The Let's Play Archive

Exile 3: Ruined World

by berryjon

Part 21: Something Awful vs The Anama

Update 19 – Something Aweful vs The Anama

Due to the nature of the Anama Church, I posed their questions to the original thread on SA The purpose of this post is to compile the responses from the thread into a cohesive whole, and as such, if you want to skip this part and go for the next one go right ahead. I won't blame you one bit.

GodFish: Main points would be mages created the mushrooms that provide light and food for exile. And there are probably more good mages than evil ones to weigh the scales.

LuffyVeggies: What really makes those frustrating is that they're so easy to counterpoint, yet the way they're phrased and the fact that you're forced into a black-or-white yes or no answer, and I recall only one those being phrased in such a way that I could answer in a way other than "Yes, but..." And then they go, "Yes? You agree! Good day!" Because of limited programming/dickishness.
In any case, the best response I could come up for this one is that it's not the magic that's good or evil, it's the user.

The Lone Badger: Yes, let's give up magic! And then we can all die of easily-preventable diseases! Won't that be fun.

Godfish: Uh, excuse me, Cure Disease is a holy spell, not magic, you philistine.

MagusOfStars: The real problem is that the questions are often pretty lame. "Magic can do good but it can also do evil. Do you agree?" Um yeah, no shit - there's no way to honestly say No here. Of course, the same could be said for physical weapons, Priest spells, poisons, and basically anything else humans have ever made.

thetruegentleman: Beyond the fact that good and evil are subjective, the biggest problem with magic is that you can't get rid of it: magic is a part of the world, and denying it is like trying to deny physics because someone can destroy a town with a trebuchet. Even burning all the scrolls and magic tomes won't work, because there's no way to prevent demons from simply re-introducing magic in the form of a cult, which simply ensures that all non-basic magic becomes evil...assuming the gods don't re-introduce magic themselves as well. Worse, no magic means less protection from monsters with magical abilities, and no enchanted weapons to level the playing field against particularly powerful ones.

TooMuchAbstraction: The reductive response they're looking for is that yes, of course magic is capable of great evil. Linda and Garzahd, for example. Hell, you can learn to cast Summon Demon in this game, and it's not a holy spell.
The other side to that coin is that holy magic is also capable of evil. The world abounds with undead and demons that mostly sling around perverted variants of priestly spells. With the notable exception of liches, most undead don't cast much in the way of mage spells that I can recall.

Montegoraon: All true. And even then, one person can always be assassinated. The most dangerous thing is when "too many men in the same armor think they're right."

thetruegentleman: Let's throw together some maxim based moral philosophy, courtesy of Kant: "I will A in C in order to realize or produce E", where ‘A’ is some act type, ‘C’ is some type of circumstance, and ‘E’ is some type of end to be realized or achieved by A in C.
1. "A maxim capturing your reason for an action":
"I will use magic (A) if I believe it necessary (C) to better or protect people's lives (E)."
2. "frame it as a universal principle for all rational agents":
"Magic should only be used when it can better or protect people's lives."
3. "whether a world based on this universal principle is conceivable":
"Magic exists, and people use it to better and protect lives (proof: our adventurer group)."
4. "whether [one] would will the maxim to be a principle in this world":
"If people used magic ONLY to better and protect people's lives, then I would be content."
As 3 and 4 are both true, the use of magic can be perfectly moral, as there are no situations where I myself would not want magic to be used to better or protect people's lives. Not that there aren't problems: if I were a farmer, I would be frustrated if a mage started giving out free food to people who would otherwise have paid me, but I still wouldn't say I have a moral right to be paid merely because I want to be.
Ok, so this should prove that magic can be perfectly moral/beneficial. But what if we do the reverse, like the magic hater proposed?
1. "Magic is too dangerous to use (A) in all circumstances (C) as the dangers it can create cancel out the good it can create. (E)"
2. "Magic should never be used in any circumstance."
3. "One must never use magic in all circumstances, even though it can be encountered entirely by accident (condition failed: people can, and do, use magic entirely by accident, like when they drink from a magic lake, or fix a cave full of crystals.)
4. "If people did not use magic when it could have saved my life, I would probably prefer people to use magic for my sake." (condition failed, as I would want magic to be used to save my life.)
As such, there is a perfect duty (we should not act by maxims that result in logical contradictions when we attempt to universalize them) to allow people to use magic, as it can be used accidentally. There is also an imperfect duty: if magic could be used to save me, I would prefer to be saved, and so the possibility of magic's misuse simply doesn't justify overlooking the immediate good, even if I'm actually a murderous thug that the world would be better off without. As such, the proposition that all magic use should be considered immoral is a nonsensical mess of an argument, as it is outright impossible for everyone to follow and still remain moral, despite their best efforts, and people would also want exceptions regardless.

