Disbelieving damaging illusions

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Telarus
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Telarus » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:43 pm

In ED1, "disbelief" was something you could try against any illusion that targeted your character. It cost 1 Strain and your Action for the round. You gained a free Willpower/Disbelief test, and if you beat the Disbelief Difficulty (usually around 1/2 the Sensing difficulty) you shook off the effects of the spell.

It cost you your Action, and you had to roll. Also, most of the above keyword-ed spells would allow any Knockdown test to serve as a free Sensing test. Ephemeral Bolt was C2, Sensing difficulty 16, disbelief 8.

The references to Knockdown tests as Sensing test have been removed, but the wording in the Sensing Tests section covers those and any other reaction test. You could bring back the Strain cost and Willpower test.

I wouldn't bring back the Action cost, as that's what made it really fiddly in 1e and rarely used in combat, as you literally just sat there and took the hit. Also, I really like how ChrisDDickey broke it down. Especially, "Also they are a hostile pattern impacting upon your own pattern. An illusion does not damage your meat, an illusion damages your pattern, and then your meat changes to match the damage to your pattern." This is the way to think about illusions (not figments, which are closer to shared hallucinations).

I've always had a character in the back of my head from 1e that I never wrote up (was going to use him or her as NPC later). Human Illusionist Martial Artist (picked up purifier Harden Limb talent and Warrior, etc, etc talents to round it out), and would rock the True/Blazing Fist of Rage spell (another pair of spells from 1e which had a 'true' version). A Riposte knack and Swift Kick to counterattack while threadweaving. Monstrous Mantle was going to be fun, and Stop Right There was going to be deadly (damage taken just gave a bonus to the Willpower test to shake it off).

Ferretmonger
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:51 pm

I agree that using a standard action to make a disbelieve test is way too much, but 1 strain feels like an ok cost.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:27 pm

Yes, when Wizards cast flame flash or Elementalists cast lightning bolt or fireball, the target gets the exact same "opportunity" to disbelieve as when an illusionist casts spells. In general the GM should give players being hit by any spells, but particularly spells that have an illusionary counterpart the exact same opportunity and/or hints about the true spells as with illusion spells.

Yes, characters can and have decided to attempt to disbelieve flame flash, lightning bolt and fireballs. Sometimes disbelieving spells that look exactly like them saves them from a toasting. Sometimes it means they get a more toasted.

In previous editions, the illusionary versions of the spells did significantly more damage than the True versions. They got seriously nerfed.

In my experience, it if fairly rare for anybody to attempt to disbelieve a spell. You only do it if you are fairly certain you are facing an illusionst casting an illusionary spell. The penalties for guessing wrong are too high. Lets assume you have a journeyman caster (with willforce) and Phantom Flame in an enhanced matrix. Lets say the target has buffed his MD up to about 15. The spell is in an enhanced matrix so can be cast in only one round. The caster will hit most of the time, but not all of the time. If hit, the target will take about step 20 (including willforce) damage (minus physical armor) for two rounds in a row. Assuming the target has well forged armor, he will probably take some damage, but probably not a wound ether round. Unpleasent, but probably not immediately fatal. Since this caster is casting Phantom Flame, if the target disbelieves, he suffers no damage. Disbelieving is very good.
Now lets assume the caster is a wizard and casting flame flash. Assuming no disbelief, the situation is about identical (one less step of damage per round). But if the target tries to disbelieve the wizard spell, bad things happen. First off, there is no real chance that the spell will miss. worse yet, any attack that would have hit anyway probably gets 3 or more extra successes. That is +6 damage. That step 25 damage (minus PA) likely is going to cause a wound both rounds. False disbelief can really mess you up.
So the target is probably not going to try disbelieving unless he is fairly certain he is facing an illusionist who is not also a wizard.

Very often the target might not even know whether the caster is an elementalist or an illusionist. Some Illusionists are tricky and take pains to be be easy to mistake for a wizard or an elementalist. I used to play an illusionist who went to pains to be mistaken for an archer. He used to carry around a great big crossbow and aim it every time he cast a bolt spell, doing what he could to make it look like he had a crossbow that shot wavy green glowing bolts. The whole point of shenanigans like that is to make it less likely that your target will choose to disbelieve. That is why the only spells in the book that are disbeleavable are spells that look exactly like spells that are not disbeleavable. A spell effect is pretty worthless if it is known to always 100% of the time be fake.

