Defining 'Low Magic'


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

101 to 150 of 207 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | next > last >>

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
Laurefindel wrote:

It's easy to get lost in a LotR discussion, but it is nevertheless a somewhat relevant topic because many GM aim to use Low-Magic system to emulate LotR adventures.

Things is, even if the fellowship had access to magic, the setting falls apart when you allow all your characters to play spellcasters and assume the same level of spellcaster demographics that you would in a typical Pathfinder setting.

So "what to consider if I want to play in Middle Earth" is right in your alley.

I agree with others...lets not make this another "what level are LotR characters". Ultimately LotR wasn't created under Pathfinder constraints, and can't be expected to follow guidelines for magic use.

And it's not like it's the only low magic setting out there. I expect Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire" and its descendents is the first thing nowadays that a lot of people think about when they hear "low magic"

No, because for some reason it's become very popular to bash LotR, even though SoI&F makes a better comparison for most of things people complain about LotR for gaming style - low magic, few race options, etc.

I think its a matter of familiarity. Everyone compares things to lotr becasue everyone (even those that hate it) know it. Game of thrones is also a solid comparison point at this point, but since it is so low magic, its really hard to make comparisons with the majority of pathfinder/dnd. Fighters, rogues, cavaliers, and maybe spelless rangers make up the overwhelming majority of characters. For better or worse, when you think wizard, gandalf comes to mind for a big chunk of people. That and harry potter, which also has issues in comparison to dnd/pathfinder for other reasons.

That sort of comparison of iconic characters, abilities and heroic moments is really important to a lot of conversations, and while there are lots of famous fantasy worlds out there, how many are universal even within the rpg gamer community? If I tell you I want to make magic work like it does in the dresden files in my pathfinder game, am I sure you know what I mean? (Answer: I'm not sure, and also that is totally a goal of mine).


Anzyr wrote:

Odd level Epic games are problematic, because they force people into the odd level progression casting classes. The restriction on permanent magic items luckily for martials matter less at E7, but it will make a real impact on their performance, while the Druid for example will laugh his way to the bank. I personally prefer E6, though mine has crafting and magic item shops (because those are consequences of the rules) so I consider it to be high magic.

At present your Post War Eberron looks perfect for Druids, Clerics, Lunar Oracles, Heavens Oracles, Shamans, Summoners, and Witches. Alchemists, Barbarians, Bards, Inquisitors, Hunters, Paladins, Sorcerers and Wizards can probably cope the next best.

I agree with you, which is why I also added (below, in spell level, so you might have missed it) that maximum spell level for full casters was three, and for half-casters, it's two. The high level slots can be used with metamagic though (I would probably give Heighten Spell metamagic for free).

I'm not sure how you've worked out the list of "advantaged" classes in an E7 game. Could you explain how you've built the list, and perhaps let me know how that list would be different for E6? I'm not sold on E7 vs E6 yet, so I'm definitely interested on how that would change the nature of the Low Magic setting.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

'Golarion Modified by Kolo's House Rules'
LOW MAGIC CHECKLIST

1. POWER CATEGORIES

1.1 Spells

  • Level Demographics (Setting)Casting classes are fairly common, with core caster class npcs being present in most towns, and a larger variety in cities. The only difference is the classic 9 level casters other then the druid are exceedingly rare, and are effectively legendary heroes or villains.
    Most npcs are npcs classes, but important npcs are almost always pc classes.
  • Classes availableNone of the 9 level casters except the druid. All casting classes have mandatory archetypes to use riven magic (see bellow)
  • Character Level20
  • Caster Level20
  • Spell LevelThis is sort of complicated since my default setting doesn’t use vancian magic as presented in the core book. It instead uses an expanded version of the rogue genius games product the genius guide to the riven mage. Riven spells are basic effects that you put more or less energy into to create bigger or lesser effects. Example: Blast creates a blast of force, or of an energy type if you specialize, and the more energy (called flux) you put into it the bigger and more damaging the blast. There are only a handful of riven spells compared to the endless list of vancian spells. This drastically curbs narrative power of magic.
  • Specific SpellsRiven spells only, including a homebrew expansion to the list.
  • Healing AccessAny riven caster can heal, and I allow generous access to healing items
  • Resurrection Access: Possible through Scrolls which are sort of like rituals
  • Counter Magic AccessNot applicable to riven magic
  • Casting EaseNo difficulty casting riven magic, its actually easier to do then normal magic, but riven spells are considerably weaker then normal spells (sort of like half a spell really)
  • RitualsScrolls of vancian spells are available as rituals.

1.2 Gear (Magic Items)

  • Crafting ArtsOnly craft wand, brew potion and scribe scroll are a player option
  • Big Six AccessReplaced with homebrew rules to replace the bonuses with choices characters make as the level.
  • Magic Item AvailabilityExceedingly rare, characters will get at most a handful of items through their whole career, and they are only introduced where it makes sense in the story.
  • Magic Item UbiquityBasic magic items are more like artifacts in the core rules, rare, priceless, and impossible to recreate normally.
  • Magic Item PowerLow, but the power is replaced with homebrew rules to give the expected bonuses and some abilities.

1.3 Creatures

  • Fantastic CreaturesNormal?
  • Fantastic Races AvailabilityEberronish, I am happy to allow all sorts of crazy races so long as they are played in an interesting way.

2. DISTINCTIONS

2.1 Arcane and Divine MagicNo Real distinction

2.2 Players and Setting Mostly no distinction, except in the case of the very rare 9 level casters that can be npcs but arent a player option.
]

Paizo Glitterati Robot

Removed some back and forth posts. This isn't the thread to argue about Lord of the Rings, so please leave that and the personal jabs out of the conversation.


Dreaming Warforged wrote:
Anzyr wrote:

Odd level Epic games are problematic, because they force people into the odd level progression casting classes. The restriction on permanent magic items luckily for martials matter less at E7, but it will make a real impact on their performance, while the Druid for example will laugh his way to the bank. I personally prefer E6, though mine has crafting and magic item shops (because those are consequences of the rules) so I consider it to be high magic.

At present your Post War Eberron looks perfect for Druids, Clerics, Lunar Oracles, Heavens Oracles, Shamans, Summoners, and Witches. Alchemists, Barbarians, Bards, Inquisitors, Hunters, Paladins, Sorcerers and Wizards can probably cope the next best.

I agree with you, which is why I also added (below, in spell level, so you might have missed it) that maximum spell level for full casters was three, and for half-casters, it's two. The high level slots can be used with metamagic though (I would probably give Heighten Spell metamagic for free).

I'm not sure how you've worked out the list of "advantaged" classes in an E7 game. Could you explain how you've built the list, and perhaps let me know how that list would be different for E6? I'm not sold on E7 vs E6 yet, so I'm definitely interested on how that would change the nature of the Low Magic setting.

