(Art Magic) Evoke double obstacle penalty


We’re currently playing our 19th session of our first BW campaign and we’re loving it.

One of my players is a Sorcerer that uses Art Magic with the Schools of Magic rules, being Evoke one of his specialized Effects.

As Evoke states that you must use a Versus test between Sorcery and the Skill / Stat affected, would you apply the double obstacle penalty of Sorcery vs. Speed to prevent an enemy of being “frozen” in place? We’re doing that way since the first session and, obviously, there are few NPCs that can resist the effect, rendering them defenseless.

Kind regards

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I believe the double obstacle penalty only applies when a character lacks an appropriate skill and chooses to test their stat instead, viz. Unskilled Tests (BWG p. 37) and Beginner’s Luck (p. 49).

The way I read it, Evoke just resists something that would ordinarily test against an obstacle or versus another rating.

So, if you’re evoking to freeze someone in place (for, say, positioning), it’s specifically against Speed and there’s no Beginner’s Luck penalty. (I don’t believe this applies anymore.)

If you Evoke to go unnoticed in the crowd, that’s versus Observation and if they don’t have that skill, they get the penalty.

I might be wrong though ^^;


Adding on, if this isn’t the intention, it should still be the ruling. I ran a game with really high level art magic, and to be frank, the rules as written just didn’t cut it. Feel free to mess with them (with your player’s input) until it feels like a powerful but not game breaking skill.

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I’m looking at the Fight rules on page 441 (skill vs. skill, stat vs. stat and skill vs. stat), applying that to the Evoke test as it applies the double obstacle even if it’s the stat what’s currently testing. Is It only applicable to Fight maneuvers?

As you say, if the caster tries to Evoke an Skill that the target doesn’t have, then he suffers the double ob penalty, It does make sense.

Thank yoy

Ilussion in the Art Magic chapter on the Codex also states that the opponents suffers a double obstacle penalty un Sorcery vs. Perception test.

Thank you for bringing forth those examples! I’ve learned something!

TL;DR — Double Ob penalty does apply! Don’t forget to apply modifiers!

It looks like the circumstances where Stat vs Skill arise in the Fight mechanics are: Charge/Tackle against Throw; Push against Block, Counterstrike or Throw; Lock against Block, Couterstrike or Disarm; and actions played against Run Screaming. This is why Avoid is treated specially.

The letter of the rules here seems clear: When you’re taking an untrained action against a trained opponent, you get double Ob penalties. Period. The spirit implies something like this: When you’re acting on raw ability against a trained defender, you get double Ob penalties.

In light of that, I think I’ve been misreading Unskilled Tests as depending on the existence of an appropriate skill. By my logic, should there be no appropriate skill, it shouldn’t apply. But I see now that there is no such implication; if you do not have any skill that is appropriate, Unskilled Tests applies. Curse my fallacy.

Therefore, I think you are correct that per the rules as written, Evoking against a physical stat imposes a double obstacle penalty.

Above, where I mentioned Speed for positioning tests in my previous comment, I should clarify (for myself at least) that using Evoke in this way shouldn’t be directly possible. The spellcasting would have to be a separate, scripted action with the intent of opposing their positioning test by knocking them down, immobilizing them, etc. and the timing of the tests is somewhat unclear and Sorcery wouldn’t be a replacement for testing Speed to position yourself—suffice to say it’s not a good test case for Evoke even if your table would allow that interaction.

With all of that covered, I wanted to address this part of your question:

As Evoke states that you must use a Versus test between Sorcery and the Skill / Stat affected, would you apply the double obstacle penalty of Sorcery vs. Speed to prevent an enemy of being “frozen” in place? We’re doing that way since the first session and, obviously, there are few NPCs that can resist the effect, rendering them defenseless.

First, if your table accepts completely immobilizing an NPC as a valid intent for a spell (which is acceptable and entirely radical in my opinion), still don’t forget to apply modifiers to the test. Just opposing the target for a single test they would take with Speed, and no other ability, would come with a +1 Ob penalty. Such an ensorcelled victim could still try to run away with Speed anyway, they’d just do so versus your Sorcery in addition to your and your friends’ approach.

To resist them fleeing, defending or fighting back for an entire conflict, that’s probably Speed and martial skill at least, so, +5 Ob. One target +1 Ob, two abilities +3 Ob, the conflict +1 Ob.

To render an NPC entirely immobile so that they cannot take any action whatsoever for entirely long enough to murder them, full stop? +1 Ob for ‘Conflict’ duration, +1 Ob for one target, +9 Ob for “All Abilities”. That’s +11 Ob. A double Ob penalty on some of the tests won’t matter if the sorcerer immolates themselves trying to cast a spell like that.

In conclusion,

You’re playing it right! Double Ob penalty applies.

Don’t forget to clearly specify intent your intent, down to which abilities Evoke is resisting and what physical force affects the target(s), and apply all the relevant modifiers.

Keep having fun!

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Thank you for such a detailed response, didn’t count on the Breadth modifier for affected Skills and Stats, although double obstacle penalty could apply on a strange way in this case: the sorcerer gives succeses to their opponent based on the added Ob for the Duration and Breadth but, what Skill / Stat rolls the opponent if multiple are affected and we are doing a versus test? (I understand the example perfectly for Hinder, Destroy with sorcerous fire, etc. As they are standard tests)

I’d say that the sorcerer tests once when they cast and the result rides for the duration, like Avoid. The sorcerer’s successes increase the base Ob on the target’s relevant tests, just like any other versus test.

If we revisit my positioning scenario (one target, one ability, one test = +1 Ob), the sorcerer would test Sorcery during the exchange when they script the spell. Let’s say they roll 3 successes total. The result is that when their target tests to position they get an effective +5 Ob (+6 Ob and +1s) to their versus test. If the sorcerer had rolled no successes instead, their target would test with +1s.

If the target tries to disengage from the sorcerer’s axe-wielding crony, then they have to beat whatever the axe-wielder’s Speed test result is and get six more successes on top of that. Good luck target! (If the sorcerer had failed instead, the target would get the +1s.) If the sorcerer specified the conflict as their duration, then the same penalty or bonus would apply every time.

But here we come upon something. The rules for Evoke don’t tell us that we can do this explicitly. We could rule that Evoke is always a single event; After all, it’s not like a single test should let the sorcerer force push their target every time they move. What about immobilizing them though? That makes more sense for something with a duration.

Art Magic is abstract. I say do what makes sense and build a set of expectations for it in your game. If a player says, “I’ll Evoke to shove him so he can’t Block,” I probably wouldn’t let them specify a longer duration, 'cause shoving is a punctual event. You could rule that Evoke doesn’t oppose arbitrary, future tests, so that it has to be an unopposed test happening right now, too. Maybe they cast first, then test when the relevant test happens. Maybe they have to hold onto the spell until then, per ordinary sorcery Coup de Magie.

Whatever makes sense and makes y’all’s games awesome is the right answer to those specifics.

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