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General What do do when a setting doesn't have magic?

nomotog

Explorer
Lets say you find a setting you want to set your next DnD campaign in, but it's a setting with no magic. A good half the classes use magic, so so how do your address this? Do you just add magic, just not include wizards? Don't worry too much about the answer. It's a discussion not a actual problem to solve.
 

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aco175

Hero
I would likely put in some kind of magic. It could be technology or something over D&D magic. May not be as much and widespread, but something.
 

jsaving

Adventurer
Depends on what you mean when you say the setting doesn't have magic. Do you mean magic works fine but your characters happen to be the first ones in history with the desire/ability/knowledge to use it? Do you mean magic is blocked in your world but all other sources of "unrealistic" abilities function normally? Or do you mean you are running a "realistic" setting where nothing works except abilities you as the DM decide are plausible?
 


dave2008

Legend
Lets say you find a setting you want to set your next DnD campaign in, but it's a setting with no magic. A good half the classes use magic, so so how do your address this? Do you just add magic, just not include wizards? Don't worry too much about the answer. It's a discussion not a actual problem to solve.
There are enough no magic options to make a full party, so I don't see the issue. We have 6 people in our group and only one uses magic (a Wizard). If we didn't have the wizard we would be fine.
 

dave2008

Legend
5e is probably the worst edition of D&D when it comes to low-magic campaigns. I think you'd better pick a different system.
Na, it works just fine with low or no magic.

EDIT: Actually it works better than most editions of D&D as it was designed without the requirement for magic items or magic healing. It is really easy to play without magic. The only downside is that you don't have magic classes, but that should be expected in a setting with no magic.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I'd play a game more suited to the setting than D&D!

Adventures in Middle Earth for 5E does low magic quite well, but it's not completely no magic,

Does Masterclass Codex have some more non-magic ones (or not too blatantly magic anyway)?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Does Masterclass Codex have some more non-magic ones (or not too blatantly magic anyway)?
Hmm. The noble, gunfighter, savant, and tinkerer spring to mind. Maybe the monster tamer? Depends on if non-magic includes non-fantastical creatures (in which case we're ruling out the Monster Manual anyway).
 

It depends on what you classify as "magic". There is a lot of magic-like or supernatural abilities that would, or should, not be counted as magic. Remove all actual spells and magic items and there is still a lot of fantastical things that characters and monsters can do.
 


Na, it works just fine with low or no magic.

EDIT: Actually it works better than most editions of D&D as it was designed without the requirement for magic items or magic healing. It is really easy to play without magic. The only downside is that you don't have magic classes, but that should be expected in a setting with no magic.
That’s nine whole classes you can’t play out of twelve.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Well, without magic you are limited to what classes?

Bard (Maybe. Without spells their Inspiration could really be a non-magical ability. They have expertise in skills and some of the subclasses get Extra Attack IIRC so they can fight reasonably well...)

Barbarian (Sure, just stay away from the magical-effect subclasses.)

Cleric (Nope.)

Druid (Nope.)

Fighter (No problem.)

Monk (Keep some of the subclasses out of the picture, but some are fine even in a no-magic setting.)

Paladin (No smites would be harsh, probably not going to work as is, so Nope).

Ranger (Sure, losing spells would suck, but they have some other features depending on the subclass that could make them work fine.)

Rogue (No problem.)

Sorcerer (Nope.)

Warlock (Nope.)

Wizard (Nope.)

So, the only no-go classes IMO would be most of the pure casters (Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard) and the Paladin.

I think the okay to of course classes would be Bard, Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, Ranger, and Rogue. Some subclasses won't work, but there are plenty that will IMO.

Otherwise, monsters would be different as well. I mean, a strict "no magic" can mean no dragons, etc. or just "no magic spells or items"--it depends on what you really mean by "no magic."
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
everyone in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Well, with all the "wire-fu" monks flying about... maybe not. ;)

But yeah I agree with all the other examples. Having non-magic PCs isn't really an issue IMO. But again, it depends on what the OP means by "no magic". 🤷‍♂️
 

cbwjm

Hero
I'd run the setting as is. I think it would be fairly interesting running around with just barbarians, fighters, and rogues. I would probably even look for some unofficial classes like Stirling Vermin's scholar class which I think is pretty cool though I will admit that I still need to play it. You could probably even include the ranger class and just drop the spells, it probably wouldn't need much more to make it suitable for a non-magic game, just an ability at 9th, 13th, and 17th level. If I needed an ability in a hurry, I'd probably just take brutal critical from the barbarian or indomitable from the fighter for those levels.

Edit: Actually, without magic there might be far less need to call for saving throws. I might end up replacing the fighter's indomitable with brutal critical as well.
 
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5e D&D functions really well with all spellcasting classes and subclasses removed. It can appear less satisfying because it leaves more than half the classes and a whole section of the book out of the game, but the game would be sound and the characters would perform as intended (I'd expect that in a no-magic world, the threat of demons, golems, and enemy spellcasters wouldn't be as present as in a regular game).

So while 2/3 of the pages would be removed, the system itself wouldn't be amputated of essential components. One could take the SRD, remove everything magical, and be left with a perfectly playable RPG. It's just that D&D fans would be missing a lot of things.

You can go a long way in refluffing many magical spells and abilities as mundane, and you can go even further if you are willing to tweak things a bit, but @Morrus said, some other games have already done that, or are specifically tailored at handling a no-magic/low-magic setting, resulting in a better "gaming experience" than a very, very lean D&D.
 
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It is really tge question what you count as magic.
The Paladin could just have spell slots to fuel their smites.
The bard could be locked intoncertain spells that you call songs. (healing song/song of charming).
Other than that you can easily make a group of pure fighter/battlemasters and have 5 very different characters (high dex/melee, high dex/ranged high str/gwf, high str/shield, charismatic/warlordy maneuvers).
 

dave2008

Legend
That’s nine whole classes you can’t play out of twelve.
From the PHB, I would only allow the fighter and rogue, but others might allow the barbarian and monk. So I could see up to 4. Regardless there are several subclass that increase the variety and choice. My own group is all fighters and rogues with one exception.

So just with the Fighters and Rogues, your choices are (if you include UA):

Fighter
BanneretSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
BruteUnearthed Arcana
Battle MasterPlayer's Handbook
CavalierXanathar's Guide to Everything
ChampionPlayer's Handbook
SamuraiXanathar's Guide to Everything
ScoutUnearthed Arcana
SharpshooterUnearthed Arcana

Rogue
InquisitiveXanathar's Guide to Everything
MastermindXanathar's Guide to Everything
ScoutXanathar's Guide to Everything
SwashbucklerXanathar's Guide to Everything
ThiefPlayer's Handbook

That is a lot of options and of course you can further customize with backgrounds.

Also there a more 3PP full class options. Heck, EnWorld's own Masterclass Codex has at least three more: Noble, Tinkerer, and Savant; and then you have all of the AiME classes too.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
D&D and 5e functions with no magic. Very well.

However due to how much you must cut, the modus operandi of the party members will be so narrow it would border on that of a TV killer. Your characters will be severly limited on what they can do to affect an obstacle unless the DM is very very permissive.

You will be hammering a lot of nails because all you have is hammers.
 

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