Ya, I did miss that but the higher level slots are still a pretty good advantage for the odd level casters. Anyway, my ranking are based on well a class can function without magic items.

Cleric - Good base saves, good BAB, knows it's entire spell list, channeling is still valuable healing at these levels, domains actually grant abilities in this level range. Odd level caster that can wear armor helps to.

Druids/Lunar Oracles - Can provide their one long term buffs and come with a animal companion (which can have abilities that other martials can't get) that can can also be buffed. Druids furthermore have wildshape which provides combat abilities other classes can't get (along with easy access to flying). Lunar Oracles get in by virtue of the fact that they pretty much only need CHA and CON (Divine Protection makes all their saves "Good").

Heavens Oracles - Awesome Display is stronger at lower levels. Your CHA bonus v. enemies HD is heavily in your CHA bonuses favor at these levels. Most enemies will be facing a terrifying long duration debuff from colorspray due to having effectively no HD against it. Not to mention they can squeeze in Magical Lineage, Wayang Spellhunter to get Persistent Colorspray. Anything not immune is looking at being unconscious, blind and stunned for 2d4 rounds.

Shamans - 7th level works heavily in their favor, but even 6th makes them great thanks to the Spirit Talker Feat (at 7th) and the Wandering Hex at 6th. Odd level caster that knows it's whole list (so need to worry about learning new spells which sounds hard in the campaign), can steal the clerics list, has a regular and flexible spontaneous spell list, can use the Sleep Hex, can use the non-mind-affecting Evil Eye hex, and once Wandering Hex kicks in can steal the Sorcerer/Wizard list (again without needing to learn them) with Arcane Enlightenment (probably limited to only 1 or 2 spells but still), or grab a hex that is particularly well suited to a given day.

Summoners: Eidolon has access to abilities martials can't get and incredibly early. Summons are very flexible and usable very often. Spell list is compressed, which really shines in a limited environment. Like the Druid can buff it's companion, except that Summoner can do this even better.

Witch: Could be dropped down to the second string, but spammable Hexes save it from the Wizards fate. Lacks the advantages of many of the above classes, but still can provide it's own buffs on top having useful SU abilities.

Most of the second string are either slightly weaker version of the above, have gear requirements (Wizards would be higher if spell learning was reliable), or have abilities that while useful aren't quite as amazing as the first string (Paladin).


Yo could leave crafting mostly as is, but increase the cost of the items to craft, or impose special conditions. "Items can only be crafted in x dangerous location at y time". "Items require certain special components ... Requirements like that can make it possible to have magic items, but make them rare. If a ring of invisibility requires invisible stalker essence and invisible stalkers are very rare, rings of invisibility will be very rare. You can do the same for spells. If teleportation requires some rare and expensive material component, it can still exist and have the Magic items limited to the degree you choose.


Hate to sound too much like a noob, but are there official guides for "E6", "E7", etc.?

@Kolo: the Rogue Genius product for the Riven Mage sounds interesting. Can you send me info?

Nice work, everyone, on fleshing out details! These really help when designing new areas/encounters for my low-magic campaign.


@Kolokotroni: Thanks! Interesting description of your take on Golarion.

@Anzyr: thank! I forgot I usually don't allow summoners. Good points on the difference between 6 and 7, especially for druids! I had also made the decision prior to the new hybrid classes being rolled in. Something to look at carefully...

@Otherwhere: you could start here...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Easy examples:

Low Magic:
Star Wars IV. That's low magic. It's not no magic, but two nebulously vaguely 'magical' characters do just one or two little tricks, and most people are willing to disbelieve it to their faces even.

Medium Magic:
Something like the setting for 7th Sea, or Middle Earth. Magic is a thing, it's known, but practitioners are extremely rare and just having a big clairvoyance eye in the sky or cursed rings of suggestion is the stuff of epics, legends and world-shaking events. I don't think even Conan fits down here, given what's actually on that world....

High Magic:
The average 'fantasy' when people think fantasy. Fairies and Wizards and Slimes riding Knights and whatnot.

Insanely High Magic:
Where many games and TTRPGs end up. Realistic fantasies where people dislike the thought of 'unrealistic' things like guns and functional crossbows, capable martials, non-vancian-magic and space travel being brought in and ruining their realistic land of talking lightning bolts, crashed starships full of laser-spewing robot scorpions whose AIs are driven mad by ambient magic-distorted subspace communication systems, dragons and planehopping.

Well, that last one is more of a joke or to point out how ridiculous some of the 'realism' arguments that occasionally show up for this game can be, but nevertheless Golarion IS somewhere betweeen "Dynasty Warriors", "G-Gundam" and "Marvel Universe" for magic.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Otherwhere wrote:

Hate to sound too much like a noob, but are there official guides for "E6", "E7", etc.?

@Kolo: the Rogue Genius product for the Riven Mage sounds interesting. Can you send me info?

Nice work, everyone, on fleshing out details! These really help when designing new areas/encounters for my low-magic campaign.

Do you mean the product link? It can be found here riven mage. It has the basis for riven magic.

As for my homebrew rules, I dont want to post them just yet as I have a few things I am working on, but basically, all 6 level casters and the druids ditch their casting for something close to the riven mage's casting with the stat altered to what fits the class' existing casting. Some classes require specific tweaks for abilities that work with spells, but that is the gist of it.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I'm going to have a couple of posts here, because I want to put out some general thoughts and then I want to try out that checklist with one or two of the settings I have in the process of being built.

One thing I note with the removal of magic item marts; if all items need to be custom-made, make sure you do allow the players enough time to put in those orders and get them filled... especially if they might need to, say, give up the belt they wear every day for a month to get it upgraded. (I'm currently in a game where I think we've gained 2 levels in a month of in-universe time... and the items we commissioned before leveling up are not ready yet.)

Another thing that I think we may want to include on the list of goals for low magic is related to the curtailing of narrative power; not just curtailing the ability of players in general to swing the narrative, but shrinking the difference between how much individual characters can swing the narrative.

That is to say, at low level, a wizard and a fighter have similar abilities to short-circuit an encounter or adventure. As you get higher and higher level, especially if you don't adhere to the game assumptions of encounters per day, it becomes possible for the casters to just dominate the game... not just in combat, but in the sense that the fighter types end up sitting around waiting to see if the problem needs to be hit in the face with a sword (or possibly a skill check), or if the wizard and cleric are just handling the entire thing with magic. By reducing the power (and flexibility) of magic, you reduce that. Basically, it's knocking the full casters down one or two tiers (for the tier system, have a look at this post).

Now I've got two basic approaches I use for that. One is E6-E8, in one setting. The other is writing an entirely different game system that aims to avoid many of the issues that arise with magic.


