What is "grim and gritty" and "low magic" anyway? - Page 15





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  1. #141
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    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enkhidu
    How are the Incantations as magic working for you, JD? Are you reserving them for the "big" magic, or have you found a way to create a few minor incantations that model existing low and mid level spells (like the various summon spells or animate dead for example)?
    Well, I'm only one session in, and half the session was chargen. I haven't actually used any yet. The PCs don't actually know any at this point either, although through the course of the first adventure I anticipate they can learn a few. I'm planning on converting some somewhat standard spells into incantations, making them more specific rather than generic. Obviously, very few evocation type spells make for good incantations.

    "I realize that I am generalizing here, but, as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care." Dave Barry

 

  • #142
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamosa
    I would say that most fantasy is low level D&D. [...] It's fine to want your game to fit in the fantasy worlds you read. What ends up being boo is the forcing of high level gaming into a low level straight jacket, because you don't want to admit you only want to play at low levels.
    I'd say your reaching with that analogy; and I'd disagree with it simply based on the fact that I've seen a lot of systems, even within d20 that work much better at "simulating" the kind of fantasy I read than D&D, low or high level. Most fantasy has characters that are fairly capable across a broad spectrum of situations (i.e., they are probably higher level, with many class abilities, feats and skill points) yet they are not clearly as superhuman in terms of magic and HP as D&D characters are. Your example of Gandalf as a 5th level wizard, for example, only works for his spells, not for his many other abilities. Same with Aragorn as a 6th level fighter, which is an extremely poor fit altogether (I"d argue that building a character that can do what Aragorn does is practically impossible in D&D without a great deal of fudging.) The hobbits as 1st level rogues? I'd say 3-4 level aristocrat more likely, at least for Frodo, Merry and Pippin. Most fantasy is not D&D pure and simple, although low level D&D does approximate it better in many ways than high level D&D. Then again, GURPS across the board probably approximates a lot of it better than any level of D&D. Sovereign Stone at any level approximates a lot of it better than any level of D&D. Midnight at any level approximates most of it better than any level of D&D, etc.

    "I realize that I am generalizing here, but, as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care." Dave Barry

  • #143
    Quote Originally Posted by Wulf Ratbane
    Those of us who enjoy playing characters of wits, skill, and resourcefulness-- the qualities ascribed to classic heroes-- are given short shrift in a game where magic is a cure-all.

    This implies that you can't play a character of wit, skill and resourcefulness in a standard D&D game. I can't disagree more.
    Sometimes you wake up.
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  • #144
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olorin
    This implies that you can't play a character of wit, skill and resourcefulness in a standard D&D game. I can't disagree more.
    No, of course you can. I have done.

    But such characters are soon eclipsed in their abilities by even the simplest magic.

    Consider that a cloak and boots of elvenkind (which a 3rd level caster can make) grant 20 skill ranks.

    An 8th level fighter strives to master his weapon and gain improved critical; meanwhile the elven wizard has had keen edge since 3rd level (and true strike since first).

    And on and on...

    Wulf

  • #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Dyal
    ...Most fantasy is not D&D pure and simple, although low level D&D does approximate it better in many ways than high level D&D. Then again, GURPS across the board probably approximates a lot of it better than any level of D&D. Sovereign Stone at any level approximates a lot of it better than any level of D&D. Midnight at any level approximates most of it better than any level of D&D, etc.
    I think thats the crux of the matter, to an extent.

    D&D is its own mythology. Think about it, it has its own monsters, spells, beliefs and assumptions that are completely its own. D&D is not a fantasy-game simulator, its its own world/game.

    I think WotC (or any other really daring d20 company) could produce a d20 Generic Fantasy Toolkit that doesn't even reference the core rule books or assumptions. I think it would sell like hotcakes. It would be like d20 Modern, with some generic classes, staple races, sample spells and monsters, but a module build that allows plenty of DM tinkering rather than kitbashing D&D.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkhandus
    ......I endorse anything Remathilis says.

