I need help coming up with magitech devices.


Advice

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My world operates on the logic that there is no inherent conflict between science and magic, and that combining the two is a distinct possibility. The main method of using magic for a civilian is via alchemy, or the creation of magical potions. These can maintain potency for about a year. Enchanting items is much less common, as an item lacking spiritual significance (an artifact in D&D/Pathfinder terms) won't maintain a charge for more than a day (I have systems to compensate for the loss of magic items, but they aren't relevant to this topic.). Spellcasters tend die earlier than non-spellcasters, losing between 5 to 20 years depending on how powerful a mage gets (the more powerful you get, the lower your lifespan). Alchemists are not spellcasters, so they live normal lifespans (Unless they drink the potions they make on a constant basis. If you imbibe magical elixers on the scale of a PC Alchemist, you'll lose about as much of your lifespan as a spellcaster would.).

Alchemists are also faster, easier, and cheaper to train than any spellcaster would be. As a result of this and the superior storability of alchemy compared to enchantments, the Alchemist character class completely dominates the use of magic among civilians. For every one NPC spellcaster, you'll see several dozen NPC Alchemists. Where spellcasters pull ahead is sheer power. Most NPC Alchemists don't have the class features of a PC Alchemist, as PC Alchemists only have them through extra training the average Alchemist never gets.

Generally, you won't see very many NPCs above level 4. This means that, in practical terms, we are working with a metric ton of NPC Alchemists who have access to 1st level extracts and a fair number with 2nd level extracts. In terms of spellcasters, a handful of Arcane or Psychic spellcasters with 1st level spells, and a smaller handful with 2nd level spells, are available. The setting doesn't have the Divine spellcasting classes, except for the Shaman, but the Shaman is considered Psychic (Witches got bumped over to Psychic, too). Magical healing is generally the task of Shamans, Witches, and Alchemists, and sometimes Bards. Healing potions are also easier to come by than they would be in other campaign settings. Nobody can cast Speak with Dead, and no magic is going to let you speak with plants or animals, and certainly not with a god. Occult Adventures content features pretty heavily in this setting, and from a thematic point of view it replaces Divine spellcasting.

The technology level is fully industrialized. Anything modern Earth is able to produce, my setting could produce. It may or may not produce a particular modern device, depending on whether the setting could do that task better with the magic level I provided, but determining what magic does best and what modern technology does best (and what is done best by a mixture of both) is the whole point of this thread.

So, given the specified spell and infusion levels, a very high reliance on alchemy compared to spellcasting, and the ability to technologically produce anything Earth can produce, what Pathfinder-based magitech can you guys come up with?


So I think I've got most of it but there's still a few gaps that need to be filled in. From my understanding the bullets points are:


  • Magic items only work for a day unless they're artifacts.
  • Alchemical items only "keep" for a year before losing potency.
  • Magic cuts your lifespan.
  • Way more NPC alchemists than magic users, and there's a special alchemist NPC class that is not the PC class.
  • People above level 4 are rare.
  • No divine spellcasting and some spell list changes.
  • Modern age world.

From this the questions I still have are:

  • Can magic items be recharged or are they just only good for a single day?
  • Is the magic cutting lifespan caused by something? You say that people who use potions more often have the same problem, is it caused by the magic itself in some way?
  • You're going to need to be a lot more specific on the spell list changes. Is planar binding out? Is mind control/charm person out? Does healing heal broken bones?
  • Are there laws regulating magic use? Alchemy use?
  • Where do alchemical weapons (and other things made with Craft (alchemy)) fall under this? Does using them still cause your lifespan to shorten?
  • How widespread is the knowledge of magic and alchemy? People nowadays probably can't tell you the first thing about a transistor but they can still tell you whether one computer should be faster than another.
  • What is the tone you're going for? Are you looking for cyberpunk, high fantasy, swords and sorcery and submachineguns?
  • Has the world had magic this entire time and developed into the modern world or did magic suddenly appear at some point in history? Either of these open up a giant horrendous mess but the question does need to be answered because the only way "can do everything the modern world can" can be true is if it was the modern world, and then magic suddenly appeared. Otherwise most of medicine would be ignored for "renewable, reusable ability to heal all injuries regardless of what they are or how you got them".
  • How are the fantastical creatures explained? Science + giants/dragons = the laws of biology quietly crying in corner. Ditto angels/demons/any creature made of pure <ideological concept>. Plus how those interact with religion.
  • How is spontaneous magic explained? Prepared is pretty easy to explain away as "another kind of science" but spontaneous requires that magic just appear whenever they feel like it.
  • Just how rare are the people above 4th level? Just what kind of population does the world itself have? I ask because even if it's 0.001% that's about 3,000 people in the US. Which is a lot of people. And the US isn't even that big as far as the big countries go.

Without any more information I can only suggest a little.

So first, all potions should come in pill form, probably a gelcap. Might as well, and it beats carrying glass vials of the stuff around.
Second, DMSO is @#$%ing crazy. Short version is whatever is mixed with the DMSO is instantly absorbed into the bloodstream. So emergency (or offensive) potions could be loaded into squirt guns (or similar) and sprayed at someone. Could do buffing that way as well.
Third, every spell that generates something from nothing could be used in power generation. Most are probably not cost effective (fire) but we have lots of ways to store electricity and very low level spells that generate it.
Fourth, I'd expect warfare to be pretty much the same, depending on how rare the high level people are. If you can produce modern guns you'd be an idiot to use anything else. While magic is strictly limited, bullets are limited by what you can carry. Ditto planes, tanks, cruise missiles, etc. It's all pretty much invulnerable to a low level wizard, the biggest point of failure (like always) is the humanoid element. Presumably everything would come with at least a two person activation requirement.
Fifth, presumably all police would have several magic users on hand to spend all day using detect magic on crowds looking for anything suspicious. Or make an item to do it for them, but there'd still be some police officer spending all their time scanning crowds for dangerous magic or people under the influence of magic.

That's all I've got, I don't think I really contributed much magitech but I need a lot more details before I go into that. If you just give me the overall general tone or inspiration I can probably throw out thematically appropriate stuff (would be fluff-heavy and crunch-lite though).

The Exchange

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

On the topic of police.

Badges 3/day command (freeze!)

Batons/clubs with chill touch or touch of fatigue/exhaustion.

Entangle or snare handcuffs/manacles.

Longstrider boots.


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Can magic items be recharged or are they just only good for a single day?

You'd have to reenchant it.

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Is the magic cutting lifespan caused by something? You say that people who use potions more often have the same problem, is it caused by the magic itself in some way?

Allowing magic into your bloodstream and internal organs on a constant basis for years on end eventually wears your body out. Average life expectency in the major nations of the setting is typically around 85. A martial PC probably expects more like 80 years (they drink a fair number of potions, especially since greater potion availability and Automatic Bonus Progression replaces the magic item system), a lower power PC caster can expect about 75 years and a higher power PC caster 70 years. The highest level spellcasters can expect 65 years. So, pretty much any player character is exposed to enough magic to get a reduced lifespan, (though a PC shouldn't expect to be so powerful as to only expect 65 years).

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You're going to need to be a lot more specific on the spell list changes. Is planar binding out? Is mind control/charm person out? Does healing heal broken bones?

The only changes that effect this issue are the ones already laid out. Other than that, there aren't many spell list changes at the 1st and 2nd level.

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Are there laws regulating magic use? Alchemy use?

Yes. Spellcasters have mandatory government registration, and any use requires a license. This is enforced by government employed spellcasters. Alchemy is treated much like any HAZMAT is.

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Where do alchemical weapons (and other things made with Craft (alchemy)) fall under this?
They fall under alchemy.
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Does using them still cause your lifespan to shorten?

Only if you injest it several times a month over a period of years.

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How widespread is the knowledge of magic and alchemy? People nowadays probably can't tell you the first thing about a transistor but they can still tell you whether one computer should be faster than another.

Alchemy is something maybe one in two hundred can use proficiently. Spellcasting is something maybe one in ten thousand can use. Which gives a nation the size of Britain about 6,200'mages in total. Of those, maybe five hundred have seen 6th level.

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What is the tone you're going for? Are you looking for cyberpunk, high fantasy, swords and sorcery and submachineguns?

No. I don't want cyberpunk at all. I'm going for more "Eberron, but with guns and alchemy, and with spellcasters that are largely occultish and feared. Main campaign focus is on monster control and hunting dangerous mage criminals.".

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Has the world had magic this entire time and developed into the modern world or did magic suddenly appear at some point in history? Either of these open up a giant horrendous mess but the question does need to be answered because the only way "can do everything the modern world can" can be true is if it was the modern world, and then magic suddenly appeared.
Magic was always there. When I say that the world can do anything Earth can, I mean that it has the industrial capacity, not that it has necessarily thought something up. The question is what should be done with alchemy instead of technology.
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I do not Otherwise most of medicine would be ignored for "renewable, reusable ability to heal all injuries regardless of what they are or how you got them".

There isn't anyone around who can pull that off, though.

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How are the fantastical creatures explained? Science + giants/dragons = the laws of biology quietly crying in corner.
Dragons are inherently magical, and magic is understood as the ability to violate laws of science in a consistent manner.
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Ditto angels/demons/any creature made of pure <ideological concept>. Plus how those interact with religion.

We don't have any beings made of ideological concepts, and religion exists but cannot provide magic in and of itself. We do have lots of demons, but they are also inherently magical.

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How is spontaneous magic explained? Prepared is pretty easy to explain away as "another kind of science" but spontaneous requires that magic just appear whenever they feel like it.

