Magic in your world

Is magic common in your campaign world?

  • No. Magic should be very rare indeed.

    Votes: 2 13.3%
  • Magic should be somewhat rare, but people still know about it.

    Votes: 5 33.3%
  • Only the very weak type is common. Potent magic is very rare.

    Votes: 4 26.7%
  • Yes. Magic is fairly common throughout the campaign world.

    Votes: 4 26.7%

  • Total voters
    15

Dr Zaius

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The following passage is from the latest edition of the D&D Dungeaon Master's Guide:

Dungeon Master's Guide said:
Some DMs create cities in their campaigns that function just like medieval historical towns. They are populated by people who aren't accustomed to (or who don't believe in) magic, who don't know anything about magical or mythical monsters, and who have never seen a magic item.

This sort of creative work is a mistake. It will cause your players serious strain in their belief in the reality of your world for them to see that they wield spells and magic items, and the lands and dungeons surrounding the city are filled with magic and monsters, but yet in the middle of the city everything looks and acts like Europe during the Middle Ages.

The presence of magic in your game world forces you to deviate from a truly historical setting. When you create anything for your world, the idea that magic could possibly alter it should be in the back of your mind. Would the king simply surround his castle with a wall when levitate and fly spells are common? How do the guards of the treasury make sure that someone doesn't just teleport in or slip through the walls while ethereal?

Unless you are going to run a divergent game of some sort, magic is prevalent enough in the world that it will always be taken into account by smart individuals.
Do you share the view that magic should be common within the campaign setting and that common folk should, at the very least, understand what is is and take it into account? Or do you feel that magic should be very rare. Rare enough that the display of powerful magics will draw considerable attention from the locals?
 

2054172

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Don

Why wouldn't it be, the whole idea to game is to be different then reallity. Is it not?:smoke:
 

Palantir

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In my world "magic" has been & always will be there so the populas knows about it.

I classify "Clerical" as magic here so almost all citizens understand that unusual "things" happen that they can't explain but it's there anyway. A Mage walking into a rural town and levitating would draw everyone to watch as would a Priest raising someone from the dead. In a major city only those in the "area" would stop to watch.

But creatures/monsters are not really seen as "magical." Elves / Dragons etc. are just other creatures in the world as are humans (the main race).
 

Maedhros

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Don Maddox said:
The following passage is from the latest edition of the D&D Dungeaon Master's Guide:



Do you share the view that magic should be common within the campaign setting and that common folk should, at the very least, understand what is is and take it into account? Or do you feel that magic should be very rare. Rare enough that the display of powerful magics will draw considerable attention from the locals?
I think it's fair to say that the passage you quote is applicable ONLY to AD&D, since that game has evolved to become so self-referential. Sure, the idea of magic-less commoners is anathema, because the entire AD&D multiverse is steeped in magic (having originally been modeled on Vance's Dying Earth, way back in the day).

I like the idea of a mundane world of peasants and petty nobles, with arcane secrets waiting to be uncovered by the PCs. Makes the fantastic/magical elements stand out, as opposed to just being wallpaper.
 
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Dr Zaius

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I have always been of the opinion that, as a general rule, powerful magics should be rare but some forms of less potent magic are reasonably common. And this isn't just a D&D centric view, I played the same way back when I used to run a MERP campaign. There were very few people running around in that campaign that sported truly powerful magic items. On the other hand, what is considered "pwerful" in MERP and D&D are two different things. Some of the creatures in MERP were 150th level or greater!
 

Maedhros

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Don Maddox said:
I have always been of the opinion that, as a general rule, powerful magics should be rare but some forms of less potent magic are reasonably common. And this isn't just a D&D centric view, I played the same way back when I used to run a MERP campaign. There were very few people running around in that campaign that sported truly powerful magic items. On the other hand, what is considered "pwerful" in MERP and D&D are two different things. Some of the creatures in MERP were 150th level or greater!
Magic is fine, as long as it never becomes "mundane" - at which point having a magic item is as exciting to the characters as having a microwave oven would be to me (i.e. not much).

