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General Folkloric Magic?

Samloyal23

Adventurer
The D&D game in every edition has always had an ever-growing roster of spells, but if you look at folklore and mythology, the spells in the game are not used for the purposes we see in lore. Part of that is the obvious orientation toward the needs of adventurers, but to make a world that feels authentic, I think some gaps need to be filled. The game needs spells for things that non-adventurers would value, like increasing fertility and extending lifespans. What effects have you seen in myths and legends that could be turned into spells for the game? What homebrew spells have you created that go beyond the needs of adventurers?
 

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Most of those spells would fall into cantrip and 1st level rituals. Between the non-combat cantrips and Ceremony (Xanathar's Guide), Alarm, Magic Mouth, Detect Magic, Identify I think you have the most common sorts of folk-magic
 

Tonguez

Legend
isnt that the purpose of Ritual Spells?

must Folkloric type effects are already on the Druid or Cleric list and its the lore added to the ritual that makes them ‘Folk’.

Things like plant growth, restoration and death ward all fit...
 


Samloyal23

Adventurer
I don't feel like the current roster of spells adds enough depth and verisimilitude to game settings. I am looking for more...
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
I've always felt that if DnD style magic and wizards existed in a believable setting, 90% of the spells would be agricultural, economic, architectural, culinary, etc, instead of combat and adventure oriented. You'd essentially have a wizard Bill Gates, Steven Jobs, Henry Ford, and so on, drastically changing culture. Eberron KINDA does this, but the necessities of the game still drive the player-facing content to combat and exploration instead of irrigating fields and building roads.
 

jgsugden

Legend
In my setting there are 5 types of magic: Arcane, Divine, Nature, Psionic and (the likely poorly named, but this is decades old now) Elemental.

Elemental magic is not the 4 Elements. It is anything Supernatural or Scientific. It does not power spells, generally, but instead is the force that allows dragons to fly, ghosts to exist, and guns to work. I have no PC class that focuses on this type of magic in 5E, but I did in prior editions, and that homebrew class was designed to be a spell-less magic user. They did not prepare spells or use spell slots. They instead had abilities that they initiated and had to power with sacrifices and magical skill. The 5E warlock fills this void fairly well from a conceptual standpoint, so I mpdfied the concept for 5E, but this would have been the type of spellcaster discussed by the OP - the shaman or mystic. It is, in my opinion, a stone yet to be uncovered by WotC in any edition that works well.
 

J-H

Explorer
I would assume that they exist, but since they have no relevance to an adventuring lifestyle, they simply aren't listed. What wilderness-wandering cleric really has a need to cast the 2nd level "Adjust Baby Position" or the 4th level "Caesarian Section"?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't feel like the current roster of spells adds enough depth and verisimilitude to game settings. I am looking for more...
So... why? I mean, yes, it is perfectly reasonable to say those things exist in the game world but that doesn't mean I need rules for them.

Do you expect the PCs to be involved in casting these fertility rituals, and doing other mundane, slice-of-mundane-life activities? Because, if the PCs aren't going to be doing it, you don't need a list of spells for it. You say there's a hedge-wizard or village shrine priest who does these things for the community, and their abilities don't have results on combat timescale, and... you then don't need to worry about it in terms of game rules.
 

Samloyal23

Adventurer
I would assume that they exist, but since they have no relevance to an adventuring lifestyle, they simply aren't listed. What wilderness-wandering cleric really has a need to cast the 2nd level "Adjust Baby Position" or the 4th level "Caesarian Section"?
I would say that even if adventurers do not use these spells, seeing them in action makes the setting more real. No reason they cannot occasionally be added to a plotline in an adventure as a change of pace. If your party of heroes is hired for escort or bodyguard duty for a princess who is with child, your party cleric may well need one of those spells. Finding a Girdle of Birth-Easing in a hoard of treasure just adds to the realism of setting.
 

Tonguez

Legend
I would say that even if adventurers do not use these spells, seeing them in action makes the setting more real. No reason they cannot occasionally be added to a plotline in an adventure as a change of pace. If your party of heroes is hired for escort or bodyguard duty for a princess who is with child, your party cleric may well need one of those spells. Finding a Girdle of Birth-Easing in a hoard of treasure just adds to the realism of setting.

Calm Emotions is the most important spell for childbirth
then Command, for getting an exhausted woman to push.
Bless to improve saving throws.
Remove Disease for illnesses ( hypertension) and infection.
Cure Wounds for hemorrhage.
Heal to cure disease and regain hit points.

Druids casting Plant Growth on fields helps crop yield

and most real world folk magic tends to focus on weather control
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I just assume that PCs are combat spell casters, not craftsmen spell casters. So yes, there is a lot of magic that's not in the book, but that doesn't mean we need rules for it.

I think of it as the difference between the engineer designing the building and the guy actually doing the construction. Completely different skills. The one may understand basically what the other does, doesn't mean they would know how to do the tasks.

