Specific spells

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Some comments on specific spells in the packet:


  • Arc Lightning: Must you choose a second target?  What if the only legal secondary target is an ally?

  • Command: Back to the "one word" thing, I see.  What about "die?"  Always a popular choice, so there should be a rule spelled out for it.  Then there's other languages ("matarse").  And "flee" doesn't seem to preclude running off a cliff or into damaging terrain.

  • Death Ward: Was "resistance" defined anywhere?  Haven't seen it yet.

  • Detect Magic: Fluff/crunch mismatch.  How can you identify strength or school?

  • Hold Person: As mentioned in another thread, "cannot move" is undefined.

  • Light: Only bright light, no dim?  Odd.

  • Mage Hand: What happens if you walk more than 50 feet away from it?  What if the ground falls away from under it?  What if it drops a dangerous object above an enemy--it can't "attack", so how is this resolved?

  • Ray of Frost: I saw a proposal that this be both resistable and weakened, which is overkill, but I agree that it seems overly powerful against solo brutes now.

  • Shield: Interesting.  Does it stack with half cover to make three-quarters cover?  It definitely stacks with a shield.

  • Silence: The rules say that silenced characters can't cast at all, but the spell can be overcome.  However, you cannot fail to cast it on an enemy.  Deadly to clerics and bards (non-Int casters).

  • Sleep: lasts forever, literally, apparently, in the absence of someone to slap you or hurt you.  I guess nonlethal damage from starvation or thirst would do it, assuming such things exist.

  • Spiritual Hammer: I assume you use it as part of the other action you take that round.  Is there a maximum range?

  • Sunburst: Am I missing something, or is that a crapton of damage?  4d8+2x ability mod+blindness, save for 3d8+1.5x ability mod.  No defined area for the actual light emitted by it, though the 10' radius can be assumed.

  • Turn Undead: Has to be prepped, huh?  Again a fluff/crunch mismatch: The fluff says it can destroy undead, but the crunch says nothing about it.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
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  • Death Ward: Was "resistance" defined anywhere?  Haven't seen it yet. 





pg 12, middle of right hand column


"At a certain point, one simply has to accept that some folks will see what they want to see..." Dragon 387
Re: Turn Undead

Actually, it does not have to be prepped. The clerics' character sheets both read that you can cast turn undead without needing to have prepared it.
I have a question, in my test play the cleric wants to use Spiritual Hammer. It says it's a melee attack, but do i base that off of the Cleric's Str, Dex, Wis, what?
I have a question, in my test play the cleric wants to use Spiritual Hammer. It says it's a melee attack, but do i base that off of the Cleric's Str, Dex, Wis, what?



You use your primary spellcasting ability modifier for attack and damage rolls with spells. This is explained on p. 24-25 of the How to Play document.
One thing I've noticed is that since there isn't a intantaneous duration anymore and the default duration for a spell effect is from the casting players turn to their turn in the next round, a spell like Burning Hands effectively creates a zone of fire that will last the entire round, "catching" anyone that crosses it. 
Command: Back to the "one word" thing, I see.  What about "die?"  Always a popular choice, so there should be a rule spelled out for it.  Then there's other languages ("matarse").  And "flee" doesn't seem to preclude running off a cliff or into damaging terrain.



Doesn't mention if the creature needs to be able to understand the command either. It does mention they act it out "unthinking" which does seem to mean jumping of a cliff would be the fastest available means to flee, and they would have no problem doing that.

Mage Hand: What happens if you walk more than 50 feet away from it?  What if the ground falls away from under it?  What if it drops a dangerous object above an enemy--it can't "attack", so how is this resolved?



I think a lot of this stuff is now just left to the DM to adjudicate as and when it happens. I think that's fine for odd cases like with the ground disappearing under mage hand, but more of an issue with Command being used to instantly kill creatures through suicide attempts (where some DM's might be fine with it others won't). 
Some comments on specific spells in the packet:


  • Arc Lightning: Must you choose a second target?  What if the only legal secondary target is an ally?




As written you must choose a second target. Normally if something is optional the rule will say "you may select a target" instead of "select a target".  


Hold Person: As mentioned in another thread, "cannot move" is undefined.



Good catch. I have a feeling that in the context of this particular sentence "cannot move" means "the target has speed zero", in which case they should probably change the wording to say that.

Silence: The rules say that silenced characters can't cast at all, but the spell can be overcome.  However, you cannot fail to cast it on an enemy.  Deadly to clerics and bards (non-Int casters).



Spell failure is not automatic, the spell says that a creature attempting to cast a spell may make a DC 15 Int check to cast a spell while silenced.

