Duration Tokens

dragonflyDragonfly finished casting his Control Weather spell and a small look of satisfaction slid across his face as the attackers, a pair of small Black Shadow Dragon siblings, were forced to the ground. His own allies, a Harpy Archer and Angelic Paladin (he shook his head, still unsure that anyone would believe the story of how he became allied with such creatures*) were safely behind him and the force of the storm.

“Ready yourselves,” he called to his allies, “they won’t be able to take off again until they leave the storm or it ends.”

The angel nodded sagely and the harpy screeched in what Dragonfly could only assume was agreement.

The larger of the two black shadow dragons hissed at the storm, flapping in a vain attempt to lift off once again.

Its smaller sister prepared to turn and walk out of the storm’s reach, using a wing to keep the wind and rain out of her eyes. “Stop that, idiot! We need to move before that druid uses Call Lightning.”

“Why?” asked the brother.

“Because the lightning will be stronger under this weather spell.”

“Oh,” said her brother, “how long does it last?”

“I don’t know!” she yelled, “Ask the druid!”

He did. The druid looked surprised, but not as surprised as his two allies as he started to answer the dragon. “It gets two duration tokens!” he called out.

The bigger black shadow dragon turned back to his sister, “Three turns!”

His sister shook her head, “It’s only two turns, doofus. The rest of this turn, and all of next turn.”

“But he just cast the spell!” called her brother.

The smaller black shadow dragon sighed, her brother was always embarrassing her, “It works just like Shadow Breath!”

“No, that gets three tokens!” he yelled back.

She face-winged and called to the druid, “Maybe you can explain it? He won’t listen to me.”

The druid took a step forward but was interrupted by the angel’s shout of protest, “You’re kidding?! You’re going to explain yourself to him?”

The druid stepped forward and began drawing a few large rectangles in the dirt in front of him, “Of course. I’m neutral!”

The harpy shook her head, and may have face-palmed if not for her claws.

“Listen carefully,” the druid called out, “When you use your Shadow Breath, you place 3 Duration Tokens on it, correct?” He drew three hourglass figures on one of the rectangles and glanced up.

The large dragon nodded; of course he knew that, it took three turns before it was ready again, everyone knew that!

“Well,” continued Dragonfly, “When I cast Control Weather, I place 2 Duration Tokens on it,” he drew two hourglasses on the next rectangle, “See?”

He looked up again as the dragon answered, “Yes …”

“They work the same,” his sister said impatiently, “like I’ve told you before.”

Her brother shook his head, “No, I put my tokens down ‘Afterwards.'”

She sighed, and looked around, hoping no other dragons could see them.

“Your sister is right,” called out the druid, “In both cases, we place our Duration Tokens down as we use the Upgrade.”

“But …” the larger dragon started, “your spell has a Continuous Effect!”

“All that means is that my Upgrade keeps doing something while the Duration Tokens are on it. The spell keeps working. Your Breath Weapon is only different in that it does not keep doing something. In both cases, we remove one Duration Token at the end of the turn, from each Upgrade card that has Duration Tokens.”

The angel had to admit he was impressed by how patient the druid was. He prepared to charge the dragon.

The dragon slowly nodded at the druid, “Ok, ok. But not on your first turn.”

“So close…” said his sister.

The druid looked thoughtful for a moment, “Why do you think that would be true?” he asked.

“You had to disable it,” the dragon declared.

“… and yet so far,” his sister muttered, she considered using her Shadow Breath on both of them, but she was sure the Druid was out of range.

“I think I see the confusion,” said the druid, “Disabling the Upgrade is irrelevant. It just means I would have to spend an extra action to prepare to use the spell again, which would be silly in this case, since the Upgrade goes away when the Continuous Effect ends! Which is what happens when the last Duration Token is removed. During the End Phase, you remove 1 Duration Token from each Upgrade Card.”

The dragon seemed to think it over, “So, you will remove one Duration Token from it at the end of this turn, then the last one from it at the end of next turn, and then the spell ends AND the Upgrade goes away.”

His sister gasped, “You’ve got it! And it doesn’t matter when you put the Duration Tokens on the Upgrade Card, you always remove one from each Upgrade Card during the End Phase!”

The Druid smiled. He’d always quite enjoyed teaching, “Well done. Keep in mind that I could have, if I wanted, used my Staff of the Woodlands to add an extra Duration Token to the card.”

His sister rolled her eyes, “Don’t confuse him more!”

“No, I get it!” the larger Dragon exclaimed, “You would have Disabled the Staff and gotten to put 3 Duration Tokens on the Control Weather Upgrade card instead of 2! It just would have lasted 1 extra turn! If I used my breath on you right now, and you used the staff, we would both put three Duration Tokens down and both remove one at the end of this turn!”

“Why didn’t you?” asked the sister.

The angel turned to the druid, “That’s a good question. You won’t get to recast it since it goes away when the Effect ends.”

The druid looked a little embarrassed, “I forgot I could, actually.”

The harpy snorted.

“It’s been a long day …” Dragonfly grumbled.

The harpy nodded in agreement. It had been a long day**.

The two dragons put their heads together and whispered to each other, the brother slowly nodding at the sister.

The brother turned suddenly back towards the druid, drawing in a deep breath. The druid braced for the necrotic energy of a Shadow Breath.

“We concede.” the larger shadow dragon said.

“You … concede?” stammered the druid.

“You have no idea how long I’ve been trying to explain this. THANK you” his sister responded, “Let’s go, Reggie.”

Both dragons turned and quickly moved across the battle area.

“What just happened?” asked the Angel, “Where are you going?”

The brother leaped into the air and shouted back, “We saw some bird people!”

His sister followed, but hesitated to call back to them, “He means the Aarakocra. I’m going to try to explain how Area Effects work with Troops!”

The strange allies watched the Black Shadow Dragon siblings fly off, quickly losing them against the night sky.

“Well,” said Dragonfly, “that was … odd. Shall we build a campfire?”

The angel sighed and hung his Holy Warhammer from his belt, “Druid,” he began, “How did you know the second one was female?”

Dragonfly turned to look at the angel, “I’m a druid.”


* a story for another time.
** another story for another time.