D&D General Is there a D&D setting that actually works how it would with access to D&D magic?


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Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
I think 5e’s bounded accuracy models what makes sense quite well in this case. A low level caster (and even higher level casters to a lesser extent) can absolutely be killed by villagers.

Having a laser gun only increases the amount of crappy behavior you need to engage in to get murdered by the people you’re being crappy to. I think in a pessimistically designed world where this happens sometimes, where some people have laser guns built into their fingers, it’s just culturally acceptable to kill said people at the first sign of getting notions.

Lol why world build in such a way that you can't present more and different interesting villains for them to contend with?
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
That's not technically true. With enemy DC scaling for special abilities and spells, higher level opponents can have powers that some people simply can't save against. I remember the first time I saw this in action during Storm King's Thunder- we had to fight a dragon with a DC 19 fear aura, and one poor sap who had a 9 Wisdom could only save on a natural 20. And then I realized DC's totally can get to 20 or 21...to the point that lacking proficiency or an immunity (thank you, Heroes' Feast!), there are characters who even a natural 20 cannot save.
 

Voadam

Legend
I only included the spellcasters of Hommlet, but if we're counting all NPC's with class levels...

Now the Forgotten Realms has examples of this, starting with the most infamous, Shadowdale, which has a Fighter 6, a Thief 6, a Wizard 26, a Cleric 7, a Cleric 9, a Cleric 1, a Fighter 4, Fighter 12, Bard 18, Fighter 5 (deceased), tower officers who are all Fighter 2, Bard 9, Ranger 12, Ranger 10, Cleric 7, Ranger 6, Thief 7. and a Fighter 2/Wizard 22 (deceased).

Then moving to Tilverton, we have a Fighter 9, a garrison of 450 knights (a typical patrol of which are 40 Fighter 3's and 4's, commanded by a Fighter 6 or 7, who ride with 1-3 Wizards of levels 2-5. Foot patrols on the streets consist of 10-20 Fighter 3's and 1-2 Wizards of levels 2-5. The town also has a Wizard 9, a Wizard 12, a Cleric 12, 70+ Thieves of levels 2-5, and 3-12 Fighters of levels 3-10. There's also a Wizard 3 and a Thief 7, we also have a Wizard 6, a Wizard 7, a Bard 8, and a Bard 9. a Ranger 9, two Fighter 6's, and a Thief 3.
It looks like these numbers are from Forgotten Realms Adventures though I can't seem to find the Fighter 2/Wizard 22 in Shadowdale. Is that correct?
 
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Yes, one level higher than the random settlement generator chart.

So I would not say "The numbers of spellcasters is far higher that that chart suggests"

Yes, I read and copied over the settlement statblock including the important NPCs which listed the highest level casters and did not search the entire description so I missed the 5th level druid not listed in the stat block.

So yes 3 stated NPC casters. And the random generators would indicate a couple lower level ones as well.

Sure. That is consistent with the high magic default of 3.5 and mostly within the default charts (randomly generated 1000 person adult population small towns get max caster level of 1-4 so no 3rd level spells and mostly no 2nd level ones).

A few quibbles exist as to whether augury can usefully predict the future given the failure chances and limited scope, create water's instantaneous "downpour" of gallons would be considered rain, and the efficacy of the save negate's zone of truth's ability to solve most crimes.

This is however far from:

"Even a village of 100 or so has a wizard or sorcerer or two, a druid and a few clerics. Every town of 1000 or so has an archmage, and several lower level spellcasters, and cities of 10,000 or more have literally several archmages, dozens of powerful clerics to several Gods (and their clerical followers), druids, bards and you name it."

According to the charts a randomly generated small town of 1,000 would have a max of 4th level casters not archmages, and a small city of 10,000 would have max 10th level casters, not literally several archmages.

Looking at the first 3.5 module I pulled out the intro small town exceeds those numbers by one level, so fairly consistent with the high level default of the 3.5 DMG, but a little higher level on the casters. But still way below an Elminster in every Dale.

