D&D 5E No magic (+thread)

(As a plus thread I would LOVE to discuss pros and cons of HOW to do this, but not the should it be or try to argue against doing it)

So back 2019-2020 I ran a game based on themes and ideas from Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones (with some yugioh, xmen, and mortal kombat thrown in for flavor) but the big selling point the players loved the idea of the magic world without dedicated spell casters. I did this by useing the Middle Earth 5e book for classes.

SO I have been talking about how much fun that (and 2 other uses of that book) were. I am thinking of doing it again... but with more twist. This time it isn't no spell casters just no PC spellcasters.
In the last one there were people with magic abilities and if the players found them and befriended them they could learn the magic in the form of boons. But no cleric or warlock or wizard was running's around... this time I am thinking of making there be NPC (mostly villain) casters.

Now I will keep the boons that you can train some things, but not all. But what would it mean to run a team of PCs like this... (before anyone asks there is a sage like class that allows for healing)

part of me is thinking of doing the Bo9S and 4e combat manuvers as boons again too.



now for the story part (and I don't know why I didn't think of this years ago) I have a player who has pitched "I want to be a team of knights... like mounted heroic military knights" for a while and we have considered many ways to do this... but doing it with the ME5e book might miake it work better.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Stormonu

Legend
Sounds like a Pendragon sort of game, with the players mostly knights, squires and/or hanger-ons.

Have you put much thought into what sort of opposition the characters will be facing - primarily, will there be supernatural enemies such as chimeras, werewolves, mind flayers or more along the lines of natural/enlarged animals and human-type enemies?

Also, what will the approach towards magic items, including potions and spell-use items be? Will they be unavailable, rare or can they even be made by PCs?

Personally, I wouldn’t go with Bo9S, as that just disguises magic as mundane abilities, but coming up with some maneuvers akin to the encounter/daily powers from 4E will probably work.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
One way to do it might be to reskin magic. A fireball is actually you tossing a lit pipe at those barrels of oil. A cure spell is actually judicious application of herbs and skilled medical care. I guess that ony works to an extent -- many spells will be impossible to just reskin.
 

Sounds like a Pendragon sort of game, with the players mostly knights, squires and/or hanger-ons.
yeah, I don't have a lot thought through but yes
Have you put much thought into what sort of opposition the characters will be facing - primarily, will there be supernatural enemies such as chimeras, werewolves, mind flayers or more along the lines of natural/enlarged animals and human-type enemies?
I am divided... last few times I kept mostly human with a few 'gobliniods' this time I was thinking of going all out crazy. Mind FLayers sounds like a blast, but no I don't have this even half figured yet.
Also, what will the approach towards magic items, including potions and spell-use items be? Will they be unavailable, rare or can they even be made by PCs?
I will probably make potions just alchmical... so yeah you can buy a potion of healing type thing just find the local alchimist.
Personally, I wouldn’t go with Bo9S, as that just disguises magic as mundane abilities, but coming up with some maneuvers akin to the encounter/daily powers from 4E will probably work.
 

Without magic, PCs will be weaker, but I don't think you'll need to make many major changes unless you plan on constant 7ish enounter adventuring days and/or throwing 16 CRs at level six parties.

Since 5E is considered to be generous with resorces, PCs should be able to get along well enough without magic.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
How about a world where everyone has a magical ability? You can give the players spell-like abilities without the need for spellcasters. It does require a little worldbuilding of course. The Codex Alera is a pretty good example, I think.
 

How about a world where everyone has a magical ability? You can give the players spell-like abilities without the need for spellcasters. It does require a little worldbuilding of course. The Codex Alera is a pretty good example, I think.
we did one of those too already...a world were everyone had spell like abilities and mystic in bsked things. I might think about that for a different game but I don't know if that would fit knights
 


I think the Eldritch Knight would like a word with you about that ;)
point... we see a lot of warlock (hexblades) fighter (eldritch knight) and wizard bladesiingers in our regular games... infact I have seen 3 fighter/wizards that were just 3 level dips of eldritch knight for the 2nd level action surge and some hp... so I should know that.
 

