First up for today, it’s something from the files – some World Tree spells. In this case, we have a list designed around a particular special-request theme; “How to drown an Orren”.
In World Tree, Orren are otterlike creatures, and are noted for being extremely good swimmers. Drowning them really isn’t easy, but it probably is about the most embarrassing possible way for an Orren to die – so here are some of the new spells for the purpose that occurred to me when the question was asked. The list is heavily biased towards spells with more general applications as well. The complexity ratings are a bit off-the-cuff though; if anyone wants to make these generally available you might want to consider a few of them a bit more carefully.
“Down The Wrong Pipe” (Ru Aq 5). This simple cantrip must be cast when S is taking a drink – or at least has their mouth open within a foot or so of a source of liquid – whereupon up to a gallon of the relevant liquid will abruptly pour itself into the S’s lungs. Resembles “Breath Of Cool Water”, but the effectiveness will be reduced by less liquid, and enhanced by more – or more dangerous – liquids. Range; short, Speed; fast, Dur; real, Resist; MR .
While boiling, corrosive, or toxic, liquids are the first to come to mind, something like glue or honey is probably just as dangerous… A somewhat more complex version (“Water Weird“, Cr Ru Aq Sp 10) creates a very minor elemental which will keep trying to get into S’s lungs for a bit. It’s rarely too effective unless the initial attack succeeds – unless it’s made from some inherently dangerous liquid – but it can definitely be an annoying distraction. It’s far more dangerous to swimmers, since it’s effectively invisible in the water).
“Need Of Breath” (Su Ai 5). Makes the air in S’s lungs difficult for them to absorb. At it’s base level this hinders violent activity; S will accumulate 1 point of trouble per action (P/10 Maximum) until S rests for a minute or so. At complexity 10 the maximum is P/5, at complexity 15/20/25 S also takes 1/2/3 damage/action. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; d6 minutes, Resist; MR.
“Sunstroke” (Cr Py 5). Induces a high fever (No effect on cold-blooded, Py-based, etc, creatures). Victims must roll (Life Base + Stamina + s20) > Power/2 to act coherently each action – although they still suffer trouble d6. On a failure roll d6; 1-2) S can do what they wanted to anyway, 3-4) S. is confused or delirious, no action, 5) S. suffers uncontrolled convulsions, 6) S. hallucinates or otherwise acts randomly. Appropriate mundane or magical countermeasures – cold drinks, etc – will help. “Hypothermia” (De Py 5) has somewhat similar but rather less serious effects, and is rarely used. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes, Resist; MR.
OK, it doesn’t directly drown people – although it easily could if you use it on someone in the water. Only a few more-or-less practical ideas for using Cr Py to drown someone occurred to me.
“The Drooling Fool” (Mu Aq 5). Increases S’s salivation by P times. Unlikely to cause serious problems unless S cannot open their mouth or is in an awkward position, but can be quite embarrassing. Potentially fatal if S is gagged or something. Range; medium, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 actions, Resist; MR.
“Adjust The Grasp Of Reluu” (Mu Ru Ma 10). Adjusts gravity as far as S is concerned, adding or subtracting up to (10 * P)%. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes , Resist; MR half..
“Airy Armor” (Cr Su [Ru] Ai [Sp] 10). Creates a normal-pressure air bubble around S. up to P inches thick. If cast with Ru the shape and thickness can be manipulated, even to leave parts of S’s body uncovered – or to enclose and protect up to one additional character. If cast with Sp it can do this mindfully. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P minutes, Resist; MR.
This is rarely useful offensively – but it’s possible. If you cast the mindful version on someone who’s swimming and instruct it to keep an air bubble under them but not to help them breathe, they’ll fall to the bottom and be pinned there by the weight of the water above. Practical people usually use if for working underwater, protecting themselves from smoke and gas, and so on.
“Breathe Deeply” (Ru Me 10). S. Suddenly takes a couple of deep, chest filling, breaths – whether or not this is reasonable at the moment. While this depends on an appropriate environment or the presence of a toxin, the effect when one is present is about 50% better than spells such as “Breath Of Cool Water”. Range; medium, Speed; fast, Dur; next S action, Resist; MR.
“Breath Of Fire” (Mu Ai Py 10); Resembles “Breath Of Cool Water”, but results in a breath of fire instead… Given the fragility of the lungs this does (P/5+2s6) damage and causes trouble s6 until healed – however a successful MR roll provides complete protection. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 actions, Resist; MR.
