All Characters are Magic

Is my group the only one that plays D&D from the perspective that all PC's are magical?  They all possess access to abilities that are essentially magic.  For me, this really pulls the game together, it makes abilities more interesting, it makes the game make some kind of consistent sense, and most importantly, it allows me to loosen up and have fun!

What do I mean by this?  I mean that PC's are special, and the way they are special is with an innate access to some kind of latent magic.  Of course this magic manifests in different ways.  For a fighter it might be barely noticable as 'magic,' for a druid it's pretty obvious. 

I just figure this is the way it HAS to be.  But reading the wizard vs. fighter debates, it seems that I might be in the minority on this . . . so let me ask you:

 - How else do you explain a high level fighter surviving a 200 foot fall onto rocks? 
 - When a barbarian can go toe to toe with a giant, are we saying this is because he goes to the gym a lot?
 - A high level rogue can achieve virtual invisibility because he's really good at holding his breath.
 - When a character sucessfully intimidates a demi-god, that's just because he really studied in his psychology 101 classes?
 
These scenarios are not specific to any particular edition. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about 4e was that it finally seemed to just embrace this notion.  Rather than pretending the fighter or the rogue were somehow not magical (despite being able to do things that must be magical), they gave them powers and abilities that were just a martial type of magic. 

Now my fighter could reposition in combat, or attack areas, or compel enemies to take certain actions. how? magic!

Or, the rogue could attack an area of enemies and blind them in the same amount of time it usually takes him to fire a single shot.  That's magic!

Making all characters magical is the ONLY way to make the game at all realistic (is that irony? more magic = more real).  The alternative is everyone has to play a caster class. 

Am I the only one who views the game this way?  It seems clear to me, and with 4e I thought it was clear all the way around.  Now, I'm not so sure . . .
"Your status as a Hero makes you magical." - Quest for Glory 5.
Cinematic yes.  Magic no.
Depends entirely on the level range.
Yeah, depends on level range. At epic, I think of classes more as 'what you were doing before you became a demi-god'.
Eh, I don't know about magical. I like my fighters to be ordinary men that can accomplish extraordinary things. Take Batman for example - he's technically a super-hero but he has no super-human powers, and that makes him even more awesome. By saying that he can only accomplish what he does because he's actually super-powered diminishes what he can do; and I feel similarly about the non-magic using classes in D&D. They are what they are because they worked to become that way... not by magic.
What's the matter, you dissentious rogues, That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion Make yourselves scabs?
I substitute fantastic for magical but that's how I feel.
"Mythical" is probably a better word to describe all the player classes, especially past the lowly chump levels. Same word used by Mearls to describe Fighters and Rogues.

Let's just see if he'll follow up on his word.

I think that the amazing feats that high-level characters can perform at higher levels are more heroic than magical - it's like having super luck to match your super skills.
Is my group the only one that plays D&D from the perspective that all PC's are magical?  They all possess access to abilities that are essentially magic.  For me, this really pulls the game together, it makes abilities more interesting, it makes the game make some kind of consistent sense, and most importantly, it allows me to loosen up and have fun!




My group definitely does not work under that assumption.
Eh, I don't know about magical. I like my fighters to be ordinary men that can accomplish extraordinary things. Take Batman for example - he's technically a super-hero but he has no super-human powers, and that makes him even more awesome. By saying that he can only accomplish what he does because he's actually super-powered diminishes what he can do; and I feel similarly about the non-magic using classes in D&D. They are what they are because they worked to become that way... not by magic.


Batman does have a superpower: Being Batman.

And I don't operate under the assumption that everyone is magical, though I do operate under the assumption that everyone is Supernatural. It is an important difference to me, because magic fits inside the 'Supernatural' tent and then I don't have to insult the Fighter by saying he's relying on innate magic. He's still Supernatural though, because he has capabilities far beyond the physical limits of ordinary men. Why he's supernatural is left up to the player. Just being that awesome is a stand-by.
Is my group the only one that plays D&D from the perspective that all PC's are magical?  They all possess access to abilities that are essentially magic.  For me, this really pulls the game together, it makes abilities more interesting, it makes the game make some kind of consistent sense, and most importantly, it allows me to loosen up and have fun!

