Essential science guide for artificer

Phion

Explorer
Hello. To cut to the chase I have made a artificer and quickly realized that my knowledge is lacking when it comes to science so I have created this thread in the hopes that a list of useful facts or random tips could be compiled to help myself/ others who feel the same roleplay characters more convincingly (I know the class mostly uses magic as an explanation but there is still science in the background). Perhaps its just useful engineering terms, maybe its elements that typically show up and should be known about or perhaps people could share some science jokes! Anything would be appreciated!
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
There's a concept in quantum mechanics known as entanglement, whereby acting upon one particle of an entangled pair changes the other. (That's not entirely accurate from a real world science perspective, but it's close enough for science fiction/fantasy.)

That could be used to explain things like Sending Stones.

Another interesting aspect of quantum mechanics is the concept of superposition, where a particle can be in multiple states at once until it is observed (and thereby falls out of superposition). This is most famously illustrated in the Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment. In short, you put a cat in a box. The box contains poison gas that is triggered by the decay of a radioactive element. The cat, standing in for a particle in superposition, is both alive and dead until observed, at which point it falls out of superposition and is either alive or dead. (Multiverse explanations then go on to state that if the cat died in this universe, it survived in another universe [and if it died in our universe, it survived in another universe]).

That could be used to explain any number of magical effects.

Finally there is quantum teleportation whereby quantum particles can travel from point A to point C without passing through the intervening point B.

While it doesn't really work that way in our universe, this could explain teleportation effects. Technically speaking, according to my extremely layman's understanding of quantum mechanics, a person teleporting via quantum teleportation could hypothetically happen, but the odds of it happening within the lifespan of our universe are infinitesimally miniscule.
 
"Sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology" - so if it doesn't work, handwave it, no one will notice.

“If it moves, it’s biology.
If it smells, it’s chemistry.
If it doesn’t work, a wizard did it.”
 

BlivetWidget

Explorer
Feels awkward plugging my own work, but since it’s relevant: my wizard spell lessons sounds exactly like the sort of magic-as-science you’re asking for even if the intent was (obviously) for wizards. There’s a lot of focus on spells, but artificers have those too, and the parts on arcana, potions, and the like may be of particular interest. My IRL background is in materials science and engineering so everything was written as a sort of “fantasy chemistry.”
 

Phion

Explorer
The bartender says 'we don't serve your kind here'.
A tachyon walks into a bar.
Just to clarify the joke was that the structure of the joke itself reflected that a tachyon is ahead of light? Just want to make sure im laughing about the right thing XD
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Just to clarify the joke was that the structure of the joke itself reflected that a tachyon is ahead of light? Just want to make sure im laughing about the right thing XD
Not quite. A tachyon is a theoretical particle that travels faster than light. Travelling faster than light implies the possibility of time travel, and thus the violation of causality. It isn't that the tachyon is there before the light to see it by - it is that it can be present before it even arrives.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
You can use sciency-magic.

Correspondance: Walnuts look like brains, so magic on walnuts can influence brains.

Similarity: Imitating an effect can produce the effect. Move like a snake to become a snake.

Contagion: Connected once means connected always; influence connected thing to influence original. Using hair to cast spells on the target, for example.

If you want ice magic, you'd find materials that look like ice, use ice-like symbols and shapes. You'd use things that where exposed to ice or cold.

You can also plumb modern pseudoscience. Homeopathy means you can imprint water with a substance, dilute it while reproducing the imprint, then use it to protect against the thing you imprinted on it.

Alchemy, where you assign patterns to raw materials and influences and tell a story about how they produce the effect you want. Produce a lightning rod by shaping fire with water and air, then channeling it through Vitae, the 5th element (wood). The wood would come from a lightning-struck tree, with a hollow core. Gold (fire) and Silver (water) alloy (electrum) would be shaped into alchemical glyphs down the side of the tool. Amber would be embedded at one end, and the trigger would be a bit of fir on a spinning gear (powered by a string you pull) that rubs against the Amber to create a charge.

Bzaaap!
 

Kurotowa

Adventurer
The thing to remember about the Artificer is that every spell requires a foci to cast, even the ones without a M component. Acceptable foci are Thieves' Tools, any Artisan's Tools, or any item you've Imbued. It's a very physically grounded form of spellcasting. So always start by asking, "What foci am I using to cast this spell?"

Are you an Artillerist using a rod Imbued with Enhanced Arcane Focus? Then you're waving your magic rod to cast a spell, not too different from a Wizard. Is your Artillerist using Woodcarver's Tools to cast a spell? Then perhaps you're reaching into your collection of purpose-made mini-wands, like a handyman with a dozen screwdrivers. Are you an Alchemist using Alchemist's Supplies? Then your signature might be quick mix potions; combine a little of Reagent A with a little of Reagent B, shake well, and throw for instant Fireball.

