D&D 5E Discussing Worldbuilding: Why Don't The Mages Take Over The World?

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
You left out clerics and paladins. Basically the mainority of spellcasters require extensive training. Most do not and would thus already be around once a social hirarchy forms.
I did not. Becoming a proper cleric is a long and involved process. It requires a great deal of learning. That's literally where the Western university system got its start: From the Encyclopedia of the Developing World, "Europe established schools in association with their cathedrals to educate priests, and from these emerged eventually the first universities of Europe, which began forming in the eleventh and twelfth centuries."

Spellcasting allows a person to do things the vast majority of people can't do. It literally makes them superhuman in their eyes. And thats the real power, not how much damage a fireball does. By appearing superhuman they can claim to be better than other people which is why they should rule and not others.
Except it isn't superhuman in a world where people can use magic, is it? It's completely human! Ordinary humans can do it.

Spellcasting, the ability to do things ordinary persons can't do is a very big plus on the list of reasons why you should rule and not someone else and why people should follow you.
"Ordinary" only if you're enforcing conformity to our world. Which is the exact assertion I've been challenging, that it is NOT "all else being equal." Because it isn't! Even Fighters are clearly superhuman compared to our world.

And you conveniently leave out all the older systems of government with divine rule like the Pharao of Egypt or the concurrent ones to Rome like Zoroastrianism and Judaism with divine rule.
It's...not convenient at all. Those systems weren't medieval Europe. They worked by VERY different rules and did not actually have a nobility/aristocracy of the kind present in medieval Europe. Vassalage was not the primary means of control; a centralized bureaucracy was, and that bureaucracy depended on the King(/Pharaoh/Emperor/Etc.) for its support and continuity. In the absence of that central authority, government would collapse entirely. This is what I referred to earlier as a "hydraulic empire." Hydraulic empires require extensive bureaucratic structures in order to manage flooding and irrigation, and those needs, being based on environment rather than elective choice, ensure that this governing pattern recurs even if it is disrupted. Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire did not have such environmental pressures ensuring the return of a bureaucratic administration, and thus had to turn to other methods of organization in order to function.

It did happen. From mass revolts in China after natural disasters to nobles backing other candidates.
But it only happened when all of those things came together. There were numerous times where a weak ruler led China and lived out his whole life. Consider, for example, the reign of Empress Wu--who was de facto ruler during the reign of her husband and two of her sons, before reigning outright as the only legitimate female sovereign in Chinese history. She retained her power in large part because the monarchs were weak, and she was able to use their weak reign to legitimize her own rule.

Weak rulers have occurred many, many times in human history, in many, many places. And yet the vast majority of them were not deposed. Society did not just spin on a dime and switch to the newest hotness. Loyalty mattered. Legitimacy--as you were so keen to point out earlier and return to just after this!--often mattered more than qualifications.

Just look at the proliferation of court rituals and the great lengths nobles had to go to appear proper. They did not do this because they wanted to go through all this but because it was expected of nobles to behave that way. And once enough nobles conformed to a ritual others had to adapt it.
The same would happen to spellcasting, the ultimate "I am better than ordinary persons" and thus sign that you should rule over them.

So, now your turn to defend your position...
Not at all. I haven't seen a single thing you've said that actually responds to any of the arguments I've given.
 

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beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
All spellcasters across the world are smart enough to avoid politics?

Oh, and so they have taken power, they're just doing it from behind the scenes. So you don't actually disagree with the premise of the thread.
In D&D terms, most are somewhere between near genius to super genius.

Was this suppose to be a debate? I was just offering up ideas. Very strange how people are getting so defensive about this.
 

Zubatcarteira

Now you're infected by the Musical Doodle
Not quite relevant to the thread, but it's pretty funny that becoming a king and ruling the lands is a classic objective for the high level Fighters, and so many people seem to agree that mages wouldn't even bother since they got better stuff to do.
 

