4 hours ago
Monday, November 21, 2011
Real Magic in the Dungeon
Magic in D&D (and most rpgs, for that matter) doesn’t bear much resemblance to magic as people practiced (and practice) it in the real world. There’s probably a couple of reasons for this: 1) in the early days of the hobby, there really doesn’t seem to have been much interest in real world models (or at least not as much as fictional ones); 2) real world magic may not seem particular “gameable.”
There have been a few attempts to inject more real world elements over the years: Isaac Bonewits’s Authentic Thaumaturgy, Chaosium’s Liber Ka for Nephilim, and the ritual magic system originally presented in GURPS Voodoo. The internet tells me that 4e has added a ritual magic system to D&D, though I don’t know anything about it. Most of these are icing, additions, or alternatives for more “standard” rpg magic systems.
I wonder if traditional dungeon fantasy sort of games would work with only ritual magic? This would mean most spells would be difficult to cast in the dungeon, much less in combat. Of course, just like in the real world, there would be charms and magical materials (and presumably other magic items) that could be employed. The computer rpg Darklands did this by replacing magic use with alchemy created potions that could be used in combat.
This might be a big change in the game role of the magic-user. I don’t think if this were the way magic worked in the setting that it would mean magic-user’s wouldn’t adventure. The chance to wrest magical secrets and items from dungeons would still get them down there. But of course, game “balance,” etc., etc. Still, if magic were rarer and more “realistic” would having a little magic be as much of an advantage as having a lot is in a standard game world where it’s much more common?