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Axly Suregrip 06-23-2019 01:22 AM

Least Useful Spells
 
I saw a category about most useful adventuring spells and it made me think: Which are the spells do you find least useful and why. Then you may get replies of uses for these spells that you never thought of. Let me start this off.

Slow Movement: This spell being a thrown spell means you need to be close to your foe to cast. To put it simply: once you are engaged, slowing your foe is a bit late to be helpful. I find Trip or Sleep much better.

Avert: Sounds useful but given the maintenance cost (1 per turn) I'd rather have a summoned wolf. Also, often the first turn does nothing for you since after movement phase.

Magic Fist: Damage is too low.

Confusion: this is only useful against Wizards, and still the wizard foe can still cast his lower IQ spells or hit you with his staff (since you will be close enough to cast a Thrown spell on him). Instead a Clumsiness spell could help prevent both cast and attacks from hitting, AND it is useful against more than just Wizards. Does anyone use this to prevent disbelieving of their illusion?

Dazzle: only really intended for solo wizards. If you are in a group, you just dazzled your friends in addition to the foes. It would have been nice if the wizard could control direction of dazzle or something. So, has anyone found this useful in groups and how?

Chris Rice 06-23-2019 03:33 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Axly Suregrip (Post 2270507)
I saw a category about most useful adventuring spells and it made me think: Which are the spells do you find least useful and why. Then you may get replies of uses for these spells that you never thought of. Let me start this off.

Slow Movement: This spell being a thrown spell means you need to be close to your foe to cast. To put it simply: once you are engaged, slowing your foe is a bit late to be helpful. I find Trip or Sleep much better.

Avert: Sounds useful but given the maintenance cost (1 per turn) I'd rather have a summoned wolf. Also, often the first turn does nothing for you since after movement phase.

Magic Fist: Damage is too low.

Confusion: this is only useful against Wizards, and still the wizard foe can still cast his lower IQ spells or hit you with his staff (since you will be close enough to cast a Thrown spell on him). Instead a Clumsiness spell could help prevent both cast and attacks from hitting, AND it is useful against more than just Wizards. Does anyone use this to prevent disbelieving of their illusion?

Dazzle: only really intended for solo wizards. If you are in a group, you just dazzled your friends in addition to the foes. It would have been nice if the wizard could control direction of dazzle or something. So, has anyone found this useful in groups and how?

Interesting, you've chosen 3 of my favourite spells!!!!

AVERT. Simply brilliant. The target gets no saving throw and it can affect anything, no matter how big or powerful it might be. Giants? Bah, go away you big lunk. 14 hex-Dragons.? Begone you overgrown snake! A summoned wolf wouldn't help you much there, would it. It's only weakness is against attacks from a distance, but you have reverse missiles for that.

MAGIC FIST. Another essential spell. The genius of this spell isn't that it's much good as an actual missile (it isn't) but in this: "...can also trigger traps or carry out other unsubtle manipulations within line of sight.." so it's like a clumsy retainer you can send ahead to check out dodgy areas. And it can do this for 1ST!

DAZZLE. A low level Wizard's mass attack spell. The scout reports a chamber ahead full of orcs, too many for the party to take on in a straight fight. The Wizard declares, "stand well back lads, I got this." He approaches the door, throws it open, casting Dazzle as he does so. The party then change in and clean up. The only thing that stops it being absolute kryptonite is the short duration of 3 turns so the players may only get a couple of turns of advantage. My favourite combo was Dazzle Wizard and Blind Warrior.

MikMod 06-23-2019 04:31 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270511)
AVERT. Simply brilliant. The target gets no saving throw and it can affect anything, no matter how big or powerful it might be. Giants? Bah, go away you big lunk. 14 hex-Dragons.? Begone you overgrown snake! A summoned wolf wouldn't help you much there, would it. It's only weakness is against attacks from a distance, but you have reverse missiles for that.

