasion he blends science and magic to achieve what neither are capable of alone.

There was that one time, when he tried to do it and it literally blew up in his face. And he keeps blaming Reed Richards for it.

Actually when he does blend science and magic, it goes well for him until it turns horribly wrong.

Shadow Lodge

Well, it all worked out ok when he cured Ben Grimm. (Something that Richards has never been able to achieve, and Doctor Strange has either never been able to achieve or hasn't bother to attempt.) Grimm stayed cured until he voluntarily became the Thing again.

Shadow Lodge

LazarX wrote:
boring7 wrote:
Though that reminds me of the somewhat apocryphal bit of trivia that someone in the BBC tried to bill Dr. Who as an educational show (for a very short period of time at the very beginning) because of all the time travel to historical eras.
It's not apocryhal. that's how the show was originally intended to work, and how it was run, at least at first. Remember that the Doctor was not truly codified in character, even in species, until nearly the end of Hartnell's run.

The creator actually had two rules for the show:

No bug-eyed monsters, and no robots.

The second serial introduced the Daleks. Bug-eyed monsters in robot battle suits.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
Well, it all worked out ok when he cured Ben Grimm. (Something that Richards has never been able to achieve, and Doctor Strange has either never been able to achieve or hasn't bother to attempt.) Grimm stayed cured until he voluntarily became the Thing again.

That as far as I remember was science alone.


I enjoy mixing sci-fi and other genre into my games. I would love to run a campaign setting that was a magical steampunk with aliens and guns.

That said, magic and science are incompatible on a basic level. Not because you can't have both in the same story, but because they don't operate by the same rules. If you try to apply the laws of physics to magic, the first time someone cast reduce person it would trigger a blast on par with an ICBM. Relativity does not play nice with polymorph.

I recall vividly a discussion on the alt.rec D&D group years ago, about applying real world physics to a polymorphed (enlarged) object upon contact with an antimagic sphere. The results, depending on orientation on the rotating planet surface, ranged from blasting a gigantic crater several kilometers into the mantle or an upward exhaust of energy powerful enough to jettison 25% of the atmosphere into space.

So, science and magic don't mix. They can coexist, so long as you remember they don't play by each other's rules.

Shadow Lodge

LazarX wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Well, it all worked out ok when he cured Ben Grimm. (Something that Richards has never been able to achieve, and Doctor Strange has either never been able to achieve or hasn't bother to attempt.) Grimm stayed cured until he voluntarily became the Thing again.
That as far as I remember was science alone.

I'm pretty sure that involved magic as well. But if not, Richards gained some meta-awareness. Reed Richards is Useless


Kthulhu wrote:
Well, it all worked out ok when he cured Ben Grimm. (Something that Richards has never been able to achieve, and Doctor Strange has either never been able to achieve or hasn't bother to attempt.) Grimm stayed cured until he voluntarily became the Thing again.

If I recall, Reed has at least once cured Ben, except he also voluntarily became the thing again.

That's not really a measure of their respective abilities though: No one can permanently cure the Thing, since that's such a fundamental part of the character.

Shadow Lodge

Well, my point is that Reed spent years trying, and failing, to cure him.

Comparatively, Doom just said "Oh, let me whip up a cure for you!" Ba-da-bing, ba-da-bang, Ben has a normal human complexion.


Puna'chong wrote:
{. . .} Nobody's bothered to figure out the other way because it's already pretty easy to get ahold of it through magic (I mean, how many of us are sitting around trying to find an alternative to our telecommunications infrastructure or looking for a completely new mode of transportation?). {. . .}

I don't know of anybody actually doing this, but how about somebody who is trying to come up with a form of communication that the NSA doesn't know how to snoop, or somebody who wants to get to another planet without having to climb out of one gravity well and then down into another and without having to hoof it over the inconveniently enormous distance between them? (And by the way, the first of these might help with at least the logistics, if not necessarily the technology development, of the second.)

Silver Crusade

thejeff wrote:

I don't really mind the occasional trove of alien or lost tech, like Barrier Peaks or even Numeria, but I do like my D&D fantasy more medieval or at least renaissance like in style than later period. I like having knights in armor and swords and archers along with my mages and priests. I find that the sword and horses and bows being commonly used in the same settings where science fiction tech is commonly used jars me. Even guns as effective as PFs are a bit of a jolt. I find the restrictions that keep them from replacing the earlier weapons seem too artificial. Having trains and steamships and the like do the same.

Nothing wrong with mixing magic with higher tech. Shadowrun is a great setting. Fantasy Westerns or Age of Piracy stuff can be fun too. It's mixing the other tropes of fantasy with common higher tech that bothers me.

This. I'm actually coming around to finding what Thejeff has brought up in his first paragraph to be my biggest obstacle to the way many games try to throw in advanced technology alongside fantasy... if you have commonly available guns, for instance-- even at say the 17th or 18th century, flintlocks-type... knights in armor should be mostly extinct. If you have trains and steamships (and guns), your world should look a lot more like the 19th century with magic, than like the middle ages with a few inexplicable anachronisms but somehow society still hasn't advanced at all (if it's one isolated, crashed starship-- but tech isn't at all common, this need not affect societies at large, though).

