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Wrack Concerns

posted Feb 05, 2013 22:04:54 by bluefenix42
The sorcerer player character in my game has become very fond of Wrack. Currently, he has enough intensity to deal 1d8 with each shot from it. He also got access to the Enchant spell, so he has created a Staff of Wrack with boosted Range and Magnitude (total of 4 MP permanently invested in it, though with Pow 16 that isn't too bad for him). This is now his primary mode of attack in every fight, and it's actually overshadowing some of the other players a bit. No one's made a complaint yet, but I'd sort of like to address this now, rather than wait for it to become a point of contention later.

One rule we've been unclear about at my table is how many actions Wrack takes to fire a bolt of energy after the initial casting. If a character casts Wrack with only Range enhanced, that's 2 actions and 2 MP spent. Should he then be able to fire a Wrack bolt every action? Every two actions, because that's the spell's cast time? Once per round? My table settled on being able to fire a bolt as a single action, with no further limitations. I believe this is contributing strongly to my player's preference for Wrack over all other forms of attack.

Compare Wrack to firing a bow:
-Both can be Evaded
-Both have similar base damage (around 1d8, though Wrack scales up with skill)
-Wrack bypasses non-magical Armor
-Wrack cannot be parried with shields
-Wrack doesn't run out of ammunition
-Wrack has no load time (as I'm currently running it)
-Bows can benefit from Special Effects (Choose Location or Impale, especially)
-Bows can benefit from a high Damage Modifier
-Bows don't cost MP to use
-Wrack can be blocked by various anti-magic spells

From a game-balance perspective, I feel like the main things tipping the scales in Wrack's favor are the lack of load time and ignoring shields. Not being parry-able *should* be a benefit for Wrack, so if I try to make a nerf/balance adjustment at all, it's probably going to be to the rate of fire for Wrack. I've also started thinking that maybe I should just starting throwing in more foes that either use defensive magic to protect themselves from the party's spells, or that use equally powerful offensive magic against the party (though that adds significant risks of killing the party, which could be good or bad).

What do you folks think? How would you approach this kind of thing in your game?
[Last edited Feb 05, 2013 22:05:42]
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6 replies
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lawrence.whitaker said Feb 05, 2013 23:09:21
If this character is reliant on Wrack in every combat, casting it multiple times during a melee (and with Shaping to increase range, targets or both) he's going to deplete his Magic Points very quickly - so perhaps this is a place to start.

How quickly are MPs regained in your campaign?
What other spells does he know that he may need later?
What is the general magic level like in the campaign?

A sorcerer is only ever as good as the MP he has available. Unlike Action Points they are a finite resource that require time to recover. A session of heavy combats with this sorcerer wracking everything in sight is soon going to lead to a situation where he won't be able to cast useful magic in a non-combat situation. Plus, others will become wise to his reliance and target him with neutralising magic.

It might be a good idea to point out to the player that a constant reliance on Wrack is fine if you want to be a combat monster, but there will be occasions where he might need to conserve his energy.

His Staff of Wracking is also going to become something coveted by others, too: enemies, rival sorcerers, thieves. It might be a powerful weapon, but if you have to invest a lot of time and energy in protecting and defending that weapon (which may even risk the lives of his fellow adventurers - how long before they get pissed-off?) then it may start to come home to him that while Wrack can be bloody nasty, the world can be bloody nasty back.
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jjwdrake said Feb 06, 2013 00:34:48

My understanding of Wrack is that, due to its duration, a character would almost never need to cast it more than once per fight. Cast it once, and for the next POW minutes you can blast to your hearts desire. Is that a misinterpretation of the spell?


True as written - but every spell has a target, so if he changes targets from those in his initial casting, he has to recast the spell, right? That's my read anyway.
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lawrence.whitaker said Feb 06, 2013 00:44:52
True as written - but every spell has a target, so if he changes targets from those in his initial casting, he has to recast the spell, right? That's my read anyway.


Yes, that's right. Wrack is concentration-based, so, as Bluefenix rightly points out, he can continue wracking away without penalty until his concentration is broken, which would include acquiring new targets.

In a magic-rich campaign, its a simple matter of upping the ante. If Mr Wrack is wandering around, there will undoubtedly be Mrs Wrack, Cousin Wrack and Hey, I Like Wracking Too. So, give him a taste of his own medicine...

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that the Sorcerer is coming out ahead in certain areas of competence.


It shows sorcery's raw power and flexibility too. There should be other sorcerers capable of wracking him, and from several kilometres in range...
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bluefenix42 said Feb 06, 2013 01:02:59
Ok, the fact that you have to re-cast Wrack if changing targets is a key piece of information I was missing. That makes more sense now.

However, with the enchanted staff, the Wrack spell is sort of effectively pre-cast. So, does it take any actions to switch targets with that?

There should be other sorcerers capable of wracking him, and from several kilometres in range...


True. I have actually attacked the players with Sorcerers that use Wrack, Palsy, and other such nasty stuff, but never under circumstances such as a super-distant attack like that. Magical assassination is not difficult in Runequest, but it doesn't really fit with the tone of the kinds of heroic adventures my players and I like to run.
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thomas5251212 said Feb 06, 2013 19:40:00
It also sounds like he needs two actions when changing targets, even with the staff, but it wouldn't be the first time I've goofed this sort of thing up.

I also have to note that 16 is a pretty high Power by RQ6 standards, where it doesn't increase automatically. I'm not surprised that someone with that high a Power is unusually dangerous, any more than I am that the 16 Dex (with his likely three actions) is. Consider that with the build generation, that'd require someone to either be remarkably mediocre in any other attribute, or really poor in at least one of them.
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bluefenix42 said Feb 06, 2013 20:18:57
I also have to note that 16 is a pretty high Power by RQ6 standards, where it doesn't increase automatically. I'm not surprised that someone with that high a Power is unusually dangerous, any more than I am that the 16 Dex (with his likely three actions) is. Consider that with the build generation, that'd require someone to either be remarkably mediocre in any other attribute, or really poor in at least one of them.


I gave my players a very generous method of rolling stats, not point buy. Human stats in my game are 3d6 each (except SIZ and INT, which are 2d6+6 each), but the player may select any three dice to set as an automatic 6 before they roll. This led to one player choosing to have guaranteed 18 SIZ, followed by a lucky STR roll, for example. The average set of stats from this method is roughly equal to an 86 point buy. It makes for a more "heroic" feeling game, which is what my table and I prefer.

For further points of comparison to my party, I can tell you that they actually all have 3 AP, the big beefy guy has a +1d6 damage mod (so he hits for 2d6+1 with his high quality short sword and still has a shield!), and only one character has any stats lower than 10 (the poor Mystic got stuck with STR 7, but he makes up for it in INT, other stats, and utility powers).
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