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Old 10-19-2022, 08:19 PM   #1
Shostak
 
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Default Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

This extremely powerful IQ 17 Thrown spell gives its subject the combined benefits of Detect and Analyze Magic out to a range of five hexes for as long as the spell is continued. For each spell, magic item, or enchantment in that area, the subject first rolls 3/IQ to detect it, and then, assuming that roll was successful, rolls 4/IQ to analyze it. With a casting cost a mere half that of Analyze Magic and the potential to simultaneously detect and analyze everything in an area of a whopping 91 hexes, this spell gives an astounding amount of benefit for the investment. For a mere 7 ST to cast and maintain it over the course of 35 seconds, Spellsniffer has the potential to rip away a myriad of Conceal spells to lay bare the nature of multitude of spells and enchantments. At IQ 17, the wizard will detect successfully 95 percent of the time, and any magic detected with be analyzed with about an 85 percent success rate.

In my experience, wizards lucky enough to reach IQ 17 rarely go long without learning this spell; it's just too practical and economical to neglect. Spellsniffer is so powerful, I've decided it is on my list of spells to disallow in future games without serious nerfing.

Conversation starters:
  • How often do you see Spellsniffer being used in your games?
  • Other than Conceal, what countermeasures against Spellsniffer have been developed in your corner of Cidri?
  • Do you use Spellsniffer as-is, or have you nerfed it (and if so, how)?
  • How has Spellsniffer gone spectacularly wrong in your games?
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Old 10-19-2022, 09:38 PM   #2
phiwum
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

I haven't seen Spellsniffer in my game yet. I wonder how it's going to rip through Conceal spells.

Suppose an item has five Conceal spells on it (which is, oddly, typical). Then the Spellsniffer must make an 8/IQ die roll to detect and a 9/IQ die roll to analyze. An 8/IQ die roll is about 6%, no matter what IQ you have (up to 20) and the 9/IQ die roll is also about 6%, again relying on the auto-success rolls.

So, in seven rolls, you have a
1 - (1 - 0.6)^7 = 35%
chance to get at least one success and hence detect magic. That's pretty good.

But to analyze the magic is more difficult. You need two successes for that, and both are at 6% each time. I can't swear I got the math right -- it's too late for me to be certain -- but I calculated only an 8% chance to get through five conceal spells twice in seven goes, thereby analyzing a spell.

There are a few ways to read the Spellsniffer spell as a continuing spell. One question is: suppose I've rolled for Detect and (if necessary) Analyze magic for each spell/magic item in my range on turn one. Do I get to try again on turn 2 for those that I've failed? Or do I just get to try "new" spells and items entering my range? (The former is more plausible, but if you wanted to nerf it, here's one place to do so.)

And, suppose on turn 1 I detected magic on the cheese grater, but I didn't analyze it. On turn 2, do I have to re-detect in order to analyze or do I just go to analyze? Again, it seems plausible that you go straight to analyze on turn 2, but if you want to nerf the spell, then you can think of it as "memory-less" -- each turn it has to detect prior to analyzing.

Just a couple of thoughts.
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Old 10-20-2022, 12:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

I require a turn of concentration for each separate Analyze roll, but the wizard is still alerted if a new spell enters the range and is Detected. Spellsniffer is why your party should start with an IQ 17 wizard.
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Old 10-20-2022, 05:45 AM   #4
Bill_in_IN
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

Interesting.

I recently generated a Goblin Wizard with ST 6 DX 8 IQ 18 as an experiment. So, if he can survive, he has access to learning most spells in ITL. Henry would be proud of this build.

I gave him Staff 5, Wizard's Wrath, and Missile Weapons 3 which took 12 of his IQ points but he had DX of 11 for staff zaps (1d+2) and Wizard's Wrath. I gave him some other spells which are inconsequential at this tome due to his low DX. They would have to wait until his DX increases. Needless to say, Spellsniffer was on the short list for his remaining 6 IQ points and almost made the final cut. If this discussion had occurred prior to generating the wizard, it probably would have.

As for survivability of the wizard, it is up to the dice. I ran him through three quick arena battles. An adventure situation would be different. All three played out the same because he is a two trick pony until his DX increases.

The first was a standard Melee Giant with a big club. He hit him with a 3d6 Wizard's Wrath (3d+3), knocked him down taking about half of the Giant's ST. Even at lower DX for ST at three or below, his two staff zaps hit at 1d+2 which killed the Giant. He was alive with ST 1.

The second was a 35 point human tank. The same general scenario occurred.

