DQ – Thinning Down the Counterspells


I’ve been thinking about revisions and re-treads of the DragonQuest rules for a long time.  I’ll spell out some further thoughts on the topic as a whole in an upcoming post.  But for now, here’s a proposal to reduce the number of counterspells in DQ and revise the rules for counterspells.

There are a lot of counterspells to learn in the DQ world.  Probably too many.  It’s possible to speculate on how that came about, and there may have been good reasons for it, but in practice, it seems cumbersome and difficult, particularly in that there are two counterspells for each College.  Are the flows of mana somehow different between General and Special knowledge spells?  Why does the esoteric organization of a College’s magic determine which of two counterspells will affect a particular spell?

Instead, why not take a cue from Naming Magics, with the Generic and Individual True Names for things, and have counterspells at the level of Branch and College, rather than General and Special Knowledge?

In practice, this would give 3 generic counterspells (one each for Thaumaturgies, Elementals, and Entities), plus a specific counterspell for each particular College. The Branch counterspells would be less effective than the specific counterspell for each College, but would be useful against any magic of that particular Branch.  Instead of having at least 24 counterspells (General/Special for each of the original 12 Colleges, plus 2 more for each additional College introduced into a particular campaign, there would be 15, plus one for each additional College.  This would work much more fluidly in a campaign where some Colleges may not exist, at the outset, or where additional Colleges are included in the game.

As a matter of play balance, it seems more correct to me that, when faced with magic from a previously unknown College, a caster should have at least some small chance of being able to dispel the magical effect.  Counterspells are presumably based on the workings of mana, rather than being reverse-engineerings of spells.  So something that will disrupt the flow and effects of mana to one kind of spell should have a good chance to be able to disrupt a similar, though perhaps slightly different, one.


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3 Responses to “DQ – Thinning Down the Counterspells”

  1. Thoughts on Counterspells | DragonQuest Rules Says:

    […] Thorm’s post about Thinning Down the Counterspells begins a series of posts to examine what form a set of DQ clone rules might take.  Is there a […]

  2. Stephen Says:

    Merging General and Special Counterspells into one – agree. The differentiation adds more complexity and annoyance than benefit.

    For the branch Counterspell idea there are a couple of variations:

    1. Branch Counterspells only. There are 3 counterspells, that’s it.
    The bonus to Magic Resistance is reduced to 10+rank or 2+2/rk or similar.
    + Simplicity
    – Too easy to block one third of magic.

    1A. The adept must name the targeted college when casting the Branch Counterspell, it only affects that college.

    2. One Counterspell per college. Has full effect against that college, has reduced effect against the branch. E.g. 10+rk or 2+2/rk to MR. Area counterspell blocks casting of that college but doubles Fatigue cost of casting for the branch.

    Key thing to keep in mind is the goals of making the change. IMO:
    1. Less counterspells to learn/rank/keep track of. Too much book keeping is boring, slows down the game, and slows down development.

    2. Don’t make it too easy/simple. Players should have to work at it to become proficient in all areas or they should have to make choices or compromises. Having to work hard to achieve their capabilities means they value them more, will have pride in them.

    3. Keep the requirement on the players to make choices during the game. Requiring the players to make guesses based on limited info or to investigate the opposition keeps the game interesting.
    E.g. If you can put down an Elemental Branch Counterspell in the area and a Entity Counterspell on each ally to 90% protect them from 70% of the opposition then everyone will just do that without thinking about it. But if you have to choose just two colleges to be protected from then you have to investigate first to identify those colleges before applying the protection.

  3. rthorm Says:

    All good points, thanks.

    “The differentiation adds more complexity and annoyance than benefit” and “Too much book keeping is boring, slows down the game, and slows down development” are both key points I’m looking to address with this.

    Some other things to consider:
    – should an Adept be able to learn any counterspell other than for their own College above Rank 0?
    – should counterspells be weaker in general to allow for Rank and study by other Mages?

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