Magic is Evil

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My friend has asked me to DM a campaign for him, to introduce his children to the game.  Now, this is a particularly religious family, and the caveat that has been provided to me is that magic is essentially evil.  This includes all forms of magic: Divine, Arcane, Primal, etc.  I can use it however I see fit (yeah, make the heathen play the bad guys. ).  But this is obviously proving to be very challenging.

Anyhow, I am going to include my first draft of what I have come up with and I welcome criticism and input on how to flesh this out.


Introduction

The age of man has always paralleled the age of greed…

Such has been the way of Aerrath for a generation of generations.  Two thousand years of human rule has equated to ebbs and flows of power between diverse cultures; and behind each emperor, king, president, and conqueror, an excess of wealth and resources.  Eventually, the coffers empty and the mines are stripped, and cycle begins anew with the next successor.

Greed is powerful, but it is visible.  As such, it can be measured and weighed, and eventually be brought to justice when the need arises and if it has not already consumed itself.  But money has not always been the driving force of Aerrath.

Magic was once the great corruptor.

Magic has always been something of tales spun by their grandparents to scare children into behaving, or stories of nightmares shared over campfires.  But it existed a long, long time ago, long before the age of man.  Through the years it went from being commonplace, to having its power abused, to being outlawed, until finally the art was completely forgotten.  But evil has a way of hiding when it is thought to be gone, only to find its way back when we least expect it.

Modern day magic has become akin to illusion; sleight of hand used to impress young boys at parties and in some cases, used by thieves to mask their deception.  Some charlatans have become proficient in illusion and earn a fair living travelling the land and performing in front of crowds.

Such is the case on this day…
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
Campaign Rules

The Tapestry campaign uses the core D&D 4th Edition rules with the included modifications.

Magic

The Tapestry campaign is a low magic campaign.  Classes that are based upon arcane and primal magic are disallowed.  Arcane and primal magic may be present in magical items, but these items are rare, and if someone is witnessed using such an item, may face repercussions.

Divine magic is non-existent.  Instead, the deities have been replaced as various rulers
(monarchs, kings, emperors, etc.) of their respective lands.  Divine magic exists in the form of “boons” and are more of an extension of the ruler’s reaching power than a act of divinity. Spells and items should be adjusted accordingly.  (Tentative Rule, likely removed)

Psionics do not exist on Aerrath.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
Races

(Note that some of this information will be relocated to the DM supplement.)

The following races are allowed player character races upon the start of the campaign:
Human
Half-Elf
Dwarf
Halfling
Elf
Gnome – PHB2
Half-Orc – PHB2

Throughout the history of Aerrath, many exotic races could be encountered.  Some of these are only thought to have been myth, some are complete fiction, and others are waiting to be re-introduced to the land.

The following races are allowed player character races once specific achievements are reached or events occur during the campaign:

Dragonborn
Githzerai – PHB2
Goliath – PHB2
Minotaur – PHB3
Warforged – Eberron

Dragonborn were lost in time when dragons became extinct.  It would only stand to reason that they may return if ever the dragons return.

Githzerai are the ancient guardians of arcane knowledge who have been forgotten in history. When the campaign begins, no one is aware of their existence.  In time, they will be revealed.

No one has seen a Goliath for over fifteen hundred years.  While they are believed to have been hunted and exterminated, their dwindling numbers had simply retreated to the highest peaks of The Teeth.

Minotaur are the most ancient of the races, even older than dwarves.  They exist only in legend, and were thought to be extinct long before the age of magic.

Warforged are ancient, sentient automatons that consume arcane energy for sustenance.  They were built to eliminate arcane magic and they succeeded to an extent.  Out of food, they now exist as empty husks and, when found, are mistaken as ancient metallic statues.

Classes

(Note that some of this information will be relocated to the DM supplement.)

The following classes are allowed player character classes upon the start of the campaign:

Fighter
Ranger
Rogue
Warlord
Knight*
Barbarian – PHB2
Bard – PHB2
Monk – PHB3

The following classes are allowed character classes once specific achievements are reached or events occur during the campaign:

Artificer - Eberron

Artificers were the creators and maintainers of the warforged.  While it was believed that their power derived from arcane magic, the truth is that it actually is steeped in technology.

