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mygif

Yeah, but Doom is a villain (and that makes all the difference).

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mygif

The old Marvel RPG (which I read the rules for, but never played — I have a weird fascination with codified systems) categorised magic into three types of power — Personal, Universal and Dimensional. Pretty self-explanatory, and more or less what you’ve detailed above, except that calling on beings from another dimension was more difficult than drawing on the energy of the world around you.

Which made little sense to me, but otherwise, I freely admit that I used the old Marvel RPG as inspiration. God, was that a great roleplaying game!

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mygif

“Also, Wakanda already has had the cure for cancer for like thousands of years so doing it by magic is pretty unimpressive.”

It’s only impressive if you share it. Otherwise you’re just being a dick.

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mygif

See, I always thought Strange was Sorcerer Supreme of the multiverse, not just 616. Otherwise, why wouldn’t Dormammu make a move against the Zombieverse or Howard the Duck’s universe or any other parallel universe? Or you’d think there’d be turf battles all the time between Strange and the various parallel-U Sorcerer Supremes, some of whom may not be as inclined toward justice as Strange is, others who may be outright evil.

I see Strange as the guardian of all the branches of the multiversal tree, on alert against predators from all the other nearby trees who might swoop by.

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mygif

Where does Doom fit into your system, MGK? He is not likely to go begging entities for power. If he wants something, he takes it. Between his basic nature and his personal history, I don’t see him ever putting himself in the position of owing any mystical entity if he could help it. Even so, Doom is one of the most impressive human magi in the MU. It can’t all come from mind magic, and he hasn’t had the time for the insane studying he would need.

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mygif

Where does Doom fit into your system, MGK? He is not likely to go begging entities for power. If he wants something, he takes it.

1.) Doom isn’t above bargaining if he can mentally frame it in terms of a “trade” rather than being a supplicant.

2.) Doom cheats. Go read Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom: Triumph and Torment. He literally programs his armor to scan and mimick the spellcastings of other mages around him. The idea here, putting it into the computing terms used upthread, is that Doom is creating false IDs for himself and then scamming systems to get the resources he wants. It’s very dangerous if you get caught, but since when is Doom scared about that?

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mygif

i thought i detected hints of the old marvel RPG system in there

man, i love that system. which is good since i still run it for my friends LoL

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mygif

MGK: Okay, both of those make perfect sense.

Also, there’s his MLP Project. The more he assembles, the more he will understand of reality’s true nature. The more he understands, the less he’ll have to trade for.

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Kelberon said on April 10th, 2009 at 3:52 am

Man, I wish I’d read this earlier in the day. Anyway:

I think this is a great way to start things off, but I wonder if the title “Sorcerer Supreme” also carries some power of its own. Not simply in impressing people, but also in making certain basic spells easier/brainless to cast (it would be embarrassing if the SS died because he fumbled on how to create a magic light source, and was then stabbed in the back by a random thug while he tried to redo the spell correctly), and making certain favors cheaper-for example, Agamotto going “Yeah, here’s the spell you asked for. Don’t worry, I see that you’re saving the universe with it, consider it a freebie this time.” And he only does that because Agamotto instantly recognizes the title Strange is holding-anyone else, even if they were being selfless, they’d owe a favor. In that sense, the title isn’t just pomp and circumstance, it is itself a source of power, and one of the reasons why it means something beyond Strange being the biggest (mortal) fish in the ocean-someone might amass more power than Strange, but they are still not the Sorcerer Supreme.

As for Jason’s point, about Strange using telepathy to stop someone being evil…let’s say he does that. Regardless of the ethical implications, that is a perfectly legitimate way to use his telepathy/hypnotism, and I doubt he would suddenly be blocked from using them because of the purpose. But I think the point of the list is that he can’t just cast a spell that makes you good, he would have to sit down and try to change your personality through his existing abilities, or he would have to trade those favors that were mentioned before to do it. And that would probably take a while-certainly more time than he’d have in the middle of a pitched battle.

I think this also makes Strange more limited in that he might know exactly what spell to cast to fix a problem, but since he doesn’t have half a millenia to study the long form version, he’ll end up searching for that quick, favor based incantation to cast it….making the solution much more complicated than it might seem. Sure, the Fantastic Four sees him appearing to beat Dormammu, but they didn’t see him having to enter an ancient cave near the border between China and Mongolia, fighting hopping Chinese vampires, to get the spell he needed to beat Dormammu this time.

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mygif

Now, there’s always a cost – and in this case, the cost to Joe is that he now owes the Seraphim a favour.

Hmm. If Strange has apprentices, will he be able to teach them how to cast the Vishanti spells directly, too? If he could, would he do so?

And do these magical people ever actually call in the favors?
“Minoru, we saw you called for 12 shields of the seraphim. Now you have to go get us an ice cream cone.”
“That’s it?”
“One each.”
“That’s not so bad.”
“There are millions of us.”
“…crap.”

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mygif

So… you still haven’t answered my question about magic items…

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mygif

What about magic items, like the Cloak of Levitation and the Wand of Watoomb?

Again going back to the software metaphor – if spells are software, then magic items are executable software stored on a floppy disk. You need to know how to write the program in order to make the floppy, but then you give someone that floppy and if they know how to run the program they can use it.

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mygif

So no DRM on them then… (i was more interested in he rules for using them, i guess you’re saying there aren’t any beyond item X does Y).

