Fantasy Dream team

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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2016-12-26 12:47am

The Limper alone could single handedly destroy enemy armies and he's no match as a sorcerer or a general to The Lady (see his rampage in The Silver Spike). Anasurimbor Kellhus is able to subvert entire religions, suborn armies, innovate magically and militarily, as well as being inhumanely intelligent and the most capable magic user in a setting where magic is far from weak. Given that they can draw upon the super fascist D'Harens, this isn't going to be that tricky. Taking will turn the most capable of enemy magical users into her slaves, Kellhus can inspire their own troops to fight with intelligence and fanaticism, and the results get really hilarious if The Lady sets up a magic weapon factory.
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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-12-26 03:43am

Imperial Overlord wrote:The problem with these scenarios is that they allow people to cherry pick a mixed team with capabilities not present in the setting. For example, Tolkien doesn't have much in the way of teleportation or flight magic but D&D has tons of it. Since your team can literally have abilities the Fellowship could never muster it isn't an issue that say Urza is probably going to succumb to the One Ring given time (obsessive study of artifacts is part of his core personality). His team is going to be able to get rid of the One Ring in a day so there just needs to be one person on the team who can handle the One Ring for a short amount of time it takes a Planewalker to transport them to Mount Doom.
I honestly think Urza, specifically might go "whoa whoa stop why are we melting this thing down again," convince everyone that he personally can defeat Sauron, and then gradually succumb to the Ring while in the process of doing so. Because even he isn't going to be able to build an army in less than a matter of weeks or months.

In other words, exactly what Gandalf and Galadriel feared and avoided. Only they have categorical prohibitions against using tools of the Enemy, whereas Urza does not.

Formless wrote:Well, of course it reads like a fix-fic (although not really, since a good fix-fic takes a broken narrative and fixes it with better writing. A bad fix-fic just puts a Mary Sue in the narrative and makes it worse for the character's presence). The point of the thread is to bring together a "dream team" of characters and propose how they could solve a given problem. Like Imperial Overlord said, the issue here is that some characters possess abilities that are overwhelming outside the original context and setting that they were written into. mr friendly guy stated that he didn't think that Urza or Harry Turtledove's presence would be game changing on their own, but while I don't know about Harry I do know for a fact that Urza would be a game-changer in Middle Earth. He possesses magical and industrial skills that are completely out of place in Tolkien's setting in terms of raw power and potential. I never said it would make for an interesting story; just that mr friendly guy is underestimating this character.
That much is fair.

That said, while I never really got into Magic: the Gathering lore, I found the character of Urza interesting enough to deem it worth discussing on its own merits. Which is why I've been digging into this.

Other planeswalkers might well react differently; planeswalkers are very diverse beings. What I'm getting at, though, is that the Ring is not a 'weak' artifact even if Middle-Earth is a 'low magic' setting overall. It is not just a ring of invisibility, even if that is how hobbits (who lack the ability to tap into its power for great acts of creation and destruction) percieve it. The Ring has the potential to ensnare beings much more powerful and capable than Gandalf appears to be. Because power is very much not a good defense against the Ring. Wisdom is, and a respect for one's own limitations.

My point is that narratives like Tolkien's are far more fragile than most people realize. You are right to point out that how these characters deal with the scenario depends on where I inject them into the timeline (although not really by much, especially for those who can teleport or time travel). But mr friendly guy never said when we can and cannot inject them.
He kind of did if you look carefully.

So its easy to break that delicate balance even without bringing highly powerful wizards into the setting. I could, for instance, bring Tasslehoff Burrfoot from Dragonlance in to be the Rouge and Ring-Bearer and he would be vastly better equipped to do so than Frodo. He's a professional adventurer, hero, and virtually incorruptible due to his disinterest in power and inability to feel fear.
Huh. Interesting. Now that I think about it... actually, a kender is a very good choice for that if you can keep them from getting distracted or doing something stupid. Well played. :D

Now, Urza is canny and no mistake. If he already knew some ring-lore and knew just what the One Ring might be, he has a fair chance of resisting the urge to make use of it. The problem is how seductively useful the Ring is in the hands of one of 'the wise.'

Urza would, sensibly, focus on Sauron as the real threat- not the Ring. The question is whether he'd take the danger of the Ring corrupting his mind seriously enough to avoid using it and try to beat Sauron the hard way. Or whether he'd see the Ring as a useful shortcut to beating Sauron by assisting him in creating the magically powered armies of constructs and so on that he excels at. For that matter, if he could use the Ring as a power source it would help him against Phyrexia too...

So that's the real hazard with a driven, highly competent military-magical strategist like that.
I don't think he would really need it. Other planes in Magic such as Mirrodin, Esper and Kaladesh could make constructs without the powerstones Urza used in his creations. And I don't think the Ring can be used for that purpose anyway. Since it isn't part of Magic lore, there is no indication that it can be used as a source of either Mana or Aether, the two primary sources of magical energy used in the Magic Multiverse. Unless you have some evidence that it can be used in the creation of further magical objects. I'm not an expert on Tolkien lore.
The rings (both the good elven rings, and the evil rings created by Sauron) are strongly associated with enchantment and the creation of 'marvels' and 'wonders,' for good or for ill. The elven rings are explicitly described as having been used to craft various marvelous items, large-scale enchantments, and so forth.

Using the One Ring to power an army of mechanical men may not be something Sauron ever specifically did with it, but it wouldn't be much of a stretch.