I was looking for a spell some beginning characters might use when wish farming lesser wishes, and avert seemed perfect. It even works the first turn as the target has to take disengage option to move farther away. If the GM rules that it works on demons (not totally sure of this) and if you only have to hold it off for 12 turns (it seems implied in several places that their time here is limited) then this is the cheapest and surest way to dispose of it should things go wrong.

Chris Rice 06-23-2019 04:51 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MikMod (Post 2270512)
I was looking for a spell some beginning characters might use when wish farming lesser wishes, and avert seemed perfect. It even works the first turn as the target has to take disengage option to move farther away. If the GM rules that it works on demons (not totally sure of this) and if you only have to hold it off for 12 turns (it seems implied in several places that their time here is limited) then this is the cheapest and surest way to dispose of it should things go wrong.

...."beginning characters.....wish farming lesser wishes..."

I'd like to think that's a joke, but I have a bad feeling you're serious 😂😂

MikMod 06-23-2019 05:04 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270514)
...."beginning characters.....wish farming lesser wishes..."

I'd like to think that's a joke, but I have a bad feeling you're serious ����

IQ 14 seems perfectly reasonable if there are some apprentices with aid for hire somewhere - and why wouldn't there be? Or just persuade the rest of the party that Aid is worth learning since they'll be getting a steady stream of lesser wishes in return. Bearing in mind that one lesser wish makes a thrown dagger to the head practically lethal to most enemies, even heavily armoured dodging ones, and you don't even need knife talent! And Avert is very low level. I wasn't even going to bother with a pentagram since I envision it has to be 'broken' to wrestle a wish in any case. The only real issue, apart from gathering 30ST, is disposing of an angry demon without it teleporting straight into HTH when it wins initiative (and maybe even when it doesn't). That would be enough to mess everything up, but a swift Avert and a bit more aid and Bob's your uncle! :)

Thank goodness I'm GMing and not playing eh?

Chris Rice 06-23-2019 05:38 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MikMod (Post 2270516)
IQ 14 seems perfectly reasonable if there are some apprentices with aid for hire somewhere - and why wouldn't there be? Or just persuade the rest of the party that Aid is worth learning since they'll be getting a steady stream of lesser wishes in return. Bearing in mind that one lesser wish makes a thrown dagger to the head practically lethal to most enemies, even heavily armoured dodging ones, and you don't even need knife talent! And Avert is very low level. I wasn't even going to bother with a pentagram since I envision it has to be 'broken' to wrestle a wish in any case. The only real issue, apart from gathering 30ST, is disposing of an angry demon without it teleporting straight into HTH when it wins initiative (and maybe even when it doesn't). That would be enough to mess everything up, but a swift Avert and a bit more aid and Bob's your uncle! :)

Thank goodness I'm GMing and not playing eh?

I still can't tell if you're serious or not 😂😂😂

I've always considered Wizards to be a fair bit rarer than the proportions mentioned in the rules. But even if they are as common as that, why would a Wizard lend you their apprentices to help you farm wishes? Surely they be doing it themselves. So what you say doesn't make sense.

Plus I think it may have been a mistake to reduce the IQ of Demons in the new edition, though I understand why it was done.

RobW 06-23-2019 06:00 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270511)
MAGIC FIST. Another essential spell. The genius of this spell isn't that it's much good as an actual missile (it isn't) but in this: "...can also trigger traps or carry out other unsubtle manipulations within line of sight.." so it's like a clumsy retainer you can send ahead to check out dodgy areas. And it can do this for 1ST!

A cheap clumsy retainer, ha! Somehow never noticed that, nice!

MikMod 06-23-2019 07:24 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270519)
why would a Wizard lend you their apprentices to help you farm wishes? Surely they be doing it themselves. So what you say doesn't make sense.

The party arrive in a new city. Lead wizard is Glamoured (IQ14) to look very impressive and his 'retinue' (the party) defer to him and spread rumours of this amazing wizard. Then the party let it be known on the grapevine that this reknowned wizard MAY be willing to take on an apprentice (or two).

