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Old 10-10-2023, 03:24 PM   #1
Shostak
 
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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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Old 10-10-2023, 03:32 PM   #2
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

Special spells are Thrown spells with variant range rules by ITL 140. (Most of these have caster as subject, but it varies.)

Note for example Astral Projection and Dazzle by ITL 28.

Note that Flight is optional but Insubstantiality is imposed on the target. Which can hold a natural critter in a pentagram or at least slow the ability to run away.
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Last edited by hcobb; 10-10-2023 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 10-10-2023, 04:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

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Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
Special spells are Thrown spells with variant range rules by ITL 140. (Most of these have caster as subject, but it varies.)
No, they arenít. They are their own class of spell that use the same range penalty as Thrown spells when no other range treatment is listed.

Can we take it that you consider Special spells to actually be Thrown spells and thus able to affect and be cast by those under the influence of Insubstantiality?
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Old 10-10-2023, 05:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

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Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
No, they arenít. They are their own class of spell that use the same range penalty as Thrown spells when no other range treatment is listed.

Can we take it that you consider Special spells to actually be Thrown spells and thus able to affect and be cast by those under the influence of Insubstantiality?
Astral Projection is even more extreme and yet still subject to Dazzle.
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Old 10-10-2023, 08:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

1)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
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.
2)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
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.
For the first, I think I wouldn't use it for the character unless my caster had a very charged Staff and Powerstone. Better would be as a self-powered magic item.

For the second, using a Speed MA magic item adds 4 MA, which in this case would be better than the spell - again better as a self-powered magic item.

But what Thrown or Creation spells could do damage? OK, use sleep, freeze, or stop could cause sever problems for the Insubstantial character. Sleep could be very bad if the terreign is bad. A Staff spell's Occult should work - HCOBB notes why. Creations are all physical or energy on a physical plane level IMO - fire, a Myrmidon's sword, etc. IMO wouldn't work. There is nothing 'material' for Open Tunnel to destroy.

Does an Insubstantial person still need light to see? Dazzle would affect (but not damage) the person.

Shock Shield might be considered damaging with its Occult, but that is if the caster goes into the same hex.

Sounds like maybe some development work on special spell development for use in Insubstantial form.

Last edited by Drakenbow; 10-10-2023 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 10-10-2023, 08:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

Since the Insubstantial person can speak I assume they can hear. The IQ 20 Word of Command should work against them. No damage, but Surrender or Obey can be a problem.
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Old 10-10-2023, 09:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drakenbow View Post
1)
But what Thrown or Creation spells could do damage?
It isn't so much a question of damage but the ability to affect the insubstantial figure. Thrown spells offer a variety of effects other than damage.
Quote:
Does an Insubstantial person still need light to see? Dazzle would affect (but not damage) the person.
It isn't a question of if the insubstantial person has sight, but whether or not Special spells have any effect on them. The absence of Special spells from the spell description makes one wonder.
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Old 10-10-2023, 09:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Insubstantiality

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Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
It isn't so much a question of damage but the ability to affect the insubstantial figure. Thrown spells offer a variety of effects other than damage.

It isn't a question of if the insubstantial person has sight, but whether or not Special spells have any effect on them. The absence of Special spells from the spell description makes one wonder.
p.31 "...An Insubtantial figure can use Thrown- and Creation-type spells..but cannot use other spells or make a physical attack on other figures, whether the other figures are physical or insubstantial. Thus, combat...is purely magical. ..."

For Special spells the "treat as for range" has meaning to me as the description seem more as 'you can only throw the spell on yourself' in many of the cases or 'you need to have the item in your hand to cast on it'.

Last edited by Drakenbow; 10-10-2023 at 09:58 PM.
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