April 13th, 2009

D&D: Arcane vs Divine magic

I'm designing a homebrew campaign using an amalgamation of rules from D%D 3.5, True20 and Star Wars Saga and I would like to hear some opinions about the D&D magic system.

What do you believe is the fundamental difference between arcane and divine magic?

In your games, how are the differences handled and how are the sources of power for these two types of magic handled?

Why bother even having two separate magical systems?

NOTE: What I'm looking for are opinions, ideas, campaign suggestions, and thoughts from personal experience and player-made campaigns. I would like to see an idea box of comments about people explaining how magic works in their gaming groups.
How does the GM explain the whatever-you-call-it of arcane magic's source?
How are the two sources of magic treated?
Why do the gods grant power to their followers?
And why even bother doing so when the deities are part of a non-competitive pantheon?
Shadow person


Personally, I fear the lack of choice.

When I was just starting, D&D was still in its infancy. AD&D was available, and while clumsy and clunky, it posited a universe where crystals could be enchanted to make magic items, where herbs' and crystals' magical properties were outlined, and where the source of magic was not readily defined. A cleric could heal, because that was their speciality - mages did not have healing spells, but they had a vast array of strange spells from which to draw.

But the source of magic was not defined. Gamers never really knew. But they could question.

Nowadays, D&D looks kind of, well, railroady. Rangers can do this; clerics can do this; wizards can do this. You can't cross the sreams without paying heavily for it, in certain well-defined ways; oh, and this is divine power, this is arcane power etc., and ne'er the twain shall meet.

It all feels very vexing, somehow, to be straitjacketed into a game that feels like a tabletop version of an MMORPG; where the characters you are running in your heads have as much freedom of movement as sprites in a computer game, and where the choice of what you play gets stripped away.

I'm actually contemplating flogging my 4e basic book set and slipcase, read but unused. Says something when cash has more of an appeal than a book.
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