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Monday, August 12, 2013

What happened to the Magic?

Where did all the magic go In Aleria?
Where did all the magic go in general?
I was back to thinking about my long standing fantasy campaign setting quite a bit this weekend.
I had copy of the Basic Dungeons and Dragons Rules cyclopedia in my hands for most of the day Saturday and it brought back some memories. I was looking at the classes, the charts, those tables, and remembering how many good games spilled off those yellowed pages back in the 90’s. For that matter how many good games flew out of the Red, and Blue boxes before that.
This put my mind in that place where I think about campaigns.
My old campaign in general.
It started out high fantasy, with allot of magical opponents, places, and characters. When we got into second edition Ad&d we went whole hog, creating flying continents, air ships, wild character classes, and a crazy amount of fantasy sparkle dust flying around.
Then came a time when everyone was running off to college, some of the major players were leaving gaming, personal issues cropped up within the group, life was changing and the game went on the shelf.
Every time I have tried to re-start the Aleria game there has been less and less magic in the setting.
Now when we play it is definitely on the “low” fantasy side. Where in there are very few demi-humans, there have not been any magic users in the game for quite some time and the adventures are more political intrigue than they are about riding a griffon that shoots beams of awesome out of its eyes .

My point is I don’t think that the slow retreat of magic from my games is a reflection of changing game systems, or changing gaming groups.
I really feel that as I have gotten older, I have lost the ability to really get into fantasy.  My mind just has a harder time wrapping around the ideas, or if not wrapping around them, suspending reality enough to embrace some magical thoughts has become more difficult. I used to say, “I want less magic because then, when you see magic, it really means something.” I guess that still holds true, however there might be a bit more to the story.

I am starting to think that I am opting for more realistic settings because it’s less intellectually taxing to account for the ramifications of every one having a sword, versus everyone being able to conjure fire whenever the hell they want.
(Think for a second of how the spell “effect normal fires” would have changed the industrial revolution. Not to mention spells like “Tenser’s floating disk”, “mend”, or “light”. All just first level for the record. Mind Blown.)

That kind of question kills the appeal of magic for me. A master mage hurling fire balls from the top of a black stone keep at our hapless hero’s below, looses out in my adult brain to, would there be black smiths if there is mend?  Do you need to have a castle when someone has stone shape? (Yeah I know bad example too high a level)
When I was younger it never really crossed my mind.

More on magical Thinking if you want it..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking
Where does this leave me as far as writing games? Working on Aleria?
I am having real difficultly working in fantasy settings, and I am not sure how to get past this writers block.  The relationship between, my own process of maturing, and my view on fantasy and how it relates to games is intriguing but also disturbing in a way.
Could I ever put a game like the old Aleria campaign together again?  (I would like to I think so)
I used to blame the failed attempts on too many games to play and not enough time, but lately I am wondering if it is just me not being as focused or as able to really commit to the subject matter.

Interesting any way.