And the point is that the Ring is clearly a source of magical power, and I'm pretty sure Urza could figure out one way or another to turn it into a weapon and/or a power source for his grand designs. The problem is simply that if he tries to do that, the Ring is likely to wind up gradually brainwashing him.

How's his track record with the temptation to "fight fire with fire" and using dangerous or unstable magical tools and power sources 'for the greater good?' Has he ever conjured up forces too great for him to control? Set in motion events with consequences that, in hindsight, were foreseeably dangerous, but that he felt were necessary to achieve some short-term objective?
Admittedly bad, but it depends greatly on his companions. Barin was terrible at keeping Urza's more dangerous impulses in check and ultimately suffered a great price for ever associating with the man; but Xantcha, Karn, and Jhoira were all able to remind Urza of his humanity, and as long as they were his companions he was far better at considering the consequences of his actions. It was when Jhoira started to become more and more Teferi's companion and Karn had to receive an upgrade that would allow him to forget (as his eternal memory was starting to drive him insane) that Urza started dabbling more and more in dark shit like eugenics, the strip mining of Tolaria, and the creation of the Soul Bombs (which are exactly what they sound like-- nukes powered by the soul of a planeswalker). Ultimately, he was corrupted by Yawgmoth on Phyrexia itself and temporarily swore fealty to him until Gerrard dueled him with the already mentioned soul-severing sword. But even after that, once he was reduced to a disembodied head unable to regenerate the rest of his body, Gerrard was able to remind Urza of his humanity and mission once again. The thing that has to be remembered is that the reason Yawgmoth could corrupt Urza for even a short time has to do with the respect Urza secretly held for Phyrexia and its creations. He may have fundamentally disagreed with their methods, but they nonetheless represented a corrupted version of something he wanted to build some day: a techno-industrial paradise. His childhood was literally spent digging out the ruins of the Thrawn civilization, and that experience never fully left him. Sauron does not have that history and personal connection to exploit like Yawgmoth did. Sauron is just evil.
Sauron is also deceptive, and as you yourself have noted, part of Sauron's power comes from being more industrialized than the protagonists.

What all this you've cited signals to me is, again, the risk involved in bringing a scholar and artificer like Urza close to an artifact of subtly subversive power like the One Ring.

That may actually be Urza's best defense; he's powerful enough that the Ring may not be particularly important to him. The Ring contains the majority of the power of Sauron. And Sauron is very strong by merely mortal standards, but not quite so impressive by the multiversal standards of MTG planeswalkers.

I suspect the Ring is powerful enough that even Urza would find it useful, but not nearly as overwhelming a power source as it would be for someone like Gandalf or Galadriel.
I'm not even sure of that. What powers does it grant that Urza could not obtain by studying the spellcasting traditions of the planes? Urza is one of the few spellcasters in Magic who fully enjoyed using all five colors of magic...?
The Ring's powers are extremely nonspecific, especially since most of the story is told from the point of view of characters who are largely ignorant of its true nature.

Think of the Ring not as granting specific capabilites, but of the power to make desires come true. For instance, a hobbit like Sam Gamgee who knows absolutely nothing about magic can still be tempted by the Ring's promise to make him the greatest gardener who ever lived, cultivating huge areas of the world and making them bloom. Because the Ring can (potentially) show you a way to do that, even if you are NOT some kind of experienced plant-wizard.

You could do worse, in Magic card game terms, than to modify the One Ring as an artifact that simply grants tremendous amounts of 'free' mana, but at the price of ongoing corruption of some kind. In the hands of a mighty sorceror (like Gandalf and Galadriel) it appears that that's precisely what the Ring is.

Now, Urza has lots of spells and resources to make his desires come true through magic... but he also has powerful enemies. He'd be a fool not to use every tool he could safely use against them.
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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby mr friendly guy » 2016-12-28 08:03pm

Imperial Overlord wrote:The Limper alone could single handedly destroy enemy armies and he's no match as a sorcerer or a general to The Lady (see his rampage in The Silver Spike). Anasurimbor Kellhus is able to subvert entire religions, suborn armies, innovate magically and militarily, as well as being inhumanely intelligent and the most capable magic user in a setting where magic is far from weak. Given that they can draw upon the super fascist D'Harens, this isn't going to be that tricky. Taking will turn the most capable of enemy magical users into her slaves, Kellhus can inspire their own troops to fight with intelligence and fanaticism, and the results get really hilarious if The Lady sets up a magic weapon factory.

I must admit, I thought about regime change to solve my problem, not actually taking over the entire enemy territory with my team. Nice. Will take time to achieve, but since the OP rendered them immortal. Just a few points.

1. Its most probably easier to kill the IO sorceresses/wizards rather than take them. Jagang the dreamwalker will just command them to kill themselves before you can complete the Taken ritual to deny you the resources. Moreover the dreamwalker can still use their eyes to spy on you, unless your Taken can truthfully swear allegiance to Lord Rahl * (while they are magically compelled to serve you). Which might require a bit of mental gymnastics to believe a man can have two masters. I have no idea whether Jagang can still control wizards after they've been Taken, and not sure if there is anyway to work it out.

* the only known way to stop the dreamwalker spying via the eyes of the gifted or taking over them is to swear allegiance to the Lord Rahl, unless the dreamwalker doesn't know you exist I suppose.

2. So Kellhus is going to usurp Richard and Kahlan's rule? That would be interesting since you have the D'harans fight for Kellhus instead of Richard, where they are pretty much magically bonded to the Lord Rahl. Which makes for interesting reading, how would Kellhus do it? I know he is sort of power hungry, will he try to marry Kahlan, or marry one of their descendents so there is less strife for his empire.

