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jebeddo
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Canada
69 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  00:21:54  Show Profile  Visit jebeddo's Homepage Send jebeddo a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
A player has asked to add the following two spells in his spellbook for my campaign. I'm kind of leery about it since I'm not sure how Concentration checks should be balanced. If any fellow scribes could help me decide whether these spells are balanced or not, it would be much appreciated. (From what I can tell, these spells are inspired by the Thunderhead spell from the Spell Compendium).

Aerivení»s Miniature Thunderhead
Conjuration (Creation) [Electricity]
Level: Sor/Wiz 0
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target: One creature
Duration: 1 min./level or until discharged
Saving Throw: None (See text)
Spell Resistance: No

Aerivení»s Miniature Thunderhead creates a small thundercloud over the targetí»s head. The thundercloud emits occasional lightning jolts and sends a steady drizzle of rain over the target. Every round when the target tries to cast a spell, she must make a Concentration check (DC 8) or lose the spell. The thundercloud dissipates after three attempts to disrupt the targetí»s spellcasting. The thunderhead follows the target even after she has become invisible or left the area. This spell has no effects on a creature that does not cast spells.

Material Component: A small piece of copper wire.


Aerivení»s Disruptive Thunderhead
Conjuration (Creation) [Electricity]
Level: Sor/Wiz 2
Saving Throw: Ref negates (See text)
Spell Resistance: No (See text)

This spell functions like Aerivení»s Miniature Thunderhead, except the Concentration check DC is now 15, spell resistance does not apply to this effect of the spell. Whenever the target tries to cast a spell, a small jolt comes from the cloud and strikes her for 1 point of electricity damage, a successful Reflex save negates this damage. The damage from this spell is subject to spell resistance. The thundercloud dissipates after five attempts to disrupt the targetí»s spellcasting.

Material Component: A piece of copper wire wound around a short iron rod.

"Only half-orcs rush in where devas fear to tread."

Kentinal
Great Reader

4675 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  00:37:56  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It should be compared to other mind effecting spells.

Actually I see a greater problem

"Duration: 1 min./level or until discharged" vs. "The thundercloud dissipates after three attempts to disrupt the targetí»s spellcasting."

You can not have both, either the cloud disrupts or fails to disrupt a spell casting and disapates, or it is an area effect spell with some duration.

As for other details of the spells, SR should not be negated so quickly, the spells should have a saving throw besides a concentration check (unless the spells are higher levels).

Send them back for edit.

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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Arivia
Great Reader

Canada
2965 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  00:52:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

It should be compared to other mind effecting spells.

Actually I see a greater problem

"Duration: 1 min./level or until discharged" vs. "The thundercloud dissipates after three attempts to disrupt the targetí»s spellcasting."


Although I can't remember any offhand, I know there are spells that use this duration model. It's not an error.

quote:

As for other details of the spells, SR should not be negated so quickly, the spells should have a saving throw besides a concentration check (unless the spells are higher levels).



This is correct, especially in the 0-level version. Additionally, spells very infrequently specify specific DCs themselves, except in environmental cases(Web or a spell that creates difficult terrain).

Not terribly bad, but not excellent; I think the 0-level one is a bit overpowered for its level.
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jebeddo
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Canada
69 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  02:39:28  Show Profile  Visit jebeddo's Homepage Send jebeddo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've talked to the player regarding some of the issues (he defended the spell vehemently). Here are some of his justifications (and concessions) which were discussed:

quote:
Originally posted by Arivia
Although I can't remember any offhand, I know there are spells that use this duration model. It's not an error.



After doing some research, I found that Ball lightning and Elminster's Effulgent Epuration have similar effects in terms of durations. However, their duration are "1 round/level", not "1 round/level or until discharged".
Therefore the durations of the spells should be changed to "1 minute", seeing as how not many 0-level spells have any advancement advantages.

quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal
As for other details of the spells, SR should not be negated so quickly, the spells should have a saving throw besides a concentration check (unless the spells are higher levels).



