This month, we asked Sean Reynolds, "What new or different kinds of magic are we going to be seeing in the new Forgotten Realms setting?" His answer: "Information on wild and dead magic areas, rune magic, and more."
Sean Reynolds, Designer: Well, we present wild magic and dead magic areas for the first time in the new edition of D&D in this book. We give information on spellfire, and I like what Skip did with rune magic -- what the dwarves and giants used to put their spells down in written form, which can be triggered by touch or proximity. And there's also the Shadow Weave, created by Shar, proving that one of the mothers of the goddess of magic still has some tricks up her sleeve.
What sorts of magic-related feats, skills, prestige classes, and so on, do we have to look forward to?
Sean Reynolds: Rune magic is a feat, just like any other item creation feat, but it only works for divine magic. We also have a high-level feat that allows you to create permanent portals like those that crisscross the world already. We have three feats relating to the Shadow Weave (making your Shadow Weave spells harder to detect, dispel, and counterspell) and three new metamagic feats (Delay Spell, Persistent Spell, and Twin Spell).
Four of our prestige classes allow nonclerics to gain some magical power because of their devotion to their deity. The archmage and the hierophant represent the pinnacles of divine and arcane magic, with abilities like arcane (or divine) reach that allow you to make melee touch attacks at a distance, increase your spell DCs, lend your turn undead abilities or druidic powers to another being, or channel spells into long-range raw magical energy.
Other prestige classes are the runecaster, which enhances the abilities granted by the Inscribe Rune feat, the Red Wizard, which sacrifices additional schools of magic to boost DCs and gain cooperative magic, and the shadow adept, which jumps into the abyss of the Shadow Weave with both feet and comes out with strange powers.
The Forgotten Realms setting has often been described as being a "high magic" campaign setting. What does that mean, and is it still true?
Sean Reynolds: Certainly, although we haven't gone to the whimsical excess that some previous products have (like magic elevators in inns or festhalls that strip off your clothes and protect you from poison as you walk in the door). We explored the boundaries of magic's rules and came up with some interesting toys. We wanted to have rules to cover some of the strange things that the characters do in the stories and make magic something more accessible to characters who aren't spellcasters. This is still the world where a nation of flying cities battled underground leech-sorcerers and created a desert over 700 miles long, where two hosts of genies battled for supremacy only to be defeated by elven mages fusing them into a giant magical crystal, where one of the most powerful spellcasters known is a half-mad sorcerer queen, and where entire cities were and are protected by the warding magic called mythals.
At the same time, it's a place where a gang of former merchants has a mercenary army, where a new nation is threatened by a horde of orc barbarians, and where a mage-hating nation of merchants controls some of the most powerful trade routes through the western part of the continent. Magic is powerful in Faerûn, but it's not the only power.
What do you think is the most interesting/exciting development in the world of magic for this new edition of the Forgotten Realms?
Sean Reynolds: With the new rules, magic is more common, and it's easier to make disposable magic items. That means that any country with a large number of wizards held in thrall to its power (for example, Thay) can achieve great political and economic power by providing these magic items at a slight discount. It makes good PCs have moral debates about buying potions from evil wizards, and makes the oh-so-distant threat of the Red Wizards suddenly in your back yard, meaning that the DM has many more opportunities for the Red Wizards to use their weird and cruel spells on your PCs (grin).
Go to the April Realmswatch main page for more of information about magic in the new Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting or the Forgotten Realms main news page for more articles and news about the Forgotten Realms game setting.