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 Post subject: Abuse of Runic Alphabet
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:26 pm 
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So I've just started running a DCC game (we just finished funneling and we'll have our first level 1 adventure this week) and I've already run into a bit of a balance issue. My wizard player rolled Runic Alphabet, Mortal as one of his random spells and he asked me if he could use the "permanent" option in the spell description to tattoo the runes onto himself. I thought about it and finally, applauding the Appendix N vibe of a wizard with magical tattoos all over him, agreed that was probably okay. He then stated his intention to spellburn 20 points of stats to put a DC 30+ sleep tattoo on his hand. That seems to be in line with both the letter and the spirit of the rules, and I admire his creativity, but I can't help but feel that this will cause problems (although it'll be fun when they fight the blind dragon). How would you guys handle this?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:44 pm 
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You remembered that there is a -8 to the spell check when casting, so that even with a +20 bonus and an 18 Intelligence, a 1st level Wizard would need to roll a 15 or better to succeed? Then simply remember that it affects all who see it, friendly or otherwise, and have it be the bane of his existence. If his Luck goes down far enough, he may even affect himself while scratching his nose.

Note that this is normal sleep, so those affected can be awakened by shaking, noise, and similar effects. It is sight-based. Eventually, if he is not careful about using it, something darker than he is may come looking for his hand, to make use of the permanent rune for itself. Also, some may be offended if he hides his hand. An open hand is a sign of trust and friendship, after all, and a hand that is concealed may well (and in this case does) bear a weapon. If he uses his hand against the King or a local Lord, or the High Priest, he may have other problems as well.

But, despite all of that, give him the benefit of his cleverness. I would consider it the judge's job to decide how the world reacts to what the PCs do, and let them decide whether or not the thing chosen was worth it. When it seems often that it is, and sometimes that it is not, you are doing it right.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:22 pm 
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You remembered that there is a -8 to the spell check when casting, so that even with a +20 bonus and an 18 Intelligence, a 1st level Wizard would need to roll a 15 or better to succeed? Then simply remember that it affects all who see it, friendly or otherwise, and have it be the bane of his existence. If his Luck goes down far enough, he may even affect himself while scratching his nose.


Sure, but if he spellburns 20 points (which he is completely prepared to do) he gets an automatic 20 on his casting die (although I'll still make him roll to make sure he doesn't miscast it), so he'll be up in the mid 30s even with the -8. I do like the idea of putting himself and his friends to sleep without meaning to, though.

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Eventually, if he is not careful about using it, something darker than he is may come looking for his hand, to make use of the permanent rune for itself.


I like this.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:30 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:14 pm 
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Bending things like this fall into the '+2 or greater magic drawing horrible things like flies' category. ;)

I'm mean, if someone did this in a DCC movie, we'd all be shouting 'don't do it!' at the screen. Like in the Two Towers movie when Theoden sneers "Is this all you have to conjure Saruman?"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:06 pm 
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webcatcher wrote:
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Sure, but if he spellburns 20 points (which he is completely prepared to do) he gets an automatic 20 on his casting die (although I'll still make him roll to make sure he doesn't miscast it), so he'll be up in the mid 30s even with the -8. I do like the idea of putting himself and his friends to sleep without meaning to, though.


No. Spellburning 20 points gives two options. die roll+20+level+int(+possible luck mod). OR 20 +level + INT mod (+possible Luck Mod).

What's the difference? In the first version you can get a higher result, but you can also misfire. In the second its capped, even in a perfect world the wizard wouldn't get higher than 24.

Either way I would make the effect of the spellburn significant on the caster. Home boy is going to loose more than a finger nail. Also, knowing my players the rest of the group isn't going to be willing to wait around for 20 days for the wizard to "heal up".


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:55 am 
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Ah, I missed that distinction.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:02 am 
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webcatcher wrote:
So I've just started running a DCC game (we just finished funneling and we'll have our first level 1 adventure this week) and I've already run into a bit of a balance issue. My wizard player rolled Runic Alphabet, Mortal as one of his random spells and he asked me if he could use the "permanent" option in the spell description to tattoo the runes onto himself. I thought about it and finally, applauding the Appendix N vibe of a wizard with magical tattoos all over him, agreed that was probably okay. He then stated his intention to spellburn 20 points of stats to put a DC 30+ sleep tattoo on his hand. That seems to be in line with both the letter and the spirit of the rules, and I admire his creativity, but I can't help but feel that this will cause problems (although it'll be fun when they fight the blind dragon). How would you guys handle this?


