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11/02/2016 1:13 am  #1


Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

From the rulebook: "With few exceptions, spells cannot be cast if the sorcerer is engaged with an enemy".

I know this comes from Holmes, but since I always allowed casters to cast spells in the midst of melee, I'm confused in how this exactly works. Specially in the "fighter vs. magician" duel type of scenario. 

Being this game an O/AD&D derivative, I assume that action during combat it much more simultaneous than in strictly turn based combat, such as d20 D&D.

Therefor I assume that if a magician backs away from melee once engaged, his enemy will follow him at the same time, even thought it's not strictly his turn act, thus having the spellcaster effectively "locked down" by the melee combatant. 

So how does the magician escape from this lookdown, so as to be able to cast his spells? Simply 1/2 move and cast his spell by phase 2? What outs does he have?

Thanks

 

Last edited by Zulgyan (11/02/2016 1:17 am)

 

11/02/2016 12:23 pm  #2


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Welcome to the forum, Zulgyan! It's funny you should ask this question. One potential change we're working on for Second Edition is a new attack modifier called hindered. Similar to the flanked, prone, and stunned modifiers, hindered will impose a –2 AC penalty "if combatant is held by one leg or in an otherwise off-balance or awkwardly inconvenient position." This is relevant to your query because we also suggest using this modifier if a sorcerer insists on casting a spell whilst engaged in melee combat. You heard it here first!

 

11/02/2016 12:29 pm  #3


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

DMPrata wrote:

... "if combatant is held by one leg or in an otherwise off-balance or awkwardly inconvenient position."

Is there some Hyperborea slash fic you're writing that we aren't aware of?


What? Me worry?
 

11/02/2016 12:33 pm  #4


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Thanks for the welcome and congrats on the great game and upcoming edition, which I have gadly supported.

-2 AC is not that big of a penalty, if originally the sorcerer was to be completely impeded from spell casting!

If you can shed me some light into how this rule works right now, I would much appreciate it.

What can the sorcerer do in this cases to be able to cast spells?

Last edited by Zulgyan (11/02/2016 12:43 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

11/15/2016 9:27 am  #5


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Zulgyan wrote:

Thanks for the welcome and congrats on the great game and upcoming edition, which I have gadly supported.

-2 AC is not that big of a penalty, if originally the sorcerer was to be completely impeded from spell casting!

If you can shed me some light into how this rule works right now, I would much appreciate it.

What can the sorcerer do in this cases to be able to cast spells?

Hello Zulgyan,

Welcome to the forum! The sorcerer can move (backpedal) half his movement rate and then cast, but this puts the spell caster in Phase Two of the combat sequence. Of course, just because the sorcerer backpedals does not mean that the enemy does not pursue. It's certainly a possibility. 

Cheers,
Jeff T.
 


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

11/17/2016 9:29 am  #6


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

I always assumed that both sentences of that paragraph are important:

"With few exceptions, spells cannot be cast if the sorcerer is engaged with an enemy; likewise for combatants discharging magical devices. If a spell caster is struck whilst casting, he loses his spell, unless the optional concentration check is utilized."

That is, I usually assume that you can *try* to cast a spell if someone's trying to hit *you*, but good luck winning initiative or not getting hit. But you definitely can't cast anything when trying to hit someone else--which is what "engaged with an enemy" means, unless I no longer understand prepositions, which, maybe. Always a risk. DMP, Ghul, if the intent here is that a sorcerer can't cast anything when someone is trying to hit him/her with whatever version of a pointy stick seems most meet, then I suggest changing "with" to "by": "spells cannot be cast if the sorcerer is engaged by an enemy."

Are the "few exceptions" the touch spells then?

 

11/17/2016 6:14 pm  #7


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Handy Haversack wrote:

I always assumed that both sentences of that paragraph are important:

"With few exceptions, spells cannot be cast if the sorcerer is engaged with an enemy; likewise for combatants discharging magical devices. If a spell caster is struck whilst casting, he loses his spell, unless the optional concentration check is utilized."

That is, I usually assume that you can *try* to cast a spell if someone's trying to hit *you*, but good luck winning initiative or not getting hit. But you definitely can't cast anything when trying to hit someone else--which is what "engaged with an enemy" means, unless I no longer understand prepositions, which, maybe. Always a risk. DMP, Ghul, if the intent here is that a sorcerer can't cast anything when someone is trying to hit him/her with whatever version of a pointy stick seems most meet, then I suggest changing "with" to "by": "spells cannot be cast if the sorcerer is engaged by an enemy."

Are the "few exceptions" the touch spells then?

