Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

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Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Spoofer » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:09 am

Fellow DCCers,

I have a question about spellburn. According to the rules about spellburn (p.107), for every ability point expended, the wizard gains +1 to the next spell check roll. Also, "a wizard who sacrifices a full 20 points of ability scores automatically treats his next spell check as a roll of natural 20". Lastly, a spell check of 20 is a critical success and the caster receives an additional bonus to his check equal to his caster level (p. 106).

So then, is the result = die roll + int. bonus + level + level again for critical roll + number of stat points burned, or in the case of a level 2 wizard with 18 int. burning 20 points, 20 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 20 = 47? In other words, is the "20" added in once or twice?

Thanks,

Kevin

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by cthulhudarren » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:25 am

The die roll is treated as if it had been a '20'. Some folks here have said they let their players gamble and still let them roll and add the twenty. In that case if they roll a one they're still f@cked.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Eyeball360 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:14 am

I have the spellcaster roll the die to see if a 1 comes up, but ignore any other roll and use a 20. If a 1 comes up the spell fails and the spellcaster suffers a fumble. Otherwise the spell is cast at it's best possible effect for that caster (based on 20 + all normal modifiers + 2x CL). If you add the roll and a 20, that would tend to produce some extraordinary results, even for a low level character, which I don't think is very realistic.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by beermotor » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:21 am

I think it doesn't make sense, thematically and semantically, to do what y'all are saying. For example, take a level 1 Elf spellburning the hell out of a patron bond for obvious reasons.

The way y'all have suggested it goes, a guy who ROLLs a 20 and spellburns 1 point will be doing much better than a guy who spellburns 20 points and doesn't roll; likewise a guy who rolls a 10 but spellburns 18 will be doing wayyyyy better than the guy who didn't roll. Considering what spellburn really is... how does that make sense?

I also don't really agree with the RAW above... I think you should have to roll every time, no matter what. That way, there's always the chance of an abyssmal failure/corruption. I wouldn't allow my players to take a 20 without rolling. But, frankly, if you're spellburning 20 stat points, that's a major, major undertaking.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:27 am

beermotor wrote:But, frankly, if you're spellburning 20 stat points, that's a major, major undertaking.
Yup. Bad things could happen.
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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Eyeball360 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:48 am

beermotor wrote:I think it doesn't make sense, thematically and semantically, to do what y'all are saying. For example, take a level 1 Elf spellburning the hell out of a patron bond for obvious reasons.

The way y'all have suggested it goes, a guy who ROLLs a 20 and spellburns 1 point will be doing much better than a guy who spellburns 20 points and doesn't roll; likewise a guy who rolls a 10 but spellburns 18 will be doing wayyyyy better than the guy who didn't roll. Considering what spellburn really is... how does that make sense?
ahhh... I see what you're saying. You make a great point, and I don't know why, but I never thought about it this way. Seems obvious to me now.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Bilgewriggler » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:04 am

I'm pretty happy with the RAW. If you spellburn 19 points, you've got a 5% chance of blowing the spell and wasting your spellburn for no reason, but (for a level 1 caster with intelligence modifier +1) a 50% chance of getting the maximum result for a 1st level spell.

OTOH, if you spellburn 20 points, you have no chance of getting the maximum result, but a 100% chance of getting a very good result. And the closer you get to level 5, the better that very good result becomes.

It seems to me that the outcome of this is to encourage reckless behavior at low levels, where there's a substantial potential for greater payoff if you roll instead of taking the crit. Meanwhile, at high levels (5+) the auto-crit basically becomes an auto-max result, at least for first level spells, thus giving the high-level wizard a guaranteed nuclear option.
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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by beermotor » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:42 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:
beermotor wrote:But, frankly, if you're spellburning 20 stat points, that's a major, major undertaking.
Yup. Bad things could happen.
I know nothing at all about this ... !

:lol:

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by beermotor » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:44 am

Bilgewriggler wrote:I'm pretty happy with the RAW. If you spellburn 19 points, you've got a 5% chance of blowing the spell and wasting your spellburn for no reason, but (for a level 1 caster with intelligence modifier +1) a 50% chance of getting the maximum result for a 1st level spell.

OTOH, if you spellburn 20 points, you have no chance of getting the maximum result, but a 100% chance of getting a very good result. And the closer you get to level 5, the better that very good result becomes.