Remember that spellburn isn't a mechanic...it is a negotiation with a greater power. The table of spellburn effects is a list of suggestions. You should role play the specifics for your campaign.

In this case, I would let him attempt the spellburn. A demon answers his call, and agrees to provide supernatural assistance in exchange for his mortal offering. Ther demons asks for none other than...both his hands. The wizard must surrender them now, and they are to be replaced by demonic claws proffered from a servitor of the wizard's new benefactor. The spellburn benefit is granted, the wizard may attempt his spell casting, and the demonic claws have a mind of their own (DC 10 Will save by wizard during combat or other stressful situations to prevent his new hands from lashing out at a nearby target).

Almost all the mechanics in DCC RPG assume a degree of role playing to go with them. And that is often the check on situations like this. Keep that in mind as you explore the rules. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:54 am 
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Okay, that's the sort of cost I think could justify the reward we're talking about. And now that I properly understand the spellburn rule, he's much more likely to end up with a tattoo on his hand that prevents him from ever lying again than of putting his enemies to sleep. I think I can get behind a risk/reward scenario like that.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:02 pm 
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Spellburn of 20 points for ANY reason ought to have serious consequences. I wouldn't allow contuous rest in between adventures for more than a few days. That means he is going to be crippled for a long while.

Also, perhaps some rival magic users sense this disturbance in the ether and start hunting down this strange source of magic.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:56 pm 
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maxinstuff wrote:
Spellburn of 20 points for ANY reason ought to have serious consequences. I wouldn't allow contuous rest in between adventures for more than a few days. That means he is going to be crippled for a long while.

Also, perhaps some rival magic users sense this disturbance in the ether and start hunting down this strange source of magic.


Absolutely. Any judge/gm worth his salt will immediately spring upon this kind of opportunity to create an object lesson for a player who thinks they can pull a munchkin move like this and not put themselves at serious risk.

Have a thief break-in to the wizards "safe spot" and rob him blind while he's incapacitated. Have a group of cultists sense a disturbance in the aether because of this massive spellburn and abduct the wizard in question in his severely weakened state. Have the fabric of space and time weaken, allowing a demonic presence to cross over into the mortal world and wreak havoc on the spellburning wizard's homeplace and let the authorities somehow catch on that it's the wizard's fault.

This is a golden opportunity to create an adventure hook and demonstrate the consequences of abusing great power.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:41 am 
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allow him to do that but, you know, all that sleep must come from somewhere. it seems that amount of sleep in the world is finite so while now he can put anybody looking at his hand to sleep people all around the world, including his adventuring mates, are losing sleep. in other words, they can not fall asleep and suffer various consequences (rest, recover hit points, loose stat bonuses...). the only way to redress this dis-balance is to quest for it!

for example, find morpheus, who has been imprisoned by an undead sleepless evil wizard (sandman #1), and ask him to make more sleep in the world. along the way enemies of the king of dreams and his estranged family follow their every step.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:59 pm 
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The player may be trying to pull a fast one but (a) he did ask and (b) in my experience such matters are best resolved outside the fiction.

And IF you do it inside the fiction, remember to give him fair warning (like Joe does, for example).


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:56 am 
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catseye yellow wrote:
allow him to do that but, you know, all that sleep must come from somewhere. it seems that amount of sleep in the world is finite so while now he can put anybody looking at his hand to sleep people all around the world, including his adventuring mates, are losing sleep. in other words, they can not fall asleep and suffer various consequences (rest, recover hit points, loose stat bonuses...). the only way to redress this dis-balance is to quest for it!


I like this -- Also, I'd not discount the "mundane" effects of spellburn. You know...cutting your damn hand off in a world rife with pestilence and disease. Maybe the demon that Joe is talking about enters the wizard's wound as a disease and the demonic hand that "grows back" IS the demon. Yay! Instant possession and fun.

Or as catseye suggests -- while the wizard tries to recover, the magical energies related to sleeping and waking prevent the spellcaster from properly sleeping (and thus healing), throws him or her into a Dreamlands-kinda place, draws nightmare creatures to the permanent rune like flies, etc.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:10 pm 
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Johann wrote:
And IF you do it inside the fiction, remember to give him fair warning (like Joe does, for example).


In my universe, "Are you sure you want to do that?" or "Are you sure you've thought this through?" or even the ever-popular "Sure you can do that; what could go wrong?" are generous reminders that there might be consequences. That there might be consequences, though, is something that the players should not really need reminders of.

