[ED4]Lowering myst. def. vs. disbelieving

Discussion on playing Earthdawn. Experiences, stories, and questions related to being a player.
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:36 am

[ED4]Lowering myst. def. vs. disbelieving

Postby BTL » Wed Nov 23, 2016 4:50 am

Maybe it's a kind of munchkining, but as stressed in many threads there is no option for lowering a characters own mystic defense, to give an allied magician a better chance to cast a buff. Seeing the point, as every +5 on the throw gives an additional success. That makes sound sense.
But than there is the mechanic of disbeliving illusional spells. If you disbelief a spells that is actually not an illusion your mystic defense drops down to two and the effect will be enormous as even rolling a 12 will give two additional succeses. There is a lack of constancy.
Naturally you can handle it with plenty of common sense, but it bothers me a lot to tell my players "Yes, you can disbelief an offensive spells and eat dirt if it isn't an illusion, but you must not disbelief any other spells."

In my group I'm looking to manage it with a house rule:
Y'ou can lower your defense to 2 but the caster must reach your usual myst. Defense +5 to get additional Effects.'
I'd love to add something like 'Also, every spell that is thrown against you in the same round has to surpass a mystic Defense of 2, without the additional phrase for additional sucesses.', Introducing a thread by lowering your defense, but as I'm running a campaign with a nethermancer, an illusionist, and an elementarist I see some ways to exploit this particular half-sentence.

Maybe I am just a little sensitive but I have a sour feeling with this topic. Talking about Earthdawn I always laud the conclusivness. But I can't find a way to make sense here.
Any ideas or proposals?

Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:44 am

Re: [ED4]Lowering myst. def. vs. disbelieving

Postby ChrisDDickey » Wed Nov 23, 2016 1:00 pm

Common sense says that you can't deep down in your soul believe that your good buddy that you know perfectly well is not an illusionist and that just said he was going to cast shield willow on you is really going to cast an illusion on you. You can't convince yourself. But I also agree that it is hard to come up with a good in-game justification for why you can disbelieve but not lower mystic defense.

As for lowering mystic defense, this is the house rule I use.
Before rolling initiative for a round, you can declare that you are attempting to lower your mystic defense. You may roll ether your WIL or your PER step and lower your MD by that amount to a minimum of two. The lower MD is used for all spells that target you the entire round. When you do this, beneficial spells are limited to achieving only one success. Extra successes are not allowed. Hostile spells may achieve extra successes.

I don't really have a good in-game justification for these limitations, I just do some hand waving and say something about you are able to open up the surface of your mind to your buddy, but this causes you to brace your core shields, but really it is just to make it possible for a buddy to reliably cast a spell on you when needed, without giving the farm away with lots of extra successes.

I like this method because it does make it easier to cast basic buffs without a ton of extra successes, but there is still the risk of failure if you roll poorly on your lowering roll.

The Undying
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:10 am

Re: [ED4]Lowering myst. def. vs. disbelieving

Postby The Undying » Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:02 pm

There's be a fairly healthy amount of discussion on all of this before on this forum, multiple times, and I'm not really sure what more can be said...

Specific to your concern about your logical disconnect between Disbelieving Illusions (player's guide, p. 267) and the loss of elective lowering of Mystic Defense (MD), I'd have this to say.

The point of Disbelief is NOT to make magic resolve more easily, it is to prevent imaginary things from affecting you. The intent is not "I'm lowering my MD because I don't believe this." The intent is "I don't believe this, so if it's real, it's going to hit like a freight train." You're looking at the negative result (lowered MD) as some kind of intent, when it is actually a consequence of failure.

The best meaningful, but totally contrasting in flavor, example I can give of Disbelief is like someone saying "close your eyes, and in two seconds, I may or may not punch you in the face." First, you have a reason to know that something MAY NOT happen: in this case, they say they may not punch you, and in game, you may know that there are Illusions or Illusion magic being slung around. This is important because, as a GM, if my player tried to Disbelieve something for no good reason, I'm not going to allow it. Second, if you TRULY disbelief, which is what you as a player are saying when you Disbelieve, than you are in no way defending against the effect, so if that someone DOES punch you in the face, it is going to completely lay you out. The reason this contrasts in flavor is because Disbelief is actually happening, not an element of foreknowledge - it's like feeling a fist starting to impact you, knowing that there's a possibility the fist isn't real, choosing to believe it isn't real, either the fist passing over you because it was fake or the fist completely hammering you because it was real and you didn't believe it to be so.

In contrast, Disbelief is NOT a trust fall. You do not lower your guard around magic because you are confident it is good magic, a la lowering your guard because your ally is casting a buff. You know, for a fact, to the fiber of your being, that Magic is REAL. You can't "believe" in it more. The MD system as it exist is built on this premise. Moreover, given that certain items given you MD, it's a big stretch to say one can "just relax" and lower one's total MD from 15 to 2 - that shield and those thread items don't give a Windling's poot about what you believe, they're gonna defend against everything that comes at it.

