Sarch's Glare spell questions

Hey all, I have a couple questions about the Sarch’s Glare spell and hope someone can give me a little guidance.

  1. In the spell description it states that its weapon length is “as missile”. How does this play out in a “Fight”? Does the player have to be outside of a melee in order to “fire” the spell at a target? I’m sure there is an easy answer to this that I just haven’t figured out yet. If someone just wants to point me to a page talking about this that would be cool.

  2. When casting the spell the OB is the targets Will or Forte, which ever is lower. does this play out differently if the target has different shades in those stats? Is it just as hard for a caster to effect a target with B4 Will as it is to effect a target with G4 Will?

  3. One reason I am looking into this spell is i have a player who is using the spell and its walking all over combats. Now I don’t want to be a putz and make it impossible for him to use, but I would like to try to make the spell, or situation where the spell is being used, a little more challenging without going back to the same one or two tropes. I just would like a fight to go a bit differently than almost automatic KO’s in the last pass of every exchange, fights taking only one exchange, and the caster doing the exact same thing every fight. That would be a bit monotonous. Any thoughts on a few different defensive ideas?

  1. It counts as a missile length weapon. The caster still has to be engaged with the target in order to fire, and (relevantly to your problem with the spell seeming OP) as soon as he fires, he cedes advantage to anyone with whom he is engaged.

  2. Grey shade increases the Ob by 2.

  3. Are you using the Tax rules correctly? Also, see above: can you have multiple enemies engage the wizard? He takes out one with the spell, the other one whacks him?


Thanks for the quick response!

  1. Ahh, ok that makes sense, I am still a new player and didn’t know that rule.

  2. Ok. So i take it that white would increase it by another 2?

  3. I believe i am using the tax rules correctly. For this spell they would have a resist OB that is the same as the targets lowest relative stat. Now I have only ran this game two sessions so the player may have just been rolling great with his G6 Sorc skill and B6 forte, or since we are playing online the player might be fudging his dice rolls (he hasn’t failed a spell being cast nor taken drain from tax yet so this is a possibility). But as there has not been TOO many spell rolls yet he could just be having hot dice. Multiple enemies engaging the wizard is a good idea and ill put it in the bag of tricks. I know i have self limited a little bit in that since i am still new i am trying to not have too many combatants in a combat, and I also try to fight as the enemies i think would so when they see a big guy in armor with a hammer and a smaller guy in light armor with a knife they tend to go for the “obvious big MF” as they seem more dangerous. I suppose after a while the wizard’s reputation will pass around and people will understand his danger and more people might gun for him in a fight. I just perhaps also self limit too much in trying to not overplay the “this guy is wearing a robe so he must be a wizard so kill him first” trope.

Woah, G6 sorcery? How many lifepaths did this guy start with? You’d better get used to him trucking everybody with his magic, methinks.
What are his Beliefs?

Enemy Wizard with that spell resistance spell is the way to go.

I believe White is actually +3 Ob not +4. But don’t use White shade. Seriously.

Also: don’t play with people you can’t trust. B6 on Ob 4 (which should be the average Ob for his tax test) is 50/50 odds, so eventually he’s going to fail.


Seaworm- Well the guy is a self described power gamer which does add to some difficulties for games. He had four lifepaths and spent 5 of his skill points to boost his sorc. Of course this means he spent almost half of his skill points on just one skill so he is lacking in other areas. I know he will get owned in DoW and other social areas as he only opened a “speaking” skill but didnt put points into it and he has the trait that causes everyone who walks into his presence to make a steel test (don’t remember the trait name, something like eerie presence). This will probably not win him too many NPC friends. He just has some pretty basic beliefs as we have only had two play sessions and the new players are just now starting to understand what a “good” belief looks likes. By next session we should have ironed out some “real beliefs”.

Deliverator- Thanks for the tip on the White shade, I dont think i was going to use it but just wanted to know the rules for it since i love rules. I hear you on players you can’t trust. But the guy is a friend though i do sometimes wonder about his dice. And I have not had much luck finding many people who want to play BWG. Most people i know are still addicted to Pathfinder. Plus most people i know don’t want to run a game, so i am running three different games so i can get at least the joy of playing a game if not playing a character. With your help I think im starting to get a good list of challenges to his magic skill put together that doesnt have an “i’m out to screw you out of playing the character you want to play” feel.

Um… HOW many actions does it take to cast that spell? 'Cause last time I played a battle mage (BWR, years ago), I had to do a LOT of fancy footwork to get even one spell off, after several turns; never “automatic KO’s in the last pass of every exchange”.

'Course… the spell was Rain of Fire and, yep, I was G5 Sorcery or some-such. It tended to end the fight. :wink:

Its 4 actions to cast the spell, and the player has a reflex of 4 so, if im running it right, he completes the casting in pass 3. as he has G6 sorcery someone with a stat of 4 for their defense pretty much gets locked up. Perhaps i was wrong in having the starting skill cap be 6? should i have used a skill cap of 5 instead with 4 lifepaths? I do admit that the fights have been easy number of cambatants-wise. Partially because i am still getting familiar with the system, i havent done a fight where the enemies outnumber the PCs. Once i feel like i can run that smoothly it will make fights a bit harder.