IMHO, anyway.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:24 pm 
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So last night we played DCC and I explained to the wizard player the dangers and costs of trying to inscribe a sleep rune onto his hand. In this case, I took goodmangames' advice and had a supernatural being demand one of the caster's hands in payment. He agreed, took his spellburn damage, and rolled just high enough on his spell check to get the rune of veracity. I ruled that having the rune on his person meant that the rune created a constant effect on the caster, so he could never lie again. He decided that if he couldn't lie, no one could, so he insists on the rune being visible when interacting with the other players. Since last night's game involved several of the players working at cross purposes, this created some interesting role-play. While not the result he wanted, my wizard player was so pleased with the result that he wants to try it again after all of his spellburn heals back to put a rune of forgetfulness on his other hand. That way people will tell him their secrets and then forget about it.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:53 pm 
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drink deeply of the cup of magic my friend... you will find the dregs the tastiest of all.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:59 am 
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webcatcher wrote:
Since last night's game involved several of the players working at cross purposes, this created some interesting role-play. While not the result he wanted, my wizard player was so pleased with the result that he wants to try it again after all of his spellburn heals back to put a rune of forgetfulness on his other hand. That way people will tell him their secrets and then forget about it.

It makes for a cool wizard concept : you can't lie to him but he can't lie to you either !


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:27 am 
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aesdana wrote:
webcatcher wrote:
Since last night's game involved several of the players working at cross purposes, this created some interesting role-play. While not the result he wanted, my wizard player was so pleased with the result that he wants to try it again after all of his spellburn heals back to put a rune of forgetfulness on his other hand. That way people will tell him their secrets and then forget about it.

It makes for a cool wizard concept : you can't lie to him but he can't lie to you either !


Capture his ass and pump him for information.
- His Training/Mentor;
- His town Defence/Forces;
- His Cult/Society Secret;
- His mom famous cookie recipe.

Even if he has the Hand of Forgetfulness done, that can be covered.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:59 am 
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Or maybe someone will want to capture "just" his hands and try to preserve them to see if they work "away" from their original owner (letting him live just in case his death would make his hands rot or lose their powers).

This someone could be anyone wishing to know secrets and making others forgetting embarrassing facts. Quite a lot of people indeed and not just power hungry nobles or wizards !

You also have 2 new cool magical items (the Hands of 'insert wizar name', the Truthful) and a quest for the poor wizard party : he may wish to recover them after all ! :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:03 am 
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aesdana wrote:
Or maybe someone will want to capture "just" his hands and try to preserve them to see if they work "away" from their original owner (letting him live just in case his death would make his hands rot or lose their powers).

This someone could be anyone wishing to know secrets and making others forgetting embarrassing facts. Quite a lot of people indeed and not just power hungry nobles or wizards !

You also have 2 new cool magical items (the Hands of 'insert wizar name', the Truthful) and a quest for the poor wizard party : he may wish to recover them after all ! :mrgreen:

Building on this, since he's already part way through the process of his magic hands... What if he now hears about an ancient set of magic hands and has access to the lore about them -- and all the unpleasantness that befell the wizard whose hands they are... Might add some drama to his decision to keep going, or make him think twice, at any rate... :twisted:

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:38 am 
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Fun thread to read :)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:59 am 
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I love this thread. Great ideas!

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:10 pm 
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Also, as part of the spellburn negotiation process, in order to emphasize that the replacement hand the wizard would get wouldn't be fully his own, I told him that the new hand wouldn't be a mortal hand. Consequently, the wizard player is planning experiments to test his new hand's susceptibility to poisons and damage and is convinced that he is solution to cryptic prophecies of the "no mortal hand can X" type (the man no mortal hand can slay, the weapon no mortal hand can wield, etc).


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:45 pm 
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webcatcher wrote:
[...] I told him that the new hand wouldn't be a mortal hand. [...]


Ooooh. I can just see it. A Demon X casually slaughter Mane in The Abyss (or Devil, Lemures, Hell) and then they Archcemon/Archdevil comes over and chop his hand off (maybe he feel nice and put in the mage hand instead...probably not.

Demon/Devil X is rightfully pissed and plot to be called to the Prime Material plane to recover his hand. He succeed in being summon -by an incompetant rube that he instantly kill- and trace his hand. once he find it. It's a Case of "Give me my hand or else!"

And even if the hand is given, fell free to give them the or else too.


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