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Why Not Magic?

Shadowedeyes

Explorer
I don’t really understand a thing, and I’d like to.

In every game that isn’t specifically about doing magic, folks expect to be able to play a wholly non-magical character. I’m building a game of my own, and I am having trouble seeing reasons that anyone who has magic as an option would choose not to use it?

This relates to the non-magical Ranger thread, but it’s more about the thematic notion of fully mundane heroes in a world with fairly common magic.

In my game’s setting, anyone who is exposed to magic and chooses to practice and study it can learn magic. This means all PCs have magic skills available to them, and all archetypes have magic skills on their skill list, though some only have 1 or 2.

I guess the question is; why would someone choose to be a hero/adventurer/etc and not want to learn any magic?
That is a good question, but the answer is a bit more difficult, and it depends on if you are asking for an in universe explanation or not.

In universe it is entirely possible that everyone would learn some magic, assuming the setting works like that. But there is a lot of variables there. Does magic take significant effort to learn? That means there is an opportunity cost, time where you are not learning something else. Depending on what magic can and cannot accomplish, that could be a reason. Incidentally, that is one reason I have a bit of a dislike for Gishes and stuff like Tenser's Transformation, because if magic can replicate fighting skill, then yes, it makes little sense to train as a non-magical warrior. Same with other skills(Why be a sneaky rogue if you could turn invisible).

Another in universe explanation is that having non-magical options could be useful in the case of certain situations. Putting all your eggs in one basket means could leave you vulnerable to an antimagic field or dispel magic effect. Having some non-magical specialists could be useful in such a situation.

Ultimately though, I would agree that looking at it from an in universe point of view, not learning any magic in a world where it is trivial to do is like not learning how to use a computer in our world. You might be able to do so, but it's not really practical.

Which brings us to why a player might not want a character with magic, and that is a pretty easy answer. D&D allows us to play out the fantasy stories that inspired us, and for every player who dreams of playing Merlin, there is someone who wants to play Conan. The stories that make people want to play D&D are full of knights, swashbucklers, warriors and scoundrels who don't use magic even if it exists in their worlds. D&D wants to allow all these character types, your mileage may vary on how well it pulls it off I suppose.
 

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Tun Kai Poh

Adventurer
In the specific case of Call of Cthulhu, magic just makes you a bigger target for eldritch horrors, and corrupts you too.

In my Delta Green campaign, I specifically remember offering every player the option to start with psychic powers, yet nobody took me up on it! Seems like being able to see beyond the veil and witness Things That Should Not Be is considered a drawback!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
There are a ton of good replies that I don’t have time to get to tonight. I will tomorrow or the next day, for sure, though.

For now, I just wanna hit a couple points.

Firstly thanks for the replies!

Second, just want to remind folks that this is in the TTRPG General forums, not the D&D forums. I used the recent Ranger discussion as an example, but this tendency is prevalent everywhere. I’ve seen people ask if there is a mundane character option in Kids On Brooms.


But... Your question assumes a magical setting. In that case, I think you're probably right: It probably is strange to prefer a character with no magic. I mean, I can think of a few RP rationales (eg, some philosophical order that eschews magic use). But aside from stuff like that, if magic really is the most effective tool in a setting, it does seem strange not to use that tool.
Yeah and I don’t know if I want to inject a solid reason to avoid magic (that fits within the themes and tone of the game, so not corruption or stuff like that. Magic in my game is natural and as ethically neutral as electricity), or just assume that most characters will have at least a little magic.
In the game you're building, what would be answer to that question?
I’m genuinely not sure, though I’ve considered creating a reason so that people with this preference can get their thing in my game. My main idea right now is that maybe you can better resist and shut down magic if you don’t do it?
Is it possible for non-magic options to contribute in some way that's not easily replicated by magic?
There are more non magical skills than magic skills, about twice as many, but they’re all available to everyone. Archetype and Origin give you about 2/3 of your starting skills, and you freely choose a few to round out the character.
If magic is the best option, what reasons would there be for someone not learning to use it as much as possible?
It’s only the best option for things other skills can’t do, to be fair, but it is just strategically sound to have mundane and magical skills.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Because if everything is magic then nothing is
Well I fundamentally disagree with that. While I despise the author, Harry Potter is a great example. Ron isn’t bored of magic at any point, because it is wonderful. The fact he can do magic doesn’t make it any less awesome when he sees something really epic being done with magic, something he can’t even imagine how to accomplish.
moreover there is no purpose to doing anything else - if everyone can use a magic missile that never misses then why bother with archery, or even inventing the bow? Why bother with rope if I can spiderclimb or fly? Why bother to be a blacksmith instead or fabricate? why bother to go out and work when I can just cast goodberry or heroes feast?
Limited resources. And stuff like fabricate requires being very powerful. It is, like a lot of magic, completely outside the realm of what the average person could do even if everyone was a Wizard, because the vast majority would be low level.

