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A theory about why D&D settings look that way

   
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raveled View Post
Do you accept your place as a cosmic plaything? Or do you rage against heaven and by resisting, o'ercome it?
Or, by rebelling, do you accidentally fuel the rage and fear that keeps this power strucure in place? Can you resist without becoming the monsters you fight? Seek ancient artifacts and long forgotten tomes to discover how to break the cycle!

Actually, that sounds pretty fun. Not where I would take the premise, but very much a viable sounding campaign, that I would definitely try.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Master_of_Thule View Post
Instead of medieval, most D&D settings should probably be most like the Burnt World of Darksun: surface of the entire planet ravaged by magical apocalypse, wildlife completely alien, sorcerer-kings and queens divide whatever civilizations survive among themselves and rule as absolute tyrants.
That makes a lot of sense to me. Even without the "magic destroys life" aspect of dark sun, enough barely sane lunatics throwing around enough magic will eventually screw it up for everyone else. The sorcerer kings as absolute tyrants is one of the extrapolations of the tippyverse premise (though not one it's originator, tippy, agrees with). Ruling over an oppressed population, weary from having their minds, bodies, and very souls being controlled, observed magically in every way at all times, working for their king to increase his holdings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raveled View Post
I don't agree with some of your assumptions, but let's engage with the premise and make a campaign pitch.

I dislike meta, so contextualize it. I think you don't start as adventurers -- you start as goblins or Kobolds or some other nothing monster. The game begins just after a party of adventurers have blown through your settlement, killing everyone else you know. As the party ventures forth and struggles to survive, it eventually comes to light that this whole world exists to let certain races -- Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Halflings -- get more powerful and eventually (around lvl 20) ascend to the heavens and become divine champions and go do other things for the powers that be. Your races were only ever intended to be a speed bump on this journey, and no matter how powerful you become there is no afterlife or celebration for you and your kind,. Only death and torture for the purpose of the gods.

Do you accept your place as a cosmic plaything? Or do you rage against heaven and by resisting, o'ercome it?
Sounds like fun to me! And you know what I would do, right?
Quest N: Kill a god and use his divine spark to create an afterlife for our races!

Like Raveled, I have problems with some of the assumptions, but trying to work within it: why, with the set-up that you’ve outlined, do gods even allow people to reach these power levels at all?

After all, you can achieve just as much stasis in society by simply preventing people from reaching those levels as you can by doing complicated and very precise things to their sanity if they do — and you also prevent people from coming anywhere near the power level where they might kill you and take your divine spark, which is something that you might reasonably care about.

Also, to what extent is this just a problem with casters? A high-level martial character is arguably not world-breaking in the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAdgryphon View Post
That makes a lot of sense to me. Even without the "magic destroys life" aspect of dark sun, enough barely sane lunatics throwing around enough magic will eventually screw it up for everyone else. The sorcerer kings as absolute tyrants is one of the extrapolations of the tippyverse premise (though not one it's originator, tippy, agrees with). Ruling over an oppressed population, weary from having their minds, bodies, and very souls being controlled, observed magically in every way at all times, working for their king to increase his holdings.
In the campaign setting I've been working on, there are large swaths of scarred and poisoned land that are inhabited only by constructs and undead who are hostile to living creatures. They're the remains of ancient battlefields where magic made the land uninhabitable, and those constructs and undead are left over from the ancient battles fought there. Imagine the magical equivalent of "salting the earth" if it were cast mid-battle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Voord 99 View Post
After all, you can achieve just as much stasis in society by simply preventing people from reaching those levels as you can by doing complicated and very precise things to their sanity if they do — and you also prevent people from coming anywhere near the power level where they might kill you and take your divine spark, which is something that you might reasonably care about.

Also, to what extent is this just a problem with casters? A high-level martial character is arguably not world-breaking in the same way.
Totally agree. The Forgotten Realms (3.5, anyway) had a way to solve this, which was that Mystra knew of any spell that was going to be cast 180 days in advance. Since she could also deny access to the Weave to any mortal, this effectively gave her veto power over any arcane spell that was cast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calrond View Post
Totally agree. The Forgotten Realms (3.5, anyway) had a way to solve this, which was that Mystra knew of any spell that was going to be cast 180 days in advance. Since she could also deny access to the Weave to any mortal, this effectively gave her veto power over any arcane spell that was cast.
This... raises some moral/alignment questions.

There's a simpler explanation: the world(s) is the way it is because adventurers will actively break any system that doesn't reward them for being murder hobos.

Imagine the scenario where they go to a new kingdom and discover that beneath the castle is a vault of all the confiscated magical artifacts taken from villains and monsters. It doesn't matter how good the king, how prosperous the kingdom, or anything. For your average adventuring group, it's only a matter of time before they come up with an excuse to break into the vault and loot the stuff.

It could be that the gods that are that way -- at least the ones ascended from humanoids -- are the way they are because for their entire lives, they were rewarded for being that way. With gold and gear and tavern wenches, all for disrupting any system that doesn't accommodate their every whim.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOasysMaster View Post
This... raises some moral/alignment questions.
Also raises questions about free will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOasysMaster View Post
This... raises some moral/alignment questions.
Definitely, and early on the NG Midnight-Mystra did try to meddle more, IIRC, even to the point of trying to withhold direct Weave access to Cyric (though he could still grant his clerics their spells). The other gods threatened to "sanction" her, which would have resulted in her slowly being starved of worshippers and effectively killing her. As a result, she had to go back to getting humans to do her work for her rather than directly acting against another god.

It's one reason a LN Mystra makes more sense. Maintain the Weave without undue bias.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raveled View Post
Also raises questions about free will.
This too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calrond View Post
It's one reason a LN Mystra makes more sense. Maintain the Weave without undue bias.
Thanks for the elaboration. Does Mystra know the 'context' of the spell being cast? Like, we can assume a Cure Light Wounds can't be used for torture... But does she know if a scorching ray is being used in self-defense or on innocents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOasysMaster View Post
Thanks for the elaboration. Does Mystra know the 'context' of the spell being cast? Like, we can assume a Cure Light Wounds can't be used for torture... But does she know if a scorching ray is being used in self-defense or on innocents?
I would assume from what's written that the answer to that question is no.

From Faiths and Pantheons, p.52
Deny Weave (unique salient divine ability): Mystra has the power to deny any creature, mortal or divine, the ability to access the Weave. Should she choose to do so, an affected creature cannot employ any spell or spell-like ability for as long as Mystra chooses to block his or her access to the Weave. This ability has no effect on a creature's ability to access the Shadow Weave.

Portfolio Sense: Mystra senses working of the art that draws on the Weave (that is, any spell, spell-like ability, or magic-item function that does not draw on the Shadow Weave) eighteen tendays before it happens and retains the sensation for eighteen tendays after the event occurs. She is likewise aware of the creation of any new spell or magic item.
Turns out she can even deny the Weave to the other gods, but doing so in retribution for them acting within their portfolio (as was the case with Cyric) could get her "sanctioned," by which is meant that the other gods would withhold their portfolios from her temples and worshippers (Lathander would not allow sunlight to shine on them, Chauntea would not allow their crops to grow, Umberlee wouldn't hold back from trying to sink their ships, etc.) until those worshippers abandoned her. Since Post-Time of Troubles Realms' deities rely on worshippers for their power, by decree of Lord Ao at the end of the Avatar Trilogy, this would mean Mystra would be weakened to the point that another god or goddess (probably Shar, Bane, or Cyric) could steal part of her portfolio. Imagine Shar with control over the Weave and the Shadow Weave as the new goddess of magic in Faerun.







 

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