Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

For DCC RPG rules discussion. Includes rules questions and ideas, new rules suggestions, homebrews and hacks, conversions to other systems, and everything else rules-related.

Moderators: DJ LaBoss, finarvyn, michaelcurtis, Harley Stroh

Post Reply
UniversalHead
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:47 am

Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by UniversalHead » Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:20 pm

I seem to be in this situation where one of my players keeps using Color Spray to devastating effect. Everytime there's a Big Bad, he casts the spell, gets them unconscious, and bang, that's it, end of what would have been big interesting battle. Anyone else come across this problem? I know DCC is a game of big swings, but it does seem a bit overpowered ...

User avatar
Raven_Crowking
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2990
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:41 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:45 pm

UniversalHead wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:20 pm
I seem to be in this situation where one of my players keeps using Color Spray to devastating effect. Everytime there's a Big Bad, he casts the spell, gets them unconscious, and bang, that's it, end of what would have been big interesting battle. Anyone else come across this problem? I know DCC is a game of big swings, but it does seem a bit overpowered ...
How does the wizard consistently get those high rolls? Is he spellburning, or just enormously lucky? Or is there a halfling at his elbow?

There is nothing wrong with a spell winning a battle; there is something wrong with the same spell winning every battle. And that can be dealt with by either:

(1) Making the means of getting those high-rolls occasionally suboptimal, or

(2) Making the spell suboptimal.

If you can supply a bit more info, I can supply a more detailed answer.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

User avatar
GnomeBoy
Tyrant Master (Administrator)
Posts: 3813
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:46 pm
FLGS: Bizarro World
Location: Left Coast, USA
Contact:

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by GnomeBoy » Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:59 pm

I had a similar case with that exact spell, but in a one-off game where the player never rolled less than a 17 on the die on a spellcheck.

In that case, it was obvious why they were trouncing every hostile situation that came up.

So yeah, more detail about the game would help -- like if you're doing a complete "re-set" between adventures and there's no penalty to spellburn, well, there's the problem...
...
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

bygrinstow.com - The Home of Inner Ham

BanjoJohn
Hard-Bitten Adventurer
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:00 pm
FLGS: there are a few but I dont really consider any of them as my main flgs

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by BanjoJohn » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:05 am

Time to introduce big bads that have some protection against magical spells or something that boosts their saving throw against them? Or.. a big bad that does a spell dual with the player?

UniversalHead
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:47 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by UniversalHead » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:00 pm

As a 3rd level wizard with an intelligence of 13, he only needs to roll an 8 to blind the target if it fails a save, and a 14 to knock it unconscious if it fails 2 saves. Since the target has to make a save with a DC equal to the spell roll, the blinding save is at least a 20, which is tough to make even with good save modifiers.

So, practically speaking, it boils down to just needing to roll a 14+ to stop any extremely powerful creature in its tracks. And this is all without bringing in spellburn.

My issue I guess is that, apart from save mods (and the saves get extremely difficult when a wizard is getting 20+ spell check results) there's no defense against this tactic for really powerful entities.

I'm just using DCC and Lankhmar adventures by the way, not writing my own.

Jim Skach
Deft-Handed Cutpurse
Posts: 287
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: Crystal Lake, IL

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Jim Skach » Thu Oct 01, 2020 5:55 am

UniversalHead wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:00 pm
As a 3rd level wizard with an intelligence of 13, he only needs to roll an 8 to blind the target if it fails a save, and a 14 to knock it unconscious if it fails 2 saves. Since the target has to make a save with a DC equal to the spell roll, the blinding save is at least a 20, which is tough to make even with good save modifiers.

So, practically speaking, it boils down to just needing to roll a 14+ to stop any extremely powerful creature in its tracks. And this is all without bringing in spellburn.

My issue I guess is that, apart from save mods (and the saves get extremely difficult when a wizard is getting 20+ spell check results) there's no defense against this tactic for really powerful entities.
I'm a bit confused. I just looked at The Croaking Fane, a 3rd level adventure written by Michael Curtis. The encounter at the end has a few opponents (I'm being vague to avoid spoilers) that have +3, +4, and +5 Will save bonuses.