Spontaneous caster know how to cast a narrow range of spells well, and so have short rituals to cast spells. Prepared casters don't because that inhibits flexibility, so they have much longer spell rituals. They get around this problem by doing most of each ritual in the morning, then finishing the ritual when it is needed later on.

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Just how rare are the people above 4th level? Just what kind of population does the world itself have? I ask because even if it's 0.001% that's about 3,000 people in the US. Which is a lot of people.
You have it about right, and the government has their hands on about a third of them. Unfortunately, the rest are typically trouble. Which is why the government employs thr player characters.
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And the US isn't even that big as far as the big countries go.

Eh? The US is the third largest nation in the world by population and fourth largest by land size.


Nathan Nasif wrote:

On the topic of police.

Badges 3/day command (freeze!)

Batons/clubs with chill touch or touch of fatigue/exhaustion.

Entangle or snare handcuffs/manacles.

Longstrider boots.

You missed the bit that basically says that non-artefact magic items stop being magic after about a day.


I'll echo the above post in a slightly different way; if modern tech is available why would anyone use a magic item that will last just 24 hours?

What can be accomplished with low level magic that modern (cheap) tech doesn't just blow out of the water?

Looking through the low level spells I really don't see much that would cause me design a piece of tech to take advantage of an ability that will last only a day. It basically allows for virtually no network of interdependent systems to grow that sector of development. So then the stuff that sticks out are the low level spells that do stuff we can't replicate with modern tech (at least not as well) and I see comprehend languages and disguise self. You could make actual babelfish and mission impossible masks.

I'm trying to consider items which might provide some specific function beyond the spell ability but would perhaps require a replaceable "magic battery" that could be swapped each day. I could see a cloaking device working like that. Key-badges with detect secret doors on them.

The airline industry would be heavily developed in "reduce person" technology though they would probably just have you swallow a pill of it.

GPS gps technology makes a know direction auto-pilot basically worthless.

Unseen servant seems like it might be exploitable for magitech because you could give it a Boolean logic instruction set and it could actually make decisions for you. Granted you could just use a micro controller but I don't think we have sensors anywhere near as sophisticated and diverse as what you get from an unseen

The other thing about low-level spells is that all of their functions are pretty straight-forward. So pretty much everything becomes a spell-in-a-can type of item. That's not how I see magitech being useful. I see magitech being useful (to a society which has already achieved our level of industrial tech) at the lowest levels of design. T-port this electron from here to here so that I can make this IC smaller. Replace sensors with divination abilities. Transmute and fabricate objects that can't be made using existing tech. I'm certain that blending an alloy to shape a figure, then using transmute steel to wood (and leave the other alloy metals in place, then burning off the wood could be extremely useful but I'm drawing a blank on any particular application.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Craft Magic Arms and Armor and Craft Wondrous Item only require 5 CL and 3 CL, respectively; just allow alchemists to take item crafting feats other than Brew Potion. An organized (government-funded, probably) group of alchemists and/or normal casters can churn out plenty of single use or x/day items, as well as special effect ammunition, at relatively low cost (for magic items).

You can also modify the Craft Staff feat to be available and work at a lower default CL (probably replacing Craft Wand at CL 5) to simulate a "magic battery." Especially allowing it to work with any weapon (instead of just a staff) allows for many different concepts. You may wish to consider reducing (cut in half?) the gp cost and/or changing the limit on the number of charges that can be recharged per day.


Could Ghosts sound/dancing lights items be useful? I'm not understanding what low level spells would be useful with your magic restrictions either... prestidigitation sham-wows maybe... on that note, would bards be considered casters for the purpose of your "shortened magic lifespan?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
BigDTBone wrote:
What can be accomplished with low level magic that modern (cheap) tech doesn't just blow out of the water?

Mage armor 3x/day command word item for 1,080 gp.

Bullet shield 1x/day command word item for 2,160 gp.

A police officer either of these items, for example, is tremendously better protected to deal with dangerous situations at a moment's notice. And the cost for either of the items is not out of reach for even normal 3rd-5th level NPCs (a 4th-5th level NPC with PC WBL could even have both).


Dragonchess Player wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
What can be accomplished with low level magic that modern (cheap) tech doesn't just blow out of the water?

Mage armor 3x/day command word item for 1,080 gp.

Bullet shield 1x/day command word item for 2,160 gp.

A police officer either of these items, for example, is tremendously better protected to deal with dangerous situations at a moment's notice. And the cost for either of the items is not out of reach for even normal 3rd-5th level NPCs (a 4th-5th level NPC with PC WBL could even have both).

That really expensive to buy everyday.


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Dragonchess Player wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
What can be accomplished with low level magic that modern (cheap) tech doesn't just blow out of the water?

Mage armor 3x/day command word item for 1,080 gp.

Bullet shield 1x/day command word item for 2,160 gp.

A police officer either of these items, for example, is tremendously better protected to deal with dangerous situations at a moment's notice. And the cost for either of the items is not out of reach for even normal 3rd-5th level NPCs (a 4th-5th level NPC with PC WBL could even have both).

Using the d20 modern rules, a vest that gives +4AC is worth about $500 dollars. If you take 1gp as $10*, then a vest that gives +4AC is worth...50gp...

...versus 3000+gp, or $30 000+ for your items. Your items don't give an ACP. The vest actually lasts all day. And the vest is nearly 2 orders of magnitude cheaper.

Yep. Blown out of the water. Totally and completely. No contest.

*That's the number I have seen used to convert from a gp economy to a dollar economy, and it's the number the PF modern conversion uses.


Snowblind wrote:
Dragonchess Player wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
What can be accomplished with low level magic that modern (cheap) tech doesn't just blow out of the water?

Mage armor 3x/day command word item for 1,080 gp.

Bullet shield 1x/day command word item for 2,160 gp.

A police officer either of these items, for example, is tremendously better protected to deal with dangerous situations at a moment's notice. And the cost for either of the items is not out of reach for even normal 3rd-5th level NPCs (a 4th-5th level NPC with PC WBL could even have both).

Using the d20 modern rules, a vest that gives +4AC is worth about $500 dollars. If you take 1gp as $10*, then a vest that gives +4AC is worth...50gp...

...versus 3000+gp, or $30 000+ for your items. Your items don't give an ACP. The vest actually lasts all day. And the vest is nearly 2 orders of magnitude cheaper.

Yep. Blown out of the water. Totally and completely. No contest.

*That's the number I have seen used to convert from a gp economy to a dollar economy, and it's the number the PF modern conversion uses.

And by AJ's rules the magic item only lasts 24 hours and then is worthless.


So basically, in your setting, no self-respecting person who has the ability to use magic will ever actually use magic because it kills them worse than cigarettes, so everyone will be martial or NPC classes, therefore no need to come up with magic items because nobody is dumb enough to mass-produce them and anything you need can be made mundanely anyway. Problem solved!
Seriously, just go play Mage The Ascension. It's pretty close to what you have already, plus you get to describe to your players how reality sprayed their guts across a city block because they dared to do a simple card trick last week and then tried to cast Cure Light Wounds on their buddy today.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

WOTC's Eberron setting is what I call the proper example of magitech... magic made INTO technology, Elemental powered trains, flotation airships. and of course, the sentient warforged.

What you have is just a mishmosh of mostly useless magic, sitting beside alchemy and technology with nothing tieing them together.


I didn't realize the US was third largest. Probably something to do with the fact that China and India have four times as many people and three times as many people, respectively.

That all being said, I don't think your setting does what you want it to.

With magic use actively killing people, excessively alchemy use actively killing people, and everything the modern world has... why would anyone ever use magic or alchemy? The progress of medicine might have been delayed a bit (but it doesn't matter now, because you said we're at full modern capacity) but given the choice between "heal my wounds naturally" or "hack a few years off my life" I know what choice I'd make. I guess it could be an emergency medical treatment but that's it.

Nothing in the modern world I can think of right now would be replaced by low level magic. Computers, cars, planes, tanks, guns, etc. All of it has a place where any magic item is useless after 24 hours and nobody can cast higher than scorching ray as an offensive weapon. The only things that might get some use are prestidigitation and unseen servant, but again, why have a magic force do something for me if it's going to freaking kill me slowly.

So magical creatures and demons exist. Does their magic also hack away at their lifespan? If not, they're going to be captured and enslaved by the governments as perpetual magic machines. If so, well, they'll probably still be captured and enslaved. As long as they're not legally "people" horrific things are going to happen.

Actually, similar to the last one magic users are probably going to be rounded up "for the good of the people" and horrifically abused. That the player characters are supposed to hunt them down just makes this more big brothery.

The monsters the players need to fight are not actually a threat. If they were a threat they can call in a cruise missile that navigates the dragon's cave system and detonates with an explosion big enough to level a mountain. And even the low level ones can meet my friend, high-caliber machine gun. So I'm not sure how you're actually doing any kind of monster combat (or combat in general). Presumably it's a lot of city intrigue or wilderness tracking to find the target, killing is super easy. Unless they need to take them alive, but then the struggle is not to kill them, not whether they can actually fight them.

So I guess in conclusion you've created a world in which people and creatures that can use magic are hunted down, enslaved, and horrifically abused by their government to squeeze out all of their power while an Orwellian police state hunts down those who might have escaped. Even then the magic they squeeze out of is basically just fixing minor inconveniences. Pretty sure this isn't the tone you want but it's kind of where your description is going. All in all you'd get the modern world... with a super pill that can easily heal you. And that's it.

