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Old 05-24-2020, 12:36 AM   #1
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Social Strata and Magic Ability

So for my "Ten Thousand Jade Petals" campaign one thing that has come up is the fact that magic is pretty common. But I didn't want anyone to be able to cast Enchant or use other severely world-changing magics. My thought was to limit them somehow.

One thing I wanted to do was have magic be found more in the noble bloodlines than elsewhere. Why? I'm thinking many of the noble houses literally breed for it. Kind of an open secret - the best sorcerers can social climb their way up. Also, the more advanced magics will be more commonly found in those of noble blood. Commoner casters are likely to only have spells that can see immediate use.

I was also considering having commoner casters lacking Sorcerous Empowerment in favor of one or two known spells as another way to divide the two castes from one another.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-24-2020, 01:14 AM   #2
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

If the motivation is to limit world-changing magic, why does world-changing magic need to exist? Is it a necessity of the world for magic like that to be around, just not in the hands of PCs?
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Old 05-24-2020, 03:06 AM   #3
isf
 
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

So your current breakdown is looking is -

Sorcerous Empowerment- inherited, restricted to nobility
Spell-as-advantage- 1% of non-nobles


Chi Powers- learnable by anyone
Alchemy- ?


Bastard children of nobles need to be addressed if they inherit SE.


I would suggest making more advanced sorcery restricted to specific bloodlines and a factor in noble breeding.


What about nobles who lose their position through war or politics?


How common are chi powers?


How are you modeling alchemy? Who can do it?
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Old 05-24-2020, 03:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
So for my "Ten Thousand Jade Petals" campaign one thing that has come up is the fact that magic is pretty common. But I didn't want anyone to be able to cast Enchant or use other severely world-changing magics. My thought was to limit them somehow.
I've always disliked any kind of permanent enchantment spells. I solve this by not having them.

There are enchanted objects in my world, but they are almost always unique and fairly powerful. They are normally created by a mage who is willing to give up his life to create some kind of object that is important to him. This is why we might see a dragon-slaying sword, but not a housefly-slaying sword, even though the one that kills houseflies is more useful.
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Old 05-24-2020, 06:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

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Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
So for my "Ten Thousand Jade Petals" campaign one thing that has come up is the fact that magic is pretty common. But I didn't want anyone to be able to cast Enchant or use other severely world-changing magics.
First off, is there is a reason that your setting must have Enchanting? If not, you could simply make it impossible. But it sounds like you have already decided that you want to include enchanting in your setting.

Enchanting is problematic because it effectively allows High Tech - and in some cases superscience - devices in a low tech setting. Compounding this issue is that the usual presumption is that enchanted artifacts are practically indestructible, thus creating a large second hand market.

To maintain a Low Tech feel, a quick and dirty way would be to apply high tech level cost multipliers for enchanted items that emulate high tech level equipment. The enchanters know they have a monopoly on these things, and they will force you to pay through the nose to get it.

I would definitely dispose of the assumption that enchanted artifacts last forever. Instead, I would make it so that enchanted artifacts accumulate quirks over their existence until finally breaking. In other words, enchanted artifacts can age and die. Flawed works with onerous quirks might be available at a substantial mark down from antique dealers.

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Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
One thing I wanted to do was have magic be found more in the noble bloodlines than elsewhere[...]I'm thinking many of the noble houses literally breed for it[...]Also, the more advanced magics will be more commonly found in those of noble blood[...]Commoner casters are likely to only have spells that can see immediate use.
This seems reasonable. I would also expect commoners to focus on trade spells. Combat spells would be rare unless there are dangerous foes that require such spells to deal with them - and even then I would expect most commoners to prefer trade spells that don't require them to risk their lives. On the other hand, combat spells might be near universal in states where the military is the only source of affordable magical training for commoners. It all depends on your setting assumptions.

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I was also considering having commoner casters lacking Sorcerous Empowerment in favor of one or two known spells as another way to divide the two castes from one another.
Going by Sorcery rules this would lead to commoner casters who know a spell or two, but are unable to improvise or learn new spells quickly. I think this is a good flavor and works well mechanically for NPCs. This may be the result of not having enough innate ability to develop further or not being able to afford the training to develop your innate abilities, or both.

I would be reluctant to allow PCs to build sorcerers without Sorcerous Empowerment. Having to pay full cost for their spells would cause these sorcerers to advance slower than the other sorcerers in the party who did pay for SE. And that is prone to lead to player frustration.
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:08 AM   #6
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

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Enchanting is problematic because it effectively allows High Tech - and in some cases superscience - devices in a low tech setting. Compounding this issue is that the usual presumption is that enchanted artifacts are practically indestructible, thus creating a large second hand market.
Relative cost is important here though. If it takes an aristocrat five years of spare time to make a magic item, its going to be expensive, and its going to be uncommon. If you really want to limit magic items to noble families, you could make them so they only work for the blood-line of the creator. Magic items are inherited, not purchased or commissioned. You can leave a possibility open for them being able to be "won" as well, if you want.

Quote:
I would be reluctant to allow PCs to build sorcerers without Sorcerous Empowerment. Having to pay full cost for their spells would cause these sorcerers to advance slower than the other sorcerers in the party who did pay for SE. And that is prone to lead to player frustration.
You can still have them buy new spells using alternate ability rules. They just won't be able to improvise.
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

Who else but the noble elite has the free time and resources to devote to learning let alone actually utilizing lengthy enchantment magics?
"Normal" people have stuff that needs to be done like farming or otherwise providing for their families.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

Sounds like a good way for nobles to further oppress the peasants. And far from a commoner with magical talents being able to move up in status, I would expect them to be tracked down and executed as a potential threat to the ruling class.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:42 AM   #9
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

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Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
So for my "Ten Thousand Jade Petals" campaign one thing that has come up is the fact that magic is pretty common. But I didn't want anyone to be able to cast Enchant or use other severely world-changing magics. My thought was to limit them somehow.

Thoughts?
So, why not just limit those magics? Make them unavailable, guild secrets, or such.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: Social Strata and Magic Ability

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
So for my "Ten Thousand Jade Petals" campaign one thing that has come up is the fact that magic is pretty common. But I didn't want anyone to be able to cast Enchant or use other severely world-changing magics. My thought was to limit them somehow.

One thing I wanted to do was have magic be found more in the noble bloodlines than elsewhere. Why? I'm thinking many of the noble houses literally breed for it. Kind of an open secret - the best sorcerers can social climb their way up. Also, the more advanced magics will be more commonly found in those of noble blood. Commoner casters are likely to only have spells that can see immediate use.

I was also considering having commoner casters lacking Sorcerous Empowerment in favor of one or two known spells as another way to divide the two castes from one another.

Thoughts?
Steal from Harry Potter. Families that breed successfully for magic would be pure-bloods. Other mages would be "mudbloods." Although I might use halfbreeds as the local term. Commoner mages (people with magery born to commoners) would only be allowed to marry into the noble orders. In practice, they'd marry into noble families that are only semi-successful in breeding for magery.
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