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Infinite Worlds / Magic

High Magic

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 110
The presence of high magic can have profound effects on culture. It might lead to more magic in practice, which changes the way society operates. High magic can also be a source of harm, chaos, or both. This danger could come from magical creatures, interactions of magical fields, and more. Even if an abundance of magic isn’t actively harmful, it can still cause erratic, unpredictable results upon using magic.
Magic might be enhanced (see the Enhanced Or Impeded Magic sidebar on page 111), making it easier to learn and perform. In such areas, spellcasters become more common and far mightier, though remember that a world need not treat all forms of magic equally. Fields of magical energy could be divided in ways that enhance or impede specific schools or types of magic, with one planet bolstering abjuration effects and another augmenting any magic drawn directly from a deity (which might be the case for some mystics). A magical society might also carry biases that artificially restrict spellcasting by treating some types as sacred but others as taboo, such as by idolizing technomancers’ talents while simultaneously ostracizing those who dabble in the magic of alternate realities.
Where spellcasters are stronger magically, their political and social statuses often rise as well. More benevolent societies might develop benign magocracies where spellcasters harness their power and supernatural insights for the benefit of society as a whole. Crueler worlds could, just as easily, develop magically‑enforced tyrannies, and any magocracy risks developing harmful class divisions with the magically adept lording over comparable mundane second-class citizens. Divisions might even form along schools of magic if nation states espouse only a few types of magic in opposition to their neighbors’ arcane traditions.
Just having more magic available can mean more reliance on magic. In such places, enchanted objects likely replace or augment technology. Magical travel, including space travel, might replace technological analogs. While a society over-reliant on magic might be behind in faster-than-light Drift technology, they also could have alternative means of rapid interstellar transit, as suggested by the existence of portal networks in the Pact Worlds and magical interstellar drives. High magic makes such powerful magic artifacts more possible. A mighty magic item or items could even be the source of a world’s high magic, and control over these objects a source of political influence.
Another possible source of high magic comes from the influence of other planes. Extraplanar traits can be inherently magical. When they intrude on the Material Plane, their magical influences and inhabitants might intrude, too. Such incursions likely won’t be beneficial for Material Plane inhabitants.
High magic also makes for magical beings without planar influences. People, plants, and beasts with spell-like and supernatural abilities are more common. A magical population can make a world more stable. More often, though, a variety of magical beings can create a hostile environment with monsters that menace civilization. For such creatures, high magic could be like how oxygen is on some worlds, providing fuel for incredible growth and power. To live on or even explore such a world can present a constant struggle against overwhelming odds.

High-Magic Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 Rebels claim that a government uses magic to pacify the populace.
2 The magic holding this improbable world together starts to fade.
3 Xenodruids seek to merge with a verdant planet’s world-mind.
4 A world that once created pleasurable illusions for tourists has gone bad, trapping people beneath the surface.
5 When an oracle used to choose government ministers picks a pariah, officials want to suppress the truth.
6 A crime syndicate hides on a mystical world that erases their enemies’ memories. The devoured memories feed a supernatural evil.
7 Efforts to extract a magic ore are disrupting the world’s magical balance.
8 Intense magical fields disrupt advanced technology, causing them to cease functioning—even in orbit—and endangering visiting starships.
9 Smugglers actively defy a magocracy’s restrictions on magical exports.
10 On a planet tied to the First World, a bizarre stairway leads into an extradimensional space of unknown depth.
11 Xenobiologists believe the world they’re surveying is a bundle of eggs of a massive magical beast and seek to preserve this new life.
12 A vengeful exile has unleashed an extraplanar bioagent that burns out spellcasters’ nerves.
13 Genies war over a world at a nexus of the Elemental Planes.
14 A world’s people live out of phase with the Material Plane. They believe recent arrivals are ghosts.
15 Unpredictable magical effects on an uninhabited world call for surveying and taming before colonization.
16 A malevolent entity is drawn to a world that spawns planar portals.
17 Diminutive, hive-minded sapient creatures magically manipulate their world in misguided, dangerous attempts to communicate with visitors.
18 A grieving mystic uses enchanted bombs to ignite magical currents and turn back time, releasing unintended effects.
19 When a notorious raider snatches a magic stone from a remote world, a curse follows their flight across the galaxy.
20 A mighty being, such as a void dragon, consumes magical creatures, forces, and items to become a “death god.” They have a loyal cult.