I think you're talking about two possibilities (given level and Intelligence mentions), 12 and 18. It is true that the Wizard needs only an 8 to get a minimum result. But don't forget - facing a creature with a +4 Will save also only needs an 8 to avoid the effects. Looking at The Croaking Fane, one of the opponents can actually roll lower to avoid the effects. This, of course, scales up at essentially the same rate.

Third level wizards are badass. So are pretty much all of the classes - which is why it should take a long time to get there (IMHO, YMMV, etc.)

Now having said that, I have a wizard with the same tendency. Not only that, she has Awesome Eagle, a familiar that allows it to be the focus of the wizard's casting. When she casts magic missile it can be like a fighter jet strafing. But for Color Spray she has mercurial effect that it's accompanied by wails of bereavement, and the manifestation is rope-like coils of color from the fingertips. I make those count. Want to not alert enemies? Good Luck. Don't want the guards over in the town square to know the east gate is under attack? Not gonna happen when bright colors are flickering there. And the higher the spell check result, the brighter and more noticeable the effect.

As opposed to penalizing characters for smart tactics, I personally prefer to figure out how the effects result in unintended consequences. There were several instances where the party considered using the Color Spray approach, only to have it discarded due to situation, terrain, stealth, etc. And I didn't even have to tell them - they got into the habit of saying, "OK, that's going to be damned fireworks show so we can't do that without the guard noticing us...."

User avatar
Raven_Crowking
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2990
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:41 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Raven_Crowking » Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:22 am

UniversalHead wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:00 pm
As a 3rd level wizard with an intelligence of 13, he only needs to roll an 8 to blind the target if it fails a save, and a 14 to knock it unconscious if it fails 2 saves. Since the target has to make a save with a DC equal to the spell roll, the blinding save is at least a 20, which is tough to make even with good save modifiers.

So, practically speaking, it boils down to just needing to roll a 14+ to stop any extremely powerful creature in its tracks. And this is all without bringing in spellburn.

My issue I guess is that, apart from save mods (and the saves get extremely difficult when a wizard is getting 20+ spell check results) there's no defense against this tactic for really powerful entities.

I'm just using DCC and Lankhmar adventures by the way, not writing my own.
Thanks for the extra information!

So, the problem is not getting the rolls, but that the spell always seems optimal. There are ways you can deal with this.

The first thing I am going to say, though, is that the goal should not be to nerf the spell. The spell should solve problems. The player should be able to revel in his power when he is using it. It should just not solve every problem.

Here are a few things that might help:

(1) Color Spray doesn't affect blind creatures.
(2) DCC has a bit in the Judge's Rules titled "Magic Here and Magic There". In some locations, magic may have additional or different effects. This is a criminally underused concept.
(3) Some creatures might have a special ability that affects how the magic works. Imagine casting Color Spray on a mirror golem....
(4) A creature with Color Spray or Dispel Magic can engage your caster in a spell duel.
(5) It is completely reasonable to rule that constructs cannot be rendered unconscious.

Because you are using published adventures, allow me to suggest a few that might help you (Disclosure I wrote/converted some of these):

DCC #68: People of the Pit: Do octo-masses see? And, even if they do, good luck with the giant tentacle monster.

DCC #81: The One Who Watches From Below: Fairly certain that Color Spray will not affect the final encounter much.

DCC #82: Bride of the Black Manse: Your problems cannot really be solved with force.

DCC #85.5: The Curse of the Kingspire: Again, you face a problem that cannot be solved with force.

DCC #90: The Dread God Al-Khazadar: Not only is force not the best solution, but before the end you face foes that Color Spray will not affect. In addition, magic is affected.

DCC #95: Enter the Dagon: Spell duels

In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer (Mystic Bull Games) includes Icon of the Blood Goddess, which makes use of Magic Here and Magic There.

AL 1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror (Purple Duck Games): Biggest challenges don't have eyes.

AL 4: The Waystation (Purple Duck Games): Some nice opponents that cannot see.

