Let's Talk About Spellburn

For DCC RPG rules discussion. Includes rules questions and ideas, new rules suggestions, homebrews and hacks, conversions to other systems, and everything else rules-related.

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Father Goose
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Father Goose »

I never suggested you were not smart enough. I suggested that you missed the best part of the game.
The more you try to guard against rules exploitation, the more rules you need. The more rules you have, the more opportunities for exploitation.
The beautiful part of DCC and other OSR games is that they don't try to account for every possible approach.
Also, if you had your way and managed to have the published rules written to your satisfaction, I am certain there would be someone else who could write just as many pages on why that rule is bad. In other words, the rules cannot ever please everyone. So the solution is to not try. Instead, create a framework that others can understand, then let them adapt that framework to their needs.
DCC does that. It provides a framework. It encourages judges to make rulings. It is fun.
That is not bad design. That is a refreshing design after decades of playing bloated systems that had too many rules to track.
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by CapnZapp »

The flaw in this logic is, you're not questioning the rule in the first place.

Your argument boils down to the strawman that is "so you want a super complex game?" But I never said that, and you quickly skip past your assumption, that I am unable to see the consequences you yourself present.

What your argumentation amounts to is: "There are no alternatives between the original rule, or a massive bloated ruleset."

This is patently false.

I was never interested in hedging the spellburn rule with lots of conditions and requirements. I wanted the spellburn rule to already from the start not be patently abusable.

DCC is good, but it could have been even better if designed by people who already from the start went "hey, waitta minute, maybe let's not allow wizards to recuperate what they need to spend in order to gain a massive Spell Check bonus in just a few weeks of downtime, since that pretty much trivializes every spell we provide that isn't strictly combat related".

That is all.

It is not an unreasonable ask. That you are more than a little bothered by me bringing up the subject is evident, but I would really like you to think this through one extra time before you lash out with another reflexive defense. Many people can't handle it when their favorite game is criticized, even when they have a solid point. Hopefully you aren't among them.

Thank you.
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

CapnZapp wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 7:28 am The flaw in this logic is, you're not questioning the rule in the first place.
That isn't a flaw in logic.

If you think that the Spellburn rules in the book are patently abusable, I have to ask whether or not you are using the spellburn table in the book? I don't, because spellburn at my table is already a risky proposition - there is no guarantee of "a few weeks of downtime". But the book does directly address your concern.

I don't think people are bothered because you bring up the subject. They may be bothered because you dismiss their responses as "lash[ing] out with another reflexive defense." Believing that you "have a solid point" doesn't make it so.

If you can safely assume "a few weeks of downtime", then you have a reasonable point...but it is one addressed in the book by a spellburn table. And saying you cannot assume safe rest is not the same thing as saying the villain has a magic item to undo your special ability.

DCC, throughout the ruleset, entices players to gamble. How many point of Luck will the thief risk? How much spellburn will the wizard use? How much disapproval dare the cleric acquire? How long before the warrior avoid being hit with a critical? The bad thing doesn't have to happen, but that the bad thing can happen is important. You can fumble. You can miscast, gain patron taint, or gain corruption. You might have to roll the Lucky halfling over after he has helped you with his Luck. You might not be through with the adventure after you burnt yourself to the ground.

This is a real, and important, part of the game. It runs throughout the entire work.

It is also built into many of the adventures, both official Goodman Games ones and third party. You have the climactic encounter and then....and then maybe you have to win another battle or two. Or escape a collapsing adventure location. Make some Reflex saves. Things that the now-weakened wizard may find difficult to do.

It doesn't have to happen every adventure; that the bad thing can happen is important. Once your players grasp that, they have a built-in reason for caution.
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by CapnZapp »

We are in complete agreement that the current costs of spellburn are sufficient while you are still adventuring.

In other words, most of your post is spent on talking about "You have the climactic encounter and then....and then maybe you have to win another battle or two" - but that is equivalent to kicking at an open door...! I have already said I am fully onboard with the "uptime" costs of spellburn.

