Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Commoner Magic
When you wish upon a star...
Magic is everywhere in Ahneria! Literally. But also, it's integral to the people who live in the world as well.

First off, yes, most commoners can cast a cantrip. However, they are hampered a bit for two reasons: they aren't proficient with their cantrip, and they can't cast it at will. Rather, they can only cast it once per day or even once a week. This means most commoners will prefer to use weapons than magic.

Many people are barely aware they are casting magic. They just think they have a particularly biting wit, or they make friends fairly easily, or their prayers cause others to be brave or comforted. Also, they will access their cantrips in different ways. They don't use Verbal, Somatic, or Material components. Rather, it's like the Innate magic of Tieflings and Drow. They just do it.

In fact, races that can cast spells, like Tieflings, Elves, Tritons, and Yuan-Ti, are just cultures where people tend to have a certain type of innate magic, and thus the culture helps them train it in a particular way.

Unsurprisingly, if you have a particular cantrip as a commoner, you're well on your way to taking up a class that uses that cantrip when you become an adventurer. For spellcasting PCs in Ahneria, I assume that one of their cantrips is something they've been able to do since a young age.

For non-spellcasting PCs, I assume that the cantrip they used when they were young was either Blade Ward or True Strike. This has a dual effect - not only does it make sense that someone who could use that magic would become a martial class, but since these two cantrips are so bad in terms of action economy, it makes sense why a trained fighter would never actually use them in combat.
Don't mind me, just making some floating symbols.

However, it would be silly to limit commoner magic to just cantrips. Especially for VINPCs (very important non-player characters). For them, we can make spells that function as plot devices.

For example:
  1. A young girl can cast Unseen Servant at will, and causes trouble at her oppressive academy
  2. A matriarch who strikes fear into the hearts of those who disobey her and can cast Suggestion
  3. A local seer who can cast Clairvoyance and is sought out for wisdom and fortune-telling
  4. A boy who makes people lose their minds when they draw near him, as he unconciously radiates a Confusion spell
  5. A hypnotist working for the King who can cast Modify Memory, and is paid very handsomely
  6. A raving beggar who has lost his mind because he is constantly casting True Seeing
  7. A witch who can create demiplanes in doorways, similar to Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion. She keeps a few stocked with her potions and laboratories.
  8. A baby born giving off an Antimagic Field, immediately the target of political strife and kidnappings
  9. A woman with a Time Stop effect on herself, making her effectively immortal as she drains the time from things around her

As you can see, a commoner that can cast even a mid-level spell would be able to pass as a prophet, holy person, terrible wizard, or be the subject of awful rumors and legends. A commoner that can cast 9th-level spells would be thought of as a living God.

The next question is, how common are these high-level spellcasters?

Well, in Ahneria, probably more common than in lower-magic settings. And having more "magic" would certainly relate to being destined for greater things. Thus, the PCs will probably be justified in running into higher-level commoner casters, but it's also good to give some perspective on how special these casters really are.
  • 1st level caster: one in a village, a few in a town, a dozen in a city
    • Potential jobs: Shaman, Priest, Healer, Trusted Local, Minor Villain, Noble
  • 2nd level caster: one in a town, a few in a city, a dozen in a region
    • Potential jobs: Mayor, Notorious Criminal, Judge, Druid, Head of a Noble House
  • 3rd level caster: one in a city, a few in a region, a dozen in a biome
    • Potential jobs: City Mayor, Guild Leader, Cult Leader, Tribe Leader
  • 4th level caster: one in a region, a few in a biome, a dozen in a small country
    • Potential jobs: King, Criminal Mastermind, Notorious Hermit, Clan Leader
  • 5th level caster: one in a biome, a few in a small country, a dozen in a large country
    • Potential jobs: Prophet, Notorious Wizard, Mysterious Trickster
  • 6th level caster: one in a small country, a few in a large country, a dozen in a continent
    • Potential jobs: Rumored Monster in Disguise, Famous Hero, Supposed Demigod
  • 7th level caster: one in a large country, a few in a continent, a dozen in the world
    • Potential jobs: Legendary Prophet, Archwizard, Rumored Spirit in Disguise
  • 8th level caster: one in a continent, a few in the world, a dozen in a galaxy
    • Potential jobs: Rumored Fiend in Disguise, Legendary Hero, Supposed Aspect of a God
  • 9th level caster: one in a world, a few in a galaxy, a dozen in the universe
    • Potential jobs: Rumored God in Disguise

When the PCs meet a girl who can grant wishes, don't make her the little match girl. Make her the queen of the entire known world.
My hobby is painting flowers into existence. What's yours?
And just for fun, here's how I would use each 9th-level commoner spellcaster:
  • Astral Projection: Only has an astral body, all attacks and effects simply pass through him.
  • Foresight: Lives a few seconds in the future, unmatched duelist
  • Gate: Accidentally opened up a hellgate as a child, now in stasis under the care of a powerful wizard
  • Imprisonment: A living phylactery, fought over by liches
  • Mass Heal: Nobody can harm another or be harmed in their presence
  • Meteor Swarm: Kicks off an extinction event and dies
  • Power Word Heal: Her voice heals all who hear it
  • Power Word Kill: Her voice kills any who hear it
  • Shapechange: Turned into a dragon and never looked back
  • Storm of Vengeance: Storm from the X-men
  • Time Stop: A woman who has a Time Stop effect on herself, effectively immortal
  • True Polymorph: Molds reality to their whim
  • True Resurrection: Their touch restores life, they cannot die
  • Weird: Everyone sees their worst nightmare when they look at the girl
  • Wish: Totally normal guy, doesn't realize that everything he says comes true. Prefers a simple, quiet, peaceful life and that's exactly what he got

Thanks for reading!

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