AL 5: Stars in the Darkness

CE 1: The Falcate Idol: The biggest problem you face is a construct. It is a problem that can last for some time.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

Mat Mobile
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed May 01, 2019 1:46 pm
FLGS: L'abyss

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Mat Mobile » Fri Oct 02, 2020 8:31 am

I'll be honest... I was skeptical. But then I read the spell and I can see your point! :shock: Thanks for the warning!

A few suggestions and comments:

1 - Does it happen that the Wizard loses the spell from time to time? Because on a roll from 2 to 7 (as a 3rd level, 13 int. wizard), it's lost until the next day. That's still a 30% chance of losing that spell. Plus a critical failure if he rolls a 1 which can have serious consequences. (I say this because initially, when we started playing DCC, we did not realize "lost" spells were for the day. We thought it was a one time failure.)

2 - Intelligent monsters and evil NPCs can use tactics to attack the party. This means they can take advantage of the Wizard's weakness which is his physical weakness:

- Attack the wizard first.
- Attack the wizard with ranged weapons.
- Hire more henchmen/goons to ambush the party from the rear or sides.
- Etc.

Also, the wizard can develop a reputation among the evil-doers of your world so they can be ready for his usual strategy and prepare an adequate counter-attack. What if the victim close his eyes when the wizard starts casting his spell?!? :wink:

3 - I also agree with "Raven_Crowking" when he says:
[...] the goal should not be to nerf the spell. The spell should solve problems. The player should be able to revel in his power when he is using it. It should just not solve every problem.
There's nothing wrong with your group looking forward to the wizard using the spell. Like during a well prepared ambush or facing the final enemy. It just shouldn't be the only thing they ever do as I'm sure it gets boring.

4 - The blinded creature/NPC can still continue fighting even if blinded.

I didn't find a specific rule about a blinded attacker modifier but found the following in Mighty Deeds "Blinding Attacks" (p.89) and it seems appropriate: "5 - Opponent is completely blinded [...]. He flails about with wild attacks, suffering a -8 penalty to attack rolls, and can move only in a random direction at half speed."

In regards to a blinded defender, the modifier for the attacker is +2 for a melee or ranged attack (p.78).

And finally, the bad guy can run away and come back later.

Of course this doesn't help if the creature is knocked unconscious but it's a start.


Good luck and keep us posted!

BanjoJohn
Hard-Bitten Adventurer
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:00 pm
FLGS: there are a few but I dont really consider any of them as my main flgs

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by BanjoJohn » Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:28 am

Maybe a big bad that has a mirror that reflects the spell back at the player?

UniversalHead
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:47 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by UniversalHead » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:14 pm

My apologies for the late reply, but thankyou for the excellent ideas and feedback here!

UniversalHead
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:47 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by UniversalHead » Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:37 am

Happened again. Charged into a guard post in DCC Lankhmar where there were 6 ghouls. Cast color spray - 4 of them instantly unconscious, pretty much end of the battle. I hate that damn spell, and the rule that you roll to save using the caster's roll as the DC is ridiculous, because it makes the saves almost obsolete if the caster makes a good roll and/or adds a bit of spellburn.

User avatar
GnomeBoy
Tyrant Master (Administrator)
Posts: 3813
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:46 pm
FLGS: Bizarro World
Location: Left Coast, USA
Contact:

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by GnomeBoy » Sun Nov 01, 2020 7:08 am

I had a question earlier in the thread about the "reset" time... Like, does spellburn reset between adventures? If so, that makes spellburn MUCH more potent and has less of a limiting factor than intended.

Are there dependable gaps of time between adventures in which to recover from spellburn?
...
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

bygrinstow.com - The Home of Inner Ham

Mat Mobile
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed May 01, 2019 1:46 pm
FLGS: L'abyss

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Mat Mobile » Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:06 am

UniversalHead wrote:
Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:37 am
Happened again. Charged into a guard post in DCC Lankhmar where there were 6 ghouls. Cast color spray - 4 of them instantly unconscious, pretty much end of the battle. I hate that damn spell, and the rule that you roll to save using the caster's roll as the DC is ridiculous, because it makes the saves almost obsolete if the caster makes a good roll and/or adds a bit of spellburn.
Wait. Is this a final battle? If not, couldn't it be acceptable that spell works as intended?

