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What is "grim and gritty" and "low magic" anyway?

Alcareru

First Post
EricNoah said:
I've had some additional thoughts based on something Wulf said a few posts back about the "distance" between the player and the character.

I think some people want to be closer to their character, and some want to be further away. And it may not be consistent for a particular player.

If my goal is to have a close-to-reality or close-to-plausible experience, LM/GnG is right up my alley because the character I play is going to be closer to what I personally could do or be if I were transported into that setting. When I play such a character and the character succeeds, it may feel more like it was "me" who succeeded because it wasn't my high AC or my stats in general that won the day, it was my own cleverness.

Conversely, if my goal in gaming is to get to "be" someone I never really could be (like a wizard or a tiefling or an awakened rust monster), maybe standard-magic D&D is going to get me there. My spells, my magic items, my supernatural powers, my better-than-humanly-possible skills help the character achieve things that normally no one could achieve. I still have to use my own cleverness to "win the day" though because (if the DM is doing a good job) the opposition may have similar or superior powers. But maybe (and this is up for debate) more of my character's success is due to the stuff he earns as a reward/consequence of playing the game (from his race, class, magic items, etc.).

Is this making any kind of sense? I kind of lost my train of thought. I'll come back and try again in a bit...
I dont think your off. Mechanics aside, I think the idea of "distance" between RL and your character ideal is a big part of the debate. Whether you think high magic takes away from a characters ability to "shine" or becomes a crutch really I think depends on how you view your character.

For instance, as stated before DnD at this stage of its lifecycle isnt like alot of fantasy. It has its own mythos, creatures, and ways of dealing with problems-alot of times with powerful magics.

I happen to like this approach. I want to play a being alot different than the one I am. I live in a "grim and gritty" world. With training and discipline I could perhaps attain "spell like effects" or be able to create masterwork items. But in no way could I learn to scry or cast fireballs. I like this ability to experience a perception of reality I otherwise never could. Others may not.

In the end it does come down to a matter of plausibility- whether theres no magic; a little- but of a kind we think is scientifically possible; or complete over-the-top-destroy-worlds magic.
 
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EricNoah

Adventurer
I was participating in a high level game earlier this week (PCs are around 18th level). And there was a moment when I thought, "My god ... I'm a frickin' superhero! I can fly, I can kill a giant in one blow, I can become invisible any time I want, I can teleport anywhere in the world..." I was having a blast. And it wasn't like the battle wasn't a challenge -- I was getting my butt handed to me. But I can easily see how someone can look at that and think, "That's not fulfilling to me."

At the same time, I'm (as I've said) running a lower-magic, grittier game. It took me a LONG time to set up the basics of the house rules so that it would be different, maybe more "realistic" in terms of healing, etc., but still fun. One change to the rules trickled down in many ways through the whole system. I would have paid good money for a product that would have done that work for me -- helped tweak D&D down while still allowing for a variety of character types, long-term campaigning, a variety of challenges and a variety of resources PCs can use to deal with those challenges, doling out the "rewards" at an appropriate pace, all that stuff. I have a feeling, though, that if a product came out like that, there's a good chance that most of it wouldn't be "quite right for me". I'm not sure a single product could tackle all of the shades of gray between no magic/extremely lethal and moderate magic/moderately lethal.
 

milotha

First Post
EricNoah said:
Conversely, if my goal in gaming is to get to "be" someone I never really could be (like a wizard or a tiefling or an awakened rust monster), maybe standard-magic D&D is going to get me there. My spells, my magic items, my supernatural powers, my better-than-humanly-possible skills help the character achieve things that normally no one could achieve. I still have to use my own cleverness to "win the day" though because (if the DM is doing a good job) the opposition may have similar or superior powers. But maybe (and this is up for debate) more of my character's success is due to the stuff he earns as a reward/consequence of playing the game (from his race, class, magic items, etc.).

This is a fairly close representation to one of the reasons I enjoy gaming. I enjoy getting to play things I could never really be. I think this is one of the reasons that fantasy games are so popular and that D&D has prevailed. It doesn't matter to me that it doesn't represent the common "low magic" novel fantasy motif (note: there are high magic fantasy books) If I wanted real life where I'm ineffectual and easily killed, I would just live it. I guess I'm a get your reality out of my fantasy person. :)
 

Nightfall

Sage of the Scarred Lands
In my opinion?

