What to Do About Magic

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nightstorm
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What to Do About Magic

Post by nightstorm »

What to Do About Magic
Ever since I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in the late 70’s, I was perplexed about Magic in the setting. Just what, if anything, does Magic do to the everyday life of the people of the world and to the world itself? In a magical world, do things like disease and death even hold a grip like they do in our world? If the local cleric can cast heal a good number of times per day, then what does the general population look like? Certainly no one walks around with a broken leg or other visible aliment. And what about that thief of yours that has manage yet again to die while stealing? Does sending him to the local cleric and paying said cleric money to raise him even make sense? And what good are Castles when the average wizard can fly/walk through walls or change the very stone wall to mud?
Certainly some spells need to be amended or changed. In the case of the Castle, Guards and Wards Spell needs to change somewhat to include protection from spells maybe. But over all I think the answer is that magic cannot be the automatic thing that it is in most games. Sure some of the more nasty spells have savings throws, but what about spells like Create water? With such a spell no one should die from thirst or bad water. Unless. Unless Magic isn’t an automatic thing. What if every time a Spellcaster cast a spell there was room for something really bad to happen? Even a spell like Create Water could mean disaster when the Spellcaster rolls bad and ends up poisoning the ones he’s making the water for. And that’s the answer to the question. Magic doesn't overcome and changes the landscape because just as often it can mess things up. By introducing the possibility that magic can mess up things and make them worst, people are not so rash to go and get that healing by the local Cleric.
The System
This system is designed for the Castles and Crusades RPG.

Casting a Spell

The Spellcaster rolls 1d20 and adds character level+ Attribute Bonus (if any).
The Challenge level is 10 + the level/Hit Die of the subject (if any). In the case that there is no subject to a spell such as Magic Mouth, then the level of the Spellcaster is added instead.

Results

Dice Roll comes up a One
Automatic Failure:
The Spell fails no matter the bonuses to the spell or the situation. A second roll must be made to see if it’s a Critical Failure. This is done by rolling the same roll as before. This time you must succeed. If not, a critical Failure occurs.

Second Dice Roll is a Success: The Spell Fails, but nothing bad happens.

Second Dice Roll Fails, but Not a One. Something bad happens, but not life threatening.

Second Dice Roll is also a One: Snake Eyes! Critical Failure. Something bad happens. Depending on the spell, this can even mean death to the Spellcaster (Saving Throw might be allowed by nice Castle Keepers).

Normal Failure: A one is not rolled, but neither does the Spellcaster makes the roll. The spell does not go off. BUT neither is the spell lost. In all other failures the spell is lost.

Success: The spell goes off as normal. Saving Throws and Spell Resistance still apply.

Dice Roll Comes up a 20
Automatic Success.
No matter the situation or bonuses or Challenge level, the spells succeeds. Must roll a second time to see if the spell is a Critical Success. The roll is the same as the last one, including bonuses and Challenge Level.

Success, but second roll is NOT a 20. Critical Success!
The Castle Keeper will decide what happens depending on the spell. Some examples include maximum damage done to extended periods that the spell affects. Gods might not be affected by this type of roll.

Second Roll is also a 20. Same as a Critical Success, only now the recipient of the spell does not get a saving throw and Magic Resistance is ignored. This even affects Gods at this level.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Treebore »

In my games the vast majority of people are poor as hell. Like 95% or more. MOST religions, but not all, are greedy, and won't do a darn thing for you without a donation of some kind, amounting to far more than a few coppers. So in my games the primary healers are actually time and herbalists, if your lucky enough to have either, let alone both.

Plus colds, flu's etc... spread like wildfire. So while there may be a dozen or so priests in a city, with hundreds/thousands getting sick every day, there is no way they can keep up. Even if they are all willing to do it for free. Let alone of high enough level to even cast Cure Disease.

