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overduegalaxy
2008-10-28, 03:35 PM
I'm thinking of running a low magic campaign for my group over winter break. It'd be fairly short, maybe four or five sessions.

However, being low magic presents certain problems for certain classes. Paladins and Rangers both have a non-casting variant in Complete Warrior. I'm probably going to replace Clerics with Cloistered Clerics, and Sorcerers with Battle Sorcerers. Wizards would be completely off-limits, since the whole campaign revolves around venturing into the desert to find these evil wizards, but I'm not sure what to do about Bards and Druids.

Current classes allowed are barbarian, cloistered cleric, fighter, knight, marshal, monk, ninja, non-casting paladin, non-casting ranger, rogue, samurai, scout, battle sorcerer, swashbuckler.

I'm on the fence about Beguilers, Spirit Shamans, and Warmages. I figure beguilers are sneaky enough that they wouldn't be widely recognized as caster, spirit shamans live primarily in tribes in the desert, and warmages (alongside battle sorcerers) are all either current or former members of the Imperial Army.

streakster
2008-10-28, 03:40 PM
Shapeshift Druid variant helps a lot with the druid.

BooNL
2008-10-28, 03:48 PM
I've seen a couple of magic-less bard variants before but I can't recall where, nothing from official sources though. Might want to forget about the bard all together if it proves too much trouble.

I wouldn't add beguilers or warmages though. Both are too "magicy" for a low-magic setting. Especially warmages or do nothing more than fling fireballs all day.
Granted, the battle sorcerer uses the same principle, but at least it's a lot worse. A duskblade on the other hand only uses a handful of spells, most of which can even be refluffed as technological if you'd like.

Also, if you're going with sorcerers but no wizards, you could consider favoured souls instead of clerics. Having only one spellcasting mechanic might be easier to explain in a low-magic setting.

Satyr
2008-10-28, 03:52 PM
Keep in mind that in a low magic setting, the gap between casters and non-casters increases significantly, because of the lack of magic equipmewnt which hurts the non-casters more.. I would recommend to improve the non-casting characters to make the character's more equal - using gestalt rules for mundane characters and standard rules for spell casters for example works quite well.

Toliudar
2008-10-28, 03:54 PM
To extend the "favoured soul" element further, I've always liked the idea of using the favoured soul spells known and spells per day for a watered-down druid. This encourages the PC to choose a much more finite set of things that his/her druid will focus on, and might be more in keeping with a low-magic campaign. With that, bards, sorcerers and favoured souls, you have an all-spontaneous-casting mechanic.

Meat Shield
2008-10-28, 03:55 PM
If Book of Nine Swords is available, that could also give you possibilities for base classes that have extra effects yet are not casters.

kamikasei
2008-10-28, 04:00 PM
Keep in mind that in a low magic setting, the gap between casters and non-casters increases significantly, because of the lack of magic equipmewnt which hurts the non-casters more.


If Book of Nine Swords is available, that could also give you possibilities for base classes that have extra effects yet are not casters.

Both of these things. ToB should help give the non-casters something interesting to do in combat, and if you really mean low-magic as in magic itself has a low presence in the world, you'll have to think carefully about balance. If magical equipment and the like are still pretty freely available it won't be so bad.

The real question is, what do you mean by low-magic and what's the reason for things being that way?

BooNL
2008-10-28, 04:01 PM
If Book of Nine Swords is available, that could also give you possibilities for base classes that have extra effects yet are not casters.

That would depend on whether the campaign is low-magic due to setting or game mechanic.

Also, that book was meant to place non-casters on par with regular casters, if used in these circumstances it would only serve to unbalance casters.

Toliudar
2008-10-28, 04:04 PM
Also, that book was meant to place non-casters on par with regular casters, if used in these circumstances it would only serve to unbalance casters.

That depends on the starting level. In my limited experience, ToB builds mostly still fade into the background at higher levels. They are still more dependent on magic items than casters. Besides, if it's meant to be low-magic, it may in fact be a nice change for the casters to be a tiny bit behind the curve.

kamikasei
2008-10-28, 04:06 PM
Also, that book was meant to place non-casters on par with regular casters, if used in these circumstances it would only serve to unbalance casters.

You're giving it too much credit; ToB classes have greater versatility and therefore more power than standard melee (in that it's not so easy for their shtick to be rendered irrelevant and they can do more in a wider range of situations), but they don't come close to casters. Depending on the equipment situation, they should be reasonably balanced against cloistered clerics and battle sorcerers, still weaker than either.

