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Pit Spell Problem

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  • Pit Spell Problem

    I was just flipping through the Set 3 spells because the DM of my DA game has said we'll level up soon and I noticed the pit spell. It creates a pit that is 4 yards long, 4 yards wide and 4 yards deep and at first I was all gun ho to get this spell but then I realised that it is almost comically underpowered. If a creature falls into the pit (dex acrobatics save to avoid which is fine) they only have to take a minor action to escape and I'm a little confused by that because a 4 yard pit is 12 feet (or 3.6 metres) deep and that doesn't make sense to me that somebody could climb out of it with no test whatsoever and then go back to fighting in combat as though nothing happened to them. I know it says that they fall prone in the pit but that is still only a minor action to stand up and minor action to escape the pit which for 14 mana seems really lacklustre (especially when compared to mind blast which is 3 mana and knocks everyone in a two yard radius prone save and the saving throw is to prevent the loss their major action next round), does anyone else have a problem with this spell or is it just me?

    The spell is listed a utility spell but all of its text is about combat, can I use the spell to dig trenches? Can I use it on a castle wall to gouge out a 4x4 section and let invaders storm the castle? Can I cast the spell multiple times on the same area to make the pit deeper so trapped enemies couldn't escape?

    Edit: There is also no given range for this spell so I have to assume that it is any stone or earthen surface I can see.
    Last edited by Tom; 09-17-2014, 06:07 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Pit Spell Problem

    It doesn't seem that powerful for a combat encounter, it might be better suited for some shenanigans. I see indoor solution with a breakout/in

    3,6m deep should require a climbing test to get out of it. It's more then twice my own hight...

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    • #3
      Re: Pit Spell Problem

      Originally posted by Whyrus View Post
      3,6m deep should require a climbing test to get out of it. It's more then twice my own hight...
      I know right? I'm a big guy but you put me a hole that deep and I'm going to struggle to get out, especially if three other guys have fallen on top of me!

      The spell could lead to some great shenanigans but only if the designer intended for it to be used on vertical surfaces as well as horizontal ones then it is a 'create door' spell. Opening a 4x4 hole in any stone surface would be really cool but I think my DM may read the spell and say 'it doesn't say it can do that, all it says it that it makes pits and that it only discusses the combat application of the spell' this is why I want to get a little of clarification before I take it.
      Last edited by Tom; 09-17-2014, 06:07 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Pit Spell Problem

        Well, I'd say that this spell is one that leaves quite some room for interpretation. However, it doesn't necessarily have to be underpowered or as illogical as it seems. Let's look at those not-that-well-defined areas:
        1. Failed Dexterity(Acrobatics) means you fall prone into the hole - but what happens if you pass the test? There's nothing about free movement out of the affected area. It could be that. Or it could be that with successful test you end up standing, but at the same spot you occupied earlier... and that happens to be at the bottom of the hole. So you need two minor actions to get out on failed test, but still at least one on successful.
        2. The hole you create does NOT need to be a cube-shaped cavity with vertical walls. It's 4 yards long, 4 yards wide and 4 deep, but it's quite possible the full depth is reached only in the middle. You don't need special skill (and tests) to get out. However, that's still steep enough that you need to climb out. At GM discretion, this could well mean: you really need to use your hands. So start by sheathing your weapon, then climbing out, then drawing weapon again.

        I don't say my interpretation is the only possible one - but it makes sense... and it makes the spell actually quite powerful against human enemies. Successful test? Enjoy your 3 minor actions for putting weapon away, climbing out and drawing weapon before rejoining the fight. Test failed? Nice, add another minor action - for standing up. Catching two enemies with this shouldn't be too hard - and if you do, you have good chances of effectively immobilizing two opponents for two whole rounds. And, of course, since after the first round they only stood up and sheathed weapon, you can blast them with this baby again, making the hole 8 yards deep. I'm sure THEN the GM will consider adding a climbing test to get out

        In fact, this spell scares me the longer I think about it However, the point is - go to your GM and discuss with him how it would work in any conditions you can imagine. Including using it on marsh - with water and mud possibly filling the hole in a matter of seconds. Oh my God.
        Last edited by eliastion; 09-17-2014, 07:31 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: Pit Spell Problem

          The problem I have with your interpretation is that like the ideas I presented in the original post it operates in very grey area. There is nothing to say that pit couldn't be used to collapse a castle wall through multiple castings or tunnel through a mountain or be used to create doorways in any stone surface to facilitate dramatic escapes, I just have a feeling that when the spell was designed 'creative use as a doorway spell' or 'instant mine shaft' were not considered as possible uses. Especially if you compare the wording of pit with other utility spells in Sets 2 and 3, things like Hallucination and Shape Earth can be used very creatively to do almost anything but both spells outline limits on the amount of earth you can manipulate or the size of the illusion you can create they have guidelines, pit doesn't address anything it just leaves you with the ability to create a hole that is four yards long, four wide and four deep.

