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    Lightbulb [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Foreward
    This article is intended for 3.5 and Pathfinder mechanics, but applies in general.

    What Mundanes Do
    Mundanes in this case are the Monks, the Fighters, the Barbarians, the Rangers, the Rogues, and anyone who could reasonably exist in the real world. These characters seemingly don't rely on magic to do their jobs. Indeed, any seemingly supernatural ability they have could feasibly be gained through training of just being born that way.

    First, the mundanes rely on skills to succeed, such as picking locks, disabling traps, scouting, negotiating, and knowing things.

    Second, a mundane combatant does things that you'd expect. He punches and kicks; he swings swords and hammers; he shoots bolts, arrows, and stones; he dodges and deflects blows. He may use the environment to his advantage, such as triggering a rockslide to block a pass.

    He may use personal ingenuity to make things "ahead of their time." In a medieval society, a mundane may be skillful enough to craft a hang glider, or a revolver, or a submarine. These devices or methods are usually slow to change the world, if even they catch on!

    The advantage gained from a mundane being "ahead of his time" can be tremendous, though it may take generations for people to understand what this one man did. Leonardo da Vinci was a genius inventor, among other things. He made the prototypes for a submarine centuries before militaries actually traveled by sub. In contrast, if da Vinci had made a rocket launcher and discovered an easy and reliable means of making ammo for it in the 1400s or 1500s, he may have been able to rule the world!

    What Magic Does
    In short, magic does whatever the author wants it to do and is often viewed as a plot device. Indeed, since magic has no innate limits, it can do anything. Those that wield magic must have strict limits on their power; otherwise, they'll rule the world. Easily. After all, if magic does things better- faster, cheaper, with greater chance of success, and so on- why do we need mundanes at all?

    My discussion of magic emphasizes D&D 3.5. There has been much talk about casters, especially Wizards and Druids, outdoing and even replacing the more mundane classes. Many believe that all Druids get a "Fighter" standard at level 1, but there's nothing magical about a riding dog that you trained following you around and guarding you like a real trained dog would.

    The issue is with magic saying, "I play by different rules than mundanes. In fact, I write the rules for mundanes while I stick around and do as I please."

    Since this is meant to be a cooperative game, not a movie or a book, then one person making another effectively obsolete by merely showing up is bad game balance. In a non-interactive medium, the author can handle magic outsourcing a mundane's job with fewer real life feelings being hurt.

    What Players Do
    As humans, we are greatly influenced by our experiences, especially by sight. I've formed mental pictures and carried them around for years, only to have them quickly overwritten when I see the "official" version. (Billy Joel's "Piano Man" inspired far different mental pictures than what I saw in an official music video.)

    When making a character, a person usually thinks to all the movies and TV he's seen and the stories he's heard and read. He can get a fairly good idea of what a human with these abilities can do. He may expect all Monks to work like Bruce Lee, and all Barbarians to work like Conan. His ideas of what "Monk" and "Barbarian" are will probably blind him, at least initially, to the possibility of multiclassing Monk and Barbarian.

    Nevermind that "Monk" and "Barbarian" are labels to conveniently categorizes piles of stats. You don't see these Monk/Barbarian hybrids movies, right?

    It may not seem "realistic" (and I use the "Can I do it in real life?" definition) for a Rogue to walk on a cloud. Without magic. Because the rules say he can. Alternatively, he could have been reliably making DC 25 Diplomacy checks from level 2 without magic. (Level 2, mind you, is probably you and me.) That's enough to turn a hostile creature indifferent as a full-round action, or turn an indifferent creature helpful in 2 rounds. Yes, that includes the -10 for a rushed Diplomacy check.

    Here's how:

    25 = 10 (Taking 10) + 5 (Ranks) + 2 (Masterwork Tool) + 6 (Synergy) + 4 (CHA Bonus) + 3 (Skill Focus) + 2 (Negotiator Feat) + 2 (Half-Elf) + 1 (Honest Trait) - 10 (Rushed Check)

    Sure, it's optimized, and you probably wouldn't find such a person in real life, but there are plenty of stories where people talk themselves out of hostile situations. It's plausible.

