Multiple Questions, all (loosely) related to magical research.

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23
Multiple Questions, all (loosely) related to magical research.

I've accumulated a couple questions recently and I was hoping to ruminate on them with the fellow ACKs DM hivemind.


1) I've got a nobiran wonderworking in my group.  It only just occurred to me that divine spellcasters have libraries too, and the rules even mention holy temples having them.  Do you think divine and arcane libraries must be tracked and created separately? I assume at least some books don't have overlap.

2) speaking of spell research, the core rules say you can research a spell with your target throw increased by 1/2 the level of the spell, or the level of the spell if designing a new spell.  For spells that are well above the power curve such as sleep or fireball, it seems like a no-brainer to attempt to research those first.  do you make any exceptions for spells like that, or is it just assumed by virtue of them being part of the known set of discovered spells that even mages who don't know how to cast sleep and don't have access to it will have an easier time researching it than a brand new similar spell?

3) Tangentially related to spell research, my party went and assault a troglodyte lair in search of their chameleon-like glands to make, well, potions of chameleon.  As if the moral quandrary of killing a sentient race to make magic potions wasn't questionable enough, they also have a handful of eggs and are likely to take a number of prisoners by the time the whole thing is over.  They currently operate out of a decidedly neutral realm, run by a powerful ruler who is often courted by both the lawful and evil empires to join their realms.  The capital for certain, and the realm as a whole to a lesser extent, is an "anything goes" city where you could reasonably expect to run into anyone.  Thrassians, Zaharans, anti-paladins, sometimes even beastmen.  I assumed that such a realm would be ok with slavery, but reading the book it turns out that selling slaves is a no-no in all but chaotic realms.  However I recall reading something somewhere by Alex about the Auran Empire being comfortable with something more akin to indentured servitude rather than outright slavery, and used mainly as punishment for crimes.  These troglodytes in question are from the L&E book, so the subtext is that they slaughtered the dwarves in a silver mine and took it over.

Ok, with background out of the way: assuming a band of mostly neutral or lawful characters come into possession of a number of troglodyte eggs and imprisoned troglodytes (mostly the females), what are they reasonably allowed to do without sliding towards chaotic alignment? Similarly, what can they reasonably do in a neutral kingdom without breaking an laws or attracting the ire of the populace?  This, of course assuming they attempt to push that limit.  If they decide the whole affair is a bit too vile for them, can they do something like ransom the troglodytes?

(also standard caveat: real slavery is bad and IRL there are no such thing as troglodytes or any other race magically constructed to be automatically chaotic/evil)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

1) I've got a nobiran wonderworking in my group.  It only just occurred to me that divine spellcasters have libraries too, and the rules even mention holy temples having them.  Do you think divine and arcane libraries must be tracked and created separately? I assume at least some books don't have overlap.


-Jard

No, the libraries do not have to be tracked separately.

2) speaking of spell research, the core rules say you can research a spell with your target throw increased by 1/2 the level of the spell, or the level of the spell if designing a new spell.  For spells that are well above the power curve such as sleep or fireball, it seems like a no-brainer to attempt to research those first.  do you make any exceptions for spells like that, or is it just assumed by virtue of them being part of the known set of discovered spells that even mages who don't know how to cast sleep and don't have access to it will have an easier time researching it than a brand new similar spell?


-

Great question. The honest answer is that the backwards-engineering of spell levels that determined that sleep and fireball were overpowered occured after I had written the magic research rules. So it's an open question how to rule it.

Personally my answer currently is that you should have to research the spell based on its effects, so sleep would be researched and learned as a 3rd level spell. If you want the centuries-old highly-efficient version of sleep, you have to find someone to teach it to you, or you have to experiment. But I don't think anything breaks if you rule the other way. 

3) Tangentially related to spell research, my party went and assault a troglodyte lair in search of their chameleon-like glands to make, well, potions of chameleon.  As if the moral quandrary of killing a sentient race to make magic potions wasn't questionable enough, they also have a handful of eggs and are likely to take a number of prisoners by the time the whole thing is over.  They currently operate out of a decidedly neutral realm, run by a powerful ruler who is often courted by both the lawful and evil empires to join their realms.  The capital for certain, and the realm as a whole to a lesser extent, is an "anything goes" city where you could reasonably expect to run into anyone.  Thrassians, Zaharans, anti-paladins, sometimes even beastmen.  I assumed that such a realm would be ok with slavery, but reading the book it turns out that selling slaves is a no-no in all but chaotic realms.  However I recall reading something somewhere by Alex about the Auran Empire being comfortable with something more akin to indentured servitude rather than outright slavery, and used mainly as punishment for crimes.  These troglodytes in question are from the L&E book, so the subtext is that they slaughtered the dwarves in a silver mine and took it over.

Ok, with background out of the way: assuming a band of mostly neutral or lawful characters come into possession of a number of troglodyte eggs and imprisoned troglodytes (mostly the females), what are they reasonably allowed to do without sliding towards chaotic alignment? Similarly, what can they reasonably do in a neutral kingdom without breaking an laws or attracting the ire of the populace?  This, of course assuming they attempt to push that limit.  If they decide the whole affair is a bit too vile for them, can they do something like ransom the troglodytes?

(also standard caveat: real slavery is bad and IRL there are no such thing as troglodytes or any other race magically constructed to be automatically chaotic/evil)


-

I can obviously only speak to the Auran Empire setting and my personal interpretation of such matters. In AE, there is no moral quandry about killing troglodytes. They are innately chaotic creatures that have been corrupted by dark magic and cannot be redeemed. Their sapience is irrelevant. They are like the xenomorphs in the ALIENS franchise - it's kill or be killed. The Lawful option is to kill them. 

