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D&D 3E
I came up with an idea and have been thinking it over the past few… 
30th-Jul-2006 10:11 am
I came up with an idea and have been thinking it over the past few weeks...

Have any of you ever tried running a godless (athiest, skeptic, non magical, realism) campaign?
The idea would be that no magic could be used unless it is something that can be replicated with logical and real counterparts.

healing, a ball of fire, an animal companion are all things that can reasonably be explained and replicated with logic, basic technology, alchemy.
but animating the dead, enlarging a person, a magic missile, and vampiric touch are purely based on fantasy and wouldn't be allowed.

I think there's so much more that could be explored through character development if the inexplicable magic and other-worldly powers were stripped away.

Sounds like a huge blast of fun to me, but probably ruins the games for every other person on the planet.
30th-Jul-2006 02:25 pm (UTC)
Many low-magic campaigns use a very similar format, but rather than explaining through logic, subtle spells that don't have overt flashy displays are the only ones allowed. Things such as fireballs don't exist unless you build some sort of machine that shoots one.

I would have a fantastic time in such a campaign, as I have a penchant for warrior classes.
30th-Jul-2006 02:28 pm (UTC)
Ahh, neat!

I'm actually very new to gaming so I wasn't aware anyone ran "low magic" campaigns.
30th-Jul-2006 02:28 pm (UTC)
I don't know... I could think of logical and technological progress that would allow for things like animate dead and magic missile, etc...
30th-Jul-2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
"This spell turns the bones or bodies of dead creatures into undead skeletons or zombies that follow your spoken commands."

How would you get out of that one? :P
30th-Jul-2006 02:50 pm (UTC)
Nanotechnology that uses existing structures, such as bones, as the framework for a robot that follows your commands.
30th-Jul-2006 02:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah but we're talking about dungeons and dragons here- set usually a few hundred years before the Automobile.
30th-Jul-2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
If you're allowing an effect that includes an arbitarily-placed 40-foot ball of flame, animating the dead shouldn't be that much of a problem.

You're already allowing an effect beyond our current tech. (Oh, and don't forget that real voodoo zombies were essentially living people on wild drug trips.)

FWIW, if you want a low-magic game, why not go for a d20-modern or d20-fantasy game? D&D's crunch-heavy system just falls apart if you remove magic.
30th-Jul-2006 11:28 pm (UTC)
d20 Past does wonders for converting the game to lower progress levels (D&D runs at PL2 for reference). You can have completely nil magic, or even just allow the casting advanced classes, or even solely the Occultist who gets access to very few spells.
30th-Jul-2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
Its an interesting concept.

I, however, totally don't understand why 'healing' (the spontaneous closing of wounds, repearing of torn flesh, etc.) can be expolained with logic and science (or even Science!) but animating the dead cannot (micro-servoids, or controllign electrical impulses via implant. Hell, Frakenstein is science-fiction, as it was theoretically possible via science, at the time it was written).

Many DnD Spells can be explained via sufficiently loose science and technology. If you want to make your PCs come up with an explanation, that seems fine. To arbirarily say 'these sorts of spells are okay and these aren't and this is why' seems poor form. It would work fine for a world, but it is a slippery slope and you may need to go through every spell list ahead of time marking things as Okay or Not, to avoid pissing off players.
30th-Jul-2006 03:32 pm (UTC)
Well as I am pretty unfamilliar with the different healing spells in the game I thought it would be akin to dressing a wound, maybe stitching up a wound, cleaning it so it heals properly...

Micro servoids and the like would be entirely out of the time frame that these things are taking place though.

Some flammable object, ignited and flung could definitely be considered a fireball, chemical things could be concocted to cause vision impairment and confusion in an enemy, but reanimating a dead object is not and was not possible.

The whole idea is really flawed, I know, but it sounds very appealing to me.
30th-Jul-2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
I look at Cure spells as natural healing, only GREATLY accelerated. A character normally heals 1hp/level/night. That first level character heals 1hp per night. Now imagine that the cleric casts Cure Light wounds and heals 7hp--you basically see the characters heal a week's worth of recovery in less than 6 seconds. This really is no more natural than raising the dead.
30th-Jul-2006 04:29 pm (UTC)
haha, agreed.

I'm really not familliar with the different healing powers of the game so I just said healing as a generalization.
30th-Jul-2006 03:34 pm (UTC)
And, I didn't really explain, your players would generally be encouraged to use as little "magic" as possible, only in special situations would you say "oh, well, can I use this?".

I just think a "realism campaign" would be very fun!
30th-Jul-2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
You probably need to rewrite the magic rules from the ground up, given how it would affect game balance.
30th-Jul-2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
I didn't make it clear in my post but ideally players would just avoid using anything magical altogether.

The "only if easily explicable though yadda yadda" rule would only be last resorts for someone who insisted on being able to use a certain spell.

It probably would only work if everyone in the group thought it was a good idea.
30th-Jul-2006 04:29 pm (UTC)
There a a couple of low-magic systems out there. I think Iron Heroes looks really fun, though I haven't had a chance to play it yet. It has one spell-casting class, and using it's pretty risky. It's more based around sword and fist combat than swords and sorcery.

D20 Modern might also cover what you're looking for, as it's in some ways designed to simulate reality. You could just drop the casting Advanced classes. Also take a look at the D20 Past sourcebook--it's actually intended to play in real historical events.

I'm not really up on all the game systems out there, but I'm sure there are a number of low-magic ones that would fit what you're looking for.
30th-Jul-2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
GURPS works pretty well with a low magic campaign and, if you wanted to look for it, there are Conan supplements and an RPG if I remember right that are out. While it wasn't exactly the kind of low magic you described, it's certainly not D&D high magic.
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30th-Jul-2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
I did the same thing in ditching gods for my current campaign. I just got rid of divine magic. No more clerics, druids, or paladins (paladins have their own issues anyway so I really didn't mind getting rid of them), and dropped a ranger's spellcasting. I'm trying out using Pact Magic as a replacement for kind of "drawing on the power of extraplanar forces" idea. Most otherwise the D&D game stays exactly the same. Of course, I did use various UA rules and stuff so that the lack of healing isn't game-ending, but really there was very little change.

I also really like magic being rare and mistrusted, but in order for that to really work you do need to practically rewrite the game--not only how players work, but monsters and the game in general as well. I've decided to settle on just magical items being rare and wizards being special, though understandable. Casting a spell definately gets you noticed, but most people realize that wizards are around so aren't stoning them to death.

30th-Jul-2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
The problem is to do so you wind up having to rewrite so much of the game that its not D&D anymore.


Change "cleric" to "white mage", and you're done. You wind up with warcraft-like generic fantasy, which works just fine.
30th-Jul-2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
The biggest challenge in low- or even no-magic D&D games comes at higher levels, when most if not all of the monsters have damage resistance of some sort, and it often requires magic to overcome. 3.5 is a lot better about this than previous versions, replacing the old "+1 or better to hit" with special materials such as adamantine.

Also, character's armor classes are going to peak around 3rd-4th level, while their (and everybody else's) base attack bonuses will continue to increase. The few feats which exist that increase armor class just won't do enough to replace all of those rings of protection, magic armor, etc.

My suggestion would be to check out Iron Heroes by Monte Cook. It's basically a no-magic version of D&D with feats and class abilities fixing the problems mentioned above. It'll save you a ton of work, believe me.
31st-Jul-2006 01:39 pm (UTC)
I second the recommendation to check out GURPS. D&D just isn't really designed to operate the way you're considering; it can be done, but is a lot of effort. GURPS is more complex in some ways, but more readily adaptable to a low/no magic setting.
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