Summoning spells

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Frank
Joined: 2018-01-01 06:39
Summoning spells

I've decided to post a statement:

'All the summoning spells provided in the players companion book is unbalanced as written.'

The reason to why I put forth this statement is because I truly like the ACKS rules and I think that the summoning spells provided in this additional book damages the game. Further I will justify the statement with the following reasons:

1. There are no limmitations to how many summoning spells you can have at the same time. No concentration.

2. The spell takes one round to cast (however the summoned creatures may not act before next round).

3. There is no restrictions as the spell is written on controlling the creatures, however it is adviced that the limmit of summoned creatures commanded is set at six creatures based on the rules in Lairs&Encounters (same limmitation as controlling animals).

4. Some summoning spells even provides more than one creature. In particular the summon berserkers.

5. The summoned creatures provided by the single spell, are generally more powerful than the fellow PC players of the mage.

6. Sleep is powerful, but those affected can be awakened after the one shot wonder. The summoned creatures usually lingers for an hour or so.

If one reads the summoning spells provided and take into account what is written above, it is possible for a mage to use all his spell slots on calling forth summoned creatures. One can imagine a 1st level mage, with 2 first level spell slots, casting 2 summon berserker spells and gaining a total of 8 barbarians each with the same attack capabilities (if not better) as the 1st level fellow PC fighter who is taking part in the campaging. There are also other examples.

These spells make other non-mage PC players nedless. It is not fun for a 1st level fighter to be a part of the mage's eight barbarian strong strike team.

After playing a campaging with substantial use of summoning, I've thought that it would be quite easy to create some limmitations and house rules. One obvious house rule is to demand concentration on all summoning spells. This solves a lot of the issues I have. Other is to ban all summoning spells that provides more than one creature. Other solutions?

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

You could just make summoning spells replace not stack, as other buff spells do (unless I'm recalling wrong). So if you cast summon barbarians a second time you just get 4 new barbarians and the old ones go away.

K-Slacker
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(I thought that I wrote a summoning-related post on my gameblog, but it looks like I never finished it.)

I had similar issues with Summon Berserkers in a previous campaign; they were used as expendible trap-detectors in a dungeon with no "friendlies" around. I really like the concept of summoners, though, and I wanted to feature them prominently in my current game.

I ended up creating a string of demon-summoning spells based on the cacodemons from the Heroic Fantasy Handbook. The biggest design considerations were: (1) the spells take 1 turn to cast, and (2) only one demon per spell level can be summoned.

Here's what I provided to the players: Demons (Age of Autarchs)

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1p0q-O9OGLdOS3B0xTLVHLSMIIW5MeQss

And here's a spreadsheet with the spell builds and sample demons: Age of Autarchs Demons.xlsx

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Hv3wsZa2cmK3Rtviqccz_AFHnGXwqu7v

(I control access to specific demons by requiring the caster know their "truename". If the demon is killed, then they can't be summoned again.)

Frank
Joined: 2018-01-01 06:39

The work you have done on the demon-summoning is very impressing. However, the summoning of demons is something that I feel belongs in the sphere of antagonists and evil mages - and not to players.

I very much like the idea of "truename" that you present as a last comment.

That can easily be applied to the existing summoning spells. But there are so many variations to that idea. How does this work in you campagin? 

I was thinking that when a mage learn a summoning spell, he learns 'true names' just enough to call forth the numbers that the spell provides. If you learned Summon Berserkers, you would learn the true names of four dead berserkers. However, these four names may be 'occupied' or known by others.

One way is to say that since you only know the name of four berserkers, and these are not actual living berserkers, but spirits from Valhalla, you can never have more than four. So if two dies and you cast the spell again, you only get back the two that died. If you have two mages in the group and one wants to learn the summon berserker spell, he has to find new names or else he would canibalize the spell of his tutor.

It is your way. If you say that the summoned creatures are not spirits, but actually living. Then it may not be summoned again, if killed. This makes it very likely that when you learn a spell, the name provided will be a dead name. After a while it will be difficult to find 'true names'.

Variations 1: The name you know, is currently beeing occupied by another spell caster. No creatures comes forth. There is always a 5% chance, of the creature is unavailable or 20% of beeing dead.

Variation 2: To avoid the case above, it is possible to bind some names to you. The number of 'true names' bound is equal to 4+ your int modifier.

