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Month Index: March, 1995


From:     "Kelly St.Clair" <kstclair@????.org>
Date:     Sat, 11 Mar 1995 12:51:45 -0800
Subject:  Re: Lasers in Spelljammer?
As the recent CLAVRUC posting and the reactions to it show, there's
  an on-going conflict between paradigms on this list.  Some people
  went Spelljammer to be much like their favorite science fiction
  (or, in the case of Trek, science fantasy), with real astronomical
  objects, laser pistols, and so on, but with magic substituting for
  technology.  Others (like myself) prefer the fantasy aspect of
  the setting, where gravity is binary, stars actually burn, and
  magic can create effects impossible in our universe.

It's safe to say that many of those who play or run Spelljammer have
  some background in modern science fiction.  We've all grown up
  with Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.  We live in an age when the
  frontiers of knowledge about our own universe are being pushed back
  by scientists and telescopes and space probes.  The problem comes
  when we have to try to put all that aside and think about the
  heavens as a medieval scientist might... or, more difficult yet,
  the inhabitants of a world where magic affects every aspect of
  life.

Spelljamming societies bear even less resemblance to our own history
  than the typical groundling campaign.  As a result, players and GMs
  are often left in a vacuum (no pun intended), and have to draw on
  what they 'know' spacefaring societies should be like.

Another part of the problem, I suspect, is that magic is SO common in
  the Spelljammer setting.  With all these high-level wizards and
  magic items both major and minor floating around, people start
  talking about 'magitech' very quickly.  Perhaps a sage named Clarke
  has observed that sufficiently advanced Magic is indistiguishable
  from Technology?

Personally, I've never been fond of 'fantasy' settings where Continual
  Light spells light every home and people walk around with wands at
  their belt as sidearms.  I prefer to keep magic more... well, magical.
  Which means less common, among other things.  It's not that I dislike
  high-magic campaigns, just the all-too-modern mindset that creeps in
  around the edges when inventive players start thinking of new
  applications.



PS:  Oddly enough, I enjoy "Castle Falkenstein" (by R.Talisorian Games),
  where magic and technology often mix.  I think it might be the very
  non-modern feel of the semi-Victorian genre that makes it work.


----------------------
Kelly St.Clair
kstclair@????.????.org


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