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    RedWizardGuy

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    Post A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    For quite a while now, I've wanted to run a low-magic campaign and so I've decided that this is my chance. These forums are a great place for posting one's ideas and getting great feedback on them, so I thought I might give it a try. As you can probably tell, this is my first attempt at world-building on the forum, so I apologize in advance if it is a total disaster. I don't have a complete plan of my world in my head yet, so this forum will probably have a lot of brainstorming on my part and will probably function much like Rich Burlew's The New World. At the end, when I'm done with the world, I'll post a link to a PDF of the final copy.

    I hope to post about once every two days, but I'm sorry if it takes longer.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    Base Concept

    For awhile I've wanted to play a low-magic setting, one where the powerful magic that affects an adventurer's life are no more. This is my first attempt at world-building on these forums, so I apologize in advance if this world is never completed. I've looked at a couple of the other worlds on this forum, and I've been blown away, so I hope I can come up with a comparable setting.

    While other settings embrace magic, I've decided to mostly turn away from it and focus on the martial classes (these classes were much less powerful than their magical cousins, so I seek to remedy that). Magic still exists, but it is feared and persecuted (or in the case of divine magic, extremely rare and respected, but more on that in a couple of posts). Speaking of posts, here is the "table of contents" of my posts in order of when I'll post them:

    -Base Concept
    -Races & Classes
    -Magic
    -Religion & Cosmology
    -Geography & History
    -Government & Politics

    I've always loved roleplaying in a D&D game, so I think I want to focus a lot on that. I think I want to have a low-magic, low-power campaign, where 99.99% of people are lower than 5th level and have no levels in a character class. I also want a fairly low-monster campaign, where monsters are extremely uncommon (thought extinct?). However, to have the PCs tie into the world, I think I'll have to raise the amount of XP it takes to level up (or, as urkthegurk suggested, I could also halve all XP rewards), and since the PCs will be getting a lot of their XP from roleplaying (at least to start), it will take awhile to level up.

    I've decided to base much of the land off of medieval Germany, England, France, and Spain, with some Renaissance Italy mixed in. I think that the setting will be during a time of transition, somewhere between the late medieval and early Renaissance. Technology is developing (working guns are extremely rare, and gunpowder and shot are only a little bit less so) and literature and art are progressing quickly (an increased chance of finding art objects). Though it is during a time of peace between kingdoms, there is an air of resentment between them, only slightly short of a cold war.

    Most kingdoms are ruled by a feudalistic monarchy, where each man serves the man above him, and each man is in turn offered protection by the man above him. Other governments do exist, and totalitarian dictatorships are not wholly uncommon, but few kingdoms (I call the countries kingdoms for simplicity's sake, even though they technically aren't) can survive without a king of some sort. Some small kingdoms (and again, I use the word kingdom incorrectly) may have an aristocratic government, where a council of nobles make decisions, or a plutocratic government, where wealthy gentlemen buy themselves seats on a public council, but those are not common.

    In my world, state and church are single and unified (much in the way of the Catholic church during the Middle Ages and Renaissance). There is only one official church in the world, though many small schisms have taken some of the followers from the ways of old. Many small cults to deities do exist, but there is no proof to their existence. Only the followers of the Old Church can gain the powers of a cleric.

    Speaking of the powers of a cleric, let's talk about magic. Magic is a rare gift given to few. Clerics gain their powers by praying to their deities, but only once in a generation is such power given, and only to the most pious followers. Clerics are the most revered and holy servants of their deity. In my world, I use a spell-less paladin and ranger and druids are currently not included, so I'll skip to the arcane spellcasters. Arcane spellcasting is illegal, and those suspected of using it (whether they can or not) are burned or drowned. Sorcerers, the most common arcanists, gain their powers from powerful fiendish bloodlines. Wizards, on the other hand, pursue knowledge rather than blood magic. They read the tomes of the ancient elves, the greatest masters of magic, and learn the ancient techniques mastered by them.
    Last edited by Mordenkainen; 2012-09-17 at 05:42 PM.

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    urkthegurk's Avatar

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    You don't really need a table for alternative XP. Do you want them to level up half as quickly as normal? Cut all their xp awards in half.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    Races & Classes

    Since this world isn't Greyhawk, the races and classes will need some work, so this section I'll be going through the races and classes and giving you the fluff and crunch edits. I would very much like your feedback about anything you think is over/underpowered or needs changes for any reason.

    Races
    One of the things that I forgot to mention in the previous post was about the races. In this world, the Old Races (elves, gnomes, dwarves, halflings, and any other nonhuman race) are (or are at least thought to be) extinct. The humans of the world have not had contact with the Old Races for thousands of years; the last contact with any nonhuman race is ancient history, shrouded with legend. Some don't even believe in the old races, thinking them but myths.

