Banishment too vague : what is "supernatural creature" ?

My sorcerer player just bought Banishment. I didn't really think anything of it except that it was just another cool power that made the PCs be awesome in a fight.

But then it hit me : a "supernatural creature" cheeses it ? What qualifies as supernatural creature ? Is there a limitation ? Is a Jiangshi one, and a Demon, and any random monster I could create for the need of the story ? What about a human who's been mutated by a supernatural entity ?

Does that mean that the player is going to virtually insta-defeat any monster I throw at them now with a simple Sorcery against Defense check ? Basically, just one attack ?

Up until now I essentially used humans because that's how the campaign started, but I was planning to introduce the whole supernatural side of the world in the next few sessions, with many monsters and cool fights... Did he just made them winnable in one hit ?

I guess it would be up to each GM, but this is how I would run.

In effect banishment would mean that yes, the character can keep forcing an enemy to cheese it. The problem is of course that sooner or later the characters may want to actually take this monster down or that the monster or its boss will make a new attack plan or it could lead to new fight scenes. Think for example if some neferious eunuch has summoned a bloodthirsty demon into a fight and the sorcerer forces the demon to cheese it. Maybe the demon goes on a rampage to kill and maim as its away from the heroes, and the heroes must now track down and destroy the demon, provided they don't want to keep running after a constantly cheesing demon for all eternity.

As for that constitutes a supernatural creatures I would say that pretty much anything that would need magic to work and isn't explained ingame by science-ish stuff nor is a living human, would count as a supernatural creature. Thus both demon and hopping vampire would be good targets for this spell, while the eunuch controlling them would not nor would in my mind a human simply mutated, unless you would say that the result has left its humanity behind in a similar degree to the hopping vampire.

Anything with a Creature power schtick, basically. In this case 'supernatural creature' refers to the character template in the main book, and the schtick section referring to the same. Plus I would say any other NPC 'special thing' antagonist the GM makes and decides is a supernatural creature. But things like gene freak and tranimals don't count, even if they have otherworldy abilities, because they use a different set of powers.

Well it's a 3-shot action per critter, and you have to succeed in a Sorcery check against their defense (which also means a chance at a way-awful failure). Other than that, nope. Sorcerers are very strong against supernatural creatures.

Again, this is answered by asking what new schtick they've acquired. If it's a Supernatural Creature schtick, then yes. Otherwise, no. If it's some new schtick or power the GM made up, GM's call.

Yes, technically. But I don't think this is as unbalancing as you fear, because if your featured foe or boss Creature has a really high DV compared to the Sorcerer's AV, they run a bigger risk of a way-awful failure. Its not like you can aim this attack for bonuses.

"Cheeses it" is a temporary defeat if you're talking about a featured foe, boss or Uber boss. They'll be back....and back again...and back again, until the Sorcerer fails or stops using it. OTOH, the ability to insta-remove a mook or three is no big deal. The Masked Avenger can remove six mooks per roll, and the Sword Master removes a bunch while doing other actions. And don't get me started on the Agony Grenade. The sorcerer being able to remove one measly Supernatural Creature mook per action is no big deal.

I would also suggest you play your bosses smart. Meaning that if a Creature boss knows the Dragons have a Sorcerer, they should act like they know the Dragons have a Sorcerer. Keep him occupied. Stay out of visual range. Keep your encounter in a hostile chi zone or juncture. Hire a sorcerous bodyguard to cast things like Corruption, Exorcism, Bend Fate and so on. Mooks you don't have to play smart; they can walk right into the PC group's strength and get mowed down for it. But villains shouldn't necessarily be that stupid.

Personally though, I wouldn't mind if the PCs continuously try and make some Uber-Boss cheese it. That just means they recruit more bosses, bring more firepower to the next encounter.

I've got a Magic Cop PC in the game I'm running, who gets 'Banishment' as a starting schtick.

I'm considering varying the effect, depending on the opponent, and the location ... in some fights (especially early ones), Banishment does cause the creature to Cheese It - which also means that they're likely to crop up again in a later fight, possibly increasing the odds against the heroes. ("Ooh, look, you know that demon you banished earlier? He's back. And he has friends.")

In other fights, especially episode finales, I'm considering something like the following ...