  1. How is he managing to win the Engage/Vie for Position test every time? If he fails the Engage/Vie for Position, not only is he extremely vulnerable to Spell Interrupts (see below), he’s likely to have an obstacle penalty to casting his spells (see the Opponent’s Disadvantage table on page 431). Also, note that the moment he actually casts the spell, he cedes the positioning advantage to his opponent(s). If he’s facing multiple opponents, that means trouble.

  2. Are you using the Spell Interrupt rules (page 511)? Someone who manages to successfully strike him or tackle him while he’s casting will cause Spell Interrupt.

  3. Have you sent bowmen/crossbowmen against him? In Fight, these guys are going to give him serious trouble because they also operate at the Missile range. If they can hit him with an arrow or bolt before he gets his spell off (very likely if they enter the fight with a nocked arrow or drawn crossbow), there’s a decent chance they’ll kill him. And even if they don’t, it will interrupt the spell and make him roll on the Failed Casting table.

Great tips Thor. We haven’t had very few fights during the two sessions we have played, so im sure some of this, such as him not winning engage tests, with more play. Thanks for reminding me about the Spell Interrupt rules as well, I did forget to run that last time, that will definitely make things more of a challenge. We haven’t done much with people in missile Range during fight yet. I’ve only played (and i have ran all of them) 7 sessions of Burning Wheel and have never played with anyone who knows the game so I’m sure im forgetting to do alot of things. I’ll keep your tips in mind and i think the next time we have a “fight” things will feel a bit more evened out.

Ah, Reflex 4 with 4 Actions. OK, I guess it’s all legit on the surface of the “rules as written”.

You need to either start to out-Maneuver him, to get hits on and interrupt his casting, or yep–he’s throwing around 6 dice of effect with 66% chance of success on each die.

[Don’t know if it matters, but I read here that 5 should be the max exponent for Sorcery, unless an all-Sorcerer group. Of course, that’s BWR… and it’s not the real root of the issue, anyway, nor is the Grey Shade.]

Sounds like maybe “if all he has is a hammer” you need to stop putting nails in front of him, or learn to love the sound of the thumping.

Also, I wonder if he’d enjoy losing and the way it introduces complications rather than flat failure? There’s a whole mindset to playing BW that is far from that of more “adventure”-focussed games. You want to be challenged and fall short, as that pumps the Artha Cycle and fuels Advancement. If he never breaks a sweat, he’s never gonna become stronger/better; he’s never going to have much of a “Heroes Journey” in the Campbellian sense.

If this is your first campaign, maybe take a step back and ask yourself why you’re playing BW with such PCs…? Not to deflate your enthusiasm, but BW isn’t all that well suited to highly-niche-protected power-gaming. Fine, he blasts the mooks left and right–just Say Yes and save some math and dice rolling. Now what’s he gonna do as the whole VILLAGE (or City, or Region… or World) rises up against this terrifying demiurge? What’s he going to do when there’s four Kings and Dukes all vying to have him serve in their armies… perhaps threatening his loved ones with “unfortunate accidents” should he not comply?

Hard to say more without seeing actual play at the table… but I’d say you two (and the rest of the play group) might need to have a discussion of what you’re there to do. YOU are a player, too; you have the right to enjoy the game without feeling like you’re the magician’s assistant.

[Erk… PS: I just read “He had four lifepaths and spent 5 of his skill points to boost his sorc”. I hope you mean “in addition to the 6 he spent to get the Exponent” [my math might be wrong on that] and “in addition to the Resources for the Spells”. My G5 guy back in the day was, IIRC, 6LP and I felt VERY thin-skinned and inflexible, with only four Spells.]

Gotcha! Sounds like you’re doing great!

Fight is a learning curve all around.

You are so right Thor. But I’m having a good time learning.

@david Ack, I totally forgot about the cap of 5 for the Sorc Skill. Thanks for the reminder! hammers out email to player I do hear you about stepping back and evaluating with the players about the kind of game to run. With my little experience in the game, I love it and think that the systems matches my desires for how i want a game to run and feel. This one player might just be out of their element in regards to this. For instance, when making characters he stated something along the lines of “who the hell would actually spend precious trait points on traits that give you some kind of penalty…you should get extra trait points for that.” I on the other hand would take these “penalties” happily if they fit in with the story that i have started to tell about the character during character creation. It is much more fun for me to have challenges, even self imposed challenges, to overcome. But hey he is a friend and i have not had luck finding anyone in the area to play BW with so… All that said i think you are totally right, bring this to the table and see what all the people would like to do as a group.

btw love your hammer adage… “learn to love the sound of thumping”…hah!

Here’s what he’s spending those trait points on:

  1. More screen time/story focus.
  2. More chances to earn Artha.
    2 in particular means that you’re actually buying a concrete mechanical advantage. You could try pointing that out to him and see what he thinks.

Fuck balancing encounters. Get those Beliefs hammered out! They are the most important part of the game.