What do I mean by this?  I mean that PC's are special, and the way they are special is with an innate access to some kind of latent magic.  Of course this magic manifests in different ways.  For a fighter it might be barely noticable as 'magic,' for a druid it's pretty obvious. 

I just figure this is the way it HAS to be.  But reading the wizard vs. fighter debates, it seems that I might be in the minority on this . . . so let me ask you:

 - How else do you explain a high level fighter surviving a 200 foot fall onto rocks? 
 - When a barbarian can go toe to toe with a giant, are we saying this is because he goes to the gym a lot?
 - A high level rogue can achieve virtual invisibility because he's really good at holding his breath.
 - When a character sucessfully intimidates a demi-god, that's just because he really studied in his psychology 101 classes?
 
These scenarios are not specific to any particular edition. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about 4e was that it finally seemed to just embrace this notion.  Rather than pretending the fighter or the rogue were somehow not magical (despite being able to do things that must be magical), they gave them powers and abilities that were just a martial type of magic. 

Now my fighter could reposition in combat, or attack areas, or compel enemies to take certain actions. how? magic!

Or, the rogue could attack an area of enemies and blind them in the same amount of time it usually takes him to fire a single shot.  That's magic!

Making all characters magical is the ONLY way to make the game at all realistic (is that irony? more magic = more real).  The alternative is everyone has to play a caster class. 

Am I the only one who views the game this way?  It seems clear to me, and with 4e I thought it was clear all the way around.  Now, I'm not so sure . . .

You may not be the only one, but it's far from any sort of standard.
Cinematic yes.  Magic no.

They used to call this movie magic.  I think they still do at universal studios
I also prefer 'fantastic' as in 'fantasy world' or 'fantasy RPG.'  Holding characters without explicitly-magical abilities to RL standards of realism in an heroic fantasy game is nonsensical, as well as profoundly unfair and almost certain to be imbalancing as it leaves those characters with too little power and flexibility to contribute meaningfully.   

It's also one of those stylistic issues.  It would be great if the game had both gritty/realistic, non-magical options in which there simply is no magic and are no casters - even if there is belief in magic and some fantastic elements (like unicorns that are simply one-horned goats or 'orcs' that are neanderthal-like), /and/ high-magic options in which non-casters play no role as PCs at all, as well as the more traditional fantasy in which wizards and warriors rub shoulders as relative equals, at least within heroic circles.

 

 

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I would not say magical. MOre like over the top cinematic and a bit goofy. Kind fo like watching Kill Bill various fight scense (the Bride vs the Crazy 88), Star Wars as the heroes escape the Death Star or any action Hero (Sly Stalone, Chuck Norris, etc.). The fight scenes can be over the top and unrealistic but fun to watch.  Character Hit Points are a measure of luck, favor of the gods, combat instinct, tenacity and fortitude as well physical endurance. When the giant hits the fighter, it is assumed that the fighter barely escapes the club and gasps in dismay as it crushes the ground where the fighter stood before he hopped away. He can only dodge so much before his luck runs out and he dies. Clerical healing also restores morale, removes fear and doubt as well as healing physical damage so the fighter can stand up and convince himself to keep going. The only thing that may be considered magical about the non-spellcasters is their armor class. No plate armor could take the beating a D&D giant or dragon would dish out on it and anyone inside armor would be mush. Old edition D&D stated that you were receiving glancing hits all the time but the armor absorbed it unless the to hit equaled or exceeded your ac in which case you suffered damage. Completely plausable against humoid or animal opponents. Not very plausable for Mythic monster attacks.
I prefer to keep the magic to the classes that use actual magic. I prefer a world more like A Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings than Harry Potter or Dragonball Z.
Is my group the only one that plays D&D from the perspective that all PC's are magical?  They all possess access to abilities that are essentially magic.  For me, this really pulls the game together, it makes abilities more interesting, it makes the game make some kind of consistent sense, and most importantly, it allows me to loosen up and have fun!


