Weaknesses of the Flesh
for d20 System
by Michael Tresca
Your character just suffered a terrible blow; he has suffered an Ability Drain, a permanent loss of 1 or more ability score points. This can range from sapping the character's Intelligence to withering his Strength. The end result is the same: that character will never be as powerful as he once was. After all, Hit Points can be healed, even Ability Damage eventually returns. But Ability Drain is permanent. Right?
Wrong. A 4th-level paladin and cleric spell, restoration, restores all points permanently drained from a single ability score. If you use the NPC spell casting rules, a 7th-level cleric casting the spell costs 290 gold pieces (spell level (4) × caster level (7) = 280) + (10% of material component cost (100/10) = 10) = 290 gold pieces.
For just under 300 gold pieces, the loss of 18 points of Strength can be easily restored. With all that healing at a character's fingertips, fear of life and limb are significantly reduced. What's a GM to do?
One way to make the ruinous effects of combat more painful for characters is to make Ability Drain only healable through a regenerate spell. On the other hand, players might become frustrated with the inability to remove the penalties, and understandably so; the loss of 2 points in an ability can affect skills, combat, and saving throws. Consider the loss of two Dexterity points. Nine skills suffer a -1 penalty (Balance, Escape Artist, . . .
This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.
Article publication date: March 16, 2007
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