Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

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Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby RPG Dinosaur » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:18 pm

Not in a position to check any DM's Guides right right now, but I was wondering how do you rule the aging process works for PCs/NPCs that were turned to stone by a petrification causing creature of your choice and then had Stone to Flesh cast on them? Let's assume that character made the system shock role. Are they as old as they would be if they had never been turned to stone i.e. the normal aging process occurs on 'living statues'? If that is the case then they could die while still trapped in stone form. Or maybe you think that the turned to stone process works on holding back the aging process until the time that the particular statue has the spell cast on it, then all the aging that would have occurred normally catches up all at once? That is what I think should happen.
Maybe you think that the aging process stops when a character is turned to stone and that the minute Stone to Flesh is cast on them, it as if nothing ever happened to them with no ill effects?
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby garhkal » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:38 pm

Never hd to consider this question as the Stone to flesh was always done within a few weeks, a month at most.. OR not at all.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby Lyrwik » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:52 am

I haven't ever had to actually make a ruling on this, but I would say that ageing stops the moment they are turned to stone, and when they are then turned back to flesh, they would be just as they were at the time they were frozen (possibly even still completing whatever action they were taking at the time, if you assume their consciousness/awareness is also held in stasis during that time).

I have the following reasons in support of this approach:
  • Ageing is a natural process (not some sort of magical process), and shouldn't really occur while in a completely different form, no more than they would need to eat/drink/breathe while in that form.
  • In any stories where someone has been turned to stone (NPC), they haven't suddenly aged the moment they've been turned back/rescued.
  • The 2E phb spell entry for Stone to Flesh makes no mention of the person ageing upon being turned back. However, it does discuss the possibility of weathering effects on the stone and degradation over time, and how that may affect the person when they are turned back. This suggests that they have at least contemplated the idea that a person could be in stone form for many years, decades or centuries, for weathering to have a significant effect, but for the person to still be alive when they're turned back.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby Halaster-Blackcloak » Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:42 pm

I agree with Lyrwik. Aging is a biological process. A statue is stone and has no biological process/metabolism to "age". So theoretically, a person who is petrified can be restored to flesh form a thousand years later and not be a day older than he was when first petrified.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby RPG Dinosaur » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:47 pm

Hmm, interesting takes.
You know, in a way, since the spell is reversible the players have another way to extend their PC's ages (even if it's just for a short time, say three months), although I am pretty much at a loss as to why you would do it considering the risk involved with the system shock. And I'm not forgetting that there is a trust factor with the Wizard who is supposed to return the PC back to flesh.
Actually, I can think of a reason to extend aging this way. Suppose there is a character who is poisoned and the parties Cleric has already cast his/her Cure spell earlier, as well as his/her Slow Poison. The Mage could perform the Flesh to Stone spell in order to preserve the poisoned character until a Cure can be ready and available. Providing of course that the character survives the system shock when they are returned to flesh
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby Halaster-Blackcloak » Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:11 am

It opens up a lot of possibilities.

Mummy Rot - if the PCs cannot access a cleric who has the ability to cast cure disease, then this is a way to avoid the CHA loss until a cure can be obtained.

Spectre/Level Drain
- say the PC is about to be drained to 0th-level by a spectre - he becomes one! So instead, cast flesh to stone on the PC and avoid that last horrible drain.

Vampire/Level Drain - if a PC is killed by a vampire, turning him to stone would preclude his coming back as a vampire, until a solution can be found.

Lycanthropy - if a PC is infected/cursed with lycanthropy, he can be prevented from becoming a werewolf by turning him to stone.

And so on and so forth. Granted, there is that system shock roll to contend with, but even a PC with just an average CON score of 10 has a 70% chance of surviving it. A CON of 12 gives an 80% chance of surviving. This of course assumes the PCs have no other solution. Admittedly, it's a drastic step. But it works!
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby garhkal » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:54 pm

Halaster-Blackcloak wrote:It opens up a lot of possibilities.

Mummy Rot - if the PCs cannot access a cleric who has the ability to cast cure disease, then this is a way to avoid the CHA loss until a cure can be obtained.

