Casino spells

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Casino spells

Postby Sangarunya » Mon Jul 11, 2022 5:57 pm

Bestow Curse is the example of a spell with a powerful but complete random effect and this kind of mechanic doesn't work very well in a single-player game. It will correctly fit in a real-life session of Dungeons and Dragons with a human DM - is a high-risk high-reward magic and once the roll is done, the Dungeon Master decides what happens appropriately and the session continues. But in a single-player PC game, the user can simply reload the game until the Lady Fortune smiles and get the best result. There are no profound deliberations or proper tactical considerations, simply roll the dice and if you don't like the outcome, reload the game until you win. The 50% effect could have some utility in the Mass Bestow Curse spell, given that it affects several enemies at the same time but, again, is tossing a random shot for the best option. Even if the effect continues active in subsequent turns the mechanic of casting a spell, tossing a coin and hoping for the best is not adequate for a heavy tactical game with lots of options. The spell was designed to be played with a Dungeon Master acting as an arbiter, avoiding obvious abuses and the mechanic of high prize or nothing is not really suitable for tactical games.
Also, the spell has been weakened compared with the AD&D, D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder versions: in those rulesets, it has several options available to choose. These are missing:

-> -6 decrease to an ability score (minimum 1).
-> -4 penalty on attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks.

In the Pathfinder ruleset there are listed several possible alternatives to the curse effect with a similar power level, in case you require more variety:

1) -> When the victim is adjacent to the area of a damaging spell or spell-like effect, the area expands to include the victim.
2) -> The victim can’t heal naturally, and magical healing cure the victim by only half the usual amount (minimum 1 point). Fast healing and regeneration are likewise halved.
3) -> Whenever the victim takes damage, he is staggered for 1 round.
4) -> The victim is plagued by cacophonous sounds and strobing lights that only she can hear and see. She is distracted (+5 to Perception DCs), cannot take 10 on skill checks, and must succeed at a concentration check (DC 10 + spell level) to successfully cast spells.
5) -> Anytime the victim picks up or retrieves an object (including drawing a weapon or ammunition), there is a 50% chance that he immediately drops it. If ammunition is dropped, the attack being made is lost. Any remaining attacks in a full attack action may still be attempted.

By the way, the Staggered condition mentioned in the third option could represent a very welcomed addition to the game. In few words, a staggered creature may take a single move action OR standard action each round (but not both, nor can he take full-round actions).

I think the spell should be changed; don't know if the most convenient option is to add the other two original effects to give more options to the caster when casting this spell and/or to get rid of the random effect completely or including some of the optional effects mentioned in the Pathfinder ruleset. The "minus six decrease to an ability score" options feels a little weak compared with the level-1 spell "Ray of enfeeblement" effect. Would it be more adequate to add a second negative malus applied to a different ability? But only a -2, for example?
The other five optional ones can be included to the game in future updates in new curse spells (long-term objective, there are others priorities). The third and fourth ones sounds extremely useful for more tactical options in the game.
The 8-level version of this spell (Mass Bestow Curse) should be modified according to the changes done, obviously.

Thanks for reading!
Sangarunya
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Casino spells

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Re: Casino spells

Postby BlueSalamander » Sun Jul 31, 2022 7:47 pm

Hello Sangarunya! Thank you for all the feedback on Bestow Curse, and the interesting suggestions.

Just a quick comment on some of the things you mentioned.

-4 penalty on attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks.
That effect is pretty much what the spell Malison already does in KotC 2: -4 on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, and spell resistance.

The victim can’t heal naturally, and magical healing cure the victim by only half the usual amount (minimum 1 point). Fast healing and regeneration are likewise halved.
That effect is somewhat similar to what the spell Frailty does in KotC 2: the target cannot be healed or regenerate. The regeneration ability stops working and healing spells like Cure Light Wounds and Heal have no effect on the creature.

By the way, the Staggered condition mentioned in the third option could represent a very welcomed addition to the game. In few words, a staggered creature may take a single move action OR standard action each round (but not both, nor can he take full-round actions).
The Staggered condition is pretty much the same as the Slowed condition, in terms of the effects.

