What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

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Lurker
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What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Lurker »

Ok, as you all may know, my default setting tends to be on the lower end of the magic setting with a mythic and historic mix as the foundation then some classic RPG magic layered on top – not all the way down to gritty, but lower than the normal settings and definitely nowhere near ‘high magic’ settings

However, as my girls are playing Harvester’s and getting more into RPGing, and their interests and background is more Narnia, Troll hunters etc, than my Tolkien Sagas & myth, I may need to expand into higher magic settings.

I do like some ‘higher magic’ background ideas – Stardust, Princes Bride, and F. R. etc – & as I mentioned before I have stumbled onto and watched some of the ‘critical role’ youtube games, but I have never put together and ran a long term game in a high magic setting like them.

Soooo, what are some things you all (that run high magic settings and games) use to make a good high magic setting / game ? When do you introduce some of the trappings – flying pirate ships lucky flower broches that protect from witch magic, ROUS’ – and how prevalent is it?

What spells are more or modifications to rules as written are more useful in developing a high magic feel ?
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Treebore »

The game inherently levels itself to "High Magic" in most ways. As for floating castles, flying ships, etc... you can tweak how "High magic" it is by deciding if its still possible to create such magical wonders, or if the few that remain no longer can be created, etc...

Generally, I bring out such "toys" above 10th level, more typically above 15th level. I also have such things hidden, or hoarded. Not out and about being common sights. They are super expensive and very difficult to make, after all.

Heck, we could write a book on how to GM such settings.
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Go0gleplex »

I tend to run a high magic game normally which doesn't really depend on any tweakage of the rules so much I think as it does instilling that sense of wonder via the setting itself. You mentioned flying pirate ships and floating castles. Those are good starts though they should also not be used so often that they become blase'. My two-cents.
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

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Frank Mentzer has been running a high magic campaign for decades. You could do worse than reading through this campaign journal chronicling his home game starting in 2009. It's not an instruction manual, but you'll see how he fleshed out his high magic world.
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by serleran »

Players who are into it, recognize it as what it is, and will run along with you. Very unlike the default attitude in other forums.

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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

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Go for it. Its like any arms race, rocks vs sticks makes a great battle, so staff's of striking must battle reflective shielded, green slime lobbing kobold hordes. It will automatically balance at some level, your PC have much, the locals have much, the bad guys have much (magic that is)... but the tipping point between win and loss gets much more finely balanced. As such your dice nudging may need a bit for English.

Let everyone know, "What the CK giveth, the CK MAY taketh away"... try it and see if you all like it. Its a game for fun, no one will really die, try it and see if you like it.. but you must report the results please!
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Lord Dynel »

Delve into any Forgotten Realms campaign setting for a good primer on high magic.

To me, high magic means multiple magic-users in every town, magic item ubiquity (and accessible at low levels), magic shops, magic schools, wizard battalions in armies...stuff like that.
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Rigon »

Lord Dynel wrote:Delve into any Forgotten Realms campaign setting for a good primer on high magic.

To me, high magic means multiple magic-users in every town, magic item ubiquity (and accessible at low levels), magic shops, magic schools, wizard battalions in armies...stuff like that.
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Captain_K »

It also means the plague has been magically created and strengthened by the bad guys. Orcs have magic weapons from time to time. Heck, there might even be a 23rd level wizard in the form of say a chipmunk you must seek out to finish your quest.. just kidding, likely a dragon :}
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

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Rigon wrote:
Lord Dynel wrote:Delve into any Forgotten Realms campaign setting for a good primer on high magic.

To me, high magic means multiple magic-users in every town, magic item ubiquity (and accessible at low levels), magic shops, magic schools, wizard battalions in armies...stuff like that.
This, this here.

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Rgr, and I LOVE FR as a setting. Back in the day - 1e & early 2e (gray box and a few supplements mostly Moonshae, The North, and Savage Frontiers, and some in the Dale and Cormyr areas) - I played in and ran games in the setting. However, it tended to devolve into a less than by the books magic setting. I religiously avoided the Elminster, and 100 other super mages being able to helicopter in and save the players. Plus, we would usually retire our characters at 10th ish level, and someone else would start another game with a different setting or in a different location. So, even with FR, it didn't 'feel' like a high magic setting.