It is the downtime costs I need to discuss. You say the "the book does directly address your concern" - referring to table 5-1 Spellburn Actions on page 109, I presume.

The immediate problem with this is that as I understand the rules, that table is intended to illustrate the spellburn costs, not replace or augment that cost. That is, the mechanical effect of rolling on that table remains losing your ability points, not that the caster is supposed to gain permanent disabilities. For example, I would interpret the first result, that you must carve punds of flesh from your body, as losing 5 strength and 7 agility or whatever you just spellburned, not that you spend ten minutes in intense agony, and lose your ability to do pretty much anything, or however you envision the practical means of actually cutting out significant amounts of your own flesh.

If you agree to this, this does nothing to make the downtime costs greater.

If you don't, however, we have an even greater problem.

First off, the table is clearly not written with playability in mind. Many results are downright disabling, to a much MUCH greater degree than the official "lose ability point" rules.

Secondly, if I required this table I would come across as merely vindictive or outright sadistic.

That table just IS NOT the solution, pretty much regardless of the problem.

With respect, don't say "the game takes care of your issue" in the same breath you also say "I don't use the table"! That just avoids the entire issue. Claiming the solution is to use an overly hard (outright unplayable if you ask me) table that you yourself don't use is just not even close to an acceptable suggestion.

And even IF the table was playable, it would most likely only be so for downtime spellburn. For "uptime" (in-adventure) spellburn it basically says "never spellburn unless your life depends on it".

So, with respect: No, the game definitely does not address my concern, at least not to any reasonable degree.

In fact, I would never have brought up the issue, and insisted it was a problem, if there was an easy solution. The reason I keep having this discussion is because there just is nothing in the rules that help us out with downtime spellburn, and that the ruleset would have been appreciably better if it actually did provide a playable solution.

In other words, I'm not here to ask for quick fixes. I am here to try to instill a realization into all of you that the game needs to improve here.
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Raven_Crowking
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

CapnZapp wrote: Wed May 25, 2022 2:51 amFirst off, the table is clearly not written with playability in mind. Many results are downright disabling, to a much MUCH greater degree than the official "lose ability point" rules.
So, in one case you find the porridge too hot, and in another too cold. The point is not that the porridge is just right for you; the point is that the rules as written do indeed address the porridge being too hot.
In other words, I'm not here to ask for quick fixes. I am here to try to instill a realization into all of you that the game needs to improve here.
Again, only because the porridge is the wrong temperature for you. You can't instill a realization that the porridge is the wrong temperature for people who find it just right.

I have to note that you are dividing downtime and adventuring time. If you have someone spellburning 20 points (the max allowed), and then assuming that nothing will happen for the next 20 days, I can see where that might be a problem for you. I have to wonder why you would do that, though. If you consider a spell like patron bond, it is even built into the spell that there might be quests required as part of the casting - you have no certainty that you get to heal up.

Look at the Conan stories for inspiration; sometimes things just happen, and he has to react. The PCs don't always get to choose how long they can rest between adventures. Sometimes, situations just arise. This could be something directed at them, something that pulls them in, or just an opportunity that will be lost if they wait.

The flip side of that is, of course, that a max casting of patron bond or find familiar isn't going to make the game less fun.
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by CapnZapp »

I'm not sure you're really listening.

Asking the GM to kick start the next adventure tomorrow *once* is fine.

But as a deterrence against spellburn it really is a poor poor solution. Campaigns become better if the rules doesn't make you feel forced into hurrying things along. As I said, it feels vindictive and punishing if I do it. And it feels wasteful for the players if they're too scared to spellburn, and yet, nothing happens. I want a ruleset that lets me say "One year passes. As you sit around the table, a stranger in a pointy hat enters the tavern..." without the caster players immediately going "a full year? Then I have a maxxed-out Familiar, Patron Bond, Mending, Sleep, Invisible Companion, ..." [I can't be bothered to list every permanent or near-permanent spell here].

