Monday, July 22, 2013

Cantrip Cantons

Thinking about the previous post, I realized that such a conception of "potential magic" fits pretty well with a lot of setting assumptions we tend to have in common. Chris Kutalik demarcates between civilization, where boring things like the manufacture of 10' poles occur, and the Weird, the realm of adventure and possibility, where basically anything can happen.

So, imagine the previous post, but on a civilizational scale. In the beginning, everything is the weird, but civilization entails the organization and use of human abilities. Historically, these were only technical and social abilities, but in a setting where everyone has the potential to use magic, magic is included. Civilization is a network of Cantrip Towns, where a very large segment of the population works together to use their abilities to expel and control the unnatural creatures that pose such a great danger. This is an interpretation LotFP's implied setting - the conflict between Law and Chaos, where Chaos is a natural principle, and Law is an artificial principle, imposed by magical force. Religious rituals aren't just motions, they are spells, and every participant is a caster. Faith forms another means of restricting the offensive, individual use of magic - individuals aren't prevented from learning and casting spells by a powerful establishment, their abilities are instead used up in the perpetuation of order. A literate farmer, finding a scroll fallen out of the pack of a local lord, cannot use the potential within himself to secretly decipher and use the spell, because that potential is already being used.

Obviously, the idea of axiomatic conflict isn't new - it is, after all, the foundational assumption of the cleric class - but I think it's one solution to the potential magic problem.