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Thread: City of magic?

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default City of magic?

    Hey all,

    This is my first post & I hope I've come to the right place. I'm brand-new to the DM-ing thing & struggling to work simultaneously on building a world and coming up with the beginnings of a campaign. Not getting very far on either, obviously, but that's my own problem...

    What I'm wondering is whether anyone's got any experience designing a "city of magic." That is, a magocracy. I'm trying to think about what makes sense to implement. Since magic is everywhere are there any candles and torches? or is it too much of a waste of power so yes, in fact, there are mundane items like that? or are low-level apprentices employed to carry out such drudgerous functions?

    Etc. Stuff like that. Note that I'm not asking anyone to actually solve my problems, just trying to see what other folks have come up with. Not only am I new to worldbuilding, but I'm relatively unread in the genre (Tolkien of course, George R.R. Martin, bloody Harry Potter, Lloyd Alexander, Elizabeth Moon, a little Garth Nix, about covers it). So any helpful links/suggestions would be most welcome as well.

    Thanks!

    Ace

    PS: Also, any suggestions as to decent, free, mac-compatible map-making software for the visually inept would be very gratefully received.
    Last edited by AceZero; 2007-03-04 at 05:35 PM. Reason: forgot to finish

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    I have tons of magic cities around here somewhere.

    First some questions.

    1. How high magic? Does everyone and their cat cast magic in some form or are there a few high level people or what?

    2. How far do you want to take the idea of a magic city? If you really play it out you get something like Atlantis from Stargate or various other Sci-Fi cities.

    3. How are you doing custom magic items? An item of use activated disintegrate is excellent for waste disposal.

    4. What books do you have?

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Thanks for responding. Like I said, I'm just starting to think about this. Here's some background.

    The city I'm talking about (Verella, for the time being) is actually the next stage of the campaign. The region where the PCs start is actually officially devoid of magic - it's illegal, due to a big nasty magic-related accident (TBD) in the past. Which isn't to say there isn't magic, of course, but the average citizen is pretty damn skeptical, people suspected of magic are tried & generally imprisoned. It's not a witch-hunt or Mutant Menace type situation - magical crimes are fairly rare.

    The players are eventually going to have to make their way from this part of the continent (the Midlands), where steel is ubiquitous, to the Western side, where Verella is the largest city & magic is as common as steel in the Midlands. (Non-magic-users aren't persecuted in the same way; they're looked down upon and forced to register at the city gates, but steel is legal).

    So I'm trying to figure out what the daily operations of the city are like. To answer your questions more directly:

    1. That's what I've been working on sorting out.

    2. I guess I'm not thinking about the city itself being a magical construct - general laws of (real-world) physics apply & all that.

    3. One idea I have is for the magic items that the PCs find in the first scenario (back in the Midlands), which to them are pretty spiffy, are generally regarded as crap when they get out West. Beyond that I haven't thought too much about it. Like I said, I'm trying to tackle everything at once...

    One idea I am playing with - and it's not terribly relevant to the topic at hand - is that religion in this world (the world in general) is going to be more concerned with the good/evil axis, and magic is going to be concerned with the lawful/chaotic axis. Thinking about ripping off the Red/White/Black robes from Dragonlance... but I digress.

    Just writing about this is helping. The only person I know who I could talk to about this stuff is my current DM, who's going to be a player in this world, so he's more or less out. Thanks for your help.

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    It depends on several differnt things.

    In a city where the amount of mystic might you wield determines your social status, but there aren't really any more mages than normal, you're still going to find candles about. If nothing else, Light only lasts 10 minutes/level, and Continual Flame has a 50 gp material component; a Torch (same amount of light) markets for 1 cp and lasts an hour. You get 5,000 hours (about seven months) of light for the cost of the material components for a single Continual Flame (and you can douse the torch when you don't want light - but then, you can cover the Everburning torch, so....). If you have to hire the spellcaster, that adds 60 gp to it, so it's 11,000 hours. Except for those who think long term, or have reason to want the magic version, mundane torches are more effecient than the everburning ones (ontil you get high enough spellcasters that they Lesser Planar Bind Lantern Archons to mass-manufacture Everburning Torches without the material components; Lantern Archon gets Continual Flame at-will as a spell-like ability; no material componets needed, you can pay the Lantern Archon as per Lesser Planar Ally - if you have the Lantern Archon "cast" Continual Flame 100,000 times on 100,000 torches (once each) it takes 100,000 standard actions on the part of the Lantern Archon; about 7 days work; long term task, up to one day per caster level is a payment of 1,000 gp per HD of the outsider - or 1,000 gp in the case of the Lantern Archon; as there is no hazard involved, it's half that, so 500 gp to cast Continual Flame on 100,000 torches to make 100,000 everburning torches... if you cast the Lesser Planar Binding, Dimensonal Anchor, and Magic Circle Against Law yourself - nice profit margin if you can sell for even a 1% of market value, as your expenses are less than two coppers per Everburning Torch, and the market value of an Everburning Torch is 110 golds) . Construction will be basically normal ("Why waste my powers on mundane construction when it's so much easier to have the peons do it?") except for those flaunting their power (those that can make a sizeable building with Wall of Stone in a few days) and even then, most of the touch-up will be done by hand (excepting those with Fabricate, too, of course).

