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Pathfinder: Mundane/non-full caster only game

   
I intend to run a tabletop "no-full-caster-PC's" AP in the near future. They'll have access to limited-use items, including the lower-powered stuff from the Magic Item Compendium.

~Characters will be stronger from the start - more feats, more skill points, more average hp at each level, etc.
~I will be implementing Fate Points or similar so they stay alive long enough to learn that running away is sometimes (often?) the best option.

Since we're already engaged in threadcromancy,

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Originally Posted by ImperatorK View Post
I don't like E6. I don't want to limit power, just spells.
This can be done without restricting classes. Various articles have been written, published, discussed, revised, and republished over the years on how to deal with just this idea. It boils down to going through the entire spell list level by level and deciding which spells are widely known and which are completely unknown.

The common-knowledge spells are the ones wizards can learn automatically as they level, and that divine casters can simply pray for. Unknown spells are just that - unknown, and utterly unavailable. Such spells can be used as treasure or even moved into the concept of "ritual magic", that is, they're much too powerful to simply be memorized and cast in a handful of seconds. Many 7th and 8th level spells, and nearly all of the 9th level spell list, could be shifted to "ritual magic" that requires special (i.e., expensive) material components and minutes to hours to cast.

There is a vast library of fantasy literature that supports this idea, though most of it would fall into the concept of "low magic setting". Eberron took this in a different direction with the concept of magewrights and commoditized magic, where low-level magic is quite commonplace and used the way we use technology: lights, transportation, sanitation, communication, etc. The setting specifically states that high-level magic is rare, but does stop short of restricting PC advancement or class abilities.

Ultimately, however, limiting spells does limit power. That's the way 3.5 works. Google "3.5 Tiers" for as much discussion on the matter as you can stand; we won't be engaging that conversation here.

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Is it really low-magic when the whole setting is still using magic normally?
I believe this was noted earlier, but if you're restricting what the players can do, the "whole setting" isn't "using magic normally". Any adjustment to the PCs must equally apply across the entire setting, or you're simply screwing your players. Reference the commentary about gestalt classes in Unearthed Arcana if you need any additional support for this argument.

Also, you could approach it from the standpoint of creating problems that can't be solved with one or two spells, if that's your issue with magic.

Other than that, I think DrMorgranes said everything that needed to be said.

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Other than that, I think DrMorgranes said everything that needed to be said.
Not really. What DrMorgranes said is useless to me. And I explain why below.

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This can be done without restricting classes. Various articles have been written, published, discussed, revised, and republished over the years on how to deal with just this idea. It boils down to going through the entire spell list level by level and deciding which spells are widely known and which are completely unknown.
I want a game with mundanes (Paladin and Ranger are also considered mundane here). How does cherrypicking spells do that?

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There is a vast library of fantasy literature that supports this idea, though most of it would fall into the concept of "low magic setting". Eberron took this in a different direction with the concept of magewrights and commoditized magic, where low-level magic is quite commonplace and used the way we use technology: lights, transportation, sanitation, communication, etc. The setting specifically states that high-level magic is rare, but does stop short of restricting PC advancement or class abilities.
Problem is, I don't want a low-magic setting. I'll be probably playing in FR.

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Ultimately, however, limiting spells does limit power. That's the way 3.5 works. Google "3.5 Tiers" for as much discussion on the matter as you can stand; we won't be engaging that conversation here.
I know what tiers are. And I don't care that limiting spells limits power. I still don't want spellcasters in my game and am asking what possible issues there could be so I can avoid simply fiat destroying them by accident.

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I believe this was noted earlier, but if you're restricting what the players can do, the "whole setting" isn't "using magic normally". Any adjustment to the PCs must equally apply across the entire setting, or you're simply screwing your players. Reference the commentary about gestalt classes in Unearthed Arcana if you need any additional support for this argument.
Really? So if I decide to make a caster-only game, every NPC in the setting must also be a caster? Don't be silly.
I'm restricting PCs because I want a game with mundanes only, for a change of pace and as a challenge. Why is this so hard to accept?

I maintain that your main issue will be in bad guy selection. D&D assumes you have casters present, and all the metrics (however flawed they may be) have that in the equation. You'll just need to do more encounter tailoring than usual.

I recommend experimenting when you break into mid-levels, as most low level stuff isn't too difficult even without casters. See if you can work in some sort of illusionary training or a dream sequence, or something else where losing the fight doesn't have any serious repercussions. Or go with an enemy that will want to take them prisoner instead of killing them if he wins. That will give you some wiggle room to try out more powerful magical opponents and see where their abilities break down and get them killed.

