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Friday, December 10, 2010
The Structures of Magical Revolutions
We’re all familiar with the advance of technology and the shifting--sometimes radically--of scientific ideas. The ether theory gave way to special relativity; the bow gave way to the gun. So why is it we seldom see any advancements in the technology of magic, or magical paradigm shifts, in rpg settings?
Not that magic isn’t shown as changing over time, but it's almost always a fall from a more advanced state, even a golden age, to its current one. Mostly, though, this seems to just a change from more magic to less. Sure, this gives a convenient rationale for ancient magical ruins and magical items laying around, but there are other explanations for that stuff, surely.
Why can’t magic missiles be more powerful today than 100 years ago? Maybe old spells have completely fallen by the wayside due to improve defenses (maybe, though, those defenses have been lost too?). Or how about old magical theories giving way to the radical new theories of a Magus Einstein? Different magical schools/styles need not be equally valid views that just add “color”, one could be more true than the other. What would that even mean: more powerful spells? shorter casting times? higher levels attainable? bragging rights in the outer planes?
Anyway, its something to think about: What are the structures of magical revolutions?