One of the old D&D idioms that I haven’t seen come back in 4e yet is the Anti-Magic Zone. This is an effect (zone, terrain, trap, power) in which magic no longer works. In older editions this was easy to implement as spells were quite easy to identify and deny. In 4th Edition, it’s not as easy. If we define “spell” as a power that uses the Arcane power source, then anti-magic zones either loose their potency against parties without arcane characters. Worse: if there is just one arcane character, you’re left with a player that feels singled out. In 4th edition, all characters have “spells” of some sort, whether they’re prayers, exploits, or some other type of attack. In my imagination any “anti-magic” effect should affect powers from all sources, not just arcane. There’s also a separation in 4e between magic Rituals and magic Powers. In an encounter you’re not likely to use rituals so an “anti-Ritual” zone wouldn’t be much use; similarly an “anti-Power” zone wouldn’t do much good if the purpose of the zone is challenge players by stopping rituals (such as Sending, Knock, Detect Object, etc). Of course, one zone that affects both is good either in or out of combat.
Here’s my new proposal for a Anti-Magic zone as fantastic terrain. I’m thinking that an easy Arcana check would allow a player to identify it before stepping inside, and you might let the players make Arcana checks to disable the zone as well.
The ground has been scrawled with runes that seem to invert on themselves. The ground radiates an awkward silence that seems to suck all the magic energy out of the air.
Effect: Any creature starting his turn in the zone cannot use any powers other than basic attacks for the duration of the turn. Any ritual starting, ending, or passing through the zone fails.
Usage: Anti-magic zones are dangerous for players and monsters alike. Smart characters would want to push enemies into the zone and then prevent them moving out of it. Use these sparingly as limiting to basic attacks might be frustrating and make the combat last longer.
Anti-magic can also be used as an attack: Int vs. Will, effect: target can only use basic attack powers until the end of its next turn. This selectively disables a character’s super-weapons for a round.
Do you have special memories of old anti-magic zones? Is there a 4e incarnation that I missed?