08 February 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 21 - Wizard Part 1, Spells

This is the twenty-first 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

What Wizards are about has been somewhat nebulous throughout the history of Earthdawn. While they have always been the discipline about magic, this has spilled over into "and pretty much everything else as well." Which lead to a great deal of overlap on other disciplines and little distinct flavor. Mechanically, this tended to be great for Wizard players since they had a tremendous variety of effects from all over the place.

Development for Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4) involved striping away a lot of the cruft and taking them back to basic, then building from there. They are the discipline about magic. From there, they gained themes for research (think specifically tenured professors at a college and all this entails) and astral. They share the astral theme with Nethermancers, though each approaches it in a different fashion. Wizards are significantly more cautious and are primarily interested in using the astral plane as a research tool and source of power. None of this mucking about with actually playing with things from there, that sounds particularly dangerous.

Their effects tend to be expressed in terms of a mental manifestation or pure energy, which is a favorite to work with. They are not limited to those areas and still maintain quite a bit of versatility (having access to both mystic and physical damage). In terms of pure combat and inflicting damage, they have the most spell options. They still crib from other disciplines quite a bit, using their vast knowledge and mastery of magic to adapt those effects to their own techniques.

First Circle

Astral Sense: The direct application of this spell is pretty straight forward - turn Astral Sight into a form of astral radar. This is very useful by itself, though it will require a spell matrix to keep it active. The other uses for this spell are a little more subtle. In many ways, this spell is the foundation for many other Wizard spell effects through astrally sensing the target. While a target can be astrally sensed by using just Astral Sight, this has a strain cost which can start to take its toll on a spellcaster who generally has little breathing room for damage. There is one change to the spell and this is replacing the effect test with Astral Sight. This makes the spell scale naturally and has it enhance the talent, rather than providing something of a replacement.

Bedazzling Display of Logical Analysis: A social buff based around being a little bit pompous (a theme which may show up from time to time). Wizards who want to play up the professor theme will almost certainly want this spell. At fifth circle, the general use increases due to their karma ability to cast "self" spells at a touch range. This makes it a solid buff for social characters. There is technically a change to the spell, reducing the bonus from +6 to +4. However, with additional threads, this is effectively a +6 bonus which will only improve as the Wizard increases in circle.

Catseyes: Groups which feel the hurt from characters who have difficulty seeing in low-light conditions, perhaps relying on light sources to the detriment of stealth, will likely want to pick up this spell. It's very straight-forward, granting the target low-light vision. This used to be an Illusionist spell of the same circle. It never quite fit based on how it changes the target and is distantly related to their themes at best. While a potential to be cut entirely, it was kept because it was useful enough and could resolve some basic utility issues for specific groups (sneaking around with a human at night). From there, Wizard was the right fit based on As a slight tidbit, this is an example of a spell which was adapted from another discipline.

Divine Aura: The uses for this spell are rather subtle and benefit most from a campaign which is more involved with intrigue. Nonetheless, any game which involves adventure and solving problems can find a use for this spell. The changes involve removing the effect test in favor of just the first Spellcasting test (a very common trend) and reducing the duration to one round. The latter was based on the removal of the effect test, since it could be used on another target. Maintaining the duration would mean you could use it on a child, then concentrate on, say, Alamaise without another test. Probably more words than are necessary to explain a small change, but I had an inexplicable urge to type "Alamaise".

Flame Flash: One thread and decent physical damage (WIL+5) which extends over two rounds as a default (extra threads can increase this). This is most effective against targets with low physical armor, as higher armor values will reduce the damage enough to make the extended duration less useful. Previously, this spell had the dubious distinction of being even worse than Earth Darts. This is not a position in which any spell wants to be. The threads and range remained the same, but it got a little more damage and the extended duration. Damage over two rounds was included to make this an interesting choice and something which other spells didn't already offer.

Iron Hand: No threads and it increases close combat damage. This is a solid spell and stacks with Flameweapon if you are really serious about buffing your allies. The two spells have some small differences (range, effect, duration), but the biggest is the scope - this affects all attacks, while Flameweapon affects only one weapon. Generally more relevant at higher circles, but your t'skrang friends will thank you much earlier. From the previous version, the duration has been decreased, but the range increased, and most importantly - the threads reduced from 1 to 0.

