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Old 08-31-2017, 12:05 AM   #1
finn
 
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Default [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

Why is Command (Spells, page 53) a blocking spell, and how does it work?

Blocking spells are suppose to be "cast instantly as a defense against a physical attack or another spell".

However, it's not clear how some of the uses listed for the Command spell would work as a defense against a "physical attack or another spell".

I assume "Drop it!" would work as a defense against a physical attack by a melee weapon, and the attack would fail as the weapon drops. That is understandable.

It's unclear if "Look!" foils a physical attack or a spell cast. Looking elsewhere should give a penalty to your opponents's attack roll, but since Command will be cast after a successful attack roll or a spell casting roll, "Look!" should not work as a defense.

"Wait!" should not foil an attack or a spell at all because the effect is that the subject takes the Wait maneuver "next turn", not this turn.

"Look!" and "Wait!" does not seem to make much sense as a defense. Is the intention of the Command spell to be cast only in response to an attack, while frequently not affecting the attack itself?

For "Look!" and "Wait!", it would actually make more sense if Command was a regular spell. That would also allow you to cast the Command spell to subjects who are not attacking or casting spells.

So, why is Command a blocking spell, and how is it supposed it work?
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Last edited by finn; 08-31-2017 at 12:15 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

As Jesse Custer would say: "Miss."
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Old 08-31-2017, 02:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

The way I would GM this is a successful roll defeats the attack, just as a parry, block or dodge would. The rest is creative interpretation.

Of your suggestions 'drop' is clearly most powerful as the enemy ends up disarmed. For the others, most would cause the person to pause their attack and do what ever it is you are telling them to do, but I wouldn't rule that the effect impacted their next turn in this case, as they are following the command in their current one.

ETA: this is a classic example of a spell with both a combat and general utility application. Out side of combat you could use it to force outrageous behaviour in a social encounter, for example.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

Quote:
Originally Posted by finn View Post
Why is Command (Spells, page 53) a blocking spell, and how does it work?
It's a blocking spell because its description is broken.

The intent here (ever since the spell first appeared as a 1st level D&D Clerical spell) has always been it lets you give a command that causes the target to waste his round on something useless, or at best end a fight, but it's worded as lets you give a command that causes the target to use his turn to do anything at all, which is vastly more powerful. The D&D version tried to get around that with one word and parts of speech restrictions (that depended on the players being English speakers to the limited extent they helped at all). The GURPS version, which like most of GURPS more poorly written or playtested spells first appeared in Grimoire, tried to limit that with that "immediate" verbage, which doesn't work either.

Effectively it's always been aiming at being a kiai, or a coercive version of a police officer's shouted command to "freeze", but never actually *said* that.

Edit: And incidentally "Wait" as a command is not intended to be read as a command to take the "Wait" maneuver, but to pause for a moment.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

Command is classified a Blocking spell because it can be used in reaction to stop an incoming attack. Only Blocking spells can do that (Regular, Missile, Area and Enchantment don't have that as part of their description), so there's not much of a choice for the category.

Yes, in the game context this requires appropriate wording (like "wait!" or "freeze!") and situation (like an up-close melee attack, as opposed to a sniper 3 km away who can't hear you). As usual for GURPS, the rules are not meant to be proof against lawyering by munchkins, attempting to meticulously enumerate every detail of every situation of a spell's possible employment, but are assumed to be employed to play a game by cooperating adults that are using common sense, using a description that's generally only a few sentences long.

The Blocking category doesn't mean it's the only way Command can be cast, nor is a defense the only possible use for Command. (Being one possible use, or even the most important use, doesn't mean it's the only use, and that all examples must be directed toward that sole end.) Any Blocking spell can be cast as a Regular spell (Krommquote), taking a Concentrate Maneuver and treating it as though it had a one-second cast time. (That is, Blocking spells are not "free actions", even when cast as a defense.) In these cases, you might allow a bit more flexibility in the wording -- but even with a full second, it's still a very brief, straightforward command. So no need to dust off the well-rehearsed wish and demon-compelling contract arguments there, either.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

One of the favorite Command words locally is "Strip!" - a foe doesn't really get very far in one second unless they're wearing break-away clothing, but it definitely wastes a turn, and they've usually dropped everything their holding and their armor is at least a little looser now.

If they're not wearing armor, you might be lucky enough to catch them with their shirt half over their head, or their pants around their knees, which makes most people pretty vulnerable.
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Old 08-31-2017, 11:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbm View Post
The way I would GM this is a successful roll defeats the attack, just as a parry, block or dodge would. The rest is creative interpretation.
Thank you. That does seems to be the correct interpretation, though it would have been better it the spell description actually mentioned that it can foil an attack. The only reason to suspect that it can foil an attack is that the spell type is "Blocking".

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbm View Post
Of your suggestions 'drop' is clearly most powerful as the enemy ends up disarmed. For the others, most would cause the person to pause their attack and do what ever it is you are telling them to do, but I wouldn't rule that the effect impacted their next turn in this case, as they are following the command in their current one.
They are not my suggestions. They are written in the spell description in Spells as examples.
It is also mentioned in the spell description that the command such as "Wait!" does affect the next turn.
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Old 08-31-2017, 11:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

malloyd, thank you for your comments. I know the description in the previous version were vague. I was hoping the DFRPG version would be better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
Edit: And incidentally "Wait" as a command is not intended to be read as a command to take the "Wait" maneuver, but to pause for a moment.
Actually the description in the Spells book clearly says that the "subject takes the Wait maneuver next turn."
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

You're absolutely right - they are in the book. They're not very illuminating, however, unfortunately. If you tell the subject to look, what do they look at? Presumably whatever you point at, but that isn't spelled out. If they Wait (capital 'w'), what trigger action are they waiting for?

Just go with your gut whilst not hosing the players. Dungeon fantasy as a genre is more fuzzy than it is about harsh reality. The spell is reasonably priced compared to Deflect Missile or Iron Arm, so far from abusive.
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Spells] Why is Command a blocking spell, and how does it work?

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Command is classified a Blocking spell because it can be used in reaction to stop an incoming attack.
It would have been better if the spell description in Spells actually mentioned that. Since it doesn't, it's actually the other way around. Because it's a Blocking spell, it's interpreted that you are allowed to use it the foil attacks.

That Krommquote is very helpful, and answers all my questions. Thank you.

I think I will rule that Command can be used to foil a melee attack with a right command, but will not foil a ranged attack. Commanding the archer to wait, drop, etc., should not affect the arrow that has been already been successfully released (a successful attack roll).
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