3. How would the other members of your team react to taking the long route to achieve their goals. After all, presumably they all want to complete quests so they can get back to their own worlds as per the OP.
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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2016-12-28 10:27pm

mr friendly guy wrote:
1. Its most probably easier to kill the IO sorceresses/wizards rather than take them. Jagang the dreamwalker will just command them to kill themselves before you can complete the Taken ritual to deny you the resources. Moreover the dreamwalker can still use their eyes to spy on you, unless your Taken can truthfully swear allegiance to Lord Rahl * (while they are magically compelled to serve you). Which might require a bit of mental gymnastics to believe a man can have two masters. I have no idea whether Jagang can still control wizards after they've been Taken, and not sure if there is anyway to work it out.


Whatever. I'm not in a good position to argue the details of Goodkind's world due to not having read much Goodkind. Warding should work just fine to repel the dreamwalker as it does with other forms of mental control so Taking any useful sorcerers is still in the cards. Also sending Caine and whoever I have for the Ranger pick, say Raven from The Black Company, to kill Jagang's ass also works.

2. So Kellhus is going to usurp Richard and Kahlan's rule? That would be interesting since you have the D'harans fight for Kellhus instead of Richard, where they are pretty much magically bonded to the Lord Rahl. Which makes for interesting reading, how would Kellhus do it? I know he is sort of power hungry, will he try to marry Kahlan, or marry one of their descendents so there is less strife for his empire.


If Richard and Kahlan are still around it gets really fucking easy because Richard is Goodkind's super fantastic protagonist and is going to win anyway without help from a coterie of extra dimensional badasses. If he isn't, Kellhus plays the same gambit he does in The Prince of Nothing: he's a lost Rahl from a distant land. Kellhus is power hungry because the tasks he untertakes require power. The Imperial Order is an empire and an ideaological moverment. Decapitation attacks can weaken it, but it has to destroyed on the field of battle and diminished in the field of ideas. Kellhus backed by a badass crew and an army of D'Haren superfascists are well equipped to do that.
3. How would the other members of your team react to taking the long route to achieve their goals. After all, presumably they all want to complete quests so they can get back to their own worlds as per the OP.


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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby Formless » 2016-12-28 10:59pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Other planeswalkers might well react differently; planeswalkers are very diverse beings. What I'm getting at, though, is that the Ring is not a 'weak' artifact even if Middle-Earth is a 'low magic' setting overall. It is not just a ring of invisibility, even if that is how hobbits (who lack the ability to tap into its power for great acts of creation and destruction) percieve it. The Ring has the potential to ensnare beings much more powerful and capable than Gandalf appears to be. Because power is very much not a good defense against the Ring. Wisdom is, and a respect for one's own limitations.

Still, like I said before, even Gandalf cannot truly be compared to Planeswalkers of Urza's era. Nothing he does is comparable to things like the Worldspell, the activation of the Sylex, the creation of demiplanes like Serra's Realm and Mirrodin, or the entrapment of the Eldrazi. I do not think that "Wisdom" is the only thing that can protect you from the Ring. Tom Bombadil is also immune to its effects (and is even considered as a potential protector of the Ring before the Council of Elrond decides he would just lose it somewhere in the forest). Its not clear why, but it would likely be because of either his power as a forest spirit, or because of his complete disinterest in such things the ring offers. Either way, it is simplistic to assume "this could corrupt Gandalf, ergo this could corrupt any wizard from any setting." Gandalf isn't a wizard in the traditional sense, he's more of an angelic or divine being. Therefore the generalization does not hold. We must consider the powers of the Ring more carefully than that.

He kind of did if you look carefully.

I did look carefully. He only said "you start off with the ring." That isn't a time stamp, nor do I see any way of divining one from that statement. The "Dream Team" somehow has the Ring. How? Reasons. When? Not given.

Huh. Interesting. Now that I think about it... actually, a kender is a very good choice for that if you can keep them from getting distracted or doing something stupid. Well played. :D

Thank you. Although not just any Kender would work, I'm told; some actually do crave power. In one later book (not by Hickman or Weis), there was a Kender Cleric devoted to the God of Death. Yes, really. I don't think you would want that guy anywhere near the Ring.

The rings (both the good elven rings, and the evil rings created by Sauron) are strongly associated with enchantment and the creation of 'marvels' and 'wonders,' for good or for ill. The elven rings are explicitly described as having been used to craft various marvelous items, large-scale enchantments, and so forth.

Using the One Ring to power an army of mechanical men may not be something Sauron ever specifically did with it, but it wouldn't be much of a stretch.

And the point is that the Ring is clearly a source of magical power, and I'm pretty sure Urza could figure out one way or another to turn it into a weapon and/or a power source for his grand designs. The problem is simply that if he tries to do that, the Ring is likely to wind up gradually brainwashing him.

Ooooookay... Define "marvels and wonders." Depending on that, golems may or may not fit; I don't know. Not to sound nitpickety, but this is a problem inherent in comparing Tolkien to other fantasy universes or in trying to cross over with them. Tolkien isn't nearly so specific as modern fantasy writers in what the exact powers of the ring(s) were, or what the exact nature of the magical items that derive from them are. But specificity is necessary here. Otherwise, the threat of the Ring becomes impossible to assess or assert with confidence. This is, after all, one of the basic requirements of vs arguments in this forum even when magic is involved.