I think it's pretty easy to see the party leaving town with a couple of extra beginner wizards/apprentices...

MikMod 06-23-2019 07:27 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270519)
Surely they be doing it themselves.

Well, quite. I was really thinking about how practical it would be to farm wishes and it turned out - depending on the GM - pretty easy.

I think in my campaign 'will not suffer magic to be cast upon them' means that magic will not work on demons - it just makes them mad. At least the mind control type stuff (in which I include Avert).

Axly Suregrip 06-23-2019 08:15 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270511)
Interesting, you've chosen 3 of my favourite spells!!!!

Awesome post. This is exactly what I hoped to see.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270511)
AVERT. Simply brilliant. The target gets no saving throw and it can affect anything, no matter how big or powerful it might be. Giants? Bah, go away you big lunk. 14 hex-Dragons.? Begone you overgrown snake! A summoned wolf wouldn't help you much there, would it. It's only weakness is against attacks from a distance, but you have reverse missiles for that.

Sounds like I am going to need to try Avert again. Sounds like its main purpose is to aid an escape or to give your archers another turn. If you need to defeat a foe, this always felt like too much to pay for no damage caused. But I see what you mean, it can be strategic.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270511)
DAZZLE. A low level Wizard's mass attack spell. The scout reports a chamber ahead full of orcs, too many for the party to take on in a straight fight. The Wizard declares, "stand well back lads, I got this." He approaches the door, throws it open, casting Dazzle as he does so. The party then change in and clean up. The only thing that stops it being absolute kryptonite is the short duration of 3 turns so the players may only get a couple of turns of advantage. My favourite combo was Dazzle Wizard and Blind Warrior.

Are you saying the good wizard's fighters are around a corner so they don't also get affected? Sounds risky for the wizard to set up situations to use this.

amenditman 06-23-2019 08:39 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270511)
DAZZLE. A low level Wizard's mass attack spell. The scout reports a chamber ahead full of orcs, too many for the party to take on in a straight fight. The Wizard declares, "stand well back lads, I got this." He approaches the door, throws it open, casting Dazzle as he does so. The party then change in and clean up. The only thing that stops it being absolute kryptonite is the short duration of 3 turns so the players may only get a couple of turns of advantage. My favourite combo was Dazzle Wizard and Blind Warrior.

My biggest problem with Dazzle is the 3 turn duration. It will take your friends most or all of that to arrive from their safe distance. Otherwise, a great use of this spell.

Chris Rice 06-23-2019 10:30 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by amenditman (Post 2270539)
My biggest problem with Dazzle is the 3 turn duration. It will take your friends most or all of that to arrive from their safe distance. Otherwise, a great use of this spell.

Yes, the 3 turn duration is a limitation. I was perhaps a little generous in my interpretation of the spell, in that I'd allow the Wizard's companions to cover their eyes and avoid the effects of the spell, even though the spell description says a "blinding psychic flash."

I also allowed it to stun or temporarily blind an opponent to allow the Wizard to slip past or get away, so it was useful for more than just combat.

Skarg 06-23-2019 10:37 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270519)
I've always considered Wizards to be a fair bit rarer than the proportions mentioned in the rules. But even if they are as common as that, why would a Wizard lend you their apprentices to help you farm wishes? Surely they be doing it themselves. So what you say doesn't make sense.

That's something the Wizards' Guild (if it exists as described in your campaign) specifically offers as a service - hiring apprentices for their time and fatigue for a reasonable cost.

Of course, if the GM has realized how easy the new RAW makes wish farming, he may have adjusted it to be more dangerous, in which case the guild might not permit hiring apprentices for that, or at least not without paying the super-dangerous-service rate.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270519)
Plus I think it may have been a mistake to reduce the IQ of Demons in the new edition, though I understand why it was done.