Supernatural mooks - dispelled when Banished (basically making it a fancy mook takedown that costs Magic points) - maybe they burst into flame, or otherwise head back to their home realm. After all, if the PC is willing to burn Magic points on mook disposal, they might as well get a decent special effect for doing so. (Works better conceptually against demonic opposition than the more physical opponents like Snake People, but you could handwave a portal effect to get them to return to their home Juncture, too.)

Supernatural Featured Foes (and especially Bosses) - might depend on the fight circumstances - perhaps they Cheese It through the summoning portal, perhaps they leap through a window and escape into the streets causing chaos, as suggested above, or perhaps it inhibits the Creature's channelling of supernatural power, causing them to miss a few shots, lose the use of one of their foe schticks, and/or take some damage, thus giving the abjuration a useful effect in the scene, without turning the fight into a complete anti-climax for the other players.
(Think about the varying effects of displaying a cross against Dracula - sometimes it causes him to flee the scene entirely, other times he just bares his fangs and is temporarily held at bay. Or holy water - against vampiric minions, they sizzle and die - Dracula, however, gets a nasty burn but keeps coming.)

This is especially relevant to the Magic Cop, who has to choose between guns and Banishment against a Supernatural Creature, due to the low/lacking (depending on approach taken) Martial Arts skill. Might as well let the Banishment schtick count for something dramatic. Especially as they're hindered against non-supernatural opponents by not having access to Blast schticks.

If you've got a supernatural featured foe or boss that really needs to be in a scene, and one of the players is packing Banishment, then you do need to get creative.

"Soft" Counters:

  • Use Illusion magic to disguise which GMCs are supernatural and which ones aren't.
  • Use mundane make-up and disguises to change appearances.
  • Banishment works, but the demon gets a 3-shot "Last Word" attack before the pit opens and swallows them up.
  • Banishment works, but it also causes certain demons explode, inflicting collateral damage (and possibly a catastrophic "chain reaction").
  • Villain chooses a scene location with juncture modifiers tweaked against sorcery.
  • Enemy human sorcerer uses Bend Fate to sandbag the PC's roll.
  • Boss has an artifact or macguffin that boosts his resistance, or gives him a limited number of "counterspells" before it burns out.

"Hard" Counters:

  • PC has been cursed (either off-screen or otherwise) so that Banishment automatically backlashes until certain conditions are met.
  • Boss has an artifact or macguffin that automatically negates Banishment. Macguffin needs to be stolen/destroyed first.
  • Boss is flat-out immune to Banishment unless the PCs can locate an ancient scroll or some other macguffin.
  • Scene location is hallowed/unhallowed ground and explicitly doesn't allow Banishment inside a certain area.
  • Boss has clones or duplicate bodies that he can activate or re-occupy quickly.
  • Boss has a "revolving door" policy with the Underworld and can come-and-go as he pleases. If banished, he just shows up again in the next sequence.
  • Boss pulls out a card that says, "I have Plot Immunity", shows it to the PCs, puts it back into his jacket, then continues to fight.

(In the last example, I actually had a card printed out and physically handed it across the table to a player. He even got to keep it, and I suggested he could use it later in another scene to get his own character out of a jam. The players absolutely loved this.)

And, after making my post, I had a better look through other Schticks in that Speciality, and discounted the 'affects foe schticks' option, as there's already a Schtick for that. Should have done more research before [strike]opening my mouth[/strike] typing!

(I'm running a three-player game in the contemporary juncture, where one of the players is a Magic Cop, so it's likely that many of their scenarios will involve an occult element, either in bridge or big finish scenes. And I'm running it outside Hong Kong, as the Magic Cop is immune to the home juncture Sorcery modifier, and I know London better. I appreciate that these are all extra issues that most may not encounter.)

Some of Basselope's suggestions won't work in the circumstances I'm thinking of, but that's mostly for reasons that they don't know, and I don't want to put up here as my players may be reading. [grin] As for several of the others, YOINK. (Which is the sound of them being added to the big bag of GM tricks.) Ta!

I don't want to just generally nerf Banishment, as the Magic Cop is initially notably lacking in any other alternatives other than 'pull out a gun and start blasting at the creature until it goes down', which seems a little bland.

