Thulsa: Ask, and ye shall recieve. I will of course try to go by the RAW, and none of this is meant as a suggestion for a houserule, as you know I hate houserules
. This is simply me speculating how I might have done it if I owned Mongoose and intended to release Conan The Even More Atlantean Edition, or a downloadable PDF with new rules. The long list of bugs and contradictions still in the AE would certainly make at least a PDF a priority for me.
I'm not sure exactly what I would do with Defensive Blast, but if I removed or weakened it I would also strengthen many of the combat spells as compensation. Simply removing DB or strictly limiting it, as many have suggested on these boards, will gimp the sorcerer in combat until mid-levels. Even at high levels the sorcerer will suffer from the lack of DB, especially if he doesn't have good combat styles. One reasonably important aspect of DB is that it "always" works. You can use it while unable to speak or in a grapple, and it will burn aberrations and demons that the warriors may not be able to touch. Conan has no Still Spell and no effective Verbal only spells that I'm aware of (the various Ill-Fortune spells and Summon Elemental, Air doesn't really count). Without DB a scholar would be almost powerless in a grapple with a good grappler, except that a grapple check or an Escape Artist check will give him perhaps a 5% chance to escape. Even if he manages to escape he won't have a standard action left to cast a spell, and will likely end up in the same predicament next round. A spell cast as a free action with the Adept feat could help if he escapes once, though.
I don't think Energy Drain is all that bad, except for the annoying detail that it technically works on tiny creatures like mice. This possible use of ED encourages lame campaign-flavour where sorcerers travel with cages filled with mice that they use as rechargeable batteries. Sacrificing common people ritually (with or without the Ritual Sacrifice feat) does suck compared to other methods of gaining PPs (some of which I mentioned here
), especially if the sorcerer doesn't have Bleed Dry (SoS feat). This is because the PPs gained are based on the victim's HPs, which peasant maidens have very few of. You could sacrifice large and cheap animals, but this doesn't have the same diabolical feel for many people. And subduing strong warriors is just too much of a hassle most of the time. I think powerful "ritual" spells should be expensive to cast, perhaps with stronger effects based on PPs spent (the Summon Essence spell from Hyboria's Finest is an excellent example of such a spell), thus tempting lesser sorcerers (and maybe even very powerful ones) to resort to sacrificial rituals. I can see ritual sacrifice being used once in a while by a sorcerer desperate for PPs but I don't think it needs to be an integral part of "lesser" spellcasting. Ritually sacrificing 6 virgin girls to cast a simple Warrior Trance feels lame more than anything else. In any event, I don't think PPs gained from ritual sacrifice should be based on HPs, but rather use a table that possibly includes sentience, size, hit dice, virginity, gender, age, feats and so on. A table like this would solve a lot of problems. It would make virgin girls more desirable than cows as sacrifices, which works well with the tone of Conan. Combined with the extra expensive ritual spells and a clarification on the rule that allows PPs gained from sacrifices to be used directly in a spell it would make ritual sacrifice vastly preferable to Greater Meditation and the acolyte channel in "ritual" spells, while still making Greater Meditation and the like more frequent with "lesser" spells. Applied to Opportunistic Sacrifice it would also weaken the awesome Defensive Blast chain reaction. Finally, it could be written to limit the use of Energy Drain to the same creatures ritual sacrifice would work on, in other words small or perhaps medium creatures and bigger. That leaves us with Black Lotus Powder. If you want to see this used more often by PCs it needs to be more cost-effective, but this is a problem it has in common with most alchemical items.
I've seen people on these boards promote the use of alchemical items, and the (pastiche) Conan Magazines I've read support this in some cases. While not a problem for NPCs as they can have whatever they want, regardless of price, the prices on most of these items need to be marked down if they are to be a real option compared with Defensive Blast and the best combat spells. If not, I don't think they will see much use by PC sorcerers, unless found on enemies, as the disadvantages are too restrictive. A scholar who has +15 Craft (alchemy) and who takes 10 can make 1 Blue Devil's-Flame in 3 weeks at the cost of 100 sp. But it requires a base where he can work undisturbed and an expensive lab (500+ sp). And this is maybe the most cost-effective alchemical item. The same scholar would have to spend 5 weeks and 166 sp for a single Kothic Demon-Fire (assuming take 10), which is roughly as strong as a single swing from the bardiche-wielding barbarian. It's no fun wasting 5 weeks and 166 sp only to roll a 3 when you throw the thing.