Moving on to page 9 of Red Hand of Doom there is the small city of Brindol with a little less than 10,000 but in the same population category population range as a 10,000 adult population small city:

Brindol (Small City): Conventional, nonstandard; AL NG, LE; 15,000 gp limit; Assets 6,300,000 gp; Population 8,400; Mixed (81% human, 8% halfl ing, 5% dwarf, 3% half-orc, 2% gnome, 1% elf).
Authority Figures: Lord Kerden Jarmaath (NG male human fighter 8), Lord of Brindol; Lady Verrasa Kaal (LE female human rogue 9), leader of mercantile House Kaal, to whom everyone seems to owe money or favors.
Important Characters: Captain Lars Ulverth (LG male human fighter 7), leader of the Lion Guard; Immerstal the Red (CG male human wizard 9), foremost wizard of the town; Rillor Paln (NE male human rogue 11), master of the Black Knives, a gang of highwaymen and cutthroats based in Brindol and secretly allied with House Kaal; Eldremma Axenhaft (LN female dwarf fighter 4/rogue 3), a merchant and provisioner who hires mercenaries out as caravan guards; Shining Servant Tredora Goldenbrow (LG female aasimar cleric 8 of Pelor), most prominent cleric in town.

So consistent with the 3.0/3.5 DMG random population guidelines of max 10th level casters.

Individual level 8 and 9 casters are fairly amazing, but still not at the level of literally several archmages.

Another city not in either Faerun or Greyhawk (but nonetheless a small city where several people can teleport, provide instantaneous communication, create objects from nothing, predict the future, maintain crops 24/7 365 days per year, create AI, employ undead labor 24/7, regenerate limbs, cure all diseases and raise the dead).

How about a city in an actual campaign world (which is what we're talking about here) Lets start with Berdusk? It's a small city in Faerun, with a population of 20,000.

Notable inhabitants include:

Darthlene (an Archlich Wizard 19)
Uluene Maertalar (High priestess of Milil, Cleric 16)
Cylria Dragonborn (Bard 10/ Harper 4/ Fighter 3) with a ring of three wishes
Joelle Emmeline (Heartwarder of Sune, a Paragon path/ 3E Prestige class)
Tathlosar Brimmerbold (an 18th level Fighter)
Obslin Minstrelwish and Belhuar Thantarth (both Bard 9)
Bransuldyn Mirrortor (Gnome Cleric of Oghma 9)
Sheenra Duuth (14th level Rogue)
Shambarin (Wizard 14/ Rogue 7)
Bran Skorlsun (Ranger 17)
Eather Heilean (Paladin 7/ Harper paragon 10)

Do you want me to provide a list of what a 19th level Wizard (and a 14th level Wizard), 16th level Cleric (and a 9th level Cleric), 14th level Bard (and 2 x 9th level Bards) and an (effective) 17th level Paladin can do?

And they're just the named NPCs. There would be dozens more Bards in the bard college there, several Wizards and Sorcerers, multiple lower level Clerics to Oghma and Milil (the main deities) and Torm/ Helm (who also have a presence), plus a handfull of Paladins and Rangers also capable of casting spells.

When we get to a population of 40,000 (twice this size) in Faerun we're in Baldurs Gate territory and that joint has several Archmages (or the equivalent) and high priests in the low to high teens level range for several churches.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
No, Elminster is the Wizard 26. This predates the Elminster novels where he decided to dabble in every known class, get a special "Chosen of Mystra" template, and wield silver fire- but definitely after Ed claimed he has psionic abilities. : )

Also in a few years, his level would rise to something like 29 anyways, as only the Simbul was a better magician at Wizard 30...as far as I can recall.
 

I also have a 3.5 Forgotten Realms module with a settlement stat block: Cormyr: Tearing of the Weave.

