D&D 5E How 'magical" in your game/setting?

How magical is your game (casters first, then setting second)?

  • CASTERS: low power - low frequency

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • ------------ SETTING section below. -------------

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • SETTING: low strength - common

    Votes: 0 0.0%

DND_Reborn

Legend
I prefer "low magic" games and settings, but what exactly does that mean?

It is low in the sense that magic is rare, or is it that magic is not as powerful, or both, or something else?

I think full casters in 5E are too powerful, especially in tiers 3 and 4, because their spells overshadow what other classes can do. Even in the lower levels it can be an issue IME. I've toyed with moving access to spell levels to later levels in the spell progression, with decreasing spell slots, and so forth.

But where do casters fall in your game? Do you see them running the show because their spells have too much impact? Do they take the challenge out of the challenges? Or do you think they aren't powerful enough?

On a related note, there is also the setting. Magical items, locations, and creatures have a huge impact on the feel of your game or setting. In the sense of the encounter, do characters deal with those things rarely, often, or somewhere in between?

I've separated the poll into two sections: #1 is dealing with casters. The options deal with power (spell level) and frequency (spell slots).

Section #2 is more general, about magic in the setting such as creatures, items, and locations you (or your PCs) encounter.

You have two votes, please use one vote for each section. Thanks!
 

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Vaalingrade

Legend
I am all about highly fantastic.

Anyone can learn some magic, but it takes work or a lot of natural talent to got the distance. Magic is everywhere and awesome in its function instead of 'special'. Casters working together can do great things, raising walls from the earth in seamless sheets, and creating fantastic witch engines.

But the the same token, everything else is fantastic too. Warriors aren't the casters' chumps; they can blow through walls, leap chasms and perform mighty feats. Intellectual built weird devices that can fly and brachiate through forests and inject powerful serums.

The world is like Earth only in the sense that that the buff dude at the end of the milk commercial is the kid from the start harassing that unaging lady.
 

MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
For caster power I went with RAW, because I think it works well. I've gotten up to 17th and don't feel like there's an issue with caster vs. non.

For setting I voted other, because of this:
In the sense of the encounter, do characters deal with those things rarely, often, or somewhere in between?
The characters encounter that stuff all the time, because that's there job. They're the heroes of the story so when that magical stuff comes up, they're the ones who need to deal with it.

However, the vast majority if people in the world don't interact with those things. There's only a handful of spell casting NPCs in a major city, and even the best of the them can't cast beyond a 3rd-level spell. If commoners are luck, they might attend a church service illuminated by a daylight spell, but that's the most common people see.

So magic isn't common in the world as a whole, just the PCs little slice of it.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don't think your medium-medium picks for both categories accurately reflects 5E very well. Default 5E is way closer to high-high on both counts. NPC casters are everywhere, running the full range of levels. The existence of half of the monsters in the monster books and the piles of magic items pushes things well into the high power and at least common frequency.
 

aco175

Legend
I went with RAW for the casters mostly since my group does not play in higher levels and NPCs are not even that high.

I like my world a bit more than RAW since I tend to give out more magic items and more rare items at lower levels. I like the feeling like in older editions of getting a cool item. Some goes back to the first part in that we do not play 17th level so items of that power may be given to 10th level PCs.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I don't think your medium-medium picks for both categories accurately reflects 5E very well. Default 5E is way closer to high-high on both counts. NPC casters are everywhere, running the full range of levels. The existence of half of the monsters in the monster books and the piles of magic items pushes things well into the high power and at least common frequency.
The main reason I picked the medium-medium is because it is highly subjective and the DMG has low, standard, and high magic options in some places IIRC. So, I believe WotC recognizes that its base design is standard or "medium" in this regard.

As for the setting, that is why I put "typical" 5E??? with question marks. It is highly subjective and people just have to judge as best they can.

How many of those monsters and magical items, etc. you use depends greatly on your preference.

So, what you believe is high-high, someone else might see as medium-medium. 🤷‍♂️
 

I voted medium-medium, because that's the averages, but it's not really telling the whole story.