But a lot of magic is also subtle. The master blacksmith sings a chant while forging that sword and it doesn't rust. The baker's pastries really are magically delicious. The annual spring festival that includes community rituals really do make the crops grow better. The hedge witch's poultices really do prevent most infections and speed healing (although not as fast as a Cure Wounds).

But there's no way you could account for all of these things and I don't think you really need to. Decide how magic influences your world and go from there. In my world the "magitech" is basically late renaissance with healing is probably closer to modern medicine or even slightly better.

Do we really need to spell out how those evil cultists are performing a ritual that will spell doom by summoning eldritch horrors? Some things are better left a bit vague, up to the DM and the campaign.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Hmm Mom why is Oofta going to bed without his supper.
Mom, "Because I told him to chop the core of wood by hand, not summon his fey friends to do for him.
***
Off and on I have try to include write up for actual folk like magic, but it was always too much time wasted for actual game play fun. As someone said ritual spells would cover this.
 

dave2008

Legend
The D&D game in every edition has always had an ever-growing roster of spells, but if you look at folklore and mythology, the spells in the game are not used for the purposes we see in lore. Part of that is the obvious orientation toward the needs of adventurers, but to make a world that feels authentic, I think some gaps need to be filled. The game needs spells for things that non-adventurers would value, like increasing fertility and extending lifespans. What effects have you seen in myths and legends that could be turned into spells for the game? What homebrew spells have you created that go beyond the needs of adventurers?
I agree, but it is a pretty niche request and I wouldn't expect anything like this from WotC. Fortunately, the RPG community has this covered! There are several products out in the wild or DMsGuild that cover what your looking for. There was a thread about this 6-12 months ago that had a lot links. If I can find it I will post it here too. Found it: Of Hearth and Home
 
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dave2008

Legend
The D&D game in every edition has always had an ever-growing roster of spells, but if you look at folklore and mythology, the spells in the game are not used for the purposes we see in lore. Part of that is the obvious orientation toward the needs of adventurers, but to make a world that feels authentic, I think some gaps need to be filled. The game needs spells for things that non-adventurers would value, like increasing fertility and extending lifespans. What effects have you seen in myths and legends that could be turned into spells for the game? What homebrew spells have you created that go beyond the needs of adventurers?
We've been here before (you and me specifically). Here is our previous discussion on this topic with 28 links to relevant products: Of Hearth and Home

Did you forget about that discussion or just looking for more?
 

jgsugden

Legend
One could argue that the established spells cover some of these areas. A cure wounds spell might fix certain infertility issues, as could lesser or greater restoration. They could also extend lifespans by removing problems that were shortening the life.

Combined with the Ceremony spell, and a few other broadly beneficial abilities/cantrips (a cleric by the side of a sick person constantly casting resistance should help them recover from a disease, etc...) I think the bases are covered well enough.
 

dave2008

Legend
A friend of mine did a zine that covers real-world folk magic from the Americas. He uses it in low-magic games set in a version of the real world, but you might find it interesting.

Other Magic
I add that to the MISC. section over at: Of Hearth and Home, thanks!
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
I don't think we really NEED a list or description of civilian or infrastructure spells that people use on a daily basis but I certainly see it helping verisimilitude and immersion. There's plenty of text describing peoples, organizations, customs, etc, but if a "instant dough proofing" or "Modenkainen's field harvesting" exists in game worlds, I never, ever see them described.
 

Xiaochun

Villager
I agree. Though the friction between what is useful for a game, and what creates a believable world can make it hard to feature folklore in the form of spells.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
I think of all this in Eberron terms - magic is rare, and NPC magic users by and large might know 1-3 cantrips or 1st level spells as rituals, which they spent years and years of training to learn and cast using a set of artisan's tools. Magic can be pervasive as it is in Eberron, but Spellcaster levels are not.

See this article by @Hellcow Keith Baker:


Here's some examples from that article of what random NPC magic users might be like:

  • Chef: Prestidigitation, only affecting food; perhaps a form of Gentle Repose for preserving meals, or Purify Food and Drink. Proficient with cook’s utensils.
  • Healer: Detect Poison & Disease, Lesser Restoration, Spare the Dying. Proficient with Medicine and herbalism kits.
  • Launderer: Prestidigitation and Mending, both only affecting cloth.
  • Lamplighter: Light, Continual Flame. Uses tinkers’ tools to construct lanterns.
  • Locksmith: Arcane Lock, Knock. Proficient with thieves’ tools and tinkers’ tools.
  • Medium: Speak with Dead. Perhaps a form of Minor Illusion that produces an image of a dead person as they were in life. Possibly proficient in Insight and Persuasion, if they help bereaved make sense of a loss… or Insight and Deception, if they use grief to take advantage of mourners.
  • Oracle: Augury, Divination. Proficient in Insight and Investigation. This is definitely a case where I would adjust the magewright versions of these spells. In the hands of a magewright, Augury – which should be the bread and butter of a common oracle – should be able to predict outcomes farther in the future, though still only with the binary answer of woe or weal. An oracle who can perform full Divination should be rarer (it is a fourth level spell) and the ritual could take longer than usual and be more expensive.
 

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