Eclipse d20: Master of the Sabbat

And for today, it’s a (slightly paraphrased and annotated) question!

I couldn’t find much about Master of the Sabbat (An ability that allows a Witch to build up a powerful effect over time) on the site.

So I have a character that has a remarkably high PP-reserve (~1290) and has just decided to use his Elfshot-ability (This normally lays minor curses, at a cost of 1 power for quick effects, 2 for lingering afflictions, and three for permanent ones) on someone for a permanent curse.

Can he use up all of his 1290 PP for that everyday over 28 days (430 curses daily, basically) and the apply the effect or can he only contribute one Elfshot per day?

And what would be the corresponding effects of the first and the second?

-Veebs

Master of the Sabbat doesn’t show up that much in the sample builds because most adventurers want somewhat more immediate results – and the “target must be reasonably accessible for the entire time” and “the Witch must hang around the target for days on end” requirements have mostly kept player-characters from bothering. I anticipated that, and – since it would mostly be appearing in the game masters hands as a plot device – didn’t put in a lot of detail on how to calculate the effects; if I’d put in every calculation… it would have bloated the book by several hundred pages and it didn’t seem worth it.

A character can spend as much Power per day on Master of the Sabbat as he or she pleases. 1290 Power is an awful lot – and it probably won’t be necessary to spend ALL of it for any reasonable effect – but in game terms, there are two basic components to building up an effect; power and complexity.

Power can simply be built up through repetition: if you want to use Hand of Shadows to bring down a castle wall and have 40 power per day, just add it up. Forty hours of “light work” per day (even if we call an hours “light work” – say, casually banging away with a pick in between pages of your light novel – only 1d6 points of damage to the structure) times up to twenty-eight days provides up to 1120d6 of damage – enough, in general, to bring down a very big chunk of the walls of Jericho. It might only take a weeks effort to open enough breaches to easily swarm the place.

Complexity is harder: for that we’ll want to consider Lerandor’s Rule (from The Practical Enchanter):

Anything that can be done with magic can be done with basic spells; it simply takes at least two specialized spells of level “N” to duplicate the effect of a spell of level “N+1”.

-Archmage Lerandor

Thus two specialized cantrips can be chained together to duplicate a first level spell, four a second level, eight a third level, and so on all the way up to at least five hundred and twelve chained cantrips to duplicate a ninth-level spell. Maybe some wealthy academic has had a bunch of minor mages do this as a test sometime, but it’s almost never worth the bother and expense.

There’s a “Runesmith” build up on the site which exploits Lerandor’s Rule – but it isn’t directly applicable; a Runesmith is building up careful chains of triggered cantrips to build on each other (the efficient approach), while Master of of the Sabbat is essentially using the “break it down into small steps” approach and is starting off with something stronger than cantrips to start with.

As far as the calculations go…

  • There are dozens of Witchcraft abilities, and we don’t want to start doing calculations on each one. so for our first approximation, we’ll say Witchcraft abilities are all level two for our current purposes. Some may be higher of course, but most of those are pretty specific effects – not something you want to build up over time.
  • Four our second approximation, and to avoid asking the game master to individually evaluate dozens (or hundreds) of little sub-effects, we’ll say that it takes twice as many effects to do something little by little as it does to do it with an optimized chain of specific abilities. Thus getting a +1 level equivalence costs 4 uses of a Witchcraft ability, +2 costs 8, +3 costs 16, and so on. To get what you can manage on most calculators… Ln(Number of Uses) / (Ln(2) +2, rounded down, works to calculate the effective level you can produce.
  • To see what you can do with such curses, I’d consult The Practical Enchanter and the Malediction Spell Template.

In your specific case that’s Ln(12,040)/Ln(2) + 2 = 15.56, rounded down to 15 – a very very powerful curse indeed. According to the Malediction Template a fifteenth level curse can do some pretty awful things to rather a lot of people; you probably won’t need to use your full power on this one.

A much lesser witch can still be extremely nasty though; a 30-power witch with Master of the Sabbat and Elfshot who can only manage ten permanent curses per day can still pull off a tenth level curse effect (presuming that the target(s) let them hang around giving them the evil eye all day for a month to generate and store up the 280 sub-curses anyway). That’s enough to – say – curse a family for all time (+4 levels) with an extremely difficult to remove (+1 level) curse of uncontrollable lycanthropy (Base level of 5).

Of course, the low save DC for Witchcraft means that many members of the family will be unaffected – so the curse will run in their bloodline, only afflicting occasional scions, until someone goes on a quest or something to find a way to negate it. (Which is usually where the PC’s come in, rather than them being the ones laying the curse).

Still, this allows powerful (literally “full of Power”) and malevolent witches with that particular combination of abilities to lay curses of undeath on entire villages, inflict awful fates on innocent (or guilty) people, and otherwise generate up to one adventure suitable for a group of low- to mid-level player characters to go on every month. A sufficiently angry witch with Hand of Shadows can smash the wall of the evil overlords castle to let in the mob, a Weathermonger can raise a terrible storm, and someone with True Prosperity can bring health and wealth to a small city.

Doing something about Witchcraft’s low save DC if you’re after a particular target is another matter, but if you’re going to the trouble to spend a month creating your effect, it’s often worth devoting a few of your available “spell level” equivalents to spamming the effect to force multiple saves through the Multiple metamagic, inflicting penalties on the save through the Lacing metamagic, or just doubling the effect (“Allows no Save”) with the Amplify metamagic.

And I hope that helps!

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