On second thought, why? Why is it necessary to have magic at all in a game? Can't we tell interesting stories and have interesting adventures without magic? Of course, the answer is "yes, we can" but magic provides interesting plot possibities.
 
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Aries

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Cool I just found a way to tie in one of my favourite things to bring up.

Piracy. Ok said it hehe.

Magic in rolegaming, is something that WON'T be available to the common schmuck.
But, just as anyone in the real world knows of the criminal element, it's not something we see or actually confront much directly.

I go to sleep at night, and in the summer, I leave the door open, actually open, not closed but unlocked, but actually open, with the screen up on the screen door.
Common sense would tell me, Les, someone could just walk into your home. True, someone could do that.

That things are possible though, does not make them a common occurence. Although, I suppose, crooks are likely being crooks probably on a daily basis.
So some forms of crime will be day in day out events, but then it might be just certain areas too.

So, does every last person in a fantasy setting city need magic to keep out people that can use magic to get in magically? No. But, you can bet the guy that sells mundane magic supplies, will have his shop warded by the local guild. Although the grocer next to him, likely has no magic guarding his fruits and veggies at night when the store is closed.

The city likely has no magic warding the main walls of the city. But, you can likely assume that some parts of the city's over all defense, are indeed backed up with magic. The head wizard, in charge of the city's defenses, likely has some kick ass magic guarding his own place too.

I can walk the streets of my home town, and I can assure you, some parts will look secured, and some not. I bet though, I could break into the jail, easier than most of the stores. Breaking out though, would be different, while escaping from a store, well that just means breaking the window and running.

Some magic will warn, some will impede, and some will outright kill the unwary. It depends on what the magic was set to do.

Some magic will be comparable to a home security system.
I can assure you, there isn't any manner of home security that will protect you from a killer, if he wants to enter your home, kill you, and then flee at best speed. They might catch the perp, but you will still be quite dead.
The only thing in my home that is truely secure, are the thoughts in my head :) Good luck getting at those.
My computer is likely adequately secure. If coming from the internet.

The problem with magic though, is in the real world, there's no such thing. It's hard to have accuracy arguments about something that isn't real.
I try to make magic in my game, fit the moment, fit the setting, to seem "plausible".
Could he have had that magic?

As long as it is possible, for the player to believe it was possible, then it's ok.
 

Dion

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The good old Dungeon Master Guide, what a great book! Me thinks, the best book in RPG history. That book is always great no matter which edition of D&D is prevalent. I can't think of any book that has more RPG wisdom than the D&D Dungeon Master Guide. It brings up a great point too. A point that must be one of the most important considerations when designing a fantasy world. Over the years I've heard one of the biggest complaints among players is that magic, magical beings, etc. is common place inside the dungeon but when they leave the dungeon and enter a city magic becomes scarce and practically nonexistent. I simply model my world after Tolkien's Middle Earth, were magic is rare but not unheard of. But then again an elven nation in Middle Earth would have a lot. In-fact magic would probably be a way of life for them. Tolkien's Middle Earth seems to be the default decider in situations like this.
 
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Maedhros

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Dion said:
The good old Dungeon Master Guide, what a great book! Me thinks, the best book in RPG history. That book is always great no matter which edition of D&D is prevalent. I can't think of any book that has more RPG wisdom than the D&D Dungeon Master Guide. It brings up a great point too. A point that must be one of the most important considerations when designing a fantasy world. Over the years I've heard one of the biggest complaints among players is that magic, magical beings, etc. is common place inside the dungeon but when they leave the dungeon and enter a city magic becomes scarce and practically nonexistent. I simply model my world after Tolkien's Middle Earth, were magic is rare but not unheard of. But then again an elven nation in Middle Earth would have a lot. In-fact magic would probably be a way of life for them. Tolkien's Middle Earth seems to be the default decider in situations like this.
The only magic-using Elves noted in Lord of the Rings were Elrond, Galadriel (and Cirdan, by implication as the caretaker of one of the three Elven Rings). Most were like Legolas...
 