a character wants to achieve things by their own ability, superior strength or agility or endurance, not have the convinience of a spell doing it for them
Doing things the hard way to prove you can is…not commendable, or wise, but is definitely a thing people do. Doing a thing the hard way in order to be better at it makes sense, but that doesn’t require eschewing convenience altogether, you just don’t drive your car in place of your morning run.
thats why I hate spells that replace skills - instead they should gove a skill bonus but still require the character to use their natural ability…
Vanishingly few spells do skill stuff as well as the skill. Invisibility without stealth proficiency or a decent Dex is less useful more of the time than being very good at stealth.
Because Han Solo is cooler than Luke Skywalker.
Well that’s just false. Han is a dork. 😂
That is a good question, but the answer is a bit more difficult, and it depends on if you are asking for an in universe explanation or not.
In universe. I’m seeing that I needed to be more explicit about that in the OP, though. I get why players want to play a mundane dude. I don’t have any idea how to make sense of it in world in a world like Eberron, or my own Space Fantasy world, or the game I’m working on, where simple magic is just a skill you can learn.

I’ll come back to Eberron actually, because it’s a great example.
In universe it is entirely possible that everyone would learn some magic, assuming the setting works like that. But there is a lot of variables there. Does magic take significant effort to learn? That means there is an opportunity cost, time where you are not learning something else.
Yeah absolutely. In my game, simple magic is like…learning how to drive. Or ride a bike. Doing big stuff takes a lot more work, and complex magic often requires competence in multiple magical disciplines and one or more mundane disciplines, not to mention ritual circles, focusing tools, and deep concentration.
Depending on what magic can and cannot accomplish, that could be a reason. Incidentally, that is one reason I have a bit of a dislike for Gishes and stuff like Tenser's Transformation, because if magic can replicate fighting skill, then yes, it makes little sense to train as a non-magical warrior. Same with other skills(Why be a sneaky rogue if you could turn invisible).
Yeah I definitely can see focusing mostly on martial prowess, but simple low level stuff like shield seems like a no brainer.
Another in universe explanation is that having non-magical options could be useful in the case of certain situations. Putting all your eggs in one basket means could leave you vulnerable to an antimagic field or dispel magic effect. Having some non-magical specialists could be useful in such a situation.
So again opportunity cost. You can’t be an expert in everything. That definitely makes sense for a lot of characters.

Maybe I should just assume that nearly everyone will have a couple ranks in magic spread around several skills, tbh. Like maybe the “fighter” equivalent does tend to have Shield once a day, as it were.
Ultimately though, I would agree that looking at it from an in universe point of view, not learning any magic in a world where it is trivial to do is like not learning how to use a computer in our world. You might be able to do so, but it's not really practical.

Which brings us to why a player might not want a character with magic, and that is a pretty easy answer. D&D allows us to play out the fantasy stories that inspired us, and for every player who dreams of playing Merlin, there is someone who wants to play Conan. The stories that make people want to play D&D are full of knights, swashbucklers, warriors and scoundrels who don't use magic even if it exists in their worlds. D&D wants to allow all these character types, your mileage may vary on how well it pulls it off I suppose.
Yeah I guess I just have always assumed fundementally that Boromir would have some basic simple magics in a world like Eberron. Like when I build heroic figures from stories or history just to mess around with the system, I don’t care if a non-magical character stays non-magical. I don’t see anything being lost if Robin Hood can cast animal friendship and
hunters mark.

Eberron: I said above that it’s a good example. It’s a world where becoming a licensedi guild blacksmith can include training to do basic rituals that make you a better blacksmith. Why wouldn’t the professional soldier also do that? Why would there not be rituals and magica feat make for better soldiers.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
Well one reason is: Batman.

Imagine how badass you are if you can keep up with, or indeed beat, someone with magic/superpowers when you don't have any?

(Yes, Bruce Wayne has a superpower of "more money than god to pay for all this stuff" - but people ignore that, because it is off screen).
Thankfully, 5e D&D hands out gold as if everyone was Batman.
 