I decided that, if the player agrees, I'll probably go with 'Banishment may, alternatively, cause the Foe to miss 3 shots'. Given that Banishment is also a three-shot action, that doesn't actually help the caster any, it just inserts a pause into the fight - but if they have allies, then it affords them the opportunity to get up to something useful. The other likely option is to inflict damage (like Blast, but limited to Supernatural Creatures, and costing Magic, so not as powerful/useful) - think the sprinkling of sanctified something onto a creature.

There was also the thinking that the Magic Cop doesn't really want to be causing creatures to flee into the city to cause more carnage - or do you all tend to go with a more 'terminal' effect of banishment, which causes the Creature to discorporate (as Basselope suggests), rather than just running away (as implied by Cheese It)?

That sounds a little like displaying a crucifix in front of a Hollywood-style vampire. Unlike "turn undead" in D&D, brandishing a crucifix in most Hollywood movies tends to immobilize a vampire, or at least trigger a test of wills, as there's invariably a scene here where the priest has to undergo a crisis of faith and then decide that he "really means it this time!" In a more Asian context, this might be portrayed as brandishing/affixing an ofuda or omamori. In a cinematic context, it's a "lockdown" tactic: even if the priest succeeds or fails at his test of faith, this usually delays what the vampire is doing and gives the Scooby Gang time to get a stake ready, open the curtains, prep some holy water, etc. So... that makes sense for Western-style vampires.

The specific tactic is likely to vary according to the type of creature. Werewolves, for example, generally don't care about crucifixes. Ghosts might be weak against some object they coveted in their former life. Shadows don't like bright lights. And so forth.

I would also consider turning it into an "extended action", where the Magic Cop needs more than one "success" for the banishment to be successful. As in, one successful Banishment check gets rid of mooks and unnamed GMCs. Two successes in a row (6 shots) gets rid of Featured Foes. Three successes in a row (9 shots) gets rid of most Bosses. If a Featured Foe or Boss has henchmen/minions, this allows the bad guys a chance to disrupt the banishment, making the scene a little more dramatic.

That's what Pathfinder did with Turn Undead, and I actually prefer that to the "all or nothing" mechanic of D&D 3.5. It's less "swing-y", and treating it as damage makes it easier to predict.

I'd say the specific effect of "Cheese it" is left deliberately vague by the rules, and the specifics are probably going to vary by creature. Buffy-style vampire mooks could be "dusted". Werewolf might revert to naked (and harmless) human. Demons could bamf away in a cloud of brimstone, although whether they went back to Hell or just a few blocks away would have to depend somewhat on what best fits the narrative. However, if I can't think of a good descriptive way to get rid of a supernatural creature, I'm certainly not above saying, "He runs away", and then worry about where he went later.

[whistles nonchalantly] That was in no way an inspiration for the idea at all. [coughs] Our PC Magic Cop is using a prepared banishing powder, powered up with a couple of drops of his blood (he keeps a pin in his pocket to ensure being able to charge it when needed) - that allows a certain amount of flexibility in the effect, but uses the premise that the power is in the magic, rather than a specific item waved at the creature. And, indeed the idea was very much to give the Scooby Gang a chance to do something, even if, in our group, that's likely to mean that the Old Master unleashes another flurry of martial arts ...

Ooh, nice idea! (Requiring three successes would be a serious challenge, as the starting Magic Cop doesn't have enough Magic to cast it three times - however, that does also make for a good way to prevent a starting Magic Cop from forcing a Supernatural Creature Boss to Cheese It, while an experienced one might be able to. Interesting ...)

In the opening fight of my scenario, the Banished water demon dove back into the canal that it had attacked out of - which was one of the things that led to these thoughts. (As well as the "Wait, is it now loose in the city?" question from the PC.) Winking out of existence is definitely something that I am considering, though, and may well go for - and, as you point out, it doesn't prevent them being re-summoned and coming back again.

It's similar to the way that mundane thugs who Cheese It might either head back to their clubhouse to re-arm and put on a new bandanna, or renounce the life of crime and become a fruit farmer in the hills somewhere - but at least both of those outcomes are usually preceded by them running down the street crying "Don't hurt me!" Just trying to gauge what other GMs tended to opt for.

Thanks for the feedback!