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


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Finn Kveldulfr wrote:
Anzyr wrote:


Pathfinder does quite well for itself. And aren't they going to be launching an MMO in the future? I think this really comes down to general dislike for White Wolf's rules.

Eh. I used to play (and quite enjoyed) several of the lines from the old World of Darkness (Werewolf, Mage and Changeling, mainly). However-- management, as part of the problem?

See, the way White Wolf treated their fans, the way they handled wrapping up and shutting down the World of Darkness, the lines they tried to sell about how it was artistically necessary and of course they weren't just going to start up a new World of Darkness-- and then that's exactly what they did...

That wasn't White Wolf. White Wolf had long ago ceased operations, and it's assets were bought by Ryan Dancey's company in Iceland, CPC. (I will give them kudos for hiring the White Wolf staff though). However after a decade of a badly mismanaged development process, it was CPC that canceled the project.


Finn Kveldulfr wrote:
I suppose I need to go back and reread Dragonflight now. I thought there was an introduction even in that book, as well as some other little hints here and there, that let you know there was some old tech/science-fiction (or science fantasy) stuff going on underneath the surface the whole time... so I really didn't feel like it was a betrayal when stuff came right out in the open in Dragonquest. I could be misremembering, of course.

Someone told me that a while ago. It may be correct ... but since I tend to skip introductions because I think the story should speak for itself, I may have missed it.

Alternately, it may be in some printings and not others. I don't know.


JoeJ wrote:
Arcanic Drake wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's Three Laws

But on the other hand:

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible." - Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.

Honestly I don't see why they would be so incompatible. Linguistics is a thing after all.


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My issue with Magic and science working in tandem, particularly in a setting like Pathfinder, is that science and technology as we understand them rely upon natural laws. The world works a certain way so certain things are possible. Once magic is able to change these laws to a significant degree (like in Pathfinder or D&D) technology stops working reliably.

So high magic high tech doesn't work because in order to keep technology working while wizards are warping space, time, and energy on a whim it pretty much has to be magic.

Now you can meld the two, high tech-ish devices achieved through magic, or magic effects achieved through science, but you can't have both as separate and distinct.

Once you lower the power of magic to the point where altering the fundamental make up of the universe is impossible or just shy of it (like it happened once in myth) then you can have science and magic be different things but beyond that it just doesn't really work.


What does NOT make sense is that Paizo decided to add tech into Iron Gods and the ww1 part of the Winter AP but the one AP that screams tech is Skull and Shackles..Pirates, cannons, flintlock pistols and derring do and they made it optional. This to me was a big mistake, the non black powder world should have been the optional for this one.

Makes no sense to me but hey I added it in anyway.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
simon hacker wrote:

What does NOT make sense is that Paizo decided to add tech into Iron Gods and the ww1 part of the Winter AP but the one AP that screams tech is Skull and Shackles..Pirates, cannons, flintlock pistols and derring do and they made it optional. This to me was a big mistake, the non black powder world should have been the optional for this one.

Makes no sense to me but hey I added it in anyway.

There's literally a world of difference between black powder muskets and laser rifles. For most of Paizo's audience, the former does not scream "tech" the way the latter does.


simon hacker wrote:

What does NOT make sense is that Paizo decided to add tech into Iron Gods and the ww1 part of the Winter AP but the one AP that screams tech is Skull and Shackles..Pirates, cannons, flintlock pistols and derring do and they made it optional. This to me was a big mistake, the non black powder world should have been the optional for this one.

Makes no sense to me but hey I added it in anyway.

S&S came out before RoW or IG...I think there was a bit more worry on how the inclusion of gunpowder might influence sales. We got IG partially because RoW did so well, is my understanding.

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WWWW wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Arcanic Drake wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's Three Laws

But on the other hand:

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible." - Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.

Honestly I don't see why they would be so incompatible. Linguistics is a thing after all.

It's more math and linguistics then just linguistics. Really high end, quantum theory mind-blowing math, and more "We have how many languages and dialects on this planet? Ugh."

You'll note the only languages made mathematically are for computers.

==Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:
WWWW wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Arcanic Drake wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's Three Laws

But on the other hand:

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible." - Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.

Honestly I don't see why they would be so incompatible. Linguistics is a thing after all.

It's more math and linguistics then just linguistics. Really high end, quantum theory mind-blowing math, and more "We have how many languages and dialects on this planet? Ugh."

You'll note the only languages made mathematically are for computers.

==Aelryinth

Which still has nothing to do with the Neil Gaiman quote.


WWWW wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Arcanic Drake wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's Three Laws

But on the other hand:

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible." - Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.

Honestly I don't see why they would be so incompatible. Linguistics is a thing after all.

It's the difference between the indicative and the imperative. A scientific law (if correct) describes how the universe behaves for all observers. A magical technique causes the universe to behave in the way that one particular magician desires.


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JoeJ wrote:
WWWW wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Arcanic Drake wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's Three Laws

But on the other hand:

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible." - Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.