*Knights are a rewrite of paladins that will eliminate the use of divine powers in place of martial and boons (see the Magic section above).  Full recreation to be included later.

Notes: Barbarians, Bards, and Monks use primal, arcane, and psionic powers, however, the nature of their powers can be linked to "non-magical" sources, hence they are allowed to provide class diversity.  The origins of these classes will be re-written to fit within the campaign boundaries.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
The Town of Bellows

As one might procure from the name, the town of Bellows is a mining and forging town.  But the name also symbolizes the almost persistent low-howl that is generated from the winds sweeping amidst the mountains that protect it.

Bellows greatest landmark is not one that is readily visible in passing.  The town is built upon a great lava flow of a stagnant volcano. Two tunnels on either side of the town grant entrance to an immense cavern, of which a natural bridge has formed, connecting the tunnels, and resides several hundred feet above the lava itself.

While the cavern is uncomfortably hot, it is not unbearable.  Many shops, workshops, and even abodes dot the bridge.  Dwarves and gnomes make their home in the cavern’s walls as well, a vast myriad of carved paths leading to their rocky abodes.

The fiery cavern also serves purpose to provide heat to the otherwise bitterly cold town above.  A maze of copper and brass pipes decorate Bellows and distribute steam throughout.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
Hate to interrupt, but if this is a conservative Christian family, you might want to look into an RPG specifically designed for that audience. I know of one that was on sale around '05 or so. It even went so far as to specify which races (such as giants, elves, fairies, pixies, humans, et cetera) were capable of being "saved" or not.
Sorry, 603, but we are already beyond the point you are trying to make.  Thanks, though.

This is not a Christian campaign world.  It's simply a high-adventure D&D campaign, sans religion.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
I think it may become important to decide why magic is evil. If you don't, it simply becomes an arbitrary rule. I think you have two options here; magic as a natural evil, or magic as a moral evil.

With magic as a natural evil, it is the same as an earthquake, hurricane, or disease. While not morally evil in itself, it is simply destructive to mortal races. Those who use it are damaged beyond repair, go insane, or something similar; they can't control the flow of power. This is kind of how Lord of the Rings portrayed magic.

With magic as a moral evil, which I think you are leaning toward, you have to establish why it is morally wrong to use it. The easiest way to do this is to tie it to beings that have malicious intent toward God/mankind/something good.

Standard D&D assumes that magic is almost like an ambient energy that people can harnass, either through specific, knowable steps (like a science), or through the intercession of benevolent entities (good & neutral gods, primal spirits). Perhaps in Aerrath, all magic can be accessed or granted only by the intercession of malevolent beings like demons, far-realm entities, etc.

Anyway, my 2 copper. Good luck in your game .

Well, based upon your descriptions, it is going to be somewhere in between.  It is going to be a chicken and the egg type of thing.

"Magic was once the great corruptor."

While everything else is "natural," magic is equally "unnatural."  It merely exists, but when put to use, it erodes the moral fiber.  As such, it is immoral to even put it to use. 

I guess I would liken it to crack cocaine or crystal meth.  In and of itself, it is neutral or dormant.  If you are putting it to direct use, it begins to destroy you, almost immediately.  It would not matter if you are looking to supply it (you're a pusher) or use it directly, you are corrupting and destroying life (directly or indirectly).

___

I guess my concerns are more focused on mechanics and implementation into the game.  My player characters cannot use magic (at least not for a VERY long time), but I can use it.  To me, this will throw off the balance of the game.  I am trying to find game mechanics that would help level the playing field.

I.e. a bard is an arcane class, but his powers are through his song and can be deemed "morale-based" powers.  Similarly, the monk's powers can be spun as a martial artist, mind-over-matter type.

Until my players discover the secrets of the Warforged, I will really have to tread lightly, I suppose.  Giving them minimal exposure to magic as an "enemy" should reveal how powerful and evil it truly is, and the Warforged should be something that they will want to investigate and discover early on.