IMO, tech and magic in the same world/game can be great (I don't always want it mixed up-- there's still a place for fantasy without high tech, and high tech without magic), but I feel that whatever tech and whatever magic you've introduced into world should make sense and should have a meaningful impact on societies within the world. This is a problem with many D&D worlds... although I personally really like Eberron-- in that setting, the magic and "magic as tech" was integrated well.


Neal Litherland wrote:
The issue I was discussing isn't trying to sandwich power armor into a low-tech setting; rather it's when there IS a setting where these things are part of the canon and a player wants to explore it as part of a concept why do so many people knee-jerk to say no? If a DM is building a certain flavor or world then it's pretty common for that tone to be explained to players before creation, which should eliminate most of these discussions. But if someone's running a Golarion module or adventure path, then why not bring in something exotic? As long as the player understands that there will be difficulties associated with rarity, cost, and other issues that come with maintaining advanced technology instead of simply using magic.

Although its still work to create and include any necessary rules variants to fit the concept for your game, I find creating an intentional one-shot adventure including pre-gen PCs, and asking your players to try a variant game that you're considering running as a full campaign or homebrew AP. Often when I design the pre-gens, I design with an intended, specific player to run it (though they are free to choose different pre-gens available.)

This allows the players to try the variant without having to invest in creating a custom character and intent on running the game for many months. Since a one-shot is intended for one evening's play only, the players don't have to commit to give it a try. I would be up front and ask the players to have an open mind, and play it by ear to see if it works or not.


KestrelZ wrote:

It all comes down to taste and opinion.

Some view the two as peanut butter and jelly - great together.

Some view it as ketchup and twinkies - individually great, yet not meant to be together.

I used to play Rifts, so lack of game balance and genre mixing isn't new to me.

*Kestrel Salute*

Pretty much this, down to getting my start in Rifts. I have no problem with tech and magic mingling, on general principle, and recall fondly my Rifts Dragonmage who was capable of piloting a suit of magical power armor, peeling your brain open with psychic powers, or unleashing a fireball in your face all in equal measures (Dragonmages are kind of obnoxious like that).

But, at the same time, I can see it not fitting into every game-- even when the system arbitrarily allows for it. I've got a Splicers game going, and Splicers is a Rifts offshoot. If I really like, I have conveniently statted up rules for magic to appear in Splicers, and the book explicitly notes that such a thing is possible. Building a Wizard-equivalent in this game would take me something like ten minutes to do.

But I would veto my players trying it. It doesn't fit in the world on a conceptual level (the premise of the setting is tech vs. organic tech), it doesn't fit well on a mechanical level (the magician would get slaughtered in fifteen seconds flat), and-- most importantly-- it doesn't fit into my plans for the plot at all. So no magic.

Consider then the Gunslinger in Pathfinder. On a conceptual level it requires a stretch-- if Gunslingers are everywhere, why are Fighters walking around in Full Plate again? That's an impossible stretch ("they're really, really rare" is an acceptable answer) but it is one. And then you have the mechanical level, where they again don't fit-- a Gunslinger plays very differently from other classes in numbers valuations (they care about damage and not hit rates, every other class tends to want the reverse), in wealth valuation (a lot more is going to expendables than even the Alchemist), and they functionally require their own sets of loot (not the only class this is true for but by far the most egregious). So, whether you feel the reputation is deserved or not, there is indeed an argument that the Gunslinger doesn't fit in Pathfinder, and could very easily be removed.

The last is another point: how intrinsic are Gunslingers to the setting, really? Pull the Wizard and Sorcerer (and now Arcanist) and you have to dramatically shift the entire world. The same is true for a number of classes. But... what changes when you remove the Gunslinger? Not much. It's an outlier.

The converse of this is that it's very easy to create a game where Gunslingers fit in perfectly, perhaps to the extent of being the default class or-- as I saw in the Homebrew section the other day-- a game where guns are so common that a class devoted to guns is pointless, as even the Monk could use one.

It's just as easy to exclude as include as merge. Sometimes we want Iron Man, sometimes we want Dr. Strange, and yeah, sometimes Dr. Doom is totally frigging awesome (okay, Doom is always awesome, for he is DOOM).


Finn Kveldulfr wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I don't really mind the occasional trove of alien or lost tech, like Barrier Peaks or even Numeria, but I do like my D&D fantasy more medieval or at least renaissance like in style than later period. I like having knights in armor and swords and archers along with my mages and priests. I find that the sword and horses and bows being commonly used in the same settings where science fiction tech is commonly used jars me. Even guns as effective as PFs are a bit of a jolt. I find the restrictions that keep them from replacing the earlier weapons seem too artificial. Having trains and steamships and the like do the same.

Nothing wrong with mixing magic with higher tech. Shadowrun is a great setting. Fantasy Westerns or Age of Piracy stuff can be fun too. It's mixing the other tropes of fantasy with common higher tech that bothers me.

This. I'm actually coming around to finding what Thejeff has brought up in his first paragraph to be my biggest obstacle to the way many games try to throw in advanced technology alongside fantasy... if you have commonly available guns, for instance-- even at say the 17th or 18th century, flintlocks-type... knights in armor should be mostly extinct. If you have trains and steamships (and guns), your world should look a lot more like the 19th century with magic, than like the middle ages with a few inexplicable anachronisms but somehow society still hasn't advanced at all (if it's one isolated, crashed starship-- but tech isn't at all common, this need not affect societies at large, though).

