Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
MMOs on Alphatian Soil - A Step Too Far?by Gordon McCormick
Cutting from the Aaslan Inquirer:
MMOs on Alphatian Soil - A Step Too Far?
For centuries mainland Alphatia has relied on the breadbasket that is Bellissaria. But few outside of the magical farming community know about the full extent of the Magically Modified Organisms that we eat every day. And fewer still know about a possible danger to Alphatia lurking in our midst. A little history lesson first. Bellissaria has always been a provider of vast amounts of wheats, grains, fruits and vegetables to the mainland. In the early days of the Empire the massive farms were run by slave labour of the various indigenous peoples, but the labour required much of the food for itself. Naturally magic provided the solution.
Developed by the Sundsvallian mage Borlag, MMOs changed the nature of Bellissaria. The plants treated with his special herbal magics changed their development and began to draw on a unique effect local to Bellissaria. This odd anomaly in the magical field close to the island has long been known about but is even today quite mysterious. Many theories have been put forward about the cause of the anomaly, some of the most talked about being:
1. A great battle between dragons was fought over the continent and their blood permeated the land.
2. The planet is a living creature and Bellissaria happens to be a strange organ of the world.
3. A Tarrasque is held underneath one of the mountains, constantly regenerating and dying, leaking magic around it.
4. An ancient horror that drives men's minds mad lies under the island and warps the magical density.
In any case, this effect allowed the magically altered crops to draw nutrients not just from the soil, but also living creatures nearby. When the first experiments were planted the results were stunning. Yields increased tremendously, but at a slight cost. Any crops not treated with the MMO spell were withered away by the altered plants. Also, any creatures who spent too long a time near the crops would wither and die as well. But the marker proved that the new magic was worth it. With pests, weeds and predators killed by the magic of the plants the number of slaves needed was drastically reduced. Over just a few years the shape of farming changed.
Now there are vast monoculture fields of plants. Tended only rarely (since to stay for any length of time would leave a worker withered), they are cheap and effective. Harvesting is traditionally done by golems who last for just one season.
Of course some of the natives whose land wasn't taken over by the crops are still around. Nomads and underground dwellers occasionally make forays into the fields to destroy the crops, but brave soldiers and (more often) privately hired mercenaries tend to see off these invaders. I myself witnessed the power of the Alphatian boltman as a horde of screaming Rakasta were put to fight when they tried to burn down some lemon trees.
So far so good, so what is the problem? Well, it turns out that a wizard from Rardish by the name of Radgat has developed a way for the crops to work outside of the Bellissarian anomaly. If his research proves effective then MMOs could appear on the Alphatian mainland sometime soon. This has worried some campaigners. Boris Brom of Aquas had this to say:
"This is magical elitism gone mad! It's easy for the academics like Radgat to sit in their pristine towers and try to change nature, but this process is dangerous. By altering the way magic and life work we could end up with a runaway desertification process - Alphatia could become a wasteland dominated by city-states with mutated creatures populating the wilderness. It is a dark future once we step down that path."
Radgat could not be contacted for comment, he was working in his swamp when this reporter tried to contact him. Is this a case of magical progress? Or are we finally, as some believe, taking things one step too far?