Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

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Utsukushi
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Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby Utsukushi » Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:29 pm

So... I'm not actually finding this anywhere, and it's come up in a game I'm in. I know that 4e has done away with the idea that magicians automatically lower their own Mystic Defense for casting on themselves -- which is obviously necessary with the new "Extra Successes" mechanic, but is a little jarring since it now tends to mean that casting spells on yourself is harder than casting them on anybody else.

And I gather that the rule for voluntarily lowering your Mystic Defense is likewise gone, presumably for the same reason.

So the one I'm curious about, because I see it used a lot in all editions, is Blindsiding. The spellcaster (especially if they're a Windling) just makes sure they're behind their ally - which they probably are anyway because they're "back line" Adepts - and claims the -2 Mystic Defense `penalty' because they're Blindsiding them. Even in camp, they just... walk (or flit) around before they cast the spell.

And I.. am not sure. On the one hand, the Blindsiding rules pretty clearly refer to an "attack", and, more importantly, that seems like a pretty cheap loophole to take advantage of like that. On the other hand, I don't quite see why your Mystic Defense would be lower against an unexpected Ethereal Bolt, but not an equally unexpected Air Armor.

...For me, GMing, I think my ruling is that it works in combat - they are indeed focused forward and you can totally surprise them with a buff as easily as an attack. But outside of combat, you just can't get that effect on a voluntary spell. Being behind someone is part of Blindsiding them, but there's more to it than that.

How do other people rule on this? Especially in 4th Edition, but, really... in any of them?

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Mataxes
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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby Mataxes » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 pm

Removing the "voluntarily lower Mystic Defense" was removed as a result of the interactions with extra successes on spellcasting.

A popular house rule in the wake of this has been to return the option, but rule that regardless of the result, the effect is based on a single success on the spellcasting test.
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The Undying
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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby The Undying » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:04 pm

Mataxes already weighed in on the voluntary lowering of Mystic Defense. Here's my additional thoughts:

- I think it's easy to make a blanket statement that "Combat modifiers exist only in combat." Otherwise, you're going to run into a lot of foolishness: "Despite being at camp, to maximize the success of your spell cast, I take an Aggressive Stance, Blindfold myself, delay my action (or do something else to make themselves Harried), and let you cast from behind me." Outside of combat, it's flat Target Mystic Defense (TMD).

- Most beneficial spells that could be cast outside of combat don't have incredible return on extra successes (often, just extra duration), so it's really just convenient to let it auto-resolve with a single success. In most cases, if it fails, they'll just keep trying until it succeeds, so all that is being done is slowing down the game. No doubt this was a design decision for beneficial spells. The only time rolls likely DO matter is when time is of the essence (e.g., if the players have a couple rounds to prepare, force the rolls for the beneficial spells - I think it adds drama).

- Don't fabricate new conditions unless you really need to. "TMD is lowered in the backside, unless it's a beneficial spell" just seems unnecessary. Plus, as you note, most magician's are in the back, I doubt this would've gone unaccounted for in design.

- Frankly, while there's a lot I love about ED4, I think Spellcasting got eroded a bit too aggressively. The extra thread mechanics *IS* super neat, but the idea that 'it allows spells to scale' doesn't seem to sufficiently accommodate the fact that it forces every spell into multi-turn actions (Threadweaving, then Spellcasting) in all but a few cases. In almost all cases, it is more efficient to cast the maximum you can without forcing a Threadweaving roll than it is to spread it across multiple actions by incorporating extra Threads - exception being when you really want to spike something with karma or a desperate spell charm, and maybe when you can incorporate extra targets as one of the thread options. Please, don't come up with more ways to penalize magicians. [gets off soap box]

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Spader
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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby Spader » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:37 am

Suggestions:

- Giving a flat DN of 6 for every friendly spell cast outside of combat regardless of Mystic Defense. Because people have the time to rationalize that the magic they receive won't hurt them. The same way that you don't have to hit the Physical Defense of someone with Physician skill, even if you try to cauterize a wound with a heated blade.

- Knowing a spell cast on yourself in combat is friendly might give a modifier equal as being blindsided. And thus removing the need to "backstab" friends with friendly spells.


In our group, we already made a point about a similar aspect regarding group ritual. If someone enhances his Mystic Defense with a thread woven from a group ritual, that bonus doesn't count when targeted by friendly spell. Because, resisting a friendly spell doesn't help the group and the increases of a group ritual only works while the character is acting to help the group.

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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby The Undying » Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:37 pm

I guess my main remaining question would be 'what spells are we talking about and when'?

--- Outside of danger (camping, general adventuring)

I'd recommended Chain Casting style limitations. Chain Casting isn't a defacto rule, but it's a pretty common optional rule meant to cut down on silliness.

"Chain Casting: Outside of combat, an Adept can keep the effect of the spell continuously through Chain Casting. To qualify for Chain casting, the spell (a) must be kept in a Spell Matrix, (b) have no additional costs (e.g., karma/strain) or conditions, and (c) support duration in minutes (either naturally or as an extra thread). The Adept must declare which extra threads are being used, and if the spell is not naturally a minute duration spell, one extra thread must be the 'duration (minutes)' option. At the start of combat, treat the spell effect as though it was freshly cast with the declared extra threads and a single success."

The one additional caveat that I would add to this, that I don't think I've seen elsewhere, is "If the spell supports multiple targets AND the spell has a range beyond touch, then the Adept can opt to maintain the Chain Casting effect on the others up to the additional targets provided. If these effects are achieved through extra threads, they must be declared, and the Adept's Circle must allow for sufficient extra threads. Without these base feature or extra threads selected, only the Adept with the spell receives the effect."

