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Tactical Implementation of Defensive Spells, Area Defenses...

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Admittedly, while Planescape: Torment did have a much smaller variety of spells to choose from than other Infinity Engine games, one spell in particular stands out in my eyes as almost superior in design.


Globe of Invulnerability.


Unlike the traditional self-targeted sphere which protects individuals from set levels of spells, this one occupied an area - a fairly considerable one. One could cast the globe over an area, and ranged, squishy characters could remain moderately protected inside; Ignus and Co. snug under the sphere, protected from Fire-and-Ice (but not necessarily from Deathbolt or Bladestorm!) and able to at least protect themselves from minor punishment.  

Others may not have used this spell in the game, considering its sparsity of enemy spell-casters, but I found it quite useful against a certain Deva, and can imagine quite vividly its use as a tactical, defensive utility in Project Eternity.


But why draw the line there? Sure, Chanters and other such classes may have auras that follow them around, but what about things like Magic Circles of (Minor up to Greater) Regeneration that are magically inscribed into a region of the battlefield, giving a choice area of the field a natural tactical advantage? "I've sustained several bleeding wounds, but I can last a little longer if I stay inside the circle!"

Tactical disadvantages in the field are already aplenty in CRPG titles - Get out of the Cloudkill! - No, you fool, you've just run into a Meteor Swarm! - You HAD to just get caught in the Web, didn't you?


In Icewind Dale there were Undead Wards, behind which a meagre party of four could hide (assuming that their turn undead skill was strong enough!) when the swarms of shades and skeletons proved too overwhelming. 


There are bad examples of attempts at this as well: in NWN2, the Wall of Fire and the Wall of Dispel Magic spells occupied a tiny area, were straight (therefore being easily circumvented) and did pathetic damage (therefore having little stopping power). But if they were circular or wider, a surrounded party might erect a shield of flames to at least deter the monsters' approach. It wouldn't be necessarily as strong as, say, casting Sunfire/Fireburst might be, but it avoids hurting the party and can work in protracted situations ( *SPOILER INCOMINGlike the fight during the reforging of the Sword of Gith SPOILER OVER, BREATHE EASY). 


Of course, the disadvantage of being locked to a certain position in the battlefield remains, which could still be exploited by the foe. You have a fire-shield? We have a fire-ball. - You have a warding circle? We have spears. 



Now, I would by no means argue the preclusion of individual protective magics - perhaps area defenses such as these would be higher-tier than individual defenses, maybe channeled or something if they are particularly powerful (Undead Ward was level 5). Perhaps the player characters wouldn't have access to them or use them much at all, and they would be the tactical responses of enemy bands, who already have positional control of an area and now can influence where they fight positively as well as negatively.


Naturally, a mage fighting on his own wouldn't shield an entire area. Maybe one's front-line friends are dashing about the battlefield to reach distant foes and don't want to sit around in some silly circle. But the fact that one has the option to do so, in an environment when it could prove useful (like being surrounded by Hook Horrors that are scurrying on the ceiling only to drop down and flank with terrifying agility, or being ambushed by a patrol of bandits) makes the battlefield come alive


Spell-casters should have such defensive tactics open to them. They are useful, call for thought and imagination on part of the player (whether they are the attacker or defender), and above all are very cool.




There are so many possibilities in what has been a largely unexplored region of magic in CRPGs, perhaps born of the eventual ability of most parties to just walk through hordes as if they were a stiff breeze and thus not need to be in any one place. But if the combat of Project Eternity is truly to be rich, difficult and with variety, in which characters can't just walk past each other in endless congo-lines of aggression, surely it is things like this which will make a pitched battle feel like a pitched battle, and not a glorified room-clearing. 





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well in IE line of effect wasn't really implemented, hiding behind a globe of invulnerability wasn't an option, having squishy targets hide behind hard targets is a common tactic in pnp RPGs cover is used, concealment, etc.  as a wizard one spell i liked was the tiny hut one, it was meant as a camping spell, but in combat it could be used to give the party full concealment for far longer than the combat would last, as long as the front line kept the enemy outside of the sphere (attacking from concealment made it easy) our rogue gained backstab on all of her ranged attacks.  everyone inside became immune to direct target spells (nothing to target).  fly meant that outside a mage was immune to melee attacks.  the thing is, is that even with all that unconventional power a mage was still second string to a fighter/paladin/barbarian for consistant damage output.  in pnp you can't rest every 5 feet, so your spells have to last, and flight and tiny hut aren't good enough at amplifying your frontline's power, with tiny hut the enemies learn not to try and rush the sphere and take cover, with flight the issue is that most power is in melee weapons, so removing them doesn't help the stronger side.


