Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Continuing on with units from the game of Civilization, we come to the warrior. This, some might say, is more akin to representing the adventure party than the scout ... and yes, they serve more or less the same function. The scout enters a village and learns from it; the villagers offer the scout coin or technology of their own free will. The warrior, on the other hand, marches in and seizes it, while possibly destroying the inhabitants.

I find myself often considering elements of the game which seem to interest no one else ... in the historical sense, for instance, how did the classes derive? Obviously, there were not always paladins or illusionists; these things required advancements in technology both religious and educational (I've already written about how religion was a technology). Even the fighter has skills that obviously didn't exist prior to the existence of fashioned tools.

But then, I run the real world, and thus my world is fitted with a time of Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon man, these things not deriving from a magical impulse but rather magic itself being fashioned after effort and invention. Many fantasy worlds simply get around such issues by having the world - and the creatures in it - poofed into existence by magic and the gods, as neatly as the Bible does it. No need to worry about whether or not there were ever cavemen ... there clearly weren't, since man was conceived from the forehead of the DM.

This does bring up a case in point that some may not have grasped, that IF my world did derive from evolution (which I claim it has) and IF gods exist, which is necessary for clerics to have spells, then how does one reconcile the Biblical account of creation with word-of-God statement that I just made about evolution? How indeed?

I don't know, I suppose no one cares but me. I keep mysteries like that close to the chest, in the hopes that someday a party player might have a philosophical bent and might point out these little discrepancies ... and therein lies a most unusual adventure.

The warrior, then, is the result of a technological development. The difference between a proficiency and a non-proficiency results from a methodology of training. How is it the fighter has a d10 for hit points as opposed to a d8 or a d6? Training. Evaluation by a teacher followed by practice to harden, quicken and elasticize the body to make it swing the club so as to cause greater damage. Who improved the training so that four weapons could be learned, and no more than four lessons in the beginning, recognizing the efficiency of that number? How was the groundwork laid so that a level could be gained, and with levels multiple attacks? A steady, slow development of methodology.

In effect, then, the invention of the fighter class (surely the first class) was in turn the invention of the level itself. In my world, it is the ideal that hit points are a buffer between the combatant and the actual damage done by the weapon - that the hit points are the exhaustion experienced by the participant as the fight continues and as the combatant parries the enemy. My sword blocks your blow, so that you in effect 'miss' ... but the next time my sword blocks your blow, I feel the energy of your blow sweep down my arm and through my body. Even though your weapon doesn't touch my skin, I suffer 'damage' because the blow has helped exhaust me.

I recognize many people do not see hit points in this fashion.

Thus, I perceive your training as a fighter affects you this way. You begin with a certain number of hit points that result from your mass - a d8, say, if you weigh 160 lbs.  As you train your way to first level, you begin to gain additional hit points that result from your fighter training.  This takes years, but as you train, the instruction takes hold and you increase in hit points.  Some, the instruction doesn't do very well, and you gain but 1 hit point beyond your mass (but you're still a 1st level fighter); others do better, gaining 4, 6 or 8.  It depends on the individual.   The player character is considered unusual, and starts with 10, the maximum.  Constitution is added to this, and that is the result of training too.

Then, as you march your way through the wilderness, destroying monsters and villages (or whatever you're doing), you gain practical experience.  As you do, there is a nagging in the back of your head, where things your instructors taught you just didn't, or couldn't, sink in until you got into the real world.  You fight for awhile, and then one day you realize that you're dropping your sword every time you try to do this ... you realize how stupid that is, and you change your behavior.  Suddenly, you're able to stop things from getting a handle on you, and overall you feel less exhausted with each combat.  Congratulations, you've just gone up a level.

It begs the question, if the fighter comes into existence with the advancement of warrior training (circa 6-10 thousand years ago), when do the other classes emerge? The cleric seems obvious - with the discovery of meditation, of course. But where does the mage emerge. How early is the development of the thief (surely, very early). What technology produces the assassin, or the monk? Wouldn't the monk also be meditation?

The trick is to recognize that while the ability of the individual to swing a sword does not automatically equal the invention of the training necessary to swing the sword better, the presence of wealth that can be stolen does not automatically produce the thief. Nor does the process of killing in itself produce the assassin. It was necessary for an imaginative development to be made, that encouraged groups of people to do more than steal or praise or hit with the open hand - there had to be a motivation to STANDARDIZE the manner in which those things were done. Standardization resulted from hit-and-miss exploration, which in turn resulted in individuals discarding some techniques in favor of better techniques.

This is how development happens - when there's a joint recognition that a particular manner is obviously inefficient or impractical. This occurs even with D&D editions. A final 'right' answer will always emerge.

Sometimes, this takes a very, very long time.


Stuart Lloyd said...