Even so, your system is intriguing.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by redwullf »

nightstorm wrote:And what good are Castles when the average wizard can fly/walk through walls or change the very stone wall to mud?
This is the primary explanation for the existence of so many underground dungeons in fantasy settings - they're far more defensible than a castle in a world of wizards, dragons, and giants...
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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Arduin »

redwullf wrote:
nightstorm wrote:And what good are Castles when the average wizard can fly/walk through walls or change the very stone wall to mud?
This is the primary explanation for the existence of so many underground dungeons in fantasy settings - they're far more defensible than a castle in a world of wizards, dragons, and giants...
Yes, I modeled this a long time ago. Also, there will be spells that protect against the rock to mud spells. I can also see alarm type spells to protect against Passwall & the like
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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Treebore »

You must have layered walls. One layer stone, the next Iron, then maybe wood. Doesn't stop everything, but should slow things down, if not outright stop them.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Arduin »

nightstorm wrote:In a magical world, do things like disease and death even hold a grip like they do in our world? If the local cleric can cast heal a good number of times per day, then what does the general population look like? Certainly no one walks around with a broken leg or other visible aliment.
Page 43 of the CKG has a good treatment on this:

Healing in the Temporal World
"In a world where magic dominates and clerics can heal and cure disease, it
would seem most improbable that any illness or long-term suffering should
exist. ... "
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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by ThrorII »

I've always prefered low magic settings, for that very reason.

In my game, most village priests are 1HD humans with religeous knowledge, not clerics. Larger towns and cities, with temples, will have actual clerics. The 1HD priests may pray over someone in their shrine, and a 1st level spell may be granted, but it is not guarenteed. Most commoners don't have access to divine healing. Actual Clerics are special: they have a special link to their divine gods, and perform miracles (spells). Actual clerics can be found in larger towns and cities, but are still rare.

In my Verbobonc campaign the Bishop of Rao in Verbobonc was a 1HD human who could cast spells as a 9th level cleric, the Bishop of St. Cuthbert was an actual 7th level cleric (Raoian are not adventerous, St. Cuthbertines are).

Again, in my setting, arcane magic is just as scarce. There are no magic guilds, only sorcorous societies and lone wizards in their towers. In my Verbobonc campaign, there were only three known magic users in the entire realm: The royal mage of the Viscount (lvl 8), the mage Burne of Hommlet (lvl 8), and an Illusionist of the Ironwood (lvl 7). Any were available as masters to my PC's (but they would have obligations). Also, the Temple of Rao had a secret society of mages.

That kept magic low and special in my game.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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ThrorII wrote:I've always prefered low magic settings, for that very reason.

In my game, most village priests are 1HD humans with religeous knowledge, not clerics. Larger towns and cities, with temples, will have actual clerics. The 1HD priests may pray over someone in their shrine, and a 1st level spell may be granted, but it is not guarenteed. Most commoners don't have access to divine healing. Actual Clerics are special: they have a special link to their divine gods, and perform miracles (spells). Actual clerics can be found in larger towns and cities, but are still rare.

In my Verbobonc campaign the Bishop of Rao in Verbobonc was a 1HD human who could cast spells as a 9th level cleric, the Bishop of St. Cuthbert was an actual 7th level cleric (Raoian are not adventerous, St. Cuthbertines are).

Again, in my setting, arcane magic is just as scarce. There are no magic guilds, only sorcorous societies and lone wizards in their towers. In my Verbobonc campaign, there were only three known magic users in the entire realm: The royal mage of the Viscount (lvl 8), the mage Burne of Hommlet (lvl 8), and an Illusionist of the Ironwood (lvl 7). Any were available as masters to my PC's (but they would have obligations). Also, the Temple of Rao had a secret society of mages.

That kept magic low and special in my game.


Rgr on that. My home brew is also low magic (though Thor it may have a bit more than yours).

A village may have a 'priest' &/or a wise woman. They will have herds and basic poultice/home remedies. Plus a spell or 2 per week. A town or significant castle may have a true 1st level cleric and cities or significant religious centers will have more powerful priests (I like your "the Bishop of Rao in Verbobonc was a 1HD human who could cast spells as a 9th level cleric" I'll have to use that).

*Edit to stay on topic about nightstorm's new magic system. I kind of like it, a 1 & snake eyes = bad and spell failure, a 20 is success beyond the norm spell. But in play does it slow things down?
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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Treebore »

By your definition my world is "low magic" too. Like I posted above, over 95% of the world population does not have ready access to magic. Just for those who do, which usually include the PC's, it pretty much is literally a whole different world.