Page 148:

The bustling city of Wheloon confidently straddles the two most important trade routes in eastern Cormyr. Merchant caravans traveling to Sembia pass through each day along the Way of the Manticore, and ships from ports all over the Sea of Fallen Stars sail up the Wyvernflow to unload their goods at Wheloon or pass on into the heart of Cormyr. The rumble of wagon wheels, grunting of laborers, and hollering of dock hands fills the air for much of the day and long into the night.

Wheloon
Wheloon (Small City): Conventional; Al NG; 15,000 gp limit; Assets 499,500 gp; Population 6,692; Mixed (human 82%, halfling 6%, dwarf 4%, gnome 4%, half-elf 2%, elf 1%, half-orc 1%).
Authority Figure: Lord Sarp Redbeard (NG male Chondathan human fighter 9), lord of the city.
Important Characters: Orlenstar Thirthorn (N male Chondathan human druid 4), caretaker of God’s Grove, a shrine to Silvanus; Katriana Donohar (NG female Tethyrian human cleric 5), leader of the Harvest Hall, a temple to Chauntea, since the death of her father Harrandave Donohar; Constal Maximanus Tholl (LG male Chondathan human fighter 5), leader of the local contingent of Purple Dragons.

Good thing he's dead, because he was a 16th level Cleric, along with his good friend Roond Asmyrk who was also a 16th level Cleric (of Sune) and who owns a local tavern in Welhoon (and is still alive AFAICT).

There is also:

Elarue Estpirit (7th level Ranger)
Deinyn Fembrys (5th level Cleric of Shar)
Naedaenya Arthas (6th level Cleric of Shar)
Shan Thar (Cleric 3, Cyric)
Albhaera Haerldoun (Wizard 6)
Orlenstar Thirlthorn (Druid 4)
Kevrin (Sorcerer 1)
Landon Bhentyl (Wizard 2)
Nym Nindar (Bard 1)
Zendoras Ralagar (Fighter 2/ Wizard 1)

Inhabitants of Wheloon

Most named Welhoonians there are low to mid level Fighters, and the town appears to have little in the way of Arcane casters. It seems a bit of an outlier.
 



James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
(Warning, I have a tendency to get long-winded):

I hope by now it seems evident that the game has always presented two different realities to the player base. The rulebooks seem to indicate a "typical magic" setting where the heroes stand out for being adventurers with abilities beyond those of mere mortals. Magic items are uncommon, and NPC casters (while they do need to exist) are relegated to major cities and are not terribly inclined to help you without persuasion.

The adventures and settings, however, present a world where the players are not out of the ordinary. Adventurers are a known quantity, and NPC's with class levels, as well as spellcasters, appear with relative commonality. Magical items are strewn about as needed (I mean, even Keep on the Borderlands had low level NPC's armed with weapons and armor +1 fairly liberally). I surmise this was an attempt on the part of content creators to prevent the PC's from becoming lords of the setting, able to impose their will upon the populace willy-nilly (and by the 2e era, at least, I at least noticed some disdain for "0-level NPC's", especially once Non-Weapon Proficiencies established themselves as the standard (despite being labeled as optional in the PHB).

After all, it's hard to have a master weaponsmith with multiple proficiency slots devoted to his craft without answering "hey where did he get all of those proficiency slots anyways?".

We like to say that "magic marts" don't exist, but you can find so many examples of them that I'm fairly sure I saw a product devoted to one and explaining how the wizard avoids being robbed and swindled.

This of course, creates a disconnect among the player base, where they can cite examples and facts at each other that are wholly contradictory. Gary would say that nobody has an expectation to find "rare" magic items, which are so uncommon that they will never be found for sale, then writes an adventure so chock full of +1 long swords and potions of healing that the players start thinking about going into business selling the darned things!

(I know his intent was for the party to arm their hirelings and henchmen, but even though "name-level" characters still could attract followers in 2e, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I saw someone who wanted to do so in the first place. The players had decided base building, wars, and politics were way less fun than running around in labyrinths gathering loot.)

And yes, an unfortunate circumstance of this is that the world sure feels a whole lot more magical than is claimed, thus begging the question of "hey, if the mayor is a 7th level Fighter with 18/59 Strength and +2 full plate, why is he paying us to go deal with some bandits?".

