Buff Spells

Is there a hint of danger in the air?  BUFF!

Did the GM start narrating a scene?  Must be danger ahead – Interrupt to BUFF BEFORE INITIATIVE!

Is it getting close to the end of the day?  BUFF NOW just in case!

Is this likely the last fight before the party has to rest?  BUFF A, BUFF B, BUFF C, AND BUFF D.

Did an encounter start before buffing? Sub-question – can I reasonably argue that my character would have already buffed?  Not buying it? Lame… BUFF!

In all seriousness, this gets old.  It’s terrible for the fighters at the table, and it probably gets old even if you ARE a spell caster.  Don’t you just wish your buff spells lasted all day and you didn’t worry about all that?  Why can’t they?  Just have a few less spells, or make the buffs a little less powerful.  Resource management was built in when you decided to add that buff spell to your repertoire for the day instead of a different spell.  I’ll let one-shot mundane  or one-shot magic items act as the “special” buff for boss-level combats.


3 thoughts on “Buff Spells

  1. Andy

    I don’t really understand this post. I get that buffing can be abused but I don’t see why it is “terrible” for the fighters. I find buffing to be an interesting option for casting. Maybe not stat boosters, but things like invisibility, stoneskin, see invisbility, etc all make for a variety of interesting options that wouldn’t happen if the wizard was just blasting magic missiles.

    Really, buffing WOULD be more interesting if they happened within initiative, but generally combats only like 3 rounds so if you can’t get them up before initiative you might not be able to participate in the fight as the caster at all.

    I played a module this weekend where the enemies took a few rounds to arrive after the PCs and enemies saw each other and entered initiative. I think the solution is to just enter initiative earlier (when both parties become aware of each other, even if they’re behind a door, etc). Then everyone can have the same amount of actions.

    1. JackOfHearts Post author

      It slows things down with a repetitive action. If you have to do something every time, we could just save time by saying you’ve done it already, or making it so that you don’t have to repeatedly do it.

      It also slows things down when you have to recalculate your modifiers and defenses, and have so many situational modifiers (miss chance, images, bonus vs specific alignments, bonus against magic schools, etc). If they were long-lasting, and there were less, it would speed up play quite a bit I think.

      I’m not opposed to them on a whole, but they’re repetitive, they slow the game down at the beginning of combat almost every combat, they tend to stack in abusive ways, they shift the power of a party on an encounter by encounter basis pretty drastically, and they make calculating and keeping track of lots of extra bits of information somewhat painful. Monsters should have even less “buffs” than players, at least buffs that aren’t already built into their stat blocks.

  2. Andy

    I just think you should be careful here. Removing healing and reducing buffing is taking away a substantial part of a spellcasters arsenal. Plus, many of the same arguments could be made about “controlling” spells (they slow the game down, add weird situational modifiers, shift power of encounter dramatically), debuffs (same) or “summoning” spells (basically because no one knows their stat blocks/powers + the monsters have various abilities themselves). Pretty soon spellcasters are left with blasting and not much else. Which violates the design goal that “magic is not boring.”

    I do think buffing can be done better than what we were doing. I am a particular fan of starting initiative before ANYTHING can happen to give urgency to prioritizing your actions. I think this worked out well for the Dracolisks last time. I get the argument to speed up something like Mage Armor and Barkskin where you want it every combat. But there are a million buffs you might not always want and having to choose which to prioritize is quite enjoyable.

    Just remember that options is your #1 design goal (above speed, complexity, etc).


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