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Old 07-23-2021, 03:30 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Concentrate vs Attack maneuvers and using Secret Spell : Sacrifice from Horror Magic

This requires that caster kills victim as part of a ritual (melee attack, hands on) but one normally take Concentrate maneuvers to cast spells.

Aside from using Compartmentalized Mind (base maneuver is Attack, use extra Concentrate maneuver to cast) how could you actually accomplish this?

Since you wouldn't need CM all the time, if you wanted to buy it just for this purpose you could probably get a cheap "CM just lasts 29 seconds and then needs 5 minutes down" from Maximum Duration (I think that's -75%) so you'd only get brief spurts of "casting whilst attacking" capacity to use in situations where you need it like this...

The only way I know of to inflict damage with just your basic concentrate maneuver is if you get attacked and use a weapon to parry, but even then it can only be done at the attacking limb which isn't likely to instantaneously kill a target.

This makes me wonder if we need some kind of advanced "Interdiction" technique with ultra-high limitations that amounts do "do a very weak easy-to-avoid attack using a parry on an adjacent foe" so that parries during Concentrate maneuvers can be used to do ritualistic attacks?

Since it might take multiple hits to kill a foe, timing the completion of the spell to the moment of death could be very tricky and seems like this is a niche area for the "Continuous Ceremony" perk, so it doesn't actually go off until just as they expire.

(though you might still need some skill or spell to know when that is? otherwise what if you think you killed a sacrifice but they're faking so you'd waste the spell)

This might just be a concern for "Solitary Ceremonial" though because I do notice it says "the caster(s) kill the victim" which implies more than one person can be considered to be casting...

B238's description of ceremonial magic seems to imply there's still just one "caster" (the leader) while others involved as just "assistants" with their spell knowledge just letting them contribute more energy.

The key phrase maybe I'm not understanding is "The composition of the group may change, as long as the ritual continues uninterrupted"

Does -composition- maybe mean that if you have more than one mage knowing a spells at 15+ that perhaps they can swap out from the "leader" position (ie leader 1 who initiated casting takes a smoke break and assistant 1 becomes leader 1?) but maybe the 1st caster still counts as the "caster" and is thus freed to do an Attack maneuver without disrupting the casting time accumulation?

Another possibility that occurs to me is that while you use a hands-on method to kill the sacrifice, it perhaps doesn't need to be "dies immediately on that turn"? Like for example if you did a small cut but kept the wound open and they slowly bled to death and you timed it so that the death from blood loss (HP went down, HT roll failed) happened at the exact moment you finished your 60 minutes of casting?

In that case you could do the attack maneuver BEFORE your 60*60=3600 consecutive concentrate maneuvers so it wouldn't need to interrupt them...

I don't know if that would be considered too "hands off" though. If too much time passes does the magic not recognize that you're the one who caused the wound? Or what if some factor besides you causes the wound to stop clotting (ie your victim uses Affliction: Hemophilia on himself) messing up the causality?

To avoid weirdness (ie "I bit your finger and it got infected and you died from that a month later, but I still hands-on killed you to fulfill the ritual requirements to take your energy) maybe there could be some time-based penalties?

One idea might be to borrow the days>miles tweak to B241's Long Distance Modifiers that Powers 109 introduced under Time-Spanning? This would be the temporal distance between the maneuver where you inflicted a melee attack on the target, and the time they took to die from complications resulting from that wound (blood loss, poison, infection, etc)

Days seems like a long time though so maybe it could be something more straightforward like -1 to skill per 5 minutes? That's be -12 if you attacked a full 60 minutes before their death, not outside the realm of possibility.

One major downside to this being a 0-energy spell is that probably prevents the usual approach w/ ceremonial magic of pumping extra energy into a spell to improve effective skill level... since that's based on a %.

One idea might perhaps to be to actually give this spell a cost (even something like 1 energy) so it is possible. This would also make it pointless to use on something like an IQ1/HP1 housefly since you wouldn't make any net gain.