Now this doesn’t exactly cause “drowning” unless the victim happens to leak excessive amounts of blood or other fluids into his or her lungs – or inhales/creates water in an attempt to extinguish the blaze – but an upset Orren might well do this.
“Flesh Of Lead” (Mu Co 10). Makes target heavier. In general this causes S trouble P/10 (Maximum 6) on anything involving physical movement, P/2 (Maximum 30) on swim rolls. There’s a He version (The Leaden Shroud) which is usually targeted on clothing; it’s a bit less effective in some ways (Maximum trouble 4), but often leads to portions of S’s gear falling off and MR only halves the effect. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P minutes, Resist; MR.
“Pneumonia” (Su Aq 10). S. cannot expel fluid from S’s lungs. This is deadly dangerous if S. is in the water or it’s raining, serious in a humid environment, and nasty even in a desert thanks to the continuous secretion of mucus in the lungs. Most primes total unfamiliarity with the symptoms of chest congestion and anoxia compounds the problem. The “Secret contagion” version adds the “Forgotten” modifier, for (De Su Aq Me 15), and can be fairly deadly if no one recognizes the problem in time. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 hours, Resist; MR.
“Fatal Forgetfulness” (De [Su] Me 15). S. forgets a skill specified by the caster, losing (P/3) levels from it while the spell endures. Perhaps fortunately, the effect cannot be made permanent. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes, Resist; . MR Half.
This is especially nasty if it’s used against skills like “Life Base”, “Climbing” while halfway up a tree, or “Swimming” while in the water.
“That Sinking Feeling“. (Ru [Su] [Any one of Ai, Aq, Co, Du, He] [Sp] 15). Applies a force sufficient to lift a weight of Px10 “pounds” to S. If cast with Su the user need not concentrate on the spell, although it will then push in one direction only. If cast with Sp the spell pushes on S mindfully for you. Most GM’s will probably want a different version of this spell for each noun. Range; medium, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes, Resist; MR.
“Double Pneumonia” (Mu Ai Aq [Py] 15). Related to “Stolen Breath”, transforms the air in S’s lungs to water instead of destroying it. With Py the water can be boiling (P/5+s6 damage, plus ongoing problems…). Very, very, deadly for its complexity. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 actions, Resist; MR.
“Maze Of The Mind” (Ke Mu Il Sp Me 15). Reads S’s mind and mindfully confuses their sense of direction so that whenever S. moves he will wind up moving in the direction C. desires. Range; medium, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes, Resist; MR.
Extremely annoying – especially if you keep sending a swimmer deeper… There’s a version – “Labyrinth Of Here” (Ru Lo Sp 30) – which actually alters space around the S to direct any movements he makes according to the C’s desires. This does not affect S. directly, and so does not allow resistance.
“Skin Of Water“. (Cr Mu Su [Ru] Aq [Sp] 15). Creates mass of water about S. and holds it there. A successful MR roll means that the water is created nearby. With Ru C. can move the water around or even use it to attack a different S. With Sp the water can flow about on its own. (Life = P, MR = P/2, Defense Base = 0, Soak = 6, Attack = 15).Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/2 minutes, Resist; MR.
“Water Lungs” (Mu Co Sp 15). Alters S’s lungs to breathe water. S can no longer breathe air while this spell is in effect. Unless its cast with Sp it’s wise to have another spell ready to get the water out of S’s lungs when the spell wears off. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 hours, Resist; MR.
This spell offers you the unusual option of drowning people in air… Note that “holding your breath” will not help a bit when your lungs can’t absorb it.
“Waters Of The Void” (Mu Aq [Sp] 15). Decreases water viscosity and pressure under the S to zero, so that it no longer offers support or resists downward motion. S will fall to the bottom and be pinned there by the full weight of the water above. With Sp the effect can follow S mindfully, rather than having to be anchored to them – and hence the spell no longer allows MR. There is a (De Aq 25, “Hand Of The Hag”) version of the same general effect; it relies on an ongoing destruction of the water under the S, but is otherwise about the same. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/2 minutes, Resist; MR.
A more complex area-effect version (“The Hungry Waters“, (Mu Aq Sp 45), affects P*1000 square feet of the water surface) manifesting such “water hazards” as needed… The spell cannot literally affect the entire area; it relies on water flowing out from under solid objects – and it can’t flow outwards from everywhere at the same time.
