D&D General Magitech and Science Fantasy are Fundamental to D&D

Spinning off the Revel's End/Prisoner 13 thread because I don't want to thread jack that one.

D&D has always embraced what we would call "magitech" and science fantasy. The pulp authors that dominate Appendix N did not make the same kinds of genre distinctions that became more common in publishing later on. The line between magic and science and fantasy and future were much fuzzier (see: Vancian).

Long before Eberron, D&D depicted nations that codified magic into science analogs. Long before 3E's "sheens" robots and layers made appearances in D&D. "Lovecraftian cosmic horror" IS science fiction.

What are your favorite blurring of lines between sci-fi and fantasy in D&D? What kinds of science fantasy have you embraced in your games and campaigns? Where do you think D&D needs MORE science fantasy?
I think being coherent (tonally, aesthetically, and in terms of world-building) and making a world that makes some sense is what's important, personally. All the most powerful and memorable worlds are, and they tend to lose something when they deviate from that (as they often eventually do, over time).

That can be heavy magitech (Eberron, World of Warcraft, etc.) or near-zero magitech (Tolkien, Birthright, etc.).

Obviously not everyone agrees about coherency - otherwise Mystara wouldn't exist :p
 

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I think being coherent (tonally, aesthetically, and in terms of world-building) and making a world that makes some sense is what's important, personally. All the most powerful and memorable worlds are, and they tend to lose something when they deviate from that (as they often eventually do, over time).

That can be heavy magitech (Eberron, World of Warcraft, etc.) or near-zero magitech (Tolkien, Birthright, etc.).

Obviously not everyone agrees about coherency - otherwise Mystara wouldn't exist :p
Necessity is the mother of invention.

In a world with superheroes, prisons have to be built that can hold superheroes. In a world with adventurers, prisons have to be developed that can hold adventurers. If the technology doesn't exist, it is rapidly invented. It doesn't happen because a historical clock ticks to a certain point.
 

Necessity is the mother of invention.

In a world with superheroes, prisons have to be built that can hold superheroes. In a world with adventurers, prisons have to be developed that can hold adventurers. If the technology doesn't exist, it is rapidly invented. It doesn't happen because a historical clock ticks to a certain point.
Sure re: necessity, and it should make sense and be coherent.

Ideas come from places, ideas spread. This is the history of humanity and would be the history of all thinking beings beyond the most bizarre. People respond to threats - though weirdly D&D people have never responded to dragons/monsters in any coherent way. If they did I'd expect a lot more "Monster Hunter"-style stuff going on (esp. the heavy weaponry used to defend towns and so on). Oddly enough Japanese fantasy has tended to be far more rational and coherent re: monsters than Western fantasy.

Also, no prisons don't ever have to be built. That's a huge and ahistorical assumption. Prisons (rather than dungeons/towers/cells primarily used for political prisoners/hostages) are a rare feature in human history. They're a constant of the 20th century and appear a lot from the 1700s onwards, but before that? They're usually pretty rare. In most cases you simply execute someone.

And thus it would be with superheroes. They wouldn't be contained - it would be nearly impossible in most cases - they'd just be killed. And not via justice or judicial systems, either - via the military and intelligence agencies and so on, or their medieval predecessors. Or the superheroes would simply rule the world (most likely) and kill each other. Best case maybe people would do some kind of "Phantom Zone" deal and shift them to other realities or planes of existence, but as soon as a bad one managed to work their way back, killing would be back on the menu.
 

Emoshin

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
To me, the process of coherency looks something like:

1. Idea: Let's do a magitech prison
2. Idea: The prison is controlled by the Lord's Alliance
3. Begin due diligence: What are the implications of adding this to the world? Does Lord's Alliance do magitech elsewhere in Faerun? If yes, do they share it with the rest of the world or hoard it like Ironman? If not, where did they get this magitech from?

From there, the options could branch to:
A. Actually, let's revisit #1 and tone down the magitech
B. Actually, let's revisit #2 and change it from Lord's Alliance to a demi-god of captivity (who has godly imprisonment powers)
C. Actually, let's keep #1 and #2 and come up with a background story of the Lord's Alliance finding magitech in a Netheril ruins (and they used it in a prison because...)
D. [insert even more ideas]

My position is: whatever you decide, just put the effort into building the rationale and do it right.
 