I view it like being wealthy. Your life is like a whole different world when your wealthy. Which makes sense. Magic is a highly desired commodity of the rich.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Treebore »

Nightstorm,

The only thing I really don't like about your system, is your adding in not only a second opportunity for a spell to fail (fail to cast it, or target makes save and is totally unaffected, for most spells. Obviously not the case for Fireball, etc...) but then if they fail bad enough, and extra bad effect occurs.

I'd like it better if it totally replaces saving throws, and incorporates half damage for things like Fireball into the drawbacks of failed rolls.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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nightstorm wrote:What to Do About Magic
Just what, if anything, does Magic do to the everyday life of the people of the world and to the world itself? In a magical world, do things like disease and death even hold a grip like they do in our world? If the local cleric can cast heal a good number of times per day, then what does the general population look like? Certainly no one walks around with a broken leg or other visible aliment. And what about that thief of yours that has manage yet again to die while stealing? Does sending him to the local cleric and paying said cleric money to raise him even make sense? And what good are Castles when the average wizard can fly/walk through walls or change the very stone wall to mud?
I know this kind of goes in the opposite direction you went, but I was very fascinated by The Book of Jhereg by Steven Brust which is set in a world from his own D&D days that is very much influenced by similar thoughts.

Several things I took from the book that I thought were interesting and are potential GM responses to settle these problems/without incorporating a pure mechanical solution follow:

Because reincarnation is kind of commonplace (for those with access or who can afford it.) Regular murder and assasination as we know them were more about sending messages and warnings with little expectation of eliminating the target. Though, those who don't have any friends to find the body or to mediate the transaction were likely to stay dead.

People who genuinely want to keep someone dead, must go out of their way to counter the possibility of resurrection. Using strong magics to destroy the body/prevent the body from being found in time/etc.

Storming castles was less about capability and more about political and personal repurcussions. What guilds / families / ruling classes would be offended and would take repercussions against for you actions was often a greater deturrent than the walls of a castle.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Just Jeff »

In general, I don't like critical failure systems that result in something really bad happening. One in 400 may seem like a rare event, but with several people at a table rolling dice, it might not be long before no one is willing to cast spells.

I had a Rolemaster character who had an impressive meditation skill for a low level character, but given that a critical failure could put him in a coma for a few weeks, he'd only use it in life or death situations. And in the short life of that campaign, life or death situations in which meditation was an appropriate response never came up.

Rarity works better for me, or you can make the world a less disease-ridden place than medieval Europe, which is usually my approach. Think Firefly: core worlds are shiny, happy places, but life on border worlds can be ugly, brutish and short.

I recall a long-ago conversation with a GM who, when asked why city streets weren't lit with Continual Light spells, said, "They tried that, but it caused a crime wave." All those Dispel Magics weren't cheap, so the thieves guild had to steal more.
Treebore wrote:You must have layered walls. One layer stone, the next Iron, then maybe wood. Doesn't stop everything, but should slow things down, if not outright stop them.
I gave this a lot of thought back in the day when I had a character with enemies and a home and family. His house wasn't designed to keep people out. He specialized in entry, so he knew that wasn't possible. The defenses were designed to slow down intruders and drain their resources. Three bars/locks on a door meant it'd take two Knock spells to open, that sort of thing.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by Treebore »

Just Jeff wrote:
Treebore wrote:You must have layered walls. One layer stone, the next Iron, then maybe wood. Doesn't stop everything, but should slow things down, if not outright stop them.
I gave this a lot of thought back in the day when I had a character with enemies and a home and family. His house wasn't designed to keep people out. He specialized in entry, so he knew that wasn't possible. The defenses were designed to slow down intruders and drain their resources. Three bars/locks on a door meant it'd take two Knock spells to open, that sort of thing.
I also actually use the 1E applications for lead, etc... to foil certain spells. Non spell casters need to be able to protect themselves as well.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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trashheap wrote:People who genuinely want to keep someone dead, must go out of their way to counter the possibility of resurrection. Using strong magics to destroy the body/prevent the body from being found in time/etc.
Head shot and you're done, no? I recall Vlad was just getting attached to one of his minions when the guy took a knife to the spinal chord just below the skull. No coming back from that.

