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

Bendris Noulg

First Post
Wulf Ratbane said:
Easier, yes, but there are fewer limitations in actual practice. In a low-magic game, while your imagination is certainly constrained by the campaign "reality," you are far less likely to come up with an idea that has been specifically trumped by the DM. (Far less likely to hear, "That doesn't work..." or "You can't do that..." or "For some reason, magic is different here...")

The amount of front-end work required of the DM to curb, curtail, limit, head-off, and otherwise railroad the PCs is far more often a feature of a high-magic game than a low-magic game.

The examples of "high magic play" put forward in this thread and the other are stark proof of that.
Hammer, meet nail... Nail, meet hammer.

Nicely said.
 

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Altalazar

First Post
Bendris Noulg said:
Actually, my "limited view" is fairly much in-line with the DMG's description of what a DM is and does.

With all due respect, seeing something "different" from you isn't limiting the discussion (unless, of course, you believe that conceding to your point is the only means of making "progress" within the discussion).

See, we do agree... Mostly. I don't believe the story is outside of the GM's control, only the course of action chosen by the PCs, as it's the GM that determines how the world/environment around the PCs react to the PC's actions and how the world "advances" over the course of time.

See, not everything can be painted with broad strokes from the same brush. You might consider learning from your own exceptions that other exceptions are possible (even if you don't care for those exception personally).

Check it out, dude... This thread basically started as a "why like low magic or GnG" discussion. However, it quickly turned from explaining why we like it to defending our preferences for it.

I personally don't care what other people do in their games. And you don't see me jumping into threads about high magic games spewing a bunch of ignorance and arrogant opinions. However, as you'll see in this thread and many others on the same topic, there's no shortage of folks jumping in to attack others for their preferences in taste and style (hence the repeated and increasing boring drivel about laziness, railroading, and overall poor GMing skills).

Fact is, it has nothing to do with bad experiences with High Magic; When I took the helm as a GM, I started with the magic level as presented in the books and various modules. But with each incarnation of the rules, and especially so with 3E, I've noted that the game has grown increasingly cheesy. There was a time when I could pick up a D&D book, read it, and be inspired to do something with the material on hand. Now, I've got little compulsion to purchase too many products all around (especially WotC products) because of the cheese factor (and there are some publishers I've written off completely because of it).

See, I don't see 3E as "medium" magic, in that the only incarnations of higher magic I can find are the 3E settings that add more magic in (FRCS and now Eberron, which is just more cheese from the looks of it).

As is, though, I'm in the same mind set: If I could get half the people that have presumptions about low magic to get to my table, and to do so with an open mind, I'm sure I'd change a lot of opinions too. Unfortunately, this medium (message board with world-wide access) means that we all really have two choices: believe what someone else is saying about their personal experience even if it doesn't fit our conforting preconceptions, or cling to those preconceptions and ignore the experiences of others.

It's not rocket science to determine which of the two leads to more productive discussions.


As I said before, I think there is a lack of total communication here. I NEVER said low magic wasn't fun - I have, in fact, said that I enjoy BOTH low magic AND high magic. Most of what I have been saying is in defense of high magic - and instead you've seen my defense of high magic somehow as an attack on low magic and perhaps on you personally. That is not the case at all. I was merely attempting to indicate why I thought high magic was just as fun and is just as viable as low magic and you instead see that as an attack on low magic - that sounds like a lack of effective communication to me.

I can play either high or low magic. I don't see any inherent problems with using either. I am open to both. I get the sense that you really are only open to one - which is fine, but it seems incongruous for you to protest, as if others do not have an open mind about low magic, when you are basically yourself closed to the idea of playing high magic games.

I think both can be fun. I think there is no reason both can't work. There is certainly no need to "nerf" (the imaginary "required" "magic arms race") just to play high magic - not unless your version of high magic is just to play low magic dependant plots and then try to make them work in a high magic world.
 

Altalazar

First Post
Bendris Noulg said:
Hammer, meet nail... Nail, meet hammer.

Nicely said.

See post above about Starfleet academy... I think something has been missed here. Watch out for your poor thumb when that hammer comes down...
 


Bendris Noulg

First Post
Alright, I'll go over it...

Altalazar said:
I've never had to deal with that in running or playing high magic, with the odd exception of anti-magic zones, which can be interesting in their own right. Spells just work, and the DM takes into account that they are there and what happens, appropriately, when they are used.