So, how du you find true names? Just lying around or is there a spell for it?  Commune, Contact other plane, Divination...?

One way is that when you found the true name of a 4HD hobgoblin leader (by using some detect truename spell, and save to avoid). When he died, you could use the 2nd level summon hero to call his spirit forth to fight for you. And you could choose to take your chance and make a roll each time or bind his name to you.

There are probably a lot of more variations to this? Someones truename should be a highly guarded secret.

How about it? I've always felt that there should be something more to the summoning than just a snap with your fingers.

K-Slacker
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In my campaign, truenames have been limited to whatever I've had time to roll up (from the spreadsheet I linked to upthread). The players know the demon name and the one-sentence description, but need to actually summon the creature to learn its stats. Since demon-summoning is black magic (and I'm using the Heroic Fantasy Handbook), it leads to corruption - which the players are trying to avoid. So far demon-summoning is only a "last resort" for them.

The other big limitation is the 1-turn casting time. Whether its demons or berserkers, if you need 10 minutes to summon then the game will feel less like Pokemon.

(Actually, this could work well for sessions with only a few players. Maybe only Samantha the Summoner and Fred the Fighter show up. Sam summons a half-dozen demons or berserkers or fantastic beasts or whatever and delve a dungeon.)

Frank
Joined: 2018-01-01 06:39

I have allowed the players to use the summoning spells in the players companion. The campagin has been going on from level 1 to 6 and the summoning problem have just escalated. I hope to find away around the challange. 

I do like your black-magic demon summoning version. I should have used this from the start. If I introduce this, the playes will just continue to use the summoning spells they already know. I need to do something about the existing Summoning problem.

I cannot free myself from the truename idea.

I'm considering the following general summoning laws as a house rule:

1) The actual summoning spell only provides the body (flesh) of the creatures called. The first truename provided by learing the summoning spell creates a body without a soul, that remains for the duration of the spell.

2) The cast must also learn the truenames of the spirit. This can be done by finding lore containing truenames, asking the gods or creatures from other planes or by casting 'Detect Magic' on a living creature of that particular kind (save vs. spell to avoid detection). Only dead spirits (that once lived in the bodies summoned) may be ordered into the bodies summoned by the spell. The learning of the summoning spell provides the caster with 1d4 possible spirit truenames, but these are likely/possibly memorized by others and usually not available.

3) First time a caster use a spirit truename in a summoning spell, there will be a 50% chance of the spirit being wild and that the spell requires concentration. If this happens, the caster needs to concentrate on the spirit called. If not or concentration is broken, the spirit will flee the body. If the spirit is not wild the first time, it usually is good to use other times and is worth saving. Good spirits does the casters bidding and requires no concentration.

4) Unless memorized by you, there is always a 50% chance of the name called for, being unavailable. If not available, you may continue to try other names you know. You do not expend the spell slot, but it takes extra time as if casting the spell again and again, until an available name comes up. If it is the first time calling  the name, note point 3 above. If using a memorized truename, the name called for is always available and never wild.

5) Memorizing truenames. If casting a summoning spell as a one turn action (a ritual), truenames that come up available and not wild, may be bond to you for as long as you want. During the ritual you may read and test all the relevant truenames you know. Those bound, are called memorized truenames and are not available for others - only by you. You may memorize a number of truenames equal to your: Int mod + half your character level rounded down. A 5th level mage with intelligence of 17, could memorize 2+2 = 4 truenames.

How about it?

The idea is not to destroy summoning, but to limmit and to controll, and else use the spells as they are written.

GMJoe
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Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

I've decided to post a statement:

'All the summoning spells provided in the players companion book is unbalanced as written.'


-Frank
I respectfully disagree. Yes, summoning spells are powerful, but I don't think they're that much more powerful than other equivalent-level spells.

Let's take Summon Berzerker as an example. Yes, it effectively gives you four henchmen, but it only gives them to you for thirty minutes, and you can hire disposable henchmen - or war dogs, for that matter - without casting any spells at all.

