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TOPIC: Refresh of sor­cery pools

Refresh of sor­cery pools 4 years 11 months ago #1649

  • Michael
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Ok, so here now the long, detailed reply:

First of all, Mozusuke is 100% right. Even though Enslave­ment does not require any exter­nal actions (words, ges­tures, etc.) on the sorcerer’s part other than merely look­ing into the victim’s eyes, it still requires his full sor­cer­ous atten­tion. It is not like chew­ing gum while doing some­thing else (fight­ing or what­ever), but rather like solv­ing a dif­fi­cult equa­tion in your head — not some­thing you can do while your atten­tion is dis­tracted.

That said, sor­cery in melee sit­u­a­tions — all sor­cery, not just Enslave­ment — works pretty much like mis­sile com­bat in melee sit­u­a­tions. That is, you can use your pool, whether AP or SP, once, and only once per Lime­light. It doesn’t mat­ter that you have got a brace of throw­ing knives read­ily slung and it only takes a moment to flick a new one at your oppo­nents, you get to use that AP only once. And the same holds true for the SP.

The game design rea­son for this is that we do not want the archer’s player to mar­gin­al­ize the swordsman’s player by tak­ing down a series of ene­mies in the time the swords­man is fight­ing one, no more than we want the sor­cerer to rat­tle of sor­cery after sor­cery. As in-​game logic one can well and emi­nently plau­si­bly assume that the influx of the fun­da­men­tally alien and eldritch sor­cer­ous ener­gies stag­gers the sor­cerer meta­phys­i­cally and thus requires at least a tiny reprieve — say, a few sec­onds, if you have to put a tag to it — before such ener­gies can again be chan­neled.

There is how­ever noth­ing to pre­vent a sor­cerer from begin­ning a Lime­light using his MP and then switch­ing over to a sor­cer­ous action and using his SP. This would be gov­erned by exactly the same mechan­ics like some­body switch­ing over from using his MP to using his AP. As we don’t want to give meele com­bat­ants a “free” addi­tional mis­sile attack (free com­pared to mis­sile com­bat­ants, for whom the mis­sile attack is their only action), such a switch is nor­mally only pos­si­ble mid-​Round. The same is true for a sor­cer­ous melee com­bat­ant who sud­denly wants to use the Enslave­ment Mys­tery (pretty much the only one that is fast enough to be used in the mid­dle of an ongo­ing bout); he would have to switch over mid-​Round, with a (hefty) penalty to his SP depend­ing on how much of his MP he already spent. Which I hope has answered this ques­tion, if I have under­stood it cor­rectly:

Sniper­Tur­tle wrote:
Would you allow a PC to ‘wait for the per­fect moment’ (e.g. until after inflict­ing some wounds — and there­fore pain — on an enemy to make his resis­tance roll harder) within a Lime­light or would he auto­mat­i­cally go first? Is the reward to big for the risks taken or would that work just fine?
It would be pos­si­ble under the above pro­vi­sions — the sor­cerer must switch mid-​Round. He may not fight, say, two com­plete Rounds, and then, at the begin­ning of Round three and being the aggres­sor, declare an appli­ca­tion of Enslave­ment; that would be abus­ing the mechan­ics. He may only do it at the begin­ning of Exchange Two, with the expense of what­ever he has done in Exchange One eat­ing into his SP and thus rep­re­sent­ing the rigours of invok­ing a sor­cery in the mid­dle of a hec­tic melee hus­tle.

By and large, I would rec­om­mend this only for very pow­er­ful sor­cer­ers with very high SPs. And a far bet­ter strat­egy for all sor­cer­ers with SPs both high and low would be to begin the Lime­light with the inten­tion of using Enslave­ment, thus avoid­ing the need to use the MP in the first place. Though I can see that it is fun to once in a while play a rather phys­i­cal Dab­bler who ter­ror­izes both by force of arms and sor­cery; my own Prince Shahrul is after all cut from this very cloth…

IanP. wrote:
Can you even see the opponent’s eyes if they are in a visored helm? In other words, how would the sor­cerer know the war­rior is look­ing into their eyes?
Allow me a few obser­va­tions, most of which need not be con­sid­ered part of the rules “as writ­ten” (for what­ever this is worth), but rather my pri­vate pre­ferred appli­ca­tion of them.

It is my under­stand­ing that a melee com­bat­ant is trained to watch his opponent’s eyes, as the eyes will give away his inten­tions first. I have heard mar­tial artists both East­ern and West­ern say that it is eas­ier to lie with body lan­guage than with your eyes. In all my games I do there­fore assume that the default is that some­body fac­ing a sor­cerer in com­bat is look­ing at his eyes, which I equal with “into his eyes”, should the sor­cerer wish to rec­i­p­ro­cate the gaze. Pro­vided my under­stand­ing of a melee combatant’s point of atten­tion is cor­rect, this is the one item that can pretty much be con­sid­ered canon­i­cal.

