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Thread: Shield spell usage question

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    Shield spell usage question

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    This came up last night in a game I'm running, so I thought I'd gather thoughts from the community.

    One of the players has a Wizard PC, and at one point got hit by a melee attack and wanted to use his Shield spell. Player's question to GM: "Did I get hit by less than 5?" Now, I'll admit that the first time he did that caught me a bit off guard, but by the next time that evening I'd had a chance to think about it, and told him that if he wanted to use the spell he could use it, but I wasn't going to tell him the margin by which he got hit...the spell might prevent the hit or might not.

    My position: giving him that margin amounts to meta-gaming; it's not reasonable that the character would have perfect knowledge of when the spell would prevent a hit, and I'm not doing anything that lessens the effectiveness of the spell against the attack in question or any that follow during its duration.

    His position: I'm nerfing one of his powers, as well as other similar ones from various classes, by not allowing it to be used with full knowledge of whether it will prevent a hit (or whatever it's supposed to be protecting from).

    I have a fallback position of sorts, where I can give him a "maybe it'll be enough, maybe it won't" based on the margin of the hit, though I'm less than perfectly gruntled about that.

    Of course, we're at least pretending to ignore the question of whether he should let himself get caught in melee range at all. So, who wants to opine on the subject?
    I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going! (But I'll happily be the GM...)

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    Do you right down their defenses as a DM?

    In my games I ask flat out, "Does a 17 hit your Reflex?" and allow the player to respond. I explain to them that must declair the immediate before the next player takes action and they loose out if they forget. I have had that Shield spell save the party Wizard once so far and it was because I announce the AC I hit. I don't see a need to hide my number from them, unless its the defenses of the monsters.

    I guess my real answer is to give the dog a bone and let them know what you rolled as your to hit, which makes it easier and fair in regards to using such interupt powers.

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    Actually, I do note their defenses to speed up my side of combat (moreso as I'm generally controlling rather more creatures than any of them are), but I don't have monsters act directly on that knowledge. Instead, depending on the monster, they'll target the biggest perceived threat, or whoever they can get a cheap shot on if one's available, or even just whoever's closest. Smarter monsters will use smarter tactics, but won't know the party's weaknesses if they've never seen them before, just as the characters generally don't (or at least, shouldn't) know the capabilities of monsters they haven't fought or researched.
    I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going! (But I'll happily be the GM...)

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    I have to agree that it's unreasonably nerfing an encounter power to not reveal whether it would help or not. A person would reasonably know if a hit was just barely, solid or caught them completely flat-footed.
    "You know spies gamers, a bunch of *****y little girls." - Sam Axe

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    I agree with you there, which is why I don't write those things down so as not to tempt myself. I keep their passive scores only and leave the rest in the capable hands of the players.

    I think that both ways are good, though I love the excited face that comes with the sudden realization that the player could save their bacon by using something because the situation just came up. Nothing wrong with doing things in your fashion, but there needs to be some form of signal for the player for those interupts that are done based on a specific number. You could set out a coin, for example, and leave it Tails up unless a numeric trigger for an interupt has been reached, then turn it over to Heads Up. Of course, that results in the DM tracking even more than he already has and that can be a daunting task at times.

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    Since the spell can go off when the Wizard is hit, it's up to the player to decide if they're interested in trying to interrupt the hit. They don't have to meta-game to use the Shield spell. They do have to know if they've been hit, but they don't have know by how much.

    If the player doesn't know what you rolled, you don't have to nerf the spell. After saying character has been hit then the player throws up the Shield spell. There is no harm in telling them they have been hit or not after the spell goes off, because no numbers have been given away.

    If the player does know the die roll, then you'll have to nerf the spell if you want them to be in the dark. Not fun for little harpo. Might want to warn the players or change up the spell to give them a +4 AC until the end of the encounter.

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    I'm with the group that says give thejm the number. Mostly because if I was playing, I would hate to have wasted my power.
    The Reaper is always just a step behind me . . .

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    By the sounds of it, the spell is able to be used in some different ways than it is in 2E. I have always made the magic users not be able to use a spell right after being hit by an attack. The reasoning is that they need to recover enough to be able to concentrate on casting the spell.

    I also thought that shield was a lower level spell. Unless the party's foe is lower level creatures, it usually didn't help much against strong attacks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cplmac View Post
    By the sounds of it, the spell is able to be used in some different ways than it is in 2E. I have always made the magic users not be able to use a spell right after being hit by an attack. The reasoning is that they need to recover enough to be able to concentrate on casting the spell.

