D&D General How does magic work in D&D (In-Universe/Lorewise)?


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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Many but not all spells are no chance of error.

Certain spells are negated on a save or require a successful attack roll. A spellcaster can hit user error with an attack roll same as anybody else.

Come to think further on it though, most class powers are no chance of user error. Fighter second wind, and action surge for example. Attack rolls and ability check/skills are the big two action type chances of user error.

It is a bit weird that the only negative to casting while threatened in melee is if the spell requires a ranged attack roll (but no problem if it requires a saving throw).
In both the case of a successful save and and a missed attack roll, in-universe the spell worked.
 


I've been researching the magic lore of DnD for a possible DMsGuild side project to be published perhaps in between The Trial of Asmodeus and Realmspace Traveler's Guide.

The Weave is often mistaken as the "origin" of magic, when it is actually a tool for channeling magical energy and assisting calculations when programming the algorithms of spells. Mystra's Weave, the one featured in the Forgotten Realms setting, would be only one of the Weaves that can be accessed throughout the multiverse, generally limited to Realmspace and overlapped regions of other planes.

Magical energy flows almost everywhere throughout the multiverse, independent of Weaves (or rather Weaves depend on the presence of magical energy to exist instead of the other way around), more heavily concentrated in some areas such as leyline hubs.

Psionics is a method of spell casting by forming a personal Weave within one's mind.

Epic (seed) magic is Weave magic, but with extra steps compared to standard casting/rituals (the seed elements), which is why "Mystra's Ban" against 10th level or higher spells can be relaxed with Epic magic (it's easier to regulate due to the extra steps involved).

Elven High Magic is non-Weave magic that is complex and can be interfered with by Corellon Larethian. My personal hypothesis is that Elven High Magic is a middle ground between Psionics and standard casting, in which the casters form a temporary environmental Weave, which is potentially dangerous for the casters due to the difficulty of stability maintenance over energy flow, as well as the number of variables that must be calculated in the algorithms of the spells cast.

Sources: Ed Greenwood, Player's Guide to Faerûn, Epic Level Handbook, 5e Player's Handbook, FR novels including the Avatar series and Spellstorm
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
To the same extent a crossbow did or a skill got used.
I think I'm seeing the distinction.

If you miss with a spell or a crossbow, they still worked. The spell created an effect the target just wasn't touched by it. The crossbow sent a bolt down range, it just didn't hit anything you wanted it to hit.

A skill, OTOH ... if you try to climb a cliff and fall, it's not like the skill worked and just sent you to the ground instead of the top.
 


Retros_x

Explorer
That's a good question. What I would like is an example. Like a more detailed guide on how magic works in the forgotten realms that explains the mechanical game rules. And from that it would be easier for me, to adjust it for my table needs.
The mechanical game rules are working the same in every setting, because the mechanics are setting agnostic. The "explanation" of the narrative mechanics and interactions are different from setting to setting and are open so you can easily adjust it for your own setting. Although I have to say, I kinda don't understand the urge to have logical explanations behind magic. It takes the magic out of magic and makes it physics. But I am biased, because I don't really like "Sanderson" hard magic systems in general.
 

M_Natas

Hero
The mechanical game rules are working the same in every setting, because the mechanics are setting agnostic. The "explanation" of the narrative mechanics and interactions are different from setting to setting and are open so you can easily adjust it for your own setting. Although I have to say, I kinda don't understand the urge to have logical explanations behind magic. It takes the magic out of magic and makes it physics. But I am biased, because I don't really like "Sanderson" hard magic systems in general.
In a game where you have proficient spellcasters, you need a hard magic system a la Sanders, because the rules give you a hard magic system. Expecially 5e, where every spell works 100% of the time. Magic in 5e is like science. Reliable, repeatable, learnable.
And I know that the mechanics of the game are setting agnostic. But in order to come up with an explanation in my setting it would be easier of WotC would have provided a good example on how it works in their setting so I could work from there instead of beginning from scratch.
 
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James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
The Weave does not come from a God.
Well in the Realms it does, or has been stated to- some quotes:

"The Weave was considered many things, including Mystra's body, the source of magic, all the studies of casters, arcane and divine alike, and the many energies and forces that existed around the planes."

"Because Mystra (and formerly Mystryl) was inextricably bound to the Weave (one cannot exist without the other), when Mystra was assassinated by Cyric and Shar on Tarsakh 29 1385 DR, the Weave collapsed and initiated the Spellplague."
 
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I always hated the concept of "god of magic" in a game where wizards and clerics are distinctly separate thing. It makes the thematics muddled.
I prefer the Pratchett approach where the wizards don't much care for gods.
 

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