We return to my series on magick on a fantasy setting and the City Builder work From Mike Varhola. Now officially the fund raiser is done and a success, but I do encourage you to send in a preorder for when the book is released. In any case we'll be taking a look at the subject of chapter 6, the merchant.
In a nutshell a merchant is interested in goods, suppliers, and customers. For the most part he is a distributor, focusing in items of value and items most producers don't have the resources to handle beyond the immediate area. For this reason the merchant will focus on magick dealing with information, preservation, and security. The proprietor of a scroll shop for instance will be most interested in magick that helps him verify an item, keep it safe from damage, and secure it against theft. The owner of a brokerage will be most interested in magick helping him investigate an offer or a potential customer or source.
Sheila the Grump owns a pawn shop. She uses divination to learn what she can about a customer seeking a loan, and the item he's putting up as collateral. In addition, truly valuable items are under a dweomer that warns of impending danger. Finally, she has incense enchanted to calm a customer constantly smoldering in a dish.
To start let me point out that we live in a world where magick just doesn't work, no matter what some would like. But there was a time when magick was thought to work, a lot of people tried using it, and work was done to put it on a scientific basis.
In fact a lot of the early scientific work consisted of people experimenting with magick in its various form to learn how and why it worked. Only to learn that it didn't, and couldn't. Or, when it seemed to work to learn just what was going on. From these experiments we got such sciences as chemistry from alchemy and astronomy from astrology.
For the Thing is
That in all honesty science is not a thing, it is a set of techniques, a set of procedures designed for the purpose of discovery and investigation. Combustion is a matter of rapid oxidation, not will. Metabolism involves the physical, not the arcane.
And as with science the laws of magick are not prescriptive, they are descriptive. The Law of Similarity applies because that which is like another will affect it. Nothing moral involved. You get right down to it, science can be applied to magick so long as magick does work in the setting. In a fantasy setting that is the case. That means that magick can be understood. That it can be taught, can be learnt, and can be modified. That our understanding of magick, as with our understanding of science, can be improved and what had once been assumed of magick can be falsified. If that makes a wizard sound like a scientist, that's because he is. A bachelor of magick knows everything, a master of magick knows nothing, and to a doctor of magick neither does anybody else.
So know you have some of my thinking on magick and we can continue with our series.
I'm now getting back to this series, but in this installment we'll be taking a look at magick per se.
For our purposes I'm taking magick as I understand it. And the first thing to do is for us to remember that way back when magick, or magic if you prefer, was accepted as a part of life. Far as everybody was concerned, it just worked. But then people started to have a real look at it, and they learned that in reality it didn't.
However, there are still people who believe in it, and who insist on rationalizing their failure to perform magic. But to be honest with you, in the real world it just doesn't.
Fantasy is another matter. In fantasy you can have magic work, and work however and why ever you want it to. For my purpose I'm going to have magic be the ability of an individual to shape reality without the use of anything physical. That is, entirely through the mind. Call it "desire", call it "will", it all comes down to thought. In addition, it comes down to an ability to manipulate an energy or force that does not exist in our world so far as we know. But in a fantasy setting it can, and for this post it does.
So that's what magic is, the ability to shape reality without anything physical, but through the mind alone. And in addition it is the ability to manipulate a force, an energy we don't have.
You could call it mana. Or you may know it as baraka. There is also vril, orgone, essence, quintessence, chi, or vis. I prefer heka from Dangerous Journeys, so I'll be using that term.
Heka comes ancient Egyptian and was originally the name of their god of magic. He was one of the lesser gods, and apparently the younger brother of the major goddess Hekau. His name apparently means "power", while her name means "words of power" With heka being to the Egyptians that which powered their magic. You could say that heka comes from "he" which may be a word for strength in Egyptian and "ka" which is old Egyptian for one of the seven or nine souls in Egyptian thought. So heka means "soul strength" in a sense.
But whatever term you'd rather use is up to you.
In the Setting
In this case we're referring to a fantasy setting, more particularly a community in that setting. Given that we're talking about a fantasy setting, here we're talking about the magic in that community and setting. Though before we continue let us change the spelling of "magic". Here as a way of differentiating our magic from that of a fantasy world, we'll spell it "magick". But now it's time for a new page.
The Use of Magick
What is magick used for? A lot of things to be honest with you, but for our purposes the main use as far as I can see is to gain information. For mancy; as in necromancy, geomancy, astromancy (or astrology if you prefer) and others is important in life, for without knowing you really can't get anything done. Oh, you could try, but the odds of it working at are going to be very much against you.
Once you know what you're doing and how it could affect things, you can get done to actually doing things, assuming you can.
And that Would be?
Directing others, shaping things, bringing things into existence or removing them. But then you have to take into account just what you are using this magick for. Security at a money lender, or performing surgery at a hospital. Once you know which particular species of wyvern you're dealing with you can provide them with what he needs. And keep him safe from the brats who'd love to pester him with rocks and sticks.
Depending on the system you're using magick could be used for more than you may expect. In Mythus there is magick for food preparation. In systems such as Ars Magica or Pathfinder magick may do as much and very likely more.
Just keep in mind that regardless of the system you're using the setting your adventures take place in is a world. A world where people live and have adventures. And with magick available your players may well likely have tools they need to have an impact. Even if the only thing that magick can do is give the players some idea of what's most likely to happen, that is still an advantage.