If you want Eberron you need to understand that the basic premise was "magic items are cheap and easy to make in the long term". All magic items, not just the low level stuff (alchemy is specifically restricted to what you can actually make, craft wondrous just adds to the DC to make it). So if a government felt like it they could sit down and pump out 1/day fireball items to use as artillery (eternal wands) or make a dedicated magic-powered rail system (lightning rail). Even if no one in the country could cast fireball. And private individuals could throw money at more grandiose projects like airships or living golem forges. Unless your players can make artifacts then their next big purchase is going to be a shiny new assault rifle with an underbarrel grenade launcher/shotgun, never magic items or alchemy.


Okay, so it was a stupid idea all along.


It's not a stupid idea. Throw in a little more cyberpunk and some summoning and it's basically shadowrun (which is currently on its fifth iteration). What it's not is Eberron or Faerun or anything I'd refer to as "swords and sorcery". Modern weapons are just that good.

If you want a world where people don't use guns they either need to not be available or have some specific failing. If you want a world where people use magic you need it not to be dangerous to use (or the benefits far outweigh the dangers). Ditto alchemy (since you said it has the same effect as magic in larger doses). If my advil shaved a week off my life, do you ever think I'd use it except in emergencies?

The idea is fine. I just don't think you're going to get the world you want with the restrictions you built for it. Too many things would need to be handwaved and it would break willing suspension of disbelief.

Again, if you want a world of alchemy why would anyone use alchemy if it hacks away at their life and technology has a solution? Why would anyone use magitech if it hacks away at their life and the tech version is almost as good? Potion of cure light wounds instead of a defibrillator, maybe (unless you have the shot of adrenaline). Potion of cure light wounds instead of an advil? Never. Alchemist's fire bullets? Probably deal less damage than plain old lead (certainly less than depleted uranium, hollow points, etc.). Can you honestly name one low level spell you'd be willing to lose a month of your life for every time it's cast?

Oh, and how does magic interact with elves, dwarves, and other long-lived races? Is it proportional or do they only lose 20 years as well? Because... that's not a sacrifice at all for them. Even if it's proportional though, an elf losing 100 years of a 400 year life span isn't much of a sacrifice.


Agreed 3x Bob, If you want a world with "Magitech" you need the "magic" to do something the "tech" cannot, or at least be cheaper/faster/efficient than the tech is at getting similar results.


When I say stupid idea, I mean I am trying to do something that isn't going to work. In essence, I was trying to combine magitech and "spellcasting is rare, occultist, scary, and dangerous" into the same setting, but they aren't compatible. They just aren't. LazarX has it right:

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WOTC's Eberron setting is what I call the proper example of magitech... magic made INTO technology, Elemental powered trains, flotation airships. and of course, the sentient warforged.

What you have is just a mishmosh of mostly useless magic, sitting beside alchemy and technology with nothing tieing them together.

What I need to do is drop the restrictions I put on magic, drop the whole reduced lifespan business, and make the technology run off of magic like it does in Eberron. This does not really invalidate the underlying idea of my setting. The biggest things I want for my setting are a reliance on alchemy, a reliance on firearms, and modern socio-political constructs.

As LazarX also says, magic and technology need to be tied together. You know how Eberron has all those machines running off of bound elementals? My setting could have alchemists create something called, say, liquid lightning. Put it in a storage tank, and you have a battery that can power enchantments so that they don't die after 24 hours. When the battery dies you just dump out the spent fluid and pour more in. If you need something a bit more powerful, use alchemist's fire. In fact, liquid lightning is created by using alchemist's fire to generate the initial energy, then binding that energy into a more stable and long lasting (but weaker) form. So, now we have alchemy doing major stuff.

I think that firearms should prove superior to wands in this setting, largely because I want firearms to proliferate. I think cost is a good enough way of explaining that. I do want alchemical ammunition to be easily available, though, and I think alchemists should make the gunpowder, so it can be low smoke and resistant to moisture because magic.

There was an idea I had back before I tried to go all low-magic that I think could be useful for making monster hunting the focus of the game. Armor isn't used in the setting, and each class gets a defense bonus to AC. This defense bonus represents wards. Wards are magical shields that are created by drinking a magic potion and powered by the drinker's inherent magical energy. Everybody has magical energy in their body, but only spellcasters and alchemists know how to manipulate it. An alchemist can, however, create a potion that manipulates the drinker's magical energy, regardless of whether the drinker actually knows how to use magic themself. In fact, a non-spellcaster isn't using their magical energy to cast spells, so they can produce stronger wards than a spellcaster could. Wards only activate a millisecond before an attack hits and only over the portion of the body where the attack is aimed (maintaining a constant shield would take far too much power), and only work against physical attacks. Wards can do things like stop bullets at close range, provided they activate quickly enough. Sometimes they don't activate in time to stop an attack, and sometimes an attack is strong enough to break through. Since these wards basically replace the function of the armor system, firearms remain useful weapons, because they often will penetrate wards, just like arrows and swords will often penetrate chainmail under the rules as written. Still, while wards won't stop everything, they'll stop enough that you certainly want them.

So, now we've just given all player characters force shields that function like armor from a mechanical point of view. What if this was a common inherent ability of many magical beasts? That would explain why the government has skilled warriors like the players to go fight these things. Also explains why the monsters aren't killing everyone and why the setting itself is reasonably pleasant. If we go by the logic that the players are some of the more skilled and powerful government agents around, it could be that they actually kill a pretty large proportion of the more dangerous monsters, so that the average civilian doesn't have to worry about that kind of stuff. The only reason the players haven't wiped them out is because most magical beasts are extraplanar, and people have no means of travelling to other planes (No Plane Shift in this campaign setting. That planar travel is impossible is important.).

Now, as I said before, I wanted "spellcasting is rare, occultish, scary, and dangerous". This doesn't fit everything above, but I have an idea on that. I can have alchemy and Arcane magic be commonplace in this setting, keep my idea where the Divine spellcasting classes don't exist and Shamans and Witches are Psychic spellcasters, and make it so that the Psychic spellcasters are rare, occultish, scary, and dangerous. Perhaps because only Psychic spellcasters can summon demons, and are also the only ones who can do stuff like raise undead and bestow curses (I'd have to go through the Arcane spell lists and remove the spells that do this stuff, of course). Also, make human sacrifice a necessary part of raising undead, to emphasize why playing with corpses is such an evil thing to do. Also, people are iffy on whether to trust spirits, and Psychic casters work with spirits a lot. So, basically, Arcane magic is commonplace and totally acceptable, Psychic magic is rare and scary and occultish. Also explains why magical healing is slow to catch on with civilians. The classes that can do it are rather rare and scare people. Government agents like the players would use it all the time, though, because they have to work with Psychic spellcasters (or be Psychic spellcasters) if they want to have the know-how to deal with demon summoners and necromancers.

Also, the classic adventurer is pretty much dead. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but the player characters would work for the government. Which explains where they get all their firepower and why they can butt into the local sherrif's business.

So, now we have a way to power personal magic items, trains, planes, and cars, and alchemists have just become important. Now I need personal magic items that those liquid lightning batteries could power. Any ideas? I still want to mostly rely on level 1 or level 2 spells as much as possible.


I also posted something about a Western setting I proposed in a thread about a different topic:

Rosita the Riveter wrote:
Maybe spin Heroes of the West into an entire campaign setting, but also use Heroes of the East heavily? A Wild West setting with a strong mix of European, East Asian, Mexican, African American, and Amerindian themes would be sweet. California would have a much larger Chinese-American population without the Chinese Exclusion Act, so perhaps play up that angle, with a fantasy setting where such a thing never happened, and the East Asian demographic is much larger. Also needs the threat of war. Perhaps the West is British, not American (so add in some Australian flavor), and Britain might well end up embroiled into a Great War of sorts, which might well lead to raids on the West, since the Royal Navy is no longer capable of taking on all its rivals at once while protecting the Empire. But, the English should be hella Anglo-Saxon, instead of that Anglo-Saxon/French/Neo-Classical mix of Victorian England. Should also be much nicer to the Irish, treating that whole invasion business as unifying the islands into one people, all of whom are vital to the nation, and the Irish should be portrayed as not poor and marginalized for once. Also, after her tribe was massacred, an Indian witch became a necromancer, using the fallen bodies of her kin to fight for revenge. Later on, she became a lich, and is more interested in wanton slaughter than any sort of justice. She's a major threat. Setting also needs Eberronish magitech, because that just plain works.

Now, if I am going to have magitech cars and cell phones and all that jazz, this would have to be a New Old West setting more so than a classic Western, but I still think I could have something here. In fact, New Old West might actually be an excellent genre fit. After all, my setting dispenses with adventurers in favor of making the players government agents, and a lot of the freedom of action inherent to Pathfinder just isn't around in this setting because of the government focus and the existence of stable countries with professional law enforcement, instant mass communication, and highly efficient travel networks. I think that might match up really well with the New Old West theme about how the days of the wide open frontier and freedom to make your own law and justice are gone.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Apple Juice wrote:
Okay, so it was a stupid idea all along.

Most "stupid ideas" aren't really stupid, they're just not thought out in a holistic manner.

There's nothing wrong with creating a world that starts with "What if X operated like Z?" It's the fine details, the refinement, the tying together which is the real labor of graduating from "Oh I think this is a neat gimmick idea" to something that works as a whole.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a setting where magic has limited use and is absolutely dangerous to employ. That was the whole point of the TSR setting "Mask of the Red Death", which was very successfully adapted into the RPGA Network Campaign "Living Death", which was set in Victorian Earth using an adaptation of the 3.0 rules. In that settng magic was dangerous to employ because doing so risked attracting the attention of the entity known as the Red Death, who had corrupted Earth's magic field with his essence with the assistance of the evil wizard Inhotep, back in the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs.