Ixal

Hero
I did not. Becoming a proper cleric is a long and involved process. It requires a great deal of learning. That's literally where the Western university system got its start: From the Encyclopedia of the Developing World, "Europe established schools in association with their cathedrals to educate priests, and from these emerged eventually the first universities of Europe, which began forming in the eleventh and twelfth centuries."
A proper cleric in D&D is someone who has his prayers heard and granted. No university schooling required.
Except it isn't superhuman in a world where people can use magic, is it? It's completely human! Ordinary humans can do it.
No, only a small handful of people can do it. Those blessed by deities (and other deity like beings), those with exceptional heritage or highly learned ones.
Meaning that the vast majority of people will not even come close to be a spellcaster and be able to do what they are capable of.
And because they do not grow up with a rulebook in hand it will seem to them that spellcasters are superhuman and blessed by the divine. Hence why they have more legitimacy to rule than ordinary men.
"Ordinary" only if you're enforcing conformity to our world. Which is the exact assertion I've been challenging, that it is NOT "all else being equal." Because it isn't! Even Fighters are clearly superhuman compared to our world.
No. Stop thinking in terms of HP and attack bonus. A fighter, no matter how high level, still does the same as the lowly farmer who took up arms. Wield a sword, spear or bow. More skilled of course, but what he does is still relateable to normal people.
Not so spellcasting. That is a whole different world for common people and they have absolutely no idea how this is done. Hence for them it is superhuman.
It's...not convenient at all. Those systems weren't medieval Europe. They worked by VERY different rules and did not actually have a nobility/aristocracy of the kind present in medieval Europe. Vassalage was not the primary means of control; a centralized bureaucracy was, and that bureaucracy depended on the King(/Pharaoh/Emperor/Etc.) for its support and continuity. In the absence of that central authority, government would collapse entirely. This is what I referred to earlier as a "hydraulic empire." Hydraulic empires require extensive bureaucratic structures in order to manage flooding and irrigation, and those needs, being based on environment rather than elective choice, ensure that this governing pattern recurs even if it is disrupted. Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire did not have such environmental pressures ensuring the return of a bureaucratic administration, and thus had to turn to other methods of organization in order to function.
So basically you want to ignore everything that is against your argument. The time before the medieval era, the non european medieval era and the times after the medieval era where divine rule was common? And that despite D&D being a kitchen sink of everything? (Also you have no problem with using non-european examples below. How strange)
Basically the only time where divine rule was not used for legitimacy was the short period in europe between the fall of western rome and the establishment of the carolingian empire
Why should this time be representative and not all the other places and times were rules was sanctioned by divine mandate? Especially as said rule also got implemented in Europe?
But it only happened when all of those things came together. There were numerous times where a weak ruler led China and lived out his whole life. Consider, for example, the reign of Empress Wu--who was de facto ruler during the reign of her husband and two of her sons, before reigning outright as the only legitimate female sovereign in Chinese history. She retained her power in large part because the monarchs were weak, and she was able to use their weak reign to legitimize her own rule.

Weak rulers have occurred many, many times in human history, in many, many places. And yet the vast majority of them were not deposed. Society did not just spin on a dime and switch to the newest hotness. Loyalty mattered. Legitimacy--as you were so keen to point out earlier and return to just after this!--often mattered more than qualifications.
Again you are confusing strength with legitimacy.
While being a weak ruler invites challenge just being weak is not automatically being illegitimate. They are still "of royal blood" and their rule sanctioned by the divine.
Or in D&D terms even a level 1 spellcaster is able to perform superhuman feats which would support his right to rule over ordinary men.
Not at all. I haven't seen a single thing you've said that actually responds to any of the arguments I've given.
Is that how you want to discuss? Holding your hands over your ears and screaming no instead of bringing your own arguments?
Why do you think that even though divine rule became the common form of legitimacy and always having been in other parts of the world being a (divine) spellcaster, the ultimate form of divine mandate, would nit be required to maintain ones legitimacy?
 
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Zubatcarteira

Now you're infected by the Musical Doodle
Can't blame you (I had to double-check it myself) but Magic Aura cannot hide spells on a creature. PHB pg 263:

The False Aura (the effect that hides magical auras) paragraph explicitly references an object (multiple times). Therefore it's clear that this use is only intended for objects (like magical items).

