Has anyone here put together a "Sleep" spell in the Dresden Files RPG yet? One of my PC wizards (we're playing a "Submerged", or high-powered game) has a sleep spell as a Rote, and I wanted to see if my implementation made sense to anyone else. Here's how it works:

She's got a Conviction of 4 and a Discipline of 5, plus a Spirit Focus for Evocation Power so her effective Conviction/Discipline are 5/5. Her Rote is built on having her Focus, so she can't use the Rote if her Focus is missing. This Evocation is a Maneuver, because, as we'll see, it applies an Aspect to the target.

She takes 1 Mental Stress to gather the 5 shifts of power, and because it's a Rote doesn't have to roll Discipline to control the spell. Her target gets to resist with a Discipline roll against the power of the spell - 5. If the target fails, he receives the temporary Aspect, "Terribly Sleepy", which my PC can then Tag (for free) to invoke for the effect "he falls asleep." The Aspect persists on the target for 1 exchange for each shift by which the target failed his Discipline roll.

Here are a couple of important factors I took into account when creating this spell to justify not having to generate enough shifts to Take Out the target:

  • The sleep is regular old sleep. Anything that would wake the target from regular sleep will wake him from this. This surprised the PC when she slept a standing security guard, who then woke up from the shock of hitting the floor! This also means that if she sleeps someone at a desk, etc., the PCs still have to be quiet or risk waking the target.
  • The Aspect wears off after only a few exchanges and can only be tagged for free one time.
  • The target gets to resist the spell and so can avoid the effects entirely.
  • If the Aspect is invoked after the Tag, the target gets the Fate Point as an offset.

So - any thoughts? Anyone else put together similar Rote yet? This one has been very useful in our game both for the PCs and for me as GM - slept targets needing to be caught before they fall and needing to be stealthy once the targets are asleep give my brainy-over-brawny wizards some challenges they can't evoke their way out of.

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    Just read the FAQ entry about "Jeopardy" style questions that you answer yourself. Should I reformat this as a very short question and then answer it myself? And if I should, should I wait until the bounty expires to keep from poaching Matt's reputation bonus? – gomad Oct 6 '10 at 16:05
up vote 6 down vote accepted

First off, don't forget that there's a Sleep spell in the main book that uses Thaumaturgy (YS 293), which would make a good baseline.

Apart from that, it looks about right. I'm not sure you'd want to have the Aspect be "Terribly Sleepy", since invoking that wouldn't actually put them to sleep. Invoking an Aspect that implies something will happen when invoked (such as say, "Off Balance") doesn't make that happen; it just makes it easier for someone to make it happen. Invoking "Off-Balance" won't automatically knock someone over, you'd still have to roll Fists or Athletics or whatever to actually knock them over; invoking the Aspect would get you the +2/reroll making it much more likely.

It might be better to have the Aspect be "Light Sleeper" or "Catnapping", since that puts them out straight out (which is what you you want), but still lets people invoke to get a bonus to sneaking or whatnot, but at the same time implies that the target can be woken up easily.

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    The whole point of the Thaumaturgical spell is that it is a magical, dreamless sleep. It really does Take Out the target. And when you Invoke an Aspect for Effect, it does make things happen. If one of the sample PCs Invoked Hail, hail, the gang's all here, then that would make the others conveniently present or at least nearby. The name of the Aspect itself is still evolving. Last game we used "Asleep on Your Feet" for more and better flavor. Also, the thaumaturgical version doesn't allow for a resistance roll. It generates enough shifts to overcome any roll. – gomad Oct 6 '10 at 18:42
  • Dangit, you're right about invoking for effect; I don't know why I forgot about that. – Sean D Oct 6 '10 at 18:59

We did it as a block - in order to do anything, the sleepers had to overcome the block, which allowed them to subconsciously fight the sleep spell. I'd forgotten about invoking for effect also- I'll have to look into that.

I think that compelling a "sleepy" aspect to make someone fall asleep is a perfectly legitimate move in Fate, but I've got this nagging feeling that being asleep--like just about any other condition modeled by the system--ought to be an aspect in its own right.

If we look at it that way, a spell could simply place the aspect "asleep" on a target, and then anyone who wants to take advantage of the target's unconsciousness would just have to compel that aspect. "The guard doesn't stop me, because he's asleep."

The difference here is that this method would cost more fate points (to pay for compels) the more you want to get away with, but it wouldn't necessarily be as fragile as the light nap in the example above. You can make noise and jostle the sleeping target, and they'll stay under . . . unless they pay off the compel.

One nice thing about handling it this way is that you'd avoid discussions about what "realistically" would wake the sleeping target: As long as the compels are accepted, they ain't waking up.

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    I think you've described it much the way it works in play - if the target is potentially awakened, for instance, by a failed Stealth roll, the PCs can pay to keep the target asleep - knowing that when the target wakes, he'll have all the fate points they pumped into keeping him asleep! Somehow, we don't have arguments about what would wake someone up. I say, "If you don't make this athletics roll to catch her, she'll wake up." or, "If you fail this stealth roll, she'll wake up." And since we all know what the stakes are, there's no argument. – gomad Oct 7 '10 at 22:14

I think your rules are fine. I would say that a "sleep you cannot awaken from unless X" would certainly be possible but would violate law three. A natural sleep is coming close but only in spirit -- which is fine.

Clearly, some really interesting role playing you can do there.

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