As an aside, back when I was younger, a DnD party I was a member of painted two war elephants we had the temporary use of pink. Just so that opponents would assume they were illusions. If using True magic, you want your opponents to think is an illusion. If using illusions, you want your opponents to think it is real.

Ferretmonger
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:20 pm

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:27 pm
That is why the only spells in the book that are disbeleavable are spells that look exactly like spells that are not disbeleavable. A spell effect is pretty worthless if it is known to always 100% of the time be fake.
Well, if the target knows that the caster is an Illusionist he’d be quite safe to disbelieve all attack spells except for green bolts and hails of missiles. The other ones only have an illusory version in the Illusionist repertoire and can be disbelieve 100% every time. That type of gaming is not only boring, but also very metagamey lacks a proper design pass imo.

I’d like at least some form of connection between the power level of the caster and target.

Bonhumm
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Bonhumm » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:38 am

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:40 am
Note however that anybody seeing or otherwise sensing an inanimate object struck by a damaging illusion will see/sense the object being damaged. It will seem later on (a few minutes) that the object has been miraculously repaired while nobody was looking. Three melons struck by a crossbow bolt, an Ephemeral bolt, and a True Ephemeral bolt, all look the same at first. It is just that the melon struck by the Ephemeral Bolt healed itself a few minutes later when nobody was looking. The melon disbelieved, nobody else did.
I'm having troubles with that concept. Although I completely agree with you that object are immune to illusions I don't see why an observer would see that object being affected by the 'untrue' Ephemeral bolt. The spell was not directed against me/my Spell Defense but instead against the melon's. If the spell was against me then I would also get an opportunity to disbelieve it.


ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:40 am

Unless the spell description specifically states otherwise, a target that is unconscious or asleep cannot be affected by an illusion." It's not that they disbelieve, it is that they don't have the awareness to believe in the first place....


....Bonhumm wondered if a blindsiding illusion was not automatically disbelieved because the target was unaware of it. I would argue that a blindsiding illusion can't be disbelieved because it does it's damage before the target is aware of it, just like you can't dodge a blindsiding crossbow bolt.
I feel those 2 paragraphs contradict themselves, but I was mostly wondering if there was an actual canon rule about this.

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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:35 am

Bonhumm wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:38 am
Note however that anybody seeing or otherwise sensing an inanimate object struck by a damaging illusion will see/sense the object being damaged.
...
I'm having troubles with that concept. Although I completely agree with you that object are immune to illusions I don't see why an observer would see that object being affected by the 'untrue' Ephemeral bolt. The spell was not directed against me/my Spell Defense but instead against the melon's. If the spell was against me then I would also get an opportunity to disbelieve it.
Again, I am not able to supply chapter and verse support for everything that I say on this subject. What I am preaching here is how everything finally gelled together in my own mind. I freely admit that some of it is papering over cracks where I don't find the published text definitive one way or another.

That being said,
I see illusions as having two parts: the damaging part where the spell actually inflicts damage the targets pattern (which in turn causes the targets body to mirror that damage), and the Senses parts (glowing green bolts moving towards the target, a swishing sound and maybe a thunk if it hits). I would say that the Senses part is visible/audible to everybody, not just the target. I would also say that if an illusionary bolt hits, the senses part of the spell will cause the target and everybody else to see a hole in your shirt and an appropriate amount of blood for a while (a minute or so). After all, if I throw a True Ephemeral Bolt at your buddy and a glowing green bolt blasts a physical hole in him that bleeds, then I cast another spell at him with no visible effect other than him grunting that he got hit a 2nd time, the fact that I am casting illusions becomes pretty obvious, and you are less likely to be fooled by them. So I figure that everybody sees/hears the senses part, and that they mimic all the results of somebody being hit by a crossbow bolt or a True EB.
If a target chooses to disbelieve one of these spells, they will not suffer any effect from the spell
I choose to interpret that as none of the damage effects nor other effects happen to the target, The disbelieved illusion passes harmlessly through my pattern.
But the question remains open, what happens to the Senses effect? What does the target see? What do other observers see?
The following are all reasonable choices that a GM could make.
  • The target stops seeing the visual effects. Everybody else still sees them.
  • The target and everybody else stops seeing the visual effects. (slight problem here with fireball, what if some targets disbelieve and others do not)
  • Everybody see's the visual effects as if the bolt missed the target.
  • Everybody see's the visual effects as if the bolt hit the target, but did no damage.
  • Everybody sees the visual effects of what would have happened if the target had not disbelieved (miss, hit with little or no damage, massive damage and a wound, or whatever. Of course the difference here is that the target would not be reacting appropriately (grunting in pain), but that is OK, since the targets successful disbelief is messing up the spell). In this case there ought to be clues that things are not right.
Of those choices, the one that I personally feel most appropriate is the last. If I am shooting EB at melons, it does not sound reasonable to me that the spell fails totally every time just because I am shooting at a mindless thing. Nor does it seem reasonable that it should look as if I kept missing. Nor that I keep hitting, but keep rolling zero damage. It seems most reasonable to me that it would look as if I destroyed the melon, but then a few minutes later the melon turns up unharmed.
But other people could very reasonably disagree.