It's the paragraph below that (Mask) that functions on creatures. And that just allows you to make a creature detect as a different creature type or alignment.
That's true. Maybe Nondetection instead, although it's a level higher and way more expensive to use, with a shorter duration. I think it should work on Detect Magic, unless the DM rules that sensing the magic around a creature isn't targetting a creature with the spell.
 

Oofta

Legend
Suggestion does not have the clause that states that they know that they're under the affects of the spell if they fail the saving throw. That's Charm Person.

There are also illusion/transmutation spells that would allow you to disguise yourself as the king flawlessly if you secretly overthrew him.

Death, taxes, and people with power abusing their power are all inevitable. And, as stated in the OP, the whole point of this thought experiment is to brainstorm ways to avoid mages from taking over and enhance the world instead of dismissing the premise as stupid.

Some mega corporations would like to beg to differ on the whole paying taxes thing. ;)

As others have stated, you have to tell somebody your suggestion. The target will know who made the suggestion. I'm not saying it could never happen, it can even make an interesting investigation plot. The queen seeks out the PCs because the king changed his mind at the last minute again. She knows him, something is going on, etc. Next time it happens detect magic goes off to spot the ongoing effects of a spell.

In any case I have to go get ready for my game later so short version:
Sometimes mages will run kingdoms, but running a kingdom is a far different skillset than mastering magic (whatever the class). All spells used to manipulate others have significant long term costs. Do what makes sense for your campaign, having a kingdom here and there run by casters or with casters the power behind the throne makes sense.​
The evil counselor, the shadow behind the throne, the secret organization all pulling the strings are all common tropes and things I use occasionally.​
Mages running the world is not inevitable. The power of an individual is inconsequential compared to the might of a nation.​
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
That's true. Maybe Nondetection instead, although it's a level higher and way more expensive to use, with a shorter duration. I think it should work on Detect Magic, unless the DM rules that sensing the magic around a creature isn't targetting a creature with the spell.
I would personally rule that it doesn't prevent someone from detecting magical auras on your person. The traditional use of Nondetection has been to avoid being easily scryed upon or located using spells like Locate Person, rather than to hide something like Disguise Person.

If it could be used that way, it would create a number of complications. For example, it would be much more challenging to prevent people from cheating in contests that don't allow things like enhancement magic. The only way to be sure in that case would be to hold any such contests in an anti magic zone.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Is that how you want to discuss? Holding your hands over your ears and screaming no instead of bringing your own arguments?

Mod Note:
Well, in talking to people this way, you rather guarantee that they aren't going to listen to your points. If you marry good points with an insult, what they get is the insult.

If you actually want to have a reasoned conversation, dial back the aggression here several notches. If you don't want to have a reasoned conversation, it is probably time for you to find some other thread.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Actually, come to think of it, even if you rule the other way (that Nondetection hides magical auras) there are still easy ways to protect a ruler from magical subversion.

Just for starters, the target of Nondetection needs to be willing if it's a creature. So the mage wouldn't necessarily be able to place it on an unsuspecting ruler, if the ruler is unwilling to have that cast upon them.

Moreover, it's actually fairly easy to detect. Just use Magic Aura to give something that the ruler regularly wears a permanent magical aura (maybe a ring the ruler always wears). Then, if you can't detect that aura on the ruler, you know something shady is going on.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
WIthout having read any of the previous posts, just responding to the title alone. Wizards tend to be megalomaniacs, each one believes they are the Dark Lord or the Great Savior (or one in training) - they don't work well with others, especially other wizards. If they joined in consensus they could easily take over the world. It's just that they don't work together easily, so their vanity prevents them from joining into a dangerous force. Each individual wizard is dangerous enough, and lucky for us, they just cannot work together, so we'll never have to worry about wizards taking over, we've got other wizards more than willing to put them down. Wizard vanity keeps everyone alive and safe from their collective depredations.
 
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