Magic full plate stops bullets pretty reliably actually (provided you are far enough away). Having tested several modern firearms and even a few futuristic ones against everything from +1 chainmail to +5 full plate, I can say this with confidence. The armor is also handy when someone gets the bright idea to swing a sharp metal object of the magical variety in your direction. The problem I think here is that you and kestral287 haven't been to a prime material plane with magic before and are thinking of regular old full plate. No one uses that anymore.


thejeff wrote:
Neal Litherland wrote:

I'd disagree that this is the standard response players have. Rather I should think that if you're playing in Golarion then unless you're banning characters from certain regions there's no reason to outlaw certain things. It's the players job to explain how a mercenary from Alkenstar wound up in Ustalav taking part in Carrion Crown, but it's not out of the question.

The issue I was discussing isn't trying to sandwich power armor into a low-tech setting; rather it's when there IS a setting where these things are part of the canon and a player wants to explore it as part of a concept why do so many people knee-jerk to say no? If a DM is building a certain flavor or world then it's pretty common for that tone to be explained to players before creation, which should eliminate most of these discussions. But if someone's running a Golarion module or adventure path, then why not bring in something exotic? As long as the player understands that there will be difficulties associated with rarity, cost, and other issues that come with maintaining advanced technology instead of simply using magic.

You do know that's part of the reason they segregated all the non-standard stuff into its own little corners, right. So that groups that didn't want to, wouldn't have to deal with it.

If I want to run a published module (that doesn't include the tech I don't like), but don't want to include firearms, I don't have to. You can argue all you want that I should have to, because there are guns over in some other corner of the world, but I don't have to. I don't have to run the game at all. I certainly don't have to run it for someone who wants to force things I don't want into it.
I consider myself perfectly free to change anything about the published world or even adventure that I want. I don't care at all about published canon. I certainly don't consider myself bound by it. All of that is in service to the campaign I'm running and if it doesn't work, I'm happy to ditch it.

Now,...

You are perfectly free to say no. Just as players are perfectly capable of not coming to a module. I'm not saying that everyone HAS to do things a certain way just because the rules exist. And because most of us only game with people who like what we like, rarely is there a situation where players leave a table because a DM won't give them a shiny toy, or where a DM's game ends because he isn't giving the players the experience they want.

My point was simply that the usual argument of "well there is no tech here, because it's a low magic, low tech world" isn't valid in these settings. When a player wants something and a DM wants something else it's important for both sides to come together and talk it out. Maybe after hearing the DM's views the player will instead choose to play a standard wizard who acts more like a scientist than a robed arcanist. On the other hand a DM (obviously not yourself in this situation) might admit that yes a character who was adamant about looking for relics and knowledge could eventually find enough of it to cobble together experimental devices. In this way a compromise would mean the player now has a character goal, but the storyteller doesn't necessarily have to give the PC a suit of power armor just because he saved his pennies and took a jaunt across the map.


Anzyr wrote:

Magic full plate stops bullets pretty reliably actually. Having tested several modern firearms and even a few futuristic ones against everything from +1 chainmail to +5 full plate, I can say this with confidence. The armor is also handy when someone gets the bright idea to swing a sharp metal object of the magical variety in your direction.

Non-magical full plate, however, is totally worthless against even flintlocks, let along modern/futuristic weaponry, which is why it vanished in the real world with the arrival of gunpowder weapons.

So there's still an issue as to why anyone low-level bothers to wear armor.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Anzyr wrote:

Magic full plate stops bullets pretty reliably actually. Having tested several modern firearms and even a few futuristic ones against everything from +1 chainmail to +5 full plate, I can say this with confidence. The armor is also handy when someone gets the bright idea to swing a sharp metal object of the magical variety in your direction.

Non-magical full plate, however, is totally worthless against even flintlocks, let along modern/futuristic weaponry, which is why it vanished in the real world with the arrival of gunpowder weapons.

So there's still an issue as to why anyone low-level bothers to wear armor.

The sharp pointy objects. Most monsters don't shoot bullets. They do however have sharp pointy claws and fangs. I'm a Shaman not a Scientist, but if I'm fighting Wyverns, I'll take Full plate over Kevlar any day.


Anzyr wrote:
Magic full plate stops bullets pretty reliably actually (provided you are far enough away). Having tested several modern firearms and even a few futuristic ones against everything from +1 chainmail to +5 full plate, I can say this with confidence. The armor is also handy when someone gets the bright idea to swing a sharp metal object of the magical variety in your direction. The problem I think here is that you and kestral287 haven't been to a prime material plane with magic before and are thinking of regular old full plate. No one uses that anymore.

... Did you really just make the reference that I think you made. Because I facepalmed hard, and now I need to know if that was justified.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Neal Litherland wrote:

We've all been part of at least one of these "discussions" in our times as gamers. Maybe you wanted to play a Spellslinger and your DM slapped you down hard. Maybe you wanted to be an alchemist that hunts dragons. Perhaps you were asking to bring something out of Numeria. So many players don't want any technology, even alien technology, interacting with their fantasy worlds.

Why do we do that? Where does this knee jerk reaction come from?

In my case it's from experience. I've never played in a successful sci-fantasy game (despite several efforts). After trying something a few times, I give up on the grounds that it's just not for me. (I also expect to not enjoy games based around interparty conflict, campaigns that start with "You're all on the run..." or game systems where combat is so deadly that avoiding it is always the rational choice).