It is fur­ther­more my assump­tion that the eyes of a sor­cerer know­ing the Enslave­ment Mys­tery have a hyp­notic qual­ity draw­ing other people’s gaze like a mag­net, espe­cially when he is invok­ing his sor­cer­ous power of Enslave­ment. I do there­fore assume that any­body who has the sor­cerer in more than just his periph­eral vision will auto­mat­i­cally look into the sorcerer’s eyes when the sor­cerer is direct­ing his hyp­notic gaze at him. This is also how the Enslave­ment Mys­tery is being used against sev­eral per­sons at once. So, the way I han­dle Enslave­ment, it doesn’t mat­ter whether the intended vic­tim is wear­ing a visor, or mir­rored shades — the moment the sor­cerer directs his mes­mer­iz­ing eyes at him, the victim’s gaze is drawn irre­sistibly. And the sor­cerer knows that the victim’s gaze is being drawn (this is not some kind of super­nat­ural knowl­edge, but merely the sorcerer’s expe­ri­ence with the Mys­tery and its effects). This is how­ever a mere — though imo very plau­si­ble — inter­pre­ta­tion of Enslave­ment, so it need by no means be con­sid­ered canon­i­cal.

Now what if the intended vic­tim is delib­er­ately avoid­ing the sorcerer’s gaze? In that case, the sor­cerer can­not work the Mys­tery — but as a ref­eree, I imple­ment or allow this under only three cir­cum­stances:

1) The vic­tim knows the Occultism Skill or the Enslave­ment Mys­tery, or he has very often wit­nessed its use (for exam­ple being the com­pan­ion of a sor­cerer using the Mys­tery fre­quently in the character’s pres­ence).

2) The vic­tim has him­self already been the vic­tim­ized by Enslave­ment through this very sor­cerer at least once, or at least twice in total by other sor­cer­ers. Only hav­ing been the vic­tim one­self counts, not hav­ing wit­nessed the use of Enslave­ment, unless hav­ing wit­nessed it very fre­quently, see above.

3) The vic­tim has recently been warned against either look­ing into this person’s eyes or into any sorcerer’s eyes (and knows or sus­pects that the per­son is a sor­cerer). I require that any such warn­ing has been recent; hav­ing once or twice or even ten times in the past been told that sor­cer­ers’ eyes should be avoided is in my games not suf­fi­cient to recall this in the heat of con­flict, when adren­a­lin is pump­ing.

If any of those three things applies, I declare that a NPC avoids a sorcerer’s gaze, or allow a PC’s dec­la­ra­tion to this end to stand; oth­er­wise I assess the in-​game rea­sons for doing so insuf­fi­cient and do not allow it. This entire approach is how­ever depen­dant on the set­ting. If sor­cer­ers are suf­fi­ciently com­mon in your set­ting that most peo­ple have at some time deal­ings with a sor­cerer, it can be assumed that the power of a sorcerer’s gaze is com­mon knowl­edge and every­body knows to avoid it. We wouldn’t rec­om­mend that, though, not only because it goes agains the tenets of Sword & Sor­cery, but mostly because it makes the Mys­tery quite use­less. If you absolutely have to head down this path, we would rec­om­mend some other boost to Enslave­ment to com­pen­sate, like it also work­ing against ani­mals.

(Return­ing to the visored hel­met for a moment: If some­body wear­ing such a hel­met and know­ing to avoid a sorcerer’s gaze becomes the tar­get of Enslave­ment, the sor­cerer has indeed no means of know­ing that the vic­tim is not look­ing into his eyes — from his expe­ri­ence, his hyp­notic gaze is irre­sistible and unavoid­able and there is no rea­son for him not to go ahead with the sor­cery, unaware that it can­not suc­ceed. In such a case the sor­cerer is in for the very painful sur­prise of an entirely wasted sor­cer­ous action and an utterly unim­peded oppo­nent. The cun­ning sor­cerer will thus avoid using Enslave­ment on a vic­tim whose eyes he can­not see clearly and of whom he has even the least cause to sus­pect that he has knowl­edge of this Mystery’s work­ings.)

You will find that all of the above makes Enslave­ment quite pow­er­ful, even though it can not be rat­tled off Exchange after Exchange. But that’s how we like it. This power is also the rea­son for the rule that a mere Dab­bler may not select both Enslave­ment and Witch­fire — hav­ing both would make him in our opin­ion into more of a pyrotech­ni­cal com­bat sor­cerer than war­ranted by a mere C Pick.