Why does the DM need to curb ANYTHING upfront in such a manner? The only reason I can think of is perhaps an attempt to play a higher level game as if it were still a low-level game by negating all of the higher level magic. But then, if you do that, might as well just start over at first level.

You can't design an adventure around a wilderness trek when you know your party can just teleport to their destination. If the DM just says "teleport seems to fail" then that is just playing a low level adventure with high level characters. It is like playing a Star Trek role playing game as cadets at Starfleet academy - up through them making Captain and commanding ships and fleets, and then complaining that your "hapless cadet" type adventures require too much "nerfing" of abilities - like saying the Captain's fleets are all powerless, the crews abandoned them, and they are all now back together like the academy, with no ships, no crews, nothing that their ranks and experience had given them - and saying that shows that games with the "higher level" ships Captains don't work because they require too much railroading to force them back into playing like they were all hapless cadets again.
I believe Star Trek II (ship wounded and outgunned) is an example of what you're talking about here. The main systems and armaments of the Enterprise are out of commision.

However, Kirk didn't whine like a space cadet rookie because he lost most of his techno goodies. Rather, he chose another course of action: Head for the nebula and the Reliant will be just as nerfed as the Enterprise. "Suace for the goose," as Spock put it.

And then there is Star Trek III, with the Enterprise running on automated systems on the bridge to permit 5 people to fly it on their own, and then the Klingon ship disabling those system. Did Kirk whine like a space cadet then? No, he chose another course of action: Lure the Klingon crew onto the Enterprise, beam down to Gensesis, blow up the Enterprise, and face the Klingon Captain in good ol' fashioned hand-to-hand.

(Edit: Okay, yes, he whined like a cadet when he learned his son was dead, but that should be understandable and goes beyond the context of discussion.)

Oh, and then there's Star Trek IV, with the crew trapped in 20th Century Earth (where they can't openly use their technology and have trouble understanding the concept of money).

Of course, there's Star Trek VI, with the Captain and Bones imprisoned on a Klingon Mining Camp without any technology at their disposal to permit them easy escape solutions. And later, the Enterprise and Excelsior facing off the superior Klingon ship (superior by way of being able to fire while cloaked).

Or perhaps Star Trek VII, where the two captains, with no weapons, must face the evil doctor on the planet's surface to prevent the planet from being destroyed by a cloaked, force-field protected weapon of mass destruction. Or the Klingon vs Enterprise battle in the same movie, where the Klingons gain the shield modulation frequency of the Enterprise shields and are able to penetrate them.

Mayhap Star Trek VIII is a better example, with Picard trapped with a civilian from Earth's past within a section of the Enterprise that had been assimilated by the Borg, with barely the right weapons for the task and no means of calling for back up.

Or let's try Star Trek X, with Diana fearing the telepathic power of the BBEG's mentor and seemingly powerless to defend against it, finding a way to turn that power back at him, thus allowing her and Worf to target an otherwise undetectable ship that had the Enterprise out gunned and out maneuvered.

But none of this outclasses Star Trek I, where a few Ranks in Knowledge: History of Space Travel was far more useful to resolving the V'ger incident than any of the "new and improved" Enterprise technology.

Sorry to say, but nerfing abilities and fiat seems par for "high level" Star Trek adventures as well, with determining a means of defeating the foe without techno goodies fully available being a very common theme.
 
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Bendris Noulg

First Post
Altalazar said:
I think both can be fun. I think there is no reason both can't work. There is certainly no need to "nerf" (the imaginary "required" "magic arms race") just to play high magic - not unless your version of high magic is just to play low magic dependant plots and then try to make them work in a high magic world.
Note the following quotes:

WizarDru said:
As for Bad modules...I'd say The Standing Stone and Bastion of Broken Souls were the worst and most egregious examples of poor module design (particluary in regards to this thread, where they highlight the 'cheat the players to enforce the plot' that we've been arguing about). Deep Horizon and Lord of the Iron Fortress weren't bad, but not particularly good, either.

