Isn't Thaumaturge name bit problematic both on thematic and cultural perspective?


Thaumaturge Class


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Like PF2 is not really my schtick, and aside of lore aspects and adventures I do not really delve into it's mechanics and stuff, I'm stuck with PF1, so I cannot say if Thaumaturge is working as class. Definitely it's cool concept - and I really liked occultist from 1e, so it's definitely something that should be in a game.

But... why call it Thaumaturge? Like it sounds guys like you took 20 random unused fantasy names and just roll 20 to pick one.

In real world Thaumaturge is title used by Greek Orthodox Church for some of their saints, equivalent of those called in old English Christianity - Wonderworkers. In fact Thaumaturge means precisely - Wonderworker/Mircaleworker. It if anything cleric equivalent I'd say for lack of better suitable terms. (Which makes old Tome of Horrors demonic-worshippers kinda iffy).

It has nothing to do with classic characters that fits supernatural hunter archetype neither occultists proper like Constantine, not hunter like Van Helsing, or Geralt... no one here was called thaumaturge... because well it has nothing to do with concept of thaumaturgy and miracles.

I mean occultist was also bit off, but at least somehow connected by archetype of Occult Detective (pity we're not doing two word class names).

Like literally I heard thaumaturge I think mighty spells, not opposite of that. That's kinda jarring. Maybe consider finding more suitable, archetypical name to suit it.


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Thaumaturge means something different in essentially every work it's ever been used in. It just kind of means "magic guy".

Also, like 90% of mass Western culture is from a Christianized society's viewpoint - it's hard not to take from the tradition. It's like saying you can't have a gravestone and coffin because of Christian burials. Plus, "wonder worker" pretty reasonably describes what it does. This is kind of a non-issue.

Occultist also doesn't work as a name because it's not an occult caster.

The Wikipedia page you got much of your info from, presumably, even points out that thaumaturgy as a term was used to generically refer to magic even in the 1600s. This is a non-issue.


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I don't think it is problematic culturally - making things more culturally appropriate doesn't mean stripping out all things that come from culture (you wouldn't have anything left).

It means getting rid of things that are harmful to specific cultures - Phylactery is being phased out because it associates a sacred Jewish tradition with pure evil. Wen***os should be phased out because of really complicated reasons that I don't fully understand (something to do with the very private nature of the first nations spirituality they come from and how they are used in western media without a real understanding of what those traditions mean I think) - while I don't understand it fully, I take first nations peoples word for it.

It is also about structures of power - Christianity is the world's dominant religion (I'm not talking about numbers here, I am talking about cultural and political dominance). Thaumaturge isn't being taken from an oppressed minority by the dominant culture - it is a product of the dominant culture.


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Thaumaturge means something different in essentially every work it's ever been used in. It just kind of means "magic guy".

Well from I understand about this new Thaumaturge he is more anti-magic guy isn't it?

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Christianity is the world's dominant religion (I'm not talking about numbers here, I am talking about cultural and political dominance). Thaumaturge isn't being taken from an oppressed minority by the dominant culture - it is a product of the dominant culture.

Yes this extreme political and cultural power hold by Greek Orthodoxy over the world, indeed.

Silver Crusade

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The Thaumaturge is not anti-magic, they just aren't a spellcaster.

Greek Orthodoxy is Christianity, which does indeed have extreme political and cultural power the world over.


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Wicked Woodpecker of the West wrote:
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Thaumaturge means something different in essentially every work it's ever been used in. It just kind of means "magic guy".

Well from I understand about this new Thaumaturge he is more anti-magic guy isn't it?

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Christianity is the world's dominant religion (I'm not talking about numbers here, I am talking about cultural and political dominance). Thaumaturge isn't being taken from an oppressed minority by the dominant culture - it is a product of the dominant culture.
Yes this extreme political and cultural power hold by Greek Orthodoxy over the world, indeed.