          As to your point about the pit not having to be a cube it doesn't but then the spell doesn't say it isn't (and indeed if it is not then the spell becomes more complicated because what are actual dimensions of the pit created if not a cube?) and I find your interpretation to be interesting but ultimately just that, an interpretation of the wording that is not any more correct than someone who may argue that the spell creates a perfect cube, the issue of unclear wording is exacerbated by the fact the spell doesn't mention what happens on a successful dex (acrobatics) test. I just have this feeling that the spell was thought up to do one thing in combat which was drop people in hole but it is vague enough that almost anything is possible for it (seriously one mage with the pit spell could effectively demolish a castle but undermining its structural integrity). I just want to know from Jack or someone what their thinking was when they designed this spell because it has the potential to be exceptionally scary or very lacklustre.

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          • #6
            Re: Pit Spell Problem

            The pit is as powerful as the hands you put it in, for sure.
            Magic is a very powerful and dangerous thing. That's why the Templars crack down on it like they do.

            A couple of things I would say here additionally. When my group mage wants to use his shape earth in an abusive manner (yes that one can be REALLY nasty) to construct even larger shapes, I determine a number of spells needed to do the whole thing and have him roll for each of them spending mana for each all in on go. The risk is that ANY triples rolled be they success or failure triggers a miscast with potential magical mishap table. If he wants to push his magic beyond the safe limits, it is risky...go with caution on this, as a player needs to know that they are potentially dooming themselves in the long run.

            As for range, my go to is always spellpower amount as yards when not stated.

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            • #7
              Re: Pit Spell Problem

              I'm leaning towards this spell being very useful, but in rare occassions. Razing castle walls, or prisons seeing as one of my groups tend to get captured and "interrogated", is something I can see happen. Might bery well be a tactical instead of a combat spell.

              I'll leave the interpretation of the pit itself to the local GM

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              • #8
                Re: Pit Spell Problem

                Originally posted by Tom View Post
                (...)I find your interpretation to be interesting but ultimately just that, an interpretation of the wording that is not any more correct than someone who may argue that the spell creates a perfect cube(...)
                On this one I could argue - if you can get out of the hole this deep in minor action, with no tests - it's clear that it can't be a perfect cube.

                However, you're definitely right about the spell being uncomfortably vague, leaving a lot to interpretation. That's why it's necessary to discuss the details with your GM rather than pick the spell and then argue it can do things your GM doesn't think it should.

                Also, it IS listed as utility spell, so I would assume it's main purpose is making holes. If it were supposed to be mainly an attack for dropping people into holes, wouldn't it be an attack spell, probably with some range (it doesn't seem to have any)? It seems to me like they created a spell for making holes and then got to thinking "hey, what if this hole is created under someone?"

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                • #9
                  Re: Pit Spell Problem

                  Originally posted by Tom View Post
                  The problem I have with your interpretation is that like the ideas I presented in the original post it operates in very grey area. There is nothing to say that pit couldn't be used to collapse a castle wall through multiple castings or tunnel through a mountain or be used to create doorways in any stone surface to facilitate dramatic escapes, I just have a feeling that when the spell was designed 'creative use as a doorway spell' or 'instant mine shaft' were not considered as possible uses. Especially if you compare the wording of pit with other utility spells in Sets 2 and 3, things like Hallucination and Shape Earth can be used very creatively to do almost anything but both spells outline limits on the amount of earth you can manipulate or the size of the illusion you can create they have guidelines, pit doesn't address anything it just leaves you with the ability to create a hole that is four yards long, four wide and four deep.