Return is an excellent module, for the first half of the book. Then it just becomes a slog. If the latter half was a good as Hommlett and the Moathouse and the first parts of the mines, it would be a great module. But at some point, it just becomes a Bataan death march.
Wulf Ratbane said:
I seem to recall Heart of Nightfang Spire had its moments of railroading, too.
If the high magic games of individual groups are lacking these elements, than good for them. Obviously, they are better at adventure design than WotC is. However, how high magic is perceived isn't going to be based on the individual groups that play high magic, but rather will be based on the image presented by the same folks that set the "standard", being WotC themselves. And, obviously, their examples of high magic play at upper levels includes a lot of fiat and one-up-manship, as well as a dash of railroading.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
When I took the helm as a GM, I started with the magic level as presented in the books and various modules. But with each incarnation of the rules, and especially so with 3E, I've noted that the game has grown increasingly cheesy.

...And you see that as 3e's problem, and not yours? If a game, 1e, 2e, 3e, GURPS, MERP, OD&D, Star Wars, whatever, is "cheesey," it's not the ruleset, it's the game, it's the campaign, it's that particular adventure. I'm not saying your a bad DM or anything, I mean, we've all run adventures that were cheesey, sub-par, and, in my cases, a few dozen times that were absolutely horrid and downright insulting. But it's not the fault of 3e that I ran those adventures, it's my own....it's not the fault of Low Magic that some GMs who choose it are railroad-happy drama queens, it's not the fault of High Magic that some GM's who choose it are simplistic nerf-herders who just want to beat the players. You can't assume that just because your games were cheesey, the game itself is.

It's okay if you don't like normal magic D&D, and prefer low magic. But don't assume just because your games with 3e were 'increasingly cheesey,' that it means that 3e itself is cheesey. Your basing your entire opinion on a type of gaming purely on your own experiences, which may have not been typical.

Where I come from, we call that an invalid generalization. ;)

....which indicates that your opinion that "high-level D&D is grossly limited in the conflicts that can arise by the magic the players possess" could maybe *not* be typical of high-level play in general? That maybe just because WotC put out crappy adventures doesn't mean that it's what most higher-level games are like? That perhaps you need to re-think that particular criticism of high magic games?

Sorry to say, but nerfing abilities and fiat seems par for "high level" Star Trek adventures as well, with determining a means of defeating the foe without techno goodies fully available being a very common theme.

So, what, are you saying that to mimic myth and literature and other adventure stories that arbirtrary nerfing is desirable? Or that these movies would make bad games because of their railroading tendencies?
 

Bendris Noulg

First Post
Kamikaze Midget said:
...And you see that as 3e's problem, and not yours? If a game, 1e, 2e, 3e, GURPS, MERP, OD&D, Star Wars, whatever, is "cheesey," it's not the ruleset, it's the game, it's the campaign, it's that particular adventure.
Quite the opposite... Picture this if you will: I'm in my local gaming store and I pick up a book. I open it up, look at a page, and say, "cheesey". I flip the page, "cheesey", flip again. "Cheese," flip, "cheese", flip, "cheese", flip...

And this is the Player's Handbook.

I'm not saying your a bad DM or anything, I mean, we've all run adventures that were cheesey, sub-par, and, in my cases, a few dozen times that were absolutely horrid and downright insulting. But it's not the fault of 3e that I ran those adventures, it's my own....it's not the fault of Low Magic that some GMs who choose it are railroad-happy drama queens, it's not the fault of High Magic that some GM's who choose it are simplistic nerf-herders who just want to beat the players. You can't assume that just because your games were cheesey, the game itself is.
I'm not assuming. I'm assessing the flavor of the default setting (and the rules that support it) based on their presentation within the rule books.

It's okay if you don't like normal magic D&D, and prefer low magic. But don't assume just because your games with 3e were 'increasingly cheesey,' that it means that 3e itself is cheesey. Your basing your entire opinion on a type of gaming purely on your own experiences, which may have not been typical.
Boy, are you wrong.

Tell you what... Go back to page 1 of this thread and start reading from the beginning. Note how many derogatory statements are made about low magic games before the people that play low magic start "firing back". The reason being that most low magic gamers have no inherent desire to rip on high magic games; We'd rather talk about what we like about low magic rather than what we don't like about high magic. Yet, after X pages of defending our personal tastes, it's eventually going to turn towards what we don't like about high magic since stating what we do like about low magic doesn't seem to satisfy the "other side" of the debate.

Interestingly, rather than solving the problem, this seems to only add more logs to the fire.

In short, forget everything that's been said in this thread about what people don't like about high magic, leaving only the reasons given for liking low magic. If these reasons aren't enough, than why not just state that you think we're wrong and that neither diplomacy nor anecdotes are going to sway your opinion (which would be far more effective than spending X number of pages telling folks they're tastes are wrong or misguided).

I don't like high magic because it just comes across as cheesy. Too much magic. Too much superheroics. Character design focused on creating characters that don't interest me in regards to playing as or GMing for. A CR system that labels characters I would like to play as "sub par" or "ineffectual" when such things are actually a product of the individual group and not the generic rules.

Where I come from, we call that an invalid generalization. ;)
Again, re-read this thread from the beginning. It's full of them, and mostly about low magic.

....which indicates that your opinion that "high-level D&D is grossly limited in the conflicts that can arise by the magic the players possess" could maybe *not* be typical of high-level play in general? That maybe just because WotC put out crappy adventures doesn't mean that it's what most higher-level games are like? That perhaps you need to re-think that particular criticism of high magic games?
I don't need to "re-think" my criticisms; I fully stand by them. However, I'm not prone to post my criticisms until I feel that my tastes and prefereces have been attacked repeatedly and blatently long enough.

As for the modules, no, I don't think WotC's adventures are bad examples. After all, if all these discussions assume that the D&D rules are the "standard" by which comparisons of gaming environments are made, than why wouldn't their D&D adventures be considered the "standard" by which comparisons of plots and adventures are made as well? WotC is either the shiznit or they aren't.

So, what, are you saying that to mimic myth and literature and other adventure stories that arbirtrary nerfing is desirable? Or that these movies would make bad games because of their railroading tendencies?
I'm saying that one man's nerf is another man's challenge. At the very least, nerfs and fiat are common in literature, they are common in movies, they are common in the adventures WotC has produced, and they even have a fairly high-average frequency in the "How To" thread you started.

In short, if you want the curteousy of being viewed as an exception to the stereotype, or even to have that stereotype-image removed from the community completely, than perhaps you should also consider a bit of fair play regarding those stereotypes you like to apply on others yourself.

Open-mindedness and acceptance are two-way streets, last time I checked.
 

WizarDru

Adventurer
Wulf Ratbane said:
I seem to recall Heart of Nightfang Spire had its moments of railroading, too.
You know, we played that one almost all the way through (and let's not have that discussion), and it should be a mark of how dissatisfied it eventually left me that I forgot about it, here. And yes, it's almost a poster child for it's railroading. I could go on for some time about my dissatisfaction about the module....oh wait, I ALREADY did. ;)

EDIT: fixed link
 
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rounser

First Post
The reason being that most low magic gamers have no inherent desire to rip on high magic games; We'd rather talk about what we like about low magic rather than what we don't like about high magic.
There are years of, for example, FR threads with evidence to the contrary...and when the backlash finally does come, you're claiming victim status? :p Part of the discussion in this thread is how many low magic enthusiasts have a tendency toward being snobby and arrogant about how their game is bettah than high magic, and how much it sucks (especially if a target like FR presents itself).
I don't like high magic because it just comes across as cheesy. Too much magic. Too much superheroics. Character design focused on creating characters that don't interest me in regards to playing as or GMing for.
You even proved yourself wrong in the same post. That's gotta be a record.
 
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Bendris Noulg

First Post
rounser said:
There are years of, for example, FR threads with evidence to the contrary...and when the backlash finally does come, you're claiming victim status? :p
I wouldn't consider this the same thing, though. For instance, one of the key points of attraction for FR when it was released is that magic wasn't all that common but every adventure provided some new piece of magic for the PCs to "re-discover". As the game progressed from 1E to 2E and now to 3E, this issue of "re-discovery" changed to "common as Floridian misquitos".

Now, am I complaining about this? No. FR's not a world I've particularly cared for. However, I can see people that came to FR for its earlier offerings being in conflict with those that came to FR for its later offerings, as the two versions are entirely different in both flavor and style.

(And, honestly, if I was "forced" to run an FR campaign, I'd be more apt to convert the low-magic 1E grey box set to d20 than I would be to blow the dust off of the 3E hardcover and play it as a 3E game.)

Part of the discussion in this thread is how many low magic enthusiasts have a tendency toward being snobby and arrogant about how their game is bettah than high magic, and how much it sucks (especially if a target like FR presents itself).
I don't deny such individuals exist. However, as I pointed out, this thread seems to have a few snobby and arrogant individuals preaching for the "other camp", as it were. Did you see them, or would you like me to dig up the quotes?

You even proved yourself wrong in the same post. That's gotta be a record.
How so? I've presented my opinions and tastes (High Magic comes across as cheesy and I prefer Low Magic). Am I saying "High Magic Sucks"? Am I saying "High Magic Players want High Magic because they are complete morons that can't play without it"? Am I saying "Only an incompetant GM doesn't have the balls to break away from the default conditions"?

No, I'm not saying any of that.

However, when I say "I like Low Magic", the above comments seem to be what a lot of people wish I was saying so that they could have something to complain about. And, obviously, some of them reply as if I had.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
You not liking high magic != high magic sucks.

I've never said people shouldn't like low magic. I've said people who do like low magic shouldn't claim that their games are superior to high magic games...I feel the same way in the other direction (that high magic isn't any holistically "better" than low magic).

So this:
I don't like high magic because it just comes across as cheesy. Too much magic. Too much superheroics. Character design focused on creating characters that don't interest me in regards to playing as or GMing for. A CR system that labels characters I would like to play as "sub par" or "ineffectual" when such things are actually a product of the individual group and not the generic rules.

Is one great reason for prefering low magic. You don't like characters with a lot of power. "Cheesy" is a bit on the insulting side, but whatever. You don't like to play games in which there is a lot of magic and superheroics. That's fine. I'm not here to make you.

However, this:
(I would posit...)That without depending on magic as a crutch and cure all, characters will be tougher, smarter, faster, and more heroic because genetic evolution dictates that it must be so.

And this:
(magic as pervasive as D&D can be compared to...) He-Man and She-Ra. Or how about Hercules: The Legendary Journies? Oh, and you can't forget Xena: The Warrior Princess.

No, wait, I got it! Dragonball Z!!!

And not from you, but agreed upon:
I haven't said that high magic isn't fun, nor that it can't be challenging, just that it doesn't do a very good job of modelling the kinds of challenges which typically face the heroes of myth.

There are different challenges, and there are different solutions. It's different, and inasmuch as one wants an experience that is not different from classic myth and fiction, that can be a problem.

And this:
On the other hand, reading the "how to" thread, I see post after post of arbitrary decisions resulting in "nerfs" in order to make high magic games work.

And this:
D&D is the only facet of the fantasy genre I know of where people expect to be able to jump through to the end and eliminate the big baddy, and where the right question (commune) removes any sense of ambiguity from the tale in regards to morals, ethics, and best course of action. Sure, these can be "trumped", either through more magic or simple GM's fiat (the "How To" thread has several shining examples of just that), but that just turns back to the one-up-manship problem that high magic eventually escalates to.

And this:
Really, the only difference I see between high and low is how the ends are achieved. In a low magic game, it's through the rarity, unavailability, and unsurity of magic. In a high magic game, it's through trumps, one-up-manship, and fiat.

....are more than a little "grrrrr, high magic is teh s uck!" Especially at the end there, suggesting that what the DMG defines as "bad structure" is *required* to play in a high-level, normal-magic-level game. Though to be honest, Wulf is much more into the hat on normal D&D magic, aparently. ;)

That's all I'm really protesting against. The idea that normal levels of magic and high levels have to result in a somehow sub-par game. If you'd prefer not to do it, fine, but don't go claiming that it has to be bad just because you'd prefer to do something else. Then you're as bad as those mooks claiming that lm/gng is awful because of power-mad railroad-happy DM's.
 
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Bendris Noulg

First Post
Kamikaze Midget said:
You not liking high magic != high magic sucks.
Which is why I never said it. Nice of you to notice.

I've never said people shouldn't like low magic. I've said people who do like low magic shouldn't claim that their games are superior to high magic games...I feel the same way in the other direction (that high magic isn't any holistically "better" than low magic).
And, again, read the first page of this thread. Go ahead, just the first page. You will notice that there isn't anyone saying that High Magic games suck or that Low Magic games are better. You will also notice that there are several replies stating the Low Magic GMs are incompitant, fearful, and power mad.

You can avoid this fact all you want, but the truth is right there for anyone to see.

So this:

[Bendris Quote]

Is one great reason for prefering low magic. You don't like characters with a lot of power. "Cheesy" is a bit on the insulting side, but whatever. You don't like to play games in which there is a lot of magic and superheroics. That's fine. I'm not here to make you.
Negative. The characters in my game are quite powerful.

Allow me to clarify...

At 1st Level, Aedon PCs are likely a tad less powered on the combat side than "standard" D&D PCs but a little more pumped on Skills.

At 5th Level, Aedon PCs are definately a bit less powered on the combat/magic side than "standard" PCs, but their Feats and Skills are easily on par, if not superior.

At 10th Level, Aedon PCs are still lagging in magic, but their combat prowess has likely caught up to "standard" PCs.

At 15th Level, Aedon PCs are only a smidge behind "standard" PCs in regards to magic.

At 20th Level, I'll put an Aedon PC against a "standard" PC and likely whip the snot out of him in both personal and magical power.

So, you see, you seem to have made an assumption about me not liking "powerful characters". And I assure you, it's not the only incorrect assumption you and others have made in this thread, and thus why you continuously fail to gain any ground in this debate: You've allowed your narrow view of low magic games to form the basis of statements that simply aren't true.

However, this:

...

And this:

And not from you, but agreed upon:

And this:

And this:

And this:
Yawn...

Okay, I compared D&D (which I think is cheesy) to a number of cheesy shows that feature high magic and illogical continuity. Big friggin' deal. Are any of those quotes comparible to...

Post #4: Simply put - if someone uses either of these phrases to describe their campaign, it means that they didn't really think about the campaign world beyond their own personal DMing preferences.

Post #6: If someone's primary description of their campaign includes only the phrases "grim and gritty" and/or "low magic", then you're in trouble.

Post #11: In my experience "grim and gritty" and "low magic" has equaled poor DM. It means DM's that feel magic missle is over powering, but a fighter with a sword that critical threats on 16 or greater and does 4D6 plus strength, 3 times per round is perfectly balanced. It means the DM is getting ready to keep the best spells out of the game. It means the Mage might was well not even attempt to take item creation feats.

It means that anything that is more creative then "I swing my sword" will be crushed by an egotistical GM, that would rather have a boring lame game then see his/her story ruined by altering the adventure even a little bit.

It means fear of what the players could do, and fear that their perfect little game would be ruined if the players had any power.


Post #15: "Low magic" usually means that the DM hates powerful spells that can be used to divine the villain's intentions or bring dead characters back to life, and also hates powerful magic items. So they make magic items almost nonexistant and severely nerf spellcasters (but usually don't reduce the difficulty of encounters to compensate for this reduced-power party).

These are all from the first page of the thread. If at a later time, some of us "low magic folks" got a little gruff, can you really blame us? How many insults and insinuations of poor gaming technique do we really have to put up with?

Indeed, even if the thread remained civil through out its entirety, how many times are we expected to answer the same stupid questions?

....are more than a little "grrrrr, high magic is teh s uck!" Especially at the end there, suggesting that what the DMG defines as "bad structure" is *required* to play in a high-level, normal-magic-level game. Though to be honest, Wulf is much more into the hat on normal D&D magic, aparently. ;)
And, again, I point to the material produced by WotC that sets that standard. If you can do better than their own designers, might I suggest you get into publishing?

That's all I'm really protesting against. The idea that normal levels of magic and high levels have to result in a somehow sub-par game. If you'd prefer not to do it, fine, but don't go claiming that it has to be bad just because you'd prefer to do something else. Then you're as bad as those mooks claiming that lm/gng is awful because of power-mad railroad-happy DM's.
If the idea of the game is to have fun, and I don't have fun in high magic games, then it is indeed sub-par. If you don't feel my reasons for liking low magic or not liking high magic are good enough reasons, than I suggest growing a thicker skin. You're undies are way too bunched up for an issue of personal taste.
 

Altalazar

First Post
My memory may be faulty and I certainly haven't consistently read this board on a regular basis, but I first recall discussions about high versus low magic relating to FR and to 3E in general. And the tone of those generally were very negative - attacking those who liked FR as "power gamers" and attacking it as "high magic" as if that were a swear word. (If it were, wouldn't Eric's Grandma be needing earmuffs by now?) This FR-bashing leaked over to 3E bashing as also "high magic" after it was apparently shown that FR really isn't that much more than the standard 3E level of magic.