The third was a ST 30 Giant with Leather Armor. It played out the same as before except the giant still had a couple of ST left when the wizard got down to 1 ST. They slugged it out Club vs. Staff/club awaiting automatic hits until the wizard rolled a 4 which allowed his 1d-1 staff to kill the giant.

I was amazed at the ability of this goblin wizard to survive. It was actually down to one or two different die rolls that could change everything but, then again, TFT is like that.

So, back to Spell Sniffer spell. If one is skeptical of Henry's assertion about an IQ 17 wizard with this spell, I started one from scratch with some powerful damage in spite of his low ST and it worked in the arena. Again, adventuring is different but I suspect that such a physically weak wizard wouldn't be in the front of the party either. Giving such a wizard Spellsniffer would make him very useful to any party beyond his 1d+2 staff zaps and 3d+3 Wizard's Wrath. However, the wizard would definitely need to put his first 200 XP on 2 DX points for his other abilities to become more viable.
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Old 10-20-2022, 06:56 AM   #5
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

Everybody flips xp into dx. Adding more ST would require buying a new weapon and adding IQ adds no memory points, making the cost of buying additional talents or spells too costly to contemplate. (Just sent in an article to Evil Stevie on on the job training of new talents.)

My only regret about this roll vs IQ monster is not adding Diplomacy to counter anti-goblin feelings.

Vagner, Goblin wizard, age 20
ST 6, DX 9, IQ 17, MA 10
Talents: Alertness, Charisma, Literacy
Spells include: 7-Hex Fire, Pathfinder, Spellsniffer, Staff III, Staff to Snake
Languages: Common, Goblin, Sorcerersí Tongue
Weapon: Staff III holly maul (1d), untalented silver dagger (1d-1)
Attacks and Damage: Punch (1d-4)


Will use the Brand enchantment to boost his sniper apprentice of course.
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Old 10-20-2022, 09:15 AM   #6
Shostak
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

Quote:
Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
Suppose an item has five Conceal spells on it (which is, oddly, typical).
Even with two Conceals, Spellsniffer will detect about 50% of the time for someone with IQ 17. Although the first two Conceals have a negligible casting cost, a third is pretty exhausting, and the fourth and fifth cost 16 and 32 ST, respectively, putting them out of reach for most wizards working alone. By contrast, Spellsniffer is far more economical. It is reasonable to believe that anything detected but unanalyzed will be subjected to Reveal spells by a seriously inquisitive wizard.
Quote:

There are a few ways to read the Spellsniffer spell as a continuing spell. One question is: suppose I've rolled for Detect and (if necessary) Analyze magic for each spell/magic item in my range on turn one. Do I get to try again on turn 2 for those that I've failed? Or do I just get to try "new" spells and items entering my range? (The former is more plausible, but if you wanted to nerf it, here's one place to do so.)
I think the spell description implies the former, which is a major factor in why I think Spellsniffer is far overpowered.

Quote:
And, suppose on turn 1 I detected magic on the cheese grater, but I didn't analyze it. On turn 2, do I have to re-detect in order to analyze or do I just go to analyze? Again, it seems plausible that you go straight to analyze on turn 2, but if you want to nerf the spell, then you can think of it as "memory-less" -- each turn it has to detect prior to analyzing.
The description is unclear on this point, but it doesn't specifically mention losing detection each turn. If one discontinued the spell without successfully analyzing something detected, it would make sense to have to make the detect roll again if Spellsniffer is recast, but as long as it is maintained, it seems to me that anything detected remains detected.
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Old 10-20-2022, 10:10 AM   #7
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

Note that Spellsniffer detects but doesn't make visible. So your nosy goblin sniffs out the location of an Invisible figure, but is still -6 to hit them.
(Compare to detecting an invisible figure just by standing next to them.)


You can of course stack with Mage Sight if needed.
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Last edited by hcobb; 10-20-2022 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 10-20-2022, 11:33 AM   #8
phiwum
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Spellsniffer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
Even with two Conceals, Spellsniffer will detect about 50% of the time for someone with IQ 17. Although the first two Conceals have a negligible casting cost, a third is pretty exhausting, and the fourth and fifth cost 16 and 32 ST, respectively, putting them out of reach for most wizards working alone. By contrast, Spellsniffer is far more economical. It is reasonable to believe that anything detected but unanalyzed will be subjected to Reveal spells by a seriously inquisitive wizard.
Ah, thanks for the reminder that Conceal isn't like Lock. With Lock, the cost is constant per lock.

So, Spellsniffer really will eat through Conceal spells.
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