log in or register to remove this ad

 

Why Not Magic?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I didn't ever even see the other thread (I still haven't); the only reason I knew about it was you referenced it, and rangers.
That makes your posts in this thread even stranger and more out of line!

I literally made a post in which i referenced a thing from my own game, and you tried to scold me for telling people what to think about dnd rangers.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The problem, I suspect, is you're applying that specific meaning to ranger, when other people who want a non-magic ranger aren't; to them its just a concept about a wilderness-wise light fighter/scout. It certainly doesn't automatically evoke anything supernatural to me.
I'm re-quoting this to remind you how this started. I literally hadn't said anything about DnD Rangers in the post you replied to, the thread isn't at all about how people picture the DnD Ranger, and you're replying as if the discussion was about rangers using or not using magic.

Your reply literally does not make any sense in any context other than the thread you are now saying you've never seen. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the thread you're posting it in.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Now if you want to act like everyone, or even a majority of people will ignore what they feel because its not entirely congruent with the setting, well, carry on; maybe the kind of players you've hit are better about that than the average run. But don't be surprised if you hit people who don't. And no adjustment of the setting, per se, will change that; its a less extreme version of the people who play some version of the same character no matter where the game is set or even what genre, and those aren't exactly rare, either.
This also makes me doubt whether you've read much of the thread before posting. I have explicitly said several times that the point of the question is to figure out if it's needed/worthwhile/more interesting or not to include in-world reasons for characters to eschew magic in a world where magic isn't evil or Faustian or corrupting or life-draining or whatever, it's just a part of nature. What might motivate a person to do that, in the absence of the Conan or Wheel of Time reasons?

If you see that as leading to "this guy thinks that people will ignore their own biases while playing a character" then...you and I are coming from such different ideas of how one thing follows from another that I'm not sure we can meaningfully discuss anything.

If we have simply talked past eachother, and you didn't realize that was where I was coming from, then I'm happy to start over.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
For me, it honestly depends on the nature of the magic in a given setting. In D&D (and most D&D-derived settings) there's little to no consequence or downside to using magic so, sure, I think most people would use it, given the opportunity. But you get into settings like the Old World (WFRP), Melnibone (Stormbringer), Hyborian Age Earth (Conan RPGs), etc and, suddenly, magic is a wild and dangerous thing that not only could screw you pretty bad if you practice it, but it's usually linked to the forces of chaos or evil. In these settings, it makes a lot of sense for heroes to eschew its practice.
Sure. And the first part is why I prefer every class to have magical options, even if the concept of the class isn't "inherently" magical, like the fighter and rogue, and the rest is why I've tried to get conversations going in the past about making the Paladin, Bard, and even Cleric, not spellcasters as a variant option.

I've seen really wild takes where only the wizard ends up with spells, as such, or at least the only one with a big spell list and the spellcasting feature, while others might have a class feature that lets them cast a specific spell a few times or whatever as a shortcut to their concept, but most of their iconic spells would become class features instead. I think there would be merit to exploring that idea, even if I don't think I'd play a game using it.

What I think might be useful in my own game, and in DnD games in worlds like Eberron, is to figure out some benefit to eschewing spellcasting that is actually worthwhile to pursue.

A lot of that comes down to countering magic, tbh. Anything else I can think of end up making magic have downsides, instead.

So like, if a fully mundane warrior can interrupt spells more easily than someone whocan also cast spells, that's a potentially fun benefit to being fully mundane, and in dnd that can mean "no spells from class or feats, excepting racial feats" so that forest gnomes can be anti-magi as well. Stuff like monk abilities that aren't spells, barbarian "magic", etc, wouldn't count as non-mundane for those purposes, because they come from within and don't interact with the weave necessarily.

In my own game with magic skills in a modern world with hidden magic, that could simply mean you can't have ranks in a magic skill that don't come from your ancestry if you want to have bonuses to countering magic. Perhaps I could add a skill to either the Physical Skills or Interaction Skills groupings for shutting down and resisting magic, though that would make it the only skill you have to meet prerequisites to take a rank in.
 

