Author Topic: Dispel Essence and familiars  (Read 399 times)

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Offline Jengada

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Dispel Essence and familiars
« on: February 05, 2024, 11:27:13 AM »
Before I get to my main question, I have to note that Dispel Essence (and Channeling and Mentalism) in RM2 seem to be rather broken based on their descriptions. Cancel Essence states
"When a spell of the Essence is cast against the caster (of Cancel Essence), the attack spell must...." and clearly only affects attack spells against the CE caster.
Dispel Essence states "As Cancel Essence except the dispelling radius is in a 10' R about the caster (the radius moves with the caster). If the radius encounters and already existing spell, the spell must make a RR..." Because it's "As Cancel Essence" it applies to Essence spells cast against the caster of Dispel Essence. But there can be existing spells, and it can apply to something 10' away, neither of which makes logical sense 99% of the time. As written, it is a largely useless spell.
That the wording is bad is supported by comparing it with the description of Dispel Essence I and Dispel Essence Sphere I in RMSS. These affect "Any active spell from the realm of Essence" rather than just attack spells against the caster of Dispel.
Using the more plausible RMSS application of Dispel, it occurred to me that there are consequences for casters with familiars. If the caster or their familiar is within that 10' radius, their bond would be broken. Familiar is "Permanent" and under the spell description key, "A spell with a permanent duration may be affected by outside forces, e.g., the spell may be dispelled..."
And that means that an Essence user with a familiar would never want to cast Dispel Essence! They would likely lose their familiar. If another caster with a familiar entered the sphere of Dispel, or their familiar did, they would lose their bond. The familiar isn't killed, so would you apply the 2 week -25 penalty on all actions?
Has anyone else run into this, or does anyone know of a note/rule/whatever that would counter this thread of logic?
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Offline jdale

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2024, 12:14:15 PM »
Not everything permanent can be dispelled. If I explode a rock, dispel won't reassemble it. It's permanently changed, but there's no ongoing magic. So one question is whether the bond can be dispelled at all. You could rule that the familiar and the caster are permanently changed, and the connection between them can be temporarily dispelled but they can recreate it (at will, or only while in physical contact, etc).

RMU deals with this instead by giving the familiar a +100 RR vs getting dispelled. So it's possible but unlikely.

In any case, I would say if it is dispelled, it's not dead. So no penalty. This does allow the caster to get rid of a familiar safely at any time if they want, if you allow that bond to be dispelled.

Normally, though, a caster wouldn't target themself with a Dispel. They tend to have a lot of other beneficial spells on themselves they won't want to break.
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Offline Hurin

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2024, 12:21:48 PM »
I just got this great idea for evil casters opposing the PCs to cast Dispel Essence on their familiars and send them to do a flyby on the party members...
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Offline MisterK

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2024, 01:22:01 PM »
The problem with Permanent is that it is wrongly used half the time in RM. Most healing spells are Permanent, which is absurd if you think about it half a second - they should be like most destruction spells : spells has no duration (or has one depending on the spell text), but the effects cannot be dispelled.

You have to sort out which spells are indeed Permanent (infinite duration, but always active), and which ones are not because the *effect* is permanent but the spell itself has a finite, sometimes instantaneous, duration.

I must add that the Range parameter is sometimes misused as well, but much less frequently.

@Hurin : Dispel Essence is range S, at least in RM2. So you can't cast it on a familiar except if you have a talent to extend range from S to T (or a spell, but there is no such spell is Spell Enhancement in RM2. It is different in RMSS where the spell is targeted with a 10' range.

Offline Jengada

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2024, 02:47:28 PM »
jdale and MisterK, that was my first thought on this - does the Familiar spell create an effect that is no longer active magic, and so cannot be dispelled. For things like healing, I put them in that class. But in the sense that "magic" is stuff we players classify as such, because it goes outside of any understood or known reality, a familiar's communication with its owner is a sustained magic. So, for example, would a Symbol be a permanently active magic. So on that front, my take would be that a familiar's bond is dispellable. The trend of the spell to RMU supports that interpretation, too.
I also lean towards the "dispelled is not dead" approach. I'm inclined to say that when the familiar leaves the dispel area of effect, the bond re-establishes. Other approaches seem to leave too much possibility of the familiar "getting away" - running off on its own, now that it is no longer under the caster's control.
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Offline rdanhenry

