Dismember spell

The dismember spell says you can cause damage as a ranged attack. What does this mean? I interpret this to mean that it’s able to be dodged (with acrobatics), not that it requires the sorcerer to roll to hit .

That’s the way our GM ran it. It bothered me a bit that it was described as D&D-esque fire bolts, but it makes less sense to be able to dodge if it were described as the target’s body just spontaneously tearing open.

I GM it as a Ranged attack, the attack roll using sorcerer’s Sorcery skill.

If so, do you allow Ranged talents (for example shoot for the horizon)? I fear it might be OP but on the other hand, it’s a spell, it’s meant to be…

The way this spell works is clarified in the Sorcery FAQ.

I have a link at the top of this article. http://www.starshipsandsteel.com/2017/11/conan-2d20-sorcery-example-dismember.html

Hope this helps!

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So the dismember spell summons a weapon that you then attack with?

The FAQ contradicts that page. It doesn’t describe the attack roll with Dismember as being separate from casting it.

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Our group has one player with sorcery and we try to find descriptive ways to detail spells and how they might be countered. Dismember for one sorcerer might be actual weapons being controlled at range and thus be subject to being parried. For another it might be dark energy coalescing around a target and potentially dodged. For another it may be that it can be defended with Willpower. As long as there is some balance, either in the difficulty of casting, cost of casting, or potential reactions, I’m not sure it matters.

I put the onus on the player to describe the ways the spells work and then we find an agreeable set of rules to handle it.

When he tries to use sorcery in a more spontaneous manner, outside of what we have discussed, I usually make him pay more for the casting.

This does require extra time and communication with the player outside of game sessions, but that was the price he agreed to when choosing to play a sorcerer.


So go back and re-read the whole thing. Including the first BOLDED note. :
" NOTE It has been clarified that the below is not the way Dismember works. Consider this an optional rule interpretation now. The Sorcery FAQ is located "

No I don’t. She doesn’t have those skills and I wouldn’t allow it anyway. Too overpowered.

Ages ago these issues were discussed on Conan G+ (which is going to be deleted soon).
Here it is:

And here I paste one answer by B.Graybeaton.
"OK so Dismember is a standard Ranged Attack. Does that mean that you can dodge it? Yes. Does that mean you can cause more damage if your awareness is high? Yes. Does that mean you can use Ranged Combat talents? Sometimes, Yes.

Why? Dismember is literally the sending of magical power at a person. If you send it to the wrong place it doesn’t do much of anything. So the Awareness bonus is less a “I hit him in the eyeball” and more a Your about to Zig Left and so I’ll aim right.

_Mechanically this would be a ranged struggle BUT as a GM if the target character has no way to know that the spells coming (remember that all spells are generally recognisable as spells) the GM can place a pretty hefty difficulty on dodging the attack. _

Dismember is generally weaker than a Bow and Arrows so if your Sorcerer wants to fight minions then its not the tool for the job BUT with enough fortune points, or a full momentum/doom pool, Dismember can annihilate serious threats."

There’s a lot more to be discussed in that thread, if you scroll down, with some interesting comments by B.Graybeaton.

I still have a different opinion and I still think that Dismember as it is does not reflect what we see in REH’s stories (I hate the whole ranged attack thing and how one can dodge it…it TOTALLY contradicts what we see in People of the Black Circle, at least for me), but that’s just me and there’s nothing which cannot be fixed with a house rule.

But again, maybe it’s just me!


The situation hasn’t yet presented itself in my game but after reading the excerpt of PotBC, I agree. I don’t feel that it is more a ranged attack than other spells; I would probably (house)rule it as Sorcery vs Resistance since the main obstacle to the spell of the Master was the ribcage (and armor) of his target.
Graybeaton pointed out that a struggle is especially relevant for PCs and many NPCs don’t get a roll at all; however, in a struggle, the defender only makes a difference if they roll 1 Momentum above D1, that is 2 successes, which is very hard for Minions and non-trivial for many Toughened (without a Doom spend), while most PCs would buy some extra dice when facing this sorcery.


Another complication: the FAQ explicitly say:

Q. What is the procedure for Dismember?
A. Caster rolls a sorcery test. This can be resisted (see above) Momentum is used to craft damage. Damage is rolled. Soak is calculated, Damage is recorded. This all happens in the same standard action.

The Ranged Weapon skill is not mentioned!


" Q. When avoiding Dismember, can a character use a shield or reflexive block?