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mygif

Oh, and in keeping with the software analogy… do real magicians deride item users as script-kiddies?

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mygif

I always found the argument that Dr. Strange doesn’t work because Magic makes him too powerful to be really silly. They used to feel the same way about Superman until they realized that what he really needed was good stories. Superman was pretty much a God in All-Star Superman and no one complained he was too powerful because they didn’t care. The story was what was important.

I think the other problem is that right now Marvel writers have no respect for magic. They see magic as a way to reboot continuity or a way to change characters for the next big event. Until Marvel stops treating magic as Bad Writer Fix, Dr. Strange will never exist as a character again.

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mygif

Isn’t magic as much bad writing (One More Day) as fixing it?

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mygif

Love to see the old TSR MSH RPG get so much attention… such a slick sytem, you could play it intoxicated!

Anyhow, “magic” is whatever the writer makes of it; it’s essentially science-fiction, but with the starting rules (i.e., the science we already know) edited. To be a “good” magical system, all you really need to do is make those rules understood at the beginning so that the reader can follow the “logic” of what comes next. You want a universe where “magic” is based solely on alchemy? Viola. How about one where it’s based entirely on Tantric practices? Poof! How about one where there are three possible routes, but none of them get along? Introduce the mage with multiple personalities…

In the Marvel universe, the big problem is that the magical system is at the mercy of many, many writers, editors, and meddling publishers. A consistent, logical overarching system of magic is thus not likely to emerge until you get a “critical mass” of collected stories, at which point you can make a generalized guess at the parameters of the system, much like statistical analysis. Marvel and DC have been around long enough where you can do such a thing, but I also think they’ve benefitted from Roddenberry’s Law: why explain it? It’s enough to know what it can and can’t do. After all, You might say “I’m driving to White Castle; who wants a slider?” However, you will not then go on a lengthy explanation of how an internal combustion engine works. If it mattered, a good writer might say, “There’s no way I can drive from here to Chicago on half a tank of gas, in the dark, wearing sungasses,” but would not then go on to vomit a massive expository passage on the hows and whys of engine efficiency, etc… the action would simply move on to the issue of overcoming said limitations.

Sci-fi and fantasy fiction, done well, pose philosophical questions in simplified terms, in a way that allows readers to see the issue free of their subjective biases. The alteration of “reality” through magic or super-science enables the writer to do this. Need to address racism? As the song says, everyone’s a little bit racist… so you need to invent a completely fictional race (or better yet, two). Enter the Sneetches. Or those half-black/half-white folks from ST:TOS. Of course, you need a way to get there, but you don’t need to explain warp drive.

Thus with Marvel magic. It doesn’t matter precisely how you cure cancer. The real issue is, is it worth the price you have to pay? For example: you can completely immolate a being by consuming it with fire produced from the combustion of the being’s own soul… thus, you can only burn living things that possess a soul (an obvious limit to your power), but consider the ethics of using such a spell… now you have an interesting story along with a character that will very soon become horribly unpopular.

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mygif

One thing that isn’t clear to me is the nature of favours owed, specifically what mortal mages are offering in trade. What exactly can Joe the Mage do for the Seraphim that makes them think it’s worthwhile to give Joe the time of day, much less a powerful spell? When the Seraphim decide to collect, how would they go about doing so?

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Evil Abraham Lincoln said on April 13th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

@Beacon

Ignore Hudlin’s bad writing, please. Everyone else with a whit of common sense does.

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mygif

People keep asking about favors owed, so I thought I’d take a swing at it.

It’s probably difficult, uncomfortable, or more bother than it’s worth for beings like the Vishanti to directly further their interests in the mortal world. Enter the mortal who owes these beings a favor. “There’s a park sacred to Hogosoth where some developer wants condos? Go stop ’em, debt-monkey.” This leaves the mortal supplicant facing the choice of casting more spells (and thus, incurring further debts) to get the job done, or working through more mundane means.

Second, there’s the oft-used trope of gods and higher beings getting some tangible benefit from worship. You can pray alone to make little payments, but if you start a cult you’ll have a legion of glaze-eyed hippies paying off your magical charge card. Of course, the rites that actually appeal to various higher powers might be objectionable to other higher powers, or it may simply be in, say, the Seraphim’s best interests that Cytorrak not have too many cults funneling power his way.

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[…] Posted by brenatevi on April 15, 2009 An interesting post about how magic works in the Marvel universe. […]

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Radiate said on June 5th, 2009 at 8:20 am

Wow, love the reasoning of MGK’s explanation behind Marvel Magic. God knows Marvel really needs someone to sort out the “rules” to magic in the Marvel U! I’ll echo what the majority of people have said: i like the bargaining idea when it comes to casting spells etc. I especially like the concept of the universe’s “cheat codes” to affect things; if you know it great, if you don’t you gotta do things the hard way!

But I have to agree with Kelberon’s post above: the very title of being Sorceror Supreme must grant the bearer more power than those who aren’t Sorceror Supreme. Nothing big mind you, but perhaps a better grasp of controlling their own personal energy or as Kelberon stated perhaps “free” gifts from the deities he invokes merely cos he is Sorceror Supreme?

Overall though, great ideas!

RADIATE!

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[…] and still doesn’t quite understand how the linking rings work). This was one of the first bargains Strange made during his magical career (he figured out how badly he needed it in the first two […]

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