Magic in Brevoy
Note: This text was borrowed from Redcelt over on the Paizo forums. All credit goes to him; I merely edited it for my campaign's use.
Rulership in the time of magic
Magic changes many things from the medieval system we all know on Earth. There were several major areas that changed drastically due to magic. When you look at the amount of money available via BP that rulers, even smaller barons, etc., would have available, the idea that they would not spend some of it to ensure their continued rule is absurd. They would all have protection magic, hired clerics and wizards, magical castle defenses, and so on. History has shown us that those privileged to rule, usually took care of themselves and their continued wealth and power first, then everything else. Even a Lawful Good ruler would justify it as expense to make sure the good works of their kingdom were sustainable.
There are many historical instances of a message getting somewhere or not getting somewhere in time and causing the rise and fall of empires, in particular during wartime. With magic now, high level critical communication is far more reliable, so armies will almost never steal the march on anyone that is not a commoner. For smaller groups or more remote outposts, ravens serve where magic is not able. This drastically reduces much of the tension and challenge that otherwise would be there in the game.
This is less impacted than you would think, mostly because many nobles probably would not prefer to travel by less mundane means. Also, most still had retinues of retainers, guards, and servants to move around with them, so it is unlikely you would see a lord traveling via overland flight or teleport very often.
Magic in Mass Combat
This is one of the areas that magic has a huge impact on. Any standing army of merit will likely have a wizard, alchemist, or other arcane caster and several divine healers as part of their contingent. If you put yourself in the position of a battlefield commander, it would be ill-advised not to have an arsenal of magic available to you. Having a brew wagon with a store of potions and a potion brewer could be the difference between victory and annihilation. Need to see where the enemy is? Hand your scout a potion of invisibility. Need to know what an enemy’s battle plans are? Hand your diviner a potion of clairvoyance/clairaudience. A scrollmaster with a large supply of goods would also be a great boon. The money to fund most of this could come from the spoils of war, which would be even more greatly sought after than normal for just these reasons.
Aerial combat and defenses
A major aspect of battle that no one worried about during the middle ages was aerial attacks. No one could fly, and so defenses and strategies never had to allow for this in their tactical planning. Not so in Golarion. Even if your opponents have no flying combat units, you could still be assaulted by drakes, griffons, or other magical flying creatures from time to time. Castles would have to defend against such attacks, and so would army units in the field. Even those with minimal aerial considerations would have to be prepared to counter opponents' aerial surveillance. Castle turrets should all be covered, ballistae should be able to swivel straight up and around to strike at flying opponents, and archers should become that much more a required commodity.
Lines of Succession
The effects of magic on a monarchy are a nightmare. The lines of succession could be madness in a world where resurrections and reincarnation existed. For instance:
The king dies and his son inherits the throne, granting his own elder son heir to the throne after him. Eight years into his rule, someone resurrects the old king. Now what? Perhaps this king remarries and has more children to complicate matters even more.
The king a just and wise ruler who the people adore, dies, and gets reincarnated as a gnome or a goblin. Assuming he can even prove he is what he is, which he should be able to do with magical truth detection, are his people going to agree to be ruled by a goblin or are they going to burn him at the stake as an abomination?
Rules of Magic in Brevoy
- Casting any sort of spell (even a cantrip) in the presence of a a high noble (Baron or up) is punishable by death on the spot. A formal written request must be made and granted to allow this to anyone beyond that noble’s own personal staff.
- All rulers will have significant magical defenses, ranging from teleportation blocks built into their castles to personal defenses on their person. A typical list of items are:
- Nondetection and mind shielding defenses
- Teleport blocks to stop assassins from teleporting into the royal bedchamber at night.
- Most of the prominent nobles in Brevoy all have a personal wizard/witch/sorcerer, usually equipped with an item that offers arcane sight. When anyone comes to visit the noble, they get scrutinized. While nobles would have magical defenses that might block such things, it at least lets you see the stablehand or pageboy who is a polymorphed giant or the sorcerer disguised as a common soldier.
- Necromancy and mind-controlling spells are outlawed completely in Brevoy. The dead coming back to life is disturbing to nearly everyone. Mind-controlling spells being undesirable should be fairly obvious. Anyone witnessed casting one of these spells or found to be engaging in these activities is sentenced to death. Of course, a truly sneaky ruler might have other uses for these despicable types, and arrange a last minute switch…
- Pharasma rules the dead, and as such, requires that her reign be respected:
- Speaking with the dead is not allowed except when done at the request of the ruler directly to one of her high priests, and even then it should only be in the case of a state emergency of most dire need. Any person foolish enough to try on their own (within Brevoy) might receive a visit from a pyschopomp or one of her other servants.
- Raising/resurrecting the dead requires that a priest of Pharasma be consulted and her permission granted before anyone receives either of these spells. All other priests in Golarion know of this requirement and typically will not cast these spells without first consulting with one of her priests. Who receives approval and who does not appears to be random to those not of her calling, and even they do not always understand the decisions handed down by their goddess. In general, more requests are denied than approved.
- If PCs want to risk the wrath of Pharasma by not asking permission, they run the risk of receiving a visit from one of her servants.
- The official period of mourning for a fallen ruler is a fortnight, or the length of time that it would be possible for a priest to intervene with a Raise Dead spell. After this time, the scion officially inherits the rulership, regardless of whether that person is brought back afterwards or not (by resurrection for instance).
- Reincarnation is an abomination of the old gods, as it bypasses the judgement of Pharasma completely and alters the lifestream of the recipient. Typically only those druids of the old ways (Green Faith) that dwell in the Gronzi Forest would cast reincarnate. Although a particularly nasty plotter (like the ruler’s son) might arrange to have a noble assassinated and then reincarnated to absolutely prevent any chance for him to gain Pharasma's approval and be raised. A ruler who is reincarnated immediately loses all rights as a noble and is considered a commoner.