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
Hmm, well, the first things I would do is perhaps re-think Psionics. In 4e it works like an external power source, like Arcane or Divine magic. I believe that the default assumption is that it is the universe's response to the enroachment of the Far Realm.

However, in 3.X and previous editions, Psionics was more the internal, untapped potential of rational creatures. It wasn't, therefore, magic in the usual sense. If you look at Psionics this way, perhaps you can open it up as a legitimate, non-corrupting path for your players.

If that's out of the question, also remember that in 4e preter & supernatural power sources are not inherintly more powerful than the "mundane" martial power. Class and power progression have been genercized so that, unlike in previous editions, Fighters don't stop being useful halfway through the game.

If you are worried about itemization, DMG 2 has a sidebar on pg. 138 that gives variant rules for inherent bonuses. These have been used to great effect to replace magic items, so it might be a good rule for your campaign. Your fighter, if he wants to avoid corruption, can still hold on to his plain longsword and still remain a viable threat to the ancient lich with a +7 rod of everything.
You are constructing your campaign around the central tenant that "magic is evil". I fear that if you make the "taboo" subject a central tenant of your campaign world you are heading straight into parental disapproval and the disbandment of the game.

There's enough for new players to learn about the game - how the characters work, combat, feats powers and so on without giving them all of the campaign details to deal with too.  

I would suggest you take a step back and avoid magic altogether to start with.  You could use something more historical or involving non-magical stories. Robin Hood, Vikings, Pirates, the Crusades the Three Musketeers  -something along those lines. At least go with it for the first 3 or 4levels and see how you, the players and their parents get on. At least it might save you some work if the players or their parents decide that D&D is not for them after all.

You can have an incidental evil wizard/witch characters such as Morgana Le Fey or the witches in Macbeth make good examples - pure evil and everything they say deceives - anyone who believes them or uses their magic are doomed. 

For example a local noble has been suckered by the witches. He's murdered his way into power and is treating his people really badly and his henchmen are doing what they want. None of the characters or bad guys have magic and have to be defeated through combat, negotiation or skill challenges.  Once the players have defeated this particular noble at around level 3 or 4 and put the rightful heir on the throne, the players find evidence of the witches' crimes and have to step out of the valley into the wider word of Tapestry.
Thank you, Grimbus.  But you are missing the point as well.  The father (long-time childhood friend) asked me to do this. I have known him about 30 years. I know his religion and belief structure very well. I know what is acceptable. He is also integral in confirming the basic premise of the story. And he trusts me.

I am beyond the scope of whether this is acceptable material or not. I am working on the actual integration of the material into game mechanics and the storyline. The plan is to introduce them to this oncoming evil "gradually," pretty much like any other campaign which starts from scratch. 

A noted travelling illusionist visits the town to put on his magic show. Unbeknownst to anyone, for obvious reasons, the charlatan is actually steeped in magic and his act does consist of illusion, but also several arcane spells that he casts on the unsuspecting townsfolk, who in turn start behaving oddly, if not outright badly.

These "strange behaviors" will introduce everyone to D&D and will provide much of the beginning adventure, up to level 5 or so.  It is during this time that they will learn clues as to the origin of the behaviors (i.e. magic).

So while I appreciate the input, I am really focused on the gameplay impact that a non-magic vs. magic + non-magic campaign may provide.

_____

@Formosus

Thanks.  Yeah, there are a lot of great alternative options to straight magic infused equipment.  Craftmanship, rare materials, and specializations are all great alternatives as well. There will be magical artifacts and items eventually, but their use will have great consequences. And eventually, the Warforged will be introduced and will be able to consume these items.

Actually, this is how I intend to end the first chapter described above.  The magician will have left a cursed item behind which is maintaining control over the affected citizens.  Once the players learn how, this item will activate an ancient statue which is in actuality, a Warforged.

I have not completely ruled out psionics, but I do have to go through it with a fine toothed comb to see if it would be acceptable. As I mentioned, the monk class is acceptable. Some of the others are really on the bubble.

