Thursday, November 24, 2016

Culling the megadungeon-wreckers from the DF Druid spell list?

One thing going through my mind right now are top-end druid spells for a megadungeon campaign.

Right now, PI 5 and PI 6 for Druids are pretty sparse:

PI 5: Alter Terrain, Arboreal Immurement, Create Elemental, Entombment, Partial Shapeshifting, Permanent Beast Possession, Permanent Shapeshifting, Plant Form Other, and Shapeshift Others.
PI 6: Earthquake, Geyser, Move Terrain, and Volcano.

We've got a druid with PI 5 and enough points for PI 6 and one spell.

And I'm not sure I like where that is going for a megadungeon campaign. I have some very strong reservations about the PCs using Earthquake, Volcano, and Alter Terrain willy-nilly in the dungeon. It'll be hard thanks to layered penalties of worked and altered stone with magic resistances built in vs. a druid penalized for being underground, but even so - do I want to build a giant multi-level dungeon so the PCs can blow it up whenever they hit an obstacle they aren't sure about?

Do I actually want volcanoes and to have to figure out what happens when levels 2-4 collapse down on and pancake the secret sub-level I designed with such care and wipe out the entrances to levels 5 and 6 because, hey, it says here that "Severe" level casting means we can drop the roof on those orcs? They just might be inappropriate for this kind of game, but something good needs to come with top-end Druidic PI.

Not that PI 5 and 6 aren't in and of themselves useful, but they should at least have a few useful spells.

I'm debating chopping the list down a lot.

Create Elemental is pretty much a "grind the session to a complete and utter halt" spell cast in play; cast outside of play it's useless, so I will cut that off.

Alter Terrain and Move Terrain don't fit. I might allow them, but just flat out say "outdoors only." If/when we go on wilderness hikes, if the PCs really want to do this, maybe it's okay. In the dungeon, yeah, I put in a lot of work mapping, stocking, prepping, etc. for 1 character point on a single PC and a good die roll to undo it.

Volcano would be gone. I see no way that provides any value to a megadungeon game, and I can see a huge list of downsides.

Earthquake can probably stay, but again, I'll need to firmly enforce a) restrictions and b) consequences. By restrictions, I mean, if any of the area affected has a penalty for druids and/or magic resistance, it affects the whole area (even one bit of worked stone in an area is -3 or higher for the druid, and if it's -10 Magic Resistant stone, well, -13 to cast), make it clear you can't get cute and throw it vertically instead of horizontally, etc. By consequences, I mean, when the dungeon collapses it's going to spill into multiple areas, including where you might be. And it might not even fall. So it'll be largely useless - castles and dungeons won't exist purely on the sufferance of angry druids.

I might expand the list. Spark Storm makes sense. I could make another outdoors version of the Rain of spells to allow druids to call down lightning strikes in an area. Rain of Lightning would be a trivially easy spell to stat up (outdoors only, again.) Maybe a lasting version of Control Elemental. They should have access to at least a few spells of special note . . . but they shouldn't be megadungeon destroyers just because, well, DF1 says they have those spells.

And it's worth noting, wizards and clerics can/t/don't/won't have these either.


  1. my mega dungeons are sentient beings and can resist this stuff - i have evil places that resist druids spell and even have gods protecting them from druids - not just megadungeons at risk

    wizard stone wall type spells with permanent fx can be a drama too

    1. My megadungeon isn't sentient, but like I noted above, there is a lot that will impede some of the spells. I suppose I could make it resisted by the dungeon, but then, what if it works anyway?

      In other words, why have them at all if their only use in a megadungeon-centric game is detrimental to the game and useless for the PCs?

      So, they're largely going to go away . . .

  2. I agree that Create Elemental as written is bad, because the player gets to tweak the stats of the elemental. But you can fix this without banning the spell outright: just say that each version of the spell summons one fixed type of elemental, and the player has to submit the proposed stats for GM approval before the session begins. If the player doesn't do that, they get the stock Elemental of that type from the Magic book.

    1. I see we had the same thoughts.

      And there is one major flaw with the "stock" Elementals... they have no skills. ;)

    2. The ones that need them do - the others strike with DX.

      I just don't want to deal with create. Even if I've got stock types, people will want to stat them "just in case." At that point, they're "creating" an elemental they could just summon. So, I'll just use summon.

  3. "Create Elemental is pretty much a "grind the session to a complete and utter halt" spell"

    If you mean in the "now the Player has to design an Ally" way, it doesn't have to be. Just require them to create only pre-approved elemental designs (such designs were obviously approved by the governing board of the Environmentalist's Union, Local 347)...

    Honestly it's really no worse than Summon Elemental, both require an elemental be stated out, Summon by the GM and Create by the Player. Summon takes 30+ seconds to cast and Create 1+ seconds...

    How have you been handling Summon so far?

    1. I use the elementals from DF9. The PCs don't seem to want to "waste" energy on bigger ones than the tiny base sized ones, and those suck in combat, so they've kind of abandoned them for now.

  4. Try Gather Moss and Green Death from GURPS Magic: Plant Spells. They go on the Druid spell list at PI6.

    1. I still don't have Plant Spells, it should go on my "must buy" list.

      Quenton Gale isn't that kind of druid, though. He's not into plants. Or animals. Doesn't like people much, either.

    2. Well, the first sentence of Green Death makes it seem like a spell that might suit him: "Causes green, leafy plants to grow inside the subject's body, expanding until he dies.

    3. Also, look at the Plant and Animal spells in Death Spells.

    4. The death spells are out there, but not freely available. Putting them on the PI6 list would mean he could take one now, without the work of discovering the secrets to them in play . . .

  5. I hope the spell list is somewhat tidied up in DFRPG.

    I'm not so much worried about the PCs radically changing terrain in my mega dungeon. Mostly that would just be cutting themselves off from getting into places. Eventually dungeon denizens would make their own passages out.


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