Back from vacation! I was able to (mostly) keep up with the torrent of new blog topics, and I have lots of comments and thoughts. Today I wanted to jump into a hot topic over at the Forums. There has been an active topic about overcasting, the use of the Grace “Magical Expertise” skill and the parameters in which it should work.
BTW, if you haven’t read this blog post I put up a few years ago, I would recommend reading this first:
Like “Transcend Armor”, “Grace” is a work-around for a basic rule restriction: casting spells faster than allowed or casting higher level spells than allowed. Basically it’s a cheat code that is being encoded into the RMU DNA as a core rule mechanic. However, unlike combat expertise skills that could be argued have a fundamental mechanic that allows for improvement (like reverse strike), what exactly is “Grace”? How do you train in it? Is it a physical skill of hand movements, arms gestures or similar? Is it “zen” mental training? What does training entail? Squeeze stress balls? Finger puppets? Kegel exercises? Can a PC take skill in Grace even if they don’t have a spell list? How do you justify that?
Playtesting has resulted in feedback that Grace is too powerful and suggestions have been offered: limit Grace to base lists only, limit it to specific spells, apply the skill to only 2 lists. Other suggestions propose adjusting both Grace and Spellcasting rules in general–sort of a “balancing of the scales”. To me this is even more problematic–it creates a binary mechanic (Grace and SCR)whose only purpose is to justify the need for the Grace skill.
Clearly, the issues around overcasting and speedcasting can and should be dealt with in the base casting rules. Grace is a excessive and unneeded skill which should be eliminated. I think it’s unlikely to be removed; it’s embedded in the collective designer consciousness and it would reduce magical expertise category to just Transcend Armor (another pointless and stupid “skill”).
7 thoughts on “Is Grace even a skill?”
Just a quick correction: removing Grace would reduce the Magical Expertise skill category not just to Transcendence (casting in armor) but also Spell Trickery (casting without letting your opponent know you’re casting).
But yes, I agree that Grace is no longer needed. It was a good idea when spells had to be prepped for 2 rounds if they were your own level, and 3 rounds if higher; standing around for several rounds doing nothing in the middle of battle sucked. But all that has been changed now. In the new world of RMU, when you can cast a spell of your level or lower without prep, you don’t need Grace anymore, IMHO.
Really, Spell Trickery only serves that one purpose?
Actually, I was simplifying. Spell Trickery can be used to do several things:
–Cast a spell with subtlety (i.e. no visual spell effects such as the colored halos and auras that spells normally have).
–Cast spells without making a sound (suppressing what DnD would call the verbal component).
–Cast a spell with one or even two hands free (very useful for semi-spell users who fight with mundane weapons).
So it actually is very useful.
There are a number of things in the RMU DNA that likely don’t need to be there. First level is still very problematic, and has been commented on since the early days of play testing. Grace is just the latest bit. And we won’t go into potential mismatches in Categories and Skills.
In that post, I’m the only one to vote that overcasting shouldn’t be allowed. So for this issue, it’s not my problem to try solving. I’ll try to play with whatever is published RAW even though I might not like it.
I’m not a fan of overcasting either, but RM let’s everyone at least try to do anything. Non-spell users can learn a spell list, albeit at a very high cost and in a very limited scope. I’m OK with someone trying to cast 1 spell level higher with high penalties and with extreme results for failure. That should be deterrent enough to keep people from wanting to try. Sometimes in the movies there’s that “It’s a one in a million shot… but it just might work” moment. The same happens in gaming. I like to give them a chance. If I’m lucky… I get to see an exploding paladin!
However, the way Grace and RMu handles overcasting, I’m very much against. It makes it far too easy to overcast. If this is the case, we might as well move to a level-less system where anyone can do anything easily. This is just another brick in the wall for me when it comes to RMu.
I think just removing Grace will go a long way to fixing those problems.
I like keeping spell prep as an option to aid in overcasting, since it restores that fun game mechanic where the party sees a big bad guy prepping some massive, evil spell, and they have a round or two or three to get to him before he unleashes hell. But spending rounds of prep to cast a level 1 Aura spell was a drag; it was almost pointless.