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Old 02-14-2023, 03:16 PM   #1
Shostak
 
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Default Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

This IQ 13 Special spell offers a great deal of potential by providing a wizard means with which to gain valuable intelligence about anyone anywhere (and thus could offer a useful clue that the subject is englamored). One can even scry back or forward through time, though the results are likely to be less reliable than usual. One may scry the same subject only once per day.

Scrying is an outlier spell three times over. Unlike most of TFT’s spells, it requires equipment: a silver mirror or similarly flawless, colorless, reflective surface, or a bowl of clean water (one wonders if a placid pool would work in a pinch). Scrying is again an edge case in that it is among the few spells that call for rolls (four dice!) against IQ instead of DX, with dice subtracted or added for aids and magical countermeasures, respectively. Then there’s it’s casting cost, which, unlike nearly all other spells, is not fixed but equals the margin of success on the roll (possibly a lot, but never enough to kill).

What one sees and/or hears also depends on the margin of success or failure, with the quality of results increasing or decreasing in direct proportion to the size of the margin. If using the standard method of charging 1 ST for a failed spell, the player will know that they’ve failed, so one can understand Scrying as always being successfully cast, but not necessarily reliably so in terms of what is reveals. Perhaps this ought to be the model for all information spells.

Scrying’s description includes the caution, “He who sees is seen,” but nothing further than the admonition to cover one’s scrying tools is given for guidance as to exactly what this means. Perhaps this is just a myth employed to frighten apprentices. Ward, Pentagram, and silver circles interfere with Scrying.

This spell is perfect for a spy, thief, scholar, merchant, or anyone who could benefit from the ability to regularly peer in on different locales. There’s no need to wonder if the flood washed out that key bridge, or if the bandits have set up their toll stop again—just scry away, and hope that what you see is accurate! Private investigators specializing in infidelity might not need much more that just this spell to make a solid living. Those with Alertness, Acute Hearing, Literacy, Scholar, and languages might make the most of what is seen and heard with Scrying, though other talents, such as Architect, Area Knowledge, Detect Traps, and Recognize Value could be usefully employed while Scrying.

Despite what Scrying offers, I’ve seldom seen a player choose it for their wizard. I don’t recall ever having taken it for any of mine, though I have come close.

Conversation starters
  • How often do players choose this spell for their characters in your games?
  • How often do you give this spell to NPCs?
  • Do you use Scrying as-is? If not, what tweaks have you added?
  • How does the “He who sees is seen” warning play out at your table?
  • What other spells or talents work well with Scrying?
  • In your game world or corner of Cidri, is Scrying a legal spell or tightly controlled spell?
  • How well known is the fact that being proximate to a mirrored surface makes is easier to be scried upon?
  • What other countermeasures are effective against Scrying?
  • Can one scry an unknown person or locale without some physical link? If so, is it with +1d to the IQ roll?
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Old 02-14-2023, 03:33 PM   #2
Terquem
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

The most significant abuse I've seen of this spell is a caster believing that if they can scry an individual, then they know where that individual is located.
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Old 02-14-2023, 03:34 PM   #3
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

Which enchantment is: "some mirrors are enchanted for better scrying" (ITL 26)

I have an adventure where a young lady finds someone reaching back through her mirror and so has to switch spells: https://www.hcobb.com/tft/necropus/
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Old 02-14-2023, 07:36 PM   #4
David Bofinger
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

I consider Pathfinding, Scrying, Trance, Telepathy, Detect Enemies and maybe the intentions aspect of Ward to be seriously problematic. They answer questions that should be answered by playing the game rather than by casting a spell: all sorts of plots, e.g. murder mysteries, become trivial. (I know someone is now thinking, but casting spells is part of the game, but really it's not the same.) I'd like to save them somehow, but until I figure it out I think I just want to ban them.
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Old 02-14-2023, 08:54 PM   #5
Shostak
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Bofinger View Post
I consider Pathfinding, Scrying, Trance, Telepathy, Detect Enemies and maybe the intentions aspect of Ward to be seriously problematic. They answer questions that should be answered by playing the game rather than by casting a spell: all sorts of plots, e.g. murder mysteries, become trivial. (I know someone is now thinking, but casting spells is part of the game, but really it's not the same.) I'd like to save them somehow, but until I figure it out I think I just want to ban them.
That is a problem with some knowledge spells. I have an approach to Pathfinder that I think makes it much better, but that might wait for a future GATE article.
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Old 02-14-2023, 11:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

The loss of Master Thief and the addition of "tell me" spells is one of the areas that has shifted the balance a bunch from hero to wizard from Classic to Legacy. It is a whole new world, Aladdin.
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Old 02-15-2023, 07:35 AM   #7
David Bofinger
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
The loss of Master Thief and the addition of "tell me" spells is one of the areas that has shifted the balance a bunch from hero to wizard from Classic to Legacy. It is a whole new world, Aladdin.
Agreed, though I think it's one of the less important areas since TFT thieves were sickly runts even in Classic. The most important change that helps wizards is probably Mana? There's also been a few changes the other way, like the deletion of the -4 DX penalty for non-wizard magic.
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Old 02-16-2023, 11:17 PM   #8
phiwum
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Scrying

I have given a couple of NPCs scrying. It's a useful spell to keep the PCs on their toes. (I have also had an NPC scry another NPC, for that matter. The PCs learned some of the information from that scrying, though they never learned where that info came from.)

I haven't seen any PCs take scrying yet. There was a thread a while back where folks suggested that if you want to scry a particular person, you must have a personal item from the target in your possession at the time you scry. That seems like a good idea.

I would make one exception to that rule. One can always scry through another's scrying tools. I haven't had to think much about this, but roughly, I think that one is aware of other scrying devices and perhaps can sense a device used by his target. The details are obviously left to the GM and mostly matter only if a PC can scry.

Last edited by phiwum; 02-16-2023 at 11:20 PM.
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