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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Well I fundamentally disagree with that. While I despise the author, Harry Potter is a great example. Ron isn’t bored of magic at any point, because it is wonderful. The fact he can do magic doesn’t make it any less awesome when he sees something really epic being done with magic, something he can’t even imagine how to accomplish.

Limited resources. And stuff like fabricate requires being very powerful. It is, like a lot of magic, completely outside the realm of what the average person could do even if everyone was a Wizard, because the vast majority would be low level.

Doing things the hard way to prove you can is…not commendable, or wise, but is definitely a thing people do. Doing a thing the hard way in order to be better at it makes sense, but that doesn’t require eschewing convenience altogether, you just don’t drive your car in place of your morning run.

Vanishingly few spells do skill stuff as well as the skill. Invisibility without stealth proficiency or a decent Dex is less useful more of the time than being very good at stealth.

okay invoking the Incredibles was flippant, I can appreciate level limits, but there are a whole lot of low level utility spells Like goodberry, magic missile,

the skill spells Im referring to are things like Knock, Know Direction/Find the Path - why do I need a friggin spell to find north?
I dont even like Heal Spells without a First Aid skill (the spell restores HP but it doesnt stop bleeding or seal the wound)

Yeah absolutely. In my game, simple magic is like…learning how to drive. Or ride a bike. Doing big stuff takes a lot more work, and complex magic often requires competence in multiple magical disciplines and one or more mundane disciplines, not to mention ritual circles, focusing tools, and deep concentration.

I do think some of my concerns are ameliorated by a skill based magic system since there is the opportunity cost to acquire magic v another skill.

In my mind something like the Alvin Maker series notion that everyone has a knack (cantrip level) is fine, and even things like all soldiers getting a shield spell works. (I certainly do that in Sci-Fi settings)

Yeah I guess I just have always assumed fundementally that Boromir would have some basic simple magics in a world like Eberron. Like when I build heroic figures from stories or history just to mess around with the system, I don’t care if a non-magical character stays non-magical. I don’t see anything being lost if Robin Hood can cast animal friendship and
hunters mark

One of the things I like to do is take things like Hunters mark or animal friendship and make them Class Abilities instead of spells, its one of the reasons I really liked feats
Hunters Mark allows a ranger to get advantage on tracking and slaying a chosen animal - get rid of the mystical link and just make it a skilled hunter taking time to identify and study their prey (Wisdom skill check, no magic required)


Eberron: I
said above that it’s a good example. It’s a world where becoming a licensedi guild blacksmith can include training to do basic rituals that make you a better blacksmith. Why wouldn’t the professional soldier also do that? Why would there not be rituals and magica feat make for better soldiers

I can accept the concept, especially in a world where magic = technology. A spell that lets a Blacksmith do amazing things - say create crystaline steel is fun, but I do have an issue with spells that do nothing that a skilled Blacksmiths cant do by their own effort - like sharpening a blade for instance.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Another note the extreme dichotomy most rational modern people have between skill and magic is not necessarily warranted in history, legend and myth, the smith was seen as having arcana and secrets that the unvitiated could not fathom and exceded any sort of norm, and this applied to anything considered advanced skill including the art of the warrior, the healer, the sailor, the sage (historian,poet), the wright (ancient carpenter/engineer).

The character might even be a throwback. If most of the world is using a form of formal magic sharply defined and delineated the individual may be using a subtle informal manifestation from an earlier era. And be learning his own way.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Well I fundamentally disagree with that.
Its like only being able to appreciate something if others do not have it or anything like it too.
While I despise the author, Harry Potter is a great example. Ron isn’t bored of magic at any point, because it is wonderful. The fact he can do magic doesn’t make it any less awesome when he sees something really epic being done with magic, something he can’t even imagine how to accomplish.
Remember how amazed Rons father was over muggle accomplishments or even fascinated by the things that werent accomplishments just differences of culture. .
 
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nevin

Adventurer
I don’t really understand a thing, and I’d like to.

In every game that isn’t specifically about doing magic, folks expect to be able to play a wholly non-magical character. I’m building a game of my own, and I am having trouble seeing reasons that anyone who has magic as an option would choose not to use it?

This relates to the non-magical Ranger thread, but it’s more about the thematic notion of fully mundane heroes in a world with fairly common magic.

In my game’s setting, anyone who is exposed to magic and chooses to practice and study it can learn magic. This means all PCs have magic skills available to them, and all archetypes have magic skills on their skill list, though some only have 1 or 2.

