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Non-Scientific Magic?

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gdunbar

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I saw an interesting article:

http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/magic/antiscience.html

The main point being that magic systems in RPGs are too "scientific". In my mind, this means logical and reproducible. To some extent, I agree... in fiction, I really appreciate when magic comes across as something not wholly explainable and mysterious. "A Game of Thrones" by George. R. R. Martin, and "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" by Susanna Clarke are two examples that spring immediately to mind.

However, to make this actionable in a CRPG (the author is primarily talking about pencil-and-paper RPGs) is difficult, and not really addressed by the article. By definition, a computer game is running a set of logical rules to define the magic system. The implementer can add randomness to make things non-deterministic, but to fool the player into believing that this randomness is synergistic and mysterious, rather than just random, is a tall order.

Anyways, food for thought, but I can't think of much to actually do about it. Anyone else?

Geoff
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Thanks for the article. It reminds me of how much my hobby project has diverged from my original intent which was supposed to be an exploration of magic.

I think to get a sense of mystery what you want to do is give a sense to the player that if he's going to have to observe, experiment, and take chances to be able to (re)produce some sort of magical effect. And by extension, there has to be things for the the player to observe and experiment on, possibly such that the results are not always obvious or having any effect at all. So I think it in part sort of becomes a content problem. Are you able to come up with enough things that can be used on a fundamental level with other things and various processes (which probably also have to be discovered) to result in whatever set of magical results you want to be in your game for the final purpose of... uh... something.

I think it might've been that final purpose that got me and I started working on other things in the hopes something would come up. Instead I find myself on a completely different tangent.

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