TooMuchAbstraction: Not that I disagree with your post, but I believe "magic" in this case is specifically meant to be "things caused or created by a mage practicing arcane magics". Notably, priest spells (even though both mage and priest spells are called "spells" and "rituals" in game dialog) and alchemy are specifically exempted -- even though you can kill with priest spells and create deadly poisons with alchemy! Hell, priest and mage spells even use the same energy source (SP).
The practical problem with mages appears to be that they're the people who are most likely to try to push boundaries (you don't see crazy priests living in towers surrounded by traps, for example), and magic has several well-known rituals of significant destructive potential (Quickfire, for example, but also the creation/destruction of magic barriers, summoning of demons, and of course our old favorite Shockwave). This makes it scarier in the "assault weapon" sense, even if the underlying principles and thus scope of potential capabilities might not be all that different from priestly spells.
Alchemy of course isn't scary simply because it doesn't scale. You need fairly massive infrastructure to perpetrate alchemy on a large enough scale for it to be a meaningful existential threat. Arming soldiers with Invulnerability, Haste, and Bless potions, coating their weapons in Killer Poison, etc. -- that's a lot of input ingredients for a single soldier!

MagusOfStars: Yes. I can't remember if it's in this game or one of the remakes, but there's actually one Anama who specifically clarifies that Arcane Magic is their concern.
Part of the justification is simply the overall focus of the magic. Arcane magic as defined in Exile is all about killing and destruction - direct damage spells like Fireball, summoning Demons and monsters, Quickfire and so on. While there are certain Priest spells with similar capabilities, they're greatly outnumbered by the more benign magics like healing and protective magics.
Or, to put it another way: Priest spells can be used in many ways and for many purposes. Arcane spells can be used for only one thing - leaving a trail of bloody corpses.

Cerebral Bore: Leaving mechanics aside, it seems like Arcane magic kind of is on a higher potential level of destructiveness lorewise. We have all these ridiculously powerful mages like Erika, Garzahd and Rentar-Ihrno, but we don't really see any priests of the same caliber.
In that way the Anama are kinda sensible, since if one priest starts doing bad shit the damage can be significant but still contained, whereas back in Exile 2, Garzahd was running around with a goddamn legion of demons at his back and Rentar-Ihrno was busy preparing spells to wipe out all humans in Exile. So while most mages probably don't go bad, it only takes one crazy superwizard to really shit things up.

thetruegentleman Erika is also the one who created Exile's staple food (and possibly Exiles books/scrolls, although I forget), and Garzahd created the only long range, permanent, large scale teleporter, on top of being the right hand man of the emperor, going so far as to take over after his death: these are people would have had massive influence even without the ability to throw fireballs.
Priests, by contrast, are generally obliged not to seek things like massive fortunes, or significant political power...except, of course, for Liches, who are priests every bit as dangerous as the famed wizards.

Cerebral Bore: @thetruegentleman: Sure, but on the first count that's using arcane magic to mitigate suffering that wouldn't have existed without arcane magic, and on the second count, the Empire's teleporter was first used to create a horrible penal colony for undesirables and then to conduct a campaign of genocide. None of this really disproves the Anama's point about the use of arcane magic being a Bad Thing overall, rather the opposite.

Rockopolis: Gotta say, "Anama Church" sounds like what a cult from Silent Hill would be named. Is Magic evil, or are it's practitioners evil...competition?

Glazius: Really it's the "deranged" in that question that bugs me. I mean, a deranged mind isn't going to be able to focus enough to use magic properly. Magic can be directed toward evil, of course, but that's by a deliberate and malicious choice.

Father Lockhart, in Shayder, asks:

LuffyVeggies: Honestly, unlike the first question, this one is much more reasonable and fair. The fact is that in real life, humanity has had to overcome plenty of obstacles and hardships with even less than the Anama (we don't even have prayers - at least not ones that have any visible effect). Real life is a perfect example of how great deeds can be accomplished without magic.
Still, magic makes it easier. Even Priest spells (which the Anama are okay with) make it easier.

GodFish: The problem is its still working from the assumption that mage spells are evil, with people viewing them as a necessary evil. Yeah, you can accomplish great things without magic, but there isn't any particular reason to. Magic would have made the process vastly easier. If anything they probably risked/lost more lives by refusing to use magic than they would have if they'd had a few mages around to blast the goblin hordes with firestorms.
Using hard work when you could have used easy work isn't a virtue.

EponymousMrYar: No, it's working from the assumption that magic isn't necessary, ergo mages aren't necessary.
You can easily throw the same thing back at them with the rhetoric of 'sounds like all you needed was hard work and courage, prayer wasn't necessary either.'
Double bingo if they go for the 'anything not necessary is evil' route though. Society is practically based on all sorts of things that aren't strictly required.