Bonhumm wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:38 am
I feel those 2 paragraphs contradict themselves, but I was mostly wondering if there was an actual canon rule about this.
I personally don't feel they contradict each other at all. To me there is a huge difference between being asleep, and just not paying attention. If you hear a swish and a thunk and feel a huge pain that seems like a crossbow bolt hitting your back, you are likely to believe you got hit by a crossbow bolt even though you did not see anything coming towards your back.
However I am unaware of any canon rule other than the fact that the rule you quoted says
Illusions require a conscious mind. Unless the spell description specifically states otherwise, a target that is unconscious or asleep cannot be affected by an illusion.
It does not say "unconscious, asleep or blindsided cannot be affected". Sometimes you have to listen to the silences.

I probably should have used a word other than "awareness" in the section you bolded. Something like "they don't have the capability to believe", or consciousness or mind.

Ferretmonger
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:52 am

I would really love for a dev to comment on this as I feel that a big part of the Illusionist Discipline has been severely merged, or at least not explained properly. In the our campaign, as soon as there is high circle opponents, or dragons, horrors etc, the only reasonable attack I have is True Ephemeral Bolt. Fun times. Why can't it just go back to being a sensing test, so Iat least can use False Sight from time to time (in combat that is). Previous versions of ED even had talent crisis as a potential drawback when casting too many non-illusory spells, but now it's a necessity for me if I want to have any at all in combat, especially in high circle environments.

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Mataxes
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Mataxes » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:36 am

Ferretmonger wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:52 am
I would really love for a dev to comment on this as I feel that a big part of the Illusionist Discipline has been severely merged, or at least not explained properly. In the our campaign, as soon as there is high circle opponents, or dragons, horrors etc, the only reasonable attack I have is True Ephemeral Bolt. Fun times. Why can't it just go back to being a sensing test, so Iat least can use False Sight from time to time (in combat that is). Previous versions of ED even had talent crisis as a potential drawback when casting too many non-illusory spells, but now it's a necessity for me if I want to have any at all in combat, especially in high circle environments.

@Mataxes ?
I'm not sure what you're talking about. If you cast (for example) Ephemeral Bolt on a target, and deal enough damage to trigger a Knockdown test, the target's Knockdown test is considered a sensing test. If they tried using Steel Thought against the spell, that would count as a sensing test. Either (or both) could potentially be modified based on False Sight.

As a First Circle spell, Ephemeral Bolt has a base DN of 16 (Player's Guide, pg. 266). If the target rolls 16 or better on their Knockdown test (or Steel Thought test), they sense it is an illusion (regardless of what the actual DN of the Knockdown/Steel Thought test might be).

If you have False Sight, the result of the False Sight test increases that DN as indicated in the talent description. So if you scored 3 successes on the False Sight test, it increases that sensing DC by +6 to 22.

We haven't removed sensing tests. We did away with active Disbelief tests.
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Ferretmonger
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:53 am

