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Physical, Mystical, Technological

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A game system with three main skill sets: physical perfection, magical powers, and tech gadgets.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Koveras on Sep 20th 2017 at 12:10:35 AM
Last Edited By:
Koveras on May 22nd 2018 at 11:42:09 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

A variant of Three-Stat System which expands the Magic Versus Technology dichotomy by adding Charles Atlas Superpower to the mix: instead of learning magical spells or building crazy gadgets, you can just as well perfect your own body to reach equal levels of personal power.

The "strength" character/faction may symbolize people with low-to-mid technology and looking more down-to-earth compared to the magic and tech characters/factions. In a work that employs multiple (humanoid) races, the "strength" people tend to be normal humans, while elves often represent the "magic" faction, and dwarves, the "tech" faction.

Also included are Power Trios of characters who each represent one aspect of this trichotomy, without the latter necessarily being expressed in the Game System. Compare Fighter, Mage, Thief, which can overlap with this trope if the thief in question relies more on tech gadgets than on dexterity and back-stabs.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    MMORPG 
  • In Dragon Ball Online, these are the three classes available for the human race: the physical-based Martial Artist, the magic-based Mystic, and the technology-based Engineer.
  • RF Online: the three playable races/factions are nicely put this way - Accretian Empire are all robots and uses (mostly) high tech equipments, Holy Alliance of Cora are Space Elves-like race with lots of mysticism, and the Belato Union are normal-ish short people. The last one can be geared towards either tech or magic depending on their class choice, however.

    Role-Playing Video Game 
  • The Mass Effect series has three main skill sets for Shepard and Ryder to develop: combat, tech, and biotics. Combat skills revolve around using common weapons more efficiently while taking more punishment than a normal person could; tech is all about hacking and building multi-purpose drones; and biotics are essentially space magic. This is particularly noticeable in the first Mass Effect, where each player class and each companion have a rating in each each of these three parameters, visible on the party selection screen.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: The main gameplay divide is between tech and magic (using one greatly limits the other), with physical ability supporting either one.
  • The canceled Western RPG Project Resurgence would have been set in a post-apocalyptic world whose inhabitant tribes take conflicting approaches to rebuilding their world: some rely entirely on science and technology, some go for the newly-emergent magic (which nobody still quite understands), and some reject both in favor of perfecting their combat and other physical skills. The player would have been able to choose any of these approaches and even mix them, if they wanted to.
  • Torchlight has three classes: the Magic-based Alchemist, the Strength-based Destroyer and the Tech-based Vanquisher.
  • The central Power Trio of Chrono Trigger consists of the Master Swordsman Crono, the White Mage Marle, and the Gadgeteer Genius Lucca.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Blades in the Dark has a strict Single Phlebotinum Limit and everything in the setting is powered by electroplasm, but there are different in-universe approaches to using it: spectrology, rituals, and arcane enchantments take a more mystical stance, while alchemy, spark-craft and plain-old industrial engineering champion the scientific approach. The seven available playbooks break down (almost) neatly into three equal groups: Lurks and, particularly, Whispers have mostly magic/arcane powers; Hounds and Leeches rely heavily on tech; and Cutters and Slides are largely all about the physical (whether violence or personal charisma). (Spiders sit comfortably in the middle of the net, without any truly superhuman abilities except foresight and management skills.)
  • The gameplay divide in early editions of Shadowrun was Street Samurai (strength), Mage/Shaman (magic), and Decker (tech). Later editions added more archetypes that blurred the lines like the Rigger, Technomancer, and Adepts.

    Other Genres 
  • In Stellaris' Utopia expansion, you are able to take on Ascension Perks (special modifiers that grant you a huge boost in certain aspects, such as a massively-increased military limit, or a boost to border size). There are six ascension perks, split up into three groups of two that are mutually exclusive to each other and which fill this purpose. Psionic Theory fills magic ("Mind over Matter" and "Transcendence"), allowing civilizations to gain telepathy and other supernatural abilities, which allows them to communicate with the otherwise-unintelligible endgame crises, as well as pierce the shroud and gain powerful modifiers. Gene Tailoring ("Engineered Evolution" and "Evolutionary Mastery") fills Strength, allowing you to modify your any species within the empire to remove negative traits and replace them with positive ones, with the second-tier Ascended Trait adding special options for gene modding that no one else can access. Synthetic Evolution ("The Flesh is Weak" and "Synthetic Evolution") fill tech, as civilizations may choose to convert their entire citizenry into synthetics/robots, meaning they will never die of natural causes, and do not need food to survive, giving you one less resource to have to worry about.
  • System Shock 2 begins with the player choosing a career as a Marine specialising in weapons, a Navy agent capable of hacking into technology or an OSA agent specialising in Psychic Powers.
  • Starbound's endgame armor features such a branch: The Accelerator (Aegisalt ore) path is the technological path, where ranged weapons like guns receive a damage boost and an efficiency boost due to high energy restoration; the Manipulator (Ferozium) path is the magical path, providing the highest bonuses to staff and wand users; and the Separator (Violium) path is the strength path, providing health and melee damage bonuses when equipped.

Feedback: 23 replies

Feb 21st 2018 at 4:20:17 AM

  • Arcanum: The main gameplay divide is between tech and magic (using one greatly limits the other), with physical ability supporting either one.

Feb 21st 2018 at 10:38:46 AM

This is just Fighter Mage Thief for any vaguely technological settings. The gameplay divide in Tabletop Game/Shadowrun is Street Samurai, Mage/Shaman and Decker.