Let alone the question of how a 20+ level character can't make a party of simulacrum adventurers to solve just about any problem that comes up!
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
(Warning, I have a tendency to get long-winded):

I hope by now it seems evident that the game has always presented two different realities to the player base. The rulebooks seem to indicate a "typical magic" setting where the heroes stand out for being adventurers with abilities beyond those of mere mortals. Magic items are uncommon, and NPC casters (while they do need to exist) are relegated to major cities and are not terribly inclined to help you without persuasion.

The adventures and settings, however, present a world where the players are not out of the ordinary. Adventurers are a known quantity, and NPC's with class levels, as well as spellcasters, appear with relative commonality. Magical items are strewn about as needed (I mean, even Keep on the Borderlands had low level NPC's armed with weapons and armor +1 fairly liberally). I surmise this was an attempt on the part of content creators to prevent the PC's from becoming lords of the setting, able to impose their will upon the populace willy-nilly (and by the 2e era, at least, I at least noticed some disdain for "0-level NPC's", especially once Non-Weapon Proficiencies established themselves as the standard (despite being labeled as optional in the PHB).

After all, it's hard to have a master weaponsmith with multiple proficiency slots devoted to his craft without answering "hey where did he get all of those proficiency slots anyways?".

We like to say that "magic marts" don't exist, but you can find so many examples of them that I'm fairly sure I saw a product devoted to one and explaining how the wizard avoids being robbed and swindled.

This of course, creates a disconnect among the player base, where they can cite examples and facts at each other that are wholly contradictory. Gary would say that nobody has an expectation to find "rare" magic items, which are so uncommon that they will never be found for sale, then writes an adventure so chock full of +1 long swords and potions of healing that the players start thinking about going into business selling the darned things!

(I know his intent was for the party to arm their hirelings and henchmen, but even though "name-level" characters still could attract followers in 2e, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I saw someone who wanted to do so in the first place. The players had decided base building, wars, and politics were way less fun than running around in labyrinths gathering loot.)

And yes, an unfortunate circumstance of this is that the world sure feels a whole lot more magical than is claimed, thus begging the question of "hey, if the mayor is a 7th level Fighter with 18/59 Strength and +2 full plate, why is he paying us to go deal with some bandits?".

Let alone the question of how a 20+ level character can't make a party of simulacrum adventurers to solve just about any problem that comes up!

If this is your long winded kind of comment then keep it up, man. Full of interesting points.

You know when I read all of that I couldn't help but think about why D&D has this charm that you don't always find. D&D is a REALLY good product, but it's never been a polished product.

And I mean that in a good way. There's an acceptable degree of being eclectic and weird, and sometimes a little silly ("magic items are rare" aside from all the times they're totally not), and in a funny microcosm kind of sense that's similar to how it is playing pretty much any rpg over the table.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It's still my favorite TTRPG, and I've played a lot. It has warts and people who play it argue all the damn time, but it all comes from a place of love (even if sometimes misguided).
 

Voadam

Legend
According to the Forgotten realms campaign setting, around 1 person in every hundred has Sorcerer/ Wizard abilities (i.e. levels). In places like Thay, and Halruaa and Cormanthor that number is 10 times higher.

You're imagining some kind of 'Spellcasters are rare/ burn the witch' setting, but none of the conventional DnD settings are presented like this. Even a village of 100 or so has a wizard or sorcerer or two, a druid and a few clerics. Every town of 1000 or so has an archmage, and several lower level spellcasters, and cities of 10,000 or more have literally several archmages, dozens of powerful clerics to several Gods (and their clerical followers), druids, bards and you name it.

Seriously, find me a published village or town in any official setting, and there will be several spellcasters in it.
Here is where I asked where you got these numbers. Someone else pointed out Shining South in 3e for Halruaa numbers, but I was looking and have not found anything in Thay specifically or FR in general or D&D in general (which is the thread topic).