    If, on the other hand, you've got a city where you can't swing a stick without hitting a 10th level Wizard, there will be very little manual labor done by nonspell effects. Fetching and carrying? Unseen Servant and Floating Disk. Construction? Transmute Mud to Rock for foundations (unless already a rocky area), Wall of Stone for walls and cieling, Fabricate for doors and Windows (more reliable than Shape Stone; also covers most mundane goods). Lighting? Light, Continual Flame, and Daylight (although again the economics of the situation are going to make Lesser Planar Bound Lantern Archons do most the actual work of Continual Flaming things). Decore? Illusory Wall. Heating? Endure Elements removes the need. Cleaning? Prestidigitation. And so on.

    Edit:
    A few things that might cause some slight difficulties in option 2 above (and encourage trade) are:
    Food: Very little of the Sor/Wiz list actually produces edibles; the lowest level Core Sor/Wiz spell that actually produces something to eat is Stone to Flesh (6th level). Not really suitable for mass feeding, and gives a kind of "meh" meal (until Prestidigitation makes it taste like something else). The City of Wizards needs farmers and shepherds for good food for most of its population.
    Material Components: Wall of Iron uses powdered gold. Magic Circle Against X uses silver dust. Continual Flame needs ruby dust. And so on. Some things just have to be mined. Another source of trade.
    Last edited by Jack_Simth; 2007-03-04 at 07:32 PM. Reason: Added Stuff
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Thanks, Jack. Some excellent practical considerations. It's not going to be a swing-stick-hit-10th-level-wizard kind of thing, just as the other part of the world I mentioned isn't going to be riddled with high-level fighters and rogues.

    (Incidentally, there will also be parts of this world which are more balanced than the two I've mentioned).

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    Well first you need to decide how common magic will be and then we can help you flesh out the city.

    And what level the magic users will be and there classes. 3 or 4 level 20 wizards can do a whole lot given a cities resources behind them but even hundreds of level 10 wizards won't be able to replicate there work. At teh same time some magic will be a lot more prevalent if there are many many low level casters.

    You should also look through the Eberron Campaign Setting, specifically the Dragonmarked Houses. If you give most of the residents 3-4 level 0/1 powers usable once or twice a day you can get the magic feel without to much brokenness occurring.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    It's mostly going to be wizards. Sorcerors will be around, but still outsiders, to a certain degree (not pariahs or outcasts, mind you, just socially marginal).

    As to how common magic, I guess I've defined that for myself but not really for anyone else. Imagine a typical (possibly cliche) city in a typical "low-magic" world. Blacksmiths, armorers, etc. Maybe an occasional alchemist's, which is very expensive.

    Now flip it. An abundance of magic-related shops (including, I suppose, magical blacksmiths & armorers) but very few places to get that mundane chain mail replaced. Any (well, most) shops selling non-magical weapons/armor will be just as expensive as magical ones because they're for hobbyists or collectors.

    I'm still not sure what will prevent the PCs, once they reach this place, from going nuts & overloading on magical goods, then going back to where they came from and kicking ass. My players' devotion to plot, I suppose (we already play together weekly, so I know them pretty well).

    Nor am I exactly certain what advantages to give to the non-magic-users in the party when they're in this part of the world. Other than a couple handy items, I mean.

    (Also, I have this nagging headache which suggests to me that I really need to start thinking about divine magic in this world, which I haven't even gotten around to yet...)

    Is this making sense? Part of me thinks I should just find some low-level module & get used to working with that, since I've never done any of this before. And since narrative scope is something that's always been difficult for me. Etc.

