Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NERO 9th Edition: Spell Changes

This is going to be a series on the changes for 9th Edition. Once we get all the changes down, we'll make a handy PDF document for veteran players showing all the changes.

Today, we're talking spells.

Here's what you need to know about the changes to spells.

Bless, Shield - 5 points (was 2)
Duplicate Ward Key, Greater Bless, Greater Shield, Wall of Force, Wizard Lock - Removed from the game.
Calm, Charm, Calm Animal, Charm Animal, Control Undead, Turn Undead - Duration is now 5 minutes (was 10 minutes).
Shun, Shun Animal - Effect is now LOS (was 1 hour).
Banish - Both Schools
Circle of Power - 10 Minutes, no longer required for platform circle
Create Undead - Lasts 5 minutes and now SUSPENDS DEATH COUNT. Also, puts you at full body, is not a visible effect and you fight at full speed.
Endow - Adds 3 points of damage (was 2).
Delayed Endow - Can now break out of a pin.
Taint Blood - No body loss
Weakness - Swing for 5 less (was 4 less).
Empathic Healing - No Transfer of body.
Elemental Shield - Both Schools
Imprison - 10 minutes, target is pinned and cannot be moved.
Light - Changed to "Illumination" and lasts 5 days (was until next sunrise).
Disarm - Changed to "Fumble" and makes an item unusable for 5 seconds (used to require dropping it).
Displacement - Call is now "Phase"
Paralyze - Effect is now 5 minutes (was LOS).
Ward - Now acts like greater ward, all inside when cast are invested. No longer tied to a doorway (all doors work).
Wither Limb - Specifies that you must take this on an un-withered limb if possible.
Mystic Lock - People are now invested into it, like Ward.
Desecrate, Sanctuary - Cannot pick up items.
Cause Disease - Disease no longer does damage. It simply keeps you from running.

New Spells
Lesser Invest (C7) - Adds someone to a Ward or Mystic Lock
Lesser Divest (C7) - Removes someone from a Ward or Mystic Lock
Remove Physical Affliction (E6) - Removes an effect with the "physical" type.

Find any changes I missed? Post in the comments!


  1. I'm fairly certain the level 1 Create Undead is a typo.

    And sad, they made Shun LOS. That's just unfortunate. LOS is generally a poor durational mechanic. I should not be teribly surprised, I suppose, Adam has some sort of odd unshakable love for LOS.

  2. I never liked Shun in the old iteration. It seems a little overpowered for a level 4 spell. I think making it LOS brings it in line with other spells at that level.

    In old rules, shunning something in tight quarters made them practically useless. Shunning something in a large field battle was detrimental, but not a big deal (as they could fight somewhere else).

    Now, shunning something in close quarters removes them from combat for a short period of time (enough to break LOS). Shunning them in a field battle has about the same effect as before.

  3. I would have, and did for that matter, set it to five minutes like most random status effects. An hour was ridiculous and LOS has various issues including variable effectiveness based on light levels and a constant uncertainty if, in fact, it's actually still up. Plus the ability for a LOS effect to last for hours if the person who delivered it feels like being a dick (see: asshole LOS Paralyze statue games).

    Anyway, not a huge deal in the grand scheme, but a little sad to add more LOS to the game. Particularly to an effect that previously had a set duration.

  4. Unsure if it's an omission or intended change yet, but the wording for Ward in the new rules no longer mentions the ability to have multiple casters casting simultaneously to allow for more than one portal in and out of the room/building.

    If that is how it is intended, it definitely affects some campsites the chapters I play which have larger buildings with multiple doors, and will most likely lead to people just cheesing it and using whatever door is convenient.

  5. Actually, you'll note that while you have to be at the primary portal to cast the Ward, it otherwise doesn't restrict how you go in or out of the building if you're invested. It's not door based, if you're invested you can come and go however you want. This was intentional, so you didn't need multiple casters for multiple doors. Now, I don't doubt that people will use whatever door they want and think they're sticking it to the man by cheating, but actually they're doing what we intended. ;)

    Ward was one of the spells I specifically targetted for revision under my theory of "any spell or skill or discrete effect that takes a whole page to explain needs to be drastically simplified or removed." I'm kind proud of how much I cut down the word count.

