Often it seems as though we, the role-playing enthusiast community, tend to think of Science and Magic as two wholly separate things at desperate ends of “what is: and “what could be.” We limit what can happen in our fantasy games by stating that Magic cannot exist where Science thrives; and in so doing, we limit the possibilities of what our games can do.
Why are we like this?
In the Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis noted:
The fact that the scientist has succeeded where the magician failed has put such a wide contrast between them in popular thought that the real story of the birth of Science is misunderstood. You will even find people who write about the sixteenth century as if Magic were a medieval survival and Science the new thing that came in to sweep it away. Those who have studied the period know better . . . The serious magical endeavor and the serious scientific endeavor are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse . . .”Lewis, pg 38
That popular notion still applies for many of us as we tend to lock our games into set patterns. Either there is Magic, and little technology to speak of, or there is Science and little magic. Yet that doesn’t have to be the outcome.
As Lewis mentioned above the two were twins, and while one died in reality, that doesn’t have to be the case in our games. We can embrace technology and science, melding them together in our games without things falling apart. We can be the Iron Kingdoms, Eberron, Warhammer, or the World of Warcraft. We can have guns, trains, dragons, and wizards casting arcane spells.
We don’t have to limit ourselves.
Lewis, C.S. The Abolition of Man or Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools. Samizdat University Press. Quebec. Originally 1943. Republished in 2014. pg. 38