Archives of Nethys

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Infinite Worlds / Magic

Medium Magic

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 110
One might assume a medium-magic world is like any other planet in the galaxy: a mix of magic and technology. That’s widely true. However, as the Pact Worlds show, variation exists even at this level of “normal” magic.
Minor magic is an everyday experience in a locale that has long had medium magic, making it a part of the culture. People use magic like any other tool, allowing them to gain and protect the things that they value, like power, wealth, and pleasure. If society is low-technology, even a modicum of magic likely serves an important role in government, religion, and other cultural mores. Spellcasters are aptly held in high esteem. Even a small amount of magical talent or training earns one a place of respect, from a village wise-person to an archmage. As the level of technology meets or exceeds magic’s capabilities, magic might fade in importance or be relegated to traditional situations. However, skill with eldritch arts becomes more common as training grows widespread, and magic use can become more specialized and individualized. With this social shift, the status of spellcasters could diminish except for those in time-honored positions, such as priests.
Instead of being a homogeneous zone, a medium-magic world might have access to higher magic in some regions and lower magic in others, such as a world governed by powerful leylines accessible only to those within a few miles of the conduit. This division could result from how magic works on the planet or in that sector of space, where the ebb and flow of magical energies are perceptible in pockets of magic. On some worlds, this imbalance might produce profound differences among cultures, such as a low-magic society developing technology faster to keep up with their magically-powerful neighbors. On worlds with smaller magical sites, the people likely designate such areas as holy or otherwise culturally significant, and fiercely guard these fonts of potential.
Perhaps the world was once high in magic, but the magic was throttled somehow. The main question is: why? Secondary questions are: what, who, and how? What would be the consequences of these fonts being uncapped? Various factions might want to encourage or oppose the release of magic. Such a situation could lead to a whole campaign, especially if characters must deal with initial consequences (for example, the awakening of magical creatures) before learning that the release of magic is the problem. Similarly, a spellcaster PC might have been drawn to, or even unlocked some portion of, that otherwise untapped magic.
Similar issues might emerge from natural cycles of magic diminishing or increasing a world to medium magic. Magic users could lose their places of dominance, or they might seize power long denied them. This change could herald war, political disintegration, and religious crises as well as the dissolution of age-old manifestations or uses of magic. Magical creatures might go extinct, while new ones rapidly emerge. Geographic upheaval and shifts in the biosphere can even alter the weather, breed new diseases, harm food production, and destroy living space; forced migration and other disasters could follow. Any of these changes might alter sapient species as well, costing them the magical talents they relied on or activating latent powers.

Medium-Magic Adventure Hooks

D20Adventure Hook
1 To pursue magical research, an organization needs help in establishing a planetary presence despite danger or resistance.
2 A grimoire found in an ancient ruin contains a dangerous ritual to accelerate or dampen a world’s magic.
3 An experiment in nascent emotion magic goes awry, contagiously amplifying darker emotions in the populace and threatening pandemonium.
4 Previously unknown magical creatures emerge from underground, endangering surface dwellers who might resort to weapons of mass destruction.
5 Natural leylines are shifting, causing changes in the geography of magic and heralding a return to lost glory or an oncoming doom.
6 Talavet’s followers find sealed legendary gates on several worlds. The locks require the help of Nyarlathotep’s faithful to open.
7 Entertainers enhance performances with minor magic, hoping to strike it rich before the damage the magic inflicts catches up with them.
8 Several murderous rampages and premature deaths can be traced to a magic item merchant whose wares empower a ghastly artifact.
9 A patron needs to transport an antique blade that has healing powers and attracts unwanted attention from across the galaxy.
10 Priests of non-good deities have fallen prey to something. Is it a divine punisher, an enemy god’s avenger, or a creature feeding on magic?
11A faction of witchwarpers wants to meld realities on a planetary scale.
12 Despite a cover-up, investigation reveals a serial killer’s targets are government agents mutated by magic.
13 A corporation wants to raid another’s magical research facility, claiming ethical violations. The magic could afford either corporation a monopoly.
14 Infants are being born with magical powers. Does this new pattern suggest a change in magic, sinister meddling, or both?
15 A shapechanger invents magical identity verification, which some shapechangers violently oppose and authorities threaten to abuse.
16 A recent spate of supernatural disasters can be traced to a secret site tapped into the world’s magical energies.
17 Entitled magnates fund studies of transferring magic powers. A breakthrough comes at the cost of innocent lives.
18 Warlords or powerful monsters vie for a rare place of power or an artifact, unconcerned for who or what they harm.
19 The guardian of a magical place wants to discover why a starship crashed there, unleashing magical radiation.
20 An acolyte disappears after claiming the priesthood’s traditional power comes from a source other than their god.