Honestly I don't see why they would be so incompatible. Linguistics is a thing after all.

It's the difference between the indicative and the imperative. A scientific law (if correct) describes how the universe behaves for all observers. A magical technique causes the universe to behave in the way that one particular magician desires.

Of course, if it's that simple, the "method of talking to the universe" should be able to be analyzed scientifically and what bits of magical language in which combinations cause which results can be predicted. Science.

OTOH, if it's more like the magician talking to the universe and persuading it to help him out, it's not going to be analyzable in the same way.

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I'd go with the latter. No two fireballs need be cast the exact same way, so basically magic is more about inventing a personal language that does what you want it to do, instead of creating one and only one language with defined rules. Certainly a sorcerer isn't going to talk to reality the same way a wizard is.

==Aelryinth

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aelryinth wrote:

I'd go with the latter. No two fireballs need be cast the exact same way, so basically magic is more about inventing a personal language that does what you want it to do, instead of creating one and only one language with defined rules. Certainly a sorcerer isn't going to talk to reality the same way a wizard is.

==Aelryinth

If he's one of those sorcerer bloodlines that touches on the Dark Tapestry, all he might do is gibber a lot.


Aelryinth wrote:
I'd go with the latter. No two fireballs need be cast the exact same way, so basically magic is more about inventing a personal language that does what you want it to do, instead of creating one and only one language with defined rules. Certainly a sorcerer isn't going to talk to reality the same way a wizard is.

OTOH, Spellcraft identifies either version as readily.

I almost like the idea that a sorcerer's innate magic gives her an instinctive knowledge of the right words and gestures for specific spells. She casts essentially the same way as a wizard (Eschew Materials aside), but does so intuitively without studying to learn what the words and gestures mean.

Not canon, but not ruled out by it either.

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SPellcraft lets you identify what the spell does, i.e. the output. The input can be quite different. I don't see any need for similarity at all. A thousand words that all mean 'burn' tend to be noticeable as causing magic that burns, and all.

But, YMMV.

==Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:

SPellcraft lets you identify what the spell does, i.e. the output. The input can be quite different. I don't see any need for similarity at all. A thousand words that all mean 'burn' tend to be noticeable as causing magic that burns, and all.

But, YMMV.

But you can identify before the spell actually takes effect or identify spells that don't produce obvious effects.

It's "She's casting fireball. Counterspell - fireball", not "Boom!!!" "That was a fireball. Ouch."


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I think part of the problem I'm seeing in discussions on this thread is that people assume magic must operate outside the laws of physics while technology must operate inside.

Thing is, I've seen a lot of fiction where magic turns out to be part of the laws of physics, just not a part technology can easily access or even potentially use at all. If a person can unleash a fireball by simply making funny gestures and saying silly words, does it matter whether or not they're accessing some high-end aspect of particle physics? They're still manipulating the fabric of reality through what can only be called magic.

That is not to say technology cannot run on magic; Pathfinder and DnD-based games tend to demonstrate that technology runs very well when it runs on magic. After all, practically, on concept level what's the difference between a golem and a robot beyond their power source and how they're made?


MagusJanus wrote:

I think part of the problem I'm seeing in discussions on this thread is that people assume magic must operate outside the laws of physics while technology must operate inside.

Thing is, I've seen a lot of fiction where magic turns out to be part of the laws of physics, just not a part technology can easily access or even potentially use at all. If a person can unleash a fireball by simply making funny gestures and saying silly words, does it matter whether or not they're accessing some high-end aspect of particle physics? They're still manipulating the fabric of reality through what can only be called magic.

That is not to say technology cannot run on magic; Pathfinder and DnD-based games tend to demonstrate that technology runs very well when it runs on magic. After all, practically, on concept level what's the difference between a golem and a robot beyond their power source and how they're made?

Actually, I'd say it's the other way around. The base assumption of the thread is that magic is just physics we don't understand scientifically, while some, including me, are arguing that while it can be, it doesn't have to be.

PF magic does seem like it would be more the first kind.


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?

I think that it's because the incompatibility of science and magic has been the standard for so long that it's left an imprint on genre lovers. The sliding scale of technology and magic, I'm referring to it. Why do we treat it as the standard though?

More About The Sliding Scale Right Here

I don't think magic and technology are incompatible. I merely think the prevalence of one tends to invalidate the need for the other.

If you have magic that can toss a flaming ball of fire (Fireball) at someone, you don't have much need for a firearm. It doesn't preclude the development of firearms; not everyone is capable of using magic. But the advancement of firearms is likely to be stunted. You're probably not going to get far past what most medieval RPGs have for firearms.

In its current Pathfinder implementation, the nature of magic is such that the materials are readily-available for most common spells, and it merely requires training (and sometimes not even that if you're a Sorcerer) to learn how to achieve your desired effect. So someone can go purchase (likely at very high cost) an imperfect firearm they then have to purchase equally-expensive ammunition for... or they can learn to cast a spell, and roll up some bat guano and sulfur and have at it.