Mage Armor: A buff to physical armor with no threads, and it can be extended to minutes with an extra thread. A very solid buff spell which every Wizard should probably consider, particularly given how they tend to have lower physical armor. The previous version was a fifth circle spell with a thread and provided only +1 physical armor. It did default to a duration of minutes, but it also required the target to already be wearing armor. Which means the Spellcasting test was made against one of two target numbers, but those conditions have largely been removed due to slowing things down rather than making them more interesting. The replacement is to just target the character's defense, rather than their item.

Mind Dagger: This is likely to be your most common offensive for quite a while. No threads, mystic damage, and a penalty to physical defense which your allies will love. You should just take this spell. The only notable change from the previous version is the addition of the physical defense penalty.

Quicken Pace: It doesn't start as a significant increase (+2 to movement rate), but with extra threads this can start to climb. The default duration of hours certainly doesn't hurt either. This is a good utility spell to have access, particularly for reducing the time required for overland travel. In the previous version, the rate increase was based on the result level of the effect test. The effect test has obviously been removed and the bonus is flat (affected by extra threads) and additional successes increase the duration. The reason for this change is to remove the temptation to constantly cast this spell until some large number of successes are reached. Instead, the rate increase is tied to advancement and thus regular.

Speed Reading: A new spell which plays into the Wizard's theme of being a researcher. It lasts for hours and gives some significant bonuses to researching (bonus to the test and an increased rate of reading). If pressed for time, this is an excellent option, even with the downside of the intense focus.

Wall Walker: This gives a bonus to Climbing tests and has a default duration in minutes. It's a safe bet this spell will be useful at some point, whether for skilled climbers to make even more difficult climbs, or for unskilled climbers to have a chance in the first place. There are two notable changes from the previous version. The first is the removal of the effect test in favor of a flat bonus. This makes it useful to characters with the talent or skill and prevents the spell from making the abilities irrelevant. The other change is moving the duration from rounds to minutes, meaning it can be useful during longer climbs.

Second Circle

Astral Shield: This provides a bonus to mystic defense which can be extended to a duration of minutes with an extra thread. There is a small twist which makes casting the spell in combat more palatable: anyone you have astrally sensed can be included as a target. Which means if you need to cast this spell at the last minute, it is much easier to include your friends as well. This spell hasn't changed much since it was last seen. There were a host of minor changes all made for it to fit better into the new paradigm for spells. The biggest change is it now works with other spells which increase mystic defense since it was re-designed from the ground up with this intention.

Baseline Subtraction: A new spell which interacts with a new talent, Astral Interference. The two combined help to give a Wizard prepared for anti-spellcaster combat a significant edge. They can impair all of the opposing spellcasters while maintaining their own capabilities. Anyone they have astrally sensed can also benefit from this, which makes casting it during combat on their allies significantly less troublesome. It can also be used to negate opposing Astral Interference, which can lead to a war of magical measure and counter-measure.

Crushing Will: Even though it is available at a lower circle, this spell doesn't start to come into its own until the spellcaster has access to an Enhanced Matrix. For an additional thread over Mind Dagger, the damage is only a small improvement, but the range is quite long for a spell at 50 yards. The penalty it inflicts is to mystic defense, which can have an enormous impact on follow-up attacks with some additional successes to extend the duration. Previously this was a first circle spell and was moved to second circle in part to spread the combat spells around a little bit more and to make Wizards less combat focused at first circle; they aren't particularly and this was the desired result. Mechanically, it traded damage for the mystic defense penalty. The purpose behind this was to make it more interesting and thematic for Wizards (playing with mystic elements), and have the name and effects match each other better. Without this change, the spell would basically end up as Astral Spear for Wizards.

Dodge Boost: No threads for a bonus to Avoid Blow tests which can have the duration extended into minutes. This isn't going to help Wizards for quite a while, as they don't get Avoid Blow until Journeyman as a talent option (so sixth circle as the realistic earliest time). It does work very well with Displace Self and all of your friends are likely to benefit from it. Similar to Astral Shield, this was primarily updated to fit in the new framework. Small tweaks everywhere, but nothing significant outside of the implications from extra threads to functionality.

Rope Ladder: Another spell to help with climbing (it's like Wizards are expected to be bad at it or something), in the form of an enchanted rope. This works well with Wall Walker and is worth considering even if you don't have Wall Walker. Beyond the addition of extra success and thread mechanics, I don't think this spell was changed at all.