LazarX wrote:
Apple Juice wrote:
Okay, so it was a stupid idea all along.

Most "stupid ideas" aren't really stupid, they're just not thought out in a holistic manner.

There's nothing wrong with creating a world that starts with "What if X operated like Z?" It's the fine details, the refinement, the tying together which is the real labor of graduating from "Oh I think this is a neat gimmick idea" to something that works as a whole.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a setting where magic has limited use and is absolutely dangerous to employ. That was the whole point of the TSR setting "Mask of the Red Death", which was very successfully adapted into the RPGA Network Campaign "Living Death", which was set in Victorian Earth using an adaptation of the 3.0 rules. In that settng magic was dangerous to employ because doing so risked attracting the attention of the entity known as the Red Death, who had corrupted Earth's magic field with his essence with the assistance of the evil wizard Inhotep, back in the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs.

I decided to go with a different idea. I tagged the "really dangerous and scary" thing to Psychic magic only, while letting Arcane magic be common and producing alchemical batteries to power magic items so they don't run out after 24 hours. I switched Witches from Arcane to Psychic, so they can be all spooky and mysterious while Wizards are common and more scientific.

The basic problem is that I am trying to emulate Eberronish magitech, and Eberronish magitech requires that magic be very commonplace, so that it can become technology. That was never going to happen under the restrictions I placed on magic. Something had to change. What I decided to change was the restriction on magic items and the commonality of Arcane casters.

Any ideas for magic items based off of level 1 or 2 spells that could be powered with alchemical batteries?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Deadlands RPG had something like this. In that milieu, history is changed with the discovery of "Ghost Rock" the byproduct of a massive Native American shaman attack on white civilization misfiring horribly.

Ghost Rock infuses regular items into magic-powered ones and the Confederacy's early use of it gives them victory in the Civil War, and leaves the country divided in the "present" day of the 1870's.

Deadlands is probably a lot closer to your original concept than Eberron, which shows that your ideas can be made working with refinement.


LazarX wrote:

The Deadlands RPG had something like this. In that milieu, history is changed with the discovery of "Ghost Rock" the byproduct of a massive Native American shaman attack on white civilization misfiring horribly.

Ghost Rock infuses regular items into magic-powered ones and the Confederacy's early use of it gives them victory in the Civil War, and leaves the country divided in the "present" day of the 1870's.

Deadlands is probably a lot closer to your original concept than Eberron, which shows that your ideas can be made working with refinement.

Is it? I mean, I realized that you were correct in that magitech means that magic has to be technology, and I decided that my technology should be based on magic items powered by alchemical batteries.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Apple Juice wrote:
LazarX wrote:

The Deadlands RPG had something like this. In that milieu, history is changed with the discovery of "Ghost Rock" the byproduct of a massive Native American shaman attack on white civilization misfiring horribly.

Ghost Rock infuses regular items into magic-powered ones and the Confederacy's early use of it gives them victory in the Civil War, and leaves the country divided in the "present" day of the 1870's.

Deadlands is probably a lot closer to your original concept than Eberron, which shows that your ideas can be made working with refinement.

Is it? I mean, I realized that you were correct in that magitech means that magic has to be technology, and I decided that my technology should be based on magic items powered by alchemical batteries.

What I said is that you have to tie your concepts together in a conceit that unifies them.

Deadlands is less magic pervasive than Eberron. Unlike Eberron where the fusion of magic and engineering creates new devices. Ghost Rock generally only extends the boundaries of existing Wild West technology.

And there is magic that involves the spirit world practised mostly by Indians, magic that invokes faith practised by priests, and the most dangerous kind of magic which involves inviting a manitou to posess your body and do what we would classify as arcane. The thing is.. manitous are evil SOB's and the tricky part is keeping their damage to your intended target and avoiding full posession where your body essentially becomes theirs.

The key unifying concept is that the Ghost Rock eruption has weakened the barriers between the mortal world and the spirit world, so certain types of magic are now possible. This also means however that bad things from the spirit world now roam the prairies.


My unifying concept could be industrialization of magic. Like Eberron, this setting uses Arcane magic as technology. Cars and trains run off of alchemist's fire or liquid lightning, those magic tablets that let you talk to anyone over any distance have liquid lightning batteries, golems do a lot of the factory work, cosmetic magic is readily available (law enforcement just loves that), and so on. Arcane magic is basically mainstream, and is almost a science. Yet there are also darker forms of magic, called Psychic magic, that are more dangerous than the Arcane, and which scare people because they involve dealing with spirits and let people summon demons and walking corpses. People also don't understand it like they understand Arcane magic. Then there are the monsters that slip in through the veil between the materiel world and the fey realm, which haunt people's dreams. And steal children. That too. The players are the government agents who deal with those monsters, and intervene when Psychic mages start doing evil crap like demon summoning. Then we have all the New Old West stuff about how industrialization, mass communication, and centralization have crushed the myth of the freedom of the frontier, and about how modern society isn't quite so enlightened as people like to think. Political and economic corruption, wealth inequality, the drug trade, racism against Native Americans, racism against Indian immigrants, bigotry against elves and asimaar, and even worse bigotry against tieflings are all problems (Tieflings still get lynched over really flimsy stuff every now and then. The demon blood freaks people out.).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rosita the Riveter wrote:
My unifying concept could be industrialization of magic. Like Eberron, this setting uses Arcane magic as technology. Cars and trains run off of alchemist's fire or liquid lightning, those magic tablets that let you talk to anyone over any distance have liquid lightning batteries, golems do a lot of the factory work, cosmetic magic is readily available (law enforcement just loves that), and so on. Arcane magic is basically mainstream, and is almost a science. Yet there are also darker forms of magic, called Psychic magic, that are more dangerous than the Arcane, and which scare people because they involve dealing with spirits and let people summon demons and walking corpses. People also don't understand it like they understand Arcane magic. Then there are the monsters that slip in through the veil between the materiel world and the fey realm, which haunt people's dreams. And steal children. That too. The players are the government agents who deal with those monsters, and intervene when Psychic mages start doing evil crap like deomon summoning. Then we have all the New Old West stuff about how industrialization, mass communication, and centralization have crushed the myth of the freedom of the frontier.

All well and good... now go out there and do the schelpwork. :)


LazarX wrote:
Rosita the Riveter wrote:
My unifying concept could be industrialization of magic. Like Eberron, this setting uses Arcane magic as technology. Cars and trains run off of alchemist's fire or liquid lightning, those magic tablets that let you talk to anyone over any distance have liquid lightning batteries, golems do a lot of the factory work, cosmetic magic is readily available (law enforcement just loves that), and so on. Arcane magic is basically mainstream, and is almost a science. Yet there are also darker forms of magic, called Psychic magic, that are more dangerous than the Arcane, and which scare people because they involve dealing with spirits and let people summon demons and walking corpses. People also don't understand it like they understand Arcane magic. Then there are the monsters that slip in through the veil between the materiel world and the fey realm, which haunt people's dreams. And steal children. That too. The players are the government agents who deal with those monsters, and intervene when Psychic mages start doing evil crap like deomon summoning. Then we have all the New Old West stuff about how industrialization, mass communication, and centralization have crushed the myth of the freedom of the frontier.
All well and good... now go out there and do the schelpwork. :)

It's the writing things down part that always gets me. That and the temptation to play Bioshock or Shadowrun: Returns instead of working.

I added some materiel to the post above this one about some social problems that exist.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I guess I was a little unclear. My comments were based on creating normal magic items, allowing alchemists to take the item creation feats to do so.

For alchemists creating temporary items at minimal (monetary) cost, just re-skin the Infusion discovery to allow other means of activation. Much easier than coming up with a new (wonky) sub-system.


Dragonchess Player wrote:

I guess I was a little unclear. My comments were based on creating normal magic items, allowing alchemists to take the item creation feats to do so.

For alchemists creating temporary items at minimal cost, just re-skin the Infusion discovery to allow other means of activation. Much easier than coming up with a new (wonky) sub-system.

Under the new system, I think I'll rule that an NPC alchemist can make magic items if they have an extract equivalent to the necessary spell.

I put a lot of text out, I guess. In short form, my restrictions on spellcasting and magic items were directly at odds with the theme of the setting, so I lifted the whole 24 hour magic item thing and the part where magic reduces lifespans, and made Arcane magic much more common.


With your revised idea, you should definitely check out the stuff from the Technology Guide and reflavour at least some of it. It even has the batteries you want! You can find all the Technology guide stuff on the official PRD or on the d20PFSRD. I mean, who DOESN'T want Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Chainsaw)?


Hmm. I actually own the PDF of that. Flipped through it looking for Dieselpunk stuff a while back, didn't find much. I'll take another look.


Okay, so if you want semi-modern alchemagitech I think I can work with that.