Feb 21st 2018 at 3:08:20 PM

Is this only for settings?? because if also characters can count, then I'm only think of Crono, Marle and Lucca from Chrono Trigger.

Feb 23rd 2018 at 1:15:40 AM

^^ I would argue that stealth and gadgetry are very different set of skills, particularly in terms of gameplay. Stealth is all about spatial awareness, while crafting is about combinatorics and self-expression.

^ Aren't there more party members in the game?

Feb 23rd 2018 at 2:08:13 AM

Chrono Trigger: Well, every character is a capable melee fighter: Crono and frog are both swordsmen who can use magic, Robo has strong attacks and tech-based abilities, Lucca's abilities are tech-based but count as magic, Marle and Magus use weapons and magic, and Ayla is pure combat, being born before magic was invented.

Feb 23rd 2018 at 8:17:57 AM

^^Yes, but that's the Power Trio of the game, the protagonists that fit in the "strength, magic, tech" that refers this trope. But that's in the case of characters instead system.

Also, what ^ said

Feb 23rd 2018 at 8:39:45 AM

Torchlight? Three classes - Magic based Alchemist, Strength based Destroyer and Tech based Vanquisher.

Feb 28th 2018 at 7:50:23 AM

^^ & ^^^ I am considering renaming this to Physical Mystical Technological, so that the descriptor would be more easily applied to individual character trios, as well as to Game System aspects. What do you two think?

May 1st 2018 at 6:30:50 PM

^ I'd love it.

I actually have an example, but I don't know if the thing already has a page here (in this site) or not.

May 2nd 2018 at 11:03:16 AM

Later editions of Shadowrun added more archetypes, including both magic and technological versions of most roles. For instance, both the Street Sam and Physical Adept can be the team muscle but the Sam is traditionally chock full of cyberware while Adepts use magic to enhance their natural abilities.

May 2nd 2018 at 1:24:30 AM

  • In Dragon Ball Online, these are the three classes available for the human race. The strength based Martial Artist, the magic based Mystic, and the technology based Engineer.

May 2nd 2018 at 3:31:37 AM

The "strength" character/faction may symbolize people with low-to-mid technology and looking more down-to-earth compared to the magic and tech characters/factions. In a work that employs multiple (humanoid) races, the "strength" people tend to be normal humans.

This might be a stretch, but Elves can be seen as the "magic" faction while Dwarves are the "tech" faction.

May 2nd 2018 at 8:28:40 AM

Video Game

  • In Stellaris' Utopia expansion, you are able to take on Ascension Perks (special modifiers that grant you a huge boost in certain aspects, such as a massively-increased military limit, or a boost to border size). There are six ascension perks, split up into three groups of two that are mutually exclusive to each other and are available based on one of your civilization's Ethics (namely, the Materialist vs Spiritualist ethics), that fill this purpose.
    • Psionic Theory fills magic ("Mind over Matter" and "Transcendence"), allowing Spiritualist civilizations to gain telepathy and other supernatural abilities, which allows them to communicate with the otherwise-unintelligible endgame crises, as well as pierce the shroud and gain powerful modifiers.
    • Gene Tailoring ("Engineered Evolution" and "Evolutionary Mastery") fills Strength, allowing you to modify your primary race to remove negative traits and replace them with positive ones, with the second-tier Ascended Trait giving you enough Trait Points to add the best of each category. This may be selected by either Spiritualist or Materialist civilizations.
    • Droids ("The Flesh is Weak" and "Synthetic Evolution") fill tech, as materialist civilizations may choose to convert their entire citizenry into synthetics/robots, meaning they will never die of natural causes, and do not need food to survive, giving you one less resource to have to worry about.

May 3rd 2018 at 3:33:08 AM

  • RF Online: the three playable races/factions are nicely put this way - Accretian Empire are all robots and uses (mostly) high tech equipments, Holy Alliance of Cora are Space Elves-like race with lots of mysticism, and the Belato Union are normal-ish short people. The last one can be geared towards either tech or magic depending on their class choice, however.

May 3rd 2018 at 8:39:20 AM

  • System Shock 2 begins with the player choosing a career as a Marine specialising in weapons, a Navy agent capable of hacking into technology or an OSA agent specialising in Psychic Powers.

May 21st 2018 at 7:48:25 AM

Video Games

  • Starbound's endgame armor features such a branch.
    • The Accelerator (Aegisalt ore) path is the technological path, where ranged weapons like guns receive a damage boost and an efficiency boost due to high energy restoration.
    • The Manipulator (Ferozium) path is the magical path, providing the highest bonuses to staff and wand users.
    • The Separator (Violium) path is the strength path, providing health and melee damage bonuses when equipped.

May 22nd 2018 at 4:17:11 AM

^^^^ Corrected the Stellaris point. It's no longer tied to ethics whatsoever

May 22nd 2018 at 4:39:55 AM

^ Thanks.

I'll let this TLP cook for another 24 hours and launch it tomorrow if no objections are submitted until then.

May 22nd 2018 at 4:58:35 AM

From the Zero Punctuation review of DC Universe Online...

You decide where you powers come from, which I would've thought would be the same for every superhero: the willing suspension of disbelief! In less broad terms: magic, gadgets, or good breeding.

May 22nd 2018 at 7:03:19 AM

^ I am not sure. I like Yahtz' monologue as much as anyone, but this quote does not contain anything particular to this trope that isn't contained in the title and the laconic, and besides makes it sound exclusive to the Super Hero genre.

May 22nd 2018 at 10:06:24 AM

The trope description needs to mention Fighter Mage Thief as a sister trope. After all, this is Fighter Mage Engineer.

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