Seeking Sight: If there is an Archer in your group, they will love this spell. It provides a relatively uncommon boost to ranged attacks and gives them even more accuracy. In ED3, this was a third circle spell with one thread and a duration in minutes. It was scaled back to make these kind of benefits show up earlier and also so Combat Fury and it weren't in the same circle. Combat Fury could just as easily been moved, but ranged characters don't get as much love from spells. Threads were reduced to make it more accessible in combat and the duration was reduced accordingly. The final change was the flavor text, which felt way too much like Mystic Aim ( which there is a good chance the target of the spell already has and uses) and not enough like it actually affected their sight.

Third Circle

Astral Targeting: The new spell for third circle, which every Wizard will probably want. This combines particularly well with Astral Sense, though can be used with Astral Sight as well for just a little more strain. The end result is a bonus to your Spellcasting and effect tests for 0 threads. Also, the duration can be extended into minutes. A downside is this spell is not subtle and anyone in "the know" will realize the caster is up to no good. This spell ties into their mastery of magic - they gain rare improvements to their actual spellcasting - and astral sensing themes. The lure is also deliberate, any spellcaster who wants to be better at magic will want to think about investing in Wizard at some point.

Aura Strike: Similar to Crushing Will, the damage on this spell is a little lackluster by default for 1 thread. Though it does gain additional damage with successes. The range isn't notable either. However, it guarantees a Wound on the target, which is quite a thing. It doesn't inflict any more than the one Wound, but it will always cause a Wound. This was once one of those spells which was simply nuts. Beyond the standard frame work adjustments, the damage was reduced from WIL+8 to WIL+3, which actually brings it in line with comparable spells since the range is a little short. It still inflicts extra damage with additional successes, so with a good roll it can approach (or surpass with a very good result) the original levels.

Combat Fury: Like Seeking Sight, except this benefits close combat attacks. Odds are good there are quite a few people in your group whom this would benefit and it can affect a lot of attacks, depending on the target (*cough* t'skrang Warrior *cough*). When last seen, this provided a larger bonus, but had 1 thread. To make it more accessible in combat, both were reduced. Another change was something of a clarification - the target must be willing. This spell has been used to prevent ranged and spellcasting characters from doing anything, which goes against the intent (particularly for such a low circle and low thread spell).

Identify Magic: This can be a powerful way to gather information and is particularly thematic for Wizards. It should definitely be on the list of spells to have at your disposal. Previously a fourth circle spell, it was brought down earlier as it is part of the core competencies of the discipline. Otherwise, it was only adapted to ED4 standards.

Levitate: Players who like to think a little outside of the box tend to flock to this spell. Even though the effect is rather simple, the explicit ways in which this spell can be combined with itself and how it can be used make this a favorite for solving problems in very interesting ways. Beyond moving to the new edition and all this entails, this particular spell should be largely unchanged.

Wizard Mark: This is another spell which benefits from interesting uses. It can be a good way to mark someone so make shadowing them easy, or identify them for others not present. The ability to cast touch spells at a range is also significant when used creatively. Campaigns which focus on kaer delving may not see quite as much use, but games with a great deal of intrigue will likely have many uses for this spell. Another spell which saw no real revision.

Fourth Circle

Ball of String: While not combat related, this is a spell kaer delvers will almost certainly want. The ability to not get lost can be significant. Wizards in other campaigns can certainly benefit as well - most games end up in a kaer or other place designed to misdirect you at some point. This spell saw a reduction in the effect step from the previous edition. However, with extra threads, this comes out to be the same and scales up as circle increases.

Binding Threads: This is a very early and pretty good control spell to lockdown a single opponent. The thread cost is relatively high at 2, but the ability to entirely prevent actions is powerful, with a worst case scenario of the target only being harried. This spell is best when used against weaker opponents, such as other spellcasters and windlings. There were three key changes made to this spell. The first was the reduction in effect step and the second was moving from resisting against an effect test to resisting against the effect step. These two changes are somewhat connected. Part of the change to resisting against the effect step is so when Willforce is available, this spell isn't effectively impossible to resist - strength does not particularly scale outside of very large creatures - which is also why the effect step was reduced. The other part is it removes another roll and brings it in line with the other control effects. To compensate for this, the target is harried even if they are successful in breaking free, as the binding threads are still constricting their actions, just not preventing them entirely. In all, this spell was simply too powerful and action denial isn't fun for whoever is on the receiving end.