Plus, if you compare it to another first-level spell that has a similar effect - say, Burning Hands, which similarly deals damage to things - it's actually not that much better: Yes, summoned berzerkers hang around and continue doing damage for multiple rounds, but they can also die from being stabbed, might miss and do no damage when attacking, and can't damage as many targets in a round as a well-placed burning Hands spell. For that matter, Burning Hands scales the damage it does with level, while Summon Berzerkers does not. Summoned berzerkers can be used to find traps, it's true, but they can't be used to start fires in a hurry, so I'd say that both spells have a number of creative utility uses outside of combat; that's not really a useful basis for comparison.

Anyway, to address some of your specific points:

1. There are no limmitations to how many summoning spells you can have at the same time. No concentration.

-Frank
There's no limit to the number of spells a caster may have active at a time. Do you think that light spells should be subject to a limit? Protection from evil and similar buff spells? Why summoning specifically?

2. The spell takes one round to cast (however the summoned creatures may not act before next round).

-Frank
I'm sorry, but I do not understand the significance of this point to your argument. Do you think summoning spells should take longer to cast than a round?

3. There is no restrictions as the spell is written on controlling the creatures, however it is adviced that the limmit of summoned creatures commanded is set at six creatures based on the rules in Lairs&Encounters (same limmitation as controlling animals).

-Frank
Most summoned creates are more intelligent than animals - and more importantly, this is just your "there should be a limit on the number of summons you can have at a time" argument again. Why? What is so powerful about summoned creatures compared to other spells that they require special limits?

4. Some summoning spells even provides more than one creature. In particular the summon berserkers.

-Frank
...And? Some blast spells target more than one creature. Some buff spells affect more than one ally. Cleaving allows a PC to attack more than one target per round. What's the problem, here?

5. The summoned creatures provided by the single spell, are generally more powerful than the fellow PC players of the mage.

-Frank
This is untrue. While there are exceptions, most spells that summon creatures are of levels so high that they can only be cast by a mage with about as many levels as the summoned creature has hit dice.

Many of the exceptions have some significant drawback. Conjure elemental, for example, requires the mage to concentrate to maintain control, effectively taking away the mage's ability to take actions in combat while the elemental is around.

The only other exception I'm aware of is summon berzerkers - and I've already given you my views about that.

6. Sleep is powerful, but those affected can be awakened after the one shot wonder. The summoned creatures usually lingers for an hour or so.

-Frank
Burning hands is also powerful. Creatures killed by it are dead forever.

On that note, creatures put to sleep by Sleep can be woken up, it's true - but only if they have concious allies in a position to spend their precious combat actions on it. Given the importance of the action economy, that most foes vulnerable to sleep can be killed with a single sword blow or arrow, a well-plased sleep spell can shift a battle even more decicively than adding four extra combatants can.

If one reads the summoning spells provided and take into account what is written above, it is possible for a mage to use all his spell slots on calling forth summoned creatures. One can imagine a 1st level mage, with 2 first level spell slots, casting 2 summon berserker spells and gaining a total of 8 barbarians each with the same attack capabilities (if not better) as the 1st level fellow PC fighter who is taking part in the campaging. There are also other examples.

-Frank
That first level mage is cheating. Level one mages can only cast on first-level spell per day.

Assuming you meant a level two mage with two first-level spells per day, that's still not that powerful. Each of those summon berserkers spells only lasts three turns. Given that each battle takes a turn, and that most rooms in a dungeon don't contain battles, the mage's two spell slots will only give them a significant advantage in the first one or two battles they have each dungeoneering day - the same number as if they'd just cast Sleep once each combat.

These spells make other non-mage PC players nedless. It is not fun for a 1st level fighter to be a part of the mage's eight barbarian strong strike team.

-Frank
Perhaps - but like I said, the spell only lasts for three turns. Given the exploration movement rates given in the rules, any party with characters wearing full plate will only explore one or two rooms per turn; in any dungeon with more than six rooms, your berzerker-spamming mage will rapidly run out of berserkers and have to hide in the back... While the party's fighter and cleric fight in the front lines, complaining that the party mage isn't contributing anything.

Frank
Joined: 2018-01-01 06:39

Thank you for disagreeing and for pointing out that you do not add the int modifier on the number of spells you can cast, just to your repertoire. That is why I come here to 'air' my thoughts. Sometime there is something in the rules that one just not get the grasp of or fully understand.

Else I truly disagree. In fact I think it is quite obvious that the summoning spells are out of controll. In particular those where you get more than one creature.

Especially this is true and in my oppinon easy to see on level 1 with the summon berserker.

