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5E Limited Magic and Magical Items Campaign

R_J_K75

Explorer
Im looking to run a low magic 5E D&D campaign, one where the players are primarily martial/stealth type classes rather than spellcasters and where their access to spells and magic items are less than normal. The sidebar "Are Magical Items Necessary In a Campaign" on pg 136 of Xanathars Guide to Everything says they arent. Does anyone have any advice on unforeseen effects this may have on the game that I may not have considered?
 

Coroc

Explorer
It might make monsters who are resistant to nonmagical weapons a bit harder. You might want to make adamantine or silver weapons a quest target, aka a weapon to hurt that werewolf / golem etc. without giving them more than the material property. Feats like GWM or sharpshooter become more powerful, being the only way to increase damage significantly. Also armor being nonmagic makes it eventually easier to hit targets who use armor. Otoh maybe the bless spell is not available that easy so that counters it.

Also, if you reduce clerical spellpower available then healing becomes tougher. To add realism you might want to use the 1 night= short rest 1 week or 1 weekend in a luxury resort = long rest as a rule.

Every spellcasting class you want to allow will have a hard time. You should very thoroughly analyse, if you allow a certain spell, and which should be a reasonable max. caster level. Eventually 5 is sufficient but you could hand out the higher level slots for upcasting. Again, if you restrict also clerical magic raising dead might be harder / impossible to aquire.
 

TheCosmicKid

Explorer
Xanathar is right: they aren't. The characters in my main campaign were all nonmagical for a long time (and even now the only spellcaster is one paladin). Everything works fine; the game is balanced around the assumption that characters don't have a lot of magic. The worst unforeseen effects happened when I did introduce a magic item which overpowered the fighter more than I'd intended.

Um, what to say specifically...

A lack of magical healing means that when combats start to go the wrong way things can get ugly. If your players aren't used to having to withdraw from fights sometimes, they may have a hard time adjusting. 5E's dying rules are forgiving enough that they don't really need magical healing to avoid frequent and ignominious death, at least not if they invest in the Medicine skill or some healer's kits, but short rests are very important. If you don't want to be too brutal, you might consider lowering the short rest time to 15 minutes so they can more plausibly back off, lick their wounds, and get back in without losing too much time.

I'd give the standard precautionary note about being careful using monsters with nonmagical damage resistances, except that I threw a wererat at my party very early on just to see what would happen, and despite being totally immune to their weapons they still took it down. (They drowned it.)
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Ive pretty much (on the surface considered) what you have both said, just havent decided exactly how to go about it. I generally run encounters in what Id call scenes so I dont really use the short or full rests too much, so healing shouldnt be much of an issue.

There are some cracks starting to show in our game, so before the group breaks up Im going to address it at the next game. Im thinking about re-booting the game as one-shots and have the players make their own PCs and limit the classes they can choose, therefore the limited magic setting. To get things started at first I created their current characters with a little input from them. Im hoping that this will get them more invested in their characters, be a more cohesive party and help the game move more smoothly, as they are all newer and casual players. This may seem like a drastic step but Id rather keep the players we have rather than see the group slowly breakup, which from my experience of playing for so long Im starting to see the writing on the wall.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
The problem with not having magical healing isn't the raw HP values. You have still access to short and long rests, Purple Dragon Knights, healing kits, arguably healing potions, and feats to augment most of that. Preventing people from bleeding out will require more effort, but that's also true of a normal magic game where nobody bothers to be a healer, which is not an uncommon group composition.

The real problem is curing everything else:
Finding a non-magical analog for Lesser Restoration and Greater Restoration is mandatory.
Finding an analog for Revivify will help cover up the sore spots where players just get unlucky, but it will strain verisimilitude if used often.
Figuring out how to handle the lack of Regenerate will send you looking for prosthetics or retiring characters.

