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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    I don't think it's even that gamist. It's a mental effort, one that takes a short but non-negligible amount of time to complete, just like any number of mental tasks such as arithmetic or thinking up a sentence; the metamagic removes the need for the verbal and somatic components, but you still need to be thinking through the spell for a bit before it can go off.
    This. Right here. This is my disconnect.

    Ok, run with the arithmetic analogy. When you're faced with a problem that you can't solve easily, you count on your fingers or write it down. As you grow more competent, you lose the need to perform those "somatic components" to solve the same problem. It's also quicker because the somatic components are what took a significant portion of the time. If, however, you're just learning to do without the "somatics", such that it still takes you a comparable amount of time to solve the problem mentally, then it's fairly common for people to pull all sorts of silly faces, humming and erring, sticking their tongue out, stopping anything and everything else their doing to devote the effort to solving that maths problem.

    Mental activity is still activity. Yes, you can do it without the song and dance, but it often takes conscious effort to refrain from those visual cues when the activity is significant. Given that most spells take an Action to cast and that an Action could be described as the primary and most significant thing you're doing at any given time, I'm inclined to assume it'll take conscious effort to conceal that Action, even if it's a solely mental activity.
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    This. Right here. This is my disconnect.

    Ok, run with the arithmetic analogy. When you're faced with a problem that you can't solve easily, you count on your fingers or write it down. As you grow more competent, you lose the need to perform those "somatic components" to solve the same problem. It's also quicker because the somatic components are what took a significant portion of the time. If, however, you're just learning to do without the "somatics", such that it still takes you a comparable amount of time to solve the problem mentally, then it's fairly common for people to pull all sorts of silly faces, humming and erring, sticking their tongue out, stopping anything and everything else their doing to devote the effort to solving that maths problem.

    Mental activity is still activity. Yes, you can do it without the song and dance, but it often takes conscious effort to refrain from those visual cues when the activity is significant. Given that most spells take an Action to cast and that an Action could be described as the primary and most significant thing you're doing at any given time, I'm inclined to assume it'll take conscious effort to conceal that Action, even if it's a solely mental activity.
    And my response would be: Those are people who haven't gotten to the point of arithmetic being as natural as breathing. They haven't actually eliminated the somatic components. They've gotten close, to be sure--no hand gestures. But they still engage in facial gestures, halted body movements, and other physical signs of thought.

    I don't need any of that to do most simple arithmetic. If I'm in a particularly math-friendly state of mind, I can in fact do multi-digit multiplication on the fly. Some of this is practice (I tutored math at the college level for several years), some of it is natural talent (I've always been good with figures), some of it is as I said a matter of mood and timing and state-of-mind. I can still do many derivatives without pausing for thought, and for a while I could do a lot of simple integrals without needing a calculator. Likewise, after my classical mechanics course I was doing Lagrangians without pausing because I find them so unbelievably straightforward.

    You may even be right that most people cannot do this kind of thing, even with an enormous amount of practice. Sorcerers who take Subtle Spell aren't most people, they literally do have a special innate talent and the practiced effort (=taking the metamagic option) to pull it off. It really is possible to do complex philosophical, mathematical, or scientific thinking without any outward sign of effort, not even the blank-eyed "I'm not paying attention to the world" look. Most people cannot do that and also do anything particularly difficult at the same time.
    Last edited by ezekielraiden; 2019-11-16 at 04:39 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    Sorcerers who take Subtle Spell aren't most people, they literally do have a special innate talent and the practiced effort (=taking the metamagic option) to pull it off. It really is possible to do complex philosophical, mathematical, or scientific thinking without any outward sign of effort, not even the blank-eyed "I'm not paying attention to the world" look. Most people cannot do that and also do anything particularly difficult at the same time.
    Yeah, but that's the point. Sorcerers with Subtle Spell aren't at the point where they can cast spells on the fly like an experienced mathmatician can easily do calculations, otherwise they'd also be casting spells quicker and with less effort (i.e. less Action investment). A Sorcerer with Quickened Spell is more akin to someone so well practiced with magic that they can cast with less effort. The Subtle Sorcerer is expending the same effort; it's no easier for them, so to speak (if anything it's slightly harder because they have to expend Sorcery Points; they're limited on how often they can do it). It's just that they can use a different process; one that doesn't involve somatic or verbal components.
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    If, however, you're just learning to do without the "somatics", such that it still takes you a comparable amount of time to solve the problem mentally, then it's fairly common for people to pull all sorts of silly faces, humming and erring, sticking their tongue out, stopping anything and everything else their doing to devote the effort to solving that maths problem.
    Wait, what? This is a mental effort that allows you to make quick attacks or other actions, move around easily, and defend yourself.

    It's not like sitting at your computer programming something, or studying homework. And I don't think I've ever seen anyone other than a child trying to think that makes a mental effort and "pull all sorts of silly faces, humming and erring, sticking their tongue out". At most people stare blankly and stop doing everything. And we know that's not what's going on, because of all the other things a charcater can do.

    Now, it's valid to say that with just the PHB RAW, just because V and S components are removed doesn't automatically mean we should assume it renders casting unpercievable. But that just means DM ruling, not arguing that it means it should be perceivable.