It seems to me that the outcome of this is to encourage reckless behavior at low levels, where there's a substantial potential for greater payoff if you roll instead of taking the crit. Meanwhile, at high levels (5+) the auto-crit basically becomes an auto-max result, at least for first level spells, thus giving the high-level wizard a guaranteed nuclear option.
I understand your position and it's a valid one. But I would take survivability into account... how likely is it that your char will actually live to be level 5? It's not a given, heh. Anyway, I don't think reckless behavior should be discouraged at any level, really... :-) But that's just me!

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:49 am

Knowing when to play it safe, and knowing when to throw caution to the wind, is the mark of a hero.

Mistaking those two times is the mark of a human being. :lol:
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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Spoofer » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:23 am

Thanks for the clarifications. So the rules as written result in a the maximum effect...

The case in question was a final big boss battle at the end of the dungeon. The wizard used his patron bond to summon a demon ally. I need to go back and look at the numbers, but I am sure that the highest spell result produces a demon ally way too powerful for the monster boss, which will essentially shut down the fight. (I can just see the thief wagering on how many rounds the bad guy boss will last against the demon.) The characters could afford to take a long rest after the battle and recover, so the 20 stat points lost is not a problem (although the wizard will be too weak to walk out on his own). It does seem a bit generous as written, doesn't it? As is, I anticipate every final battle of the dungeon to now have a similar auto crit spellburn result, and a corresponding similar anti-climatic battle.

I am thinking that I will limit auto crit spellburn in the following ways:

1. The auto crit option can only be used with a spell, item, etc. that REQUIRES spellburn in order to cast, operate, etc..
2. The phsyical act actually taken by the wizard in question involves sacrificing a body part. I need to thing about this. Perhaps a finger.
3. It automatically causes corruption.

The objective is to leave this option available to the players, but to limit it to a handful of times during the life of the wizard. It is then up to the players to choose the best times to do this act. Perhaps #2 is not needed. Opinions?

Kevin

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by beermotor » Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:11 am

Remember that it's a give-and-take. A patron expects to be repaid for his aid. Heck, the demon he sends probably expects to be paid, too. Plus, consider alignments... Lawful associates may find their Luck starting to evaporate, given that they're relying on demon-power so often. Lawful or Neutral Clerics may find themselves unable to call upon the power of their respective deities with all of the stinky demon smell around...

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Eyeball360 » Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:42 am

Spoofer wrote:Thanks for the clarifications. So the rules as written result in a the maximum effect...

The case in question was a final big boss battle at the end of the dungeon. The wizard used his patron bond to summon a demon ally. I need to go back and look at the numbers, but I am sure that the highest spell result produces a demon ally way too powerful for the monster boss, which will essentially shut down the fight. (I can just see the thief wagering on how many rounds the bad guy boss will last against the demon.) The characters could afford to take a long rest after the battle and recover, so the 20 stat points lost is not a problem (although the wizard will be too weak to walk out on his own). It does seem a bit generous as written, doesn't it? As is, I anticipate every final battle of the dungeon to now have a similar auto crit spellburn result, and a corresponding similar anti-climatic battle.

I am thinking that I will limit auto crit spellburn in the following ways:

1. The auto crit option can only be used with a spell, item, etc. that REQUIRES spellburn in order to cast, operate, etc..
2. The phsyical act actually taken by the wizard in question involves sacrificing a body part. I need to thing about this. Perhaps a finger.
3. It automatically causes corruption.

The objective is to leave this option available to the players, but to limit it to a handful of times during the life of the wizard. It is then up to the players to choose the best times to do this act. Perhaps #2 is not needed. Opinions?

Kevin
Yeah that could be a problem. Maybe using more than 10 points of spellburn also takes a turn to cast the spell, and more than 15 points takes an hour to cast it.

Or maybe the party thinks this is the last encounter, but you have another one prepared for after the Big One.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by cthulhudarren » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:19 am

Perhaps you could put some kind of cap on the amount of spellburn possible with a houserule. I'd make it level dependent.

So... if I was thinking that only at level 10 could you spellburn 20 stat points, maybe set a max spellburn of 10+level?

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by cthulhudarren » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:21 am

Eyeball360 wrote: Yeah that could be a problem. Maybe using more than 10 points of spellburn also takes a turn to cast the spell, and more than 15 points takes an hour to cast it.
This is a good point. Is there any RAW stating the amount of time required to cast when using spellburn, dependent on the amount spellburned? Sounds like houserule material. Maybe something like adding a round to the casting time for every 5 points of spellburn?

