Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I need my magic, dammit!

Dan from Sword and Board's recent "Spellcasters as NPC only..." post got me pondering this, although I have seen the notion of fantasy games with no PC magic advocated before.

Frankly, I couldn't do it. I need magic. No matter what, my character has to have some superhuman power that doesn't exist in the real world or I just won't bother. It can be some flavor of actual magic, pseudoscience psionics, even being a virtual reality "decker" in a cyberpunk game, but it's gotta be there.

Sometimes the character is just a dabbler; a swordsman or thief or gunslinger or whatever who doesn't rely on the supernatural all the time. But again, the magic's gotta be there if I'm gonna be.

I can think of literally no example from the past twenty years of gaming of me making an exception to this rule or even considering doing so.

Of course, I didn't want to be seen as crapping up Dan's comment section with my naysaying, so I posted this here instead.

I wonder what this says about me? And how about you?


  1. And let's play Star Wars but you can't be Jedi.
    Superheroes but no one can have powers.
    A Western with no gunslingers.
    Mekton with no mecha pilots.

    You might as well play Papers and Paychecks.

  2. Hmmm, I could see a campaign without PC magic-users. If you wanted to run a game in keeping with a more pulpy swords vs sorcery feel.
    But as a DM, I wouldn't want to get stuck with running magic-user NPC party members in addition to the monsters. Magic can easily be too unbalancing. It would be like playing both sides of a chess game. a conflict of interest.

  3. I don't find anything anything wrong with the idea of no PC spell-casters, but, personally, I love games with magic/powers/whatever. I never feel that much appeal of the "realistic" historical game, for example and I'm a former professional historian. :)

  4. I can imagine good, fun reasons for doing a no-PC-magic game. I imagine Dan's envisioning a hearty round of Barbarians Against The Necromancer, in which case there are definite advantages to not having to publish a campaign spell book or generally let the players in on the necromancer's secrets. I've toyed with doing Vikings games before where the PCs are all fighters (Vikings) because that's the only class available, and it's part of the fun of the game that they have to think their way around all problems with the skills they have or can hire, rather than allowing them to get the full gamut of skills offered in the rulebook on session 1. Also, they have to distinguish themselves as individuals without being able to give a job title.

    I don't think this has to be like Star Wars but you can't play Jedi. I think it's more like a Barsoom or Conan RPG: you don't know much about the inner workings of the world, only what your sword can do, and that's your strength.