Saturday, August 31, 2013

4th Level Illusion - Dispel Emotion

Some readers may know that I've been re-writing Illusionist spells, both to improve the general list (which is shit in the books) and to deviate the illusionist's power more profoundly away from those things that make a mage dangerous. This has involved some serious rewriting of spells, sometimes simply throwing out the spell entirely and replacing it with something else.

I'm curious about this rewrite that I've produced for the 4th level Emotion spell, which is a case of getting rid of and replacing. I'm looking specifically for some angle I haven't considered:

Dispel Emotion

Range: self. Duration: 3 rounds +1 round per level. Area of Effect: 60’ radius. Casting Time: 2 rounds. Saving Throw: none.

Stifles aggressive or passionate emotions of all creatures within the area of effect, including the caster, so as to produce a sudden and profound disinterest in matters such as combat, fury, sexual passion or the like, for the duration of the spell.

Creatures affected will suddenly find themselves behaving quite passively, not only towards their own kind, but in fact towards any other also affected by the spell. All will be open to the sharing of ideas or negotiation, and will for the most part remain in place, moving no more than 10’ a round, and only then in order to bring themselves to a more comfortable distance for communication.

Note that the caster’s party and allies will likewise be affected by the spell, just as any other creature. The caster, however, while unable to take part in any aggressive action, or urge others towards aggressive action, will not be compelled to communicate but may move freely to a better advantage point—provided he or she does not do so at a speed greater than 3 hexes per round. Any faster speed will have the effect of breaking the spell for those nearby—see below.

The caster may also enable others to move freely, so long as he is able to touch them. To touch another individual—and thus give them the power to move freely also—the caster must enter their hex. Thus, the caster can ‘free’ up to three creatures per round of movement.

However, once an aggressively behaving creature (shouting, attacking, etc.) has either moved within 1 hex of an affected creature, or has at a distance physically interacted with a creature (throwing an object, striking with a missile, affecting with another spell), the affected creature will be freed of the spell.

Others, however, will continue to behave as before. Thus, the pattern of breaking the spell will typically be a wave that sweeps from the outside inwards, until either the spell duration is past or all persons have been broken free of the spell.

Note that rapid movement by the caster, or any the caster has ‘freed,’ will be treated as aggressive movement, so those adjacent to a freed person’s entire path of movement will be disenchanted by the disturbance in the spell’s dweomer.


Neklan Krasna said...

I'm a bit confused by what it means to be freed by the caster? Do they regain their emotions, or only the ability to move? Is the caster able to move faster than 3 hexes/round?

Will passive danger, say rising water or a lowering ceiling break the spell? Will affected people think to move?

I'd think the spell could be used to get a better deal on things. maybe you wouldn't be able to get someone to trade a potato (which they want) for their lovely ruby, since they know logically that the ruby is more valuable, but I'd argue that a 20% discount might be had if the seller didn't care. Further, they might sell their magical heirloom, that thing they avowed never to part with, if you could make an argument that you were providing greater utility.

Jon Reeves said...

This depends on what the rationale is for illusion magic in the game. My take is that illusions induce emotions in the subject which is the whole point of the original spell but this version seems to be more about stifling them.

I can see an illusionist being a master of their own emotions but to create this kind of effect in others would be more of a stupefaction, rather than a removal of emotion.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Excellent, that's what I'm looking for.

Note that the spell has no saving throw - that means everyone, including the caster's own party, will be trying to talk to one another, negotiating, not fighting, and helplessly moving to do so, no more than 10' a round.

"free" means the choice to move how one wishes ... but still not being able to take aggressive action. Every such person COULD move more than 3 hexes a round, but that would be considered aggressive, and start breaking people free of the spell.

The idea being ... "No, no worries, just going to gently move over here, talk among yourselves."

Yes, I'll add in that passive danger will break the spell.

It says in the description that the affected people move so as to talk to each other.

