Saturday, October 20, 2012

The DMG, Section by Section, Part 17: Spell Explanations – Clerics

Gary now embarks upon six and a half pages of explaining spells. A good bit of this is expressly banning certain liberal interpretations that players might attempt to use with spells, much as Gary previously dealt with the abuse of Thief abilities, but a good deal of it is also explaining tactics that can be used with certain spells or just plain explaining how to execute the effects of a spell from behind the DM screen. Today let's hit the Cleric spells I find interesting.

Light & Continual Light
Gary quite helpfully points out that both of these spells can be cast on an enemy's eyes, effectively blinding them (permanently, or until dispelled, in the case of Continual Light), as well as suggesting that Continual Light can be cast on objects and then used in place of torches.

The idea of allowing any kind of prophecy or means of knowing the future in a sandbox game has always left me feeling uncomfortable and unsure regarding how to handle it, but Gary gives some decent guidelines here: basically, it's OK to just go off of what you guess will happen. The example he gives is if a player asks, "Will we do well if we venture onto the third level?" and a nasty troll guards a great treasure near the entrance to level 3 then an appropriate response is, "All who survive will be rich!"

Dispel Magic
Gary gives some nice mechanics here. Any item this is cast at that fails a saving throw is inoperative for one round; items only get saving throws if they are in a character's possession, and only have to make saving throws if they are specifically targeted. Relics and artifacts (I don't think Gary's discussed the difference between those two categories yet) are immune to this effect.

The referee is encouraged to gauge the player/PC's sincerity of repentance and require penance accordingly. If the referee believes the player/PC is truly repentant, a few coins in the money box may suffice to fully restore the PC, while insane, nearly impossible quests, such as capturing and sacrificing rival high priests, may be handed out to players/PCs who don't seem sincere. Personally, I like the help of an actual alignment charting system to help me gauge just how much a PC is in trouble, rather than having to figure this out by ear.

Plane Shift
Planar adventures have never really interested me (I'm certainly open to that changing in the future), but I find Gary's description of each plane having a corresponding musical note, with the potential for an octave of planes, to be intriguing. Not enough for me to build on right now, but if I ever do run planar adventures, I'll be sure to incorporate the "planar scale" into the way plane shifting works. Has anyone seen planes run like this? Do any settings use this at all?

Counterintuitively, at least for me, characters are more vulnerable or susceptible to this spell the more they agree with the Cleric casting the spell, not even receiving a saving throw if the quest is just and they share religions with the Cleric. Also interestingly, characters who agree to a quest, even if forced to do so, do not receive a saving throw.

Holy/Unholy Word
I wasn't aware that there were any spells that banished beings back to their native planes, but this spell does exactly that. I'm undecided on whether to allow this spell in my game since I had expected to get so much traction out of the Carcosan banishing rituals that require special components. We'll see what happens.