D&D 5E 5E Without Magic (PCs)

Li Shenron

Legend
a no magic 5e game is basically use the combat rules and forget all races but human and all classes but fighter exist.
IIRC one Gnome and one Elf subrace have a single cantrip, Drow and Tieflings have more spells. So you still have Human, Dwarf, Wood Elf, Halfling, Rock Gnome, Half-Orc, Half-Elf and Dragonborn without magic. Or you can play Forest Gnome and High Elf as well and ignore just the bonus cantrip. There are also many non-core races without magic.

Fighter, Barbarian, Rogue have enough archetypes without magic, especially if supplementary books are allowed.

I wouldn't even remove the Totem Barbarian, for what its 3 spells are worth, I would narrate them as non-magical abilities and keep the archetype available.

Also I don't think Ki is necessarily magical enough to disqualify the Monk. The truly magical effects are from Empty Body, until you reach level 18 there is not much to worry about.

So you have easily enough races and classes for a party of 3-4 PCs without overlapping.

Not that the game would be unplayable even if everyone was a human champion fighter...
 

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Fanaelialae

Legend
If I were going to run a no-magic-PCs style campaign, I'd probably just use AIME. There are a few abilities where you might need to decide whether they are appropriate for your campaign (for example, does the master scholar's ability to learn the language of one type of animal constitute magic, or is it simply a fantastical element of the setting). That would be it.

If you really wanted an expanded roster of classes, you could of course include many of the subleases for barbarian, fighter, and rogue (and, depending on where you draw the line, monk). The spell-less ranger could also be an option (or trim down the spell list and reflavor them as non-magical tricks of the trade). Depending on where you draw the line, you could also excise the paladin's spells and just allow them to smite. Some of the paladin's abilities could certainly be reflavored to be non-magical. The Pugilist and Warlord are available on DMs Guild (and, unless I'm mistaken, Level Up also has a Warlord class).

I wouldn't do that myself though, because I feel like the classes in AIME are a bit lower on the power scale than some of those expanded options. Not enough that it would be unplayable, but sufficiently so that I think it would be noticeable.

Personally, I have run low PC magic games in 5e successfully. I wasn't setting out for low magic, but the players chose to play a fighter (battle master), a monk (shadow), and some other martial types (I don't recall) and it worked well until the high levels. Somewhere in the the teen levels, an NPC cleric that used warlock spellcasting joined the party, and things went smoothly all the way to level 19, at which point the campaign successfully concluded. The cleric was primarily there to cast things like Dispel Magic and Restoration, and offer occasional emergency healing. As others have said, the main thing is to be generous with short rests. Whereas in a typical party at higher levels the casters can potentially nova the party through a long string of encounters if they have to, the non-magical party will struggle to do the same since they won't have nearly as deep reserves.
 

Oofta

Legend
Fills a bit of the Bard niche, along with some battlefield control regular 5E martials lack.
I guess I just don't see the need. If you have all martial characters they're either less squishy or hiding in the shadows. There are rogue types that can fill in the social aspects, as can any fighter that makes some investment in things other than combat. Feats like sentinel and polearm master give you control along with battle master and cavalier.

Up to you of course, the game works just fine without them in my experience.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I think you could play a perfectly fine and enjoyable 5e campaign with no spellcasters in the party, at least through mid-levels. After the party hit about level 5, you would need to become judicious about which monsters and situations you created for the campaign, because some higher level monsters really require the party to have access to magic to fight them effectively; however, even this problem can be mitigated by providing the party access to appropriate magic items. Can you play a higher-level published adventure with a party containing no spellcasters? Probably not. But in a homebrew campaign, sure.

It is also not necessary to go out and create a dozen new non-spellcasting classes just because you are not allowing spellcasters. It is not the end of the world if the adventuring party has two Fighters and two Rogues; presumably your campaign will have more for these non-spellcasting types to do because you are not designing anything for spellcasters.
It might be "the end of the world" for the players though, as PC options are severely reduced if you remove magic from the list without replacing what's been taken out, and most players like options.
 

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
It might be "the end of the world" for the players though, as PC options are severely reduced if you remove magic from the list without replacing what's been taken out, and most players like options.
Exactly this. "Hey guys, we're going to play 5e but with 80% of the options removed because of <compelling reason>" is a tough sell unless <compelling reason> is pretty damn compelling. Adding in a bunch of new options as part of <compelling reason> has a way better chance of getting acceptance.
 


Exactly this. "Hey guys, we're going to play 5e but with 80% of the options removed because of <compelling reason>" is a tough sell unless <compelling reason> is pretty damn compelling. Adding in a bunch of new options as part of <compelling reason> has a way better chance of getting acceptance.
I don't know. "We're a bunch of friends" and "This would be something new, different, and challenging" can be pretty compelling without a lot extra.

A sweetener might be nice, but it's not hard for me to envision a group that would be into it just because they like hanging out together and trying new stuff.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Fills a bit of the Bard niche, along with some battlefield control regular 5E martials lack.
A quick and dirty method for getting more "Warlord" into the game for a low/no-magic setting without incorporating an entirely new class... is to give 'Bardic Inspiration' (since the magical Bards wouldn't be used in this campaign) to the Battlemaster as a Combat Maneuver option. And rather than following the standard BI dice increase that the Bard class gives, you just user the BM superiority dice instead.

Inspiration
You can inspire others through stirring words. To do so, spend a superiority die and use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you. You give that creature the superiority die.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the superiority die, but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the superiority die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one superiority die at a time.


If you also take combat maneuvers like Commander's Strike, Maneuvering Attack, and Rally alongside Inspiration... you can get a little closer to having a Warlord-like character. Obviously it's not going to be an exact replica of the actual 4E class... but at least adding 'Inspiration' helps fill the tactical/inspirational Battlemaster out.
 

Reynard

Legend
Exactly this. "Hey guys, we're going to play 5e but with 80% of the options removed because of <compelling reason>" is a tough sell unless <compelling reason> is pretty damn compelling. Adding in a bunch of new options as part of <compelling reason> has a way better chance of getting acceptance.
Some players get really grumpy when you limit options. I usually identify those players and don't both inviting them to play again because usually that attitude is indicative of other forms of player entitlement I don't enjoy GMing for.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Interesting. I often see it mentioned that 5E is the least magic dependent edition. There are lots of mundane ways to get health back, and no one needs magic items even at higher levels. It hardly seems a no PC magic campaign in 5E would be impossible.
Definitely not impossible. 5e would be a good edition for trotting out and adapting some of the 2e-era Green Books like the Glory of Rome or The Crusades. D&D has more than enough monsters/NPCs and other antagonist types to support a more mundane game.
 

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