    Thanks again.

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    I am of course exaggerating for effect.

    A Conjourer-10 with Wall of Stone and Stone Shape makes a dandy construction crew. Three Walls of Stone (doable without an Int of 15 - it will likely be 20+ at that point), using the half-thickness for double surface clause, can cast Wall of Stone three times in a day for a total of 60 5-foot squares (at 1 inch thick - a good Greatclub will break through it in a hit or two, but it'll keep the rain off fairly well). A 20x20x10 room doesn't quite invoke the Arched and Buttressed clause, is of a good size, and only takes 64 5-foot squares including the floor. A little over a day's work (wth 18 second days, plus six seconds per door/window) makes a good living room. A 15x15x10 bedroom or dining room adjoining it takes 36 squares (one side not needed, as it connects to the living room) likewise. A living room (20x20x10), three bedrooms (15x15x10), a kitchen (10x10x10), dining room (15x15*10), and a bath (10x10x10) makes for a sizeable house... and the major construction for it (walls, floor, cieling; but also Windows and Doors with lower-level spells) can be done by a single Conjourer-10 in under a week. Finishing work (fireplaces, et cetera) might take a little more time. Place would get chilly at night, though (no insulation... unless you make a second shell around the final structure with a bit of a gap; dead-air insulation actually works, though poorly). A house with a central 20x20x10 room, and seven adjoining 15x15x10 rooms takes 298 squares (15 castings, 5 days). Layering the outer walls with an extra full casting of Wall of Stone (to three inches total thickness for durability) takes 8 more castings, doing the same for the cieling takes an additional 8 (16 if you invoke the briding clause for the cieling as the interior walls aren't as thick as the roof); 31-39 castings, 11-13 days give you a rather solid house that will last a very long time with very little maintenence (roughly 1,975 square feet).
    Last edited by Jack_Simth; 2007-03-04 at 08:18 PM.
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Thanks, Jack, but I don't think I need to worry about it that much. The city's already built - I just have to figure out what's in it.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    You really need to post the magic level and the level of the high level casters.

    With a dozen level 20 casters you can expect extra planar creatures coming in to do work for you, golems to carry stuff, teleportation magic for transport, disintegrate for waste disposal, weather control, buildings that change color, and numerous other things.

    With numerous lower level characters (ECL 10 or so) you lose out on a lot of that but get other things happening.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    That's a good point. I have no idea. I'll have to think about it. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AceZero View Post
    Thanks, Jack, but I don't think I need to worry about it that much. The city's already built - I just have to figure out what's in it.
    The amount of detail is exessive... but it is noteworthy that it is a perfectly valid method of building things; Identifying materials created or shaped by magic is a Spellcraft check, DC 20+Spell Level, or 25 in the case of Walls of Stone, 24 for Stone Shape (23 for a Clerical or Druidic Stone Shape), 25 for Fabricate, 26 for Wall of Iron. It's a fairly effecient construction method. In a city where magic is common, anything needing to be built quickly, or for things where fine detail isn't particularly needed, you'll have this sort of construction (e.g., aqueducts, cubbies for merchants, apartments, and so forth). Any decent Wizard is eventually going to make the check on looking at the stuff. Makes for a nice flavor detail to emphasize that the place is relatively full of everyday magic.

    Edit:
    Plus it explains waystations along the road - a traveling Cleric 9+ might prepare Wall of Stone every day(a 9th level caster can get 18 5-foot squares from a single casting at 1 inch thick; enough for a ten-foot cube with a little left over for seeding the next), and break off a few slabs for seeding Walls (basically a few broken chunks of a previous Wall of Stone to lay along the ground to start the next), and cast an instant house every night - which, being solid stone, is there for the next group, and the next, and the next.... about every day's walk.
    Last edited by Jack_Simth; 2007-03-04 at 09:27 PM.
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_Simth View Post
    Any decent Wizard is eventually going to make the check on looking at the stuff. Makes for a nice flavor detail to emphasize that the place is relatively full of everyday magic.
    An excellent point!

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    When EVERYTHING is done by magic, things get a little bit... silly. Mundane things are still around, as Permancy is expensive, you know; XP is a valued resource, and lights are likely only permanent for Royalty, and even then are most likely Illusions that persist without XP cost. Magic should be subtle, not extravegant; horseless carriges are not commonplace, but Temples purifying the wellwater is splendid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Collin152 View Post
    When EVERYTHING is done by magic, things get a little bit... silly... Magic should be subtle, not extravegant; horseless carriges are not commonplace, but Temples purifying the wellwater is splendid.
    Excellent points I would do well to remember. Thanks.