PhelanArcetus wrote:


Now I've got two basic approaches I use for that. One is E6-E8, in one setting. The other is writing an entirely different game system that aims to avoid many of the issues that arise with magic.

Interesting... What are your thoughts on allowing only partial (1-6) casters?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I find E6 particularly in Pathfinder (or 3.5 with all splats) keeps casters and martials much closer then 1-20 does. Mostly because casters lack a lot of the raw narrative power they otherwise have that can just obsolete encounters. Sure they have Fly, but in E6, those spell slots are actually limited. Necromancers win E6 pretty hard of course, but at least that helps to justify them being hunted.


PhelanArcetus wrote:

One thing I note with the removal of magic item marts; .....

The other is writing an entirely different game system that aims to avoid many of the issues that arise with magic.

I dont replace Ye Olde Magik Shoppe with custom orders, I replace with drops. Sometimes custom drops, sure.

Have you tried Iron Heroes?

Yes, no doubt there are issues with Magic, but there are also issues with taking a normal magic game like PF and trying to make it Very Low Magic.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dreaming Warforged wrote:
PhelanArcetus wrote:


Now I've got two basic approaches I use for that. One is E6-E8, in one setting. The other is writing an entirely different game system that aims to avoid many of the issues that arise with magic.
Interesting... What are your thoughts on allowing only partial (1-6) casters?

Going only partial casters helps to a degree but it doesnt eliminate the problem, it just makes it smaller. The problem is mostly that magic is flat out better and more flexible, while requiring less investment then not-magic.

Partial casters have less magic, and more not-magic in the 'stuff' they get. But it doesnt make the disparity of individual instances of 'stuff' any different.


@Kolo and Dreaming: Thanks for the links!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

After Atlantis
LOW MAGIC CHECKLIST

1. POWER CATEGORIES
1.1 Spells


  • Level Demographics (setting): Spellcasting classes are fairly common, though less so than in the past. There are at least as many spellcasters as typical DMG or GMG entries would indicate, but they are mostly low-level (even by the standards of an E6 or E8 setting).
  • Classes Available: No gunslinger (doesn't fit the setting), and it's possible a few others will be banned, but this is because they are "wrong" for the setting, from flavor rather than magic level. For example, paladins, as much as I like them, may be banned, because I'm not sure if the setting has a place for divinely empowered champions of good. (I want it to.) Some classes will be preferred by some cultures (not hard restrictions, but strong suggestions).
  • Character Level: E6 or E8. Most likely E8 with selected 4th level spells banned, but I might just remove all 4th level spells and use those slots for metamagic. I might also use highly limited amounts of Mythic in some stories.
  • Caster Level: E6 or E8 as above; a capstone feat will likely allow a +1 bonus to caster level (without boosting spell slots or spells known).
  • Specific Spells: Unsure as yet; limiting to 4th or even 3rd level spells should take care of this, though I will likely ban some spells I just dislike in general. At E8 I may ban some specific spells that I fear will have an outsize impact on the world (dimension door, for example), or I may just provide workarounds (a non-magical material that blocks teleportation, for example). I may also cut the duration on some long-term buff spells.
  • Healing Access: Access is not restricted.
  • Resurrection Access: None, thanks to E6/E8. There are probably plot-related ways to bring back a dead companion, but they are adventures in of themselves rather than a spell or ritual.
  • Counter Magic Access: Normal.
  • Casting Ease: Normal.
  • Rituals: Yes. No hard rules yet, but the basic premise is "caster-level-hours", similar to the real-world "man-hours" concept. Lots of time and lots of people needed.

1.2 Gear (Magic Items)


  • Crafting Arts: Crafting feats are available, but hard restrictions on item power (see below).
  • Big Six Access: I don't like the boringness of the Big Six, but this is not the setting where I try to fix that. Unchanged from normal.
  • Magic Item Availability: Pretty much standard, modulo the power limits. Any item that a merchant can't nearly guarantee will be sold easily will likely be a custom order, but with the power limits, the wait time will be a week or less in general.
  • Magic Item Ubiquity: Basic and commonly desired consumables are all over. There are a lot of fading, semi-functional or non-functional old magical public works.
  • Magic Item Power: Strictly controlled; aside from some "artifacts" from the age of the Empire, items are hard-capped at something low-normal level for level 6 or 8; say no enhancement or similar bonuses above +2, no items above a +3 equivalent, and so on. Probably also a hard cap around 20,000 for item value; items above that just cannot be made (the knowledge is lost at least).

1.3 Creatures


  • Fantastic Creatures: Somewhat less than normal, and skewed heavily to the ones originating from Mediterranean folklore.
  • Fantastic Races Availability: The various half-genie races (marid, shaitan, etc.) are definitely available. Other non-human races are likely very rare (or else, re-flavored so as to use their mechanics to represent a particular human ethnicity). I might conceivably add in as common, playable races some de-powered humanoid-ish types from area-appropriate myth (satyrs as an example).

2. Distinctions
2.1 Arcane & Divine Magic
Cultural distinctions in terms of which cultures commonly have which types of casters; for example, Babylon has a lot of clerics and not many of other caster types. But the types of magic themselves are not treated differently.

2.2 Players & Setting
Rules are applied evenly. Players are more likely to break stereotypes than NPCs (i.e. you'll probably never find a Babylonian oracle or sorcerer, except as a PC).

2.3 Locations & Periods (some history here)
Most areas are the same. The ruins of Atlantis are likely an area of wild magic of some sort. Some knowledge is culturally restricted; for example, only Jerusalem has golems.

There was more high-level magic in the past. Atlantis forged an empire on the backs of its sorcerers and priests, and it maintained power through magical public works. It had enough casters to forcibly maintain good weather throughout the Empire with ritual magic. Its armies possessed techniques, now lost, permitting the effective casting of spells in armor (moreso than the magus & bard), as well as magical items which made their spells more powerful and recharged their consumables. Power flowed from the capital (and the font of magic in the island city's volcanic heart) to the Empire, providing many benefits. Magical progress preempted mundane progress, and kept the Empire in the Bronze Age.

Then the Cataclysm happened. Atlantis vanished, natural weather patterns violently reasserted themselves, and populaces kept in line only by the fear of the Imperial Marines revolted against the corrupt puppet regimes. Now the region is rebuilding itself, a collection of feuding city-states scattered around the sea.

Certain secrets Atlantis kept to itself are lost. The font of power Atlantis was fueled by is lost. Magic itself is generally unchanged.