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by TheNobleDrake » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:31 am

cthulhudarren wrote:
Eyeball360 wrote: Yeah that could be a problem. Maybe using more than 10 points of spellburn also takes a turn to cast the spell, and more than 15 points takes an hour to cast it.
This is a good point. Is there any RAW stating the amount of time required to cast when using spellburn, dependent on the amount spellburned? Sounds like houserule material. Maybe something like adding a round to the casting time for every 5 points of spellburn?
I think a houserule of that sort basically negates the motive that any wizard would have for spellburning in the first place.

As it stands, it's when the chips are down and lives (or some other great cost) are on the line that the spellburn comes out to "save the day" or "even the odds."

Changing it so that any significant amount of spellburn also increases the casting time would change the dynamic so that spellburn only comes out when the mage knows for sure that he has the extra time to "waste" casting the spell more potently.

... I mean, I wouldn't want to have to wait 3 rounds - and certainly not an hour - to try an accomplish my goal, especially when most spells have goals that only matter in an immediate sense - can I kill that guy before he kills me, and the like.

And if it becomes a better option, strategically, to spend 3 rounds firing a bow at your target than casting a spell you've made a pact with a demon to empower... well... that doesn't much sound like playing a wizard to me.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by GnomeBoy » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:09 am

cthulhudarren wrote:
Eyeball360 wrote: Yeah that could be a problem. Maybe using more than 10 points of spellburn also takes a turn to cast the spell, and more than 15 points takes an hour to cast it.
This is a good point. Is there any RAW stating the amount of time required to cast when using spellburn, dependent on the amount spellburned? Sounds like houserule material. Maybe something like adding a round to the casting time for every 5 points of spellburn?
What? It takes minutes and/or up to an hour for the Wizard to stab himself in the leg? Gruesome. Extra gruesome, that is.
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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Eyeball360 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:15 am

Just keep my comments in the right context, guys. I'm only suggesting ways to counter a player who decides to start using massive spellburn in what he percieves to be the last climatic encounter of the adventure. And these are just a couple of suggestions, there's obviously several other things you could do to discourage it.

In my opinion, as judge I need to do something to discourage that kind of behaviour, because the only other alternative I can think of is to escalate the brutality of those last encounters so that this kind of massive spellburn doesn't turn it into a walk in the park every time. Screwing the party out of a few xp's isn't a big deterrrent in my opinion, and I don't want to start going the route of needing to create encounters based almost solely on the strength of the party like that other game. So if someone wants to abuse the letter of the rules, I'm going to try to come up with something that tends to herd them back on the path.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by cthulhudarren » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:25 am

Eyeball360 wrote:Just keep my comments in the right context, guys. I'm only suggesting ways to counter a player who decides to start using massive spellburn in what he percieves to be the last climatic encounter of the adventure. And these are just a couple of suggestions, there's obviously several other things you could do to discourage it.

In my opinion, as judge I need to do something to discourage that kind of behaviour, because the only other alternative I can think of is to escalate the brutality of those last encounters so that this kind of massive spellburn doesn't turn it into a walk in the park every time. Screwing the party out of a few xp's isn't a big deterrrent in my opinion, and I don't want to start going the route of needing to create encounters based almost solely on the strength of the party like that other game. So if someone wants to abuse the letter of the rules, I'm going to try to come up with something that tends to herd them back on the path.
I am interested in this also as I KNOW that my players, as power-gamers, would do the same thing. I don't think making spell-casting using spellburn into full round actions, or requiring multiple rounds is not out of order. How easy or quick would it be for you to cut off your own finger/toe for example? I think it would take a while to even get the courage up to do it.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:49 am

Eyeball360 wrote:Just keep my comments in the right context, guys. I'm only suggesting ways to counter a player who decides to start using massive spellburn in what he percieves to be the last climatic encounter of the adventure. And these are just a couple of suggestions, there's obviously several other things you could do to discourage it.

In my opinion, as judge I need to do something to discourage that kind of behaviour, because the only other alternative I can think of is to escalate the brutality of those last encounters so that this kind of massive spellburn doesn't turn it into a walk in the park every time. Screwing the party out of a few xp's isn't a big deterrrent in my opinion, and I don't want to start going the route of needing to create encounters based almost solely on the strength of the party like that other game. So if someone wants to abuse the letter of the rules, I'm going to try to come up with something that tends to herd them back on the path.
Look to the rulebook for a moment, because I think that this is handled. When a monster dies, it need not simply die. A monster's death may easily unleash another horror -- look to the modules for examples of this -- and some of those horrors might well be an encounter after the climactic encounter, i.e., something to deal with after that massive spellburn.