Yeah it's intended to make it possible, but the other changes make it possible to make wish farming rather safe & easy. i.e. In the original rules, it wasn't just an "attack" by a demon who the rules now don't make clear can't be kept away from the wizard asking for a wish by a pentagram. It was a battle of wills (3 dice vs IQ -20) where failure meant death (5 attributes lost even if you get Revived) or complete annihilation (no Revive) on a critical failure, with no pentagram protection allowed. (And yet still people talked about how to abuse it - but at least it required an extremely-high-IQ wizard and a Charm item.)

Chris Rice 06-23-2019 10:53 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
The problem of moulding your world too much around any set of rules is that you can end up with a world which is nothing like anything in your favourite fiction and may not actually be that much fun to play in.

If you design a world strictly around the rules of TFT, then for a start, all major travel will be by gate, there will be Wizards round every corner, everyone will be wish farming like crazy, etc. I don't want a world like that.

To me, the purpose of a set of rules shouldn't be to restrict the GM or players in creating their own world, but just to give a basic mechanical structure to certain aspects of play.

Skarg 06-23-2019 10:56 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Magic Fist can be absolutely brilliant if used cleverly. Can be used to knock people into pits, but mainly it's the missile-ranged ability to touch (or hit) things at a distance.

Avert is also great for evasion, if you've only got one person to get away from - Avert them and then run away. Various battlefield position can also offer amazing opportunities. Or other situations - just ask the guy who got Averted into the path of a speeding wagon...

Dazzle can also be amazing in the right circumstances, especially because of how many people it affects. And because of the way the 3-die bell curve works, if your fighters have somewhat higher DX than your opponents, a Dazzle on everyone may likely mean your fighters can still possibly hit things, while theirs are now very unlikely to do so. Blanket DX penalties tend to favor the higher-DX side (or the side which has a reason to take actions that don't require DX rolls, and want to be able to survive attacks while they do that - e.g. the side that wants to run, close distance past missile fire, ready weapons, untie people, get a door open, climb, swim, mount horses, explain that the fight is all a mistake, gain time for reinforcements or the city guard to arrive, etc).

When people think a spell is bad, often they're only thinking of one or two ways it could be used, and not thinking about details of situations. When someone finds other ways and situations where such spells shine, it can catch people by surprise and be very fun and interesting.

Axly Suregrip 06-23-2019 11:19 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270511)
AVERT. Simply brilliant. The target gets no saving throw and it can affect anything, no matter how big or powerful it might be. Giants? Bah, go away you big lunk. 14 hex-Dragons.? Begone you overgrown snake! A summoned wolf wouldn't help you much there, would it. It's only weakness is against attacks from a distance, but you have reverse missiles for that.

On page 140 of ITL in the Continuing Spells section it says spell cost and continuation cost is multiplied by the number of hexes of the target. So, in your example the Avert spell on a 14 hex dragon would cost 28 initially and then cost 14 more per turn. That means you would spend 42 ST just to affect one movement phase and then 14 ST per turn thereafter. Seems too expensive for what you get.

Even against a 3 hex giant it seems to much to pay (6 initially, 3 per turn, thus 9 ST cost to get 2 hexes more distant for the first movement). Assuming you can spare the 9 ST, how long can you maintain this?

Maybe against a high ST single hex sized foe this is a good spell. (Bear, Troll, etc). Lower ST foes are better dealt with Sleep, Freeze, Rope or even Trip. Trip for that matter can handle the high ST foes and has an immediate useful affect.

Chris Rice 06-23-2019 11:30 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Axly Suregrip (Post 2270558)
On page 140 of ITL in the Continuing Spells section it says spell cost and continuation cost is multiplied by the number of hexes of the target. So, in your example the Avert spell on a 14 hex dragon would cost 28 initially and then cost 14 more per turn. That means you would spend 42 ST just to affect one movement phase and then 14 ST per turn thereafter. Seems too expensive for what you get.

Even against a 3 hex giant it seems to much to pay (6 initially, 3 per turn, thus 9 ST cost to get 2 hexes more distant for the first movement). Assuming you can spare the 9 ST, how long can you maintain this?