2.4 Mobile & Immobile Magic
No distinction planned.


PhelanArcetus wrote:


  • Specific Spells: Unsure as yet; limiting to 4th or even 3rd level spells should take care of this, though I will likely ban some spells I just dislike in general. At E8 I may ban some specific spells that I fear will have an outsize impact on the world (dimension door, for example), or I may just provide workarounds (a non-magical material that blocks teleportation, for example). I may also cut the duration on some long-term buff spells.
  • Healing Access: Access is not restricted.
  • Resurrection Access: None, thanks to E6/E8. There are probably plot-related ways to bring back a dead companion, but they are adventures in of themselves rather than a spell or ritual.
  • May want to add Reincarnate to your specific spell ban list. May want to hit the Reincarnated Druid archetype while you are at it.


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
    Dreaming Warforged wrote:
    PhelanArcetus wrote:


    Now I've got two basic approaches I use for that. One is E6-E8, in one setting. The other is writing an entirely different game system that aims to avoid many of the issues that arise with magic.
    Interesting... What are your thoughts on allowing only partial (1-6) casters?

    I haven't seen much point in doing that (though I often prefer to play those, because I tend to like a mix of martial & magical in my characters, and I've recently gravitated towards 4-level casters). Going to E6 or E8 addresses the issue well enough; the full caster has fewer spell slots, less powerful top-level spells, and he doesn't have the caster level to make his low-level spells into near-permanent buffs.

    True, partial casters have lower-level spells (3rd at 8th instead of 4th), and fewer spell slots, and they also tend to have fewer utility or problem-solving spells on their lists. But in the E6/E8 world, there's less need to worry about the gap, because it's smaller. As a side note, you also end up eliminating the entire "I am just a caster" archetype by adding martial or skill monkey or musician or something else into the character concept.

    As far as necromancy, that's a thing I should consider, along with summoning. A house rule limiting how many creatures you can have on the board, and the fact that raising undead is an Evil act and thus frowned upon are all I'd really need. (Last summer I played a one-shot wherein we had issues with the cleric raising tons of undead which were all competitive with the party's frontliners.) I also dislike setups wherein the summon-monkey has two entire parties worth of minions on the field; it's bad enough to sit around for 5 minutes waiting for the wizard to decide what spell to cast; it's much worse to sit around for 15 minutes while the wizard directs all his minions and half of them outperform your fighter.

    DrDeth wrote:
    PhelanArcetus wrote:

    One thing I note with the removal of magic item marts; .....

    The other is writing an entirely different game system that aims to avoid many of the issues that arise with magic.

    I dont replace Ye Olde Magik Shoppe with custom orders, I replace with drops. Sometimes custom drops, sure.

    Have you tried Iron Heroes?

    Yes, no doubt there are issues with Magic, but there are also issues with taking a normal magic game like PF and trying to make it Very Low Magic.

    I've looked over Iron Heroes, briefly, and it didn't seem to offer entirely what I wanted.

    I think that the sort of low-magic I'm targeting here is fine in PF, because the biggest part is actually gotten from a level cap.

    The non-PF game I'm building aims to focus on the sweet spot, and eliminate the hard distinction between magical and martial characters. Everyone will share the same breadth of capabilities and set of basic resources. (This lets me not worry about if more or fewer encounters/day give some classes more power than others.) I also want to make items a minor part of the character; the sort of thing where, yes, you have items, but you don't feel like the items are even close to as important to your effectiveness as your character himself is. Items should provide a small boost in effectiveness to the things you already do, and some additional capabilities.

    If I build this right, the difference between a high-magic-seeming world and a low-magic-seeming world will just be which choices of disciplines (closest analogue is cleric domains) are available to the players; if they're restricted to disciplines focused on strengthening yourself and tricky moves, it will feel low-magic, whereas if you have access to disciplines that hurl fire and lightning around, it will feel high-magic.


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
    Anzyr wrote:
    PhelanArcetus wrote:


  • Specific Spells: Unsure as yet; limiting to 4th or even 3rd level spells should take care of this, though I will likely ban some spells I just dislike in general. At E8 I may ban some specific spells that I fear will have an outsize impact on the world (dimension door, for example), or I may just provide workarounds (a non-magical material that blocks teleportation, for example). I may also cut the duration on some long-term buff spells.
  • Healing Access: Access is not restricted.
  • Resurrection Access: None, thanks to E6/E8. There are probably plot-related ways to bring back a dead companion, but they are adventures in of themselves rather than a spell or ritual.
  • May want to add Reincarnate to your specific spell ban list. May want to hit the Reincarnated Druid archetype while you are at it.

    Good point. I see druids in play rarely enough, and enough terror of changing race, that I forget Reincarnate even exists. The archetype... I don't see anyone I know wanting it. Wanting the associated story, yes, but wanting or caring about the mechanical effects, no. And since there's basically zero chance of publishing the setting, I haven't worried about making a full and explicit list of banned and not banned; my players are smart enough and nice enough to ask before taking anything questionable.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    There's a d20 setting and ruleset that could be easily adapted to PF that focuses on a Sword and Sorcery type of world very much fitting the concept of Conan called Xoth. Most of the available spells seem to be low level utility spells with very few attack spells, and there is a kind of taint mechanic included as well. The adventures feel very Conan as well, and definitely material for a low magic game.

    Endzeitgeist gave a glowing review of Xoth setting and adventures that might worth checking out!


    @PhelanArcetus: Thanks for your Arcadia setting example. It's interesting to read your solutions and your pending questions!

    It seems clear that some of the... Let's call them 'Low Magic DMs' (LMDMs). So, some LMDMs have mentioned the two reasons as stated by Kolokotroni: The feel of the world and Curtailing narrative power. I don't think anyone has mentioned something related to Curbing direct power, though it can be argued that curtailing narrative power can have the side effect of curbing direct power, even though it's not the LMDMs' intention.

    Yet, two more reasons have been mentioned, which I'd like to propose to add to Kolokotroni's list:

    4. Avoiding the Magical Christmas Tree: This is not so far from 1. The fell of the world, but it has been repeatedly been stated as a thorn in the side of the game that you need to accumulate an inordinate amount of flat-bonus items that can rob the game of flavour. Not every DM or player feels that way, but those who do sometimes choose a Low Gear version of Low Magic where they remove most Big Six items. As some have stated, this needs to be fine-tuned carefully with other house rules, especially if the game goes beyond level 8.

    5. Staying in the Sweet Spot: For some players and DMs, the game starts to grind down to accounting and loooong combat. These individuals wish the game to stay in lower levels, but do not necessarily wish for shorter campaigns, starting over and over at level 1. For them, a Low Power (Spells and Gear) version of Low Magic is preferable and they'll be naturally drawn to variants like E6.

    Does those sound like valid additional reasons to choose Low Magic, though they possibly lead to different versions of Low Magic (Gear vs Power)?