Houses and public spaces have readily available and cycling lightning juice or electricity can be substituted in some way. Basically treat it like electricity or water, fairly free and available unless you're getting a lot or are in a less industrialized area. So players could keep their stuff charged in a city but it would cost money to fill up batteries.
Goggles of detect spells. Detect poison and disease for food inspectors (and germaphobes), detect magic/charm for police officers on the beat or security guards manning checkpoints.
Jackets with Endure Elements. Air conditioned jacket, yes please!
Endless bullets! Magazine with Abundant Ammuntion. Shooting speed is still limited by the fact that the barrel heats up and warps.
Since you already have class defense (ward), consider adding magical enhancement bonuses to it. A vest or something you can use to drain batteries to power up the ward.
Universal translator! Well, in one direction. Comprehend languages. Great for doctor's offices, customs, police stations, etc. Probably a fairly regular potion business too, actually, and the kind of thing it'd be handy to always have around. Probably the magic item version goes where they're more often used. Or as an app on your smartphone.
Disguise self masks, for the ultimate masquerade party or the celebrity in the city.
Vanish coins (or any other small, innocuous object), for the magician who just needs a few seconds.
Burning disarm "taser". Drop your weapon or get burned!
Enlarge person... girdle? Whatever you call the things professional movers use. Weight support belt? Make yourself big, carry more!
Feather fall pins for everyone at risk of falling. Construction workers, people riding a plane, hell, probably even skydivers. Better than a parachute, much smaller.
Mount, except in moped form. Some kind of kiosk (like zipcar?) or something where you can summon up a moped for a couple of hours.
Prestidigitation microwave, make whatever food you have exactly the right temperature and taste like whatever you want.
Unseen servant... well, like a regular servant, but invisible and affordable by everyone (as long as they can pay their lightning juice bills).
That's just the magic side.

A combination enlarge person/ant haul pill for movers.
Polypurpose Panacea pills are the new EVERY DRUG EVER. Seriously, you take the pill and choose: analgesic (pain killer), clarity (ritalin?), hallucinations, intoxication (alcohol), lucid dreams (I wish this existed!), resistance, sleep, sobriety, tenacity, wakefulness (caffeine). Presumably this would be changed so the effect can't be chosen when you take it, otherwise kids would be raiding the medicine cabinet (or hell, just saying they have a headache) and then proceeding to trip balls.
Endure elements potions for short term hostile environments.
Alter self potions as the newest fashion trend. "Gnomes are hot this year but I see orcs making a retro comeback. Pay no attention to the hipster that's a troglodyte, he just wants to prove he can find potions others can't."

Then the vague generalities with no crunch!
Pretty much everything should be hovering. Cars in cities should probably run on some kind of universal maglev system built into the streets powered by lightning juice (and possibly computer driven) while handcarts and similar things should run off of Levitate. Because friction is a harsh mistress. Possibly not for shopping carts, entirely up to you how prevalent you want the magic.
Lightning juice generator in the cities run by the government and staffed with alchemists or self sustaining in some way. Pumps out lightning juice to the rest of the city. Paid for by taxes.
Magic bullets. Super fast, ward penetrating, designed to short out batteries, designed to dispel magic, whatever you think would make a good bullet. I strongly recommend that you find some kind of "shorts out magic energy" bullet you're happy with or your players are eventually just going to target the batteries themself or wherever the lightning juice is stored on a piece of equipment whenever they want to disable someone's gear. Oh, which means you'll need to figure out what happens when batteries are broken. The more dangerous it is the more likely the players will weaponize it in a way you don't like. Because they're going to weaponize it if it does any damage.
Everyone probably carries their own battery (well, that holds more than one charge) so they can charge stuff on the go.
Televisions have been replaced by a Silent Image (or any of the enhancements) and Ghost Sound that can be programmed by the broadcast. So, 3D projections replace tvs. Richer people can afford higher level illusion spells that come with smell, heat, and other senses. Alternatively, the theater is massively more popular than our world as awesome special effects can only be done in person and not broadcast to TVs. Movies are made for TV only (and are mostly made by just recording theater performances).

So the average day for a lower class person would consist of waking up, turning on their cheap TV where the Silent Image and the Ghost Sound don't quite sync up, heating and flavoring a block of "nutrient paste" in the Prestidigitation microwave (still can't fix the texture), activating the moped kiosk to summon a moped to get to work, working, coming home, grabbing a bottle of PP pills (polypurpose panacea), and deciding whether to get a little drunk or high to relax. Then maybe popping one to get to sleep.

A middle class person would do the same thing but with a better TV (Minor Image), textured nutrient paste (it feels like bacon and eggs... ish) and maybe a cup of real coffee. Then to the hover car to program in their destination and let it drive them to work. Once they come home they probably throw in a couple PP pills and pick whatever effects they feel like (the drug effects or maybe clarity and a nice book). Then a lucid dream and sleep pill to get to sleep. On the weekends they probably go catch whatever the local theater performance is (the local theater has a visiting illusionist who can cast Major Image so all the recent productions have been about dragons and demons to include the heat and smell effects). They also go out to bars and restaurants but rarely spring for the real stuff and instead settle for carefully crafted Prestidigitation food and drink. If they have a family they might spring for an Unseen Servant to help around the house with chores.

An upper class person would have a TV with all the bells and whistles (Major Image), real food spiced up further by Prestidigitation, and an Unseen Servant to prepare it for them. From there it would vary wildly. Trust fund babies would probably spend all day high on PP pills. The stockbroker types would probably drive a non-hover car that was pointlessly expensive to operate to show off their wealth. Maybe the Alter Self or Disguise Self parties to show off whatever new humanoid they'd discovered. Basically whatever they want. They probably don't go outside without their Endure Elements tailored suit and Bullet Shield ties. They only eat real food and real drinks, only attend theaters where the illusionists can cast Major Image, and for the most part don't actually use magic if mundane can do it, just more expensively. The super rich might even require that a theater only do practical effects, no illusions.

For an adventurer they could fit in any of these levels but they'd have a lot more utility gear. Detect Magic goggles to track active alchemagitech, weapons specialized for hunting certain creatures (the grey magazine is cold iron, the blue is silver, and the sniper is loaded with adamantine), an open connection to a website for monster weaknesses (possibly in smartphone app form), a bottle of Cure Light Wounds pills, a few Endure Elements pills (unless they sprung for the jacket), a few Comprehend Languages pills (unless they sprung for whatever the permanent version is), giant storage jugs for lightning juice and a few batteries to carry with them.

I hope that's good for some inspiration.


Some of the stuff you're talking about is already a thing.
Goggles of detect spells: Well, there are obviously better-known expensive ones like Truesight Goggles, but there are also cheaper/less famous things such as Deathwatch Eyes, Physician's Spectacles, and Treasure Hunter's Goggles.
Disguise Self mask: Hat of Disguise, unless you mean that they're disposable, one-use items, each for a specific form.
Burning Disarm self-defense thingy: You could use it as a Wand of Burning Disarm, but using battery charges instead of charges and UMD check. There is also the Stun Baton and Stun Gun from the Technology Guide which already run on the battery charge thing but are probably a little powerful and expensive for civilian use.
The items to increase carry capacity: Muleback Cords is a shoulder slot item that increases your effective Strength for carrying capacity by 8, and Heavyload Belt is, well, a belt that gives you the constant effect of Ant Haul. Wear both together and you could probably move whatever you need to even without the Enlarge Person effect, which would still be an option on top of those. Juggernaut's Pauldrons have Enlarge Person on yourself on command (and dismiss it on command as well), but that's probably too expensive an effect to hand to workers (although it could be instead of a forklift or the like...).
Feather Fall pins: Ring of Feather Falling, unless, like above, you mean one-use.
You can easily create more varieties of Feather Tokens for single-use items like the temporary transport and parachute.

Honestly, I don't think the microwave, television, or cell phone things are good ideas to implement; things would be awkwardly modern.
Tongues would probably be a better idea than Comprehend Languages for the places that would need them frequently, although someone whose job didn't require them to converse, like someone taking notes or transcribing a conversation, would be fine with the former.


Thanks for the ideas.

I was going to go with wheeled cars. Motorcycles, too (Can't have a New Old Western without big, loud motorcycles.). Automobiles can run off of either alchemist's fire or liquid lightning, with liquid lightning cars being very much the newer style (it used to be that all cars used alchemist's fire). Liquid lightning cars are the more numerous vehicles. This is because liquid lightning vehicles are a good bit cheaper than alchemist's fire cars, accelerate quicker and more smoothly, are much quieter, and are more comfortable. Not everybody who lives in the city needs a car, but those who do will typically purchase liquid lightning vehicles. Alchemist's fire vehicles have their advantages, too. They have much more horsepower than liquid lightning vehicles, making them the superior vehicles for off-roading or moving heavy loads, they are more durable, and they are much easier to repair and maintain. This makes alchemist's fire vehicles very common in rural areas, as the extra horsepower is often useful and the ability for somebody who isn't a mechanic to learn how to maintain their vehicles themself is well appreciated. Alchemist's fire is used for the vast majority of work vehicles that need a lot of heavy lifting or off road ability, and for almost any vehicle the military sends into a combat zone. Police cruisers are more likely to use liquid lightning unless they are built for rural police departments or highway patrol (both of whom prefer alchemist's fire), because the superior acceleration of liquid lightning vehicles can make it difficult for alchemist's fire vehicles to chase them down in an urban environment (on a wide open road or rough terrain, however, the superior horsepower of alchemist's fire should eventually win out). There are some who feel like liquid lightning vehicles just aren't impressive. Alchemist's fire vehicles go vroom (sometimes really loudly) and vibrate when the engine is working hard, while liquid lightning vehicles whoosh quietly and don't vibrate much at all. Some people just can't get past that, and feel like a car needs to make a lot of noise to be a real car. These people will buy alchemist's fire vehicles even if liquid lightning would be much more practical for their needs.