“Hemorrhagic Pneumonia” (De Co 20). Causes severe damage to S’s lungs. This causes P/10+s6 damage initially plus internal bleeding for 2 points of damage per (caster) action until healing is applied or P additional damage has been done. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; real, Resist; MR.
“Induce Phobia” (Cr Ru Me 20). Gives S a nice new phobia – however absurd – and a full-blown panic attack. S. will usually do his absolute best to get away from whatever S. is now afraid of… Range; medium, Speed; after conc., Dur; attend hourly, Resist; MR.
If you want to drown people, the sky or air is a good choice.
“Shoulder The Mountain” (Mu Lo 25). Warps space, so that some heavy object within range is effectively sitting on top of S, rather than on whatever’s under it. Often targeted on the ground and used simply as a means of shifting heavy items, since the object remains fully supported – and hence effectively weightless, if not massless – even if it’s lifted or moved around within range. Affects a “footprint” of up to (P/2) square feet. Range; medium, Speed; build, Dur; attend, Resist; MR.
“The Executioner’s Cell” (Cr [De] [Su] Mu Ai Lo [Any other noun] 25). Similar to “Nowhere Prison” (QV), but filled with either nothing at all (With De) or with some element of C. Choice. Fairly nasty. May deserve an even larger boost in complexity on the grounds that the purpose of universes is to support life; hence it’s very difficult to create one with an environment hostile to its sole inhabitant. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 actions [P/5 minutes], Resist; MR.
“Event Horizon” (De [Su] Lo 30). Eliminates a particular direction within a simple volume of P*1000 cubic feet. The “event horizon” can be given any simple shape desired. Unfortunately, of course, light cannot travel in a non-existent direction; so you can’t see what’s going on beyond the Event Horizon – although those beyond it can see out. Range; medium , Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes [P/5 hours], Resist; N/A.
If you want to drown people with this use it to create a “ceiling” just under the surface of the water and eliminate the direction “up”.
“Put Out The Lights” (De Co 30). Destroys the victim’s lungs. Usually causes massive internal bleeding plus, of course, inability to breathe. Damage of (P/3+s6) plus s6 per S. action, causes unconsciousness in d6 S. actions, is fatal shortly thereafter. Range; medium, Speed; build, Dur; real, Resist; MR.
“Sargasso Summons” (Cr Ru [Su] He [Sp] 30). Creates tough tendrils of seaweed, which grasp anyone within the area or, with Sp, only those C wants grabbed, and try to tie them up and drag them under. S’s must roll (Agility + Swimming + s20) > P to avoid being grabbed, those caught suffer trouble d8+2, which is rolled each action – but never goes down. S’s may break free with a roll of (Str+Swim+s20) > P/3+Trouble. S’s who break free will be attacked again unless they leave the area. Works on a simple-shaped watery area of about 10*P square yards. With Su the seaweed is permanent, although the animation still wears off. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes [P minutes], Resist; spec.
“Total Paralysis” (Ru Co 30) OR (De Me 25, rare) OR (Mu Sp 35, extremely rare). S. cannot move any voluntary muscles or control semi-voluntary ones, such as breathing, etc. S can still cast spells or do anything which doesn’t require moving unless the (Mu Sp) version was used. Ru Co induces physical paralysis, De Me prevents the mind from giving orders to the body, while Mu Sp prevents the affected spirit from willing movement. Unlike simpler paralysis spells, S doesn’t get to keep making MR rolls. Range;short , Speed; build, Dur; P/5 hours, Resist; MR.
“With Cream And Sugar” ([Cr] [De] Mu [Su] Aq Ai [He] [Py] 30). Transmutes up to P*10,000 cubic feet of water into whipped cream. You don’t need material to transmute with Cr, is permanent with Su, may be flavored, sweetened, or thickened with He, and may be made moderately hot with Py or chilled with De Py… Produces really odd rain when cast on storms. Range; medium, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 hours [Real], Resist; N/A.
As a “weapon” this is really annoying; it’s too light to swim in, too stiff to move in easily, too slippery for crawling, you can’t see through it, you can’t breathe it, it won’t hold you up – and it’s incredibly embarrassing to have to admit that your mighty warrior was drowned in dessert…
“Lake Of Fire” (Cr [Ru] [Su] Aq [Py] 35). Creates up to 10,000*P gallons (1337 cubic feet) of light, highly flammable, oil. This floats on water – although it is nearly impossible to swim in – and burns fiercely. If cast with Ru the user may opt to spray the stuff around over up to P/5 actions over ranges of up to 5xP feet. If cast with Py there is no need to light it. If cast with Su the stuff is real and permanent, which is handy if you need to provide heating oil for a small city. Range; short (May be projected with Ru), Speed; build, Dur; P/5 hours [Real], Resist spec.