    But the Old Races do exist, and there are those alive to prove it. The blood of the Old Races runs in the veins of some gifted few, whose ancestry runs back to one of the Old Races. These few gain some powers from their blood, powers normal people don't have.

    Apply one of the following templates to your character at first level. You cannot change your racial heritage later on, so make sure your decision is final.

    Read the original post here.

    Dwarven Heritage
    You are shorter and stouter than most people you know. You are tougher than your friends can stand up to much punishment. However, you are often surly and aloof and act coldly towards strangers, but you are a true friend to those that are close to you.

    Racial Traits:
    +1 Constitution, -1 Charisma
    Darkvision 30 ft: Unlike many humans you have the amazing ability to see in the dark.
    +2 to avoid being bull rushed or tripped while standing on the ground
    +1 on saving throws against poison
    +1 bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects

    Elven Heritage
    You are graceful and impressive, with sharp features and a striking figure. However beautiful you may be, you are still arrogant and are slow to make friends. When given a task, however, you are relentless and precise, and will get the job done quickly and efficiently.

    Racial Traits:
    Low Light Vision: Even in areas of low light, you can see twice as far as you normally can.
    +1 Dexterity, -1 Constitution
    +3 against sleep spells and effects and a +2 bonus against enchantment spells
    +1 bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot

    Gnome Heritage
    You are short and jovial, finding humor where others can't. You are also known for your inquisitive nature and curious personality. You will stop at nothing to answer a question, no matter how far it will take you.

    Racial Traits:
    +1 Constitution, -1 Strength
    +2 racial bonus against illusions
    +1 DC to illusion spells*
    +2 bonus on Listen
    +2 bonus on Craft (alchemy)

    *In this particular campaign world, arcane magic is hated and feared. Though a gnome has this power that is potentially able to be unlocked, it is unlikely that he would use it because of this.

    Halfling Heritage
    You are short, but surprisingly social, getting along well with most everyone in town. You are known for settling disputes and quarrels, and are generally considered a lighthearted fellow.

    Racial Traits:
    +1 Dexterity, -1 Strength
    +1 on Climb, Jump, Listen, and Move Silently checks
    +1 on all saving throws
    +1 on saving throws against fear

    Orc Heritage
    You are strong and aggressive, but are somewhat crude and dense. You are well known for your strength in battle, but not very well liked. You are also very impulsive and have a primal instinct to fight when you are insulted.

    Racial Traits:
    +1 Strength, -1 Intelligence, -1 Charisma
    Darkvision 30 ft: Unlike many humans you have the amazing ability to see in the dark.

    Classes
    For the classes to better fit into my world, I've rewritten some of the fluff and crunch for them. Currently, I'm only working with core classes, but I might expand this later on.

    Barbarian

    Fluff: Barbarians are known for their aggressive nature and uncouthness. Their weapons are their only friends barbarians need, and with them they wade into combat with animal ferocity.

    Barbarians are not wholly common across the world. They live primarily in the plains in the south of the continent, isolated from society. They rarely can get metal weapons, but when they are able to obtain one, they are a great prize, indeed. Barbarians are extremely distrustful of outsiders and will usually kill those from the outside on sight.

    Barbarians are usually the most skilled warriors in a tribe, anlernd no tribe has more than two, Few tribes even have one. If a tribe does have a barbarian, they are usually the chieftain of the tribe, a post only obtained through single combat.

    Crunch: Barbarians no longer gain Common as a language and instead gain their tribal language (see Demographics post, coming out in a couple of days) and can never spend skill points to become literate.

    Bard
    Because bards do not fit well with this world, they have been removed. If you can offer me a reason why bards have magic, I would be quite happy to replace them in the system (see Arcane Magic below).

    Cleric

    Fluff: Clerics are the most pious members of the church, the holiest of men. They are regarded with great respect, for their divine powers come from the very god who created man. They are the purest of souls in the church and gain their powers at their birth. At a very young age, their powers become evident, and the child is inducted into and raised by the church.

    All clerics eventually rise to becoming a hierophant (of which there are seven) and potentially be elected into the position of Holy Sovereign, the holiest man of the church (the equivalent pope).

    The church hiearchy, however, is mostly not filled with righteous and spiritual leaders like clerics. Many of those in the church break many pledges they made upon entry to the church. One in the church, clerics included, must always be wary of those that stay in the shadows. Cloak and dagger is certainly not uncommon amongst "holy men".