  6. Added clarification on the Ward change above. Didn't notice that change, but I definitely agree.

    As an interesting aside to your comment about paralyze statue game, I noticed that there's no good spell means for capturing and holding someone. I mean, you could always web someone once you have them where you want them, but they can still yell and such. Waylay cannot be done indefinitely anymore.

    Guess it's time to invest in some rope.

    I noticed that Web and Confine are still the same spell. Was there any though of differentiating those spells?

  7. Re: capturing. Generally speaking, I wanted it to be as hard as possible for capturing anyone for long periods of time. For the most part, these situations involve keeping players from playing for long and obnoxious stretches of time. Keeping a fellow PC, for example, paralyzed or imprisoned for hours on end is just being a bully. As for capturing NPCs, it's easier for staff to create a workaround.

    For instance, when I capture an NPC in most chapters I play in, and I want to interrogate them or otherwise need to keep them on ice for awhile, I bring or send them with another NPC to the "barraks" or "jail" (NPC camp)or whatever until it's convenient for staff to let me spend however much time I need to talking to them. You just need a staff willing to work with you. If they're not willing? Well, plenty of LARPs and chapters around.

    Re: Web/Confine. We talked about it briefly, but it wasn't a high priority and ultimately we decided that it wasn't doing any real harm at the moment. Probably an oversight on our part, but it seemed innocuous (sp?).

  8. @Mickey - I think it's at least going to need a clarification/errata, then, because most people I know of who are reading the rules for the first time (i.e. weren't involved in the rewrite) are interpreting it more in the fashion I did...that because of the mention of "primary portal", it is restrictive like the old Ward spell was.

    If the intent is as you say, why would it matter what portal the caster is at when they cast, so long as they are at "a portal" in/out of the building?

    Yes, it may seem nitpicky, but it is definitely causing some confusion out there.

  9. You have to be at the primary portal so that it's at least theoretically a little dangerous to cast and because I just think it's a cooler place to be when casting it. Not a huge deal certainly.

    I doubt it really needs an errata once confused people have it explained to them. The text is not actually confusing, it's the memory of 8th edition Ward that is confusing people but we deliberately didn't want a lot of "Unlike in 8th edition" phrases in the text of 9th. If you, for example, explain it to people and they stubbornly refuse to believe you, well, they're just trolling for conflict at that point.

    In either case, having resigned a month or so ago, I can't issue errata anymore. ;)

  10. I'll grant you that, Mickey (on the cooler place and theoretically a little dangerous). We both know, though, there will be those out there that will argue it to death with things like "what if both doors are used equally", and so forth (like you said, trolling for conflict, or in some cases just trying to rules lawyer for any little way they can twist the rules their way).

    And heck no, I'm not jumping into the trolling flame-fests! There's a reason I keep saying "no" when asked to join National staff. LOL ;)

    I'll just hope that the people in charge of the chapters down here show some common sense when it comes to implementation & interpretation. :)

    As an aside (and slightly off topic), I think one of my biggest gripes with the whole 9th edition rules is that there isn't a uniform, mandatory effective date. I'd much rather have seen a situation where all chapters move to the new rules on the same date (maybe 6 months post-release) rather than what we are getting of some chapters changing immediately and others holding out until next year's cutoff date. IMO, the transition would be a lot easier on players if they weren't facing the real possibility of a year of having to remember two sets of rules as they travel.

  11. Re: Effective Date

    I totally agree. I argued much the same in December but obviously they went another way. What's particularly odd here is that several months ago the deadline was going to be April, 2011 and then, somehow, it got decided that an even *longer* deadline was going to be better somehow.

  12. As a note for the initial post, Wall of Force, Wizard Lock, and Duplicate Ward key were also removed. Though Key was more altered into the Lesser Invest.

  13. Mark Henry ~MariusFebruary 2, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Mickey I love 95% of the changes you and others have worked on, and appreciate 100% of the effort :)

    I was curious as to the logic behind the ward changes. Was this done to discourage pvp and theft or was there another reason?