Evolved Consciousness: Here is the new fourth circle spell and it is another one Wizards are likely to want. It gives a bonus to knowledge and Patterncraft tests, which are things they generally want to be good at - if nothing else than to show up other spellcasters at their own game. With a duration in minutes, they can have this effect all of the time. This spell was included to touch on the researcher theme which doesn't get as much focus in their spell list. It also calls on the pompous professor thing they have going on by making their brain simply better than others'.

Juggler's Touch: The first area effect spell available to Wizards and it has some interesting effects for the 2 threads. When these come with a duration, they are normally used for area denial, though this is not the case for this spell. With a radius of only two yards, this is relatively a relatively personal area spell and the ability to shift it two yards each round means this is ideal for using during combat as close support for your allies. It does require concentration each round, but there is a lot of versatility which can be gained through additional threads. The most notable are the ability to remove your allies from the effects and for two threads, you can maintain concentration as a simple action instead of a standard action. Anyone who learns this spell should also carry around a sack of marbles just in case. Everyone else, be wary of a Wizard carrying around a sack of marbles. Anyone who has used the previous version spell knows how much of a pain it can be; test Spellcasting every round, if you want to move it, a largely pointless Spellcasting test which only means you can't use it that round, which gives everyone the opportunity to escape its glacial pace when you haven't inevitably failed because you are eventually going to make a bad roll. This entire process was simplified - test Spellcasting when it is cast and if it is going to be moved. The latter is only so it cannot be cast where nobody is present, then move it over the Named Horror without fear of its incredible Mystic Defense. In the extra threads is an example of how Wizards use their mastery of magic to provide some very interesting options for their spells.

Lighten Load: While very specific in effect, there are enough uses for making something go from very heavy to only 10 pounds for this to be a tempting utility spell for nearly anyone. This was originally an Elementalist spell associated with air. However, there isn't anything to particularly associate with the element and the description doesn't reference the element at all. It was useful enough to find a new home and the esoteric nature of the spell fit well with the Wizard themes. Other than this, the effect step was reduced by 1, but the extra threads more than make up for this reduction. It could have been moved to the original value, but even numbers are easier to work with on the fly for most people.

Wizard's Cloak: What we have here is basically the countermeasure against many of the Wizard spells. It provides a large bonus against some specific effects. There are some other uses as this makes it difficult for anyone in the astral plane to notice you, including Horrors. However, this will not protect you against gaining the attention of a Horror through raw casting magic. There were a number of important changes to this spell, though it still serves the primary part of the original function. As for many spells, the effect step was replaced with a static bonus - this reduces the rolling, maintains the value of people who actually invested the affected value, and keeps the influence of Willforce close to other, similar talents. The overall effect was also scaled back from (apparently) making them effectively invisible to just impairing astral detection instead of all detection. Not even Illusionists have access to such a blanket effect and it is really their territory to begin with. The final change was to reduce the threads. This accounted for the reduced power and also makes it much more accessible during action sequences if it is important.

Fifth Circle

Flight: What non-windling wizard doesn't want to fly? It only affects the caster as a default, but Wizards also gain the ability to affect others with a "self" range spell. From the previous version, it got a name change (the solo felt redundant and the aforementioned karma ability made it not so accurate), the speed was reduced, and the duration was increased a great deal. These changes were generally a result from introducing the spell into the new framework; speed decrease to account for extra threads to increase speed and increased duration so it can be used by other characters without an omnipresent fear of falling.

Giant Size: This spell will give you a BFF - big friend forever. Or a few rounds. Nonetheless, the bonuses it provides are useful in a wider variety of circumstances than most buff spells, affecting damage, strength, and toughness tests. It's handy for breaking and resisting a lot of different things. This spell had the threads reduced to make it more accessible to casting in combat (2 threads for a buff which may lead to an argument is a lot). Also, the bonus to damage was made explicit (the aforementioned argument was around if damage tests counted as strength-only - probably not, but why wouldn't a giant character do more damage?). The bonuses were reduced slightly to fit within the bonus framework.

Mystic Shock: With 2 threads and only WIL+4 damage, this isn't a go to spell for combat. What is notable is it can be cast through objects, as long as you and the target are both touching the object. Realistically, this means through the floor. It is perfect for astrally sensing your target, then launching a preemptive strike. The big change here is a large reduction in damage. This is because the primary use of this spell isn't in general combat, but against opponents who have no real recourse against the caster. This benefit, which is entirely appropriate for Wizards, is powerful enough to warrant the damage reduction.