Regarding burning hands: First it is a one shot spell and you have to cover all your enemies inside its space. I know it is a huge space, but still, it is difficult to get them all. Second it provides a save for half. Third, it scales with levels. 1d4 per level of the caster. To compare: A level 1 mage. 20' wide and 40' long, 1d4 in fire damage. Save to reduce in half. Possibly as low as 1 hp in damage, or even 4 saved to 2 hp. Not likely to kill all enemies on level 1. If the Judge position his monsters cleverly it would probaly just cover a third of the monsters. Good and balanced spell.

Regarding summon berserkers: The mage get 4 berserkers. Each berserker had 1+1 HD (2-9 hp), does 1d12 in damage, has AC of 2 and 10+ or 8+ to hit. They remain for 3 turns and does the mages whishes - no concentration. The berserkers can affect undead and elfs (sleep may not). There is no save. It cost nothing. Next day he summons four new. Can be used to walk into traps. You as a mage may have 1-4 hp on level 1 and perhaps AC 0. You fellow PC fighter may have as much as 8 hp (or may have 1), but may not have a positive constitution modifier like the berserkers. The fighter would probably have the same hit, but not the rouge. In addition no fighter or rouge deals as much as 1d12 in damage. Rather 1d6+1 or perhaps 1d8 ranged or something. Though they will very likely have a better AC, perhaps AC 5 with a shield. The problem is that the mage does not get 1 berserker, but he gets 4. Four berserkers that each one of them could beat the fighter or rouge PC. Basicaly provides the mage with an extra gaming party so that the others may go watch TV or something. If the Monster is of high enough HD to cleave them all in a round, the next round it cleaves the rest of the PC party - including the mage

Sleep: One shot spell. All you can SEE within 240'. 2d8 HD no save of 4 HD or less, or one target of 4+1HD. Does not affect undead or elf. Affected creatures can be killed in one round or awaken in one round. Possible to roll 2HD. Powerfull spell, but a clever judge may have a few monsters in reserve - out of sight (perhaps a rouge). Common tactics against mages.

Hiring a lot of pesants or citizens: They will not follow you into caves and they do cost money. The ACKS system have lots of rules covering this.

Hiring war-dogs: Cost money and food. When they are dead, you must go back and hire more. Can't just pop up a new spell.

Henchmen: Cost money, xp, food, gear. When they die, you must go back and hire more. If all your henchmen dies - you get a bad reputation. Lots of rules covering this in the ACKS system. Very unique and very fun. Not similar to popping up Pokemons.

Hiring other creatures: There is a limmitation to what you can possibly get a hold on in a city. With the summoning spell, the supply is endless.

If you cold choose, on level 1 you would go for the summon berserker spell every time.

The spell last for 3 turns and the clever players just wait to the next day - and cast up 4 more berserkers. Every mage on the party will have it, and soon as they level up, there are not 4 but 16 berserkers, or even more - running around. Then the fighter PC starts asking; 'Why am I not playing a mage?' Then, when he dies, you have 3 mages. And so it goes.

Rembember, the mages may - in addition to the berserkers summoned - hire lots of war dogs, henchmen or whatever to go first and die for them.

As you can see of my suggestions, I DO think that summoning HAS a place in the ACKS. I just feel that there should be some tools to apply so that the spell may be tuned to fit the judge. All ideas that contribute to this end, is good news.

 

GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

Regarding summon berserkers: The mage get 4 berserkers. Each berserker had 1+1 HD (2-9 hp), does 1d12 in damage, has AC of 2 and 10+ or 8+ to hit.

-Frank
Mostly-irrelevant nitpick: Berserkers are described as being armed with great axes, two-handed swords and pole arms, all of which do 1d10 damage, not 1d12.

There is no save.

-Frank
This is technically true, but the berserkers still have to make attack rolls, and aren't guaranteed to hit, so there's still a roll involved in determining whether they do damage. In fact, since they do no damage on a miss, they lack the guarantee of at least doing something that you get with Burning Hands and Sleep.

Next day he summons four new.