I'm re-quoting this to remind you how this started. I literally hadn't said anything about DnD Rangers in the post you replied to, the thread isn't at all about how people picture the DnD Ranger, and you're replying as if the discussion was about rangers using or not using magic.

Your reply literally does not make any sense in any context other than the thread you are now saying you've never seen. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the thread you're posting it in.

It was a reference to your very first post, and my reading from context.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It was a reference to your very first post, and my reading from context.
How? I just reread my OP, and....seriously how does your reply to a much later post I made with no indication that you were replying to the OP and not that specific post remotely relate to what I talked about in the OP?
 

This also makes me doubt whether you've read much of the thread before posting. I have explicitly said several times that the point of the question is to figure out if it's needed/worthwhile/more interesting or not to include in-world reasons for characters to eschew magic in a world where magic isn't evil or Faustian or corrupting or life-draining or whatever, it's just a part of nature. What might motivate a person to do that, in the absence of the Conan or Wheel of Time reasons?

If you see that as leading to "this guy thinks that people will ignore their own biases while playing a character" then...you and I are coming from such different ideas of how one thing follows from another that I'm not sure we can meaningfully discuss anything.

If we have simply talked past eachother, and you didn't realize that was where I was coming from, then I'm happy to start over.

I'll freely admit I'd not read the middle of the thread, but by reading this, the question you're actually asking (what's needed to make people decide to not take magic) is the opposite of the one I was reading (why would people not take magic when there's no reason obvious in the setting not to). At the least, I think I can reframe what I was talking about in a more useful way in that context.

I suspect what you need to do is to decide whether you're more interested in the question of what Doyalist (player based) or Watsonian (character based) reasons you want there. While they're not entirely disentangles, I suspect the Doyalist ones are going to be stronger on the whole (because they'll still likely matter to players who are very focused on character level design decisions, whereas the Watsonian ones are unlikely to matter strongly to those who make them primarily on how the character will play).

(Though its still not irrelevant for me to note some players will simply decide not to take magic for reasons that may or may not be easily related to any reason on either level, simply because they have personal issues relating to magic in games in either direction that will trump anything else).

An example of a Watsonian reason that might not impact some players at all is that magic is known or reputed to be a danger to your immortal soul--but in a game without resurrection, if that only matters after death some players will justify taking it anyway if its useful, because it has no practical impact on the play cycle, unless there's strong enough social impact from that fact that its effectively a vague mechanical penalty.
 

How? I just reread my OP, and....seriously how does your reply to a much later post I made with no indication that you were replying to the OP and not that specific post remotely relate to what I talked about in the OP?

Because it was a note that some people's internal image of certain archetypes simply doesn't include magic no matter what the setting seems to say about it. Remember, this was in the context of my trying to explain why some people wouldn't take magic even if there was no mechanical reason or even in-game social reason not to do so.
 

That makes your posts in this thread even stranger and more out of line!

I literally made a post in which i referenced a thing from my own game, and you tried to scold me for telling people what to think about dnd rangers.

And just a note: that wasn't a scold (at least it wasn't intended as such); it was intended as an explanation, and a note it was true even if it seemed foreign to you.
 

What I think might be useful in my own game, and in DnD games in worlds like Eberron, is to figure out some benefit to eschewing spellcasting that is actually worthwhile to pursue.

Its going to be a hard row to hoe because so many incarnations of D&D have magic that's so strong. In a non-classed system you can sometimes sort-of make the trade off worthwhile by making magic require a lot of buy in, but that's not an easy thing to do in a strongly class based system.

A lot of that comes down to countering magic, tbh. Anything else I can think of end up making magic have downsides, instead.

