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Shadowrun 4e newbie questions
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Stahlseele
King


Joined: 14 Apr 2010
Posts: 5067
Location: Hamburg, Germany

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

i do
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Nath
Master


Joined: 28 Oct 2012
Posts: 186

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Shadowrun/Earthdawn mana cycles are what you get when multiple writers contribute to a setting over several years and the only available references are in-context description that no one even takes the time to look up (let alone consider their implication) and instead rely on what they remember from what they read one decade ago, merged with Internet insight. That is, a snowballing pile mostly made of shit.

About the so-called Sixth World, I find enlightening to look at how the expression was initially introduced in Shadowrun, first edition :

Quote:
Shadowrun, 1st Edition, page 14
Some mystics point to the Mayan calendar as an authority, noting that it predicts the start of a new cycle of humanity on December, 24, 2011. They also say the appearance of the Dragon Ryumyo is the signpost making what the Mayans called the Sixth World.
Had they done better research, these dreamers would have discovered that the Mayans also predicted a world-destroying calamity that would herald the birth of a new, improved race of humans. Where were these things? It is true that we faced trials, disasters, and great change, but we do not have a new world. It's still good, old Mother Earth, even if she has entered a new phase.

Really. The whole "Sixth thingie" was supposed to be, by 2049, a bizarre expression in use only among the tenants of fringe theory. Sure, the existence of a previous era of magic was pretty much implied by the existence of grown-up dragons. And the plan was to introduce later information about the existence of immortal elves that could pass a fringe theory as well.

The first step was the "Humans and the Cycle of Magic" article writen by Jordan Weisman and attributed to Ehran. It was given considerable clout because 1 Ehran was established as a powerful character and as such, as someone clever and 2 it gave actual, precise dates, which immediately looks more serious.
The funny part is that, for all its references to the Mayan Long Count, none of the dates in the article actually match the Long Count. I'm not mentioning the fact that the December 24, 2011 has not been considered as a correct corelation for the Mayan calendar for several decades IRL. I mean, the three dates Ehran gave would make the Fifth World 730 days shorter and the Sixth World 31 days shorter than the Long Count thirteen baktuns. The Mayan Long Count is not predicting anything. That or Ehran may look even more stupid when he explains the Awakening is so incredibly difficult to predict, if just counting 1 872 000 days is going to make the cut twice in a row better than any other method.

I'm still not sure anyone at FASA actually read any archeology book about the Mayas. It is equally possible they just picked the dates from some New Age literature. For what it worth, they could have called it the Age of Aquarius just as well.

Humans the Cycle of Magic is the original source that suggest the duration of magical and mundane eras have always been the same. More accurately, it does state the "average" length is 5200 years and that the "Fifth World" was 5124 years long, and predicts the "Sixth World" is going to be 5126 years long. It should be pointed out Ehran has only observed the "Fifth World" in full, so he had to get data from someone else to calculate an average length and be convinced the "Sixth World" is also going to be about that long.

Tir Tairngire expanded a bit upon the Ehran article. It's noteworthy for using the word "cycle" correctly and mentioning "a full cycle taking somewhere between five and ten thousand years" (which would mean the "Fourth World" could have been as late and short as 3000 BCE-500 BCE).

Quote:
Tir Tairngire, page 140
>>>>>[The Fourth World ties into a theory that's been knocking around for a decade or so now. Supposedly, the theory sprang from a private lecture Ehran the Scribe gave to a group of young elven technologists some time back. Someone pirated the trideo and it's been making the covert rounds. Ehran tried to have it squashed, with minimal success.
Anyway, the theory say that time and history move in cycles, like a sine wave (turn an 'S' and its side). During the 'down" part, the world's mana (magic energy) ebbs, hence no magic. During the 'up' part, the level of mana increases and magic appears. This pattern of low mana/high mana continually repeats itself, a full cycle taking somewhere between five and ten thousand years. Every half-cycle, each independent low mana or high mana period creates a separate "World." According to the story, the Awakening market the beginning of this World.]<<<<<
-Pele (11:02:39/3-13-54)


I am a lot less savvy regarding Earthdawn books, but I'm actually not sure they ever numbered any era as the Fourth something. I know they mention an "Age of Dragons" that appear to be the previous age of magic, during which almost all Great Dragons of Barsaive have been born. The Dragons sourcebook also introduced a world origin legend as told by the dragons, but it does not state the Age of Dragons came right after. Actually, considering the Great Dragons are said to be born during the previous magical eras, expressions such as "As each generation of dragon learns from the great dragons before them..." suggest a way much longer history.

Now, everyone who has read those texts twenty years ago would tell you it always has been clearly established there were six eras who all lasted 5214 or 5200 years, and that the mana peak that allowed the Horrors in happened at the middle of the two previous magical eras.
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Nath
Master


Joined: 28 Oct 2012
Posts: 186

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
It's rather odd, because Earthdawn actually has a really tiny and myopic focus and is centered around some fantasy adventures people are/were having in what is now the Ukraine / Russia. There's no particular reason for people in North America, East Asia, or even Western Europe to ever see anything that ever made a fuck width's of difference in Earthdawn, and all of the crossovers were kinda strained when you thought about them in that light.

Well, Earthdawn is a game about adventuring in one rebel province in an Empire that stretches around all the Mediterrean Sea and the Black Sea, with scarce mentions of remote locations. As far as RPG are concerned, it's not particularly tinier or more myopic than most other games (Shadowrun included, if you consider the coverage the world outside of North America did get prior to the 3rd edition).

The cross-over itself, on the other hand, is a tiny one, one both sides of the connection. What you really get is, like, eight ED characters who were in Barsaive and moved to North America, four of them preventing a group of SR characters from bringing back other ED characters, and the four other establishing a SR nation that will speak an ED language.

The only thing that makes the cross-over looks big is the threat to destroy the entire setting is the former fail.
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Voss
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 3852

PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Nath wrote:
Now, everyone who has read those texts twenty years ago would tell you it always has been clearly established there were six eras who all lasted 5214 or 5200 years, and that the mana peak that allowed the Horrors in happened at the middle of the two previous magical eras.

Mostly what everyone actually tells you is 'this is why recorded history doesn't have real magic. Shut up, there's magic now, because cycles.'

Get on with shadowrunning already.
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kzt
Knight-Baron


Joined: 03 May 2010
Posts: 825

PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The motto of the FASA owner was, per the marketing guy at FASA, 'sell the sizzle, not the steak'. So nothing needed to make sense at second glance, much less deep analysis.
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