Sever Talent: This new spell has no threads and potentially infinite frustration. For definitions of infinite which last 2+ rounds. Another spell which benefits from astrally sensing your target prior to use, this spell prevents them from using a talent. Either the last used, or your choice of the last three used. The purpose behind this spell is to show how the mastery of magic for Wizards extends beyond just spells and into the realms of talents. While the lost their unique access to Dispel Magic, they have made gains in applying the principles to other areas. 

Slow: At 2 threads, this spell has some significant investment for a debuff. With the penalties including -5 to all dexterity-based tests and halved movement, it is worth it against exceptionally powerful foes. Specifically, foes who aren't also spellcasters since they aren't going to care a lot about the penalty to dexterity. There weren't any notable alterations for this spell other than the usual, minor adjustments.

Weapon Back: While this spell is not likely to benefit the cast much, the rest of your group will appreciate it greatly. The trouble is you are never going to know if will be useful in advance, and always lament you don't have it when it comes up. Which is to say, this spell is worth picking up for your group. Especially if your GM likes to capture you - they may even be planning on you taking this so you can make your escape. When last seen this was a fourth circle Elementalist spell. Beyond this, the mechanics haven't changed. This was moved to Wizard for a number of reasons. First, it doesn't have an elemental connection and varying the element based on the material of the item is an excuse for it to fit, rather than an actual good fit. While they have a small connection to items, they don't actually have a particular connection to people. Nor are they big into forging connections in general. The spell itself is a lot of fun, so keeping it around was a given. While none of the previous fits with Elementalists, it actually describes Wizards quite well. It was moved to a later circle to reflect the general power of the spell. It seems innocuous, but it can negate enough effects to warrant this circle.

Sixth Circle

Displace Self: Compared to other Avoid Blow boosting spells (e.g. Mist Shield), this 0 thread spell is different as it doesn't provide a numerical bonus to the tests. Instead, the primary purpose behind this spell is to remove the Wizard from the threat of additional attacks. For example, if the attacker leads with a Swift Kick (which is a common opening attack, and is rarely improved with karma - which puts it in an important range between "likely to hit" and "possible to dodge".) and the caster successfully uses Avoid Blow, they will move 2 yards away; putting them out of reach for all of their other attacks since they almost certainly didn't split their movement. For a spellcaster who cannot withstand the damage from a hit, or the strain to continue avoid such an onslaught, this can be an important defense. There were a number of significant changes to this spell. The first is a reduction in the threads from 2 to 0. This was to make the spell much more accessible for casting and also informs a lot of other changes which were made. The effect test was removed entirely and it instead enhances Avoid Blow tests, which is inline with all of the other similar spells. As well, the function has been scaled back to work against only physical attacks, instead of also using it against spells. This keeps talents from going too far afield. The teleportation effect is controlled, which reinforces the utility as a spell to get the caster out of danger, instead of possibly in worse trouble. Initiative requirements have been removed as this severely limits the potential uses. Finally, there is no limitation on the number of times it may be used per round. All of this goes to make a spell which is useful and can be used effectively in combat.

Energy Shield: The new sixth circle spell has one thread and gives a sizable bonus (+4) to Avoid Blow and select Steel Thought tests, specifically against spells which have a visible component. The duration can be also extended into minutes, but there are some restrictions on how your off-hand can be used - it cannot be used to hold a weapon while the spell is active. Shields and casting are just fine. This particular spell was developed to add to the pure energy theme for Wizards, as well as giving them some other and more powerful defensive options. Particularly additional defense against spells. Comparing this spell to the earlier Dodge Boost and which one to get (or use), it depends on your group composition. Characters who use both hands for weapons won't be able to take advantage of this more powerful spell. If you can only have one, it will depend on how many people will not benefit from Energy Shield. However, if everyone has Avoid Blow and you can make the space in your spell matrices, there may be value in having both active for some serious defenses.

