Monday, February 21, 2011

More Wishes!

Click to embiggen.
Someone mentioned that if you took the AD&D rules and projected them forward as the physics of a world, you'd get one like Dark Sun - controlled by magic-user who run city-states.  I've been wrapping my head around a universe extrapolated from Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion, and I'm not so sure.

Wizards are in a nuclear arms race to attain the wish spell - plain and simple.  Upon reaching 17th level, the only sane thing is to pour all of one's time and money into creating a wish spell.  The next step is to use your new power to hunt down and destroy all other existing copies if the spell - and kill or incapacitate the creators of those spells. 

Of course, containment of the wish spell would be impossible.  Eventually, someone else would figure it out, or some extra-planar being will drop by with the power.  Magicians would have to form alliances to protect themselves, and as the power of opposed alliances grew, a stalemate like the Cold War would occur.  A wizard couldn't remain neutral in this conflict for long.  They'd be forced to choose sides. 

If the stalemate faltered, however, opposing sides would wish each other out of existence in a flash.  Wishes could even be delayed with dead-man switch type technology to obliterate the other side even if the original wisher was wishified.  (Which is kind of wishy-washy.)

So, assuming that the magic-users didn't devastate the planet and themselves, they would operate in Magic Unions formed around an agenda - usually the survival and increased power of the Union and its near immortal founder - the "Wish Master" (ick, probably need a better name for that.)  Operating out in the open would be the last thing they would do as they would want to be seen and detected by rival Unions as little as possible.  They would operate much like a cabal.

I can't see that running countries would be in their interest.  At least, not out in the open.  It would be much safer to pull stings from the dark.  Participating openly in military campaigns would even be iffy.  High powered magicians would spend much of their time in study and research.  I kind of see them as above (or below, if you will,) affairs of state.  They'd also want to have a way to get things done in a non-magical way - thus they would be assassins or ninja or some other stealthy, elite force that does not rely, or emit, magic.

So, it's magical cabals fighting each other in the dark over powers that can rip holes in reality, all the while, pulling secret strings in the mundane governments to futher their knowledge and survival.  Well, at least that is the way I see it.  Of course, it depends on how the rules are tuned.

What do you see?

- Ark


  1. Interesting post.

    Given the description of Wish in the old PH and the 'punishment' of getting greedy with a Wish spell, it makes sense that a Mage would try to maximize what could be gained while trying to minimize the risk of 'overdoing it'...

    He would wish for his own manor/keep/secret place, but would be smart enough to know that the further from civilization (and the other lives/fates therein), the more likely he would be to get what he/she wanted.

    How many vacant dungeons/complexes were created by greedy mages? (sucked forward in time, snuffed out, or turned into monsters as a result of 'fate' balancing everything out and leaving only the wished for construction behind...)

  2. I really like this chain of argument. The idea that a world might have secretive cabals of super-wizards pulling the strings is pretty interesting - the Illuminati. The White Council (or Black Council) from the Dresden Files books. You get the gist.

    The funny thing is, you can just file this idea away and use it as a deus ex machina - if the wizards are doing the right thing, no one would find out until they were approaching 'wish acquisition level' - when they'd be targeted for destruction... or recruited.

    If you need a way out of this logical conclusion, I did think the DMG put limits on wishes based on divine fiat.

  3. Sounds a lot like the plot of a series of books that some old fart wrote a long time ago while smoking a pipe filled with magic dust in the attic.

  4. Hey, I just had to say that I laughed out loud with this comic. That's pretty good. Thanks for posting it.

  5. Hi Ark, I came across this post and thought it might make some fuel for your 'world of D&D physics' as well --

    Raise dead and Resurrection bring up all sorts of interesting questions - do assassins use disintegration or acids? Would a cult that achieves raise dead or resurrection act like your wish wizards, and eliminate the competition?

  6. @scottsz - That is an interesting idea. 'Where did the Archmage Oompaloopa go? His tower lies empty except for strange monstrosities that eat all visitors.' 'Oh that? He just screwed up a wish and will be back in 500 years. No worries.'

    @Beedo - Well, one of the problems in DM Fiat on wishes is - what do you let the NPCs get away with? :) Cool links - I've read it and pondered a lot.

    @Xander - Yes it does, doesn't it?

    @Whisk - The Cyanide @ Happiness guys are equal parts funny and equal parts horrible. Sometimes even both. :)

    - Ark