  14. RE: Ward

    It was done primarily to simplify Wards and get rid of randomly cumbersome mechanics. That it diminishes a small number of edge case PVP doesn't hurt either.

    The best way to visually understand it is to actually open up the 8the edition rulebook and look up the Ward spell description. It's HUGE, like ridiculously massive to describe a single spell. It's occupied with tons of little sub-rules to deal with issues that arose over the years and is a bloated mess. So, I ditched that and wrote a much simpler and easier to deal with replacement. Along the way we got rid of keys and locks as they were a big part of the hassle.

    Now, this does mean rolling other players in their sleep is harder. But I don't consider that a bad thing for any number of reasons, but that was not the primary reason.

  15. Mark Henry ~MariusFebruary 2, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Thanks for the quick response.

    I used to PVP a fair amount. Killing ppl in their sleep was always cheesy in my book (not fun nor challenging). Only downside I see is you can't steal a key to rob a person. On the other hand they could have just as easily stored valuables in a circle, so I guess it's not a big as deal as I originally thought when I first read.

  16. Mickey,

    I just would like to say that as a former chapter owner who has dealt with the headaches of rules and rules calls, confusion and the frustration of trying to make it work--I TRULY, TRULY thankful for all the hard work and effort you put in to it.

    While everyone will find something at some point to complain about in regards to the new rules set, I for one have none. Sure, would have loved to see beserk and fear in there, but really, who cares? I think that nearly all of the rules changes are for the better and the ones that I'm not totally excited about, I am ambivalent about anyway.

    This makes it easier for me as a rule marshal, a plot marshal and a player. It makes it overall easier for everyone else involved, too.

    It is a thankless job you undertook and completed.

    Ninth edition is no longer an urban myth...AND it doesn't suck. Double bonus.


    Jennifer Tobin

  17. Wow, thank you. That's *really* nice to read. our goal was to make a better rules set. Not to make the best possible one, sadly, as that would have taken a considerably deeper set of changes then we wanted to do at this stage, but a better one. I think we succeeded for the most part. I'll be honest, it makes for a lot of mixed feelings now that it's out but I've resigned over some behind the scenes shenanigans. So thank you, it means a lot and brightens my day.


  18. Create Undead also now explicitly specifies that you fight at full speed, is dropped by Dispel Magic, and is NOT visible in any way. I love the first point and second points, and am leery about the third. I think the concept of "ninja stealth voodoo zombies" that are indistinguishable from normal people is pretty funny, but it just plan doesn't make any sense to me. The actual gameplay implications are significant, in that the countereffects for someone under the effects of Create Undead are drastically different than the other effects that would make your friend attack you, like Berserk and Vampire Charm.

  19. Well, keep in mind that under 8th edition Create Undead isn't really visible either. When you're created, you look just how you look, you're not supposed to go around saying "visibly undead" to people.

  20. 8th edition had that insane "you're supposed to carry zombie makeup around with you" rule tho, which was way way worse. Personally, I think it should be like any other "visible effect." You're never supposed to randomly announce your visible effects unsolicited. The rule is, the observer doesn't know until he asks.

  21. It's not really so much that you had to carry makeup around, it just said there was no visible change until you'd gotten access to some. The whole point was to cut down on people having to give any kind of OOG description and we just made it more clear in 9th.

    Anywhoo, I believe we have murdered the hell out of that horse. ;)

  22. I like a lot of the spell changes. Sure it will make some encounters more dangerous. Gone are the days of blocking all the doors except with with circles and WoF. Or the ole "oh crap" drop a circle or self imprison and wait for rescue. Hopefully it will bring the fear back I miss from when I first started. It might just be me and my opinion but newer players don't fear things enough now a days.

  23. @Andrew

    Let me fix that for you.

    "It might just be me and my opinion but all players don't fear things enough now a days."

  24. Wow, apparently I really do have an opinion on *everything* in LARPs...

    I actually don't think fear should be the goal. I think fear is, generally speaking, a proxy for immersion. You feel *very* in game and excited when you feel fear in a LARP, but really, I think that sense of in gameness and excitement is the real goal and fear is just one way to get to it. The problem with aiming for fear is that it often, in the hands of many many untrained staff members, becomes a quest for killing as many PCs as possible or creating ridiculous and unfair encounters.

