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Old 08-18-2015, 12:50 PM   #1
VariousRen
 
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Default [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

I was reading through the description of Deflect Missile, and I noticed that it specified "If you are not the subject, apply distance modifiers as for a regular spell", which got me thinking: Can you cast blocking spell on other people?

The description of Deflect Missile doesn't say anything about it being able to target other people, only what penalties to use if you do. If it had said something like "This spell can also target others, use Regular spell penalties", I would assume that it was unique, but the way it is worded is making me wonder if I have been wrong in assuming that blocking spells can only be cast on yourself.

A second related question that I have is about casting blocking spells normally, rather than in response to something. In a DF game I run the bard is a fan of the Command spell, but it is listed as a blocking spell. Can they only use Command when they are attacked? If not, what are the penalties for using a blocking spell outside of a defense?

Edit: A third question came to mind; What are the advantages of blocking spells like Hardiness over semi-permanent ones like Armour? There is a minor cost advantage, but at high skill Armour wins (blocking spells cannot be reduced in cost) on that as well, and if you cast Hardiness twice, it's better to cast Armour once. It takes a second to cast Armour, but you can do that out of combat. It seems the only place something like Hardiness is worth taking is when you are going to be ambushed, but not surprised by the ambush (so you can still cast spells), but don't have a high enough speed to go first. Is there any advantage I'm missing?

Thank you to anyone who can clear things up for me!

Last edited by VariousRen; 08-18-2015 at 12:56 PM. Reason: Added a third question about blocking spells.
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

To the best of my knowledge Blocking spells can be cast on other people. GURPS doesn't really have "self only" spells, with the exception of Recover Energy - but Recover Energy isn't cast anyways. It's sort of a weird advantage.

Nothing says that only Regular spells can be cast on others. The other class of spells with restricted targets is Enchantments, but they're about as far from Blocking spells as you can get :)

We have always played that you cannot use a Blocking spell outside of an actual defense situation, because that's sort of cheeky. Were Magic being rewritten, I would suggest simply ditching them and allowing a "power dodge" from the base spell (eg. Missile Deflection) but since that's not happening any time soon, I'll just have to mutter about it on the forum here.

The Blocking spell has the advantage of you not having to have thought of it in advance; you can't anticipate every problem. Also, remember, every spell on gives you a cumulative -1 to cast all other spells. If you put Armor on all five party members, you are now at -5 to cast all other spells. You're at -5 to cast Fireball. You're at -5 to cast Minor Healing. It just generally sucks.
Putting Armor on one or two party members you judge it to be most necessary on, and relying on a Blocking spell for emergencies avoids that.
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

Some blocking spells are self only, some are not. phase other is obviously castable on others while phase is self only. Some are both self and others, like deflect missile. You need to check the actual spell description.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
GURPS doesn't really have "self only" spells, with the exception of Recover Energy
Don't forget Teleport and its ilk, Shapeshift, Plant Form, and I think a few more, but the general rule seems to be "if it doesn't have an Others version, you can cast it on anyone."
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Old 08-19-2015, 08:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

Where it would make sense to cast a given Blocking spell as a Regular spell, go ahead and do so. Think of such spells as having a casting time of "a scant second": You can (just barely!) manage to cast one a turn as a reaction (i.e., active defense), but you need a Concentrate maneuver to do so as an action . . . and if you do the latter, that's your Blocking spell for the turn, so you can't cast another one to defend yourself.

For instance, I could cast Command as an active defense to make my attacker drop his sword before he hit me. After that, I couldn't cast another Blocking spell until my next turn. Alternatively, I could take a Concentrate maneuver on my turn to cast Command as a form of minor mind control. If I did the latter, that would be my Blocking spell for the turn, and if I were attacked before my next maneuver, I couldn't use Blink, Command, Iron Arm, etc. to defend myself.