Tax Refund: To that question as it is phrased, the only honest answer I can give is "yes". But the excluded middle is "... but they would have been convenient." The Great Wall of China proves that modern construction equipment isn't, strictly speaking, necessary to produce immense structures: you can do it with slavery and death (I count "forced labor", even if it's temporary, as slavery, and far too many of the workers on the Great Wall died during its construction.) But modern construction equipment sure makes it easier, and usually, nobody dies during the construction of modern buildings.

SIGSEGV: The question as it is phrased forces a "Yes" but it's obvious magic would have been a useful tool, if they have managed that much without magic, how much better would things be by now if they had used it?

MagusOfStars:First off, the entire premise of the question is misleading, because it doesn't actually prove anything. It's theoretically possible to clear tangled thickets with your bare hands, but that doesn't justify humans never using a machete. The fact that you cleared the island by yourselves (with apparently minimal support from the Empire at large) is very impressive, but doesn't really prove that Magic should be eradicated.
Secondly, in this particular example, Mage spells weren't needed to perform a great deed. But the plural of anecdote is not data. Think of a lot of the other great deeds in the history of the world (as we know it) were heavily reliant on magic:
>Stopping Grah-Hoth required serious mage spells (both the first time and when Art, Peregrine et al did so)
>Mages basically made Exile livable and into a functional community. I can't remember the exact wording, but it's stated somewhere that the powerful mages sent down to Exile created the mushrooms which are the primary food source and helped spread the glowing fungus that keeps the place lit.
>Stopping the slimes required the Mage spell Fireball OR a Priest spell which is a carbon-copy of Fireball. Logically, if you hate Mage spells, a Priest spell that's the exact equivalent should also be off limits, therefore, the slimes should should still be wreaking havoc.

TooMuchAbstraction: Let's take a look at opportunity costs. If I decide to dig a ditch with my bare hands, rather than using a shovel, it will take me far, far longer. That extra time spent is the cost I am paying to avoid making use of the shovel. With that time I could have done any number of other beneficial things -- worked and donated the proceeds to charity, cleared farmland faster so people wouldn't starve, or just focused on making life more comfortable for everyone. But instead I spent that time digging in the dirt with my bare hands. And why? Because I don't like the fact that shovels can be used to hit people on the head?
The refusal to use magic to help clear habitable lands in Bigail doubtless added many years of backbreaking labor to the process. Why don't you go ask the guy who's bent double from day 20 of moving boulders out of a field how he'd feel if a mage came by and cleared the entire field for him in a day?

Kacie: Last question proved Art is more than happy to break out the formal logic, so I'll take a stab at it; it's fun to see which cases match.
Anecdotal evidence; "it was true for me this time, so it will hold true in all cases." Just because they got away with not using magic this time says nothing about some other catastrophe that could only be solved with magic.
They are also using the Noble Effort, "we worked really hard on this, so it must have value/be right."
Then there's what has already been pointed out, the "we live in the best of all possible worlds" - refusing to consider that magic could have made the process easier and safer, and they would be better off than they are now if had used it.
All that said, they have a point about how one can do great deeds without magic, but the jump to "therefore magic isn't needed" is wrong.

Glazius: I think part of this really hinges on how magic actually is in the world. I mean, we're PCs, we can pick up spells whenever barring character creation disadvantages, but how much of a sacrifice or a possibility is it really for the common man to start using magic? And magic is never really dangerous for us, barring friendly fire incidents or quickfire, but mages traffic regularly with demons and other forces.
So it may not be "do you want to use a shovel to dig the hole" but "do you want to use the radioactive shovel that plugs into your soul to dig the hole".
On its face though, with how PCs experience the magic system? Shovel vs. not-shovel.

TooMuchAbstraction: The number of mages who go fooling around with demons is markedly lower than the number of mages in the world. Getting screwed up by demons is kind of the "accidentally shot myself in the foot with my gun" of the Exile world -- it's not going to happen to you if you don't own a gun, but just because you do own one doesn't mean you're a guaranteed foot-shooter.
As for the common man picking up magic, let's extend my shovel analogy earlier: if you have to dig a trench, would you rather use a shovel or a back hoe? The back hoe could dig a huge trench in a few hours, which would take you days even with the shovel. But you're not licensed to use a back hoe, so you hire an operator instead; they bring their expertise and specialized equipment, do the job, you pay them, you're both happy. We know that magic can be used for such civil engineering jobs because the Castle in Exile was built by magic (its walls are formed out of massive single slabs of stone).

berryjon: Not so much how it works, but look at how the Tower handles teaching Magic, which is implied to be copied wholesale from the Empire's methodology, just with more students. When you apprentice yourself, the first thing they do is magically silence you for a year. Opinions about why may vary, but the justification given in-universe is that this gives the students an appreciation for what they are learning - and to avoid accidents as apprentices don't start casting spells willy-nilly.
In Exile, the only mages who can be said to have really gone off the reservation is Linda who has had plenty of contact with Demons. Certainly many are arrogant, or otherwise anti-social, but they're not completely crazy like she is.