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    Why a temple purifying the well water? You can construct an aqueduct in less than a day and a couple decanter's of endless water give you all the fresh water you will ever need.

    And Permanency is only expensive until you create an item of command word permanency that supplies its own XP component (its cost around 3 million GP for it to be able to permanence a 9th level spell).

    Making an Animate Object permanent costs 3,000 XP. At the D&D XP-GP conversion rate that is 15,000 GP. The carriage costs 100 GP. Lets call it 16,000 GP per horseless carriage. That (at 1 SP per trip) is 160,000 trips before the carriage starts making money. Lets assume 5 trips per hour from 10 AM to 10 PM and 2 trips an hour for the rest of the day (very low). That is 84 trips per day. It takes 1,905 days for the carriage to pay for its self. That is a little under 5 and a quarter years until the carriage is profitable.

    Why wouldn't the city create horseless carriages? After 5.25 years it starts to be free money. Each one brings in 3,066 GP per year.

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    Magic cities tend to be besieged rather often. Those carrigaes might not last two years. And sure, you can have your decanters, but unless you have many of them, having water stored in large quantities is most efficient. Stagnant water builds disease, and Clerics aren't ever going to use that spell for anything else anyways.

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    Why would water stagnate? Its always flowing, every house gets running water and the waste water can operate the sewer/plumbing system.

    On the geyser setting 30 gallons of water is produced per round. That is 300 gallons per minute or 432,000 gallons per day. New York city uses 1.5 billion gallons of water per day. That would require 3500 Decanters (I added in a bit of lee way to deal with any problems). It would cost 31,500,000 for that many decanters.

    Yes its expensive but I seriously doubt that a city of at most 50,000 is going to use as much water as a city of 15 million (15 million being 300 times more than 50,000). So lets divide the amount of water needed by 300 and we get 5,000,000 gallons of water per day being needed. That only requires 12 (but lets get 20 to be safe) decanters.

    Total cost is 180,000 GP.

    As for the carriages you can order the carriages to never leave the city and if the city is attacked they travel to a specific location and wait there. They can be repaired with a repair objects/constructs spell so you don't have to worry about damage.

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    Magic != Technology, Indoor plumbing is just a tad more complicated. unles you can replicate reverse osmosis, good day sir.
    And carriages typically wont last past the first attack, especcially if by magic.

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    Allow me to share a little insight I wrote a few days ago on the cost of enhancing farming by magic:

    Assuming Wheat is a DC 10 crop to farm and that its farming is in cp/week, not sp/week, such that if everyone eats 3.5sp/week in wheat (7lbs, the minimum) he produces enough for 3 dependents a week on a 'standard' roll of 14 for the peasant average, with maybe a fraction more. This fits, as a peasant wheat farmer supports himself, his immediate family (3 dependents) and one tenth of a non-farmer with his production.

    In fully farmable land, you can have 45 families in 1 sq mile. Allows for 4.5 non-farmers, or 1-2 families of non-farmers.

    If a 5 mi. village, 225 families. 22.5 non-farmers, 6 families of non-farmers. Doable, assuming different parts of families take different jobs.

    With masterwork ploughs, the result increases to 16sp/week. Sufficient to support just over half an additional person. However, additional cost of 50gp means may take up to 5 years to recoup investment directly. Provision by government may be more appropriate, as results in indirect benefits to community (can support larger community, for one).

    The plant growth spell supposedly causes 1/3 growth in plantlife. If this translated to a +4 bonus, it would allow one additional person to be supported per family, causing futher booms to the community. However, as a level 3 spell it would require a fully inducted druid (level 5). Presumably by this point most druids have either passed or failed the test to become a druid (complete with distrubingly high mortality rate) and subsequently the number will be limited. Assuming each druid could manage 0.75 sq. mi. of enrichment per day (1 casting), covering a village of 3 sq. miles (approx 540 people with mundane farming) would take 4 days. Even if a druid spent most of his time travelling and enriching the soil, unless there is a very active community this means not all communities will enjoy their benefits.