Most of these spell effects, to me, are NOT meant to be attainable already at low level, for negligible cost.

You reducing the issue to porridge is just not arguing in good faith. Either you are or you are not arguing the Spellburn Actions table 5-1 is just fine and playable. So which is it - please state your position explicitly - and if you truly suggest it should be default, how come you yourself doesn't use it?

So, Raven, why do you refuse to raise your horizon? By that I mean; as soon as you envision OTHER solutions, you should see that the entire row about the existing ones is utterly pointless, since they're really not well suited and that the game truly deserves better ones. But no, you react just like the game is the Holy Writ, where no alternatives can ever be discussed and the existing text is always perfectly fine, and anyone discontent should simply go away and houserule :(
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

CapnZapp wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 5:56 am You reducing the issue to porridge is just not arguing in good faith. Either you are or you are not arguing the Spellburn Actions table 5-1 is just fine and playable. So which is it - please state your position explicitly - and if you truly suggest it should be default, how come you yourself doesn't use it?
It is perfectly good faith, and I think that you are projecting here.

Spellburn Actions table 5-1 is just fine and playable for its intended purpose, which isto counteract abuse. I don't use it because (1) I don't have that problem, and (2) it is pretty harsh if you don't have that problem.
So, Raven, why do you refuse to raise your horizon?
Look, there are two possibilities her:

(1) This is a real problem for the general user, or
(2) It is not.

Neither case makes the game "Holy Writ" or demands that "no alternatives can ever be discussed". In fact anyone suggesting house rulings is de facto suggesting that the existing text is NOT always perfectly fine FOR EVERYONE, and that alternatives CAN AND SHOULD be discussed/exist.

But you are incredibly dismissive of anyone telling you that this isn't a general problem. YOU having a problem does not make a problem general. Hence the porridge analogy. Which doesn't mean you are alone, either. It just means that others do not have this problem, and they can tell you why they do not if you listen. You do not need to interrupt every downtime; you just need to make the players certain that it is a possibility. Again, that is the gambling aspect I mentioned earlier.

I am not sure what specifically is being cast during downtime at your table, or why it is a problem. Perhaps you could enlighten up poor low-horizon folks?
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by CapnZapp »

Raven_Crowking wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 6:29 amI am not sure what specifically is being cast during downtime at your table, or why it is a problem. Perhaps you could enlighten up poor low-horizon folks?
I don't want to quarrel.

But neither do I want to talk to someone who doesn't even try to understand your problem. (Hint: any decent gamer will hold off casting a permanent or near permanent spell until they're reasonably sure they have a couple of weeks of downtime ahead of them, thus trivializing everything about spellburn, and "solving" this by ambushing them with a new adventure just days after the old one is a piss-poor solution)

Since you are clearly not interested in either conceding that the rules might be less than stellar, nor how to proceed in a constructive manner, I think I'm better off waiting for someone who is, to join the thread.
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Father Goose »

This will be the last time I engage with you, CapnZapp, on this or any other "rules are broken" topic. It's not that I lack an understanding or an ability to offer insight, but rather I have seen it demonstrated that you will dismiss anything that doesn't fit your predetermined answer.
I am now convinced that you are either a well-intentioned but misguided fan who tilts at windmills in an attempt to be helpful, or you are a troll who delights in engaging in no-win arguments.
If the former, I will never convince you that the monster you see isn't real. If the latter, I have no interest in feeding you.
In parting I will offer this last point related to the thread topic:
I have not once encountered, not as a Judge, not as a player, anyone attempting to abuse this game the way you fear. I also reject the idea that "any decent gamer" would metagame the system so severely as you believe they would/should. A munchkin certainly would, but a decent gamer will embrace the game for what it is, rather than exploiting it.
I won't disrespect the Judge or the game like that when I play, and I won't tolerate it in players when I am Judge.
The rules bend to me, not the other way around, so if ever I encountered a situation like you suggest, I will make a ruling at the table to maintain the fun. As any decent Judge would.
I sincerely hope you find a game you can fully embrace one day. Perhaps you should try writing your own. Then when someone inevitably comes along to challenge it, you can tell them how wrong they are.
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

CapnZapp wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 6:52 am
Raven_Crowking wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 6:29 amI am not sure what specifically is being cast during downtime at your table, or why it is a problem. Perhaps you could enlighten up poor low-horizon folks?
I don't want to quarrel.

