Author Topic: Evil vs realms in SW?  (Read 1072 times)

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Offline thrud

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Evil vs realms in SW?
« on: November 21, 2021, 07:13:19 AM »
I have tried to read up on the Amthorian view on realms and evil in Shadow World, but tbh it just turns my brain into a knot.

- Essaence is the raw primal energy. Check!
- Anti Essaence = power used for evil spell lists = Unlife. Check!
- Division of realms into Channeling, Essence, and Mentalism. Check!

As per the rules regarding the decent into darkness, dual sets of power points are used? And once the "essaence soul" is corrupted, regular power points are lost (transition to evil is complete).

Wait a minute!
So Evil Magicians and Evil Mentalists have now become channelers? But they still use their original Realm stat?

Does this effectively dissolve the separation between Evil Channeling/Essence/Mentalism? Evil becomes a 4th realm of sorts?
It makes absolutely no sense to have Evil Channeling/Essence/Mentalism separated if they all share a common source of power.

And do they still use spall casting bonuses/penalties per their original realm?

Please help me sort this out, my brain is hurting...

Offline thrud

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2021, 08:16:04 AM »
A small addition.
Suggestions for dealing with hybrid spellcasting professions in SW is to make them pure instead.
Then we go on reading that any spellcaster can learn evil spells thus channeling the Unlife effectively making them hybrids?

Ouch my brain...

Offline Neee-Wom

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2021, 02:40:56 AM »
I don't understand in the same way, all users channel Essaence but using different methods, even evil will channel Essaence, but there evil and "Evil", and some Dark Gods use Unlife because they can do it without faling to it.

For me, it's more a world philosophy that game building, if you start chanelling Unlife is when you find a double set of PP, you can handle during some time but at the end you will fall to Evil. The stat you use is the same as you will be channeling Anti-Essaence/Unlife instead of Essaence.

Hope that helps
Ni!

Offline thrud

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2021, 09:16:08 PM »
I dunno?
For me it just doesn't make any sense.  I really have tried..
The whole mess is so full of contradictions that I can't make it work logically.
It could be made to work in a system without divided realms.
But I can't for the life of me justify a Mentalist channeling Unlife where there is no such thing as hybrids, and no learning spells from others realms.

Offline thrud

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2021, 09:51:22 PM »
A channeling user channeling unlife, no problem.
An essence user drawing upon anti-essaence, sure why not.
A mentalist..., no sorry. Personal corruption I get, but the unlife part isn't making sense.

Offline netbat

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2021, 11:13:02 PM »
Have you looked at the articles on unlife by Cormac Doyle in the guild companion? He had a pretty good take on integrating them in SW.
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Offline MisterK

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2021, 01:26:20 AM »
Maybe the problem is in considering that "channeling Unlife" is magic in the first place.

As far as I'm concerned, it is not. Evil spell lists are not "of the Unlife", they are still of the Essaence (and of a deeply corrupted will, at that). A Essence caster that learns Evil Magician spells is still within the Essence realm. I've always thought that tagging those lists "Evil" was basically slapping judeo-christian morality on top of an agnostic magic system, even though Shadow World does not necessarily follows judeo-christian morals in what is "good" and what is "evil". Perhaps "Tainted" would have been a better tag - tainted use of the Essaence, which would imply that the Essaence is an energy that can power almost any effect but that has a "domain" - a polarity, if you will - where some effects 'go with the flow' while others 'go against the flow'. Or perhaps the untainted uses of Essaence are linked to the Lords of Orhan, while the tainted uses of Essaence are linked to the Gods of Charon - after all, the Essaence shares a common origin with those entities, and the polarity of the Essaence is mirrored in the polarity of the quasi-divine entities. In any case, Unlife is another thing entirely.

I even think that non-spell users should not be at a major disadvantage over spell users to handle Unlife "energy". After all, the Hunger consumes everyone equally. It is not possible to be a "hybrid" in that Unlife and Essaence cannot coexist in a living body. "channeling Unlife" means trying to control something that is antithetic  to one's own existence - until the Unlife finds purchase in you, takes hold, and starts consuming you from the inside, keeping the shell but replacing the energy principles with something that can naturally channel  Unlife, but not Essaence anymore.