    Another topic of contention is what HP (hit points) represent. Is it a matter of general health? Is it morale? Is it something else? If someone gets stabbed twenty times in real life, he's expected to die. Soon. Even with immediate and ideal medical treatment. In a game (especially in mid- to late-game 3.5), someone can be hurt in all sorts of ways and still be able to act to his full capacity since he has at least 1 HP left.

    As humans, we're constantly gauging what we perceive to what we've experienced. Even if we don't do so in these words, we continually ask ourselves or others, "Does this seem right?" Fantasy and imagined things can stretch our belief in what's "right" for the scenario, but usually, our first reaction comes from what would happen in real life.

    Adding Magic
    Let's assume for a moment that magic does not exist in real life. When a movie director wants to make a "magic" effect with computer graphics (CGI), he'll probably do it with flair. Maybe a blue flash of light will appear briefly before a Wizard teleports in.

    And, y'know what? That's sometimes expected.

    Assuming nothing says otherwise, that movie director could, instead of making that flash of blue light, make a flash of purple light, or yellow light, or drop the visual effect and decide that a Wizard will teleport in with a loud cow moo. After all, nothing says we can't. In short, it could be plausible.

    The Double Standard
    I asked one of my friends about this discrepancy between casters and mundanes. In short, he said, "That's how it's supposed to work."

    This statement, among others, opened my eyes to what casters and mundanes get based on their class. My research boils down to this:

    The very ability to use magic is what makes magic so powerful. In other words, magic is powerful because someone can do it at all.

    For example, let's assume a caster can cause an earthquake when he wants. Casting this spell may require 3 seconds, 10 minutes, or another span of time. It may require the sacrifice of 40 virgins under a full moon. It may require melting down gold bars and forming them into a life size statue of Bon Jovi.

    The point is that the caster can and the non-caster can't.

    Examples from D&D 3.5: Enhancing Your Abilities
    D&D 3.5 is a game about magic.

    Want a more accurate or damaging weapon? There are minor mundane upgrades, but the game expects you'll get a magic weapon. A caster can make one. If you instead need a magic weapon right now and a caster has a spell handy, he can cast (greater) magic weapon.

    Want a more protective item? There are minor mundane upgrades, but the game expects you'll get magic armor, and maybe a magic shield, a magic ring, a magic necklace, and somesuch. A caster can make one or provide a short-term AC boost.

    Want to fly, swim, or burrow? Unless your race can already do this, you need a magic item or a spell cast on you. A caster can do it.

    Want to do just about anything besides attack with a weapon or use a skill? Magic is the answer, and of course a caster can do it.

    Some would say this gets ridiculous.

    If you keep asking "Daddy Wizard" and "Mommy Cleric" for buffs just to stay relevant, then, logically, they're better off without you. They can summon or call bigger, badder things than you that don't require as much maintenance, and that won't complain if they're killed.

    Out of character, this probably won't happen, because I assume players are friends who want to play together.

    Examples from D&D 3.5: Unique Class Features
    All creatures, upon gaining a hit die or level, gain these features in various quantities:
    -Hit Points (HP)
    -Skill Points
    -Base Attack Bonus (BAB); not necessarily 1 per HD
    -Base Saves; not necessarily 1 or more per HD
    -Baes Stats; typically 1 per 4 HD
    -Feats; usually 1 at the first HD, 1 at 3HD, and 1 every 3 HD thereafter

    A human Fighter3 and human Wizard3 each get the above abilities. In addition, a Wizard3 gets these things:
    -2 spells known of any level he can cast. These will probably be level 2 spells. (I prefer glitterdust and alter self.)
    -At least 1 level 2 slot with which to cast spells. Because of INT and specialization, this Wizard will probably get 2-4 slots instead of 1.
    -If the Wizard has a familiar, the familiar gets +1 natural armor, +1 INT, and the ability to deliver touch spells.

    You may be crying foul that this comparison is rigged. Wizards of the Coast felt it appropriate to give, well, Wizards something unique at every level (extra spells), but not Fighters. What about the Fighter's close cousin, the Barbarian?