And this needs a rewrite. Matter or fact, the series as a whole needs a rewrite because there are things I've forgotten to deal with. But still I can hope you get ideas and inspiration from this.
In chapter 4 of City Builder we have a look at a few of the professional places to be found around town. Now the thing to remember here is that the book in question really can't cover every possibility, but we can hope that the reader is inspired to look into other such locations.
And neither can I cover everything that could be covered where magick in a fantasy setting is concerned. For I am a single individual, and real life technology is the product of numerous lives over numerous years. You can expect the same of a setting where magick works and has been brought to apply in numerous ways.
Consider just Dungeons and Dragons, with something like five editions, plus supplements, settings, and net books. Haven't counted all of the magicks available out there, but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't something like a few thousand of them. In Mythus for Dangerous Journeys there are some 236 effects listed, and they don't all have to be limited to just one casting. For there are probably as many ways to curse as there are magicians.I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the future there could be around 20,000 or more castings to choose from.
Now consider just what those effects could be used for, and keep in mind that magick in an adventure setting doesn't have to be restricted to just one activity. That's my point in this series, that it is not just the Wizard Tensor who gets to use his famous floating disc, but construction crews around the world.
Now consider how magick could be used in a hospital. To relieve pain, knit together bones and tissue, ease child birth, even raise the dead and regenerate limbs.
Then consider the various medications, mundane and magickal, used in a hospital setting and how they could be abused. Security is a big part of medical care, for while the black lotus say can have beneficial effects wisely used, misuse can be fatal.
And never forget how useful the magick of divination can be. It can make diagnosis much easier, and allow a doctor a more honest look at how a treatment or therapy is working.
As for an architect's office, having reliable information regarding a site and its local conditions can make the job of designing a building a lot easier. Just think about where you work and what you do for a living and soon you should be able to devise a lot of ways in which magick can make your life a lot easier.
In chapter 5 we'll have a look at a trademan's places, with an emphasis on the stable.
First, a link to the kickstarter; City Builder. With that done we can go on to a look on the magick of entertainment, that being chapter 3 in the book.
Probably the most noticeable of the magicks in a fantasy setting, the dweomers of the entertainment realm are probably the most misunderstood. Indeed, in most cases where magick is credited it is not actually used, while where not credited it really should be.
For the most part where magick is used it is used to draw the attention of the audience to what the director and performers want them to pay attention to. The goal here is to keep the viewer so busy paying attention to the one thing, so he doesn't really have the time and energy to focus on a flaw. And in large part the magick of entertainment is involved with illusion and phantasm, though not to the point the audience becomes suspicious.
For that is the purpose of magick in entertainment, to engross the audience and to keep them engrossed. To keep them so entranced by what they see and hear they haven't the time to notice the flurry of activity going on backstage.
And part of the illusion is the illusion of being somewhere else. Instead of being seated in the loge of a theater, of standing at the edge of a bluff watching as Vargaardian bison migrate from the northern plains to the southern so as to avoid the bitter cold coming with winter. Or, for that matter, instead of standing at the railing of a fence separating them from a herd of springbok, actually being on an Afrikan veldt with the animals under observation.
Then there are times when magick is used to reassure the animal in an enclosure, such as a zorilla (Afrikan skunk) kept unaware of the people watching her so that she does not become stressed and hide.
Though probably the most important use of magick in entertainment has to do with medicine. For there are times when a performer needs to be able to perform for all that he suffers from an injury that would otherwise impair him. Or an animal may need healing so he won't make the original injury worse, as may happen with an equid or certain types of small birds.
As you can see magick plays a huge role in entertainment, and quite often young dweomercræfters often gain their first employment at a zoo, theater, or circus casting. That's my esssay on the magick in entertainment, coming up on professional places.
Probably the most important person in any community is the craftsman. He may not be the most powerful, or the richest, but he is most often the source of what the rest of the community needs to function. In City Builder he is the person who makes what the others need to do their work, or even just to live their lives. And he is often the one who can best make use of what magick is available to him.
For instance you have the carpenter, who can either be in the construction of buildings or furniture.
If in construction he will most likely have magick to help him determine the soundness of the wood being used, or how best to arrange the structure so as to use the amount of material it is safest to use and how best to put it all together.
Where furniture such as chairs, sofas, and tables are concerned, what to use in the construction. In some households he may include magicks that will keep track of just who is using that chair, or let any staff know just who had a midnight snack and ate up all the leftover caviar.
Then there is the matter of the jeweler, or white smith. Magicks that will signal when a drink has been poisoned. Or which will warn the wearer when they are being approached or are approaching another. Very popular with the parents of small children are wristlets a child can wear that keeps track of them, and tell the mother or father when the youngster has gone astray.
To be honest with you I can't think of everything. About the best I can do is to provide you with examples and ask that you use your imagination and inventiveness. But just for the heck of it...
Timmy makes items from pewter. Cutlery, dishes, cups and steins. Thanks to his magick he can insure that they are well make, and that they do not leak. They are also noted for their ability to withstand falls to the floor and blows from the angry and irate.
In addition depending on what they were made to hold they can keep food or drink at a constant temperature, and for a physician client (Alice the Chirurgeon) he produces bowls and plates that sterilize wound dressings and the like.
I'm sure you can come up with more.
In the third entry in this series we'll have a look at entertainment places, with an emphasis on zoos. See you then.