Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Modern Fantasy - a setting idea

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Modern Fantasy - a setting idea

    Currently working on a setting that's basically our modern world, technology-wise, but with magic and demihuman races having been there all along, as opposed to Shadowrun or Amethyst where these things are only now reappearing. Basically, think of the movie " Bright", but a bit more fleshed out.

    So, you could have orc gunslingers in the Old West, street gangs using magic in modern LA or elvish necromancers working alongside the Axis in WW2.
    The basic premises so far are:
    a) magic is present and active throughout the world but mages of any significant power are fairly rare.
    b) thus, the presence of magic has not hampered technological development but rather helped it along, if only to find effective countermeasures against mages (not everyone can use a wand - but everyone can shoot a gun). Magic has also helped the sciences along due to mages being able to analyze and codify the rules governing the world without having to rely on complex instruments.
    c) The classic fantasy races are present but are spread throughout the world. The world has the same population density as ours, just spread across several different intelligent species. The fantasy races are not analogues to earth cultures, but part of them.
    d) "Divine magic" does not exist but is simply a different take on arcane magic. For hundreds of years the Church took great pains to press every magic-capable child into their ranks....and eliminate others as witches.
    e) from that it follows that the question of God is still unanswered. There are powerful entities analogous to the gods of the pagan world, but they are not really transcendent or wholly immortal.

    I would be happy to hear anyone's thoughts on this.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum!

    My thoughts are: okay, seems pretty generic as "modern urban fantasy" goes. Kudos for not hand waving that magic is somehow secret - it's real but rare and everyone knows about it.
    a) Cool. Can do lots of fun with this.
    b) This one stretches my suspension of disbelief in a few ways, but I can probably ignore it.
    c) Okay.
    d) So, all magic is wizardry, it's just that some wizards are also priests. Sounds fairly Egyptian (ancient, not modern). Not bad, but mechanically limiting. May need to redo some of the professional edges to keep them available in a setting with only one Arcane Background variant.
    e) Should be largely irrelevant. With magic being real, and non-human intelligent beings being common, the various circumstances that allowed Christianity to dominate a fifth of the world, and 80% of recorded history, have been undercut. I'm not saying that Christianity won't exist, but it certainly won't exist in a form familiar to modern Catholics.

    Actually, a lot of history is going to be different.
    World War 1 was inevitable given the previous two hundred years of European history - military build developments, centuries of competition, the perception of war as another (and highly prestigious) tool of statecraft, etc.
    World War 2 was caused by the Treaty of Versailles. The other factors - German nationalism, entrenched bigotry and oppression, patriotic ambition, personal ambition, etc. - were present but largely contained by the existing social structures. Social structures that were destroyed by the economic and social devastation caused by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. If key members of the French negotiation team hadn't been killed by the "Spanish Flu" outbreak, the Treaty could have been very different and World War 2 might never have happened. A single mage with healing could have changed the course of the 20th century.
    You'll want to do a lot of in-depth historical research - look at those times when a few very influential individuals died unexpectedly, in ways that a mage with healing could have prevented (sudden disease, poison, recent injuries), and try to figure out what would have happened if those people had lived longer. A mage with healing could have saved Abraham Lincoln from Booth's assassination attempt (Lincoln lived for 9 hours and 17 minutes after being shot), changing the post-war period dramatically. An older mage with healing could have saved Emperor Alexander the Great (probably), granting him the time to build a true dynasty that lasted for centuries instead of leaving a fractured mess of feuding nation-states.

    You've got a ton of potential with this idea, but exploring that would take a tremendous amount of time and effort.
    Last edited by ValhallaGH; 10-28-2018, 05:34 PM.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • #3
      Something interesting that wasn't answered in Bright, not that it should have been given the space they had to tell their story, is what does religion look like in that world? If, 2000 years ago, a warrior (whose name starts with a J, natch) rose up up to engage in literal combat with the BBEG and defeat him, what does that do for the other J guy? And all of the then extant religions, for that matter?
      • We see a Gothic church as the setting for one scene. Who is it dedicated to?
      • We see the orc priests decked out in antlers rather and their ritual of adulthood is carried out with a hunting weapon. Is theirs the mainstream religion or do they practice a faith based around the hunt? (And what does this say about their culture in general?
      Religion has been central to so much of human development that an internally consistent urban fantasy setting has to address it if a significant plot point/myth like Jirrak is introduced.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
        Welcome to the forum!

        My thoughts are: okay, seems pretty generic as "modern urban fantasy" goes. Kudos for not hand waving that magic is somehow secret - it's real but rare and everyone knows about it.
        a) Cool. Can do lots of fun with this.
        b) This one stretches my suspension of disbelief in a few ways, but I can probably ignore it.
        c) Okay.
        d) So, all magic is wizardry, it's just that some wizards are also priests. Sounds fairly Egyptian (ancient, not modern). Not bad, but mechanically limiting. May need to redo some of the professional edges to keep them available in a setting with only one Arcane Background variant.
        e) Should be largely irrelevant. With magic being real, and non-human intelligent beings being common, the various circumstances that allowed Christianity to dominate a fifth of the world, and 80% of recorded history, have been undercut. I'm not saying that Christianity won't exist, but it certainly won't exist in a form familiar to modern Catholics.

