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20 June 2010 @ 10:59 pm
Caldera: Magic (take 2)  
I've rewritten the introduction to my article on Caldera's Magic. Thank you to Raven and Joshua for speaking up when something smelled. ;)

Most of the article remains the same, so I won't repeat it all here. You can read the full article on my wiki.

The entire opening is replaced with this:

The world has always had magic in it, but not a lot. Often, when people gathered for some great cause, when they wanted something with all their hearts, miracles happened. They thanked their gods and goddesses for these miracles, and made great sacrifices in their names, so that the next time they needed to call upon their divine protectors, their prayers would be heard.

When people began to build great cities, the magic got stronger. It took many centuries for the scholars to figure out that there was something besides the divine at work--and, really, the debate rages on. The leading theories explain that masses of people living close together releases magical power from the earth, and that emotion produces magic. This is true, but it isn't the whole truth.

Magic in Caldera is produced by emotion and creative energy. There is magic in joy and sorrow, in pain and pleasure, but also in art, beauty, planning, and dreams. When people communicate, the emotion and ideas exchanged between them is a kind of magical heat. It's like the friction of people's lives rubbing against one another causes something supernatural to happen. So a sculptor working alone in a quiet workshop may create a very small amount of magic, but if he sculpts a statue for his wife, it creates a larger amount of magic, and sculpting a great statue for the Forum while the city's people watch can create a large magical effect.

Perhaps because of the amount of misery in the lowest levels of Minotaur (the oldest part of the city, buried deep under layers of new construction), weird magic is strongest there. It remains potent within the city itself, and sharply weakens in the farmlands inside the crater. Outside the walls, the magical effect recedes to nothingness.

The powerful forces created by the magical feedback loop in Caldera have created two new universes: the plane of nightmare, where your worst fears come alive, and the plane of reflection, which connects every one of the city's shiny mirrors.

I've also added this bit about monsters:
Sometimes monsters are creatures borne completely of strong emotion. A creature of elemental hate is a terrible agent of vengeance. A being of elemental love is a troublesome, meddling cupid.

And I also added this little game mechanic:
Appealing to Emotion

A character in deep trouble can appeal to emotion, letting emotion take over. This lets the magic in.

In game terms, once per level, a player can re-roll any die roll the player made and take the second result instead. The player must convincingly role-play the character letting emotion completely take over. This should be a moving, emotional role-playing scene. Whether it is convincingly played or not is up to everyone at the table.

Josh Roby: gamingjoshroby on June 21st, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Much better! I also am intrigued by the idea that civic art projects increase magic — so Caldera can be littered with public statuary, mosaics down corridors, and suchlike, all financed with city funds trying to bump the magic to greater heights.
 Adam Drayadamdray on June 22nd, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
Is "much better" the same as "good"? Is this all you hoped it'd be and more? ;)
Josh Roby: yay!joshroby on June 22nd, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
I usually save "good" for the finished product, if I apply it at all — it's a terribly inspecific word that doesn't transmit a lot of meaning. But this rewrite definitely gets an "I Approve" stamp, if that counts for anything. ;)
 Adam Drayadamdray on June 22nd, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
I just didn't know whether to interpret "much better" as "hey, keep trying and you'll fix your colossal fuck-up eventually!" or "yes, that fixes things." Or something in between.

I wanted to make sure I wasn't damned by faint praise, as they say. =)
Josh Roby: gamingjoshroby on June 22nd, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
Ah. On the assumption that this is all first draft that will be revisited and knit together in a later editing pass, "much better" is "you're on the right track, that will yield good results as you develop the IP." ;)
 Adam Drayadamdray on June 22nd, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you're seeing my brainstorming, though I've started to edit a bit -- in the creative sense, not the publishing sense. I'm not just spewing forth text without applying critical filters, I mean. At least, not as often.