A Touch Less Lame

Quick, what spell requires a melee to-hit roll in addition to the casting roll, and a point of spell-burn, and allows the target a saving throw, all to have a single round to attempt to do an extra 1d6 damage (at least on a minimal success)?  Yes, it’s the worst spell in any DCC wizard’s Grimoire, even less useful than the much-maligned Ekim’s Mystical Mask: Chill Touch. Really, the spell is so bad I’m convinced that some aspects like the Will save to resist are just cut-and-paste errors from some other spell. The chance of a first level caster actually succeeding at inflicting damage with this spell at the minimal level is around 15% against an unarmored target. (Chance of casting the spell times the chance of landing a hit next round times the chance the target fails its save.) And you have to sacrifice a point of Spellburn to even try!

I don’t object at all to some spells having drawbacks, or being generally less useful than others, but I strongly feel there ought to be some circumstance where even a minimal success makes a spell worth casting. With Chill Touch as written you’re strictly better off trying to hit twice with your melee weapon than spending a round and a point of one of your stats charging your weapon and then attacking and hoping the target fails the save.

I use the following house rules to make it a little more worthwhile: 

  1. As discussed in the previous post on touch attacks, allow the chill damage to hit on any melee attack roll of 10 or better. I.e. ignore armor.
  2. No saving roll.
  3. The effect lasts until the caster scores a successful hit, or if there’s duration remaining (iow on rolls of 18+), every hit until time runs out.

It’s still a somewhat questionable spell because of that Spellburn, but at least this way you don’t have to be crazy to cast it. If you succeed you’ll probably manage to do that extra 1d6 at some point, if you don’t get killed in melee first.

4 thoughts on “A Touch Less Lame

  1. John P. says:

    I re-read the spell. My interpretation is that you deal the 1d6 regardless of whether your attack is successful or not. Also, no where in the spell does it say it needs to be a melee attack.

    • Joshua Macy says:

      That’s an interesting interpretation. I personally wouldn’t write “additional damage” unless I meant you had to score some damage first, but there’s some wriggle room there. Ditto for whether “charged hands” reasonably carries over to weapons after you let go…It smacks of the kind of rules lawyering that I normally can’t abide. But without something further the spell is too weak to bother with, so I’d are least consider it.

      • John P. says:

        I can see your point on the additional damage but the creature gets the Will save to avoid the damage. As far as the ranged vs melee attack, I’m not sure how applying the spell RAW is rule lawyering. You’re complaining about the power of the spell but are implying restrictions that aren’t actually there. The misfire descriptions already states that the energy can travel through the air, it’s not a huge leap to think the charge can be passed to a ranged weapon.

      • Joshua Macy says:

        It’s a matter of what “Chill Touch” means. I have trouble picturing firing an arrow or throwing a rock as means of “touching” a target for a spell with range of Touch. Certainly if one of my players tried to argue that for some spell that I didn’t think was underpowered, like Reduce, I’d be convinced they were trying to pull a fast one.

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