Spiritual Hammer: I assume you use it as part of the other action you take that round.  Is there a maximum range?



Yes, the description says thjat when you move and attack with the hammer in subsequent rounds "you do so as part of your action". And no, there's currently no maximum range, but the spell has a 50 foot initial range and the hammer can only move 20 feet per round and lasts one minute which puts a practical maximum range on it of 50 + 20 per round for one minute.

Sunburst: Am I missing something, or is that a crapton of damage?  4d8+2x ability mod+blindness, save for 3d8+1.5x ability mod. ...



Well it is a second level spell effect after all. Smile But yeah, comparing it to Arc Lightning which does 4d6+mod damage to one creature and 2d6+mod damage to a second creature with no additional side effects like Blindness, it does look like it's a little too powerful (either that or Arc Lightning is a little too weak.)

Turn Undead: Has to be prepped, huh?



Turn Undead does not have to be prepped assuming the character has it for their Channel Divinity class feature (which both of the playtest clerics do.)  Turn Undead can also presumably be learned as a spell just like any other spell, in which case you could also cast it using your spell slots.  
One thing I've noticed is that since there isn't a intantaneous duration anymore and the default duration for a spell effect is from the casting players turn to their turn in the next round, a spell like Burning Hands effectively creates a zone of fire that will last the entire round, "catching" anyone that crosses it. 



That's incorrect, on page 24 under Duration the rules say that "if there is no period of time specfied in the spell then the spell's effects are instantaneous." So Burning Hands, which doesn't specify a time, is an instantaneous spell.
On Silence, the OP is correct. A WIS based caster needing to make a DC15 INT check to cast is pretty much borked. It won't even bother an INT based caster at all depending on which DC passing options you use, otherwise it is a 50/50. There is at least the implication that spells will have a VSM component mechanism though, so presumably there will be some spells that avoid the Silence trap. Given that there are no level-based improvements to checks though I think there's going to need to be a fix here. Casting Silence on every high level enemy spell caster is a bit cheesy. It is both far too obvious a tactic and far too easy to implement with practically no cost for a higher level cleric.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
On Silence, the OP is correct. A WIS based caster needing to make a DC15 INT check to cast is pretty much borked. .



The original poster wasn't correct since he said it was an "automatic failure". It's not automatic, if you have INT 10 then a DC 15 chance of failure is 70%. That's high but obviously not 100%.

Mind you, I'm not commenting one way or another on whether the spell is too powerful. It very well might be, in which case either the DC should be lowered or possibly instead of being an Int check you do a check against whatever your spell casting ability is (so clerics would make a Wisdom check, wizards an Int check, etc).
On Silence, the OP is correct. A WIS based caster needing to make a DC15 INT check to cast is pretty much borked. .



The original poster wasn't correct since he said it was an "automatic failure". It's not automatic, if you have INT 10 then a DC 15 chance of failure is 70%. That's high but obviously not 100%.

Mind you, I'm not commenting one way or another on whether the spell is too powerful. It very well might be, in which case either the DC should be lowered or possibly instead of being an Int check you do a check against whatever your spell casting ability is (so clerics would make a Wisdom check, wizards an Int check, etc).

Yeah, it isn't an absolute casting preventer, that's true, but 70% kinda might as well be. No sane opponent will stick around and fight you when its main capability is subject to a 70% failure rate. If you have the spell-casting BBEG cornered and silenced, sure he'll have no choice, but it is a pretty harsh SOS.

The problem I see is this is right back to the old situational but highly effective and pretty much trivial spell-using tactics. Given that clerics can cast whichever spells they have selected up to their slot allotment it is even more trivially useful than it was in the old days. This speaks to a highly spell-focused problem solving regime where the casters do all the heavy lifting. The cleric doesn't even need to suffer a severe opportunity cost of memorizing it. He can always use the slot to cast his CLW or whatever if it doesn't happen to turn out to be useful that day. He can just pick several of these sorts of situational but extremely useful spells (and will presumably accumulate a bunch of the lower level ones like this as he levels up). We'll see how things pan out of course, but there's a real smell there of people doing the design work not getting it.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

Here are some other possible ways to mitigate the spell's effectiveness if it turns out to be overpowered:

- Don't allow the spell to be cast on creatures. Rather it must be placed in an immobile area. That way the creatures in the area at least have the potential of moving out of the zone.

- Make it so that once you make a successful Int check then you don't need to make any additional Int checks. In other words once you wrap your head around how to cast a spell while silenced you can do automatically do it from then on for the rest of the encounter. (So you still have to beat that first check, but at least once you do you're out of the woods.)



Hold Person: As mentioned in another thread, "cannot move" is undefined.



Good catch. I have a feeling that in the context of this particular sentence "cannot move" means "the target has speed zero", in which case they should probably change the wording to say that.



Not a good catch, IMO. Cannot move appears in a variety of locations as does many other phrases without definitions like "drops whatever it's holding" and "can't hear anything" or "cannot see."

During one's turn, one can move up to your speed and take an action. Cannot move would seem to most directly mean you are denied the moving portion of your turn. I would say it also prevents you from taking the Hustle action since that is an action that allows one to move (something you cannot do).

Furthermore, the ability to move is a requirement for the Dodge benefit. 
"At a certain point, one simply has to accept that some folks will see what they want to see..." Dragon 387


Hold Person: As mentioned in another thread, "cannot move" is undefined.



Good catch. I have a feeling that in the context of this particular sentence "cannot move" means "the target has speed zero", in which case they should probably change the wording to say that.



Not a good catch, IMO. Cannot move appears in a variety of locations as does many other phrases without definitions like "drops whatever it's holding" and "can't hear anything" or "cannot see."

During one's turn, one can move up to your speed and take an action. Cannot move would seem to most directly mean you are denied the moving portion of your turn. I would say it also prevents you from taking the Hustle action since that is an action that allows one to move (something you cannot do).

Furthermore, the ability to move is a requirement for the Dodge benefit. 



Well if you have Speed 0 then Hustle is useless since by definition Hustle only lets you move up to your speed. That's a good point on the Dodge action, though, you wouldn't be able to Dodge either.

Probably the best solution would be for them to add Cannot Move or Immobile as a condition with something like the following definition:

CANNOT MOVE:

- Speed of zero
- Cannot take Dodge action
- Cannot take any action that requires the ability to move away from your current location



As far as "cannot see" and "cannot hear", as far as I can tell those phrases only appear as part of the Blind and Deaf conditions.


Hold Person: As mentioned in another thread, "cannot move" is undefined.



Good catch. I have a feeling that in the context of this particular sentence "cannot move" means "the target has speed zero", in which case they should probably change the wording to say that.



Not a good catch, IMO. Cannot move appears in a variety of locations as does many other phrases without definitions like "drops whatever it's holding" and "can't hear anything" or "cannot see."

During one's turn, one can move up to your speed and take an action. Cannot move would seem to most directly mean you are denied the moving portion of your turn. I would say it also prevents you from taking the Hustle action since that is an action that allows one to move (something you cannot do).

Furthermore, the ability to move is a requirement for the Dodge benefit. 



Well if you have Speed 0 then Hustle is useless since by definition Hustle only lets you move up to your speed. That's a good point on the Dodge action, though, you wouldn't be able to Dodge either.

Probably the best solution would be for them to add Cannot Move or Immobile as a condition with something like the following definition:

CANNOT MOVE:

- Speed of zero
- Cannot take Dodge action
- Cannot take any action that requires the ability to move away from your current location



As far as "cannot see" and "cannot hear", as far as I can tell those phrases only appear as part of the Blind and Deaf conditions.

I find it amusing how all this must pretty much exactly parallel the discussion at WotC during 4e development, with of course the result that we have both immobilized (can't move) and restrained, lol. You'd think maybe the devs would actually remember all that, or crack open a 4e book and remind themselves how all these issues have been solved already.

So, yeah, I'd call it 'immobilized'.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Re: Turn Undead

Actually, it does not have to be prepped. The clerics' character sheets both read that you can cast turn undead without needing to have prepared it.



I am not happy with the idea that the clerical Turn Undead ability is to be relegated to the status of a mere, and I do mean 'something of very low stature', spell.   Turn Undead is one of those abilities that uniquely defines and identifies the clerical character, in a way that no mere spell can do.

It is the raw expression of your character's faith in his/her deity, as well as an expression of the divine benevolence that is constantly bestowed by the deity upon the cleric, that fuels the Turn Undead ability.   Thus, Turn Undead is not just a spell, it is a mark of divine favor.  

By the Holy Name of Amaunator!  It is both blasphemous and impious to even hint that Turn Undead ought to be limited to one use per day or one use per encounter!   Turn Undead must be always available for use!    It is foul heresy to pretend otherwise!

 
On the subject of specific spells:

I find it to be rather interesting that two different healing spells are proposed:  Cure Light Wounds and Healing Word.

Cure Light Wounds being a touch spell and Healing Word being a spell that can be cast at a distance.