A1. Yes, ultimately these are as distracting as using Acrobatics.

A2. The gamemaster may choose to increase the Difficulty or spend Doom to inflict damage as a partial effect, representing a partial hit."

and in the “How do you resist magic”

“…Dismember –a Sorcery vs. Acrobatics Struggle. …”

Which basically means: It is a Ranged Attack but it does not use the Ranged Weapon skill…
…it’s Sorcery vs Acrobatics/Parry and that’s it!

I mean: when you read the WHOLE thing + the WHOLE Faq, it all makes sense.
But one cannot waste so much time intepreting a game.
There’s still need of a proper ERRATA document!

In the case of dismember, I would go for a resist with either Resistance (to resist the effects of muscle tearing away from bone) or Sorcery (to suppress the magic) and still charge doom for the reaction. The advice in the book to handle magic was to strip away the AD&D style of magic and go more Lovecraftian in style. So a spontaneous burst of gore seems more in line than a bolt of magic to me in this case.

Dismember has the potential with momentum spends to hit very hard, and innate penetration of the spell makes most normal armor useless. Also remember that sorcery comes with consequences, whether you use the double complication or success at cost rule. Not to mention the after effect of this spell killing a target is a close range threaten that effects everyone in range, including the caster. So while powerful, this spell comes at a price to the caster.

The translation is that sorcery should scare both the players and the NPCs in this world, and even sorcerers themselves should be concerned about unleashing their power. Being able to dodge lessens the effect of dismember to a lightning bolt spell.


I completely agree!

Here is how we have played the spell. I do not use Ranged Attack. If the Sorcerer has line of sight then the spell can and will hit its intended target.

If the PC’s/NPC’s have never faced the spell before, then NO resistance. Your armor soak will be the only thing that prevents the spell from causing a wound or outright killing the NPC.

If the PC’s/NPC’s have faced the spell before then I do allow a Resistance with a minimum difficulty of D2 Challenging.

If the spell is targeting another Sorcerer, and the Sorcerer has the spell, then a standard Sorcerer struggle ensues as in the Core rules (page 172 “Counter Magic”). If the Sorcerer does not have the spell, then my above examples take effect.

Sorcery is very much up to the GM in many cases and I try to put myself in the shoes of the PC’s and how I would feel if I was playing the PC and being hit with the spell.

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I myself am not worried about whether it’s logical to be able to Acrobatically dodge it (the rules say it’s a ranged attack, so I think it’s clear that you can).

But I am SO confused about when the spell is cast. Surely, like any other spell, it takes one Standard action to generate the spell and then an additional Standard action to cast it? Yet I see all different versions of this wherever I look.

The FAQ says this about Dismember, which implies that it’s all done in one action (thus totally contracting the rulebook which says spell don’t actually have an effect/attack in the action they are cast): “Q. What is the procedure for Dismember? A. Caster rolls a sorcery test. This can be resisted (see above) Momentum is used to craft damage. Damage is rolled. Soak is calculated, Damage is recorded. This all happens in the same standard action.”

Can anyone help?

Also, as it’s a ranged attack, presumably when you make the attack with it you can spend doom/momentum to add to the damage?

Also am I right that it is a 2 doom/momentum spend (or a fortune) to do a Swift Action to attack/affect with a spell in the same turn it’s generated (as a second Standard action)? I ask, as Swift Actions only cost 1 doom/momentum if it’s for a different effect that the first Standard Action.

Any help greatly appreciated. I love the rest of the rulebook, apart from the momentum and doom sections being spread throughout the book a bit too much. But the magic section is baffling me, even after reading the sorcery FAQ document.

I have the same problem, I understand it as you wrote, that you first use a standard action to do a sorcery skill test see if you succeed to bring about the spell and after that you use a nother standard action to actually cast the spell whit for example the range skill.

Cheers Raiky. I agree. It’s scary - a quality Dismember attack (say, the D5 difficulty example in the rules) would be a nightmare to try to cast in one turn, as you’d need another 2 momentum/doom just to create a second standard action (Swift Action) to get it done without waiting until your next turn … and then it’s be cast with +1 difficulty as per the Swift Action rules. That’s going to be a heck of a lot of momentum/doom spend (especially if the target dodges with Acrobatics, maybe pushing its Ranged Attack difficulty even higher) just to pull off a spell that might only do something like 8 damage and maybe some psychological damage. Although I have read stuff saying it’s fine not to let someone dodge it first time, as they might not know it was an attack spell.