But neither do I want to talk to someone who doesn't even try to understand your problem. (Hint: any decent gamer will hold off casting a permanent or near permanent spell until they're reasonably sure they have a couple of weeks of downtime ahead of them, thus trivializing everything about spellburn, and "solving" this by ambushing them with a new adventure just days after the old one is a piss-poor solution)
I tend to think that I have played with decent gamers all these years.
Since you are clearly not interested in either conceding that the rules might be less than stellar, nor how to proceed in a constructive manner, I think I'm better off waiting for someone who is, to join the thread.
And, again, "anyone suggesting house rulings is de facto suggesting that the existing text is NOT always perfectly fine FOR EVERYONE, and that alternatives CAN AND SHOULD be discussed/exist."

Please provide one single concrete example of where this problem occurred for you. Then I - or your future someone - will have something specific to actually respond to.
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by CapnZapp »

Raven_Crowking wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 10:36 am Please provide one single concrete example of where this problem occurred for you. Then I - or your future someone - will have something specific to actually respond to.
First off, we are both experienced roleplayers. When I say there are problems, you can be assured there are. And just like you afford me the courtesy of not questioning my basic premise, I afford you the courtesy of assuming you're perfectly able to conjure up examples on your own.

As I said, pretty much every permanent or near-permanent spell is - by a reasonably minmaxing player - preferably cast during downtime. Burn seven points of all three physical stats, and just one week later, you will have gained a +21 bonus to your roll for next to zero risk or drawback.

But since you asked for it, here's one example (it's actually just the latest one): Invisible Companion.

Why you'd ever cast this spell "on the fly", and more to the point, how the designers ever envisioned it being cast down the dungeon, I'll never understand.

It takes a full turn to cast, and the results (assuming a not-high caster and no spellburn) are decidedly mediocre.

At least compared to the obvious alternative - cast it at home between adventures, and unless you roll a 1 on your Spell Check, you're pretty much ensured the 34+ result no matter the circumstances.

At 3rd level (when you first are able to cast level 2 spells) this companion is so much better than you and your party, there is zero reason for the party fighter to ever go first again, there is zero reason for the party thief to ever climb anything or try to hide and sneak, and so on.

It is very hard for me to draw any other conclusion than this: nobody in the design team ever even thought about this loophole, and just assumed 34+ results are only achieved by high-level characters, where the maxxed-out invisible companion is playable - at level 9 perhaps it no longer outshines the party members, and against level 9 monsters it properly struggles to bodyguard its wizard master.

Why? Maybe they used the same reasoning as you did - "while I myself find the Spellburn table unplayably harsh, it serves its purpose of shutting down any criticism spellburn is too cheap outside the dungeon, so we don't have to actually fix a glaring flaw in the system".

Sure I can fix this, but it should be blindingly obvious I shouldn't have to. Nobody is served by the game being set up like this. At best, gamers simply ignore the loophole... but you're not asking the right question: why even have the loophole at all?

Imagine a nth printing of the game where the cost of spellburn is such that it has an impact both down the dungeon and out of it. If you say you're not bothered by the current rule, you're not bothered by this hypothetical version of the game either.

Only if you were to say you actively like how caster scan abuse spellburn during downtime can we argue the current version has value. And I am certain exceedingly few gamers will ever do that!

