Sunday, March 26, 2023

DF Felltower, Blink, and Grapples

So apparantly this came up as a question to one of my players online, and was related to me.

Desmond was grappled from behind (no defenses!) by a torturer last session.

Why didn't he just Blink out of there? It's a spell, sure, but it doesn't require concentration, and it's an Active Defense, so even if he was already grappled, the very next attack would just let him trigger it and - poof! - be out of the grapple.

In DF Felltower? No. It doesn't work that way.

Allowing anyone with Magery a get-out-of-grapples-free card is not fun. Saying no simplifies all of the rules questions to basically no rules questions at all.

Allowing it would give anyone with Magery to potential to just ignore any grapple, bite, entangle, etc. that hit them despite their defenses (say, a critical hit or an attack from behind.) You could either cast it on your next turn and leave the grapple, no problems, or - even sillier - wait until an additional attack (say, a bite or neck snap or attack to improve CP) came in and then Blink out of there. So either it's leave for a few FP on your next turn, or leave on the next attack. You could even have a friend launch a missile attack into melee, hoping they'll hit you so you can Blink out of a grapple.

Allowing it means you suddenly need to decide if these spells are only defenses - and need an attack to trigger them - or you can cast them on your own turn. Got a grapple that inflicts extra damage every second for free? Great, won't trigger a defense so it won't trigger Blink. Needs an attack roll? Oh, wizard just leaves. Or it's just something you can cast and leave. But then can you Blink out of a pit? Out of chains or rope bindings? Out of your clothes? Away from a cursed ring?

Some of the answers there are obvious, some less so - but they're all potential edge cases. You get a lot of edge cases with yes.

So I could say, "Yes! You can totally do that!" and have a) less fun and b) more rulings to make, or say "No!" and have a) more fun and b) no rulings to make at all.

I went with the latter, because DF Felltower is about simple fun, not complex perfection and rules lawyers trying to out-munchkin each other on rules edge cases.

Your game may vary.

All of this applies to Phase, too. It was be a poorly-designed PC who didn't have either if they had access to them. They'd be mission-critical spells for all wizards. And then we're back to wizards being extremely hard to kill in melee, even if you, say, garrote one by surprise or something. Not fun.


  1. After reading the blog post several times though, I'm still quite fuzzy on what the ruling for Felltower actually is. Is it "no blocking spells while grappled" (which leaves Blink Other as still an excellent spell for getting others out of grapples, pits, etc.) or "no Blink while physically restrained by something else" (which leaves Command as a viable anti-grappling spell still) or both?

    1. No spellcasting while grappled.

    2. If I was using TG and spellcasting together (which I admittedly never have) I would be tempted to change the "no concentrate maneuvers when grappled" RAW to "concentrate maneuvers when grappled are penalized by the total CPx2" or something like that.

    3. It's probably better to penalize the Will roll against distraction, as well as skill. Otherwise it encourages people to buy up spell skills even higher to get around penalties. It's much harder if you have to make a penalized roll to make another penalized roll. If that seems harsh - double dipping - this happens to Fast-Draw attempts while grappled, too. Your DX for the DX roll is lower, and your Fast-Draw is lower because your DX is lower.

  2. I agree. A player in my previous DF game thought that he should be able to Blink as a regular spell, not just as a blocking spell reaction. I felt like allowing that would open up the possibility of his teleporting past many barriers and obstacles at will, which would defeat the point of the general prohibition on teleportation spells, and also be not-fun.

    1. That's pretty much it - teleportation is fun in some games, I've run them, but would make most dungeon issues go away in a dungeon-focused game. So allowing a backhand teleport for 1 point isn't helpful. If I was choosing the spells, I would not have included Blink at all.

    2. It's a good point about Blink and GURPS Magic (or DFRPG spellcasting) in general--in AD&D, Blink took up a spell slot and if you were a fifth level wizard, you got to use it once (IF you had it memorized) and there's all your third level spells for the day. So it wasn't truly capable of the same kind of abuse, because of its limitations. Not so here.

  3. I was just going over Blink and other Gate spells for my homebrew redesign of GURPS Magic... I headcanoned this well-thought-out ruling as, "Blink can't bring another person with you the way Teleport can, which is what would happen if you managed to Teleport while grappled (not likely at 80-150 character points), and so Blink just fails, even if successfully cast." Although this won't help anyone using GURPS Magic as written...


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