    Crunch: All clerics must be lawful good and cannot prepare inflict spells (any other evocation is fine, but not inflict). Also, any spell that can bring back from the dead (i.e., raise dead, resurrection, true resurrection) is removed from game.

    Druid
    Because druids do not fit well with this world, they have been removed. If you can offer me a reason why druids have magic, I'd be more than willing to put them back.

    Fighter
    Fluff: Fighters are the elite warriors in society, trained in the use of manny weapons. Most fighters are trained by an elite weaponsmaster for several years, more often than not at a fighter's college of some kind.

    Fighter's colleges can be found in most any small town, but the best colleges are found in large cities and metropolises. Many towns with fighter colleges will pay your tuition for three years (the average amount of time it takes to graduate) for serving five or six years on the city watch.

    Fighters are the most common player class in the world (which doesn't mean their common at all).

    Crunch: Because fighters have mastered a large repertoire of weapons, at first level they may choose any two weapons they are not proficient with to gain proficiency in.

    Monk
    Monks do not fit into the world and will not be available to take.

    Paladin
    Fluff: Right below clerics on the church hierarchy are paladins, the church's holiest knights. Righteous warriors deeply connected to their god, paladins are made, not born. Every time a paladin dies, a new one is chosen to take his place. A council of the remaining 11 paladins decide to choose one of the warriors of the church to name as a paladin. The council is held in secret and the paladin is unveiled in a great ceremony where the Holy Sovereign blesses the new knight and sends him on his first quest for the church. During the ceremony, the god of the church (who I have not yet named) gives the paladin his powers.

    Crunch: Paladins have the same abilities as they do in the Player's Handbook.

    Ranger
    Fluff: Expert trackers, trappers, and hunters, rangers are loners, sole guides of the wilderness. They usually keep to themselves and sometimes offer their services to those in a town on the edge of the wilderness. Rangers often explore places where others dare not go and can lead anyone where they want to go. The wild is their turf and they reign supreme on it.

    Crunch: I want a spell-less ranger with some non-magical abilities that would compensate for their loss of spells. Can anyone find me a good variant?

    Rogue
    Rogues can range from anything from crime lords to assassins, and are more common in this world then most. A rogue is a specialist in breaking the law and not getting caught, and are extremely versatile in what they do. Assassins are commonly in business, usually by priests to assassinate their rivals within the church.

    Arcane Magic
    As I said previously, arcane magic is a rare and hated gift that few can master. Arcane magic has been outlawed by the church as being demonic and wholly evil, and some is, but some isn't.

    Bards: Because bards are supposed to be great spinners of tales rather than great finders of knowledge, I didn't see them as applicable in this world. If you disagree, and you can find a way that bards could work, please tell me. I would love to include them if I could.

    Sorcerer
    Fluff: Sorcerers gain their powers through powerful bloodlines that ran in their family. Fey, demonic, and aberration are the most common types of bloodlines, but bloodlines of genies and dragons are also possible. Bloodlines do not last forever, and after ten or twelve generations will run out, but some last longer than others. The draconic bloodline is the longest-lasting bloodline, which can last for up to twenty or thirty generations, but is perhaps the rarest bloodline of all. Besides their magic, sorcerers gain no powers from their bloodlines.

    Not all sorcerers want the powers they have, and some never know at all.

    Crunch: Sorcerers can no longer gain a familiar.

    Wizard
    Fluff: Wizards are much less common than sorcerers across the world, because unlike sorcerers, wizards want their powers. Wizards pursue arcane knowledge to gain their powers, choosing either to follow demonic knowledge or the knowledge given by the Old Races. The Old Races, elves and gnomes in particular, were great masters of magic, bending it to their will without help from fiends, and could use it to do amazing things. Demons, on the other hand, were one of the three sole providers of magic in the world (the elven god Arcturus and the Gnomish god Garl being the other two) and gave it freely to humans, only to corrupt and destroy. Many turn to demonic knowledge rather than that of the Old Races, as it is much more readily available. However, those that know the corrupting influence of the demons dare not to even open the pages of their wicked tomes.

    Crunch:Wizards no longer gain a familiar.

    Also, school specialization has been completely ripped down and written anew. Now, wizards must specialize in either the knowledge of the demons (Demonic Lore) or the knowledge of the Old Races (Forgotten Lore).

    If you choose Demonic Lore, you can only cast spells from the following schools and subschools. However, you gain one extra spell known each level, chosen from the following schools. The schools and subschools are: Conjuration (calling and summoning subschools), Enchantment (all subschools), Evocation, Illusion (phantasm and shadow subschools), Necromancy and Transmutation.

    If you choose Forgotten Lore, you can only cast spells from the following schools and subschools. However, you gain one extra known spell st each level, chosen from the following schools. The schools and subschools are: Abjuration, Conjuration (creation and teleportation), Divination, Enchantment (charm), Evocation, Illusion (figment, glamer, pattern), and Transmutation.

    --------------

    So what did you think? Overpowered? Underpowered? If the spellcasters come across as underpowered, it's probably because they are. As I said before, I wanted to give the melee classes more, and I seem to have done that, partly by weakening the arcane classes.

    Sorry for the long post with crunchy statistics, but there shouldn't be too many more of those. The next post will be short, sweet, and to the point. I'll probably post the whole thing tomorrow and not have to edit it in chunks like I had to with this post. Next up: Magic.
    Last edited by Mordenkainen; 2012-10-08 at 07:03 PM.

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    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordenkainen View Post
    As you can probably tell, this is my first attempt at world-building on the forum, so I apologize in advance if it is a total disaster. I don't have a complete plan of my world in my head yet, so this forum will probably have a lot of brainstorming on my part
    All the good ideas come while one is in the middle of writing down the boring ones one already has decided on.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.

    When you start dividing quotes into blocks to reply to each paragraph seperately, that's usually a strong sign that you're no longer contributing to the thread, but just arguing over who is right.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    I like the idea with the humans being the descendants of Older Races.

    Why don't you throw out Gnome / Halfling and leave only one of them? They're pretty similar, after all, and keeping both of them screams D&D to me.

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    Mordenkainen, you need to shorten that dotted line in your last post. It completely screws up the whole page layout.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.

    When you start dividing quotes into blocks to reply to each paragraph seperately, that's usually a strong sign that you're no longer contributing to the thread, but just arguing over who is right.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    Sorry for keeping everyone waiting so long for this post, but I've had life get in the way. I'll be posting tomorrow. Thanks!

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    Magic

    Very little is known about what the common folk call "magic". Magic is an omnipresent force, invisible to man by all mundane senses (other than, of course, magical means). Originally, only the angels possessed the power to manipulate this force, to bend it and shape it and direct it, but at the Schism of Heaven and Hell, the angels that fell to the underworld and became demons and devils (discussed later in Religion & Cosmology) still held this tremendous power...

    Divine vs. Arcane
    There are two types of magic in the world, the two types of magic that I'm sure most D&D players are quite familiar with: divine and arcane.

    Divine magic is a gift only given to the most devout followers once in a generation. This magic is given by Aden, the All-Creator of man, heaven, and earth, and raises one to the most respectable position of hierophant. Though for all intents and purposes, this is still "magic", magic is usually considered a word for the evil and arcane. Clerical abilities are referred to as "the Gift" rather than magic, and few people ever make the connection between the two. The few who have were executed by the church.

    Clerics are the only divine spellcasting class (other than paladins, who I'm thinking of removing spells from anyway) in the campaign. Unless someone can find a way to include druids, and as always I'm open to suggestions, they will not be included.

    Arcane magic is quite different. One can only gain the powers of the arcane through powerful bloodlines or ancient elven rituals and texts. While divine magic is celebrated, arcane magic is persecuted, hated, and feared. The church has been taking measures to stamp it out, but there's really no need: if you are even suspected to be practicing magic in any town, you will be tried guilty of witchcraft and executed gruesomely (drowning and burning are popular).

    As far as I see it, the wizard I defined seems to be a lot like an NPC class, so I think I'm going to make it one. Only sorcerers are going to be available.

    Magic Rules Rewrite
    The reason this post took so long was because I was halfway through rewriting the magic system, and then decided to rip it down and start again fresh. Hopefully by the time I'm done with this campaign, I'll be finished with it. My goals for the spell rewrite are below. Your insight would be much appreciated, and if you could point me towards any other sources, I would be much obliged.

    Goals for Rewrite:
    Water-down the spellcasting classes by decreasing power of spells, but aim for more versatility.
    • Cut many blasting spells from spell list and add many more multipurpose spells.
    • Increase amount of spells known/prepared but decrease all-around power of spells.
    • Add darker spells to spell list that would better fit into the setting.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: A New Era: A Low-Magic World

    Quote Originally Posted by Zireael View Post
    I like the idea with the humans being the descendants of Older Races.

    Why don't you throw out Gnome / Halfling and leave only one of them? They're pretty similar, after all, and keeping both of them screams D&D to me.
    I agree. I think I'll include that in my final, edited work, probably a PDF file I'll link to. I just don't want to go back and edit the posts,so I might as well condense them.

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