Loan Spell: While this spell does allow for non-spellcasters to use the spell matrix loaned to them, the fact they are running off of just perception doesn't bode well for making any difficulty number. If there is another spellcaster in your group, this can have some useful synergy by sharing particularly valuable spells. The duration is long enough for the spell to be cast in advance of an encounter you know is coming, and for two additional threads both characters can cast from the same spell matrix. The notable change here is the reduction in threads. This is because the effect of the spell isn't particularly powerful and to make it a possible option once the action has already started.

Rampage: For 1 thread, this is a good group buff for your close combat allies (+3 to attack and damage) which affects rank targets. However, such generous bonuses come with a downside - all of the targets will be aggressively attacking (which stacks with the bonuses) for the duration of the spell. As long as you have a fair number of allies who are interested in this, it is worth taking. If the number is two or less, it may be best to stick with a different buff spell to benefit more characters. Really, this spell is completely different. It bears no resemblance to the original at all beyond the name - it may as well be a new spell. The reason for this is the original name was good and the original spell (along with Ork Stoke) was terrible. Essentially, those spells are racist - they exist for no other reason than to take advantage of a racial trait of orks. 

Razor Orb: At 3 threads, this spell is an investment to cast and it is brutal. The physical damage is good at WIL+7, but the real value is in the physical armor penalty (-4) which will last through the fight. The effect with extra successes only improves the penalty, making this an amazing tool for taking down opponents with very high physical armor. If you happen to see an opponent casting this spell (it looks like an angry, green tesseract), take them out. The range of this spell makes it rather difficult to escape. This spell saw a lot of changes during redevelopment. The first is the threads were increased from 2. Also, the effect step was reduced from WIL+15. Both of these changes were part of the effort to bring the spells into some semblance of balance with each other and not overshadow combat disciplines in raw damage output. The armor-defeating effect obviously doesn't translate. Instead, the armor reduction effect was added, which should more than make up for the previous reductions in effectiveness. They also serve to benefit the group as a whole, which highlights a the spellcaster in their more support role during combat.

Sleep: This spell has a very large radius (8 yards) to go with its 2 threads. The effect is very effective for the cost and range, but this is one of the easiest mind affecting spells to resist (as an aside: most of the others are found in the Illusionist spell list and you can tell them by the resistance mechanic against the effect step - mechanics harmonized under the radar). Still, it can be an excellent way to take control of a situation which is getting out of hand. Either to diffuse it, or to quickly dispatch some people before they start to wake up. The key change here is how targeting is determined. Instead of having selective targets, it now has an area of effect. On the whole, this makes it less powerful since it cannot be deployed easily in the middle of combat. That kind of specificity and multiple targets with a lockdown effect like this is far too powerful for the number of threads. Increasing the threads to allow for the original effect makes it costly and isn't necessarily the kind of effect which should be around in the first place. As an area effect it is easier to use (no increases to Mystic Defense) and makes it better at crowd control. Ironically, it also makes it more like the D&D version of the spell; go figure. 

Seventh Circle

Call: It's pretty straight forward - place a short one-way video call to someone within range. The odds are good this spell will come in handy at some point and can be used for two Wizards to have conversations as though one is somewhere in space. It should be noted it is generally considered poor form to use this to send "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope" to others. Beyond adjustment to the current framework, this spell was unchanged.

Confusing Weave: Wizards are the bane of other spellcasters. This has been well established and only gets worse with increasing circles. Confusing Weave makes it a lot worse. While particularly effective against groups of opposing spellcasters, this is still an effective tool against just one. It's existence is almost like a deterrent, keeping others from attempting multi-thread spells for the fear all of their work will simply vanish. This won't eliminate their contributions entirely, it will keep them focused on more basic spells rather than something truly horrific. Also, this is another spell which benefits from astrally sensing the targets. If you are going to be using this 1 thread spell, it is best to keep it in an Enhanced Matrix so it can be deployed rapidly as needed. This spell had some tweaks similar to Sleep. Perhaps the most significant is moving to an area effect instead of selecting targets within range and increasing the difficulty for additional targets. The effect step was also reduced. These changes are due to this spell being quite potent for action control and denial against spellcasters. The original prevented them from even considering spells with more than 1 thread from an Enhanced Matrix, when the goal was to encourage more versatility in spells through extra threads. This still is a heavy deterrent, but it can be made less effective by spreading out (though this tactic has it's own host of problems when dealing with opposing skirmishers).