    A Barbarian3 gets these unique class features:
    -+1 on Reflex saves and +1 dodge AC to avoid traps. Yep, it's somethin', but it's no glitterdust.

    Examples from D&D 3.5: Level-Appropriate Abilities
    You may be asking, "What's your standard of balance? Is there a way to determine what's level-appropriate?"

    Yes.

    There are many creatures who can inflict nasty status effects. The cures to these effects (remove blindness/deafness to undo glitterdust, for example) come at the same level or a very similar level as the start of these effects.

    A Xill can paralyze a victim on a failed Fort save. Indefinitely. Fortunately, there are two "level-appropriate" cures, remove paralysis (Cleric2, Paladin2) and freedom of movement (Bard4, Cleric4, Druid4, Luck4, Ranger4, and more outside of core). At least in the core rules, there is no mundane way to cure the 'paralyzed' condition! I hope you packed the right magic, because you ain't movin' if you were wrong.

    Non-casters just don't get things like this!

    Examples from D&D 3.5: Tome of Battle
    Say what you will about Tome of Battle. I like it. A lot. It gives non-casters options besides, "I hit it!" and "I hit it harder!"

    Sure, its maneuvers and stances sometimes stretch the limits of believability for non-casters, expecially at mid- to high-levels. Mind Over Body (Ex) says, "If I Concentrate hard enough, I'll prevent paralysis!" Rallying Strike (Ex) says, "If I hit a foe, I heal all allies within 30' of me!"

    And y'know what? That's making non-casters a bit more self-sufficient, even if it makes non-casters feel a bit more like casters.

    Before Tome of Battle, I had a hard time imagining level-appropriate abilities for non-casters. I never felt like there was a compelling warrior ability that required level 9 or higher, and usually, level 5 or higher. With ToB, there is a standard for level-appropriate abilities. I can take 20 levels of classes that give full BAB and feel like less of a sucker for not having spells. (Note: I played a full BAB character at level 9 with a mesh of Tome of Battle classes and still felt like a sucker for not having spells. At least I could heal well.)

    The Eternal Blade class (Tome of Battle 109), at character level 20, can let me take an extra turn as an immediate action. I look at that and say, "That is so cool!" It's nowhere near as cool as the tricks and toys casters get, but it's a good start.

    What's The Point?
    This is the core of the problem: Magic and mundane are not reconcilable. There is no fair way to put Mr. "I alter reality because I want to" Wizard and Mr. "I hit things" Warrior in the same setting and have things work.

    In general, mundanes work the way they do because of real life expectations, and magic works the way it does because that's what we'd want to be doing if not for these physical constraints.

    Maybe logic wins, and we realize that casters and mundanes are in different leagues. Maybe logic implodes- at least slightly- and casters don't get to alter reality in meaningful ways. Maybe logic, while still imploding, grants mundanes a fair chance and gives them "magic" under a different name.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Your concept is that the existence of magic is ultimately irreconcilable with mundane characters, for the purpose of cooperative games? I disagree; the relative costs can be balanced within a game system such that there would always be a good reason to play a mundane character in a world that has magic. If the cost of playing a magic-user is so high that you'll only ever cast one spell in the character's life, the game's players will certainly pick mundane characters. That's the opposite end of the spectrum from 3.5. There are game systems on that spectrum with a fair balance for magic and mundane, systems in which mundanes can succeed with no need for spells or magic items but casters have value too.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Some interesting ideas, but your basic theory:

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    This is the core of the problem: Magic and mundane are not reconcilable. There is no fair way to put Mr. "I alter reality because I want to" Wizard and Mr. "I hit things" Warrior in the same setting and have things work.
    . . . isn't really true. If the costs for magic are too high, players won't usually use it. It doesn't matter if, in theory, you can alter reality because you want to. What matters is how cost-efficient, practical, and effective the spells are.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    To piggyback on the other comments - it's not just the cost, but the effect. A week of preparation is too much to open a door, but to raise dead in the right system and setting, it's acceptable, while all too short for 'make me a god king.'

