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

kamosa

Explorer
Bendris Noulg said:
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?

I haven't seen the sales numbers for the products you mentioned above, so I wouldn't agree that they are popular settings. In fact, even though I go to a pretty good game store two or three times a month, I had only seen a couple of those supliments. So, I guess I wouldn't conceed that they demonstrate that people really want low level gaming. In the age of self publishing, just putting out a product proves nothing.

However, I would say that I have heard of a number of attempts to launch low power systems. I would say the continued failure of any system that plays low magic is pretty good evidence that there isn't some ground swell of support for those products. On the other hand, standard D&D keeps chugging along.
 

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Nightfall

Sage of the Scarred Lands
MerricB said:
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!
Well I'd rule there'd be a lot of bonuses going around for those 100 goblins, especially if some were lycanthropes. :)
 

milotha

First Post
Just curious. Several of you have posted that this is an interesting thread. What exactly about the thread makes it interesting. Has it sparked any insights, and if so please share them.
 


Bendris Noulg

First Post
EricNoah said:
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...
Close... At least, close to my own view of it, which would include a 3rd (and I'm afraid is opposed to Merrik's post) character type: A character born into a "mostly normal" world that begins as a "mostly normal" mortal being but then, through chance, luck, and iron gonads, manages to become "the exception", rising above his peers and able to deal with the threats and enemies and retrieve items, relics and lore that no one in a mellinia or longer have been able to.

Edit: Oh, and some folks might remember Forgotten Realms being like that when it was first released for 1E.
 
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ManicFuel

First Post
I wouldn't call low magic and grim and gritty more realistic, though I can see that it might be seen that way. At least, I'm not striving for realism when I insert low magic, grim and gritty, or any other house rules. I do it to set the game's stage more to our liking.

My view is that an RPGs mechanics shape and foster the genre and style in which the games are played. That's where a lot of the campaign flavor comes from, and perhaps why I found generic RPG systems like HERO and GURPS to be somewhat bland. Altering mechanics via house rules is common in any campaign to tweak the flavor of the setting. It's not railroading to narrow the rules' scope to better depict a style, genre or era.

What gives low magic a higher profile is that magic is such an important part of D&D. But some published supplements do much the same without so much as a whisper of controversy - Testament and Iron Kingdoms, for example. These settings are play tested rules limitations and additions enforced to promote a distinct play quality in these settings. That's all low magic or grim and gritty are, too.

I've never had a player complain when I say "there is no such thing as a halfling", or "there is no such thing as full plate". But say "there is no such thing as magic missile", and watch the fur fly. I've "nerfed" magic. I guess I "nerfed" the races and armor too? Mechanically, these changes are really no different, since there are still other options available. But a lot of players really do lean heavily on certain mechanics, usually magic. In fact, if a player does not want to participate in a campaign that doesn't have teleport as a spell, or hafling as a race, for example, then that spell or race is a crutch for that player.

I've never made available every race, class, feat, monster and spell, etc that are in the books, and I never will. The books offer options and recommendations, not requirements. Rule 0 and all that.
 

Bendris Noulg

First Post
kamosa said:
In fact, even though I go to a pretty good game store two or three times a month, I had only seen a couple of those supliments.
Being that two are by Mongoose, two are by Green Ronin, and one is by Fantasy Flight, I'd question how "good" your gaming store really is.

Then again, maybe they just sold out that fast.;)
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
My campaign is a little odd because we've moved through all the stages. Wulf joined it when the average PC level was 17th; since we're deep in world-spanning plots and many PCs have 9th lvl spells, it certainly doesn't qualify as gritty. That being said, the PCs have worked their way up over 12 years of real time, so we've gone through long periods of low magic adventures as well. I wince a little when I see the things that Wulf loves in a grim campaign, because my own game is so different than that. In my experience, though, having a higher level/higher magic game does not exclude complex and engaging plots.

Personally, I think magic is tremendous fun; it's probably why I play D&D instead of d20 Modern or a different game. I don't think I'd want to change how I've handled things in the game.
 
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drothgery

First Post
Bendris Noulg said:
Fair enough... Allow me to refraise.

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?
WotC did do a game with rare magic items and strong social constraints on magic use, in d20 Wheel of Time. And if you put d20 WoT PCs in a situation where the game's version of magic can be used freely, those that can use magic kick butt and take names, because magic isn't significanly less powerful in d20 WoT than it is in D&D -- and there are no minor spellcasters and few magic items around that would let the others keep up.

I expect Black Company to be pretty similar, actually; if they want to be able to model the Taken without going heavily Epic, it almost has to be set up that way.
 

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