    Our 5 mi. village of 225 families, all equipped with masterwork ploughs, can support 22 + 113 non-farmers, roughly equivalent to 34 families. This creates a sudden improvement in quality of life as much more time can be spent pursuing cultural and leisure time, especially allowing the advancement of ancilliary skills such as metalworking and -very importantly- the practice of magic. Non-essential crafts will actually become very popular, as crafts of immediate needs may be filled quickly. In truth, most of the surplus food will be traded to more subsistent towns or consumed by the populace to increase their standard of living, so the issue balances itself out. If this is the case and a mere 17 families are supported, they will still be earning income by the sp, rather than the cp. Even if they make 140sp/week (before living costs), that will still result as 14sp/week in fresh taxes and 72.8gp/year (at a 10% flat tax). With 17 families, that amounts to 1237.6gp/year in taxes, enough for 24 masterwork ploughs. Over 10 years the town can recoup this, after which they will be recouping very extensive taxes from the effort. If the leaders of the town successfully subjugate the working classes into continued subsistence living, they will recoup it in 5 and take in about 2470gp/year in additional taxation. Towns considering this would still need a not inconsiderable 11,250gp in surplus funds to manage and be willing to wait 5-10 years for results. Many farming communities will likely not have this sort of money.

    If enjoying the benefits of plant growth, the village of 225 families gets to support 247 non-farmers, a whopping 62 non-farming families. Again, much of the food will be consumed to increase standard of living beyond mere subsistence, but there will still be a very active cultural elite. Assuming the village (or by this point, town) employs druids at the standard rate, they will be paying 1050gp for the service (for level 5 casters and a level 3 spell). If, again, the people choose to eat rather than support useless bards and entertainers (they will still be supporting some, anyhow) and 31 families are supported, that equates to roughly 2260gp/year in bonus taxation, resulting in an overall bonus of 1,260gp/year in tax for the town. Towns planning on hiring druids for this purpose will need to attract them, however, which may prove costly. Maintaining a healthy respect for nature is generally more expensive the larger the town, so a strong relationship with the local druids is important to reap these sorts of rewards.

    Arcane magic allows a new venue entirely. Although constantly hiring apprentice wizards to make use of unseen servant would be ridiculously prohibitive with regard to costs, animated ploughs and scythes that perform the functions of farmhands might not be. An unseen farmhand would cost approximately 2000gp for a version that those not experienced in magic could use. This may again seem ridiculously expensive, until it is considered that the servant will work continuously and tirelessly, so long as it has been given orders for a full 24 hours (effectively performing the work of three men). Although it has no skill (and thus can only make an effective check of 10) it does effectively produce 30sp/week in food that it does not eat (so long as it has enough land to work), enough to support a little over two non-farming families. Assuming the tax system as above, this nets the town an additional 145gp a year. It will take approximately 14 years to recoup this investment, although ostensibly it could bear other benefits. If unseen farmhands and similar variations were used to clear and set up new colonies of empires, they might be able to prepare land for mundane farmers much more quickly than it might normally be possible to break ground. Although it is possible to give unseen farmhands some skill at their jobs by means of enhancement bonuses, the time required to recoup the investment still ends up being about 13-14 years.
    Various Homebrew: Why not check it out? You're unlikely to be disappointed.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    On the subject of magic carts, a decent way of powering one would be command-word Tenser's floating disk. for CL 5, that is 9000 gold pieces. assume a weight of 50lb for the cart (all wood I guess) and then a halfling driver, we can carry 420lb for a male halfling and 425lb for a female halfling. each activation of the floating disk lasts 5 hours.

    A cheaper (I think) way of doing it would be to have the halfling be the caster and recast it whenever the duration starts running out. Actually, second level halfling wizards can take 120lb of material around, probably enough for one other person. If we have the second level wizard and his two first level apprentices on board as well, we can transport 250lb around on a single cart (assuming 10lb increase in cart weight for extra disk slots). While they are not driving, these halflings can work with someone with Craft Wondrous Item to make command word items that can be spread around the other halflings to make other floating carts for non magic users.
    I think this is cheaper than animated carts, and is also more doable because it requires lower level casters. as for money, I haven't a clue.
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    Default Re: City of magic?