So in summary: the game would be strictly better off fixing this issue. Thank you.
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by thogard »

Here's a workaround that I think will be good for everyone. CapnZapp, take a Sharpie and cross out all the lines in the rulebook you don't like. Everyone else, play the game as you prefer to play it. Winning.
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

CapnZapp wrote: Fri May 27, 2022 11:40 pmFirst off, we are both experienced roleplayers. When I say there are problems, you can be assured there are.
I am 100% assured that, when you say you have a problem, you are experiencing a problem. What I am not assured is that this is a general problem. When you give an example, though, we can actually look at it and see what it is. So, kudos for that.
As I said, pretty much every permanent or near-permanent spell is - by a reasonably minmaxing player - preferably cast during downtime. Burn seven points of all three physical stats, and just one week later, you will have gained a +21 bonus to your roll for next to zero risk or drawback.
Per RAW, the max spellburn is 20, so you cannot burn 7 points from 3 stats.
But since you asked for it, here's one example (it's actually just the latest one): Invisible Companion.

Why you'd ever cast this spell "on the fly", and more to the point, how the designers ever envisioned it being cast down the dungeon, I'll never understand.

It takes a full turn to cast, and the results (assuming a not-high caster and no spellburn) are decidedly mediocre.
I have seen it cast "on the fly" down in the dungeon, specifically while running Silent Nightfall, which has its own wrinkles for that decision. But the PCs cast it because they were trying to figure out how to move a massive spherical stone out of a shaft....a problem I have seen solved, but more often is not. Even so, I would think that the casting time makes it likely that the designers expected it to be cast most often when not in the dungeon (although not necessarily when you know you have 20 days to recover).
At least compared to the obvious alternative - cast it at home between adventures, and unless you roll a 1 on your Spell Check, you're pretty much ensured the 34+ result no matter the circumstances.
With 20 points of spellburn, you can treat the check as a nat 20, which would give a 3rd level character with a +2 bonus to Int a total roll of 30, unless you read that differently than I do. Otherwise, you are rolling with a +25 bonus, meaning that you need a 9+ on the die to reach 34. If you roll a natural "1" one of those points of spellburn is permanent and, sooner or later, you will no longer be able to spellburn 20 points. Each time you are dropped to 0 hp, you also permanently lose a point from your physical stats, and will eventually be unable to spellburn 20 points.
At 3rd level (when you first are able to cast level 2 spells) this companion is so much better than you and your party, there is zero reason for the party fighter to ever go first again, there is zero reason for the party thief to ever climb anything or try to hide and sneak, and so on.
Let's take a look at the text for 34+:

The caster reaches out into the infinite cosmos to call forth the invisible servant most useful to his purposes. This companion appears and pledges permanent service until it is dismissed, killed, or dies of old age (in 2d20+60 years). The companion moves at 150’ and can fly. It is not man-shaped, and although its exact form is difficult to discern, it makes its capabilities known at the time most useful to the caster. As long as the companion is present, the caster can make a Luck check once per week in a dire situation, and on a success it is revealed that the invisible companion has some heretofore unknown ability that is helpful in that situation (judge’s discretion). For example, the companion may be able to pick locks, or create fresh water, or heal wounds. The companion is considered to have ability scores of 22 and can carry as much weight as a large draft horse. It can communicate simple information verbally in the Common tongue. There is a 75% chance that it has some knowledge that is useful to the caster (whether from prior tasks or something from its native plane), provided he asks the right questions. It has AC 23, 11d8 hp, and all attacks against it have a 50% chance of missing due to its invisibility. It can wield weapons at a +9 attack bonus, and its attacks are considered magical.

That is certainly tough, but it is also in keeping with Appendix N literature. It is an open question whether or not the IC can be healed by the cleric, or heals over time away from its native plane, but let's assume that both cases are true. There is no Hit Die listed, which is problematically if the IC can get Critical Hits, but that is not the crux of your issue (as I understand it).

