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Saving against the Command spell

As is well known to experienced players, the Command spell is extremely potent in low-level play, knocking enemies up to 5 HD unconscious for a round with no save. That round is frequently enough to kill them.

But then you try it against higher-level enemies - and it's still far more effective than a first-level spell has any right to be.
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Tranzig is a level 6 mage, with base save vs. spell 4 and a ring of protection +1. Against a spell with no bonus or penalty, he should save 90% of the time. So this time? He saved. He saved again. And he still went down. He did not survive that round of unconsciousness.

What is going on with that spell?

Comments

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 780
    Some spells are just more useful than others.

    Some of it falls down to the campaign. If it was a campaign where food was scarce suddenly we'd all be taking druids along just for their goodberry spell.

    A round of unconsciousness is very powerful, because all your attacks automatically hit during that round. If you have a full party then very few enemies can survive that many free hits. So even once the enemy's high enough level to get a save, they only have to fail their save once.

    An especially fun thing about that is that you can use weapons you're not proficient in during that round with very little consequence. A mage with no proficiency in slings? Most of the time they can't hit the broad side of a barn, but against an unconscious adversary even they have flawless aim.

    Its drawback, if it has one, is that it only effects one enemy, so you get much less mileage out it when fighting multiple powerful adversaries at once.

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 4,264
    also it doesnt affect elves or undead

    but still a nice spell

    i even use it in ToB, because its that good

    and that is one thing i like about the bg series use of 2nd edition rules, given that even measly low level 1 spells can still be good at high levels, unlike 3rd edition type games where basically once you hit level 5 or 6, the only "useful" level 1 spells are ones that cause damage, because crowd control? no chance enemies are going to fail that pitiful save

    ThacoBell
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 78
    OK, so the part of the spell that matters works fine, with a single save at no bonus or penalty. Tranzig just rolled really badly, with a 1 or 2, then a 3 and 5 against cosmetic effects.
    Chronicler wrote: »
    An especially fun thing about that is that you can use weapons you're not proficient in during that round with very little consequence. A mage with no proficiency in slings? Most of the time they can't hit the broad side of a barn, but against an unconscious adversary even they have flawless aim.
    Slings? Nah, try darts instead. 3 APR is amazing, especially if you pick up some of those elemental darts from Thalantyr. Any non-cleric can get 19.5 average damage per round against a helpless target with them, since the helplessness wipes out any chance of saving against the elemental part.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 780
    jmerry wrote: »
    OK, so the part of the spell that matters works fine, with a single save at no bonus or penalty. Tranzig just rolled really badly, with a 1 or 2, then a 3 and 5 against cosmetic effects.
    Chronicler wrote: »
    An especially fun thing about that is that you can use weapons you're not proficient in during that round with very little consequence. A mage with no proficiency in slings? Most of the time they can't hit the broad side of a barn, but against an unconscious adversary even they have flawless aim.
    Slings? Nah, try darts instead. 3 APR is amazing, especially if you pick up some of those elemental darts from Thalantyr. Any non-cleric can get 19.5 average damage per round against a helpless target with them, since the helplessness wipes out any chance of saving against the elemental part.

    Wait, unconscious enemies have some sort of penalty to their saving throws? I didn't know this.

  • kjeronkjeron Member Posts: 1,906
    Chronicler wrote: »
    Wait, unconscious enemies have some sort of penalty to their saving throws? I didn't know this.
    No, being helpless does not penalize a creature's saving throws.

    StummvonBordwehrChroniclerelminstersemiticgod
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 78
    OK, bad memory on that. They were just so effective against the basilisks in my current run that I strted thinking it was more than it was. (Test: Cast Sleep on a pack of Tasloi, attack with fire darts. The second one saved against the bonus damage)
    If the enemies save a third of the time - fairly typical for low-level monsters - the darts are down to 16 average damage per round. That's still a lot, but it's fairly easy for a warrior to beat.

    Chronicler
  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 148
    I don't think helpless (sleeping, held or stunned) creatures have any penalty to their saving throws, but my anecdotal experience seems to suggest that they DO suffer massive AC penalties, as any helpless creature (whether my allies or enemies) usually gets hacked to pieces with ease even by non-warriors.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 78
    Not an AC penalty; attacks automatically hit helpless targets 100% of the time with no roll at all. Critical hits and critical misses are also impossible against helpless enemies. (Except possibly for auto-crit warrior HLAs.)

    ThacoBell
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,091
    jmerry wrote: »
    Not an AC penalty; attacks automatically hit helpless targets 100% of the time with no roll at all. Critical hits and critical misses are also impossible against helpless enemies. (Except possibly for auto-crit warrior HLAs.)

    No, not even auto-crit warrior HLAs work on helpless targets. Not that it's a big deal if they're helpless. ;)

  • Grond0Grond0 Member, Moderator Posts: 5,064
    jmerry wrote: »
    As is well known to experienced players, the Command spell is extremely potent in low-level play, knocking enemies up to 5 HD unconscious for a round with no save. That round is frequently enough to kill them.

    That's also a bit better than it seems due to the way D&D monsters were originally designed - some of those, like ankhegs for instance, were set at low HD levels with bonus HPs and thus are more vulnerable to sleep and command than you would expect.

    StummvonBordwehr
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