The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

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Re: The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

Post by Thelos on Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:38 am

Ariel, let me ask you a simple question in return.

Say you and I go ask two people the question how birds fly. We ask a scientist and a mage.

First, the scientist gives his explanation about biology, physics, evolution, etc. It's a long sit, but ultimately enlightening, in some respects.

Next, the mage gives his explanation about the runic patterns and ley-lines. He explains that birds can fly because of its Runic Pattern of Flight. He demonstrates this by showing this pattern and inscribing it into some random object, causing it to fly like a bird.

Both explanations are equally true, as both parties can give statisfactory evidence for their theories. Given that they are both just as true, which of the two explenations would you find the most useful and enlightening?

I don't know about you, but I'd go with the magician.

Spoiler:
The point of this exersize is to show that both explenations can be true simaltenously. A bird's ability to fly can obviously be explained trough modern science, but in this world, it can also be explained trough the science of runes and magic. That doesn't mean one explenation has to be 'true' and the other 'false', but it might mean that one could be way more useful than the other, seeing as you can do all sorts of neat things by manipulating runic patterns.

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Re: The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

Post by Drustai on Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:57 am

First off, the usual disclaimer: Blizzard's presentation of magic in WoW is highly contradictory and undefined. My answers are based off of personal opinion from research of both in-game/RPG sources and consideration of how magic was traditionally conducted IRL, and so are interprative and focused mainly on roleplaying magic in a believable and engaging way.


#1: That is written as an example of a cosmic interpretation of how the universe functions. Obviously, in reality they fly due to all the proper scientific reasons they do IRL. But this isn't an article about bird anatomy and flight physics. That example is based off a similar example of minor runes provided in the RPG books (More Magic and Mayhem, I believe): That how fast a river moves comes from a particular cosmic pattern that dictates that it moves that quickly, which when replicated with magic can confer on the caster a similar quickness. Likewise, Stormwind is stormy as the region because it sits on a stormy ley line, and therefore once you learn the pattern of that ley line you can carve it and infuse it with magic to make it stormy somewhere else. And Northrend is cold because ley lines of cold are there, so if you learn those patterns you can carve and infuse them to generate various kinds of ice magic.

According to a cosmic interpretation of the universe rather than a scientific one, things act and appear the way they do because the plan of the universe says they act and appear that way. It's more philosophy than science.

So no, it won't be changed to dragons, because the idea is that from an arcane perspective, birds and dragons both fly for the same reasons: the cosmic plan of the universe has defined them as creatures capable of flight. Thus a mage sees absolutely nothing wrong with a dragon flying despite being too heavy or a frostwyrm flying despite having shredded wings, because to the mage the state of weight or wings, or even the existence of wings at all, isn't the important part. What's important to the mage is that the cosmic plan dictates that the creature is capable of flight. To a mage, or any person really who views the world from a spiritual lens, all of reality is magic, not just spells or any particular magical creature.

A person on the far end of the magic over science scale might not even understand a "secular" view of the universe (secular in this case meaning not just areligious, but amagical). Certainly when I played Drustai she couldn't understand head or tails of scientific explanations of reality; she views every thing and every activity as magical. She believes machines work because they have spirits and other magical patterns and essences infused in them to make them act like any other creature, not because of physics and chemistry. And as an alchemist, she brews potions based off of the symbolic and spiritual nature of the ingredients rather than their chemical makeup. In fact, arcane magic shares a lot of similarities with RL alchemy. Areyah was my only character that believed there is a separation between secular nature/science and occult magic/religion and that the former can and does operate without the latter, and who would explain how things work by their proper scientific principles.

*Edit* Basically what Thelos said.

#2: First off, as Siegmund says, soul in this case should be read as 'the essence of being'. The table example is taken straight out of RL philosophy. Don't consider the soul from an anthropomorphic perspective here, instead consider your own understanding of what something is. You know what a table is, if someone went and told you that a table was actually, say, a bug, you would know that that's wrong because you have an intrinsic understanding of what a table is supposed to be.

