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UniversalHead

Casting spells into and through a melee

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We're coming up to the end battle in A Time to Mourn, and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for Mourne's spellcasting. As written, he would be casting spells at PCs who are engaged with Stichelm skeleton in the entrance to the room, or perhaps past this melee - how do you handle this?

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I've done this as Mourne able to target wichever PC is engaged whit the skeleton inside the room. I've also put up a tracker whit a middle-late event space where a single  PC was able to move past the skeleton and deal whit the necromancer directly, and an end-event where this player could get a chance to grab the pendant to finish the combat (all players was entitled to affect this tracker via critical hits, spare successes in melee or successfull maneuvre-checks like athletics or coordination). Before the skeleton could intervene one of my pc used his bow to badly wound the necromancer...so i would definitely suggest that PCs could not directly attack Mourne until they have somehow dealt whit stichelm first! Otherwise this encounter risk to end very soon...the necromancer is quite defenseless!

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Most magic and blessings should pretty much be able to target engaged enemies fairly easily, with little to no penalty (although it would depend on the card).  Ranged weapons, like bows and guns, which have a much more 'direct line' shot, represent a more challenging attack.  I tend to increase the difficulty of the attack by 1d for shooting into an engagement, and a Chaos Star indicates the potential for hitting an ally.

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I must admit my players have been a bit difficult about magic and hitting into/past melee, and I find it a bit hard to justify as well. Wouldn't something like Magic Dart be a direct line shot as much as an arrow? Which cards are direct line shots and which aren't?

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It doesn't matter. The engagements are abstract. A line of standups are an engamement and the two standups at opposite ends can attack each other. The placement of the standups is irrelevant.

 

The mage/archer simply holds the shot until there is a free line of sight. Some cards have special rules, but other than that I see no reason to worry about it.

 

If you analyze the system in that kind of detail I can easily say that the entire system will be completely flawed and you'll end up with a 100-page house rulebook.

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I side with Gallows' opinion; while I might impose a Misfortune die (or two, depending on the size of the melee) to represent the random chance of someone spoiling an otherwise spot-on chance, I typically assume someone using a ranged attack would wait for an opportune moment to fire into melee. In the case of magic, I feel it's more of judgment call whether a spell is direct (like Magic Dart) or just requires line of sight (assuming it's successfully cast).

For example, when I ran the fight with Mourn, I felt none of his spells really seemed to require more than line-of-sight to the target (save Hand of Dust, since that's essentially a touch/melee attack), so Stichelm's involvement was a non-factor in that regard; though he was blocking the PCs' path to Mourn, the necromancer had little issue leeching life essence with Curse of Undeath, or causing noxious gas to materialize around them with Mortification. My PCs (2 of them, since the party had split at that moment), naturally had their hands full trying to fight off the hero's skeleton, and upon being bombarded with necromantic spells, they (uncharacteristically wisely, I might say) retreated down the hallway, luring Stichelm out while breaking Mourn's line-of-sight to them. While this gave Mourn time to drain a little more power out of poor Brother Grabbe, the two of them barely managed to dispatch Stichelm, and then bum-rushed the necromancer before he could amass too much more power.

It was a close fight, which I feel is the best kind, especially considering I thought it very likely I was going to end up killing (and reanimating!) the both of them. In the end, they were still bloodied and exhausted, and left dragging both the piece of the mapstone and Brother Grabbe's unconscious body back to Stromdorf.

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