Besides which, assuming normal crossover conventions here, Planeswalkers (and other M:tG mages) should be able to tap the lands of Middle Earth for mana just like they can anywhere else. So again, the Ring is potentially useful (maybe), but Urza should be able to create golems and other constructs without its help.

Sauron is also deceptive, and as you yourself have noted, part of Sauron's power comes from being more industrialized than the protagonists.

What all this you've cited signals to me is, again, the risk involved in bringing a scholar and artificer like Urza close to an artifact of subtly subversive power like the One Ring.

But I should also note that most of the feats Sauron displays are frankly crude in comparison to the Thrawn's creations and Phyrexia, not to mention Urza's own machinations during his pre-planeswalker lifetime. Deceptions don't work if the person you are lying to can tell that its too good to be true.

Besides, lets imagine a scenario where the Eye of Sauron actually looked Urza in the eye. Urza would be looking back. And you do not want to look Urza in the eye and lie to him:

Time Streams, chp.5 wrote:While the latch sounded and hushed voices spoke, Teferi and Malzra [Urza] stared into each other's eyes. There was recognition between them. Despite the vast difference in their ages, the two knew in that moment that they were more alike than different--brilliant, driven, selfish, unstoppable, obsessive, irrepressible, and as deeply flawed as they were gifted. But there was something more to it, an undeniable spark of greatness--unmistakable among those blessed, or cursed, by it.

Malzra's eyes intensified. Teferi felt a presence in his mind. Sinuous as a snake, Malzra slithered through his thoughts. The master sniffed among skittering memories, snapped and swallowed them. Fear like a mouse went first into that maw, then jealousy and timid insecurity. The master's mind snapped down images of the forest and the Glimmer Moon. The truth lay beyond. It smelled sour and strong. Malzra wound forward. In moments he would know. He would know.

Teferi's eyes intensified too. A cat came prowling among his thoughts--righteous indignation and pride-- and it leapt on the snaking mind of Malzra. Fangs and claws, spitting and hissing, fur and scale they fought in the young man's mind. The battle was ferocious, though only their beaming eyes gave outward sign of it.

Note that Teferi was only able to withstand this mental attack because 1) he was obviously trained in telepathic combat 2) the fight was interrupted by Barrin and 3) as hinted in the prose, he had the planeswalkers spark to help him resist. In the previous book, Ratep almost didn't survive the same kind of mental assault:

Planeswalker, chapter 8 wrote:Every night in the village Xantcha had sat up with Rat [Ratep] telling him about Urza and Urza's obsessions. She'd warned him about Urza's uncanny eyes and the tabletop where his gnats recreated-- refined-- the scenes from Kayla's epic. She'd taught him the rudiments of the polyglot language she and Urza spoke when they were alone because it was rich in the words he'd shared with Mishra, when they were both men. She'd taught him the word for brother and insisted he practice until he got it right, but the word he'd said was pure Efuand dialect.

[after a brief exchange where Ratep tries to convince Urza he is really Mishra despite his accent]

Raising his hand, Urza took a hesitant stride toward Rat--toward Mishra. He stopped short of touching his putative brother's flesh.

"I dreamed that in time, through time, I'd find a way to talk to you, to warn you of the dangers neither of us saw when we were alive together. I never dreamed that you would find me. You. It is you, Mishra?"

Urza moved without moving, placing his open hand across Rat's cheek. Even Xantcha, who knew Urza could change his shape faster than muscle could move bone, was stunned. As for Rat himself--Rat, who'd refused to believe her warnings that her Urza was the Urza who'd become more like a god than a man--he went deathly pale beneath Urza's long, elegant and essentially lifeless fingers. His eyes rolled, and his body slackened: he'd fainted, but Urza's curiosity kept him upright.

"They took your skin, Mishra, and stretched it over one of their abominations. Do you remember? Do you remember them coming for you? Do you remember dying?"

Rat's limp arms and legs began to tremble. Xantcha's breath caught in her throat. She'd never believed that Urza was cruel, merely careless. He'd lived so long in his mad isolation that he'd forgotten the frailties of ordinary flesh, especially of flesh more ordinary than that of a Phyrexian newt. She was certain that once Urza noticed what he was doing, he'd relent. He could heal as readily as he harmed.

"Stop!" Xantcha seized Urza's outstretched arm. She might have been a fly on a mountain top for the effect she had. "You're killing him."

Suddenly, Urza's arm hung at his side again. Xantcha reeled backward, fighting for balance while Rat collapsed.

"There is nothing in his mind." [Urza said]


So basically, Urza's telepathy is actually harmful to most people's brains, and it is the first thing he resorts to when confronted by possible lies. Sauron is a disembodied spirit or something like that, but when people put on the Ring and his Eye is cast upon them he is known to have a similar effect on them. But with Urza, what would occur is most likely a mental battle like the one between Urza and Teferi. The books actually make it clear that Urza has to be mindful of his eyes' destructive powers when around mere mortals. Its a power that is always on until turned off.

I'm not even sure of that. What powers does it grant that Urza could not obtain by studying the spellcasting traditions of the planes? Urza is one of the few spellcasters in Magic who fully enjoyed using all five colors of magic...?
The Ring's powers are extremely nonspecific, especially since most of the story is told from the point of view of characters who are largely ignorant of its true nature.