But, yes, the first book opens with Vlad killing one of his own men for doing something stupid, and then making his lieutenant pay for the resurrection, thus punishing him for sloppy management. To Brust, resurrection isn't a bug, it's a feature. Heck, Vlad met his wife when they killed each other.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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Treebore wrote:I also actually use the 1E applications for lead, etc... to foil certain spells. Non spell casters need to be able to protect themselves as well.
I always excepted that one in theory, but balked when it came time to smear lead in my character's home. He had a toddler. :wink:

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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Just Jeff wrote:
Treebore wrote:I also actually use the 1E applications for lead, etc... to foil certain spells. Non spell casters need to be able to protect themselves as well.
I always excepted that one in theory, but balked when it came time to smear lead in my character's home. He had a toddler. :wink:
Just make it so they can't lick it, or drink water that washed over it.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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Treebore wrote:Nightstorm,

The only thing I really don't like about your system, is your adding in not only a second opportunity for a spell to fail (fail to cast it, or target makes save and is totally unaffected, for most spells. Obviously not the case for Fireball, etc...) but then if they fail bad enough, and extra bad effect occurs.

I'd like it better if it totally replaces saving throws, and incorporates half damage for things like Fireball into the drawbacks of failed rolls.
My first draft had saving throws taken out. I put them back in thinking about the characters . Remember it works both way. I would like to see a show of hands on who would want saving throws in or out.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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I like the thinking about the impact of magic on society. I've thought that the existence of any sort of high magic environment would result in either slowing or halting of technological development (what use is the creation of electricity when arcane energy is sustainable, clean-burning, and already present?). The idea that there was a significant counterbalance in place would allow for a reason why magic would be rarer as now not only is there the matter of ability, but also willingness to risk being exploded in some awful fashion with a spell gone awry.

As far as saving-throws in or out: Logistically, less in the way of die rolls does make for a smoother campaign. While saving throws do offer more ability for people to avoid being put to sleep by random sorcerers, if there's already a check for the spell hitting home, I'd think the saving throw combined with it would make for a very limited chance of spells going off as intended. So, I think Saving throw out, perhaps with some of the target's ability modifier being applied to the initial spell cast challenge level.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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Litzen Tallister wrote:I like the thinking about the impact of magic on society. I've thought that the existence of any sort of high magic environment would result in either slowing or halting of technological development (what use is the creation of electricity when arcane energy is sustainable, clean-burning, and already present?). The idea that there was a significant counterbalance in place would allow for a reason why magic would be rarer as now not only is there the matter of ability, but also willingness to risk being exploded in some awful fashion with a spell gone awry.

As far as saving-throws in or out: Logistically, less in the way of die rolls does make for a smoother campaign. While saving throws do offer more ability for people to avoid being put to sleep by random sorcerers, if there's already a check for the spell hitting home, I'd think the saving throw combined with it would make for a very limited chance of spells going off as intended. So, I think Saving throw out, perhaps with some of the target's ability modifier being applied to the initial spell cast challenge level.
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Re: What to Do About Magic

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For what it is worth; this is one reason why I bailed on Pathfinder. 3.x could be played high or low magic, but in order to be balanced with modules and supplements, you had to play high magic. Then came city supplements like Sharn where everything is ultra, ultra, uber high, high magic. Pathfinder looked for ways to rebalance a few things that were not, and in so doing, powered everything up notch or 2 or maybe 12.

If you keep an eye on real balance in a world where (Pathfinder) sorcerers need no spell book you have created a monster; you cannot detain these people, you cannot deal with them. These characters will destroy a campaign that is not as equally uber-ized. Even without a spell book they regain power. This kind of power breeds fear and hate. Fear from the campaign world, and hate from this GM. The same is true for the wizard and the illusionist in C&C to some extent. That alone will keep your magic user population in check. They are (should be) rare, mysterious and just another good reason to be strict about material components. Heck, my players are always short on material components. It brings balance. And the tiny amount of hit points spell casters have, is a help in that regard.

Two saving throws? Why? If the illusionist spells require a save vs. intelligence, what is the problem? If they require saves vs. charisma, ok, if they are needed vs. wisdom, so be it. It may be better to think of an illusionist as some kind of different type of mage. Look at the spell list. Those are not really all illusions. If you were to use 2nd edition specialization schools, you would have to throw out the C&C version illusionist completely . It does not work. If they fail the save, the spell takes effect. You may be overthinking this. The more you do, and the more you add, the fewer rules light your games will become. I love the simplicity of this game. They don’t get two saves because of the type of spell caster.