        Actually, a lot of history is going to be different.
        World War 1 was inevitable given the previous two hundred years of European history - military build developments, centuries of competition, the perception of war as another (and highly prestigious) tool of statecraft, etc.
        World War 2 was caused by the Treaty of Versailles. The other factors - German nationalism, entrenched bigotry and oppression, patriotic ambition, personal ambition, etc. - were present but largely contained by the existing social structures. Social structures that were destroyed by the economic and social devastation caused by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. If key members of the French negotiation team hadn't been killed by the "Spanish Flu" outbreak, the Treaty could have been very different and World War 2 might never have happened. A single mage with healing could have changed the course of the 20th century.
        You'll want to do a lot of in-depth historical research - look at those times when a few very influential individuals died unexpectedly, in ways that a mage with healing could have prevented (sudden disease, poison, recent injuries), and try to figure out what would have happened if those people had lived longer. A mage with healing could have saved Abraham Lincoln from Booth's assassination attempt (Lincoln lived for 9 hours and 17 minutes after being shot), changing the post-war period dramatically. An older mage with healing could have saved Emperor Alexander the Great (probably), granting him the time to build a true dynasty that lasted for centuries instead of leaving a fractured mess of feuding nation-states.

        You've got a ton of potential with this idea, but exploring that would take a tremendous amount of time and effort.
        I am a student of history by sassion, so what you said does not sound as daunting to me as you might thinkg... Thanks a lot for your Input.

        Comment


        • ValhallaGH
          ValhallaGH commented
          Editing a comment
          Well, we've never met before (that I know of), so I didn't want to make assumptions about your abilities and knowledge. Either too generous or too pessimistic.
          I will freely admit that I have no idea what "history by sassion" signifies. And google has failed to enlighten me. But I'll assume that it means you're more than competent at digging into history - which is good, because I am competent and I find the scope of that examination (especially projecting the changes created) to be very daunting.

          Regardless, you're welcome.

      • #5
        Welcome!

        Seems like typical modern fantasy fare, though I'm going to agree with Valhalla that certain aspects might strain suspension of disbelief if not carefully handled.

        Unless you're going with a Dr. Who-esque ex machina of "fixed points" in time, the fact that magic has always existed would literally change everything. Val makes excellent points about whether or not prominent historical figures would have died, given that magical healing would have been a thing. Alexander the Great, Franz Ferdinand, and POTUS would almost definately have had a healer close at all times... assuming any of them even had the opportunity to become prominent figures in the first place.

        If "fixed points" exist in time (i.e., events that must happen or a cataclysmic time paradox would occur) then you'll need to reexamine and explain the motives and events of such things. For example, the rise of the National Socialist party in Germany might have had nothing at all to do with the economic sanctions placed on them after WWI, but might instead be the result of a mass mind-altering artifact in the hands of a particular mustachioed figure. This figure's real-world obsession with the supernatural is a good segue into the figure's game-world motives. Perhaps he himself was only another victim of the artifact's power, and something more sinister was/is at work.
        ___________

        The other sticking point is the progression of technology. It's reasonable to assume that the "mundanes" would continue to improve as understanding of the world grew, but magic would have had a profound effect on that. Artillery and ballistic weapons would likely be seen as equalizers to the spells of mages. Things like Casters (from Outlaw Star) could be commonplace. Home security would include wards to prevent astral intrusions (with friendly little placards placed in your astral front yard to warn-off potential intruders first).

        Depending on how pervasive you want magic items to be, electricity (and the electrical grid as we know it) might not exist so ubiquitously. Street lamps may be magical lights that simply activate when the conditions for darkness are met. Things like blackouts would be unheard of, and the common military tactic of targeting enemy infrastructure would have far less utility (or at the very least look much different, with Mage Divisions deployed to combat enemy mages and magical devices.

        Third-world countries might not have the problems they do today, as magic could conceivably produce fertile land, alleviate droughts, and cure diseases. If the problems still exist, it may be the result of a misguided pogrom to exterminate all "witches" from the land. Healers Without Borders may not be so well received.

        Anyway, I could ramble on, but I think you get the point.

        Cheers

        Comment


        • #6
          Hm...yeah....you know, I think I'll take a different approach...and just have a fantasy world that has simply moved on past the medieval stasis. It'll still look like the modern world in many aspects but I can get let my imagination run wild without constraints.
          As for divine magic...the idea was that it's just another way of tapping into the same source, albeit one that still leaves open the question of whether true god(s) exist or not because even priests do not draw on a deity, merely use their faith as a mental focus as opposed to wizards.

