Author Topic: High or low magic?  (Read 6913 times)

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Offline Arioch

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High or low magic?
« on: January 26, 2009, 08:23:38 PM »
What kind of settings do you like to play in? High or low magic? Somehwere in the middle? No magic at all?
Please choose the option you prefer, possibly explaining why, I'm curious to know what people think about the various styles of play.
Thanks!
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Offline ironmaul

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2009, 08:32:59 PM »
For a fantasy game I like the rare and powerful. For something like a pirate adventure I like rare and weak/subtle. Had a bit of a yack about it here.. http://www.ironcrown.com/ICEforums/index.php?topic=7461.0

Offline markc

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2009, 08:46:44 PM »
 To me it really depends on the setting I am playing in or trying to create. But in general I like magic items and in some cases powerful artifacts. Now since I like those things there has to be some way to create them in the setting.
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Offline RandalThor

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2009, 09:10:29 PM »
I had to go with "something else" because I like the combination of Strong/rare and common/weak. You have some magic that is fairly common, but it is minor-magic and not mountain crushing, but you also have the very powerful magic, though it is much more rare.
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Offline jurasketu

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 09:47:55 PM »
In my current HARP campaign, magic is powerful, everyday stuff used for better living and war. On the other hand, there is no lifegiving....

In the past, I've done fantasy campaigns with zero magic with humans as the only intelligent peoples.

And I've done everything else in between.

Which do I prefer? All of the above. The most important rule is consistency. Be consistent and thoughtful of the consequences for a given the level of magic - and everything should follow in an orderly manner from there. Be inconsistent or thoughtless and chaos shall descend upon your campaign...

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Offline Temujin

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2009, 12:41:46 AM »
Depends on the campaign :)

Generally though, I prefer semi-common magic of mid level spells, with few high level casters involved, but have went both extremes (ultra-common magic, extremely powerful, and low, quasi non-existent magic).

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2009, 12:52:29 AM »
I like magic to be subtle, rare and powerful.

But powerful mean that you can do thing normally impossible, not that you can cast a castle shattering magic.
You could be never sure if it's a work of magic or a work of fate...

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Even a very simple spell, can achieve very powerful effect.
In addition all the magic system should maintain an inner logic.

Offline sunwolf

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2009, 08:54:58 AM »
I chose Magic is Common but not too powerful, however I do like to have Very Rare/Very Powerful magic on occassions.  And by magic being common I mean most people are aware of its existence not that it is an everyday part of life in villages.
Anything that makes the GMs life easier without messing the game up will always get a vote from me.

Offline Karizma

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2009, 10:38:54 AM »
The way HARP is set up is for magic to be somewhat common, but it's not overpowered.  I live with that.

But Rolemaster's Arcane magic really took hold of me.  The idea that there's some sort of trick that mages are "missing" really grabs my attention.  So the way I have it set up is that yes, magic is common.  However, the "great" or "real" magic is hidden away, lost to time and legend (after all, the past is always more powerful than the present.  There are some tropes I can't help but stick with.)

Offline Lazvon

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 12:29:59 PM »
For Essence users I love the concept of ley lines and major and minor nodes of power. For MOST of the world average is as the spells are written. Then when in the middle of ley lines for examples, magic scales down, to the void points where magic simply does not exist. Then at a minor intersection spells are a bit more powerful, or might have a bit more flourish. Then at the major nexus, wheeee! Lots of fun things!

Now if only the lines ran in exact straight lines you'd never need pesky navigators to find them. :)

My dream world is a bit unique, and I'd actually say that it really does depend on the campaign and what is trying to be achieved.
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Offline rdanhenry

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 05:47:06 PM »
Ooh, magic-light fantasy. It's like science fiction set in 2012 where the big deal technology is that your character drives an electric car. And the robots are Furbies.

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Offline FatSteve

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 05:56:28 PM »
I like magic to be not-too-rare, but not so common it becomes utilitarian.  It might be the focus of an adventure (say, to stop a certain ritual) but isn't the easy solution to every problem.  A locked door?  No problem!  We'll just use our handy Undoor spell, or Portal, or Long Door, or Opening...  Ick.  I like to give the thieves and fighters something to do. 

I prefer a slower-acting, or more easily detected magic like in the Strange Magic supplement I submitted to the Guild Companion.

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Offline Arioch

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 09:18:31 PM »
First, thanks for all the replies!

I voted for "very powerful and common" magic, where for "very powerful" I mean that magic is capable of earth-shaking events,of creating things from nothing, bringing the dead back to life and so on.
Obviously not all spells cast have to be so potent, and not all spell users will be able to produce this kind of results, but still some of them can.

