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9/15/2015 9:00 pm  #1


How to make the game... Less magic

I skimmed trough the book and I really liked the setting and all, but I felt it had too much magic. I am looking for pulpier alternatives of D&D, so I got quite disappointed to see so much magic in there. How other DM's overcame this without hurting the fun? Did you still keep magic items?

 

9/16/2015 3:50 am  #2


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

Yes, I kept magic items, but they're each unique: Cloak of the Serpent-folkd, Atlantean Dagger of Shapeshifter-bane, Amulet of Set. My players now know what each does, but it took them some time to figure out. Just make each unique and keep the numbers low. 


"He combined insouciance and flair with dignity; his repartee coruscated with brilliant allusions and turns of phrase; when aroused his wit was utterly mordant."
Jack Vance, The Last Castle
 

9/16/2015 6:27 am  #3


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

Thank you or the hint. What about casting? I know it would debuff a lot Magicians, but I want sorcery to be insanity bringer, or something among these lines.

     Thread Starter
 

9/16/2015 8:47 am  #4


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

I had toyed with the idea of removing spells that to me didn't reflect (my vision of) sword and sorcery.  I'm not fond of the spells like fireball and lightning bolt even though they are staples of the D&D universe.  

Insanity in casting to me should be a long term process brought on by the casting of higher level spells.  Hedge wizards that cast 1-2 level spells may never feel the effects but Mages casting the 5-6 level spells may start losing wisdom or gaining insanity traits unless of course they make pacts with other worldly and alien beings.


"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,"
 

9/16/2015 9:20 am  #5


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

mabon5127 wrote:

I had toyed with the idea of removing spells that to me didn't reflect (my vision of) sword and sorcery.  I'm not fond of the spells like fireball and lightning bolt even though they are staples of the D&D universe.  
.

That is exactly what I was planning, but wouldn't that remove all the power of a magic PC? Like, an warlock who can`t throw fireballs.

     Thread Starter
 

9/16/2015 10:13 am  #6


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

It's easy.  Don't use all the magic.

Seriously.  I ran a one-shot set in Lankhmar.  I just didn't use any magic "stuff" (spell casters, etc...).  If I were to run a campaign set in Lankhmar, I'd do the same and just make up whatever magic stuff/powers the protagonists/antagonists needed.

To recap: if you find there is something in the game you don't like, don't use it.  Make up whatever else you need which isn't already in the game.  I really can't think of playing D&D and similar games in any other way.

I mean, it's not like Ghul is gonna summon Me, HandyHaversack, Gizmomathboy, and Rumplechainskin to gather at your house and use our superpowers to force you to use the magic in the game.

Last edited by francisca (9/16/2015 10:14 am)

 

9/16/2015 11:00 am  #7


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

francisca wrote:

Rumplechainskin


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

9/16/2015 11:15 am  #8


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

Thank you for the tips, I guess I will just cut out the magic then (leaving only essentials) Hopefully it won`t ruin the game balance.

     Thread Starter
 

9/16/2015 11:26 am  #9


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

JorgePedraboa wrote:

mabon5127 wrote:

I had toyed with the idea of removing spells that to me didn't reflect (my vision of) sword and sorcery.  I'm not fond of the spells like fireball and lightning bolt even though they are staples of the D&D universe.  
.

That is exactly what I was planning, but wouldn't that remove all the power of a magic PC? Like, an warlock who can`t throw fireballs.

I'm not a huge fan of balance necessarily but both the witch and illusionist don't have those spells now.  The pyromancer, necromancer, and magician have lots of other options.  But as francisca said do as you will!  


 


"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,"
 

9/16/2015 5:04 pm  #10


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

JorgePedraboa wrote:

I skimmed trough the book and I really liked the setting and all, but I felt it had too much magic. I am looking for pulpier alternatives of D&D, so I got quite disappointed to see so much magic in there. How other DM's overcame this without hurting the fun? Did you still keep magic items?

Welcome to the forum. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

Out of curiosity, have you read the Zothique or Hyperborean stories by Clark Ashton Smith?  The reason I ask is because they're a major influence on the game, and I don't think they support the idea that pulp fantasy is "low magic".  I might say the same thing about the Dying Earth stories or the Elric stories.  For that matter, Conan met a new sorcerer in practically every story - one of whom dropped a bunch of cliffs on Conan's army, and then attempted to revive a lost kingdom from the dead with magic!  Meanwhile, in Tolkein, there were... what, five total wizards in Middle Earth?  Two of whom we never saw, and none of whom cast many spells (I think Gandalf lit some pine cones on fire with magic, but he could have just used a tinderbox for all the difference it made).  To be quite honest, I believe some people have the amount of magic found in pulp fantasy and in "high" fantasy exactly backwards.  Or to put it another way, D&D is already a pulp fantasy game, which is why attempts to turn it into "high" fantasy (a la Dragonlance) have always rung hollow. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/stoned.png

All that said, I think you should remove anything and everything that doesn't fit with your particular vision of pulp fantasy.  I don't give a wererat's left buttock about "game balance" myself, so tough luck if it shafts the spellcasters.  Either people won't play them, or they'll live with the restrictions.  In any case, enjoy the game! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

9/16/2015 9:29 pm  #11


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

Blackadder23 wrote:

Welcome to the forum. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

Out of curiosity, have you read the Zothique or Hyperborean stories by Clark Ashton Smith?  The reason I ask is because they're a major influence on the game, and I don't think they support the idea that pulp fantasy is "low magic".  I might say the same thing about the Dying Earth stories or the Elric stories. 