Think of the Ring not as granting specific capabilites, but of the power to make desires come true. For instance, a hobbit like Sam Gamgee who knows absolutely nothing about magic can still be tempted by the Ring's promise to make him the greatest gardener who ever lived, cultivating huge areas of the world and making them bloom. Because the Ring can (potentially) show you a way to do that, even if you are NOT some kind of experienced plant-wizard.

So knowledge, then? That is what it offers as a temptation? True that Urza often desires knowledge, but not necessarily that kind of knowledge even if Sauron could offer it to him True knowledge of historic events, maybe, as the ambiguities about his own past were one of his obsessions, but power for the sake of power isn't on his list. Power to defeat Phyrexia, sure, but that seems beyond Sauron's abilities. Power to get his brother back? It is doubtful that Sauron could offer that to him. Moreover, Xantcha helped him come to terms with that as well. Power to make his utopia? The only thing that held Urza back from actually creating it was his desire to defeat Phyrexia first; otherwise, when Karn created Argentum/Mirrodin it was in part to make his creator's dream come true.

I still don't see what the Ring could offer him that would really tempt him once he is committed to defeating Sauron. Obsessiveness combined with determination were two of his biggest personality traits that came with obvious downsides, but a few upsides as well, like vision-- notably, a type of wisdom. He was also no stranger to delegating important tasks to "lesser" beings as well, such as the Weatherlight crew, specifically because he knew that they would do the right thing even when he was weak. The Legacy Weapon (his trump card against Yawgmoth) required Urza's sacrifice in order to use, because his eyes were a component; thus showing how deep his commitments were. So its quite likely that if sealing the Ring away with technology or magic aren't options, and he feels any corrupting temptation from the ring, he would do the wise thing and let someone else be the Ring Bearer. My original statement wasn't that he alone could do everything necessary to win against Sauron; just that I could choose almost anyone else and the majority of the work could be shouldered by Urza.
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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby mr friendly guy » 2016-12-29 12:55am

I just had another fun thought about how to deal with the IO. Since the IO is basically a USSR style economy but with religious fundamentalist tendencies and no industrialisation, and they use gold coins..... Lets collapse it USSR style, into smaller states. After all, they were initially several countries which were annexed by Jagang over his life time. Since the dreamwalker is just a mortal, it can't have been united even as long as the Soviet Union was at the time of its collapse.

Firstly Belgarath can turn stones into gold, and he understands inflation on at least a basic level. This is why he does not want to create more gold as it will lose its value. Janus is from a more advance economy, they have guns and he understands the politics of it, and most probably some level of economics (they have shares, banks etc).

And we know that Richard can inspire revolution by the power of ... Ayn Rand preaching and capitalism. So with that in mind.

We do what Richard did and set up a business in their cities. Only this time we buy goods required for their war effort, ie clothing, steel and food. Since Belgarath just makes gold out of stones, given time we will cause inflation on a massive scale due to a) increase supply of gold and b) decrease supply of goods. We can put them in a warehouse (warded against intruders of course courtesy of Khelben) and then allow Rand to create a gateway there and shuttle the goods via the one power and Belgarath's sorcery into the New World.

Each year the order sends troops, we just hold them until winter and then Anvar does his magic wind trick and they die of exposure again. Eventually, inflation would screw over their economy, and without a strong leader like the Dreamwalker, and without their magic users (now that Jagang is dead), they will collapse in infighting.
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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-12-29 07:40am

Formless wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:Other planeswalkers might well react differently; planeswalkers are very diverse beings. What I'm getting at, though, is that the Ring is not a 'weak' artifact even if Middle-Earth is a 'low magic' setting overall. It is not just a ring of invisibility, even if that is how hobbits (who lack the ability to tap into its power for great acts of creation and destruction) percieve it. The Ring has the potential to ensnare beings much more powerful and capable than Gandalf appears to be. Because power is very much not a good defense against the Ring. Wisdom is, and a respect for one's own limitations.
Still, like I said before, even Gandalf cannot truly be compared to Planeswalkers of Urza's era. Nothing he does is comparable to things like the Worldspell, the activation of the Sylex, the creation of demiplanes like Serra's Realm and Mirrodin, or the entrapment of the Eldrazi. I do not think that "Wisdom" is the only thing that can protect you from the Ring.
You're still fixating on power. I do not for a moment deny that planeswalkers of Magic: The Gathering are, or appear to be, much stronger than Gandalf of Middle-Earth.

What I'm getting at is that a character's level of raw magical power is largely irrelevant to whether or not it's a good idea to put them anywhere close to the One Ring.

Tom Bombadil is also immune to its effects (and is even considered as a potential protector of the Ring before the Council of Elrond decides he would just lose it somewhere in the forest). Its not clear why, but it would likely be because of either his power as a forest spirit, or because of his complete disinterest in such things the ring offers. Either way, it is simplistic to assume "this could corrupt Gandalf, ergo this could corrupt any wizard from any setting." Gandalf isn't a wizard in the traditional sense, he's more of an angelic or divine being. Therefore the generalization does not hold. We must consider the powers of the Ring more carefully than that.
The Ring appears able to corrupt everyone. Sauron's rings can subvert nonmagical mortals, magic-using humans, elves, and Maiar alike. They seem to have at least potential to corrupt everyone... except for Tom Bombadil, who is a unique and very strange entity. And yet the Council rejected him for more reasons than you seem to have remembered, in your rather selective description of their deliberations.

The Council rejects the idea of asking Bombadil to secure the Ring for two reasons. Bombadil losing the ring is not the greater of them. The bigger problem is that ultimately, Bombadil doesn't have it in him to resist Sauron. Not if Sauron becomes powerful enough to conquer other sources of opposition and gets into a position to demand the ring from Bombadil.

