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 What is Heavy Magic?

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Arannis Posted - 08 Feb 2019 : 16:31:55
I recently got Lost Empires of Faerun and it briefly mentions Karsus using heavy magic, but it doesn't really say what heavy magic is. I tried looking it up on the Forgotten Realms Wiki but came up empty. Does anyone know what heavy magic is?
18   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
sleyvas Posted - 11 Feb 2019 : 22:48:08
quote:
Originally posted by TBeholder

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

God, I used to abuse rainbow shield.

It may need one more condition, like "…Evocation…", or "…area affecting…" but isn't such a big deal as is.




Yes, it needs SOMETHING to make it not take just any spell effect. I did things like drop a cure spell on it and let folks slap me. Granted that was what... 25 years ago? I was still a youngster and abusing the rules left and right. Still, I gotta give that book (think that was in seven sisters) the props it deserves, because from it many great ideas were refined.
TBeholder Posted - 11 Feb 2019 : 11:50:11
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

God, I used to abuse rainbow shield.

It may need one more condition, like "…Evocation…", or "…area affecting…" but isn't such a big deal as is.

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

That's the thing -- the execution was horrible. The idea had merit, but the execution of it was just painful. Like many of the kewl things that have been inflicted on the setting, it could have worked if it had been seriously rethought and rewritten.

There weren't enough details even to be "horrible", IMO.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

From the context I gather that Karsus was idly tinkering with heavy magic while also haphazardly dabbling on a half-dozen other amazing projects.

It was one of his "serious" breakthroughs:
quote:
Karsus discovered that the phaerimm’s magic drain was beginning
to weaken the life-enduring magic he had constructed around
himself, and he determined that he needed to find the source of
the draining or choose a different way to stay alive. He reverted to
lichdom and began experimenting with heavy magic. This graft of
physics, chemistry, and magic was so unstable, Karsus felt that it
would either be the end of Netheril—and possibly all of Toril—or
a boost for the magic that seemed to be draining away His main
reason for studying heavy magic was to destroy the denizens of
the underworld who he believed were responsible for the ever-
growing decline of available magic.
[...]
Karsus discovered that heavy magic could be enchanted with
other spells. He also determined that heavy magic could be
“painted” or “daubed” on any surface (like a wall, door, or mechanism),
and the surface would take on the effect. Karsus found it
very handy to force a bit of heavy magic enhanced with a dispel
magic
into a lock

Then he got a surprise from tweked energy drain. Then
quote:
Unity, a city on the northern border of the Far Horns Forest, was
infiltrated by fiends from the lower planes who sought the city as
a staging grounds for an eventual takeover of Karsus. They would
have succeeded, but Karsus and his most trusted advisors and
“friends” used heavy magic imbued with Oberon’s dismissal and
Aksa’s disintegrate spells to banish and slay the beasts over a
three-year time period.
So eventually he figured it out. And it became just one more useful thing.
quote:
The building, three stories tall,
had 52 huge, cabaret-sized rooms filled to the ceilings with heavy
magic, and each of the rooms had a different mixture of spell
effects to create a sort of entertainment and historical archive of
Netherese events.
The museum was a collection of illusions and phantasms that
recreated important events from Netheril’s past
Ayrik Posted - 11 Feb 2019 : 09:47:40
I'm ignoring this product's bad planning and/or bad writing (*cough* Slade *cough*) - they were going for epic decadent impressive high-magic fantasy - they ended up with implausible vapid juvenile cartoony-magic fantasy ... and I'm not faulting subsequent products from attempting to somehow recycle what was originally trash.

The dangers of heavy magic might've been exaggerated by the context. Maybe it's like darkflame, wildfire, liquid annihilation, Nystul's blackmote, universal solvent, elemental fire, negative plane energy, shadowstuff, antimatter, or nuclear fuel - which is to say it's reasonably "safe" stuff under controlled conditions, when certain handling and containment precautions are observed - and it's extremely dangerous, volatile, or toxic stuff when these controls or precautions are absent. From the context I gather that Karsus was idly tinkering with heavy magic while also haphazardly dabbling on a half-dozen other amazing projects. It's just a novelty he cooked up in his lab, it's not something he methodically or carefully studied for years/decades/centuries (like his most noteworthy peers did with their magical research projects). Such deliberation and patience was not Karsus's style, if he couldn't quickly and intuitively understand the magical thing then he'd just move on to some other "more interesting" new project/distraction ... and just discard his unglamorous or unfinished half-failures without a second thought.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 10 Feb 2019 : 16:17:03
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Honestly, I think you guys are going way too overboard in calling it a bad idea and giving Karsus such a bad name for it. Basically, he created a viscous magical medium that could hold the effects of a spell. Not much different than say a potion. The big difference is that the rules are a bit unclear on how to use it, and the fact that he screwed up with it and had unintended consequences... well, look at the history of our own world's scientists. Discovery is fraught with failures.

In the end, the idea has some merit, but it needs some serious definition.