One other good reason to apply a cost to this spell is if it's effects stack with some of the optional Thaumatology rules for it. Like if T55's "Sacrifice Values and Character Points" was a basic rule, then all mages (or maybe those with an Extra Option perk? one of the things I didn't see in Magical Styles) then CP-based energy value might stack with IQxH value (H being lower of HP or HT)

SS:S seems basically to combine T54 bullet 3/3 ("Sacrifice Spell" instead "Simple Sacrifices" or "Skill Use") with T57 bullet 3/4 (the "more complex rule") but maybe there could be multiple ways to sacrifice people?

Like if you knew more than one (an Extra Option perk for "Simple Sacrifices" but not "Spell Use" since it has no value other than fulfilling this requirement) you might either sum the benefits, or else if you could only benefit from one at a time, choose one technique or the other for maximal output
(ie the IQ 1 HP 1 HT 1 magical indestructible mouse with DR 1000 would give more energy via the 'character point' formula ... so if you knew it had 1000 DR and knew both ways, your mage would opt for CP-based not IQ-based)
To avoid exploits there should also probably be some clearer ideas on what 'death' is so you don't have stuff like a IQ10/HP10/HT10 (100 energy per sacrifice!) "dying" and then getting brought back to life via an infinitely-reusable resurrection ability (though I'm not sure if there is one, the spells and even Powers 151 have max-use limits) in some kind of energy loop.

One potential problem I can see with this is spells which can actually create characters you then sacrifice... like for example you created a 0cp elemental in 0 seconds for zero energy (M28's gives no minimum cost/time/cp for Create, unlike Summon which has a minimum energy cost of 4).

We know that sub-40cp elementals can exist since spending the 4 min on summon "will not always summon a 40- point being)." You need GM permission to change/add/subtract advantages/disadvantages but that doesn't seem to include attributes.

So if for example you made an earth elemental you can't change DR or homogenous to make it easier to kill (either would need GM permission) or introduce something like "Vulnerability: my magic knife", but you could do basic stuff like lower it's HP and HT (though either of those obviously lower's it's value as sacrifice).

So say for example you used M55's Small Earth Elemental template and just dropped DX by 2 points (now it's a 0cp template) now you can create them instantly for 0 energy and just kill them off?

Maybe "kill yourself" or "don't resist when I kill you" goes beyond the paramters of what Control Elemental / Create Elemental allow you to do? I'm not sure how far "serves obediently" goes, so you might need to do extra steps to prevent the elemental from defending itself or fleeing if you try to use it as a sacrifice.

some ideas for avoiding this might be to tweak Sacrifice rules like with how you use the lesser of HT and HP, instead of IQ use the lesser of IQ and Will? This would prevent stuff like designing an elemental with high IQ and low Will so that it has high sacrifice value and will cooperate with your request to kill it (whether you're attempting that via spells or influence skills)

To slow down "rapidly making elementals, you just can't keep up!" sort of approaches for wispy 0 cp elementals, perhaps newly created elements should start with 0hp and 0fp ? So to get them up to full power you'd need to let them rest for a bit.

This could also be used to limit sacrifice output if you made it "the lesser of HP or HT or current FP" because then you couldn't immediately sacrifice an elemental for energy until it rested. Plus it would prevent other exploits like "my necromancer casts Steal Energy on his elemental" from being immediately viable unless you designed an elemental w/ Regeneration (with GM permission) to rapidly refill it's FP.

This would also solve some of the problems with doing a magical sacrifice of a sentient machine since a lot of them lack FP (same with some zombies) but they do have HT/HP and sometimes IQ.

One's current HP and FP don't have a character point value so there doesn't seem to be anything off about having a newly constructed ally not being at full capacity.

If you want an easy way to have them start that way you could always treat them as 0HP/0FP by default and use "Impulse Buys" to fill either (ie design them with unspent CP which is spent immediately or later) which is a pretty moderate tax that could at least slightly curb exploitation of Create Elemental for low/zero CP (can you even create negative CP elementals? can't exactly get negative time or cost!)

B137's Fragile: Unnatural also seems like something worth looking at when deciding on energy output for sacrifices. This is accounted for when it's based on total CP value (it lowers it) but not for IQxH products.