    But that was before Xanathar's clarified it. Now we've got the developer RAI as XtGE RAW. Any PHB-only DM who is aware of it should be aware of how Subtle was intended to work when making their ruling. It's supposed to render the casting of V, S, or V/S spells unpercievable.

    (Please note that I'm not saying that developer RAI means you have to rule that way, nor that you must use XtGE RAW in your games.)

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    And we know that's not what's going on, because of all the other things a charcater can do.
    Setting aside that this assertion is false (a character could well be stopping everything to cast a spell before continuing their turn; the length of the spellcasting time is not defined for any spell that takes one Action or less, except that it fits somewhere within a six second period), my argument is predicated more on what the character<i> cannot</i> do in addition to casting a spell. Casting a spell is significant enough an activity, Subtle or otherwise, that it prevents you from doing some of the most significant activities you can do. For most spells, it is the main thing you do in a turn. If the main thing you did was "not show outward signs of casting a spell", that's...well it's a significant amount of "nothing".
    I apologise if I come across daft. I'm a bit like that. I also like a good argument, so please don't take offence if I'm somewhat...forthright.

    Please be aware; when it comes to 5ed D&D, I own Core (1st printing) and SCAG only. All my opinions and rulings are based solely on those, unless otherwise stated. I reserve the right of ignorance of errata or any other source.

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    Setting aside that this assertion is false (a character could well be stopping everything to cast a spell before continuing their turn; the length of the spellcasting time is not defined for any spell that takes one Action or less, except that it fits somewhere within a six second period), my argument is predicated more on what the character<i> cannot</i> do in addition to casting a spell. Casting a spell is significant enough an activity, Subtle or otherwise, that it prevents you from doing some of the most significant activities you can do. For most spells, it is the main thing you do in a turn. If the main thing you did was "not show outward signs of casting a spell", that's...well it's a significant amount of "nothing".
    Fine, let's use that then. It lasts the length of an action. An action can last at least as little as thrusting a blade. Thus, we can conclude that spellcasting can take as little time as blinking, which runs counter to the foundation of your assertion.

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    Setting aside that this assertion is false (a character could well be stopping everything to cast a spell before continuing their turn; the length of the spellcasting time is not defined for any spell that takes one Action or less, except that it fits somewhere within a six second period), my argument is predicated more on what the character<i> cannot</i> do in addition to casting a spell. Casting a spell is significant enough an activity, Subtle or otherwise, that it prevents you from doing some of the most significant activities you can do. For most spells, it is the main thing you do in a turn. If the main thing you did was "not show outward signs of casting a spell", that's...well it's a significant amount of "nothing".
    Debateable. Some folks interpret actions can occur in other actions generally. Specifically a character can defend themselves against an attack in the middle of an action in the form of defense against an enemy reaction. They can move in the middle of an action, in the case of extra attacks. They can use their own reactions in, as in Counterspell a Counterspell while taking an action.

    But even if you interpret that as putting the Action on hold (ie sequential things happening), there's no particular reason to assume "doing nothing perceptible" = perceive a spell was cast, as a general rule. Especially if it's imperceptible once cast. Doing so introduces all sorts of wonkiness with other "doing nothing" activity.

    Otoh I do get your general argument that taking an action is doing something. My counterpoint is doing something isn't always perceivable to others, or at least as a specific activity. Simple example: How does someone observing tell the difference between someone doing nothing taking the Search action vs someone doing nothing taking a Subtle Cast a Spell action?

    (The reason I understand your argument is I rule doing nothing to take a Ready action is generally perceivable. But I'd have to caveat that the actions being declared to be Readied have, as far as I can recall, always been perceivable actions themselves.)

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: How Subtle is a Subtle Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    That's just it; you can't and it's the part where things stop making sense to me. I can't justify removing the active part of the activity in its entirety without also removing the action (if that makes sense); it's too "gamist" for me. There has to be another thing occurring to fill the space that Cast a Spell occupies, if you can remove certain elements and still have an activity there. If Subtle Spell removes all the "active" parts of casting the spell, then it must also remove the Action. That's the logic I'm working from. Given that it doesn't remove or alter the Action, it cannot remove all active elements of casting a spell.
    From my standpoint, the abstraction that is 5e turn-based combat stops making sense even before you introduce Subtle Spell. For a closely-related example, the amount of dialogue a character can say on their turn is limited to "brief uterrances". However long a DM interprets "brief uterrances" to be (I've never seen a DM rule anything other than <6 seconds, but that's anecdotal), casting a spell that has a verbal component somehow does not further limit how long a character can speak. So, nonsensically, the length of an utterance a character can speak in combat is identical regardless of whether they don't use their action at all, or whether they spend their action casting Finger of Death.

    Given that, from a simulationist standpoint, the abstraction of 5e combat is already nonsensical at a higher level before you introduce Subtle Spell, it seems bizarre to me to rely on the intricacies of that simulation to answer the lower-level question of whether Subtle Spells are perceptible.
    Last edited by Xetheral; 2019-11-16 at 11:57 AM. Reason: spelling

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