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2nd ed AD&D


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But setting isn't dependent on rules.


Want a half-orc in a fantasy game with zero rules for it?


Make it up. Maybe with the option of revision if rules become available.


The high power mage in a low magic setting isn't a good concept. If you want a high power mage, why play a low magic setting? That's like complaining there's no wookies in Waterdeep.


A high power mage is a bad character concept because it violates the spirit and purpose of a low-magic setting and would, thusly, be better suited to a high magic setting.


Which, if that's what the group wants to play, is certainly doable within established rules or modifications of such.


Edited to add 2 points:


1. I'm speaking specifically about D&D so that's why I said editions. I've played other systems, but I'm not going to discuss their merits or lack of merits because I don't really care that much about them and since there is a huge array I'm not qualified to rate all of them. Some systems work, some suck, but I'm talking about D&D editions.


2. One the issue of stats, if all else fails just use the basic human generation. No stats for gnome? Roll 'em up like normal. Same for elf, tiefling, half-orc, giraffe alien, or what have you. Who cares about a +1, -1, whatever? Is it really that critical? To me, playing a half-orc is about playing a half-orc, a gnome a gnome, and how exactly the stats get generated (so long as they are within the reasonable range of other races) isn't important. Or, at least, shouldn't be. If it's about the stats, I think that's missing the point. JMO.

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Now that I've got some coffee in me I'll expand a little.


The beauty of any RPG is that it is flexible and customizable, dependent on the needs and desires of the group that plays it.


So let's go back to the high-powered mage for a moment. I guess the nitpick I'd have with that would be the 'high powered' part, because that seems a weak definition if the object is a strong character. Now for some groups and players, it's all about the power. For some it's about the adventure, some dig combat, and some just want to kill some time.


In the whole of RPGs, all of these are essentially valid forms of gaming since the system caters to varying tastes, and these come down to matters of taste.


For my tastes, a high powered mage is a pretty dull concept. For one, to be a high power mage the world must be pretty magic heavy or the character is woefully out of place and far in excess of the abilities of others (loss of balance). As well, this applies to how many other similar characters might be around. Where there's one high-power mage there's others. Magic loses a lot of its thrill when people are walking around wielding gigantic spells of mass calamity. It gets old fast, at least for me.


For my tastes, a mage in a low-magic campaign is much more interesting. The character inherits, by virtue of the setting, an air of mystery and arcane. Just from being a mage. Even the simplest spells and tricks are things of awe and wonder, wielded by few and mastered by characters of such rarity as to be near myth. That also gives the character an end goal to strive towards. Not the gaining of power for its own sake, but to join the ranks of the fabled few masters whose names are whispered in rumours at inns and gathering places.


That's pretty cool stuff, and that's a pretty solid base for a character. Then you can move on from there and flesh out more. How did they come to be a mage? If magic is rare, how did they learn? Was it a natural talent they discovered by accident and figured out some minor spells? Did they have a mysterious mentor? What's their relationship? Is the mentor still alive? Now the player is giving the DM some meat to work with, too.


What are the character's responsibilities as a mage? Is there a code, formal on informal, about the protection of the arcane secrets? How is it enforced? What happens to rogue mages who don't toe the line?


I could go on, but I think my point is pretty clear. The second character is much easier to develop if one uses the confines and restrictions of the setting as a framework or starting point and logically walks through it. Something I feel is rather more lacking with the high-powered mage concept for reasons I outlined above.


Now, again, every group is different. There is nothing wrong with a high-magic superpowered fantasy RPG if that's what the group wants, and that's why the games are customisable.


For me, roleplaying evolved into the fun of creating new and interesting things, of interpreting the stats and data as what they are: mechanical representations of abstract ideas. A basic example of this is the classic "bad stat". A 7 Dex? What's that about? Is the character clumsy? Crippled, perhaps? I had a Paladin with a 7 Dex and his backstory was that he'd been badly injured in his leg and it hadn't set properly. I took a speed penalty for it, too. But the backstory evolved that he'd been set upon by assassins hired by his church superiors (who were evil and had infiltrated his order to corrupt it), and had been nearly killed but saved by a treant. The treant protected him and he survived, but wound up with the game leg.


All that from rolling a 7 dex. This is what I mean when I said before that the stats are only semi-important. They're one part of a big collection of information that can be used to make interesting characters with interesting stories.


Same with alignment. What's Chaotic Neutral? The common accepted interpretration is that it's crazy. But that doesn't have to be so. The person could be undisciplined and careless (resulting in Chaotic actions) and be completely unconcerned with the moral questions of good and evil (Neutral). They may be a rebel without a cause (or clue). Perhaps even just a plain ol' anarchist causing trouble for no reason other than that they can. Or be a mixed bag of good and evil based on circumstances that unconsciously winds up in balance. While such a person may appear crazy to others, they may indeed be quite sane and lucid.


So my idea of what makes a good character works well for me and my style of play. I'm certain that any reasonably-constructed game system would allow me equal freedom to create interesting characters... be they interesting mech pilots, soldiers of fortune, paranormal investigators, or superheroes.


Than again, my idea doesn't work for everybody. Some would find such depth tedious and boring. To each their own.


So I was perhaps a little quick with the "munchkin gaming" remark, since essentially any character in any campaign that is fun and not disruptive to that campaign could, necessarily, be considered a "good character".


In the end, it all comes down to the fun. ::):

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