The Eastern Orthodox church (of which Greek Orthodoxy is one of the 14 members that make up the Eastern Orthodox church) is literally the second largest church in the world. It is the dominant religion in Russia (historically one of the most powerful nations on earth) and large portions of eastern Europe. They also have the best looking churches architecturally (if a church doesn't have a dome, I am not interested), though that isn't really relevant here (though in many ways, the influence of their architecture and aesthetics are part of their cultural dominance over a lot of things). Heck, they where the official state religion of one of the greatest empires ever to exist (the Byzantine Empire) which dominated European politics (and to a lesser extent Middle Eastern politics) for most of its over 1000 year history. (Just ignore that bit where Venice sacked Constantinople, every empire has some bad days).

Liberty's Edge

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TBH Christian culture has less global power than the main religion of Moar Money. But still it is implicitly prominent in media the world over.

Liberty's Edge

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And to the original point, see previous threads trying to get Paizo to change the name of playtest or new classes, such as Oracle, Gunslinger, Warpriest and understand that they will not change the name.

Also using Thaumaturge is not vilifying anyone AFAIK and FYI TTRPGs are not actually tools of the devil like they were decried in the 80s.


The Raven Black wrote:

And to the original point, see previous threads trying to get Paizo to change the name of playtest or new classes, such as Oracle, Gunslinger, Warpriest and understand that they will not change the name.

Also using Thaumaturge is not vilifying anyone AFAIK and FYI TTRPGs are not actually tools of the devil like they were decried in the 80s.

I'm not saying it's villyfying. It's just very very very off.


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Why? I mean there's nothing inherently wrong with using words from the real world is there?

I think you might have a point if thaumaturge was like a villainous class or if it was attempting to be a kind of poor caricature of a real world concept.

As it is, its just a word it seems to me. I've read the concept of thaumaturgy in lots of fantasy books. It always had a connotation of "magic with gizmos" in stories I've read. I suspect that (or similar) is the root here.

"Witch", "druid", "cleric"...there's loads of words we use in fantasy that come from real world religions. That in itself isn't the problematic part.

Its context that causes the issue and your main beef here seems to be that the gaming concept ISNT the same as the real world term.

I just don't understand why druid is okay but thaumaturge isn't (to pick an example). Whats the difference there in your eyes?


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Consider that your experience with the connotations and implications of a word may not be universal. Thaumaturge strikes me as a highly appropriate word and has never in my awareness been explicitly associated with divine magic. Of course, I recognise that the word is used to refer to the power of saints, but that would not have sounded to me like anything different than another synonym for magic.

As for occult detective tropes, the Dresden Files calls the act of forging a connection between a creature and an object, 'thaumaturgy'. That's pretty much an exact description of how the Thaumaturge's core features seem to work. Beyond that, thaumaturgy is just a particularly evocative synonym for magic in most settings, and sometimes reserved for the study of magical forces and interactions.

To reiterate as has been said already--thaumaturgy in general parlance just means 'magic/witchcraft' and thaumaturge just means 'magician'. The religious connotations don't even enter in to the Wiktionary definition, much less form the core of the word's perception, at least outside of the niche of Greek Orthodoxy.


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The last time before PF2 that I engaged with something in the gaming space that used Thaumaturge/Thaumaturgy as a word prominently was a fantastic mod for minecraft called Thaumcraft, and in it you mostly engaged with magic via magical objects and tools (wands, jars to contain essence in, and so on) which seems to be a similar interpretation of the word that PF2 has.

Liberty's Edge

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I have seen Thaumaturgy used for RL magic which sounds more like small effects using various paraphernalia and incantations cobbled together rather than the exacting rituals and spellcasting we have in PF2. Seen that way, it seems actually appropriate, which was not my opinion on the word previous to this post TBT.

Liberty's Edge

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My take on the concept of the PF2 Thaumaturge is that they use half-remembered rumors and folk tales, concoct a theory about why it will have some kind of magical effect and hope it works. And even better if they use items that supposedly have magical significance.


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Its context that causes the issue and your main beef here seems to be that the gaming concept ISNT the same as the real world term.

I just don't understand why druid is okay but thaumaturge isn't (to pick an example). Whats the difference there in your eyes?

I guess it's matter of scale.

Druid at least is literally oak-knower, and Celtic religion has strong nature aspect (though of course it's simplification). Bard at least has it's poem and music (though I hate bard anyway). Thaumaturge is like... like totally different thing, I see no connection, it's like calling this class dervish or musketeer, for me.

Silver Crusade

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Have you read it?