    More on topic (though I agree that DMs need to look at the reasons behind their choice to align their decisions on categories and distinctions accordingly): have some of you built or chosen settings where the Creature category had been modified towards a lower level of magic (or fantasy?). For example, only humans and very few fantastic creatures (only mythical for example)?


    gamer-printer wrote:

    There's a d20 setting and ruleset that could be easily adapted to PF that focuses on a Sword and Sorcery type of world very much fitting the concept of Conan called Xoth. Most of the available spells seem to be low level utility spells with very few attack spells, and there is a kind of taint mechanic included as well. The adventures feel very Conan as well, and definitely material for a low magic game.

    Endzeitgeist gave a glowing review of Xoth setting and adventures that might worth checking out!

    Thanks for this! The Xoth Blog details his house rules to create his low magic setting. Some of the things that struck me:

    -only humans (answers my previous question!).
    -restricted crafting feats.
    -magic weapons are replaced by an expanded masterwork system.
    -training can lead to better saves and AC (might be similar to Kolo's system).
    -spell lists are greatly modified.

    Regarding spell lists, he gives great advice based on the following categories:
    -Artillery Spells
    -Life-Restoring Magic
    -Convenience Spells
    -Instant Transportation
    -Powerful Low-Level Divinations
    -“Superhero” Spells

    This is a great way to limit what magic can and cannot do.


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

    I'm going to take a look at Xoth later today. I've got a lot of interesting ideas for my own system, but I'm always, always, always happy to mine other people for more ideas. Especially since a major inspiration for the main setting for my own system is, in fact, Conan. (I'm also sketching out a Dark-Sun-esque setting for it.)

    Generally I have two major interests. One is to stay in that sweet spot, where the full caster doesn't just solve everything. I'm in enough high-level games as a limited or non-caster that it's just depressing to think about how much more breadth and power a caster has compared to a fighter. (Other related fixes are more skill points for the poor 2+Int classes who aren't Int-based and fewer spells that grant huge personal bonuses to skills or else simply bypass the need for them.)

    The other is to feel like my character is powerful, not just a Christmas tree wearing a bunch of powerful gear. The more of your overall power comes from wealth, the less you feel personally powerful; this is especially true for the fighter types, I think, because the casters tend to add breadth or depth with items, while the fighters are mostly adding flat bonuses to bring their numbers up (whether the game really requires you to be as hard on the upgrade treadmill as you feel you need to be or not (I was reading Trailblazer last night)).

    In fact, as much as there's much frustration in the game I'm playing a paladin in, which has no stat items, massively reduced wealth, and an annoying 2e-era nerf to your items for being on the wrong plane... I feel like a lot more of my paladin's power is my character, compared to my similarly high-level 3.5 fighter. (Granted the paladin has some pretty handy spells and smite, the fighter basically has power attack and huge saves; many of the class features he has are nigh-worthless.) So the paladin there has a much wider set of capabilities as well.

    In Atlantis specifically, I want to not deal with high-level magic, high-level math breakdown, and so on, while exploring a world that has a lot of magic. Part of it is predicated on what a society with near-unlimited magic might do instead of developing technology, and part of it is about small kingdoms scrabbling to redefine themselves in the wake of the old political system collapsing (and fighting over the pieces). In this world, the players spend much of their time as, essentially, professional trouble-shooters. They're more likely to be available to solve problems, or even kept on retainer by one kingdom, than they are to be seeking out ancient ruins for personal profit.

    I often look at the idea of prequel adventures set just before the Cataclysm, so the players can influence the history of the setting. Does Rome become a republic or remain a kingdom? The prequel decides. (This is also a way for me to not necessarily make all the historical decisions myself, and avoid writing far too much ancient history. I've had to shelve a great deal of historical information I was working out, which just doesn't matter to anyone but me, because it's so long ago.)


    I think it has been well established in this thread and others that "low magic" is a continuum ranging incredibly low magic to only slight lower than traditional pathfinder.

    What might be useful is a set of examples of how the various modifications of low magic can be combined to create a setting and what key things a GM should look at to run a successful campaign in that style.


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

    Quick read of Xoth and I'm probably going to get it for the adventures (but quite possibly not the mechanics - it sounds more deadly than I enjoy). (That is, very deadly games, or ones that implement the Combat as War concept, tend to leave me feeling stressed about how to survive and win, rather than having fun.)


    My published homebrew the Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG) treats PC death in a unique way. First of all, raise dead, reincarntation (by spell) and resurrection do not function in Kaidan. That said, when anyone dies in Kaidan, they will forcibly reincarnate as per the twisted rules included.

    The five social castes of Kaidan are divided cosmically and intrinsically connected to the Buddhist Wheel of Life - a doomed cycle of reincarnation. Whatever social caste a given PC is, it was determined by birth. Movement between the social castes can only happen at death/reincarnation. The social castes are Heaven (noble caste), Kuge (samurai caste), Human (commoner caste), Animal (yokai based non-human races), and Hungry Ghost (tainted caste).

    Each PC has an accumulation of karma points that are acquired through actions taken - usually only a point or two per playing session. PCs deeds that are lawful and/or good provide positive karma points, while chaotic and/or evil deeds provide negative karma points. Each social caste in the Wheel of Life mechanic has a range of karma points associated with it. At PC death, one's karma point score is tallied, a few spells can be cast that raise or lower the potential score, followed by a d20 roll. With all modifiers added/subtracted your final score is determined. You look at a table to see which class and social caste your score qualifies you for, and you reincarnate to that person.

    Also note, reincarnation is darker even than that. At PC death, once your targetted caste/class is attained, your spirit makes a possession attempt against a living person that fits your target score. If your spiritual possession attempt succeeds, the person possessed is essentially killed and you awaken inside them having reincarnated.

    So while you can play, die and come back in Kaidan, the circumstances around it are very dark and something your PC won't likely forget...


    Anzyr wrote:
    I for one have always interpreted "low magic" to mean "GM doesn't like players to have options/wants the players to struggle/or wants to play out actual medieval history using Pathfinder rules (this will end badly)". And I've found that most of the times, those are the real reasons for "low magic".

    You might be right in as far as "most of the times those are the real reasons for "low magic" though I can't say this 100% confidently, but I love both really high magic and really low magic games, and enjoy DMing in as well as being a player in both.

    Right now my game is on the low magic side, and I've even ran Pathfinder where players had exactly 0 access to magic. On the other hand I've DMed very very high magic games where magic items and spells were very easy for players to get their hands on. Artifacts aside, if the players wanted a certain magic item, they could just assume they could find and purchase it with ease.
    Both styles I have made work well and had fun with, and the players in the games had a lot of fun as well. Interestingly, right now the group is tending to lean towards lower magic settings (not super duper low magic, but certainly lower magic than Golarion for example), but, that could change.

    The current game I run is indeed Renaissance Europe, and the no magic game was CoC during the 20's using Pathfinder rules (as a basis at least, classes were based on the ones from the 3e CoC rules).

