Friday, January 7, 2011

You're gonna hear electric music/Solid Walls of Sound.

Deck of Many Things returns this week to discuss a spell. This spell can be found in Monty Cook's Arcana Evolved game. It is called Wall of Sound, and the fucker is broken as hell.

(*Note* there is apparently errata which makes it less broken, but I'll deal with that at the end of this post.)

So, about the circumstances under which I employed this spell for the first time in the campaign. I was playing my Magister, Basel (11th level at the time), who was frustrated with the limited nature of her 6th level spell options. She had memorised Vitrification, Shaped Strike, and Wall of Sound for the day-- nevemind that we were in a field of crystal and fighting crystal monsters, so Vitrification was fair useless. A little bit about these crystal monsters, by the by:

1) They had spell resistance.
2) They were immune to fire and cold (so much for shaped strike, which is a fire spell).
3) They were resistant to Electric Energy (which is one of my energy templates).
4) They could refract damage spells so that they bounced in a random direction, potentially hitting me or my allies (so much for most of my damage-- considering the changes of hitting either of the Large-Size Giants in the party, or the hit-point shy Faen, or the Human who is pretty much the main tank... yeah).
5) ...They were vulnerable to Sonic Energy.

So, after trapping one of them in stasis for a round with Dreaded Freeze, This Rabbit goes and looks up Wall of Sound. According to the original printing, the spell has the following attributes:

1) Simple (which means almost anyone can cast it)
2) Spell Resistance: No (later fixed in the Errata, but that may not matter, depending on what is being resisted.)
3) covers a number of 5X5 squares up to your spell level. (Mine at the time was 13, having cast a Heightened Greater Enhanced Magical Flow)
4) Is not bound by gravity, and need not be vertical.
5) Can be made in about any shape you want.
6) has hit points equal to 50 X your spell level.
7) deals Sonic damage equal to 1 X spell level at 20 feet away, and I forget how many d4 of damage (1d4 X spell level with a limit?) at 10 feet away. Half damage on a fort save at 10 feet, no damage on a fort save (I think) at 20.
8) has a duration of 10 rounds per level.

Sounded fantastic to me, esp as we were fighting 10 foot tall crystal critters. My first thought was to create a ceiling of sound over the one fighting my companions, but could not do so in a way that would not hit my allies. So Bo, the Winter Witch, came up with another suggestion.

"Hey Basel, why don't you box the one you Froze in the Wall?"

Well, why didn't I? I could put the wall entirely around the dude, and I could place it at such a height that crawling under it or jumping over it were both problematic, and so that, even if it did get out, it was going to take stupid damage first. Beating on the Wall, at 650 Hp, wasn't really going to do it much good either. So that's what I did. The crystal tenatacle thing (did I mention the tentacles? Yeah. Crystal Effing Tentacles. WOULD I MAKE THIS UP?) shook to death in a handful of rounds, by which time we'd murdered the hell out of his friend.

At which point, Bo very sensibly says something like,

"Yeah, just wait till that's used on us."

Hm, a valid point. The general rule of AE is that anything we can do, the NPCs can do better. And this spell, used with a bare minimum of creativity, is pretty much a Win Button.

Now, it is 6th level, and it is apparently subject to spell resistance, but I'm going to have to look up exactly how that works to see if that just means you don't take damage from it, or if you ignore the wall entirely. Because if it's the former, then that still means dude is trapped in what is basically a force wall with 650 hit points.

Still not hot, particularly if you have angry bow-fighters and magisters ringed around you, and you have any exposed bits at all. Otherwise... well, you're stuck in a box that will let the party get away long before it fades off of you. Suck.

The best ways out of this situation, assuming there's no ceiling on it, is to be able to fly, or maybe to dispel magic, so far as I can see. Otherwise, I think I'll be avoiding using this spell overmuch, as believe it or not, I am not a big fan of The Win Button. I like there to be more than one Right Answer possible in the main of situations.

Ask me about 4e Artificers and Magic Weapon sometime, when you've got a few hours.