I guess the question is; why would someone choose to be a hero/adventurer/etc and not want to learn any magic?
I'd assume it has something to do with talent and aptitude. Most people don't have the aptitude to do it, and most of them will never progress past 1st level spells.

Of course this depends on setting. Part if my campaign world has been tied to the feywild by the mages that live there and almost everyone has at least basic use (cantrips) which means they can use magic items. The entire kingdom is run on magic. People who can't use magic are viewed as disabled.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
okay invoking the Incredibles was flippant, I can appreciate level limits, but there are a whole lot of low level utility spells Like goodberry, magic missile,
Absolutely.

the skill spells Im referring to are things like Knock, Know Direction/Find the Path - why do I need a friggin spell to find north?
I dont even like Heal Spells without a First Aid skill (the spell restores HP but it doesnt stop bleeding or seal the wound)
This is why I like magic skills tbh. In my game you can make yourself run faster with magic, but it’s prolly easier to just practice running, and you’ll run even faster if you do both.
I do think some of my concerns are ameliorated by a skill based magic system since there is the opportunity cost to acquire magic v another skill.

In my mind something like the Alvin Maker series notion that everyone has a knack (cantrip level) is fine, and even things like all soldiers getting a shield spell works. (I certainly do that in Sci-Fi settings)
I really wish there was a fighter archetype that was just “soldier/knight trained in a world where magic is common”.
One of the things I like to do is take things like Hunters mark or animal friendship and make them Class Abilities instead of spells, its one of the reasons I really liked feats
Hunters Mark allows a ranger to get advantage on tracking and slaying a chosen animal - get rid of the mystical link and just make it a skilled hunter taking time to identify and study their prey (Wisdom skill check, no magic required)
I definitely prefer it as magic that bolsters skill use, but I dig what you’re saying.
I can accept the concept, especially in a world where magic = technology. A spell that lets a Blacksmith do amazing things - say create crystaline steel is fun, but I do have an issue with spells that do nothing that a skilled Blacksmiths cant do by their own effort - like sharpening a blade for instance.
Fair enough
Another note the extreme dichotomy most rational modern people have between skill and magic is not necessarily warranted in history, legend and myth, the smith was seen as having arcana and secrets that the unvitiated could not fathom and exceded any sort of norm, and this applied to anything considered advanced skill including the art of the warrior, the healer, the sailor, the sage (historian,poet), the wright (ancient carpenter/engineer).
Yeup.
The character might even be a throwback. If most of the world is using a form of formal magic sharply defined and delineated the individual may be using a subtle informal manifestation from an earlier era. And be learning his own way.
That sounds fun.
Its like only being able to appreciate something if others do not have it or anything like it too.

Remember how amazed Rons father was over muggle accomplishments or even fascinated by the things that werent accomplishments just differences of culture. .
Yep.
I'd assume it has something to do with talent and aptitude. Most people don't have the aptitude to do it, and most of them will never progress past 1st level spells.
But if the setting assumes magic can be taught, it’s odd that knights and blacksmiths don’t have simple magics as part of their training.
Of course this depends on setting. Part if my campaign world has been tied to the feywild by the mages that live there and almost everyone has at least basic use (cantrips) which means they can use magic items. The entire kingdom is run on magic. People who can't use magic are viewed as disabled.
Like the Dark Sword books, a bit. Interesting
 


Greg K

Hero
In universe it is entirely possible that everyone would learn some magic, assuming the setting works like that. But there is a lot of variables there. Does magic take significant effort to learn? That means there is an opportunity cost, time where you are not learning something else. Depending on what magic can and cannot accomplish, that could be a reason. Incidentally, that is one reason I have a bit of a dislike for Gishes and stuff like Tenser's Transformation, because if magic can replicate fighting skill, then yes, it makes little sense to train as a non-magical warrior. Same with other skills(Why be a sneaky rogue if you could turn invisible).

Another in universe explanation is that having non-magical options could be useful in the case of certain situations. Putting all your eggs in one basket means could leave you vulnerable to an antimagic field or dispel magic effect. Having some non-magical specialists could be useful in such a situation.