Thanks. And Sadly, not, I have not yet read it. When I criticize wizardry is not in a way like ''There should be no magic'', but more in the ''throwing fireball'' way. I will cut it out and see how it works, if I get any result I report it here!

     Thread Starter
 

9/16/2015 9:59 pm  #12


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

Good idea.  Always best to try it and see how it works!  That's what writers like Howard, Smith, and Lovecraft did. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png

Last edited by Blackadder23 (9/16/2015 9:59 pm)


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

9/16/2015 10:27 pm  #13


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

Chainsaw wrote:

francisca wrote:

Rumplechainskin

Is that a real  word?http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


To the OP I can understand and sympathize some. Also I agree with what francisca and others have said about things being designed to be adjusted to taste .

My preference is Hyboria over Hyperborea and a lesser Magic system more akin to Stormbringer or even Conan (TSR 1985). It can be fun tinkering with rules systems and look forward to your posts on how it turns out etc for you, Welcome to the board


I filled my palace with deadly traps so trap admirers will come and visit me

AFS magazine - pulp literature meets old school gaming http://hallsoftizunthane.blogspot.com/
 

9/17/2015 3:43 am  #14


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

francisca wrote:

It's easy.  Don't use all the magic.

 
If only it were that easy.  :D

When people start talking about excessive magic in D&D-type games, they usually either go straight for "excessive numbers of magic items" or "fireball-type spells" and, yeah, both of those are easy to get rid of.

But then there's healing magic.

D&D and its clones are heavily based on characters being able to be beaten down and bounce back repeatedly, in rapid succession, often within the span of a single combat.  If you take away clerical healing spells and barrels of healing potions, characters are no longer able to do that, instead taking days, weeks, or even months to recover from their injuries after combat.  This, in turn, requires significant changes to adventure design to compensate for the radically-reduced durability of the PCs.  Which is a good deal more trouble than just saying "this magic doesn't exist".

 

9/17/2015 6:18 am  #15


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

nDervish wrote:

francisca wrote:

It's easy.  Don't use all the magic.

 
If only it were that easy. :D

Uh.  yes it is.

When people start talking about excessive magic in D&D-type games, they usually either go straight for "excessive numbers of magic items" or "fireball-type spells" and, yeah, both of those are easy to get rid of.

But then there's healing magic.

D&D and its clones are heavily based on characters being able to be beaten down and bounce back repeatedly, in rapid succession, often within the span of a single combat. If you take away clerical healing spells and barrels of healing potions, characters are no longer able to do that, instead taking days, weeks, or even months to recover from their injuries after combat.

Look, I don't how to say this without sounding like I'm mocking you.  But yeah, that's SO obvious to me, and I assume everyone else, that I didn't think it needed to be stated.  Combat becomes more lethel,less frequent, and in the end something to avoid, rather than engage in willy-nilly.   In that sense, it also becomes more meaningful. 

One thing you are neglecting: we're talking about Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea here.  In this game, for normal rest, each character gets to roll one hit die and add their CON mod every day for healing.  Complete bedrest for 24 hours heals up a full hit die plus the CON mod.  That's a game changer that isn't present in old-school D&D and it's clones.  So, your PC gets the crap kicked out of him, and has to take it easy for a couple weeks of game time.  That's no big deal.  Magicians take time off to scribe scrolls in standard games.  No biggie.

This, in turn, requires significant changes to adventure design to compensate for the radically-reduced durability of the PCs. Which is a good deal more trouble than just saying "this magic doesn't exist".

Okay, I'm really confused by this.  Are you talking about existing adventures?  I mean, I wouldn't run the G and D series without magic, for example. 

But again, I'm stunned that this isn't obvious.  I mean, yeah no kidding, a couple combats in a period without any rest, and yeah, TPK.  Got it.  It's obvious.  To the point of, "DUH!!!!"  And I flatly disagree that designing an adventure for a party with essentially no magic is difficult. I just can't see how it would be any different than coming up with an adventure for standard D&D, in the sense that you write to the setting. (Well, at least I do.)  Matter of fact, I think it's easier, as there are far less variables to account for.  Does it require a different thought process during design than cranking out a standard D&D adventure?  Well, yes......to a degree, but it's not like you're writing for some foreign system.   Do the players then have to change their habits and not simply charge into combat at every chance?  Yes.....  Again...this is obvious stuff here.  And frankly, I wouldn't want to play with players who were too stupid to realize the situation they were in, or play with a DM who was blind to the realities which a lack of healing magic brings to the game, and ran a "stock" D&D adventure.