Conversely, you're going to find greater development of technology (firearms, as an example) when a more cost-effective method (magic) isn't available. Development of firearms will proceed, and the firearms will become more affordable as they grow more common and less expensive to produce, when you can't toss a ball of fire at something you want to kill.

Development of more resilient armor was a direct result of improvement in weaponry. Firearms sort of removed the usefulness of traditional medieval armor (even wearing crafted plate armor was sort of useless when a blunderbuss ball could just punch through it, at range). Modern-day armor is in direct response to firearms development, but it focuses on mitigation, not total protection.

There are genre conventions to take into account in Pathfinder itself, many of which have informed tabletop RPGs since Gygax and Arneson got started. Imagination provides for a melding of technology and magic, but practicality says you're going to have one or the other.

For the most part, if I'm going to play in a fantasy game, I prefer swords 'n sorcery. I'd be fine with games that push fantasy tropes into modern settings ("urban fantasy") like Shadowrun if they had better game mechanics: I've yet to find a single RPG out there that I've liked better than the Dungeons & Dragons system and its derivatives (Pathfinder, since D&D has moved two entire game systems down the line; I still think 4th Edition was an abomination, but I'm quite enamored with 5th Edition, while acknowledging I still prefer Pathfinder/3.5; the preference margin isn't as large as it was with 4th Edition, however).

Pathfinder, at its core, is swords 'n sorcery role playing, which is why any support for greater technological concepts is ancillary and relatively sparse. In theory you could take the d20 Modern or even the d20 version of Star Wars and use them with relatively minor tweaking to fully acclimate them to Pathfinder, and there you'd have your tech.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
MagusJanus wrote:

I think part of the problem I'm seeing in discussions on this thread is that people assume magic must operate outside the laws of physics while technology must operate inside.

Thing is, I've seen a lot of fiction where magic turns out to be part of the laws of physics, just not a part technology can easily access or even potentially use at all. If a person can unleash a fireball by simply making funny gestures and saying silly words, does it matter whether or not they're accessing some high-end aspect of particle physics? They're still manipulating the fabric of reality through what can only be called magic.

That is not to say technology cannot run on magic; Pathfinder and DnD-based games tend to demonstrate that technology runs very well when it runs on magic. After all, practically, on concept level what's the difference between a golem and a robot beyond their power source and how they're made?

Actually, I'd say it's the other way around. The base assumption of the thread is that magic is just physics we don't understand scientifically, while some, including me, are arguing that while it can be, it doesn't have to be.

PF magic does seem like it would be more the first kind.

That's mainly because magic is built more like a wargaming mechanic than from actual fantasy or magic traditions, as opposed to say, Ars Magica which is lyrically built from the top down with spells such as "Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie". (not very useful when cast under conditions of arctic cold :)


Silentman73 wrote:

If you have magic that can toss a flaming ball of fire (Fireball) at someone, you don't have much need for a firearm. It doesn't preclude the development of firearms; not everyone is capable of using magic. But the advancement of firearms is likely to be stunted. You're probably not going to get far past what most medieval RPGs have for firearms.

In its current Pathfinder implementation, the nature of magic is such that the materials are readily-available for most common spells, and it merely requires training (and sometimes not even that if you're a Sorcerer) to learn how to achieve your desired effect. So someone can go purchase (likely at very high cost) an imperfect firearm they then have to purchase equally-expensive ammunition for... or they can learn to cast a spell, and roll up some bat guano and sulfur and have at it.

Hmmm. I'd expect it to be the other way around. No one is going to bother with really bad substitutes for fireballs, like early fire lances and rockets and other gun powder weapons that weren't very effective and fairly likely to blow up on you, when there are magical alternatives available. That early development work won't happen unless there it really does bring a serious advantage.

By the time you're at PF style early guns, you're getting to the point where they are starting to be competitive and worth using, as an alternative to spending years in training for wizardry. At that stage small improvements in firearms tech start giving advantages, just like they did in the real world.

But as you say, it's really about what genre conventions you want to play with. You can justify most anything if you want to.


LazarX wrote:
thejeff wrote:
MagusJanus wrote:

I think part of the problem I'm seeing in discussions on this thread is that people assume magic must operate outside the laws of physics while technology must operate inside.

Thing is, I've seen a lot of fiction where magic turns out to be part of the laws of physics, just not a part technology can easily access or even potentially use at all. If a person can unleash a fireball by simply making funny gestures and saying silly words, does it matter whether or not they're accessing some high-end aspect of particle physics? They're still manipulating the fabric of reality through what can only be called magic.

That is not to say technology cannot run on magic; Pathfinder and DnD-based games tend to demonstrate that technology runs very well when it runs on magic. After all, practically, on concept level what's the difference between a golem and a robot beyond their power source and how they're made?