You are not the only one. But it is a "setting" choice - there are other players who think the "universe" of D&D should be something like "real medieval wolrd + Magic", and stay "mundane" as much as possible as long as Wizards and Magic are not in action.
None of these view is wrong, they are just different takes on how the "fantasy world" should work, determined by personal choices, playing style, I even dare say role playing "values".
Magic as the way the world works opposed to magic as an "alien" force in a mundane world.
I'd say that this "setting" tastes difference is the cause of many arguments on this forum : if someone believes magic breaks the rules of the established world rather than obeying them, then it is logical that fighters are just mundane people and Wizards extremelly powerful. It becomes "verisimilithingtude" because it fits this person's theory of what the world should be in his game.

For me, it will be the biggest problem of 5E : create rules that can fit these two basic "fantasy world view" and playing styles without putting one at the fore front.


Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
In the past, D&D has supported historical campaign settings in which magic was limited or non-existent.     
Therefore I don't view characters as magical.     Magic is dependant on the magic level of the campaign setting. 

I hope 5e suppports these types of campaigns again.


I prefer to keep the magic to the classes that use actual magic. I prefer a world more like A Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings than Harry Potter or Dragonball Z.


A Song of Ice and Fire and the Lord of the Rings don't exactly have magic as a commonplace thing, nothing close to what is present in your average D&D game. This makes all of those warriors meaningful.

Add commonplace magic, and those warriors better keep up somehow, or else everyone concerned with warfare should go to warwizard academy at the age of 5 to keep up to speed with how the world works.

It would be like expecting a knight in shiny armor riding his trusty steed to be able to keep up with a jet fighter.

Edit: I think I'm trying to say.. Make everyone magical, or give the "mundane" warriors something "crazy" to make them matter again. If you don't, you'll have the ago old Fighter lackeys and master Wizards.
I've never been a fan of this viewpoint. Fighters and rogues are mundanes to me, and that (as well as their abilities) is what makes playing them enjoyable for me.
Color me flattered.

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Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.


 - How else do you explain a high level fighter surviving a 200 foot fall onto rocks? 



The same way people survive sky diving falls to the ground from 10,000 feet up.  Luck.

 
- When a barbarian can go toe to toe with a giant, are we saying this is because he goes to the gym a lot?



In actual combat, combatants weave and duck.  The figure sitting on the table in its 5 foot square is not actually just standing there while the giant swings. 
   
 
- A high level rogue can achieve virtual invisibility because he's really good at holding his breath.



Rogues didn't get hide in plain sight.  He achives virtual invisibility due to the objects he is hiding behind.
  
 
- When a character sucessfully intimidates a demi-god, that's just because he really studied in his psychology 101 classes?



This was silly and I didn't allow it in my games unless there was a story reason for it to happen.  
 
Thanks to Maxperson for actually addressing my examples. 

I guess I do like the term 'supernatural' to describe what I'm talking about.  The fact is that D&D 'mundane' classes do things beyond the bounds of real world earth physics and biology.  That, to me, is magic.  Because it is something that cannot happen on earth.  But it may be helpful to call it supernatural, and make magic a special subset of the supernatural. 

A 3e raging Barbarian has superhuman strength.  He doesn't have world's strogest man strength.  He has physically impossible strength.  He doesn't just go to toe to toe with the Hill Giant by dodging the club, he goes toe to toe with the hill giant becuase *he is stronger than the hill giant.* Pretending otherwise just seems silly to me. 