Also, if he spellburns, does the wizard suffer accordingly? Where does he take his points?

In other words, it can be fine that the spell is super powerful, but there should be consequences (especially if he Spellburns).
Last edited by Mat Mobile on Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

Arayis
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:20 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Arayis » Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:42 pm

Thought I would chime in on this one & throw in my 2 coppers. From the DCCRPG core book under ghouls:

“Ghouls do not make any noise whatsoever. They are un- dead, and thus can be turned by clerics. They do not eat, drink, or breathe, and are immune to critical hits, disease, and poison. As un-dead, they are immune to sleep, charm, and paralysis spells, as well as other mental effects and cold damage”

The judge could rule that the spell color spray would have no effect because ghouls like most undead are immune to mental effects. Constructs & Animated creatures would be immune as well. I like to consult the D20 SRD to see what spells are listed as mind affecting to help me on my rulings.

Sure enough, color spray is listed as mind affecting.

Here is the link I use. Maybe this can help you too.
https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Mind-Affecting_Effect

Jim Skach
Deft-Handed Cutpurse
Posts: 287
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: Crystal Lake, IL

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Jim Skach » Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:58 pm

Arayis wrote:
Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:42 pm
Thought I would chime in on this one & throw in my 2 coppers. From the DCCRPG core book under ghouls:

“Ghouls do not make any noise whatsoever. They are un- dead, and thus can be turned by clerics. They do not eat, drink, or breathe, and are immune to critical hits, disease, and poison. As un-dead, they are immune to sleep, charm, and paralysis spells, as well as other mental effects and cold damage”

The judge could rule that the spell color spray would have no effect because ghouls like most undead are immune to mental effects. Constructs & Animated creatures would be immune as well. I like to consult the D20 SRD to see what spells are listed as mind affecting to help me on my rulings.

Sure enough, color spray is listed as mind affecting.

Here is the link I use. Maybe this can help you too.
https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Mind-Affecting_Effect
I was going to post something similar - though not quite the same. I could see allowing the blinding effect (being a physical reaction) but the stunning/unconscious effect to be ignored.

User avatar
Raven_Crowking
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2990
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:41 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Raven_Crowking » Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:18 pm

Lankhmar ghouls are not un-dead.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

BanjoJohn
Hard-Bitten Adventurer
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:00 pm
FLGS: there are a few but I dont really consider any of them as my main flgs

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by BanjoJohn » Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:39 am

Give them a surprise, "Evil Dead" style. When the ghouls get knocked unconcious by the spell, they fall to the ground and splinter into many smaller ghouls that are awake. Now there's double the targets.

User avatar
GnomeBoy
Tyrant Master (Administrator)
Posts: 3813
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:46 pm
FLGS: Bizarro World
Location: Left Coast, USA
Contact:

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by GnomeBoy » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:18 pm

~searches in vain for the thumbs up forum emoticon~
...
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

bygrinstow.com - The Home of Inner Ham

Jim Skach
Deft-Handed Cutpurse
Posts: 287
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: Crystal Lake, IL

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by Jim Skach » Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:10 pm

BanjoJohn wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:39 am
Give them a surprise, "Evil Dead" style. When the ghouls get knocked unconcious by the spell, they fall to the ground and splinter into many smaller ghouls that are awake. Now there's double the targets.
That's just....fantastic.

UniversalHead
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:47 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by UniversalHead » Thu Nov 05, 2020 8:29 pm

Yeah it is - but it ain't Lankhmar! :)

BanjoJohn
Hard-Bitten Adventurer
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:00 pm
FLGS: there are a few but I dont really consider any of them as my main flgs

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by BanjoJohn » Fri Nov 06, 2020 8:54 am

Lankhmar is connected to other worlds, who knows, maybe the necronomicon was let loose in the world along with a snarky shotgun wielding man.

UniversalHead
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:47 am

Re: Color Spray spell keeps winning battles

Post by UniversalHead » Fri Nov 06, 2020 12:33 pm

Jeez, don't the games people here play have *any* consistency? ;)

Post Reply

Return to “Rules discussion”