On one of the posts I made on social media, Ian Borchardt created a great phrase for how I view magic's effect on the cultures of the Majestic Fantasy Realms.
One of the big problems is that magic in a lot of campaigns tends to be non-scalable, being focused in individuals. Thus I suspect that as a result the effects of magic would tend to cluster tightly, rather than spread through the society. Small islands of wonder in what is otherwise a less developed world (since there would be less incentive for overall development).
Over a decade ago I wrote a post speaking in general about some of issue surrounding magic and society.
Magic and Society (Feb 2010)
I wrapped the post up with this.
There are a lot of dials here you can play with and the results is that many types of settings can result even when they share the same assumptions I am making. By doing this type of exercise you find yourself considering the different possibilities. This is can ultimately to a more interesting and fun game for you and your players.
Since then I done more work detailing my setting both as the Majestic Wilderlands and as the Majestic Fantasy Realms. Hopefully a brief overview will serve as an example of some of the thing I touch on that post.
One the things I developed is the technology of magic. How was it discovered and how did it developed into its present form as outlined by the system. Currently the Vancian system found in ODnD's 3 LBBs.
After the Dawn War, the Demons were imprisoned in the Abyss. Each of the surviving gods created a crystal. Nine of them were used to seal the entrance of the Abyss, and the tenth was the master Chromatic Cystal.
In order to power them, the gods had the crystals channel the ambient magic into their crystalline structure and then release it back out into the world. Creating a self sustaining loop the keep the demon imprisoned. A side effect this that were now flows of magic throughout the world. Concentrated enough to allow magical energy to be gathered quickly and released as a spell within seconds.
The nine crystals "tainted" the flow emerging from them creating nine distinct forms of magic. Each form reflected the personality and powers of the god that created the crystal. These nine forms plus the original ambient magic became known as the Ten Arts of Magic.
Like our world's zodiac, they became associated with specific images and colors. The Claw (Black), The Eagle (Red), The Flame (Orange), The Forge (colorless, original ambient magic), The Hearth (Green), The Lantern (Purple), The Skull (White), The Storm (Indigo), The Tree (Blue), The Web (Yellow).
So what does it means in terms of Swords and Wizardry? I created the following additions*
- The maximum spell level the spellcaster could cast as ritual is determined by their level.
- Rituals take ten minutes to cast and require the presence of the spellbook.
- Ritual spell caster can't memorize spells.
- The ritual spell caster had to have scribed the spell into their spell book. For pre-literate societies arcane spellcasters used natural media like cave walls, bark, stone, and sometimes dried tablets of clay to scribe mystical pattern that enabled to learn the spells.
- Magic items can be used in seconds within the time of a single combat round. Thus any spell used in combat had to be scribed as a scroll (or similar object), a wand, or a magic item.
- One additional wrinkle I will touch on later is that if the ritual spell caster has viz, magic in physical form, then a spell can be casted within seconds. The number of viz needed is equal to the level of the spell. Viz is ephemeral and the spell caster can only maintain a number of viz equal to half of their level (rounded up) plus their intelligence bonus. Excess viz dissipates at the next sunrise, unless they have a special magic item called a Arcane Coffer.
- Spells are kept the as they are written in the book**.
- Each spells is associated with an art of magic.
- If cast with viz associated with a specific art or a spellcaster with a focus in that art. The spell has an increased effect***.