-Frank
"Next day" is the important detail here. Yes, having four disposible minions is a powerful advantage, but the spell only lasts for thirty minutes out of an adventuring day that's - what, eight hours long? Sixteen? Given the sizes and stocking rules of ACKS dungeons, and the exploration movement rates, a party of adventurers will be able to get get very little done in a mere three turns, and so will usually need to continue adventuring (and risking combat) long after the Summon Beserkers spell's duration has expired. A Summon Berserkers spell will "solve" (or at least provide a major advantage) in one encounter, or two if you're lucky, and then goes away... Just like every other combat-useful spell in the game.

The problem is that the mage does not get 1 berserker, but he gets 4... Basicaly provides the mage with an extra gaming party so that the others may go watch TV or something.

-Frank
This is a red herring. Yes, the spell gives the caster a big advantage, big enough to turn the tables and let them win the combat in which it is cast if they use it right. So does Burning Hands. So does Wall of Smoke. So does Light. Solving encounters (or at least making them easiler to solve) is what combat-focused mage spells do.

Can be used to walk into traps.

-Frank
As I said, nearly every spell has creative utility uses that clever players can exploit, so this isn't a useful point of comparison.

If the Monster is of high enough HD to cleave them all in a round, the next round it cleaves the rest of the PC party - including the mage

-Frank
Correct: Unlike many other mage spells, Summon Berserkers does not scale with level, and so is more useful for low-level casters than high-level ones. This may be considered one of the spell's downsides.

Sleep: ... Affected creatures can be killed in one round or awaken in one round.

-Frank
Minor nitpick: Sleep lasts for 4d4 turns. Creatures are unlikely to awaken in one round unless one of the other combatants takes an action to deliberately wake them.

Irrelevant nitpick: it's spelled "rogue." "Rouge" is a colour, or possibly a kind of make-up.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

... In addition no fighter or rouge deals as much as 1d12 in damage. ...

-Frank

Actually a fighter can deal more damage than a 1d12 (listed damage for the beserkers).  Typically speaking a fighter will have a minimum of +1 in strength, +1 fighter damage, can weild a two-handed weapon (for 1d10), and will often take the weapon style for their prefered choice (thus another +1 damage for two handed style).  The average on 1d12 is 6.5 damage, a fighter's average damage will be 7.5/8.5 (average on 1d10, 5.5, + 1 for str, +1 for fighter and possibly +1 for Two Handed style).
So a fighter is doing 1-2 points more damage than the beserkers on average, while typically having 2 or more AC than the beserkers (a 2 AC is terrible for melee characters).

Realistically speaking the barbarians have a life expentancy of about 1-3 rounds.  Sure the duration is 30 mins (3 turns), but they rarely survive beyond 3 rounds unless they are lucky.

jojodogboy
Patreon Supporter
Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05

I have to say that I'm with GMJoe on this one.  At lows levels, given a 1 encounter day, it is awesome, but so are all of the other combat spells at 1st level.  

At low levels mages act as a tactical nuke, ending a single encounter.  The problem is that in old school play, there are 5 or more encounters  in an adventuring day.  If you are dungeon crawling you have to really look to find the good stuff.

As my players have gone up in levels (now 7 or 8) the utility of the spell goes down.  Don't forget that there are higher AC monsters with weapon immunities out there.  I'll take a 4th level fighter with magic weapons, higher HP, average of 9 points or so of damage and multiple cleaves over 4 berserkers any day.

My combat encounters are rarely "balanced" as my players choose their level of danger based on where they go.  The assassins and fighters are too busy hacking choice targets to feel overshadowed.  A fireball can end a combat and its o.k., how are 8 berserkers any different.

It's your game, however, and here are some proposed solutions to the 'problem'

  • Impose a material component cost to each summoning spell
  • Start all PCs at maximum HP at level one. As they level up, roll a number of dice = to their level and take he higher of the new roll or old hp+1
  • All intelligent foes should target the spell casters. If they get hit, they can't cast
  • Write in concentration for all summoning spells ( or to change targets).

