Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Inexpensive Missile Spells of Felltower

I've written on this before, but I can't find where I wrote it.

As written, when you create a Missile spell such as Lightning, Fireball, Stone Missile, etc. you get the energy savings discount on the total cost, not per turn. Per the GURPS FAQ:

4.3.3 It seems missile spells are much more powerful than before. Is that right?

Yes. Now you can put up to [Magery * base cost of spell] energy each second in it, for one to three seconds; spell effect is multiplied by each multiple of the base cost. Note that the cost reduction for high skill only applies to the total cost of the spell. With skill 20, you can't cast a 6d fireball for free by concentrating for 3 seconds.
(Italics mine)

Short version? In Felltower, that last sentence is wrong. You absolutely can cast a 6d fireball for free thanks to your skill 20 by concentrating for 3 seconds.

Honestly, I didn't know this was the wrong way to do it originally. But even once I did, I found I preferred the way this made Missile spells a cheaper way to apply damage to a target than most other spells. They're slower (up to 3 turns of casting, and at least one turn of attacking) and you need to hit with your throw, as well. You need a free hand. Targets can Dodge or Block and those are usually fairly effective defenses in a low-tech world with missile weapons to deal with.

So if you wonder why the players in Felltower favor 6d missiles so much, it's because of this ruling. Ggetting to skill 20 isn't difficult. It only takes IQ 16 and Magery 6 to have it with all spells for 1 point, and DF Wizards start with IQ 15 and Magery 3 and enough discretionary points to get to Magery 6 immediately.

And I like it this way. Bring on the high-damage Missile spells!

14 comments:

  1. I agree. Missile spells are more inline with the DF way of doing business anyway, whereas GURPS Magic tends to have Wizards favoring save-or0die spells due to speed of casting and energy savings.

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    1. I just like how it encourages wizards to have artillery magic as a basic part of their arsenal, because, roots of the genre and all of that.

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  2. It sounds fine, I mostly prefer to use DFRPG as is.

    Id prefer adding items or abilities that boost missiles for an individual PC than a rules rewrite.

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    1. It's a really minor rules re-write. So much so that it requires a FAQ because the books don't really spell out that this doesn't happen, which is why I've run it that way for forever it feels like.

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    2. Yeah it's not a huge deal. I just use DFRPG as is (except for disallowing rapid strikes and allowing Aggressive attack defensive attack, beats and ruses).

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  3. What you do is fine. My objection to missile spells is they are just too drawn out and finicky. Roll to cast, possibly use FP, take time to build it up, possibly using more FP, possibly aim, then you get to attack. Given the propensity of most PCs to want to do something interesting every round this is not attractive compared to a "roll to do something right now" spell. (Although wandering around with "cocked" missile spells is kinda fun gaming wise.)

    I much prefer to do something even more drastic, which is "If you have a missile spell at 16+, you can buy an innate attack that (roughly) matches the damage, acc, and range. GM approval required."

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    1. You know I rail against the need to "do something interesting every round," right?

      I think it's a bad habit that leads to poor decisions, sub-optimal strategies, and negative repercussions.

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    2. Yes, you do. However, my gaming group is (perhaps unfortunately) not there for the fun of implementing sound tactics or the satisfaction pay off of patiently executing a solid plan, they are there to roll and shout. A turn without rolling or shouting is not fun for them, so I accommodate that.

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    3. Something I've done was to allow Wizards to make a "Rapid Strike" with a spell. They can cast and throw in the same round as long as they take a -6 to both rolls. I also allow them to train up a Rapid Casting [Specific Spell] Technique, up to 3 lvls (which only helps with the casting roll).

      And of course, they can take Weapon Master [Magic]...

      WM [One Spell] 20 points, WM [One College] 25pts, WM [Type] 30pts, WM [All Spells] 35pts. For + 5 points they can also WM their Profession's standard weapons (For a Wizard this is Staff, Wand, Innate Attack, Sling, Dart).


      Instead of extra damage on the spell, they can ignore up to -4 in to hit penalties (based on trained DX) from Arc of Vision, Line of Fire, Pop-Up Attacks, Range, Speed, Elevation, and Opportunity Fire.


      I only had one Mage take it in the campaigns I made it available (like 2 maybe 3 campaigns?) and while it was useful, the expense was a detriment. He was far better in direct Missile Spell combat than other mages, but dumping that many points into a narrow focus //that// //didn't// //bring// //any// //more// //spells// meant he was nowhere the utility mage that most GURPS Wizards end up being (even combat focused Wizards often dip into other spells for some utility, if only because those spells are on the tree to get the combat spells).

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    4. @martinl - fair enough, but those people would like to play with me, play my games, or play with my rules. So while it's fine, it's never really going to get a lot of rules idea support here.

      @evileeyore - Rapid Casting sounds interesting, although with DF skill levels I'm sure that would just mean something that usually takes 4 seconds would take 3. The extra damage from "Weapon Master" is pricey for what you get, even with the ability to ignore penalties. It's a tough trade, as you note, as more spells generally means more utility.

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    5. "Rapid Casting sounds interesting, although with DF skill levels I'm sure that would just mean something that usually takes 4 seconds would take 3."

      In the one campaign that it got used, it meant that Sir Missilealot was throwing 2 die missile spells every round (for free). But then I allowed for "Rapid Build+Rapid Strike" as well. So he could cast in round one, and then 'Fast Build' and Rapid Throw in round 2. He did occasionally build MoaMs (Mother of all Missiles), but only when he had the time to prep or really needed to kill something big. And he was a big fan of "I cast Great Haste and then throw two 2 die missile spells every 'turn' for the next 5 turns"...

      He was a 'One Trick Pony', but that trick was pretty good for mob control or rapidly whittling down weakly armored big piles of HP. He almost, almost kept up damage wise with the frontline melee guys.

      If had I also allowed for cost reductions on 'build up casting'? He'd have been a very happy camper throwing free 4 die missile spells every other round.

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    6. I meant would NOT like to . . .

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    7. Sounds like he was running the Wizard from Gauntlet!

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    8. He was almost, almost comparable to a "non-eye/vital shooting" Scout in combat. Add in that he could switch out damage types on the fly without needing to buy speciality ammo, and I'd say he was equivalent to a Scout in combat.

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