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ZEITGEIST Danor and Malice Lands "Damaaged Magic Zone" (Always on Time)


You would not believe how much back and forth discussion this small passage in the player's guide to the campaign has caused during Chapter 4: Always on Time. I'm continuing my campaign via pbp on Roleplay online, and for reference, below is my current rulings on the RAW. I'm curious if anyone else has spent an inordinate amount of time trying to interpret all of the implications of this rule to their players, and if any of you took it in different directions than I did.

For the RAW, read page 38 of the Player's guide any time you have a question, then refer here for my DM ruling, then if there are still questions, ask here so everyone can see.

For convenience, here is the relevant portion from page 38 of the PG:

" Wild and Dead Magic.

Within Danor’s borders, magic quickly seeps away, a consequence of
the Great Malice, where the high elf goddess Srasama died five hundred
years ago. Magic item powers and enhancement bonuses function normally,
subject to GM adjudication, but spell-like abilities and spells cast
through the items do not.
A creature’s own innate magical powers still function, such as racial
spell-like and supernatural abilities. Class-based supernatural abilities
function as well, but a character cannot use spell-like abilities or cast
spells from his classes unless he has an appropriate magical focus, such
as a wizard’s bonded item or an associated familiar, to use as a conduit.
Most hats, cloaks, periapts, and similar items that enhance mental ability
scores are infused with enough energy to act as a focus, but over a period
of weeks or months, even their power fades entirely.
Since it is impossible to create magic items in Danor, almost no Danorans
study magic. The few mages there either traveled to other nations to
study or purchased magic items and spent exorbitantly to import tutors.
Just beyond Danor’s borders, in a broad swath hundreds of miles wide,
the fabric of magic is damaged but not destroyed. In these places, known
as the Malice Lands, whenever a character casts a spell they must make
a DC 14 Will save or be affected by a random spellblight (see the “Spellblights”
section in Chapter 2 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Magic).
If you don’t have access to the spellblight rules, instead roll an unmodified
1d20 anytime a spell is cast. On a 1, a mishap occurs. A mishap is a
random magical event that usually results in the spell backfiring, manifesting
as a free-willed monster, or otherwise going dangerously awry."

For example, Mourn used his sword as a magical focus for the spell "detect magic," as that's usually what a magus does.

RAW specifically says that class abilities work, as long as a magical focus is used. As Griff pointed out to me, it specifically says that spells cast through the items do not work, which would contradict using items as a magical focus, which it explicitly states is how magic users continue to cast spells. So, to resolve the paradox, I interpret being unable to cast spells through items to mean "use magical device" doesn't work, to include spell casters activating magical item abilities. Since the text specifically says item powers and bonuses function normally, I take that to mean that anything that is "on" stays on, but anything that has to be triggered cannot be turned on or off (I suppose it could be turned off if destroyed or dispelled). I suspect they intentionally wrote this in a vague way that it could be "subject to GM adjudication."

Note that the "damaged Magic Zone" mentioned on page 38 is not as potent in Danor as it is in the Malice Lands. As such, while in Danor, you cannot craft or activate magic items, but the spellblight rules are not currently in effect. When you cross over into the Malice Lands, however, you will be subject to spellblight rules. Anytime you cast a spell or activate a spell-like ability in the Malice Lands, you make a DC 14 will save. If you fail, roll for a minor spellblight. If you fail by 10 or more, roll a major spellblight. Critical failure (Nat 1) results in a roll from the major spellblight list regardless of passive bonus, and additionally the spell fumbles.

Spellblight Rules: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG...ic/spellblights.html

Spell Mishap Rules (Spell Fumble): http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/...rules/#Spell_Fumbles

Magic users need a focus, like how divine spell casters have always needed a relic or religious icon as a divine focus. I didn't really emphasize this point, because its more of a flavor issue, I just assume that the magic users knew this in setting and found something suitable that would pass scrutiny by security inspection. I suppose that I should point this out, since it makes magic users vulnerable to disarm.

That said, you can use a wand as a magical focus, you just can't activate the wand, scroll, etc, or magical potions (alchemical-based potions work fine as long as they are not extracts).


I just got this question today, any official answer?

"The Player's Guide mentions 'One noteworthy exception is the city-state of Orithea, which has managed to prosper in a small pocket of stable, albeit weakened magic.' How do the rules work in that city? It it like Danor, where magic items cannot be crafted or used, but spells work normally? Or are there some other rules?"

The easiest answer would be that Orithea follows the same rules as Danor, but the wording does make it sound like there is something special about Orithea that allows magic devices to be used long term.


I am by no means a an expert on Pathfinder, but I read this as the magus can cast their class spells through the magical focus of a sword. However, if the sword also allows fly to be cast 3 times per day, that is not available.
The player's guide in this case doesn't match what we ended up writing four adventures later. Orithea is still a wild magic zone, mechanically. It's just safer narratively.

And yes, the intent was for characters to be able to cast spells of their own, but not activate abilities of items. And items would lose their magic over time, which doesn't really affect PCs, but totally changes society.


FWIW, when I ran this for my group (in Pathfinder), I treated Danor as effectively an antimagic field. The only thing that I bent on was that long-persistent magical effects "calcified" rather than going away. So all those belts-of-dexterity, etc., could keep working - even if taken off! (but of course, if anybody else put on the belt it would do nothing for them.) This just made OOG logistics a lot easier. But even more importantly, anyone wearing a hat of disguise got their alternate identity "locked in" and they couldn't change back to normal (until out of Danor).

Important note: I didn't "spring" this on my players, but warned them far in advance that it would work like this, and they planned around it. Besides, there's not any mandatory fights in Danor anyways, so the sorcerer in the party didn't complain too hard.

For the Malice Lands, I used wild magic rules. In practice, the party studiously avoided casting magic unless it was strictly necessary.

For Orithea, I didn't use any formal rule set. I basically let magic work normally, but then I'd ad hoc come up with exotic flourishes to describe the magic looking or acting weird (but this never had any meaningful impact).