The lack of a saving throw actually limits the spells somewhat, since there will be no chance of the spell becoming more powerful as the caster gains levels. Seeing as how none of the Conjuration (Creation) spells allow SR or a saving throw (Fog Cloud, Obscuring Mist, etc.) this spell doesn't need one either (in my opinion, the situation does not warrant a Reflex save to negate the Concentration check, after all, what's the DC for dodging rain?).

quote:
Originally posted by Arivia
This is correct, especially in the 0-level version. Additionally, spells very infrequently specify specific DCs themselves, except in environmental cases(Web or a spell that creates difficult terrain).



You raise an interesting point. I see the spell, however, as a sleet storm (which is an environmental spell) that distracts an enemy caster (sleet storm doesn't have a save, no SR, and specifies DCs) by dumping water over their heads. Although the DCs for the 0-level spell is high (I plan on lowering it), the spell is quite useless against anything that's not a spellcaster (the DMG recommends lowering the spell by one level if it is very specific).

Sleet storm is powerful in that it obscures line of sight and slows the movement of all creatues (not as specific as these two spells). Furthermore, even if the subject makes the Balance check, it still only moves at half speed. In comparsion, the Thunderheads affect only casters and their effects are negated if the check succeeds. So here the lower spell level of Thunderheads makes sense somewhat.

quote:
Originally posted by Arivia
Not terribly bad, but not excellent; I think the 0-level one is a bit overpowered for its level.



I agree, the DC has now been lowered to 7 so that the defending wizard (assuming that he has a Con of 10 and 4 ranks in Concentration) can succeed at this check 85% of the time as opposed to 80% of the time. The chance of having at no spells disrupted decreased by over 10% with this change (now the defending wizard has a 61% chance of making all three checks as opposed to the 51% with a DC of 8).

(Although the above is theory only, it is true that most wizards have Con as their second-highest score and max ranks in Concentration, so the actual success chance is much higher).

In summary, the changes made are:

Aerivení»s Miniature Thunderhead
Conjuration (Creation) [Electricity]
Level: Sor/Wiz 0
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect: A small thundercloud over the head of one creature
Duration: 1 minute
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

Aerivení»s Miniature Thunderhead creates a small thundercloud over the targetí»s head. The thundercloud emits occasional lightning jolts and sends a steady drizzle of rain over the target. Every round when the target tries to cast a spell, she must make a Concentration check (DC 7) or lose the spell. The thundercloud dissipates after three attempts to disrupt the targetí»s spellcasting. The thunderhead follows the target even after she has become invisible or left the area. This spell has no effects on a creature that does not cast spells.

Aerivení»s Disruptive Thunderhead
Conjuration (Creation) [Electricity]
Level: Sor/Wiz 2
Duration: 1 min/level
Saving Throw: Ref negates (See text)
Spell Resistance: No (See text)

This spell functions like Aerivení»s Miniature Thunderhead, except the Concentration check DC is now 15, spell resistance does not apply to this effect of the spell. Whenever the target tries to cast a spell, a small jolt comes from the cloud and strikes her for 1 point of electricity damage, a successful Reflex save negates this damage. The damage from this spell is subject to spell resistance. The thundercloud dissipates after five attempts to disrupt the targetí»s spellcasting.

If fellow scribes find more errors or balance issues in this spell, further pointers will be helpful.

"Only half-orcs rush in where devas fear to tread."
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Beirnadri Magranth
Senior Scribe

USA
720 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  03:29:48  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
the first spell seems too powerful for first level.

i object to the duration one minute is a very long tiem for a 0th lvl spell try making it one round per level or soemthing.
also i think arivia made a very good point that the dc should not be a fixed number... see her reasons why.

hmm what else...

i also agree that sr should totally apply
for help on this spell see the spellcompendium it has spells like 'buzzing bee' (1st lvl i think) etc. that are very similar to this spell in effect.

"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory... instead you will die with a whimper."
::moussaoui tries to interrupt::
"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

-Judge Brinkema
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4675 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  03:35:54  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
*shakes head* The spell is too low in level, the SR argument faills. These spells are person directed not area effect like "Sleet Storm"

The claim that not allowing a saving throw ever, fails the basic logic. If one gets no saving throw ever it does not matter if they are level one or level 100 (granting that one might be better able to make a DC concentration check esier at level 100, either because of ranks or stat increase).

