So, the Cleric in my game has begun discovering the usefulness of spells beyond Cure Light Wounds, which is great.

So, the Cleric in my game has begun discovering the usefulness of spells beyond Cure Light Wounds, which is great.

So, the Cleric in my game has begun discovering the usefulness of spells beyond Cure Light Wounds, which is great.

Unfortunately, the Hold Person spell is getting somewhat aggravating to me as the GM, since it feels like they are no longer challenged.

Also, what are some of your rulings for Contagion? They were wondering if they could inflict someone with a lethal disease, or if the wording of the spell meant the target only suffered the effects, without actually having the disease (sneezing but not actually having a cold).

7 thoughts on “So, the Cleric in my game has begun discovering the usefulness of spells beyond Cure Light Wounds, which is great.”

  1. For hold type spells and grapples and stuff, I impressed upon the players that rolling failures doesn’t just affect them, and affects the whole scene.

    I once had a fighter grapple a dude to the ground and hold him pinned while the ranger decided to arrow him point blank in the face. Rolled a 4. The GM move was basically that the guy broke the grapple and rolled away, the arrow going through the fighter’s bicep. I don’t see why you couldn’t have them break Hold Person in a similar fashion.

  2. Hold Person doesn’t effect non-people and there are lots of threats that aren’t people. It also doesn’t effect more than one person, so consider if the held person has friends. If Hold Person has simplified the situation and removed the danger, it’s your duty to introduce a new element to keep things dangerous and adventurous.

    Also, did the person deserve to be held or are they using the power to bully? If the latter, how does the deity feel about it?

    Likewise with Contagion: if you use it to create the symptoms of a fatal disease (death being a particularly unfortunate symptom), how does the deity feel about that? How do the other PCs and NPCs feel about the Cleric calling on their deity to kill beings with horrifying diseases? Bear in mind that the Cleric can, with spell level 9, cause it to rain boiling acid blood from the sky.

    There is a lot of power here and the main check on their power is their deity, other people and (hopefully) their conscience. Well, that and the stronger the effect they’re after, the harder you can move in response to a miss… 🙂

  3. Re: Hold Person, remember that it only works on a single person, so for a group of people or a non-person monster (beware of the slippery slope here), it won’t be much use.

    As for Contagion, I mean you could totally inflict a lethal disease on someone, but it’s an ongoing spell and hanging around waiting for them to slowly die of cancer or whatever is kind of protracted and dull. And remind them that declaring “They are now suffering from late stage sleeping sickness, immediately fall into a coma and will be dead in a couple of minutes” isn’t any more fun for the table in the long run than you declaring “rocks fall and everyone dies.”

    You need to be a fan of the characters, but there’s a certain reasonable expectation that the players will follow a version of the principles to keep the game fun, too.

  4. There are two ways that I’ve used when dealing with Hold Person:

    1) You still need to be a fan, but put less “people” in place for him to hold. It says you hold a person, not a creature. If you have a problem with this, think about it like Turn Undead. Not EVERY foe the Cleric faces is undead, so it doesn’t get overused. Similarly, not every foe a Cleric faces need be a person.

    2) The effect ends when the help person takes damage from any source. I sometimes put my GM characters in a position where they might fall if they suddenly become rigid (like leaning back on a chair or against a tree, or in motion) so that when they’re hit with hold person, they may fall (as a soft move when a PC fails a roll) and take a point of falling damage.

    Again, let them play, but this is something you can think about during prep (and exploit when he casts Hold Person)

    I’ve never used Contagion, or had it used in one of my games. But “Suffers from a disease of your choice” sounds like they ACTUALLY have the disease while it’s in effect.

  5. I’ve aleays found hold person as a very bland move and hardly ever used it. Its a simple, straight forward move like swinging a sword. It has its place, but also bland.

    Not much more i can add. Its all been said above.

    As for Contagion, again the above posts say a lot. Id just add that make the misses just as terrifying. The character is ‘playing with fire here.

  6. The most fun I’ve had with a player casting Hold Person was when the action was taking place on a beach. The Paladin (I think… maybe it was a Fighter) knocked the last of four bandits down and held him at sword point. The party wanted to know who was pulling the bandit’s strings, but the bandit wouldn’t talk. The Cleric cast Hold Person and the bandit watched in horror as the tide kept ebbing in and out. He eventually spilled the beans LOL

  7. My favorite example of Hold Person came when the party’s cleric cast it on an enemy who was using a returing axe. She cast it after he threw it and since he couldn’t catch it on the return it got buried in his skull instead. It was awesome!

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