In technical terms, I would
- not consider Unlife capabilities as spell lists, but as distinct powers, at least until the Unlife has taken over the channeler's insides.
- those powers are neither subtle nor easy to control. It's not manipulation, rather unchecked release. Until one is consumed by the Unlife, there is very little in the Unlife except sheer annihilating power.
- the more one channels, the more powerful the effect and the higher the chance that the Unlife finds purchase and "nests" in the body.
- once Unlife has found purchase in a channeler's body, Unlife powers become controllable (spell lists and variety of effects). However, the Essaence powers become uncontrollable (no more magic - channeling the Essaence becomes as difficult as channeling the Unlife was before the change, with the same degree of subtlety and control. Basically, you can only release raw energy of creation and change, and nothing structured). this goes until the Unlife fully consumes the insides of the channeler, at which point the poor thing cannot channel Essaence anymore and the transformation is complete.

Offline jdale

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2021, 12:35:09 PM »
As far as I'm concerned, it is not. Evil spell lists are not "of the Unlife", they are still of the Essaence (and of a deeply corrupted will, at that). A Essence caster that learns Evil Magician spells is still within the Essence realm. I've always thought that tagging those lists "Evil" was basically slapping judeo-christian morality on top of an agnostic magic system, even though Shadow World does not necessarily follows judeo-christian morals in what is "good" and what is "evil".

The evil spell lists aren't just distinguished by morality. They are also distinguished by power level. As far as I am concerned, that power boost you get for violating morality only makes sense if you assume that something or someone is giving you the additional power out of a desire for you to act a certain way.

The what and how of that boost is setting-specific but the power boost is in the spell lists and it should always come at some extra cost. If, in your setting, there's no such entity, and no such cost, there should be no such spell lists.
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Offline MisterK

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2021, 12:53:53 PM »
The evil spell lists aren't just distinguished by morality. They are also distinguished by power level. As far as I am concerned, that power boost you get for violating morality only makes sense if you assume that something or someone is giving you the additional power out of a desire for you to act a certain way.

The what and how of that boost is setting-specific but the power boost is in the spell lists and it should always come at some extra cost. If, in your setting, there's no such entity, and no such cost, there should be no such spell lists.
I don't dispute the "it comes from somewhere", but even Evil lists aside, all spell lists are not equal power-wise, so I find the rationale "something is luring you with additional power into becoming a tool" not convincing if it is meant to justify additional power. By that same logic, non-evil entities should also lure the faithful with additional power in the form of "Good" lists (or "Chaotic" lists, or "Lawful" lists, or whatever).

But my main point is: wherever it comes from, it's still magic. And in my opinion, Unlife is not.

Offline Hurin

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2021, 01:48:39 PM »
Maybe I'm missing something, but in the big picture (and responding to Thrud's original line of questioning), if players can tap into the Essaence at least three different ways (Essence, Channeling, or Mentalism), I don't see why characters can't tap into the Unlife (anti-Essaence) three different ways too.



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Offline jdale

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2021, 01:59:01 PM »
I don't dispute the "it comes from somewhere", but even Evil lists aside, all spell lists are not equal power-wise, so I find the rationale "something is luring you with additional power into becoming a tool" not convincing if it is meant to justify additional power. By that same logic, non-evil entities should also lure the faithful with additional power in the form of "Good" lists (or "Chaotic" lists, or "Lawful" lists, or whatever).

There is certainly some variability in the power level, versatility, and utility of other lists, although I think for base lists they have to be considered within the context of the full set rather than individually. That said, for the most part the evil lists stick out as head and shoulders above.

Non-evil entities do offer power, but that's regular channeling. I think they put more emphasis on making their power available to a lot of people, rather than giving it special potency for a small number of users.
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Offline MisterK

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2021, 10:45:47 AM »
Non-evil entities do offer power, but that's regular channeling. I think they put more emphasis on making their power available to a lot of people, rather than giving it special potency for a small number of users.
Interesting theory, given that the surest way to cause evil would be to provide power (at an undisclosed price) to the greatest number of interested people and just stand back and watch the carnage.

Additionally, and technically speaking, there *is* already a price paid for so-called Evil spell lists, since they are not classified as own base for any profession (as far as I know, there is no "evil xxx" profession) and as such, developing them costs much more than normal lists. In that way, they are similar to the old RM2 arcane lists.