I have just discovered your Civilisation posts through this one and I am now reading them all with great interest.

There's several things here - I am thinking of a system for gamebooks where 'hit points' are also viewed as energy in a combat. If the player gets into a fight and has their endurance (as I will call it) reduced to 0, then they immediately get most of it back at the end of the fight, minus a small amount from the bruises etc that they got. It will take a day or two to recover those lost points. The winner gets their endurance restored to what it was before the fight as they just have to take a few minutes to overcome it. If they are in an armed fight and their endurance is reduced to 0, then they are wounded and their endurance goes down for a much longer time and can only be recoved through special care. If this is a fight to the death, then the wounded party fights on with their endurance as what it started as minus the loss from the wound, so it will take a while to kill someone completely. I envisage this in a mainly non lethal world where most arguments between people are settled with scuffles, there are duels to first blood over serious matters and fights to the death are quite rare (based on a MMORPG called Battlemaster).

So then, with the idea of which tech advancement spawned which class and where magic fits in - to me, the obvious choice for wizard would be the discovery of mysticism - this will be a time where divination and illusion and enchantment (in order to convince those in power of the wizard's powers) are written down for future wizards to learn and then they could build upon that knowledge to get more spells as time goes on until the discovery of mathematics (formulae for spells), astronomy (better divination), and philosophy (a kind of agnostic/atheistic search for answers) spawns the wizard class. Keep the posts coming!

Alexis Smolensk said...

Fair idea, but the early mysticism would have to be word of mouth, as it far precedes the discovery of writing, alphabet and literature - certainly all highly important elements of the magic user class; your point, however, that not all the magic in the game would be invented at the same time is the crucial insight.

Eric said...

I'd say the Thief would come with Currency, the monk with Theology, Paladin with Divine Right, wizard with either Writing or Alphabet.

I'm a little curious how you expect a 17th century PC to spontaneously discover evolution and common descent; that's uncomfortably close to "my character gets an idea! He pays alchemists to see if mixtures of saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur are flammable!"

Alexis Smolensk said...

I concur with your selections for tech = class.

Regarding evolution, if you give it some hard, honest thought, there are spells that give access to knowledge that Wallace and Darwin couldn't exploit.

Eric said...

I don't have a PHB in front of me, so I'm a bit at a loss; certainly Wish or Limited Wish would suffice, I suppose... but I'd imagine any clerical spell, or Contact Other Planes, would generally get you the party line of the entity in question, instead of the truth. In real history, I'd tag microscopy as the trigger for modern biological studies, and per Wikipedia that really gets hopping in the 1600s... have lenses and precision manufacturing hit that point in your world?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Democritus in the 5th century BCE proposed that matter was made up of tiny particles that could not be divided into smaller pieces. He called these particles atomos, meaning indivisible.

Augury, 2nd level cleric spell. "Is this true?"

Repeated result of the answer "Yes" changes all of science over the next thousand years, convinces understanding that living things work according to processes that can be predicted. A monk/druid named Mendaleyev identifies genetics in the 9th century and the druidic heirarchy decides this is information that MUST be kept from the common man.

Eric said...

Hmm, I was presuming that any god with a creation myth would straight-up lie in response to any questions that hinted that the myth might not be accurate in every particular, and that Contact Other Planes would be practically as unreliable. Also, Democritus' atoms were infintesimal, if I recall correctly; a "No" answer is strictly correct, as the theory nowhere mentions subatomic particles.

That being said, I think druid just squeezed out my usual pick of wizard, if you ever have an opening in the online game.

BaronOpal said...

I figured that a deity that was eternal could wait the 13 billion or so years for natural law and evolution to develop a suitable life form. The game world may not even be the first universe It made. Aboleths are wierd, they could come from elsewhere.

And, a creator God wouldn't necessarily lie. Some parents avoid talking about certain subjects until the child knows to ask the right questions. Then, the clarifications let the child grow.

It depends how you want to run your gods.

Eric said...

BaronOpal: That sounds like a lie of omission to me...

BaronOpal said...

You don't teach a 3 year old how to balance a checkbook, and the Bible is just one book.

Although, that could put an interesting spin on the Library of Alexandria. A collectioon of all information and wisdom assembled by divine decree, destroyed by the forces seeking to keep humankind in a primitive state. Depending where you are in gnostic thought that could be any number of supernatural sides to that.

Quincy Jones said...

I imagine the earliest manifestations of human magic being wild and uncontrolled. A cro-magnon with mystic potential would seem no different than his fellows...until he got really, really angry. The only question is how magic-users achieved such social equilibrium. You'd think such a distinct class would either rise to the top and dominate, or sink to the bottom under persecution. Instead, they somehow managed to find a middle-ground.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Quincy, have a look at a post I did on wild magic some years ago: