Counterspells ?

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geordie racer
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Counterspells ?

Post by geordie racer »

Is there going to be the ability to counterspell in DCC (or just Dispel Magic) ?

And if it goes haywire, what would be the consequences:

- adding 'fuel to the fire' - increasing the effect/duration/range of the spell to be countered
- mutating the spell -adding some weird effect to it
- creating a temporary null-magic zone
- temporarily affecting the wizard's/other wizard's ability to cast that spell again
- casting an equal but opposite spell over the area/object/person effected by the spell

?
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by finarvyn »

Well, since we have a "spell effects" table (or a series of tables) it looks like it would be a neat extension to create a table for Counterspell.

Heck, Counterspell could be an actual spell in the list. Or a bunch of spells. (e.g. Maybe "Counterspell I" could counter the effects of a spell of level 1-2, "Counterspell II" could counter the effects of a spell of level 3-4, and so on.)

I would think that a counterspell should be less expensive to cast than the actual spell, or folks wouldn't bother to counter but instead just start blasting each other. Maybe a spell that gets countered might not "be cast" and might not count against that wizard's daily totals. Maybe counterspell would be a "free" cast. Hard to say what is the best way to go on this, and I'm just spewing ideas as they pop into my brain at the moment...
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by smathis »

finarvyn wrote:I would think that a counterspell should be less expensive to cast than the actual spell, or folks wouldn't bother to counter but instead just start blasting each other. Maybe a spell that gets countered might not "be cast" and might not count against that wizard's daily totals. Maybe counterspell would be a "free" cast. Hard to say what is the best way to go on this, and I'm just spewing ideas as they pop into my brain at the moment...
Or maybe a Counterspell could be a "free" reaction if the caster is willing to take a one die penalty on spellcasting until the end of their next turn? Or maybe the one die penalty is against saves?

So evil sorcerer casts a 3rd level spell against party. PC Magic-User attempts to Counterspell and rolls an 18, which somehow reduces the evil sorcerer's spell. But PC Magic-User rolls d16 for next spell roll (or maybe save) or something?

Depending on how it's set up the "cost" for trying to counter a spell could be written into the chart for counterspell. It could be something minor like -2 to next save or -1 hit point. Or it could be something more costly like attribute damage, inability to cast a spell for a full round or -1d4 hit points. This could make Counterspell a "free" spell that can be cast once per round as a "free" reaction but would make its "cost" variable.

As for positive effects, I could see it ranging from reducing the opposing caster's spell roll by the difference between the Counterspell and the original spell roll to giving everyone affected by the spell a +2 or +4 to save or it could be something more subtle like increasing the opposing caster's Spellburn roll by the difference between the Counterspell and the original spell roll (in the event that the opposing caster used Spellburn).

There's a chart in there somewhere, just waiting to burst free.

I like geordie's fumble effect ideas. I think those would be cool if a Counterspell failed. I like the idea of Counterspelling. I think it's one of the things that's missing from vanilla D&D that could make magic resemble the wizard duel between Boris Karloff and Vincent Price in the The Raven. I don't think it would be difficult to implement. Just a spell chart, ala Magic Missile, only with the cost of the casting built into the chart, instead of eating up a caster's Spell bonus. Vincent Price counterspells all day in The Raven. It doesn't seem to affect his casting ability all that much.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by GnomeBoy »

What if to counterspell, you as the counterer chose a die size to reduce your opponent's spell check by, and you yourself took that same die size as a penalty on your next casting? Counterspelled multiple spells before your turn? Your next spell is not going to go well, is it?
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by smathis »

GnomeBoy wrote:What if to counterspell, you as the counterer chose a die size to reduce your opponent's spell check by, and you yourself took that same die size as a penalty on your next casting? Counterspelled multiple spells before your turn? Your next spell is not going to go well, is it?
I like that a lot. I'm assuming the dice carry over to the next turn, in the situation where you cast early in the round and counterspell later?

Nice going, GnomeBoy. Very elegant mechanic, IMO.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by geordie racer »

smathis wrote:
GnomeBoy wrote:What if to counterspell, you as the counterer chose a die size to reduce your opponent's spell check by, and you yourself took that same die size as a penalty on your next casting? Counterspelled multiple spells before your turn? Your next spell is not going to go well, is it?
I like that a lot. I'm assuming the dice carry over to the next turn, in the situation where you cast early in the round and counterspell later?

Nice going, GnomeBoy. Very elegant mechanic, IMO.
I agree, elegant simplicity, sound idea ! I like the fact that choice is involved rather than just dropping a die size.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by Hamakto »

While I like the idea of that mechanic... I am not sure how that would work in DCC RPG

Because if you roll is too low, you lose the spell. If you start to do countering rolls, you can easily strip a caster of their memorized spells (i.e. 4-6 spells memorized).

The purpose of counter spell, would be to counter the effects. Not to remove the spell from the casters memory by heavily increasing the chance of a spell roll failure (and loss of spell from memory)
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by geordie racer »

Hamakto wrote:Because if you roll is too low, you lose the spell. If you start to do countering rolls, you can easily strip a caster of their memorized spells (i.e. 4-6 spells memorized).
But the countercaster is also penalizing his following spell rolls, making himself equally vulnerable to spell failure, making counterspells more of a desperate measure than a commonly-used hassle-free tactic. There is a price to be paid - and it is this factor that I think makes it a fitting rule for the game.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by GnomeBoy »

Hamakto wrote:While I like the idea of that mechanic... I am not sure how that would work in DCC RPG

Because if you roll is too low, you lose the spell. If you start to do countering rolls, you can easily strip a caster of their memorized spells (i.e. 4-6 spells memorized).

The purpose of counter spell, would be to counter the effects. Not to remove the spell from the casters memory by heavily increasing the chance of a spell roll failure (and loss of spell from memory)
You could get lucky and strip your foe of a spell. I'm not going to pretend I can name an example of one wizard binding up another wizard's magic like that in Appendix N... But this is not D&D that Joseph is aiming for. Making a magic-user forget how to do a bit of magic is not very D&D, but it might be DCCRPG... Maybe counterspell is the wrong term: maybe it should be "anti-magic magic."

It's a mechanic with a lot of randomness in it, which I love. You roll low against your enemy, which makes no difference in his result, but then roll high against yourself -- sucks to be you. The opposite results on those rolls and maybe you just won the day. If the evil wizard in his tower is pounding you and yours with magic missiles, maybe it's worth the chance to try to make him forget how to cast it...

It's exactly the kind of balanced randomness ("they lose a die, I lose a die, let's roll...") that I love, so it seemed obvious to suggest it. If Joseph doesn't already have a counterspell mechanic that he loves, maybe he'll consider adapting it in some way. Maybe he's already settled on the point of counterspells. Maybe he doesn't have a mechanic yet, but doesn't like this one either...

...Maybe it'll just be part of my 3PP Incognita Arcanicus suppliment... :mrgreen:
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by smathis »

GnomeBoy wrote:I'm not going to pretend I can name an example of one wizard binding up another wizard's magic like that in Appendix N... But this is not D&D that Joseph is aiming for. Making a magic-user forget how to do a bit of magic is not very D&D, but it might be DCCRPG... Maybe counterspell is the wrong term: maybe it should be "anti-magic magic."
Well, to me, it does seem to fit the spirit of the wizard duel in the movie, The Raven, which was supposedly a big influence on D&D magic. So, if we assume that The Raven is an unofficial influence -- part of the apocryphal Appendix N, then the ability to counterspell in a fashion similar to what's been described certainly fits.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by geordie racer »

No relation to Appendix N bar the word 'Conan' but y'know in the film Conan the Destroyer - in the tomb when the two wizards match magics against each other - I'd like the ability to do similar in DCC rpg.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by jmucchiello »

Actually, since we know spells have a chart, why not just extend the chart backward and make a counterspell a direct penalty to the die roll:

Caster A's total magic bonus is +3 (however it is calculated based on level, spell level, color of his eyes,etc). Caster B's total magic bonus is +2. Caster A rolls d20+3 while Caster B rolls d10+2 (d8? d12?) Subtract the numbers and consult the chart:

Magic Missile
Spellcaster rolls a natural 1, treat his roll as -10 and apply all penalty modifiers (from opposing spellcasters if applicable).
Counterspeller rolls a natural 1: Add his modifier to caster's roll, all missiles must target the counterspeller.
-15 or lower 1d3 Missiles doing 1d6+1 damage targets caster, or anyone within range of opposing spellcaster if applicable
-11 to -14 1d2 Missiles doing 1d4+1 damage targets caster, or blah blah if applicable
-7 to -10 1 Missile doing 1d4+1 damage targets caster
-6 to 10 spell fails
11 to 12 1 Missile doing 1d4+1 damage ...
etc


That could lead to this:
Bolstering spells: two or more spellcasters can increase the effect of a spell by casting together. The lead spellcaster rolls d20 normally while the assistants just add their caster bonus to spell effect. If a spell is being countered, one assistant per counterspelling caster rolls d10 and adds his caster bonus to the effect.

A (+5), B (+4), C (+2) and D (+1) are casting a spell. Normally the spell effect would be d20+5+4+2+1. Y (+3) and Z (+6) arrive and attempt to stop the spell. Now the effect is d20 + 5 + d10+4 + d10+2 +1 - (d10+3) - (d10+6).
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by GnomeBoy »

jmucchiello wrote:...make a counterspell a direct penalty to the die roll...
This idea I like a lot! 8)


As for the 'backwards' chart -- I think personally I'd rather see something simpler, like, if you reduce your opponent's result down to x (zero?), then you get to control the spell, not the original caster! The power level of the spell would be set by his natural, uncountered result.

And I like that there 'bolster' idea, too... :D
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by jmucchiello »

GnomeBoy wrote:
jmucchiello wrote:...make a counterspell a direct penalty to the die roll...
As for the 'backwards' chart -- I think personally I'd rather see something simpler, like, if you reduce your opponent's result down to x (zero?), then you get to control the spell, not the original caster! The power level of the spell would be set by his natural, uncountered result.
I don't know if that works. I think that make counterspelling too powerful. Notice that the effects you get on the negative chart I wrote are nowhere near the power level of the normal spell effects. I did that on purpose because otherwise no one would cast a spell. They'd just wait to counter someone else's. And you end up with a weird game of chicken until the fighter breaks through and whacks the other spellcaster.
And I like that there 'bolster' idea, too... :D
It is rather nice.... And it makes rituals simple. You can even give non-spellcasters "fractional" spell caster bonus values so that a dozen 0-level folk praying to summon the frog god adds +1 the attempt and 100 0-level folk add +10 to the attempt. Likewise a 5th level fighter might be able to scrape together a +1 or +2. non-spellcaster participants cannot contribute to counterspell or anti-counterspell attempts.

And the spell page for the ritual's casting would have a chart like:
roll effect
0 or less Summon creature eats all participants
1-20 no effect
21-30 Creature arrives and demands d4 sacrificial offerings, in blood
31-40 Creature arrive and demands 1 sacrificial offing, in blood
41-45 Creature arrives and is controlled for 1d4 hours if given 1 sacrificial offering, in blood.
46+ (days, weeks, etc.)
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by Hamakto »

How about this for an alternate idea for counter spelling. This example is based on the idea of casting time from 1e. Not sure if DCC supports true casting time or they use the broken system from 3e.

Initiative: 10 Wizard 1 is casting Fireball (W1) --- casting time of 5 --- rolls spell check

Initiative: 9 Wizard 2 action comes up after Wizard 1 started his spell. He decides that the party getting hit with a Fireball is too dangerous, so he tries to counter spell. He takes one of his 'memorized' spells and makes a spell check. If he fails, he looses the memorized spell. If he succeeds he adds the spell level to the spell check and compares it against Wizard 1's spell check.


