Thank you all, you’ve given me lots more to think about.
Some of the things I was considering when I wrote were books like Mary Gentle’s “Ash”, because it has the medieval setting, everyone runs around with swords and siege engines, but are happy to accept “miracles”, visions from God etc…
The problem is bringing stuff like that into a game without writing massive backstory, and with modern players, running into the Arthur C Clarke effect; that it isn’t magic, it’s technology. Everyone today has access to so much tech. that is frankly amazing and we treat it so casually, we’re so blase about really cool stuff like smart phones and the internet. If you’re playing a game and something happens a character from another era would find magical, do you not think “meh, hologram/nanotech/magnets”?
Is sometimes a game in a foreign land in olden times just that? Does it need magic, or is the setting enough? I guess I need to work on the setting to bring it more alive, add more detail - IF is all about the imagination of the player right?
A quick bit for Severedhand - if you could do magic, why not walk down the street magicing? I imagine the reason in the Harry Potter universe is similar to the one in the Harry Dresden universe. He’s a powerful wizard living in modern Chicago, but tries* not to do magic where non-magical people can see. The reason is that mundanes/muggles/mortals, don’t believe in magic, are happy not believing in it, and if forced to believe in it would get very, very angry. Wizards etc. might be powerful, and able to turn others into frogs, but they have to sleep sometime, and an angry mob doesn’t. These days mortals are organised with police forces and armies, and have access to powerful weapons that can take out the best wizard eventually.
Having a group of people around that could accidentally or deliberately summon dread creatures into the world is not comfortable, so the mortal people have let magic users know that we don’t like it, and they’re not to do it where we can see, or we’ll make our displeasure felt with a few witch burnings, wizard beheadings etc., until it all has to be done in secret.
*Dresden is not very good at the “not doing it in public” thing, riding a tyrannosaurus rex through Chicago is about the coolest/most obvious one