Blocking Magic

9 posts / 0 new
Last post
So I'm running a DnD 4e game, with the players starting as gladiators. We have a cleric, a sorceror-king warlock and a preserving mage. Trouble is, what's to stop the PCs from using magic to blast their way out of slavery?

Is there anything in the Dark Sun universe that restricts or negates the use of magic? I have some ideas, but I was wondering if there anything 'canon.' Thanks! 
PCs are notoriously hard to keep in jail. But if the Mage was a known spellcaster they'd probably bound his hands and gag him. Not sure if the same can be done with Warlocks.
The mentality behind the design of 4e, and 5e I imagine, is to make it as simple as possible. Thus, when PCs are captured the DM considers they were helpless, and the guards can do something to the PCs to render their powers innefective. For arcane users the D&D tradition would be to bound their fingers, wrists together, and gag them. Not cheap stuff, mind you, but actual anti-arcane user contraptions, such as a custom leather gag and such. For a psionic user, perhaps a balm applied to eye patches put on the PC's closed lids, the balm being imbibed with a known and rare anti-psionic herb or animal extract, something with supernatural properties or that burns the person or whatever, and needs regular re-application. Those PCs would be set apart, preferably in one-person accomodations in a prison or prison argosy so the other prisonners could not help them.

If being in normal heavy restraints is enough to render a martial user PC powerless, and such restraints can be applied after the PC is rendered helpless, the same - thematically - should be allowed for the other power users.

No need for magic or psionic items.

Otherwise, in a D&D universe, any serious jailor suspecting his future charge would have supernatural powers...would kill them. Especially for Dark Sun. No mercy. A PC that makes it through the process still alive is one that wasn't suspected of having said power, or seriously downplayed them.
Is there anything in the Dark Sun universe that restricts or negates the use of magic? I have some ideas, but I was wondering if there anything 'canon.' Thanks! 

I don't think there is anything explicit in the rules. It's something that's assumed as part of the setting - the fluff - but there aren't any specific mechanics that address it (at least not what I've seen).

I've handled the issue through a ritual I designed called "Mental Enslavement" IIRC used by psionicists. It can't be used in combat (takes about 4 hours to do), but essentially allows the enslaver (in this case, the slavers of the arena) to impose Restrained, Immobilized and Weakened status on them at will. The way to break out was through a Level 1 (or more) Skill Challenge.

You can tweak that to prevent the use of magic, or give an arcane twist to it (a la "Arcana Enslavement"). 

BTW, PCs will also want to know how they can learn this ritual to use of NPCs. So far, they haven't figured it out yet! Wink
Here's one: If the players use magic in an unsanctioned manner (e.g. attacking audience), then they get an arrow in the head. There are non-magical ways to restrict magic use if you take a step back and think about what would prevent someone from doing anything.
So I'm running a DnD 4e game, with the players starting as gladiators. We have a cleric, a sorceror-king warlock and a preserving mage. Trouble is, what's to stop the PCs from using magic to blast their way out of slavery?

Is there anything in the Dark Sun universe that restricts or negates the use of magic? I have some ideas, but I was wondering if there anything 'canon.' Thanks! 





Using magic requires the following, for full effect:

1) A spellbook. (In previous editions, a wizard could not prepare spells without one. In 4e, you can't change daily or utility spells without one.) Spellbooks would be illegal. In fact, in flavor terms, literacy is illegal unless you're a noble, templar or merchant, and merchants were only supposed to use a numerical script. Trying to disguise a spellbook as a novel could still get you killed.

2) Ritual components. Because arcane magic is illegal, ritual components (or at least arcane reagents) are illegal. Of course, you can get these anyway, at the elven market. Where templars hang out, trying to catch and kill mages. (In previous editions, replace with "material components".)

3) Implements. Not needed in older editions, and losing your implement only "nerfs" you, but anyone caught carrying an obvious implement is in serious trouble. (A quarterstaff is not an obvious implement, fortunately.) Prior to 4e, psions weren't big on implements. Now a wizard could (with Bluff) pass off an arcane spell cast through an orb as a psionic power. (Templars tend not to fall for this.)

4) Templars! They're allowed to use magic, and they have the Arcana skill. Many have Insight as well. Because they're educated in magic, if a PC preserver tries to use a spell in their presence, they'll probably detect it. At which point they return fire. Every city-state has stats for them, listed in the Dark Sun Creature Catalog. (The Tyrian templars are listed under "human", and they're basically the same before and after the death of King Kalak.) Templars will be found at the arena, acting like cops, and probably watching the games. Closely.

5) Hatred and fear. Because people fear arcane magic, and most don't know the difference between a preserver and a defiler, you need to stat up a mob of angry citizens (use the swarm rules) that will rip any offending mage apart. Crowds of angry aggressive people are often found at the arenas. They'll accuse the PCs of cheating at the very least, and more likely will try to rip them apart for using the same forces that ruined their world.

6) What in the heck is a sorcerer-king warlock (templar, in other words) doing as a gladiator slave? A templar for which king?
Using magic requires the following, for full effect:
1) A spellbook.
5) Hatred and fear.

Good ideas overall. For spellbooks, I seem to recall that they could be disguised as rope or some fabric, with knots serving as the "words" of the spellbook. I assumed preservers and Veilled Alliance members use them to hide their abilities (b/c toting around a voluminous tome of parchment is a pretty big red flag for any templars). 

I use templars in the same way IMC; they are the police force that remain vigilant against any arcane use and are trained to detect and counter it.

OTOH, the general populace in a city state may react differently when learning of an arcane user. Many IMO would react in fear and simply run away and report him to the templars. Some would look for cover and gawk. But only a few would actively attack the preserver/defiler unless opportunity presented itself. 


6) What in the heck is a sorcerer-king warlock (templar, in other words) doing as a gladiator slave? A templar for which king?



He was a Templar of Balic, in Nibenay to investigate the assassination of a Balican diplomat. He found out the culprits (who happened to be one of the noble families of the city), and was captured by them and sold into slavery.

I ended up having the overseer keeping a slave-mage on retainer (kind of like the Seanchan mages from Wheel of Time, or the Qunari mages from Dragon Age).  That was at least in the cell blocks. For the arena fights, there were Templars and Psions on station ready to fry the slaves if they tried to attack the crowd (with magic or otherwise).

Kind of a moot point, anyways, since the PCs managed to bust out, without the use of magic. Ended up escaping, but the PCs turned on each other as soon as they were free.  
enforce spell components. problem solved

also, in the prism pendand serise, i believe Amber Enchantress, they speak of a cave made out of a natural rock formation that blocks the draw of arcane energies from plants. also, after reading the books and understanding the nature of pulling the energy from the plants, i think casting any arcane spell should require a minor action beforehand to draw the energy.

iFrame RemovediFrame Removed
Sign In to post comments