Spell Songs - Fire and Forget or Sustained?

Sorry if this has been asked, but I couldn’t find it with a few searches.

During our game last night, I got a little confused about how spell songs work, specifically in DoW. We had a character going up against an Etharch who was using Discerner. The general rules regarding spell songs seem to imply that they must be sustained for their effects to endure. However, some spell songs, like Discerner, seem to imply that they take effect for a duration once you spend the required number of actions singing and don’t have to sustain them. Furthermore, in a DoW, an elf cannot sing and script actions simultaneously like in R&C or Fight, right? If so, it would make little sense to have to sustain Discerner. Granted, the singing Etharch would know who was lying, all while they pounded away at his BoA and won the argument. Seems less than ideal.

I would think that you can swing a sword while singing. Unless you don’t have any limbs and use your teeth to hold the sword, in which case you should just be singing in the back anyway. Spell Songs are like spells, you say the words and you get the effect. You don’t have to be singing constantly to take advantage of the effect in that case. Discerner isn’t really something that should be used while the argument is still happening, if you have reason to suspect someone is lying, stop the arguement, and sing your song. The other party would look ridiculous trying to talk above your singing and trying to make his/her points despite the fact that you clearly aren’t participating in the DoW at that point. He wouldn’t be convincing anyone of anything but the fact that he isn’t very observant.

That said, use common sense to determine which song would have a sustained effect and for how long. Not every intent or situation will merit the same response here.

Spell songs are tandem actions. You can do things like fighting while singing them. See Casting Spell Songs on page 144. Discerner specifically states that in a Duel of Wits it is cast during your opponent’s action (pages 145-146).

Spell songs are sustained as long as they are sung. See Sustaining Spell Songs​ on page 144.

I get that they are tandem actions, but I was under the impression that tandem actions are not possible during DoW. Don’t have my book in front of me, so I can’t check, but I couldn’t find it at the table last night. So with Discerner, it needs to be sustained, but you do the singing while your opponent is speaking? And there’s no need to script an action for it?

Well, you can sing it as a one-off, but the effect ends as soon as you stop singing and start speaking. Sustaining Spell Songs also notes that you can pass songs off to others who know the song. You could, for instance, sing Discerner, pass it off to another when it is your turn to speak, take it back when your opponent speaks, pass it off, etc. etc. etc.

I don’t have my book in front of me, but if the actions to sing discerning are 20 or less (actions in a round of DoW or RaC) then it could be sung during your opponents round to discern if he was lying or not.
Presumably, you already know whether or not you’re lying.

Thanks for the help all. For some reason I was thinking you either sing Discerner once and it covers the whole DoW, or you have to sustain it throughout the whole DoW. It makes total sense that you sing it on each exchange that you want to use it, but you could sustain it or pass it off if you wanted, as Thor stated.

That is some cheaty-ass bullshit right there! God damn elves…

Discerner takes 5 actions to cast and you sing it under your breath during your opponents action in DoW.

Why would one want to use this during a duel of wits? Wits, includes besting your opponent in a verbal argument which probably assumes some truthiness to “win”. I would think the proper use of this song is not during a duel but while the elf is simply listening to a story. In fact, ant elf who knows this song and has reason to believe someone is lying to them should refuse any duel on the subject and simply have the other party tell their story and then accept a duel.

Dwarfs Player: We are passing through to visit kin on the other side of the mountain (attempts to start a dual with the Etharch to convince him to let them pass through the kingdom)
DM: the Etharch knows you are lying and you are trying to reclaim Eeabor from Smaug, therefore your dual will have to be why he should let you pass through even though you are lying. He wants part of the treasure if you succeed in your quest.

I mean scripting obsbfucate is basically tacit aknowledgement that you’re doing some white lying. Finally, telling the truth is no victory condition in a duel. Socrates lost his life in his dual of wits and he knew quite well his sophist advisaries were lying.

Successfully lying before a duel of wits means you can lowball compromise conditions (If thorin successfully lies to the elf King, a lost duel might mean you have to pay a tribute to pass through the kingdom. Unsuccessfully lying means the elf King knows you are retaking Eeabor and a lost duel means locked in the elven dungeon until you agree to give 1/3 of smaugs treasure to him.)

Falsehood, Soothing Platitudes, Persuasion and Seduction rolls are all +1 Ob when used against someone singing Discerner.

Discerner seems terrible for use by the primary in a DoW. While casting it, most of your opponents DoW actions face a simple Obj=1. So they can use Point or Dismiss for all of their volleys while you cast this spell. Perhaps someone in the primary’s party could sing it and then use the knowledge gained to add helping dice?

Or am I misunderstanding that section (page 398 BWG 1st print)?

Eden, you’re misunderstanding it like I did. You don’t have to script it, as it only takes 5 actions and you sing real quick while your opponent is talking. So you script a normal action and sing it on the same volley, if I’m understanding Thor correctly.

Ah, I see that clearly now! 5 actions in the sorcery section is a “pause in the mayhem” and something that someone could easily do between/during a volley in DoW. When I looked at the script for DoW and say “casting a spell”, my newb brain assumed that was 1 action towards a spell, but really I should read it as “casting a spell that takes some time (prob. 20+ actions) and uses up your concentration during a DoW volley”.