Author Topic: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic  (Read 850 times)

Offline RedRobe

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Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« on: March 31, 2015, 02:31:12 PM »
Say I wanted to do a DFRPG-based game in a fantasy setting. Would spell casters be too powerful without the Laws of Magic in play?

Offline Taran

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2015, 05:41:28 PM »
I'm doing a semi-fantasy game and I included Lawbreaking.  I just called it The Taint.

It's not a matter of it being policed by an organized group, but a matter that doing things against the Laws actually changes a person for the worse.  It's fairly easy to incorporate.  It's also a good reason why the common folk don't tend to trust 'magic users' because they 'go bad'.

Depending on how organized your Magic Users are, Lots of fantasy worlds have 'schools of magic' and the Laws could be taught there.  They may even be reinforced.  Maybe students of particular schools are the responsibility of said schools after they graduate.  So, if a particular student 'goes bad', the school will have a reputation to uphold and will, therefore, send a message or an assassin to that wizard.  No school wants to be known as the one that taught the Evil Necromancer.

So, you can incorporate it any way you want.  I'm not sure if taking it out would be a big problem.  I'm not sure Laws of Magic are supposed to be a balancing factor as much as they are supposed to be setting flavour.  They certainly make it annoying for wizards to 'take over the world' but that's the kind of thing that happens in fantasy settings.

Personally, I like the Laws transforming people into evil maniacs.  It gives NPC's like Evil Necromancer Kings more justification for how they got that way.

Offline Sanctaphrax

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2015, 09:10:54 PM »
Most of the Laws don't affect character power much. The first Law is easily dealt with just by narrating your kills carefully, the second and sixth don't come up much in my experience, and the fifth and seventh just keep certain character concepts in bad-person-land.

The third and fourth are the potentially troubling ones. Reading and controlling minds are powerful. I recommend making it hard to pull off either, even with Thaumaturgy.

Offline ways and means

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2015, 09:30:01 PM »
Yer mental magic is strong in the setting and pretty strong mechanically.
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Offline RedRobe

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2015, 05:44:30 PM »
Thanks for the responses. I would probably disregard the laws in fantasy settings so the players don't have to worry about whether they can safely torch an enemy or not.

Offline SpoonR

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2015, 05:52:49 PM »
I'd really suggest a rethink, cause you're missing out on an amazing set of GM tools. Remember that Jim wrote them in the first place because of the stories he wanted to tell.

First off, there are the laws to prevent spells that shut down stories.  Mind reading and looking into the past kill almost any story that involves secrets or 'who did what to whom'. So, the third, 4th and 6th laws.  Also note that there are workarounds Harry uses, but they all complicate/make interesting the story.  Soulgaze & using the Sight can give you indirect evidence about whether a person did or could have done something, but it doesn't give any solid proof. Plus, using either puts you at risk of 'see Cthulhu in their head, go temporarily insane' syndrome.

Then you have the laws that influence how the story will go, and what kinds of things the heroes will do.  1st law isn't just 'no kill', it is 'no kill with magic'. That means you will see wizards fighting with revolvers, swords, flaming ghostly chains, etc instead of tossing fireballs. Also, it is don't kill souls/free willed folks.  So humans are definitely out, animals & a lot of monsters are fine, and then you have things like WC vampires that generate should I /shouldn't I stories. 
If you WANT fireballs, you could drop this law entirely.  BUT, say you want heroes to toast badguys, but don't want the hero toasting the town guard.  Then, come up with a fancy version of 'PC races are no-nos, but Orks are a soulless hivemind created by Orcus, so they are fair game." Maybe a deity filled in the details.

Other laws and story: 2. Don't turn your enemies into cockroaches and step on them. 4, 5, and 7. Good guys don't use Charm Person, Animate Dead, or Speak with Illithid.  If you want cockroaches, charmed minions, zombie mine detectors, etc, just change the law.

Another benefit. Bad guys can break all these rules, so if you want a bad guy necromancer it's fine, he'll just be crazy and maniacal laughter.

And finally, they create stories abut Heroes skirting the edge, or the consequences of breaking the laws.  Harry: angst abut breaking 1st law, loophole finding to animate Sue, Molly and her various mind magics.

TLDR, tweaking the laws can be very good for your game. Tossing might be extreme.

Offline Taran

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2015, 06:03:01 PM »
I have to agree with spoonR.

I think they're a neat tool.  Even if you don't have an organization policing them, having the slide towards evil is neat.  Learning the laws could be an essential part of learning magic, which is why self-taught sorcerers tend to be more dangerous.

In Most fantasy genres, the general public look at magic users with awe, distrust and fear.  Why would that be?

On a slightly different note, how are you going to re-skin Hexing?

Offline RedRobe

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2015, 08:42:00 PM »
I guess I should have been more clear in my previous reply. If I were to make up my own world, I would most likely use Dresden magic as-is. However, if I were to use Eberron, Krynn, or Golarion as my setting, I would most likely leave out the Laws and hexing as there is nothing (to my knowledge) comparable in those worlds.

Offline Arcane

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2015, 08:54:05 PM »
First off, there are the laws to prevent spells that shut down stories.  Mind reading and looking into the past kill almost any story that involves secrets or 'who did what to whom'. So, the third, 4th and 6th laws.

Actually, the 6th Law doesn't forbid anyone from looking into the past.  It just forbids anyone from travelling there to do something about it.  Postcognition is totally fine, as is precgnition.
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Offline sdfds68

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2015, 11:59:15 PM »
Actually, the 6th Law doesn't forbid anyone from looking into the past.  It just forbids anyone from travelling there to do something about it.  Postcognition is totally fine, as is precgnition.

Precog is sometimes treated as not quite OK in the books. However, that's probably because seeing the future kills mysteries faster than Sherlock Holmes with a time machine.

Offline Rougarou

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2015, 02:47:54 AM »
seeing the future kills mysteries faster than Sherlock Holmes with a time machine.

Actually, I'd say it kills them exactly as fast.
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Offline Taran

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2015, 06:31:39 PM »
Maybe it already has!
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 01:00:01 PM by Taran »

Online g33k

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2015, 05:28:44 PM »
I guess I should have been more clear in my previous reply. If I were to make up my own world, I would most likely use Dresden magic as-is. However, if I were to use Eberron, Krynn, or Golarion as my setting, I would most likely leave out the Laws and hexing as there is nothing (to my knowledge) comparable in those worlds.
Hmm.  I don't think DF-magic is really a good fit, there.
I'd use FateCore + FateFreeport, probably... fwiw & all that rot...

Offline RedRobe

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Re: Wizard power level without the Laws of Magic
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2015, 10:46:34 PM »
Hmm.  I don't think DF-magic is really a good fit, there.
I'd use FateCore + FateFreeport, probably... fwiw & all that rot...
Apart from leaving out hexing and the Laws, why would you say that Dresden magic wouldn't fit a traditional fantasy game?