It's not rocket science.  I know rocket scientists.  The stuff they do is HARD.  This is easy.

Last edited by francisca (9/17/2015 6:38 am)

 

9/17/2015 6:43 am  #16


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

Scalydemon wrote:

Chainsaw wrote:

francisca wrote:

Rumplechainskin

Is that a real  word?http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

Since March 2015!  Come to GaryCon, and expand your vocab!

 

9/17/2015 7:46 am  #17


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

For me there is only 1 rule for game balance, rule zero. However, that guides all my games.

If you aren't having fun then don't do it.

I ran in Francisca's low magic...well no pc magic IIRC, Lankhmar one-shot. We didn't really need to worry about healing since it was a con game.

However, it easily could have turned into a decent long campaign.

As Francisca noted earlier, healing in ASSH doesn't require magic to be workale. Sure, you aren't gonna get knocked down to 5% of your HP in one room and decide to see what's behind door #3 right afterwards.

Heck, I don't think my current ASSH game as any healers in the active party. Wait...they have a druid, but no healing spells until he gets to 3rd level. That's 4,000 XP away. So, even though the party has a necromancer and druid, they are still first level. That's pretty low magic right there.

But as has been said, customize to your whim and see how it goes. That's how we got ASSH Ghul compiled up his house rules and realized he had a nifty taking on a gaming system.


What? Me worry?
 

9/17/2015 7:52 am  #18


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

francisca wrote:

Scalydemon wrote:

Is [Rumplechainskin] a real  word?http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

Since March 2015!  Come to GaryCon, and expand your vocab!

So, quick story: bunch of us are standing in front of Gary Con having beers late on Wednesday or Thursday night, like 1AM or something. Random dude rolls up to the front door with his luggage bag. I'm double fisting beers, drunk and feeling generous, so I give my extra to the dude. He happily accepts it and slams it quickly, so he's OK in my book. This prompts me to jokingly follow up with, "You owe me for that beer, man!" and Rumplechainskin was born. Good times. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


Anyway, welcome to the forum Jorge - want a beer? As for your question, without thinking about it too much, a few possibilities come to mind: 
- increase the required intelligence/wisdom scores (making magicians/clerics less common)
- limit maximum character level (or significantly increase XP requirements per level), limit maximum spell level or limit maximum number of knowable (or memorizable spells) or some combination (making magician/cleric PCs much less powerful, especially compared with similarly leveled melee characters)
- selectively remove any spells that don't fit your vision of low magic
- require some sort of wisdom check with difficulty indexed to spell level and then have cumulative failures mapped against some list of detriments ending in insanity
- make magic items unique and rare (as a consequence, maybe make creatures that are immune to non-magical weapons take half-damage from non-magical weapons instead or reduce the XP they're worth)
- refluff healing potions as being herb-based rather than magic-based or allow jugs of booze to return hit points (this helps survivability during the day, between nightly rests where AS&SH has more generous hit point recovery than D&D)
- eliminate some monsters that may have too much "magic" as part of their working


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

9/17/2015 8:48 am  #19


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

I hate to belabor this point, but Conan drinks a healing potion at the end of "Xuthal of the Dusk" and is restored from what Howard describes as a state of near-death to full health.  Also, a sorcerer throws magic missiles (or really wimpy fireballs) at Conan at the end of "The Scarlet Citadel".

Call me crazy, but I think there's definitely at least a very slim chance that maybe some of the ideas about "sword & sorcery" that are circulating on the internet may just possibly not 100% be based on a close reading of the literature.


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

9/17/2015 8:48 am  #20


Re: How to make the game... Less magic

nDervish wrote:

francisca wrote:

It's easy.  Don't use all the magic.

 
If only it were that easy. :D

When people start talking about excessive magic in D&D-type games, they usually either go straight for "excessive numbers of magic items" or "fireball-type spells" and, yeah, both of those are easy to get rid of.

But then there's healing magic.

D&D and its clones are heavily based on characters being able to be beaten down and bounce back repeatedly, in rapid succession, often within the span of a single combat. If you take away clerical healing spells and barrels of healing potions, characters are no longer able to do that, instead taking days, weeks, or even months to recover from their injuries after combat. This, in turn, requires significant changes to adventure design to compensate for the radically-reduced durability of the PCs. Which is a good deal more trouble than just saying "this magic doesn't exist".

Have HP come back more quickly with a rest and swig of ale or even more with a nights sleep.  The system is a game and not necessarily a simulation of the literature.  Re-jigger to taste and if you're having fun then the recipe works.
 


"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,"
 

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