To Haste or Not to Haste?

I’ve been working on the spell lists of the Healer class (these are the guys who specialize in physiological magic, that which affects a target’s physical body), and this has prompted me to ponder the inclusion of a Haste spell. Haste is a spell that has a long and storied history in D&D, and in some editions it’s been one of the game’s most broken spells.

Delta’s D&D Hotspot: Spells Through the Ages — Haste

The D&D 3rd edition version of haste has the following description:

“The transmuted creature moves and acts more quickly than normal. This extra speed has several effects. On its turn, the subject may take an extra partial action, either before or after its regular action. The subject gains a +4 haste bonus to AC. The subject loses this bonus whenever it would lose a dodge bonus. The subject can jump one and a half times as far as normal. This increase counts as an enhancement bonus. Haste dispels and counters slow.”

In addition to the extra partial action (attack, move or spell) and AC bonus, the spell has a casting range (25 feet + 5′ per 2 levels) and duration (1 round/level).

Here’s some commentary from the awesome TV Tropes:

“Another Tabletop Games example: The haste spell in Dungeons And Dragons version 3.0. Originally redesigned the way it was to “show off” the new action rules, designers learned the hard way that there was such a thing as an action “economy” in their resulting game… and whoops, they broke it. Nerfing this spell was arguably one of the primary reasons for the creation of 3.5.

To make this one step worse, the “speed” armor enchantment permanently duplicated the haste spell and was cheap which wouldn’t have been so bad except then the Arms and Equipment Guide established that armor enchantments could be added to bracers of armor which could be worn by characters who don’t normally get to wear armor. Every mage in his right mind bought a pair as soon as he could afford them, as an item that grants +1 armor bonus, +4 dodge bonus, AND lets you cast twice as many spells per round without having to ever take the action to cast Haste is a steal at 16,000 gp.”

This broken version of the spell was nerfed in D&D version 3.5:

“Haste: The transmuted creatures move and act more quickly than normal. This extra speed has several effects. When making a full attack action, a hasted creature may make one extra attack with any weapon he is holding. The attack is made using the creature’s full base attack bonus, plus any modifiers appropriate to the situation. (This effect is not cumulative with similar effects, such as that provided by a weapon of speed, nor does it actually grant an extra action, so you can’t use it to cast a second spell or otherwise take an extra action in the round.) A hasted creature gains a +1 bonus on attack rolls and a +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves. Any condition that makes you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) also makes you lose dodge bonuses. All of the hasted creature’s modes of movement (including land movement, burrow, climb, fly, and swim) increase by 30 feet, to a maximum of twice the subject’s normal speed using that form of movement. This increase counts as an enhancement bonus, and it affects the creature’s jumping distance as normal for increased speed. Multiple haste effects don’t stack. Haste dispels and counters slow. Material Component: A shaving of licorice root.”

Here the possibility of casting extra spells and the AC bonus are adjusted, offering just an extra attack to fighters (no extra spells) and the AC bonuses are reduced to +1.

Now, Heroes Against Darkness has a more codified action economy than any of the pre-4th D&D editions. But as Haste changes that action economy, I have to be careful of the unintended consequences of these sorts of powerful effects.

Hasten (2 Anima)

Spell Effect Target can use one move action as a major action each round
Target Single target
Duration End of target’s next turn
Range Touch or self

While each of the components of a spell (range, duration, effect, targets, damage, healing, miss effects, effect area, etc) have costs, the entire 2 Anima cost of this spell is entirely due to the spell effect that allows the caster to use a move action as a major action.

As the spell stands, it offers the target one extra major action, which is either a melee attack or a spell. The trade-off here is that the additional major action replaces the character’s move action, so it’s not all apples. Versions of the Haste spell in various D&D issues have given the target(s) additional attacks

I’m wary of increasing spellcaster power too drastically with this spell, so I’ve adjusted another rule, from this:

Rule: Magi cannot spend more than Level + 1 Anima on a single spell.

To this:

Rule: Magi cannot spend more than Level + 1 Anima in a single round.

I’m also thinking about the impact of a Haste-style spell of longer duration:

Impel (? Anima)

Spell Effect Target can use one move action as a major action each round
Target Single target
Duration 1 round + 1 round per caster level
Range Touch or self

This scaling variant of the spell gives the target (possibly) another major action every round for multiple rounds. The value of this extra action to the character and the appropriate anima cost are up for consideration and debate.

Check out the full rules for Heroes Against Darkness over at the downloads page: Heroes Against Darkness – Game Rules.

One thought on “To Haste or Not to Haste?

  1. What about a haste as is, and a haste strictly for movment not attacks that scales kinda like healing? I retreat become we retreat/everyone retreats.

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