    How's the city gonna look and feel? Are we looking at a "normal" medieval city stuffed with imprisoned imps and animated furniture, Terry Pratchett-style (that would indeed get a bit silly but it might be what you're looking for, depending on the tone of the campaign: read Terry Pratchett if you haven't ) or are you aiming for something more exotic and "cool"? Your magic city could look like a fairy tale pixieland-kind of town or it could be a strange place of impossibly high towers, elegant architecture and subtle-yet-powerful magic commodities... (Ok, it seems I'm a bit biased here )
    My Skill-Based Magic System!
    Complete, except for some world-specific stuff.

    NOTHING
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 5
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
    Area: 20-ft.-radius spread
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: Will negates
    Spell Resistance: Yes

    Absolutely nothing happens. Everyone get on with their lives.
    Material Components: Several large and healthy camels.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Collin152 View Post
    When EVERYTHING is done by magic, things get a little bit... silly. Mundane things are still around, as Permancy is expensive, you know; XP is a valued resource, and lights are likely only permanent for Royalty, and even then are most likely Illusions that persist without XP cost.
    Continual Flame doesn't cost XP; just a 50 gp material component. As an Evocation spell in 3.5, it mostly inargueably produces real light.

    None of the uses of magic I suggested actually cost XP. Wall of Stone is Conjouration(Creation) Instant, creating nonmagical instantaneous stone, and has no XP or material component cost. Stone Shape is Transmutation, and also instant with no XP or material component cost. Illusory Wall is an illusion spell, but unlike most such has a clause that says it doesn't vanish when revealed as false. And it's permanent. Great for finishing off your Stone House. Continual Flame has an expensive material component cost, but no XP cost. The only thing of any XP cost you might want to include in a magic house (assuming you aren't worried about little things like theives) is a Decantur of Endless Water and something for heat.
    Quote Originally Posted by Collin152 View Post
    Magic should be subtle, not extravegant; horseless carriges are not commonplace, but Temples purifying the wellwater is splendid.
    Depends on the flavor you're going for. Occasionally, magic should be extravegant.
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    For the nightime torch lights, make it a task that the lowest mages are responsible for. That way, you have established 2 things. One, what the most common mages place in heirarchy is, and two, why the city is lit at night. You could even go so far as to make it a mild punishment for high ranking members of the order.

    Using this basic line of thought, you could make it so every task that is to be performed by a spellcaster is based on how drudgerous the task is, and assign the "newbies" to do it.
    Last edited by Logic; 2007-03-05 at 07:28 AM.
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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_Simth View Post
    Continual Flame doesn't cost XP; just a 50 gp material component. As an Evocation spell in 3.5, it mostly inargueably produces real light.

    None of the uses of magic I suggested actually cost XP. Wall of Stone is Conjouration(Creation) Instant, creating nonmagical instantaneous stone, and has no XP or material component cost. Stone Shape is Transmutation, and also instant with no XP or material component cost. Illusory Wall is an illusion spell, but unlike most such has a clause that says it doesn't vanish when revealed as false. And it's permanent. Great for finishing off your Stone House. Continual Flame has an expensive material component cost, but no XP cost. The only thing of any XP cost you might want to include in a magic house (assuming you aren't worried about little things like theives) is a Decantur of Endless Water and something for heat.