I've tried many "styles" of fantasy (from no magic to ultra-powerful magic, etc) and I must say that, while I've found none of them to be boring,"high magic" is my favourite.
There are various reasons for this, but mainly is because I like to think about the social/cultural consequences that magic would have and because it helps me to put metaphysical/moral issues as the main themes of my campaigns...

Keep voting!  :)
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Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 09:34:27 PM »
The standard mechanics of RM trend toward weak magic as common, and I go with that. The standard mechanics of RM trend toward moderately serious "trash the village or defeat the monster singlehandedly" magic as uncommon, but common enough to include in your plans, and I go with that. The standard mechanics trend toward "kill everything and wreck the world" magic as very rare, and I'm good with that too.

Oh - Definition of terms:

Common: Only the small hamlets don't have at least one person who knows a spell or two.
Uncommon: Present in cities and large towns, but nowhere near universal. 1 in 2500 perhaps.
Rare: There may be as many as two or three in every group of a million or more.

Weak: Light the campfire. Purify water. Small simple things.
Moderate: Fireballs and lightning bolts. Creations of various types. Powerful magic, but still very local in effect. Raising the dead is at the upper end of this.
Powerful: Not only powerful, but complex and/or widespread. Creating or steering a hurricane. Plagues, earthquakes, that kinda stuff.
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Offline frnchqrtr

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2009, 08:49:05 PM »
Magic is uncommon, but not rare, and it ranges in power from simple hedge wizards to powerful archmages and dangerously powerful priests.  I like sword and sorcery settings, like from the old pulps, in that, you can have all these common little witch-wives running around making their weak little charms, or shamans that can do things like control the weather a little, etc.  That sort of thing, but then BAM! this powerful necromancer comes strolling through this part of the world and raises all kind of hell.

If you've read any of Cook's Black Company books, you'll know what I mean.  Think of Goblin & One-Eye vs. Soulcatcher.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2009, 08:54:19 PM by frnchqrtr »
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Offline Cory Magel

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2009, 01:56:16 AM »
Well, when/if I run my own little 'world'...

Weak Magic is very common, but not really seen as such. Many people have a 'gift' for certain things that is effectively magic, they (or most people) just don't realize it.

Player Characters are only allowed to be and most "main" characters with real magical talent are the equivalent of Semi-Spell Users.

True Pure-Spell Users are quite rare and very powerful.

Magical Objects tend to follow the same trend...
Meaning there are plenty of minor items that have small bonuses or 'blessings' (although not an everyday household item). Think along the lines of a mortar and pestal that gives +5 to healing salves created with it or something of that nature/power level.

What the typical population would consider "Magical" weapons or items are rare and usually in the hands of more capable people (i.e. veteran adventurers wealthy individuals and so on). Think along the lines of a +10 to maybe a +20 weapon at the highest. Very minor side powers, if any.

Truly powerful objects are pretty rare overall and so far as the average population is aware are almost mythical. Only major players/powers would have something along the lines of a +25 Sword of Quickness or even more powerful items.
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Offline Skarsgard

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2009, 04:59:13 PM »
I generally prefer low magic games as it puts the adventure back into adventuring. By the same token I don't mind the NPC's having powerful magic.

I just tend to prefer not to have every situation met with a frantic rush for the books to see what spell can get you across the river without getting wet.  ???

Offline munchy

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2009, 04:08:03 AM »
Well, chose "rare and powerful" which in our game means that every PC usually has some magic and can use it, i.e. magic being quite common among them, but as for NPCs it is usally only one in a village, i.e. the healer, and only a few in cities, i.e. clergy, alchemists, etc. As far as opponents are considered, most of them are non-magical lackeys of some greater spell-user, meaning a low number of semis around.
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Offline sulkow82

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2011, 08:50:59 PM »
For me it's kind of a blend between common and weak and rare and powerful.  I'm looking at having ratio.  In general, a weak (and common) magical item would be something like an amulet which gives the wearer one (1) spell of "freshen air" per day to help in housework.  For so many items like this, there would be one item which is a bit stronger.  This would go up to artifacts which would be like one (1) in a realm.
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Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: High or low magic?
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2011, 10:34:23 PM »
I hate telling players "you can't do that", when possible I prefer to arrange the mechanics where I can say, "If you really want to, you go ahead," and watch his reaction as the rest of the players hurry to tell me they are getting waaay, waaaaay away from him.

Given that, I've been trying to houserule my game to where magic can be pretty much as powerful as you want it.... but you risk your sanity if you survive (even if you are successful), and in cases of really bad failure, you risk becoming the centerpoint of an explosion, and having your comrades take shrapnel damage from pieces of your bones.

So sure, you can have your "high magic" caster.... for just as long as you stay lucky. But the longer you stay lucky, the worse this story ends the first time you aren't.
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