Non-Magical damage resistance can be worked around. In addition to special materials, Magical ammunition and Moon-Touched swords would go from being low tier rewards to extremely valuable while not mechanically impacting too much.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
The problem with not having magical healing isn't the raw HP values. You have still access to short and long rests, Purple Dragon Knights, healing kits, arguably healing potions, and feats to augment most of that. Preventing people from bleeding out will require more effort, but that's also true of a normal magic game where nobody bothers to be a healer, which is not an uncommon group composition.

The real problem is curing everything else:
Finding a non-magical analog for Lesser Restoration and Greater Restoration is mandatory.
Finding an analog for Revivify will help cover up the sore spots where players just get unlucky, but it will strain verisimilitude if used often.
Figuring out how to handle the lack of Regenerate will send you looking for prosthetics or retiring characters.

Non-Magical damage resistance can be worked around. In addition to special materials, Magical ammunition and Moon-Touched swords would go from being low tier rewards to extremely valuable while not mechanically impacting too much.
I wouldnt eliminate any of these things from the game completely just find a way to make the less common so less accessible to players. The less they can just get healing magic and magic in general on a whim it may make them consider how theyre going to have a party member healed, cured from diseases, regenerate lost limbs, etc. If they pledge fealty to a patron or church, it might make them a better party. As I said above there are some problems with the group dynamic so Im giving this thought as a possible solution.
 

S'mon

Legend
@Op My Primeval Thule game runs like this and I have had no problems. Obviously in a low magic setting magical monsters are also rarer than normal, and most fights are with NPC warriors, for whom I have a wide variety of stat blocks. My PT game - Primeval Thule
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
The only issue I've seen by limiting magic items is the loss/reduction of Potions of Healing. A simple solution would be to add Herbs of Healing that work the same way, but take 1 minute to use, rather than an action. This allows the usual level of out of combat healing that normally uses potions without adding a flood of magic into the game.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Obviously in a low magic setting magical monsters are also rarer than normal, and most fights are with NPC warriors
Yeah those were my thoughts exactly more humanoid fights with a few monsters thrown in. I kind of like the idea of a rivalry against one faction for instance the Zhentarim as a main antagonist. Back in the 90s we ran a campaign in Shadowdale and the Moonsea which was really fun and was pretty concentrated in that one area. After running a Waterdeep game for over a year now, I've been thinking about scaling it back some for awhile now and the more thought I give it the more I like the idea.

The only issue I've seen by limiting magic items is the loss/reduction of Potions of Healing. A simple solution would be to add Herbs of Healing that work the same way
I think Im OK with that. I like the thought of injury, maiming and death being more looming and permanent. Keep the players on their toes. One thing I forgot to mention is that I usually give out an extra HD +con bons at 1st level and max + con bonus every level thereafter. So HP usually arent a problem. Not to say that players dont die but its more from some unexpected effect or their own stupidity, but mostly their own stupidity.
 
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S'mon

Legend
Yeah those were my thoughts exactly more humanoid fights with a few monsters thrown in.
Thule has 'elite mook' types up to around CR 6, while Thulean monsters like Manticore & Cyclops are buffed to CR 9-10+. I find this works well; a Pride of Nergal hoplite phalanx is a big deterrent for even high level PCs.


"Lomari! Prepare for Glory!" :D

The guys in the middle are the remaining 90+ hp Pride of Nergal, the surrounding Fateful Horde are part of the PCs' army. In this case conflict was averted as the Pride were allowed through the Quodeth/Kal-Zinan ranks to rejoin their allies in the Fort of Woe.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Thats your part time game? My god, one of those battles in the pictures on your blog would take my group 6 months to get through. That looks like great time. I generally dont use miniatures anymore for two reasons, I dont have many left and we only play once every two weeks for 3-4 hours so it would take too long to set up so my players would be half drunk by the time I was done arranging the combat.

Does the Primeval Thule 5e Campaign Setting on Drivethru RPG include the monsters/npcs or is there a separate MM for the setting?
 

S'mon

Legend
Thats your part time game? My god, one of those battles in the pictures on your blog would take my group 6 months to get through. That looks like great time. I generally dont use miniatures anymore for two reasons, I dont have many left and we only play once every two weeks for 3-4 hours so it would take too long to set up so my players would be half drunk by the time I was done arranging the combat.

