Even more questions: spells

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
Bonhumm
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Re: Even more questions: spells

Post by Bonhumm » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:51 am

Another question, this time about 'line of sight' requirements for casting a spell.

The rules clearly states that the caster MUST be certain of the target's location to cast a spell, he cannot 'guess' the location (no matter how correct the guess is) and just try and fling a spell to see if it hits someone.

Rules says caster need a direct line of sight (which I'm guessing includes Astral Sight) OR physical contact (touching the target) but it there CANON rules about other senses?

What if I clearly hear someone speaking behind some furniture? What of a Beastmaster who took over the sense of smell from a hound? What about shadows? (i.e. the guys is behind a wall but I clearly see his shadow on the ground).

I understand that all of those could be handled by the GM as he see fits but I was wondering if there was anything Canon about this.

Thank you.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Even more questions: spells

Post by ChrisDDickey » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:59 am

You summarized the cannon rules on page 254 of the players guide in your question, so I won't bother quoting them back.

But I would say in summary that for the standard name-giver races, Sight and Touch are the only standard senses exact enough for a caster to be certain enough of the targets location to be used for targeting. Casters that have astral sight can add Astral Sense to that list, but only if they rolled an Astral Sense test high enough to see the targets pattern, not just it's imprint (an astral imprint does let you know exactly where the target is, but is not clear enough for spell targeting).

That section does specifically say that some creatures have other senses sharp enough to count as primary senses. If somebody used "Borrow Sense" to borrow the echolocation ability of a bat, I would allow spells to be targeted using that. But my personal opinion is that a hounds sense of smell will help you determine "somebody is around here" but not "they are precisely 15 feet to my right", so I would not allow spells to be cast using a Hounds sense of smell even though I would allow a bats sense of hearing. GM call all the way. The Cannon comes in that it must be a Primary Sense that can pinpoint a target.

In almost all cases I would also disallow casting at somebody behind furniture. Especially if the furniture was so large I could not tell exactly at which end they were, exactly where their head was, where their feet and body were. Whether they were plastered up against the furniture or maybe 6 inches distant. Yes your eyes are telling you a lot of places where the target is not, but unless the furniture is so small and shaped such that you know exactly to the inch where they must be, I would tend to disallow it. Plus there could be voice or vision magic going on and the target still might not be where you thought they were, and as you noted, casters are not allowed to just "guess", even if they would have guessed fairly correctly. Note that if you cast a spell upon somebodies displace image spell, the spell automatically misses - you are allowed to attempt to cast the spell, because illusion magic is fooling you into thinking you know where they are, you just can't hit, though you have a good chance to sense the illusion.

As for the shadow, that is a difficult call. On the one hand, conditions might be such that you can build up an accurate picture of exactly where the target must be, even if you can't actually see the target, just his shadow. On the other hand, it might be like seeing an astral imprint. You see enough to know exactly where he is, but can you sense enough to target somebody just from where his shadow falls? I can easily see a GM ruling ether way.

But the short answer is that the cannon says name-giver races Sight, Touch, and Astral Sight only under most circumstances. Other creatures have other senses at GM discretion, and other circumstances that allow the caster to sense the target at GM discretion.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Even more questions: spells

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:34 pm

I would totally allow scent for creatures that use it as a primary sense. Also, it would be super cool to introduce a Name-giver race whose primary sense wasn't sight. Definitely GM call.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Even more questions: spells

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:11 am

Slimcreeper wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:34 pm
I would totally allow scent for creatures that use it as a primary sense.
Yes, but I think the heart of the GM call is whether something is a primary sense. Most breeds of dog have enhanced sense of smell compared to humans. Some have VERY enhanced. But few (or maybe none) have noses that are better for pinpointing the location of something that is not literally right under their nose than their eyes.

Slimcreeper
Posts: 525
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

Re: Even more questions: spells

Post by Slimcreeper » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:44 pm

In my mind (and this is totally a matter of opinion and perspective) the issue is less marking an exact location on a Cartesian grid and more about establishing a connection. I might even rule that scent as primary would let you defeat line-of-sight requirements, but the range would vary based on wind and the weather. It's never come up, but it is interesting to think about.

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