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In the recent PC gamer article discussing Avowed they mention a few points... You have an established role as the imperial envoy, but your "personality, appearance, and philosophy and vibe you bring to that role is up to you as a player to decide" You can play as a human or an elf, but not other races It's purely singleplayer—no co-op The world is lightly systemic: think water and lightning interactions, but not the ol' bucket-on-the-head trick You'll have two companions with you at a time, with their own combat specialties and, of course, personalities There are several ability trees to progress through, and you won't be locked to a particular class or playstyle You will level up, but the focus is on unlocking abilities rather than putting points into stats to grow stronger Two of these points stand out to an extreme to me... 1: You can play as a human or an elf, but not other races. I can understand this to a certain degree. The size difference between an Orlan and an Aumauan would make things difficult... But at the same time, no Dwarfs? No Godlikes? You better allow us to specifify Pale elf or I will go through the roof! This seveerely limits roleplay potential and significantly reduces my desire to play the game, I have to be honest, especially godlike as it was one of the most interesting aspects of Eora and not being able to play this is sad. 2: There are several ability trees to progress through, and you won't be locked to a particular class or playstyle I was GENUINELY afraid this would be the case. Lorewise it makes no sense for there not to be a class system, as multiple of the classes in Eora work through the act of lifelong practice. You can't just pick up a grimoire and cast fireball, that isn't how magic works!. HEck you need to be born as a cipher, you can't just learn those skills willynilly! Combined that with the fact that I am so ABSURDLY tired of ability trees. I am sick of them. They limit creativity, they are usually filled with boring filler and deliver no challenge! It is the issue with skyrim that almost everytime I play it I default to sneak + bow, because it is the most OP stuff in the game, why would I not do it here then? Classes also motivates multiple playthroughs and allows more unique interactions in game. IT gives the character... character. ANd it is so dissapointing to see it just being another BORING system of trees. I am GENUINELY dissapointed in these reveals As someone that genuinely adores Pillars of Eternity 1 and 2, does this feel like a massive fallout 3 moment (And no, this is not a good thing).
I've seen a number of threads on what type of magic system people would prefer and most of them seem to be following the standard tropes. However, a few years ago I ran into a Mana Based homebrew for D&D 3.5 that did some really interesting and inovative things and that I think could work really well for this kind of game. For those of you who don't want to follow the link; the basic premise of this system was that, rather than gaining a huge pool of mana so you could pay for increasingly more costly spells as you leveled, your mana pool would be kept relatively tiny and the cost of spells would actually decrease. This was accomplished by setting there pool equal to your primary casting stat + your level + your con-mod* and providing a level based chart for spell costs. While this means that your pool would increase a bit over the course of play, you'd have to be really trying in order to break 60 points by level 20; which is nothing compared to the 232 points the official mod gave to wizards. The first outcome of this is that you get a really smooth and easily controlled power curve. Since a character's resources aren't going to change to much you can make sure that they're always able to cast a similar number of level appropriate spells, so at level 1 they're not going to fire two magic missiles and then switch over to a crossbow and at level 20 they're still not going to be able to spam Dragon Slay. Yes this does mean that eventually the cost of lower level spells goes down to zero, but this isn't actually a problem. The thing is, when you're fighting Cthulhu, nobody cares if you can cast an infinite number of fireballs; it just isn't relevant. One of the other interesting things this does is let you put a reasonable limit on the number of different spells a single character has access to at any given time. If you rely on the limited casting of a Vancian Magic system then you have to eventually give the player many spell slots; which they might, reasonably, choose to fill with many different spells. This seems detrimental to play for three different reasons. It encourages the bars of abilities found in games like WoW. These take up a good amount of space on the screen and break immersion (especially if you're controlling them via mouse). Having a large number of spells that have to be fit into premade slots of fixed level actually hampers experimentation and tactical play. The reason for this is simply one of numbers and effort. When given a relatively large number of choices it becomes significantly easier to repeat a small number of good selections as many times as necessary. Ironically, they're still likely to have a spell for almost any given situation on-hand or, failing that, enough generic spells to bludgeon most monsters into submission based on sheer weight of magic. Having discreet chunks of spell power makes gradual recovery harder since you have to come up with a scheme that's more complex or cumbersome than "the number slowly ticks up". While it can be done, this tends to encourage all-or-nothing recovery and, since no one want's to play while their favorite character has been rendered all but useless, this tends to encourage the five minute work day. With this system your power isn't determined so heavily by the variety of spells you have (in fact, there could be some advantages to purposely