Actually, I'd say it's the other way around. The base assumption of the thread is that magic is just physics we don't understand scientifically, while some, including me, are arguing that while it can be, it doesn't have to be.

PF magic does seem like it would be more the first kind.

That's mainly because magic is built more like a wargaming mechanic than from actual fantasy or magic traditions, as opposed to say, Ars Magica which is lyrically built from the top down with spells such as "Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie". (not very useful when cast under conditions of arctic cold :)

I'd have to look more closely at Ars Magica. Which I should do anyway:)

In general though, the more rules heavy your game is, the more codified your magic is going to be and the more like science it's going to look.

Though even in Pathfinder it's going to be hard. We're going to need things like a scientific definition of evil.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

I'd have to look more closely at Ars Magica. Which I should do anyway:)

In general though, the more rules heavy your game is, the more codified your magic is going to be and the more like science it's going to look.

Though even in Pathfinder it's going to be hard. We're going to need things like a scientific definition of evil.

If you read the actual Jack Vance "Dying Earth" anthology, you'll find that pretty all that Gygax did was to take the skeleton of Vancian magic and strip way much of the flavor.

Prismatic Spray was originally named "The Excellent Prismatic Spray".

What passes for Teleport was something like "Transport of the Angry Cloud" the spell would conjure a dark cloud which would grab you and toss you bodily where you wanted to go.

Interestingly enough Dying Earth magic IS based on a form super science, but like everything else, has been in a state of decline, to the point where only 100 spells are still known to Humanity.


Why must there be a scientific explanation of magic for both magic and technology to coexist? Consider that in our largely science based realworld, there exists a segment of the population that believe magic also exists.

Are all the planes in existence using the same physics principles? Isn't it possible that physics works differently on other planes of existence?

Since divine magic is the providence of the gods, and gods dwell in the outer planes, could not divine magic be scientific, but follow a different set of physics and other influence, as in the physics of the outer planes which differ from the physics of the material plane. Perhaps arcane magic is derived of the physics of the inner planes (or some other planes - far realms?) which differs from both the physics of the outer planes and the material planes.


I think one terrific takeaway from 5th Edition is the removal of rigid preparation for magic. In it, a Wizard might have to choose which spells are prepared for the day, but they have complete freedom in which of them to cast; the current Pathfinder system's biggest drawback for preparation casters is "If I've prepared 2 Identify spells, and we hit a big haul and need to identify more, we're SOL until I can prepare more, unless I've spent the money to bring some scrolls as well." In 5th Edition, if you prepared Identify for the day, you can cast it as often as you have appropriate spell level slots (or higher, since you can plug any spell into a higher-level slot).

This said, "fire and forget" is a legacy behavior I wish Pathfinder would work its way out of. There's a wonderful point-based magic system they can make use of, the one used for psionics from Dreamscarred Press' "Ultimate Psionics". It helps magic feel a lot more organic, and less rigid.

This said, I still maintain that in any world where magic is common enough that the commoners know it's around and they don't question its power or effectiveness, technological development is going to be arrested. Technology in the real world raced forward to meet increasing efficiency and quality-of-life demands. When magic can do that, you aren't going to find ways to mine metals, refine them, form them, and assemble things with them. You aren't going to worry about generators for electricity when you can instead figure out that copper wire conducts it, and then pay a Wizard to bind a lightning elemental to your service.

I'm fine with a mixture of tech and science (our current Pathfinder campaign is an adaptation of John Carter of Mars, and I'm playing a Soulknife from "Ultimate Psionics"), but if we're attempting to provide TOO much real-world reason to it, the reality is either magic OR technology will have ascendancy, as the prevalence of one removes the impetus for development of the other, at least in the Pathfinder magic paradigm.


I see Magic as a science in the game world...it's a form of technology I suppose,especially magic items.
The problem is that it's not usually worth the effort of including them both because they do the same thing,filling the same narrative niche...i.e. letting you do extraordinary things.
An auto guiding mini photon blaster is really cool tech gadget...it could also perform a function that's mechanically indistinguishable from a Wand of magic missiles.
Do you shoot the rocket launcher or cast fireball? same difference.
From a design perspective it's a case of diminishing returns...if you have a functioning system operating on one basis it's not crucial to make another.
Obviously a game with both has richer thematic diversity due to being able to simulate more types of stories.
It seems that Magi-Tech has become it's own genre,that is attractive to people who enjoy the juxtaposition of the two,but held in contempt by purists of both sides.
I thought Shadowrun pulled it off pretty well.
WH40k...not as well.
And the movie "Cowboys vs. Aliens" blew...but that's not the concepts fault....or magics.


The times I've seen it, its usually from the players that notice the inconsistencies and gaps and want to exploit them. "Look the rules don't say your technoarmor is immune to <this spell> so I win!"

And even within setting, "Immune to fire? Apparently that also means immune to being dropped into the sun right?"


Losobal wrote:

The times I've seen it, its usually from the players that notice the inconsistencies and gaps and want to exploit them. "Look the rules don't say your technoarmor is immune to <this spell> so I win!"