Special capabilities only come up once per week, and are subject to a Luck check, but I would also strongly assume that once an ability is present, it remains present. The judge has discretion as to what those abilities are. The IC is a formidable opponent, and follows instructions given by the wizard it serves.
It is very hard for me to draw any other conclusion than this: nobody in the design team ever even thought about this loophole, and just assumed 34+ results are only achieved by high-level characters, where the maxxed-out invisible companion is playable - at level 9 perhaps it no longer outshines the party members, and against level 9 monsters it properly struggles to bodyguard its wizard master.
I draw the opposite conclusion. This is a game where casting a spell can cause 100 years of winter, or everyone in a kingdom to fall into slumber for decades. The potential exists for a 1st level caster to cast magic missile and do 154 points of damage (or more, if we want to talk about loopholes). The IC only follows orders, and the wizard does not see through its eyes. It only makes a single attack, and that attack only does weapon damage. It is certainly hard to hit and to kill, but it does not gain Mighty Deeds, and it does not cast spells. Although invisible itself, it does not render the party invisible. Nor does it backstab.
there is zero reason for the party fighter to ever go first again
Apart from the warrior not having to follow orders, and being able to judge situations for herself as they arise, you may be right. Because the IC follows the orders given, and those might not be worded as well as the wizard wishes. Apart from the fact that the IC is not both going first and guarding the wizard, and that not all attacks come from the front. Apart from the fact that there may be more than one opponent. Apart from the fact that the warrior may have ideas of her own as to how to proceed. Sure. So long as the wizard is close enough to the front to give orders to the IC without giving their position away.
there is zero reason for the party thief to ever climb anything or try to hide and sneak, and so on.
So long as the thief never wants to get in position for a backstab, the thief never has reason to want to go somewhere himself, and the party never splits, sure. So long as the PCs are never attacked by numerous foes the thief wants to hide from, sure. But I have to say that my experience from actual play differs considerably from your assumptions.

It seems to me that you are concerned that the spell result, due to spellburn, is OP. Someone once wrote

"I wouldn't say any spell is OP - rather the opposite, that a lot of spells can be OP.

The point? Since DCC is a game where many things can become OP, stop worrying about things that are OP! :) "

and I would suggest that the same applies here.
Why? Maybe they used the same reasoning as you did - "while I myself find the Spellburn table unplayably harsh, it serves its purpose of shutting down any criticism spellburn is too cheap outside the dungeon, so we don't have to actually fix a glaring flaw in the system".
That is a beautiful straw man, but it highlights that you either did not read, or did not understand, what I wrote.

This game has gone through a lot of playtesting. You say
Nobody is served by the game being set up like this.
but I, along with others, have been telling you that they are served by the game being set up like this. I actively like that a caster can use (not abuse, despite your trying to conflate the two) spellburn during downtime. It is a feature, not a bug.
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

I would also like to point out that your entire premise is predicated on the PCs being able to assume that the campaign world is simply going to pause while they rest and recover. Nothing important is going to happen for the next 20 days.

To use an AD&D example, the Ghost Tower of Inverness might appear during that time, and, if the PCs are going to explore it they must go now or wait another century. This doesn't have to be a magical timed event that the PCs could predict. A ship has foundered on the rocks, and it the PCs want to get any of the cargo from it, they need to act swiftly. Maybe the wizard doesn't go as a result; the wizard then takes an XP hit.

For that matter, if the PC wizard has any rivals, perhaps they are actively waiting for the wizard to spellburn herself into a weakened state. Maybe the adventure is having to deal with their assaults as a result.

Maybe they are invited to the Summer Palace in recognition of their bravery, and have to deal with bandits (or something else) along the way.

The point is that the world should not stop just because the PCs do. There should be costs associated with spending 20 days recovering - at a bare minimum the cost of room and board - and likely the cost of missed opportunities. RPGs are about making interesting choices; spending that 20 days should be a choice the players make, and it should be an interesting one.