Having a holocaust raging overhead tends to encourage most people to stay underwater and makes it difficult to escape in any case. This may not directly drown people – but it comes close. An extremely dangerous and unpredictable weapon, since the oil tends to splatter, flow, and spread, as well as igniting other things…
“The Irresistible Lure” (Cr Ke [Su] Me Il Sp 40). Probes S’s mind and creates an illusion that taps into S’s deepest desires. If S. fails to resist S. will follow the lure wherever C. sends it – no matter what the peril or risk. S. may, however, attempt to handle challenges and obstacles along the way intelligently. Range; short (But may move thereafter), Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes [P/5 hours], Resist; MR.
This is very useful for getting things out of the way, getting a monster to lead your attack on something, or for luring targets into danger – such as deep under a lake.
“Mind Of The Newborn Babe” (Hl [Su] Me 40). Restores S’s mind to what it was as an infant. Even with Su S will “grow up” again with startling speed (One “mental year” per week) and will quickly regain skills and knowledges – although this is a very good way to domesticate a wild animal. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 hours [special], Resist; MR.
This is a nasty thing to do to someone in a dangerous situation.
“The Wizard’s Fishing” (Cr Ru [Su] He 40).Creates a very large (P*P feet), tough (P/2 damage to create an average prime-sized hole), net which the C. can send hurtling about to pick up, pin down, entangle, or transport, things. Victims suffer trouble of up to 8 and can be moved about, getting free requires at least one action and a roll of (Str + Dex + s20) > P/2. Adding Su doubles the damage which must be done to break the net and makes it real even after the animation wears off. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes, Resist; spec.
“Chains Of Iron” (Cr [Su] Du 50). Creates massive (5P Lb) amounts of metal plating partially or wholly engulfing S. Up to trouble 50 on appropriate physical actions. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 hours [Real], Resist; MR (Material is usually created near, but not on, S). .
A possible – if unlikely – offensive spell for a powerful smith-mage.
“Waters Of Doom” (Mu [Su] Aq 60). Renders Aq intangible to Co and “overlapping” substances (EG; Blood, Saliva, Mucus). Swimmers and fish in the affected area will fall to the bottom, while the water pouring through their flesh sweeps the air out of their lungs. Range; short, Speed; build, Dur; P/5 minutes [P/5 hours], Resist; N/A (Affects the water, not the people and fish in it). .
Attempts to use variations on this effect defensively – rendering S intangible to various forms of attack – have been disappointing. Rendering yourself immune to He is a very bad idea (You fall through the ground), immunity to Co causes your body to fall to bits, Du is very hard to manage, Ai suffocates you, it just seems to make you even more vulnerable to Py, and there aren’t really all that many common attacks based on Aq. Everything else is already pretty much intangible anyway.
There are some existing spells which would probably work too.
If you cast “Stolen Breath” (a spell which destroys the air in someone’s lungs, causing them to spend the next few moments gasping for air) on someone who currently has their head under water they’re very likely to wind up with their lungs actually full of water – instead of just inhaling water in place of the usual tidal volume of air. Without more magic to get that water out this is going to be almost 100% fatal. Worse, a spell to fix it is going to be fairly tricky. You’d need a moderately complex spell to do that without either tearing up the inside of their lungs pulling it out (Ru Aq) or destroying their blood while removing water from their bodies (De or Mu Aq). “Breath Of Cool Water” (a spell which turns the next breath of air the victim takes into water) would be pretty hard to recover from, and might prove fatal, when you can’t bend over to cough it out without putting your head under water again. “Freeze The Lake” can be a nuisance, while “Boas From Below” (a spell that causes plant roots to grab people) could be nasty near the bottom. “Puppet Will” (a spell which grants you control of the victim’s body) will work nicely if you can hold it long enough, as will “The New Slave” – although there are certainly much easier ways.
There are a lot of other ways of course – but most of the ones that come immediately to mind are, to quote Zacharias, Professor of Magic Theory (Pg 172), “Dead Stupid”.