And even within setting, "Immune to fire? Apparently that also means immune to being dropped into the sun right?"

The former example is just a player being asinine. Non-magical things (not antimagical) as a rule aren't "immune" to magic. Tech-based armor is, logically, used to counter specific threats. Tech-based armor that's meant to provide resistance to impact ballistics (bullets) would very likely not do much to stop a directed-energy weapon (which relies on heat or other energy instead of impact for its damage).

In the latter example, within magic it's perfectly feasible to conclude that a spell providing immunity to fire would prevent one from dying if somehow thrust into a star. Those spells are often meant to not only protect from combat encounters (the Wizard tossing a Fireball at you), but also to provide environmental protection in supernaturally hot environments (some layers of the Abyss, some circles of the Nine Hells, or the Elemental Plane of Fire).

It isn't a far stretch to conclude that supernatural fire can be hotter than the naturally-occuring heat of a star.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kolokotroni wrote:
But the issue I have is the idea many have that it should NEVER fit into a fantasy game. And that's sort of what I have a problem with. Its the whole 'I'm taking my ball and going home' mentality. The intollerance and refusal to find a way to incorporate someone else's fun into your own. Is it really unreasonable for someone to expect their friend to over months or even years eventually run a campaign that includes something they want to try? Why does it 'ruin' a campaign to have a region like numeria in it? Or alkenstar? Is it really a world shattering horror?

What you're also writing can be interpreted that you MUST incorporate someone's fun into your own. What you seem to be saying, that if a GM does not incorporate tech, he or she is doing badwrongfun. To categorically reject tech/samurai/ninja/psionics whatever is not always an expression of closemindedness. Sometimes it's simply an aesthetic choice, and you should be able to accept that.

Pathfinder deliberately built their world so that if you wanted to not use certain parts of it, you don't have adventures in those areas. You don't want laser beam golems marching through your stories, then don't set them in Numeria as the world is set up that they pretty much can't function outside of it for any length of time.

I submit that on the other hand that the GM has the right and the obligation to create the world that he or she wants to run, and the players have the right to either embrace it or reject it.


...melting point of iron, 1500ish celsius, or 1800ish Kelvin. Melting point of rock (ala red dragon) generally around 1200 celsius, granite melts at 1200-1260 C?

Heat of Sun (Core): 15ish MILLION celsius.


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Fire won't kill you, but the g forces certainly will.


While i haven't read the rest and i'm guessin' it's been said. The main reason some people have a problem with it at a base line is. Science is about explaining everything through quantifiable means. Magic is basically the opposite. It's unquantifiable "It's F**king magic" is something i'd heard a few times.
So when you include them both it kinda slides towards "magic is just science we don't understand yet" which for some people utterly breaks their feels about magic. and how science wouldn't have been developed so much if any old smart guy could have practiced magic instead of engineering (though untrue).

So some folks can't deal with that connection so having something else in there reminds them of it.

Though personally I'm pretty fine with high tech and magic. but I'm also a fan of "use science to control magic-even if magic is unquantifable. You can use the base world rules to shift magic your way"

Sorta like FF6's technology, or Phantasy star's techs.
but I don't find it disrupting to go with the whole "magic is that cosmic life force" jazz so it fits fine.


Losobal wrote:

...melting point of iron, 1500ish celsius, or 1800ish Kelvin. Melting point of rock (ala red dragon) generally around 1200 celsius, granite melts at 1200-1260 C?

Heat of Sun (Core): 15ish MILLION celsius.

Perfectly valid. This said, "immunity" isn't tiered, it doesn't go by "degrees" (pun intended). You're IMMUNE.

Trogdar wrote:
Fire won't kill you, but the g forces certainly will.

This is accurate. ;)


Losobal wrote:

...melting point of iron, 1500ish celsius, or 1800ish Kelvin. Melting point of rock (ala red dragon) generally around 1200 celsius, granite melts at 1200-1260 C?

Heat of Sun (Core): 15ish MILLION celsius.

Temperature of the elemental plane of fire? The pure magical quintessence of heat itself?

Who knows, but Immunity to fire protects you from it.

Fire elementals are immune to fire damage. Do they die in the Sun because it's too hot for them? Or do they happily live there, because it's the closest they can get in this cold plane to their native home?

All that is of course assuming the Sun is actually a flaming ball of plasma like ours and not the Sun God's chariot.


thejeff wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
WWWW wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Arcanic Drake wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's Three Laws

But on the other hand:

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible." - Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.

Honestly I don't see why they would be so incompatible. Linguistics is a thing after all.

It's the difference between the indicative and the imperative. A scientific law (if correct) describes how the universe behaves for all observers. A magical technique causes the universe to behave in the way that one particular magician desires.

Of course, if it's that simple, the "method of talking to the universe" should be able to be analyzed scientifically and what bits of magical language in which combinations cause which results can be predicted. Science.

