Question : "What about worlds where magic is more abundant or powerful, or worlds with even less magic? Do you think there will be modular rules for making magic more or less powerful for different games in D&D Next?"
Me! Me! I can answer that one. Fuck I mean a 5 year old could answer it for Mage Mearls. The answer is.... (drums).... the Dungeon Master handles that when he builds his world. But let's give Mage Mearls a break and look at his response.
"Absolutely, and I think magic is one of the places where we will spend plenty of time on optional rules. First, we're already taking a step to make sure that magic items don't figure deeply into the core math of the game, making it easier to run a Dark Sun-esque game where finding magic loot is more rare. " Wo ho ho there editor hold the press. What the fuck is he saying? Last time I played a Dark Sun "esque" whateverish game it was damn fucking easy to do. You went out and bought Dark Sun, tore open the wrapping and started playing. Really, honest to the tree gods. It was that simple. You didn't need to write core game math. Fuck I doubt they even have a game math. By the recent crap coming out of Wish-a-ton kingdom it seems game and math on the same sentence are an oxymoron. But I digress, sorry. Back on track. Having more or less magic in a setting was done the following way a) the DM allows it or b) the DM doesn't allow it. That's it. No quantum mechanics or string theory. But let's keep listening to the Mage's wise words again.
"Beyond that, we want to provide ways to turn the "quantity of magic" dial (as well as the "quality of magic dial," but that might be a whole different discussion) up or down as you please. " Wo ho ho hold it again. Dial? Who is "you" in the "as you please". Is he addressing the Dungeon Master? If so why the fuck would he want a dial. He's the bloody fucking Dungeon Master. Has Mage Mearls forgotten what that fucking means. He's the god's god. He's the world. He's everything. He's the Dungeon Master. He doesn't need no fucking dial he IS the dial. Now on the other hand Mage Mearls might be addressing the players. In which case I'm obliged to raise the question. What exactly does he mean by a dial? A set of rules so the players can grab the Dungeon Master by the balls and use them as the dial to raise or lower the magic setting as they will? I mean as a character I've had moments in which I wished the Dungeon Master wasn't such a pig. But he's the Dungeon Master, if you take that away from him what's the fate of the game? Over specialization. Imbalance. All that which we dislike in D&D. But of course that gives room for Mage Mearls to crank out more scrolls (at a cost for us) to regulate the problems created by his regulation of needs that were solved by fucking common sense when I was adventuring.
Anyway let's finish reading the answer.
"Want to run a low-magic game? We can make the rules for turning at-will magic into 1st-level spells, criteria for ability score requirements for spellcasters, and guidelines for using only ritual magic and not normal spellcasting. Want to run a high-magic game? Give everybody two at-will spells, and here are three special themes designed specifically for a high-magic campaign. ". Holy fucking crap. Can't seem to get past two sentences without getting ogre blisters on my balls. What the fuck is this? Rules to regulate the obvious. If you want a high-magic campaign you need to have more magic in it. Give more things to players. I mean isn't that the definition of high-magic? What next? Rules to make a hard dungeon. What's the Mage going to write? I can hear him already. "We can create rules for harder dungeons that add more monsters and traps". Holy shit Mage I think our devote readers can figure that one out on their own.
Lets keep reading.
"When it comes to creating campaign themes (and I consider "low magic" and "high magic" to be campaign themes, though they may not be the only ones used in a given campaign), the process isn't always going to be as simple as just providing a single optional rule; sometimes, it is going to involve a few variant rules, an optional rule or two, and maybe some player-centric elements (themes, backgrounds, spells, etc.) that are only available in that thematic campaign."
That's why you don't make rules for this Mage!! You make settings. That should be the answer to the question. No rules for high magic or low magic settings. There is more or less magic, but the rules, the way magic works is the same.