A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Grod_The_Giant's Avatar

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    Default Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Personally, I find save-or-die spells highly dissatisfying. No-one wastes them on mooks, and against bosses they're completely anticlimactic. It doesn't matter what the rest of the party does, the mage quite possibly just one-hit KO'd the boss, or else wasted his action almost altogether. To that end, I propose the following houseful for save-or-dies:

    • Any spell which instantly kills a foe instead deals an uncapped (2*spell level) damage/caster level. On a successful save, the spell deals one quarter damage. Thus, a 10th level cleric casting slay living would deal 100 damage to a foe who fails his save, or 25 damage to a foe who makes the save.
    • Spells like flesh to stone and baleful polymorph allow new saves every 1d4 rounds for a creature whose CR/ECL is greater than the spell's caster level-- their spirits are simply too strong for the magic. If they fail a number of saves equal to their Wisdom modifier, they are permanently affected by the spell, as normal.
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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    First of all, phantasmal killer should never deal hit point damage. Technically, no illusion spell should ever deal hit point damage (because they aren't real), but we've got those stupid shadow evocation/conjuration spells to deal with.

    Secondly, SoDs should not deal hit point damage, and they certainly shouldn't deal more hit point damage than blasts do. Suggesting that you change SoDs into better versions of damaging spells is just going to make them overshadow evocation even more than they already do.

    If you don't like SoDs, take them out of the game, don't change them. The spell system already has blasting, and if you think it's too weak, make it better. Personally, I don't think there's any reason that someone should just be able to instantly kill another person with magic for no reason (Shooting lightning and killing them? Sure. Shooting fire and killing them? Sure. Shooting a bolt of...strange energy...that turns them into dust? Why not!)

    As it stands, you're basically changing SoDs into Blasting, except you're removing variable damage from the equation and also ignoring Blasting's best defense (evasion).

    If you really want SoDs to be serious and not anticlimatic, why don't you change them to deliver negative levels instead? That way, they have a serious impact on the fight (unlike dealing lots of damage, a creature isn't going to get worse at fighting because its hit points dropped from 800 to 50) and it would take a few castings of it to actually kill the creature (so there's some build up). Best part, no saving throw in the end, and the biggest bads can prevent it with healing magic, but that requires wasting actions.

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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Pathfinder essentially did this: any Save-or-Die spell that only allows one save deals heavy amounts of damage. Those that allow two saves (such as phantasmal killer still insta-kill, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    If you really want SoDs to be serious and not anticlimatic, why don't you change them to deliver negative levels instead? That way, they have a serious impact on the fight (unlike dealing lots of damage, a creature isn't going to get worse at fighting because its hit points dropped from 800 to 50) and it would take a few castings of it to actually kill the creature (so there's some build up). Best part, no saving throw in the end, and the biggest bads can prevent it with healing magic, but that requires wasting actions.
    This would actually be a great idea: mooks and such can be killed by such spells, because they have fewer levels to drain, while the big baddies will be able to survive, albeit at a reduced capacity. They can restore their abilities, but that takes their turn and their spells/items, making it a viable strategy.
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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Personally I like using Save or Dies have the caster roll 1d12 damage per level (similar to blasty spells that do xd6, just an average that is twice as high), with saves giving half damage. If this damage exceeds the target's hit points, the spell takes effect, if it does not, then the spell has no effect.

    So a weak target can be affected/killed even on a successful save, while a strong target won't be affected at all. It makes Save or Dies a strong finisher, but not something you want to waste an action on until the target is weakened.
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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    Personally I like using Save or Dies have the caster roll 1d12 damage per level (similar to blasty spells that do xd6, just an average that is twice as high), with saves giving half damage. If this damage exceeds the target's hit points, the spell takes effect, if it does not, then the spell has no effect.