Cheez: You say, as you've cut down dozens of mages and implied crazy mage cultist types over the course of the trilogy.
Anyway, the point seems to center around the fact that magic is a touchy subject compared to priestly stuff. Magic is putting a gun in a room with a toddler, and everything else is a lot safer in comparison. Remember when the portal device kinda blew up and nearly destroyed everything, had it not been for the intervention? That was a product of mages.

Ornedan: What the party did to the portal device is comparable to breaking a major dam or intentionally causing a nuclear plant to melt down. That is, a really destructive way to break the system beyond any hope of repair. Just because a bunch of terrorists could cause horrible collateral damage by breaking magical infrastructure is not a good reason to not have that infrastructure in the first place.
A thing to keep in mind is that the player spell lists don't include many non-fighty uses of magic. There are some utility magics, but nothing major or long-lasting. Pretty much everything magical but crystal souls that Vahnatai do with crystals seems to be mage magic (crystal souls being explicitly noted to be holy magic). Magical utility seems less common in human Exile, but there are for example the communication necklaces and the portals.
e: On further thought, do the Vahnatai even really make a distinction between mages and priests? Maybe the crystal soul creation is considered holy just because it's magic that's mucking about with a revered ancestor.

MagusofStars: That's a fair point. It's implied very heavily (maybe even stated outright?) that PC magical training is combat focused. Many of the possible utility uses of magic aren't really practical for an adventurer on the go - binding stone for buildings is useless since you don't carry building materials, you don't stay in the same spot long enough to create a portal, you don't have the time to do anything research related like magically modifying food, you have too many different quests/jobs to bother with long-range scrying of any one particular target, and so on.

TooMuchAbstraction: Capture Soul and Simulacrum, the only Vahnatai spells that the player can cast (unless you count Quickfire), are both mage spells. The Crystal Souls themselves are culturally considered holy, and I believe statwise are capable of level-7 mage and priest spells.

Fangz:There's a big political angle here, with Mages being essentially the Empire ruling class up until the end of Exile 2. Personally I wonder if that's more significant than the intrinsics of mage vs priest spells.

Kinfolk910:I'm just going to throw some anti-anti-mage arguments out. I'm just going to stick to in universe in character knowledge. If there is demand for real life knowledge I guess I'll post those as well later.
First off let's be honest. Both sides have spells which do direct damage. To levy destructive forces as a existence crime against a person for something you can also do is hypocrisy.
For that matter does it really matter how they die to those that died? There is very little difference in someone getting fireballed vs smited vs getting cursed to the point of uselessness and then getting sworded to death.
Fundamentally speaking from a practical standpoint there is very little difference to the victim between killed by an angel and killed by a demon. Some other worldly force just killed you.
Hate to bring it up but one of the innate spells that priests get is Pestilence. That disease causing spell. Yeah. A literal plague. Mages can't do that.
So... What's the end goal for your solution for mages? Because let's be honest here. I doubt you would end this at making mages uncomfortable. First you make them look evil and portray yourself as good. You convince everyone they are evil and then what? Nothing happens? No. People will start doing stuff. From merely making lives difficult to outright murdering a mage for existing. And the worst part? They think it makes them good/It's to make the world a better place/It's a mage who cares/ECT...
I'm stealing this quote and I don't remember where. Those who fear the darkness just have not seen what the light can do. If you want to see true evil just watch a person doing something because they think it's the right thing to do.
So what next? Murdering every one with the potential for Magery is essentially genocide. Put them in a camp? They'll escape. And let's be honest. Putting mages somewhere else sort of failed over the last 3 games. And what happened? The emperor got assassinated by those people you literally chucked into a hole to die.
Hope this fills out some in universe argument fodder?

