alchemic mechanisms

World Building Wednesdays 2: The Presence or Absence of Magic

Spellcasting. Most people can agree that it’s pretty fun, and very useful. But others believe that too much magic in a campaign spoils the wonder of its presence. Some DMs have magic items littered across their dungeon floors, while others offer them sparingly. Other campaigns rule magic out entirely, or consider it an extremely rare thing to come across. 

So how much magic are you willing to allow your campaign to have? Here are some things to consider on the topic. 

  • How Rare is Magic in your World? 

I knew magic would exist in my game, but it wouldn’t be accessible to just anyone. To exemplify this, I first made sure that nobody wanted to play as a Sorcerer, which is a character class that is naturally attuned to magical forces, compared to wizards who need to study scrolls and text to cast magic spells. I later introduced a Sorcerer character to the party and displayed how wild magic can be with a random roll on the Wild Magic table in the DMG. This will later tie into the main plot of my campaign, where several kingdoms will compete to have this Sorcerer on their side of an imminent war, and it’s up to the PCs to decide how to deal with this situation. 

  • Are There Alternatives to Magic in Your World? 

If magic is rare (or completely absent), then how does society achieve great tasks? Some campaign settings designed by WotC include steampunk or alchemical mechanics to still keep that same feeling of wonder in their fantasy world. Is your world completely reliant on magic for even the most menial task? Consider how advanced the world’s technology has developed, with or without the help of magic. 

  • What Are the Limits of Magic in Your World? 

Is magic legal? Or is it regulated by government? What spells in the PHB are overpowered in your opinion as DM? Does casting magic have an adverse effect on the environment, or the spell caster? All these questions are worth answering, and can lead to some interesting plot hooks for your world of story.