A lvl 20 fighter will survive a 200 foot fall on stone 100% of the time in D&D (if my memory of how falling damage works is correct).  That's not luck.  It's a physical impossibility.  It relies on no magic items, or potions. 

Lets take a specific example: a character could get a +30 in jump skill without magic item or spell based enhancement.  so with a roll of a 10, that's a running jump of DC 40.  So a jump of 40 feet.  10 feet further than the world record. 

The point is simple: allegedly "mundane" characters do things which are physically impossible. 

Now you have a choice.  Either you have characters doing unrealistic things without explaination (which makes things feel unrealistic to me); D&D exists in a world with different laws of physics and biology (which I think gets complicated); or characters are imbued with something supernatural (which I chose to call magic).

PC fighters are not Batman, they are Captain America, they have to have something to explain why they can do what they can do.

You can explain many situations away with cinematic wording.  Barely dodging this or that.  But there are many situations where this just isn't possible (example: PC's can take a fireball to the face in a closed empty room and live to tell the tale).  That is an inherent part of the game mechanics. 

I have no doubt there are gaming systems out there that allow for truly mundane classes.  I just don't see how D&D has ever been one of them. 
Thanks to Maxperson for actually addressing my examples.



Sure thing!  Here are some more ;)   

I guess I do like the term 'supernatural' to describe what I'm talking about.  The fact is that D&D 'mundane' classes do things beyond the bounds of real world earth physics and biology.  That, to me, is magic.  Because it is something that cannot happen on earth.  But it may be helpful to call it supernatural, and make magic a special subset of the supernatural.



I liked 3e where they separated the mundane from the supernatural.  My view of it was mundane was within normal possible boundries.  Supernatural exceeded natural boundries but wasn't necessarily magical.  And magic was beyond the supernatural.  So more like supernatural is a subset of magic.   

A 3e raging Barbarian has superhuman strength.  He doesn't have world's strogest man strength.  He has physically impossible strength.  He doesn't just go to toe to toe with the Hill Giant by dodging the club, he goes toe to toe with the hill giant becuase *he is stronger than the hill giant.* Pretending otherwise just seems silly to me.



Hill giants were the smallest of giants.  When you look at mothers who lift cars off of their children with their adrenalin surges, it doesn't seem beyond the norm for a raging barbarian who is tapping into the same power to achieve or surpass a hill giant.    

A lvl 20 fighter will survive a 200 foot fall on stone 100% of the time in D&D (if my memory of how falling damage works is correct).  That's not luck.  It's a physical impossibility.  It relies on no magic items, or potions. 



D&D PCs are fated.  They are the best of the best and fate, the Gods or even something greater is working to keep them alive.  Also, you can't mimick reality 100% or anywhere close when you make a rules system.  At some point there are some things that you just have to shrug and accept in order to keep the game playable.  

Lets take a specific example: a character could get a +30 in jump skill without magic item or spell based enhancement.  so with a roll of a 10, that's a running jump of DC 40.  So a jump of 40 feet.  10 feet further than the world record.



Again.  We're running up against system v. reality.  No system is ever going to be perfect and I don't think magic has to be the explanation for those glitches that come up.  They can be for sure, but that's going to be a DM/Table distinction.   

The point is simple: allegedly "mundane" characters do things which are physically impossible. 

You can explain many situations away with cinematic wording.  Barely dodging this or that.  But there are many situations where this just isn't possible (example: PC's can take a fireball to the face in a closed empty room and live to tell the tale).  That is an inherent part of the game mechanics.



Have you ever watched those big TV/Movie explosions where the balls of fire roil outwards?  They don't move uniformly and I can see where it might be possible for a section to be untouched in the midst of the firestorm.  Even in huge brush fires there will be small patches of untouched grass in the middle of a blackened field.  It all goes back to the fated PCs/luck/Gods watching over them again.    
Have you ever watched those big TV/Movie explosions where the balls of fire roil outwards?  They don't move uniformly and I can see where it might be possible for a section to be untouched in the midst of the firestorm.  Even in huge brush fires there will be small patches of untouched grass in the middle of a blackened field.  It all goes back to the fated PCs/luck/Gods watching over them again.    