Miracle/wonder worker connects very well.


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Wizard means "wise man" and doesn't use wisdom. The horror!

The class even has a level 20 feat to reproduce parts of the miracle spell called Wonder Worker. It's touching every base here.


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Wicked Woodpecker of the West wrote:
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Its context that causes the issue and your main beef here seems to be that the gaming concept ISNT the same as the real world term.

I just don't understand why druid is okay but thaumaturge isn't (to pick an example). Whats the difference there in your eyes?

I guess it's matter of scale.

Druid at least is literally oak-knower, and Celtic religion has strong nature aspect (though of course it's simplification). Bard at least has it's poem and music (though I hate bard anyway). Thaumaturge is like... like totally different thing, I see no connection, it's like calling this class dervish or musketeer, for me.

To me that seems like an aesthetic objection, rather than it being problematic.

Like I always found :cleric: weird - because it means mild mannered, village vicar to my 70s ear and in gaming it just….isn’t that. But that’s not appropriation, or culturally problematic or anything - it’s just the author having different cultural touchstones than me.

I think it’s the same here, to be frank. Thaumaturge is a non-religious term to me. It may have roots in the church (I don’t know where the two usages came from) but there’s a balance in my mind between using terms that resonate precisely because they come with some real world connections and trivialising or even mocking a real world culture.

I’ll be honest - Druid seems worse to me because it is closer. D&D Druidism is a caricature of a real world faith. I don’t see any such issue with thaumaturge. It seems more a linguistic coincidence.

Liberty's Edge

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IDK it doesn't bother me but phylactery seemed perfectly acceptable from my perspective despite it being found to be somehow insensitive to some people of faith so I imagine that this might also ruffle some feathers given that it literally translates to a miracle worker. Perhaps not though as I believe the ancient greek mythology that it relates to naturally just died off as a genuine body of worshippers at some point and wasn't later on co-opted by other faiths that remain relevant to this day.

Not my call but if ^^ is any indication of where the line is drawn in terms of what is acceptable or appropriate perhaps choosing another name would be consistent, or perhaps not.

/shrug


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The difference here is that equating a Jewish tool of prayer with the ultimate evil is pretty obviously objectionable, whereas using a term that originated in Christian writing as a generic term is not.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

In any case, Thaumaturge is not an official title in any church, but simply a common word in Greek used to describe some people who perform miracles.

On exactly the same basis, you could object to somebody naming a fictional character "the Great".


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In any case, Thaumaturge is not an official title in any church, but simply a common word in Greek used to describe some people who perform miracles.

In the same way it could be argued since this example was brought down that phylactery is common word in Greek for talisman, or amulet.

Liberty's Edge

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Wicked Woodpecker of the West wrote:
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In any case, Thaumaturge is not an official title in any church, but simply a common word in Greek used to describe some people who perform miracles.

In the same way it could be argued since this example was brought down that phylactery is common word in Greek for talisman, or amulet.

The great Oracle of wikipedia starts its description of Phylactery with "Phylactery (from Ancient Greek φυλακτήριον (phylakterion) 'protectant') originally referred to Tefillin, leather boxes containing Torah verses worn by some Jews when praying."

So, heavily linked to a group of people that have been horrendously oppressed not so long ago.

And, in DnD parlance, it was used for items directly linked to the most heinous undead in existence.

Very much not comparable with Thaumaturge, no matter how hard you try to make it seem the same.

Liberty's Edge

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I don't get the pushback to the question here, OP is right, Thaumaturge as a concept relates to those to do miracles... something that is by definition related to faith/religion/divine power and... while the Thm isn't an evil Class by nature it's not grounded in divine power whatsoever. Associating something decidedly nonreligious with a term that is supposed to relate to the divine is a form of legitimate heresy.

Is the pushback on the subject because people feel that orthodox Christians shouldn't be given as much respect since they haven't been subject to as much violence or discrimination?


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^ Oh, you mean like 'Monk'?


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Nomenclature in fantasy is always going to be weird and generally pull from terms that already exist, be it from other media or from real life.

There's not a single class in PF2e that doesn't pull from this sort of thing, and many of them don't follow their nomenclature.