in cRPGs you can rest every 5 feet, so dropping your entire spell list in one battle becomes possible, so instead of a magic missile and a fireball in a battle, to kill 1 and injure 2 more, you will drop 2 fireballs and kill 3, then throw out 5 magic missiles and kill a couple more, with more magic to spare for that 5 feet until you rest.  while a fighter would normally hack up 3 enemies, now he is just in the way.  if you face a troll, just kite him with fireballs, he should die before you run out of spells, after all you stopped before you met him and loaded up on fire spells having foreknowledge.


the problem is that magic is a sort of catchall, you need to come up with a combat system that works with tactical options without magic, then come up with magic that can do things within the bounds of the system, not use it for tactical options.  so instead of having magic scattered around the battlefield have terrain that gives tactical advantages, doorways, hills, trees, etc. that matters (trees and hills didn't help in the IE games), then if you do use magic you can mimic these things, weather effects (fog, lightning storms, etc.), or some sort of narrow effect used in different ways (force, used in magic missile, shield, mage armour, resilient sphere, etc.).  as long as the magic always follows the same set of logic for what it is (fireball is different than fire wall, so they aren't that good of a spell type) it should allow smart and predictable interactions, allowing for tactical thinking, instead of just lemme cast X.  the reason why you don't want this is is because you need to balance power with frequency of use.  so a fireball can be used in pretty much any situation, so it needs to be toned down or requirements toned up, which means that it isn't as useful for its collateral effects.  likewise firewall can be used as a direct target spell, and as long as you immobilized your target the full effect occurs, so if you use it as a wall (like it is supposed to be used as), it is not very effective in most situations, because it is used like a fireball (which has more useful situations).  the two are too dissimilar for them to try and use the same mechanics to govern both, the mechanic is for damage, which is balanced by being a one shot amount.  having something do the same damage as a deterrent for area denial means that either the damage for the one shot is too high, the amount is too low to deter movement, or the area denied is too small.


resilient sphere should effectively be a wall as well as a cage, as it is already used as a wall via shield spell, preventing magic missile (force effect), ranged attacks, movement, fireball, etc. from getting to those using it as full cover, and gaining cover bonuses when using it as just cover (but still immune to magic missile like the shield spell).  tiny hut uses different mechanics and shouldn't be part of the same family.  wanting magic to do something beyond the set effects that have been set out leads to unbalancing, which leads to nerfs, which leads to spells no longer being useful for what they were intended for.

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I can just imagine things being positional/directional, as opposed to the typical "you're just protected, overall, no matter what." Like... a shield against missiles. Maybe you choose a target, then radially choose a direction, and it only produces a shield around them that covers a 100-degree arc or so. OR, you just place an arc-shaped missile shield at a spot, and it's up to you to have your character stay behind it whilst attacking.


And, with stuff like flamewall, I'd love to be able to choose the shape/direction of such a thing. Maybe you've doused the foes with small pots of oil, and you only need a lick of flame touch them to ignite them entirely, so you "stretch" out the flamewall, making it significantly longer but very, very thin. Against normal enemies, they could easily charge through it without much (if any) damage, but it threatens those oil-soaked enemies well enough. Or, maybe you need it to be quite thick, to block up an entire corridor while you regroup and/or "heal" (stamina" up, etc. So, you not only cast it as a shorter, thicker bar, but also cast it in-line with your facing, down the length of the corridor, rather than across it. Maybe you can shape it into a circle, or even a plus sign.


Going back to tactical shield placements... that would even kind of fit a sort of tactical "build your own spell" system. You could basically save a preset spell that was actually 4 castings of the anti-missile shield, to form a complete sphere, instead of manually having to cast them all the time. Not sure that would work too well with the pseudo-Vancian "spell ammo" system, though. *shrug*

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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So... like the shields in Magika?

I... guess? *shrug*


*Looks up info on the shields in Magicka*

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Well, part of the problem in NWN/2 is that combat almost always takes place in great big open spaces where there's plenty of room to just maneuver around a spell: Battlefield control spells work best when there are chokepoints you can block off. This means you'll only ever hit an enemy with a Stinking Cloud if you cast it directly on top of them, which is effective but boring.

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