Note that several existing spells are already explicitly "Regular or Blocking" in this way: Boost (Attribute), Fascinate, and Master. All I'm saying is that there is little harm in reading "Blocking" as "Regular or Blocking" in general provided that you enforce a one-second casting time on the Regular application and remember that such a casting still uses up your option to cast a Blocking spell when it comes time to defend yourself.
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Old 01-18-2018, 12:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

If a blocking spell can be used as a response to an attack, it also makes sense to me that it can be used as a "free action" (a response to "no attack"), outside my own turn. Using RAW rules, it is possible to perform an action (eg perform an attack) and then, as a response to an enemy's attack, use Blink and move 3 yards. The same can be performed with reversed order (Blink, as defense, then perform action). However, if no one is attacking me, it could also be beneficial to blink (for instance, to move faster) before or after my turn's action. Is this allowed in RAW? If not, it would mean that getting attacked would sometimes be beneficial, giving me "free benefits" (in this case, cover ground more quickly).

Ps: Can Blink Other be cast at a foe, for instance, to make him fail an attack and force him make a body sense roll?

Pps: Could I cast a Command or annother blocking spell to make an enemy fail it's active defense (from an attack made by a friend)?

Ppps: Gurps is great! The only thing that I don't like very much is how it handles time to performs actions (eg: attacking with a knife is as fast as attacking with a claymore). I have made some house rules to address timing issues for attacks: http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=139641
Similar approach could include other actions such as casting regular and blocking spells.
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Old 01-18-2018, 01:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

I think that being able to cast in non-defensively on someone else's turn is likely to create artifacts of turn sequence that don't really make sense. GURPS turns are overlapping, so there really isn't a meaningful timing difference, in-game.

Attacking with a knife is roughly as fast as attacking with a claymore antipersonnel mine, it is maybe a little faster than attacking with a balanced two-handed sword, but not a lot, IME, it certainly isn't meaningfully faster than attacking with a backsword.

Last edited by sir_pudding; 01-19-2018 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 01-19-2018, 01:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

Imagine the following cenários, using RAW:

1)
Bert is fighting Charles. Each of them carry a sword.
1.C1) Charles attacks Bert, but Bert successfully parries the attack.
1.B1) Its Bert's turn and he attacks Charles. As a response, Charles uses Command blocking spell and forces Bert to drop his weapon, loosing his attack.
1.C2) it is now Charles' turn and he has the option to attack or all-out attack Bert.
Whitout his weapon, Bert will have no option but dodge one or two strikes. Then, Bert will need to spend a turn to pick up his weapon.

2)
Bert is fighting Charles. Each of them carry a sword.
2.C1) Charles attacks Bert, but Bert successfully parties the attack.
2.B1) Its Bert's turn and he decides not to attack (maybe perform an evaluate or to do annoter action)
2.C2) it is now Charles' turn. If he wants to make Bert drop his weapon, he will have to spend a full turn casting command spell (loosing the opportunity to attack, suffering the possibility being interrupted and spending his block spell of the turn).
Even if he succeeds, it will now be Bert's turn and he will have the option to pick up his weapon before being attacked by Charles again.

If you consider other Blocking spells (Blink, for instance) it becomes clear that, in some situations, getting attacked could give huge advantages over not being attacked. This becomes even stranger if you consider a 2x1 fight using Blink to maneuver.
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Old 01-19-2018, 01:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

It's no different than hand catch parries. You can parry and grapple as a defense, or just grapple on your turn. You don't get to attack as a free action just because you know Judo.
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Old 01-19-2018, 02:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Magic] Blocking spells cast on others, and as normal spells

Besides strange mechanics (in my opinion, at least) it does not make sense to me that you somehow cast spells faster if you get attacked. Most blocking spells don't even affect the attacker to begin with (are cast on the caster). Thus, to fight better, a mage could "pretend" it is being attacked to block an imaginary attack (just as a martial artist can pretend it is being attacked while training).

Nothing prevents someone to pretend to grapple an invisible atttacker after parying an imaginary attack (this is indeed something that is done in solo Kung Fu training practices 😊). This should be as fast (or even faster) as doing so for a real attack.
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