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2024, 05:04:43 PM »
In RMU, Symbols are explicitly exempted from Dispel spells in the list notes. The wording on the RMSS list suggests that Dispel will work. My RM2 Spell Law is silent on this issue, but spells are to be interpreted in the context of their lists, so the Unsymbol spells do lend support for Dispel not working, or why have such a narrowly specialized set of removal spells?
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Offline MisterK

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2024, 11:28:35 PM »
In RMU, Symbols are explicitly exempted from Dispel spells in the list notes. The wording on the RMSS list suggests that Dispel will work. My RM2 Spell Law is silent on this issue, but spells are to be interpreted in the context of their lists, so the Unsymbol spells do lend support for Dispel not working, or why have such a narrowly specialized set of removal spells?
Or the Dispel works, but only as a cancel during the time the symbol remains in the area of effect: it reasserts itself after the dispel AoE leaves. The Unsymbol erases the symbol and, as such, removes the effect permanently.

Once again, interpretations based on how you think magic works in your setting.

Offline jdale

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2024, 01:30:24 PM »
jdale and MisterK, that was my first thought on this - does the Familiar spell create an effect that is no longer active magic, and so cannot be dispelled. For things like healing, I put them in that class. But in the sense that "magic" is stuff we players classify as such, because it goes outside of any understood or known reality, a familiar's communication with its owner is a sustained magic. So, for example, would a Symbol be a permanently active magic. So on that front, my take would be that a familiar's bond is dispellable. The trend of the spell to RMU supports that interpretation, too.

That's the correct reading in RMU, rules as written.

I don't think it's a bad choice to simply say they can't be dispelled, though. Note that you also can't dispel undead, even if they were created by magic. You also can't dispel a mage's magical ability. These are things that are magical but they aren't considered active spells. Magic is fundamentally part of the world so being magical isn't necessarily the same as having an active spell that can be dispelled.
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Offline Jengada

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2024, 11:57:40 PM »
jdale and MisterK, that was my first thought on this - does the Familiar spell create an effect that is no longer active magic, and so cannot be dispelled. For things like healing, I put them in that class. But in the sense that "magic" is stuff we players classify as such, because it goes outside of any understood or known reality, a familiar's communication with its owner is a sustained magic. So, for example, would a Symbol be a permanently active magic. So on that front, my take would be that a familiar's bond is dispellable. The trend of the spell to RMU supports that interpretation, too.

That's the correct reading in RMU, rules as written.

I don't think it's a bad choice to simply say they can't be dispelled, though. Note that you also can't dispel undead, even if they were created by magic. You also can't dispel a mage's magical ability. These are things that are magical but they aren't considered active spells. Magic is fundamentally part of the world so being magical isn't necessarily the same as having an active spell that can be dispelled.
I'm starting to think of Permanent spells as being of two types. Permanent, sustained spells are those like Familiar or enchantments on weapons. Permanent effect spells are those like Heal, and as you note, undead creation. They use magic to create a state that sustains without further magic sustaining it. 
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Offline nash

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2024, 10:48:42 AM »
I personally think calling spells like Healing permanent is a mistake.  It just makes things confusing.  A fireball sets things on fire and burns them - it has a permanent effect, but it's duration is not P.  Likewise healing modifies the world for some short duration and then the spell is done.  Casting _Cancel_ spell 10 minutes after a fireball or healing spell is exactly the same - it does nothing as the spell is complete.  And then we need to get a whole pile of exceptions to the cancel/dispell spells because of it.

Offline rdanhenry

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Re: Dispel Essence and familiars
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2024, 12:33:36 PM »
Except that the damage from a Fire Ball is not what the spell is doing. The spell is creating a ball of fire, the injuries are just a natural result of exposure to heat. If you want a parallel to a healing spell, use one of the direct-damage spells (like Sprain Limb).

But, yes, "permanent" is a category that requires some qualification, which is why it takes up half the text on p.24 of RMU Spell Law. "Permanent" never *really* means permanent. Well, maybe in the case of Dark Absolution. But generally, anything magically mended may be broken again, and things magically broken may be magically or naturally healed. "Permanent" ice will melt. "Permanent" stone will erode or may be disintegrated. The only real issue is what kind of forces can cause the changes.

Personally, I blame *D&D. Magical effects are extremely varied, and forcing "parameters" of the same type on all of them is inevitably going to lead to some issues in understanding. They probably appeared because of the war-gaming model on which early RPGs were based. If I were creating a magic system from scratch, I would not include them.
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