I dont think there's any objective reason - it's just that mixing science fiction and fantasy is not something I enjoy.


kestral287 wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Magic full plate stops bullets pretty reliably actually (provided you are far enough away). Having tested several modern firearms and even a few futuristic ones against everything from +1 chainmail to +5 full plate, I can say this with confidence. The armor is also handy when someone gets the bright idea to swing a sharp metal object of the magical variety in your direction. The problem I think here is that you and kestral287 haven't been to a prime material plane with magic before and are thinking of regular old full plate. No one uses that anymore.
... Did you really just make the reference that I think you made. Because I facepalmed hard, and now I need to know if that was justified.

Honestly I use so many references in my stuff, I don't always know exactly what I'm referencing. Like the "I'm a Shaman, not a Scientist," in my last post, it all just kind of creeps in.


Eh, D&D magic is basically technology. But for D&D magic versus stuff like guns the reason is quite possibly because technologies that are more familiar to people have more immediately obvious repercussions. The more obvious the consequences of a particular discovery the more likely it is to highlight the nonsensical nature of the setting.


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The existence of magic reduces the driving force that powers science.
With continual light a thing, why should you work hard to find a way to create technological (electrical) light? With message spells a thing, why should you work hard on technological ways to transmit messages? With spells that keep goods from spoiling, why do you need a refrigerator? With unseen servant, why do you need a hoover?

Normally to reach a technological breakthrough you need money. If what you invented is new and the first of its kind you'll find rich people who want to invest because there is a market. But if what you invent can already be done with magic, do you think people will invest lots of money just in the hope your product will be better or cheap enough to take over the market from magic?
And do you think the wizards will watch you step on their toes by taking over their business?


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Puna'chong wrote:
I think rationally, though, if every town has someone who can use magic or has a store selling it then it's relatively prevalent and there would definitely (in my mind) be people pushing the boundaries every day.

Not at the listed prices for magic. There's obviously some source of scarcity-value in Golarion, and you can find dozens of threads offering suggestions and speculations about what it is. But it's easy enough to do the math. A typical citizen with ordinary skills makes about 3sp per day, or roughly 100gp per year. Or, if you like, a single gold piece is worth roughly $100 (US) in today's money.

A potion of cure light wounds or similar first level spell therefore costs as much as a car, and a hat of disguise costs as much as a house. I could buy a condominium for the cost of a teleport spell, but I can get on a plane and go halfway around the world here in the real world for a few day's wages.

This again? The 'average is not 3sp a day

*****************************************************************

Science is predicated on the natural and is a systematic enterprise that builds knowledge by repeatable experiment and observation.

Magic is not natural, not systematic (even if it is psuedo-systematic in pathfinder) and not always subject to observation.

As such it's not that they are incompatible in that they react violently against each other but more in that they operate in completely different circles.


Abraham spalding wrote:
This again? The 'average is not 3sp a day

CRB pp. 159 & 163

3sp per day is "the typical daily wage for mercenary warriors, masons, craftsmen, cooks, scribes, teamsters, and other trained hirelings. This value represents a minimum wage; many such hirelings require significantly higher pay."

1sp per day is "the typical daily wage for laborers, maids, and other menial workers."


JoeJ wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
This again? The 'average is not 3sp a day

CRB pp. 159 & 163

3sp per day is "the typical daily wage for mercenary warriors, masons, craftsmen, cooks, scribes, teamsters, and other trained hirelings. This value represents a minimum wage; many such hirelings require significantly higher pay."

1sp per day is "the typical daily wage for laborers, maids, and other menial workers."

Argue the math in the thread with the math in it alright? (don't want to thread jack) Just both to read the damn thing first -- I don't want to rehash old points (hint: Your current point is one already covered).


Abraham spalding wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
This again? The 'average is not 3sp a day

CRB pp. 159 & 163

3sp per day is "the typical daily wage for mercenary warriors, masons, craftsmen, cooks, scribes, teamsters, and other trained hirelings. This value represents a minimum wage; many such hirelings require significantly higher pay."

1sp per day is "the typical daily wage for laborers, maids, and other menial workers."

Argue the math in the thread with the math in it alright? (don't want to thread jack) Just both to read the damn thing first -- I don't want to rehash old points (hint: Your current point is one already covered).

I don't see the need to argue anything, and certainly not in a thread that's several years old. I was just quoting what the rules say about the wages of certain skilled and unskilled professions.


Anzyr wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Anzyr wrote:

Magic full plate stops bullets pretty reliably actually. Having tested several modern firearms and even a few futuristic ones against everything from +1 chainmail to +5 full plate, I can say this with confidence. The armor is also handy when someone gets the bright idea to swing a sharp metal object of the magical variety in your direction.

Non-magical full plate, however, is totally worthless against even flintlocks, let along modern/futuristic weaponry, which is why it vanished in the real world with the arrival of gunpowder weapons.

So there's still an issue as to why anyone low-level bothers to wear armor.

The sharp pointy objects. Most monsters don't shoot bullets. They do however have sharp pointy claws and fangs. I'm a Shaman not a Scientist, but if I'm fighting Wyverns, I'll take Full plate over Kevlar any day.

The full plate may stick around, though that's definitely arguable.

