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[DM Advice] Why study magic?

Talmor

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I'm going to be running a "one shot" for a long running 3.5 campaign. We're stepping away from the high level characters, and playing around with some level 1's for variety and world/plot reasons. I'm going to be "guest DMing" to give the DM a break and give him a chance to play.

I'm running the "potential magic user" group. The world we're in is a dark one, were the BBEG won a long time ago, and being a magic user is a sure to way to get yourself killed.--seriously, the evil clerics who rule the land can "sense" magic being cast, and they want to hunt down and sacrifice such practitioners to their dark god.

Most of the PC's aren't actual magic users yet, but instead potential ones. Their players plan to multiclass into the appropriate classes if/when they level up. But, that depends on the characters having an experience that would lead them to want to learn the ways of magic.

While I have a rough outline for the adventure (which focuses on travel, mystery, horror, uncovering lost knowledge and ruins, and, potentially, restoring a fallen spirit to bring aid and hope to their home village), I have only a few ideas on how to inspire the players and characters to actively desire to learn such a potentially dangerous thing. Mainly brute force dream sequences, relationship with the spiritual world, and hoping they become enamored with the vestiges of the "glorious past" to self motivate.

Any cool ideas to get the players to bite? The only player so far to actually talk with me about their background, motivations, and feelings about magic is the DM, whose character is also the only one who is already a caster. The other two "potentials" are basically Rangers.
 

LordofArcana

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They are dealing with monsters that would be much easier if they knew magic. Incorporeal undead are the standard choice.

The bad guys' defenses can only be countered by magic, or it would at least make things easier.

It turns out that they have a secret family history of magic.

Something magical just outright gives them magic. Now they have to figure out how to use it regardless of their feelings on the matter.
 

Schleiermacher

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Well, it would depend on how magic is practiced and what it allows you to do, but on the face of it, most people would answer "do you want to learn magic" with "of course, where do I sign up?"

Magic, whatever else it might be, is synonymous with doing what's otherwise impossible. If that's what you're selling, you don't need much advertisement.
 

thorya

Statistical out-liar
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Have it be a legacy maybe? Like their gran pulls out some magic to save one of them, maybe from a squad of oppressive secret police, and then presses her grimoire into their hands, "Take this, study it, don't let the secret die with me. The world needs magic. Now go!" Then the clerics show up because she used too much magic or were there already and she whispers Eldritch words making herself and all of the bad guys just vanish in a flash of light. Leaving them standing there holding a spellbook.

Or if a player wants to be a Sorcerer, it's in their blood. They are by their very existence illegal. If they don't learn to control it than it will manifest itself in other ways, and either the government will find and kill them or it will eventually break free destroying them and hurting those around them in a storm of chaos.
 

FrivYeti

Yeti On The Lam!
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I'd say you start by them dedicating themselves to fighting the bad guys, and then have magic be a very valuable tool for that. It's less critical that you're being hunted if you're going to be hunted for opposing the evil empire anyway.
 

Bomberg

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What about a legend or prophecy that the ultimate/a great victory vs. BBEG can only be one by a group of mages? Maybe the story isn't widely known and the characters learn of it during their first adventures. Maybe they inadvertantly fulfill the first part of the prophecy and are shood becoming mages.
 

NIMROD TZARKING

Twisty Dr of Grumpy Souls
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Maybe negotiate something with the players before hand? You could set "has a reason to study magic" as a condition the same way one would expect "no jetpacks" "doesn't know what a computer is" and other baseline D&Disms. Then the players can make characters already fitted for the concept, and probably throw out a few free plothooks in the process.
 

Manitou

Emperor of the Americas
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Perhaps the players could discover some thing that hides magic from the evil clerics. Or "disguises" their magic as "evil cleric magic"?
Thus ensuring they won't automatically die anytime they cast a spell. Obviously, they have to be subtle about magic use so they aren't narced on, but this way they have some options.
 

Felix

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I'm getting a very "A New Hope" vibe from the setting, with the Empire hunting down Jedi, though they've probably slacked off at this point because there's not supposed to be many left. Which suggests an Obi Wan. The problem from a D&D game point of view is Obi is a much higher level than Luke and you don't want him stepping in and fireballing the gnolls the party is struggling against, so he needs a way to help them and inspire them without being on the battlefront. Maybe most of his power is spent concealing the rebel base/mage academy and he can just give them a few trinkets like a couple of potions which conceal the caster's energy from the evil clerics for a few rounds.
 

Geoff Watson

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The bad guy is really weak against magic, so it's the best way to fight him.
Maybe his minions and followers have the same weakness.

Magic is the only way to get to his lair, or the only way to find the hidden artifact that they need to defeat him.

Magic is easy to learn, so the PCs get magic spells in addition to whatever muggle class they have.
 
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