And, again, that doesn't mean that something has to happen every time they rest. Once in a while, though, it should, so that the players understand that there are potential consequences to their choices. 1e AD&D Oriental Adventures had tables for generating weekly, monthly, and annual events. Events that occur whether the PCs get involved or not are a good thing. When the players understand that the world does not revolve around their characters - that NPCs have lives of their own, and that things continue to move without them - the game is better.
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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Raven_Crowking
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

Since we are now talking about "in town" spellchecks, this post might not be relevant, but in terms of adventure design, I think this is:
Consider an Agility check of DC 1. Characters without a penalty do not even need to roll, as they cannot fail. Those burdened by armor, or with low Agility scores (as a result of Spellburn, perhaps?) do need to roll. The chance of failure might be slim (max 15% if just due to low Agility), but the effects could be dire.

And what if this was a check that was required on the way into an encounter where a PC Spellburns the hell out of her Wizard or Elf? What was inconsequential before may well become consequential. Conversely, these minor difficulties reaching an encounter area may limit how much Spellburn the player is willing to accrue.

It has been claimed that "the encounter" is the unit of play for role-playing games, but hopefully this example shows how encounters bleed into each other. A DC 5 Strength check, a DC 2 Agility check, and a DC 4 Stamina check leading to the dragon's lair might seem insignificant, but these things are not really four separate encounters. They are part of an organic whole...in this case, a whole that greatly hampers armor-wearers and Spellburners (if they have to leave via the same route).
Similarly to how, in that post, a DC 5 save is made significant by what happens if it is failed, the risk of massive spellburn is made significant by what may happen while you recover. No one ever has to fail the save for it to have meaning. Nothing ever has to happen while you recover, so long as it is clear that something may - for example, if it is determined by a preset calendar of events ala Oriental Adventures or it it is the result of a publicly made die roll.

To be clear, I am suggesting that there is no "unit of play" until the last die is cast. Encounters can bleed into other encounters. The orcs in one area can hear you fighting next door and reinforce their kin. Adventures can bleed into each other. Enemies you made one day can wait for you to be weaker the next. Intelligent foes - and that is anyone whose power you threaten - can and will learn about your standard procedures and precautions, and will attempt to exploit them when they do. Downtime occurs, but there is no guarantee that it will. The decisions that you make - risk vs. reward - are interesting because you cannot know what else you might face once that decision is made.
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by CapnZapp »

Raven_Crowking wrote: Sun May 29, 2022 6:38 am To be clear, I am suggesting that there is no "unit of play" until the last die is cast. Encounters can bleed into other encounters. The orcs in one area can hear you fighting next door and reinforce their kin. Adventures can bleed into each other.
Of course, but my point is that the spellburn costs pretty much REQUIRE you to start each adventure right after another, or spells with (semi)-permanent effects will be cast for free.

What I am saying is that the advice "sometimes have one adventure lead right into the next one" is a very fair and very reasonable piece of advice.

But it does NOTHING to explain or justify or excuse the spellburn costs. Why?

Because to do so, the very reasonable suggestion "sometimes mix it up" needs to change to the much more draconian "you should NEVER let the heroes feel safe, there should ALWAYS be the risk of a new monster around the corner, and no tavern should ever be a safe haven". Your reasonable suggestion needs to carry the undertone of "a good GM always makes sure there is a good chance of punishing the player who dares to spellburn when the coast looks clear."

THAT'S what I'm identifying here. That kind of antagonizing move by the GM makes me feel like a dick. I would MUCH rather have a set of game rules that clearly tells the player what the costs are, than having a set of game rules that pretends there are no costs whatsoever, only to rely on having the GM springing a trap on the character sufficiently often that the players learn never to use the rules as written.

Spellburn is perfectly adequate for the play style where you simply go from one dungeon to the next without thinking too hard about what the heroes life between heroism looks like. But spellburn ALSO pretty much rules out campaign play where time (months or even years) pass by uneventfully.

But all of this STILL doesn't get to the real issue here. It would be sooo easy for you to drop the stubborn defense of the current spellburn costs and instead let us move over to the next and much more constructive phase where we agree the DCC game would be much better off with spellburn costs that take both "uptime" and downtime costs into account, and start workshopping such alternatives.

Because I am sure you all agree we can envision a printing of DCC where spellburn costs aren't trivialized by a week or three of relaxation.