Side note, I was not aware that Wizards are so common in placing second higest stat in Con.

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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jebeddo
Seeker

Canada
69 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  04:53:34  Show Profile  Visit jebeddo's Homepage Send jebeddo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

*shakes head* The spell is too low in level, the SR argument faills. These spells are person directed not area effect like "Sleet Storm"

The claim that not allowing a saving throw ever, fails the basic logic. If one gets no saving throw ever it does not matter if they are level one or level 100 (granting that one might be better able to make a DC concentration check esier at level 100, either because of ranks or stat increase).



Please note the change from the "Target" box to the "Effect" box. You summon a cloud, the cloud itself in no way disrupts the spell; the constant rain does. Thus SR and saves don't apply just as SR doesn't apply to Summoned Creatures, since the spell indirectly affects the target.
The argument regarding how the spell is too low in level is invalid: see Obscuring Mist, which is a 1st level spell (should the subjects recieve a Reflex or Will save to see through the fog? No more than they can stop a cloud from raining on their heads.)
Lastly, if you want to argue for SR or applying saves, please detail on how that affects the survivability of the target. With a 85% chance of suceeding the checks, I fail to see how this spell is more powerful than any other spell.
If anyone wants to point out that the spells are imbalanced, show examples of why it is imbalanced by comparing it to other spells of the same level. Arguing over SR and Saves are pointless if it cannot be shown that the effects of spell is imbalanced enough to warrant such measures.

"(granting that one might be better able to make a DC concentration check esier at level 100, either because of ranks or stat increase)"

Thank you for pointing out that the spell is not imbalanced by demonstrating how it quickly loses its potency as one grows more powerful.

"for help on this spell see the spellcompendium it has spells like 'buzzing bee' (1st lvl i think) etc. that are very similar to this spell in effect."

Thank you for your support, I know that the "Buzzing Bee" spell is also not subject to saves or spell resistance.
Upon further reading on "Buzzing Bee", I have actually noticed that even the 2nd-level spell is not as powerful as the 1st-level "Buzzing Bee". I will strive to buff the second one post haste.

I am also toying with the idea of making the DC variable with caster level, maybe 2 times the caster level. For the 0-level spell, this caps at 3rd level, while the latter caps at 8th level.

Thank you for all your suggestions, keep them coming.

"Only half-orcs rush in where devas fear to tread."

Edited by - jebeddo on 23 Apr 2006 04:58:52
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4675 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  05:13:10  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I noted the effect change "Effect: A small thundercloud over the head of one creature" it is still a traget spell, SR applies.

Do as you wish but claiming the spell is area effect, when still listed as a target spell certainly does not change my view.

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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jebeddo
Seeker

Canada
69 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  05:15:09  Show Profile  Visit jebeddo's Homepage Send jebeddo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In that case you should go read the "Buzzing Bee" spell in the Spell Compendium. It is a 1st level spell with no Save, no SR, and is a "target" spell.

"Only half-orcs rush in where devas fear to tread."
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Beirnadri Magranth
Senior Scribe

USA
720 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  06:55:48  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
comparing the 0th level spell to obscuring mist makes no sense. obscuring mist is a 1st level spell. and it has no save because it doesnt effect other creatures it effects whatever area is being obscured. it physically produces fog which has the simple benefit of being hard to see through. With your spell you claim SR doesnt apply and saves dont apply because you are physically producing rain... physical rain wouldnt make a caster fail so many tiems at casting a spell its just very minorly distracting. having it pose a problem is a magical property of the rain. and therefore necesitates SR. also in terms of game balance things that are offensive... such as Eeyore's Curse (the spell above hahaha)... usually include sr and saving throws to make them more balanced, it gives enemies a chacne to escape the spells.

compare this 0th lvl spell to the spell ray of frost which is one of the msot powerful offensive 0th lvl spells... it deals 1d3 damage if the caster can succeed ona ranged touch attack etc..... youre giving another 0th lvl spell the ability to foil three spells of an enemy (effectively ruining the persons turn) and you allow no chance of escaping it... not very similar levels of power.

if your player seems to want to really haeva spell witha raining cloud above the person... at least allow a reflex save to dodge the cloud etc. or have the character take the spell tehmatics feat to just change the description of buzzing bee.