Clearly we aren't going to agree here, but I just don't see it.  I mean, you could can always make it this way in your game, I just don't see it meshing with the rules of any edition (especially 3e and 4e). 

The jumping example is just one example.  PC's are better than the best real world human at any and every task (climbing, running, jumping, holding breath, shooting an arrow, number of attacks, living without food/water, going without sleep etc.).  I think that's fine, I think they should be.  I just think the best way to explain it is by calling it supernatural.  Embrace that D&D exists in a fantasy world.  It's more like Narnia than it is earth plus (the plus being wizards and monsters and other races).  In narnia everything is fantastical, problem solved.

Forget the rolling flames of a fireball: a PC can literally be *on fire* for a decent amount of time, and emerge not just alive, but in a fully healed condition in a matter of a day or two. 

For me, trying to make D&D look like an action movie, made it feel less realistic.  There were too many situations that I couldn't explain without changing the rules.  It was more cinematic for me to just embrace it as more fantastical.

As characters level they move from Lancelot toward Captain America.  It felt so natural in my view of the D&D world, I guess I was just surprised that so many (most) seem to hold onto a much stricter midieval  view of the D&D setting. 

If by "magic" you mean special in some way beyond the real world, hell yea. I want martial characters to be able to fight God of War style with swords on the end of chains and jumping around all bat crazy.

If by magic you mean arcane wizard's magic. NO! Cuz psionic power isn't magic. ;3


The jumping example is just one example.  PC's are better than the best real world human at any and every task (climbing, running, jumping, holding breath, shooting an arrow, number of attacks, living without food/water, going without sleep etc.).



You'd be amazed at what people could do.  Some of the worlds climbers are amazing and can climb the bottom of overhangs and other absolutely astounding climbing tasks.  When I was younger, I was VERY fast.  In 3e terms I had a 40 move and the run feat and I was not the fastest in the world.  I probably could have qualified for the Olympics and was training for that for a bit, but I probably would not have placed for a medal.  Most moves for the standard races that were faster than 40 in 3e were generally the result of magic.  On America's Got Talent this season there was an amazing archer who shot multiple arrows and hit multiple balloons with them.  The world record for holding your breath underwater is 11 minutes and 35 seconds.  That's  115 rounds in D&D.  Not gonna happen with a D&D character.

I think you underestimate what human limits are.    

 
seriously?



U mad bro?

go back to playing WoW, brah.



What's the point of this?
Illustrating that there are rude people on both sides of the argument?

Honestly it is posters like this that make it hard for those of us trying to have valid discussions on the pros and cons concerning 4e.

It gives ammo to the 4e players who think that our old school approach is unreasonable.

Please discuss what you liked or didn't like about the feel and mechanics of 4e without insulting the people that liked it.

If we can do this then perhaps they will start granting us the same respect.

But we have to earn that respect.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

One of my issues with 4E is that although I enjoy playing, it makes the assumption that all PCs (and most monsters - even the human ones) are supernatural. 

Oh, and if you don't believe a well-trained fighter would be capable of truly amazing feats, do a search on YouTube sometime for fastest gunslinger.  Bob Mund can draw, shoot and holster a gun in .02 seconds ... far faster than I would have thought possible.

I don't have a problem with supernatural classes, I just want my mundane class that do amazing things back.
It has always seemed really obvious to me that the martial charcters in D&D are in no way "mundane."  Martial characters don't have the physical limits that people in the real world do.  They can train and become stronger until they can fight 50 foot long dragons with scales like steel that can breath fire hot enough to melt stone.  There is nothing "mundane" that could possibly do that. 
Why not?

I saw a demonstration where a swordsman cut air soft bullets in half as they were fired at him.

