Posted by: markfender | August 19, 2015

Combat-Only Magic

A complaint I often hear about the Iron Kingdoms RPG is that it has combat-only magic.

ritualsAnd I don’t understand why that is a problem.

Combat-only magic pretty much means that all the spells in the game have combat uses, but nothing else. From a fluff perspective, I think this makes sense. The Iron Kingdoms has been at war for a really long time. The military industrial complex keeps coming up with new technologies to improve jacks, as the military-industrial complex tends to do in times of war. So, why wouldn’t magic develop along the same lines?

But, that’s fluff and, honestly, I can bend fluff til it agrees with whatever I want to say. So, let’s look at this somewhat more practically. Why does magic have to be broad? Why does magic have to do everything? To quote a friend when we were discussing this issue, “It’s not like we’ve discovered a lot of domesticated uses for firearms.” Which is true. Guns are a tool, just like many other tools, but they only have one purpose. An axe can double as a wood chopping tool and a neck-severing tool, but the firearm is locked into that one and only role. And, as far as I can tell, nobody seems to have a problem with that.

So, why can’t magic be the same way? Didn’t D&D 4e pretty much solve the combat/everything else split that magic has tended to have in RPGs? Rituals felt like a really smart way to keep the powers focused on combat/battle map purposes, while still allowing magic (however you wanna define that) to have other non-combat uses. Is is just general D&D 4e hate that keeps this solution from being adopted by gamers?


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