5E How to De-Magic 5e

Harzel

Explorer
...as for rituals? I don't have any particular problems with them.
Interesting. Rituals bother me in a way similar to cantrips. Free magic, just not available in combat, though you wouldn't cast most of them in combat anyway. Especially Detect Magic and Identify lose any sense of being magical. Subjective, obviously, but that's how they strike me.
 

Mecheon

Explorer
You ABSOLUTELY need your players to buy into this. Mine... didn't. At least, not entirely and it showed. As I said, I wound up in a "No caster game" having like 4 out of the 5 PC's be partial casters. :(
I think this is ultimately going to be the problem

D&D has been designed as magic heavy ever since at least 2E. If people hear "Hey, I want to play a D&D session", they're going to be thinking high magic stuff simply because that's how its generally presented these days

Going for a D&D-like that doesn't have magic as tied to it would honestly be the best way
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
Y'know, if D&D had had skills from the start, detecting magic or identifying an item might've just been arcana checks - one % with lotsa modifiers, of course, and the other roll 1 or 2 on a d6.
;)
Not sure if you are serious or not. It's late and I'm probably missing something here, lol.

The bard's legend lore ability included identifying items as a percentile roll in AD&D. Spellcraft skill checks had applications but needed extreme (sometimes epic rules) DC's in 3.5 as well. The same was true for sense motive to determine if someone was under the influence of magic. 4e was obvious in arcana use.

5e uses an INT (arcana check) to recall lore about a magic item or spell effects. It's still here but how much information is managed by the DM. Handling an item is enough to determine that it's special (no roll needed) and identifying it's properties can be done during a short rest (no roll needed) limited to 1 item at a time. Potions are automatically identified with a small sip.

Identifying magic items has been done by "skill" roll way back when. Now it doesn't even need a roll for items. Detect magic and identify only speed up the process in that aspect.

You probably know all that and I'm missing commentary on inconsistent methods in 1e or something.
 

Don Durito

Explorer
Originally you could only identify magic items with the Identify spell. The Bard's spell Legend Lore is relatively late (2e), the spellcraft skill much later and 3E didn't always go as far in revising and consolidating as it should have.

In older versions of the game the wizard couldn't even read scrolls unless they had the read magic spell memorised and available to cast.

All such functions would be better served by a skill.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
If you want to tone down magic then limit the spell selection instead. Still you might want to consider whether every wizard nieeds a crossbow like in 3.5 or "darts" or a sling like in 1e 2e for the time he ran out of spells.

Means full caster should still have 1 attack cantrip. Just kick out every spell level 6 and higher from wizards or priest list and reduce the number flashy spells, or those who got high combat value and voila you got a much less magicky feel for 5e. Delete the bard and the warlock class also, they are very much magic and will not work well without or with restricted magic
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
Originally you could only identify magic items with the Identify spell. The Bard's spell Legend Lore is relatively late (2e), the spellcraft skill much later and 3E didn't always go as far in revising and consolidating as it should have.

In older versions of the game the wizard couldn't even read scrolls unless they had the read magic spell memorised and available to cast.

All such functions would be better served by a skill.
1e bard could identify items as well.

"The bard also has a chance to know about legendary and significant objects, especially magic objects. The chart shows a "Legend Lore and Item Knowledge Percentage", which is the chance the bard will know something about a legendary person, place, or thing. This same number is the chance the bard will be able to identify a magic item, provided it is an item of one of the following types: weapons, armor, potions, scrolls, rings, any item a bard can use, and any item marked by magical inscriptions. (Bards can read runes, glyphs, characters, symbols, and other types of arcane writing.) In addition to identifying the item, the bard may be able to identify the alignment of an object if it is of an appropriate type and has an alignment. He does not need to touch the item to perform these skills. The information gained will be on the order of a legend lore spell. Artifacts and relics are legendary in nature, and not covered specifically by this ability."

Technically thieves read scrolls starting at 10th level too.

Read magic was a silly restriction. I agree on using skills to cover these abilities.
 

Don Durito

Explorer
Well yes I didn't bother to go back and check whether 1e bards could do that because really...they were a joke.

I never saw anyone play a bard in 1e and they were pretty much impossible to play by legal character creation rules.

The bard didn't really become a class (as opposed to a bizarre rules quirk like psionics) until 2e.
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
Well yes I didn't bother to go back and check whether 1e bards could do that because really...they were a joke.

I never saw anyone play a bard in 1e and they were pretty much impossible to play by legal character creation rules.