OTOH, if it's more like the magician talking to the universe and persuading it to help him out, it's not going to be analyzable in the same way.

Yeah, basically that.

Right, if we're treating the universe as an entity to be bargained with the analysis is probably going to be different. I would think it would tend more towards the realm of psychology in that case.


There is actually rules for the sun in pathfinder. Fire immunity will protect you from the heat, but you'll also need: Fly Speed, No Breath, and some way to become immune to the gravity damage (the example is wish [but that's only a temporary solution] or transforming into a fire elemental).

Also, if everyone did just ignore technology and science because of magic then no one would have swords, or armour, or clothes, or houses.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

thejeff wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

SPellcraft lets you identify what the spell does, i.e. the output. The input can be quite different. I don't see any need for similarity at all. A thousand words that all mean 'burn' tend to be noticeable as causing magic that burns, and all.

But, YMMV.

But you can identify before the spell actually takes effect or identify spells that don't produce obvious effects.

It's "She's casting fireball. Counterspell - fireball", not "Boom!!!" "That was a fireball. Ouch."

Spellcraft is not dependent on what the person does, says, gestures, or whatnot.

You can tell they are casting a spell by what the magic is doing around them. That's why you can still Spellcraft someone doing a Still Silent Fireball, and you can't hide spellcasting without special circumstances.

So the fluff going into it is completely mutable. You can still identify what is being done by how magic responds, and react accordingly.

==Aelryinth


WWWW wrote:
Right, if we're treating the universe as an entity to be bargained with the analysis is probably going to be different. I would think it would tend more towards the realm of psychology in that case.

I think that depends on the entity. If the universe is an entity, but it's the energy-equivalent of a supercomputer, then it becomes that both science and magic would work without necessarily being able to quantify each other; science would operate by examining and working within the processes of the machine, while magic would operate as hacking the machine to get it to perform operations outside of its normal parameters or bargaining with the machine's operating system for a higher-level set of privileges than the average person.

It would also allow for an explanation as to why it is Earth might not have any native magic users, while Golarion is full of them; they're in different areas of the machine and attuned to different processes being performed.


MagusJanus wrote:
WWWW wrote:
Right, if we're treating the universe as an entity to be bargained with the analysis is probably going to be different. I would think it would tend more towards the realm of psychology in that case.

I think that depends on the entity. If the universe is an entity, but it's the energy-equivalent of a supercomputer, then it becomes that both science and magic would work without necessarily being able to quantify each other; science would operate by examining and working within the processes of the machine, while magic would operate as hacking the machine to get it to perform operations outside of its normal parameters or bargaining with the machine's operating system for a higher-level set of privileges than the average person.

It would also allow for an explanation as to why it is Earth might not have any native magic users, while Golarion is full of them; they're in different areas of the machine and attuned to different processes being performed.

You can have it work however you want in your world, but there are cases where it stops being like science.

It could be less like a machine and more like the old myths of everything being alive and having it's own spirit - tree spirits and rock spirits and river gods and everything being alive and aware and magic lets you talk to them and get them to help you.

Or it could be closer to Christian myths where magic is either miracles from God (which obviously can't be scientifically analyzed) or done with the aid of devils.


MagusJanus wrote:
WWWW wrote:
Right, if we're treating the universe as an entity to be bargained with the analysis is probably going to be different. I would think it would tend more towards the realm of psychology in that case.

I think that depends on the entity. If the universe is an entity, but it's the energy-equivalent of a supercomputer, then it becomes that both science and magic would work without necessarily being able to quantify each other; science would operate by examining and working within the processes of the machine, while magic would operate as hacking the machine to get it to perform operations outside of its normal parameters or bargaining with the machine's operating system for a higher-level set of privileges than the average person.

It would also allow for an explanation as to why it is Earth might not have any native magic users, while Golarion is full of them; they're in different areas of the machine and attuned to different processes being performed.

Hmm, that seems reasonable. If the universe is like a big computer based intelligence there could be multiple approaches. For example as a thinking being one could use psychology to try and determine how it thinks and the best way to influence it, but on the other hand as something like a computer one could try the analogue of computer hacking which would probably fall under something akin to computer science/engineering.


Aelryinth wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

SPellcraft lets you identify what the spell does, i.e. the output. The input can be quite different. I don't see any need for similarity at all. A thousand words that all mean 'burn' tend to be noticeable as causing magic that burns, and all.

But, YMMV.

But you can identify before the spell actually takes effect or identify spells that don't produce obvious effects.

It's "She's casting fireball. Counterspell - fireball", not "Boom!!!" "That was a fireball. Ouch."

Spellcraft is not dependent on what the person does, says, gestures, or whatnot.

You can tell they are casting a spell by what the magic is doing around them. That's why you can still Spellcraft someone doing a Still Silent Fireball, and you can't hide spellcasting without special circumstances.

So the fluff going into it is completely mutable. You can still identify what is being done by how magic responds, and react accordingly.

Which would mean that casting spells is accompanied by some visual manifestation apparent even to those without spellcraft, which is never actually stated that I'm aware of and has it's own implications.

Mostly, though I agree. It's not entirely clear how casting differs from one caster to another or how Spellcraft allows spells to identified, but we know they can be.

I didn't intend with the original idea that it had to work that way, just that it was a neat idea for a sorcerer.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

thejeff wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

SPellcraft lets you identify what the spell does, i.e. the output. The input can be quite different. I don't see any need for similarity at all. A thousand words that all mean 'burn' tend to be noticeable as causing magic that burns, and all.

But, YMMV.

But you can identify before the spell actually takes effect or identify spells that don't produce obvious effects.

It's "She's casting fireball. Counterspell - fireball", not "Boom!!!" "That was a fireball. Ouch."

Spellcraft is not dependent on what the person does, says, gestures, or whatnot.

You can tell they are casting a spell by what the magic is doing around them. That's why you can still Spellcraft someone doing a Still Silent Fireball, and you can't hide spellcasting without special circumstances.

So the fluff going into it is completely mutable. You can still identify what is being done by how magic responds, and react accordingly.

Which would mean that casting spells is accompanied by some visual manifestation apparent even to those without spellcraft, which is never actually stated that I'm aware of and has it's own implications.

Mostly, though I agree. It's not entirely clear how casting differs from one caster to another or how Spellcraft allows spells to identified, but we know they can be.

I didn't intend with the original idea that it had to work that way, just that it was a neat idea for a sorcerer.

It's been stated numerous times that spellcasting is completely obvious and very hard to conceal. It's a take 10 check to notice ANYONE is doing spellcasting, although identifying what they are doing is harder. Casting a spell is on the opposite end of the spectrum from subtle.

It's why Spellcraft works even if a Spell is Stilled and Silent. You and anyone can see what they are doing. Psionics had to make sure to put the same kind of mechanic in, or it would have an unfair advantage over psionics.

==Aelryinth

Scarab Sages

thejeff wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

SPellcraft lets you identify what the spell does, i.e. the output. The input can be quite different. I don't see any need for similarity at all. A thousand words that all mean 'burn' tend to be noticeable as causing magic that burns, and all.

But, YMMV.

But you can identify before the spell actually takes effect or identify spells that don't produce obvious effects.

It's "She's casting fireball. Counterspell - fireball", not "Boom!!!" "That was a fireball. Ouch."

Spellcraft is not dependent on what the person does, says, gestures, or whatnot.

You can tell they are casting a spell by what the magic is doing around them. That's why you can still Spellcraft someone doing a Still Silent Fireball, and you can't hide spellcasting without special circumstances.

So the fluff going into it is completely mutable. You can still identify what is being done by how magic responds, and react accordingly.

Which would mean that casting spells is accompanied by some visual manifestation apparent even to those without spellcraft, which is never actually stated that I'm aware of and has it's own implications.

Mostly, though I agree. It's not entirely clear how casting differs from one caster to another or how Spellcraft allows spells to identified, but we know they can be.

I didn't intend with the original idea that it had to work that way, just that it was a neat idea for a sorcerer.

Which rather reinforces the whole magic has its own laws point. It doesn't matter if you cast dominate person by saying "Enslave", "Ciaran Kei Delaro", "ooga booga woggely Do", or simply the force of your mind (still, silent, eschew materials) there is still a common factor in a spell that has no outward manifestation of its effects that allow you to identify what the mage is trying to cast. To me I've always taken components (V, S, M) as aides to a casters mental processes and it's those mental shapes that remain constant, Same with the way magic reacts. You can't cast dominate with the mental constructs for fireball or polymorph and you can't easily hide the changes in magic that result. So while someone else may not know what your gibbering means they can still see the exact same changes that preceded their own spells of that type. In much the same way you can start a fire with a magnifying glass, matches, two sticks rubbed together. The means to trigger it differ but the process that results in a piece of burning paper is always the same.

As for the tech in magic issue there's also gods that actively encourage technological research and development amongst their followers.


thejeff wrote:

You can have it work however you want in your world, but there are cases where it stops being like science.

It could be less like a machine and more like the old myths of everything being alive and having it's own spirit - tree spirits and rock spirits and river gods and everything being alive and aware and magic lets you talk to them and get them to help you.

Or it could be closer to Christian myths where magic is either miracles from God (which obviously can't be scientifically analyzed) or done with the aid of devils.

I think the manga Ah My Goddess covered the spirit example. It had spirits but the magic to interact with them was pretty much highly-complex computer programs initiated on the universe-running computer known as Yggdrasil. Throughout the manga, the goddess Belldandy was constantly using those spells to call upon spirits to aid her. They even had to edit the universe's operating system at one point.