In my campaign the berserkers are different based on spell signatures (zombies vs magma men) each with slight advantages and limitations.  My players love it and it makes for creative play opportunities (don't cast it in town, can be turned, water is a threat,etc)

Meinolf
Joined: 2019-02-09 15:57

  • Impose a material component cost to each summoning spell


-jojodogboy

Decided to have a little fun with this thought. Going with the cost of henchmen, and pricing it down to a 30 minute work day:

summon berserkers = .078 per, or .312. ~3sp.
4 wineskins filled with good ale (wineskins are reusable).

summon hero = .156. ~2sp.
2 pint bottle of good wine.

summon winged steed = .3125. ~3sp.
1 lb of sugar. (edit: whoops, 3gp, not 3sp. Make that 3 lbs of dried fruit or 12 sugar cubes (1.6 oz; 1/10th lb.).

summon fantastic creature = 37.5.
50gp ornamental gem (bloodstone, citrine, jasper, etc.).

jojodogboy
Patreon Supporter
Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05

N

 

  • Impose a material component cost to each summoning spell

 


-jojodogboy

 

Decided to have a little fun with this thought. Going with the cost of henchmen, and pricing it down to a 30 minute work day:

summon berserkers = .078 per, or .312. ~3sp.
4 wineskins filled with good ale (wineskins are reusable).

summon hero = .156. ~2sp.
2 pint bottle of good wine.

summon winged steed = .3125. ~3sp.
1 lb of sugar. (edit: whoops, 3gp, not 3sp. Make that 3 lbs of dried fruit or 12 sugar cubes (1.6 oz; 1/10th lb.).

summon fantastic creature = 37.5.
50gp ornamental gem (bloodstone, citrine, jasper, etc.).


-Meinolf

That is awesome.  Love the flavor of the components 

Frank
Joined: 2018-01-01 06:39

First: In the Main rule book page page 183 it is stadet that the berserkers deal 1d12 or by weapon. Are we perhaps not talking about the same berserkers?

Second: It is also argued that the fighter does better damage and has better AC. I will say that; I sure hope so. There are four berserkers summoned by a fellow player arcane spell caster. A fighter PC, should be better by a good margin. This is not the case as is. A 1st level PC fighter is not obviously better than 4 summoned berserkers.

Third: I will not give PC max hit point on level 1. The dice rule. And the rules are brutal.  I do allow the players to re-roll their HD each level or take last levels hp+1. I like it. Further: Targeting the spell casters is mandatory. After a while the players adapt to this. I do like that arcane spell casters are somewhat 'glass-cannons'.

Fourth: Demanding concentration on summoning spells is a good option, but it is not found in the rules. I feel that I must abide the laws of the game.  Going around them or adding to grey areas, that is another case.

Fifth: Material components is a good idea. That is a work-around. Perhaps it solves the issues on low levels. Resources are low. Carrying is cumbersome.

Problem with component slution: But how about the party of 5th level mages? They have money and resources. Since all quite cleary see that the summon spells are great, you have a party of four 5th level mages (or other that may cast arcane summon spells). They may summon: 4 (mages) x2 (spells) x4 (berserkers) = 32 x 1HD Berserkers plus 4 (mages) x 2 (spells) x1 (heroes) = 8 x 4HD Fighters plus that the mages themselves fly in the sky on ther summoned winged steed. The mages will have their henchems bringing forth and storing the material components on wagons away from harm. The mages will coordinate the summoning in two rounds, then on the following turns they will carry out the battle plans with their army of 40 summoned creatures. So. How is that compared to a PC that chooses to be just an ordinary 5th level fighter? Is he the 41th creature charging forward?

Sixth (recall from far above): I cannot see that there are any likeness between the summon barbarian spell and for example the protection from evil spell (see comment far above). I actually like the other spells and think that they work just fine. Even sleep, who might be quite scary in theory, works fine in actual play. The problem with the summoning spells is that they, unchecked, provide the caster with a benefit that outshines the other spells and even the fellow non-arcane players. 

I prefer a rule that allows one to use the spells as they are written, but works in the 'grey areas' of the text. A kind of campagin option. That is why I fell for the truename idea. It raises a lot of questions and options (entire games are based on truenaming theories). And still, if the GM enjoy plenty of summoned creatures - he could just give out plenty of truenames. 

Or something else? In another way? Why not embrace instead of deny?

 

Frank
Joined: 2018-01-01 06:39

What does nitpick mean? Does it relate to nitting?

jojodogboy
Patreon Supporter
Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05

The first rule of any RPG, especially old school RPGs, is that it is your table.  Your internal world fiction trumps written rules.  If you don't like it as written, change it.  I changed sleep to allow a save throw (-lvl of the caster).  I did this initially to avoid other mages from feeling cheated by NOT having sleep.  I didn't need it, but my players liked the change (mostly because THEY get a save). 

