Magic doesn't reduce stronghold costs?

Hi all! I’m gearing up to run an ACKS game and running through the rules I didn’t see anything about spells such as “Stone to Flesh”, “Rock to Mud”, “Polymorph”, “Charm Monster” etc. altering the cost of constructing a fortress or stronghold. I assume the costs in the rules are based on peasants using their own muscle power to haul materials to the site and building a fortress, but certainly characters who can clear and grade land magically or employ a dozen hill giants (charmed or polymorphed) could hasten the construction. I’m sure I can work something up, but I was hoping someone else may have put some thought into this.

The construction costs assume traditional methods. Wall of Stone, Move Earth and similar methods could greatly reduce construction cost and time but I haven’t written up anything detailed in that regard.

There could be reasons to avoid shortcuts like those. Durability or the need to renew certain magics involved in the construction. Dispel magic might have some very serious consequences on the integrity of your fortress, for example. Definetly an area to put some thought into.

Meh. I don’t like Aldarron’s idea. That seems like a deliberate attempt by the DM to gimp the PC. It’s telling a player “No, you can’t have fun.” The better path is to find a way to say “Yes”, while creating a new challenge for the player to overcome.
I think the main limitation would be skill-based. Just because a spellcaster can move a lot of Earth or turn Mud to Rock, doesn’t mean he can do it in a way that necessarily makes a sound structure. He’d be like a kid making a really big sand castle - and just as prone to fall down.
Two idea present themselves -

  1. The wizard or cleric could help, but they would have to work very closely with an architect or engineer to get it right. And if they are doing this for the first time, they may or may not save any time. They would primarily only save on materials and the unskilled labor (the cheap parts). And of course the PC is tied down to the construction project - no delegating the work and then go off adventuring.
  2. The most significant benefit might be realized from turning a skilled artisan (like a mason) into a giant so they can cut stones 10x as fast, or 10x as large. But then you’d need giant-sized tools (custom made - $$$) and a giant-sized catering budget.
  3. Another benefit might not be in saving time or money, but adding features that mundane construction couldn’t achieve. An example might be using a thin Wall of Stone to resurface an existing outer wall. The resurfaced wall would be glass smooth, and magically free of the least handhold for Thieves to climb. Or if you are using Mud to Rock to turn poured mud into stone structures, you could use molds to make unusual shapes, such as very high arches or bridges between towers. Or putting iron spikes in unfortunate places before it hardens.

Er… THREE ideas present themselves.
Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and a almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

Aldarron isn’t suggesting a new rule, it says it right there in the spell description: “This wall is permanent unless otherwise destroyed or dispelled with dispel magic.” This is different than Transmute Mud to Rock, which has no such indication.
On the other hand, the spell description for Wall of Stone specifically argues against the notion that the wizard needs help from an architect, as they can simply elect to produce an arched and buttressed span (reducing the volume by half), and can produce “crudely shaped … crenellations, battlements, and so forth by likewise reducing the area.”

But isn’t the key phrase there ‘crudely shaped’?

If you want quality work, ya gotta pay for it.

Noted on the ability to Dispel. That already makes it a non-starter for anyone interested In a permanent structure. God forbid someone Dispelled your weight-bearing columns. And “crudely shaped” means “Looks like play-doh art project to me”. :slight_smile:

You could probably use transmute mud to rock to create something like concrete walls, by pouring mud into boarded spaces and then transmuting it. The result would probably look something like WWI-era concrete, with board imprints in it. Someone might even experiment with putting iron or steel rebar in it. I suppose the labor costs would mostly stem from having to erect the boarded moulds and pour the mud into them. How would that affect cost per wall, I wonder!

Rock to mud is definitely the way to go here. Wall of stone is vulnerable to dispel, but the end result of rock to mud isn’t. After the transmute’s duration expires the material resumes its previous nature, though not form.

By forming the mud as suggested and waiting for the spell to expire considerable work could be done. It wouldn’t be zero effort, of course. The mud would weigh about half what the stone would, so that’s a big help. Specialized barrows and such would be needed, but even so the savings over shaping and moving individual blocks of stone would be considerable. Without a skilled architect to guide the construction the end result would be very crude and either simple or unstable. No doubt actual masons and such would be required for the detail work of battlements, stairs, etc. But just to put up your basic curtain walls and such this would be very effective.

Oh, wall of stone would be handy for making the ‘molds’ to pour the mud into. Once the mud turns back to stone you can dispel the walls of stone. Would be a lot easier than constructing massive wooden hoardings around everything that are strong enough to hold in thousands of pounds of mud.

I think the killer combo here is Transmute Rock to Mud + Move Earth.

Together, you would grade and level at the same time as you turn rock into mud for building materials. You could also burrow quickly into rock as deeply as you need to. Just turn a volume of it into mud and then Move Earth it wherever you prefer it to be. And since they’re different level spells, using one doesn’t cut into your uses/day of the other.

I like the idea of using Walls of Stone as your molds. At least in this manner you would

I previously thought that using Polymorph Other to turn your stone masons into Stone Giant stone masons might be a good idea, but I see in the spell description that using that spell the target takes on the mental characteristics of the creature they are turned into. Bad idea. Stick to hiring dwarves.

Charm Monster might have its uses though. I wouldn’t try to keep Giants around using this (they Save too often), but a even couple Ogres could speed up the heavy lifting parts of construction work.

Conjure Elemental could be handy, depending on what your DM thinks Elementals can do. A fire elemental could probably cure bricks like you wouldn’t believe. Not sure what an earth elemental can do in terms of working with stone.

Disintegrate could be a quick way of tunneling through a mountainside. Faster than hand tools anyway. You could also use it to terrace a steep hill side, creating flat foundations to build a sizable castle on in just a couple days.

Drat! Somehow a sentence got left unfinished. We need a way to edit these posts.

I was trying to say that Wall of Stone would allow you to “avoid unsightly mold board imprints in your finished wall.” Aesthetics are important too. :slight_smile:

Actually, if I really cared about aesthetics, I could build the castle however, but then use Wall of Stone to re-surface the outer wall in a 1" thick, seamless wall of some shiny and unusual stone, like gold-laced white marble. Or jade. It would fuse to the outer layer of the castle, and if someone dispelled it - who cares? It’s essentially a coat of paint.