Spectre/Level Drain
- say the PC is about to be drained to 0th-level by a spectre - he becomes one! So instead, cast flesh to stone on the PC and avoid that last horrible drain.

Vampire/Level Drain - if a PC is killed by a vampire, turning him to stone would preclude his coming back as a vampire, until a solution can be found.

Lycanthropy - if a PC is infected/cursed with lycanthropy, he can be prevented from becoming a werewolf by turning him to stone.

And so on and so forth. Granted, there is that system shock roll to contend with, but even a PC with just an average CON score of 10 has a 70% chance of surviving it. A CON of 12 gives an 80% chance of surviving. This of course assumes the PCs have no other solution. Admittedly, it's a drastic step. But it works!


Very nice thought. Though shouldn't they be needing TWO system shock rolls one for BEING petrified, and one for the change back?
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby lanir » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:01 pm

garhkal wrote:Very nice thought. Though shouldn't they be needing TWO system shock rolls one for BEING petrified, and one for the change back?


I think that gets into the "stone isn't biological" question again. How do you tell a dead statue from a living statue? Or a masterpiece of carving?

Could make for some amusing renditions of the Once and Future King idea. Really he was just poisoned, his staff were desperate (he'd just pissed off the local priests), and he suddenly found himself with a new profession as a pigeon outhouse. By the time a cooperative priest could be found the power vacuum had been filled and a legendary pigeon perch was born.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby Halaster-Blackcloak » Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:13 am

Garhkal wrote:

Very nice thought. Though shouldn't they be needing TWO system shock rolls one for BEING petrified, and one for the change back?


Nope. This is one of the most common misunderstandings of the spell. Stone to flesh says:

"If the recipient stone object was formerly living, the spell restores life (and goods), although the survival of the creature is subject to the usual system shock survival roll."


- PHB, pg. 181

It says nothing about this under the flesh to stone reversed-form, because when someone is turned to stone, they aren't alive, and cannot make a system shock roll. There is no system to shock.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby garhkal » Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:33 am

However under constitution in the Attributes section it says

System Shock states the percentage chance a character has to survive magical effects that reshape or age his body: petrification (and reversing petrification),

So being petrified calls for a SS roll, and so does reversing it.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby lanir » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:49 pm

Yeah, you're right. System shock rolls both ways on all changes. Still sounds a bit batty though. If it weren't specifically mentioned I'd assume it was a special case where that should be ignored.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby Halaster-Blackcloak » Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:47 am

I've always considered the phrase mentioned in the Constitution/System Shock description to be a bit of a typo because it doesn't make any logical sense in game terms.

I tend to see it this way - logic (in-game logic and actual logic) always trumps poorly worded or contradictory rules. With flesh to stone or petrification and system shock, logic tells us that no system shock is needed when first turned to stone. Why is that?

First, because the character who is petrified is (in essence) already dead. He's a stone statue, a non-living piece of stone. What is "system shock", exactly? A shock to one's system or one's biological functioning. A shock to a living organism. If you do 50+ pts. of damage, the damage may "shock the system" so badly that the body dies. Almost like irreversible shock in real life.

If you're polymorphed into a worm, the biological shock may kill that organism - it's biological "system" is "shocked" or strained beyond its ability to cope with its re-shaping, and so the being dies. With artificial aging, the system is shocked by the sudden acceleration of the aging process. With haste, the system is shocked by the suddenly doubled metabolic state. And so on. Note than in each case, we are dealing with a living, biological "system", or a living being, both before and after the effect that requires the system shock roll. So you have a living being who is aged, or who takes massive damage, or who is polymorphed into another shape, or who is hasted and in each case, the system shock is rolled by the living organism after the effect takes place.

In other words, is Jared the Fighter's heart strong enough to survive being hasted and suddenly jumping from a combat-rated heartbeat of 145 beats per minute to 290 beats per minute? If it's strong enough, he survives. If not (i.e. if he fails his system shock), he dies. The biological functioning of his living heart failed to withstand the strain.