So like, if a fully mundane warrior can interrupt spells more easily than someone whocan also cast spells, that's a potentially fun benefit to being fully mundane, and in dnd that can mean "no spells from class or feats, excepting racial feats" so that forest gnomes can be anti-magi as well. Stuff like monk abilities that aren't spells, barbarian "magic", etc, wouldn't count as non-mundane for those purposes, because they come from within and don't interact with the weave necessarily.

Well, a straightforward one would be to make resistance to magic in general easier for non-magical entities, but there's a lot of potential ripple effects there that make that tricky to get right.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'll freely admit I'd not read the middle of the thread, but by reading this, the question you're actually asking (what's needed to make people decide to not take magic) is the opposite of the one I was reading (why would people not take magic when there's no reason obvious in the setting not to). At the least, I think I can reframe what I was talking about in a more useful way in that context.
From the perspective of building a game world and it's supporting mechanics, those are the same discussion, if not the same question. I'm also curious about what motivates characters in general, and about how worlds impact what sort of characters make sense and how far it makes sense or not to bend the worldbuilding to the preferences of players.
I suspect what you need to do is to decide whether you're more interested in the question of what Doyalist (player based) or Watsonian (character based) reasons you want there. While they're not entirely disentangles, I suspect the Doyalist ones are going to be stronger on the whole (because they'll still likely matter to players who are very focused on character level design decisions, whereas the Watsonian ones are unlikely to matter strongly to those who make them primarily on how the character will play).
They're both important. As with much of life, simplicity is an illusion and the answer is a state of tension somewhere between two opposing states.
(Though its still not irrelevant for me to note some players will simply decide not to take magic for reasons that may or may not be easily related to any reason on either level, simply because they have personal issues relating to magic in games in either direction that will trump anything else).

An example of a Watsonian reason that might not impact some players at all is that magic is known or reputed to be a danger to your immortal soul--but in a game without resurrection, if that only matters after death some players will justify taking it anyway if its useful, because it has no practical impact on the play cycle, unless there's strong enough social impact from that fact that its effectively a vague mechanical penalty.
Sure. Players will do what they want. A game that seeks to not be very narrowly about magicians in a world that doesn't know magic is real (though I'd love to see more good ones that don't involve a magic school) but where magic is real should probably investigate how to make such characters make sense in the world if that game is going to support them.

For instance, in dnd 5e, there isn't much reason in most published worlds, or the default flavor of the books. Magic isn't so rare that there aren't orders of magic knights, and they don't seem to give up any martial efficacy in comparison to fully mundane knights, it doesn't harm the user, it has no risk of blowback, and there is no suggestion that those who learn it lose anything, but there are several classes that seem to learn to use magical abilities, and all but a couple classes have subclasses with flavor amenable to having learned magic via study and/or practice. I think that part of the reason that bugs a lot of people, in addition to there not being enough non-magical subclasses for the not-necessarily-magic classes for their tastes, is that it makes it harder to present a world where magic is extremely rare and most of history's heroes had no magic, and the number of player options with overt magic makes the game feel like magic is everywhere, which can make it feel off to play joe the mundane fighter.

This was actually inspired by a player talking about how they feel about fighters in 5e, and talking with them about possibly homebrewing more magic countering stuff into the game, with the flavor that it's easier to learn how to do that stuff if you haven't exposed your body and mind to a lot of magic, giving the world a reason to have fully mundane heroes of exceptional skill and power. Not just "it's allowed so you can" but a positive, distinct, in-world reason that it makes sense to have martial traditions that lack any magic.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Its going to be a hard row to hoe because so many incarnations of D&D have magic that's so strong. In a non-classed system you can sometimes sort-of make the trade off worthwhile by making magic require a lot of buy in, but that's not an easy thing to do in a strongly class based system.
D&D magic is also very…rocket tag? Like, it’s powerful, but if it doesn’t land, usually it either just fizzles or is not particularly effective.