The biggest challenge is the fact that most 5E classes have spellcasting, limiting you to Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, and Rogue. Assuming you start at level 3, so all characters have their sub-class, there's sufficient options to allow a full party without a ton of overlap. You'll need to make sure you have plenty of room in your combats, because you'll almost certainly have more front line characters, plus likely a mounted one as well. My other big suggestion would be to create a mundane item to replace Potions of Healing, such as healing herbs that take a minute to apply (thus only useful outside of combat). I'd put an emphasis on use of various mundane gear, such as oil, acid, and holy water, since those can do different damage types, and be generous on creative ideas by the players.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
You may want to take a look at Helm, a minimalist RPG based on non-magical men at arms, heavily influenced by Glen Cook's The Black Company. It's also available in print+PDF at Exalted Funeral.
 


Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I think a spell-less bard, ranger and paladin would be quite easy to design.

with them you could have Fighter, Rogues, Barbarian, Bard, Ranger, Paladin as non-casting classes.

You could even keep the more mystical ones that dont use spell slots (Phantom rogue, Storm Barbarian, Psychic Warrior etc) if you want esoteric martial characters without the spell-slinging of a real caster.
 

The biggest challenge is the fact that most 5E classes have spellcasting, limiting you to Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, and Rogue. Assuming you start at level 3, so all characters have their sub-class, there's sufficient options to allow a full party without a ton of overlap.
this is why I am useing the 5e middle earth book... it is basicly fighter rogue and barbarian with a spell less bard and ranger thrown in with a brand new smarty pants class.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
no, but I will look it up
The brief version: two cultures clash. One culture is monotheistic and their religion doesn't believe in magic. The other is polytheistic, and can ask their Gods for magic.

This caused a serious problem when war broke out, so the Church of the first culture was forced to bend the rules; they arranged to have special orders of Church Knights created who were allowed to learn magic.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
You could have a game with just totem barbarians, battle masters, thieves and maybe way of the fist monks.

You actually don't need much additional healing, there is already so much in 5e. You would need some extra skills or other ways of supporting certain archetypes--who is the smart guy, who is the face? And to get more out of those skills without utility magic.

You would have to be much more careful with minions, and those monsters that resist non-magical damage would now be scary!

But its doable.
 

Dausuul

Legend
The biggest challenge is the fact that most 5E classes have spellcasting, limiting you to Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, and Rogue. Assuming you start at level 3, so all characters have their sub-class, there's sufficient options to allow a full party without a ton of overlap. You'll need to make sure you have plenty of room in your combats, because you'll almost certainly have more front line characters, plus likely a mounted one as well. My other big suggestion would be to create a mundane item to replace Potions of Healing, such as healing herbs that take a minute to apply (thus only useful outside of combat). I'd put an emphasis on use of various mundane gear, such as oil, acid, and holy water, since those can do different damage types, and be generous on creative ideas by the players.
You could quite easily add paladins to the lineup and say their spell slots can only be used for Smite. That's where most of their slots would go anyway. It's a modest nerf, but a modest nerf is just what the paladin class needs IMO.

Rangers are trickier, but, again, they just need a non-spell use for their spell slots. Giving them paladin Smite is the simplest, albeit most boring, solution.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Yeah, for the Ranger, Barbarian & Paladin, replacing spells/supernatural abilities with battlemaster maneuvers is probably the easiest to do. Possibly even make the paladin's smite non-magical and give them X uses/long or short rest, with d8's equal to 1/4th the paladin's level + 1d8.

Monk could have some of their abilities replaced with battlemaster maneuvers, and retain others - more difficult would be their subclasses; Way of the 4 Elements is probably right out.

You could possibly still include clerics and give them non-combat cantrips, 1st & 2nd level spells as "blessings", making them rely on weapon use for fighting. Might be able to do something similar with bards, doing a mix of granting battlemaster maneuvers and transforming non-combat cantrips, 1st & 2nd level spells into "Inspiration" abilities, reflecting the bard knowing knacks, goading or encouraging individuals to action.

Artificers could be redone as a form of smith who fashions their own superior weapons and gear, and much like the bard has knacks that grant them low-level non-combat spells as mundane abilities.

Warlocks could be mutants of some sort - drop their spell slots, increase their invocations and add to the invocation list. These could be trollbloods, dragonbloods or whatnot with strange superhuman abilities.

Of course, the cleric, bard, artificer and warlock allowance would be if you want just a "lower magic" instead of "magic absent" sort of game.
 

Irlo

Hero
In a magic-free D&D game, I'd want a significant expansion of combat options, specifically those that impose conditions on targets. All damage all the time would bore me to tears. Some as regular alternatives to an attack action, others triggered by something like the battlemaster's maneuver dice -- but for all classes.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top