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D&D 3E
Campaign Setting Magics 
10th-Sep-2005 06:58 pm
Necromancy
I've been thinking about making a campaign setting for much of the time I've been playing D&D. I've tried to get it started for a while, but now I'm finally getting solid ideas enough so that I can begin the process.

The first thing I'm going to tackle is the role of magic (and psionics) in the world. I plan on using arcane and divine magic, psionics with the "psionics are different" rule, and incarnum. But I'm not really happy with the current way that arcane and divine magic are under the standard D&D rules. I feel like there should be more of a gap between the two. This is where I need some ideas.

I'll give you what I've got so far...

Arcane Magic: Dragons will be one of the oldest creatures in existance. Arcane magic may be descended from them in some way. I might use something like the creation of Eberron for this one, with some "progenitor" dragons, who will be very powerful entities, though probably not gods. Arcane magic is everywhere in the world, free energy waiting to be harnessed. Wizards learn arcane formulas to manipulate this energy through somatic, verbal, and material components. Sorcerers will draw on the "dragon descended" or "dragon touched" theory. In this world, however, sorcerers have no need for material components for the most part. If I can somehow balance the material component cost for more powerful spells, I may get rid of those for them as well.

Divine Magic: Deities and outsiders will be some of the oldest creatures in existance as well. Divine magic comes from one of these sources. I'm kind of stuck as to whether I actually want "deities" in my game. I may just have very powerful outsiders "grant" spells through their philosophy. This gets rid of one of the things I dislike, which is the power conflict between outsider lords and deities (especially in the case of Asmodeus, and whether he could beat a god, yada yada). There will most likely be no "god" or any such thing of arcane magic, since that kind of mixes between the two, while I'm trying to separate them. I'm still kind of stuck on what to do here, so this is where I need ideas.

Psionics: While arcane magic is outside energy harnessed by the strong, and divine magic is outside energy bestowed upon the faithful, psionics are pure will of the mind. Thus, the "psionics are different" rule. It is not magic. It just is. Though, there may be ways that magic can interfere with psionics, just not in the dispel magic or SR sense. Some creatures always have psionics, such as aboleths and mind flayers. A psionic humanoid is more rare. Psionic individuals will be much more powerful in this setting, as there are few who are aware of psionics, and fewer still that have any capacity to defend against them.

Incarnum: Incarnum is the power of the soul. I don't have Magic of Incarnum yet (since it hasn't been released), so I'm not sure what, if any, changes I will make to the way it works from the way it is presented. I had one idea though. Since incarnum is power derived from souls, and a person's essentia is based on the power of their soul, I may have some sort of soul-bonding thingy. With this, fiends and individuals who know the proper rituals and such can absorb an individual's soul, destroying the dead person's identity and adding the its power to the power of their own soul. This would, in game mechanics, increase the person's essentia pool by some amount, and possibly have other effects (based on what else I learn about incarnum and such when the book comes out). I feel this gives more meaning to the "fiends want souls" thing.

That's all I have for now. I welcome any ideas on any of these subjects.
Comments 
11th-Sep-2005 09:51 pm (UTC)
I dunno if "power of the few" is a suitable balancing factor for psionics. Only need to have one PC try it to mess up a game without suitable resistances to it. I'd vote to add PR in odd places, particularly anything that's rather itelligent, or utilize creatures from XPH fairly liberally.
12th-Sep-2005 12:15 pm (UTC) - You need a systematic fix
If you're planning on using D&D magic, D&D Psionics, and Incarnum, and you still want a divine/arcane split, I'd suggest you look for ways to systemetically make arcane and divine magic different. Some ideas:

Magical Sources: This is one of two ideas I use in my home campaign, As Above, So Below. Magic-users have to gather their mana from a specific source, and for "divine" spellcasters this would be a "Finite Deity." Specifically, they don't recover spells unless they meet a priest or servant of their deity (or their deity herself--finite gods are relatively local, and easy enough to find). "Arcane" spellcasters have a wider assortment, including Dragonkin--which just keeps giving them mana every day until they lose it or explode.

Priest as Prestige Class: The second idea from AASB. In essense, there is no longer a Cleric (or Druid) core class, only a PrC. Traditional clerics can start as Wizards and then become Priests, or start as Mages (Sorcerors) and latter become Druids, or any combination of the two.

Prepared or Known: Not an idea that I've tried, but one that should be easy enough for you to implement. Make either Arcane or Divine magic all sorceror-style, and the other all wizard-style. Gives you a solid difference between the two types of magic without a great deal of design needed.

Use a different system: There are about half a dozen magic-systems that are comparable to D&D magic. Pick one and use it for either Arcane or Divine magic. Notable ones include the magic systems in Iron Heroes, Soverign Stone, Conan, and of course stand alone systems such as Elements of Magic. Not all of these are "balanced" with D&D, however.

Use Psionics: A good idea if you don't mind some name-changing is to get rid of Arcane Magic and re-name "Psionics" as "Arcane Magic." Nicely gives you a spell-point system with entirely different spells, that should be easy enough to convert D&D spells to, and has the "magic is abundant" feel you're going for. (You could at the same time replace Psionics with one of the various third-party Psionics rules, such as the old Grim & Gritty rules, Green Ronin's Psyhic's handbook, or Mindcraft from Alea [shameless plug.])
12th-Sep-2005 02:03 pm (UTC)
to not have psionics be tooo broken you could have the prerequisite be int + the ability required for the discipline so someone would have to be highly intelligent in order to be able to release the power of the other ability.... or you could make concentration a prerequisite since it is all body control and mind control .... maybe the ranks must equal the ability required?

and what did the dragons have to do with the wizards being able to harness the free magic everywhere?
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