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D&D 3E/3.5 3.5 low magic campaign tips


First Post

I'll be DM-ing again for the first time in a few years. The concept is a D&D 3.5 homebrew low magic campaign.

I was wondering whether you could give me some tips to properly incorporate the low-magic bit.

This is what I got sofar:

* Magic items are rare remnants from another era.

* Those magic items which remain are few but powerful.

* Magic item crafting is out (knwoledge has been lost).

* Magic items are seldom for sale.

* (NPC) Spellcasters are rare too.

* Temples offer religious services, not magical healing.

* Libraries have books, not spells/magical tomes.

* Wizards have to work hard to find sources for new spells (=sidequests).

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First Post
Right. Well, you'll probably want to use more mundane opponents as well. You might even want to remove some spell-like abilities and such of demons and devils if you still want to use outsiders like them. Otherwise... Well, it's surprising how terrifying a Colossal Monstrous Spider can be once you don't have a blaster.

Which brings me to my other point: do note that CR:s aren't made for these kinds of campaigns. They were made for a party with a healer and an arcane caster (and a lot of magical gear) and taking them away chips off a considerable part of a party's strength. To still be able to afford them enough experience to keep the game going, you might want to consider upping the challenge rating of many monsters (CR 5+, IMO) by one or two. This way you'll have some picture of the real challenge they represent and you'll be able to reward the party accordingly.

And as a side-note, since magic items are artifacts of old, you should probably think of a small background story for each. That way people with ranks in Knowledge (history) or Bardic Knowledge will make the gear really feel special.

A couple of things to consider:

1) Are alchemical items available? An anti-toxin, alchemist fire or tanglefoot bag could be extremely powerful if you don't have access to things like Fireball.

2) Without magical healing your PCs are going to need a lot of down time between treks into the wilderness. So be careful if you put them on a tight timeline.

3) Damage reduction is going to be the bane, and blessing if they can get it, of your party. DR 5/Magic is going to be tough if the PCs aren't smart.


First Post
Thanks for the initial replies!

* Alchemical items are in.

* They can get magical healing from party clerics/druids/etc.

Otherwise, they just have to be careful.

I've got a gaming group of very experienced and tactical players. Part of the reasoning to introduce a low-magic campaign is to throw them off-balance and make combat a challenge again (it's too often too easy).

The other part is to introduce a really different world and atmosphere for the setting. We tend to play Forgotten Realms, which I think is extremely high magic.


First Post
Using a low-magic campaign setting with unhindered access to casting classes isn't a scenario I've encountered before. You're effectively widening the gap between casters and noncasters, potentially making the latter feel even more reduced in scope.

One of the most effective ways I've seen of hindering casters (without just removing problem spells) is to limit their class levels to 5 or 10.


First Post
maybe this would work to balance things out a bit:

* at character creation, non-casters get a magic item and casters don't
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First Post
Your early game isn't the issue, here.
Casters grow exponentially as they level up, whereas non-casters grow in a more static fashion.
You could refuse access to Tier 1 and 2 classes, which would still allow every type of caster to exist (through Beguilers, Dread Necros, Warmages, etc) without being dramatically overbearing.
You could let Clerics choose only spells from the domains their deity grants, which allows for a wide variety of Clerics (and in my opinion, a lot more flavor to your campaign world and is also fitting with the theme of deities and magic).

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