You may also want to consider some kind of bonuses for healing items. Lots of hit points in the party and no healer to partially mitigate the cost of healing items could be problematic. You could automatically Maximize all Cure wands with no cost increase, double the Paladin's LoH, offer bonuses to healing from resting, that sort of thing. Unless you want the slightly grittier 'we have to wait three days to heal' or 'we have to spend half our party treasure on healing wands' sorts of scenarios.

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I maintain that your main issue will be in bad guy selection. D&D assumes you have casters present, and all the metrics (however flawed they may be) have that in the equation. You'll just need to do more encounter tailoring than usual.
I can always use lower level casters, or build them weaker, or play them slightly subpar. Remember - just because casters are powerful doesn't mean I HAVE to use all their potential.

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You may also want to consider some kind of bonuses for healing items. Lots of hit points in the party and no healer to partially mitigate the cost of healing items could be problematic. You could automatically Maximize all Cure wands with no cost increase, double the Paladin's LoH, offer bonuses to healing from resting, that sort of thing. Unless you want the slightly grittier 'we have to wait three days to heal' or 'we have to spend half our party treasure on healing wands' sorts of scenarios.
It's not like there won't be any NPC healers that could bring them to max. hp for some cash. And hiring a healer for instant healing in-combat or between combats is also an option.

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Originally Posted by ImperatorK View Post
I can always use lower level casters, or build them weaker, or play them slightly subpar. Remember - just because casters are powerful doesn't mean I HAVE to use all their potential.
Exactly.

D&D makes the silly assumption that every spellcaster is a supra-genious baby archmage just waiting to grow up anyway. Frankly there would be a lot of NPC spellcasters of just modest capabilities (meaning a casting attribute of 12 to 14) who never master the higher spell levels, even if their levels permitted it.

You don't need any special excuse to use such individuals and the XP adjustment would be a -1 or -2 reduction to CR. Done.

Or even making heavy use of the Adept NPC class instead of the core classes. It adds up to the same thing.

And I've played in several campaigns without dedicated party clerics or healers. Wands of curing and Use Magic Device tends to do most of the heavy lifting. We did OK. There is a reason healing became much more available then just through the cleric class as in earlier editions.

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And I've played in several campaigns without dedicated party clerics or healers. Wands of curing and Use Magic Device tends to do most of the heavy lifting. We did OK. There is a reason healing became much more available then just through the cleric class as in earlier editions.
Paladins and Rangers can use those for free.

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Originally Posted by ImperatorK View Post
Paladins and Rangers can use those for free.
Right. But even without them you should do fine.

+2 to both of daupinous' comments

I love the idea. And had been thinking about a game with no major casters. Or no major offensive casters. In other words a cleric would be ok, but only healing spells / channeling, utility spells, etc but no Flame Strike, etc. Or basically you can play a Healer archetype (not sure exact title) but no other full caster.

I would simply say perhaps this is not the game for you for those who seem offended and pissed. ("I would be pissed" was literal comment.) It may actually be a world with more magic than "normal". The party that the story will resolve around, just happens not to include a full caster. Maybe they are "wizard hunters", who knows. Don't like it, don't join.

All are right in that it will be an issue after the first few levels. (Hence the reason you posted this - to ask for tips with issues you felt would surface from those who had experience or thoughts about it.) Damage reduction and high AC will be the things to watch out for. Easy to overlook "buff" spells effects, not just the direct damage magic. Also large groups of minions that the party doesn't have a fireball or similar spell for. (Cleave and Great Cleave help, and you may want to drop some hints/encourage them, but only to a certain extent.) I agree that first few levels, your group will actually do better likely as they aren't "protecting" a caster. (Who then later often protects them.)

Perhaps your group forms as an older, retired NPC who had a bad run-in with a mage of some kind and hates them (maybe they killed his family, grandkids, etc) offers 4-6 magic weapons (that just may happen to coincide with what your PCs would like, or he is able to permanently enchant what they have) to any group willing to seek revenge on that caster. (Who may be not that high of a level.) Adventure on the way. Perhaps more offers from him or another town later... (The crime may be so terrible, with many witnesses, perhaps even the caster's admission - that LG and all characters would see the perpetrator being brought to justice as a good thing.)

This way you avoid the DR issues. Your group will start out "too good" and you may need to adjust and not keep giving them "candy" (magic items) a lot. Maybe let them know the weapons at the start will not be a sign of a new, better magic weapon each level.

P.S. - If you do start this game, I would certainly be interested. Have been looking for another game to get in and I like the idea.




 

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