Another thing I would have welcomed if handled well is the "searching for ancient spellbooks" thing. From what I've seen there are basically two kinds of tomes. The first is the kind that gives certain benefits depending on your Decipher Script check. I haven't read most of these, but I have seen some, and the ones I've seen honestly doesn't seem worth braving entities from the Outer Dark for. The second is the D&D-style spellbook with several normal spells that can be learned more easily. This kind of tome isn't very attractive either, as a sorcerer already has plenty of options when choosing his spells. The Independent is perhaps the best, but by choosing a master/demon/religion carefully the other backgrounds can also control their spell lists to some extent. Enterprising GM's may already have houseruled this, but I doubt all of them have done it without significantly detracting from the enjoyment of playing a sorcerer. The problem with such a houserule from a PC's point of view is that Conan sorcerers have a fixed spell progression, and if a good spell isn't available (and there's a fair chance it won't be at low levels) you may be forced to accept a "junk" spell or 2 skill points. I would like the Conan sorcerer to be based on the D&D wizard, instead of the D&D sorcerer. That way GM's would have the option of withholding spells for later levels without wrecking the PC sorcerer. Another benefit would be that sorcerers of similar levels could know very different quantities of spells, depending on age, connections, and inclination to go hunting for tomes. This would also fix the strange situation that legendary 20th-level sorcerers find themselves in under the RAW where they are totally unable to learn even the simplest new spells from the lowest of acolytes.
After all these complaints I'd like to add that Ian Sturrock also got many things right in Conan, but listing them here as well would make this already large post monstrously so
Sutek: I haven't seen anything in AE or SoS suggesting that Energy Drain or Defensive Blast should call for a Corruption save. I believe if this was the intention it would have been stated in the relevant sections. I think the mention of "sorcerous practices" refers to spells/rituals like Demonic Pact. I haven't read most of the creature sections, nor the magic items in SoS, so there may be something supporting your claim there.
I agree that Gelid Bones is useful, but I don't think it's necessarily a great choice for a sorcerer. This spell should primarily be useful at levels 4-7, before Dread Serpent and later Death Touch become available. If you take both Curses and Oriental Magic at levels 1,2, or 4, you had better find a third style with lots of good low-level spells. If not you'll be forced to spend several of your 6 (assuming 14 Int at level 7) precious spell slots on the many "junk" low-level spells in these styles, or even 2 skill points.
My sorcerer became "scary-good" upon reaching 6th level, which Thulsa will probably attest to
, when I chose the Opportunistic Sacrifice feat and used it with Defensive Blast. Of course, he was still extremely vulnerable to attacks, but these two combined allowed me to obliterate several powerful melee enemies that could easily have wiped out our strong warriors. Any sorcerer who chooses Ritual Sacrifice and then Opportunistic Sacrifice at 6th level will be very dangerous offensively, as long as he puts some thought into using DB effectively.
Turim's argument (he plays a Scholar in my group) is that "they [the victims] suffer no permanent harm, they get their lost Wisdom points back after a few hours anyway" (and so shouldn't cause Corruption).
It seems there has been a miscommunication between us here. I used the "no permanent harm" argument to justify why a non-evil sorcerer might resort to Energy Drain as an alternative to an evil sorcerer's ritual sacrifice. Even if the damage was permanent it should not result in Corruption.
PrettyMuchEveryoneWhoHasSpokenAboutCorruption: I find myself disagreeing with everyone here when it comes to Corruption. I've listed all instances of Corruption saves that I'm aware of in books by Ian Sturrock here
. They all have a common theme: Certain kinds of contact with demons or objects tainted by demons. Several of these saves stem from situations where the Corruption victim didn't necessarily do anything evil. This combined with no formula for DCs and several sections in the books describing arguably very evil actions (Ritual Sacrifice, Opportunistic Sacrifice, Tortured Sacrifice, Energy Drain, slavery, crafting aberrations and new life, casting spells like Summon Demon and Black Plague and so on) without any mention of Corruption saves makes me conclude that evil does not make you Corrupt, even though Corruption makes you evil. We also have to consider the campaign consequences of the evil causes Corruption view. Hyboria is replete with evil people, and the Will saves of most people are bound to be low. It certainly doesn't help that the DC increases with the current amount of Corruption. The bottom line is that anyone who leads a lifestyle that regularly includes the evil acts the rest of you would call for a Corruption save for, will eventually turn into a mutant. Depending on that person's lifestyle and the evil "bar" the individual GM sets this could happen very fast. Do you really want "common" torturers, rapists, slavers, pedophiles, murderers and so on to metamorphose into mutants? Since all of you seem to disagree with me on this one, I'd like you to know if you consider your view an interpretation of the RAW or a houserule.
I'll sum up my opinion on Corruption for anyone still reading. Corruption is demonic taint. Roughly speaking, "close" contact with demons or objects tainted by them is the only source of Corruption. Evil acts, no matter how vile or far-reaching, never cause Corruption unless they also include "close" contact. The use of magic, no matter how frequent or powerful, never causes Corruption unless it also includes "close" contact.
And if this post doesn't earn me a spot in the Rant Hall of Fame, I don't know what will