Does the Primeval Thule 5e Campaign Setting on Drivethru RPG include the monsters/npcs or is there a separate MM for the setting?
PT game - Primeval Thule game - weekly Wednesday evenings. The huge battle on the Docks of Woe did take the best part of two 3-hour sessions! Mostly because the enemy Bronze Lions of Nergal had 90+ hp each and even the PCs' redshirts were 52 hp Kal-Zinan Silver Shield dwarf Legionnaires and 32 hp Quodethi Royal Marines, backed up by 22 hp dwarf arbalesters.
The PT Campaign Setting does include a nice bestiary with lots of monsters & NPCs, but there are more monsters & NPCs in the GM's Companion, which is where the elite Pride of Nergal warriors come from. My son suggested they were 'African Spartans' like in '300' so I play up that angle a lot. :)
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
The PT Campaign Setting does include a nice bestiary with lots of monsters & NPCs, but there are more monsters & NPCs in the GM's Companion, which is where the elite Pride of Nergal warriors come from. My son suggested they were 'African Spartans' like in '300' so I play up that angle a lot.
I was looking at the description of the campaign setting, might pick it up if I get some extra money. Ironically I remember renting 300 when it came out and started watching it but I stopped to play D&D that day and never finished it. Still have never seen it.
 

S'mon

Legend
I was looking at the description of the campaign setting, might pick it up if I get some extra money. Ironically I remember renting 300 when it came out and started watching it but I stopped to play D&D that day and never finished it. Still have never seen it.
I love how in the Thule campaign setting the cosmopolitan multi-cultural Quodethi side (the PCs' side) equate to the Persians or Athenians, while the Stoic Sparta-meets-Rome analogue are the African-descended Lomari.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
@Op My Primeval Thule game runs like this and I have had no problems. Obviously in a low magic setting magical monsters are also rarer than normal, and most fights are with NPC warriors, for whom I have a wide variety of stat blocks. My PT game - Primeval Thule
That looks like a really fun campaign setting.
 

S'mon

Legend
That looks like a really fun campaign setting.
It drives my players mad with delight!
Not sure how they will cope when the campaign ends in a few months - I always planned to run level 1-20 over a year from Jan 2019; now in September and the PCs are around 13th level.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
I love how in the Thule campaign setting the cosmopolitan multi-cultural Quodethi side (the PCs' side) equate to the Persians or Athenians, while the Stoic Sparta-meets-Rome analogue are the African-descended Lomari.
I never played any historical based campaigns and I only took mythology in 9th grade, so I dont know much about ancient historical campaigns. Think I might have a book somewhere that Alexander the Greats military campaign. That might be a good source to model Zhentil Keeps attempt to take over the Dales.
 

S'mon

Legend
I never played any historical based campaigns and I only took mythology in 9th grade, so I dont know much about ancient historical campaigns. Think I might have a book somewhere that Alexander the Greats military campaign. That might be a good source to model Zhentil Keeps attempt to take over the Dales.
Hm, maybe the Anglo-Normans in Ireland, or the British East India Company in India, would be a closer analogy. Persia was a huge unified empire defeated in massive battles. The Dales are disparate and disunited.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
That looks like a really fun campaign setting.
Between my Realms game and the new Eberron book coming out I dont think I have the wherewithal for another setting. If I get it it would be to pillage for the monsters and maybe a few other things.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Hm, maybe the Anglo-Normans in Ireland, or the British East India Company in India, would be a closer analogy. Persia was a huge unified empire defeated in massive battles. The Dales are disparate and disunited.
You are correct, but I seem to recall somewhere in the annals of the lore of the Dales that although they are all separate entities that they can be quick to unite to defend their land. I just came across some of my old notes and was reading that all the leaders of the Dales meet periodically so if they were faced with invasion perhaps a great general may emerge. Pretty sad that I know more of the history of a fictitious world than the one I actually live in.
 

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