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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Orc in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    When asked "How does the Heisenberg compensator work?" by Time magazine, Star Trek technical adviser Michael Okuda responded: "It works very well, thank you"
    Magic can be the same, and that's fine.
    But if you want more, you head into Thaumophysics. And if you do that it allows more initiative from characters to use magic in different ways to the previously known rules.

    Segev's Contracts (which I really like, especially as an explanation of the difference between Wizards and sorcerers) for example, suggests that sorcerous casting might be negotiated for or given as a reward by the right person in the right place at the right time. Or that permanent meta-magic might be obtained.
    Magic items are, presumably, a contract with the creator and the spirits. So if the creator were to be punished by the spirits, items they enchanted would loose their magic.
    You don't have to destroy the BBEGs ring, you have to take him to court.


    OTOH, KineticDiplomat's Elite minds idea means non adventuring life is has many more "third rater's" than real wizards. So, these will presumably people with just a few spells of different levels that they find easy or interesting. Or maybe they have a significant chance of spell failure.
    The 3rd level PC wizard is already well ahead of her classmates over all, but each one of them will have their own bits and pieces and might be ahead in some areas

    Thaumophysics also comes into "How does this spell work?"
    For example, take Fire ball. Is it an explosion? That means it makes a "Boom" or "Bang" sound. It moves air away and then back and creates a lot of warm/hot air.
    That means you could lob some fireballs into a pit and freshen the air, stir up dust and make it less cold to spend time in
    Or is it more a thin "bubble" of fire that expands fairly quickly? That might make a quieter, longer noise. More a "Whoosh". Then we explain successful saves as a well timed dodge to the inside of the bubble. And we're more likely to burn the dust and less likely to stir it, and the breeze will be slower but maybe last longer. Shorter flame is less likely to light big things on fire but also less likely to blow out the small fires.
    Or does the whole sphere all suddenly have flame at the same time? Maybe sounding more like a "Pop"? Probably not this one for D&D, because this sort is harder to dodge (no dex bonus on saves). Or maybe you get this type if you take a feat to make it hard to dodge. Then an experienced eye can tell by the type of fireball that a mage has this feat.
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


  2. - Top - End - #32
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    -Discovering the secrets of the universe. The universe functions according to certain laws and those that can fathom those laws can figure out how to manipulate the universe.

    -Pushing the buttons of a lost civilization. Magic users are monkeys pushing buttons on the remnants of a structure of magic built by lost civilizations. They learn how to find buttons and push them and get an effect which might or might not be what the creators intended it to be or to be used for.
    what's the difference?

    and what do you mean by buttons?

  3. - Top - End - #33
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Bohandas's Avatar

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    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    Spell slots are in some way equivalent to the electron shells around an atom. Spell preparation builds up a core charge, and spell completion releases or nullifies it, releasing the shell charge
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-01-07 at 04:20 AM.
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    If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended. That you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear, and this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream. -Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 5, Scene 1

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Aug 2020

    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    One of my groups plays it as "drawing from an unwilling force".

    Backstory is that something (spoiler: the BBEG) is draining the world's life energy and the longer they sit around unwilling to do anything the more the world dies.

    Now these powers, once taken, can not simply be returned to their owners. Magic users have however learned to access them to charge themselves with additional life energy which they then can use to "work miracles" (=cast spells).

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff View Post
    Segev's Contracts (which I really like, especially as an explanation of the difference between Wizards and sorcerers) for example, suggests that sorcerous casting might be negotiated for or given as a reward by the right person in the right place at the right time. Or that permanent meta-magic might be obtained.
    Magic items are, presumably, a contract with the creator and the spirits. So if the creator were to be punished by the spirits, items they enchanted would loose their magic.
    You don't have to destroy the BBEGs ring, you have to take him to court.
    That's an interesting way to take it. I tend to think of it more as the contracts being enforced by the very natures of the beings. Think of the laws of physics themselves could think, but couldn't refuse to obey the rules they exist by. Magic items might be boons even under this system, but usually a magic item will be as firmly unimpeachable as a spell. Might be what makes relics differ from other magic items?