Ultimately though, I would agree that looking at it from an in universe point of view, not learning any magic in a world where it is trivial to do is like not learning how to use a computer in our world. You might be able to do so, but it's not really practical.
Adding to the above, in some settings, not everyone in the world is capable of learning magic. Magic casting in those settings requires an innate spark or a magical origin/lineage. In others, learning spells requires one being either gifted or a genius in intelligence to even learn spells. This is why, in some settings, spellcasters search far and wide for an apprentice to whom they can pass on their magic or they unexpectedly encounter a child whom has the gift to learn magic and make an offer to take the child on as an apprentice
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Yeah absolutely. In my game, simple magic is like…learning how to drive. Or ride a bike. Doing big stuff takes a lot more work, and complex magic often requires competence in multiple magical disciplines and one or more mundane disciplines, not to mention ritual circles, focusing tools, and deep concentration.
If magic is relatively simple, in-universe, than not having magical abilities would be like making a modern-day character who doesn't know how to drive. It would be a mark of youth, or shelteredness, or possibly some kind of disability.

If magic is that common within the universe, than a lot of its utility probably doesn't need to spelled out mechanically. Using the equivalent of guidance or mending for a craft check, or expeditious retreat for running a race, could simply be narrated as part and parcel of mundane skill checks.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If magic is relatively simple, in-universe, than not having magical abilities would be like making a modern-day character who doesn't know how to drive. It would be a mark of youth, or shelteredness, or possibly some kind of disability.

If magic is that common within the universe, than a lot of its utility probably doesn't need to spelled out mechanically. Using the equivalent of guidance or mending for a craft check, or expeditious retreat for running a race, could simply be narrated as part and parcel of mundane skill checks.
Well, it isn't that common, even amongst cultures where everyone knows that magic is real, simply because a lot of times mundane skill does it either better or with less energy cost, or the limits of magic are relevant, such as the principle (which will get a "some person's law" name at some point) that the further removed from the practitioner an effect is, the harder it is to create and maintain, or even activate, in the case of permanent enchantments.

A good example is weapon enchantments. The reason that melee weapons experience a rennaisance of serious use in the future of Quest for Chevar (my game) is that it's easier (less power intensive and requiring less skill and focus) to enchant a thing you are holding and will continue to hold while it does The Thing, than it is to enchant something like a bullet, which will be separate from you with a contraption of metal and other materials between you and it, and then be fired by a mechanism, and be at some distance from you when it does it's dark work upon the physical world.

You can enchant the gun itself, but that limits what sorts of enchantments you can give it. Even arrows are a bit easier, sitting in basically the same place as thrown weapons magically speaking, because you (depending on technique) are touching the arrow all the way until it leaves the bow, you can see it, you can whisper your enchantment into it's fletching in the moment before release.

So, imagine trying to create a magical equivalent of a national radio system. You can use magic to make radio signal more reliable and clear, because people are in the radio station operating the machine, but sending signal over a great distance via magic is really hard. Like, the realm of specialist with specialized focus items, and even then it won't be as broadly useful as technological radio.

But yeah, part of the idea of the setting is that magic and mundane skill/tech make eachother better.

So you might have magic involved in sports, or you might see cultural pressure against it, as well as pressure against using physical strength in a magical contest, while in other areas you'd see both broad and specialised mixing of the two.

Honestly, a fun variant of the game might involve coming up with some skills that are inherently both magical and physical/mundane. OTOH, I can see that turning into self indulgent esoteric faff pretty easily. The game exists for people to play, after all, not for it's own sake.
 

schneeland

Adventurer
The question is: if magic is accessible to anyone in theory, does the same hold true in practice? If magical training requires a lot of costly formal education, it might only be feasible for people from nobility of those within clerical confines to really learn it (some hedge wizards might still exist).
Or maybe, even though everybody can learn it, there's attached risks (demonic possession, backlash from reality etc.), so non-trivial magic requires special permit.

On the other hand: if you want to make a game, where everybody is a magic-user, that's perfectly fine too, IMO. Examples would be Ars Magica (which admittedly has mundane companion characters) or Mage.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
OTOH, magic is much better at some things than mundane skill or tech, I want to make that clear, not that this thread is primarily about my own game system. But transmutation doesn't require an extremely expensive particle accelerator if you're using magic to it.

It does still require a solid understanding of physics and chemistry, and is a thing where in the world lore, reliable transmutation of unalike elements into eachother is an extremely young discipline, having been nearly impossible even amongst cultures like those of the Djinn and Gnomes who have natural gifts for alchemy, until a modern understanding of physics was acquired.