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Magic and Mundane can coexist, and does so in other settings, notably the modern superhero genre, and the various systems that simulate it notable Mutants and Mastermind. I once wrote a short post outlining how D&D severly limits the applications of mundane compared to M&M 2e.

    To apply your Earthquake example, is it possible for a mundane character to cause one? Logically, if he were strong and tough enough to smash the ground with enough force, he could trigger seismic activity. However, D&D doesn't have mechanics for it, whereas M&M 2e does.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by JeminiZero View Post
    Magic and Mundane can coexist, and does so in other settings, notably the modern superhero genre, and the various systems that simulate it notable Mutants and Mastermind. I once wrote a short post outlining how D&D severly limits the applications of mundane compared to M&M 2e.

    To apply your Earthquake example, is it possible for a mundane character to cause one? Logically, if he were strong and tough enough to smash the ground with enough force, he could trigger seismic activity. However, D&D doesn't have mechanics for it, whereas M&M 2e does.
    JeminiZero, no, it is not possible for a mundane character, as defined by the author, to cause one. Note:

    Indeed, since magic has no innate limits, it can do anything. Those that wield magic must have strict limits on their power; otherwise, they'll rule the world. Easily. After all, if magic does things better- faster, cheaper, with greater chance of success, and so on- why do we need mundanes at all?

    ...

    In general, mundanes work the way they do because of real life expectations, and magic works the way it does because that's what we'd want to be doing if not for these physical constraints.

    Maybe logic wins, and we realize that casters and mundanes are in different leagues. Maybe logic implodes- at least slightly- and casters don't get to alter reality in meaningful ways. Maybe logic, while still imploding, grants mundanes a fair chance and gives them "magic" under a different name.
    Her entire post is not really architectured well - I feel like she should elaborate on some specifics - but the ideas in them are sound. It's essentially an essayed challenge to the idea that mundanes are supposed to somehow feel useful besides someone who literally moves thousands of miles with a few waves of her fingers.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    DnD works on the principal that a wizard will only have a limted number of spells per day. As such the magic system is designed in a way that when a spell is cast it is successful.
    This does work when more work is required over a short period of time. For example
    A lvl 3 rogue and a lvl 3 wizard need to open 5 chests in a day. The wizard has two knock spells memorized, the rogue has open lock and some tools.
    The rogue tries to open each lock and can open them all, after a few trys. The wizard can open two, the other three are left unopened.
    Now I think this is what was envisioned for the magic system in DnD, what happens is the wizard gets out three more scrolls of knock (breaking the limiting factor) and opens them all. Or just comes back a day later.
    What I would have prefered was that you had a rogue and wizard, the Wizard doesn’t get a spell called knock, he gets a spell called enhance open lock. This give the target +10 to open lock skill for one hour. Now the wizard can do the rogues job by giving himself the skill, or better yet he can enhance to rogues skill.

    Other systems balance things differently. In Runequest you have a limited amount of power, you also have a limited chance to cast a spell, it is not automatically successful. Having to improve you chanc of success takes time and effort and use up resources. The effects of most of the spells are also more limited. Of course in Runequest pretty much everyone has magic of some sort.

    Shadowrun magic is powerful but the act of casting a spell can also drain and weaken a mage. The more pagic and the more powerful magic you use the more chance you get drained and as time goes on you begin to suffer for the spells you have cast.

    So mundane and Magic can exist together. All this depends on what you call magic, if you are saying being able to alter reality on whim and suffer no ill effects, then no how can you balance a mundane against that kind of power. I do feel that DnD has the worse magic system of all the games I have played.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    There are, however, still systems coming to mind where magic and mundane characters are more or less balanced. I haven't played most of these, but from what I heard, it can be possible. Iron Heroes. Conan-based RPGs. Heck, 4th edition.