    I like the "you take the BBEG to court to depower his ring" idea, though, as one way to take magical law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff View Post
    Thaumophysics also comes into "How does this spell work?"
    For example, take Fire ball. Is it an explosion? That means it makes a "Boom" or "Bang" sound. It moves air away and then back and creates a lot of warm/hot air.
    That means you could lob some fireballs into a pit and freshen the air, stir up dust and make it less cold to spend time in
    Or is it more a thin "bubble" of fire that expands fairly quickly? That might make a quieter, longer noise. More a "Whoosh". Then we explain successful saves as a well timed dodge to the inside of the bubble. And we're more likely to burn the dust and less likely to stir it, and the breeze will be slower but maybe last longer. Shorter flame is less likely to light big things on fire but also less likely to blow out the small fires.
    Or does the whole sphere all suddenly have flame at the same time? Maybe sounding more like a "Pop"? Probably not this one for D&D, because this sort is harder to dodge (no dex bonus on saves). Or maybe you get this type if you take a feat to make it hard to dodge. Then an experienced eye can tell by the type of fireball that a mage has this feat.
    I have thought about this, and in particular the difference between Conjuration and Evocation, and why fireball and the like does so much damage when that kind of heat bloom to do it with real physics would be near-nuclear.

    So here's what I've come up with: Evocation is evoking direct energy instantaneously into the whole area. When the bead of fire fwooshes out, it's not a wall of fire that imparts heat via normal thermodynamics to the things in the area. It's actually magically elevating everything in the AoE to the combustion point. That's why metal sags a bit, and things catch fire, and everything takes a lot of fire damage and is burnt. If you dodge it, you dodge the evocation energy, not actual fire. The actual fire energy instantly heats you. You're not being heated by conduction or convection. It's closer to microwaves, but even that's not quite right.

    It's also instantaneous, so the energy goes away immediately, letting you cool back down, but anything that "caught" during that moment is, of course, still self-immolating (like a piece of paper heated to combustion continuing to burn even if brought into a cold room). Anything melted or cooked is already damaged, so letting it resume normal temperature doesn't make it heal.

    This still doesn't explain why conjured fire does as much damage as it does, since, as "real fire," it has to use the normal thermodynamic processes.

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Orc in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    I've never tried to work out how hot a fireball must be to do the damage listed because I was pretty sure I wouldn't like the answer.
    So magic microwaves works quite well. It could even explain why 5th ed fireballs don't light fires - It raises the temperature briefly, then lowers it again. Unfortunately this seems like it has the least "Off Lable" usage potential, but I'm sure a creative party would come up with something
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


  7. - Top - End - #37
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Spell slots are in some way equivalent to the electron shells around an atom. Spell preparation builds up a core charge, and spell completion releases or nullifies it, releasing the shell charge
    i like this idea in terms of energy and magical instability.

    For my home brew campaign, we defined magic spells as equivalent to course level at a research university.
    For example:

    At Yale
    Chemistry 104: Chemistry Food/Cooking
    Chemistry 333: Physical Chemistry w/ Apps II
    Chemistry 585: Protein NMR Spectroscopy
    Chemistry 990: Research

    courses below 100 at universities were usually catch-up/introductory level courses that didn't count. Basically, Cantrips. There was also a similar break up between 4th-5th, and the way 6th+ 600 level courses worked. Typically the Undergraduate/Graduate Break, while Ph.D Professors would be doing stuff in the 800-900 zone with their Ph.D students as lab assistants.

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff View Post
    I've never tried to work out how hot a fireball must be to do the damage listed because I was pretty sure I wouldn't like the answer.
    So magic microwaves works quite well. It could even explain why 5th ed fireballs don't light fires - It raises the temperature briefly, then lowers it again. Unfortunately this seems like it has the least "Off Lable" usage potential, but I'm sure a creative party would come up with something

    your edition fireballs don't light fires? T__T

    "besides causing damage to creatures, the fireball ignites all combustible materials within its burst radius, and the heat of the fireball will melt soft metals such as gold, copper, silver, etc."
    silver: 1762F - high thermal capacitance
    gold: 1945F - very high thermal capacitance per cm^3
    copper: 1983F - high thermal capacitance, rapid thermal transfer

  9. - Top - End - #39
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Millstone85's Avatar

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    Default Re: Explanations for how magic works?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff View Post
    It could even explain why 5th ed fireballs don't light fires
    Quote Originally Posted by anthon View Post
    your edition fireballs don't light fires? T__T
    Ahem, a 5e fireball "ignites flammable objects in the area that aren't being worn or carried".

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