Monday, April 18, 2016

No Temporary Puissance Enchantment

In my DF Felltower game, there are a number of monsters who can only be (easily) harmed by magical weapons. And some which can only be slain by magic weapons - thanks to Supernatural Durability or Unkillable, usually, with "magic weapons" as the Achilles' Heel.

I've ruled before that the Puissance enchantment is what matters for those purposes - no Puissance, it's not magic enough to bypass such defenses.

Perhaps naturally, my players have commented on the lack of a temporary version of Puissance. Much like Armor is the temporary version of Fortify, and Shield the temporary version of Deflect, why isn't there a temporary version of Puissance? Sharpen is somewhat similar, but it's more akin to a temporary improvement in weapon quality and not the same as Puissance.

I've usually said, yeah, there should be, but there isn't.

I thought about one and realized it is a terrible idea for my game.

Why there isn't a temporary "Puissance" enchantment

There a number of reasons.

First, it would be a must-have spell. No wizard could reasonably avoid getting the spell. What kind of wizard wouldn't take a spell that opens up vulnerability to a broad swath of the most dangerous foes? A foolish or poorly designed one.

Second, it would be a foolish party that delved without at least one main weapon being under the spell's effects. It makes even more sense to have it on every main weapon at all times.You'd want to be ready. You might want some weapons without it, just so you can tell which monsters need it and which don't.

Third, even if the spell was costly to maintain, so keeping it up for free all the time wasn't trivial, that would just mean it was a fight-time casting. And the goal of getting to "free to maintain" would be irresistible. If you decided to make it a costly, short-term spell that can't be maintained and takes time to cast, you're just changing the nature of the effort needed. That effort will still be made.

Fourth, it would mean the immunities and Achilles' Heels were actually over and under priced respectively. It would greatly devalue something meant to be a vulnerability to an expensive ($5000 and up!) enchantment and drive decisions about armament and expenses.

In other words, the existence of a temporary "Puissance" effect would mean there was no real meaning to having monsters slayable only with Puissance. Not just in the game world, but also in game terms. I inserted creatures with that specific challenge on purpose. Adding a spell to undo it in this manner would make that insertion pointless. The spell would make sense if there wasn't that kind of defense, and that defense makes sense given the lack of the spell. Together, they undermine the game about as well as permanent rock-to-gold spells do to a game about treasure acquisition.

13 comments:

  1. So the Oil of Puissance is okay because it's availability is not under control of the players then, right?

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  2. That would be a magic item out of reach from PC Alchemists

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    1. Exactly. And I've chosen to keep it out of the hands of NPCS Alchemists, too, at least for now. A supply of oil that's slow to apply, expensive, and rare is totally fine - it's not an easily repeatably and trivial solution like a spell would be.

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  3. I had some PC enchanters in my online game, but the past three years of play have clocked only three weeks. You can go enchant that sword, if you want to wait five or six years to post. For this reason, none of the PC Alchemists have done more than try to identify found items.

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    1. Kind of a hard cap disguised as a soft cap?

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  4. I like the Affect Spirits spell, but there shouldn't be a "instant magic weapon" spell. It also would discourage broadening weapon skills, because when you get a cool Demon Hunter Machete you can just sell it, because you can magic up your Bohemian Ear Spoon, which is your Signature Gear with Weapon Bond and Weapon Master, etc. I think Mo is the only fighter who even has two major weapon skills (Broadsword and Flail). Everyone else is a Weapon Master.

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    1. That's very true - and no one likes to "waste" points by getting good at multiple weapon skills. That's the downside to a flat cost scale and no cap on skills.

      I'm still surprised you guys didn't bust up the demon hunter machete and take off the demon hunter talisman to re-mount on a new weapon.

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    2. We still might, but I wanted a good weapon Mo could fast-draw, and it is also silvered, so good for other things.

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    3. Probably a good idea. It'll come in handy against weres and ward-pact demons with protection against flails!

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  5. I generally don't like "Puissance-only" monsters, and try to let each have at least one more specific, less-expensive vulnerability. PCs with good recon and good research can this bypass it reasonably easily, whereas in a surprise encounter, it will mean serious trouble.

    Puissance as a generic universal invulnerability killer seems fine, although I prefer to keep my effects separate.

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    1. In those cases, though, you probably don't want a single magical spell available to bypass them whether you know about them or not.

      To be clear, though, I don't have Puissance bypass all invulnerability. I just have some monsters that have Damage Reduction, Supernatural Durability, etc. with an Achilles' Heel of "magic weapons" and then define "magic weapons" as "have the Puissance enchantment." Puissance doesn't automatically shut down those advantages unless I've built in a vulnerability. Some PCs might plan as if that's the case, but it's a very risky assumption that it's the alkahest of monster invulnerability.

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    2. With the above explanation I'm not sure why you're more worried about a Puissance spell than Flaming Blade or Ghost Touch or my of twenty other spells (IDHMBWM) that could respond to various built-in vulnerabilities. Giant seagulls? Cast grease on your weapon!

      I also like effects to work the way they naïvely read - Puissance is written as a damage boost, it's sad if it's secretly a defense nullifier with a side of damage, as it is in D&D.

      None of my players have a Puissance or Accuracy weapon yet, though. Twenty-five sessions in, we have a Fortify +2 plate and an armor divisor (2) knife.

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    3. I don't know how to say it any other way:

      "I just have some monsters that have Damage Reduction, Supernatural Durability, etc. with an Achilles' Heel of "magic weapons" and then define "magic weapons" as "have the Puissance enchantment."

      So I deliberately defined vulnerabilities that depend on a specific NPC-only permanent enchantment with a minimum buy-in of $5000 and enchantment time to add to a weapon later. Adding a spell that undoes the specific action I took is a problem, because I don't want it undone.

      That there are other weaknesses, vulnerabilities, etc. that can be cancelled by temporary spells doesn't change that.

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