    Depends on the flavor you're going for. Occasionally, magic should be extravegant.
    Invariably, incredibly obvious magic governing every aspect of the city is cheesy and awkward, and bashes fantasy in the face.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Collin152 View Post
    Invariably, incredibly obvious magic governing every aspect of the city is cheesy and awkward, and bashes fantasy in the face.
    If you try to cover every aspect directly, that is true. People start to wonder where all the XP for the mass-manufactured Slave Collars come from (unremoveable cursed item; casts Shocking Grasp on the wearer whenever the person with the controlling ring feels like it, at a caster level selecteable by the controller from 1 to 5; alternately, has a continual Charm Person effect, keyed to the one wearing the Master Ring; Dominate Person works even better, although is more expensive) that are put on the convicted criminals. People try and sit down to do the math for how many castings of Geas/Quest and Mark of Justice are needed each day in a city of 40,000. People wonder how many 11th level casters are needed to make enough stone with Wall of Stone, then convert it to edibles with Transmute Stone to Flesh. Then people look at the spellcasting services costs, and come to the conclusion that it's crazy expensive for the effect, and nobody would hire it in an economically feasable fasion. Of course, if you've got a spellcaster on salary (X gp/time unit to do Y task), rather than comission, it's a whole nother ball game. He's not looking at one hired spell every other month from some noble or other to keep himself fed, clothed, under a sound roof, and with a little research capital. He's devoting a particular amount of his daily recources to the betterment of the city in return for a regular, reliable income that meets his needs (or doesn't get money at all, but has his needs met - the court wizard scenario, potentially). Perhaps he's slightly altruistic and is doing it in part because it benefits others. Perhaps he's cruel and is Geasing crooks just for the opportunity to hear them scream as their free will is inextoribly ripped from them while they know what's happening. Whatever. The party Wizard-5 doesn't charge 150 gp, 2 cp for every battle where he Fireballs someone, 150 gp for every battle he Hastes the rest of the party, or 150 gp for the Extended Rope Trick when everyone's exhausted, does he? Moreover, if there's a lot of spellcasters in the area, the cost to get one to do something for you goes down (he lowers prices, or all the business goes to Wizard Joe down the street). Besides, the D&D economy doesn't bear close scrutiny anyway. A lot of things in D&D don't. RAW, about how many chickens can you buy in an average metropolis in D&D? About how many chickens are there in the United States? If you keep a set of spellcasters on a fixed salary to cover particular tasks, you can actually cover quite a few things fairly effectively even without too much of anything that actually consumes recources not trivially recovered (expensive material components, XP). The trick for such things is to "describe the thumb in such detail that people are left feeling like they've seen the entire hand" (as I butcher a quote from an author who's name I don't recall). You put reasonable explanaitions on the stuff you can, and spend enough time on them that almost nobody bothers to check the other stuff (where you don't have a reasonable explaination). Distract from the exact (nonexistant) mechanics of the horseless carriages by having a scene where a house is being constructed via Wall of Stone. Distract from the amount of Gold dust needed to rim the mile radius metropolis in iron by having them watch a Bound Lantern Archon put Continual Flame spells on any available outcropping to act as streetlights spaced every thirty feet. And so on.

    If you try and say "fantasy is X" that is true. Of course, Lord of the Rings fantasy is different from Xanth fantasy is different from Pern fantasy is different from everyone else's fantasy. If magic is everyday, reliable, and predictable, it's technology under a different name. So what? Xanth is full of magic. Almost nobody bakes pies, knits clothing, or cobbles shoes; they all grow on trees, there's little point. It is still a fantasy setting. It's not a Tolkein fanatasy setting. It's not a McAafferky fantasy setting. It's still a fantasy setting.
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Mmmm... Pern Fantasy... An Mcaffery ftw...
    But, I suppose this is true. I just hate it when things become... Star-trech-ish. Things don't make sence, even given the absurd laws of physics.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Collin152 View Post
    Invariably, incredibly obvious magic governing every aspect of the city is cheesy and awkward, and bashes fantasy in the face.
    How so?...
    Quote Originally Posted by Winterwind View Post
    Mewtarthio, you have scared my brain into hiding, a trembling, broken shadow of a thing, cowering somewhere in the soothing darkness and singing nursery rhymes in the hope of obscuring the Lovecraftian facts you so boldly brought into daylight.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_Simth View Post
    Material Components: Wall of Iron uses powdered gold. Magic Circle Against X uses silver dust. Continual Flame needs ruby dust. And so on. Some things just have to be mined. Another source of trade.
    There's always the Tainted Sorceror. It can pay the spell component cost in blood. Wall of Iron and Continual Flame can substitute 5 points of damage from blood loss for the material components. Magic Circle can be bypassed with a simple Eschew Materials feat (or 1 point of blood from the Tainted Sorceror).

    Hey, who says it can't be a little dystopian with crazy men filled with the essence of pure Eeeeevil slashing open their own veins and creating light for the people?
    Quote Originally Posted by Winterwind View Post
    Mewtarthio, you have scared my brain into hiding, a trembling, broken shadow of a thing, cowering somewhere in the soothing darkness and singing nursery rhymes in the hope of obscuring the Lovecraftian facts you so boldly brought into daylight.

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    Default Re: City of magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    How so?...
    "So, those buckets floating from the well to the house..." "magic, of course" "yes, I see... And the lampposts?" "Magic" "I should have guessed... The Traffic Signs?" "Programmed Images." "Uh huh... The elevator looking dealies?" "Magic!" "And the-" "Magic! Magic! It's all magic!" "Even the donkey?" "Even the donkey" "Why?" "Cause I't has double the norma lcarrying capacity." "But..." "Magic, I say, magic."
    -Yeah, true story. ... As far as I recall. Not word for word.

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