“Applied Metaphysics” in Strategic Primer

Regular readers of this blog may know by now that “applied metaphysics” is the term I use in the Shine Cycle for various things that most fantasy would simply call “magic.” As I use it (and as described further in my first essay on the subject, and subsequent posts), it’s a catch-all term for both the one permissible form (“the Power”) and all the varieties that derive from corrupt sources (I use “magic,” “sorcery,” “wizardry,” and other similar words as technical terms describing particularly reprehensible kinds).

I’m not going to impose that classification on Strategic Primer. But there are some elements, beginning to enter the players’ view, that definitely fall under the umbrella of “applied metaphysics” or at least “fantastical.”

That the world of Strategic Primer is not limited to what is known in our world is obvious from first exploration (now that I’ve populated the world with any data about that kind of thing): dinosaurs, dragons, unicorns, and the like are common enough that an explorer is likely to see one eventually, even if not so very common that he’ll always see one if he passes through its home tile. (Though that might change, one way or the other, when I invent a framework for handling exploration properly.)

But it goes beyond “fantastical” things to be found. Among the “limitless possibilities for discovery” are directions that our world (in retrospect) couldn’t have gone, developing alchemy or some other now-debunked worldview framework into an advanced “high-tech” system. (To the exclusion of other possibilities, as I noted in my essay about “specialties.”)

A player may start along such a path through the unsolicited arrival of “newcomers” who are talented and somewhat experienced or trained in a form of “applied metaphysics”; as that talent is developed and encouraged, other paths begin to close. But players may also suggest “systems” (which are developed consistently and reasonably in some source I can refer to), which I am then more likely to make available to them through their “new arrivals.” (I also encourage suggestions of additions to the game or the world as a whole, even from non-players or from players who don’t want to be restricted by them.)

As a practical matter, this won’t have much impact for a while—specialties’ lines of research haven’t diverged much, if at all, and so opportunity costs are negligible. In fact, research priorities are probably nearly indistinguishable between players who are determined to aim for “applied physics” and “applied metaphysics.” But I think it’s best to get this out in the open before it can take anyone by surprise.

Any questions or comments?

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