Finally, a word about light­ing: In my games, light is needed to look into a sorcerer’s eyes. It need not be bright light, but if it is too dark to clearly dis­cern fea­tures, it is also too dark to look into somebody’s eyes; just use com­mon sense. And if you want to, feel free to make the eyes of a sor­cerer using the Enslave­ment Mys­tery actu­ally glow with an eldritch light of their own, allow­ing its use even in pitch dark­ness. Apart from remov­ing the one weak­ness of an already pow­er­ful Mys­tery, tak­ing this approach is a ques­tion of flavour and the actual “look” of sor­cery in your game — some­thing we delib­er­ately left vague, to fit as many tastes and set­tings as possible.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
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Refresh of sor­cery pools 4 years 11 months ago #1650

  • IanP.
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Michael wrote:
It is my under­stand­ing that a melee com­bat­ant is trained to watch his opponent’s eyes, as the eyes will give away his inten­tions first. I have heard mar­tial artists both East­ern and West­ern say that it is eas­ier to lie with body lan­guage than with your eyes. In all my games I do there­fore assume that the default is that some­body fac­ing a sor­cerer in com­bat is look­ing at his eyes, which I equal with “into his eyes”, should the sor­cerer wish to rec­i­p­ro­cate the gaze. Pro­vided my under­stand­ing of a melee combatant’s point of atten­tion is cor­rect, this is the one item that can pretty much be con­sid­ered canonical.

In my expe­ri­ence, this isn’t the case.

As a com­bat­ant I need as much infor­ma­tion about my oppo­nent, from moment to moment, as pos­si­ble. The more infor­ma­tion I have the more informed my deci­sions — even if these deci­sions are com­ing from muscle-​memory rather than an in-​depth cog­ni­tive analy­sis — and the bet­ter my actions or reac­tions.

If I allow my atten­tion to fix on a spe­cific point — say the blade hand — then that focus starts exclud­ing infor­ma­tion from the periph­ery. That’s dan­ger­ous. So while it is true that you don’t want to focus your atten­tion on the blade hand, or the blade itself, or the shoul­ders, or the hips — what you do want is all of that infor­ma­tion from all of those loca­tions, equally weighted in terms of focus. The way to do that is to not look at any of them specif­i­cally, but instead to look towards your opponent’s face with­out focussing on it and instead take that infor­ma­tion from periph­eral vision.

If I attack I cer­tainly don’t look at the loca­tion I am going to strike. That’s telegraph­ing, pure and sim­ple. It is also com­pletely counter-​productive — as Blade so ele­gantly encodes in its mechan­ics, the first strike is rarely done with intent to wound. Instead there are a series of strikes — coun­ters — ripostes lead­ing to an open­ing that is exploited. So in strik­ing, I am expect­ing a defence and counter. If I am focussed intently on where I will strike, I am receiv­ing less infor­ma­tion about the antic­i­pated counter. That’s dan­ger­ous. Most strikes are “look away”, mean­ing that the eyes are not look­ing at the tar­get loca­tion.

How­ever, that said I am happy for what you say to be the case with Blade. It is the ratio­nale behind the design and main­tains an inter­nal logic that is con­sis­tent. So thumbs-​up from me!

Regards,
Ian P.
Fama nihil est celerius
– Noth­ing is swifter than rumour…
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Refresh of sor­cery pools 4 years 11 months ago #1658

  • Michael
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Michael wrote:
It is my under­stand­ing that a melee com­bat­ant is trained to watch his opponent’s eyes, as the eyes will give away his inten­tions first.
IanP. wrote:
In my expe­ri­ence, this isn’t the case. (…)
Thanks for your elab­o­ra­tion, Ian. As I believe you are prac­tic­ing some mar­tial art your­self, recall­ing this from a dis­cus­sion on throt­tling back on tros­fans, your insights are most wel­come.

They also demon­strate to me that I mis­un­der­stood mar­tial artists when they spoke about watch­ing an opponent’s face and/​or eyes, at least about the extent they are watch­ing. Your expla­na­tion makes per­fect sense, and every­thing much clearer.

I don’t want to go into a detailed dis­cus­sion of melee in the sorcery-​subforum, all the more so as your clar­i­fi­ca­tion doesn’t con­tra­dict my pre­ferred appli­ca­tion of our rules – namely that the eyes of a sor­cerer using Enslave­ment do draw the gaze of the intended vic­tims, pro­vided the eyes are in view oft he vic­tim and that the vic­tim isn’t actively try­ing to avoid look­ing into the sorcerer’s eyes.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
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