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Planar, Magic, & Tradition

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AttilaSquare

AttilaSquare

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A Mighty said:
Hey Attila,

Did you see the RuneFest lore session? There was some juicy lore about planes and the universe in general there...
Hey, A Mighty! I saw the recap here in the forum. It's interesting stuff. I like the return to a planar rather than planetary model. But overall it was more planar geography than planar theory - they hardly addressed the basic concepts to which this thread is devoted. The idea of linking planes to magical elements is intruiging, but the further links to the elder goddesses and chakras doesn't make much sense to me - it looks like gibberish, but hopefully Mod Stu will develop it well.

In any case, I think the bulk of my proposals here still holds. Even if Jagex takes planar theory more in the direction of planar geography, it can still rest on a foundation of good magic theory.

06-Oct-2017 22:50:26

AttilaSquare

AttilaSquare

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Kailithnir said:
The last few months now, I've been part of a team making a game set in the Yoruba mythos, for my senior-year game design sequence (I'm majoring in game design). ...
I downloaded the game. Where do I find the .exe file to start it?

08-Oct-2017 22:21:30

Rondstat

Rondstat

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I've read and re-read this. I took notes and everything! Attempting to address everything therein would probably stretch out over several pages and end up just loafing there, gettin' smelly, so I won't attempt to cover the entirety of my questions/commentary/compliments/challenges - at least not at first. But I'd like to offer a couple of very broad comments~

First off, this is a very ambitious (and even somewhat audacious!) project. I appreciate establishing a methodology and a lexicon right at the top - it makes the scheme as a whole a lot more digestible and compartmentalizes it in a way that I think is a lot more accessible than some of your past topics on planar theory.

I think I admire this most as a roadmap for the development of in-universe knowledge. Over the past several years, in-game lorebooks and accounts have tended to abstract the source and the medium in favor of the information, and I think that's probably been the biggest contributor to the shallow 'dogma' you rally against (though I might argue against the shallowness of in-game magic theory when taken in context). I'd be pretty chuffed to see a shift towards primary documents that are not objective records or direct recollections, but take the form of mythology, song, legends, oral traditions, nuggets of understanding that bear no expectation of objective truth, but hold the spark of insight, and do more to contextualize the value and engagement with those insights in the communities and individuals where they were relevant.

It's not like there's nothing along these lines in game - Mod Tytn actually littered his stories with fragmentary and unreliable accounts, discovered at random. But that was also part of a much more adventurer/exploration directed questing philosophy, that suffered a lack of deep characterization or complex plots. Ironically, I think it's a big part of what made questers adore WGS and Myreque, and so much of the non-lore community hate questing.

26-Oct-2017 21:28:30

Rondstat

Rondstat

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As for planar theory itself - there isn't a comprehensive account of 'how stuff works' in here, but that's not really in the scope of what you wanted to do. There's a temptation to ask whether the accounts of spirits are reliable, whether there's any truth to a more primitive understanding of spirits' inherent function in human action, their ties to space and the barriers between and across spaces. But I think that's actually immaterial.

You seem to have deliberately avoided an ontology of spirits. While there's a lot said on beings' interaction with them, there's not much said to explain the origins of spirits, how they're born and die, what they are and the nature and extent of their intrinsic power. And this makes sense - attempting to quantify this might risk making the theories here as dry and narrow as 'modern' anima theory.

But I wouldn't dismiss the more quantifiable theories of magic that the game has been inching towards. As rich and humanistic as this paradigm of magic may be, it's not actually all that useful for discussing how magic is done, for understanding the application of power and how that allows this human, that god, that small shrubbery to do so great an action, or define any sort of limits. I mean, we've talked to the transcendental embodiment of time - if there's no attempt to codify the limits of magic, we quickly risk damaging the narrative as stakes are allowed to spiral out of control. There's no story without setting, but setting should always take a backseat to story.

There is a bit of revisionism in here - some inadvertent (we've had some lore since this was written up) and some contradictory to 'known' history. There's nothing wrong with that. But you have taken pains to couch an animist belief in spirits in history. It makes me curious - what specifically are you drawing on? I see glimmers of Husserl and Aristotle (with my meagre philosophical knowledge), but is there a particular philosophy or belief that informs this mythology?