Now there seems to be somewhat of a backlash against this initial "high" (and really medium) magic bashing (with an apparent implied notion that those who do "low" magic are better gamers) and so low magic gets bashed.

And now we come full circle.

C'mon. Obviously, there are VERY good gamers out there who play both low and high magic. There is nothing inherently wrong with either, there is nothing inherently good with either - the only thing that can be said for certain is that high magic has more magic than low magic. Everything else is just personal opinion and value judgments.

No need to hurl insults (like "cheesy") at a system.

I would be willing to bet that a good DM could make either high or low magic fun for good players, regardless of their opinions about low or high magic.

It seems this thread has been all about the "low magic versus high magic" and the grim and gritty part has been forgotten. (Perhaps a separate thread just on that would be appropriate - like how to do grim and gritty in the standard medium magic of the core rulebooks or to do it with high magic). In fact, here I go...
 

Bendris Noulg

First Post
Altalazar said:
My memory may be faulty and I certainly haven't consistently read this board on a regular basis, but I first recall discussions about high versus low magic relating to FR and to 3E in general. And the tone of those generally were very negative - attacking those who liked FR as "power gamers" and attacking it as "high magic" as if that were a swear word. (If it were, wouldn't Eric's Grandma be needing earmuffs by now?) This FR-bashing leaked over to 3E bashing as also "high magic" after it was apparently shown that FR really isn't that much more than the standard 3E level of magic.
See, I've experienced this from the other side. That is to say, a thread discussing low magic possibilities turning into a low magic bashing thread. But you need to understand my perspective. Most threads about "standard" D&D I stay out of because, most of the time, I've little to add. And if the thread's about FR (or Eberran or any other high magic setting), I'm virtually guaranteed not to make an appearance.

Now, consider what this means: I, personally, don't see the high magic bashing because I'm not reading the threads where high magic bashing is occuring. And chances are, this is the norm for most LM/GnG style gamers: Why spend our time reading threads of no real interest when other threads can be found that discuss topics that we are interested in discussing. But what I (we) do see (indeed, what we experience first hand) is plenty of low magic bashing.

This is why I try to be informative in my replies (at least at first, until I feel the line's been crossed too many times or that information is being purposely ignored for the sake of continuing an arguement, instances of both can be found around pages 4-6).

So I guess I don't think it's come full circle... I think it came full circle a long time ago (regardless of how it started) and it's just been spiraling outwards ever since.

(On a side note, I agree that FR is near-identicle to Core in regards to magic content. If anything, it appears to have more magic because the setting is so developed that the presence of magic is more quantified than it is for Greyhawk, which is under-developed except for what the RPGA is doing with it. However, I'd posit that this quality also makes it more difficult to reduce the magic level because it's so integrated into that development, which would make it less appealing to those that would like to do so. However, one thing to consider is how the Core defines demographics, with Class/Level of NPCs set up in a ratio based on population density. By this nature, looking at a map of Oerth and a map of Toril, I see a lot more cities in FR. With this as a consideration, demographics would suggest that the presence of magic is more noticable in FR because of it.)

No need to hurl insults (like "cheesy") at a system.
And no reason to hurl insults (like lazy, incompetant, fearful, power mad) at a preference.

And not all cheese is bad. It worked for Mortal Combat. It just didn't work for Street Fighter.

I would be willing to bet that a good DM could make either high or low magic fun for good players, regardless of their opinions about low or high magic.
Now, first, let me say that I agree with you.

However, this point has also come up previously in this thread alone. Several times. That is really half the problem... Just when folks reach this conclusion, another round of insults get hurled in. However, here's the pattern: Those that threw the insults are gone, leaving you debating for the "other side" after the "other side" has become irritating. I'm man enough to admit it's not your fault, specifically. However, I think there's also a matter of weighing the battle. For example, I've seen debates similar to this where both sides were getting insultive. Being that the people I would be "siding with" (and in some instances, already had) were being rude, I opted not to get involved or to step out of it.

So, here's a proposal for Boards Ettiquette: Regardless of your personal taste, whether you prefer low magic, high magic, min/max, in-depth RP, or what ever, if you see anyone that shares your preference making baseless, generalized and (dare I say) prejudicial statements about another gaming preference, take the initiative to say it's wrong. That is to say that, if I see a Low Magic gamer ripping on high magic games, a post from me as a Low Magic gamer informing the individual that what he's saying is uncool should be more effective than a High Magic gamer telling him he's being uncool.