Or what about Merdin the Wizard? He is aged 40 years by a ghost. Now he just jumped from 30 years old to 70 years old in the blink of an eye. Can his body withstand the massive free radical damage, the accelerated deterioration of the cells, the immediately reduced plasticity of the blood vessels, the shortening of the DNA telomeres, etc? If so, he is now a living 70 year old wizard. If not, his body dies. Again, we're dealing with the biological effects of a living being.

But with petrification the person is converted to non-living stone. What is there to die? What "organism" is dying or being strained to the point of death? Statues do not have biological systems, so they cannot be "shocked". It makes no sense.

Third, what are the effects of a failed system shock on a petrified being? Does it crumble to dust? What does a failed system shock mean for a statue? For a living being it means dying. But statues can't die. According to the spell description, a formerly non-living piece of stone (say an actual sculpted statue) does not become alive if the stone to flesh spell is used on it. The description reads:

"Ordinary stone can be turned to flesh in a volume of nine cubic feet per level of experience of the caster. Such flesh is inert, lacking a vital life force, unless a life force or magical energy is available (for example, this spell would turn a stone golem into a flesh golem, but an ordinary statue would become a body."

Therefore there is no system shock roll needed. It was inert, dead stone before being converted to flesh, so it need not make a system shock roll. However:

"If the recipient stone object was formerly living, the spell restores life (and goods), although the survival of the creature is subject to the usual system shock survival roll."


Now, if there is a system shock roll required for a formerly living being who is turned back to flesh from stone, what happens if the DM requires a system shock roll when first being turned to stone and the victim fails? Isn't the second system shock roll when being turned back to flesh now superfluous?

Fourth, the spell description is worded so as to indicate a system shock roll only when a formerly living being who's been petrified is turned back to flesh. It says nothing about needing one when first petrified - appropriately, since it would make no sense. Compare that to the polymorph other spell, where it explicitly states that there is a system shock roll required first when changed into the new form, then again when turned back. That makes sense. Compare the two:

Polymorph other - a living being (say a human) has his organs, bones, and cells twisted into the form and size of a snake. That's got to have a very powerful effect on his living organism. Therefore, a system shock roll is needed. When he is returned to human form, again we have a living organism having its cellular structure expanded, warped, changed, along with its metabolism, etc. Again, a living system being severely shocked.

Flesh to stone (or petrification)/stone to flesh - We have a living organism first being converted to non-living stone. The statue is not alive, does not have a metabolism, and therefore cannot have its metabolism "shocked". When turned back into flesh, the cells are being reformed and therefore it is a living being subject to the shock of being reformed into flesh, thus the system shock roll.

So my take is that this is merely another example of a poorly worded phrase or typo, which makes no sense from any logical point of view.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby garhkal » Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:47 am

[quote]Third, what are the effects of a failed system shock on a petrified being? Does it crumble to dust? What does a failed system shock mean for a statue? For a living being it means dying. But statues can't die. According to the spell description, a formerly non-living piece of stone (say an actual sculpted statue) does not become alive if the stone to flesh spell is used on it. The description reads:/quote]

It means that the person statued is fully dead. so if a StF is later cast, there is only non-living flesh created.
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Re: Stone to Flesh Aging Questions

Postby Halaster-Blackcloak » Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:27 pm

That works fine, and that's how I would do it if I required a system shock roll when first being turned to stone. But I don't because it doesn't make sense.

My point with all that is that requiring a system shock roll when first petrified doesn't make sense on any level. How does one even determine whether the "statue" made its system shock roll in the first place? A person who is hasted and fails his system shock roll starts moving really quickly, then keels over dead. A person who is polymorphed into a snake and then fails his system shock roll writhes on the ground and turns over dead. A person who is aged by a ghost and who fails his system shock roll totters about on his aged legs and then grabs his chest and keels over dead.

A person who is petrified and then fails his saving throw...does what? He's already dead. He's a statue. A statue is not alive and cannot "die". It's only after he is returned to a fleshy state that we can determine whether or not he's still alive. Sorta like Schrödinger's cat. :wink:
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