There's nothing in the spell at all that says people automatically WILL trade things ... only that they will talk about it without getting aggressive. So your last paragraph is not applicable.

I know I need a better description, but it is a weird spell.

Dave said...

Area of Effect: 60' radius
move: 10' a round

Caster: 3 hexes per round

Um... is a hex 10 feet? I don't know your hex scale, so the text confuses me.

(Yeah, I'm easily confused... but I make up for that by also being easily amused.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

A hex is 5'.

Quincy Jones said...

Would certain disorders affect this spell? Autism spectrum disorders, sociopathy, psychopathy, etc? A hardened assassin might not be feeling any particular emotion "on the job", as it were.

The spell (correct me if I'm wrong) facilitates a rational, emotionless examination and attempted solution of the problem (if any) at hand. Such an effect would, in normal people, almost always result as you describe: discussion or debate. However, if the rational solution to said problem is calculated murder, lack of emotions would accelerate violence, not prevent it.

Neklan Krasna said...

I meant to say that the _feel_ of the spell is spot on with the illusionist as you've set them up, it seems to harken back to more mythical enchanters, the way everyone is enthralled, but the caster can move among them, granting movement.

Regarding the use of the spell for trading, lets play that out hypothetically. A powerful merchant has come to own a magic dagger that he prizes greatly, but has never used. The player notices it, and asks about it, and the merchant angrily cuts off discussion, saying it's not for sale. The player steps outside, casts the spell, and then walks back in and asks the merchant if they will sell the dagger.

My thesis is that the merchant will no longer have their emotional attachment, and will coolly evaluate the utility of the dagger to them. Perhaps they will adjust the price by what they might get in the open market, but I see no reason they'd continue to refuse to trade.

Lukas said...

It has interesting implications... But not to be a complete dolt, I think some assumptions are being made about the kind of conversation going on. Perhaps some more direct implication that the conversation will cover more recent topics? Is there a requirement they talk as it is part of being open to negotiation? Will the parties reveal information relevant to negotiations even if it could be sensitive? Or is it broken down to pure emotionless logic without aggression as an option?

Alexis Smolensk said...

There was never any intention to make the conversation between the affected persons mean anything at all ... only that they're not struck dumb and stunned by the spell.

It's a nice idea, Neklan, but I hadn't really intended the spell to be used that way. There's an argument to be made there, I suppose, but ... I'll explain after I answer Quincy.

Quincy, you fail to note that the spell also described passion as being dispelled ... so your would-be assassin is still foiled.

It is a spell. There are numerous spells which produce fear, anger, violence and so on ... I wanted a spell that produced indifference or a blase attitude. I saw no sense in this spell having the save/non-save format, since that seemed first boring and second purposeless. It is a 4th level spell, so I felt it needed a sort of totality. The illusionist commanding the end to a fight, bang, right there.

BUT, to make it so there was no saving throw required a power restriction. The inability to attack, not only for the affected, but for the caster too, is the restriction. It's a different restriction than a saving throw, that's all.

The spell ends violence and harm. That is pretty much the purpose. I wrote some notes about what would be happening while no harm was being caused (chatting aimlessly was the ideal). I wrote some notes about how others outside the spell effect would alter the spell, and I wrote some notes restricting the movement of the illusionist and how the illusionist might affect allies, so that the spell could be used to get out of serious trouble.

Example: the party is getting its ass kicked; it needs a moment for a few people to bind their wounds, get out of combat or regroup. The illusionist casts the spell. The pack of werebears or whatever gets chatty. The party - slowly - retreats, so as not to draw attention to themselves, moving as far away as they can before the duration of the spell runs out. They can't cast anything aggressive, they can't attack ... but they can at least save themselves. So it's a defensive spell. Any twist on the wording needs to be addressed to keep others from weaponizing it, because that was never the intent. Some spells, let's admit, should just be defensive.

I have known people who have tried to argue that the first level mage spell, shield, could be used as a blunt object to hit people with. People will try to weaponize anything.