As for balance, thank you for that input.  That does alleviate a lot of concerns.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.

What are you worried about, specifically?  If you bump everyone's attacks and defenses at regular intervals to compensate for the difference in power between a magically equipped party and your party, the absence of magical power sources in the party shouldn't be a problem.  You can have an all martial party in this edition, and it's really no less able than a mixed source party, provided you avoid using monsters that require specific damage types to destroy.  The only role they'd be missing given the current list of martial classes is a controller.

Since fluff and crunch are explicitly separate in this edition, you could put a controller into the game if you really wanted them to have one.  It would be relatively easy to turn a wizard or an invoker into an alchemist or engineer or Leonardo da Vinci style character that creates the same effects with some source other than magic.  Rename the implements, rename the powers, write new descriptions and you're up in there like underwear.

At the risk of sparking a theological argument, I'm curious how your friend reconciles the inclusion of fairy creatures as playable characters with the ban on magic.

"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
What fairy creatures are you referring to?

Elves and Gnomes have a fey origin, they are not directly tied to the fey, if that is what you are referring to.  Besides, they could still have a fey origin and still be a viable player character race, as it could be related to the respective race's ancestry and not a direct impact on the morality of magic.

There's probably 1001 ways to write out their fey origin if necessary.

Eladrin are not a playable race.  Neither are Tieflings for that matter.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
I'm confused why you brought this here to this forum?  Why not simply make it an historical analog as suggested earlier? Have no magic, and make no mention of it.  Easy peasy. Does your friend specifically want you to use the game as a vehicle to teach his children that magic is evil?

I'm confused why you brought this here to this forum?  Why not simply make it an historical analog as suggested earlier? Have no magic, and make no mention of it.  Easy peasy.



Confused?  This is a Campaign and Adventure Workshop.  I am working on a campaign.  I came here for input from fellow DM's for ideas on how to integrate it into my game.

The answer to your question is easy peasy.

Does your friend specifically want you to use the game as a vehicle to teach his children that magic is evil?



This is a completely irrelevant question, but the answer is no.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
Well, then, my recommedation is to ignore magic altogether -- don't even make it a theme -- good or evil.  Create an historic/no magic campaign in which magic item bonuses are simply replaced with 'quality' bonuses.

@Derelictdroid et. al.: I don't think that will help the OP much. He has already settled on a story where magicians are the primary antagonists. He wants to make sure the party isn't steamrolled because they don't have access to non-Martial power sources, or enchanted items. Sorry if I'm reading you wrong, Jharii.

@Jharii: If you need a controller, I  think the easiest one to reflavor is the Seeker from PH 3. As originally written, they infuse their arrows with Primal power to create various effects. This is easily redone as someone who delivers alchemical payloads on his arrows.

As an adovcate for creating a martial controller, I've watched numerous threads about the topic, and long before the Seeker was known about, what I've written above was discussed as a possible way to fill in the gap in the Martial ranks.

Thank you, Formosus.  You're spot on for my reasonings behind everything.  That, and if anyone else has DM'd this type of campaign in 4E before, they may have some other suggestions.

I'll take a look at the Seeker.  The other option would be investigating paragon paths as the solution as well.  This would give me extra time to come up with a solution. Potentially, a rogue and ranger paragon path could make sense, as well as the "non-arcane" bard.


One of the arcane classes could be specifically used with the Warforged. Since they consume magic, they could potentially "release" that energy. It could be considered non-magical. I'll have to chew on that one for a while.

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
You could also write the powers as mechanical effects instead of magic spells, thus avoiding the need to explain how it's all right for the clockwork man to summon magical burning spheres, but nobody else can.

The "trick arrows" explanation sounds like another good way to reflavor a controller into a nonmagical character.

At any rate, I don't think you're going to have too many problems with them struggling to beat encounters just because they're martial.  Controllers are extremely useful, but not necessary.  None of the roles are absolutely necessary.
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
Yeah, one of the thoughts that I had was to have the Warforged (arcane devourers)  be able to expend some of that energy.  It would weave seamlessly into the storyline and the arcane energy would be considered an energy source and the Warforged themselves simply making use of technology.