That's the thing -- the execution was horrible. The idea had merit, but the execution of it was just painful. Like many of the kewl things that have been inflicted on the setting, it could have worked if it had been seriously rethought and rewritten.
sleyvas Posted - 10 Feb 2019 : 13:31:54
Honestly, I think you guys are going way too overboard in calling it a bad idea and giving Karsus such a bad name for it. Basically, he created a viscous magical medium that could hold the effects of a spell. Not much different than say a potion. The big difference is that the rules are a bit unclear on how to use it, and the fact that he screwed up with it and had unintended consequences... well, look at the history of our own world's scientists. Discovery is fraught with failures.

In the end, the idea has some merit, but it needs some serious definition.
sleyvas Posted - 10 Feb 2019 : 13:25:24
quote:
Originally posted by TBeholder

"Anything sticks on it" with unknown limitations is not too different from at least two known spells: Rainbow Shield and Darsson's Potion.
Both of those, being Realms spells, could be derived from old studies of heavy magic in the first place.



God, I used to abuse rainbow shield.
TBeholder Posted - 10 Feb 2019 : 11:21:20
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Only one instance of heavy magic used by one archwizard in one passage of one source. So maybe possible to replicate but basically unique. You could treat heavy magic like any other one-of-a-kind artifact (that is, invent any special rules for it you like).

...If you throw pre-3.5e sources down the memory hole?
Because it was pretty common part of background in Arcane Age: Netheril.
quote:
but even he couldn't handle heavy magic safely and was forced to urgently hurl it overboard
He had misgivings, but he won a war with it.
As to side effects, well, it happens. The whole "you cast Energy Drain on this thing, it starts draining mythallar which itself is out of the spell's range" was less than obvious, seeing how other uses were controllable, even disintegration.
Hoondatha Posted - 10 Feb 2019 : 01:36:54
No, they were watching Aliens too many times and thought "nuke it from orbit" was serious design advice.
Gary Dallison Posted - 09 Feb 2019 : 14:20:16
I thought that was the design team of 4e
Wooly Rupert Posted - 09 Feb 2019 : 14:06:56
quote:
Originally posted by The Masked Mage

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

even he couldn't handle heavy magic safely and was forced to urgently hurl it overboard to avert catastrophy.



I'd only point out that Karsus is not known for having anticipated the dangerous side effects of magics he was experimenting with.



He prolly could have handled it safely if he didn't do his trademark gig of "let's see, what is the most stupidly foolish thing I could possibly do in this scenario? Now, how do we one-up THAT?"

Karsus is the Forgotten Realms poster child for "Hey, y'all, watch this!"
The Masked Mage Posted - 09 Feb 2019 : 09:17:20
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

even he couldn't handle heavy magic safely and was forced to urgently hurl it overboard to avert catastrophy.



I'd only point out that Karsus is not known for having anticipated the dangerous side effects of magics he was experimenting with.
Ayrik Posted - 09 Feb 2019 : 07:44:02
Only one instance of heavy magic used by one archwizard in one passage of one source. So maybe possible to replicate but basically unique. You could treat heavy magic like any other one-of-a-kind artifact (that is, invent any special rules for it you like).

It's worth mentioning that Karsus was the most talented and powerful and knowledgeable and accomplished Netherese archwizard, he was a lich, he had access to mythallars, to all the Nether Scrolls, to peers like Larloch and to apprentices like Telamont ... but even he couldn't handle heavy magic safely and was forced to urgently hurl it overboard to avert catastrophy.
TBeholder Posted - 09 Feb 2019 : 04:34:14
"Anything sticks on it" with unknown limitations is not too different from at least two known spells: Rainbow Shield and Darsson's Potion.
Both of those, being Realms spells, could be derived from old studies of heavy magic in the first place.
The Masked Mage Posted - 09 Feb 2019 : 00:08:48
I always took it like 1 step further. Pure raw magic when given a solid state is like water - the pools of radiance. Karsus's heavy magic was concentrated - and as such both heavier and thicker like sap or syrup and more powerful. A great vague concept but in game terms hard to use.
Arannis Posted - 08 Feb 2019 : 20:49:50
Reading through that other thread it does seem heavy magic was kind of a weird concept and I am glad it wasn't expanded upon. I just had no clue what it was when it was mentioned in LEoF. Thanks for the answers, it is much appreciated
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 Feb 2019 : 20:01:33
That's as good an explanation as any... I personally think the whole idea was pure handwavium, though, and I can't stand the phrase "heavy magic" -- as I said in the other discussion, that makes me think of heavy water and WWII movies and such.
Gary Dallison Posted - 08 Feb 2019 : 18:53:48
Wooly is right, there is a lot of odd stuff in the Netheril boxed set. I view it as an early example of 4e and 5e sourcebooks where kewl is king and it doesn't quite fit with what came before or connect with neighbouring lore in the same way as the proper sourcebooks.

I can tell you my approach to heavy magic which changes nothing about the mechanics but makes it more logical to me.

So the weave is the blanket that insulates people from the raw magic that toril is saturated with. Karsus found a way to bubble the weave and fill it with concentrated raw magic so heavy magic is just this raw magic given a solid visible form.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 Feb 2019 : 17:41:18
A very clumsy idea that is best forgotten.

It was discussed several months ago in the Two Wulgreths discussion; I'd point you there for a summation of it.

It was something from the Netheril boxed set, which has some ideas that are nifty, and a lot of ideas that aren't so nifty.

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