"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory... instead you will die with a whimper."
::moussaoui tries to interrupt::
"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

-Judge Brinkema
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jebeddo
Seeker

Canada
69 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  07:20:43  Show Profile  Visit jebeddo's Homepage Send jebeddo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Beirnadri Magranth

comparing the 0th level spell to obscuring mist makes no sense. obscuring mist is a 1st level spell. and it has no save because it doesnt effect other creatures it effects whatever area is being obscured. it physically produces fog which has the simple benefit of being hard to see through.



Point well made, it was a mistake to compare a passive spell with this spell. The spell "Buzzing Bee" shall be used instead.

quote:

With your spell you claim SR doesnt apply and saves dont apply because you are physically producing rain... physical rain wouldnt make a caster fail so many tiems at casting a spell its just very minorly distracting. having it pose a problem is a magical property of the rain. and therefore necesitates SR. also in terms of game balance things that are offensive... such as Eeyore's Curse (the spell above hahaha)... usually include sr and saving throws to make them more balanced, it gives enemies a chacne to escape the spells.



You make an excellent point here. However, WotC uses very much the same logic as the player does with regards to Buzzing Bee. I don't suppose any normal bee emits enough noise as to cause a person to take -10 penalty to Move Silently checks (heck, it should be a bonus to Move Silently since it conceals the target's own noises). The more blatant breach of your logic with respect to Buzzing Bee is the fact that the Concentration DC is dependant on the caster, therefore the bee is certainly powered by magic.

This brings me to the question, then, if WotC considers summoning objects/creatures powered by magic to not be subject to Saves and SR, why should these spells be any different?

quote:

compare this 0th lvl spell to the spell ray of frost which is one of the msot powerful offensive 0th lvl spells... it deals 1d3 damage if the caster can succeed ona ranged touch attack etc..... youre giving another 0th lvl spell the ability to foil three spells of an enemy (effectively ruining the persons turn) and you allow no chance of escaping it... not very similar levels of power.



True, there is no way to escape the chance of foiling the spell, except that I've already changed the DC to be 2 times the caster level, to a max of DC 6 at 3rd level. This practically ensures that any wizard who maxed out his Concentration to only be affected when rolling a natural 1. With only 5% chance of foiling each spell, the power of this cantrip drops dramatically.

quote:

if your player seems to want to really haeva spell witha raining cloud above the person... at least allow a reflex save to dodge the cloud etc. or have the character take the spell tehmatics feat to just change the description of buzzing bee.



That would be an excellent idea, if we take into consideration how the cloud would also include noise such as thunder cracks and rain splashes, it should also justify the Move Silently penalty. Then again, the player's intent was to create something new, not just a replication of any old spell.

Thank you for your good advice, I will discuss with my player on this matter.

"Only half-orcs rush in where devas fear to tread."

Edited by - jebeddo on 23 Apr 2006 07:21:45
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green knight
Seeker

USA
50 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  14:20:39  Show Profile  Visit green knight's Homepage Send green knight a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just two qick notes. I like the idea of the spells and once all the details are hammered out I would like to put them in my big notebook O'stuff (with your permision of course).


quote:
This practically ensures that any wizard who maxed out his Concentration to only be affected when rolling a natural 1. With only 5% chance of foiling each spell, the power of this cantrip drops dramatically.




rolling a 1 on a skill check is not an automatic failure (p 63 players handbook) so this spell really is a lot weaker you go up in levels.

quote:
The thunderhead follows the target even after she has become invisible


I am surprized no one spotted this, this could be very useful in the right circumstances. I think this effect makes the argument for SR applying stronger.