    I think Dan has a thing on his blog about it, but much like true IG fear is built via atmosphere and not stats, I think that atmosphere is partially built by fear, but it's not the only part and too often is focused on.

  25. I don't want to come off wrong and say fear should be an over all goal which my post could be construed as. I don't think massacres are the way to do it either. I remember hiding in the woods at dark because the big bad guy was out when I was lower, or pretending to be a zombie to shamble out of the tavern. Encounters like these are what made my character the way he is and plan ahead, have escape plans, and even being higher now the number one thing is don't die. Fear is a good tool for immersion and it may be my favorite tool used by plot as a PC, but I'm not saying it is the only one.

    So I'm not completely off topic, hhmm 9th ed question... If I fumble someone shield can I then just smack them in it to make them take the damage?

    Wanted to have some kinda of rules related question in there, lol

  26. When I use fear, I don't mean I'm scared for my character. I mean I feel challenged and there's a real possibility for death. My usage is different from Dan's. Don't get me wrong though - I love that kind of fear and we've used it. It's just that I'm far more of a numbers guy than atmosphere. Just the way I am.

    I am very much a believer that there should be means for players to balance risk vs. reward, which is often not possible in linear plotlines, as there are no risky options.

    That being said, it is clearly a lot more difficult to run a finely tuned game without either going too easy or massacring the party.

  27. Re: Fumble

    That was the intent, yes. If you get your shield fumbled I highly recommend tucking it behind your back and dodging a lot. Fumble, btw, is one of those ideas that actually came up YEARS ago for a sub-campaign that never quite got off the ground. So credit to Alan Green on that one, or someone else on the Dark Future sub-campaign team.

  28. I love the fumble change. Disarm was way too powerful for a level 1 spell. You could remove a fighter from combat in a single spell.

  29. Not to mention the number of stepped on weapons in large battles via disarm.

    To get off topic, I think fear is also my favorite tool when used against me. I like the 'big baddies' better when they are in town, and more then half the town is split up hiding in the woods, or trying to find eachother. Although I think it only ends up working in big camps like giscowheco (spellcheck) where everyone is split up naturally, with the gypsies/nobles/guild hall/tavern. Then again, circles pretty much ruin the fear aspect.

  30. Heh, so during the open feedback period one of the main arguments some people had against lowering CoP durations was "So what is a plyer supposed to do now when a plot team sucks and sends out stupid overpowered crap and otherwise runs a miserable game?! Now we can't even hide in our circles from it!"

    The answer I couldn't give then as a staff member was simple: Quit. I was astounded at how much people just couldn't consider the idea that they didn't have to play crappy games.

    Anyway, not really on topic, but I took the excuse to share it.

  31. I was always amazed at how many arguments people would make about various things that would devolve to one thing:

    "What do we do if we don't trust the plot team to run a good game?"

    If you're already at that point, no rule changes or policies will save the game.

  32. Missed the change to disease, which no longer causes body damage.

  33. Also to add. Target specific effects such as wither, Shatter and destroy will now seek out an unrendered item or unwithered limb. You can no longer choose a rendered item to take the effect. If no unrendered item or unwithered limb matching the description exists, "No effect" is no longer the valid call. "No effect" can only be used when you (your character) is immune to shatter or destroy. Otherwise the call is supposed to be "Got it." Though, I am in favor of something along the lines of "rendered" since to me "Got it" implies you just took the effect. With the exception of carrier delivered wither, shatter and destroy, where "Got it" would announce that you have taken the damage applicable.

  34. Targeted effects is covered in gameplay changes (since it's not really tied to one spell).

  35. Going back over these as a refresher since the game I play is about to switch over. A lot of people are using these as their reference for learning the new rules, since you did such a good breakdown. :)

    It looks like they changed Shun/Shun Animal to 5 minutes in the 9.1 release or whatever you call it, so it might be good to edit this post to reflect that?