    Now, for the current game, I do have a lot of house rules regarding what magic items they do get their hands on and how they work. Since they can't just be bought and are so rare I like to have them be more than just your typical +1 sword for example. I have other setting specific houserules as well. However I find it rather fun to make and playtest such houserules and then see them in play in an actual campaign, if I didn't I would probably have just kept things much simpler and largely just refluffed a lot of magic stuff to be mundane instead.

    As far as resurrection spells, I've ran the full gamut from games where PCs can just auto-resurrect, at least in certain conditions (which can make things interesting in its own way) to the current game where resurrection has a good chance of not working or going horribly wrong. They both lend a very different feel to the game world. The current group as a whole really has veered towards wanting a more "hard mode" sort of game, to the point where if I'm going to get any complaints it will be that something didn't have severe enough repercussions and was too easy to deal with.

    RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    One, I'm going to point out that the settlement creation rules actually go with the limited magic items idea, though it's poorly phrased and hard to do. If you use the settlement rules the town has every item below a certain value (I'd assume potions/scrolls and maybe wondrous) and then a handful of more powerful items (which are intended to be randomly generated - but there is no easy way to do this).

    My last long term game, my GM tried to declare it 'low magic'. THere were no restrictions on us, we could be casters, but as we gained levels, we'd suddenly be in charge of all arcane casters in the world (ie there are only 20 12th level casters in the world and they are in charge).

    We were able to buy magic everywhere, use it constantly, found tons of it in treasure, even traveled into the future where magic 'didn't exist' but really meant that using any magic was 10x more powerful (I might have lit up a building like a Christmas tree with a single light spell). The only thing it really meant was we rarely encountered enemy spellcasters, which as we gained levels and experience the melee and monsters were not able to challenge us and particularly couldn't counter our casters, one of whom was a synthesist summoner (and the most effective way to get rid of him was dispel magic or dismissal).

    Just throwing that out as a really bad example of 'low magic'


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

    That is an example of bad "low magic". I've also heard stories about "low magic" games where it meant "you guys get no spellcasters, no magic items, etc.... but you're up against Batman wizard liches with legions of troops equipped with magical gear".

    The straight up settlement rules actually are pretty easily tweaked to avoid big, powerful items; even items under the base value are a 75% chance as I recall, and if you simply keep base value low (are there rules on what it should be? Ah, I see; even a metropolis normally has only 16,000 gp for that), then a lot of powerful items are very hard to find. I'm definitely going to keep that in mind when my PCs in Wrath of the Righteous want to make purchases (though I'm sure they'll have crafting feats).

    I suspect a lot of people don't follow the settlement rules, and, of course, if you allow crafting feats, for a pretty small investment, a wizard PC can equip the party pretty extensively. In my Kingmaker game, we have Craft Wondrous Item, Craft Magic Arms & Armor, and Forge Ring, and that covers almost everything we could want (since metamagic rods got banned). We barely need to go shopping for anything non-trivial.


    really depends MMCJawa with your player group there... my group will complain if I flub rolls to keep them alive in an encounter, believe me, and that can mean that bad luck results in death in something that really is not a major fight/plot point (it's unlikely, but bad enough luck does happen). This is in games where resurrection spells are not entirely banned but likely to go interestingly (and much more likely in a bad way than good way).
    At least some of them will tend to complain about any sort of Deus Ex Machina to save their butts too.

    Really, it comes down to knowing your group. Some prefer things to be much nastier than others. The main problems I've had have been when I have a player that has a very different idea about how deadly the game should be than others, I've lost players that wanted death or other severe consequences to be very very unlikely to take place, while the rest of the group thrives on dealing with those scenarios. Of course, it isn't really possible to please everyone, especially if you want to be fair and not go easier on some players than others (though, this kinda gets into another sort of topic).


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
    Farastu wrote:

    really depends MMCJawa with your player group there... my group will complain if I flub rolls to keep them alive in an encounter, believe me, and that can mean that bad luck results in death in something that really is not a major fight/plot point (it's unlikely, but bad enough luck does happen). This is in games where resurrection spells are not entirely banned but likely to go interestingly (and much more likely in a bad way than good way).

    At least some of them will tend to complain about any sort of Deus Ex Machina to save their butts too.

    Really, it comes down to knowing your group. Some prefer things to be much nastier than others. The main problems I've had have been when I have a player that has a very different idea about how deadly the game should be than others, I've lost players that wanted death or other severe consequences to be very very unlikely to take place, while the rest of the group thrives on dealing with those scenarios. Of course, it isn't really possible to please everyone, especially if you want to be fair and not go easier on some players than others (though, this kinda gets into another sort of topic).

    The important thing as you said is to tailor the rules to the group, and let them know how you are running a game. I think going in players should certainly know how lethal a game you intend to run, since that is going to dictate character design and playstyle.


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

    One thing with lack of resurrection, actually from a campaign where it is available, we were just too low level.

    DM hit us with a random encounter containing a bodak (3.5). My cohort, the druid's animal companion, and one PC all died immediately. I forget if we destroyed it, drove it off, or fled, but... retrieving the dead was relatively easy. We got them back to life in what could likely have been half a session if not for the slowness of playing online. The big cost is that we had to give the underworld equivalent souls, and just stabbing them in the face wasn't sufficient. Now, we had roughly a year for this, but the point is that it worked out well.

    We didn't have to go on a long adventure before we recovered our lost; we hit up a knowledge check or maybe a city for some research, we found a way to the realm of the dead, and we pretty easily made the bargain. The DM switched back & forth between the living, working their way to the underworld to negotiate, and the dead, toiling away in a dreary afterlife a few times.

    Now if a dead PC means "spend 3-4 sessions doing nothing or at best playing an NPC until you do come back", then you need raise dead effects. If, however, there isn't a large chunk of time with the player on the sidelines, it's much less problematic.

    You could also do interesting things like have the dead PC haunt one or more of the living ones, to mechanical effect (take some limited actions, as well as still being with the party "in spirit", able to talk). Maybe the dead fighter ends up haunting the rogue or cleric, providing them with a buff to their attack rolls, getting to talk (maybe only to the one they haunt), and can, with consent, take over the haunted PC to use his own skills temporarily.


    gamer-printer wrote:

    PCs deeds that are lawful and/or good provide positive karma points, while chaotic and/or evil deeds provide negative karma points. Each social caste in the Wheel of Life mechanic has a range of karma points associated with it.

    Also note, reincarnation is darker even than that. At PC death, once your targetted caste/class is attained, your spirit makes a possession attempt against a living person that fits your target score. If your spiritual possession attempt succeeds, the person possessed is essentially killed and you awaken inside them having reincarnated.