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To me, the process of coherency looks something like:

1. Idea: Let's do a magitech prison
2. Idea: The prison is controlled by the Lord's Alliance
3. Begin due diligence: What are the implications of adding this to the world? Does Lord's Alliance do magitech elsewhere in Faerun? If yes, do they share it with the rest of the world or hoard it like Ironman? If not, where did they get this magitech from?

From there, the options could branch to:
A. Actually, let's revisit #1 and tone down the magitech
B. Actually, let's revisit #2 and change it from Lord's Alliance due to a demi-god of captivity (who has godly imprisonment powers)
C. Actually, let's keep #1 and #2 and come up with a background story of the Lord's Alliance finding magitech in a Netheril ruins (and they used it in a prison because...)
D. [insert even more ideas]

My position is: whatever you decide, just put the effort into building the rationale and do it right.
Absolutely spot-on.

To me this stuff is fundamental and has been my way of thinking about RPGs and adventure/setting design since literally day 1, because the DM who taught me, taught me that way. Later on learning history and archaeology only reinforced this. I will note I got a lot better at it as I got a bit older - when I was a younger teen I sometimes failed to reflect on what I was designing and whilst the results could be cute they weren't what they could be.

I understand there are people who've never taken this approach (again, hence Mystara), and for me, whilst I can see a superficial zany charm in their work, it tends to be basically uncompelling. That doesn't mean to say we need Tolkien-level worldbuilding operating 24-7, just basic thinking things through, and not just assuming things with no reflection/thought.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
If you haven't read it, I suggest Changeling by Roger Zelazny. It's a conflict between magic and technology on two worlds. I really enjoyed it and it is some good campaign fodder.
 

Also, no prisons don't ever have to be built. That's a huge and ahistorical assumption. Prisons (rather than dungeons/towers/cells primarily used for political prisoners/hostages) are a rare feature in human history. They're a constant of the 20th century and appear a lot from the 1700s onwards, but before that? They're usually pretty rare. In most cases you simply execute someone.
Sure, you could just execute someone, but an established feature of the Forgotten Realms is it is a world of Good and Evil, not real world pragmatism. The Lords Alliance cannot "just execute" criminals, because that would be Evil. Ergo, prisons to contain adventurers are a necessity.
And thus it would be with superheroes.
Likewise in the Marvel universe. In a world of comic book morality, the authorities cannot just execute inconvenient superheroes, so there are prisons for them.
 

Emoshin

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Sure, you could just execute someone, but an established feature of the Forgotten Realms is it is a world of Good and Evil, not real world pragmatism. The Lords Alliance cannot "just execute" criminals, because that would be Evil. Ergo, prisons to contain adventurers are a necessity.
Sorry, why is that Evil?

Were all the adventurers in Faerun also Evil when they extrajudicially killed (aka murdered) Evil NPCs?

If adventurers are not Evil, then why is it that the Lords Alliance is Evil if they executed criminals, whereas adventures are not Evil when they pillage or infiltrate a lair, sometimes with the flimsiest of evidence and no due process?

Are the adventurers Evil because they don't knock criminals unconscious to 0 hp? What should do the adventurers do with all the prisoners they collect?

Is your view the standard view for Faerun?
 

magitech prison
There is no "magitech". There is magic. It works like magic, as established in the Forgotten Realms. Pick a random D&D adventure, and you will find dungeons lit by continual light, guards who can detect invisibility, and anti-teleportation fields. Example, selected at random:
Unless otherwise noted, all keyed locations on the map are lit by continual flame spells. The only areas not illuminated in this way are places where the Allegiance of Allsight hasn’t yet erected protective wards (described below).
-Call of the Netherdeep​

As for the magic looking like technology, form follows function. Consider an iPhone. It is the size and shape it is so that it is convenient to use. Not because of how it works. If it worked by magic it would look identical.
 

Emoshin

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
There is no "magitech". There is magic. It works like magic, as established in the Forgotten Realms. Pick a random D&D adventure, and you will find dungeons lit by continual light, guards who can detect invisibility, and anti-teleportation fields. Example, selected at random:
If you say so, but please don't quote me with a quibble on usage of the word "magitech". You can pick an argument with everybody else who used that word here
 

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