Difference calc = W1 - W2

Diff Effect
+5 or greater W1 spell is successful AND W2 loses memorized spell for failing to counter
0 to +4 W1 spell is successful
-1 to -5 W1 spell is delayed one round. He can either keep his initial spell check OR re-roll next turn.
-6 to -10 W1 spell is countered
-11 or greater W1 spell is countered and is lost from memory

This table tries to represent two wizards doing a test of wills against each other.

Please note that this does favor the countering wizard a bit as they get to add their spell level to their skill check. Magic is tough to get right, so a little disruption goes a long ways.

This is not a complete worked out idea, but just something to throw out for a framework.
Last edited by Hamakto on Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by finarvyn »

I think that the tricky thing about counterspells is making sure that they don't mess up the fun of spells.

If there are two high-level mages in a duel and they cancel a few spells out it's not a big deal. However, if there are two low-level mages in a duel and they only have a couple of spells each, making those spells cancel removes a lot of the fun of the duel.

Mage #1: "Ha! I cast Fluttintutin's Fiery Finger of Fate!"
Mage #2: "Good move." Waves hand. "Ha! Countered."
Mage #1: "Drat. Well, I'm out. You got any left or do you want to switch to daggers?"

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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by smathis »

finarvyn wrote:I think that the tricky thing about counterspells is making sure that they don't mess up the fun of spells.
I think making it so countering a spell can't make an opposing caster forget that spell, even if it forces it to fizzle, would address the fun issue. Sure, a magic-user could "spam" their one spell but the more they do the more likely they are to roll poorly and lose it.

Some good suggestions on this thread. Counterspelling could be fun for Wizard duels.
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by goodmangames »

smathis wrote:Well, to me, it does seem to fit the spirit of the wizard duel in the movie, The Raven, which was supposedly a big influence on D&D magic. So, if we assume that The Raven is an unofficial influence -- part of the apocryphal Appendix N, then the ability to counterspell in a fashion similar to what's been described certainly fits.
I am of exactly the same mind - ever since I saw that film, it got me thinking about counterspells and spell-dueling. In The Raven you can pretty obviously see how the shield spell became a defense against magic missile. It's not "true" Appendix N but when you watch the film it's obviously a major influence on the Gygaxian magic system so I think it "counts."

The challenge is how to do it within the confines of the basic mechanics of a D&D initiative system. The spell-dueling in The Raven involved two mages with no other combatants. In D&D terms that's just two alternative initiative counts. And, in D&D terms, the spells being cast as counters are, to a limited extent, ones that were originally defined in D&D as being able to counter one another (specifically, shield against magic missile). One caveat is that in the movie, shield is cast after magic missile, which is a break in the initiative sequence. So, from the perspective of that movie as an "origin point" for the D&D counterspell concept, I think it's more about (a) spells that counter each other and (b) some initiative mechanic that allows reactions to recently-cast spells (not just defensive shields).

I like some of the ideas in this thread! I am trying to keep spells well-defined, not just "general purpose magical energy," so I want to avoid ideas of "using a spell slot for a counterspell." Each spell should be a unique combination of supernatural appeals, odd poses, strange intonations, and bizarre ingredients that produces a not-quite-predictable outcome. However, it could be quite feasible to cast resist fire in response to a fireball -- spell A could counter spell B due to the simple nature of how the spells work. Dispel magic would, of course, be the general-purpose counterspell.

How to deal with the initiative quandry? How to make it not unfair that the wizard gets to "jump" in initiative count to immediately counter a spell cast against the party?

P.S. Even though the counterspell rules aren't finished, there is definitely counterspell art. :)

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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by goodmangames »

I should clarify that DCC RPG uses the 3E initiative system, which some may refer to as "broken" but which I like. :) Simple and straightforward, but it does lack the subtlety that may be required for good counterspell rules.
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Re: Counterspells ?