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Actually there is quite a bit of "magic" used by the LotR Elves (and others) but they didn't understand the term "magic" as applied to them.

The sword "Sting" was magical as it glowed blue when orcs were near. Their small boats were magical as they would not sink, even after going over the falls. The Mirror of Galadriel was obviously "magical," as were even some of the Numerorean items, the "Palantiri," Orthanc tower etc.

Tolkien had the concept of elven magic so infused with the world by the elves that it was never flashy or even noticed any more by them. It does seem that the most magical items used were the 3 Rings of Power, but Gandalf said there were many magic rings in the world.
 

Maedhros

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Palantir said:
Actually there is quite a bit of "magic" used by the LotR Elves (and others) but they didn't understand the term "magic" as applied to them.

The sword "Sting" was magical as it glowed blue when orcs were near. Their small boats were magical as they would not sink, even after going over the falls. The Mirror of Galadriel was obviously "magical," as were even some of the Numerorean items, the "Palantiri," Orthanc tower etc.

Tolkien had the concept of elven magic so infused with the world by the elves that it was never flashy or even noticed any more by them. It does seem that the most magical items used were the 3 Rings of Power, but Gandalf said there were many magic rings in the world.
You have a point. However, one could make the counter-point that Sting (and Orcrist, and Glamdring), the Palantiri, Anduril, etc. were relics from a bygone era and that the current state of Middle Earth during the War of the Ring was notably less steeped in magic than earlier times.

But you are right - I wasn't speaking of the "natural" magical nature of elves and their stuff, but more to the point that there were few explicit magic-using elves (i.e. spellcasters/enchanters) in LoTR.

Note that the magic in LoTR was wondrous, and not taken for granted as "normal" in any sense. The average inhabitant of Middle Earth had no direct experience with magic and did not expect to encounter it in his/her daily life. A possible exception to this would be Gandalf's fireworks display at Bilbo's birthday party, but only because Gandalf had frequented the Shire and had brought his tricks with him many times in the past. The Shire certainly didn't expect that kind of thing on a regular basis.
 

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Agreed, Tolkien never created Middle Earth to be a role-playing world! :)

Authors today have that background to go by not even counting AD&D and the RP'ing PC games etc.

It's hard to pull any book world as a whole into a AD&D type world, they're two different beasts. (Unless of course it's written for it!)
 

Maedhros

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Palantir said:
Agreed, Tolkien never created Middle Earth to be a role-playing world! :)

Authors today have that background to go by not even counting AD&D and the RP'ing PC games etc.

It's hard to pull any book world as a whole into a AD&D type world, they're two different beasts. (Unless of course it's written for it!)
Yes - which is why I find AD&D unsatisfactory for roleplaying. AD&D is it's own genre unto itself, and constricts its players into one narrow style. Of course, one can try to modify the situation to "customize" one's world:

* Allow Gods of only one pantheon (e.g. Egyptian) with the attendant restriction on what kinds of Priests are allowed.
* Allow only those weapons/fighting styles prevalent in the setting.
* Allow only those spells appropriate to the setting

This would solve the problem of having a party composed of a Odin-worshipping Norse barbarian, a Shinto Ninja, a Melnibonean Priest of Arioch and a Bloodguard from the Land.

However, to do so you would have to tear AD&D apart and rebuild it only with those parts that fit. Alas, some parts (e.g. the magic system) would not fit at all into some concepts.

AD&D is a homogenized blend of EVERY fantasy setting, and thus loses its luster and can become somewhat comical - Ninjas and Paladins teaming up with Sorcerors to kill Ilithids? Sort of like hanging out in your garage with 107 different radio stations blaring from a multitude of boom boxes..
 

M Faulkner

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I have just recently start playing (after a 20 year hiatus). Our campaign setting is in Eberron. I would say magic is very common in this setting. Now our group has come across a good amount of magic, but nothing big and bad.
 

dwardzala

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In answering the poll question - I had to choose option 3. In my campaign world, I look at Magic like science. The stuff is researched, items are created, but unlike science, the secrets are closely guarded. Powerful magic has to be rare, or else it would become mundane.
 
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