Maybe against a high ST single hex sized foe this is a good spell. (Bear, Troll, etc). Lower ST foes are better dealt with Sleep, Freeze, Rope or even Trip. Trip for that matter can handle the high ST foes and has an immediate useful affect.

I don't see any such restriction in the Wizard rules. This is why I'm more interested in using the rules from Melee and Wizard and then judiciously adding rules from ITL, rather than using everything from ITL. I'm not interested in that added complexity.

Axly Suregrip 06-23-2019 12:04 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Skarg (Post 2270556)
Dazzle can also be amazing in the right circumstances, especially because of how many people it affects. And because of the way the 3-die bell curve works, if your fighters have somewhat higher DX than your opponents, a Dazzle on everyone may likely mean your fighters can still possibly hit things, while theirs are now very unlikely to do so. Blanket DX penalties tend to favor the higher-DX side (or the side which has a reason to take actions that don't require DX rolls, and want to be able to survive attacks while they do that - e.g. the side that wants to run, close distance past missile fire, ready weapons, untie people, get a door open, climb, swim, mount horses, explain that the fight is all a mistake, gain time for reinforcements or the city guard to arrive, etc).

Brilliant answer. Thank you.

MikMod 06-23-2019 12:17 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Anyone else think Staff to Snake is rubbish?

It seems to me so specific as to be pretty limited in application, not to mention you lose your staff, which may have things like powerstones embedded in it, and now you cannot even defend! And when its all over you have to spend a turn picking the thing up...

Axly Suregrip 06-23-2019 12:22 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270560)
I don't see any such restriction in the Wizard rules. This is why I'm more interested in using the rules from Melee and Wizard and then judiciously adding rules from ITL, rather than using everything from ITL. I'm not interested in that added complexity.

:-)
I too prefer Melee & Wizard over ITL. Depending on your friends sometimes you have to play ITL.

As a side topic: do you run Mage Sight at a continuation cost of 1ST/turn (Wizard) or 1ST/minute (ITL)?



Does any one else have spells they find lacking?

Axly Suregrip 06-23-2019 12:35 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MikMod (Post 2270566)
Anyone else think Staff to Snake is rubbish?

It seems to me so specific as to be pretty limited in application, not to mention you lose your staff, which may have things like powerstones embedded in it, and now you cannot even defend! And when its all over you have to spend a turn picking the thing up...


I am in agreement with you. This is a summoning spell with a big downside to it. Specially now with Staff2+ spells, you do not want to risk loosing your staff.

The only reason for taking the spell that I can see is: it is useful in a full retreat situation. For only cost of 1 ST with no continuing cost, you sacrifice your staff to become your rearguard as you run away. It engages foes and is hard to kill (-3 DX to strike it); so it should help you gain a couple turns of running away.

Scintillant 06-23-2019 12:46 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MikMod (Post 2270566)
Anyone else think Staff to Snake is rubbish

Actually I think it is brilliant, especially for a starting Wizard: for a flat 1 ST it gives you another party member who lasts 12 turns, is very hard to hit (-3 DX), can engage a foe, does a little damage (and bypasses armor if you have Staff III, for no additional ST cost, so take that you plate-mail turtles!).

Axly Suregrip 06-23-2019 12:46 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
So far no one has come to the defense of Slow Movement and Confusion spells. Maybe there really is no good use for these. Certainly not enough to justify taking a spell slot.

Chris Rice 06-23-2019 01:07 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Axly Suregrip (Post 2270568)
:-)
As a side topic: do you run Mage Sight at a continuation cost of 1ST/turn (Wizard) or 1ST/minute (ITL)

In the old rules it was 1ST/Turn in both Wizard and AW, I didn't realise AW had changed. To be honest, 1 turn is enough to scan a room or a creature/object so I never saw it cast in a continued manner.