Anyway, for determining the particular look, well this is something that has really no specific guideline anywhere, so no sense in asking me and expecting some concrete way of doing things. As I personally see it, making a particular look requires both imagination (as in magic, traditionally thought determines reality as much as action) and great understanding of cosmic patterns, and thus would make the spell exceedingly more complex. There's a good chance you might not be able to even do it all in one spell; much like RL I would expect a craftsman mage to have to spend a significant amount of time perfecting his creations. One spell for the creation, another for the texture, another for a particular pattern, and so on and so forth. These could perhaps be combined into or viewed as a single grand spell, but it would be a very long spell if so due to the large amount of time you would have to take defining each and every little trait. And that's the big thing: what a spell is, at its heart, is a magical proclamation about something. A spell is basically a demand to the universe to perform, create, or change the effect or object you want. It can be imagined as placing a custom order to someone (in this case, the someone being the universe), saying to the gods/universe, "I want this, this, and that, with this shape and this engraving and this color and this texture." Magic being magic, the type of "speech" to communicate that desire, the rituals, are esoteric and impossible to understand for people who aren't mages/priests.

Thus, the more concrete you want something, the more complex the spell gets, or the more spells required. The simplest spells are the ones with little definition (like a fireball). With every new detail you add, you have to add in that definition to the spell. Forget to do that, or worse, add a different definition than you intended, and your spell won't do what you want it to do (see the quote from Medivh in TLG about the demon-summoners who accidentally missed a broom strand that had fallen over the protection circle, completely breaking their spell. It added, or rather broke, a definition in the spell structure).

If you ever order a commission from an artist, that's basically how I'd describe how a spell would function. Give the artist a vague, one sentence description, and you shouldn't be surprised when the work you get back doesn't look anything like you were expecting. Give them a ten page description of all the intricate details you want to see, and it'll be much more likely you'll get something closer to what you were looking for. In the case of magic, the artist is the universe, and your description of what you want is done through patterns, formations, essences, times, objects, places, emotions, thoughts, words, sounds, and so on and so forth. In both examples, the recipient needs a fair amount of both creativity (to imagine everything they might need to describe) and intelligence (to accurately and clearly describe the things they imagine). And in both cases, what you get right away might not be what you wanted exactly, so you have to then go in and request further alterations and changes if you're looking for something extremely specific.

For roleplaying it, there's a lot of ways you could go. At its most basic, imagination does establish some of the look--but imagination and thought are usually quite broad, and I would expect that simply "having the idea in your mind" while casting the spell is most likely to only get you a very basic idea of what you want. Personally I like to focus on spell formulae instead, commanding the universe to do what is asked in very specific and meticulous manner, often in a flowery and symbolic way because spell formuale are very esoteric. Alternatively, actual presentations of the desired object or look as part of the spell. Perhaps having a rose with you if you want to, say, have a carving of a rose on something. Or even a full pictographic representation that the desired thing 'comes out of' in the spellcasting. Imagine a painter conjurer who must create a painting of something before he can cast a spell, like summoning a carriage out of a painting of a carriage, or a sculptor conjurer who makes little clay statues of things that he then turns into larger, real objects... a neat little flavor!

All of this is based off the traditional RL way of how magic worked: One appealed to gods, spirits, or demons with rituals designed to attract or bind these entities, thus submitting, persuading, or coercing the entity into performing the magical effect desired through the spell. In fantasy arcane magic, a mage doesn't usually appeal to spirits (which separates it from divine magic), but instead would go towards a universal energy source, which can itself be seen as appealing to the pantheistic idea of God as all of creation instead of a particular being. Though when taking into consideration the idea of trying to control and change the souls of things, one could also view arcane magic as animism. Thus it is that magic as traditionally applied is always, even in the arcane form, a supplication to forces beyond the caster and a request of those forces to act in the caster's favor. Magic as a whole can so be summed up as requesting the performance of a quasi-divine effect, and so one crafts the rituals with that angle in mind: They should in some way relate to what you want to do, and should as fully describe or symbolize that thing as you can. Being able to think in symbols is especially important in any of kind of magical roleplay. And once again, as I think it needs repeating: Complicated objects, especially in crafting magic, can and should require multiple different and complex spells to define individual traits and aspects of the thing. Magic is not an excuse to handwave away any and all effort. It could very well be some mage's full-time profession to create lovely and intricate pieces of furniture, each requiring days or even weeks of work and dozens of spells.

Anyway, as a general tip for coming up with spells, which I think is the more important issue here: one needs to learn how to have magical thinking. Some additional good reading for inspiration can also be found on Wikipedia: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] , [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] , [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] (remember that Law of Sympathy thing? The Law of Contagion is literally the RL name for it), and [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


Last edited by Drustai on Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:34 am; edited 6 times in total

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[A] RADM Areyah Conover - Missing in Action
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Re: The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

Post by Thelos on Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:08 am

As an addedum to my previous post, I'd like to add that the opposition of 'science' on one hand and 'magic' on the other is a deceptive one, since in the context of the World of Warcraft universe, wizards are scientists, in that truest sense of the word: they study the laws of the universe, often with the intention of manipulating reality to suit human needs.