There is a man who can throw sewing needles through bulletproof glass and hit his target.

Humans can do some amazing things when they dedicate themselves.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Well, we can go on all day about the limits of what is humanly possible - like the guy that ran a marathon distance on frozen ground barefoot.  The doctors were certain he was going to at least lose a few toes but after he warmed up he was fine.

In any case, I want my mundane character that can take on a dragon and who may be a bit too buff to be just human - just don't give him supernatural abilities to force pull every creature within 15 feet to a spot adjacent so he can smack them all.  Or automatically causing damage without even swinging.  Leave those kind of abilities to jedi or magic users.
Is it our fault you cannot imagine what damage on a miss means without it representing a physical wound? Or that you cannot imagine why enemies would charge the fighter who taunts them with come and get it? Nothing the 4e fighter does is supernatural. Yes, some of what he does is cinematic, and story driven, but nowhere near magical.

The 4e fighter actually seems more realistic than the 10 attacks a round trip quisinar of death that was the 3e fighter. Hell the 3e fighter could literally cut through solid stone. He could dig a whole in a mountain faster than a jackhammer. Power attack cheese made 3e fighters do silly damage to inanimate unmoving objects with low AC.

P.s. come and get it was changed to require an attack vs will in order to pull the enemies. Why do people keep bagging on it.
If I want to play a forget-all-sense-of-simulation game where I can do Come and Get It  (or mark for that matter) on nonsentient swarms because I flex my pecs, than 4E is fine.

I'm tired of having this argument:  if you want to play a supernatural character go for it.  All I ask is that I have the option to play a class that is not supernatural.
Interestingly enough nobody is forcing you to choose the come as get it power or a fighter that marks.

And again, why should I be punished that you cannot imagine a case where marking or come and get it work? The DM is always free to say that they don't. I think you have bigger issues if you are playing a fantasy game and can't use your imagination to see the fighter is not supernatural.
Interestingly enough nobody is forcing you to choose the come as get it power or a fighter that marks. And again, why should I be punished that you cannot imagine a case where marking or come and get it work? The DM is always free to say that they don't. I think you have bigger issues if you are playing a fantasy game and can't use your imagination to see the fighter is not supernatural.

He only said that he want the option to play a non-supernatural class.

Plus, remember that it is easier to add rules that are presented as optional/modules than to exclude rules that are not presented as optional/modules. So, best to start with the "mundane" style as a basis and add the "supernatural" style as an option.

One of my issues with 4E is that although I enjoy playing, it makes the assumption that all PCs (and most monsters - even the human ones) are supernatural. 

The martial classes are explicitly described as possibly super-human, but not supernatural.  



 

 

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4e gave him the option of a non supernatural fighter from day 1. The supernatural fighter is called the paladin. Nothing the 4e fighter does cannot be explained by reality.
Everyone being magic shouldn't be the assumption.  I'm fine with there being enough options that everyone can be magic if that is the flavour you want for your campaign.  A lot of people don't want that flavour from D&D.  There are, after all, other games for that.  Games for whom that is the premise.  'Everyone is magic' is not and should not be the premise for D&D.

It can be the premise for your campaign if you so wish.  The options should support that.

Equally, the options should support an 'everyone is mundane' flavoured campaign.   
High level D&D PCs are supernatural in all our campaigns.
Fighters are superhuman in speed and strength, rogues can hide in plain sight because light bends around them, assassins do really meld into shadows, and so on.

A few weeks ago I was playing my revenant assassin and, while escorting to the royal palace a child princess that we rescued the day before, he got attacked by a band of cutthroats paid to kidnap the princess (again). Before he could react the assassin was hit by a volley of arrows and went below 0-hp (he was already hurt).
At that point I couldn't resist: the assassin (still able to fight due to it's revenant abilities) stood up, looked at the child, whispered her "It's a kind of magic", then proceeded to severely wound all the enemies with an area-attack combo.

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