Things get a bit weirder if you're using Smith's or Tinker's Tools. That moves us into the realm of "Deploying a single-use device or construct to generate the spell effect." You quickly clip together a Spider-Man type web-shooter to spray out Web. Your ritual casting of Detect Magic or Identify is assembling spectacles with special lenses. You cast Levitate by securing a temporary liftstone to an object.

The class offers you a choice. You can use an Imbued weapon or wand as a focus and cast spells like most casters do, or you can really dig into what tools you carry around and how you use those to produce your prepared spells. It's a matter of player preference.
 

Phion

Explorer
Not quite. A tachyon is a theoretical particle that travels faster than light. Travelling faster than light implies the possibility of time travel, and thus the violation of causality. It isn't that the tachyon is there before the light to see it by - it is that it can be present before it even arrives.
Thanks good sir the explanation, really need to read up on stuff more.
 

Phion

Explorer
The thing to remember about the Artificer is that every spell requires a foci to cast, even the ones without a M component. Acceptable foci are Thieves' Tools, any Artisan's Tools, or any item you've Imbued. It's a very physically grounded form of spellcasting. So always start by asking, "What foci am I using to cast this spell?"

Are you an Artillerist using a rod Imbued with Enhanced Arcane Focus? Then you're waving your magic rod to cast a spell, not too different from a Wizard. Is your Artillerist using Woodcarver's Tools to cast a spell? Then perhaps you're reaching into your collection of purpose-made mini-wands, like a handyman with a dozen screwdrivers. Are you an Alchemist using Alchemist's Supplies? Then your signature might be quick mix potions; combine a little of Reagent A with a little of Reagent B, shake well, and throw for instant Fireball.

Things get a bit weirder if you're using Smith's or Tinker's Tools. That moves us into the realm of "Deploying a single-use device or construct to generate the spell effect." You quickly clip together a Spider-Man type web-shooter to spray out Web. Your ritual casting of Detect Magic or Identify is assembling spectacles with special lenses. You cast Levitate by securing a temporary liftstone to an object.

The class offers you a choice. You can use an Imbued weapon or wand as a focus and cast spells like most casters do, or you can really dig into what tools you carry around and how you use those to produce your prepared spells. It's a matter of player preference.
Oh yeah, I am using a blow torch currently (through glass blowing tool) as my cure wounds currently
 

Phion

Explorer
It's funny how fast you get to stop worrying about being the party healer when your focus is a big hammer. Call it a hidden benefit.
Its great honestly, I have given the tabaxi rogue a returning dagger....which she used to throw at a rabbit being cooked over a fire during a surprise attack so it would return to her and started eating it. It was pretty ingenius to be fair.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
That's pretty cool. I do like the great mass of flavor available just through picking foci for the Artificer. It makes no real difference to game play, but it feels a lot different, which is just as cool.

The hammer thing is awesome though. "Oh, you broke your hand? I can fix that! Here, spread your hand out on this rock and wait right there while I get my gigantic hammer.... wait, where are you going?"
 

Phion

Explorer
Heres my contribution, for spells such as levitation/fly that encourage user to float upwards I have explained it to the party that my boots+gauntlets have activated magnets and the weave has been manipulated to cause the air to repel my items upwards through transmutation and changing the properties within my characters sphere of influence.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
My "scientists" use the basic elemental understanding of science.

When it comes to biology stuff, they think a dwarf has more earth element in them, that is why they are dour, hardy and slow. The elf has more air in their makeup, so is flighty, swift and aloof. So when he gives a healing potion, it is generally made up of elements in the right mix for the species in question. His haste potion will be diluted elemental fire and wind, with just enough earth and water to stop it killing the imbiber.

I make regular references to the "science" of astrology. He can't prepare a stoneskin potion today, because the moon is in decline. Of course, I mean that is just basic science, everybody knows that.

Explosions are made by forcing two elements that don't want to be together into the same form. So making fire act like earthen dust (sulfa, charcoal), then adding more fire to it (fuse) turns it back into fire rapidly, making the explosion. Saltpetre is made from earth that has been soaked in water and it hates it, it wants to expel the water, hence it can be made volatile.

My alchemist kept collecting the blood and urine of the party at every opportunity. He said it was important to gather their essential salts and distil their blood into making good healing potions. He smelt terrible.

Scientists see magic flow like electricity through runes. Think of a rune as simply a circuit board that makes the magic flow as required. Dispelling magic is just an EMP device.

I stay away from real physics and chemistry. The DM should not have to know any of that stuff. Don't try to McGyver stuff with real world knowledge. It can be fun playing up science from earlier times. My characters would use leeches, drink mercury for good health and smoke tabacco to "keep the lungs clear".

P.S. One thing I found super fun was to pretend that my spells did not have the intended effect at all. I would say "Stand back! I will scorch them all them with NAPALM!" Then I cast the Grease spell, not Fireball. "Dammit! That was Petroleum Jelly, not Jellied Petroleum! I'm going to kill that apprentice!"
 
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