I mentioned something below that I should really emphasize - I generally don't run games above 12th level. In fact, for me a campaign generally starts out with 4th level characters and goes to 12th level. I find that 9 level campaigns better fit my attention span and college workload much better than going from level 1 to level 20 would, and I consider the levels from 4 to 12 to be the sweet spot within what the Pathfinder system does best. This also means that I don't really need to take 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells into account at all, because nobody ever gets to be that powerful, and 6th level spells are quite rare. The 4th level starting point also makes my focus on government agents easier, because I take the logic that the government hires military and law enforcement veterans, and new PCs have 3 levels where they could have been off serving in the military or doing police work before becoming a government agent.

Also got some thoughts on security. When you have common access to magic that changes people's appearance or makes people invisible, things are a bit different.

First off, the question has to be asked of how common cosmetic magic is. I want to say that small changes are very common. Widening or narrowing a nose, changing eye color, reversing hair loss, making hair straight, curly, or wavy, changing hair color, making lips fuller or thinner, getting or removing tattoos, and such are not difficult changes to make using magic, and they aren't prohibitively expensive for most people. Hair or eye color changes cost the equivalent of, like, 20 to 30 bucks, while facial tweaks can go for a few hundred. More involved changes like height changes, racial changes (switching from human to elf and stuff like that), weight loss, and so on are more difficult, and are much more expensive. Taking off weight or changing someone's height is at least a couple thousand dollars, getting more expensive as the patient gets heavier or the height change gets bigger, and changing race or gender costs somewhere in the tens of thousands (Public healthcare [Think Britain's NHS] usually won't pay for gender reassignment for transgender individuals, but there is a movement to change this.). Of course, this is a boon to criminals, which is why IDs are required and records are kept of who got what for anything more involved than a color change. For high intensity procedures like race changes, the police have to be sent a notification, do to the chance that somebody might be trying to avoid detection. It is also considered necessary that the police be able to know what somebody's facial structure currently looks like and used too look like, both for hunting fugitives and for trying to locate missing persons who could be in danger. It is very illegal to change somebody's fingerprints. There are of course illegal cosmetic magicians who will modify your facial structure and fingerprints with no questions asked (this can cost you a lot of money, naturally), so this is certainly not a completely effective system. Still, it's surprising how many criminals get caught because they weren't smart enough to get their cosmetics done off the grid. As an aside, it is somewhat common for minorities (think Amerindians, Mestizos, Africans, and South Asians, also Elves) to get facial tweaks to get some features of the majorities (think Caucasians and East Asians). Tieflings sometimes try, but if you cut off their horns, recovery hurts a lot and they grow back.

What all this cosmetics business can't do is change somebody's DNA. Even if you change your race, you will have the same genes you used to have before (So, if a human becomes an elf, then has a child with another elf, the child will be a half-elf, not a full elf). Only a spell like Alter Self and Polymorph can mimic DNA, and those spells don't last very long (12 level is typically the highest level game I'll run, and those spells are 1 min/level in duration). As a result, public attitudes on police DNA collection are much looser. When you get a photo ID or driver's license, DNA is collected and stored, and your ID has a DNA marker on it (along with arcane glyphs that function as watermarks, and others that identify the government office the ID originates from, the employee who created it, and when it was created). Police can legally take a DNA swab if they pull you over in a car or otherwise have cause to verify your identity, and they compare that sample to your ID and the national database. Thanks to divination magic, DNA analysis takes seconds. You see it done at security checkpoints all the time, too. Another common security method is tattooing. Alter Self only reproduces the subject's tattoos if the caster knows about those tattoos, and magic means tattoos can be changed or removed. It is quite common for people with security clearances to have secret tattoos that change shape and location frequently (sometimes even weekly or daily for really high security stuff), and only reveal the tattoos to security personnel or coworkers. That way, if somebody is acting suspicious, they can be asked to show their tattoos. If the proper tattoo isn't present, it is a gigantic red flag. For stuff like guarding the president, you may even have to show your tattoos (which change daily) every single time you get secure access to something. It isn't a flawlesss or impossible to subvert system, because Alter Self could allow you to mimic somebody else long enough to clear a checkpoint or traffic stop, and it isn't unheard of for corrupt government employees to falsify IDs and DNA records or skilled mages to "hack" the system, but the system certainly isn't ineffective, either. Also, the existence of Alter Self means that criminal trials don't always consider DNA evidence a smoking gun.

The existence of mind control magic means that anyone who works with secure information is taught to be very paranoid about any sort of strange or unusual behavior from coworkers. Security tends to be extremely quick to detain people and examine them for mind control magic (a simple detect magic isn't enough, because almost everybody pings when you scan them with that), and codephrases are very common (like, you don't say the right morning greeting to someone, you get detained and questioned). Getting detained often is pretty much part of having a security clearance, as it happens to everybody. In fact, not having been detained in a long time is often cause to be detained. When people can take the form of other people without too much effort, facial modifications aren't hard to get, and mind control is a thing that exists and isn't horribly difficult, you need to have constant suspicion of everybody with a security clearance. This is one area where paranoia is a good thing.

There is also invisibility magic. Expect to see a guard wearing heat vision goggles if people sneaking around invisible is considered a security concern, and don't be surprised to see heat vision cameras. Heat vision goggles are also kept in almost every police cruiser. In fact heat vision is so effective and so readily available that invisibility actually isn't considered to be anywhere near the security threat that Charm Person is.

There is no teleportation magic at all in this setting, so that isn't something that needs consideration.

I should also mention that I tend to view this setting as more on the optimistic side than the pessimistic side. I won't say the government isn't involved in really shady stuff, because at times it is, but at the same time the courts do take people's legal rights seriously, and the average income and economy in general is relatively comparable to Great Britain (So, there is definately poverty and there are low income working class people, and the economy isn't without problems, but standard of living is pretty high and this is considered quite a wealthy country.). I do not have or want an Orwellian police state, but at the same time DNA checks are very necessary when people change their appearances so much (though the police systems do not keep records of DNA checks that are run unless security clearances are involved, do to questions of how much ability to track the average civilian should exist), and things like Alter Self and Charm Person have to be taken into account. This country has equivalents to America's 4th and 5th Amendments (1st, too, in fact), and the courts tend to be rather careful about broadening search power, but storing everyone's DNA and using it to check identity whenever the police stop somebody isn't considered unreasonable. What the police won't do is disappear you, or line you up against the wall and shoot you, or torture you to make you confess, or bust into your house without a warrant, or any of that stuff. Police certainly aren't allowed to beat people, and if a cop gets caught on camera doing it there will be a public outcry, but like the real world it can often fly under the radar if it isn't caught on camera, and excessive force can be difficult to prove in court. Not to say that most cops will beat you if you make them angry, because that is not at all the case, but if it does happen, don't be surprised if the cops get away with it.


Why would the government ever consider paying for "gender reassignment?" I don't think an elective cosmetic surgery is something usually covered by healthcare.

Also, I think you're getting into a little too much detail for a campaign setting. You're going to have to remember ALL of this on the fly if you're running a game.
You seem to be basically making Shadowrun at this point, by the way (not counting your last paragraph). Or maybe Bioshock.


Bloodrealm wrote:
Why would the government ever consider paying for "gender reassignment?" I don't think an elective cosmetic surgery is something usually covered by healthcare.

Gender reassignment is not considered elective if the patient has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The British government pays for gender reassignment surgery in most circumstances, and here in California the state provided health insurance for low income people does cover surgery in some cases. I'm creating a socio-politically modern country based off of the American West with heavy British and Australian influence, including a British style healthcare system, so the idea isn't really out of place.

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Also, I think you're getting into a little too much detail for a campaign setting. You're going to have to remember ALL of this on the fly if you're running a game.

That is something that worries me, yes.

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You seem to be basically making Shadowrun at this point, by the way (not counting your last paragraph). Or maybe Bioshock.

I do play Shadowrun, but I don't want to make a cyberpunk setting, use the real Earth, or make international corporations that powerful. I certainly did take initial influence from the idea of mixing fantasy and technology, but I'm not going to end up with something that matches the cyberpunk theme (I wouldn't say I'm making a punk setting at all, actually. Much closer to the modern Hawaii 5-0 if you gave those knuckleheads magic. Or the monster-of-the-week episodes of Supernatural if those guys had actual law enforcement powers and the existence of magic was common knowledge. I own the Pathfinder version of Gumshoe to facilitate the necessarily increased focus on noncombat elements, though I do tend to have storylines where there isn't too much investigation every now and then to provide additional combat.) I did just beat Bioshock Infinite, but the worldviews of Ryan and Comstock are not the basis for this setting. I try to portray the government as flawed but not bad or powerless. After all, this setting places players in the shoes of government agents.


Wow, really? I guess healthcare is nonsensical with terrible priorities all over the world, not just here. I live in Ontario, Canada, and the Ministry of Health gives free syringes to drug addicts to they don't get infected from dirty ones, but won't give out syringes for insulin for diabetics like myself who need insulin to LIVE.

Anyway, try laying out some general rules of how the setting works; not so specific that it covers everything in every area. Not only does it mean you don't have to remember precisely how you laid everything out, but it also leaves you room to develop further later on if you have more ideas, and for different areas within your setting.

When I compared this to Shadowrun, I wasn't talking about the tone, nor was I being entirely serious. Your descriptions just reminded me of what I've heard of how things work and the different kinds of things that are available.


Another thing is coming up with some magitek that doesn't replicate modern technology. I was thinking about what you said on the issue of maybe not emulating too much modern tech. I already have cars, smart phones, planes, and guns, so I need to come up with some stuff that the modern world doesn't have.


How about magitek that replicates not-so-modern technology that would still be relevant in the setting more so than in real life, but does it better than the mundane version?


