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Morgenstern Revisited: Blurred Vision and Bolster Magic

Cover image for Morgenstern's Spellbook

For this week’s installment of the Morgenstern Revamp, I’d like to talk about blurred vision and bolster magic.

A Hindrance of Vision

In addition to making improved or more deadly versions of existing spells, Morgenstern liked to dabble in less effective versions at lower spell levels. Blurred vision, along with its companion hard of hearing, was an attempt to create slightly less annoying results compared to blindness/deafness.

Blinded creatures in 3.5e had to worry about miss chances in a fight, losing their Dexterity bonus to AC, moving at half speed, and more. The original 3.5e version of blurred vision halved the numerical penalties from being blinded and gave a penalty to sight-based checks.

Now, 5e is a bit more forgiving on blinded creatures. They automatically fail sight-based Ability checks. Naturally. They also have Disadvantage on attacks while creatures attacking them have Advantage. And that’s it. It doesn’t leave much to work with for a “lesser” version. Based on the formula of halving numerical penalties blurred vision should probably produce

  • Disadvantage on sight-based Ability checks
  • –2 to attacks (and +2 to your attackers?)

Mechanical Advantage

The first option there is very much in keeping with the current rules. Disadvantage is the go-to penalty. At first, the second option would seem not to fit in, though. There are next to no straight numerical penalties or bonuses in 5e. Most things default to the Advantage/Disadvantage system. But one thing that does use numerical penalties is the cover system. If someone has three-quarters cover between them and an attacker, they get to add +2 to their AC. Half cover grants them a +5. So, for blurred vision, we can say that your messed up eyes effectively grant three-quarters cover to creatures you target with attacks. This will be a little weird if your table uses the “hitting cover” option from the DMG, but you’ll work something out, I’m sure.

That leaves us with the question of duration. In 3.5e, blindness/deafness was permanent (yikes!), so it made sense for blurred vision to be. Thankfully, in 5e blindness/deafness lasts for only a minute. I could certainly make blurred vision have a fixed duration, too. But I think of this spell as the equivalent of throwing sand in someone’s face in a fight. I want it to have a quick and dirty feel to it. So, I’m thinking making the duration Concentration up to 1 minute and dropping it from a first level spell to a cantrip might be in order. Then your target can wallop you to end the spell. And the cantrip status compares well to bane, a first level spell which puts a –2.5 (average) attack and save penalty on three targets.

Blurred Vision

Necromancy cantrip [bard, cleric, sorcerer, wizard]
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V
Duration: Concentration up to 1 minute

You call upon the powers of unlife to deteriorate the vision of your target. Choose one sighted creature you can see within range. Your target must make a Constitution saving throw. If they fail, for the duration of the spell, your target has Disadvantage on all sight-based Ability checks and creatures they attack effectively have three-quarters cover with regards to them.

Boost that Magic

In keeping with Morgenstern’s penchant for making magic better, bolster magic fortifies an ongoing spell to increase its duration and power. There isn’t much to do to convert this one over to 5e. The original was a little clunky, though, so I’ll clean up the verbage. And I’ll take advantage of the new “higher level casting” system whereby many spells increase their effects when cast with higher level spell slots.

Bolster Magic

1st-level abjuration [wizard]
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 5 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

You channel arcane energies to bolster one ongoing spell or spell effect of 1st level or lower active in an area or on a creature or object within range. The targeted spell has its duration doubled. If it requires a save against its effects, all targets of the spell have Disadvantage on the save. If the targeted spell deals damage, all damage dice are increased by one die step. (If the base damage dice are d12s, instead add +1 per damage die.)

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you may target spells of level equal to or lower than the spell slot used.