Your response was:
Look at basically every town, city or hamlet in every published module to date.

The numbers of spellcasters is far higher that that chart suggests
Fine so I grabbed the first published module PDF I could look up. H1 was an official module with a settlement.
I dont do 4e.

Give me 5 or 3e.

Heck even AD&D.
So not "every published module." Fine.

Red Hand of Doom is not in an official setting but it is a 3.5 official D&D published module.
Another city not in either Faerun or Greyhawk (but nonetheless a small city where several people can teleport, provide instantaneous communication, create objects from nothing, predict the future, maintain crops 24/7 365 days per year, create AI, employ undead labor 24/7, regenerate limbs, cure all diseases and raise the dead).
Fine so another shift. Not 3e modules but just FR ones. Which led to Wheloon in Cormyr Tearing of the Weave.

Good thing he's dead, because he was a 16th level Cleric, along with his good friend Roond Asmyrk who was also a 16th level Cleric (of Sune) and who owns a local tavern in Welhoon (and is still alive AFAICT).

There is also:

Elarue Estpirit (7th level Ranger)
Deinyn Fembrys (5th level Cleric of Shar)
Naedaenya Arthas (6th level Cleric of Shar)
Shan Thar (Cleric 3, Cyric)
Albhaera Haerldoun (Wizard 6)
Orlenstar Thirlthorn (Druid 4)
Kevrin (Sorcerer 1)
Landon Bhentyl (Wizard 2)
Nym Nindar (Bard 1)
Zendoras Ralagar (Fighter 2/ Wizard 1)

Inhabitants of Wheloon
So the wiki looks like it tries to log everyone who has ever been an inhabitant of Wheloon. This is as one might expect, but FR covers a lot of time with different changes over time.

Going deeper, the 16th level cleric Roond Asmyrk is listed as having been a tavern owner there in two 2e products. The implication of him not being listed in the important Wheloon NPCs in the later 3.5 product is that he is not there later in the advanced 3.5 timeline. In any case he is not in the published module. He could be alive 100 years later in the 5e setting, but as a human and with the intervening spellplague I would not assume so.

Populations and prevalence of casters and their power level varies over time and area in the Forgotten Realms and from product to product.

For instance also from your list of Wheloon NPCs, Albhaera Haerldoun is listed in some products as a fighter, and in some products as a wizard.

Notes
There is another discrepancy in that Waterdeep describes and stats Albhaera as a fighter, while Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave stats her as a wizard, perhaps in error.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I'm not sure how I think about 1/100 for spellcasters in the Realms, but 1/100 people with levels above 1st seems legit, especially with what they say about Cormyr's armed forces. Magic items, of course, are super prevalent in that setting (but as I pointed out, that's not as abnormal in most settings as the game claims it is...)
 

The analogy may or may not hold. If I may grossly oversimplify, our technology benefits from standardisation. A plug will operate in an appropriate socket, and so forth. This means the Electrical Engineers can design common components and combine these components in to complex devices. These components and so forth can be assembled by people less skilled than the engineers. Some of these components are made by other specialists that also manufacture other standardised components. Screws, bolts, wires and so forth.

There was a lot of invention before you get to the kind of part interchangeable mass manufacturing that makes Electrical Engineers so productive at this point in time.

Magic for instance may not be standardisable, in which case, all workers of magic are craft specialists. There is some evidence in the rules that magic is not or cannot be standardised. That is the need to copy spells from another wizards spell book before a spell can be prepared.

For instance, I do not allow players to know in advance what spell they are countering when casting counterspell. the non standard nature of magic is the reason why.
That and I think it is more fun that way.
Very clever. Magic is not technology as science is not magic. Completely different ways of reasoning.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I don't think Nentir Vale is a good example because it's a pretty generic setting that could work with any fantasy game. The only things it really takes into account is the existence of Dragonborn and Tieflings along with the other PHB races at the time. It might take ritual use into account, but it's not like it has NPC's that are specifically members of a character class (since NPC's in 4e are designed completely differently than PC's).
 

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