Guns do become the primary weapon pretty quickly. Once they're effective to be used by adventurers, anyway. Like I said above, no problem mixing high-tech and magic, but I do have a problem mixing low-tech and high-tech.
I enjoy playing in low-tech games. I also prefer settings where magic doesn't function as tech.

Scarab Sages

KLWEJHOWIJHRTOI@$)I#@$IPHTRFTJ@#

I just spent half an hour typing out a long detailed post and my browser went back a page and deleted it as I was finishing up.

The essential point however was that it comes back to world impact. That is it doesn't matter if you have technology, magic or both what's important is the impact on the world, as a poster above said. If a mage can create water to keep a town from drying up in a drought it will be a valuable highly used source of magic and as a result technological solutions e.g. dams, canals and irrigations channels wont be developed until that mage and all their successors is dead because the investment in time and labour is not worth it. There are some good sources for this e.g. eberron for a high magic/low tech society and a medieval magical society for a low magic, low tech one.

The main problem is that while people are happpy to build huge ancient conflicts between primordial evils and the heroes few want to build an entire living breathing world. Instead you get swords, sorcery and roving packs of lawn gnomes.

The reason being it doesn't take much to throw together an ancient evil returning to the world but figuring out how magic and technology would evolve together does. Whether its in the fact mages have worked out spells with an electricity tag e.g. lightning bolt are easier to cast in certain conditions. That religious co-exstence swings rapidly between tolerance and open warfare because while members of one relgiion are happy to kill another no one wants to antognize a god with a powerful following by oppressing its local followers, or even the fact that doctors are the first port of call before priests for healing because people have figured out while a priest can cure a man on his deathbed that a doctor cannot if you can be cured by the doctor of say smallpox you'll never catch it again whereas if the priests heals you of it you might (magical healing wipes the body clean of disease so it doesn't develop antibodies).

Which is a shame because the world building to me is fascinating.


Fantasy is mostly about things which were once epic and great and about picking the remnants of bygone civilizations to overcome obstacles.
Science Fiction is often about discovering and building new things to overcome obstacles.

So these two don't mesh easily. Most fantasy works have a unrealistically slow research rate, so everything is still status quo.
Take for example the biggest modern offender: Game of Thrones. For hundreds of years the scientific progress in metallurgy was non-existent. Tolkien did the same.

So, in a technology-based setting we would expect to see development which we are not accustomed to in fantasy-based settings. Hence, the opinion of many people: Science and Magic cannot coexist.


Senko wrote:

KLWEJHOWIJHRTOI@$)I#@$IPHTRFTJ@#

I just spent half an hour typing out a long detailed post and my browser went back a page and deleted it as I was finishing up.

The essential point however was that it comes back to world impact. That is it doesn't matter if you have technology, magic or both what's important is the impact on the world, as a poster above said. If a mage can create water to keep a town from drying up in a drought it will be a valuable highly used source of magic and as a result technological solutions e.g. dams, canals and irrigations channels wont be developed until that mage and all their successors is dead because the investment in time and labour is not worth it. There are some good sources for this e.g. eberron for a high magic/low tech society and a medieval magical society for a low magic, low tech one.

The main problem is that while people are happpy to build huge ancient conflicts between primordial evils and the heroes few want to build an entire living breathing world. Instead you get swords, sorcery and roving packs of lawn gnomes.

The reason being it doesn't take much to throw together an ancient evil returning to the world but figuring out how magic and technology would evolve together does. Whether its in the fact mages have worked out spells with an electricity tag e.g. lightning bolt are easier to cast in certain conditions. That religious co-exstence swings rapidly between tolerance and open warfare because while members of one relgiion are happy to kill another no one wants to antognize a god with a powerful following by oppressing its local followers, or even the fact that doctors are the first port of call before priests for healing because people have figured out while a priest can cure a man on his deathbed that a doctor cannot if you can be cured by the doctor of say smallpox you'll never catch it again whereas if the priests heals you of it you might (magical healing wipes the body clean of disease so it doesn't develop antibodies).

Which is a shame...

It's not necessarily that people don't want to work out all the logical effects of a particular type of magic in combination with a particular type of technology, it's often that people don't want to play in the resulting world.

Pseudo-historical world + magic is a very common thing in the fantasy genre. It's a fun to play in and and a lot of people like it. That's enough for me. I don't need to throw it away because the logical consequences of a high level of magic would lead to a world looking completely different.


Zardnaar wrote:

Fantasy works do not usually mix the genres although you can find it if you look hard enough. It is not very commen with the major fanatasy authoers anyway.

David Gemmel- Yes with the Jon Shannow books
David Eddings. Not so much.
Tolkein. Nope
Feist. Nope
GRR Martin- Nope
Robert Jordan- Not in the early books
Terry Brooks Not in the early books, yes in the later books (lost technology in a post apocalyptic world).

etc
etc
etc

Pathfinder is more or less D&D as well and early D&D had a tech level replicating Dark Ages to the 14th century. Things like Expedition to the Barrier Peaks were isolated and contained for the most part and easily avoidable.

Fiest - I think there is a description of a fleet of star ships being destroyed in one of the books.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Magic vs Science often comes out of a Law vs Chaos conflict.

Magic is the ultimate expression of the worth of a single individual. But without that individual to manipulate the magic and make the magical things, magic is, in the end, worthless to the average man. There are whole classes of magic items that normal people simply cannot use because it requires a specific type of magical ability to wield them.