    I also thought that shield was a lower level spell. Unless the party's foe is lower level creatures, it usually didn't help much against strong attacks.
    The new version did change the spell.

    Storm, you are being perfectly reasonable is not wanting to put the metagame information out there. However, if I remember the flavor in which the spell was written, the wizard is supposed to be able to use the spell to prevent the hit, not to potnentially prevent the hit.
    Now, if it were me, it'd go like this.
    MEGM: What's your defense.
    Wizzy: #.
    MEGM: The orc hits you in the chest.
    Wizzy: Did he hit by five, I could shield.
    MEGM: You don't know how much he hit you by, but you know that in this instance, your shield spell would push the attack away(preventing damage).

    ADDITION* The few times I do GM, I may or may not roll so the players can see my die. Part of that is based on them, and part is just my opininon that even if a player dosn't want to cheat, their brain will use all ava. knowledgeable. Kind of like watching an evirnonment changes the environment. I'll also sometimes roll a die, look at some sheets, and continue, letting the players wonder what they just missed. Keeps them on their toes.
    Last edited by michaeljearley; 08-19-2008 at 12:07 PM.

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    Running my Star Wars Saga campaign over the last several months, I've come across and had to decide how to deal with a similar situation. In this instance, it was regarding the expenditure of Force Points, which adds the result of a d6 to an attack or skill roll total. As Force Points are a limited resource, players obviously don't want to spend them haphazardly, so it became important for them to know that if a roll failed and they were considering spending a Force Point to modify it, that it was within range of success by the Force Point's influence.

    On a failed roll, I wouldn't tell them exactly what the target number was (and thus, how much they missed it by), but I would tell them (when asked) whether or not a Force Point could give enough bonus to possibly succeed. Since the Force Point's bonus was random, this still made for some good tension as they didn't know what they needed to roll on the die for success, but at least they would know when a Force Point could make a difference and when it wouldn't.

    I haven't had any problem with that approach. Of course, this is slightly different when you're dealing with static numbers rather than randomly figured bonuses, but I don't see why you couldn't try the same approach. Don't tell them how much the attack missed by, but do tell them (when asked) whether or not the shield would make the difference between a hit or a miss and then let them sweat over whether to use it now or save it for later.
    Last edited by Webhead; 08-19-2008 at 01:36 PM.
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    The similar thread over at Wizards seems to agree: let the PC know if their power will be useful, even if they don't know the exact number they got hit by:

    http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1076021

    Otherwise, you've got a power that's just not that useful, and daily to boot.

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    Yes (though the spell's Encounter, not Daily)...and entertainingly enough, that's my player posting the initial question, and he chose to do so under the "Character Optimization" forum rather than Rules Q&A, so he's getting a slightly different audience.

    The comments on all three threads are (mostly) interesting and informative, so I'm likely to adjust my adjudication of the spell to be rather more in the players' favor.
    I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going! (But I'll happily be the GM...)

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    maybe I am wrong, but it sounds like he is asking you to go back in time. if he has already been hit and wants to know by how much to better judge for next time that is one thing. if he has already been hit and wants to change that isn't it a bit late? I would say that if it is the former then giving him an idea but not an exact number is a good way to go. if it is the latter and he wants to alter what has already happened then i would call that wrong (cheating even?).

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    Hmm, The_Richard does pose a good question. If the PC has already suffered the attack, then how can you go back in time and change the result. I know of a spell called time stop. It doesn't let the person go back in time though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Richard View Post
    maybe I am wrong, but it sounds like he is asking you to go back in time. if he has already been hit and wants to know by how much to better judge for next time that is one thing. if he has already been hit and wants to change that isn't it a bit late? I would say that if it is the former then giving him an idea but not an exact number is a good way to go. if it is the latter and he wants to alter what has already happened then i would call that wrong (cheating even?).
    The same way a batter knows whether or not to swing at a pitch as it comes in. He'll have an idea if it's going to be in the strike zone before he swings at it, and has a choice to swing or not depending on how good the pitch is. Similarly, with contact sports such as fencing and boxing, a skilled defender will know if he needs to bother with a given shot.

    Similarly, the Wizard will know if the shot is going to not connect, connect and be blockable, or connect and not be blockable before unleashing the Shield spell on it, because he sees it coming.

    I've been playing it differently (more from the Ranger ability than the Wizard one), but I'll be letting the player know beforehand from now on if their power will be effective. More player agency = good.
    Last edited by Valdar; 08-19-2008 at 08:24 PM.

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