So Bombadil is actually a great example of an entity who has the 'wisdom' (or some equivalent) to resist the Ring, but not the power to, say, crush Sauron in magical/military warfare. Urza has the aforementioned power, but does he have the wisdom?

I honestly think that wisdom (again in the context of having the judgment to resist the Ring) and power are completely uncorrelated attributes. One of the least powerful and prepossessing people in all of Middle-Earth proves wise enough to resist the Ring's appeals, having just worn it, on the very doorstep of Mordor. Conversely, the most powerful magicians and angelic beings of Middle-Earth are so worried about their own ability to resist the Ring that they refuse to even touch it, even when it is offered to them freely.

He kind of did if you look carefully.
I did look carefully. He only said "you start off with the ring." That isn't a time stamp, nor do I see any way of divining one from that statement. The "Dream Team" somehow has the Ring. How? Reasons. When? Not given.
You didn't look carefully enough.

"The first quest is to destroy the One ring after the meeting at Rivendell." Presumably the Ring passes into the care of the 'dream team' at that time.

The rings (both the good elven rings, and the evil rings created by Sauron) are strongly associated with enchantment and the creation of 'marvels' and 'wonders,' for good or for ill. The elven rings are explicitly described as having been used to craft various marvelous items, large-scale enchantments, and so forth.

Using the One Ring to power an army of mechanical men may not be something Sauron ever specifically did with it, but it wouldn't be much of a stretch.

And the point is that the Ring is clearly a source of magical power, and I'm pretty sure Urza could figure out one way or another to turn it into a weapon and/or a power source for his grand designs. The problem is simply that if he tries to do that, the Ring is likely to wind up gradually brainwashing him.
Ooooookay... Define "marvels and wonders." Depending on that, golems may or may not fit; I don't know. Not to sound nitpickety, but this is a problem inherent in comparing Tolkien to other fantasy universes or in trying to cross over with them. Tolkien isn't nearly so specific as modern fantasy writers in what the exact powers of the ring(s) were, or what the exact nature of the magical items that derive from them are. But specificity is necessary here. Otherwise, the threat of the Ring becomes impossible to assess or assert with confidence. This is, after all, one of the basic requirements of vs arguments in this forum even when magic is involved.
The only specific powers of the Ring we see 'on screen' are:

1) Conferring invisibility on the wearer, by shifting them into an 'unseen' realm (though other 'unseen' beings can see the wearer just fine).
2) As a corollary to (1), the Ring appears to sharpen the senses and allow beings to perceive things that would otherwise be restricted to the unseen realm.
3) Extended longevity, though apparently this kind of longevity becomes burdensome to the Ring-bearer; it 'stretches' their life rather than truly extending it.
4) Ability to comprehend the Black Speech, the language of Mordor.
5) Some degree of illusion-making, sufficient to give Sam Gamgee the appearance of a warrior frightening enough to cause an orc to run away in screaming terror.

None of this is particularly amazing by our standards. But these are the powers of the Ring in the hands of a lowly hobbit who has no magical ability whatsoever. The key thing about the One Ring is that it is the repository of much of Sauron's magical essence and power- and Sauron is a demigod by any reasonable standards. Its powers are great, as Sauron's power is great- and broad, as his powers are broad. But those powers can only be mastered by a powerful individual; they are not equally available to everyone.

Worn by merely ordinary mortals, the Ring is no more impressive than, say, typical D&D magical items: marvelous if you're accustomed to a nonmagical world, but not so much by the standards of modern fantasy. However, in the hands of more powerful beings, the Ring becomes a more powerful tool. Sauron could use it for mind control, for instance. And the army that marches on the gates of Mordor at the end of Return of the King is a deception engineered by Gandalf and Aragorn, an attempt to fool Sauron into thinking Aragorn has seized the Ring for himself and is leading an army to help him defeat Sauron with its power.

That deception wouldn't work very well, if Sauron didn't know that the Ring had power sufficient to enable a powerful human king to challenge him.

Gandalf and Galadriel don't refuse the Ring because they're too strong to need it. They do so even though- arguably because- they know it would make them immensely more powerful than they now are. Galadriel honestly thinks she could use it to rule the world, powerful and "terrible as the morning and the night." And she really, really ought to know what the Ring is capable of.

So this is an important thing to understand. We know the Ring can offer power that is 'tailored' to its wearer: Sam Gamgee is offered the power to garden on a vast scale, because his great desire is to be a gardener. And we know that the Ring's power tends to scale with that of its wielder. It turns a gardener into a 'warrior' capable of terrifying orcs- not very impressive. But it would turn an elven sorceror-queen into the empress of the known world, potentially strong enough to cast aside Sauron, "dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning, stronger than the foundations of the earth."

Urza's ambition is to create magical machines, and his power is immense. This suggests that the Ring can almost certainly offer him power to augment his magical constructs. And that the total quantity of power it offers him will be very great- staggering, by the standards of Middle-Earth.

Sauron is also deceptive, and as you yourself have noted, part of Sauron's power comes from being more industrialized than the protagonists.

