Thought I would put up a brief post about how I run DQ campaigns and a bit of my gaming background. This may provide some insight into where I am coming from in my musings on DQ.
First the background. I've been playing tabletop RPGs since 1976 when I first went to college. Like so many others of the time I started with the Dungeons & Dragons white boxed set with the three little booklets and the cheesy dice. Then came games like Traveller, Gamma World, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the Metagaming games in the little ziploc bags, Tunnels & Trolls and a host of others. Then DragonQuest came out and while I've played in campaigns under other systems I've never had any desire to GM a fantasy campaign using anything else.
I've always run a fairly low-magic campaign in DQ using primarily Frontiers of Alusia but also in a shared-world campaign using the Harn setting. By low-magic I mean that Adepts are few and far between. Magic doesn't impact the average inhabitants life and they are suspicious and distrustful of those that do use it. There aren't stores with a dozen magic swords hanging from a rack for sale nor rings or potions. Typically there will be only one Adept in any group of 4 to 8 players. Every so often there will be a second but not often.
That isn't to say that the player characters don't face powerful Adepts or magics during adventures in my world. They often do and frequently they are magics that the PCs have no access to. In my FoA campaign there were a several other colleges/schools of magic that were lost during the War of Kinslaying that took place 1200+ years before. Whether it's that magic doesn't work as well as it used to or just the knowledge itself was lost isn't known by the players. That doesn't stop undead Adepts and other long-lived entities from popping up now and again to wreak havoc.
The NPC Adepts of the colleges and other magic organizations tend to frown on the whole gallivanting about and casting spells frivolously. It's possible the wrong spell backfiring at the wrong time could sink the continent! Any artifacts found should be safely stashed away someplace secure like the Cloister where they can't do any more harm. Magic is serious business and should be kept out of the hands of the reckless, i.e. adventurers.
Our campaigns also tend to be fairly low power. PCs that make Hero Rank often retire not long after. Most characters fall into the middle ranks on up to Rank 8 or so in their skills and weapons. I should also note that we haven't started characters as noob teenagers in many years. Most starting characters get built on a base of 5000 experience points and are assumed to be in the 20s at least.