Bloodrealm wrote:
How about magitek that replicates not-so-modern technology that would still be relevant in the setting more so than in real life, but does it better than the mundane version?

That's a good idea. I'll try and think something up.

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Some thoughts on Bob x3’s ideas:

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Goggles of detect spells. Detect poison and disease for food inspectors (and germaphobes), detect magic/charm for police officers on the beat or security guards manning checkpoints.

And if doctors can detect disease, that should increase life spans.

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Jackets with Endure Elements. Air conditioned jacket, yes please!

Shouldn’t even be all that hard to have an unobtrusive battery housing in the bottom, and it is a pretty good idea for a climate like the American West. Especially if you do physical labor.

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Endless bullets! Magazine with Abundant Ammuntion. Shooting speed is still limited by the fact that the barrel heats up and warps.

Also, alchemical bullets. Put a little alchemist’s fire, liquid lightning, portable winter, or intelligent acid into a hollow round.

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Since you already have class defense (ward), consider adding magical enhancement bonuses to it. A vest or something you can use to drain batteries to power up the ward.

I was going to use the Automatic Bonus Progression from Unchained.

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Universal translator! Well, in one direction. Comprehend languages. Great for doctor's offices, customs, police stations, etc. Probably a fairly regular potion business too, actually, and the kind of thing it'd be handy to always have around. Probably the magic item version goes where they're more often used. Or as an app on your smartphone.

I imagine that they have to work by translating intent, rather than providing a direct translation of the worlds, given issues like highly varied vocabularies. Granted, translating intent could be… interesting in those many situations where you need to be noncommittal or give a canned response instead of what you really want to say. Basically, the translator says what’s on your mind, not what came out of your mouth.

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Disguise self masks, for the ultimate masquerade party or the celebrity in the city.

Definitely.

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Burning disarm "taser". Drop your weapon or get burned!

Could be especially useful as a firearm attachment. If it fails to work or the suspect turns out to have spellcasting, the agent is still armed.

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Feather fall pins for everyone at risk of falling. Construction workers, people riding a plane, hell, probably even skydivers. Better than a parachute, much smaller.

Huh. Never considered that, but it is a good idea. Also negates the need for a bulky safety harness.

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Mount, except in moped form. Some kind of kiosk (like zipcar?) or something where you can summon up a moped for a couple of hours.

Could also use it to rent bicycles, I imagine.

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Prestidigitation microwave, make whatever food you have exactly the right temperature and taste like whatever you want.

Doesn’t even have to be a microwave. Could be more like an oven that automatically knows the correct settings for whatever is in it.

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Unseen servant... well, like a regular servant, but invisible and affordable by everyone (as long as they can pay their lightning juice bills).

Like a roomba that does even more?

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Endure elements potions for short term hostile environments.

Could see this being popular for physical labor in hot climates or for military or sporting use.

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Lightning juice generator in the cities run by the government and staffed with alchemists or self sustaining in some way. Pumps out lightning juice to the rest of the city. Paid for by taxes.

I was thinking we burn alchemist’s fire to generate electricity, and the electric company is a government monopoly like PE&E.

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Magic bullets. Super fast, ward penetrating, designed to short out batteries, designed to dispel magic, whatever you think would make a good bullet. I strongly recommend that you find some kind of "shorts out magic energy" bullet you're happy with or your players are eventually just going to target the batteries themself or wherever the lightning juice is stored on a piece of equipment whenever they want to disable someone's gear. Oh, which means you'll need to figure out what happens when batteries are broken. The more dangerous it is the more likely the players will weaponize it in a way you don't like. Because they're going to weaponize it if it does any damage.

I imagine that breaking the battery just shuts down the device, unless the fluid comes into contact with a spark (liquid lightning is, well, bottled electricity, but is inert until exposed to a spark so that mechanics can touch it without getting zapped). Shooting a battery is like shooting the magazine on a rifle, though. You wouldn’t try to make that shot in combat. Ward penetrating bullets are a thing. That’s what enhancement bonuses do, in part.

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Televisions have been replaced by a Silent Image (or any of the enhancements) and Ghost Sound that can be programmed by the broadcast. So, 3D projections replace tvs. Richer people can afford higher level illusion spells that come with smell, heat, and other senses. Alternatively, the theater is massively more popular than our world as awesome special effects can only be done in person and not broadcast to TVs. Movies are made for TV only (and are mostly made by just recording theater performances).

I could see magic making special effects WAY easier. That would maybe kill the movie industry. Since we have magic smart phones, perhaps televisions were never invented, and instead programming was marketed as something to watch on a phone. Those are small, though, so perhaps people can buy projectors for their phone to use a wall or something as a screen to make the image bigger. You are, of course, correct that Ghost Sound and Silent Image should work fine. In fact, I imagine that a phone really is just a piece of polished wood or metal with those two enchantments, a battery, and some sort of enchantment to let one phone find other phones so it can send messages. That also means you don't pick up the phone and talk, but rather record and send a message, get a recorded message in return, and so on and so forth.


I had a few thoughts after reading your initial and modified setting ideas:

1. You could set something in place in your larger metropolises that function somewhat similarly to a FR Mythallar, modified of course to your Liquid Lightning system. It might be a central system that needs daily or weekly maintenance, or some sort of long term renewable power source (Starke Tower). You could incorporate Tesla-like ideas of wireless power/energy transfer between power sources and user devices (magitech items). You could even have power relay towers set up throughout the major cities, for directing the ebb and flow of energy to different sectors. Almost like a cellular network.

a. While I saw that you had moved away form the idea; this would actually allow for a compromise between your two idea lines. You could have high levels of utility magic in cities that possess this Magical/Alchemical/Technological system. While at the same time leaving "true enchantments" a rare and powerful find. And it would leave rural areas FAR less advanced and FAR less capable of protecting themselves against inherently magical beasts. This might be where your government agents come into play. Going into rural areas with the magic energy batteries that you discussed earlier.

2. The Magic/Alchemical Technology could actually work with your lifespan shortening idea in the same way that we use nuclear power, which also kills people if directly exposed. The technology could be a way of harnessing and using magic without direct exposure to the corrupting energy. True Wizards and Alchemists might suffer direct exposure (but maybe they also have some innate resistance to the corruption), however, someone wearing a device that generates a personal magical shield would not. The technological interface stabilizes (makes safe) the energy. This could also help with the idea of magitech being more common that actual magic. In super secluded areas where magitech isn't readily accessible, towns may even have a designated "mage/alchemist" who essentially "takes one for the team" and devotes his/her shortened life to healing, and building things the whole town is in need of (blankets of resist elements). It is, however, probably a good idea just to eliminate the hazards of using low level magic. As pointed out already, there would have to be a phenomenal reason to use it in spite of the consequences.

3. I think a very small but possibly very important thematic aspect would be toy and entertainment companies. If you are going to model anything on the modern Western world you shouldn't ignore the fact that anything and everything which can be used to turn a profit, will be used to turn a profit. So maybe we don't have video games, but maybe children have interactive dolls that can actually move on their own (not sentient exactly, but with simple programming or similar to an unseen servant). For instance a doll coming to a child when called then plopping lifelessly into the child's lap, ready to play. Or perhaps a doll that will dance for short periods of time. And perhaps the more interactive the doll the more expensive it is, not unlike modern Western society. Small globes of dim light which also have an alarm feature to hover in children's rooms (replacing night lights and ADT systems). The rich may possess magically/alchemically enhanced pets (think Awaken Spell). Magically assisted swing sets. This could even extend into theme parks and carnival rides.

a. I don't know how much of the dark underworld you want to get into but with things like mind control magic and cosmetic magic/alchemy, criminal networks of human trafficking and various forms of slavery would probably be very active. Which brings up the idea of magical tracking nodes being implanted in children (perhaps even adults, especially those with sensitive government jobs) to combat kidnapping. The nodes might even have some sort of passive sensor which triggers alarms if the child is approached by someone with certain criminal records, or with whom the family has a restraining order. For that matter, adults with certain criminal records may be forcibly implanted as well. And then of coarse you would be left to figure out how hard it is to find and remove/suppress these nodes. (I will throw out there that low level magical scanning can be fooled by a Magic Aura spell)

4.

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Feather fall pins for everyone at risk of falling. Construction workers, people riding a plane, hell, probably even skydivers. Better than a parachute, much smaller.

Huh. Never considered that, but it is a good idea. Also negates the need for a bulky safety harness.

This would also be super useful for Gov/Military use. Pera-troops that can just free fall out of sky ships and come to a nice gentle stop at ground level, without having to carry a huge parachute pack, or learn how to parachute with 150 lbs of extra gear without breaking their legs during landing.

5. If you are going to have magical "Smart Phone" type devices. Are you going to have a magical telecommunications network of some kind? Then, is that network going to be subject to hacking/monitoring by criminals/governments?

6. Does your world have gun control? You've stated it has magic control, so it makes sense. If so, what is easier, illegal magic, or illegal firearms?

7. Are you interested in a Shadow Run-like Ley Line system? This could be along your Liquid Lightning power lines, or wireless power routes. This could make an interesting dynamic where in some cases magic is more powerful than firearms.


I think the wireless transfer idea works if rural towns do have their own networks and maintain wired networks out to the boonies (the wires just hook into the tower, directing energy transfer over a distance not typically covered by the tower, which in turn powers a small hub that only covers one house). You pay for it through taxes, since tracking individual users on the wireless systems to charge them is too difficult, and the rural houses with wire connections just wouldn't bring in that much money. Since liquid lightning can double as both a magical and nonmagical power source, this would also mean conventional electricity is transferable over the air and doesn't come with a power bill.

