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Old 05-14-2020, 08:55 AM   #31
Gnome
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Cambridge, MA
Default Re: Avoiding Deathtouch? (or touch spells in general?)

I long ago house-ruled that Deathtouch and similar melee spells bypass both block and parry, partially reasoning the way other posters have (a weapon held in your hand is touching you quite directly), and partially to make melee spells like Deathtouch more attractive.

Despite this house rule, in many years of GURPS fantasy gaming no PC casters in my games have chosen melee spells. It's just too hard to pull off. You have to cast first and hold it (during which you cannot cast other spells), and then you have to hit with a melee attack, putting your squishy caster in front line danger, probably only to get your attack dodged by superior enemies that were designed to be destroyed by the skill 20+ weapon masters, not the wizard with Staff-14.

I've considered having melee spells trigger when the caster parries or is touched (like an Aura, but even more powerful as it arcs through weapons). I suspect PC wizards will still opt for buffs on the fighters, Blocking spells to avoid danger, and missile spells to do damage at a safer distance, as even this more powerful melee spell seems like an unnecessary risk (in the typical DF type game--obviously if those meatshields fighters aren't present, the calculus changes considerably!).
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Old 05-14-2020, 09:27 AM   #32
Andreas
 
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Default Re: Avoiding Deathtouch? (or touch spells in general?)

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
I'd certainly rule that meteoric iron shields can block Melee spells that bypass armor! That said, the high price of the stuff for shields and armor is mostly based on the assumption that, as in old-school times, the first thing any self-respecting dragon, lich, or necromancer will do to a hero with powerful gear is toss a few cheap-and-easy Shatter or Disintegrate spells.
In my experience it rarely made sense for the monsters to target powerful gear like that. Even in cases where items can't resist such spells, it is almost always better to use a spell which can directly disable an adventurers, since that is far more helpful than slightly reducing the effectivness of one of their enemies. There are some situations where it makes sense such as if the party only has a few weapons which can harm their foe, but that hasn't come up much.
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Old 05-14-2020, 10:15 AM   #33
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Default Re: Avoiding Deathtouch? (or touch spells in general?)

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post

In my experience it rarely made sense for the monsters to target powerful gear like that. Even in cases where items can't resist such spells, it is almost always better to use a spell which can directly disable an adventurers, since that is far more helpful than slightly reducing the effectivness of one of their enemies. There are some situations where it makes sense such as if the party only has a few weapons which can harm their foe, but that hasn't come up much.
I'm surprised.

The thing about adventurers is that they're often largely or entirely immune to fight-winning magic. They have high HT and Will (and often special abilities like Magic Resistance, or Mental Strength and Body Control skills) that make "save or suck" spells nigh-worthless. They have scads of DR and healing that severely curb the effectiveness of jets and Missile spells. They usually show up to a fight buffed . . . Armor, Missile Shield, Shield, Strengthen Will, Vigor, you name it, with a Magic Resistance spell coming last. All in all, bad guys have more luck using their magic to do exactly the same for themselves and their minions, and to make bits of battlefield annoying.

But an interesting thing about Magic Resistance (native or granted by a spell) and some buffs (like the Armor spell) is that they affect a person but not that person's gear. A wizard is supposed to be smart, so I think a boss-level caster is extremely likely to try to burn, corrode, disintegrate, melt, shape, or teleport away anything that poses them a serious danger, or that provides extreme DR against their minions or direct-damage spells. Most such castings take one second and aren't resisted (and Disintegrate and Shatter bypass object DR: "Subject's DR does not protect it.") . . . by contrast to the ridiculous casting time of Dispel Magic, which is resisted.

Maybe it's just me, but I think a necromancer is likely to find it much more effective to disintegrate a warrior's armor and weapon, leaving him fighting a zombie horde naked, than to use those seconds of casting trying and probably failing to affect the warrior with slow, expensive, Resisted spells like Entombment and Evisceration. Or to do that to an enemy caster's power item . . .
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Old 05-14-2020, 11:11 AM   #34
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Default Re: Avoiding Deathtouch? (or touch spells in general?)

This is now major thread veer: I ran a lengthy campaign where special swords (with some kind of scary name, I believe "Entropy Shards") were the standard weapons of any minion of the campaign arch-nemesis above the "fodder" level. These blades had a good chance of disintegrating any weapon that parried them or that they parried – though they weren't powerful enough to disintegrate suits of armor, and couldn't affect living targets. The only way to fully avoid this effect was to use such a sword (it was immune to its own juju) or a weapon that was immune to magic; otherwise, you were left trying to avoid crossing swords, hoping the disintegration damage roll would be low, or using Luck to weasel out of it.

There were plenty of these swords to go around, but they were widely known to be capital-E Evil and suspected to attract monsters, so nobody would buy them from the PCs. That left using them or . . . not. Interestingly, the players were not keen on using these things, as that meant disintegrating loot. Plus these swords came in a single style that not everyone was skilled with, and were significantly less effective than the PCs' fine, magical, etc. weapons in all respects save for the special ability. A few PCs carried them around for use against strong foes with clubs and other cheap weapons, but most of the players weren't willing to carry the extra encumbrance or risk attracting monsters.
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Old 05-14-2020, 12:08 PM   #35
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Default Re: Avoiding Deathtouch? (or touch spells in general?)

My PCs have all opted for Orichalcum weapons and armor for fear of effects that may destroy their equipment. These are expensive of course, but not that much more expensive than meteoric, and oh so much more versatile, since they can also be used to parry the impossibly heavy weapons of giants without fear of breakage.
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