The Goldilocks Poll: How Magic is 5e?

Poll: How magic is 5e?

This poll will close on Wednesday, 21st November, 2018 at 08:52 PM

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  1. #1
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    The Goldilocks Poll: How Magic is 5e?

    So I was just reading a necro'd thread about the Kingdoms of Kalamar, and this quote jumped out at me:

    "It is low magic, which fits in with 5th edition." @devincutler

    And I was thinking to myself, "Self, what is that nonsense? I mean, sure, you can run a low-magic 5e campaign by tweaking and twisting and sorting and cutting and forcing ... but 5e .... 5e is NOT low magic!"

    But, like many other things, maybe I'm wrong. Or, at least, maybe my subjective opinion is out of sync with what other people are thinking.*

    So, what do other people think? Is 5e a low magic edition? A high magic edition? In between? I'm putting up a poll to find out what other people think.

    And, just so we are all reasonably clear on what the poll is looking for:**

    Do you think that "base" 5e is high magic, medium magic, or low magic. This does NOT mean that it cannot be played in other ways. Moreover, this is campaign-agnostic. Think of it in terms of "out of the box." Generic 5e.

    Further, this is subjective, and you can explain why you think it is what it is in the comments. Some people might be viewing it as compared to other editions (maybe OSR, BECMI, 1/2e, 3e, 4e, or "prior editions in general"), while others might be viewing it relative to other RPGs, and others might be viewing it relative to the time they went to the DMV.









    *Quick reminder-
    Subjective: The d12 is the best die. Other people might reasonably disagree, and prefer the d4. For use as a weapon.
    Objective: Paladins are awful and should be removed all editions of D&D. This is a universal truth and cannot be argued with.

    **I mean, it doesn't really matter what I write. People that want to argue with the premise will do so anyway.

  2. #2
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    So my subjective opinion is that 5e is a HIGH MAGIC system.

    For me, the issue isn't the overall POWER of magic (for example, how powerful can magic get), it's the FREQUENCY of magic (how often do characters use magic).

    So I consider BECMI/1e as a baseline, and while magic eventually gets POWERFUL, it is more infrequent. It is nearly impossible to have a combat go by without frequent spellcasting in 5e, and, moreover, almost all classes have spells.

    I would even say that most character design in 5e is premised around spells and spell-equivalents.

    I would say that the sheer ubiquity of magic in 5e from the character perspective makes it high magic.
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  3. #3
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    The same way 5E (or really D&D in general) is primarily a "combat game"... because most of the statistics a character has are used for combat and an entire third of the trio of ruleset books is statistics for combat... 5E (and D&D in general) is also a magic game. Because most of the rules and statistics used for letting characters do things are magical-- whether that be spells, items, features or the like.

    Compare the number of options weapon-using characters have to do things versus the number of options magic-using characters have (even just in spells.) There's no contest. When it comes to doing things in D&D, most of the game gives ways and means for magic to accomplish it. Heck... 5E's one attempt at making a more "non-magical combat system" involved the creation of Combat Superiority dice and Maneuvers, and they gave that to only ONE subclass of only ONE of the 12 classes... and have since then basically abandoned the system.

    So while you can say that 5E put into a place a system that possibly could have begun moving the game into more of a balance between magic and non-magical combat... they had no faith in what they came up with and abandoned it. And thus the game is still medium-to-high magic across the board.

  4. #4
    I voted that I'm not a number. Out of the box, 5E provides a DM the tools for either low-magic or high-magic, or inbetween.
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  5. #5
    I considered voting high magic, but then I figured that a real high magic would have 100% of the characters classes being magical.

    Since 5e only rates about 95% on that scale, I went with medium.

    (Seriously, I'd reserve the high magic label for a game where the characters and setting absolutely drip with magic, like Mage, Harry Potter or a friendly game of My Little Pony)
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
    I voted that I'm not a number.
    You only say that because you're not number 1.
    Laugh Parmandur, 77IM laughed with this post

  7. #7
    5E is low magic only with regard to the necessity of magic weapons and armor. You don't need to be laden down like a christmas tree with magic swords, armor, shields, cloaks, etc to be effective in combat.

    However, 5E is ridiculously off the charts high magic with regards to access to magic and magic spells. Every class in the game has one or multiple magic using options (even barbarians get abilities that are magical in nature). Access to magic is ubiquitous and you can expect almost every character in a party to have inherent magical abilities.

    As a result, I'd definitely say 5E is HIGH magic.
    XP Saelorn, AtomicPope gave XP for this post

  8. #8
    5e is high magic.

    3e is ridiculous magic.

    I consider fantasy stories to be the baseline.

    The Princess Bride is low magic.
    The Hobbit is medium magic.
    D&D is high magic.

    Conan the Barbarian is on the cusp of low/medium magic.
    The Lord of the Rings is on the cusp of medium/high magic.
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  9. #9
    Low magic would be all non-casters who occasionally encounter magical elements or are allowed one off magic granted by the DM's. Any game that allows PC's to cast on their own authority is automatically at least "medium" magic to me.

    5th edition D&D characters are creating 8 hour pocket dimensions (rope trick) at 3rd level. There are, what, like 5 subclasses that don't cast spells? They break the laws of reality more often than they poop. That's high magic.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehren37 View Post
    Low magic would be all non-casters who occasionally encounter magical elements or are allowed one off magic granted by the DM's. Any game that allows PC's to cast on their own authority is automatically at least "medium" magic to me.

    5th edition D&D characters are creating 8 hour pocket dimensions (rope trick) at 3rd level. There are, what, like 5 subclasses that don't cast spells? They break the laws of reality more often than they poop. That's high magic.

    First, bolded because that made me laugh.

    Second ... are we sure? I mean ... I don't have rules for often they poop. Maybe .... PCs are too magical to poop? Maybe they lack ... the plumbing to do so?

    I demand that WoTC resolve this, and other pressing questions, in an upcoming CRUNCH book- "Serten's Guide to Sanitation and Sewage."
    Laugh Parmandur, ehren37, 77IM, DEFCON 1 laughed with this post

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