Green Knight
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Beirnadri Magranth
Senior Scribe

USA
720 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  16:17:40  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh one thing i forget to say last night was how the spell should continue to effect the target only upo to a certain range... past say a 10ft/level or something radius from the caster teh spell simply ceases regardless of whether the duration has expired or the the spell has yet to be discharged.
this makes it more fair in instances where it could be used to track a target.
oh and jebbedo's point about buzzing bee being magically powered and not requiring SR can maybe be explained because it is a more pwoerful spell so it requires less chances to escape it... and the fact that the bee doesnt touch the character it just amkes annoying noisees etc. the eeyore spell (no one elsse thinks this is funny?) comes into physical contact with the target and therefore interacts more fully with the target.

"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory... instead you will die with a whimper."
::moussaoui tries to interrupt::
"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

-Judge Brinkema
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jebeddo
Seeker

Canada
69 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  19:31:17  Show Profile  Visit jebeddo's Homepage Send jebeddo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Beirnadri Magranth

Oh one thing i forget to say last night was how the spell should continue to effect the target only upo to a certain range... past say a 10ft/level or something radius from the caster teh spell simply ceases regardless of whether the duration has expired or the the spell has yet to be discharged.


Yup, it's the spell is now changed to meet this suggestion. Should the invisible target move out of the range of the spell, the cloud vanishes.

quote:

oh and jebbedo's point about buzzing bee being magically powered and not requiring SR can maybe be explained because it is a more pwoerful spell so it requires less chances to escape it... and the fact that the bee doesnt touch the character it just amkes annoying noisees etc. the eeyore spell (no one elsse thinks this is funny?) comes into physical contact with the target and therefore interacts more fully with the target.



I'm trying to convince the player to accept a version of the spell that is the same as Buzzing Bee in all respects save appearance.

quote:
Originally posted by Beirnadri Magranth
rolling a 1 on a skill check is not an automatic failure (p 63 players handbook) so this spell really is a lot weaker you go up in levels.


....Oh dear, that means I've been confused for a LONG time. (But I can't believe no one caught that before you did, maybe we are all confused together?)

"Only half-orcs rush in where devas fear to tread."
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Arivia
Great Reader

Canada
2965 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  19:35:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jebeddo
....Oh dear, that means I've been confused for a LONG time. (But I can't believe no one caught that before you did, maybe we are all confused together?)



It's a house rule so common I believe it's in the DMG.
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Beirnadri Magranth
Senior Scribe

USA
720 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2006 :  20:07:10  Show Profile  Visit Beirnadri Magranth's Homepage Send Beirnadri Magranth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jebeddo

quote:
Originally posted by Beirnadri Magranth

Oh one thing i forget to say last night was how the spell should continue to effect the target only upo to a certain range... past say a 10ft/level or something radius from the caster teh spell simply ceases regardless of whether the duration has expired or the the spell has yet to be discharged.


Yup, it's the spell is now changed to meet this suggestion. Should the invisible target move out of the range of the spell, the cloud vanishes.

quote:

oh and jebbedo's point about buzzing bee being magically powered and not requiring SR can maybe be explained because it is a more pwoerful spell so it requires less chances to escape it... and the fact that the bee doesnt touch the character it just amkes annoying noisees etc. the eeyore spell (no one elsse thinks this is funny?) comes into physical contact with the target and therefore interacts more fully with the target.



I'm trying to convince the player to accept a version of the spell that is the same as Buzzing Bee in all respects save appearance.

quote:
Originally posted by Beirnadri Magranth
rolling a 1 on a skill check is not an automatic failure (p 63 players handbook) so this spell really is a lot weaker you go up in levels.


....Oh dear, that means I've been confused for a LONG time. (But I can't believe no one caught that before you did, maybe we are all confused together?)



you misquoted green knight. he is teh author of those comments not I.

"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory... instead you will die with a whimper."
::moussaoui tries to interrupt::
"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

-Judge Brinkema
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KnightErrantJR
Great Reader

USA
5402 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2006 :  01:34:49  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Don't worry, everyone in my group labored under that delusion for nearly a year until someone rolled a one on their ride check, assuming they had screwed up, then realized that they had so many ranks of ride that they couldn't fail the check.

Pretty common assumption.
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