thetruegentleman:They don't need an end goal: they aren't asking for a magic "Final Solution" (that we know of yet), but rather, for people to voluntarily give up magic themselves. If they want to "end" magic, it will presumably be by shunning mages socially in the hopes of pressuring them to give up on magic in order to be "normal". Basically, it's Fantasy Pacifism: they aren't seriously expecting everyone to give up magic, but they do believe that standing up to magic has value in and of itself. As for why that's the case...
- - - - -
Welcome back to the Fun With Magical Ethics Corner, where I'll be discussing the root of Animist philosophy, Consequentialism: a basic tenant of Animism seems to be that non-priest magic *always* causes evil, which necessitates that their philosophy be based on the consequences of an action, as opposed to the intent of the user (basically, if I try to save someone who is *almost* guaranteed to die, but I throw a fireball and hit/kill said person instead, I'm a worse person than if I did nothing at all). More specifically, it seems to be Negative Utilitarianism, which is aimed at preventing actions that cause harm (in this case, magic). For simplicity's sake, we'll say that "common sense" natural rights still can't be violated to achieve Animist ends: in other words, people aren't killed as soon as they commit more "bad" than "good", and the human race shouldn't be destroyed because more obviously "bad" people than obviously "good" happen to exist.
Even still, Animist philosophy leads to some VERY ugly extrapolations, the most obvious of which is, "why stop at magic": if, for example, we take the sword example of "Captain Sewer Wand" at face value, ANY weapons that harm more people than monsters should be banned, as should institutions such as the army. And yet, they still have an army, and the Animists flat out admitted that they use weapons other than magic to fight monsters. This being the case, what makes the evil in magic so much more powerful than the evil swords and armies can produce?
The only logical answer is that magic puts too much power in the hands of one person (or a few people) instead of the many, and so magicians become more dangerous by virtue of power always corrupting: this, however, assumes that the power itself (magic) is what causes their corruption, rather than magic being a mechanism FOR corruption. The difference is subtle, but powerful, and we again have our Anima friends to help argue against themselves: just as the land was claimed without the aid of magic, so to does corruption arise without the aid of magic (look at Hawthorne, for example). Magic makes that corruption easier, but immoral people can still do bad things even without magic; their work will probably take longer, because they need to use people and equipment instead of magic, but evil can still be done. Thus, If magic is evil, it is because people are evil; and if people are evil, than the Animists have a duty to destroy humanity, which is itself an act of terrible evil.
TL;DR: if magic always causes more harm than good, it is because people prefer doing harm to doing good. Magic makes performing harm more difficult, but doesn't prevent it, which makes the purpose of the Anima philosophy unclear.

Cerebral Bore: @thetruegentleman: This isn't how ethics works, mang. You can argue that people should be allowed to own a gun for self-defense without also arguing that they should be allowed to carry a suitcase nuke with them.
@Kinfolk910: The Anama area dinky little cult living on a dinky little island in the middle of fucking nowhere. Their end goal is probably to be left alone and in peace rather than to reshape the world in their own image.

Cheez: I'd just like to point out that in-universe, priest spells seem to revolve around asking (a/the) god(s) to do a thing for you, whereas magic is this crazy thing you can cook up in your basement and do the unspeakable, provided you have the tools. The existing, common spells aren't the limits of magery, and only scratch the surface.

Galvax, of Fenris Port asks of us:

TooMuchAbstraction: Again, don't blame the tool, blame the tool user; why was this mage experimenting in a way that put others at risk? Why were they allowed to experiment in this fashion? There's many reasons why the Empire so heavily regulates mages, and public safety must be one of the more public ones.

Rockopolis: Yes
Bad events are bad events. It's alright to say yes and be completely honest here.

President Ark: Yes, just like it'd be terrible if she died because of a horse kicking her or a drunk guy or a fire. Doesn't mean we should get rid of horses, alcohol, and fire.

Montegoaron: Anyway, in response to the question, yes, that's terrible. Unfortunately, stupidity and gross incompetence are not things that can be cured or banned, no matter how hard you try. No, not even with exile.

The Lone Badger: Yes it is. While we're at it we should ban fire. That kills tons of people.

LuffyVeggies: While the answer is yes, the problem is the implications of the question and what it leaves out. Of course it's a terrible thing to happen, but magic is far from the only thing that can cause such a tragedy. Others have already said why. But furthermore, the question leaves out context - WHAT kind of spell was this mage trying to create? What sort of experience did he have? Why were there 6 other people in the house at the same time, especially if what the mage was doing was considered dangerous? These are all questions that would shed light on the situation.

Kinfolk910: Yes it's a bad thing. Other points have been raised which already addressed this bit of leading stupidity. Same thing can be said of Priests as well. You healed a murderer who went on to kill a lot of people. So we should stop healing people to prevent people from dying in the future. Of course.

Yes, it's terrible. However, similar to the other questions thus far, this doesn't prove the Anama's case.
Let's agree this result was terrible. This does not, however, in any way imply that all magic should be banned.
1.) The Mage was criminally negligent in performing experiments in an occupied house. This is why Mages are supposed to have laboratories or isolated towers. Involuntary manslaughter did not always have a formal legal name, but it's been a crime basically forever.
2.) Both the Empire and Exile put heavy restrictions on magic, because they know that this exact sort of thing can happen. The Empire's rules, in fact, are sufficiently draconian that the Mage was almost certainly performing illegal research.
So the Mage was a criminal in at least two separate ways. The answer to that is to punish the criminal, not to scapegoat magic. Do not blame the arrow, blame the man holding the bow.

Cthulhu Dreams: I mean how us this different from an idiot chemist blowing himself and anyone in the area up making FOOF or something?
Such a dumb argument

WhyBird: If your cousin had been a wizard too this would never have happened.

radintorov: That is terrible indeed.
I lost a cousin to a blacksmith: he was experimenting with a new fuel for the forge, and the resulting accident killed her, and twelve others in the houses she was in.
She was 15, and died because of one lone, careless blacksmith. Is it not a horrible thing?
I mean, the answer to the question is "yes", but again I can't help but be critical of the reasoning behind the question.