Of course, it's just a theory. But I also figure, at worst, those who are open minded of other styles will see the common curtesy, and eventually those that seek to purposefully cause discord (i.e., trolls) will eventually become an irrelevant side-show (such as the case of those whom have already identified themselves).

It seems this thread has been all about the "low magic versus high magic" and the grim and gritty part has been forgotten. (Perhaps a separate thread just on that would be appropriate - like how to do grim and gritty in the standard medium magic of the core rulebooks or to do it with high magic). In fact, here I go...
I think it's because defining GnG is easier than defining low magic. For instance, one can say that W&V adds GnG elements because a character can get creamed on a bad roll (much like real life) but still allows for cinematic sequances similar to Hit Points, while Ken Hood's GnG No-Hit-Points System is extensively GnG as it removes the cinematic element. This provides two "benchmarks". A lot of it also has to do with mood, flavor, theme, etc. One need only point to Beastmaster (light hearted dialogue, comic-book violence, minimum "splat" factor in sword fights) and Gladiator (vengeance as a prime motivator, imperial politics involving patricide and incest, near-death by infection, decapitation, dismemberment, enslavement, Christians sitting passively while the lions walk up and start feeding, etc.) to define the differences in clear terms that everyone can understand (even if they only represent "part" of the whole picture).

Low Magic, on the other hand, isn't so easily quantified. It can mean less magic, magic scaling caps, Spell Level maximums, or even an entirely different magic system, which may be as potent as Core magic but at a cost and with risk (ala Sovereign Stone) or less potent (ala Fading Suns).

As such, the debate will touch back on GnG from time to time (as it's a matter of taste and still isn't an "exact" description of the individual campaign) while Low Magic will remain a focus throughout (as the ambiguity resulting from its many variations make it a natural target for people that are accustomed to having rules and settings clearly detailed in exacting text).
 

Altalazar

First Post
As someone who has played in both high, low, (and mostly medium core) magic, I pay attention to threads on all of them. I have had fun with all of them. Perhaps I've just been lucky, but I've managed to have a good time basically with every gaming group I've ever been in.

What you suggest is an interesting idea - having each side "police its own" so to speak, but then that still leaves me out because I really have no preference for low or high magic. I play core magic simply because that is the default, that is what the game is balanced for, and I haven't felt ambitious enough to change it. (Plus, my world was built with that as a basis originally, and I rather like my world so want to keep using it).

But if someone else is running a game, I really don't care that much. I just find out what the world is like, then come up with a character & personality (the most fun part) and then try and make stats for it that make it work.

In terms of these discussions, I try to keep it civil. It does irk me when I see an undercurrent of insult or put-down about someone due to the system they use - I hope I haven't done any of that myself. I try to distill out of it all what the real issues are - which are sometimes unstated and can get lost in the noise (especially when the insinuations of inferiority/superiority fly).

High and low both have strengths and weaknesses, but then that doesn't make one better than the other. In low, it is easier to control the plot on one level, because the player power level is very limited in ways it probably wouldn't be in high magic. In high magic one could be tempted to nerf everything because it is much easier to control the plot if you go back to low (because of all the variables and options created by magical power) - but that ultimately really isn't necessary. And one needs to realize that even in low, if players are clever or don't take a route the DM has anticipated, you can have just as much DM-fiat and trumping to stop that route as you can with an unanticipated high-level spell in high magic.

So in the end, it is a matter of taste. You are not wrong for wanting only to have vanilla ice cream and disdaining chocolate. Others are not wrong for only wanting chocolate ice cream and not liking vanilla. And I like both chocolate and vanilla, and throw in some whipped cream and bananas too.

One certainly couldn't argue that vanilla was a "better" flavor than chocolate. Or that people who like vanilla only are stupid. Or that whipped cream is better than cool whip. Now i'm hungry.
 
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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
If at a later time, some of us "low magic folks" got a little gruff, can you really blame us? How many insults and insinuations of poor gaming technique do we really have to put up with?

Insulting someone else's gaming style is pretty dumb no matter who's doing it, no matter who started it, no matter who did it first. I'd attack the dudes who were harping on lm/gng just the same, if it wasn't already being handled. ;)

You seem to be aware of the point I was trying to make though, so cool. ICE CREAM TIME!
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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