I'm talking about the part where a target can freely decide that a spell being cast is an illusion or not, even before the actual spell even being cast, and by doing so totally ignoring any of its effect, no roll needed whatsoever. So the poor Illusionist that just tried casting Phantom Flame just wasted two full rounds of weaving and casting.
Illusions with short durations are less subtle in their effects, and allow for a target to disbelieve what is happening. These types of illusions are mainly damaging spells, and it will be noted in the spell description if the spell can be disbelieved. If a target chooses to disbelieve one of these spells, they will not suffer any effect from the spell. If the spell is not an illusion, however, the target’s Mystic Defense is considered to be 2 for the purpose of determining the number of successes, as they have opened them-selves up to the magic. In addition, the target cannot use any active defenses (such as Steel Thought) to resist the spell.Illusionists have access to spells that are both real and illusory. The target must decide if they are going to disbelieve prior to the Spellcasting test being made. No test is required—if the spell is an illusion, it simply has no effect.
I'm stating that this automatic "ignore a spell before it is being cast" is way to powerful. Doing the math, which isn't really that hard in this case, shows that if the target known that if you're attacked by and Illusionist you might as well go ahead and always automatically disbelieve all damage spells being cast, since the True versions of the spell has its base damage lower than its illusory counterpart, meaning that even if you lower your MD to 2 you'd still walk away "winning" with much less incoming damage than if you would believe all damage spells, since you'd be automatically ignoring all spells with the Illusion keyword, as in the example above where two full rounds of weaving/casting just goes up in smoke. If I in the example above would've cast True Ephemeral Bolt instead I would have had two guaranteed damage sources that can't be disbelieved, no matter what, and even though the damage is lower than its illusory counterpart it is still 100% guaranteed damage.
I know what I would choose, ten times of ten.

I just want to understand why this has been added? And please prove me wrong in my assumptions if I've missed some vital parts in this.

Sharkforce
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Sharkforce » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:04 am

... well, don't announce in a loud voice to your enemies that you're casting a spell with the illusion keyword before you make the spellcasting test, i guess?

i mean, they have to decide before the spellcasting test is done, so unless they have some way in advance of knowing exactly what spell you're going to cast, they don't know if you're casting a real ephemeral bolt or a fake one (or, for that matter, that you're even casting *any* version of ephemeral bolt, or any illusion spell whatsoever). i mean, heck, the first one you cast, they shouldn't even have any way of knowing you are specifically an illusionist in many cases (again, unless you announce in a loud voice that you're an illusionist in advance of casting your spells, and then back it up with conclusive evidence - on a related note, if you make a point of wearing dark, tattered clothes and have a bunch of skulls and bones on your person, you can probably fool people into assuming that you're a nethermancer, just as one example. you're an illusionist, it is pretty much literally your calling in life to turn their preconceptions against them).

and if they disbelieve the real one, they will be taking plenty of damage. consistently. no steel thought to dodge, and you'll average an extra success most likely even at lower circles (at higher circles, when your opponents can easily have mystic defense in excess of 15, automatically disbelieving means your true ephemeral bolt will score an extra 2-3 success more often than not).

and then, once they're always assuming you're using the true version, you can switch to the fake version, and still deal decent damage.

if you find that they still aren't motivated to not always disbelieve, then drop a mind fog on them or some other debilitating spell that costs them more than damage, but which is still real (the nukes aren't the only non-illusions in an illusionist's arsenal).

on the other hand, if you mean that you run into problems with AoE where groups of enemies all disbelieve except for a single one with the highest mystic defense, i would argue that people who have coordinated to rely on someone else's mystic defense aren't really disbelieving at all, are they? i mean, if i say i believe it's perfectly safe to walk on a perfectly clear glass platform but i absolutely *refuse* to set one foot on it unless i'm wearing a safety harness attached by a rope to a secure point, am i really being honest in saying that i believe it's perfectly safe?

(note: people shouldn't even necessarily know they're a target of the spell until after they've decided to disbelieve or not... so if your GM keeps abusing this highly questionable cheese-fest of a tactic, start aiming your spells to not hit the highest defense target. and if they only do it when you start threading a big spell, which again, seems pretty sketchy on their part unless there is a legitimate reason they know you're an illusionist as opposed to any other discipline, remember that true ephemeral bolt has an extra thread option for an additional target... and you can always pick the ones that keep disbelieving...)

if that still fails, your pursuit of mastery in the illusion discipline may be aided by dabbling in another discipline. if you pick up elementalist magic (either through multi-discipline rules or human versatility), when people start believing you may find it easier to make them regret it as a result of your enhanced repertoire of 100% real effects. you may even be able to fill the gap with appropriate thread items... the frost pouch, for example, has some very real cold spells that allow you to use spellcasting (if you have it) to duplicate a handful of cold-related spells (as a bonus, from more than one discipline, so you can really keep them guessing). from the players companion, there are the firewind bracers, the lightning mace, nightscar, the staff of vylir, and twilight staff. if none of those are suited, you could talk to your GM about looking for a thread item that is suited to your needs.

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