Spellcasters and Soft Hits

  • 5 Replies
Spellcasters and Soft Hits
« on: May 20, 2011, 04:40:38 PM »
Maybe somebody can offer me some advice here.

My spellcasters, the Paladin, Cleric, Wizard and Bard, all cast spells a lot.  Occasionally they miss.  Occasionally they hit.  Mostly, they roll 7-9.

I find myself hard pressed to provide them with unwelcome attention or a "spot" (which is the option they almost always choose).

If they're in combat, somebody starts targeting them, sure, but many times there's just nothing going on.

Recently, the unwelcome truth was revealed that the evil wizard had activated his army of bronze minotaurs.  A sudden, deep, metallic lowing echoed through the caverns.  The players reacted by casting Magic Weapon and Sanctuary.  They each hit with 7-9... but there was just nothing going on.  Nobody to pay them unwanted attention and no tough choices to make.

As it happens, I pulled something out of the air about the casting being difficult down here and it would either take a long time or they could force it (-1 spellcasting forward), but I'm quickly running out of ideas.

Re: Spellcasters and Soft Hits
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2011, 06:55:49 PM »
When they say, "I cast a spell," do you say, "Okay, cool. How?"

Because if you know what they're doing, how, with what -- invoking ancient gods, wielding eldritch energies, calling forth fell powers, etc. -- as well as the details of the situation they're in, then you'll have TONS of material to use on a 7-9. They're casting a magic spell! Just think of how cool, mysterious, and dangerous that is!

If you're drawing a blank, it's because the concrete fictional details of what they're doing aren't there, I'll wager.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2011, 07:00:08 PM by John Harper »

Re: Spellcasters and Soft Hits
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2011, 12:07:41 PM »
Also, if there really aren't any interesting consequences for a weak hit, and you know that in advance, just say "Yeah, you do it." Then try to maneuver things such that, next time, there will be interesting consequences.

Re: Spellcasters and Soft Hits
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2011, 04:12:59 PM »
Daniel, that's my first instinct, but in Dungeon World, "if you do it, you do it".



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Re: Spellcasters and Soft Hits
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2011, 02:47:51 AM »
Moves always kick in, there's no GM permission to not make a move.

That said, unwelcome attention or in a spot is essentially a fairly soft move, so look there for some inspiration. Showing signs of doom is always a good choice, especially if it ties back to your fronts. Seeing the spell be blown away by the winds of magic blown away by a god taking on mortal form in the ritual pits below is certainly a spot. Sure, it's not as direct as someone coming to attack right this minute, but it still fulfills the move and certainly promotes play.

A few things I tend to think of:

-Casting a spell takes concentration, right? What might they have missed.

-Casting a spell draws on divine power/disturbs the very fabric of reality, so there are bound to be implications.

-The heroes are probably in some dangerous location, who knows what might be around, or how the area around them reacts to magical energy.

John's completely right, of course. I tend to focus on the situation they're in when thinking about fallout, as you can see from my suggestions above, but the source of power and method of casting can give inspiration too.

Re: Spellcasters and Soft Hits
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 12:26:16 AM »
I took a lot of inspiration from games like In Nomine when building the way magic "feels" in terms of attracting attention; think of casting a spell, divine or arcane, as disturbing the balance of the natural order of things.  You're sending out ripples that anything (often bad bad things) that might be sensitive, can detect.

Maybe that means local bad things, maybe it means a Danger from the Campaign Front is now paying direct attention to the players.  Make some notes, nod and smile and continue on.  Know that every time they attract that attention draws the attention of their foes.  Life gets more complicated if you throw magic around like crazy.