OP, have you considered Incarnum? Some feats or abilities from that book might help compensate for a low-gear campaign. Actually, in general, a list of books available might be a good idea.

Satyr
2008-10-28, 04:23 PM
If I wanted to play in a game were supernatural elements are indded supernatural instead of natural I wouldn't use the ToB at all.

The ToB classes may fit into the normal "Superheroes with medieval props" setting of D&D, but for a setting more focused on versimiltude and causality they are much too flashy and worse suited than the regular fighting classes.

Starbuck_II
2008-10-28, 04:26 PM
I'm thinking of running a low magic campaign for my group over winter break. It'd be fairly short, maybe four or five sessions.

However, being low magic presents certain problems for certain classes. Paladins and Rangers both have a non-casting variant in Complete Warrior. I'm probably going to replace Clerics with Cloistered Clerics, and Sorcerers with Battle Sorcerers. Wizards would be completely off-limits, since the whole campaign revolves around venturing into the desert to find these evil wizards, but I'm not sure what to do about Bards and Druids.

Current classes allowed are barbarian, cloistered cleric, fighter, knight, marshal, monk, ninja, non-casting paladin, non-casting ranger, rogue, samurai, scout, battle sorcerer, swashbuckler.

I'm on the fence about Beguilers, Spirit Shamans, and Warmages. I figure beguilers are sneaky enough that they wouldn't be widely recognized as caster, spirit shamans live primarily in tribes in the desert, and warmages (alongside battle sorcerers) are all either current or former members of the Imperial Army.
If allowing Psionics:
What about Psiwarrior? He has almost Bard like progression (up to 6th level powers)?

Or even Soulknife he has no manifesting at all. His big stick is creating his mindblade.

The Glyphstone
2008-10-28, 04:28 PM
If I wanted to play in a game were supernatural elements are indded supernatural instead of natural I wouldn't use the ToB at all.

The ToB classes may fit into the normal "Superheroes with medieval props" setting of D&D, but for a setting more focused on versimiltude and causality they are much too flashy and worse suited than the regular fighting classes.

So just don't use Shadow Hand or Desert Wind maneuvers.

Stone Dragon, White Raven, Tiger Claw, Setting Sun, Iron Heart, and Diamond Mind are almost all (Ex) in nature - SD is just hitting really hard, WR is just being really inspiring, and DM is just being really focused. Iron Heart is just being really tough, Tiger Claw is just being really savage, Setting Sun is just (really) using your opponent's strength against them.

Nothing about them is terribly flashy, or in any way supernatural. Devoted Spirit is iffy, as it does heal people or deal damage based on alignment.

kamikasei
2008-10-28, 04:30 PM
If I wanted to play in a game were supernatural elements are indded supernatural instead of natural I wouldn't use the ToB at all.

I don't think that's what the OP's going for, though. I mean, the cloistered cleric isn't any less of a caster than the regular cleric, and consider the line


I figure beguilers are sneaky enough that they wouldn't be widely recognized as caster...

This doesn't sound like magic itself is less available to the players but more like it's a setting or social thing where casters are persecuted or marginalized.

Oh yeah, in that vein, another suggestion for the OP: Binders.

Anyway, let's not make this into another "merits of ToB" thread. Perhaps we should just wait for the OP to expand on what he's after before we pursue that question any further.

streakster
2008-10-28, 04:34 PM
Nothing about them is terribly flashy, or in any way supernatural. Devoted Spirit is iffy, as it does heal people or deal damage based on alignment.

Which you could argue is just the Crusader inspiring them to hang on a little longer, or getting really angry at the mean opposite alignment person.

overduegalaxy
2008-10-28, 04:36 PM
Shapeshift Druid variant helps a lot with the druid.

Actually just stumbled across that and thought it to be perfect, for the most part.


Also, if you're going with sorcerers but no wizards, you could consider favoured souls instead of clerics. Having only one spellcasting mechanic might be easier to explain in a low-magic setting.

A legitimate point, but I'm trying to make healers be less front liners and more careful, without having to resort to the Healer class. Plus, Favored Souls suddenly sprout wings at higher levels, which is a bit tough to hand-wave away. Clerics are essentially divine wizards in this world, learning spells through study instead of divine favor.


Keep in mind that in a low magic setting, the gap between casters and non-casters increases significantly, because of the lack of magic equipmewnt which hurts the non-casters more.. I would recommend to improve the non-casting characters to make the character's more equal - using gestalt rules for mundane characters and standard rules for spell casters for example works quite well.