Offline jdale

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2021, 11:47:28 AM »
I'm not sure of the rules for RM2/RMC or Shadow World, but RMSS Spell Law says (section 7.3):

Quote
Evil  spell  users  are  always  pure  spell  users  (i.e.,  they have access to only one realm). They are the Evil Magician, the Evil Cleric, and the Evil Mentalist. An evil spell user has the five evil lists of his realm as his standard set of base lists  as  well  at  the  six  base  lists  of  the  corresponding profession  for  that  realm  (e.g.,  an  Evil  Magician  would have the Magician base lists as his additional base lists). An evil spell user should not be allowed to choose additional base lists as outlined in Section 5.4.

Option 1: An evil spell user only gets the six evil lists as automatic base lists; but he is allowed to choose five additional base lists from that realm’s open lists, that  realm’s  closed  lists,  and  the  base  lists  of  the corresponding profession of that realm (e.g., Magician, Cleric, or Mentalist lists).

Option 2: An evil spell user only gets the six evil lists as automatic base lists; but he is allowed to choose five additional base lists from the base lists of one other pure spell user profession of that realm. Such evil spell users could be Evil Illusionists, Evil Animists, Evil Seers, etc.

RMU is a little looser:

Quote
If the GM allows Evil spell lists, he may make them available to be chosen as Base Lists (in place of any or all existing Base lists) and/or make them available as Closed lists. Any type of Spellcaster could potentially have access; however, the GM should be aware that for Semi Spellcasters the Evil Lists will generally be more powerful than their normal Base lists. The GM may even allow access to Evil spell lists to Arms Users (in which case they are treated as Closed lists).

Hybrid Spellcasters may have access to Evil lists from either or both of their realms. The GM must decide for each such character if the character is linked to the “Evil” of one or both realms. So a Sorcerer might have delved into books of evil in the forbidden library at the mages' guild allowing the Sorcerer to tap into a tainted source of Essence, or alternatively, the Sorcerer may just have made a pact with a demon or dark god, giving him access to evil Channeling. Some hybrids may have been steeped in the Evil side of both realms; perhaps our hypothetical Evil Sorcerer delved the forbidden library AND made a demonic pact, or made a pact with the god of dark magic, for instance.
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Offline MisterK

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2021, 11:53:52 PM »
Ah, I understand the difference now - I never considered "evil magician", "evil cleric" and "evil mentalist" as classes - seriously, who wears a bright red flag like that when there are low-level analysis spells ?
The evil lists are extra lists - as I said, just like the old RM2 arcane lists. Not available in the mainstream, but discoverable with the "right" people and for the "right" price (never as own base, obviously). So either the candidate does all the effort by themselves (spends significantly extra DPs to discover the basics of those lists) or they look for someone who already knows them - and that someone obviously already has some kind of twisted moral filter and a way to teach them.
In short, either way, the extra price is paid.

Just like the RM2 Arcane lists, once again (the pre-RMSS Arcane Companion, which was kind of a disappointment if I'm completely honest).

Offline Arigon

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2021, 10:55:53 PM »
Maybe late to the dance, but going to comment anyway.

As I understood things originally, Unlife was this all consuming corruption, and if you learned the evil ways of the 3 big evil classes * evil magician, evil cleric, evil mentalist,* then you started a path of corruption which would ultimately consume you. TKA made the differing colors of the differing spell auras, and all was pretty cut and dry.

Enter the explanation of Unlife as Lorgalis tells it, which is that it fights death, not life. It fights mortality, not the immortal.  Ok... more glam added to the picture but it can make a certain philosophical sense, and still not change the premise.

Dragon Lords and others are immune to the corruption of the Unlife, and even the most vile of them seems to not really ever want Unlife to succeed, even if they use it, as they want subjects to rule over... Ok got that.

Coming from the Desert Jewel you could theoretically have a necromancer not be evil... ok check, cultural differences.....

Then lots of things happen... time passes.... people get older... mature their life views. Star Wars happens in a huge way... The Force, Dark Side and Light Side then enter my own personal philosophy.

Lords of Charon are not necessarily tools of Unlife. Lords of Orhan are not necessarily just good guys. Everything, everyone can be a shade of some type of gray.

Power sources- Essaence/Anti-Essaence yes I get this totally. Does not mean to me that you do not have 3 realms. You just have 3 realms in each pool of power.

Now for my own personal campaign, take Andaras as an example. Not the nicest guy, but not a tool like Lorgalis or the Priests Arnak. Like Sith, Andaras is powerful and dark. So are Lorgalis and the Priests Arnak. Lorgalis and the PA fight each other's interests. Dragon Lords fight their interests. Other Lord's of Essaence fight their interests. Ondoval, arguably the biggest baddie running around is less concerned about all the circle stuff, and Lorgalis and his petty revenge against Andraxx than he is consumed by a need to set the Essaence free and open the world back up.....

