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

Faolyn

(she/her)
Possible, though it’s also possible they’d have similar station to a blacksmith.

Also like, just because the magic guy can start fires, doesn’t mean people wouldn’t learn how to do it manually.
True to both--but not everyone can manually purify water or heal wounds with a touch. And yes, people will learn nonmagical ways of performing these abilities--but then again, they might not, if their society decides that this magic is the best way to do it.

To me, detect poison and disease is pretty clearly worded in a way that means a healer with it would know what they’re looking at.

It wouldn’t have to give them the details, any additional more accurate info would accelerate the advancement of medical science.
<shrug> Yeah, I mean I can see how you can interpret the spell's description in that manner, but it's not how I would do it. To me, the phrase "You also identify the kind of poison, poisonous creature, or disease in each case" doesn't mean that that they would know what the disease actually is. Just what it's commonly called by. It's a 1st-level spell, after all, and learning the biology of the ailment might require something higher level. Like the difference between identify and legend lore. And, of course, there might not be any actually biological reasons for a disease, no bacteria or viruses at all; they might actually be created by evil gods or fiends of disease.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I'm not sure how Detect Poison works these days, but for a long time, you needed to make an ability check (either Heal or Craft (Alchemy), I can't recall which) to diagnose poisons. At least at that point, it implies there is knowledge of such things extant in the setting.
 


Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
What I mean is- humans, at the very least, are a very industrious and innovative people. Look how far we’ve developed in just the past 2000 years- or even the past 100! But most D&D settings seem to have multi-thousand-year histories where the world has existed at the “default” D&D setting; that is- a vaguely medieval, feudal peasant society that happens to have magic, dragons, etc. Now monsters aside, our world does not exist like that, and we don’t have fairly accessible magic.

I’m not saying I want a D&D game that recreates modern society- except with magic instead of electricity. But the D&D rules, as written; with item creation, permanent spells effects, and more; would NOT create Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, or Golarion.

Eberron comes close, but it also invents at least three other systems to “justify” it (dragonmarks, manifest zones, and rampant exploitation of elementals). You don’t need anything extra like that to envision that most D&D worlds should be vastly different than the medieval default that’s used for most of them.

Also, I should mention, I’m not looking for an argument or reasons about WHY most D&D worlds ARE stuck in their vaguely medieval setting. I know the history of D&D’s development and all the books that Gary and Dave got their inspiration from. They took a setting, slapped rules for dungeons, magic, and dragons on it and started to play. All those game worlds I mentioned are fine. I've gamed in them for years, just like all of you have. But what would a world that has always existed within those rules ACTUALLY look like? Is there a setting that takes the rules-as-written and runs with it- as humanity would do?
Well it's funny that you mention Greyhawk because there's a lot of material written for Greyhawk that talks about how there are the ruins of ancient civilizations everywhere. And not only that but the level of technology was far superior and it's even explained that many "magic" items could be technology that no one understands any more.

Back before the sci-fi and fantasy tropes became more established, there was a lot of pulp fantasy fiction that didn't distinguish at all between sci-fi and fantasy and used it all for inspiration. Greyhawk is the only D&D setting I know of which reflects D&D's pulp fantasy roots.
 

Well it's funny that you mention Greyhawk because there's a lot of material written for Greyhawk that talks about how there are the ruins of ancient civilizations everywhere. And not only that but the level of technology was far superior and it's even explained that many "magic" items could be technology that no one understands any more.

Back before the sci-fi and fantasy tropes became more established, there was a lot of pulp fantasy fiction that didn't distinguish at all between sci-fi and fantasy and used it all for inspiration. Greyhawk is the only D&D setting I know of which reflects D&D's pulp fantasy roots.
that sounds nice and all but how do you make it a selling point to people who are so far removed it does not make sense to them?
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
that sounds nice and all but how do you make it a selling point to people who are so far removed it does not make sense to them?

I'm not sure I understand your question. Who? The players? The PCs and NPCs?

And what is anyone trying to sell? It's simply a fact that fantasy and sci-fi used to blend together a lot, I'm not sure you can sell a fact.
 

I'm not sure I understand your question. Who? The players? The PCs and NPCs?