Wizards aren't wise men (term literally means Wise Man, similar to Drunkard), Druids carry real-world religious connotations that aren't followed in PF, Barbarians meant non-Latin speakers (and no one speaks Latin in Golarion), not all Rogues are actually roguish, Swashbucklers don't all use bucklers, Paladins aren't knights of Charlemagne, etc.

Rather than looking at real-world uses of these terms, fantasy genre conventions should be looked at. After all, the whole point of these names is to give players a general idea of what the class is about. That's the whole point of the class system (and many other sacred cows of the d20 fantasy TTRPG sphere).


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As for Thaumaturgy in specific, its also a blanket term for any "miracle work" in the real world. The noun forms exist as Thaumaturge, Thaumaturgist, or Thaumaturgus.

Also the term was apparently introduced in the English language by John Dee, the famed 16th century occultist and antiquarian.

Turns out religions, especially large, organized religions, tend to use terms that are just normal nouns. Priest has a specific definition in Catholicism, but for everyone else it's just a religious figure that assists or performs ceremony.

It eventually becomes impossible to find a name that isn't used for something already, and from a designer perspective it's best to use a name that effectively communicates the idea you want to get across.

Liberty's Edge

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Themetricsystem wrote:

I don't get the pushback to the question here, OP is right, Thaumaturge as a concept relates to those to do miracles... something that is by definition related to faith/religion/divine power and... while the Thm isn't an evil Class by nature it's not grounded in divine power whatsoever. Associating something decidedly nonreligious with a term that is supposed to relate to the divine is a form of legitimate heresy.

Is the pushback on the subject because people feel that orthodox Christians shouldn't be given as much respect since they haven't been subject to as much violence or discrimination?

Nope. Just that it does not compare at all.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:

Consider that your experience with the connotations and implications of a word may not be universal. Thaumaturge strikes me as a highly appropriate word and has never in my awareness been explicitly associated with divine magic. Of course, I recognise that the word is used to refer to the power of saints, but that would not have sounded to me like anything different than another synonym for magic.

As for occult detective tropes, the Dresden Files calls the act of forging a connection between a creature and an object, 'thaumaturgy'. That's pretty much an exact description of how the Thaumaturge's core features seem to work. Beyond that, thaumaturgy is just a particularly evocative synonym for magic in most settings, and sometimes reserved for the study of magical forces and interactions.

To reiterate as has been said already--thaumaturgy in general parlance just means 'magic/witchcraft' and thaumaturge just means 'magician'. The religious connotations don't even enter in to the Wiktionary definition, much less form the core of the word's perception, at least outside of the niche of Greek Orthodoxy.

This seems to say all that needs to be said.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

I don't get the pushback to the question here, OP is right, Thaumaturge as a concept relates to those to do miracles... something that is by definition related to faith/religion/divine power and... while the Thm isn't an evil Class by nature it's not grounded in divine power whatsoever. Associating something decidedly nonreligious with a term that is supposed to relate to the divine is a form of legitimate heresy.

Is the pushback on the subject because people feel that orthodox Christians shouldn't be given as much respect since they haven't been subject to as much violence or discrimination?

For me it's that Thaumaturgy isn't a religious term. I'd even go so far as to say it's explicitly non-religious in the contexts in which I've seen it (as I mentioned above, that's generally been in a "magic-with-implements" kind of way but never in a divine sense).

I think Druid, Cleric, Witch....are far more "problematic" but I don't have an issue with them either, fwiw (whereas I'm supportive of the change from phylactery).

For me, there's a certain level of usage whereby the historical use of the word is kind of "trumped" by popular culture. Druid/Witch has been used so much in popular ways rather than genuinely referential ways, that it has a separate meaning alongside druidic and wiccan usage. Phylactery hasn't. Thaumaturgy has.

It's not really up to me though - I consider this my "position at the moment" not some declaration of correctness/incorrectness. If there was some group with a strong opinion about their culture being used or misrepresented that would mean something. I don't get that with thaumaturgy though? I haven't heard any complaint other than in a "isn't this the same?" kind of intellectual way.

Paizo Employee Director of Community

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Removed some baiting posts and the ensuing quotes. This thread is quickly approaching political discussion territory. As the playtest is over, this thread is locked at this point. Thanks to everyone who participated in the playtest.

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