Saturday, December 22, 2012

Avatar

Up to 7th level cleric spells in my rewrite, I started with Astral Spell, and in short order realized what a lot of bunk it is.  I had already written the Plane Shift (5th level) so that you were able to travel to other planes of existence by shifting there.  How would it be better to actually have to travel there, silver thread and all?

Seemed pretty crappy for a 7th level spell.  So I wrote this one to replace it:

Spell Description
Range: self. Duration: see below. Area of Effect: self. Casting Time: 3 rounds. Saving Throw: none.

Creates an alternative, incorporeal body of the cleric which can be projected anywhere upon the prime material, astral or outer planes. Where ever this may be, through the avatar the cleric will be able to comprehend his or her surroundings, or communicate with creatures at that place, though the cleric’s body and possessions will remain behind.

To anyone else, the cleric on sight will appear to be completely human. The avatar cannot become invisible, though it may hide behind objects to avoid being seen, and may pass through objects freely. Still, the avatar is without physical substance—physical or magical attacks against the avatar will have no effect. In turn, the cleric will be unable to cast spells or take physical action through the avatar.

As an avatar, the cleric cannot hear or see through walls or other solid objects, any more than if the cleric were actually present at the location. Nor can the cleric fly, or perform any form of travel which the cleric could not perform. Magical spells which would affect the cleric cannot be cast upon the avatar.

There is no distance to which the avatar cannot be projected. The cleric must identify the name or condition of a place, or the name or condition of a creature to be found, but the cleric need not have ever seen or met the place or individual sought. Success will be unfailing, the cleric’s avatar appearing at a distance of the cleric’s choosing—thus, the cleric might specify, “One mile north of the largest pyramid in Egypt,” or “Five feet from the oldest man named Robert in England.” When not specified, the avatar will always appear to the north of the location.

When in sight, the cleric may visually ascertain the desired location of the avatar and it will appear there—such as, on the top of a wall, or at the far end of a street, etc.

Those who have a percentage chance to detect invisibility have an equal chance of identifying an avatar from a real being. If done, a thin silvery thread will lead back to the cleric’s physical body. Those who have the power to follow this thread have the potential to find and kill the cleric wherever he or she may be. While participating as an avatar, the cleric does not have any comprehension of what may be going on wherever his or her body may be—so it will be up to others to protect the true body from harm.

The cleric must cease to be an avatar in order to communicate any knowledge to others who are located with the cleric’s true body.

The cleric may continue to exist as an avatar indefinitely; however, once the avatar’s location has been determined, the spell must be broken before the avatar can be sent anywhere else. Until then, the avatar can only travel as the cleric might without aid of a horse or cart—only the physical earth under the cleric’s feet will support the avatar.



5 comments:

Arduin said...

Like it, functional, retains the silver cord in a neat way.

I also like how it ties just a bit into myths about vampires: if you don't open the door for them, they can't get in.

I can just imagine the paranoid noble who insists all guests open their own doors, one at a time. How odd it would seem to the players, until at last they or another acquired the spell and used it on them!

Yes, yes, I do like this one.

Scarbrow said...

I find a problem with the given description.

You state that the avatar is "incorporeal", that he "may pass through objects freely", yet "the avatar can only travel as the cleric might without aid of a horse or cart—only the physical earth under the cleric’s feet will support the avatar."

I find this confusing in the extreme. So I could project my avatar into the King's throne room, on the top of the castle, but if I were to move, I would sink through the stone till I hit physical ground? How about on an immaterial plane? I'm not sure about the planes in your campaign, but coming from 3.0, there's such thing as an "elemental plane of air". Would the avatar tumble down indefinitely on such a place? And what about if you place your avatar "sixty feet above the church's bells"? Unless you mean the spell to project an immobile image, thus I could understand the part about "once the avatar’s location has been determined, the spell must be broken before the avatar can be sent anywhere else." But if that's so, why the need to precise "passing freely through objects" and "the earth will support it"?

Alexis said...

Okay, I grant you that.

1) The avatar must be transmitted to any 'flat' location where the cleric can walk.
2) The avatar can't be carried and the avatar can't ride.

Mostly, we want to LIMIT the spell so that the cleric can move around, communicate with people, and not be limited to physical walls. Thus, the cleric can pass through a wall into another room, and not be limited to the street. Sinking is a royal pain in the ass and I wished to avoid any argument that it would happen or could happen or be compelled to happen. Basically, I want to limit the cleric so that he can move around 'as a person' and in no other way.

I never remotely considered the image would be immobile. That should be obvious.

You can split hairs all you like; if you were running in my world, I would simply rule on every option you proposed, one by one, until we were of the same mind. You are free to take the idea and run it anyway you please.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

I take it the intent is also to allow the cleric to climb ladders, then, since you said that you intend the cleric to be able to move normally?

(Though if not, or if there are restrictions for things like climbing ropes, that could lead to interesting circumstances such as a noble who has some sort of specially constructed seat that can be raised into the air, along with ones for their advisors, in order to keep from being spied on...)

Also, you note that the cleric can hide behind object, and pass through them freely - would it be possible to walk partway through a wall, and then listen to conversations inside a room?

Scarbrow said...

Yes, I'm afraid I'm the splitting hairs player. I supposed your description was clear enough for you, and you were ready to adjudicate each case as it presented, but I wanted to be sure.

In these cases (when players find parts of the spell descriptions that are not clear to them), do you usually record those rulings as parts of the spells (thus completing/complicating the description), or are they kept separately, if at all? I tend to go with the former, trying to "tie it all up".

Now I'm just going to think aloud for a bit. Feel free to ignore any further questions in this comment about possible uses of the spell - unless you want to comment, of course :)

I find the most interesting feature of the spell is that you can signal to a point in space you don't know. I see a certain potential for abuse, such as specifying "where my enemy is" (I'm assuming you know your enemy by name, or can define it by her features with enough precision for the spell to work), but it's probably intended. It would be a dead useful spell for reconnaissance, but even more for an extreme form of divination. You get your answer of where anything is, plus you're able to see it, hear around it, walk the place without fearing harm (saved for the possibility of being located (and harmed? is this possible?) through the link). I'm seeing a kidnapped member of the party being easily located this way, and some communication managed. Would revolutionize high-security prisons, if such things existed on your reality. At least, it would change the nature of confinement. A powerful prisoner would have to be watched constantly, since throwing him on a dark, isolated dungeon wouldn't be enough to prevent him to be located and contacted/consoled. And if a prisoner knew something about the nature of his prison, he would have to be kept drugged or something like that so he can't communicate it to anybody else.

Would the darkness be an impediment, I wonder? I mean, you have your secret hall of maps, and a clerical spy uses this spell to enter it. After all, you can say "Lord Prestor's map hall" as the location. But as you walk in, you can't see anything, for the hall is in complete obscurity. And since you can't take physical actions, you can't light a torch, or cast a light cantrip. I wonder, though, if one had a piece of clothing that casted some light, or had a torch in the hand at the moment of casting the spell, would that appear alongside your normal clothing? So many little details...

Enough rambling. A very interesting spell, Alexis. Thank you for sharing