Friday, December 31, 2021

Spell - Consume Memories

We've discussed the value we place in spells like Deep Sleep that offer intriguing scenarios along with the heavy mechanical lifting behind them. The 6th level necromancy spell Consume Memories offers something similar, though not so much that we would consider it a DM spell. That being said, it did create an interesting scenario for us at our brewing table; what school does this spell belong to!? Some of you may see 'psychic damage' and 'learn information' in the spell description and question why this isn't a divination spell. Let's take a look at what this spell does, and then explain why the end product landed itself within the school of necromancy.

The spell takes an action to cast, allowing the target to try and eat the memories of a target creature within 60 feet of the caster. The target takes 4d6 necrotic damage right off the bat for watching you bite into a rotten piece of fruit, and you regain temporary hit points equal to the damage dealt. Guaranteed damage is pretty par for the course when trading off one of your valuable 6+ level spell slots, and the temporary hit points make this spell a flavorful and versatile option in dangerous situations. But we aren't at the meat of this spell yet; after this initial effect, the target makes an Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, they take 6d10 psychic damage and become stunned for a minute or until they can succeed a subsequent saving throw. Then comes the fun part; the DM gets to choose a core memory that you eat.  You learn this memory, and they forget it until it's restored by higher-level magic.

So why is this nefarious little spell in the school of necromancy instead of divination? Well, we actually aren't totally unanimous on this one! The rules for what a spell needs to be in the school of necromancy aren't clearly defined, which is where the problem ultimately lies. Many necromancy spells deal with manipulating life force; Animate Dead, Revivify, Spirit Shroud, etc. You also have a lot of spells dealing with draining and stealing; Vampiric Touch and Blight are good examples. But then there are a good number of spells that don't really fit these criteria either; spells that are just kind of mean, like Bestow Curse, Contagion, Eyebite, the list goes on. So, what's the one universal rule? If a spell is icky enough and generally fits into these themes, it deserves to be called a necromancy spell. Not everyone liked this decision, but we ultimately voted to keep the spell as necromancy, seeing it as a spell with cruel and twisted flavor that played well into the necrotic theme of stealing the essence of others. And with the essence being memories, we felt this was more interesting as a necromancy spell than a divination spell. We hope you've enjoyed this discussion as to what a necromancy spell even is, and we'll see you next time!

dnd 5e 6th level necromancy spell homebrew consume memories
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