I am not going to use the reduced lifespan thing.

The toy company idea definately makes perfect sense. I can see enchantment replacing video games.

The idea of magic tracking chips makes sense, especially for government employees liable to be kidnapped, restraining orders, worried parents, people who think they might be somebody's target, or people on probation or parole with terms requiring them to avoid certain places. I agree with you that sex slavery could be facilitated by facial alteration and mind effecting magic. Which also brings up the possibility of using enchantments as a tool for rape. I think I will present that as a problem law enforcement has trouble dealing with.

Military paratroopers just walking out the door and free-falling until the token calculates it is time to slow their descent should work.

We do have a communication network that phones jack into, and a wizard who knows what they are doing can attempt to mess with specific sites within that network. Yes, the network can support things like research, forums, and advertising.

I gun control exists in the form of mandatory background checks and mandatory registration, but civilians are allowed to purchase almost any small arm that isn't fully automatic. The player characters deal with the CR 4 and above monsters, but CR 1 or 2 monsters are typically shot by civilians or local law enforcement before they pose too much of a problem. To put it simply, when goblins can come screeching out of the boundary between the materiel world and whatever lays beyond and start wreaking havoc, it's reasonable for the civilians to own firearms to shoot them with. The issue is that monsters that hit CR 4 start having strong enough wards that you need somebody more powerful than a farmer with a rifle to deal with them. Illegal guns are the more common threat (there are quite a lot of them), but illegal magic is much more dangerous. SInce dealing with magical monsters and dealing with dangerous witches require rather similar skillsets, the same government agents are tasked with both duties. So, when illegal magic does get dangerous, the player characters get the call. This skews perception, as illegal guns are the more common threat but the players are much more likely to encounter illegal magic.

I'm not really interested in a lay line system. I'm more interested in the whole "magic in the air" thing with the cities having wireless power transfer.

Community Manager

Please keep commentary about real-world healthcare to an appropriate forum and thread—it doesn't really belong in this one.


So I wasn't saying that you should take out tracked vehicles, I was only speaking of hover everything with regards to cities (and possibly highways/freeways). When you're out in the boonies there is no maglev system (since offroading does not, by definition, use the roads) so you'd need cars with wheels running off of giant magical batteries. It'd be up to you to decide how far into the maglev revolution cities were, so either hover cars are the new hotness to prove how much money you have or hover cars are the standard (and have been for years) and cars with wheels are only driven by the rich who want to flaunt how much more fuel they can waste or people who need to drive in the backwoods.

I would actually suggest against broadcast power for a New Old West. Broadcast power just requires dropping the transmitter in someplace and fueling it up somehow. That's pretty easy, and every town over X size would have it. With the power plant model (well, more like water plant, since it runs a liquid through pipes) a lightning juice generator is a much bigger deal and requires significant pipe to be laid. Probably do all the ground work for a maglev system at the same time (since they're already tearing up the ground). Therefore it makes more sense that small towns never get a full on power system and instead rely on filling up their lightning juice reserves from the local lightning juice store (like a gas station). It also leaves open the possibility of counterfeit, bootleg, or otherwise tampered with lightning juice. And if the highways are maglev as well, small towns could be fighting for a full power system just so tourists could actually stop in their town with their hover cars. As well as classic corruption when the guy who controls the lightning juice decides to throttle the flow unless the people pay heavy-handed taxes.

As for movies, as I said, depends on whether 3D illusion TVs exist or not. If they do there's not much of a stretch to think that an upscaled, better version (movies) exists. If not, then the local theater does plays with full illusionist effects and are the replacement for both movies and TV, probably. Like what theme parks are calling "4D" now, where the dragon breathes over the crowd and you feel the heat.


Apple Juice wrote:
I think the wireless transfer idea works if rural towns do have their own networks and maintain wired networks out to the boonies (the wires just hook into the tower, directing energy transfer over a distance not typically covered by the tower, which in turn powers a small hub that only covers one house). You pay for it through taxes, since tracking individual users on the wireless systems to charge them is too difficult, and the rural houses with wire connections just wouldn't bring in that much money. Since liquid lightning can double as both a magical and nonmagical power source, this would also mean conventional electricity is transferable over the air and doesn't come with a power bill.

You definitely could expand the system to rural areas and control payment through taxes. On the other hand any system smart enough to control the flow of energy, is also smart enough to track who's using it and how much. Also, before saying "all rural areas have wireless power" you should consider if the government would be willing (is it cost/gain effective) to build such an advanced infrastructure? It might be better to advance the metropolises and leave rural areas dependent on less advanced (expensive) systems. Besides, before you can upgrade a small town, you have to make sure the town can afford to upgrade its personal property (4G service does me no good if I can't afford a 4G phone). This also leaves room for people who don't want to be on the grid and develop some kind of self sustaining energy source not tracked by the government (IE: Solar Power / Generators).

Apple Juice wrote:
The toy company idea definately makes perfect sense. I can see enchantment replacing video games.

Then you get into teenage/adult situations and have things like Illusion rooms or complex hallucinations via alchemy. Think Total Recall rooms, or Star Trek hollo-decks. Then there's the dark underbelly of people who lose their lives in the simulation like you see in Shadow Run Returns.

Apple Juice wrote:
The idea of magic tracking chips makes sense, especially for government employees liable to be kidnapped, restraining orders, worried parents, people who think they might be somebody's target, or people on probation or parole with terms requiring them to avoid certain places.

Yup. But now you leave an opening for sub-cultures of people who are opposed to government tracking systems; intrusions of privacy and all that. Some may even be opposed to all magitech systems.

Apple Juice wrote:
I agree with you that sex slavery could be facilitated by facial alteration and mind effecting magic. Which also brings up the possibility of using enchantments as a tool for rape. I think I will present that as a problem law enforcement has trouble dealing with.

Any slavery really, but yes. Your government monster/psych hunters should not have to deal with this much, but what you can toss their way (depending on the feel you and your group want in games) is some moral/legal dilemma. They may hear rumors of organized crime, or even of corrupt law enforcement rings. But do they act? It would probably be outside their mandate (jurisdiction) and may even be illegal for them to hunt mortals who have not been deemed a magical threat. Now you have the dilemma of choosing between what is right and what is legal. Possibly even risking their careers and becoming fugitives themselves. It doesn't sound like that's the direction you want the story to go, but it's a possible side story. There is often a difference between what a government trained agent CAN do and what he/she is legally PERMITTED to do. Sometimes that trained discipline and their personal convictions are aligned, sometimes they are not. Food for thought.

Apple Juice wrote:
We do have a communication network that phones jack into, and a wizard who knows what they are doing can attempt to mess with specific sites within that network. Yes, the network can support things like research, forums, and advertising.

Will Wizards (criminal or government) be able to find individuals by tracking their "phone?" Or spy on conversations? I'm sure you've seen this type of stuff in hacker/spy/police/government movies and on TV.


I'm still thinking about old technology that could remain in service.

I do like the idea of people politically opposed to the current poliferation of surveillance systems such as DNA scanning. Tracking the location of a phone would be possible if the phone was being actively used to surf the net or record a message, but not when the phone is inactive. The government needs a warrant to track locations, unless the person is on probation, bail, or parole. Probation, bail, and parole almost always come with a condition stating that the government is allowed to track your location without needing warrant. Tracking the messages a phone is recieving can also be done if the physical phone itself is bugged, though the government has to have a lot of evidence of bad behavior to get a warrant for that. Criminals do not care about warrants, of course.

I'll think more on the power issue.

I have made a decision regarding firearms. They won't be fully modern. By that, I mean the state of the art military rifle is roughly equivalent to the good old M14, as assault rifles and Picatinny rails haven't really become popular. Autoloading handguns are available and militaries use them all the time, but revolvers are still the more common law enforcement sidearms, and military vehicle and air crews often prefer them (You saw this IRL during the mid 20th century. The US military adopted autoloaders in the 1910s, but revolvers remained in somewhat common use among American troops for more than half a century afterwards, appearing in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam somewhat commonly, and American police used revolvers more than autoloaders until the 80s.). Submachine guns are still issued to infantry squads to provide lightweight automatic fire, and squad automatic weapons are roughly similar to the M14A1 (An M14 specifically designed for automatic fire support, with a foregrip and bipod, modified stock and upper, and other features that don't immediately come to mind. Was going to succeed the BAR, but military doctrine towards infantry weapons changed.).

I also imagine that the military probably doesn't issue steel helmets to infantry. The issue is that steel helmets are not very comfortable, especially in hot climates. Troops put up with them because they save lives. In this setting, however, any soldier in combat is using wards, which protect the full body. I am going to be making most shrapnel producing effects roll attacks, so wards are effective against shrapnel, one of the main uses for a helmet. With the proliferation of magical means of protection, it starts making sense to ditch the helmet for a climate-appropriate hat, since the soldier would still have good protection for the head. That comfort increase is worth quite a lot to a soldier in the field.

I'm going with this both because I really love M14s and because I think using older firearms and not having jet engines (piston engine airplanes are extremely common, as are helicopters) emphasizes that this is not quite the modern day. I also really like revolvers, which belong in New Old West.


In regards to the helmet thing, you could get practical use and a unique look by having the uniforms/combat gear/whatever have hoods instead of hats. No chance of dropping or losing it, provides shade for hot weather and insulation for cold weather, and hides the silhouette of the head to make it harder to get a proper shot. It could tuck into a slot or something on the outfit to quickly stow it to prevent being snagged on anything.

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