I was considering giving all casting classes a level in commoner or expert or something, to act as a level adjustment of sorts. And not all magic items are banned, some can be passed off as extraordinary. For example, a +1 spear is just extremely well made, and a keen bastard sword just has an exceptionally sharp blade. I'm going to have to go over the magic item list very carefully, though. I'm just in the first stages of planning right now.


If Book of Nine Swords is available, that could also give you possibilities for base classes that have extra effects yet are not casters.

PHB, PHB2, Environmental books, Complete..., and Races of... only. These are the books my group owns, so these are the books we use. Although I was idly considering picking up ToB at some point, so this might be a good chance to introduce it. I'm just worried that with a group of 6-8 players, and only three base classes, those who aren't using ToB will feel left behind.


The real question is, what do you mean by low-magic and what's the reason for things being that way?

I'm still in the first stages of planning, but magic is limited because it's closely controlled by these wizards that live in the desert. They want to wield all the power, and tend to hunt down magic users not part of their wizard-city (or whatever it ends up being). Over the years, magic has just naturally been weeded out of society, and life gets along more or less like medieval Europe, with the occasional bugbear thrown in. So, magic items exist, but they're exceedingly rare, and casters apart from wizards survive, but only because they're either very young or very clever.

NeoVid
2008-10-28, 04:49 PM
A nonspellcasting druid with nothing else changed is still a tier 3 class, and completely playable.

Eldariel
2008-10-28, 06:10 PM
Yeah, a Druid is still better than a Ranger without casting (compare to Wildshape Ranger, which eats normal Ranger for breakfast - like a Druid, except it has Animal Companion progression and few trivial class features). So that's easy enough to fix. Maybe give them some Wisdom-based healing ability la Lay on Hands to distinguish them a bit from the combatants and give them a more magical feel without necessarily making them more magical.

As for Bards, give them Seeker of the Song-advancement from level 7 or so (keeping their original Bardic Music) or just split the Seeker of the Song-songs around levels, so Bards can weave their intricate songs without having access to actual spellcasting.


Cloistered Cleric and Battle Sorcerer with their full casting would both, blow the believability of the setting asunder (if it's low-magic, why in the world would you allow PC casters?) and totally break the game. Either ban them or get rid of their spellcasting. Cloistered Cleric without spellcasting, but with some pool-based healing abilities along with restoration and resurrection would still fit the "Cleric"-slot just fine (although I can't just see why you'd want to have D&D Clerics in a low-magic settings) and Battle Sorcerer with maybe Adept spellcasting would do just fine for the "Dragon-heritage" fluff. Really though, I'd just skip the spellcasting abilities entirely.

Out of the classes you've allowed:
monk
ninja
non-casting paladin
non-casting ranger
samurai
swashbuckler

need some help. Those classes are more or less just bad. If you really want Samurais and Ninjas, use the Oriental Adventures-versions. Likely the better option though is just to get rid of both classes unless your settings has an extremely strong oriental fluff. They're both, misfits and weak classes so axing them would sidestep a ton of problems.

Monks are similar, but just allowing Unarmed Swordsage is an incredibly easy fix for them so if you want them in your world, that's little trouble. Swordsage handles the "Ninja"-fluff much better than the Ninja-class as well, which is something to consider. Samurai should simply be Fighters, or OA Samurai.


Swashbuckler and Ranger become fine if they use Daring Outlaw and Swift Hunter-feats. Without those, they're weak. So if you intend on them mostly be based on those feats, go ahead and include 'em. Other than that, I suggest you reconsider your position there.


Non-casting Paladin really needs full Turn Undead-progression and some superior class features. I'd probably lean towards just using ToB Crusader maybe with Turn Undead added instead, but if you don't want to use ToB, I do recall there was a really solid Paladin remake floating around here.

overduegalaxy
2008-10-28, 09:02 PM
Out of the classes you've allowed:
monk
ninja
non-casting paladin
non-casting ranger
samurai
swashbuckler

need some help. Those classes are more or less just bad. If you really want Samurais and Ninjas, use the Oriental Adventures-versions. Likely the better option though is just to get rid of both classes unless your settings has an extremely strong oriental fluff. They're both, misfits and weak classes so axing them would sidestep a ton of problems.

Monks are similar, but just allowing Unarmed Swordsage is an incredibly easy fix for them so if you want them in your world, that's little trouble. Swordsage handles the "Ninja"-fluff much better than the Ninja-class as well, which is something to consider. Samurai should simply be Fighters, or OA Samurai.