I really dont see how multiple castings of the spell which end a single combat is any different than a fireball that does the same thing.  As long as the spell casters use up their resources, I can't see a difference.  

Technically by the rules each mage is supposed to have a different spell signature, which would make the spells (and how they look) different.  This is actually one of the best bits about ACKs.  If you do this, each mage's summoned creatures should have a different flavor, and hence different weaknesses and strengths.  That is another way to handle the issue.  

Tak it for what it is worth, but try some different things, keep what you want and toss the rest.  No one will police your table but you and your players.

GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

First: In the Main rule book page page 183 it is stadet that the berserkers deal 1d12 or by weapon. Are we perhaps not talking about the same berserkers?

-Frank

I'm looking at page 183 of the core rules, and it says "Damage: 1d6 or weapon type" for all five varieties of "Men" listed on that page. The "Berserker" entry below the stat blocks says that "these fighters are engulfed in a battle rage whenever they fight any humanoid. This determination gives them a +2 to their attack value, and enables them to battle fearlessly until killed (+4 morale). Berserkers are equipped with leather armor and use great axes, two-handed swords or pole arms." I can see no other information in the section that suggests Berserkers do a different amount of damage.

Maybe we have different versions of the rules? I've heard that ACKS has had multiple print runs, so it's possible that the damage of berserkers was errata'd at some point. The .pdf I'm looking at is dated "20120518."

Problem with component slution: But how about the party of 5th level mages? They have money and resources. Since all quite cleary see that the summon spells are great, you have a party of four 5th level mages (or other that may cast arcane summon spells). They may summon: 4 (mages) x2 (spells) x4 (berserkers) = 32 x 1HD Berserkers plus 4 (mages) x 2 (spells) x1 (heroes) = 8 x 4HD Fighters plus that the mages themselves fly in the sky on ther summoned winged steed. The mages will have their henchems bringing forth and storing the material components on wagons away from harm. The mages will coordinate the summoning in two rounds, then on the following turns they will carry out the battle plans with their army of 40 summoned creatures. So. How is that compared to a PC that chooses to be just an ordinary 5th level fighter? Is he the 41th creature charging forward?

-Frank

I agree that a party of four fifth level mages, with henchmen and flying mounts, who are somehow capable of casting eight spells in two rounds, will outshine a single fifth level fighter. It's also true that a party of four fighters, with henchmen and flying mounts, who are somehow capable of performing double the usual number of attacks per round, will outshine a single mage.

More importantly, if we compare how much mages and fighters can contribute to a single combat with plenty of time to prepare and no concern for future threats and viability, we're comparing them in a situation where the mages have a massive advantage. It's like comparing apples to oranges, at an apple fair, when the oranges were grown by amateurs and the apples were grown by tenth-generation horticultural apple specialists, in a country with soil and climite ideal for apple trees, during apple season, and where the judge's favorite food is apple pie. When there's only a single battle to worry about, mages have a massive advantage because they don't have to hold back - but there's amost never just a single battle to worry about. Thanks to dungeons being big and random encounter rolls happening every two turns, there are usually multiple battles in an adventuring day - and that's the situation in which fighters shine. I guess you could say that fighters and mages play very different games:

  • Mages are all about managing scarce but valuable resources. Even at high levels, they can only cast a handful of spells per day, every spell they know is only applicable in a narrow range of circumstances, and casting a spell requires makes them vulnerable. This encourages mages to carefully hoard their spells until they can be deployed most effectively, voluntarily making themselves useless in most combats.
  • Fighters are all about getting reliable results, 100% the time. A fighter on his first battle of the day is just as dangerous on his fifth, and his fiftieth; a fighter with hit points is a fighter who can keep on fighting. Fighters can therefore contribute something to every combat... Excuding the rare fights where the mage steps in and ends the fight with a single spell, but he can only do that once per day.

Sixth (recall from far above): I cannot see that there are any likeness between the summon barbarian spell and for example the protection from evil spell (see comment far above).

-Frank
Protection from evil can make those affected by the spell effectively immune to most enchanted creatures, including the vast majority of common undead monsters. It only lasts as long as the caster concentrates, but can be used to set up complex co-ordinated attacks that the party can launch into the moment the caster drops the spell, or to allow a second character to cast an AoE spell without fear of interruption. Either way, Protection from Evil can give a party a deciding advantage in combat.

