Magic-Rare or Common?

One of the things the DM decides is just how common magic is in his campaign. Is the world rich in magical items such that every lowly fighter has access to at least a sword +1? Players enjoy having a wide variety of interesting magical items, but there's the risk of creating an out-of-control Monty Haul situation. And a magic-rich world has consequences unforeseen by most DMs.

If magic is common, then normal people will begin to build inventions around it. There may be djinni-powered steam engines, crystal ball telecommunications networks, and other very un-medieval results. This can be entertaining, but it does drastically change the shape of the campaign world.

The charm of discovering a magical item is lost if everyone has one, but too few magical items can also ruin a game. This is especially true at higher levels where magic is so important to character survival. You don't want to kill half the party just so the survivors can be excited at discovering a sword +1.

The DM wants each magical treasure, no matter how small, to feel special, but at the same time he must be able to balance the pain of its acquisition against the reward. This is not a thing the DM can learn through formulae or tables. It takes time and judgment.

Table of Contents