Archive for 'D&D Helpline'

My players will hit me for doing this…

…before I put up the latest session writeups, but I have news!

I got fanmail!

Real, legitimate, non-spam fanmail!

I know!  I can’t believe it either.  It even included phrases like:

“Reading your response method was very refreshing… very pleasant.”

“I can’t believe the ease with which you speak of 4e, and haven’t even cracked the core books open!  You write like one of the game designers, and you write much more maturely than a college student…”

“I can’t wait until you have played it a while… I think your intellect and your personality will become a valuable resource for those of us who need a bit of re-set perspective.

It’s nice when someone says, “Did you look at it this way?” in a teaching, sharing sort of way.  And then, with delight, you say, “Oh!  No.. but.. wow!  Cooool!” “

“Your site, and your comments on other blogs, are fresh, witty, and enrich the people who read them, encouraging critical, creative thinking.”


“Be careful, because if Mearls reads your posts, they might try to kidnap you and let your vision guide the development of this edition over the next few years. :)”

It was in response to some comments of mine that I left on another blog, rather than this site in particular, but still.  It always surprises me that people read what I write.

In the same email exchange, however, I got asked some questions.  It seems that, despite the fact that I have yet to do a full readthrough of any of the three core 4e books, I have become somewhat of an authority on the subject, specifically character design.  If you disagree that I have become such an authority, shut up, I’m having a moment here! :annoyed:

So he asked me for my advice on converting two of the favourite characters/concepts of his group and players from 3e to 4e.  Well, I’m all too happy to oblige!

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D&D Helpline – Charmed, I’m sure

So we had no game last week, due to sickness and exams, but we’ll be back tomorrow.

Today, though, I’m tackling something that I’ve been meaning to for a while.  Specifically, giving a bit of help to Noumenon, who is looking for some workable rules (and more to the point, a second opinion) about casting spells during social encounters.

His problem:

I would like a better way to handle “Charm Person” type spells. I can never start spellcasting in a conversation without making the person so suspicious my DM wants to roll initiative. I don’t want to be reduced to casting a flavorful spell like Hypnotism from around the corner, and I don’t want to waste my feats on silent spells.

Well, unfortunately, I can understand your DM’s point, but he’s taking it a bit too far.

When you cast a spell while someone’s watching you, if it has verbal or somatic components they are going to know you’re casting a spell.

That said, they won’t immediately attack you, unless they’re already unfriendly towards you.

But really, the biggest problem with your DM’s handling of the situation is timing.

Let’s say Tim the Rogue is talking to an unfriendly town guard, and decides to pull a knife and stab him.  Fine, surprise round, stabby, roll damage, and (if the target is still alive) roll for initiative.

So let’s say Billy the Wizard is talking to the same unfriendly guard, and decides to cast Charm Person.  Same thing, surprise round, cast spell, roll saving throw, determine effect.  THEN, if the spell failed, roll for initiative.

If the spell succeeded, the target’s attitude towards you should increase by 2 categories, after which they wouldn’t mind you casting a spell on them, as they’re friendly now.

If the spell fails, however, I’d say there’s a good chance that the target’s attitude towards you might change from unfriendly to hostile (or indifferent to unfriendly).  If the target has allies around, who aren’t targets of the spell, to witness this, they will also likely move down one step.

That said, there are ways to prevent people noticing the spell.  The primary one involves using the Bluff skill to create a distraction.  This should effectively prevent attitudes from dropping, if the save succeeds and the spell fails.  The alternative is, of course, preventing the target from hearing and seeing you while you cast.  Around the corner works (as long as you still have line of sight), but so does just being further away, or in a crowd.

So this one really isn’t a houserule, but rather advice on handling the situation.  I hope it proves helpful to
Noumenon and his DM, as well as anyone else with similar issues.

I have yet to tackle Tommi’s request from back in February, mostly due to lack of time, and then forgetting about it. 😛  I may still, but it is quite the complex issue.  Additionally, I foresee at least some of that issue being dealt with by the new 4e rules.  We’ll have to see.

In the meantime, feel free to submit new questions the the Helpline, and I’ll do my best to answer them.