Shostak 06-23-2019 02:47 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
A court wizard with sufficiently high IQ can cast Confusion discreetly in a diplomatic meeting to enormous effect.

Skarg 06-24-2019 10:51 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MikMod (Post 2270566)
Anyone else think Staff to Snake is rubbish?

It seems to me so specific as to be pretty limited in application, not to mention you lose your staff, which may have things like powerstones embedded in it, and now you cannot even defend! And when its all over you have to spend a turn picking the thing up...

Staff to Snake is a bad spell if you use it to cast on an expensive staff and then send it at the enemy. Or if you expect the snake to be stronger than it is.

It's also bad if you thought you could use it as a long-range scout, and then find it has MA 6 and your GM makes you re-cast the Thrown spell on the snake to continue every minute.

Staff to Snake can be a good spell if you use it cleverly.

In combat, if you keep low expectations and are using a disposable staff, 1 ST/12 turns to get another fighter that can engage foes and is hard to hit can be a tactically useful good deal.

A snake's shape, climbing ability and DX can be useful (scouting, fetching or delivering objects/notes to/from inaccessible places, leading ropes around distant/high things, etc), and/or used for concealment or deception. (Especially if the GM interprets it that you can see through the snake's eyes and have it do whatever you want.)

It can be used to get your staff to come to you from a distance, if you're somehow apart from it.

It's much cheaper than a summoned myrmidon or wolf for sending forward to try to set off traps.

It lets you draw staff mana without actually having to carry your staff, which can make an important difference in some situations.

If you have an enemy who routinely picks up things you can cast Staff on, you may be able to combine this spell into your schemes to arrange to get the person to casually pick up your staff thinking it's just something they'd usually pick up (the snake can be used to get it someplace they wouldn't expect you to have access to, reducing their reasons for skepticism).

And it's very good if the GM lets you make ranged Staff III+ arcane attacks with it, because then instead of the wizard having to be two hexes from a foe, the staff/snake can be the one cruising around behind the wizard's warrior friends, doing DX+3 armor-bypassing attacks at whoever the fighters are fighting. (I think however I'd take the description literally, that the snake just does the arcane damage in bite form, but needs to bite things to do it - but still it's a way to stay farther from danger while getting 12 turns of combat service out of a disposable staff/snake for 1 fatigue).

MikMod 06-24-2019 11:52 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Skarg (Post 2270689)
In combat, if you keep low expectations and are using a disposable staff,

Ah. I always imagined that a wizard could have (attuned) ONE staff, not a main staff and a pocketful of wands, rods, toothpicks, silver knives etc, any and all of which he could turn into multiple snakes and or leave lying around as 3 dice bombs...

larsdangly 06-24-2019 12:15 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
I'm enjoying the fact that the 'best spells' and 'worst spells' threads are almost indistinguishable (!). It feeds my internal narrative that it's always a waste of time and energy to micro-manage your supposedly ideal combat 'build'.

Skarg 06-24-2019 04:46 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MikMod (Post 2270700)
Ah. I always imagined that a wizard could have (attuned) ONE staff, not a main staff and a pocketful of wands, rods, toothpicks, silver knives etc, any and all of which he could turn into multiple snakes and or leave lying around as 3 dice bombs...

You are correct about that. You can only have one staff at a time. Per ITL 148, you can only have one, but you can make another, at which point the previous one stops being your staff. It also loses all the stored ST in a staff charged with mana (but it doesn't affect the mana stat which governs how much a staff can be charged).

So, wizards who don't invest much in their staffs risk much less and so might tend to do more with using their staff for disposable purposes and schemes, compared to wizards with impressive and/or highly-charged staffs.

It would seem foolish for a wizard with a powerful staff to risk casting Staff to Snake on it.

But that also makes it less expected that such a wizard would fool around with such low-powered hijinks. (And less likely to be suspected and/or accused of having done so...)