Now, aside from all that, my personal opinion is that discard of optional MD lower is a GOOD thing. In the heat of combat, the chances of you knowing who is throwing a spell on you are pretty low. Selectively lowering your MD for a single spell makes ZERO sense to me. Lowering your MD for a round while engaging in combat-y actions (a la, Combat Option that just lowers MD) also makes very little sense to me - how can you be relaxed and also tense. I could be persuaded to allow lowering defense as a Standard Action, but at this point, you're meta-gaming (magician ally has been weaving a spell for three turns, and on the fourth turn, you stop everything you're doing and concentrate on opening yourself up so that it has maximum effect), but at my table, you'd be basically going limp and lowering ALL defenses to 2, not just MD. This totally jives with Disbelief still being a thing for me because, again, the effect is not "I'm lowering my MD because I Disbelieve," it's "this effect isn't actually happening, so I'm ignoring it (and getting thoroughly trounced if I'm wrong)."

Keep in mind that most Chain Casting rules also accommodate most of this while being founded on the logic that it sounds like you need.

Posts: 383
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:12 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: [ED4]Lowering myst. def. vs. disbelieving

Postby Baravakar » Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:27 pm

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Disbelieving Illusions wrote: If the spell is not an illusion, however, the target’s Mystic Defense is considered to be 2 for the purpose of determining the number of successes, as they have opened themselves up to the magic.

Well this solves a different dilemma. Lowering mystic defense was removed in the fourth edition but now whenever your buddy casts a spell on you just disbelieve it a real spell.

    Elementalist: I cast Elemental Spear - Water at the wounded warrior.
    Wounded Warrior: I disbelieve. Mystic Defense becomes 2
    Elementalist: Rolls against MD2.
    Wounded Warrior: heals Elementalist's WIL+4 + 2 steps for each success against MD2 and may immediately spend a Recovery
    test with a +2 bonus.
    Healed Warrior: Thanks Mr. Illusionist.

Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:36 am

Re: [ED4]Lowering myst. def. vs. disbelieving

Postby BTL » Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:05 pm

@Baravakar: as I mentioned in my entering post, that is not the part that thrills but bothers me.

@The Undying:
I love your example about 'Schrödingers Punch' :) Think I stay with the regular rules until the Compendium comes out. Mataxes mentioned therein will be an optional rule, tackling that whole 'reducing MD' case.
The other day I read about a house rule, saying a magician can get used to a specific pattern and gets a bonus enchanting such a familiar structure. Unfortunately I can't remember where I overread it.

The Undying
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:10 am

Re: [ED4]Lowering myst. def. vs. disbelieving

Postby The Undying » Thu Nov 24, 2016 7:26 pm

@Baravakar: You do you, man. At my table, if a player cannot justify why their character would think a spell/effect could be an illusion, I would not allow them to Disbelief. Moreover, if someone tries it repeatedly after being warned or starts coming up with EXCEPTIONALLY sketchy justification, I'd start allowing it, and I'd lower their MD for a while for the casual Disbelief of things they know to be true, or I'd give them a Crisis of Discipline, adding one or two Difficulty to all Discipline Talent rolls as they are continually Disbelieving things they [once] knew to be true.

@BLT: I'd mentioned before that there's a lot of material on the site here, and over at Panda's Gaming Grove, that tackles this and related topics. However, let me summarize a common Chain Casting house rule that might address some of your concerns.

Chain Casting (House Rule) wrote:A magician can chain cast a spell, keeping its effect on constantly, if they follow certain criteria. First, they must keep the spell in a matrix. Second, the spell must have duration in minutes (if a thread is required to increase duration to minutes, this must be used). Third, no additional costs are allowed - e.g., Karma, Strain. Fourth, any additional thread effects must be specified when the chain casting starts. If these criteria are met, then when the chain casting spell would come into effect (e.g., start of battle), apply all relevant effects to all selected targets as though the spell was just cast with no extra successes. A chain cast spell can only affect a single person unless the spell natively supports multiple targets or an additional thread effect is available and selected to affect multiple targets.

There are a number of additions to this based on preference. For example, I'm fond of an additional criteria that I haven't seen elsewhere: if multiple targets are selected, the spell must have a range greater than touch. This prevents the magician from walking around, touching the 3-6 companions every 5-15 minutes to cast a spell. I've also seen another fairly common but not 'standard' qualifier to keep things from getting out of hand: a magician can chain cast up to X spells, where X is something determined at the table (e.g., whatever they feel is reasonable), mathematically (e.g., Circle / 2), etc. Without this, chain casted spells can get a bit silly, especially at higher Circle when Shared Matrix appears. Finally, there's the situation issues: a player should be warned that chain casting spells in certain situations (e.g., keeping up Air Armor while at a nobleman's party) is gonna look sketchy as hell.

In my opinion, this SHOULD accommodate much of your concern. Casting in battle, or immediately before battle, should really be considered 'stressful' IMHO and should follow all normal rules of casting. It will also encourages trade-off by your players (is your magician going to sacrifice most or all of their matrices to keep buffs going) and controls power creep (even a low-Circle Elementalist can cause some insane power creep if they're able to perpetually keep up, say, Air Armor, Flameweapon, and Shield Willow on the entire party for giggles).

Return to “For Players”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest