Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where's the REAL Magic in Your Campaign?

As I was driving thru the streets of Manhattan earlier tonight I let myself soak in the wonders of a modern city.  Traffic lights, cars, trucks, public transportation, running water, sewers, phones, electricity, paved  streets - the list goes on.  It struck me.  Where are these conveniences in the fantasy campaigns we run?

I know that, for the most part, I've never had a chamber pot hap-hazardly dumped on a party member that just happened to be walking down a street, but it used to be fairy common before indoor plumbing.  So what takes care of the stuff that we take for granted in the real world in our fantasy worlds?

Magic.  The real stuff.  Not the stuff of adventuring.  The stuff that lets a city thrive.  It helps take care of the sewage and water supply, keeps disease under control, allows for the city's refuse to be dealt with... all the things we take for granted in a modern word we take for granted in our fantasy worlds.

When we game, we look at the world thru the eyes of our adventurers.  We look for adventurer supplies, and adventurer magic.

The magic that keeps the wealthy lord comfortable will not be the same as the magic that keeps him safe.

The question then becomes, are there spells that our PC casters never bother with, because they have little to no application in the adventuring professions, or is the magic that makes the world truly move belong to a whole other class or classes?

Amazing what comes to mind as you sit in traffic on a Sunday evening.


  1. Are you suggesting poo-fairies are at work?

    Brownies, perhaps?

  2. A well fed Gelatinous Cube could replace a town garbage pit ;)

    Poo-Faries? Everyone knows the real power belongs to Garden Gnomes! heh

  3. GSV > ewwww lol.

    There was a random city encounter table where having a chamber pot dumped on you was very likely, but I can't remember where the chart is.

  4. Well spotted. I was thinking about something like this this morning, generally the way that magic is the super-abundant power source in D&D, as opposed to traction and fuels, which explains how the world can be low-tech but still can produce the surpluses required to build huge cities, monuments, dungeons, etc. Yes there's slavery (traction power, basically) but to build enormous In-Mountains-of-Madness structures you need to be able to cut and move huge pieces of rock. On the more mundane end, you've also got to deal with the more tedious stuff ... and maybe the boring cleric spells like Purify Food and Water, Create/Destroy Water, Create Food and Water, and things like that would be important in a place that can't grow enough food, supply enough freshwater and so forth.

    It does make you think of the infrastructure differently.


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