Low magic and grim and gritty is all essentially one place: Midnight.

You run that, you don't need much else. ;)
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
The superhero analogy is a good one. High-level D&D is high-powered D&D.

The gap in abilities between 1st and 20th level characters, regardless of their magic is huge. If you play low-magic, you must necessarily remove many challenges from the game, because they cannot be overcome by mundane means alone!

If you take the view that the one thing that should distinguish a high-level character from a low-level character is their survivability, and that measured in high hit points and good saving throws, then the nature of the game changes profoundly. Consider a low-magic fighter who has a Base Attack progression of 1 per 3 levels (with +1 at 1st level)- so at 20th level he has a +7 base attack. His hit points have increased to normal levels (so 20d10+40, say - or 150 hp), but his Armour Class, devoid of magic, remains at lower levels: 20 AC or so.

It's all about the scaling of offense versus defense. It's my one complaint about 3E - the scaling is even more extreme than in AD&D, so that a 1st level character can't even hit the foes faced by a 10th level character.

Reduce all bonuses to do something by a half or a third or more, whilst leaving hit points and saving throws alone, and you have a feel to the game that is much more low-powered - and thus supports low magic far better.

Cheers!
 

Nightfall

Sage of the Scarred Lands
Just explain to me one thing Merric,

Why WOULD a 1st level party of PCs want to face a 10th level challenge? If they are smart they'd find something a little less tough.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
Nightfall said:
Just explain to me one thing Merric,

Why WOULD a 1st level party of PCs want to face a 10th level challenge? If they are smart they'd find something a little less tough.

They would. :)

It's not exactly that I'm talking about. If you put a 10th level D&D 3.5E fighter up against 100 goblins, who is going to win? My money is on the fighter. There's a gap between their abilities that is extreme - the attack bonus/armour class differential is huge. It's far greater in 3.5E than in 1E.

That may not be a problem to you, and that's fine; I merely think it's more of a problem in a low-magic game than in standard D&D.

Cheers!
 

Bendris Noulg

First Post
EricNoah said:
Agreed, though again folks: watch the tone.
Fair enough... Allow me to refraise.

Komosa, by your reasoning, there are a number of products out now that are simply a waste of money because the same effects can be achieved just by sticking to low levels. These products include:

Grim Adventures
Midnight
Slain
Conan
And the upcoming Black Company

However, one reading of these books will present you with exactly what you speak out against: Settings that permit high level play in a campaign world environment that is not as permeated by magic as standard D&D is. And, when someone posts on a message board that they have a low magic campaign, that is also exactly what they are trying to accomplish, albeit at a smaller for-our-own-group scale. And the ways posters/fans will seek to accomplish this goal is going to be even more varied and experimental than those on the above list.

The problems you perceive and keep returning to have been dealt with a hundred times over, in this thread and others, and does get really tiring. After all, isn't 3E supposed to be about options? Why must this option be considered tabboo, impossible, power-GMing, or any other negative inclination? Doesn't the continued success and popularity of the above products as well as the successes of individual GMing throughout the world dispel the myth that low magic isn't a functional preference?

Or does WotC have to actually do it themselves?
 

nopantsyet

First Post
As long as you're not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, I have no problem with either stance. I enjoy running and playing games of varying feel and power level, and I'm willing to try anything without the predisposition that it's just a waste of time because I'm going to hate it anyway.

What I don't like is people who equate, "I tried X and didn't like it," with "X really sucks, why do you idiots think it's so great, anyway?" Each DM, campaign and player is different, and what works in one situation may not in another. If I tell my players the next campaign is going to be lmgng and somebody says, "Oh, I tried that and it sucked; I don't want to do it," my response will be, "Well you haven't played this setting with this group, so why not give it a shot and if we find it's just not working we'll move on to something else."

It's a little thing I like to call, "flexibility." Works well with "open-mindedness." Doesn't seem too many people are familiar with these, gamers or not. Most people like what's comfortable. What's rote. Which is precisely what I try to avoid, whether it's lmgng, Forgotten Realms or another game altogether.
 


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