This is simple and reasonable. The minute duration minimum keeps this option from sounding ridiculous: without it, the Adept essentially recasts the spell ever 1-2 minutes, which is unreasonable. Even with 3-4 Chain Cast Spells, it's not over the top, the Adept is likely refreshing there spells for a minute solid every fifteen minutes. My Adept-only caveat continues this: in a party with, say, four characters, without natural or extra thread multi-target, you're talking 1-2 minutes per spell, possible milling around touching people during it, and beyond a single Chain Cast spell, this is just a silly amount of time.

--- Imminent Danger

Here, we're talking the few turns/minutes right before the characters charge into possible danger. At this point, I don't see any reason to lower TMD or skip the roll. The characters are revved up and ready for combat, so the idea that they can temporarily drop their guard to allow a buff is kind of out of bounds, ESPECIALLY with the explicit removal of the "character can choose to lower their Mystic Defense" rule from previous editions. The most I'd personally be willing to stretch is a Blindside 'bonus' (-2), but as I already stated, I personally believe that Combat Modifiers/Options are strictly for Combat.

--- Engaged

Either in combat, or otherwise directly involved with an action/NPC. At this point, I am completely for Rules As Written (RAW). As for 'knowing a spell is friendly', I'm not sure how anyone could make that distinction. The magician's companions are actively engaged, swinging weapons and receiving/deflecting blows. They likely have enough situational awareness to see whether their magician friend is in danger or not, but I personally don't think they have the capacity to say "ah, he's casting, and it looks like he's casting Flame Weapon, and my weapon is heating up a bit, so I'm probably the target, which is good, so I'll just relax and not tense up against it." Even in the olden days with the ability for characters to lower their Mystic Defense, that was for THE ROUND, not against a single effect, so the companion COULD make it super easy to let a buff land on a turn, but they could just as easily make themselves an easy target for an enemy's spell that same turn.

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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby Slimcreeper » Fri Aug 26, 2016 9:13 am

Undying - The chain casting option idea is new to me. I am interested ... according to RAW there isn't any penalty reason not to continuously maintain certain buff spells, but practically speaking you have to either make a million rolls or handwave those rolls ... It seems unreasonable that the spellcaster could maintain all of that automatically without penalty. But the caster is considered to have just cast all of the spells at the beginning of combat? hrm ... I like this and may adopt something when my game starts back in the next month or so (fingers crossed, ya'll!) But I think I would want a mechanic to say how long it's been since the spell has been cast ... or some sort of harried and/or overwhelmed penalty for the spellcaster ... but most combats won't last for minutes, so perhaps the duration shouldn't even be a concern ... You've played with this and liked it? Should the spellcaster have some sort of Harried penalty for out of combat tests such as perception?

The Undying
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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby The Undying » Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:04 pm

Chain Casting is definitely not my baby - minimally, you can hop over to Panda's Gaming Grove and look there, he has a paragraph write up on his opinion for it ... somewhere.

A lot of it comes down to reasonableness, IMHO. Minute duration is a minimum. After that, it's all just GM discretion, without over mechanizing it. As I said, Touch range is out for me - walking and casting on yourself every few minutes may be reasonable, but going out of your way to touch your companions every few minutes is not. Same thing with multiple targets - casting a spell once every few minutes is one thing, but casting it X times every few minutes is another. Finally, frequency above the minute-minimum is also important: I think it's fair to say that an Adept can chain cast a maximum of spells equal to their Spellcasting Rank divided by 5, rounded up. That basically means they're effectively casting every five minutes, which isn't HORRIBLE.

As for outstanding duration when combat begins, we've played with it both as a random element at the beginning of combat as well as fixed duration (i.e., maximum). Random element - roll a d10 or whatever, and that's the number of minutes left - is interesting and more realistic ... however, you're slowing things down with an extra roll for something that will have minimum impact (even a roll of 1 on that means 1 minute, which is 6 turns ... which is already a big chunk of the combat).

As for consistent penalties outside of combat due to the chain casting, I personally don't think it's necessary, but it could be an interesting mechanic. I wouldn't over-mechanize it, though: maybe GM rolls a 1d6 (again, assuming casting every ~5 minutes), and on a 1, the character is distract for that event and suffers -2 test penalty for that test.

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etherial
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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby etherial » Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:32 pm

The Undying wrote:As for consistent penalties outside of combat due to the chain casting, I personally don't think it's necessary, but it could be an interesting mechanic. I wouldn't over-mechanize it, though: maybe GM rolls a 1d6 (again, assuming casting every ~5 minutes), and on a 1, the character is distract for that event and suffers -2 test penalty for that test.


The fact that the Magician has Matrices tied up with these Spells both during non-Combat time and at the outself of Combat is penalty enough.

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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby The Undying » Fri Aug 26, 2016 11:36 pm

Personally, I agree, etherial. The goal of Chain Casting is both to throw the magician a bone as well as to minimize rolling. Throwing in an additional roll is kind of reducing the effectiveness of this - BUT, if someone feels that Chain Casting is too powerful and want to balance it, this could be one option.

Again, just personally, I don't think Chain Casting is too big of a deal. The number of candidate spells is pretty severely limited, especially with my "must have Range greater than Touch" caveat for non-self Targets. Combine that with the fact that they've lost a matrix in each one, and you end up with some that is basically super focused on defense with one, maybe two, spells available for offense/utility in combat with the risk and Strain of reattunement on the fly.

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Re: Magicians Casting Buffs On Teammates `From Behind'

Postby Slimcreeper » Sat Aug 27, 2016 8:57 am

That makes sense. If they can't maintain them, it's going to be really tough to actually have them active in combat. I think I'll adopt this wholesale.


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