And what is anyone trying to sell? It's simply a fact that fantasy and sci-fi used to blend together a lot, I'm not sure you can sell a fact.
the new players is who I mean by people as other people seem to really want to make greyhawk a thing again.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
the new players is who I mean by people as other people seem to really want to make greyhawk a thing again.

You normally can't sell anything to anyone who isn't already predisposed on some level to like it. But these are things you can mention if you know newer players who seem as if they would be interested in a more alternative system such as Greyhawk:

Tell them it's a big shift towards the world being weird and mysterious, and even cruel. Magic and technology are often the same thing and the party is in a world that is basically built on the corpses of a hundred dead civilizations, some of which even had space ships.

You can throw good and evil out the window and dig into law vs chaos, and Greyhawk is super ideal for that. It is literally the only official D&D setting that is super grey about morality.

It can't be understated how big a deal this is when you've got, e.g., a setting like Golarion for Pathfinder. If you want to play Pathfinder, and want to play the official Pathfinder setting, you are stuck with a world where the players are basically hamstrung into not only being good characters but mostly interacting with non-monster NPCs who are good. This does not feel like much of a realistic world, it can make things less immersive.

Now if that's a big TL;DR or "quit it DM you're being long winded with your campaign pitch" then you need to cater to those players or find people a little more inquisitive and open to trying new things.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Mentioning Greyhawk, which could be both subtle with it's references or blatant (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, for example) I like having some pulp and science fantasy in my fantasy. Whether it's John Carter, a fighting man from Virginia tossed into a world that is pretty much a fantasy adventure, but hey, there's ray guns and flying ships, to even video games. I can't have been the only one to play the original Final Fantasy and been amazed to find my party of D&D heroes aboard a space station- or be wowed by the twist of Phantasy Star 3, when you realize your entire world is part of a generation starship that's been in transit for 2000 years!

...maybe my next campaign should have psionics and the explanation for that and the various strange races be genetic engineering in the distant past...

Speaking of Psionics, this is what the Complete Psionics Handbook had to say about Greyhawk: Psionics is an old and established facet of life on Oerth. Presumably it was brought there when an illithid spacecraft crashed on the planet ages ago. Psionicists are by no means common, but most people are at least aware of the existence of psionics and often consider it to be just another mystical pursuit. Psionic guilds and secret associations can be found in major cities.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Not familiar with eberron?
While I love your example because Eberron has a more dynamic world with more room for morally grey characters, it doesn't even begin to accomplish what Greyhawk did in this respect.

Why do I say that? Because in the original core rulebook and then Greyhawk, the first official supplement, there wasn't even such a thing as good or evil alignments. Governments are just governments, groups are just groups, it's like the real world the "good guys" is something entirely up to perspective.

In Eberron, you can interact with lots of evil NPCs and even evil governments. In Greyhawk, you can get to wondering whether every government is evil, even the "good guys", because the government actually acts like the government. The orcs and goblins fight you because they reject society and laws. You either uphold society or you don't, because like it or not the society you have is the society you get. Or you simply don't care about anything like that because your character has his/her own goals.

Before we made so much of the game about alignment, characters simply did human things driven by human motivations. When players were heroic it meant something, they were fighting to accomplish something genuinely important to them, e.g. saving NPCs they are fond of, etc.

TL;DR: Eberron lets you have more alignment options and presents you with NPCs of more different alignments. Greyhawk is like: "Wtf is alignment? Haven't heard of that yet." And so it throws alignment right out the window.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Scouring old books to see what they say about the number and role of Wizards in D&D, I've found the following in The Complete Wizard's Handbook:

"Many wizards serve as administrators, advisors, or teachers, or hold other positions of responsibility in their communities. The local citizens are likely to barrage such wizards with a constant stream of requests for favors and assistance."

"Worlds with Typical amounts of Magic. Typical in this sense means the amount of magic present within the limits of an average AD&D campaign world. In such worlds, magic is known to exist, but real wizards are regarded with awe and perhaps a little suspicion. Average people may be baffled by magic and others may be afraid of it, but all are impressed by it's power.

Wizards are uncommon, especially those of higher levels. Novices wishing to master a particular school of magic may have to work hard to find a suitable mentor or academy. In some areas of the world, certain specialists may not even exist. Spell books, magical items, and magical monsters are relatively rare; finding one will probably be a major event in the life of any character."

Compare that with this section in the 5e Dungeon Master's Guide:

"In most D&D worlds, magic is natural but still wondrous and sometimes frightening. People everywhere know about magic, and most people see evidence of it at some point in their lives. It permeates the cosmos and moves through the ancient processions of legendary heroes, the mysterious ruins of fallen empires, those touched by the gods, creatures born with supernatural power, and individuals who study the secrets of the multiverse. Histories and fireside tales are filled with the exploits of those who wield it. What normal folks know of magic depends on where they live and whether they know characters who practice magic. Citizens of an isiolated hamlet might not have seen true magic used for generations and speak in whispers of the strange powers of the old hermit living in the nearby woods. In the city of Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms setting, the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors is a guild of wizards. These arcanists wish to make wizardry more accessible so the order's members can profit from selling their services."
 

What I mean is- humans, at the very least, are a very industrious and innovative people. Look how far we’ve developed in just the past 2000 years- or even the past 100! But most D&D settings seem to have multi-thousand-year histories where the world has existed at the “default” D&D setting; that is- a vaguely medieval, feudal peasant society that happens to have magic, dragons, etc. Now monsters aside, our world does not exist like that, and we don’t have fairly accessible magic.

I’m not saying I want a D&D game that recreates modern society- except with magic instead of electricity. But the D&D rules, as written; with item creation, permanent spells effects, and more; would NOT create Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, or Golarion.

Eberron comes close, but it also invents at least three other systems to “justify” it (dragonmarks, manifest zones, and rampant exploitation of elementals). You don’t need anything extra like that to envision that most D&D worlds should be vastly different than the medieval default that’s used for most of them.

Also, I should mention, I’m not looking for an argument or reasons about WHY most D&D worlds ARE stuck in their vaguely medieval setting. I know the history of D&D’s development and all the books that Gary and Dave got their inspiration from. They took a setting, slapped rules for dungeons, magic, and dragons on it and started to play. All those game worlds I mentioned are fine. I've gamed in them for years, just like all of you have. But what would a world that has always existed within those rules ACTUALLY look like? Is there a setting that takes the rules-as-written and runs with it- as humanity would do?

DnD's setting is actually more advanced than our own. Far more advanced.

Medical science is no match for Healing magic which can instantly regenerate limbs, and literally bring people back from the dead. Diseases can be cured with a touch by any Paladin of even 1st level, even currently incurable diseases like HIV or cancer.

Travel? Instantaneous travel is possible via teleportation, and heck, even interdimensional travel is possible. Screw you conventional aircraft.

Materials can be instantly created in such a manner to make a Star Trek Federation Replicator struggle to keep up. Priests and Druids can create food and water and ensure crops never go bad. Structures can be raised with a click of ones fingers.

Instantaneous communication exists that puts radios to shame. Who needs drones when you have Scrying, Arcane Eye and divination? The future can be predicted by communing with a deity. Literal miracles can be asked for and gotten by high priests on a weekly basis.

Who needs technology when you have magic that can do it all, and do it all better than how we have it now, in the 21st century?
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
DnD's setting is actually more advanced than our own. Far more advanced.

Medical science is no match for Healing magic which can instantly regenerate limbs, and literally bring people back from the dead. Diseases can be cured with a touch by any Paladin of even 1st level, even currently incurable diseases like HIV or cancer.

Travel? Instantaneous travel is possible via teleportation, and heck, even interdimensional travel is possible. Screw you conventional aircraft.

Materials can be instantly created in such a manner to make a Star Trek Federation Replicator struggle to keep up. Priests and Druids can create food and water and ensure crops never go bad. Structures can be raised with a click of ones fingers.

Instantaneous communication exists that puts radios to shame. Who needs drones when you have Scrying, Arcane Eye and divination? The future can be predicted by communing with a deity. Literal miracles can be asked for and gotten by high priests on a weekly basis.

Who needs technology when you have magic that can do it all, and do it all better than how we have it now, in the 21st century?

Lol but there's maybe around .05% of the population which has the ability to do any of that.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
True to both--but not everyone can manually purify water or heal wounds with a touch. And yes, people will learn nonmagical ways of performing these abilities--but then again, they might not, if their society decides that this magic is the best way to do it.
Respectfully, I genuinely don't think it is even remotely possible that a society would not develop those skills at all. Many modern Americans know how to manually start a fire and purify water, even though they've never had to use that knowledge in order to have warmth and clean water.

So, unless we are going full Dark Sword here, where literally 99% of the population can do useful magic, there will be people who have mundane skills. If magic use is a minority, most people, even many of those who can use magic, will have these skills.

Even if society decides that the magic way is better, the less optimal ways will survive, just as they do in real world societies. Right now, today, and at every point in history and in every society, people still make their own clothes, wash dishes by hand, and use manual methods of lighting fireplaces, stovetops, candles, etc. Manual feedback is satisfying. Watching something come into being by your hands is satisfying. People are not optimal, or even especially rational.
<shrug> Yeah, I mean I can see how you can interpret the spell's description in that manner, but it's not how I would do it. To me, the phrase "You also identify the kind of poison, poisonous creature, or disease in each case" doesn't mean that that they would know what the disease actually is. Just what it's commonly called by. It's a 1st-level spell, after all, and learning the biology of the ailment might require something higher level. Like the difference between identify and legend lore. And, of course, there might not be any actually biological reasons for a disease, no bacteria or viruses at all; they might actually be created by evil gods or fiends of disease.

And the spell would tell you that. The person identifying disease knows what the disease is. Knowing the name of it isn't at all useful, nor does it make sense when you consider the origin of the spell. It has to have had a starting point, and that starting point really can't be names of illnesses. Nor does the spell say anything about language, or common nomenclature.

Also note that you learn what poisonous creature the poison is from, if any.

I just don't really see any way for the spell to function without giving the caster useful information about the type of disease.

Also, just being able to detect disease in a radius around you would reduce the spread of disease, as you could much more accurately quarantine the sick than we can today. And since it says you learn the kind of disease, you'd know if it's contagious or not, at the very least.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Lol but there's maybe around .05% of the population which has the ability to do any of that.
Using the core books as the base assumptions, it almost has to be more than that for some of it, because some of that is low level magic, but yeah the higher level stuff is basically the PCs and many a half dozen others in the entire world.

Those numbers don't change how society functions. Only the low level magic can reasonably be assumed to change how society functions, and even it is still in the possession of the minority of people.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Using the core books as the base assumptions, it almost has to be more than that for some of it, because some of that is low level magic, but yeah the higher level stuff is basically the PCs and many a half dozen others in the entire world.

Those numbers don't change how society functions. Only the low level magic can reasonably be assumed to change how society functions, and even it is still in the possession of the minority of people.

That kind of makes things cool, because it's as if there's super high tech devices in the world but only a few people monopolize all the technology. I can easily picture lvl 2 and 3 spell casters being tyrants overseeing small communities.
 

Lol but there's maybe around .05% of the population which has the ability to do any of that.

There are even less Doctors, Pilots etc combined in the Real world, yet we get healed, travel overseas etc all the time.

Faerun has literally entire nations full of spellcasters (Halruaa, Thay etc). Greyhawk as well. Both settings are replete with ancient cultures annhilating themselves with potent magic (Cormanthor, Netheril, Suel Empire etc). Many of those cultres had (or have) literal flying cities, aircraft, magical equivalent nukes etc.

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.
 

Oofta

Legend
It's always been kind of odd to me that "magic is extremely rare and practically unheard of" when 3 out of 4 PCs can cast spells of one sort or other. I know there's the whole "called to service" bit, that only some clerics can explicitly cast spells. But in campaigns I've been involved with? If you have the gold and/or influence you can always find a cleric high enough level to cast the spell you want.

If wizards are only whispered of in dark corners, who taught the PC wizard how to cast spells? How does the arcane trickster or eldritch knight for that matter? Where do all the higher level NPCS in the MM come from?
 

CrashFiend82

Explorer
I have not DMed or played 3.5 or Pathfinder in a while so just a few questions. Didn't item creation involve expending XP? If so, how much XP does a non-adventuring character gain in a year. I don't have quick access to my books but I assume you could wealth by level, and npc wealth by year to get an idea and figure out how many items a wizard could create in a year.
 

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