    The key, really, is to give the mundane characters other things to do and making magic, while able to do things the mundanes can't, not able to do them well enough to make the mundanes irrelevant.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Personally, I think the problem is that "magic" is too vaguely defined, and as a result is entirely too versatile. At least in 3.P, "mundane" things are separated to a high level of focus -- there's lockpicking, sneaking, breaking things, jumping, etc. You might be good at some of these things, but probably not all of them. Meanwhile, "magic" is "redefining reality" which covers so many capabilities. I think a good start to balancing magic with mundane classes is to split up magic along lines of function.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    If the costs for magic are too high, players won't usually use it. It doesn't matter if, in theory, you can alter reality because you want to. What matters is how cost-efficient, practical, and effective the spells are.
    Agreed. That's what AD&D was all about.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Some interesting ideas, but your basic theory:



    . . . isn't really true. If the costs for magic are too high, players won't usually use it. It doesn't matter if, in theory, you can alter reality because you want to. What matters is how cost-efficient, practical, and effective the spells are.
    Indeed. Magic can and does exist in a number of game systems with enough restrictions that it's a useful tool without being utterly dominant. If casters can do anything, obviously they're not going to work with mundane characters - but it's only in the odd systems (like D&D 3.x/PF) that they can. There are plenty of mechanics where magic does allow for the impossible but is limited in scope or time, or drains the caster in some meaningful way (as spell slots are not) or otherwise makes spellcasting valuable without being utterly dominant.

    It's true of most fictional magic, too. There are relatively few setting in writing or TV or movies where magic is just do-anything to the point where non-magical characters are irrelevant.

    What you're saying is true enough in the structure of 3.5/PF, but it really doesn't apply to the 'Any' of your thread title. Shadowrun 2e has been mentioned; even in Mage: The Ascension (where magic is as unlimited as in any game system) there are severe limits both on magic in general and on any given mage. That's a key thing, too, as well as vulnerability or weakness: any system which forces a magician to specialize in a meaningful way puts paid to the idea that mundane characters can't co-exist. It works just fine if a magical character can do impossible things so long as they can't do every impossible thing.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    its not an rpg but take harry potter, wizards rule the entire world no one expects muggles to be able to compete with wizards, but at the same time the "killing curse" would be far less effective then an assault rife. Like others have said before magic and mundanes can coexist in a setting it just does not do so in dnd because the tier one casters can do so much with so little prep and at so little cost to themselves. If wizards capped out at first level spells then they would still be magic but no one would play them, so i feel the problem is with dnd not the setting in general.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Tell me if this is a good summary:

    In D&D, the concept of mundane is typically limited by what we could logically imagine a normal person doing. The concept of caster is not, because magic by its nature already breaks our ideas of what normally happens. You can't have a setting where magic and mundanes of that sort coexist. If you want to have mundanes function well, you need to let go of the limits of what's logical for a badass normal and let them have amazing movie-esque abilities.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    I think some of the solutions are addressed by no longer thinking of the martial classes as mundanes, but as heroes from mythology. Look at Hercules, Odysseus, Chu Chulain (sorry on spelling there), Rama. Compared to some of their accomplishments, walking on clouds and shrugging off energy drain with Iron Heart Surge seem entirely appropriate.

    Of course, this is only appropriate in high-fantasy kinds of games, but if you DON'T want that, you're probably doing something to tone down the magic system anyway, so the result is the same.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    If the costs for magic are too high, players won't usually use it. It doesn't matter if, in theory, you can alter reality because you want to. What matters is how cost-efficient, practical, and effective the spells are.
    And if the costs for using magic are too high, and magic thus isn't used, is that supposed to reconcile magic and mundane?

    I mean, if magic just plain sucks, I wouldn't say the system works fairly.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    Tell me if this is a good summary:

    In D&D, the concept of mundane is typically limited by what we could logically imagine a normal person doing. The concept of caster is not, because magic by its nature already breaks our ideas of what normally happens. You can't have a setting where magic and mundanes of that sort coexist. If you want to have mundanes function well, you need to let go of the limits of what's logical for a badass normal and let them have amazing movie-esque abilities.
    This is pretty much 4th Edition in a nutshell.

    It's also one of the points people complain about.

    I've never understood why.

    I pretty much agree with the OP though, 'mundanes' tend to look inferior when compared to their magical cousins.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    And if the costs for using magic are too high, and magic thus isn't used, is that supposed to reconcile magic and mundane?

    I mean, if magic just plain sucks, I wouldn't say the system works fairly.
    Of course. Which is why you have to strike a balance. Take Mage as an example: Paradox is one of the major costs for magic and sticks with a caster for days or weeks. So you don't want to teleport from Maine to Ohio if you have time to take a plane. But if you need to be in Ohio right this very minute, you can accomplish it. Similarly, you don't want to walk around with an impenetrable forcefield protecting you at all times - but you can throw one up if you must. Long-term costs like Paradox keep a magician under control and explain why the mundane way of doing things is important while still letting magic-users be really astoundingly powerful within their limits.

    To take a more closely related example and another approach to balance, almost every 2e spell left the caster vulnerable in the middle of each combat round, such that several opponents might go while the spell is being cast and have a chance to disrupt it or get out of the way - the more high-level the spell, the longer the delay. And the amount of always-on or contingent effects were drastically fewer. So wizards weren't able to keep defenses running at all times, at setting them up or putting down enemies took time. So mundane characters had a real role - their abilities were always 'on' and ready to respond instantly to a threat. Action economy is pretty huge; the fact that they can break it is no small part of what makes 3e casters so dominant.

    It's definitely possible to strike a better balance in a way that is internally consistent in a logical sense and makes casters unique and useful without being mini-gods. Some games don't, and 3rd edition is one of those, but it's certainly possible.
    Last edited by Lapak; 2010-11-25 at 11:37 AM.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Merk View Post
    Personally, I think the problem is that "magic" is too vaguely defined, and as a result is entirely too versatile. At least in 3.P, "mundane" things are separated to a high level of focus -- there's lockpicking, sneaking, breaking things, jumping, etc. You might be good at some of these things, but probably not all of them. Meanwhile, "magic" is "redefining reality" which covers so many capabilities. I think a good start to balancing magic with mundane classes is to split up magic along lines of function.
    This is actually an excellent point.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Dada View Post
    This is actually an excellent point.
    It's actually a point the OP alludes to.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    Tell me if this is a good summary:

    In D&D, the concept of mundane is typically limited by what we could logically imagine a normal person doing. The concept of caster is not, because magic by its nature already breaks our ideas of what normally happens. You can't have a setting where magic and mundanes of that sort coexist. If you want to have mundanes function well, you need to let go of the limits of what's logical for a badass normal and let them have amazing movie-esque abilities.
    While I agree with this, I think you've left out an important point. Basically you're saying that magic is more powerful than non-magic, and you could fix that by making non-magic more powerful.

    That would work, but you can also limit magic to make things work as well (as several people have already said in this thread). You don't necessarily need to make magic weaker, but you can give it things like random miss-fire chances or steep penalties for failure, making it less attractive.

    But the general point is correct; once magic is too powerful, using non-magic is pointless. One of my favorite rpgs, unisystems Armageddon, basically phases out mundanes at high levels. You don't need magic for low-powered characters, but at higher powers the game literally won't let you play a mundane character. This is good, as at high levels everyone is something like a greater seraphim that can fly faster than a fighter jet and shot holy fire indiscriminately. Shooting a gun versus that just doesn't measure up.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Z3ro View Post
    While I agree with this, I think you've left out an important point. Basically you're saying that magic is more powerful than non-magic, and you could fix that by making non-magic more powerful.

    That would work, but you can also limit magic to make things work as well (as several people have already said in this thread). You don't necessarily need to make magic weaker, but you can give it things like random miss-fire chances or steep penalties for failure, making it less attractive.