I'll have to roll that concept by my buddy to see what he thinks.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
For an excellent idea of one way to do this... Check out the Imperial Order from Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series...

sot.wikia.com/wiki/Imperial_Order

They are basically an order of people who completely hate and want to eradicate magic... having your characters grow up in a world run by these types would make an easy reason for magic to not exist... or only on "monsters" and NPCs (some of the members of the Order use magic, but they claim that they only use it to further the goals of the "creator"

Some of the stuff about the Order might be a bit more adult that you're looking for, but it does make for a good backdrop of a culture that does not like/use magic.
"Human beings are almost unique in their ability to learn from the experiences of others, and in their apparent disinclination to do so." -Douglas Adams
Excellent find, Phaqueue.  Thank you.

That does fit in to some extent, particularly with my modified Warforged implementation, as they will be able to choose a wizard class re-write in which they can expend excess arcane energy through existing or additional modifications (i.e. a light spell would be a gem that is grafted to the wargorged and arcane energy is used to light it).

It is likely that a controller will be needed, so the above class will be work well within the boundaries, and the Imperial Order will provide me with some good culture to integrate.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
You are probably better off cutting out magic altogether. It's one thing to say its evil, its another to have every scenario as "lets all kill the magic user". Whatever religious view your friend has, it concerns me somewhat. I`ve known D&D players who were devout christians and they never went down the route of being that hostile towards magical things.

I did once run a game, a long time ago, where casting arcane magic was considered an evil act. The reason for this was that in the past, arcane mages had blown up the universe, fracturing it after a war they had between themselves. It was a spelljammer game, so using spelljammer spaceships was the only way to navigate between the fractured chunks of reality, which floated about in a chaotic vortex.

In that world, however, divine magic was regarded as good, regardless of which god was involved, as the gods were trying their best to keep it all hanging together and had put aside their differences to that end, even if they had radically different alignments. My players ran into a squad of Drow paladins for example, which confused them no end.

To "evil-ise" even divine magic, though, doesnt sit well with me and i`m puzzled as to why your friends find even that to be a bad thing. It's one thing to pick on the local carnival showman who casts illusion spells, but would you have your players beat up a well meaning priestly healer?
Thank you, Shard.  But as I have pointed out before, we are far beyond the "moral dilemmas" of the situation.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
I took your advice and started a world based on the Inside-Out method.  I woke up in a room and looked around.  Its the "The Inside-Out World" thread.  Check it out...Laughing
How are you planning to do the race-unlocking? Younger players don't tend to be very graceful about character death (either thinking too much or too little of it) and it seems like it would be the only way for anyone to play your "unlockable" races, unless I'm misinterpreting the intent.
I have not quite figured that out completely yet...

But for one, new players could join and pick up one of the unlocked races/classes.

One of the things that I thought of was to monitor the players and how they are enjoying playing their characters.  If they are incredibly frustrated with them, I may give them an out by having a private chat with them to see if they would be interested in switching characters.  Then I would weave it into the story, and even possibly give them an opportunity for an epic death.  Sacrificing themselves for the greater good, and all that jazz.

It's one of the obstacles that I am trying to iron out, to be sure.  And I am most definitely open to suggestions.

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
Interesting idea.

Just spinning out an idea, take it or leave it. Suppose that the essence of magic is that it is a sort of "anti-reality". Not like antimatter is to matter (though perhaps there is a bit of that, what with fireballs and such), but more like an acid. Magic is a solvent of reality... it breaks it down. That is why you can use magic to change the way things are.

The problem with exposing yourself to this force is that it is fundamentally inimical to reality. You can't use it without "getting some on you", as it were. That is why it is morally corruptive: corruption (as in "decay") is its very essence. Use of magic breaks down your ability to make objective judgments about anything: it turns you into a psychopath or a lunatic, ultimately.

That's where the tropes of the "mad wizard" and "evil sorcerer" come from. People's ability to tell right from wrong, reality from fantasy and the prudent from the bizarre become impaired. It could even be akin to a very dark drug trip that you never come back from.

