In last weeks BLOG POST, I discussed issues I had with high level Essence spells; specifically combat oriented spells from the Open and Closed List. These posts are a result of the intersection of two projects: BASil (my rewrite of spell law) and 5 of 50 (50th lvl adventure series). This puts me in a position of familiarity with spell law and creating and testing high level adventures.
It’s been a few years since my first iteration of BASiL, and I haven’t bothered reviewing my notes and analysis in quite some time. Instead I’m looking at RM spells from this new perspective: how useful and powerful are they for very high level adventuring. Today I want to offer my thoughts on the Channeling realm. Again, just focusing on combat oriented lists and just the Open and Closed.
Barrier Law. I’m not sure that much of Barrier Law is Channeling appropriate–seems more elemental. This also goes to a Gods “aspect” and what type of powers a cleric would have. Should a Cleric of the God of Fire be able to cast Ice Wall? Anyway, let’s just talk about “Wall of Force”–the 50th lvl spell. It creates an impassable barrier of energy…but…it’s only 10′ x 20′, lasts up to 1 rnd/lvl and the Cleric must concentrate! This feels more like a 25th or 30th lvl spell with a better version at 50th lvl. Maybe no concentrations and AoE scaled to level?
Concussions Way. Here is a good example of a great high level spell, but a awkward power progression. 30th lvl provides “True Healing” which heals 1 target of all their hits, but the cleric must be touching the target. Then the next spell (50th lvl), Mass True Healing, does the same but for 1 targetlvl (50 targets!) and they can be up to 100′ away. That’s a fantastic spell, but seems quite a bit more potent than the next highest? On a side note the 25th lvl spell “Regeneration” is a missed opportunity. It should heal 5 hits/rnd, last 1 rnd/lvl and not require concentration.
Lights Way. 50th lvl Mass Utterlight. Not a great 50th lvl spell. I”ll leave it at that.
Spell Defense. The 50th lvl Resistance True requires concentration–taking the Cleric out of action.
Calm Spirits. Not sure about this–“Calm True” has a duration of P. Does this work in the game–permanents pacifying a target?
That’s it for Channeling! I definitely think that the lack of protective or augmentation spells nerfs the profession compared to other systems. Looking at just those spells/lists, the most effective role for a Cleric is to cast Concussion Ways when needed. Spell Defense requires concentration and Wall of Force would only be needed in extreme circumstances (and require concentration.)
My Channeling BASiL lists, including all the Orhan/Charon pantheon specific lists really pumped up Clerics. In fact a group of Clerics in my SW campaign are as powerful as almost any other mixed profession group!
11 thoughts on “Random Musings. High Level Channeling Spells in Rolemaster.”
I definitely agree with your comments about the limited and varied effectiveness of so.e of those spells. I very much like what you’ve done with the Basil cleric spells. I definitely think that a fire cleric should only be making fire walls and not walls of ice.
Depending on the clerics deity Holy Bridge is pretty much the nuclear option.
50. Holy Bridge – Opens a direct channel to the caster’s deity; results depend on the deity’s personality, motives, and powers. Any spell the deity can cast may be transmitted through the gate.
If you are beating up on a 50th level cleric of the god of fire (as your example above) you could well end up with a face full of wrathful God of fire!
I think in a combat situation the 14th level Absolution is the Cleric’s weapon of choice. It is potentially one kill per round. If you are playing with a cleric of high enough level so that it is a no-prep spell they can bang them out and the RR is made at -20. Because the clerics level is added to the BAR you are very, very likely to have massive minuses on that resistance roll any way.
I didn’t delve into the Base lists but agree that Absolution is the “one trick pony” for clerics. However, does it make sense for any cleric, no matter their Gods “aspect”, to have soul blasting power? Should this be a power best left for clerics of a death god? Additionally, it seems a little evil to me–more of a dark spell.
Perhaps not just evil; it could also be used by more fanatical cults. Pathfinder has the Inquisitor class who, even if they follow a good deity, tend to be less tolerant and more prone to stamping out heresy – with violence.
I disagree, doesn’t every cleric or even devout follow call on their god to strike down the unbeliever/heretic/infidel/mother-in-law?
Yes, but perhaps the strike/smite is specific to the gods power. A fire god would have “Immolation”, a winter god would have “Freeze Veins”, a death god would have “absolution etc.
Maybe as you are used to ‘gods’ in SW being just powerful beings the separation of powers is a greater issue than it may be for other settings?
In the forgotten realms, for example, the realm of Death is the preserve of those beings that die but had no faith and no god.
Ultimately, it gets back to the core issue that Channeling realm needs to be tuned to the setting and pantheon–or eliminated as you have suggested.
This brings me back to my main problem with spell law. It was always intended to be a generic magic system to bolt on to any game but it actually comes with some wide ranging assumptions.
To my eyes it seems that in Channeling especially the open/closed/base model really breaks down. Priests from wildly different gods such as law and chaos should well be expected to have significantly different magics available to them. Why would a priest worshipping a fire god have wall of water or a priest of darkness have projected light at 1st level?
It seems like the solution has to be one of two extremes either customise all open and closed lists to fit the clerics aspect and the same could be said for paladins and druids as well.
The other option is to junk the open/closed/base model completely and every profession has their own pools of spells. This is what D&D does with druids casting druid spells and clerics casting cleric spells.
This problem is not so pronounced in the other realms as the open/closed mentalism lists emphasise the mental aspect and whether you are a lay healer or a pure mentalist the mentalism spells do not feel out of place. Essence is the same, as long as the lists are manipulating the elements to some extent it seems to fit.
Channeling though is portrayed as being channeled from a specific entity who holds the power and has a clear definition and therefore sphere of influence. generic effects do not fit well with that source of magic.
I would love to try junking all the open and closed lists for all realms. In their place you allow each character to define four lists with spells picked from all open and closed lists that fit their characters concept regardless of realm. That would give each character 10 lists, their six base but four character defined. If they want more then can research them as per the core rules.
That still leaves all 2000 spell law spells in play, it solves the godly aspect problem to a large extent and it builds much more unique characters.
We’ve discarded the open/closed/base in BASiL, but it was meant specifically for Shadow World. I kept the designations when I post lists up only to avoid confusion and I think that many RM players aren’t open to dramatic revisions from RM standards. Since the spells are arranged by effect rather than professional tropes it’s easy to reorganize them for any setting or world.
I think that is the right way to go.
I like my idea of hand building at least some of your lists to fit the character concept. I think it has a lot of pluses. I just have not either tested it in play yet or pinned down the exact implementation I want to test.