None of this really all makes a lot of sense when thrown together. I pick and choose very carefully what I use, and what I do not use. TKA was not perfect, and he changed his views considerably over time. He changed his maps. He changed all kinds of things.  I have changed as well..

I think, personally, that you find a way that You want the Unlife to affect your game world, and you run with that. Long disconnected and disjointed journey just to say that.
Sorry!
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Offline thrud

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2021, 08:59:17 AM »
I guess my view of evil is as a slider on the morality scale.
I have no issue with corruption.
The only issue I have is that channeling a source for magic is done by chanelers.the two other realms don't "channel".
The second you start channeling unlife for anything you have effectively become a channeling user.

Offline MisterK

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2021, 10:36:49 AM »
I guess my view of evil is as a slider on the morality scale.
I have no issue with corruption.
The only issue I have is that channeling a source for magic is done by chanelers.the two other realms don't "channel".
The second you start channeling unlife for anything you have effectively become a channeling user.
Actually, everyone can learn the channeling skill and it is not restricted to the channeling realm. I don't think it is explicitly said that channelers actually channel power as opposed to other practitioners of magic (they don't use the channeling skill to get power points or spells, for one, whereas they should be if they were "real" channelers). The actual link between divine casters and their higher power of choice is not specified - whether it is inspiration and mental block, use of icon to help focus, or something else is left to the individual setting.

Technically, use of magic is not channeling (even for the practitioners of the eponymous realm). Whether use of Unlife power *is* channeling or not is left to interpretation, as well, since we don't know how it works. And actual use of channeling can be performed with any realm, with true Essaence, or, if your interpretation allows for it, with the Unlife power as well. Being a conduit for power is non-specific (though, in my own interpretation, I'm not sure I would allow people to use the same skill both for Essaence and for Unlife power - YMMV, but I think a living body is not a proper conduit for Unlife unless specific techniques are acquired and mastered).

Offline Hurin

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2021, 12:01:34 PM »
Think of a fire as the power source. In this analogy, that fire is the Essaence. Users of this power source will manipulate it in different ways:

--A Channeler will set up a duct like you see in a wood stove to directly channel that fire where he wants it to be via convection (moving hot air around).

--An Essence user casts an iron rod into the fire until it is red hot, and then fashions the molten metal into a sword.

--A Mentalism user will use tongs to pick one of the burning logs out of the fire and carry it around with him.

Each uses the same power source (the fire), but in a different way.

Now imagine we all look in a different direction and see a different power source: a nuclear reactor. Its heat can be accessed in all the same ways, and it has the potential to be even hotter; but it's radioactive. That's the Unlife.
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Offline metallion

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2021, 01:58:14 PM »
First off, there's no such thing as "judeo-christian" morality - or "judeo-christian" anything.  There's Jewish things, there's Christian things, and there are large, irreconcilable differences between them.

Second, Rolemaster is in fact based on a version of Roman Catholic morality:  RM is based on MERP, MERP is based on Tolkien, and Tolkein wove Catholic morality through his entire work.  There was alot of abstraction and allusion, but it was never excised.

This extends to Shadow World:  At the root of SHadow World is The World of Loremaster, and TWoM was intended originally to be an expansion of Middle Earth.  Vog Mur is literally on the map of MIddle Earth Terry did for MERP.

Like any author, Terry had his strengths and weaknesses; and developing metaphysical cosmologies was not among his strengths.  This isn't me detracting from him here, I once told him directly that one of my big criticisms of Shadow World is that he wrote Gods like an Atheist, and he agreed with the observation.

You're going to have to establish for yourself exactly what Unlife is and why it is as incompatible with Essence as the story demands it be -- Terry sketched it in general terms, but it wasn't the focal point of the story he was interested in telling.

Offline Hurin

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Re: Evil vs realms in SW?
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2021, 02:48:05 PM »
Vog Mur is literally on the map of MIddle Earth Terry did for MERP.

That, I did not know. Today I Learned!

Being an atheist (or I guess agnostic) myself, I rather like the way Terry wrote gods. There does seem to be a bit of tension there between the absolute Good and Evil we see in some of the spell lists, and the more relativistic cosmology Terry espoused in his world-building.
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