The problem with the summoning spells is that they, unchecked, provide the caster with a benefit that outshines the other spells and even the fellow non-arcane players.

-Frank
I still respectfully disagree.

Frank
Joined: 2018-01-01 06:39

It is good to see a lot of the ACKS bannermen.

It seems that we are not talking about the same berserkers. This is the text cut from the main rulebook page 183. I quote: 'Damage: 1d12 or weapon +1'

We agree to disagree (unless you agree with me ;)

Of course I know that I can do what I like in my own campagin. That also includs playing what ever system I like. I've played a lot of various systems since I started playing in 1989 - over 10.000 hours. DnD (basic, Adnd2ed (started here), 3, 3.5, 4, 5, Pathfinder, Modern, Conand-d20, Munchkin, Some OSR's, Battlesystem). Cyperpunk (Talsorian 2020 2ed). Earthdawn (not much). HeroSystem (5th and 6th). WarhammerFantasy (new and old). WestEnd StarWars d6. FenShui. Battletech Rpg (and Battletech). W.o.i.n.. Call of Chutullu. All flesh must be eaten. Savage Worlds (western and space setting). Toon. Some homebrew. Very fun hobby. No system is perfect. I've never played a system based on true-naming. Perhaps I should.

English is my second language and there will probably be some puns that are lost to me. Sorry.

This is the house-rule that I implementet. It is a combination of material components and true-naming. If flavors the campagin. It allows for 'as-is' play, but gives the GM some controll. If I'm strict, perhaps will the player use the summoing spell for barricade instead? I'm quite happy at the moment. I've managed to strike a deal with my players. Thank you for your advices.

 

TRUE-NAMES

All creatures in the world has two names. The one given by themselves, their parents or by other living creatures, during their life. In addition their undead spirit has a secret true-name.

The actual summoning spell only provides the body (flesh) of the creatures called. A body without a soul, that remains for the duration of the spell.

In order to be able to cast summoning spells, the caster must learn true-names. This is in a required ‘component’ in all summon spells. Only true-names belonging to spirits that lived in the bodies in the creature summoned, may be used. When the spirit arrives, it must do the bidding of the caster and it must enter the body created by the summoning spell. Then the spell works as described and written.

The true-name component has the following requirement:  Spirit is dead (1), in the spirit world (2), belonging to a matching type body while living (3) and the true-name is called upon while casting the summoning spell (4).

The spirit must be available to the caster. The Game Master may rule that the spirit is not available at the moment, when casting the spell.

Finding true-names can be done by finding lore containing true-names, asking the gods, creatures from other planes, other summoned creatures or by casting 'Detect Magic' on a living creature of that particular kind (save vs. spell to avoid detection). The learning of the summoning spell provides the caster with 1d4 possible true-names. The Game Master may rule that these names are not available.

Please note that if a caster summoned four creatures and only managed to call forth one true-name spirit. This spirit will activate only one of the summoned creatures and the other three will be dormant. However, if the first creature was killed, the spirit will be able to activate one of the other dormant creatures (and so forth within the duration of the spell).

It is possible to bind true-names. This ensures that the spirit always is available and ready, when called upon. You bind true-names by writing their name on special small wooden sticks while casting the summon spell in question. The actual true-name binding cost 50 gp per HD of the creature summoned. When holding these sticks in your hand, while casting the spell, the spirit will come. It is not difficult to bind the true-name. It may be difficult and a quest, to find true-names that are available and un-bound. This is solely up to the Game Master.

Hardrada
Patreon SupporterSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2015-06-28 02:40

Frank, I acknowledge your point that Summon Berserkers feels extremely powerful. I don't disagree that summon spells rate well among other spells of their respective levels.

However, I've not found these spells problematic for three reasons. No guarantee these reasons will work for you, but on the chance they might, I'll share them.

@ They are great spells for NPC mages. They are reliably effective and can be cast before combat to ensure they are employed. Note that my players' reactions have helped show how they can be countered (e.g. sleep).
@ They encourage creative play. There may be a balance issue somewhere with their versatility, but at the table, they've made the game more tactically interesting for everyone playing.
@ Roleplaying them is a real joy for me. If the players get lazy with controlling them, they can be expected to act true to form for bloodthirsty berserkers or however they're skinned.

Just a few thoughts.