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 Low Magic/Sword & Sorcery Forgotten Realms?
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Kossuth
Acolyte

United Kingdom
10 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2018 :  23:55:06  Show Profile Send Kossuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I recently started writing a campaign for players new to the Realms and decided to make a radical departure from my previous takes on FR...and I wonder if anyone else has done something similar?

I have a lot of AD&D/2E FR products [including Kara-Tur, Maztica and Al-Qadim] and after re-reading the original Grey Box, FR Adventures and City System set...and taking inspiration from artwork by Caldwell and Frazetta...started to form a version of the Realms with a darker tone and style (I also read several of Ed's early articles and various interviews on subjects like Halruaa and Netheril and the Old Empires of Mulhorand and Unther - which seem to have been quite different to what was eventually published).

Naturally, I'm reworking particular concepts like the magic system significantly, including the prevalence of magic-users, to fit my new vision...I'm undecided whether the setting will be pre-Godfall or post (nor how I'll approach the Crisis, if at all) but it will be set around the time of the original setting, not in the present timeline. Politics and intrigue will be heightened. Magic-use will be rare, restricted to certain classes, mysterious, ritualistic and dependent on the region, likely feared; healing magic likewise will be rare...for example, most temple priests would be functionaries...a priest capable of channeling their god's power would be rare indeed, potentially a prophet. Re-engineering the setting through this lens is proving to be an interesting exercise.

I'm curious, has anyone else changed FR's tone from high fantasy to something more akin to sword and sorcery? If so, how successful did you find it?

Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31516 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2018 :  03:28:32  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Perhaps it's just me, but I'd think it would be easier to find a setting that fits what you want, rather than try to force another into a mold it was never meant to fit. Failing that, building one from the ground up would seem a better option, to me.

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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3193 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2018 :  03:56:13  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-Having started the process of changing my own homebrew setting from something high magic to something much more low magic, it's extremely difficult to go from one to the other without "breaking" the world. The rules of D&D kind of assume that you are using magic also, so playing a game and keeping it balanced at later levels using low magic is also difficult.

(A Tri-Partite Arcanist Who Has Forgotten More Than Most Will Ever Know)

Elves of Faerūn
Vol I- The Elves of Faerūn
Vol. III- Spells of the Elves
Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
3525 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2018 :  05:09:19  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have contemplated making the Realms low-magic style via the E6 rules of 3rd edition (basically people stop progressing after level 6) and overall its not really difficult. Keep in mind that the overall plot of the Realms doesn't necessarily involve the requirement of high level magic,
as its used/seen in 3e anyways, and the upper magic stuff could simply be explained via difficult Rituals requiring lots of participants, time, and items to pull off.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."
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The Masked Mage
Great Reader

USA
2020 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2018 :  07:48:55  Show Profile  Send The Masked Mage an AOL message  Click to see The Masked Mage's MSN Messenger address Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What is the benefit? Basically you're just deleting all the coolest parts of the realms :P
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Kossuth
Acolyte

United Kingdom
10 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2018 :  18:21:20  Show Profile Send Kossuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi All - Thanks for the replies. I've been giving it some thought for a few days and I tend to agree with Diffan for the most part - but I acknowledge all of your points. I'll see how it goes. ;) The players seem to be leaning towards a barbarian and a diviner; I have a Red Wizard antagonist pulling strings in the background so the tone feels right for what I'll be working towards for now. Worth the test at least. Magic of all levels will definitely be alive and kicking, just not as saturated into every day life - although I will be getting rid of resurrection spells. A friend has recommended I look at 'Adventures in Middle Earth' for 5E for a lower magic take on the system so I'll be taking a look at that too...and perhaps build something of my own when I have time. I have a feeling some of my more extreme ideas for magic and corruption will translate well with Dark Sun which will likely be the setting we move onto after this...
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Belfar
Learned Scribe

USA
86 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2018 :  18:35:42  Show Profile Send Belfar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You could easily run an adventure (and maybe even a short campaign) in the Realms with a more swords and sorcery style feel to it. I always felt Chult had a very pulpy feel to it. Wild elf amazon tribes and t-rexes and all that fun stuff.
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Kossuth
Acolyte

United Kingdom
10 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2018 :  22:23:27  Show Profile Send Kossuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Belfar - agreed; one of my players has chosen a diviner from Mezro as her character. I'll be running a short intro/prelude for her character next week. Should be fun. I've run the Realms as is for a long time with no changes whatsoever and loved it. This twist should be a fun experiment. ;)

Edited by - Kossuth on 23 Sep 2018 22:23:59
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
3525 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2018 :  01:45:25  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by The Masked Mage

What is the benefit? Basically you're just deleting all the coolest parts of the realms :P



Does it though? Constant evaluations and surveys reveal that the majority of players often prefer and play heavily in the 3-10 level range the most, which is why most content is pushed for this range and why things like "beginner" levels (1-3) is quickly rushed through, especially in 5th Edition.