So, being able to gain resistance, or being able to gain an ability to attack spellcasters as an interrupting reaction with special training, could be a way to go.
Well, a straightforward one would be to make resistance to magic in general easier for non-magical entities, but there's a lot of potential ripple effects there that make that tricky to get right.
Yeah I think it’s probably simpler, for D&D 5e at least, to make it a set of player options along with some NPC features you can easily add to existing critters.

A couple feats and maybe a fighting style would help at a low effort floor, while subclasses for the less magical classes would really bring the idea into the light, but would take a lot more work.
 

nevin

Adventurer
Absolutely.


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 really wish there was a fighter archetype that was just “soldier/knight trained in a world where magic is common”.

I definitely prefer it as magic that bolsters skill use, but I dig what you’re saying.

Fair enough

Yeup.

That sounds fun.

Yep.

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.

Like the Dark Sword books, a bit. Interesting
unless magic is rare enough that being a knight or blacksmith would be the less powerful or profitable path. Also with knights it would depend on how it fit the code of honor. Would it be ok for a knight with magical powers to duel with a knight that didn't have them?

but if magic were common enough Id imagine anyone with minor talent would learn to use it. then your blacksmith could produce flame to start the fire, or even cast minor enchantments to make +1 armor if they had the talent.

The final consideration is what is the cultural view of magic. Do magicians get burned at the stake? are they ostracized by normal society?
Or are they looked up to for what the good ones can do? Even if they are productive members of society, they are probably viewed, best case, as the weird people who make deals with strange outsiders and mess with reality. Worst case potential devil worshippers that could turn on you at any moment.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Do magicians get burned at the stake? are they ostracized by normal society?
Or are they looked up to for what the good ones can do? Even if they are productive members of society, they are probably viewed, best case, as the weird people who make deals with strange outsiders and mess with reality. Worst case potential devil worshippers that could turn on you at any moment
Well the thread OP assumes fairly common magic, and that said magic is practical, useful, and has advantages and disadvantage compared to mundane tech/skill, but the two compliment eachother.

In such a world, I don’t think such attitudes will be common. People adapt to things that benefit them pretty quickly and enthusiastically.
 

nevin

Adventurer
Well the thread OP assumes fairly common magic, and that said magic is practical, useful, and has advantages and disadvantage compared to mundane tech/skill, but the two compliment eachother.

In such a world, I don’t think such attitudes will be common. People adapt to things that benefit them pretty quickly and enthusiastically.
Ok then Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos is a good example of a modern world where magic and tech came up together. I love that story I wish he'd made a series out of it. I love the electronic Flash assemblies that create "moonlight" to allow the Lycanthrope special forces to transform whenever they want.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
This was actually inspired by a player talking about how they feel about fighters in 5e, and talking with them about possibly homebrewing more magic countering stuff into the game, with the flavor that it's easier to learn how to do that stuff if you haven't exposed your body and mind to a lot of magic, giving the world a reason to have fully mundane heroes of exceptional skill and power. Not just "it's allowed so you can" but a positive, distinct, in-world reason that it makes sense to have martial traditions that lack any magic.
In-world reason: the further you stay from black magic is the less it can affect you. Or, stepping into the magic pool means you're gonna get wet.

For another context: Modos RPG has player- and character-based reasons to avoid magic, which can be used by any PC by assigning a skill point (gained each character level) on the desired power.

Player: casting spells ("powers") adds complexity to the game that can be avoided by eschewing magic. Each spell has a small set of attributes that must be observed, and players must calculate (or roll) a bonus to be added to the spell-casting roll. In addition, spell-casting doesn't become a very good career choice until players make wise perk selections to support it. Fighters, on the other hand, can just choose a weapon and start swinging.*

Character: spell-casting has a cost, and if it's not done right, it can injure or kill a character. Also, since PCs don't get oodles of skill points, choosing to learn a spell can have a significant opportunity cost of another skill.

* Combat can be really simple, but successful fighters develop much better tactics than "start swinging."
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top