Dismember difficulty

If a sorcerer casts Dismember, what is the Difficulty of the target’s dodge attempt? So if sorcerer casts I Will Take Your Heart (D5), is the victim dodging at D5 or D1? Rulebook isn’t clear and Sorcery cheat sheet doesn’t mention it.

Dodging? What is this dodging? You generally can’t dodge spells, some spells give you a Resistance or Discipline roll to resist. I’m not sure Dismember is one of those spells. (Checks spell description) Nope, there is no resistance roll (no saving throw for you D&D types).

There is no dodge action available for Dismember. The difficulty of the spell is what prevents every sorcerer from just ripping everyone’s heart out all the time. If you really want to add it into your game you could theoretically give the target a resistance/discipline check to avoid the damage but that cheapens the cost of the spell for the caster so I wouldn’t advise it.

Yet the description for Dismember qualifies it as a Ranged attack with range of Close, so I assumed since it’s an attack, that gives the target the opportunity to dodge. Are you saying that then a powerful sorcerer can insta-kill a PC if he beats D5 without allowing the PC any dodge? My sorcerer player loves that idea when he’s casting Dismember but not so much if he’s the target…

Edit: Bearing in mind 6 Doom will drop that difficulty to 2.

Edit 2: Sorry I misread it, it’s not an insta-kill. That works then I guess.

Sorcerers should be feared.

The Sorcery FAQ has this to say:

Dismember –a Sorcery vs. Acrobatics Struggle. The gamemaster should consider the following when deciding on the Difficulty of the defense.
o Does the character have a suitable Insight or Sorcery skill to recognize the threat?
o Has the character seen a sorcerer pull off this effect before?
o If neither of the above are true, consider starting the defense at Daunting (D3).

Spells listed with D5 are for casting for consequence. If you are not casting for consequence a sorcerer is free to roll against the D1 test and add momentum as they please.

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But I Will Take Your Heart is D5 whether casting for consequences or not. The description of Dismember specifies a Ranged attack, but then fails to specify what difficulty it is to dodge. Oh look, another thumbsuck the GM has to make because its not explained properly.

Directly copied from the book:
I Will Take Your Heart!
Difficulty: Epic (D5), includes Dismember, Wound of
Sorcery (2), and Overwhelming Agony
With this spell, you can reach out, clutch your hand, and as
you do so, your target’s heart is grasped and crushed. If the
attack is lethal, the heart is pulled free from its cage of muscle
and bone, flying across the intervening space and landing
with a hideous wet slap into your outstretched hand. This is
a Close attack, 4§, Intense, Piercing 3, Vicious 2.

As with any attack the range (i.e. distance you have to be from your intended target) of the spell is stated but it is never classified as a “ranged” spell. It doesn’t describe a difficulty to dodge because it is not intended that you can in fact dodge it. I do understand your frustration but calling it “another thumbsuck” is hardly constructive. The best way I can describe it to reduce it to D&D terms would be if it was a damage spell like magic missile. It automatically hits as long as it is successfully cast and then does damage, the ripping out of the heart is largely flavor text that can lead to some fun rp purposes.

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I’ve seen this spell discussed so many times in G+ …
I really hate the way they did it (rules-wise It’s clearly a ranged attack, therefore it can be dodged).
But…what the hell should one dodge?
Common answer is “dodging magical energies”.
If we go to Modiphius Conan core rules page 160 we see the figure of a Sorcerer projecting energies which maybe could be dodged…
Doen’s it really looks like a D&D mage thing to do?
But did REH ever mentioned such energies?
And, consequently, is this game really faithful to REH in this sense?

Check this text, which is the only description of a “Dismember” spell that we got from REH…What should be dodged?


"The Master laughed down at him.
“What is that to you, dead man? Have you so quickly forgotten my strength, once lent to you, that you come armed against me, you poor fool? I think I will take your heart, Kerim Shah!”
He held out his hand as if to receive something, and the Turanian cried out sharply like a man in mortal agony. He reeled drunkenly, and then, with a splintering of bones, a rending of flesh and muscle and a snapping of mail- links, his breast burst outward with a shower of blood, and through the ghastly aperture something red and dripping shot through the air into the Master’s outstretched hand, as a bit of steel leaps to the magnet. The Turanian slumped to the floor and lay motionless, and the Master laughed and hurled the object to fall before Conan’s feet—a still-quivering human heart."

Where are the magic energies to be dodged?
They completely are a Modiphius creation, not a REH creation!!!
This is unfortunately not the only instance where I disagree with the authors about how much this game is or isn’t pure REH-inspired…
HOWEVER, let not throw out the baby with the bathwater!

My usual solution is an alternative effect where the target may spend 1 Doom and resist the struggle with Resistance.
In this way it’s the same dodging mechanics (pay 1 doom) but using the proper skill which should be used…
No energies to be dodged!

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The whole sorcery chapter is such a mess…but we are lucky they did that sorcery FAQ!

By the way, that D5 is only valid for “rolling for consequences”.
If you succeed the basic D1 you still have the basic Dismember effect…although it cannot be graphically described as “Take you heart”

The point of it being only relevant to Casting for Consequence is that if that is not a thing the D5 is irrelevant.

I say. I am casting Dismember. If there is no struggle involved and I gain enough momentum, say 4 points. (ie I roll 5 successes) and I buy Vicious 2 for 2 points and Intense for 2 points, I now have “I will take your heart” without ever risking failing at a D5 skill test to cast it.

If I only rolled successes I would only have 3 momentum to spend, but the spell still works.

With casting for consequence we would tally all that up and call it a D5 spell and then roll to see how many complications we got, which is when the spells difficulty is really important.

Thanks for all the suggestions and input. I think I’ll go with making it non-defendable despite it being listed as an attack. Thematically it makes sense and as Luca pointed out there’s no magic bolt to dodge. Thanks Keith for the Casting for Consequences example it cleared that up although I think you mean “if I only rolled [3] successes”?

Anyway this sorcery makes my face tired :wink: I shall tell our sorcerer player the good news when he joins us again. He’ll be happy until he realises it works both ways. It would just be nice to have it in the actual rulebook, you know? That way I could just point to it in black and white, no arguments.


I think it really depends on the flavor of the spell. If the sorcerer hurls a fireball then you may be able to dodge it. If it is some sort of mental attack, maybe you could resist it with discipline. If there are no visual “energies” and the target itself is a sorcerer, they could even resist with sorcery (as kind of a counter spell).

Do whatever feels right and appropriate for the situation.

Thanks, when houseruling I generally take the path of fewest additional moving parts, so dispensing with the Defend completely, fulfills that. I’m thankful this is the system’s only direct damage spell. If they ever come across a fireball magical or otherwise, it may be simply the means by which they die instantly (they’re flames, dammit! FLAMES!). But anyway spells can be countered by simply knowing the same spell as the caster (and succeeding at a struggle), so that’s already a means by which any Sorcery can be cancelled. Sorcery should be feared and difficult to counter I think.

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