  • #146
    Quote Originally Posted by kamosa
    I would say that most fantasy is low level D&D.
    I would venture another outlook: Low Level D&D is the only part of D&D that even remotely resembles the fantasy genre, and the higher level you get, the less the game resembles the genre from which it was born.

    In the end, this is the general complaint many LM/GnG gamers have: They don't want to be confined to low levels in order to emulate the genre. I've not seen Wulf's book yet (it's near the top of my list, though...), but what you find most of "us" doing is making an attempt to open high level play to characters without the burden/dependance of magic that Core balance/expectations appears to impose. The idea that low magic games should be confined to low levels is patently false; It illustrates a misconception that magic is necessary in order to play the game right and that low magic games should be confined to low levels because that's when magic is "light". However, what this belief translates as is "because you have chosen not to use high magic, your characters are mentally and physically crippled and can't get past 5th Level." That is just as rediculous as it is wrong. I would posit the opposite: That without depending on magic as a crutch and cure all, characters will be tougher, smarter, faster, and more heroic because genetic evolution dictates that it must be so.

    I know it would pain most people to admit this, but LOTR is a low level D&D game. Gandolf was not much more then a 5th level wizard based on the D&D game.
    You do realize that Gandolf is listed on page 5 of the ELH as an expample of an Epic Character. Consequently, so are Conan, Fafhrd, and the Gray Mouser, three characters not exactly known for their huge stock piles of gold and endless lists of magical trinkets.

    The hobits started out as at best 1st level rogues.
    Experts, being that (1) they existed within a farming community and while likely not farmers themselves, they likely have suitable Skills, and (2) they were intended to represent the "common folk" during World War I (i.e., "little people" caught up in sweeping world events that changed history). By the end of FotR, they likely have Rogue Levels, and by the end of RotK, Merry has Fighter Levels while the others likely continued as Rogues (although Samwise and Frodo likely qualify for Ranger Levels from their journey).

    It's fine to want your game to fit in the fantasy worlds you read. What ends up being boo is the forcing of high level gaming into a low level straight jacket, because you don't want to admit you only want to play at low levels.
    What I see is the opposite: The game that used to only be limited by our imaginations is now wearing a high magic straight jacket and those that are comfortable in that straight jacket can't understand why someone else would want to get it off and scratch an itch.
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  • #147
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis
    I think WotC (or any other really daring d20 company) could produce a d20 Generic Fantasy Toolkit that doesn't even reference the core rule books or assumptions. I think it would sell like hotcakes. It would be like d20 Modern, with some generic classes, staple races, sample spells and monsters, but a module build that allows plenty of DM tinkering rather than kitbashing D&D.
    You have my absolute agreement on this statement.
    Aedon: Glory, Ice and Pain
    Rare Magic, Psience and False Gods in a grim and gritty world of warfare and strife.
    Age of Frost Open Beta available here
    Heroes' Lorebook 0.1.6 (updated 5.21), Veiled Lorebook 0.0.1 (uploaded 4.20), Aedon Bestiary 0.0.1 (uploaded 4.22)
    End the Age of Frost: When the Walls come Tumbling Down (Apologies to John Cougar.)

    Age of Glory Open Beta available here (Imperial Lorebook 0.0.1 uploaded 4.27)

    qtgg.icehex.net
    d20Resources.com

  • #148
    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Dyal
    Rather than saying "low magic sucks just because" I think a more useful discussion would be how to make low magic, grim and gritty d20 games work.
    Nice idea. Okay, here are a few for me:

    > You need a more detailed Masterwork system, with multiple levels of bonus and a lot more "exotic material" modifiers. That way, the famous Excalibur-type weapons can still be better than a plain old sword, without requiring magic.
    > You need better rules for nonmagical healing. The Heal skill isn't really effective enough; if you've played NWN, you know how the Heal skill in that game is significantly more useful. Make it too good and it's simply a healing potion in another form, but there needs to be some ability to patch up wounds without waiting a week.
    > Creatures with DR, regeneration, resists, incorporeality, or any undead need to be reassessed for purposes of CR before being used.
    > You need to add a "wound" system, nonmagical defense bonuses, and possibly armor-as-DR system to keep player combat scaling correctly as level increases.

