A Magical Medieval City Guide (3.5e Other)/Magic in the City

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Civic Uses of Magic[edit]

Since the rise of magical medieval cities occurs in the presence of magic, it is not unreasonable to assume an integration of magic in certain civic duties. This does not mean that cities do everything with magic. It means magic is available for a price. The particular way which cities use magic are unique and up to the GM. These are just a few ideas.


Besides using magic in combat, cities can fortify their perimeter with magic. Detect poison and create water make poisoned wells less of a threat. Wall of stone is a quick, but expensive way to repair or replace a curtain wall, especially in siege attacks. Move earth allows cities to shape the geography of their terrain, making favorable defense conditions.

Effects of Magic[edit]

Stability Magic often brings stability to a magical medieval society. It may safeguard against crop failure, disease, invasion, and other factors that disrupt society and prevent its growth. If magic affects a magical medieval society in such a positive fashion, magically generated stability has dramatic effects. A magical medieval society has greater population with higher continued growth than a historical medieval society. In the face of such growth and numbers, kingdoms and people expand faster claiming the wilderness for cultivation. Such population growth also leads to more surplus labor, which either moves to urban communities or settles wilderness between population centers or on borders. With more people expanding the kingdom's cultivated land and moving into urban environments, there are more towns and cities with an increase in population across the board. Towns and small cities shoulder the brunt of increased urban population. Most magical medieval societies reap the benefits magic usually brings, but to other magical medieval societies magic is a burden. Continual,


Tax revenue in the magical medieval period is greater than its historic counterpart because magic makes collecting taxes easier. Hiding the valuables or magic items is more difficult with spells like zone of truth and detect magic. Magic also generates more income from taxation because taxes are assessed by the amount of movable wealth a person holds, as well as the land they hold. Considering magic items, potions, and scrolls as movable wealth, city counsels, town lords, and kings all generate more income from taxation. Besides using magic in tax collection, civic leaders also levy additional taxes on spellcasters and magic item owners. Cities levy greater taxes on persons entering the gate with magic. Cities may require all magic items to be registered with the city for safety purposes, collecting taxes on those items in times of "dire" need. Cities may work an arrangement out with the wizards' guild to lighten the taxation of the guild in exchange for magical services at the gates or other areas of civic interest. not allow other religions to heal people, or to break curses and enchantments. The cityscape looks much different with multiple guilds, churches, and associations of spellcasters, no one strong enough to have an effective monopoly on magic in the city.


If the city has its own jurisdiction and courts, cities may use magic to expedite justice and collect more fines from trespassers of civic law. City courts may direct claimants to spellcasters who, for a fee from which the city receives a slight percentage, lend their services for civil suits. For more information on using magic in justice, see Chapter Seven: On Those Who Rule.

Spontaneous Casters[edit]

Besides organizations of wizards and clerics, spontaneous casters can also form guilds or alliances. Bards sometimes form bardic colleges, offering training and sharing lore. These associations do not have to be exclusively for spellcasting bards, but also for non-magical performers and entertainers. Sorcerers may also form groups, though not as organized as their arcane brethren. Neutrally structured sorcerers have an easier time collecting dues, holding meetings, and regulating sorcerers' activities than their chaotic associates. Generally speaking, spontaneous casters usually work outside the magic-based guild system.


Many arcane and divine spells are most useful for building and construction, especially for grand structures like great churches, libraries, and other prominent structures. For more detail on the effects of specific spells and items, see Appendix IVBuilding System.

Magic and Craft[edit]

It is more likely for spontaneous casters to have other professions, finding a social niche through membership in professional or craft guilds. This may also be true of wizards and clerics who wish to remain outside of guilds designated for spellcasters. Rather than perform magical services and make magic items, they use their magical abilities toward furthering their craft and trade. Strong arcane guilds or churches may attempt to prohibit independent spellcasting in the city. Most wizards' guilds and patron god churches do not curb independent or spontaneous spellcasters as long as they do not get too powerful, encroach or hinder on the guild's/ church's activities, or devalue the selling price of magic for the guild or church by creating alternate sources of magic. Independent spellcasters and spellcasters with other professions are more likely in places with weak or no wizards' guilds or churches of patron gods. Spellcasters belonging to craft and merchant guilds may even sell their magic to other guild members for extra money, something that is usually prohibited by the presence of wizards' guilds or churches of strong patron gods.

Public Services[edit]

Cities may use magic for lighting, cleaning, fire, waste disposal, clean water, and entertainment. This does not necessitate a servile relationship between the civic leaders and spellcasters. Cleaning toilets by hand may be disgusting, but when someone can clean them 25 feet away without using their hands, perhaps waste management is not such a bad profession. Some organizations and guilds may provide services in a spirit of civic contribution. Proselytizing churches or religions oriented toward charity may fill cisterns and fountains with clean water. Wizards' guilds may investigate harmful and illegal acts of magic in the city. Spontaneous spellcasters, with limited spell lists, may be predisposed to the professions in which cities employ spellcasters.

Magic and Law[edit]

Typically, using magic in and of itself is not a crime. Many magical medieval societies have people who perform white magic, blessings, healing magic, or utility magic that society accepts and welcomes. The civic concern comes in using magic to hurt someone or injure property, commonly referred to as maleficium. In cities with strong wizards' guilds, the guild is a magic watchdog and protector, investigating abuses of magic, policing what magic items are in the city, and registering spellcasters in the city. Other cities may have a separate civic branch for magical investigation, filling civic courts with case after case of charm person's or scams involving illusion magic. The nature of magic in third edition makes determining cases of maleficium easier to flesh out, but the continued politics of a magical medieval society make distinguishing truth from manipulation difficult. Clerics can speak with the gods and determine what is happening, but that does not remove the problem of an individual caster's credibility. For who really knows if what the caster claims as knowledge received from divine sources is truly such?

Spellcasters in the City[edit]

Spellcasting and crafting magic items are professions loosely comparable to advocates and architects in a historical medieval society. They are people whose commodity is specialized knowledge. Not everyone can afford them, but those who can pay handsomely for their services. The application of magic in the city depends greatly upon the guilds, associations, and politics of the city. In places with a strong wizards' guild, other arcane spellcasters have a hard time practicing or selling their magic. Some cities have rival wizards' guilds with differing alignments. Such an environment might lead to wizard duals, political conflict, and conversely, a tendency toward divine spellcasters. In cities with strong patron gods, clerics not aligned with the leading deity have problems performing social programs that overlap with the church of the patron god. Perhaps the church of the patron god does.

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