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A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the Withdraw spell. This week, another spell from 1e Unearthed Arcana caught my eye: Meld to Stone. The spell allows a cleric (and gear) to meld into a large block of stone. It has a duration of 1d8+8 rounds, but the 1d8 is rolled by the DM so that the cleric doesn’t know exactly how long protection lasts. This spell isn’t unique in this regard. There are a few spells where the DM rolls secretly.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that the last thing I want is an overbearing DM that thinks, “This is my table!” No, dipshit; it’s our table. As Sly Flourish will tell you, the players do as much story writing as the DM does. But giving the DM this kind of control isn’t anything like that. The spell is simulating how capricious or uncaring gods can be to those pesky little gnats that call themselves “mortals.” To do that, the DM must seize control, but this control is baked into the rules, reducing the potential for conflict between players and DMs. I’ve seen too much conflict at tables, and this spell shows that you can avoid it even where the DM appears to exercise a great deal of control. I say, “appears,” because it’s really the dice, and therefore the gods of luck, that are in control.
Besides, if players don’t like the spell, they can take another instead. This effects players only if they’ve willingly bought into it.
You still have control over your character, but not the entire surrounding universe.
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