Not that this is the case here, but when I hear GM's complain about magic imbalance I ask them questions and it never fails; first they wave the need for material components, then they allow sorcerers, then they sell magic items in every small town, and make wizards available for manufacturing of all items. It will kill a campaign if you are hoping to keep the local farmers from using it as well.

Not saying that is where this is headed, but "keep it simple" works really well for me.

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Re: What to Do About Magic

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Personally I don’t see arcane magic having drastic impact on society as healing magic, because there were always people with a lot more power than others. In a world of wizards siege equipment and knights would be less valuable. Wizards would rise in the social ranks very quickly. But that is not much different than a smart commoner joining the church to get head in the middle ages. Maybe one effect would be arcane orders? So maybe instead of the 3 middle age estates (Nobles, Clergy, and Commoners) there would be a fourth Wizards. There would probably be a move to one Arcane order like the one church in the middle ages. There would also likely be a stronger inclination towards lawful like knightly orders so those higher up on the social ranks could control power.

Healing magic and clerics have always been more a problem in my book. If you take for granted there are god(s) and at least some are good. I would think that they would heal on the basis of need not money. I would imagine it would have a few effects major effect. Everyone would want to keep in good standing with the good god(s) and their church(s). Death and disease would only be a major problem in the society when they happen in epidemic scale (plagues and war). Clerics would be much more sedentary (non-adventuring). I think too that most Fantasy games do a terrible job with clerics. In pagan times there were priest of individual gods but people and priests alike revered all the gods. For example you might be a priest of Odin but you still make offerings to Thor to keep storms away during your travels. But I digress.

Leaving aside the discussion on the impact of magic on the world; looking at your mechanic here are my thoughts. Why not make it a siege check with LoD = spell level, and eliminate memorization. For wizards and illusionist if your spell check fails you take 1d4 damage. On a 1 you lose your spell casting ability for a day. For clerics and druids you would lose your ability on failure and take 1d8 damage per spell level on critical failure. That would make magic really risky, people would not use it for everyday problems. The chance of a level 1 spell caster succeeding in casting would be much lower, but higher level casters could do low level spells very easily. You might want to add items that give bonuses to spell casting roll like wizards staves and expensive holy symbols. You could let spell caster “ritually” cast spells and pay scroll type prices on elaborate components and lots of time to cast but with no chance of failure. I have never play tested this.
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Re: What to Do About Magic

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zombiehands wrote:
Leaving aside the discussion on the impact of magic on the world; looking at your mechanic here are my thoughts. Why not make it a siege check with LoD = spell level, and eliminate memorization. ... That would make magic really risky, people would not use it for everyday problems. The chance of a level 1 spell caster succeeding in casting would be much lower, but higher level casters could do low level spells very easily. You might want to add items that give bonuses to spell casting roll like wizards staves and expensive holy symbols. You could let spell caster “ritually” cast spells and pay scroll type prices on elaborate components and lots of time to cast but with no chance of failure. I have never play tested this.
I’ve actually toyed with the idea of doing something like that. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to play test it so I can say if it works well (and is KISS enough).

As I’ve said, my home brew is a bit more ‘low magic’ than average – and yes tree, your world does sound a bit like mine ;) . However, just because I want it to be a little rarer than normal does not mean I want it to be LOW power. But, I’ve never like the book keeping associated with using material components as a toll to limit spell casters’ power.

One other item I’ve thought about is requiring casters to have staves wands holy symbols etc to cast a spell above a specific level (say any 3rd level or higher). To me that will also limit their power, but not completely depower a caster if it is taken from them (plus I love Tolkien’s seen where Gandalf convinces Wormtongue’s lackeys that he is simply an old man who needs a walking stick, but uses it to break the spell on the king)

zombiehands wrote:

Healing magic and clerics have always been more a problem in my book. If you take for granted there are god(s) and at least some are good. I would think that they would heal on the basis of need not money. I would imagine it would have a few effects major effect. Everyone would want to keep in good standing with the good god(s) and their church(s). Death and disease would only be a major problem in the society when they happen in epidemic scale (plagues and war).

