Epic Fantasy Campaigns On Low Magic Worlds

by Brent Knowles

An epic fantasy campaign must involve the players, must make them care about their characters, and must enthrall them with a moving story. A gamemaster should not overwhelm the players with magical artifacts, nor constantly confuse them with newly designed monsters. Players will get more out of a solidly designed campaign with a rich story.

Magic-heavy campaigns have a tendency to rely too much on "things" and not enough on the story, meaning that the only way players are interested in the campaign is if they continue to get new items and hoards of gold (a.k.a. a Monty Hall campaign). Eventually the campaign becomes unbalanced and the players stop having fun. A story-heavy campaign, on the other hand, can keep the campaign world fresh. A gamemaster may safely introduce new story elements into a campaign without overbalancing the game; the same cannot be said for adding new magical items. This article is a brief summary of techniques that may be used to run a low-magic, story-heavy campaign.

First, the GM must establish the low-magic world, explaining its eccentricities, and its uniqueness. Then the gamemaster develops the overall story, deciding on a Hero, the Hero's Companions, and a Villain. Next the prepared GM will decide the frequency and power of magical items. This article includes a few suggestions for making "unique" magic items that will grow as the characters advance in . . .

This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.

Article publication date: September 7, 2001

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