[PnP] "Game Cracking" spells

Choinski, Burton Burton.Choinski at matrixone.com
Wed Jan 31 18:50:43 CET 2007

How does everyone deal with the various spells that effectively give the players a “win the game button”?  


In the standard Book 2 set of spells there are certain ones that, even for mid-level characters, are effectively an “easy button” that can short-circuit any reasonable plot difficulties a GM might present to them.  An example spell is “Insubstantiability” – forget ever having the threat of imprisoning the players.  Likewise for teleport or interworld travel.


Obviously the first warning flag is mass-effect spells – if the MDV is just the highest MDV of the target area, you can wipe out a hundred men with the ease of wiping a single man – there is no mechanic in the canon rules to increase difficulty based on increased numbers.  I’m not sure what the best way to deal with this is – perhaps MDV for a single target, +1 for each additional target possibly affected?  I saw this in my last game where the elf could easily toss off a sleep mist at a 10 or 20 man squad (average man MDV of 4) and pretty much nullify the entire threat with a single snap of the fingers.  Granted, for high level characters it still is not much of a hindrance, but more mid or low it does force them to re-evaluate tactics.   


In a related vein, how do you deal with spell failure?  We have a house rule, carried forward in all our games, of a “triple wipeout” – if you fail 3 times with a spell, or skill, you are simply unable to cast that spell or perform that skill for the rest of the “scene” (limited to the end of the current session, or the next 24 hours of “game” day).  With our recent return to P&P, we have also decided that one Abysmal will have the same effect.  This has had the effect of having players who try to do something (usually low skilled, or skilled with high modifiers) at least some chance of retry, but eliminates trying forever – they eventually have to think of another tactic.


Some troublesome spells, and my ideas on toning them down somewhat:

­       Astral Fire: Ignoring the MDV limit, which is a pretty weak limit, it’s basically a low-level nuke that will screw over any decent sized gathering.  It is effectively an instant death spell, but the ability to target a possibly huge area screams for the increased MDV for multiple targets.  This call for increased difficulty applies to all damaging/neutralizing and a case could be made for other area spells.


­       Compulsion: This is one of those spells our group will be flagging as a “Ceremony” spell – casting speed result is rated in hours, not phases like a combat spell.  It makes no sense that you can whip this off (at EL0 even since EL has no effect on MDV limits or duration) left and right on targets in the enemy battle line and have them effectively neutralized as they run off to get you a tuna sandwich or something.  





Burton Choinski | Principal Software Engineer | ENOVIA MatrixOne
210 Littleton Road | Westford, MA  01886
Office: 978 589 4089 | Fax: 978 589 5903 | Cell: 508 843 7183
burton.choinski at matrixone.com

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