                  As to your point about the pit not having to be a cube it doesn't but then the spell doesn't say it isn't (and indeed if it is not then the spell becomes more complicated because what are actual dimensions of the pit created if not a cube?) and I find your interpretation to be interesting but ultimately just that, an interpretation of the wording that is not any more correct than someone who may argue that the spell creates a perfect cube, the issue of unclear wording is exacerbated by the fact the spell doesn't mention what happens on a successful dex (acrobatics) test. I just have this feeling that the spell was thought up to do one thing in combat which was drop people in hole but it is vague enough that almost anything is possible for it (seriously one mage with the pit spell could effectively demolish a castle but undermining its structural integrity). I just want to know from Jack or someone what their thinking was when they designed this spell because it has the potential to be exceptionally scary or very lacklustre.

                  I normally lurk and certainly don't usually reply to threads as old as these, but I have been looking for something specific for the last three hours before I do actually ask my first DARPG question on these forums and it has taken so long because I get distracted by thread topics that I think I would also like to hear answers too... So I chime in here in case anyone someone else like me wanders in. This is from a GM's PoV, I am not really a god or such whose words have to be taken as the truest and most correct, but I'd certainly nip arguing about making holes in the wall right in the bud... In my games...

                  So, this particular spell... I am the only GM in my group, so after a few decades of GM various games (mainly original Traveller and AD&D), I'd rule such a grey description into as black & white a one as I could. First the name says 'Pit' and my definition of a pit is a hole in the ground or floor, not a wall or ceiling, but the floor. The spell is centred on a spot that can be seen and the rough 4 x 4 x 4 yd. hole opens below that point radiating outwards, but still roughly a square hole. So no making a door in a wall, or a skylight in a roof... unless you are standing on the top of the roof in question. My only issue is with range, so quite arbitrarily, off the top of my head maybe... 6-12 yd. away? Leaning towards six. I haven't put a whole lot of though into that but if I was ruling during game play, I'd go that way and we could work it out later.

                  This also means that if centred where a supporting pillar or door, wall, etc. meets the ground, it could possibly cause roofing or walls to collapse or dig a passage under the gate or door (I don't penalise creative thinking, only abusive). Bringing down a thick castle wall might be an issue as, due to my thought process, there is a hole 6 ft. under the wall at ground level making it impossible to centre the spell on top of the next section under the wall (the wall is sitting on top of it and I have already adjudicated that it digs downward, not up...

                  Your kilometres may vary? But that is a hard and fast, black and white interpretation.

                  -- The Roc
                  Being in my late 50s, I chortle somewhat as being described as a Junior Member. Shame I don't get the body to go with it?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Pit Spell Problem

                    One thing I'd like to point out, you now have a 4X4 hole in the battlefield enemies need to move around, and that they can later be skirmished into. It doesn't have a time limit, that pit is permanent until someone or something fills it, making it great for battlefield control (and cutting off pursuit when you need to run away).

                    Never underestimate the power of changing the playing field to suit the party.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Pit Spell Problem

                      Originally posted by TheRoc View Post
                      This also means that if centred where a supporting pillar or door, wall, etc. meets the ground, it could possibly cause roofing or walls to collapse or dig a passage under the gate or door (I don't penalise creative thinking, only abusive). Bringing down a thick castle wall might be an issue as, due to my thought process, there is a hole 6 ft. under the wall at ground level making it impossible to centre the spell on top of the next section under the wall (the wall is sitting on top of it and I have already adjudicated that it digs downward, not up...

                      Your kilometres may vary? But that is a hard and fast, black and white interpretation.

                      -- The Roc
                      Nobody has it at my table, and no one plans on getting it, so I've had some time to mull it over. I'm leaning towards Pit must be cast on open ground - not under a tree, wall, or other structure. This way, Pit and Shape Earth each have their place/role.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Pit Spell Problem

                        Originally posted by shonuff View Post
                        I'm leaning towards Pit must be cast on open ground - not under a tree, wall, or other structure.
                        I agree with this. The specific wording of the spell is "You magically carve a pit into the bare earth or nearby stone," which would imply that this interpretation is the correct one.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Pit Spell Problem

                          This is what happens when you try applying reason to magic...

                          Technically, every nanometer of earth under another layer of earth is not bare so you'd scrape one layer off and be stuck.

                          It's just a digging hole spell I don't think it needs any more constraints.
                          [url=https://www.dropbox.com/sh/556jwwh3xbxlhrl/AAAkLkSF39KdOVtmencs8cyDa?dl=0]Esoterica from Thedas Volumes 1-4[/url]

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                          • #14
                            Re: Pit Spell Problem

                            Right, but there's digging a hole for people to fall into and there's digging a hole to cause destruction. IMO, Pit is the former and Shape Earth is the latter.

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