If you went with this idea, you could even have a tragedy where someone practices wizardry (perhaps certain rituals) over time for some understandable and altruistic reason. However, this person inevitably becomes twisted by the warping anti-reality of the magic and ultimately destroys what they were trying to preserve.
Haiku Police
Instead of cutting out magic items, you might want to consider each magic item in the PHB as a possible item, and cut them out on a case by case bases.

Items that have an easily normal explanation for how they work without magic could then instead be called well made version of the base item.

For instance, Magic Longsword +1... why does that need to be magic in any event? Why can't it just be a Balanced Longsword +1 meaning that because it's balanced it's more likely to hit the enemy and does a touch more damage.

On the other hand, Flaming Longsword +1 wouldn't be aloud as there really isn't a good fantasy way to describe how you have a metal sword that does fire damage at any given time that it does damage. Sure a sword that hasn't even been cooled after the final hammer blow would act as a temporary flaming sword, but put it in a bucket of water, and poof back to being a normal long sword.

But does that mean all flaming weapons wouldn't be aloud? Not at all. Flaming Arrows would be a classic.

So as I say, each item should be considered as a potential item that can remain in the game world, with only removing items that the only reasonable way to keep them is if you explain them with magic.

Here's just a quick list of items I would keep between 1 and 5 and why I would keep them...
Magic X this is no longer a Magic X but a balanced or well made X
Dwarven Armor: this is just well made dwarven craftmanship. The improvement to healing is simply because it's lighter and easier to rest in.
Razor armor: this is now armor with spikes on it. Spiky armor hurts.
Sylvan armor: again, it's bonus can be explained because it's just well made armor.

Vicious weapons: might sound like it's magical, but there are real life weapons that if you twist them just so after you stab someone they cause all sorts of extra damage.
Duelist weapon: same logic on it's critical roles, but the daily power is explained that the weapon has been balanced in such a way that it's easier to feint attack someone, thus giving you that combat advantage.
Terror weapons: That fear daily isn't magical but because this weapon just really does look that frightening.
Flaming weapons: Only if it makes sense for it to be flaming like a flaming arrow.

Bracer of Mighty Striking: Wrist support is underrated by most people.
Bracer of Perfect Shot: Again wrist support is underrated by most people.
Bashing Shield: You can hit anyone over the head with a shield, but this shield is built a bit more study for pushing back your foes.

Acrobat boots, Catstep boots, Boots of spider climbing: I can see any of these as non magical and just custom shoes. I know when I go climbing IRL that I don't wear my running shoes. I wear climbing shoes that make it easier for me to climb.

Burglar's gloves: Don't most criminals like a nice pair of gloves?

Potion of Healing: It's not magical. It's medical. 
Well, as most people said, avoid monsters that require spell-damage and it should be fine... the martial characters are good enough that they aren't weaklings- same goes for psionics though not sure about how that would be looked upon...

may i inquire as to the nature of your friend's religious beleifs? i know "we're past the point of moral dilemna"but i am inclined to wonder how even the divine powersource could be viewed as evil

(particularly since any religion trusts in the "magic" given by god and placed in the clergy... is it just the paganistic nature of these gods? if so you could make it monotheistic and let the kids have fun with that...)

it's curiosity and brainstorming thats driving me right now,

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

Well, as most people said, avoid monsters that require spell-damage and it should be fine... the martial characters are good enough that they aren't weaklings- same goes for psionics though not sure about how that would be looked upon...

may i inquire as to the nature of your friend's religious beleifs? i know "we're past the point of moral dilemna"but i am inclined to wonder how even the divine powersource could be viewed as evil

(particularly since any religion trusts in the "magic" given by god and placed in the clergy... is it just the paganistic nature of these gods? if so you could make it monotheistic and let the kids have fun with that...)

it's curiosity and brainstorming thats driving me right now,



They are "non-denominational" Christian.  Not as extreme as Jehova's Witness, but along the same vein.  The overall concern, as best as I can describe it, is that there is simply caution regarding mimicking Godlike powers.  I.e. creating something out of nothing, raining down fire and brimstone, etc.  Obviously, there are a lot of nuances that I am not covering, but I haven't needed any of those details to write the story.  It has almost been writing itself.  He just wants to make sure that his kids are of an age where they can understand the concept of magic as it pertains to D&D as opposed to magic as it pertains to real life (i.e. witchcraft, voodoo, etc.).