    So a weak target can be affected/killed even on a successful save, while a strong target won't be affected at all. It makes Save or Dies a strong finisher, but not something you want to waste an action on until the target is weakened.
    Does your system have a cap on the d12s it rolls? (Like, would finger of death have fewer d12s allowed than a destruction, if both were cast by a 20th level caster?)

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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    Does your system have a cap on the d12s it rolls? (Like, would finger of death have fewer d12s allowed than a destruction, if both were cast by a 20th level caster?)
    Same caps as apply to normal evocation spells of the same level.
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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    If you really want SoDs to be serious and not anticlimatic, why don't you change them to deliver negative levels instead? That way, they have a serious impact on the fight (unlike dealing lots of damage, a creature isn't going to get worse at fighting because its hit points dropped from 800 to 50) and it would take a few castings of it to actually kill the creature (so there's some build up). Best part, no saving throw in the end, and the biggest bads can prevent it with healing magic, but that requires wasting actions.
    I like this idea a lot as well, but how many levels would be drained? and how would you balance it against enervation or energy drain? Something like save or take one negative level per level of the spell?
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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkweave31 View Post
    I like this idea a lot as well, but how many levels would be drained? and how would you balance it against enervation or energy drain? Something like save or take one negative level per level of the spell?
    Negative levels don't offer saving throws to resist the penalties. Otherwise there would be no point to the spells/special attacks (the main point is to soften up saving throws/attack rolls, at least, when monsters use them).

    I would say have each spell deal 1d4+SL-4 (So finger of death deals 1d4+1, destruction deals 1d4+3, etc). Then energy drain is still king, but the SoDs are still better than enervation. Plus, you know, it kind of already sucks that there are only two negative level spells anyway.

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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Hmm... on the one hand, it's a good point about out-blasting blast spells and negative levels. On the other hand, I tend to think of negative levels as debuffs, rather than an offensive tool-- you generally have to hit someone a few times with enervation before they go down.

    Serrow, I like your idea a lot, actually. I might just steal it verbatim.
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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    One option would be to say that the effects only work on creatures with a set hit point total. So you could say that slay living only works on creatures with at most 10 hit points per caster level (going off of disintegrate doing an average of 7 points per caster level and harm doing a flat 10 points of damage per caster level.)

    This makes them remain tactical, because they WILL take some enemies down reliably. In theory they could take down anything after it's softened up. However, the wizard can't go fishing for natural 1s to kill a powerful opponent. Maybe a good way to work it is have it do 2 points of damage per spell level per caster level (so a level 9 spell works on anything with less than 18 hit points per caster level). But of course, that makes sleep useless because at first level it only works on creatures with 1 or two hit points, so you're going to have to work on some kind of case-by-case limit this way. (Maybe 5 + 1 hit points per spell level?) It would also have to be case-by-case because the exact definition of "save-or-die" is fuzzy.

    Of course, you would still allow saving throws to negate.
    Last edited by Thomar_of_Uointer; 2012-02-06 at 08:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Save or Dies less Die-y?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomar_of_Uointer View Post
    One option would be to say that the effects only work on creatures with a set hit point total. So you could say that slay living only works on creatures with at most 10 hit points per caster level (going off of disintegrate doing an average of 7 points per caster level and harm doing a flat 10 points of damage per caster level.)

    This makes them remain tactical, because they WILL take some enemies down reliably. In theory they could take down anything after it's softened up. However, the wizard can't go fishing for natural 1s to kill a powerful opponent. Maybe a good way to work it is have it do 2 points of damage per spell level per caster level (so a level 9 spell works on anything with less than 18 hit points per caster level). But of course, that makes sleep useless because at first level it only works on creatures with 1 or two hit points, so you're going to have to work on some kind of case-by-case limit this way. (Maybe 5 + 1 hit points per spell level?) It would also have to be case-by-case because the exact definition of "save-or-die" is fuzzy.

    Of course, you would still allow saving throws to negate.
    As far as I can tell, that's very similar to Seerow's method, a few posts back (up to 1d12/level HP must save or die, over that auto-negates).

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