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Old 10-10-2023, 03:24 PM   #1
Shostak's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: New England
Default Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

This IQ17 Thrown spell turns its subject incorporeal. While insubstantial, figures may neither make nor be affected by physical attacks or Missile spells, and, if casting spells, they are limited to Creation and Thrown ones. Strangely, Special spells are omitted from the list spells permissible to cast while subject to Insubstantiality. Movement is limited to 1 hex, but can be in any directionóeven straight up or down.

Insubstantiality is a fairly taxing spell, costing 4 ST to cast and 2 more each turn it is renewed. This, combined with the slow movement, constrains the spellís utility. Consider: using Insubstantiality to get from one side of a thick wall to the other will cost at least 10 STó6 to cast, 2 to renew on the turn the figure moves into the wall hex, and another 2 ST to maintain the spell long enough to move to a free hex.

When insubstantial, a figure is difficult to see, appearing vague and hazy, and their voice is faint. The rules do not specify a modifier for noticing someone rendered insubstantial, so a GM will have to use common senseómovement should be silent, and rolls to notice might be penalized with an extra die.

Returning to substantial form while in a solid object like a wall is fatal, and doing so while sharing space with another living figure is mutual assured death.

Insubstantiality is not a spell that has seen a lot of use in campaigns Iíve played in or GMed. It seems to be mainly useful for getting past solid obstructions, but those often have doors whose locks can be opened with the cheaper (and easier to learn) Knock spell or destroyed with Fire or Lightning which offer additional utilities. However, a case can be made for Insubstantiality rendering its subject immune to Special spells (the spell description says that Missile spells canít affect an insubstantial figure, but Thrown spells can). This could mean being able to avoid being detected by Detect Life and Detect Enemies, and being able to breeze past an area protected by Ward. I can imagine Insubstantiality could be useful to thieves, spies, scouts, and entertainers.

Conversation starters:
  • How often do players choose Insubstantiality for their characters in your experience?
  • What are some less obvious uses for Insubstantiality?
  • Do you use Insubstantiality as written? If not, how have you changed it?
  • What were some memorable uses of the spell from your games?
  • Whatís your take how Insubstantiality interacts with Special spells?
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Anthony Shostak
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