Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Worthwhile DF spellstones?

My players like to use spellstones. Basically, crushable gems containing a spell.

They're handy because they turn just about anyone into a spellcaster - you crush it, you cast it, and it works like any other spell. This makes it really useful for spells you want at hand to aid friends or annoy foes.


The breakpoint for "quick and dirty" casting versus "slow and sure" enchantment in Dungeon Fantasy is at 100 points. Some enchantments get the favorable break and cost 1 x 100 = $100. Others, such as Deflect, get tossed in on the far side of the line and cost $2000. Yes, 100 costs either 100 or 2000, depending.

Spellstone cost:

Energy 1 = 50 (stone) + 20 (spell) = $70
Energy 2 = 120 (stone) + 40 (spell) = $160
Energy 3 = 210 (stone) + 60 (spell) = $270
Energy 4 = 320 (stone) + 80 (spell) = $400
Energy 5 = 450 (stone) + 100 (spell) or 2000 (spell) = $550 (or $2450)
Energy 6 = 600 (stone) + 2400 (spell) = $3000
. . . and so on, using the formula from GURPS Magic p. 61

The question on a 5-energy spell is whether you round up ($2000) or round down ($100). Like the aforementioned Deflect, spells that are especially effective for their casting cost might get the round-up. After all, take a spell like Great Haste, it's extremely valuable. The demand can be potentially really high. And meta-game, the abuse potential of "everyone has Great Haste ready to go at all times" might make a higher cost make sense. For Great Haste at $550 each, it's a great deal. At $2450, would you still pay? Very possibly. 10 seconds of Altered Time Rate at a cost of 5 FP at the end is pretty freaking awesome, and what if you don't have to wait for the wizard to put it on you guys one at a time?

There is no round-up question for energy 1-4, though. That's probably another strong argument for "next game, all enchantments cost $20/point" though, since it means magical gear does have a baseline cost that's higher than the material cost of much of what you put it on.

Note: This is for skill 15. Higher skill is possible, of course, but at least the way I run it is that you pay for higher skill regardless of whether it's from the enchanter using extra power or it's just native skill. Prices are set by a monopolistic guild, not a market economy.

What are some good spellstones?

To purchase, I mean. Anything you can find is worth it, but not everything is cheap enough to make it a worthwhile expendable purchase. Here are three I think are pretty good deals:

Awaken is my PC's favorite spellstone. They buy pretty big ones - 3-4 energy, usually - so people can crush the stone and affect a small area with Awaken. It's very useful for reviving knocked-out allies. Especially key is that you can center it on yourself (-0 to cast), maximizing the margin of success that acts a bonus to revive the unconscious. And unconscious foes? Exclude those hexes, you're a spellcaster for an action, not activating a magic item with pre-programmed area effect.

Invisibility is another interesting choice in DF, since the cost is only 4. $400 for "and then I'm gone" when you're in trouble. Not bad.

Missile Shield is 5 to cast, so it's $550 or $2450. At $550, it's handy to put it up on yourself for a minute without needing to be near your wizard buddy when the arrows start coming in.

Naturally I control these like any other magic item purchase, but they're an interesting option for PCs with cash on hand and a need for quick casting.

And yeah, I'm thinking $2450 for Great Haste in my game. $550 seems a bit too cheap for what you get out of it.

Any spell stones you guys think are a good investment for the cost?


  1. Major Healing spellstones were always a clear winner for us: they're much faster than potions, which is really important when the chips are down.

    The insight I had with Great Haste spellstones is that they don't just mean that anyone can Great Haste themselves, they also mean that anyone can do it in 1-2 actions. This is so much better than spending 3 seconds hoping the wizard doesn't get ganked that I'd probably pay $2500 for the privilege. So combat spells that have long casting times are unusually good choices, such as:

    Body of Air (4FP), Breathe Fire (1-4FP), Neutralize Poison (5FP, competes with antidote potions), Control Illusion (1FP), Create Warrior (4FP), Create Animal (4FP for SM1 animals or 2FP for swarms), Flash (4FP), Blur (4FP for -4 to hit), Dispel Magic (3FP for area 1), Sleep (4FP), Mass Daze (4FP for area 2), Suggestion of "you need to run away" (4FP), Distant Blow (3FP) and great for swashbucklers against flyers, Turn Zombie (4FP for area 2), Dehydrate (3FP for 3d-3 damage), and Frostbite (3FP for 3d damage).

    Dispel Magic at $270 seems like the real winner here: that's a fast "get of jail" spellstone for when an ally gets hit by a nasty spell, but Mass Daze, Distant Blow, and creating warriors and animals in the middle of combat are also good options.

    1. Are Major Healing spellstones kosher in DF, aside from the Gem of Healing? Gems of Healing exist, but they seem to be an exception in a lot of way. They don't make you roll vs. the spell, they just work, with no reference to Size Modifier, either. I've asked Kromm and he's confirmed they are user-only or crushed against someone, like their bigger cousins in DF6 - no ranged casting, no roll. So it is clearly something a bit different despite being listed as (Major Healing, Spell Stone). It's an open question if you can enchant a magic item (a wizardly thing) with any other cleric spell, even if you're someone with both templates. In my games it is a clear no, but perhaps others rule differently.

      I haven't seen anyone try resisted spells yet, because of the cost vs. the chance to resist. My players just assume anything worth hitting with a resisted spell probably has high resistance anyway. They're not far wrong - it's rare for an enemy to be high defense, but low HT and/or Will.

      Dispel Magic is actually one I thought about, but I know why my players usually reject it - it's resisted by the attacking spell, so it's at best a 50/50 shot of winning (most spells being at 15 as a floor for a reasonable foe) and usually less. There is no Rule of 16 for spells, so you're almost better off getting a spellstone that will get you close to your wizard so he can Dispel Magic or Counterspell at a much better chance of success.

      But that's a good list. Blur is awesome, really, and I can't believe I overlooked it. Shield, too, but you can't stack a lot of DB on without hitting the breakpoint. +2 for 4 energy isn't bad though, with no "spell on" for your allied spellcasters.

    2. Dispel magic takes at least 3 seconds to cast. A spellstone goes off in a second (with Fast-Draw (Stone)). Even with only a 50% chance of success, you're shaving a second or two off a nasty effect - such as the group's Knight under magical control, which could make a big difference.

    3. I just think you'll need Luck to make it worthwhile, because your best shot isn't a very good one. Still, it's only $270 . . . and even a hireling can do it . . .


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