Science, on the other hand, is the triumph of many individuals into a pool of knowledge that ANYONE can use. Anyone can shoot a gun, not everyone can shoot a wand. Anyone can drive a car and learn to fix a car. Not everyone is going to figure out how to make a Stone Horse.

Science effectively becomes the collective power of a society pooled together and able to be accessed with education. The knowledge of magic pooled does absolutely nothing for those who can't actually wield it...it just allows 'special' individuals to get stronger, and the fallout of their generosity may incrementally help people over time, but doesn't replace the broad, low power that science can bring.

of course, when those powerful magical individuals spend time and effort to undercut the advancing of science via using magic, it forestalls the advance since the incentive to find alternate ways evaporates in the short term. In the long term, being beholden to spellcasters makes you dependent, and society is better off with an alternative.
--
Also, science works by working with the existing laws of reality and mastering them. Magic is almost by definition manipulating the laws of reality in your favor. That's pretty much a natural opposition right there. For them to work together, you'd basically have to master the science that exists within the altered reality of a magical spell.

==Aelryinth


Abraham spalding wrote:

Science is predicated on the natural and is a systematic enterprise that builds knowledge by repeatable experiment and observation.

Magic is not natural, not systematic (even if it is psuedo-systematic in pathfinder) and not always subject to observation.

As such it's not that they are incompatible in that they react violently against each other but more in that they operate in completely different circles.

Nah.

If magic is not repeatable or observable it ceases to be usable. A spell of any sort is only a spell if it does the same thing with the same actions. If there is no causal relationship between certain actions and certain outcomes then they are unreliable, and in fact all of reality is insane. If there *is* a causal relationship, then the scientific method and the methods of rationality still apply. A different rule set than physics doesn't mean there aren't rules.

Also, natural means "of nature," which magic totally is in fantasy-land where magic is real.

Umbranus wrote:

The existence of magic reduces the driving force that powers science.

With continual light a thing, why should you work hard to find a way to create technological (electrical) light? With message spells a thing, why should you work hard on technological ways to transmit messages? With spells that keep goods from spoiling, why do you need a refrigerator? With unseen servant, why do you need a hoover

Reduces, not destroys, and there are other patterns in the mix. Half that magic you mentioned is super-duper expensive, and none of it can be mass-produced. A wizard can cast fabricate, but that doesn't mean he's going to make textiles all day. A cleric of Lamashtu can cure disease, but most folk would rather see a medieval doctor than trust the rape-crazy monster. And if someone discovers a trick like using hot air to make something rise or noticing that steam produces work he can and will investigate it, possibly more easily since magic can fabricate prototypes.

Then there's the limits of who can work magic, thaumic pollution, rebellion against a magic-using aristocracy, total magical failure (happens in Forgotten Realms all the freakin' time), and spellcasters wanting to help people help themselves so he can do other things. If I was a powerful wizard I would have better things to do than make lightbulbs all day; things like inventing a more effective lightbulb, forging a benevolent trade empire, commissioning magical/scientific studies so I can "know all the things," or attractive naked people.

Okay, mostly I'd be doing the attractive naked people. But also some science.


Two reasons (for me).

One, that's the way it has always been as far as I can tell. Not saying it is a good reason. But it is a reason for a lot of people.
Most of the novels, movies, legends, etc... Have only one or the other. In fact, many of those same stories give explicit reasons why in their universe they can not co-exist.
Note: I did say 'most' not 'all.' I am well aware there are a few that have both. But to be honest, I didn't like very many of the ones I've found. Most of the combo-themed stories seemed poorly thought out and just slapped together.
So there are thousands of good sci-fi stories. There are thousands of good fantasy stories. And a very tiny slice of good sci-fi & fantasty stories. That ends up being a lot of reinforcement for keeping them separate.

Two, poor game mechanics.
In RL I don't know magic, so I can't say this is how a cone of cold should work. I've also never been a knight. So I don't really know how difficult it is to use a lance from a charging rhinoceros. Yeah, a lot of the rules seem kinda hoakey. But I can fall back on 'I don't really know' to keep my suspension of disbelief mostly intact.
But I know enough about science, engineering, modern weapon theory, addition of force vectors, etc... That most sci-fi game rules just leave me going, 'Come on that's completely ridiculous!' Especially if they start trying to introduce spacecraft combat into the system. I have a hard time enjoying sci-fi games because it seems very few of them are even influenced by anyone that actually knows anything about science or engineering.
{Simplification for playability is a separate subject, and I am usually fine with that in both genres.}
A few aren't too bad since they mostly hand-wave away all the science stuff. The sci-fi elements are mostly just a background for a fairly default RPG. But the ones that try to actually emulate scientific advancements just fall flat. At least to my person perception.
When sci-fi is tacked onto a fantasy system, it seems even worse.

I will admit I haven't given Iron Gods a try yet. But the little bit I've read just didn't leave me impressed. My group is likely to give it a go sometime in the near future when my group all decides they want to purchase the book. Not a problem. I will try it and probably have fun gaming with my friends. But odds are it won't be my favorite way to play.
Maybe I'll be surprised and love it. That would be wonderful.


boring7 wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

Science is predicated on the natural and is a systematic enterprise that builds knowledge by repeatable experiment and observation.

Magic is not natural, not systematic (even if it is psuedo-systematic in pathfinder) and not always subject to observation.

As such it's not that they are incompatible in that they react violently against each other but more in that they operate in completely different circles.

Nah.

If magic is not repeatable or observable it ceases to be usable. A spell of any sort is only a spell if it does the same thing with the same actions. If there is no causal relationship between certain actions and certain outcomes then they are unreliable, and in fact all of reality is insane. If there *is* a causal relationship, then the scientific method and the methods of rationality still apply. A different rule set than physics doesn't mean there aren't rules.

Also, natural means "of nature," which magic totally is in fantasy-land where magic is real.

Plenty of magic in fantasy in myth works off of things like will or emotion or divine favor or even innate power. It's certainly not always the case that anyone doing exactly the same actions (same words, same hand movements, same material components) always gets the same results. If the spirits don't like you, you might not get anything at all. If you don't understand what you're doing and focus your mind in the right way as you wiggle your fingers and chant the words, nothing may happen.

Magic pays attention. Magic is about intent.
Causal relationship, but not as simple as normal physics.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Magic almost always has an inbuilt element of change to it. The fireball you cast today may not be exactly the same fireball you cast a year from now. 'old and forgotten magic' is practically the foundation of this.

Science tends to get stronger as you advance it. Magic tends to be more powerful the further BACK in time you go. Hah!

==Aelryinth


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One other thing, we are pretty aware from mundane history that at a certain level of development guns entirely replace swords as the primary weapon of the military.

If you want to keep your swords, you kinda have to make it so you can't buy an AR-15.


Dave Justus wrote:

One other thing, we are pretty aware from mundane history that at a certain level of development guns entirely replace swords as the primary weapon of the military.

If you want to keep your swords, you kinda have to make it so you can't buy an AR-15.

Agreed, but the fireball would still be useful.

And there are stories with some sort of tech advancement that made the guns obsolete but still allowed the blades to work. Dune series.


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ElterAgo wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

One other thing, we are pretty aware from mundane history that at a certain level of development guns entirely replace swords as the primary weapon of the military.

If you want to keep your swords, you kinda have to make it so you can't buy an AR-15.

Agreed, but the fireball would still be useful.

And there are stories with some sort of tech advancement that made the guns obsolete but still allowed the blades to work. Dune series.

Obviously you can indeed have a setting with magic and tech. What is harder is to have your high fantasy knight of the round table in a world where that technology is eclipsed.

When someone says 'fantasy' to me I expect the technology level to be about King Arthur. Sure their can be exceptions, but that is the default and if I want King Arthur I want the whole flavor of the setting. Knights, Castles, Chivalry, rescuing fair Dragons from ferocious Princesses.


Dave Justus wrote:
ElterAgo wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

One other thing, we are pretty aware from mundane history that at a certain level of development guns entirely replace swords as the primary weapon of the military.

If you want to keep your swords, you kinda have to make it so you can't buy an AR-15.

Agreed, but the fireball would still be useful.

And there are stories with some sort of tech advancement that made the guns obsolete but still allowed the blades to work. Dune series.

Obviously you can indeed have a setting with magic and tech. What is harder is to have your high fantasy knight of the round table in a world where that technology is eclipsed.

When someone says 'fantasy' to me I expect the technology level to be about King Arthur. Sure their can be exceptions, but that is the default and if I want King Arthur I want the whole flavor of the setting. Knights, Castles, Chivalry, rescuing fair Dragons from ferocious Princesses.

Exactly. At least as a baseline. A lot of older fantasy actually went with old mysterious or alien tech as a substitute for magic.

That can work, because it doesn't change the base assumptions for the society.

It's not that magic with higher tech is bad. Modern urban fantasy can be a blast, though it tends to shade into horror. Shadowrun style near future fantasy is cool too. Plenty of other options.

But I don't want to lose the pseudo-medieval fantasy either. It really should remain the backbone of PF. That's where the roots are.


Dave Justus wrote:

One other thing, we are pretty aware from mundane history that at a certain level of development guns entirely replace swords as the primary weapon of the military.

If you want to keep your swords, you kinda have to make it so you can't buy an AR-15.

While most configurations don't include it, you can place a bayonet onto an AR-15 as well as most other modern military rifles and assault. So even with guns, you can still have your sword (kinda/sorta).


gamer-printer wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

One other thing, we are pretty aware from mundane history that at a certain level of development guns entirely replace swords as the primary weapon of the military.

If you want to keep your swords, you kinda have to make it so you can't buy an AR-15.

While most configurations don't include it, you can place a bayonet onto an AR-15 as well as most other modern military rifles and assault. So even with guns, you can still have your sword (kinda/sorta).

Kinda. But they aren't generally issued, because they're not usually effective.


Bayonets are a fine weapon. The point though is:

"You have my sword."
"And my axe!"
"And my bow."
"And my AR-15 with bayonet mount and IR laser sight"

Does kinda change the flavor a bit.


Dave Justus wrote:

Bayonets are a fine weapon. The point though is:

"You have my sword."
"And my axe!"
"And my bow."
"And my AR-15 with bayonet mount and IR laser sight"

Does kinda change the flavor a bit.

Well, yes, but the standard rules of PF that include gun technology isn't including modern assault rifles, rather something between an arquebus and cartridge ammo pistols and rifles. Including flint-lock guns and bow, axe, sword does fit in the same flavor - or at least it can be.

