13th Sage: Too Forceful a Salvo?

ROB_tileWhen many people give you the same feedback about your game for years, it’s got to have some truth in it. Today’s probable truth: “The combination of the wizard’s Evocation talent and the force salvo spell is broken.”

Some GMs even report that the combo skews their thinking as they set up battles, since they know the wizard is capable of using the combo and dealing an ungodly amount of damage. That’s unfortunate, since there isn’t a problem with the rest of the wizard’s spells or Evocation as it applies to those other spells.

Rob’s Solution to Salvos

Here’s how I handle force salvo when it’s combined with Evocation in my game. I’m not calling this errata. Yet. It’s advice. If you personally haven’t had a problem with the spell and the combo, you don’t have to think about it. But if you want to adjust the spell’s power level in your game, two changes should suffice. 

1. Replace force salvo’s adventurer-tier feat.

The first thing you can do to make an Evoked force salvo less terrifying is to remove the spell’s original adventurer-tier feat, and replace it with this one:

Adventurer Feat: When you miss all targets with the spell, it gains recharge 11+ after battle.

Force salvo becomes a much more balanced spell when it can only target each enemy once. It can still take out or severely damage a number of middling enemies, but it can’t be used to demolish a single powerful foe. If your attack roll against a specific enemy misses, you’re out of luck.

The champion-tier feat provides some consolation by letting you deal damage equal to your level, but each attack roll now matters; so you’re a lot more likely to save force salvo until the escalation die has risen, which makes the spell’s use much more interesting.

2. Strictly limit force salvo’s use to once every four battles.

Yes, it’s already a daily spell—but the rules give GMs some room to interpret what “daily” means, and this daily spell is a bit more powerful than others. I run a lot of double-strength and even triple-strength battles in my game, but that doesn’t mean I want to see this spell used every two or three battles.

For this one spell, turn the rule that “daily” averages out to once every four battles into a strict limitation: Once a wizard casts force salvo, make them wait another three battles before they can cast it again—even if the PCs get a long rest, or otherwise restore their daily powers. (Don’t let the wizard recharge force salvo using any of the various “recharge a daily spell” options scattered through the game.) Make the wizard choose a different spell until the last battle is completed, then let them switch to force salvo if they wish once the new “day” begins.

13th Age wizardBreak This Rule For Dramatic Awesomeness

Limiting force salvo in this way gives GMs an obvious icon relationship advantage to grant wizard PCs. In a situation where the PCs face certain doom, a 5 or 6 roll result could grant the wizard the ability to cast force salvo using the original adventurer tier feat—the way the mighty wizards of earlier ages cast the spell! Or perhaps the icon’s benefit enables the wizard to recover the spell just before the campaign’s climactic battle. If the icon roll result is a 5, there’s a price to be paid for such power…

Using icon relationships to give a wizard PC access to the unfettered version of force salvo as a once-or-twice-in-a-campaign event can turn the combo of force salvo and Evocation into a dramatic story moment, instead of a nettling reminder that game mechanics don’t always play out the way they should!

7 Responses to “13th Sage: Too Forceful a Salvo?”

  1. Dave says:

    I read the feat as letting you hit each target at most once, just that you could keep rolling against a given target until you hit (or ran out of shots).

    • Brian says:

      That’s exactly how I read it as well. The first feat from the book lets you target as many bolts at one monster as you want (and have available), but once you’ve actually hit that monster, you have to move on to another monster. It’s just a way of ensuring that you’re very likely to actually hit the monster you’re really aiming at.

  2. Zanthr (a.k.a. Bizshnips) says:

    Heh… I guess I should be glad I managed to get away with this before the patch. The original force salvo’ll definitely be missed, but I’ll admit it makes more sense this way.

  3. Flying Code Monkey says:

    With respect to Evocation, apply the Talent to only one bolt. Decide locally whether that means (1) select one bolt to Evoke before rolling to hit; (2) always Evoke only the first bolt; (3) Evoke only the first bolt that hits; etc.

    With respect to the Feat, I guess it does stack the deck in favor of hitting the target; i.e., yielding its full potential for damage against multiple targets for a much-more-certain chance to hit the most important target(s). The replacement Feat seems pretty reasonable.

  4. Scott Anderson says:

    I just saw this in action today. An evocated Force Bolt wiped out a standard encounter, round 1, when it hit a single large monster and accompanied by a group of mooks. I’m not concerned with it being broken, so much as it really complicates encounter design and what I have to do with deployment of monsters and how maps are set up. The PCs got initiative on the encounter and it was wiped. Similarly, another encounter, at double strength, wasn’t wiped out, but it was cut in half with that single attack. At that point, it was just a mop up job. It is incredibly powerful against mooks as the damage spill over to each other creature. Again, I do not care that it is this powerful, but if every encounter I design is just nuked, the game will no longer be fun or challenging, and that is the real tragedy.

  5. Villadelfia says:

    I worry that this ruling nerfs the Force Salvo spell more for non-evokers than for evokers.

    What I would do instead is to clarify that the adventurer feat allows you to reroll until you deal damage instead of rerolling until you hit. This way it won’t stack with evocation because it still deals damage on a miss.

  6. […] Dopo 3 anni si possono vedere qua e là, piccoli difetti o errata. Il primo è Force Salvo, l’incantesimo dei maghi che è oggettivamente sbilanciato. Qui trovate un errata ufficiale per correggerlo. […]

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