@Syntic:  Yes, we are not throwing everything out just because it is arcane, divine, etc.  There are many powers, items, etc. that can work well within the ruleset with some very minor tweaks or just a change in viewpoint.  Thanks for sharing more ideas!

Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
How are you going to handle souls and miracles, as they're magic?
How are you going to handle souls and miracles, as they're magic?



Um...
1)  I've yet to see a D&D game where an explicit explanation of those was ever relevant.
2)  souls = magical is not as sure an argument as you seem to think.  I'm willing to bet that if you went out into the real world, you'd find plenty of people who believe in souls but not magic.
3)  A miracle is a miracle.  That's divine intervention or incredible luck.  As I understand the OP, divine magic (as in priests with magical powers) do not exist, for the sake of better fitting with the beliefs of the gamers' father.  That is not to say the world lacks religion.  (At least, not necessarily).  Just that it's supposed to be Christian religion, with no magic associated with it.  Perhaps the OP will choose to differ, but no divine magic implies to me that God doesn't invest some of his power in mortals.  That doesn't mean he won't intervene.  Apply it like you would to the real world - nothing so explicit to be undeniable.  Religion, divine magic, and miracles can occupy the same role in the game as they do in the real world.  Or to avoid the issue, background it.  As I said in (1), just don't address it, and don't bring it up in game.  It's likely that you won't need to address this issue.
How are you going to handle souls and miracles, as they're magic?



Um...
1)  I've yet to see a D&D game where an explicit explanation of those was ever relevant.
2)  souls = magical is not as sure an argument as you seem to think.  I'm willing to bet that if you went out into the real world, you'd find plenty of people who believe in souls but not magic.
3)  A miracle is a miracle.  That's divine intervention or incredible luck.  As I understand the OP, divine magic (as in priests with magical powers) do not exist, for the sake of better fitting with the beliefs of the gamers' father.  That is not to say the world lacks religion.  (At least, not necessarily).  Just that it's supposed to be Christian religion, with no magic associated with it.  Perhaps the OP will choose to differ, but no divine magic implies to me that God doesn't invest some of his power in mortals.  That doesn't mean he won't intervene.  Apply it like you would to the real world - nothing so explicit to be undeniable.  Religion, divine magic, and miracles can occupy the same role in the game as they do in the real world.  Or to avoid the issue, background it.  As I said in (1), just don't address it, and don't bring it up in game.  It's likely that you won't need to address this issue.



1) With regards to an afterlife, it may very well be relevant.
2) It's a question of definition. They'd say they don't believe in magic, I'd say they do if they believe in a soul. I've had this discussion a million times over and it's not a good route to go down (and off-topic).
3) I'm not talking about random chance. Divine intervention is not magic?

But yeah, it may be smarter just to avoid it. I don't think it would go down well with the father in question if his God being nailed to a cross and subsequent ressurection was compared with Thor's lighting-creating hammer Mjølner and his thundergoat-pulled chariot.
Yes, it seems we'll be at an impasse.  But I can't help but add in one final thought: I'm putting the direct act of God in a category distinct from magic.  Now, as you yourself have pointed out, it may not make sense to call it "not magic."  But a lot of people do it anyway.  Why?  Because the distinction matters to a lot of people.  (And from what I've heard religion major friends say, some schools of thought endorse this).  It's not something I'm equipped to debate, but all I mean to say is: to a lot of people (including, I believe, the father in question), this distinction is important.  So for this game, just say it's true.  Are kids really going to question it enough to matter?
I am designing a setting based on Dark Sun where 90% of the world is devastated by magic. In this setting mages are like vampires. They are almost unbeatable but if you are prepared you can kill them quite easily. For example the mages of this setting drain life force to power their magic. If you corner them in a wood or city you are going to die. However if you corner them in the mountains or deserts they will run out of things to drain fast and will die. (you can take a will or for save to resist the life draining.) I have not playtested the setting but I think it will be unbalanced as it stands. If you have some other requirement like needing to sneak up on them it might work. Then again some form of formula might be better for children. Peraps if you need to use a special metal to defeat them and the Warforged turn out to be made of the metal...