Glazius: One of the advantages we have as PCs is that our magic has known, predictable effects. But can't magic just do anything? So you can be experimenting under controlled conditions but then your spell sets fire to the nearest green roof because unbeknownst to you that's what you made it do.

PresidentArk: well, you could just as easily have a miner or a smith or something working with this interesting silvery metal he found in the mines one day and then oops the smoke from his chimney poisoned half the valley because it was uranium (which is a thing that is known to exist in the world of Exile)

Whybird: I think it's fair to say that the way magic is portrayed in the series, accidentally killing a whole bunch of people with magic is a lot easier than accidentally killing a whole bunch of people through other means.

Yeah, one of my complaints with the Anama is not so much that they don't have a point, but that they argue their point insultingly fallaciously, to the extent that I'm inclined to disagree with them just on account of disliking their manipulations.

Whybird: I honestly think that's not an accident. They're a religious cult trying to hook people in -- they are totally going to be using every tool in their box to do it.

Cerebral Bore: I think that the problem this dude here is pointing out is more about mages in general apparently have to perform potentially hazardous experiments to come up with their stuff rather than the harm caused by this specific incident that was used to illustrate the point. A single magical accident may cause damage equivalent to a blacksmith or alchemist screwing up, but the amount of mages running experiments is presumably much larger and thus would cause more harm on the whole.
Of course it's a pretty bad argument to use an individual example without presenting the larger context first, but that's the limitation of the medium for you.

thetruegentleman: The Mages know damn well even basic magic is dangerous, and prepare accordingly:

So what the hell kind of spell was the mage trying to cast, and why were so many people living in a house being used for magical experiments? Sorry your cousin died while trying to make some magical version of crystal meth, or maybe an IED, but bad shit happens when you fail basic safety protocols. Also, be sure to tell your other cousins not to drink Bathtub Gin so they don't all get themselves killed in a similar way.

Cheez: The idea is that it's really easy to get into magic and also really easy to screw up. The way the thread is speaking implies that the only magic that gets practiced is by "actual" mages, and that only "dangerous" magic can have consequences. In reality, any magic that hasn't been pegged down perfectly (like your mage spell list) is a recipe for disaster in one form or another.

MagusOfStars: Of course, this is exactly why magic is firmly controlled in both Exile and the Empire. Magic that isn't by "actual" mages or that is experimental is highly illegal in the Empire.
Do you blame the knife for cutting your purse? Do you blame the poison for murder? No - you blame the criminalwho used the tool illegally.

Cerebral Bore: You're missing the point, because this isn't about blame. It's about the Anama arguing that even with the best safeguards and strictest legal controls this shit still finds a way to happen on a significant scale.
Another point would be that those legal controls would very quickly cease to matter when it comes to damage prevention if another tyrant like Hawthorne or Gazahd seized control of the Empire, but the Anama probably wouldn't argue that for very understandable reasons.

Vil: And how would the Anama's nay-saying really help that underlying problem then? It's not going to make people stop practicing magic entirely, it would just drive the magic practitioners underground and make them more likely to cause shit because of there being no proper channels for them to practice through any longer, and having to keep it secret from all their devout Anama-following friends and family.
In the context of the game they can simply go somewhere out of Anama territory and avoid the problem. But if the Anama's trying to make a general point with all these blanket generalizations, then their point should still be practical even if the entire power structure of the world suddenly decided to 100% back the Anama point of view. If - when - it's not, they shouldn't be generalizing in the first place.

Cerebral Bore: As mentioned, the end goal of the Anama is probably to be left alone to do their thing rather than take over the world.
EDIT: And unless they have some kind of hardcore evangelical mandate built into their worldview, they really don't have any ethical obligation to try and change the entire world either.

Montegoraon: The leader doesn't seem to be a fundamentalist when we spoke to him, but judging from the books attributed to him, there is definitely a significant element in the Anama church that is.

Kacie: This the sort of problem that crops up, however - a bit down the line, and someone is taking this philosophy and trying to impose it on the world as a whole. The same sort of thing happens even with theologies that are teaching tolerance. The Anama are preaching intolerance - they are playing with fire. Possibly quickfire.
Hilariously, this is a version of "this is why we train our mages carefully!" argument, except tuned to "this is why we moderate our speech and do not incite hatred."

Cerebral Bore: Nah, the Anama are pretty harmless. They dislike mages, sure, but so far there's nothing in their teachings that would promote any kind of retaliation against any individual magic user. Hell, the worst that any mage has had to face is partial social ostracism, which is pretty damn small potatoes compared to how e.g. the Empire has treated dissenters historically.
Besides that they're a dinky-ass little cult on a dinky-ass island in the middle of nowhere in a setting ruled with an iron fist by a world-spanning empire. Even if somebody down the line wanted to it's not like they'd be able to do anything against the wider mage population. Hell, it's not like mages are helpless either. Somebody like Garzahd alone would probably be enough to wipe the Anama out all by his lonesome, and when we factor in the political power that mages seem to wield pretty much everywhere the idea of some kind of mage pogrom is clearly absurd.