    And on the magical side,
    > Clarify what you intend by "low magic". If spellcasting classes are rare, it's still easily possible that the majority of the party would be that rare exception, since those'd be the types drawn to the adventuring lifestyle. If you don't want the players to have access to magic either, then it's a lot more work.
    > Magic-using classes need to have a less exponential power curve. While their max spell level can keep increasing, they shouldn't ALSO get so many more spells per day.
    > Mages need to be prevented from casting all their biggest spells in one shot (the 1-encounter problem that is exemplified by the Scry-Buff-Teleport debate). For example, a drain-based magic system works nicely here; if you have to recover between big spells, it spaces things out nicely.
    > If you still want to keep magic in the game, you need to compensate for the fact that the typical person will no longer have the +save items and feats that'd allow him to resist the magic. Otherwise, PC wizards would be unstoppable killing machines, and enemy wizards would be worse. For example, you could give everyone Spell Resistance equal to their CHA plus their racial HD. When the average commoner has SR 10, no one will be playing a low-level Wizard. And, it keeps CHA from being a dump stat. Or, just add a straight save bonus for non-magic classes.

    Anyway, the point I was trying to make earlier was that the changes needed to make a good* low-magic system are so extensive that you're better off working the other direction, adding a magic system to a game already balanced for zero-magic. My friends and I have already done that, and it's worked VERY nicely for us. One of these days I'll get around to posting it on the House Rules forum.

    *- "Good system" and "system that can lead to good games" are two different things. If I took D&D and removed every spell above 4th level, I could still make a good campaign out of it, as long as the players cooperated, but that wouldn't make it a balanced game system.

  • #149
    Quote Originally Posted by Wulf Ratbane
    Consider that a cloak and boots of elvenkind (which a 3rd level caster can make) grant 20 skill ranks.
    No they don't. They grant a +5 bonus to the relevant skills. Further, if you're playing 3.5E, these items cost more than a magic sword. You can certainly have +20 skill bonus items, but they'll be pretty expensive. Not things that a 3rd level character should be worrying about.

    If your beef is with the process by which these bonuses are gained, as opposed to their mechanics, the simplest solution is to change the process. I've mentioned imbued magic too many times already, but once more can't hurt.

    http://www.zipworld.com.au/~hong/dnd/imbued_magic.htm


    An 8th level fighter strives to master his weapon and gain improved critical; meanwhile the elven wizard has had keen edge since 3rd level (and true strike since first).
    You can't seriously be saying that keen edge for 1 minute/level and true strike for 1 attack threatens the fighter's niche as master of weapons.

    If a wizard really wanted to show a fighter up, they wouldn't waste their time on this piddly stuff. Fly + greater invis + wind wall + fireball is perhaps the canonical method, but that tends to raise everyone's hackles. If you want to do the arcane caster/fighter thing, GMW + polymorph + displacement + stoneskin + mage armour + shield + haste + Tenser's transform is the way to go. Note that most of these spells are 3rd level or higher. By simply cutting down on the rate of advancement, as mentioned by Kamosa, you go a long way to solving your problems.

  • #150
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis
    I think WotC (or any other really daring d20 company) could produce a d20 Generic Fantasy Toolkit that doesn't even reference the core rule books or assumptions. I think it would sell like hotcakes. It would be like d20 Modern, with some generic classes, staple races, sample spells and monsters, but a module build that allows plenty of DM tinkering rather than kitbashing D&D.
    Like d20 Modern... generic classes... module build... DM tinkering...

    Golly, you keep that up, I'm going to have to start paying you.

    http://www.badaxegames.com/html/prod...les/index.html

    Course I never thought of myself as "really daring."


    Wulf

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