In several Appendix N stories, the death of the "big bad" results in the need to flee a landscape that is now coming apart. The much-spellburned wizard or elf may have great difficulties dealing with that. Only if what seems to be the climactic encounter is almost always the climactic encounter, and only if there is almost always time to recover between adventures, is massive spellburn a sure thing. Make it a gamble, and players will think twice. So long as it is a gamble, it feels great when it pays off, but there is a dread of when it does not.....you should not pull punches, either.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by cthulhudarren » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:37 pm

Raven_Crowking wrote:
Eyeball360 wrote:Just keep my comments in the right context, guys. I'm only suggesting ways to counter a player who decides to start using massive spellburn in what he percieves to be the last climatic encounter of the adventure. And these are just a couple of suggestions, there's obviously several other things you could do to discourage it.

In my opinion, as judge I need to do something to discourage that kind of behaviour, because the only other alternative I can think of is to escalate the brutality of those last encounters so that this kind of massive spellburn doesn't turn it into a walk in the park every time. Screwing the party out of a few xp's isn't a big deterrrent in my opinion, and I don't want to start going the route of needing to create encounters based almost solely on the strength of the party like that other game. So if someone wants to abuse the letter of the rules, I'm going to try to come up with something that tends to herd them back on the path.
Look to the rulebook for a moment, because I think that this is handled. When a monster dies, it need not simply die. A monster's death may easily unleash another horror -- look to the modules for examples of this -- and some of those horrors might well be an encounter after the climactic encounter, i.e., something to deal with after that massive spellburn.

In several Appendix N stories, the death of the "big bad" results in the need to flee a landscape that is now coming apart. The much-spellburned wizard or elf may have great difficulties dealing with that. Only if what seems to be the climactic encounter is almost always the climactic encounter, and only if there is almost always time to recover between adventures, is massive spellburn a sure thing. Make it a gamble, and players will think twice. So long as it is a gamble, it feels great when it pays off, but there is a dread of when it does not.....you should not pull punches, either.
Ravencrowking, with his big brain, saves the day again! and without spellburn.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by TheNobleDrake » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:45 pm

If what you are truly worried about is a player "getting away" with massive spellburn used to trump the big-bad-end-of-adventure type stuff... just stop letting the player know when the end of the adventure is, and then stop letting the spellburning wizard who needs a month to recover actually get the entire month - the world doesn't stop and wait for him, and the rest of the party probably has stuff they need to do... so leave that character sitting out unless he is willing to come along in his current condition, either way the player feels the consequence of his choices and that's the whole point.

Spellburn is a two-edged blade by design, all you have to do to encourage people to use it wisely is to let them use it and then not put on the kid gloves and let them off the hook on consequences because they waited till the "end" of the adventure.

tl;dr version - the only "end of the adventure" encounter is the one where the adventurer dies and doesn't come back.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Colin » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:24 pm

Yeah, this worry about spellburn comes up all the time. Folks worried about wizards "getting away" with spellburn should read THIS THREAD.

Also, as others have noted: the "adventure" may be finished, but the characters' lives still continue, and a heavily burnt-out wizbang can become the focus of an adventure that follows right after the one you've just done. Events don't have a habit of simply waiting until someone is at their optimum in real life, so there's no reason they need do so in-game either. That metagame conceit of how everyone always has time to rest/heal/get back to civilization, etc. between every adventure? Stab it in the eye, and while it reels in pain, kick it off the edge of the cliff!

So, the Big Bad is dead, the wizard is an invalid, and the PCs are hauling their hard-won gains back towards home. HELLO BANDITS! Damn, shame the wizbang is messed up.

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by cthulhudarren » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:48 am

I'd also note that I would prefer some limit to spellburn via things like this:
(nicked from that linked thread)
1 point: cut on your forearm
2 points: notch on your cheek
4 points: pry all hair from head
5 points: cut off a finger
10 points: cut off a hand
20 points: cut off a leg



What characters will be willing to cut off a limb for 20 points of spellburn?

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Re: Question about Automatic Critical via Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:12 am

cthulhudarren wrote:Ravencrowking, with his big brain, saves the day again! and without spellburn.
:lol:

I just pointed out what was already there. You can blame Joseph Goodman's big brain!

:lol:
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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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