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  1. #1

    Magic and or Conjuring in RP.

    so...I know "Magic" has been a debate for a long time, always, due to tolkien not really emphasizing much on it.

    However, "Magic", as we tend to think of it, isn't how it is in the lore-world. It seems that all magic used by people aside from the wizards, ((the "magic" or the elves, dwarves, objects, etc.)) are based on a deeper understanding of nature. That words and the will to use them have power.

    I believe there are points that...well, yes, the istari are the only WIZARDS that exist. There are probably many Conjurers among the other races. Dwarves with their runes and words of powers, elves, I'm sure the race of men also has conjurers. Now conjurers wouldn't be able to anything major, small magical feats, maybe some form of communication to animals, possibly the ability to slightly enchant something, skills based on words/alchemy.

    my question to you, how do you respond to someone who roleplays as a conjurer? Do you nix all "magic" away, or only people who are seemingly able to manifest great feats?

  2. #2
    Most of the lore-abiding RPers I know don't do this kind of stuff with the exception of one who keeps it very low key. That I'm okay with. If anyone however decides to go 'FIREBALL, FIREBALL, LIGHTNING BOLT' out of nowhere with no precedent or explanation, then I'll either ignore it or be ICly skeptical about it.

    Like most things, 'magic' has to be done responsibly, as well as if you were RPing as some noble from Dol Amroth or a Dunadan Ranger, Noldor elf, etc.
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  3. #3
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    Here's the thing. Magic isn't some thing that you "use" in Middle-earth. It's not like the Force or whatever it is that they draw from in the Wheel of Time books. It doesn't exist on its own.

    What some people perceive as magic is really just the inherent nature of certain entities that exist within Middle-earth. The Wizards belong to the race of the Ainur which are basically like angels. They don't "use" magic. Whatever power they display is simply a part of their nature as Ainur. To races that don't have the same nature, it seems magical but only because that power is something the other races do not have as part of their nature. Men cannot do the things that the Istari can do and they cannot quite understand it, so they call it magic.

    Elves are the only other inherently "magical" race in Middle-earth. And Tolkien actually goes to the trouble in some of his writings (published posthumously in the History of Middle-earth series) to explain exactly what it is about the nature of Elves that makes them seem magical to the races that are not like them. Elves are unique. And Tolkien states that they are the only "magical" race in Middle-earth.

    So, to give you the short answer to your question, Elves are the only characters that I would accept acting in "magical" ways. Anyone from another race trying to pass themselves off as having "magical" abilities I would have to assume is either delusional or working for Sauron. (Since the only other way we know of to gain such abilities besides partaking in one of the natures that Eru created as having such super human power is to have been given such power by the Dark Lord.)

  4. #4
    except in cases where words have power, if uttered with the proper intent and will to call forth said power.

    I'd say the only race incapable of any sort of supernatural conjury would be hobbits, and maybe dwarves because they're materialistic. I would say that some among the race of "man" would be able to, in certain circumstances, call forth said power(not for large glorious or public displays)

    but on a more...trickery level, and the reason I put "man"(with quotes) is because I'm not including the other-spectrum of men, the dunadan, beornings, men from other lands...etc.

    It's good to see varying opinions on it, definitely. I've come to the empass where I want to make a minstrel or a lore master, but the only....justification I can give them in combat is that they have some sort of conjury, weather it be from understanding herbs and gunpowder, to minor feats of abnormal.

  5. #5
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    Perhaps you should explain exactly what you mean by "conjurer". I see 2 definitions in Merriam Webster. One is essentially a user of magic, synonymous with the word "wizard". Now we know that there are only 5 wizards in Middle-earth. They may look like the Children of Eru, but they are set apart by the power that they wield. That power comes from their nature. No one who has a different nature can wield the power the Wizards do.

    The second definition is someone who practices sleight of hand and illusion in the modern sense. Essentially a performing magician or acrobat. There is no magic in the fantastic sense there. Only trickery. Any race would be capable of this sort of "conjuring".

    Can you clarify what sort of conjuring you mean?

  6. #6
    More towards the 2nd one...using their understanding of how things work to make explosives.
    I've heard that beast-speech is at least somewhat learnable. Utilizing words of power would be possible if one discovered them and had the intent and will to use them.

    I'm not saying a conjurer is on par with the istari, they aren't a maiar, I'm just saying the other races, if they did discover secrets about things, would be able to do minor feats that a plain old citizen of bree would classify as "magic"

    I lean more towards the...combination of herbs and oils with a powder and contact with air will produce an explosive flame type thing. but that's just me.

  7. #7
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    Out of interest, and not exactly on topic, does i.e. Beorn's capability count as magic?
    "'Nonetheless they will have need of wood', said Aulë and he went on with his smith-work."

  8. #8
    Fionnuala is correct when she says that ‘magic’ is not derived from an outside source but from one’s own nature. “A difference in the use of 'magic' in this story is that it is not to be come by by lore' or spells; but it is an inherent power not possessed or attainable by Men as such,” he wrote in an unsent letter in 1954 (the repeated ‘by’ comes from the original quote and is not my personal typo).