Weak magic is common. Powerful magic is rare and special and noteworthy.

1st level casters are found in most villages. 11th level casters are kingdom-level important (ie the king can call on a couple such casters, including themselves if they are casters.) Higher than that are continent-level, and epic casters are less common than once-in-a-generation.
 


DND_Reborn

Legend
1st level casters are found in most villages. 11th level casters are kingdom-level important (ie the king can call on a couple such casters, including themselves if they are casters.) Higher than that are continent-level, and epic casters are less common than once-in-a-generation.
See, this is why I enjoy asking these questions.

In my games, most villages don't have a 1st level caster even. Most small towns will, maybe, but not villages. And for 11th level and higher, you might run into one in a village (I have one adventure where you run into two of them, who are feuding with each other LOL!), who might be important to the community or might be a recluse in hiding.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
What does strength mean?
For magic items, common, uncommon, rare, etc.

For locations, the amount of magic imbued into it, surrounding it, etc.

For creatures, how magical they are compared to mundane creatures.

Otherwise, whatever you judge it to be. ;)
 

I voted medium-medium, because that's the averages, but it's not really telling the whole story.

Weak magic is common. Powerful magic is rare and special and noteworthy.

1st level casters are found in most villages. 11th level casters are kingdom-level important (ie the king can call on a couple such casters, including themselves if they are casters.) Higher than that are continent-level, and epic casters are less common than once-in-a-generation.
Yeah, I have something similar. Though sometimes the village magic person might not even be level one, but a commoner with the magic initiate feat.

My natural instinct is to create rather low magic worlds, and then D&D keeps fighting me by everything in it being so bloody magical. For my current setting I tried to intentionally build the low-level magic to be a common part of it, though powerful magic remains pretty rare.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Voted generally high but I'll add one caveat: magic in my game can also be high-risk, that being the trade-off for the high power.
 

I'm not entirely sure I understand the answers.

Does "low power, high frequency" (just to pick one option) mean that there are definitely lots of Wizards (or whatever) but none of them achieve great power? Is it valid for there to be some who achieve great power as long as most never get terribly far in?

For my Jewel of the Desert setting, the use of magic is relatively common, but it almost always requires specialized training, with certain rare exceptions. Specifically, anyone can learn to become a Wizard, but it takes the equivalent of a lawyer's or doctor's education to safely practice it outside of the laboratory/workshop, and such folks are called Waziri mages because they're all part of the same society (the equivalent of the American Medical Association.) Anyone can learn to be a Druid or Shaman, but without a firm foundation of magical knowledge from some other source (such as basic Waziri training), it takes years of study and meditation. Anyone can learn to be a Cleric, which in this region almost always means a Safiqi priest, but it requires significant, concerted effort and a deep commitment to the faith. Etc.

People who can practice magic are common, but people who can practice powerful magic are rare. The vast majority of Clerics can heal people a few times a day; the vast majority of Wizards would struggle to cast more than a couple fireballs before running out of mojo, etc. Everyday magic is mostly centered on magic items (which are plentiful because the party is based out of the largest city on this part of the continent, and the de facto trading hub of said continent), or on alchemy. So...it's hard to choose any particular answer. It is possible to become very powerful, but there are always prices to be paid and commitments made to get there. I would not call it "low" magic, but I would not personally call it "high" magic either--there are plenty of folks for whom "magic" is something that hardly touches on their daily lives, even though it is a big deal.

(I mentioned earlier in-born talent; this is primarily related to genies, and their descendants. Much of the Tarrakhuna region has genie ancestry because the mortal races were kept as slaves by the ancient genie-rajahs, before the noble genies departed from the mortal world for the elemental otherworld they now primarily inhabit. Because it's been thousands of years, the genie blood is pretty thin in most modern humanoids, but a small number of people manifest it more strongly than others or encounter some kind of magical phenomenon that activates their magical potential. Such a person--a Sha'ir, or "sorcerer" to use the colloquial term--is capable of manifesting elementally-focused magics, but these differ from Waziri magic and are much less...formal. More like bursts of elemental energy, though fine control can be possible for people who really work on it.)
 

cbwjm

Legend
I don't really understand the setting list, but I'd say my world and the people in it are high magic, plenty of spellcasters, though the type will vary by region. The dragonborn kingdom has a lot of sorcerers who are seen as the most noble of the arcane casters as it is seen as unlocking more of their draconic heritage. They even have a sorcerous society that many join for the prestige. The wizards in this region number only a handful, clerics are fairly well known, druids are rare, and warlocks non-existent.