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Neo-Paladin View Post
            Hm...yeah....you know, I think I'll take a different approach...and just have a fantasy world that has simply moved on past the medieval stasis. It'll still look like the modern world in many aspects but I can get let my imagination run wild without constraints.
            Probably the wiser choice.
            Originally posted by Neo-Paladin View Post
            As for divine magic...the idea was that it's just another way of tapping into the same source, albeit one that still leaves open the question of whether true god(s) exist or not because even priests do not draw on a deity, merely use their faith as a mental focus as opposed to wizards.
            You've got two basic options.
            1) Don't allow anyone to take Arcane Background (Miracles). Any "miraculous" clergy have Magic, and run the same risks as any wizard. But you can tweak the Champion and Holy Warrior professional edges to still give priest-types a unique ability; the specifics will take some work, but my off-hand suggestion is to change the AB to Magic, change the Faith to Spellcasting, add a Knowledge skill (Religion or Theology or similar) at d6+, and not allow Wizard on the same character.
            2) Just make a note of the doubt in Arcane Background (Miracles). If Protector is shaped by the beliefs of the caster as much (or more) than the tenants of the religion then you've strongly implied that divinity isn't required for miracles.
            3) Note that clergy of wildly different faiths, with vastly different behavior restrictions, can all use miracles. Raising some very real questions about which faith is "true", if the truth is exclusive, and what it means that other religions can also call upon miracles.

            Fun stuff, for groups that enjoy such things.
            I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by Neo-Paladin View Post
              Hm...yeah....you know, I think I'll take a different approach...and just have a fantasy world that has simply moved on past the medieval stasis. It'll still look like the modern world in many aspects but I can get let my imagination run wild without constraints.
              You can still draw a great deal of inspiration from the real world. For example, wars happen. Sometimes on the scale of World Wars (especially in a modern setting), they just aren't about the same things.

              As an example, as a "magic-infused" world approaches the Age of Enlightenment, when concepts such as fairness and equality become recognized as human rights, mages could be seen as having an unfair advantage. Laws may be put in place restricting where and how magic can used. This can spark mage-rights movements, and may even result in a massive war if tensions get incredibly high.

              More to the point, look at the events in the real world that helped shape our societies---the things that form a zeitgeist: wars, tragedies, civil rights movements; then put such things into the history of your world, tailored to fit the campaign.

              As for divine magic...the idea was that it's just another way of tapping into the same source, albeit one that still leaves open the question of whether true god(s) exist or not because even priests do not draw on a deity, merely use their faith as a mental focus as opposed to wizards.
              I did something similar in a campaign. While people certainly believed in gods and pantheons, the ontological question was never answered. Magic had one source, people just came to it by different ways: intense study/research, or meditation/conviction.

              If you are only going to have one Arcane Background, maybe give the player a choice which skill links to it, Spellcasting or Faith. The various Edges, like Champion and Holy Warrior, are techniques only discovered by sourcing magic in a particular way... while ones like Mentalist or Wizard are only discovered by using a different method. Essentially, you still have two different "classes" of caster, even though their power comes from the same source.

              Alternatively, offer two ABs, just have them work exactly the same. The distinction is solely for Edge requirement purposes.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by Neo-Paladin View Post
                Currently working on a setting that's basically our modern world, technology-wise, but with magic and demihuman races having been there all along, as opposed to Shadowrun or Amethyst where these things are only now reappearing. Basically, think of the movie " Bright", but a bit more fleshed out.

                So, you could have orc gunslingers in the Old West, street gangs using magic in modern LA or elvish necromancers working alongside the Axis in WW2.
                The basic premises so far are:
                a) magic is present and active throughout the world but mages of any significant power are fairly rare.
                b) thus, the presence of magic has not hampered technological development but rather helped it along, if only to find effective countermeasures against mages (not everyone can use a wand - but everyone can shoot a gun). Magic has also helped the sciences along due to mages being able to analyze and codify the rules governing the world without having to rely on complex instruments.
                c) The classic fantasy races are present but are spread throughout the world. The world has the same population density as ours, just spread across several different intelligent species. The fantasy races are not analogues to earth cultures, but part of them.
                d) "Divine magic" does not exist but is simply a different take on arcane magic. For hundreds of years the Church took great pains to press every magic-capable child into their ranks....and eliminate others as witches.
                e) from that it follows that the question of God is still unanswered. There are powerful entities analogous to the gods of the pagan world, but they are not really transcendent or wholly immortal.

                I would be happy to hear anyone's thoughts on this.
                I would decide if magic is hereditary, random, or "professional", as that will have a profound impact on your game-world as well. If magic is hereditary then most families with a magic history are likely more well off, due to the advantage that magic can have on the family. Even something as simple as magically covering many of the basic needs for the family. If it's random, you'll likely the various power centers (governments, corporations, political parties, etc.) expending resources to find and train people who are born with the spark. If it's "professional" (i.e. learned) you should figure out what makes it so difficult to learn that it's rare.

                Comment


                • #10
                  You may want to check out the Hidden Legacy Novels by Ilona Andrews for some ideas. Various families have psionic, and magical skills, and the most powerful users are subject to different sets of laws than those who are less gifted or whom have no skills at all. The families can wage limited war on each other, but they have to be aware and prevent damage from carrying over to those not involved in the war. If things get too out of hand, the central government, which is run by powerful families, can step in and impose punishments. New emerging families must have two members rated at the highest level to qualify, and are protected for three years. Existing families must maintain at least one tested member at the highest level or will loose their position and privileges.

                  Comment

                  Working...
                  X