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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Can Spell Casters in Your Campaigns Be Interrupted While Casting?

Back in my early days of gaming, when AD&D 1e was all of the rage, we tried to stick as by the book as we could (although we never did understand weapon speed.)

Failed a save against a fireball? Time for everything you own to save too.

Casting a spell? What's the casting time? Bamn! You were hit! Lose your spell. Try again later.

Gradually we found ourselves dropping certain rules in favor of expediting game play.

One of the first rules we dropped was counting segments for spells and interrupting casters. It changed the dynamics but certainly made enemy casters more dangerous, as they always seems to have their full complement of memorized spells when the PCs encountered them. Go figure.

So, do you allow spell casters to be interrupted while casting? Do spells take a certain number of segments to cast in your campaigns?

21 comments:

  1. Absolutely, but I have toyed with the idea of allowing an INT check to see if the character maintains concentration. Since no one is going to play a MU if they don't have a high intelligence, though, it seems kind of silly since it'll probably be a 80-90% chance of success.

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  2. Yep. With prime attribute check to maintain.

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  3. Yes. When I was younger, I didn't use segments, so if the Party A won init, their attacks could disrupt the spells of the spellcasters in Party B.

    Now, I do use segments in combat, casting times, and, sometimes, weapon speeds. Makes combat a bit more tense: even if you win initiative the casting time might push your chosen spell into the next round...with another init roll.

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  4. I've moved away from interrupting spellcasters and prefer that method. Fighters never get interrupted swinging their sword and it's just not fun for the player.

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  5. For Swords & Wizardry I allow a simple saving throw adjusted by the spell level to maintain focus.

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  7. someone else mentioned that Trend Micro didnt like chatwing

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  8. For Pathfinder, I just use the rules as written (essentially, you can ready an attack for when a caster starts casting, and if you hit, the caster makes a concentration check against the damage you do).

    For S&W, I like the "declare all casting before initiative is rolled" approach. I also roll per-side initiative every round. If your side loses the initiative roll, then the enemies might get to damage you before your spell goes off. It has led to some pretty intense initiative rolls.

    I also give casters a saving throw to avoid losing the spell, but not to maintain focus, that's lost as soon as you take damage.

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    1. Fifth edition doesn't have a spell interrupt (for non-concentration spells), so I'm taking a similar stance as Pathfinder and allowing Ready Actions to interrupt to allow a more old school flavor:

      I wrote about it here:
      http://ragingowlbear.blogspot.com/2014/07/dnd-5e-spell-casting-interrupts.html
      http://ragingowlbear.blogspot.com/2014/07/dnd-5e-interrupts-and-other-creative.html

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  9. with bx initiative order spells - then missile then melee is pretty impossible unless you prep to interupt caster next round

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  10. Don't the spells in B/X take a full round to cast though? M-U starts to cast Sleep and it takes effect the beginning of the next round? That is the way I always thought it was supposed to be played, although I usually didn't do it that way.

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  11. Yeah, spells in BX take effect at the beginning of the next round, and declarations happen before initiative. so everyone gets a chance to disrupt spell casters.

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  12. In my S&W game, if you declare a spell then lose initiative and get hit - your spell is interrupted and gone from memory.

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  13. I always skipped spell failure. To me it felt like a cheap shot. It just didn't ring as fair. It's one of the few things I liked about later editions and skills like Concentration - they gave spellcasters a fair shake. But the whole idea of losing your spell felt akin to have a thief's tools break when he fails an open locks roll, a cleric's holy symbol crumble when he fails to turn, or a fighter's sword breaking because he missed an attack.

    Wizards have no armor, almost no weapons, and only a few hit points. I'm not going to hose them on the one thing they have that makes them stand out, makes them special, makes them contributing members of the party.

    However, I'm also not going to begrudge any DM who chooses to use the rule. That just means my wizard is going to be A LOT more careful about his casting.

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    1. It also pushes magic users to explore other ways of being helpful and effective.

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    2. Alternatively, you could rule that an interrupt doesn't cause the caster to lose the spell... It just prevents its casting on that round.

      That makes it a little easier on the magic user, but still allows tactics to prevent certain spells from being cast at tactically crucial moments.

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  14. We don't because we're playing 5E right now. You can lose concentration on concentration spells, but not be interrupted. In older editions, we always used interruptions or else the casters were far too powerful by the time they started getting things like fireball. The fact that the game removed or mitigated interruptions is largely why the game broke in later editions and everyone started complaining about weak fighters.

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    1. You could house rule that Readied Actions could potentially interrupt... see my comment above.

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  15. I'm with Kevin:

    In my game, if you declare a spell then lose initiative and get hit - your spell is interrupted and gone from memory.

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  16. Interrupting a spell in Basic Fantasy RPG is explicitly allowed, but requires some planning and good initiative rolls.

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