What all this you've cited signals to me is, again, the risk involved in bringing a scholar and artificer like Urza close to an artifact of subtly subversive power like the One Ring.
But I should also note that most of the feats Sauron displays are frankly crude in comparison to the Thrawn's creations and Phyrexia, not to mention Urza's own machinations during his pre-planeswalker lifetime. Deceptions don't work if the person you are lying to can tell that its too good to be true.
Sauron has an obvious rejoinder- that this is the best he could manage given that he'd been reduced to a bodiless shade by the cruel Luddism of elves and men. Did he not work greater marvels among the people of Númenor, under Ar-Pharazôn the Golden?

In one of the earlier drafts of Tolkein's works we see reference to this:

History of Middle-Earth wrote:"The teaching of Sauron has led to the invention of ships of metal that traverse the seas without sails, but which are hideous in the eyes of those who have not abandoned or forgotten Tol Eressea; to the building of grim fortresses and unlovely towers; and to missiles that pass with a noise like thunder to strike their targets many miles away."

“Our ships go now without the wind, and many are made of metal that sheareth rocks, and they sink not in calm or storm; but they are no longer fair to look upon. But our shields are impenetrable, our swords cannot be withstood, our darts are like thunder and pass over leagues unerring.”
I wouldn't bet much against Sauron being able to credibly persuade Urza that on some level, the two are kindred spirits.

Besides, lets imagine a scenario where the Eye of Sauron actually looked Urza in the eye. Urza would be looking back. And you do not want to look Urza in the eye and lie to him:
Time Streams, chp.5 wrote:(snip)
Note that Teferi was only able to withstand this mental attack because 1) he was obviously trained in telepathic combat 2) the fight was interrupted by Barrin and 3) as hinted in the prose, he had the planeswalkers spark to help him resist. In the previous book, Ratep almost didn't survive the same kind of mental assault:

Planeswalker, chapter 8 wrote:(snip)
So basically, Urza's telepathy is actually harmful to most people's brains, and it is the first thing he resorts to when confronted by possible lies. Sauron is a disembodied spirit or something like that, but when people put on the Ring and his Eye is cast upon them he is known to have a similar effect on them. But with Urza, what would occur is most likely a mental battle like the one between Urza and Teferi. The books actually make it clear that Urza has to be mindful of his eyes' destructive powers when around mere mortals. Its a power that is always on until turned off.
Yes. Although Sauron seems to have a lot more finesse in the use of his mind and gaze. If he wants to fry a mortal's brain, he does... but if he doesn't want to, he doesn't.

Urza is obviously far too strong for Sauron to simply dominate him telepathically. But I don't think Urza's telepathy makes him too powerful for Sauron to lie to, or manipulate.

[This is not me trying to undermine the power of the planeswalkers in their own setting, or in absolute terms. It's simply that Urza is probably the wrong planeswalker to oppose a being like Sauron. Sauron would have more trouble against a planeswalker less prone to absent-mindedness, less fascinated by magical machinery, and less fixated on building up engines of war that give them reason to search for extraordinary sources of power.]

The Ring's powers are extremely nonspecific, especially since most of the story is told from the point of view of characters who are largely ignorant of its true nature.

Think of the Ring not as granting specific capabilites, but of the power to make desires come true. For instance, a hobbit like Sam Gamgee who knows absolutely nothing about magic can still be tempted by the Ring's promise to make him the greatest gardener who ever lived, cultivating huge areas of the world and making them bloom. Because the Ring can (potentially) show you a way to do that, even if you are NOT some kind of experienced plant-wizard.
So knowledge, then? That is what it offers as a temptation? True that Urza often desires knowledge, but not necessarily that kind of knowledge even if Sauron could offer it to him True knowledge of historic events, maybe, as the ambiguities about his own past were one of his obsessions, but power for the sake of power isn't on his list. Power to defeat Phyrexia, sure, but that seems beyond Sauron's abilities. Power to get his brother back? It is doubtful that Sauron could offer that to him. Moreover, Xantcha helped him come to terms with that as well. Power to make his utopia? The only thing that held Urza back from actually creating it was his desire to defeat Phyrexia first; otherwise, when Karn created Argentum/Mirrodin it was in part to make his creator's dream come true.
The Ring can offer knowledge, potentially, but more normally offers power.

Samwise was being offered power, not just knowledge:

The Return of the King wrote:Already the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason. Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dur. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be.

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.

'And anyway all these notions are only a trick,' he said to himself. 'He'd spot me and cow me, before I could so much as shout out. He'd spot me, pretty quick, if I put the Ring on now, in Mordor.' "
The power to turn a huge barren valley into a fertile garden of blooming flowers and fruitful trees isn't consistent with what we see hobbits able to do with the Ring. But it's very consistent with what more powerful entities seem to think it would let them do. And that is, fairly obviously, just one example of the kind of thing the Ring may be capable of.

Now, Urza already has power on this scale, as I understand it- but more would be rather useful to him, given just how strong his real enemies are. Phyrexia is like a kind of super-Mordor, worse and more powerful and more terrifying. From Urza's point of view, conquering the lesser, pseudo-Phyrexia and gaining a tool to help him defeat the greater one might seem very tempting.

I still don't see what the Ring could offer him that would really tempt him once he is committed to defeating Sauron. Obsessiveness combined with determination were two of his biggest personality traits that came with obvious downsides, but a few upsides as well, like vision-- notably, a type of wisdom. He was also no stranger to delegating important tasks to "lesser" beings as well, such as the Weatherlight crew, specifically because he knew that they would do the right thing even when he was weak. The Legacy Weapon (his trump card against Yawgmoth) required Urza's sacrifice in order to use, because his eyes were a component; thus showing how deep his commitments were. So its quite likely that if sealing the Ring away with technology or magic aren't options, and he feels any corrupting temptation from the ring, he would do the wise thing and let someone else be the Ring Bearer. My original statement wasn't that he alone could do everything necessary to win against Sauron; just that I could choose almost anyone else and the majority of the work could be shouldered by Urza.
[/quote]I can see Urza thinking this way- he's not stupid, he's certainly capable of avoiding the doom of Isildur or of passing the same test Galadriel did.