The Lone Badger: The Anama are really just fantasy-Amish.

LuffyVeggies: Thinking of the Anama in this light somehow makes them a lot more tolerable.
But even in real life, the Amish haven't given up ALL technology, just the public grid and some more recent tech.

Kacie: As to the Anama being like the Amish - I don't know enough about the Amish as to whether they call technology the "dark arts" but when you start throwing around the language the Anama have, doesn't taken long for someone to decide "gee, if it is evil and the dark art, we should purge that!" --Possibly I'm taking this too seriously due to demagoguery being slung about recently in national politics, but yeah, rather uneasy about this sort of language.

MagusOfStars: As for the Anama, it's a complete mischaracterization to argue that they just want to be left alone. "An entire profession and al derived quality of life benefits should not exist at all." That's the core of their philosophy! Not exactly the kind of argument that lends itself to live-and-let-live.
The current reality of the situation is that they're quietly and peacefully accepting things right now even for those who disagree, but its impossible to tell just how much of that is true tolerance versus simple pragmatism of not wanting to draw the Empire into play.
EDIT: Also, the Mage in Shayder directly states that they're trying to make her life stressful - though it's not clear if that's just quiet comments every now and then or something more serious.

Cerebral Bore: @Kacie: Isn't the only person who has been talking about the "dark arts" a guy who's having a crisis of conscience and trying to justify his own beliefs to himself?
@MagusOfStars: This is pretty ridiculous, tbh. I can personally think of several professions that should ideally not exist at all in my opinion, but that doesn't mean that I'm busy stockpiling thumbscrews for all them payday lenders. There's really nothing in-game to indicate that the Anama are planning something sinister.

MagusOfStars: Check update 15 - seems like they're already hassling the Mage in Shayder.
And really, in general, how often do firm and inflexible beliefs stay honorable forever, without getting or abused? Maybe Ahonar truly is honorable and won't hassle mages beyond endless comments to those who pass through Shayder. Does his successor have the same respect and forbearance?

Mother Melemed posed this to the party:

MagusOfStars: This is actually pretty much impossible to argue. The only problem is the same issue that limits efforts to remove firearms and WMD's in the real world: If you disarm and the other side doesn't, you're fucked because they'll just slaughter and enslave you. If Exile hadn't used mages, the Empire would have kept using magic and just flattened them.

TooMuchAbstraction: Yeah, this is a problem of escalation. The only time in history that bringing a bigger weapon to the fight didn't result in more death was with nuclear weapons, which are even more destructive than Quickfire (Quickfire might be analogous to firebombing, maybe). It's not that we want to kill our enemies with unprecedented scale -- it's just that if we don't, then they'll kill more of ourguys. This is also why we use drone strikes against terrorists instead of sending in ground troops, despite the increased rate of civilian deaths: we value our allies' lives more highly than those of our enemies.

Glazius; Finally, something we as PCs can agree with. Pretty sure almost every game of this series I ever played has hinged on starting with AoE mage spells and going up from there.

EponymusMrYar: There's also the issue of what happens when you bring deterrence into the equation: simply having tons of destructive potential can save lives by preventing conflict because no one wants the consequences that such a conflict would bring.
Alas, conflict is inevitable so yeah, in the vacuum that this is presented in it's hard not to agree. (Although magic can also cancel other magic out via protective spells.)

TooMuchAbstraction: As I noted, the only time in history that deterrence has really had a provable effect is with nuclear weapons. Everything else falls under the bucket of "we have reserves" or "we'll just wage asymmetrical warfare".

Deceitful Penguin: "My dynamite will sooner lead to peace than a thousand world conventions. As soon as men will find that in one instant, whole armies can be utterly destroyed, they surely will abide by golden peace."- a man as equally wrong as you

thetruegentleman: "What a thousand swords could not do, magic brought about": is that really true though? Alchemy can be used to poison water sources and set fires, and soldiers hardly need magic to butcher civilians: yes, it takes longer, but isn't the end result the same? And what about the negative aspect of that statement: how does one fight demons without enchantments and exorcism spells, except by throwing masses of soldiers against them?
To use the dynamite example, do you know what the top ten bloodiest wars are? World War 2 is at the top, but the Mongol conquests, Three Kingdoms War, Qin conquest of China, Taiping Rebellion, and Lushan Rebellion all follow before World War 1 appears. Dynamite may not have prevented conflict, but the wars preceding its invention made up for their lack of "bang" by being long, bloody affairs.
The overall point is that banning magic is a lot like banning dynamite: the killing might be slower, but it still persists, which means that only the benefits of dynamite are actually lost, for all practical purposes

Finally, Father Loomis in Bavner tries this:

CuriousCat: Again with the technically correct. Sure, they could live, work, and be happy without magic... but we could do the same without electricity. That doesn't mean it's not incredibly useful.