I mentioned previously, but I'm looking at using the Santiago setting player rules for a Sci-Fi based game where technology is a direct conversion of everything magic in PF. Instead of spells there are technical procedures cast be technical classes that replicate what spells do exactly the same, just that you look at the perception of what is going on in a different way. You cannot include both technology and magic, since technology is magic, but you needn't have to invent an entire replacement, you simply rename spells and concept to technological versions. A magic missile becomes a force projectile that works the same as magic missile, etc.

The "casters" are engineers fitting together mechanical components to achieve "spell effects". I'm also working on an alternate wizard that programs code into a tech device that enables "spell effects" using nanobots and hacking into larger computer systems aboard ship or within a building structure.

If you really need something "magical" in the mix, just ad-hoc include Psionics to serve that purpose, and everything else is technology.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The problem I have with the Santiago approach is that quite frankly, it doesn't go anywhere. Reflavoring Pathfinder magic with tech names means that you're not doing anything other than using Pathfinder magic with a different wrapping.

I prefer the Dragonstar approach, myself.


gamer-printer wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

Bayonets are a fine weapon. The point though is:

"You have my sword."
"And my axe!"
"And my bow."
"And my AR-15 with bayonet mount and IR laser sight"

Does kinda change the flavor a bit.

Well, yes, but the standard rules of PF that include gun technology isn't including modern assault rifles, rather something between an arquebus and cartridge ammo pistols and rifles. Including flint-lock guns and bow, axe, sword does fit in the same flavor - or at least it can be.

Depends on the degree of verisimilitude you want.

As has been pointed out endlessly, even something as iconic as a castle wouldn't work in a high-magic PF world. Castles exist(ed) because high stone walls are an effective barrier against any troops and any weapons that existed prior to about 1200 CE. They remained useful because they're still useful against gunpowder weapons until the advent of rapid-firing artillery and airborne troops in roughly the First World War.

But if you expect that any opponent will have a flying, teleporting, fireball-flinging mage, a traditional castle is a waste of time and money. So either castles are very rare, or combat wizards are very rare -- take your pick.

Similarly, plate armor disappeared when one could expect that opponents had matchlocks, because it's then a waste of time and money.

If your world is supposed to make sense, it wouldn't have knights in full plate and flintlocks encountering each other very often. So either full plate is very rare, or flintlocks are very rare -- take your pick.


gamer-printer wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

Bayonets are a fine weapon. The point though is:

"You have my sword."
"And my axe!"
"And my bow."
"And my AR-15 with bayonet mount and IR laser sight"

Does kinda change the flavor a bit.

Well, yes, but the standard rules of PF that include gun technology isn't including modern assault rifles, rather something between an arquebus and cartridge ammo pistols and rifles. Including flint-lock guns and bow, axe, sword does fit in the same flavor - or at least it can be.

The problem with that for me is that they don't behave like flint-locks. They call them that, but even without the "advanced firearms", they're at least as effective as 18th century cartridge weapons. Unlike flintlocks, where soldiers could fire volleys or individuals would fire a single shot and then switch to another gun or a melee weapons, PF guns are perfectly effective for adventurers to use as a primary weapon. They're quick to fire and can be effectively used in close quarters.

The only reason they haven't replaced other weapons is basically fiat.


LazarX wrote:

The problem I have with the Santiago approach is that quite frankly, it doesn't go anywhere. Reflavoring Pathfinder magic with tech names means that you're not doing anything other than using Pathfinder magic with a different wrapping.

I prefer the Dragonstar approach, myself.

That's precisely why I prefer the Santiago approach is that I don't have to learn an entirely new subsystem and that it doesnt' go anywhere, its exactly the same just reflavored with different names. I prefer that its rewrapped Pathfinder magic - which makes it easy to use and understand. Its because I don't want a system for magic and a separate system for technology that has a possibility with conflicting with the other - one system with magic as technology works best for me.


gamer-printer wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

Bayonets are a fine weapon. The point though is:

"You have my sword."
"And my axe!"
"And my bow."
"And my AR-15 with bayonet mount and IR laser sight"

Does kinda change the flavor a bit.

Well, yes, but the standard rules of PF that include gun technology isn't including modern assault rifles, rather something between an arquebus and cartridge ammo pistols and rifles. Including flint-lock guns and bow, axe, sword does fit in the same flavor - or at least it can be.

I mentioned previously, but I'm looking at using the Santiago setting player rules for a Sci-Fi based game where technology is a direct conversion of everything magic in PF. Instead of spells there are technical procedures cast be technical classes that replicate what spells do exactly the same, just that you look at the perception of what is going on in a different way. You cannot include both technology and magic, since technology is magic, but you needn't have to invent an entire replacement, you simply rename spells and concept to technological versions. A magic missile becomes a force projectile that works the same as magic missile, etc.

The "casters" are engineers fitting together mechanical components to achieve "spell effects". I'm also working on an alternate wizard that programs code into a tech device that enables "spell effects" using nanobots and hacking into larger computer systems aboard ship or within a building structure.

If you really need something "magical" in the mix, just ad-hoc include Psionics to serve that purpose, and everything else is technology.

How do they explain the limited uses per day (spell slots) going up per level? If it's technology, can't the characters just buy as many recharges as they can afford - and probably dirt cheap, too, given the ability to mass produce things?

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