limiting your selection) . When combined with Grimoire this opens some interesting possibilities. One way of doing it would be to tie your spells to a Grimoire; under this system you could have trade offs between the number of spells it holds (capping at maybe 5 for one-handed spell books and 7 for two-handed ones) and other attributes like mana cost, strength and casting speed. Alternatively, if you wanted to take a page from demon souls, you could have the number of spells available be determined by a secondary stat; which would help discourage S.A.D. and allow Grimoires to effect spells on a more fundamental level (rather than just making spells faster or stronger the Book of Ra might convert all spells into fire spells while the Book of the Shattered Prism might multiply all projectile spells). And, of course, there's nothing to say you can't do both. After all, there will be more than one casting class. The last thing this sort of mana system does is bring mages more into line with mundane classes. Normally Mages get a completely unique mechanic (like vancian magic) or a completely new stat (like mana) while mundane characters either get to use their abilities for free or use stamina. The problem with this is it leave the mages playing a slightly different game. This can make balancing the two types of classes hard (just look at D&D 3.5) and, on a more interesting note, this makes it hard for mundanes to gain magical abilities and for mages to gain non-magical abilities. What tends to happen is either the character is free to use abuse the ability as much as they want , because the resource it draws on isn't used for anything else) or they can't use it a relevant number of times, because they haven't invested or couldn't invest in it. With this sort of system, there's no reason "mana" couldn't be some form of stamina that gets used by all of the classes. In fact, that would go along way towards explaining how some of the more impressive physical feats are performed and just what HP is. Right, I guess that's all I have to say for now; so, does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?
Please forgive the wall of text. I am a big fan of considering what went before. So the arguments about Vancian magic versus mana-based systems (and the completely understandable passion it generates) got me thinking. And, because I find myself less moved about it than some other folks, I thought that maybe I could add something new to the debate by casting my mind back to other RPGs from the Days of Yore. Of course, it should go without saying that pen and paper systems mechanically might not fit into a CRPG. But thematically... sure. Why not? Magic has always been divided into a giddying variety of types: divine versus arcane, sorcerer versus mage, cantrip versus spell, innate powa versus learnt, scroll versus memorized, generalised mage versus specialist... then you get funky stuff like bards or rangers or paladins all of whom access magic in the form of innate, modal, passive and spell-casting forms. Accessing magic is similarly broad, i.e. via using a wand, magic item or having a stack of five fire-and-forget offensive spells (all viable and powerful additions for a spellcaster). This is before we consider 3E style feats and meta-magic. Therefore pen and paper systems have always allowed spellcasters a broad range of tactics and methods to access magic. Too many perhaps, showcasing the piecemeal evolution of the hobby. So as I watch the debate unfold, it strikes me that the combatants (and I say this with respect) have perhaps not done a three-sixty and fully considered the diversity of What Went Before (WWB). Sorcerers, for example are as near-as-dammit using a mana system, the closest you'll get in an IE game. Sorcerers, by the way, are my favourite arcane spellcasting class. I often bang on about RuneQuest here, but please hear me out (read me out? Whatever). The magic there was (a) divided into two and (b) specifically rooted into the setting. There was Battle Magic and Rune Magic. Battle magic was predicated on the idea that magic was something anybody could access (classless system) if taught. It used a statistic, POWER, using a mana-type metric (boosted by items that one could store POWER in). Battle Magic consisted of buffs, minor healing and stuff. Rune Magic was the preserve of advanced cult members and was like powerful arcane magic in D&D. You could do all sorts of funky stuff with it. But the spell-list was relatively small compared to D&D but all the spells were useful. All the spells were impactive. All of the spells were fun. It was a case study in the Less Is More approach to game design. It combined hardcore, old school flavour with what would now be considered to be a mana-system, but was managed in a way that made sense --- lose POWER by casting spells and your character became physically weaker. The decision to cast spells was one made carefully. Of course, Rune Magic casters had all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to mitigate this, and this was also part of the fun. So, my conclusions 1. Old-skool Vancian magic evolved with the game to the point where there were so many options it began to undermine the whole fire-and-forget principle, creating bulky mechanics to underpin the innate clunkiness of design (meta-magic, prestige classes etc) 2. Sorcerers are almost there in terms of aping the mana model, and might be a model worth studying for this project 3. Other properly granular old-skool systems, like RuneQuest, managed to create impactive, fun, immersive magic systems using a mana-based model 4. Therefore it seems odd that the debate around a mechanic so potentially nuanced can boil down to Vancian versus Mana when there is obviously so much room to exploit in the natural gap between the two. Many thanks if you finished to read my post, and if only a handful of people Google 1st Edition Gloranthan RuneQuest after this then I'll be a happy man. Love & Peace