That whole first sentence is coming out, Handy, to be replaced with a reference to the hindered penalty. Basically, as Jeff pointed out, the sorcerer's best recourse likely is to backpedal and cast in phase two. If he insists on casting whilst his opponent pokes at him with a pointy stick, then he suffers a –2 AC penalty and risks spell failure.

 

2/11/2018 1:14 am  #8


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Since a character (PC or NPC) declares (determines) their action(s) for the round before initiative is rolled, how could an enemy ever "pursue" a backpedaling character (caster or otherwise) in phase two of a round?

We had our second ASSH session today. We had fun, but the players are pretty frustrated with the two-phase combat (probably with my inability to relay how it works as much as anything). "Lost" actions due to a target already being dead/down are also a big concern.

I mention this because this "pursue" option has me against questioning even my current poor understanding of the rules with respect to the way combat works.

 

2/11/2018 1:39 am  #9


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

ACTION DECLARATION: Before initiative (q.v.) is determined, each player must state his character’s intent (e.g., move, attack, cast a spell); alternatively, the caller announces each character’s actions. If a spell is to be cast, the player must name the specific spell. Meantime, the impartial referee silently decides the actions of the opposition.

Emphasis mine. Action declarations are very general intentions. Moving. Fighting. Casting a spell and which spell. I would add grappling, in the 1st round, if only to give a weapon wielder his rightful first attack against the grappler (whose weapon class is 0, as i understand it) My group is so used to highly descriptive combat (that I encourage) it is hard to get them to dial it back to the basics during declaration phase. At least they are excited!


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

2/11/2018 6:36 am  #10


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

To leverage what Jimm posted: actions are general enough in nature that "attack" could easily be interpreted as "press forward the attack", which IMO would allow pursuit. If a player was vague in their declaration I might ask for clarification in their intent (e.g., "Are you holding the line in your attack, or pressing forward?"), or it might be clear from the start.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

2/11/2018 1:36 pm  #11


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

So someone who says they're attacking may be assumed to be prepared to pursue any enemy falling back unless they say otherwise? And I need to confirm whether or not they're willing to be drawn into some kind of awful pincer maneuver, being surrounded by the enemy's front line fighters if the spellcaster withdraws? And I need to get this kind of clarity of IF-THEN intent contingencies at the beginning of each round? That doesn't sound quite right either. Or I'm misunderstanding the case.

The way the Fighting Withdrawal (Backpedalling) rules are written (p254), I think the intent must be the enemies of the backpedal-er get to to decide at that point whether or not to pursue (even if they have already attacked), and so Fighting Withdrawals (and pursuits) are an exception case altogether to the top-of-round general intent declarations?

 

2/11/2018 2:39 pm  #12


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Forgive me if this sounds unfriendly, it is not my intent. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/nervous.png


But I'm feeling you might be overthinking it. Declarations are just "Ipheria is fighting with her spear," "Prosparion is firing his crossbow" or "Criphis is casting burning hands." My interpretation of what is by design a light rule set is that a declaration of intent is loose, malleable and encompasses necessary maneuvering and changing targets.
As a referee, you are free to make combat as complex and tactical as you wish, but the rules seem to fight it a bit.

As far as the example spellcaster... Criphis gets to backpedal as his move action in phase two, presuming he got his spell, say it was web, off in phase one. His attackers, some bandits with spears, can pursue as their move in phase two, presuming they attacked or moved in phase one.
The next round, the PCs win initiative. Criphis declares he's casting burning hands. In phase one, he's backpedaling so he can cast the spell in phase two. To the easy-going referee, it seems reasonable to his general declaration of spellcasting that he try to move out of melee beforehand--he need not have declared the move ahead of time.
However, the bandits decide to attack as well, which generally presumes they are trying to get to their enemies (the PCs) to stabby-stabby--hopefully, the referee hasn't paused to carefully consider each of the seven bandits' tactics with much more intricacy than that! Now that Criphis has backed away from melee, and looks like he's casting a spell, a few of the bandits charge at him.

So yeah, if Criphis's friends are not doing their best to protect him, he will continuously find himself beset by melee attackers as he tries to cast spells. That seems right to me... http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smart.png


postscript: To the devil with these capchas!!!! Does a streetsighn include the post? Is a bus a car? Is a blurry shadow a car? Who knows what constitutes a storefront in China?

Post postscript: I see I made an error above. The sorcerer in my examole above doesn't, under AS&SH rules, get to move after casting his spell. That personally seems a little arbitrary to me so I might houserule differently. For Criphis's sake. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smug.png

Last edited by Jimm.Iblis (4/03/2018 8:50 pm)


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

2/11/2018 6:59 pm  #13


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Jimm.Iblis wrote:

My interpretation of what is by design a light rule set is that a declaration of intent is loose, malleable and encompasses necessary maneuvering and changing targets.
As a referee, you are free to make combat as complex and tactical as you wish, but the rules seem to fight it a bit.