Dislodge Spell: If you are only dealing with one spellcaster, this spell is probably a better way to be a jerk to them over Confusing Weave. It has 2 threads, but can be used to clear out their spell matrices. As a spellcaster yourself, you can see how this is consider to be "not cool, bro," in spellcasting circles. The selection is random, but if they have been astrally sensed (super useful if you are a Wizard), you can reject the first in favor of a different random selection. The threads on this spell were increased from 1 and the effect step reduced from WIL+10. These changes were made for the same reasons as Confusing Weave - the supremacy they granted over opposing spellcasters was simply too great. The effect step with Willforce would almost always succeed and at 1 thread it could be cast every round, which is the same rate the target can add spells back to their matrices - assuming they succeed every time. This makes it a powerful choice without being absolutely dominating, which is not fun.

Hypervelocity: It's rare to see high circle single target spells which don't have control effects associated with them. This new spell isn't fancy, but it is very effective. With 1 thread, the damage is unimpressive at WIL+2. It does, however, have one small detail: no armor of any kind provides protection. Additionally, the damage increases with extra successes. This spell was introduced to build on the discipline's telekinetic effects which can be seen throughout the circles, also as a counter to the greater value of armor. With so many complex spells, its nice to have something so simple and direct - like a Warden Wizard's thesis which is a rejection of the increasingly baroque nature of spells. And it gives another reason to fear a Wizard with a bag of marbles.

Mystic Net: Did you like Binding Threads from fourth circle? If the answer is yes, you are going to love this. Even if you aren't a fan, the improvement for the cost of 3 threads total may change your mind. It is Binding Threads over a 16-yard radius. This is an obnoxiously large area on which to inflict a control effect. There are still uses for the smaller version, particularly since it has one less thread involved and that kind of area means it isn't going to be used in the middle of combat. <>

Spellstore: As the Scout Motto says, "Always be prepared." With this spell you can create a temporary, single use Standard Matrix which means you may always be prepared. If there are spells which may come up, but you don't really want to stick them in a spell matrix, this is the perfect answer. If your allies include spellcasters, you can share these little care packages with them as well. Really, every Wizard should have this spell. There were two changes made to this spell. The first was removing the effect test in favor of just the initial Spellcasting test, now made against the same difficulty as the old effect test. This just simplifies the process, which is going to be done out of combat and realistically just needs a duration to be determined. The second was removing the parts on extending the duration. This one has to do with somewhat clumsy mechanics (the damage is bad when you account for obsidimen Wizards) and the reduction in access to spell matrices. While the cost is steep, this gives access to a significant number of spell matrices and encourages characters to start looking into death magic.

Eighth Circle

Astral Catastrophe: The new spell for eighth circle is a big area effect damage spell. For 2 threads, it does WIL+5 mystic damage over a 6-yard radius and causes a -2 action penalty. While the default duration is one round, extra threads can extend this and turn it into an area denial effect as well. There is one other added bonus: the caster is unaffected. When looking at the Wizard spell list, there was a lack of area effect abilities, both damaging and denial. This spell does double duty by taking advantage of the inherent Wizard trait of having much more versatile extra thread abilities. The theme for the spell draws on their astral particular astral connection. This could very easily also be a Nethermancer spell, though the overall effect would be bigger and nastier, and would not have the ability to control the duration nor would the caster be unaffected.

Catch Spell: Continuing in the proud tradition of being a jerk to other spellcasters, this lets you effectively riposte a spell. There are so many different options on how to ruin spellcasting for others and this is not the last one. Which is right for you depends on how exactly you want to be a little black rain cloud which follows them around. This is one of the most versatile and proactive (since it is setup initially, then comes into play) of the available options, but it also requires the spell to be cast directly at you. At only 1 thread, this can become a strong deterrent, but it also means your friends will be bearing the brunt instead. Two changes were made to this spell. First, the number of threads was reduced from 2 to make the spell much more accessible in combat. Second, the effect step was reduced from WIL+12 to WIL+2. This particular change was made to give the original caster an actual chance in the contest. The original value, when combined with Willforce, far outpaced anything the target could realistically achieve. The new value gives the Wizard and edge, but no guarantee.