    Which of course would be a Evil act, causing any honorable person to commit seppuku.

    Id have to say "No thanks, my PC dies permanently."


    DrDeth wrote:
    gamer-printer wrote:

    PCs deeds that are lawful and/or good provide positive karma points, while chaotic and/or evil deeds provide negative karma points. Each social caste in the Wheel of Life mechanic has a range of karma points associated with it.

    Also note, reincarnation is darker even than that. At PC death, once your targetted caste/class is attained, your spirit makes a possession attempt against a living person that fits your target score. If your spiritual possession attempt succeeds, the person possessed is essentially killed and you awaken inside them having reincarnated.

    Which of course would be a Evil act, causing any honorable person to commit seppuku.

    And indeed it is a very evil act, but not an act actively performed, all spirits in Kaidan reincarnate this way - its not a matter of choice or knowledge that it happened. It just happens.

    A couple pieces of missing data. One, most people do not remember their previous lives and never know what happens after death. Although their spirit is actively possessing someone for the reincarnation process, once they have reincarnated, they have no knowledge that that had occured at all.

    DrDeth wrote:
    Id have to say "No thanks, my PC dies permanently."

    As a player, simply avoid the Kaidan setting and that won't happen to you. Actually your PC wouldn't die permanently (you don't get the choice), it would become an NPC, if you as a player dropped out of the game. The cycle of reincarnation is "fixed" - its how the planes work in Kaidan, and aside from the possessing spirit aspect, the Wheel of Life is how Buddhist reincarnation is supposed to work, at least as told to me by a senior Buddhist priestess as source for this information.

    And as strange and dark as that is, many reviewers claim that Kaidan is one of the best non-Paizo PF settings in existence. Here's one.


    gamer-printer wrote:


    And indeed it is a very evil act, but not an act actively performed, all spirits in Kaidan reincarnate this way - its not a matter of choice or knowledge that it happened. It just happens.

    A couple pieces of missing data. One, most people do not remember their previous lives and never know what happens after death. Although their spirit is actively possessing someone for the reincarnation process, once they have reincarnated, they have no knowledge that that had occured at all.

    As a player, simply avoid the Kaidan setting and that won't happen to you. Actually your PC wouldn't die permanently (you don't get the choice), it would become an NPC, if you as a player dropped out of the game. The cycle of reincarnation is "fixed" - its how the planes work in Kaidan, and aside from the possessing spirit aspect, the Wheel of Life is how Buddhist reincarnation is supposed to work, at least as told to me by a senior Buddhist priestess as source for this information.

    How does that actually work? What happens to the spirit of the person being reincarnated into? Do they get reincarnated into someone else - setting off a chain reaction? If you don't remember your previous life once reincarnated, do you have the new bodies' memories? Or are you an adult blank slate? Where do the spirits for new-borns come from - are they new spirits or other reincarnated ones?

    Standard Buddhist Wheel of Life reincarnation, as I understand it, doesn't raise any of these questions, since spirits are reborn as the only spirit in a new-born.


    It sets off an unstoppable chain of reincarnation attempts. At any time, a spiritual possession attempt may occur to a PC. There are spells to offer some protection from this happening, as well as spells to aid the possessed when the act commences. And let it be known that spiritual possession is no guarantee of success. If a possessing spirit fails to takeover a living person, that spirit goes to the newborn pool, so that you will be reborn as an infant in the social caste your karma score determines.

    Just as resurrection spell sometimes includes loss of levels, the reincarnation process often includes loss of levels, but is replaced by class levels of the person you reincarnated into. In Kaidan, if you were killed violently, chances are you will eventually remember some if not all your previous life - this is a process of a week or more to regain memories. The average resident of Kaidan who dies a non-violent death never remembers their past lives.

    As you state, the memories you now have (once reincarnated) is the memories of the person you've reincarnated into - you eventually retain memories of your past life, as well as the life of the person you inhabit. You are not a blank slate.

    Kaidan was founded by an ancient divine curse caused by the suicide of an entire imperial house (based on actual history surrounding the Taira clan at the end of the Genpei War 1180 - 1185). All the existing souls in Kaidan at the time was fixed, so no new souls can be created - its a closed system. All reincarnations occur within the limited pool of souls. Thus the population of Kaidan cannot increase. Because of this problem, Kaidan has opened its borders to outsiders in recent years, as an attempt to gain new souls to feed the system - once enough souls are acquired Kaidan will close its borders once again.

    Also note: if you were a PC from somewhere other than Kaidan, even worshipping a specific deity with an expected spiritual destination once you die, if you die in Kaidan, your soul is bound to the reincarnation cycle and your spirit can never escape.

    The only way to spiritually escape this doom is to discover enlightment and achieve Nirvana. However, unlike Japan, in Kaidan, this is a closely guarded secret, and an activity banned by Shogunate law.

    And yes, standard Buddhist Wheel of Life is rebirth as new borns, however, for game playability I wanted adult reincarnations to be possible, so is the reason for why the mechanics are the way they are, and to be another dark aspect of a "ghost story" setting.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Dreaming Warforged wrote:
    Marroar Gellantara wrote:


    Flat bonuses are what martials NEED to be relevant in their most critical areas. Things like flying and other utility can be provided by the caster's spells. If you are truly doing low magic, then such items should not be needed, because low magic = low level. If you want low magic at higher levels, then don't play this game. Even if you try to force it, it would require massive rewrites when better free/cheap systems do exist.

    There are two things you've mentioned I would like to explore: whether low magic needs to equate low level, and whether the flat bonuses are sorely needed for martial classes.

    About low magic = low level: what makes it so? Again, there are many ways to see low magic. I'm interested in clarifying what, in your opinion, low magic is, and how this requires keeping levels low.

    About flat bonuses, is a +X bonus making that much of a difference that many other things need to be rewritten? Can you give me examples?

    I know the question wasn't directed at me but...

    I equate low-magic with low-levels for several reasons, but the most prominent reason is because I consider low-magic to be striving for a grittier, more realistic sort of game, where the fantastic is more rare and harder to come by. To me, there is little less magical about a barbarian skydiving from the edge of the atmosphere onto a granite spike and walking away from it than there is to see a wizard casting flesh to stone. Both are equally fantastic.

    I was recently GMing a game I'd consider "low-magic". Specifically I dialed back the availability of things like spellcasting services and reduced a town's effective size for the purposes of purchasing magic items by a bit. However, this game also flew in the face of what most would consider low-magic, because while making magical nick-nacks more rare throughout the world, I also made them easier to make for pretty much everyone. There were no item creation feats (instead all magical doodads were made with various Craft and Spellcraft skills). Magic itself was rarer in the world in that there were fewer casters and most of the world was a low-level.