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goodmangames wrote:I should clarify that DCC RPG uses the 3E initiative system, which some may refer to as "broken" but which I like. :) Simple and straightforward, but it does lack the subtlety that may be required for good counterspell rules.
Hmm... Maybe. I don't think the 3e initiative rules are broken. I think they're fine. But I think you've identified a concern with how initiative works with the spell/counterspell situation. I also agree that some spells appear, by their nature, to act as counterspells already. Cone of Cold <=> Burning Hands. Magic Missiles <=> Shield. Etc.

Maybe allowing some sort of "reactive" casting at a cost to the next spell being cast? Or at the expense of the counter-caster's next action? But how would that "reactive" casting affect the spell it's trying to counter?

It's kind of a complicated issue. I'm not sure if it fits easily into DCC or if it would find a more natural home in a "grimoire" supplement.

I think it fits the spirit of Wizard duels, though. I'd love to see it in the core rules. That's just my preference though. I don't know if it would be too complicated or not.
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Re: Counterspells ?

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I love a mighty MAGICAL DUEL OF ULTIMATENESS!
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by GnomeBoy »

Okay, here's an idea that just popped into my head about how to fit counterspelling into the 3e initiative system: If a magic-user expects they might want to counterspell soon (within the apparent encounter they are in), they simply 'delay' one (move equivalent?) action -- like getting to only do half as much on one of their turns. This action is now 'banked' specifically for counterspelling, and they can use it to 'interrupt' the spell of another magic-user in range (via whatever counterspelling rules prevail). The banked action is lost once used, and they'd have to give up another action on a future round to bank another...

In all of the intense analysis and playtesting I've done in the past five minutes, it seems pretty solid.

...or maybe that idea will lead to a better idea... :mrgreen:
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by Machpants »

So you are saying
Move Action: Prepare Counterspell. Any time before the beginning for your next turn (and you are not flat footed) you may counterspell any spell you have line of sight and line of effect to using counterspell rules on page XXX. Activating your counterspell is a swift action
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by Hamakto »

goodmangames wrote:I should clarify that DCC RPG uses the 3E initiative system, which some may refer to as "broken" but which I like. :) Simple and straightforward, but it does lack the subtlety that may be required for good counterspell rules.
I do have an opinion. Why I think 3e is broken is because spell casting is less dangerous for bigger effects in 3e. Heck... it is just the same as swinging a sword. Much more difficult to counter because of the immediate casting (just takes an action).

That runs very much counter to much of the fantasy literature with a spell caster chanting a spell and the hero trying to disrupt it.

PS - I did initially agree with you about 3e initiative. But after playing various d20 clones that use that initiative system, I think it is flawed when it comes to epic cinema, dramatic effects, and tension. What is so difficult about: Take a 5' step and cast a spell in safety?
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Re: Counterspells ?

Post by smathis »

Hamakto wrote:
goodmangames wrote:I should clarify that DCC RPG uses the 3E initiative system, which some may refer to as "broken" but which I like. :) Simple and straightforward, but it does lack the subtlety that may be required for good counterspell rules.
I do have an opinion. Why I think 3e is broken is because spell casting is less dangerous for bigger effects in 3e. Heck... it is just the same as swinging a sword. Much more difficult to counter because of the immediate casting (just takes an action).

That runs very much counter to much of the fantasy literature with a spell caster chanting a spell and the hero trying to disrupt it.

PS - I did initially agree with you about 3e initiative. But after playing various d20 clones that use that initiative system, I think it is flawed when it comes to epic cinema, dramatic effects, and tension. What is so difficult about: Take a 5' step and cast a spell in safety?
Good point, Andy. Older versions of D&D only had a handful of spells that fired off right when cast. A lot of them, you started casting on your initiative and their effects didn't go off until the end of the round. Or they at least had X "segments" (remember those?) before they went off.
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