In the grand duchy of eight, wizardry is more common and they have one of the largest academies of magic in the known world training people in the 8 common schools of magic (though necromancy is frowned upon). Priesthoods are also quite powerful with clerics and druids being common.

These are the two main regions that the players have travelled in.
 

S'mon

Legend
I went with medium-medium, but I run various campaigns/settings and it varies a lot. Primeval Thule has rare + powerful casters & setting magic, wheres Faerun is more medium-medium.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Does "low power, high frequency" (just to pick one option) mean that there are definitely lots of Wizards (or whatever) but none of them achieve great power? Is it valid for there to be some who achieve great power as long as most never get terribly far in?
Yes, something along those lines. Exceptions are certainly possible, even giving the general feel. So, someone could achieve great power, while most never do. Such a vote would suggest many places (village, town, whatever) would have one or more casters of different classes (as appropriate to the location), but nearly all would be tier 1, maybe a couple tier 2.

For the rest of your post, it certainly lends to a low power, high frequency feel for casters IMO. Perhaps medium power, if you feel enough reach a higher level of power.

For the setting, yours sounds like what I would vote as medium strength, very common? If the magic items, monsters, etc. tend to be lower in strength, then maybe low strength, very common?

The reason I didn't put "definitions" is because peoples' views are subjective. But maybe that was my mistake? I was hoping by keeping it open it wouldn't turn into a "well, that isn't how I would define low power, high frequency".
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I'd say my world and the people in it are high magic, plenty of spellcasters
In the grand duchy of eight, wizardry is more common and they have one of the largest academies of magic in the known world training people in the 8 common schools of magic (though necromancy is frowned upon). Priesthoods are also quite powerful with clerics and druids being common.
From these, I would vote Casters as high power, and either medium or high frequency.

The setting (as far as magic items, creatures, and locations) would seem to be at least medium or high strength, and common to very common. You'd have to judge best since not a lot of information was provided in your post about setting other than the academies and such.

Hopefully that will help with your voting.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
SIX KINGDOMS (Heroic Political Fantasy)
  • Casters
    • Power High
    • Frequency Medium
    • Versatility Medium
  • Setting
    • Power High
    • Frequency Medium
    • Versatility Medium
KLASSICO (Heroic Fantasy)
  • Casters
    • Power Medium
    • Frequency Medium
    • Versatility Medium
  • Setting
    • Power High
    • Frequency Rare
    • Versatility Low
THE ROUTE (Swords and Sorcery)
  • Casters
    • Power Low
    • Frequency Low
    • Versatility Low
  • Setting
    • Power Low
    • Frequency Common
    • Versatility Low
SUNKEN WORLD (Urban Fantasy)
  • Casters
    • Power High
    • Frequency Low
    • Versatility Low
  • Setting
    • Power High
    • Frequency Common
    • Versatility Low
HEX, BUGS, AND ROCK AND ROLL (Wizard School Horror)
  • Casters
    • Power High
    • Frequency High
    • Versatility High
  • Setting
    • Power High
    • Frequency High
    • Versatility High
 

In term of world building I assume that spell level 3-4 are required to be considered professional.
spell level 5-6 being for elite character
and spell level 7+ for exceptional, famous character.

I also favor bell curve rather than decreasing curve to estimate character frequency.
So the caster level 6,7,8 are the most likely to be found.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Regardless of whether magic is High or Low, Wide or Narrow, I prefer a flatter and/or less quadratic power curve for magic.
 

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