    In a similar fashion, the game was also running on slow-XP tracks, and treasure was dialed to "low-fantasy". Ultimately the campaign has methods to comfortably meet the challenges I'd set forth in the world (such as being able to deal with higher level foes, or exotic foes with various DRs and such) but the PCs are more self-sufficient overall.

    I see magical doodads as pretty much required to play D&D/Pathfinder as it is. If you don't have access to magical items you have to make up the difference with spellcasters. Now a party that has some strong dedicated casters can very easily pull the weight of all the major buffs that you'd get from magic items and then some, but I prefer that my players play what they want to play rather than having to have someone be "the guy" just so the party can swing their +1 weapons.

    However, even with access to magical trinkets, it's not that hard to frame the world in such a way that you understand that magic isn't common, even in game where everyone effectively has every item creation feat with a few invested skill points.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I think the thing a lot of people miss with low magic setting is that they seem to presume that the players in one will be meeting the exact same challenges as the PCS in a higher magic setting. If you tailor one end, you have to also tailor the others. You choose the opponents, they might even be a lower cr than pcs of their level would normally face. But I don't consider that particularly relevant as long as they ARE challenging.

    Things like humanoids with class levels, or even higher monsters edited to account for magic lowering ... You can balance it, and if you have a lot of practice with that sort of setting, you can balance it pretty easily.


    Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

    And that's part of the reason that the primary antagonists of After Atlantis are also humanoids. Now they are implicitly bound by the same rules as the PCs in terms of equipment and spell access. I don't have to worry as much about the spell-like abilities or defenses of enemies being "ok" in normal Pathfinder because of the assumption of better gear than my characters have. Likewise, why I'm basically capping equipment at about what players would have in normal Pathfinder at the level cap. In fact, this way, I can use almost anything of a CR up to, say, APL+2 without any real fear of destroying the party with threats they cannot counter due to lack of gear. Some care is needed, but nothing like if I went to level 20 while only allowing +1 weapons.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Dreaming Warforged wrote:

    4. Avoiding the Magical Christmas Tree: This is not so far from 1. The fell of the world, but it has been repeatedly been stated as a thorn in the side of the game that you need to accumulate an inordinate amount of flat-bonus items that can rob the game of flavour. Not every DM or player feels that way, but those who do sometimes choose a Low Gear version of Low Magic where they remove most Big Six items. As some have stated, this needs to be fine-tuned carefully with other house rules, especially if the game goes beyond level 8.

    For me this falls under #1, the feel of the world, but I guess it can be divided up a bit.

    1.1How common magic is in the form of magical characters, such as spellcasters, and creatures with magical or supernatural abilities. This can drastically alter the feel of a setting. Compare say ebberron to game of thrones, its not just the plot or the characters that makes them different. Having mechanical men, weird creatures, and magic elemental powered trains is going to alter the tone of your setting. Wizards on every street corner is going to change what it means to be a wizard character, or to interact with one.

    1.2 How common magic is in the form of magical items.
    1.2.1. How potent those magical items are and how much they impact the setting. If everyone has a magic trinket, and every warrior worth his salt has a magic sword, then the perception in setting is going to be different. And in the default setting, things that by any normal examination would be priceless, are just trinkets. Think about what masterwork is supposed to represent. The best that normal hands can craft. A weapon so good it actually gives you a noticable advantage in battle. A mw blade is a hitori hanzo sword (from kill bill). But in pathfinder/dnd, its a throwaway you get at like level 1 or 2 to be replaced with a magic weapon that you'll replace again shortly thereafter.
    1.3
    The feel of magic within the party. Though this is linked to the feel of the setting, often the party is special or unique. The fellowship in the lord of the rings actually had a large amount of magic items relative to the rest of the world (even among elite warriors). So often they are expected to be more fantastic then the base assumptions for a setting. But even so, the magic item in every slot, and the constant rotation of items in and out of use because of minor upgrades can be offputting for some stories, or desired themes. So for instance combating the christmas tree effect doesn't HAVE to alter how magic items feel in your setting, it often can be a goal in and of itself.

    Quote:

    5. Staying in the Sweet Spot: For some players and DMs, the game starts to grind down to accounting and loooong combat. These individuals wish the game to stay in lower levels, but do not necessarily wish for shorter campaigns, starting over and over at level 1. For them, a Low Power (Spells and Gear) version of Low Magic is preferable and they'll be naturally drawn to variants like E6.

    This is basically #3. Curbing direct power. E6 certainly curbs power. It puts a cap on the numbers. It puts a cap on what spells are available. Staying in the 'sweet spot' basically means holding magical characters back after level 6 or so, by some fashion or another.

    Quote:

    Does those sound like valid additional reasons to choose Low Magic, though they possibly lead to different versions of Low Magic (Gear vs Power)?

    More on topic (though I agree that DMs need to look at the reasons behind their choice to align their decisions on categories and distinctions accordingly): have some of you built or chosen settings where the Creature category had been modified towards a lower level of magic (or fantasy?). For example, only humans and very few fantastic creatures (only mythical for example)?

    Not really, i've played in such games, but never built one. Though with the new monster codex, and the npc codex, it might be less of a chore. I never liked that if you cut out most monsters, it meant building lots more npcs from scratch. Tools like the codex(es?) make that far more practical.

    Edit: though i disagree that looking at goals is off topic. A principle tool in defining low magic is examinging why you are trying to acheive it in the first place. And by putting a sort of colored lense on the end result based on the intended goals, what becomes a very messy definition of 'low magic' becomes a lot more clear. A dms tastes and desires are vitally important to understanding what low magic means in their setting.


    Curbing Direct Power and Staying in the Sweet Spot might sound the same, but for me they come from different needs. E6 is a possible answer to those two needs, but the same solution can come from different needs. One sounds more like it's about control and restriction (curbing), while the other seems more related to the whole table's decision (sweet spot).


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    This whole Low Magic discussion revolves around three sets of questions:

    1. Why Low Magic? Looking at the reasons for a DM or a player to opt for a Low Magic setting or campaign. These reasons will influence the next question's answer, to a degree.

    2. What Low Magic? Providing for clarifications on Spells, Gear, and Creatures.

    3. How Low Magic? Defining clear house rules that, put together, would make the campaign viable and enjoyable.

    These questions are not always answered in sequence. I can see a lot of back and forth between 1 and 2, to develop a setting coherent with one's goals, then a little less between 2 and 3, where it might be hard to find house rules that solve specific issues or concerns.


    I'm not sure why people are even trying to do this. It's like trying to define beauty. You're never going to get a consensus. Just a lot of argument. It pretty much means whatever you personally want it to mean. It has less magic then X. That is all.

    101 to 150 of 207 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | next > last >>
    Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / Defining 'Low Magic' All Messageboards

    Want to post a reply? Sign in.