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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Spell Study Series: Confusion and Charm Monster

Confusion and Charm Monster go together not only because of the misuse of "effect" instead of "affect", but also because they both affect mental states. Even though Confusion comes first in the book, I'll deal with Charm Monster first, so that I can spend more time with Confusion.
Charm Monster: The counterpart of a Charm Person spell which is employable against all creatures. If animals or creatures with three or fewer hit dice are involved determine how many are effected by the spell by rolling three six-sided dice. It is otherwise identical to the Charm Person spell.
This is literally just Charm Person with the restriction to intelligent, bipedal mammals removed. The interesting twist is that it uses the same spell level/hit dice relationship we saw in the Wall spells: if the hit dice of the target is less than the spell level, the spell is so powerful that it can affect more than one creature.
Confusion: This spell will immediately effect creatures with two or fewer hit-dice. For creatures above two hit dice the following formula is used to determine when the spell takes effect: score of a twelve-sided die roll less the level of the Magic-User casting the spell = delay in effect, i.e. a positive difference means a turn delay, while a zero or negative difference means immediate effect. Creatures with four or more hit dice will have saving throws against magic, and on those turns they make their saving throws they are not confused; but this check must be made each turn the spell lasts, and failure means they are confused. The spell will effect as many creatures as indicated by the score rolled on two six-sided dice with the addition of + 1 for each level above the 8th that the Magic-User casting the spell has attained. Confused creatures will attack the Magic-User's party (dice score 2-5), stand around doing nothing (6-8), or attack each other (9-12). Roll each turn. Duration: 12 turns. Range: 12".
Amusingly, the mechanics behind the Confusion spell are so complicated, they can be confusing. The effect of the spell is that confused creatures use a reaction roll to determine who they attack. The reaction roll is interpreted relative to the caster: positive reaction means that the creature is basically charmed that round and attacks the caster's enemies, in other words, each other.)

Naturally, the spell affects a group rather than a single creature (it wouldn't have much effect if cast on a solitary creature.) The choice of 8th level as a reference point is odd, since 7th level casters can use the spell. The spell level/HD relationship shows up here, too, in the form of no saving throws for creatures of less than 4 HD.  Saving throws are rolled every round that the spell is in effect, and there's also a delay roll and a roll to determine the number affected. Combined with the reaction rolls, that means lots of die rolling. It would be nice to simplify this.

We could eliminate the reaction roll, merging the determination of who is attacked into the attack roll itself. Roll a d20 for each creature; on an odd result, the creature does not actually attack; otherwise, consult this chart:
An "allies" result means the creature attacks its own side; an "enemies" result means it attacks the opposing side. Use the number rolled as the attack roll.

This table does eliminate one roll, but I'm not entirely satisfied, since it requires a table look-up' plus, it's geared towards a d20 combat roll, making it difficult to replace combat mechanics. An easier method might be to split determination of action across both the save and the attack roll: on a failed save, an even result means the creature does nothing that round, while on an even attack roll, the creature is attacking an ally.

The second thing we could eliminate is the delay roll. The spell description suggests rolling a d12 and subtracting the caster's level (minimum 7) from the result to see how long it takes for the spell to take effect. This means that the spell is delayed from 0 to 5 rounds, with 0 being the most likely result. We could combine the delay roll with the 2d6 roll for number of creatures affected; if the number of creatures affected is greater than the caster's level, use the lowest of the 2d6 rolled as the rounds of delay. This does introduce the possibility of a six-round delay if double 6s are rolled, but it also makes long delays less likely.

The range listed could be replaced with Line of Sight, which makes sense for what is essentially a pre-combat spell. The duration, however, is 12 turns, twice my proposal for Standard duration. I can see two options:
  • Change it to Standard Physical (6 turns + caster level,) which increases duration above 12 turns;
  • Change Standard duration to 6 turns / three spell levels, or possibly per two levels.
I'm actually leaning towards the latter, because there were a couple other spells with 12 turn durations listed. A 12 turns/two spell levels relationship could preserve a couple of these, while still keeping things simple.

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