I don't really see it as impossible to do it as a computer system no matter where the magic is coming from; the issue comes down to the computer system merely being there to maintain the universe. It would still need to be created, and the idea of a divine creator granting power can work as an admin override of certain functions, while demonic power could simply be a result of bugs in the system.

Of course, that's if people want to make it work that way. If they don't, then all power to them. I'm just covering a way magic and science can work together without changing their natures while still being plausible and easily understood.

WWWW wrote:
MagusJanus wrote:
WWWW wrote:
Right, if we're treating the universe as an entity to be bargained with the analysis is probably going to be different. I would think it would tend more towards the realm of psychology in that case.

I think that depends on the entity. If the universe is an entity, but it's the energy-equivalent of a supercomputer, then it becomes that both science and magic would work without necessarily being able to quantify each other; science would operate by examining and working within the processes of the machine, while magic would operate as hacking the machine to get it to perform operations outside of its normal parameters or bargaining with the machine's operating system for a higher-level set of privileges than the average person.

It would also allow for an explanation as to why it is Earth might not have any native magic users, while Golarion is full of them; they're in different areas of the machine and attuned to different processes being performed.

Hmm, that seems reasonable. If the universe is like a big computer based intelligence there could be multiple approaches. For example as a thinking being one could use psychology to try and determine how it thinks and the best way to influence it, but on the other hand as something like a computer one could try the analogue of computer hacking which would probably fall under something akin to computer science/engineering.

Exactly what I was thinking :D

Plus, it leaves open one important question: If the universe is like a big computer based intelligence, who created it? And do they have options to override the system?

Scarab Sages

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Hmmmm I now have the image of mages being those who've discovered the creators overrirr commands and are essentially hacking the universal system with debugging/testing commands. Wonder if they're using bonus cheat codes or are eventually going to have an angry creator crack down on the hackers?


MagusJanus wrote:

Exactly what I was thinking :D

Plus, it leaves open one important question: If the universe is like a big computer based intelligence, who created it? And do they have options to override the system?

Yeah, that's a good one. If someone created the universe then there could be all sorts of bug testing stuff and development commands lying around for people to use without having to directly mess around in the guts of the program. That could be good if you wanted to give out some basic powers to everyone but still have groups that get bigger effects for more work.


WWWW wrote:
thejeff wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
WWWW wrote:
JoeJ wrote:
Arcanic Drake wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke, Clarke's Three Laws

But on the other hand:

"Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible." - Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic.

Honestly I don't see why they would be so incompatible. Linguistics is a thing after all.

It's the difference between the indicative and the imperative. A scientific law (if correct) describes how the universe behaves for all observers. A magical technique causes the universe to behave in the way that one particular magician desires.

Of course, if it's that simple, the "method of talking to the universe" should be able to be analyzed scientifically and what bits of magical language in which combinations cause which results can be predicted. Science.

OTOH, if it's more like the magician talking to the universe and persuading it to help him out, it's not going to be analyzable in the same way.

Yeah, basically that.

Right, if we're treating the universe as an entity to be bargained with the analysis is probably going to be different. I would think it would tend more towards the realm of psychology in that case.

In some of H.P. Lovecraft's novels, magic is simply putting one's understanding of the universe to use in such a way (through actions that stimulate dimensional boundaries: "Magic" words, gestures, and the consumption of "offerings") to affect the world in a proven definable way. Basically magic and science mixed.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

If you use Epic Magic, that would be akin to messing with the source code of the universe (although the Epic Magic system is quite famously broken).

Post 9th slots would be more akin to exceeding the boundaries of the current system, and being able to override the standard limits of the system.

At least, that's how I picture it. But different casters have different views of what magic IS at that level.

==Aelryinth

Grand Lodge

Senko wrote:
Hmmmm I now have the image of mages being those who've discovered the creators overrirr commands and are essentially hacking the universal system with debugging/testing commands. Wonder if they're using bonus cheat codes or are eventually going to have an angry creator crack down on the hackers?

Is that what the Inevitable's are for though? Don't they track down spell casters and stop them? They are the Anti virus programs that the Creator has installed to track down arcane spell casters, the Divine casters have their own anti viral in being if they piss off their gods they lose their spells?

Also to the spell craft checks to identify spells, I feel that each of the types of spell casting (arcane, diving, drudic, spiritual and such) should be harder for for casters who don't have access to those types of magic to identify. Instead of 10 + spell level if your non proficient with another type of magic is should be 15 + double the spell level, I know this seems high at the start but people with + 20 to spell craft should have no issues later on and that means they have experience seeing such spells being cast.


Even if magic follows consistent rules, that doesn't necessarily mean that it follows the same rules that science discovers. One very common idea in fiction is that the laws of magic are symbolic; they invoke the meanings of things in a way that objective natural laws simply can't explain. So while a scientist might, for example, come up with a theory involving magnetism or some such to explain how a dowser can find water with a forked stick, no such theory can explain how it can also find a piece of paper with the word "water" written on it. Or why dowsing over a map or aerial photo works just as well as walking across the ground.

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