More to the point, just my personal view, but I think that Bestow Curse is fine as it is.

For reference, here is the effect of Bestow Curse: Melee touch. Curses a single living target. Each round, a Cursed creature has a 50% chance of losing its turn. Willpower negates. Permanent.

Cheers! Best regards 8-)
'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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Re: Casino spells

Postby Sangarunya » Mon Aug 01, 2022 2:07 pm

I disagree. You've been beating around the bushes with the suggestions for curse effects mentioned in the Pathfinder ruleset without responding the main concern of the spell. The key point is the difference between a random spell effect and a deterministic one. With the later, if you have success landing the spell, certain effect is applied for sure. You can calculate the possibilities of casting the spell successfully, manage your group resources to increase the chances, and you can plan the rest of the fight knowing that the enemy is going to suffer a disadvantage, lose health points, etc. With a random effect you can count on nothing. Any competent player will never choose a spell that can do nothing in the round, even if the effect is more potent that the usual for the spell level or lasts for more than one round (the spell can do nothing for several rounds, only Lady Fortune knows.)

The other disadvantage is the propensity to abuse the random effects. In a single-player game, the player can push the "Load game" button again and again until getting the best result. There are no tactical musings or meticulous preparations; the spell represents a mere toss of a coin. Think of a fight against one single but remarkably powerful enemy. The player will simply try landing the random spell successfully once and again, hitting the "Load game" button as many times as necessary until getting the best result. I consider this kind of spell in a tactical game serves no purpose. The effect can be modified to a more meaningful one. Like the malison spell description, originally the "Bestow Curse" in other rulesets.

And that's the other part of the post. The "Bestow Curse" effect has been there consistently for several D&D iterations: AD&D 1st, AD&D 2nd, D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder 1e as a four-level spell (third as a cleric). I don't know why is considered a eight level one in this game. The additional penalization to the spell resistance is also no high level. Lower Spell Resistance is a level four spell described in the Draconomicon book for 3.5 (and it can lower the SR up to fifteen, not a mere minus four) and in the Pathfinder ruleset there is a level one spell, "Sure Casting" http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/s/sure-casting that gives a +5 bonus to surpass the Spell Resistance.

Compare the Malison spell in the game with the 3.5 and Pathfinder equivalent "Bestow Curse, Greater": https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/b/bestow-curse/ with worthy effects for a level eight spell, like –12 penalty to an ability score, or –6 penalty to two ability scores (to a minimum ability score of 1) or a –8 penalty on attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks. Don't know the reason why these spell have been nerfed so hard. Is a serious handicap for Black Wizards.

In conclusion: the random effect is Ok for a role session with fellow humans where you can't go back in time and have to accept the results of the dice roll but is an unfortunate decision for a single-player game where simply reloading the game gives the best result sooner o later and can be exploited. Even if there is no way to abuse reloading, a spell that can do nothing, only subject to the whims of the random number generator, causing the character wastes the round doing nothing is not fitting for a tactical game. The player still will reload the game (if possible) when the dice roll is unfavorable. And a competent player will prefer a more reliable spell to add to the character's grimoire.

Thanks for reading!
Sangarunya
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Re: Casino spells

Postby BlueSalamander » Wed Aug 03, 2022 8:22 pm

I did address your main point by saying that I think that the spell is fine.

I consider this kind of spell in a tactical game serves no purpose
Actually, there is one important use for this spell even if you decide not to learn it or use it (which is fine, not all spells must have the same usefulness).

Monsters, such as Mummies, can use it against the player characters.

I don't know why is considered a eight level one in this game.
Actually, in KotC 2, Bestow Curse is a level-3 spell for the Cleric and Rogue, and a level-4 spell for the Wizard.

Only Mass Bestow Curse is a level-8 Cleric spell. Malison is also a level-8 spell because it's an area-of-effect spell, just like Mass Bestow Curse.

[Edit] Come to think of it, a Lesser Malison spell that would be single-target could be interesting. I might add that at some point.

Cheers 8-)
'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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