On a deeper level, the problem of what to do with prisoners-of-war has bedeviled real-world warriors for millennia. In similar animals (chimps) and early history, defeated soldiers were slaughtered, as were their children, while the wives were taken for breeding. Slavery was considered a moral improvement from that, in that the defeated soldiers and civilians were kept alive. It is only with the rise of nation-states, formalities of war and peace, and universalist religions that the idea of ransoming or exchanging prisoners becomes viable. 

If one applies this sort of ancient logic to this issue, it leads to a checklist like this:

  1. Is the captive a member of an innately evil, hostile species? If so, kill them. If not, go to 2.
  2. Is the captive a member of a civilized realm with whom states of formal war and peace can be arranged? If so, then ransom them. If not, go to 3.
  3. Enslave or indenture them. 

 

Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

Great question. The honest answer is that the backwards-engineering of spell levels that determined that sleep and fireball were overpowered occured after I had written the magic research rules. So it's an open question how to rule it.

Personally my answer currently is that you should have to research the spell based on its effects, so sleep would be researched and learned as a 3rd level spell. If you want the centuries-old highly-efficient version of sleep, you have to find someone to teach it to you, or you have to experiment. But I don't think anything breaks if you rule the other way. 


-Alex


You don't happen to know off the top of your head, or have a list somewhere handy, of all the spells that turned out to be overpowered, do you? 


I can obviously only speak to the Auran Empire setting and my personal interpretation of such matters. In AE, there is no moral quandry about killing troglodytes. They are innately chaotic creatures that have been corrupted by dark magic and cannot be redeemed. Their sapience is irrelevant. They are like the xenomorphs in the ALIENS franchise - it's kill or be killed. The Lawful option is to kill them. 

On a deeper level, the problem of what to do with prisoners-of-war has bedeviled real-world warriors for millennia. In similar animals (chimps) and early history, defeated soldiers were slaughtered, as were their children, while the wives were taken for breeding. Slavery was considered a moral improvement from that, in that the defeated soldiers and civilians were kept alive. It is only with the rise of nation-states, formalities of war and peace, and universalist religions that the idea of ransoming or exchanging prisoners becomes viable. 

If one applies this sort of ancient logic to this issue, it leads to a checklist like this:

Is the captive a member of an innately evil, hostile species? If so, kill them. If not, go to 2.
Is the captive a member of a civilized realm with whom states of formal war and peace can be arranged? If so, then ransom them. If not, go to 3.
Enslave or indenture them. 



-Alex

I am trying to borrow from your core setting while putting my own spin on it.  In my world, the successor state to what would have been the auran empire is a lawful empire that has some degree of federation (prince electors, etc.).  Unlike in the core setting, though, the Zaharan equivalent empire still exists, though merely as a kingdom.  Each of them has established footholds in a "new world", although the distances traveled are more like the narrow sea from game of thrones than the actual atlantic ocean.  The realm the players operate in is sort of an inbetween of those two, for which the two scheme and battle for the soul of.

Back to the original question, sometimes my players choose to engage in a level of altruism more appropriate to the modern era.  It's a little anachronistic, but I'm a believer that players are going to play the way they want to, and I just try to make them aware of what the norm is, which they can reasonably do even if it seems icky by modern standards.

Based on what you've said, it sounds like my vague auran successor would want to see the trogs killed.  Since the Zaharan realm is civilized but chaotic (hmmm, that might be wrong but you know what i mean) and since they originally created the troglodytes, I assume they would be ok with re-enslaving the trogs and putting them under their command.  The sticky one is their realm, the neutral realm.  Assuming the Zaharan realm is civilized, that might be who they could ransom too, even though they're essentially ransoming slaves.  Maybe that makes 2 and 3 functionally identical.

Either way, it sounds like the lawful realm, if it ever found out what the players did, would be annoyed if they did anything but slaughter the trogs.  It makes a certain degree of sense, since they are effectively like undead under this paradigm.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I think the Neutral realm would find it acceptable to ransom or enslave the trogs, provided that the trogs were not primarily predating upon the Neutral realm.

Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

More questions are popping up.

This particular group has a large number of spellcasters, both divine and arcane.

I'll go ahead and assume that a workshop, like a library, doesn't need to be divine/arcane specific.  This leads to an important question though: how many people can use a single workshop at a time?  If there is no limit, does it make sense for my group to pool their resources to build a single workshop?

At first I assumed there was no limit because of the block of text about assistants, but then I realized that it could be that the act of taking assistants is the only thing that makes a workshop usable by more than one person.  Thus, only a 9th level mage's actions can make a workshop usable by not only him but his assistants.

James K
Patreon SupporterLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2014-06-06 17:22

If one applies this sort of ancient logic to this issue, it leads to a checklist like this:

  1. Is the captive a member of an innately evil, hostile species? If so, kill them. If not, go to 2.
  2. Is the captive a member of a civilized realm with whom states of formal war and peace can be arranged? If so, then ransom them. If not, go to 3.
  3. Enslave or indenture them. 


-Alex

It occurs to me that there's a really good dodge for a Neutral Empire here. Enslaving the troglodytes would clearly be wrong (I assume the Lawful Empire would object to enslaving troglodytes on deontological or virtue ethics grounds), so instead the Neutral Empire declares them to be soldiers of the Chaotic Empire, declares them "prisoners of war" and "ransoms" them to the Chaotic Empire. Once they arrive in the Chaotic Empire they are immediately enslaved and sold.

It's slave trading but with a fig leaf of respectibility.