    Tolkien did not seem too eager to discuss the literal nature of ‘magic’ in his works: “I do not intend to involve myself in any debate whether ‘magic’ in any sense is real or possible in the world.” He was not interested in the constrictive nature of the word ‘magic’ and so was not consistent in its usage. Tolkien’s ‘magic’ is a philosophy, not a prop or plot device, and does not hold the same characteristics as what we might consider ‘magic’.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reavier View Post
    I'm not saying a conjurer is on par with the istari, they aren't a maiar, I'm just saying the other races, if they did discover secrets about things, would be able to do minor feats that a plain old citizen of bree would classify as "magic"
    The “secrets” you invoke seem to me resultant of an association with the concept of the “learning” of ‘magic.’ In Tolkien’s world, however, ‘magic’ cannot be obtained through study, discovery and practice. A Man cannot learn the power of elves, not because he does not have the time or the strength, but because his nature, his spirit if you will, is simply not designed to be compatible with the effects he might perceive as magic in other beings.

    The use of ‘magic’ in roleplay, I believe, should follow these guidelines. In a perfect world (a world completely adherent to the lore of Middle Earth), any experimentation with ‘magic’ should not be separated from the philosophy it embodies and expresses. A human simply is not able to do what elves can do, just like he is simply not able to live forever. His desire to and any actions he takes to obtain it, would consist of an expression of evil and have drastic consequences on his soul and person, much like the Numenoreans’ desire to live forever and the subsequent destruction of their whole country.

    I would also not personally condone any overuse of magic. The magic that the Elves and Gandalf use, they use sparingly, and for good reason.

    The combination of herbs and oils is obtainable by the nature of ‘Man’, such as in healing concoctions, poisons, and the like that are available to us in this world. Keep in mind, though, that it is perhaps unwise to stretch too far the scientific advances of the time. I do not know of any oils, herbs and powder that combined would have the effect you describe.

    Gunpowder, or something like it, is exclusively a weapon of the Enemy. It is a Power that arose from the will to dominate and destroy. The ‘magic’ that is like gunpowder, however, ie. Gandalf’s magic, is not, because it comes from Gandalf’s nature and is Art, not Power.

    Intent and Will is only part of the equation. Nature is the other part. A Man can have the intent and will for anything, but if it is not his Nature, it is not possible, except through extreme corruption of his Nature.

    If I am not explaining things properly, I apologize. I wrote a much longer explanation of magic in Tolkien’s world, but much of it was off topic to the particular conversation, so I have posted it elsewhere.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fionnuala View Post
    Perhaps you should explain exactly what you mean by "conjurer". I see 2 definitions in Merriam Webster. One is essentially a user of magic, synonymous with the word "wizard". Now we know that there are only 5 wizards in Middle-earth. They may look like the Children of Eru, but they are set apart by the power that they wield. That power comes from their nature. No one who has a different nature can wield the power the Wizards do.
    You're conflating our generic word "wizard" with Tolkien's Middle-earth specific "Wizard." They are not the same thing, any more than a LotRO Lore-master is the same thing as a lore master (any character can be a lore master).

    All three LotRO magic-using classes "conjure" per three of Mirriam-Webster's definitions: to practice magical arts; to summon by or as if by invocation or incantation; to affect or effect by or as if by magic. That makes them wizards, but it does not make them Wizards (since, as noted, there are only five of them). And of course even Tolkien used the generic term "wizard" when he had either Merry or Pippin exclaim that Sam might wind up becoming a wizard or a warrior (and I seriously doubt the speaker was considering the possibility that Sam might supplant one of the Five Wizards).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dweorg View Post
    Out of interest, and not exactly on topic, does i.e. Beorn's capability count as magic?
    How could a man shape-shifting into a bear not be magical? If his mass does not remain the same, that would break the laws of physics. And even if his mass remained the same, by what natural process would such a change happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reavier View Post
    my question to you, how do you respond to someone who roleplays as a conjurer? Do you nix all "magic" away, or only people who are seemingly able to manifest great feats?
    In my IC universe, magic-using character use magic. When a Lore-master causes the earth to crack under an enemy's feet, that's magic. When a Minstrel calls down a shaft of light on an enemy, that's magic. When a Rune-keeper summons a lightning strike, that's magic. How I react IC depends on the character I'm playing. Some have had more exposure to that kind of stuff than others. I have a level 30 Hobbit Warden I am positive has never seen any of those things (if they were done in his presence, I don't recall ever having seen them). I have a level 85 Human Champion from Gondor. If I RP with him, he's more "You can summon lightning at your will? I have seen this before. It is a rare ability."
    Last edited by maxjenius; Feb 13 2013 at 09:00 PM.

  10. #10
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    For me I try to deal with things IC as much as I can. So it all would depend on how the character wielding the magic or any other talent for that matter role plays the situation. If I feel it's believable for my character then so be it. There are some very inspired role players out there!!!
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