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Old 04-12-2012, 03:40 AM   #1
Saabre
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default See Secrets spell

I'm running a DF game and my mage is taking See Secrets. Currently she only has it at 16, but I know from past experience that it isn't that hard to get spells up to 20 and since See Secrets only has a cost to maintain of 2 it would be maintainable indefinitely for free. At which point all secret doors, traps, etc. become automatically found, and also encroaches on the Rogue's niche.

Has anyone else had a problem with this spell and does anyone have any suggestions?

My first thought was to remove the option to maintain it. I don't necessarily have a problem with it being cast when the player believes there is something to find. Just with it automatically finding everything.

As I'm typing this, another idea has come to me. To change the spell so that it gives a bonus to skills used to find Secrets. Cost would be 1 per +1 bonus received and the bonus would apply to all skills when used to find Secrets. If I went this route I'd probably limit it to +5 which should realistically be needed. Duration would stay the same, but if I went with this, do y'all think the cost to maintain should be the same as that to cast or half what it cost to cast? I'm leaning towards half.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:30 AM   #2
mlangsdorf
 
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Copious use of small no-mana zones and materials that are immune to magic can help power down this spell, but as written it is too powerful.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:42 AM   #3
bcd
 
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

In DF, anything secret that is not somehow magically protected isn't effectively secret to delvers. Anyone with any kind of means will make sure to employ a counter to See Secrets and similar magicks for those secrets that actually matter.

The most obvious counter would be to hide in plain sight. That is, don't make it a secret at all. Announce your treasure within the flavour text and hope the players don't take note of, e.g., the dusty crystal chandelier which in fact is made of valuable gems. Or that the torch holders are fashioned from meteoric iron.

Another would be to have so many secrets around the place, most of which ultimately turn out to be trivial and uninteresting, the secret-seer is swamped by what are effectively false positives.

If there is a god of secrets or of trickery within the setting then it wouldn't be unreasonable to let his followers pray to him to get some divine secrecy into action, e.g., let a devout follower get a 15+MoS Power secrecy charm with a Religious Ritual roll to conceal whatever he feels like. If this god is sufficiently mercenary (and it wouldn't really take a lot) then even non-followers would come to his priests to have them conceal their various secrets.

Naturally big secrets that are otherwise unprotected might simply attract protectors some way or the other. A secret high mana node might have attracted a mana demon that has weaved spells of secrecy over the place. He may even have simply done it out of principle and then moved on never to return.

Additionally, Remove Aura will be routinely used to whitewash the past in such a setting.

Then of course there are the spells to actively protect secrets, which any serious dungeon builder surely has access to one way or the other.

Between all of these I generally assume all secrets worth being kept secret in a DF setting to have an innate Power 15-25 Scryguard or similar on it.

Now, with all that out of the way there is also a lot to be said for just allowing See Secrets to see pretty much everything that isn't explicitly under protection. This will lead the delvers into foregoing manual means of finding secrets, because the spell finds them all anyway, and so they will never find the real good stuff because that will be behind Power 30+ scryguards that really need a good proper thief to ferret out.

I also quite like the idea of the dungeon with lots of unprotected secrets that lead to various forms of traps, and most of the actual treasure protected by scryguards.
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:02 AM   #4
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saabre View Post
Has anyone else had a problem with this spell and does anyone have any suggestions?
I've made a few rulings, since one of my players started with See Secrets-19 or 20 (he went with Magery 6 on his wizard).

Here is what I sent to my players to make it clear how I'd run it:

"- The line "stand out clearly in the subject's vision" only applies literally.
Hidden trap door? You see it. Trap door under the rug? Not "in the
subject's vision" so it doesn't stand out. Secret panel under the
table? Did you
look under the table? No? You don't see it. Etc.

- "subject's vision" applies normally. Per rolls (with bonuses and
penalties for vision - darkness, Acute Vision, etc.) to spot this
stuff unless it's totally obvious.

- "deliberately hidden" and "put behind something" aren't the same
thing, so if the Orc King keeps his Chest O' Gold in a closet, the
closet isn't going to show up as special. But if it's in a secret
compartment in the bottom of the closet and you're looking in there,
you'll see the secret compartment. As an example if Honus hadn't torn
down the curtains in the gnoll chief's room, the secret door behind
one of them wouldn't have been in Inquisitor Marco's vision and thus
wouldn't have been revealed.

So this spell is a really, really useful tool. But it won't replace
searching or actual looking. It just makes detection of hidden things
within your sight automatically successful."


My players have argued otherwise, but it's "See Secrets" and not "Detect Hidden Objects." If you can't see the thing, you can't see the hidden portion. It doesn't replace search.

I'd also make sure you're enforcing the -1 for a spell up at all times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saabre View Post
As I'm typing this, another idea has come to me. To change the spell so that it gives a bonus to skills used to find Secrets. Cost would be 1 per +1 bonus received and the bonus would apply to all skills when used to find Secrets. If I went this route I'd probably limit it to +5 which should realistically be needed. Duration would stay the same, but if I went with this, do y'all think the cost to maintain should be the same as that to cast or half what it cost to cast? I'm leaning towards half.
I've thought about this, but it's too late to do it in my game. It's effectively a + to Per, only for seeing deliberately hidden things, which is nice, but coupled with a Per 15+ guy what's the difference, really?
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:23 AM   #5
bcd
 
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post
As an example if Honus hadn't torn
down the curtains in the gnoll chief's room, the secret door behind
one of them wouldn't have been in Inquisitor Marco's vision and thus
wouldn't have been revealed.
This does get tricky because if the curtains were hung there with the intention of concealing the secret door then they are part of the secret and should show up. If on the other hand they were hung there for decoration then they should not and removing them is necessary so you can see the secret door itself.