MagusOfStars: As is common, this is a statement which is simultaneously true and irrelevant. There are very, very few things in life that you couldn't say "(Blank) is not necessary to live life. One can work, live, and be happy without (Blank)".
Heck, you could even fill in the blank with things which are widely considered positive to have present in your life, such as "Love", "Family", "being healthy", and so on. All because you *can* adjust and live life without these things doesn't mean we should abolish them.

Cthulhu Dreams: To be completely fair, I'd agree that magic summoning seems to be completely moronic. Have we seen anyone use summoning for good? Summoning seems like it should be banned due to being wildly dangerous.

TooMuchAbstraction: To the extent that summoning magic and teleportation magic seem to be broadly similar, Rentar-Ihrno teleports in to help you at some point in Exile 2, doesn't she? And summoning magiccan occasionally be useful in the Exile series. It's just usually not worth bothering with.
The big problem is that the word "summoning" is almost always followed by "demons". And demons are bad news.

thetruegentleman: Well, it's true that people can live without magic in ordinary circumstances...but there's the rub: ordinary. The people of Exile most certainly *couldn't* live without magic, since they needed it to make a food source, and it's probably safe to assume that there are going to be future hazardous circumstances where magic might be necessary in a similar way: a demonic invasion, a giant meteor/giant volcano that partially blocks out the sun, desertification, sudden years of drought that could forcibly displace entire regions of people, an ice age...
And that's the problem: if the Anima had their own solutions to these potential complications, their point would stand; but it seems safe to say that if the Anima can't handle their current major regional catastrophe, they probably couldn't handle multiple ones of similar scale on an Empire wide level. The Empire, in the mean time, seems to have done just that in the past, like when they got rid of all the monsters (especially the dragons): the Anima still benefited from that, even if they don't use magic themselves, so how they would fare dealing with similar circumstances themselves is an open question.

Ornedan: Magic (both mage and priest) seems to mostly be an art, but as far as I remember the games only (some) mages are trying to systematically study magic, to make it a science. The Anama merely think they know how their magic works.
Orders of faith in these games seem to either venerate some abstract concept or worship ancestors or demons. The demons I could see being able to lend power to a priest, but the rest not so much. So my guess is that priest and mage magic are not really fundamentally separate stuff. Just differences of approach to the same thing.

Rockopoplis: On the other hand, would the people of Exile be in Exile if magic had not been used to make it habitable enough to be a hellhole of a prison? That's not really a plus for magic.

TooMuchAbstraction: The narrative propagated by Erika is that the original exiles were just tossed in there and it was only through her considerable magical prowess that they were able to get food, light, and other really basic necessities to ensure survival. Exile 2 casts doubt on this story, as the Vahnatai predate the formation of Exile and are responsible for at least some magical advances (such as glowing moss and edible, farmable fungi) in terms of making survival possible.
In any case, though, the Empire clearly didn't care about the fates of those initial exiles at the very least. Food issues notwithstanding, the caves at that time were playing host to Grah-Hoth in his full power, as well as a sizable colony of sliths, giants, aranea, and at least one hostile dragon. The Empire sent an incredibly well-equipped expedition down there before they started using the caves as a penal colony, and literally all of them died. They did not expect the initial exiles to survive.

Cerebral Bore: On the third hand the Empire would not have the option of setting up a penal conony in a (presumed) underground hellscape if they didn't have access to magic teleportation, so we're kinda back at magic fixing stuff that magic caused in the first place.

Idragon: I also recall something about the original exiles also being buried up till their eyes in demons at the beginning and that it was only the actions of a bunch of wizards and magic swords did they clear out all the demons. Then again, how were the sliths living in a demon infested food starved pitch black hellscape before the original exiles showed up?

PartsKit: I'm really, really late to the Anama chat, so I'll try to keep this short. It may seem like their dialogue is clumsy, and it kinda is since the engine and folks' non-quest short attention spans are not suited to long intricate dialogs, but the thing is people really do argue like that regularly. Especially in contexts where either the person is outright not at all interested in a discussion or has a short chance to grab attention of a handful of undecided viewers. Internet arguments (before devolving into "you're Neo-Hitler" level namecalling anyways) are an obvious example but you'll see it on news shows and in editorials too. People will bring up something that is undeniably tragic, demand their opponent respond, hoping they can either smugly act as if a "yes it is horrible" answer proves their position correct and if the person tries anything else immediately interrupt and paint them as a horrid person. This tactic also has the side benefit of keeping responsibility for making a statement on the person asked, so the asker doesn't have to actually put forward a position to fight in the first damn place. It's a fairly common tactic all around but especially in all sorts of movements that can be summed up with "I don't like (thing), it's bad, let's ban it." And people do fall for it.