The bard didn't really become a class (as opposed to a bizarre rules quirk like psionics) until 2e.
lol, I stuck out the dual classing rules for them a couple of times.

Going from that to 2e's advancement was nice.

The point was AD&D did hide dice based checks hidden in that option and checks continue to exist along with those spells. Those spells aren't needed in a low magix campaign.
 

Hussar

Legend
Holds up hand

I played a 1e bard. It wasn't that hard. Easier than a paladin to roll up, and really, not that much harder than a ranger. Half elf to do the first two classes up and then become a bard. Wasn't a big deal.
 

Don Durito

Explorer
It wasn't even clear how Half-elves could be bards.
I mean it specifically says they can but once you try and work out how it works you run into trouble.

Edit: Yeah here it is.

"Bards begin play as Fighters and they must remain exclusively fighters until they have achieved at least the 5th level of experience." Then it says they must change their class to thieves before they hit 8th level. Then they have to change to druid (but are also bards).

So, even though it says Half-elves can be bards it seems to imply that bards can only be achieved by dual classing which is exclusively the province of humans.

Of course dual classing requires higher stats - 17 in the class you are changing into. So you'd need two 17s and 2 15s and a 12 and 10.

But of course Half-Elves can't dual class - so perhaps we don't use the rules for dual classing here - perhaps there is a special rule here that applies under the vague intention of someday being a bard. (I don't know what happens if you change your mind).

And of course the rest of the party has to drag you along while you're doing the whole dual class thing of now using your higher level abilities - multiple times.

It often seemed, with a lot of AD&D rules material, that the designers were so used to their own house rules that they'd frequently seem to forget how the published rules were actually supposed to work.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
So, it seems like you've got a handle on the cantrips, which leaves the "spellification" of 5E as the remaining problem. I don't know that this can be completely eliminated from 5E, but it can at least be mitigated. Obviously, there is no need to de-spellify the actual full casters, except possibly bard (more on that in a bit). Barbarians, fighters, and rogues are also okay. So that leaves the ranger, the paladin, and the monk.

For rangers, I would probably convert their spell slots into a) a handful of utility abilities related to tracking, party-wide stealth, observation, and setting traps, and b) the ability to mark a quarry as a bonus action and get +1d6 to damage on it.

For paladins, I'd probably just give them X smite attacks per day. It's not like paladins use their spell slots for anything else anyway. :)

Monks are interesting because their subclasses are a mix of "all spells," "some spells," and "no spells." The Way of the Open Hand is the no-spell option*, and also happens to be mechanically the best of the three. The Way of Shadow has a few spells, but I think that they could be converted to non-spell abilities without too much pain. The Way of Four Elements, as the all-spell subclass, is not practical to convert. But it's also a terrible, terrible subclass which nobody should take.

And then there's the bard. Making bards into full casters never quite sat right with me, and I would guess you feel the same way. But I don't think it's feasible to rewrite the class as a half-caster or even a two-thirds-caster. So maybe the solution is to take a page out of AD&D and make bard into an "advanced class." You may only take levels in bard once you have reached 5th level in another class(es).

*Edit: Okay, I was wrong, they get to cast sanctuary at high levels. But this is purely a ribbon ability. They could lose it altogether and it wouldn't hurt them noticeably.
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So, it seems like you've got a handle on the cantrips, which leaves the "spellification" of 5E as the remaining problem. I don't know that this can be completely eliminated from 5E, but it can at least be mitigated. Obviously, there is no need to de-spellify the actual full casters, except possibly bard (more on that in a bit). Barbarians, fighters, and rogues are also okay. So that leaves the ranger, the paladin, and the monk.

For rangers, I would probably convert their spell slots into a) a handful of utility abilities related to tracking, party-wide stealth, observation, and setting traps, and b) the ability to mark a quarry as a bonus action and get +1d6 to damage on it.

For paladins, I'd probably just give them X smite attacks per day. It's not like paladins use their spell slots for anything else anyway. :)

Monks are interesting because their subclasses are a mix of "all spells," "some spells," and "no spells." The Way of the Open Hand is the no-spell option*, and also happens to be mechanically the best of the three. The Way of Shadow has a few spells, but I think that they could be converted to non-spell abilities without too much pain. The Way of Four Elements, as the all-spell subclass, is not practical to convert. But it's also a terrible, terrible subclass which nobody should take.