26-Oct-2017 21:57:52

AttilaSquare

AttilaSquare

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Hey, Rondstat, Thanks for reading this! You're welcome to share all of your questions/commentary/compliments/challenges. As you can see, I haven't been swamped with many other posts to address.Rondstat said:
I think I admire this most as a roadmap for the development of in-universe knowledge.
I'm glad. Regarding the abstract form of my project here, I hope to have achieved this.Rondstat said:
Over the past several years, in-game lorebooks and accounts have tended to abstract the source and the medium in favor of the information, and I think that's probably been the biggest contributor to the shallow 'dogma' you rally against (though I might argue against the shallowness of in-game magic theory when taken in context).
I agree. And I think I would also agree that in-game the lore is fine.

My concern with shallowness and dogma is more targeted at any of the following possible claims:
(1) The invention of excellent lore concerning magic or life or planes does not require openness to deep philosophical, theological, and anthropoligical reflection.
(2) RuneScape is better off if developers do not seek to produce the very best lore that they can on whatever subjects they address, such as magic or life or planes.
(3) RuneScape is better off if its lore concerning magic or life or planes is merely consistent with regard to the stories told.

Perhaps I work on the assumption that behind everything that seems shallow or dogmatic there is potential for further story and deeper thought.

I also want every aspect of my project - and every aspect of lore - to reveal something true, allegorically or mythically interpreted.

I just saw your second post, so I'll start working on that...

26-Oct-2017 22:04:51 - Last edited on 26-Oct-2017 23:15:27 by AttilaSquare

AttilaSquare

AttilaSquare

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I did intend to treat spirits as a primitive concept - so no straightforward ontology of spirits, just some sketchy description. I think this allows me to avoid metaphysical commitments, aside from a deflatable realism about spirits or values.

Any theory of spirits abstracted from phenomenological experience would work against my goal of a broadly applicable and (hopefully inescapably) compelling foundation for the development of magic lore. I agree that this is ambitious, extremely ambitious - I hope this stuff helps me to begin to understand all sorts of non-Western beliefs and practices, without thereby feeling like I'm contradicting my Western habits of thought. It's kind of a hunt for a common denominator - set in RuneScape.

Rondstat said:
But I wouldn't dismiss the more quantifiable theories of magic that the game has been inching towards. As rich and humanistic as this paradigm of magic may be, it's not actually all that useful for discussing how magic is done, for understanding the application of power and how that allows this human, that god, that small shrubbery to do so great an action, or define any sort of limits. I mean, we've talked to the transcendental embodiment of time - if there's no attempt to codify the limits of magic, we quickly risk damaging the narrative as stakes are allowed to spiral out of control. There's no story without setting, but setting should always take a backseat to story.
I agree with all of this. But, limits can be developed in many ways - I wouldn't want the limits of one story to limit dogmatically further stories that give us access to foreign paradigms. In fact, I fear that artificial limits in storytelling even fuel the spiraling drive to transcend the limits of the last story.

26-Oct-2017 22:30:21 - Last edited on 27-Oct-2017 02:30:07 by AttilaSquare

AttilaSquare

AttilaSquare

Posts: 1,693Mithril Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Rondstat said:
There is a bit of revisionism in here - some inadvertent (we've had some lore since this was written up) and some contradictory to 'known' history.
I'd love to keep a list of contradictions as they arise, in case you happen to have any written up.

Rondstat said:
what specifically are you drawing on? I see glimmers of Husserl and Aristotle (with my meagre philosophical knowledge), but is there a particular philosophy or belief that informs this mythology?
There's a lot of Plato and Aristotle, some general medieval and Kantian influence, and then a lot of Ignatius of Loyola - a lot from his concept of discernment of spirits and Jesuit spirituality. Husserl, Heidegger, Tolkien, Owen Barfield (I can't recommend his Poetic Diction highly enough as the book on magic.), and Alasdair MacIntyre (mostly in the opening essay) are the main sources, cited here.

I could summarize a couple basic principles I was working with:

Spirits are the condition of motion - motion broadly conceived, in the Aristotelian sense: change as such.

Space is constituted practically. Therefore, planes exist because of spirits. In other words, the experience of space depends upon being moved by spirits to act, upon their leading us to discover the means of acting. I have not attempted to develop any theory of space as a condition apart from or preceding the work of spirits. Because I treat spirit as absolutely primitive, ultimately all regularities, all laws, all conditions, all existence may be treated as the result of an overarching spirit or spirits. I can be agnostic about whether any such ultimate spirit is in fact phenomenologically accessible.

26-Oct-2017 22:31:05 - Last edited on 27-Oct-2017 03:36:37 by AttilaSquare

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