I've had several players in my group play monks in normal settings with no complaints, so no tweaking there. There's no OA Ninja, but I do swap out Sudden Strike for a regular Sneak Attack progression. No reason to hinder them more than needed. Not really sure what to do with Paladins, but Rangers will get trapfinding, at the very least. Our group has a decent Samurai fix that I'll tweak a little more, and Swashbuckler is always good for a few levels of dip for high-Int classes, so it'll probably remain unchanged for the most part.

As for the cloistered cleric and battle sorcerer, PCs taking those classes will most likely have to take at least a level in an NPC class first. I don't think the game will be too high of a level (probably 7 or 8 at the absolute highest), so I don't imagine they'll be throwing around too many world-breaking spells.

Cheesegear
2008-10-28, 09:10 PM
I'm all for getting rid of Clerics, Druids and Wizards (and Artificers and Archivists)...And maybe Sorcerers too. Primarily because they're the ones who (tend to) break games. I guess once you have a reason for that (Wizards controlling magic use), it becomes gravy.

But, remember, Low-Magic doesn't mean No-Magic. I'm also interested in why you allow Cloistered Clerics, but don't allow Paladins and Rangers to cast spells? Wizards don't have a whole lot of authority when it comes to Divine magic.
What about Favoured Souls? They're a lot less overpowered than CCs when it comes to magic.
Again, for Spirit Shamans, Wizards have no control over Divine Magic.
(Anyone who tries, gets a good old Smiting from the closest God).
My ruling on Spirit Shamans is this (because I've banned Druids);

By losing the 'free' Alertness (level 1), Follow the Guide (5), Ghost Warrior (6), Spirit Form (9), Guide Magic (10), Spirit Journey (17) and Spirit who Walks (20)

can choose either the Shapechange ability, from the Druid PHB-II, or an Animal Companion.

But are 'on the fence' about Warmages/Beguilers? I think they'd be pretty okay, since their talents are spontaneous. If you take the background of Sorcerers (don't know they have the 'gift' until puberty sometime), then the wizards can't control when or where a 'Sorcerer' will show up.
(Unless that's part of the campaign, and they can in fact find you...)

What about Duskblades?

elliott20
2008-10-28, 09:23 PM
well, overduegalaxy, if you put ToB into the mix, you're going to WANT your melee warriors to use ToB classes as their base, with the rest of the other classes used mostly for dipping and flavoring. ToB classes will simply out perform normal classes, 'dems the breaks.

So, if you introduce ToB, you pretty much need to tell everyone at Char Gen that ToB classes are considerably more versatile and more powerful. The good news though, is that the ToB classes are amazingly versatile at replicating just about any warrior concept your players might have if you let them splice other levels in there.

i.e. unarmed swordsage/rogue - sneak attack damage with maneuvers? snake fist style martial artist anyone?

mabriss lethe
2008-10-28, 10:33 PM
You could leave Bard pretty much As-is. If anything, they could represent a less well developed or outlawed tradition of magic users that exist on the fringes, trying to stay below radar and picking up some useful skills along the way.

Binders from Tome of Magic would be exceptionally useful.

Warlocks. Not particularly powerful, their fluff could be adapted rather easily. They draw their powers from sources that the wizards can't control. Those who persue this path of magic are usually hunted quite vigorously by all parties involved, though it takes an expert hunter to tell the difference between an invocation and a spell.

Half-casters: You could use the noncaster variants for them, but maybe you should leave your players the option of using the originals if they like. It would be a valid option for a player who wants some access to magic. They would be the exceptions rather than the rule. 99% of paladins/rangers/whatever are noncasters, but a few delve, either on purpose or on accident, into some long forgotten secrets of their orders.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2008-10-28, 10:39 PM
You could make the entire setting low-magic just by using the E6 variant (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=352719). It will work out especially well for a short game, let them start at level 3 or 4. Nothing but a very few monsters in the entire game world will be able to cast spells higher than 3rd level, and magic items will be limited to what a 6th level character could create. Many monsters will be considered beyond the means of mortals to defeat, rather than just-another-high-level-encounter. That way you won't need to modify any classes at all, just play the game as it is but keep the entire world capped at 6th level for anyone with class levels.

Roderick_BR
2008-10-29, 06:19 AM
Quickly suggestions:
1. Use, obviously, all non-caster classes, except ToB (they are more powerful than your regular fighter and barbarian).
2. For healing, keep the normal half-caster paladin, maybe give him some new spells from the cleric list. Use the paladin variants for others alignments if you need others characters.
3. For arcane magic, use bards. Just add wizard spells to his spell list, and increase the number of spells known.
This way you don't have full casters, but still gives some magic to your group, shile still having mostly everyone be more action-ish than pure casters.