However, especially when they have used the mana stored in their staff for other things, they might consider casting Staff on some other object to use it for some disposable purpose, and then later re-cast Staff on their good staff. That does add two 5-ST castings of Staff to the cost, but in a peaceful non-combat situation, that just means a couple of extra 75-minute rests. Meanwhile your disposable staff to snake goes and does its covert mission, and you're an unlikely suspect because your ostentatious signature "staff" has been with you the whole time.

JLV 06-24-2019 08:24 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by larsdangly (Post 2270705)
I'm enjoying the fact that the 'best spells' and 'worst spells' threads are almost indistinguishable (!). It feeds my internal narrative that it's always a waste of time and energy to micro-manage your supposedly ideal combat 'build'.

It's also very amusing!

I remember back in the 1970s and 1980s we used to see similar debates over the low level D&D spells; only to discover that every time someone said X was a "bad" spell, they just weren't thinking outside the box. ANY spell can be devastating if it's used in a clever way and under the right circumstances (which can vary quite widely, even with a single spell) for that use. Someone over on Dragon Magazine back then even came up with some clever uses of "Purify Food" that changed everyone's opinion on that one as well!

MikMod 06-25-2019 01:48 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Skarg (Post 2270758)
wizards who don't invest much in their staffs risk much less and so might tend to do more with using their staff for disposable purposes and schemes, compared to wizards with impressive and/or highly-charged staffs.

It would seem foolish for a wizard with a powerful staff to risk casting Staff to Snake on it.

But that also makes it less expected that such a wizard would fool around with such low-powered hijinks. (And less likely to be suspected and/or accused of having done so...)

This is all true, and very clever, but that's kinda my point - it's too 'clever' to be generally useful. There's no 'special circumstances' required to use illusion, and it's incredibly adaptable. That's just not the case with staff to snake.

The disposable staff is a terrible idea for several reasons. First you pretty much have to have a no mana or empty staff. Secondly, you are also very frequently turning staff-to snake into a 6 ST spell (since you're going to need a new staff a lot of the time) and especially for a beginning wizard you're removing the most useful item they can carry.

I cannot think of anything more practical for a wizard, especially a newbie, than a staff. It is the only thing you can hold which doesn't interfere with spell casting, you can use it to defend which is often your best combat option, and if you swing it as a two handed club it requires no talent, does more damage than a staff zap and costs no strength*! It's a no brainer. And this spell makes it disappear! :(


* the club attack can also get facing bonuses, which it's not clear the occult zap gets...

Chris Rice 06-25-2019 02:29 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Why not just change the wording to....

When the spell ends or the snake is killed, the staff immediately returns, undamaged, to the Wizard's hand."

MikMod 06-25-2019 04:51 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Rice (Post 2270808)
Why not just change the wording to....

When the spell ends or the snake is killed, the staff immediately returns, undamaged, to the Wizard's hand."

(1) This doesn't help with any of the issues outlined above. (Edit: apart from the 6 ST cost)

(2) I thought this was Least Useful Spells - not How To Modify Spells To Make Them More Useful ;)

Chris Rice 06-25-2019 05:12 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MikMod (Post 2270820)
(1) This doesn't help with any of the issues outlined above. (Edit: apart from the 6 ST cost)

(2) I thought this was Least Useful Spells - not How To Modify Spells To Make Them More Useful ;)

😂😂😂

The main problem, as I see it, is the risk to the Wizard's Staff. This is especially so now that Wizards can have powerful Mana Staffs. So my solution is specifically to address that problem.

None of my Wizards ever used the spell, but with the risk to the staff addressed, I can see it might get some use.

nemomeme 06-25-2019 10:03 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JLV (Post 2270787)
Someone over on Dragon Magazine back then even came up with some clever uses of "Purify Food" that changed everyone's opinion on that one as well!

I was in a game just last month where the cleric used Purify Food & Water to neutralize a poison gas trap preventing a TPK.

Skarg 06-25-2019 10:20 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Staff to Snake is not obviously powerful and even looks to many like a bad idea, and I think that's actually a good thing, because otherwise all wizards would be staff-to-snaking all the time, which I wouldn't like much (but if someone does, modding the spell could arrange that).

