Reading over the quick rules and a question:
There are no saves vs spells? If the wiz rolls to cast charm it just works? The monster is charmed? Plus the wiz might retain the spell to cast again? Magic seems very powerful without saves plus you can keep casting the same spell unto you fail.
"Spellcasting checks" takes the place of saves in Shadowdark
. If the Wizard succeeds at the check, then yes, the monster is charmed. Requiring a second check would be unduly punitive - nobody gets a save to avoid being harmed by an attack after it succeeds. The spell casting check effectively front loads the save.
On the other hand, if the Wizard fails
, not only is the monster not charmed, but no other monster can be until the Wizard finishes a rest (there are no short rests in Shadowdark
, so that means food and sleep). Effectively, any spell you fail the casting check on is done for the day.
As someone put it on the Discord, Spellcasting in Shadowdark
is "Press your luck." On average, you'll be able to cast a Tier 1 spell about 1/2 the time (11 or better on a d20), or slightly more often if you have an INT or spellcasting bonus, or if you have advantage (which is a talent a Wizard can have, but is also a signature feature of Magic Missile
). Higher Tier spells fair slightly worse. And then, of course, there's also the chance of Spell mishaps.
Spellcasters (Wizards & Clerics) have the potential to become quite powerful, but unlike in standard D&D, their magic is never 100% reliable.
Also, auto finding and removing traps IF the player says they are searching makes them almost seem pointless. Though I guess that’s where random encounters come in
Finding a trap is automatic if
the player is searching in the right area. Disabling it is only automatic if
the PC is trained in disabling traps (which is true for Thieves and characters trained in tinkering), has enough time
, and describes a reasonable method. If there's time pressure, or if it's an especially complicated trap, a roll would be required.
A good example of this would be Indiana Jones in the temple at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark
. Indy finds and successfully evades 2 traps on the way in by being cautious. Some traps, like the light-triggered spear trap, or the floor tile dart one, are simply too complicated to disable without a lot of time. Indy does not have a lot of time, so he has to settle for, in the case of the former, by being careful. Satipo is not so lucky. In the case of the latter, on the way in, after figuring out how it works, he has to make a DEX check to cross it without triggering any darts, and on the way out, he opts to just run like hell (representing a higher DC DEX save perhaps?).
The one and only trap he tries to actually
disable is the idol counterweight. And it doesn't work.
In my mind, this scene in Raiders
brilliantly encapsulates how we want
traps to work. The problem is that, historically, D&D has actually done a pretty poor job of emulating this vibe. Traps are either randomly lethal (usually to the poor Thief), or completely bypassed. Neither situation is great.
I see the dart trap thing playing out as follows:
Steven (the DM): "You see the golden idol sitting on a pedestal on a raised dais. The area ahead of you is tiled, with stones of varying texture, and surrounded by bas relief statues with open mouths at various heights. It's about 15 feet to a short staircase, then another ten feet to the pedestal on which the idol sits. A few unlit torches sit in sconces lining the walls. Your hireling Satipo starts forward, saying 'We must go, there is nothing to fear!'"
Harry (our PC Thief): "I stop Satipo from moving forward, pushing him up against the wall; 'That's what scares me!' I grab one of the unlit torches from the wall as I crouch down to look more carefully at the floor tiles. What do I see?"
Steven: "It's a variable pattern, mossy depressions between other, more raised areas."
Harry: "I carefully peel back some of the moss. Does it look like there's anything under it?"
Steven: "It appears to be a separate depressed piece of stone that is actually covered by the moss.
Harry: "I use the torch to slowly apply pressure to the mossy depression."
Steven: "With a 'phhht' sound, a blowdart springs forth from the mouth of one of the wall carvings, and lodges into the torch. It drips with a glistening fluid, probably poison. Satipo looks horrified."
Harry: "That's what I thought - pressure plate. Can I disarm it?"
Steven: "It doesn't look like you have any way to access the mechanism. However, the raised stone portions don't seem to react to your probing. If you want to take the time, you could probably bring in some lumber and build a bridge."
Harry: "Nah, that would take way too long. Can I cross the floor by staying on the raised portion of the stone?"
Steven: "Sure, that seems reasonable. It's not too difficult, so give me a Normal DEX check."