This is also how I approach it: I don't need cases and subcases of rules, I talk with my players to see what they're intending, and go from there. But, I run a loose game, where a good idea from one of my players is more important than any rule, especially when it enlivens the game.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

2/11/2018 10:05 pm  #14


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Thanks for the thoughts/help. Most games I run don't want cases & subcases of rules. I try to keep things light and less regimented, but the AS&SH ruleset seems to me to be trying to account for a lot of cases & subcases so I thought I was leaning into that vibe with my questions and concerns about how all of this is "supposed to" work. Also a couple of my current players seem to want a high degree of clarity & consistency or they'll spend more time talking about rules and rulings than in playing.

 

2/11/2018 11:06 pm  #15


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

Explain it to them this way: The declaration phase could just as easily be omitted, but it gives swordsmen a fighting chance to drop sorcerers before they unleash hell. That's, as they say, a feature, not a bug.


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

2/12/2018 6:46 am  #16


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

nemomeme wrote:

Thanks for the thoughts/help. Most games I run don't want cases & subcases of rules. I try to keep things light and less regimented, but the AS&SH ruleset seems to me to be trying to account for a lot of cases & subcases so I thought I was leaning into that vibe with my questions and concerns about how all of this is "supposed to" work. Also a couple of my current players seem to want a high degree of clarity & consistency or they'll spend more time talking about rules and rulings than in playing.

Yes, I understand, and I think it's best to use the broad framework of the two-phase system and sequence of surprize, action declaration, etc. and leave the elaboration of "if/then" to the role-playing. Hopefully your two players in question will understand.http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

2/12/2018 10:36 am  #17


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

The way I see it declarations only exist to offer a chance to stop another's casting attempt, a natural addition, since there is a rule that says casting can be interrupted.

In fact, I can totally imagine an actual game where someone, after being hit by some vicious spell out of the blue, just says something like "If you had said he was trying to cast a spell I would've targeted him instead...". And to add more fairness, casting is announced at the beginning of a round. But then, why not other types of actions? And so we have declarations of intent.

Just my two copper pieces.

 

4/01/2018 6:44 pm  #18


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

We had our third AS&SH session yesterday. The players are in the Dwellers of the Forbidden City proper & not just headed toward it. We had fun but more than a half-an-hour was again spent discussing the two-phase combat with some frustration. I think we mostly have it down now, but I'm back again to request some help/clarity.

Why is Movement listed fourth in the Basic Combat Sequence on p244? Is that really operative/important? Is the explication "Advance" important/exclusive on p245? More precisely, if a PC says they want to withdraw (backpedal) p254, given that they could still melee, does that kind of movement take place at the same time as "Melee" in the Basic Combat Sequence? And therefore withdraw takes place during "Melee" so if you win initiative you get to withdraw before your opponent gets to try to hit you? Or do you only start to move during "Movement" and therefore they're going to attempt to strike you before you start to move away whether or not you win initiative?

Here's another case. Let's say an unarmored man, Anfar is forty feet away from their opponent, Bedic. Anfar says he's going to charge Bedic. Bedic, standing near a brazier, says he's going to Move laterally towards a door. Maybe he want to open it or something. In any case, he's not intending to melee. Anfar wins initiative. Has he charged Bedic who is still standing near the brazier because "Movement" (part 4 of the BCS) hasn't occurred yet? Or, given that this strike is occurring towards the end of Phase 1, are they both now near the door? What if Bedic wins initiative? Is the situation different or might they still both be positioned near the brazier because "Melee" is listed before "Movement" and Bedic is simply moving and not fighting?

I have a third scenario that occurred but that's probably enough for now.

Hmmm... I'm seeing now that regardless I did not give the boar-men their first strike due with respect to their fauchards.

 

4/03/2018 8:26 pm  #19


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

I was originally just going to pop in and say, "cool! you used my converted boar-things!" also let you know I gave them the wrong treasure class, and subsequently fixed it so they were better bugbear analogs in Hyborian/Hyperboriaen/Lemurian type settings.

But also, I'm going to try to answer your question, because no one else has, and preface this by saying I have a tendency to sound like a jerk when I'm making a case on the internet so I rarely do so. Please forgive me in advance if this sounds shitty. I'm sorry. I'm an emotional mansplainer.

I think the answer you need to hear is simple:

You just make a ruling.