What's a little confusing is that there is also a force that resembles actual real-world science, often codified with words like 'tinkering' and 'engineering' and represented by gnomish and goblin factions (both of which, rathing tellingly, show a keen talent for magic as well; this is logical, since gnomes and goblins both represent two aspects of science. Gnomes represent the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake ["enlightened" or "good" science]; goblins represent industry and wealth ["evil" science].)

However, they usually seem to wisely avoid the problematic word 'science'. That's because the real rival forces are technology versus magic: both are based on science, wherein the first manipulates reality by using the laws of physics and the second manipulates reality by using the laws of magic (or cosmology or however you want to call it). Again, magical factions, much like technological factions, are shown to use this science for both good and petty reasons: blood elves represent the decadent and hedonistic "Brave New World" magical science, whereas the Kirin Tor are often shown to be the Guardians of the Galaxy, using their magical science to fight ecological disasters (often caused by the very same magical science!)

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Re: The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

Post by erwtenpeller on Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:33 am

These last few posts have been wonderful.

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Re: The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

Post by Amaryl on Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:32 am

Thelos wrote:Ariel, let me ask you a simple question in return.

Say you and I go ask two people the question how birds fly. We ask a scientist and a mage.

First, the scientist gives his explanation about biology, physics, evolution, etc. It's a long sit, but ultimately enlightening, in some respects.

Next, the mage gives his explanation about the runic patterns and ley-lines. He explains that birds can fly because of its Runic Pattern of Flight. He demonstrates this by showing this pattern and inscribing it into some random object, causing it to fly like a bird.

Both explanations are equally true, as both parties can give statisfactory evidence for their theories. Given that they are both just as true, which of the two explenations would you find the most useful and enlightening?

I don't know about you, but I'd go with the magician.

Spoiler:
The point of this exersize is to show that both explenations can be true simaltenously. A bird's ability to fly can obviously be explained trough modern science, but in this world, it can also be explained trough the science of runes and magic. That doesn't mean one explenation has to be 'true' and the other 'false', but it might mean that one could be way more useful than the other, seeing as you can do all sorts of neat things by manipulating runic patterns.

Let me just preface this with: 'Ugh philosophy, some of it is pure bullshit'

I think in essence I agree with Thelos' meaning, even though I disagree with a lot of the word choices he makes, but that's not a discussion that's interesting to have here or there:

What I think you need to do is that you have different lenses to look at something; you can look at both cause and effect - you can look at it through a microscope or with a pendulum and see two very different things that all causes the same thing: a bird flying.

How I approach it oocly is this: every action that happens reflects in the cosmic pattern. If I punch you in the face the energies of the world change also. my punch wasn't magical by any means but it still effects change in the pattern.
Techies will look at the physics of the punch and try and replicate a punch, or make a better punch with a robot. Wizards will look at the effect in the pattern the Launching a punch creates,. and then replicate it by creating that pattern through magical force and thus punching someone in the face with out a fist present.

My main difference here with Thelos' explanation is again reflected in word choice; though the meaning is the same - where he says the mage explains the bird flies Because the runic pattern, I would explain it as a mage explains that when a bird flies this pattern is created; and we can replicate that and thus fly ourselves.

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Re: The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

Post by Littlepip on Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:10 am

All well and good answers that enlightened me greatly and thanks for the responses! I think my heart skipped a beat when I saw the wall of text Drustai had posted.

Now, I find that Amaryl's explanation was the one I was drawn most towards in the bird theory. Personally, I think it would work more then the rune is what makes the bird fly. If it was the rune that made the bird fly and not the science behind it I still don't see the point of why they would be flapping their wings and not floating around.

I don't know, its hard to explain it better then Amaryl or Skarain.

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Re: The Magnificent Manual of Mastering Mysticism: A Guide to Magic

Post by Drustai on Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:12 pm

An inverse interpretation of the cause and effect relation is certainly a valid way of viewing it. As a very philosophical concept, there's no one correct answer.

_____________________________________________________
[I] Drustai the Necromancer - Outcast
[A] RADM Areyah Conover - Missing in Action
[L] Saphra Emberstone - Felsworn
[H] Atsenkha - Former Kor'kron, Red Blade Tribesorc


"...in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself... In all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

—The Iron Law of Bureaucracy

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