Detect Evil, Dispel Magic, etc. (spoiler)

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Postby QD » Fri Mar 01, 2002 11:23 pm

I've just finished reading through the Freeport trilogy and am preparing to run a new group of players through it. Just out of curiosity, has anyone run into problems maintaining the mystery?

It seems like D&D offers a lot of easy ways for players to see through the serpent people's disguises. Paladin's unlimited detect evil ability and dispeling the Alter Self or Polymorph Self spells come to mind. Seems like players (guards and council members too, for that matter) would start using these abilities after the first serpent person is discovered.

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Postby anoxos » Sat Mar 02, 2002 1:23 pm

On 2002-03-01 23:23, QD wrote:
It seems like D&D offers a lot of easy ways for players to see through the serpent people's disguises. Paladin's unlimited detect evil ability and dispeling the Alter Self or Polymorph Self spells come to mind. Seems like players (guards and council members too, for that matter) would start using these abilities after the first serpent person is discovered.


Okay, first keep in mind that this city thrives on trade from all over the place, which means that there are all kinds of people, good, neutral, and evil running around all over. Even Drac himself is Evil, and he's not a serpent person. So alignment is NOT justification for arrest/action on the part of the city officials. That is why there are laws. Orcs, for example, walk the streets freely, even though most are evil, because they agree it is in their own best interest to obey the laws so they have somewhere to buy supplies for their ships!

So if your party members start to 'scan' everybody they run into, keep in mind that roughly 1/3 of the total population of Freeport is likely to be evil to some degree. Also, using this ability takes concentration, so said paladin isn't likely to be having intelligent conversation while he's "giving the hairy eyeball" to anybody.

Also, said random strangers may notice, and take offense, or think said paladin is giving them the EVIL eye! The party may even get in trouble for 'disturbing the peace' if they start waylaying people to check alignment. After all, the party isn't part of the city guard! :grin:

As far as dispelling the polymorph effects, that is a contested roll on the part of the dispelling caster, so there is the potential for failure. Also, a PC of appropriate level for these modules isn't going to be able to do it very often, only a few times a day at best. Also, to even know that there is a polymorph effect being used, they would have to detect magic first, and even then make a lucky guess, unless other clues lead them to believe they are specifically dealing with a shapeshifter.

So in terms of "easy" ways to get rid of the polymorph disguise, well not really. Not unless you as a GM MAKE IT EASY. My party was totally gulled by the "Fake Egil" in TiF, because they never thought to check if their friend was really who he was....I played the "fake Egil" the same as I did the real one, and they never suspected....
My players keep saying I have a taste for blood...I'll answer them as soon as I'm done with my steak tartare...
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Postby Patrick O'Duffy » Sat Mar 02, 2002 7:39 pm

On 2002-03-01 23:23, QD wrote:
Paladin's unlimited detect evil ability and dispeling the Alter Self or Polymorph Self spells come to mind.


I thought about this a lot as well.

I cheated on the Paladin thing, by asking players not to make Paladin PCs. If you did have Paladin PCs, though, then there's some good adivce upthread about how prevelant 'Evil' is. I'd also point out that the Paladin's detect evil ability isn't automatic, or even a free action - spell-like abilities take a standard action to enact. Personally, I'd also require the Paladin to use her holy symbol as a divine focus, as per the spell. So detecting evil is an abvious action, and that's going to make people suspicious and uncooperative.

As for Dispel magic - well, PCs aren't going to have that on tap until at least 5th level. That's fairly late in the plot; by that stage, they already _know_ who the bad guys are.

The most important thing to do, if you're concerned about this, is to work out what kind of counter-measures the Cult might put into place to fight this kind of things. For instance, Drac is sure to cast Undetectable Alignment on himself before the ball in Madness, to avoid any use of Detect Evil. Similarly, spells like Misdirection and Spell Resistance would see a lot of use.

Don't block the PCs if they try and use the system and their abilities to the full - but allow the NPCs the same.

--
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Postby timemrick » Mon Mar 04, 2002 6:39 am

I didn't have the paladin problem, because none of players chose to create one, for two reasons: 1) it's the least favorite class for most of them, and 2) Freeport's "pirate town" rep made it obvious that taking a paladin there would be damned awkward. :wink:

My players are also familiar enough with the game that they don't consider Detect Evil all that useful--*esp.* in a place like Freeport, where they'll get a ping on every block. The party cleric has too many other useful 1st-level spells to "waste" a slot on that one.

That cleric has recently acquired access to Detect Thoughts (as a domain spell, no less), which she *is* exploring the use of. But her access to spells above 1st level was delayed due to her taking a level of wizard. So, while she got Detect Thoughts just in time to twig to Gorn's deception in the opening of MiF, she won't have Dispel Magic before they finish that module. [Note to self: post next installment of run notes!]

And note that the leader of the attack at the end of TiF has a Ring of Mind Shielding, and some of the other NPCs may have similar defenses.

As far as NPC abilities go, very few people in Freeport have access to even mid-level spells. If we take the VIPs in MiF as a representative cross-section of the city's resources [the city book may prove me wrong], you have exactly one "good guy" cleric with access to Dispel Magic (Gwendolyn), and one neutral wizard (Tarmon). Multiply a few times to cover the whole city, and you still don't have many--and those NPCs will have their own concerns, which still leaves the investigation grunt work with the PCs, as any heroic adventure should.

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