Of course it is possible to beat them in a clean fight, just a bit harder. 
I am designing a setting based on Dark Sun where 90% of the world is devastated by magic. In this setting mages are like vampires. They are almost unbeatable but if you are prepared you can kill them quite easily. For example the mages of this setting drain life force to power their magic. If you corner them in a wood or city you are going to die. However if you corner them in the mountains or deserts they will run out of things to drain fast and will die. (you can take a will or for save to resist the life draining.) I have not playtested the setting but I think it will be unbalanced as it stands. If you have some other requirement like needing to sneak up on them it might work. Then again some form of formula might be better for children. Peraps if you need to use a special metal to defeat them and the Warforged turn out to be made of the metal...

Of course it is possible to beat them in a clean fight, just a bit harder. 



I have continuously toyed with the idea that this world is "post-Athasian," thousands of years after the blight devastated the world and has since healed and a new cycle of magic is beginning.

Thank you for sharing!
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
How are you going to handle souls and miracles, as they're magic?


This is a non-issue as far as the player characters are concerned.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
I was just thinking. How are you going to deal with ressurection? My players hate it when their charectars die and the presense of ressurection magic or cloning devices are critical to most of their historys. However you can not use it for obvious reasons. At epic levels the pcs might bwe directly ressurected by God but only once or twice in the whole campain.

Also for your setting in paticular I have toyed with the idea that you still get clerics. However it is not a class but a feat that allows you to pray to God and try a diplomacy check to convince him to help. Unlike normal DnD their is a good chance that God will not bother for his own ultimatly good reasons. This is my response to a article written by some Christian who attacked DnD because it implied that the clerics could control God. I do not know what your friend would think of that idea though.
I was just thinking. How are you going to deal with ressurection? My players hate it when their charectars die and the presense of ressurection magic or cloning devices are critical to most of their historys. However you can not use it for obvious reasons. At epic levels the pcs might bwe directly ressurected by God but only once or twice in the whole campain.

Likely, it will be a house rule based on unconsciousness rather than death, or possibly a death's door rule.

Also for your setting in paticular I have toyed with the idea that you still get clerics. However it is not a class but a feat that allows you to pray to God and try a diplomacy check to convince him to help. Unlike normal DnD their is a good chance that God will not bother for his own ultimatly good reasons. This is my response to a article written by some Christian who attacked DnD because it implied that the clerics could control God. I do not know what your friend would think of that idea though.

For the most part (if not all), religion is going to be eliminated from the game.  There really is no need to focus on it.  Instead, think of it as the LotR movies, where religion is really not present at all.  It is more attuned to good vs. evil in a high adventure setting.

Every one of the players is new to 4th edition.  All but one is new to D&D, and most have limited exposure to RPG's in general.

But we did have a gathering last week to create characters and run through a combat encounter, and they are all very excited about the campaign, particularly from the story and role playing aspect (not just the combat, which I was worried about). 

The 9 year old even wants to play a gnome ranger because he thinks it would be fun and different.  He doesn't even have a barometer to compare this against, but yet he already figured out that a gnome ranger is outside of the "norm."

Needless to say, this made me very happy that he is very interested in his character and adding something to the story, even though he has never been a part of one before.

I think things are going to be great.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
I suggest you take a look at the Solomon Kane movie. The basic premise might fit your campaign world. Basically those who wield "magical powers" have made a deal with the devil to gain this power, at some point and are damned as a result. They can cast spells, but the price is their eternal soul (though they may not appreciate this at the time).

There may a bunch of characters who seek salvation by saving the innocent (a divine grace  bestowed by God) and destroying the guilty ( any wizard).

It's not a bad film either.