But it's also worth noting that making lightning with your mind is rad as hell, regardless of whether an engineer could do it just as well with a bunch of equipment and power from the grid. You did it with your mind. Then you start looking at the ability to connect a mind to electronics in a way that the mind cannot be hijacked because it is fully in control, or to constantly charge a device from background energy gathered from the movements and processes of the user and everything around them, and to create electrical arcs that can ignore paths of least resistence to arc to a specific target, etc.

anyway, that's enough rambling about how magic works in my game.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The question is: if magic is accessible to anyone in theory, does the same hold true in practice? If magical training requires a lot of costly formal education, it might only be feasible for people from nobility of those within clerical confines to really learn it (some hedge wizards might still exist).
Or maybe, even though everybody can learn it, there's attached risks (demonic possession, backlash from reality etc.), so non-trivial magic requires special permit.
In general, I had hoped for the thread to be about worlds in which we can simply assume that magic is learnable by pretty much anyone. I didn't do a great job of setting that up in the OP, though.
On the other hand: if you want to make a game, where everybody is a magic-user, that's perfectly fine too, IMO. Examples would be Ars Magica (which admittedly has mundane companion characters) or Mage.
See, but the goal isn't to make a game where everyone is a magic user. For many characters magic will be secondary to other skills. But when I look at societies like the nocturnal svart alfar of the Great Dragon Desert in The Otherworld, where magical traditions stretch back tens of thousands of years, it's hard to imagine the knights not having some magic.

Like, okay, imagine that magic is hard to learn, but doesn't require a special spark or anything. It's just a skill, with a relatively steep learning curve. Let's say only about 1 in 1000 people have any real hope of mastering even the basics, just to make it hard. 1 in 1000 of those people have the means to go noticeably beyond the basics.

How can we possibly justify, without any "magic corrupts or makes you a target for eldritch horrors or has terrible side effects or is a religious taboo" stuff, the "professional" soldiers of a culture, those who are trained from a fairly young age in a respected martial tradition, not having some amount of magic built into their martial tradition? Even if it's something on the order of a dnd world having every knight have a couple low level spells and a cantrip that keeps their kit in good condition, why would they ever not have some basic magics as part of their training?

Like, in Eberron, why don't knights and other specialised warriors as well as veteran soldiers have war-oriented rituals on the order of a magewright that are just a normal part of training for war? Unseen servant to help bivouac and upkeep kit. Ritual version of mage hand that lasts for an hour and just helps them reload the crossbow faster. Spare The Dying as just a part of training to be a field medic. Etc.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
Because if everything is magic then nothing is

moreover there is no purpose to doing anything else - if everyone can use a magic missile that never misses then why bother with archery, or even inventing the bow? Why bother with rope if I can spiderclimb or fly? Why bother to be a blacksmith instead or fabricate? why bother to go out and work when I can just cast goodberry or heroes feast?

a character wants to achieve things by their own ability, superior strength or agility or endurance, not have the convinience of a spell doing it for them

thats why I hate spells that replace skills - instead they should gove a skill bonus but still require the character to use their natural ability…
If hitting with a bow is significanntly more effective than hitting with a magic missile, then you actually have a choice - use the reliable low damage spell or use the unreliable but higher damage arrow.

Anyway, the idea of all characters using magic is one that Runequest, at least in Glorantha, has embraced. And there's a number of reasons why it doesn't replace mundane abilities in RQ. One is simply that magic isn't too powerful - your priest of the god of death and swords might be able to cast a spell that kills an enemy instantly (if they overcome their defences) but once it's gone then you won't be using it again until the next holy day for that religion, which could easily be weeks away. A second reason is that magicians aren't so versatile - a Wizard from the Order of the Spreading Sails has magic from that Order's grimoire, and it's a specialist group of ship-enhancers and isn't going to be casting spells that don't relate to that unless they obtain and learn to use effectively another gGrimoire. And a third is that you can learn abilities that are magical without being spells, and they're often pretty damn good (although limited in some way).
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Ultimately though, I would agree that looking at it from an in universe point of view, not learning any magic in a world where it is trivial to do is like not learning how to use a computer in our world. You might be able to do so, but it's not really practical.
Just want to pull this quote out from the larger post. Not only this, but in world where it is possible to do so simply via practice and diligence, institutions like martial traditions, guilds, etc, would force that practice and diligence in the learning of the magical principles and skills that are just as much a part of their tradition as the mundane skills and tools. An apprentice or recruit would be drilled, made to practice, given excercises designed to promote the kind of physical and mental mindset that facilitates the skill, just like soldiers are made to sleep and eat together and are punished together even for individual failings, etc, in order to facilitate a "we succeed or fail together" mindset, and are made to perform physical tasks that don't necessarily directly relate to making war in order to condition their bodies to rigorous effort and activity.

It doesn't even require ubiquitous or easy magic. Just magic that can be acquired simply by practice and effort.
 

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