    But the general point is correct; once magic is too powerful, using non-magic is pointless. One of my favorite rpgs, unisystems Armageddon, basically phases out mundanes at high levels. You don't need magic for low-powered characters, but at higher powers the game literally won't let you play a mundane character. This is good, as at high levels everyone is something like a greater seraphim that can fly faster than a fighter jet and shot holy fire indiscriminately. Shooting a gun versus that just doesn't measure up.
    Depends on the person. I don't particularly like to depower magic, because then you lose the heroic fantasy feel. I also have absolutely no objections to giving the melee impossible powers. Just wanted to point out that is also an option.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    This also becomes less of an issue in less combat oriented games - Either Magic or Technology can be put to use as a utility adventure role while the other becomes combat adventure.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    WarKitty: That's pretty much what I was trying to say, summarized in a convenient paragraph.

    Regarding costs: I implied it, but did not state it. If magic is so awkward to use that it isn't worth using, then it doesn't feel like magic, and it's a waste of time. Magic has the great implication of being better than mundane.
    Quote Originally Posted by GPuzzle View Post
    And I do agree that the right answer to the magic/mundane problem is to make everyone badass.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    WarKitty: That's pretty much what I was trying to say, summarized in a convenient paragraph.

    Regarding costs: I implied it, but did not state it. If magic is so awkward to use that it isn't worth using, then it doesn't feel like magic, and it's a waste of time. Magic has the great implication of being better than mundane.
    That sounds like you are used to "newer" ideas of magic in media. A lot of mythology, etc. has the implication that magic is difficult to even cast for those trained to do it. It's where the argument that the 3.5 system for spells actually is close to mythology comes from (even though there are some major differences, IE: No Cast and Forget). It's implied that you prepay all of the costs in 3.5, and that is where a lot of the problem is - the costs are waved away and spells become easy to use wonders.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Yeah, agreed. The idea that magic has to be easy is mostly a modern invention.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    Regarding costs: I implied it, but did not state it. If magic is so awkward to use that it isn't worth using, then it doesn't feel like magic, and it's a waste of time. Magic has the great implication of being better than mundane.
    Citation please? I can refer you to plenty of settings where magic is not universally better than doing things the mundane way.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Implication from here:

    "After all, if magic does things better- faster, cheaper, with greater chance of success, and so on- why do we need mundanes at all?"

    Also, if magic is just another way of doing things (in the "separate but equal" way), what makes it special?

    To me, the less a caster can alter reality on a whim, the less magic feels like magic. I'm like codified magic a la 3.5 just so everyone knows what spell X will do!
    Last edited by Endarire; 2010-11-25 at 07:42 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by GPuzzle View Post
    And I do agree that the right answer to the magic/mundane problem is to make everyone badass.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    Implication from here:

    "After all, if magic does things better- faster, cheaper, with greater chance of success, and so on- why do we need mundanes at all?"

    Also, if magic is just another way of doing things (in the "separate but equal" way), what makes it special?

    To me, the less a caster can alter reality on a whim, the less magic feels like magic. I'm like codified magic a la 3.5 just so everyone knows what spell X will do!
    Because it can do things that mundane cannot. There is no way mundane stuff can ever replicate the effect of blessing an area to ward it against evil. You can balance it with its costs to make it so that it's not an overpowered option but it is a unique one.

    Equitable is what we're looking for, not equal.

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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    "After all, if magic does things better- faster, cheaper, with greater chance of success, and so on- why do we need mundanes at all?"
    Why does it have to be all of the above? If you look at the magic systems in most game settings, magic generally only scores one or two out of three on the "faster, cheaper, more successful" scale.

    E.g. magic in the Warhammer universe is fast and sort-of-cheap, but every spell you cast carries the possibility of various horrible things happening, which kind of puts a damper on spamming them.
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    Default Re: [Any but with 3.P Examples] Magic Versus Mundanes - The Double Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Why does it have to be all of the above? If you look at the magic systems in most game settings, magic generally only scores one or two out of three on the "faster, cheaper, more successful" scale.

    E.g. magic in the Warhammer universe is fast and sort-of-cheap, but every spell you cast carries the possibility of various horrible things happening, which kind of puts a damper on spamming them.
    Because I want to play a high-magic world where magic is as easy and as valid as swinging a sword. And quite honestly I want to play in a world where I can be a kickass barbarian that bends reality because my muscles are that awesome.

    Depowering magic is one option; powering mundane is another. Depends on your play style.
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