It would be much easier to time the sacrificial deaths of Unnatural things (automatic death at negative HP, no unpredictable HT saves throwing off the apex of your ritual, less need for a Continuous Ritual perk) while at the same time it seems like these creatures would offer less "life value" if you even consider them to be alive at all.
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Old 07-23-2021, 04:12 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Re: Concentrate vs Attack maneuvers and using Secret Spell : Sacrifice from Horror Ma

Another possible anti-exploit thing I just thought of (and relative simple to implement) would be when using IQ for the energy formula, it could be "current effective IQ" rather than "maximum IQ".

This would for example, involve shock reducing energy output for creatures lacking High Pain Threshold. If they died from a 4 dmg attack then -4 to IQ would mean no energy at all from creatures with IQ 1-4 and a mere 1x multiplier from IQ 5 sacrifices.

You could avoid that by using a series of smaller attacks (the final blow that kills them does just 1 damage, only -1 to IQ) but that could make the timing of the spells culmination a lot trickier since 4 HP will more reliably cause a Death Check for an animal than 1 HP will.

Also if we inverted the High HP and Shock rules rules for Low HP creaturs (ie if you are -1 to IQ per 2injury with max HP 20 then you could be -2 to IQ per 1 injury for HP 5) then this would further reduce the IQ multiplier for low-HP creatures. IE an IQ 4 HP 5 dog would only have a 2x multiplier (not 3x per applying usual shock) to the lower of HT/HP.

This could also apply to stuff like temporarily lowering IQ through spells like Drunkenness (M136) so if you used that to lure a potential sacrifice and tie them up, you can't keep them drunk (too stupid to escape) during your ritual, you'd need to end the spell to get maximum output of the sacrifice.

That could either be at the culmination (in which case it's not particularly limiting) or maybe it's whatever the lowest effective IQ was at any time during the 60 minutes of casting? So if during the casting the roof collapsed on your intended and he suffered -4 IQ from shock you'd probably want to restart that ritual and keep them at full IQ throughout it (after reinforcing the roof)

Another way this could reduce output is if using the optional Skull Wounds table (MA138) since that can cause a permanent IQ penalty (as can a stroke via the Neck Wounds Table) so you have a random chance of reducing your output if you kill them in a single major wound instead of gradually.

The way that High Pain Threshold would insulate at least against the 'shock during the sacrificial stab' also creates an opportunity to put the Spirit Slave ritual (Thaumatology 162) to work, since it imparts HPT. If you have access to both magic systems (SS:S is traditional magery, path of spirit rituals are Path/Book magery) then you'd probably be doing that a lot regardless since it makes them easier to entrap via other mind-manipulating magics (traditionally that -10 to will was for all purposes in 3e but 4e changed it to spells only)

Maybe to offset that, Hidebound guys should be considered -2 to effective IQ? If you have an anti-talent or incompetence for a bunch of IQ skills (art/engineering) then it begs the question if you're really enjoying the effects of an uncompromising IQ point...

Slave Mentality could also be considered... if you have IQ-8 rolls to take voluntary actions maybe you're -8 to IQ for the Sacrifice formula?

If also using the "lesser of IQ or Will" idea then the -10 to Will could also be used to prevent Spirit Slave exploitation (ie you would need to have someone who can resist you with at least Will 1 to get a multiplier)

Spirit Slave already gives it's own independent reward (immunity to spells cast by those not holding the soul jar, possible free ghost servant) so lacking Synergy with sacrifice wouldn't be horrible. If you really needed max sacrifice energy more than a ghostly servant then you could just terminate the effects of the Spirit Slave ritual just before culminating (or initiating, depending on approach) the Sacrifice spell.

Spirit Slave probably doesn't even need that "potential ghostly servant" perk. If you just let the -10 to will apply to them in the afterlife then the standard spells for manipulating ghosts (Bind / Exorcise / Lay to Rest / Summon) would be hard for them to resist. Especially since right after dying a ghost is probably effectively stunned / unconscious (ie if assigning a new char template keep their HP depleted so it takes a bit of time to shake out of the deathly stupor...)

What you could probably do is cast these rituals in advance (before even killing them) and just have them delay in going off until the point of death when they actually become valid targets.

There's probably even ways to use spirit's FP to engineer their own enslavement, like using the aforementioned necro-spell to steal it's FP to use for maintaining your Mind Control.
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create elemental, living sacrifices, sacrifice values, secret spell: sacrifice

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