I would hope that the example of editions of 3.0/3.5 will be followed with the logical progressions of these two spells;
with Cure Light Wounds as a 1st level spell, Cure Moderate Wounds as a 2nd level spell, Cure Serious Wounds as 
3rd level spell and Cure Critical Wounds as a 4th level spell, along with Light Healing Word as a 1st level spell, Moderate Healing Word as 
a 2nd level spell, Serious Healing Word as a 3rd level spell and Critical Healing Word as a 4th level spell.

I have heard many people express their disgust that being compelled to play the cleric is a 'real downer', that it is a 'real drag' to be the party's only source of healing and that these people want to do something else rather than simply cast cure spells.   Well, let these other people play something other than a clerical character; let these people play the rogues, scoundrels and knaves that lurk in their little black hearts.   But, give me ample opprotunity to garner all the healing ability that I can.   Give me the 3.0/3.5 option of converting any memorized divine spell into a cure wounds spell of the same level.   For me, it is not a 'downer' to play a cleric, rather it gives me the perfect opportunity to wag my finger at the rogues, scoundrels and knaves as I endlessly remind them in my daily sermons that they will eventually be required by the gods to atone for their craven misdeeds. 
TBH, Cannot Move does not need to be defined, it *is* a definition.
TBH, Cannot Move does not need to be defined, it *is* a definition.



Sort of, but they're not using it the same way that you'd expect from 4e and 3.5. It's not necessarily cannot move(TM), it could also be cannot move anything, ie, paralysed.
TBH, Cannot Move does not need to be defined, it *is* a definition.



Sort of, but they're not using it the same way that you'd expect from 4e and 3.5. It's not necessarily cannot move(TM), it could also be cannot move anything, ie, paralysed.


Isn't that what it does?  If you can't move, you can't move.  No actions, no sword swings, no talking, no spells, etc.  
That's what needs clarification, it can be read multiple ways.

It would be rather nasty for someone teamed up with a medusa to cast that and be unable to even blink.
TBH, Cannot Move does not need to be defined, it *is* a definition.



Sort of, but they're not using it the same way that you'd expect from 4e and 3.5. It's not necessarily cannot move(TM), it could also be cannot move anything, ie, paralysed.


Isn't that what it does?  If you can't move, you can't move.  No actions, no sword swings, no talking, no spells, etc.  



Actually, the phrase 'can not move' does need clarification, because while 'can not move' would negate the character being able to physically move himself/herself to another location, it would not necessarily negate the act of speaking or the act of breathing.   In past editions of the game, there were a few spells that only had a verbal component and thus, it was possible for a held person to cast a spell by simply speaking the incantation.

If you want 'can not move' to negate even the act of breathing, then you probably need to incorporate some way to determine when a held person dies from the inability to breathe.

... I find it amusing how all this must pretty much exactly parallel the discussion at WotC during 4e development, with of course the result that we have both immobilized (can't move) and restrained, lol. You'd think maybe the devs would actually remember all that, or crack open a 4e book and remind themselves how all these issues have been solved already.

So, yeah, I'd call it 'immobilized'.



"Immobilized" works for me.  To be fair to the devs, though, they did say they pared the playtest rules down and took out a number of things to determine whether or not they were actually something needed for the "core" rules and not something that could be part of an optional module. I wouldn't be too surprised if Immobilized was at some point one of the conditions on the list and they decided that they might be able to remove it from the core conditions list for some reason. Hopefully they'll add it back in as it would help clarify things like Hold Person and such.
... I find it amusing how all this must pretty much exactly parallel the discussion at WotC during 4e development, with of course the result that we have both immobilized (can't move) and restrained, lol. You'd think maybe the devs would actually remember all that, or crack open a 4e book and remind themselves how all these issues have been solved already.

So, yeah, I'd call it 'immobilized'.



"Immobilized" works for me.  To be fair to the devs, though, they did say they pared the playtest rules down and took out a number of things to determine whether or not they were actually something needed for the "core" rules and not something that could be part of an optional module. I wouldn't be too surprised if Immobilized was at some point one of the conditions on the list and they decided that they might be able to remove it from the core conditions list for some reason. Hopefully they'll add it back in as it would help clarify things like Hold Person and such.



I would rule the Restrained condition would work here.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

TBH, Cannot Move does not need to be defined, it *is* a definition.



Right so to one DM cannot move might mean you have effectively speed 0, to another it might mean you are paralysed. It might be defined just not very well.
...
I would rule the Restrained condition would work here.



Restrained would be good too, either way. Just put in something less ambiguous than simply "cannot move". Smile