...
I agree there too, with that, a player who is a good cleric just may be required to use some of his spells to help in an area that he wasn’t planning on using them. However, as I keep magic (and also divine magic) rare in my world, this would only improve life rates by a touch. Really, when you look at it, how much good can a 1-2 level cleric do on a day to day basis. There is a drought, and everyone’s crop is failing, or s fire burns 1/4th of the town injuring more than just a few … a hand full of spells will only go so far.
zombiehands wrote:
In pagan times there were priest of individual gods but people and priests alike revered all the gods. For example you might be a priest of Odin but you still make offerings to Thor to keep storms away during your travels. But I digress.
Also, rgr on that. I don’t have a KISS fix, but I’m leaning toward the ‘average’ cleric and paladin being able to pray to a hand full of gods/goddess (as long as they are not completely opposed from each other & are from the same society) but a priest can only pray to 1 god/goddess. Say a local town cleric would pray to Demeter for good crops, Hestia for a happy home, & Vulcan for the town smith. But in the capital city, the king has a priest of Zeus as an advisor.
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nightstorm
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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by nightstorm »

zombiehands wrote:Personally I don’t see arcane magic having drastic impact on society as healing magic, because there were always people with a lot more power than others. In a world of wizards siege equipment and knights would be less valuable. Wizards would rise in the social ranks very quickly. But that is not much different than a smart commoner joining the church to get head in the middle ages. Maybe one effect would be arcane orders? So maybe instead of the 3 middle age estates (Nobles, Clergy, and Commoners) there would be a fourth Wizards. There would probably be a move to one Arcane order like the one church in the middle ages. There would also likely be a stronger inclination towards lawful like knightly orders so those higher up on the social ranks could control power.

Healing magic and clerics have always been more a problem in my book. If you take for granted there are god(s) and at least some are good. I would think that they would heal on the basis of need not money. I would imagine it would have a few effects major effect. Everyone would want to keep in good standing with the good god(s) and their church(s). Death and disease would only be a major problem in the society when they happen in epidemic scale (plagues and war). Clerics would be much more sedentary (non-adventuring). I think too that most Fantasy games do a terrible job with clerics. In pagan times there were priest of individual gods but people and priests alike revered all the gods. For example you might be a priest of Odin but you still make offerings to Thor to keep storms away during your travels. But I digress.

Leaving aside the discussion on the impact of magic on the world; looking at your mechanic here are my thoughts. Why not make it a siege check with LoD = spell level, and eliminate memorization. For wizards and illusionist if your spell check fails you take 1d4 damage. On a 1 you lose your spell casting ability for a day. For clerics and druids you would lose your ability on failure and take 1d8 damage per spell level on critical failure. That would make magic really risky, people would not use it for everyday problems. The chance of a level 1 spell caster succeeding in casting would be much lower, but higher level casters could do low level spells very easily. You might want to add items that give bonuses to spell casting roll like wizards staves and expensive holy symbols. You could let spell caster “ritually” cast spells and pay scroll type prices on elaborate components and lots of time to cast but with no chance of failure. I have never play tested this.
What do you mean LOD? Could you give me an example?

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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by zombiehands »

I might be using the wrong term, LoD= Level of Difficulty i.e. what you add to the siege check difficulty.
Magic Missile is a level 1 spell so the LoD = 1
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zombiehands
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Re: What to Do About Magic

Post by zombiehands »

Lurker wrote:

As I’ve said, my home brew is a bit more ‘low magic’ than average – and yes tree, your world does sound a bit like mine ;) . However, just because I want it to be a little rarer than normal does not mean I want it to be LOW power. But, I’ve never like the book keeping associated with using material components as a toll to limit spell casters’ power.

One other item I’ve thought about is requiring casters to have staves wands holy symbols etc to cast a spell above a specific level (say any 3rd level or higher). To me that will also limit their power, but not completely depower a caster if it is taken from them (plus I love Tolkien’s seen where Gandalf convinces Wormtongue’s lackeys that he is simply an old man who needs a walking stick, but uses it to break the spell on the king)
Most of my game worlds have been "low" magic, but I mean that most magical power is in the hands of Monsters and PC. The general populace is fairly mundane.

I don't recall what game it was (might even have been in the CKG) but someone had the idea of allowing staves to "hold" all the wizards components. I recall another game allowed a wizard to put the power some of their spells per day in a staff, the amount of spells you put in doubles but you loose the power to cast a spell without it. Another option is just to make the spell book a staff so to rememorize a spell you need your staff.
There are two novels that can change a 14-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
John Rogers

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