Compression Bubble: It takes 2 threads, but this spell will remove the target from the conflict. From there, the caster can concentrate on the spell to deal damage every round, or simply be happy with their boy in a bubble. This is a particularly effective control spell due to the fact the trapped character's only recourse for escape is a strength test. While unlikely to hold a rampaging obsidiman, it may be brutally effective against opposing Archers (some jerk told them to target spellcasters), Thieves (again, the same), other spellcasters (a favorite pastime for Wizards), etc. These targets also tend to have lower physical armor, meaning they are more susceptible to the damaging effect. Allies can attempt to rescue their friend by attacking the bubble, but this is a good thing for you; any actions spent on this course are actions not spent on attacking you. Many changes to this spell. A minor change was to remove the elemental keyword and change the description to energy, as this better reflects the new overall Wizard thematic direction. Next, the threads was reduced from 3 to make it easier to pull off in combat. 2 threads is something of a magic number since it means without high circle talents, the spell will always take at least 2 rounds to cast. Any spell with a powerful action denial effect falls into the category where it needs at least 2 threads so there can still be a reasonable opposition before the target enters into lockdown. The effect step was also reduced. There were a few reasons for this. One was the damage in conjunction with the action denial was a lot (keeping in mind the number of threads was also reduced). Another was a number of the value were moved to the effect step to have things scale with extra threads and require less numbers to be floating around in general. Anything which reduces the confusion of a complex spell is a boon at the table. The difficulty of escape from inside was reduced, as it now ties into the effect step, though from the exterior it is a little more difficult as the bubble has a higher Death Rating. This increase was in part due to the removal of defense ratings - it's a bubble, it's not going anywhere. Stat blocks in general were removed as they just take up space without adding much.

Karma Cancel: Using this 2 thread spell effectively requires some strategic thinking. Ideally, you want to use it against a target which has at least one of the following: 1) better things on which to spend their karma, 2) less karma, or 3) much better karma over all. Essentially, you need to identify a situation where your karma lost is going to be a more effective expenditure than your opponent. If you have at least a x4 karma multiplier, using this against a troll or obsidiman fighter-type is going to be a good choice. They have all sorts of things in a fight on which to spend karma and they are all bad for you. Really, any fighter-type can be a good choice, just know others may burn you out of karma before their pool runs out. This isn't all bad, since it is that much karma which wasn't spent making this more difficult for you and your allies - if you have to decide what to let through, always remember Avoid Blow and the ilk are excellent choices to cancel their expenditure. One of the best targets are Horrors. They tend to be able to spend karma on a wide variety of horrible things and their karma step tends to be impressive. Anything you can do to prevent this is going to work out for you in the long run. This used to be a sixth circle spell, but it is too powerful for such a "low" circle. Spells which affect karma in general have been removed or pushed back considerably. This is in part due to the metaphysics of karma, it isn't well understood and is ephemeral, thus not something readily manipulated by spells. The other part is having your karma screwed with isn't a lot of fun. Obviously it hasn't been removed entirely, but by the this point things can get ugly in ways the just cannot at sixth circle. The primary mechanical change was to move from a static resistance to using the Spellcasting test result. This allows the difficulty to scale with circle, which takes into account the new effect of Lion Heart.

Spell Cage: Very similar to Compression Bubble. Both are lockdown effects against a single target and require 2 threads. Where they differ are duration (Spell Cage is slightly longer), what can be done from inside, and escape. Spell Cage is the more difficult to escape overall, as it requires doing sizable damage without a strength option to tear it open. However, spellcasters can still cast spells from within, albeit at a -5 penalty to Spellcasting and Thread Weaving tests. They are different with different applications. Most characters are unlikely to need both, which means it comes down to preference. Previously this was a seventh circle spell. It was moved to eighth circle due to the action denial it provides and since it was so similar to Compression Bubble, they needed to be close for the associated costs to be the same - otherwise the cheaper (in legend point) of the two would likely be the more popular because of the costs and the earlier access. The threads were reduced from 3, matching Compression Bubble, and other than this it was mostly kept the same. The stat block was eliminated and values simplified - the same armor ratings because it's just easier to only use one regardless of the attack, etc.

Spell Snatcher: The final jerk spell here for Wizards to use against other spellcasters. It is like an upgrade to Dislodge Spell - instead of just removing the spell, you also place it in one of your spell matrices. It is slightly more difficult to pull off (the effect step is less), but this can also be a great way to learn new spells. The primary change to this spell is the reduction in the effect step and the reason is the same as all of the other spell control effects - with Willforce, it was too much of a sure thing. With the relationship between Catch Spell and Spell Snatcher, the absolute difference between the steps was maintained; both were reduced by 6.

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