Of course, since the intent at the time of furnishing matters, Remove Aura should work well to conceal that.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:01 AM   #6
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcd View Post
This does get tricky because if the curtains were hung there with the intention of concealing the secret door then they are part of the secret and should show up. If on the other hand they were hung there for decoration then they should not and removing them is necessary so you can see the secret door itself.
To me, the intention behind hanging the curtains doesn't enter into it. If you can't see the secret door because there are curtains in the way, you can't see the secret door. Period. Spell or no spell. It says "Causes hidden items, doors, traps, etc., to stand out clearly in the subject’s vision." A door behind a curtain is not in the subject's vision, so it doesn't stand out. The curtain is not hidden, so it doesn't stand out in their vision. Move the curtain and you'll see the door that is otherwise cunningly hidden from normal view.

I found this is a very, very easy way to run the spell. It's still incredibly useful, and quite powerful, but if you strictly follow the letter of "in the subject's vision" then it's not overwhelming.

Also, for secret doors and traps - just because you see the door or spot the trap, doesn't mean you know how to open it or how to disarm or avoid the trap. Forewarned is forearmed, not invulnerable.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:26 AM   #7
Kromm
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saabre View Post

Has anyone else had a problem with this spell and does anyone have any suggestions?
Before endorsing a couple of other comments, I'll add something that I haven't seen mentioned yet: It's traditional to put some secrets that matter in places that wizards are unlikely to go. It's all well and good for the wizard to cast See Secrets, but that doesn't help the thief who's around a bend or up a small shaft, or the scout who's moving through trap-filled scrub 100 yards ahead. Unless the group never scouts, this is a moderately big deal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post

Copious use of small no-mana zones and materials that are immune to magic can help
For instance, DF canonically sells entire greatswords and breastplates of meteoric iron at shops in town, so the stuff must be fairly abundant. A few ounces for a small poisoned needle or a tiny trigger wire ought to be affordable enough for dungeon-building Dark Lords.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post

I've made a few rulings
At least one of these isn't a house rule, even:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post

"subject's vision" applies normally. Per rolls (with bonuses and penalties for vision - darkness, Acute Vision, etc.) to spot this stuff unless it's totally obvious.
That's how all vision-based detection spells work. Secrets do not glow in the dark, allowing the wizard to spot them even if he can't see in the dark. They do not announce themselves through solid matter, allowing the wizard to notice them even if he hasn't also cast Earth Vision or Glass Wall. And they do not shoot laser beams from the end of a 100'-long corridor, allowing the wizard to see them even if he couldn't make a Vision roll at -8. In your typical adventure scenario, a good proportion of secrets will be obscured from vision so well that this spell does very little on its own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post

To me, the intention behind hanging the curtains doesn't enter into it. If you can't see the secret door because there are curtains in the way, you can't see the secret door.
That is correct. See Secrets improves contrast on stuff you can see, using whatever visual capabilities you have – ordinary Vision roll, Night Vision, Infravision, sense-enhancing spells, whatever – so that the barely recessed outline, seamless join, cleverly camouflaged hole in the carved statue's eye, or whatever stands out when you gaze upon it. It improves your brain's ability to process the signals it's already receiving and trigger a "Wait, what's that?" response. See Secrets does not give you every other vision-enhancing spell for free, or high-tech T-ray vision. Again, this isn't a house rule.



I'd say that the top tips here are:
  1. Instead of having all your secrets rely on quality of fit and cunning patterns for camouflage, have some of them rely on distance, cover (from curtains to stone walls), or obscuration (darkness, fog, vegetation, etc.).

  2. Place some secrets where the person using See Secrets can't or won't go or look.

  3. Use antimagic, from Scryguard on the secret to a secret made of meteoric iron, whenever the person who put the secret there is the sort who would be clued in about magic.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:32 AM   #8
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saabre View Post
I'm running a DF game and my mage is taking See Secrets. Currently she only has it at 16, but I know from past experience that it isn't that hard to get spells up to 20 and since See Secrets only has a cost to maintain of 2 it would be maintainable indefinitely for free. At which point all secret doors, traps, etc. become automatically found, and also encroaches on the Rogue's niche.
.
As far as the niche encroachment goes, point out that spells can be cast on other people, and it would be more effective to give the ability to reliably see traps to the person with the skills to disarm traps. And yes, there are going to be enchantments to protect hidden things from See Secrets.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:53 AM   #9
Anthony
 
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Since see secrets only detects things that were deliberately hidden, I assume that this implies that the act of willfully hiding something marks the object in some way. Therefore, something that is 'hidden' by an agent that lacks will (such as a golem, zombie, or machine) will not be detected, and the remove aura spell will erase the mark (this is explicit in the case of see secrets). In addition, protections on the hider at the time the item was hidden apply to later detection. However, later use by someone aware of the secret may reveal it.

In general, I make a rule that any spell that requires knowing the purpose or history of an object functions based on marks on its aura created by those using it who were aware of that purpose or history, and those marks are affected by mana level. This makes spells such as Recipe and Schematic quite marginal on objects manufactured by machine or in low to no mana zones. Also, because I'm mean, remove aura isn't a contest, it just causes the spell to fail.

Last edited by Anthony; 04-12-2012 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:58 PM   #10
jeff_wilson
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Default Re: See Secrets spell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Since see secrets only detects things that were deliberately hidden, I assume that this implies that the act of willfully hiding something marks the object in some way. Therefore, something that is 'hidden' by an agent that lacks will (such as a golem, zombie, or machine) will not be detected, and the remove aura spell will erase the mark
It's cheating to stipulate a spell has a dualistic moral basis for working and then justify a countermeasure with materialism. Montressor could as easily say his trowel hid Fortunato's body, not him.
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