I think it is true that it's not a great spell to use in the most obvious way - you can't go "Muahaha! now my staff is a SNAKE and you will die!" - but it's just a 1 ST spell so I think that shouldn't work that way.

Apart from clever tricks, though, I think it actually could work out well in low-level arena combat and/or for low-level adventurers. 1 ST is a bargain, letting you cast other spells, and it gives you a real combatant - I'd much rather have a ST 6 -3 DX-to-hit snake than have my wizard himself get engaged and try to fight with a staff rather than being able to avoid that happening and have time to cast other spells etc.

Shostak 06-25-2019 11:52 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
IQ 12
Staff to Venomous Snake.
Turns the wizard's staff into a serpent, as per Staff to Snake, except that anyone taking any damage from its bite must make a 4-die saving roll against ST or suffer 1d venom damage. Costs 3 to cast. Prerequisites: Staff, Staff to Snake.

Axly Suregrip 06-25-2019 11:40 PM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Skarg (Post 2270855)
Staff to Snake ... 1 ST is a bargain, letting you cast other spells.

Skarg, I think you made a good case for this spell. To have a summoned creature that can engage foes at the cost of 1 ST with no continuing cost is a bargain.

The downside is the cost is not just 1 ST. It is also the loss of use of the staff.
Even if it is not broken, you are now empty handed. If you are just going to be defending, then your silver dagger will be enough. Or maybe carry a club in addition to your staff and silver dagger.

---

This is a great conversation as it is uncovering better ways of using spells. So, anyone else have a spell they hate?

JLV 06-26-2019 10:25 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Axly Suregrip (Post 2270949)
Skarg, I think you made a good case for this spell. To have a summoned creature that can engage foes at the cost of 1 ST with no continuing cost is a bargain.

The downside is the cost is not just 1 ST. It is also the loss of use of the staff.
Even if it is not broken, you are now empty handed. If you are just going to be defending, then your silver dagger will be enough. Or maybe carry a club in addition to your staff and silver dagger.

---

This is a great conversation as it is uncovering better ways of using spells. So, anyone else have a spell they hate?

This one actually saw use when the Wizard got separated from his staff (I don't remember exactly how he managed to do that, though -- maybe they were surprised in camp and he was doing something else and had left his staff propped against a tree or something?). He immediately cast Staff to Snake and suddenly the attackers were confronted with a deadly snake coming at them from some direction where there were no enemies at all!

Skarg 06-26-2019 10:36 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Axly Suregrip (Post 2270949)
The downside is the cost is not just 1 ST. It is also the loss of use of the staff.
Even if it is not broken, you are now empty handed. If you are just going to be defending, then your silver dagger will be enough. Or maybe carry a club in addition to your staff and silver dagger.

It is a trade-off, but it seems to me that using a staff to defend or hit things should for most wizards be a last resort, and considering not having a staff to do those things with a big problem seems to me more like an indication the wizard might be wise to put more attention into avoiding getting into such a situation, than it is a case of "oh no, I can't hit things and defend with my staff" - because the situation where you need to do things, should for most wizards be an "oh no! must avoid!" whether they have a staff or not.

Axly Suregrip 06-28-2019 05:46 AM

Re: Least Useful Spells
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Skarg (Post 2271054)
It is a trade-off, but it seems to me that using a staff to defend or hit things should for most wizards be a last resort, and considering not having a staff to do those things with a big problem seems to me more like an indication the wizard might be wise to put more attention into avoiding getting into such a situation, than it is a case of "oh no, I can't hit things and defend with my staff" - because the situation where you need to do things, should for most wizards be an "oh no! must avoid!" whether they have a staff or not.

Yes I was agreeing with this premise. I was saying the downside of loosing the staff is easily circumvented by drawing another weapon. And carrying a club may be enough.

Still not a fan if I have Staff 2 or higher.


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