Why I personally enjoy this area, more specifically E6 (using 3rd Edition rules) or the Heroic tier in 4th Edition is because things are more grounded. I don't mean "realism" in a sense of what we know and observe but in the everyday aspects of the overall setting. The vast majority of Faerūn towns have people that compromise the low level range so playing in that arena feels more connected to the setting. The more you range from that, the more mere goblins and orcs are a laughable encounter and never a threat which make the game feel super-hero instead of fantasy.

I can really only speak from WotC-Editions of the game but for the most part, leveling into the post 10-level Range means that threats like Frost Giants, Demons, and Liches are "mundane" encounters and that's....unfortunate. I can remember running my wife and a friend through a pre-made 3.5 adventure that I set in the Realms where they faced off (just the two of them) against a encounter-level Challenge 23. They were level 16. The entire thing was basically over in 3 rounds due to the level of magic involved.

Basically it's hard to keep non-casters and "mundanes" interested when magic and supernatural effects being to be common and the only thing they're bringing to the table is damage to Hit Points. Of course, this is something I feel is a major flaw with 3E specifically (less so in 4e and 5e) but the premise is similar.

So to sum up, I think low-level/sword and sorcery style games are fun because they keep common monsters scary and uncommon monsters memorable, and legendary monsters something you talk about for years on end.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."
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farinal
Learned Scribe

Turkey
241 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2018 :  15:59:15  Show Profile Send farinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gamewise, check what Cubicle7 did with 5E Middle Earth. It's still low magic normal Middle Earth that we all know and love. But also still D&D 5E game. You can draw some inspiration on that how to fit the game system to a low magic setting.

"Show some respect!" the draegloth thundered. "You adress High Priestess Quenthel Baenre, Mistress of Arach-Tinilith, Mistress of the Academy, Mistress of Tier Breche, First Sister of House Baenre of Menzoberranzan... you insolent dog!"
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Kossuth
Acolyte

United Kingdom
10 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2018 :  03:32:15  Show Profile Send Kossuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by farinal

Gamewise, check what Cubicle7 did with 5E Middle Earth. It's still low magic normal Middle Earth that we all know and love. But also still D&D 5E game. You can draw some inspiration on that how to fit the game system to a low magic setting.



Thanks Farinal - It's definitely on my list. Should be very useful.
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LordofBones
Senior Scribe

827 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2018 :  14:07:27  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Why not just run an E6 game?

The thing is that sword and sorcery only works up till a certain point in gameplay. I'd advise looking at Mongoose Publishing's Conan d20 supplements, since that's geared for a sword and sorcery setting, and then run a Realms game with those rules.

Edited by - LordofBones on 25 Sep 2018 14:16:18
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
3525 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2018 :  23:42:09  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

Why not just run an E6 game?




My thoughts as well. In fact, I think E6 showcases some of the best parts of 3.5

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."
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Kossuth
Acolyte

United Kingdom
10 Posts

Posted - 26 Sep 2018 :  23:10:06  Show Profile Send Kossuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@LordofBones, @Diffan - I wasn't aware of E6. Thanks for the recommendation.
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3193 Posts

Posted - 27 Sep 2018 :  00:33:38  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

I'd advise looking at Mongoose Publishing's Conan d20 supplements, since that's geared for a sword and sorcery setting, and then run a Realms game with those rules.



-Feels kind of obvious now in retrospect, but that makes so much sense. I didn't realize there was one and was getting annoyed having to learn other game rules.

(A Tri-Partite Arcanist Who Has Forgotten More Than Most Will Ever Know)

Elves of Faerūn
Vol I- The Elves of Faerūn
Vol. III- Spells of the Elves
Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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Kossuth
Acolyte

United Kingdom
10 Posts

Posted - 27 Sep 2018 :  00:43:32  Show Profile Send Kossuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lord Karsus

quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

I'd advise looking at Mongoose Publishing's Conan d20 supplements, since that's geared for a sword and sorcery setting, and then run a Realms game with those rules.



-Feels kind of obvious now in retrospect, but that makes so much sense. I didn't realize there was one and was getting annoyed having to learn other game rules.




Agreed; thanks Lord of Bones - I've managed to get a copy of the second edition rules along with Modiphius' more recent iteration. These, along with E6, are more than enough for me to get started.

Edited by - Kossuth on 27 Sep 2018 00:44:20
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