But I suspect there are a fair number of other planeswalkers I'd rather put in the same position, who'd be more likely to succeed.
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Re: Fantasy Dream team

Postby Majin Gojira » 2017-01-10 12:49am

I've wanted to make some time for this thread, so I'm going to give it a go without looking to deap into it.

I thought of using one of the various forms of Sun Wukong and Tripataka for this (like say from the 2013 film "Journey to the West"), but that might be afowl so I'll pass on them for now. If they would fit, Tripataka si the Cleric, and Sun Wukong instead of one of the others.

Team Leader: Tavi of Calderon a.k.a. Gaius Octavian, First Lord of Alera - From Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. An extremely intelligent leader who is wise in both various technologies of old rome, and in his ability to analyze and adapt to various situations. Be it brokering peace with wolf-men and psychic yetis, or stopping what basically amounts to the Zerg. Skilled as a spy/assassin, legionaire, enginere, and . . . he has various elemental powers. This ranges from controling the movements of earth, wood, and water, to conjuring gouts of fire, to innuring himself to painand making any metal blade he holds supernaturally sharp. He does tend towards pretty crazy (and awesome) plans. Though by proxy, they are also awesme, generally from taking what he knows about physics and applying it to the various powers he encounters to maximize or minimize their effectiveness (or doing weird things like making sure a brackish river is full of sharks by dumping lots of blood in it to make sure it's an effective moat).

Bard: Elan from Order of the Stick. This is a hard slot to fill because my first choice is out because he's also a mecha pilot Nekki Basara from Macross 7). Elan isn't as epic, but he's a classic D&D Bard who can help keep the other characters almost as cheerful and his innocence and kindness can be as key to a victory as anything else.

Ranger: Kitai (Codex Alera) - Wife of Tavi/Gaius Octavian, she is basically from a race of Neolithic/Neanderthal-elves and she is bonded with him, having some of his strengths (his elemental powers). She is also superhumanly strong and agile (but not insanely so). Her inhuman perspective often helps ground Tavi in his insaner moment, but she is still supportive. Stealthy, cunning, and generally all around naturally accute.

Wizard/Sorcerer: Lina Inverse (Slayers) - The Dragon Tickler, among many other epithets. She is a (dark) mage specializing in spells that blow enemies to bits. She's a decent swordswoman to boot, but she's best known for the spell Dragon Slave (and Giga Slave) which are basically tatical nukes. The latter of which is able to destroy spirits/gods. She might enjoy having Elan around because he reminds her of her friend Gaori.

Cleric: Kyra, Cleric of Sarenrae - Thank you Pathfinder for including your iconics in a dozen or more mini-series. Level 12 by now, easily. Her stats are pretty easy to look up. To give an idea of how powerful she is at this point, she has Mass Cure Moderate Wounds. More serious minded, but kind and forgiving, she might rub Lina the wrong way, but not overly so.

Fighter/Barbarian: Clare (Claymore) - Imagine a superhumanly strong swordswoman who can slash her massive adamantine blade at a rate that would make a chainsaw envious, and that's the basic benefit of her being around. Low food requirements (one bite every week), and the ability to summon up a literal "win" button in the form of Teresa ofthe Faint Smile means any physical challenge is easily dealt with. Sure, she's quarter-monster, but she is quite OP in terms of strength and speed. In that battling her on equal terms tends to make an area look like it's been hit with an artillary strike. Her surface coldness hiding what's basiaclly the emotional exuberance of a deeply disturbed teenager could be easily calmed and comforted by Kyra.

Rogue: Haley (Order of the Stick) - One of the better all around rogues to work with. She and Elan can get along swimingly (what with them dating) and she would probably gell in mind set with both Kitai and Lina Inverse. The former for keeping their eyes on target, and the later with an eye on gold and rewards.

Others (3):
Dragonet (Webcomic, "Dragonet") - Okay, how to explain this. Imagine am immature red dragon . . . that was raised Catholic. She wants to be a good Christian to boot. She disguises herself as a human (a tall woman in scale armor, using gauntlets and boots to hide her claws), and carries around a giant-forged sword as she quests. Best of all, she can turn into a 30+ft dragon. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the mount.

Samurai Jack - His skill, patience, and adaptability alone could get him in. But that sword puts him over the top.

Gandalf the Grey - Because wisdom is needed in this party! It is somewhat naive, unfocused, and somewhat silly. Gandalf could get them to focus.

Alternates: Hiccup and Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon films/TV) - Wasn't sure if the'd count as one or two, so I'm leaving them to the side; Minsc and Boo (Baldur's Gate) - A decent ranger with a minature giant space a hamster!; Aang (to much overlap with tavi)

*

To the One Ring Scenario, which is the only one I can guess on effectively, if Jack's sword can't destroy it (which, I dunno, it might be able to), Elan is most likely chosen as the RIng-bearer if one is needed. Otherwise, the journey is a lot safer with Dragonet acting as the taxi for everyone.

Though how resistant to corruption the others are is another matter. The shortened travel time would help overcome that, but it's still a worry for any scenario.
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