Unearthed Arcana Why UA Psionics are never going to work in 5e.

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Guest 6801328

Guest
I always viewed "magic is a science" as being the default D&D style because Farmer Jim can scrape up enough gold to send his daughter to the "Mage Academy" and she can learn to cast soells.

There is no special something a being in the 5e universe has to have in order to be magical, which is actually a different take than a lot of other settings where "being magical" is just a trait you are born with.

Yes, that's one pathway to magic. You can also be born with it (sorcerer), pray for it (cleric), have it granted as a bargain (warlock), etc.

One thing I dislike about D&D is that magic can do anything you want it to do (where "you" is the DM or adventure author). I long for a single coherent "theory of magic" that all magic has to work within. (Discussion about this in another thread somewhere.)

Not that I would actually change D&D, because then it wouldn't be D&D. But one facet of my non-existent dream RPG is that it has a really cool explanation for what magic is, where it comes from, how you harness it, what it can do, who can harness it, what the consequences/risks are, etc.

(Another facet of this imaginary RPG is that the vast majority of adventurers/heroes are non-magical, and the reason this is so is somehow tied to the game system.)
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
I always viewed "magic is a science" as being the default D&D style because Farmer Jim can scrape up enough gold to send his daughter to the "Mage Academy" and she can learn to cast spells.

There is no special something a being in the 5e universe has to have in order to be magical, which is actually a different take than a lot of other settings where "being magical" is just a trait you are born with.

Well, and it depends on a lot of things once we start looking at various references.

Sure, a lot of systems have "you're a wizard Harry" to explain why some people can do magic and others can't. But sometimes it really is just specialized knowledge. The Kingkiller Chronicle after all has it were it is simply a skill that is incredibly difficult to learn and the only teachers usually charge massive sums of money for the right to try and learn from them.

The actual reason most stories lean on the "you have to be born with it" though is the fact that we understand the value of education at this stage in history, so not learning something like magic makes no sense.

I mean, it is hard for your wizard to be special is everyone can do magic (hard, not impossible, plenty of settings and stories do it) but if anyone could put in a few years of study to learn magic, we naturally ask, why isn't everyone doing that? Why aren't there more magic users. So, it is really a narrative shortcut rather than something that makes magic less scientific. After all, usually after being "born" with magic, they go and do a lot of book learning and mathematics for proper circles and all that jazz. The learning aspect is just gated behind being born special to limit the number of magic users
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Yes, that's one pathway to magic. You can also be born with it (sorcerer), pray for it (cleric), have it granted as a bargain (warlock), etc.

One thing I dislike about D&D is that magic can do anything you want it to do (where "you" is the DM or adventure author). I long for a single coherent "theory of magic" that all magic has to work within. (Discussion about this in another thread somewhere.)

Not that I would actually change D&D, because then it wouldn't be D&D. But one facet of my non-existent dream RPG is that it has a really cool explanation for what magic is, where it comes from, how you harness it, what it can do, who can harness it, what the consequences/risks are, etc.

(Another facet of this imaginary RPG is that the vast majority of adventurers/heroes are non-magical, and the reason this is so is somehow tied to the game system.)

I've been tempted into a theory of all magic before. But, DnD is ill-suited for it, since magic is soooo broad in DnD.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I like magic being mysterious. I don't want it to be a science, because that will ruin it. I also don't run my games where just anyone can be a wizard. Some people are strong enough innately to use magic intuitively. Others are not that strong and require study and practice to learn magic. PCs are special, so I don't make them roll or anything if they want to multi-class into a spellcasting class.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I like magic being mysterious. I don't want it to be a science, because that will ruin it. I also don't run my games where just anyone can be a wizard. Some people are strong enough innately to use magic intuitively. Others are not that strong and require study and practice to learn magic. PCs are special, so I don't make them roll or anything if they want to multi-class into a spellcasting class.
Oh, I don’t want it to be explained from a scientific perspective, either. But I don’t love that the same power can heal, make fireballs, open locks, banish demons, summon pixies, charm humans, make you invisible, and stop time. Because...”magic”?

I just wish there were some kind of narrative consistency.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Oh, I don’t want it to be explained from a scientific perspective, either. But I don’t love that the same power can heal, make fireballs, open locks, banish demons, summon pixies, charm humans, make you invisible, and stop time. Because...”magic”?

I just wish there were some kind of narrative consistency.
I don't have that issue, because of the subdivisions. You have divine, arcane and psionic. You have alteration, divination, conjuration, etc. Those subdivisions are different enough that you can key off of them.

You can either view magic as something that has many different parts acting in many different ways, or that it is many different types of magic that kinda get lumped together.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I don't have that issue, because of the subdivisions. You have divine, arcane and psionic. You have alteration, divination, conjuration, etc. Those subdivisions are different enough that you can key off of them.

You can either view magic as something that has many different parts acting in many different ways, or that it is many different types of magic that kinda get lumped together.

Yeah the subdivisions don't really address the issue (for me, anyway) since every caster is free to use spells from all the schools. The various schools might have been interesting if a) by default you could only cast spells from one school, b) it took a lot of work to learn additional schools, and c) there was something mechanically/functionally different about each school.

And arcane vs. divine isn't really a thing anymore. Not with any practical difference, anyway. It's just fluff.

I mean, it doesn't bother me on a daily basis. I play 5e and have fun doing it. But when I'm thinking about game design, I wish for something better.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I always viewed "magic is a science" as being the default D&D style because Farmer Jim can scrape up enough gold to send his daughter to the "Mage Academy" and she can learn to cast soells.

There is no special something a being in the 5e universe has to have in order to be magical, which is actually a different take than a lot of other settings where "being magical" is just a trait you are born with.
Is this true, though? I haven't seen anything in any setting or rulebook that says it is. Any PC that wants to be a mage can be one, like any PC can be a bard with a lovely singing voice, or a sorcerer with the right bloodlines, or a fighter with physical prowess above normal. That you automatically qualify as a PC to learn magic doesn't mean it's a skill that can be taught anyone. This is an assumption, not a fact. It could go either way, and, in fact, it's entirely up to you how it works -- the rules don't care.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yeah the subdivisions don't really address the issue (for me, anyway) since every caster is free to use spells from all the schools. The various schools might have been interesting if a) by default you could only cast spells from one school, b) it took a lot of work to learn additional schools, and c) there was something mechanically/functionally different about each school.

Back in 3e, I fiddled with an idea where you picked a specialty and could cast up to 9th level in your specialty, got two other random schools to use up to 6th level spells, two further random schools that you could only use up to 3rd level, and the remaining two were forbidden. That way the wizard still had plenty of utility and variety, but their true power lay in their specialization. I never got it off of the ground, though.
 
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