And then there's the bard. Making bards into full casters never quite sat right with me, and I would guess you feel the same way. But I don't think it's feasible to rewrite the class as a half-caster or even a two-thirds-caster. So maybe the solution is to take a page out of AD&D and make bard into an "advanced class." You may only take levels in bard once you have reached 5th level in another class(es).

*Edit: Okay, I was wrong, they get to cast sanctuary at high levels. But this is purely a ribbon ability. They could lose it altogether and it wouldn't hurt them noticeably.
So this is the post that is closest to what I am trying to get at.

First, I truly appreciate the many great comments and ideas that people have already come up with. That said, addressing a few that are helpful to others, but not to me:

A. Yes, while I am a maniacal and tyrannical despot who lives to ruin the fun of other people, this is driven by player demand as well. Without addressing this issue, I have a feeling that my "core" group will be returning to 1e or B/X in the future, and I'd like to stick with 5e.

B. Titles need to be pithy; that said, this isn't about having a "low magic" game. If the table just wanted low magic, there are very easy (if unsatisfying) fixes- like the party of 6 champions. ;)


This is about removing cantrips (at will magic) and fixing the spell-equivalency system. In short, this post comes closest to what I've been thinking:

1. Remove cantrips.

2. Fighters, Monks, Barbarians, Rogues are restricted to non-spellcasting subclasses. Any incidental uses of spells or cantrips are removed or re-written as class abilities.

3. Wizards, Clerics, Druids remain relatively unchanged (other than loss of cantrips).

4. Sorcerer (to a lesser extent) and Warlock (to a greater extent) ... I don't know. Not sure how easy that they would be.

5. Paladins, Bards, and Rangers re-done to remove casting. For obvious reasons, as you point out, bard would be tough. And Paladins could just be removed. ;)


I'm thinking this would be a good start.
 

dave2008

Hero
5. Paladins, Bards, and Rangers re-done to remove casting. For obvious reasons, as you point out, bard would be tough. And Paladins could just be removed. ;)

I'm thinking this would be a good start.
AIME might give you a good place to start for non-magic Bards (Wardens) and Rangers (Wanderers). Paladins, just use the knight (UA?) or Cavalier subclass for the fighter?
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So this is the post that is closest to what I am trying to get at.

First, I truly appreciate the many great comments and ideas that people have already come up with. That said, addressing a few that are helpful to others, but not to me:

A. Yes, while I am a maniacal and tyrannical despot who lives to ruin the fun of other people, this is driven by player demand as well. Without addressing this issue, I have a feeling that my "core" group will be returning to 1e or B/X in the future, and I'd like to stick with 5e.

B. Titles need to be pithy; that said, this isn't about having a "low magic" game. If the table just wanted low magic, there are very easy (if unsatisfying) fixes- like the party of 6 champions. ;)


This is about removing cantrips (at will magic) and fixing the spell-equivalency system. In short, this post comes closest to what I've been thinking:

1. Remove cantrips.

2. Fighters, Monks, Barbarians, Rogues are restricted to non-spellcasting subclasses. Any incidental uses of spells or cantrips are removed or re-written as class abilities.

3. Wizards, Clerics, Druids remain relatively unchanged (other than loss of cantrips).

4. Sorcerer (to a lesser extent) and Warlock (to a greater extent) ... I don't know. Not sure how easy that they would be.

5. Paladins, Bards, and Rangers re-done to remove casting. For obvious reasons, as you point out, bard would be tough. And Paladins could just be removed. ;)


I'm thinking this would be a good start.
The one change I would consider would be making cantrips a 0 level spell that still requires slots (a few more than level 1 spells). Instead of automatically improving with leveling, you can up-cast.

Get rid of spells recovered on a short rest. Get rid of bonus action spells.

I'd probably just get rid of warlock, thematically they kind of make sense for a low magic world but the mechanics ... eh.

Keep paladins because they need nothing more than the power of awesome. Keep the auras, give smites instead of spells. Probably take a look at some options from fighter sub-types to balance them out a little bit.

I'd have to look at bards again. Maybe go back to the old books for inspiration.
 

jayoungr

Adventurer
My point was that magic in Tolkien’s 3rd age is commonplace (“high” in quantity), but subtle, and often more closely resembles what modern people would consider technology than the magic of D&D (“low” in impact, I suppose?) Sure, nobody is shooting fireballs or lightning, but most everyone practices and/or benefits from some form of magic in their daily lives.
Not sure what you're thinking of here--can you be more specific?
 

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