However, ... now that I think bout it, most places did have at least a hedge mage or lay brother (1st level cleric) that had access to a potion or scroll to sell. And, larger towns and cities would have mage guild chapter houses, clerics with decent spell abilities, and more powerful MU NPCs for the characters to interact with (for good or bad) So yeah, I guess it is more high magic than I remember it being.

Hmmmm, I guess in a year or 2 when the girls are ready to go from Harvesters to real role playing I'll need to dig out all my FR notes ... or highly modify my bare bones home brew to have that feel.
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

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Captain_K wrote:It also means the plague has been magically created and strengthened by the bad guys. Orcs have magic weapons from time to time. Heck, there might even be a 23rd level wizard in the form of say a chipmunk you must seek out to finish your quest.. just kidding, likely a dragon :}
23rd level chipmunk ... I already have a plan on them needing to go into the mountains and quest for fay/fairy assistance after they reach 6th ish level,

I did have a dragon back in the day with a ring of illusions so it could walk around looking like a human and spy on the villages it lorded over ... the look on the players faces as they were close to killing it, then it flew off around the back of the mountain, and when the players got there to see it a few rounds later all that was there was a mountain goat ... oh that was a good time ...

Hmmm yeah more magic than the low magic default that I remember ...
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

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(snicker) high level mages helicoptering in to save the day...(rofl) Oh that brings back a FUN memory from around 1986. Jerry Caldwell (RIP) was running one of his mega-dungeons called Wolf Mountain and our party was somewhere on the fifth or sixth level of the place. I forget our PC levels but it was on the upper side of mid-level I think. We had just managed to polymorph a basilisk into a guinea pig...unfortunately Jerry ruled it did not affect its gaze...so we all got petrified by this cute little guinea pig which not a bloody one of us could get a hit on. Now Wolf Mountain was ran by the evil twin of two 86th level mages named George. It was built on top of Castle Misbegotten below which was ran by the good twin named Sam. So we are sitting there joking around when George happens to wander by, spot the guinea pig which he then picks up and whilst in the midst of petting the cute thing he rolls a 1 on his saving throw against the gaze. Jerry made the roll in front of us all and was just stunned. So by proxy we took out an 86th level wizard. Sam wandered by several days later, nuked the guinea pig, spent an hour slapping his twin's statue around and gloating about it before restoring us all then relieving us of half our loot. The whole encounter was an absolute riot, especially with some of the jokes flying around.

So yeah, you can have some fun with flexing the magic about in subtle and minor ways back at the players too.
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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Rigon »

FR Greybox is high magic-ish, but to see how high magic in FR is really done, check out a lot of the 2e stuff. It gets crazy. That's why I only use the Greybox and some of the early FR modules when I run FR.

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Re: What is needed for a successful ‘high magic’ setting ??

Post by Lord Dynel »

Lurker wrote:Rgr, and I LOVE FR as a setting. Back in the day - 1e & early 2e (gray box and a few supplements mostly Moonshae, The North, and Savage Frontiers, and some in the Dale and Cormyr areas) - I played in and ran games in the setting.
I absolutely agree, Lurker. Grey Box with the 1e and early 2e stuff is fantastic, in my opinion. I'm a huge Greyhawk fan, but the GreyBox might be my favorite campaign setting. Some of that has to do with nostalgia (FR was the first setting I bought and played, back in '87).
Rigon wrote:FR Greybox is high magic-ish, but to see how high magic in FR is really done, check out a lot of the 2e stuff. It gets crazy. That's why I only use the Greybox and some of the early FR modules when I run FR.
Yep, this too. It's a bit on the high magic side, especially if you have experience with other settings prior. As my first setting, I wasn't sure what high magic was and what it wasn't, so it didn't bother me too much. My literary and media exposure to fantasy before getting into D&D was a mix of high (Zelazny and Norton) and low (Howard) magic. Coming into the Forgotten Realms, I was a clean slate.

But I'm digressing. The point is exactly what these two fellows are saying - early Forgotten Realms does a pretty good job of being a slight bit on the high magic side but it doesn't go totally gonzo with the magic at that point in its lifetime. And to Lurker's original post, when I want this type of feel, I grab the Grey Box off of the shelf. In the setting magic is prevalent, but hasn't totally saturated every aspect of life (yet).

High magic settings usually answer "yes" the question of "Can I accomplish [fill in the blank] with magic?" The "why" is, usually, "because I can!"
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