You decide when the situation comes up. Only then. Not before. Not after. You don't need to tell the players how you might possibly rule on some future potential circumstance. You, the Referee, decides, and the players must respect your ruling and the game moves on.

Old school games and their rules are never going to cover every straw man scenario and they aren't meant to. Digging up hypotheticals is a waste of everyone's game time. One of the mottoes I've seen for OSR games and D&D pastiches, and I remind my players of this a lot because my group have all been playing a very tactical game (Pathfinder) for years, is "rulings, not rules." Again, your table, and your players need to understand that you make decisions as circumstance requires in the moment. It need not even be the same decision you made in a similar situation before. It might be different in another situation. You as the DM don't owe them anything but a world of adventure, danger and rewards. Consistency is considered best practices as a DM, but it isn't necessary. If you must explain your rulings or settle a hypothetical, outside the game is the time to do it. Table time is too precious.

If you want to use an AD&D-derived system like Astonishing..., explain to your players that you'll rule, fairly, based on the circumstances as you see and feel them in the moment, and that's it. No more hemming and hawing. If they can't wrap their heads around that, then you might need to explore other systems. Pathfinder has tactical rules that cover nearly every possible situation and, what I like to call the "physics" of the game, are consistently applied to an OCD-level degree. I don't recommend it, though. You'll spend more time applying the rules of that game than you're currently spending hyper-analyzing Astonishing...

Is saying "just my 2 coppers" a redundant cliche? Even so, just my 2 coppers. Astonishing... is a great game. I'm currently having a blast playing it and running it and I'm thinking it will probably be my system for years to come (though I might start my daughter out with Bx or Blueholme). Good luck with your game, thanks for using my Boar guys, and maybe someone does have a better answer to satisfy a more rules-inclined group. I dunno. Ignore this if someone does.


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

4/03/2018 8:47 pm  #20


Re: Escaping "engaged in melee" as a spellcaster

nemomeme wrote:

We had our third AS&SH session yesterday. The players are in the Dwellers of the Forbidden City proper & not just headed toward it. We had fun but more than a half-an-hour was again spent discussing the two-phase combat with some frustration. I think we mostly have it down now, but I'm back again to request some help/clarity.

Why is Movement listed fourth in the Basic Combat Sequence on p244? Is that really operative/important? Is the explication "Advance" important/exclusive on p245? More precisely, if a PC says they want to withdraw (backpedal) p254, given that they could still melee, does that kind of movement take place at the same time as "Melee" in the Basic Combat Sequence? And therefore withdraw takes place during "Melee" so if you win initiative you get to withdraw before your opponent gets to try to hit you? Or do you only start to move during "Movement" and therefore they're going to attempt to strike you before you start to move away whether or not you win initiative?

Here's another case. Let's say an unarmored man, Anfar is forty feet away from their opponent, Bedic. Anfar says he's going to charge Bedic. Bedic, standing near a brazier, says he's going to Move laterally towards a door. Maybe he want to open it or something. In any case, he's not intending to melee. Anfar wins initiative. Has he charged Bedic who is still standing near the brazier because "Movement" (part 4 of the BCS) hasn't occurred yet? Or, given that this strike is occurring towards the end of Phase 1, are they both now near the door? What if Bedic wins initiative? Is the situation different or might they still both be positioned near the brazier because "Melee" is listed before "Movement" and Bedic is simply moving and not fighting?

I have a third scenario that occurred but that's probably enough for now.

Hmmm... I'm seeing now that regardless I did not give the boar-men their first strike due with respect to their fauchards.

Don’t read anything into the order of actions in Table 89. What’s important there is establishing whether an action occurs on phase one or phase two. When each side declares its actions, compare to Table 89 to see when that action will conclude. Each phase is resolved in initiative order (with rare exceptions, such as first strike). ​Using your example, Anfar wants to make a charge attack versus Bedic, who is 40 feet from him. Since Anfar is unarmoured, his base MV is 40. With a charge attack​, his MV is doubled, so he can cover 80 feet total: 40 feet on phase one, and 40 feet on phase two. He will reach Bedic on phase one.

Bedic wants to move away to the door. ​You didn’t specify, but let’s say the door is 20 feet to his left. Assuming Bedic also is unarmoured, he can cover 40 feet total: 20 feet on phase one, and 20 feet on phase two. He therefore can reach the door on phase one. ​Since both actions will be resolved in phase one, initiative determines the outcome. If Anfar wins initiative, he completes his charge attack before Bedic reaches the door. If Bedic wins initiative, he reaches the door on phase one, also increasing the distance Anfar must cover. Perhaps Bedic can pass through the door on phase two, or perhaps he can open it for an ally to assist him before Anfar strikes.

 

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