But no, that's not gonna happen, there's nothing wrong or insufficient with spellburn and let's just sweep the whole issue under the rug. The end. :(
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by CapnZapp »

Raven_Crowking wrote: Sat May 28, 2022 10:42 amI actively like that a caster can use spellburn during downtime.
That's easy to say, and looking from above it is very easy to agree.

It's only if you're forced into specifics - which is what I'm trying to do here - it becomes awkward or painful to maintain that lofty stance.

A high-level character summoning a 34+ invisible companion? Absolutely, no problem there.

But there several spells with near-permanent results. That are incredibly unbalancing if every wizard that lucks out and gets those spells are pretty much ensured to gain those benefits no matter his level. Why would you ever try to achieve those results while in a dangerous environment? The game simply assumes this to be the case, but any game worth his or her salt will instead try to cast them during the most secure of times.

Sure, you can have invisible towers pop up all the time to put your thumb into the eye of the player who tried to use the rules rationally, but that is to me a dick move and not a solution.

A solution would be to have costs that up front tell the player what the consequences are.

A solution would be for spellburn to have consequences that last more than a week or so. Ideally, decouple the consequences from the passage of time entirely, because while one adventure (a hectic dungeon bash, for instance) will take place on the order of turns and be over in two days, tops, another adventure might involve months of travel, research or something.

While "you're weakened for four days" is a reasonable cost for one adventure, it simply isn't for another.
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Re: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

CapnZapp wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 2:14 am
Raven_Crowking wrote: Sun May 29, 2022 6:38 am To be clear, I am suggesting that there is no "unit of play" until the last die is cast. Encounters can bleed into other encounters. The orcs in one area can hear you fighting next door and reinforce their kin. Adventures can bleed into each other.
Of course, but my point is that the spellburn costs pretty much REQUIRE you to start each adventure right after another, or spells with (semi)-permanent effects will be cast for free.
Which I refuted with many, many words that apparently had no impact.

It is like running a red light. Free if you don't get caught, but never able to be certain you will not. It doesn't require a cop at ever red light to act as a deterrent for most people.

The player is faced with an interesting choice: Here is a great reward, but here is the risk. What do you do?

To you, that may not excuse, justify, or explain how spellburn works, but I assure you that it explains a system that needs no excuse to quite a few people.

And I spent quite a few words on why this does not mean ""you should NEVER let the heroes feel safe, there should ALWAYS be the risk of a new monster around the corner, and no tavern should ever be a safe haven". I even went through your example and looked at the text in terms of actual play. I even quoted your own words at you.
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by Raven_Crowking »

CapnZapp wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 2:25 am
Raven_Crowking wrote: Sat May 28, 2022 10:42 amI actively like that a caster can use spellburn during downtime.
That's easy to say, and looking from above it is very easy to agree.

It's only if you're forced into specifics - which is what I'm trying to do here - it becomes awkward or painful to maintain that lofty stance.
Dude, getting you to talk specifics was like pulling teeth.

And then, when you provided specifics, I was able to show that the things you fear are just not a product of the text. You also, apparently, failed to note that the max spellburn was 20, and overestimated the odds of a maximum result. You haven't, apparently, read any of my posts here with any sort of comprehension. I read your posts elsewhere. I know you are a smart guy. If you really can't respond without ignoring the post you are responding to, or strawmanning what it says, that has to be a choice.

You can solve the porridge temperature issue however you like. Or you can create a solution in search of a problem, imagining that DCC isn't producing game play we actively like.
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: Let's Talk About Spellburn

Post by herecomethejudge »

CapnZapp wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 2:14 am Of course, but my point is that the spellburn costs pretty much REQUIRE you to start each adventure right after another, or spells with (semi)-permanent effects will be cast for free.
This has been a hugely painful thread to read, so maybe next time, just don't do this, but to me, the bottom line is:

If you can't make the DCC RPG rules work for you as a Judge, then you suck at Judging.
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