After reading a certain 2e book and being excited about having the included Wendigo swoop down and steal away with my players (as described in its tactics), I read through their entry to get more information. Unfortunately, their Ride the Wind ability appears to be unusable as written.
Ride the Wind triggers when a Wendigo casts Wind Walk while having a victim Grabbed. The problem arises due to Wind Walk having a ten minute cast time, and ending immediately upon entering Encounter Mode. Seeing as grabbing a target certainly qualifies as being in Encounter Mode, and that even a terribly under-leveled opponent can wriggle free of a Grab given ten minutes of opportunity, this ability definitely does not seem to function as intended.
Given that, how exactly should this ability be handled? Allow the Wendigo to cast Wind Walk in combat, at one or two actions (it does need to make a Grab, after all)? Exactly how fast does 20 mph translate to encounter speed? And how does being in wind form interact with being attacked/damaged? Seems like a simple oversight, but I'm interested in seeing what the consensus is barring errata. And if I overlooked a previous discussion, please point me to the right place!
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It's not so much that it's poorly worded, it's that it cannot possibly do what it's supposed to. Adding upon that, there's no framework in the actions that the ability builds upon that support exactly how it's supposed to work (number of actions required, speed, resistance if any in wind form).
So to expand on this (and try to solicit more suggestions because that's how I roll apparently), I'll throw up the relevant blocks of text.
Ride the Wind Reaction (air, concentrate, primal, transmutation) Trigger The wendigo casts wind walk while it has Grabbed a foe. Effect The wendigo attempts to turn the grabbed creature into wind and carry it along as part of the action. If the target succeeds at a DC 38 Will save, it prevents itself from being transformed; in this case, the wendigo still transforms, automatically releasing the victim. A creature forced to Ride the Wind along with the wendigo is exposed to wendigo torment. The target can attempt a new Will save each round to return to normal, though it immediately becomes corporeal and begins falling if it succeeds.
Wind Walk...Cast 10 minutes (material, somatic, verbal)
When you cast this spell, each target transforms into a vaguely cloud-like form and is picked up by a wind moving in the direction of your choice. You can change the wind's direction by using a single action, which has the concentrate trait. The wind carries the targets at a Speed of 20 miles per hour, but if any of the targets make an attack, Cast a Spell, come under attack, or otherwise enter encounter mode, the spell ends for all targets just after they roll initiative, and they drift gently to the ground.
Relevant parts are bolded.
Since you obviously aren't going to be able to cast a ten minute spell while you've grabbed someone, and the spell expires anyway when you enter encounter mode, and there's no suggestions for how to arbitrarily shorten cast times when RAI becomes more important than RAW, I'm not entirely sure of the best way to run this in the intended fashion. There's also no guidelines that I'm aware of for how to convert MPH into speed, or what general effects, such as defenses, you might gain for now being made of wind (I'd probably take an incorporeal monster of similar level as an example?).
So as is it isn't a combat ability but is still nice and useful. So a Wendigo steals one of your players away and tries to hide with it while casting Wind Walk the other players have 10 minutes to find them before *poof* they are off.
And while the wendigo is spending 10 minutes trying to cast wind walk, the target they have grabbed gets to make how many escape attempts? (hint: the answer is enough to escape in time, every time, statistically speaking)
The point of this ability is to be how a wendigo steals away one of the players - which is why the wendigo needs, in my opinion, to have a special ability that functions in similar ways to wind walk rather than the wind walk spell itself.
Basically, it needs to be possible for a wendigo to grab a target one turn, and if that target hasn't escaped by the wendigo's next turn, try to turn to wind and cruise away at high speed.
Seems easy enough to fix. A 20 MPH travel speed corresponds to 200 feet per move action (CRB p 479). So, if the wendigo starts turn grabbing the player, it takes two actions to cast wind walk (just using standard spell cast time rather than 10 minutes, since this is the real sticking point) then one action to move 200 feet into the air with or without the character depending on their save. It's up to you whether the Encounter mode clause still applies, personally I would say if the players can hit the incorporeal wendigo from 200 feet you have it release the target freely, but the grabbed character can't do it themselves. Otherwise the target makes saves each round, following the remaining Ride the Wind text.
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It seems obvious that the Wendigo can't be expected to use the standard wind walk spell as written. It needs a new ability, "Wendigo's Wind Walk" that works differently. As Bellybeard suggests for example.