One thing that has bothered me with Dnd worlds is how magic is interweaved into the world. What I mean to say by this is that I feel that magic in many mainline Dnd worlds is an afterthought, tacked onto the setting after they finish adding all of the “important” parts. To me, magic is an incredibly integral part of any setting and when building a world is one of the most important things to consider.
Last week I wrote about how to bake magic into your setting in the first place. You guys analyzed my post pretty thoroughly and came up with your own numbers, that I personally believe make more sense. /u/Koosemose in particular, broke down the system I laid out and made it more accurate. His conclusion was that you could reach 5th level, given 8 years of studying. This changes the world to have spells as high as 3rd level appearing fairly commonly, provided the education is there. This is assuming a safe and controlled environment, where anyone can level up given enough time. If you want to level up much quicker, going out into the wild and defeating monsters will teach you what you need at a much faster rate. This change means that there are much more 5th level wizards running around, and 2nd level spells are relatively common. 3rd level spells are castable by only 1% of the population, but that is still enough to have an impact.
Now, I was initially going to write about how individual spells impact the world. /u/JimCasy, however, has already done that and has gotten all the way to Second Level spells as of the time of this post. You can read about that here. Rather than retread work that has already been done, today I would instead like to expand more upon how Dnd magic might influence the culture of the world.
So the first thing I want to go in-depth about is how magic would affect the nobility. In my previous post, I made the assumption that magic is genetic and random in nature, similar to the world of Harry Potter. This leads to a world where people who can cast magic will get married and have more magically gifted children than the average family, but the average family can still have a magically inclined child.
Having magic is incredibly important to have as it gives you many skills that are simply impossible for others. The cantrip Mending is strong enough to be its own profession, and that’s not even including the other spells such as Alarm, Comprehend Languages, and Create Water. These services are invaluable and make the Wizard a highly sought after individual. With such an exclusive and powerful skill set, it’s no wonder that magicking individuals make their way into nobility. However, as great and powerful magic is, some less than ideal uses of it have tainted the public view of magic.
Public Perception of Magic
As /u/JimCasy points out in his cantrips article, spells such as Friends can leave a very sour taste in the public eyes concerning spell casting. Why should people be allowed to walk around with powerful enchantment magic that can force you to do whatever they want? Well, when they are also giving you your water and can fix your things for coppers and silvers, the benefits outweigh the downsides. Spellcasters are treated with caution and fear, and even if it is an unjust stereotype, it only takes one casting of Charm Person to seriously ruin your life.
With how manipulative the enchantment school can be, I would expect it to become outlawed in many societies. It would be mainly criminals who use this school in order to exploit others. However, given the correct environment, students of enchantment could flourish. For example, in one of my worlds, the Drow have intense political intrigue and it is perfectly normal to try to enchant your way through the upper classes. If someone fails their Wisdom save and hands their gold to you, did they really deserve it in the first place?
Thinking About Individual Spells
When considering the impact of spells on the world, it helps to think about individual spells and what they do to the surrounding culture. /u/JimCasy’s previous articles are a huge help, but there is always more that can be thought about these spells. Another thing I like to consider is how spells can be modified to produce different results. In the largest city of my world, Tenser’s Floating Disk has been modified so that it can go up and down instead of left and right. The people then use this spell to serve as an elevator for the mesa that the city is situated upon. Now, while this spell may be different from what is in the PHB, adding spells to situations that would normally not have spells can make the world feel much more magical.
Most spells are really just shortcuts for things that we can already do. Mending is not impossible to do in real life, it just takes a lot more time. To indicate a higher magic location, have more spells doing the work. Sometimes though, spells can introduce elements that were previously not possible. Create Water can make living in the desert a possibility, where there was none before. In order to cast Create Water, you need to be religious creating a much more religious society in the desert. But what happens if the leading Cleric loses their faith, and can no longer cast this all-important spell? Adding little things like this all over the world can help to make something that is truly unique.
Magic is complicated and is something that should be heavily considered when designing a world. Building around magic creates a world that feels much more real, as opposed to a world where Dnd magic was added on as an afterthought. It is not easy to build a world this way, and what I have typed up today is only a small consideration of how magic might affect the world. What are some things you guys have done to make magic feel more like it’s always been part of the world? Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!