Lephys, I'm curious, were there any specifics in IE combat that you liked?
Of course. I just think a lot of it was a bit primitive, design-wise. I mean, at the time, it was pretty un-primitive. But... *shrug*. I'm not against the way things were done and what was allowed in general. I'm against very specific aspects. For example:
In terms of buff stacks, the main thing (hardly the only thing) I like about it is that it creates "stacks" of different, often challenging tradeoffs both in spell selection and w/in combat (both offensively and defensively), far more extensively than any other combat system I've tried. If you change some of your spell picks, it creates cascades of implications for what else you'd want to pick (even if you just restrict attention to "viable" spells (e.g. no infravision)). Combat against enemy mages is extremely diverse and unpredictable (particularly with good AI, per SCS), w/o being arbitrary, and can often close off the obvious ways to attack and force you to get creative more than I've seen in other systems, esp. in no-reload. I could go on about it but no-one's really reading. Anyway, in the IE games, prebuffing was just a small price to pay - though again, I think there are ways around prebuffing.
See, I'm not against stacking effects. I'm against specifically stacking a bunch of passive effects before going into combat, just to counter active effects within combat.
The devil is in the details. I just think it's silly to have to give everyone +3 AC, +4 Fortitude, Fire immunity, and Poison Resistance as some kind of extra, temporary gear going into a fight. That, versus giving the player active "counters" to such things, is a bit primitive in scope. Especially since there's so much room for more than just passive number values and stacked effects to present tradeoffs in spell utility and/or tactics in combat.
I'm not saying "Do away with buffs!", but, I just don't think we need to rely on a boatload of passive effects to form the gist of our exciting combat factor countering/preparation. There's room for passive effects and their utility, but we'd be remiss to ignore more tactical, active approaches to things in combat. For example, having the ability to strike your ally to awaken them from a Sleep effect is, in my book, a far superior means of handling such a thing than "I'll cast this spell that's the opposite of sleep, and/or is designed to remove effects."
I don't want to see the whole effects aspect of stuff heavily reduced to passive values trumping each other. And I'd like to see something preventing the effect-stacking from getting a bit preposterous. I don't want to win combat because I had more positive effects on my party than the enemy did, and/or countered their dispels before they could counter my buffs, etc.
Buffs have their place, and dispelling has its place, but it needs to be strategic/tactical, rather than just supplemental effects and counters that strive to keep them in check. Buffs can easily augment already tactical aspects
, rather than simply boosting a bunch of passive values/allowances for entire combats/hours at a time.
I think much more interesting stuff can be done with buffs and the like, is all, beyond "this boosts your AC and/or immunizes you against things, etc." Stuff like "The next three hits against you will be grazes." Now, you have active control over how the effects of that actually play out and help you, whereas with "you get +3 to AC" you don't, really. And it's more specific of an effect. Less globally "temporary, but you're just-plain better for a while."
I'd be more open to other systems if I had some expectation they could deliver tradeoffs like that. I've just never seen it. Your idea about a skill wouldn't address that really. As well, the game already has an interruption mechanic.
Well, the tradeoffs just don't need to be purely a choice between a direct action and a passive boost. Just because you're not hitting something doesn't mean you have to boost damage or speed or armor or something, or just counter some other specific action. I think the tradeoff should be between producing an actual action, or altering a factor. I say that because that actually still covers passive value-boosting buffs (attack/defense/resistance values, for example, are combat factors), but it allows for further application to more factors.
Also, my idea about the skill (if you mean the spellcraft/lore example to identify spells for disruption) wasn't meant to address that. It was kind of a standalone thing that could be in or could not. Then, another standalone was simply the idea for active disruption of spells, rather than nullification. Interrupts don't do that, nor do saves or counterspells/dispels.
I'm not saying buffs are dumb, or even that stacking them is dumb. But, I think they're worth a lot more than we give them credit for. More than just becoming sunblock and bug repellant. "Oh, we're heading into a swamp... better put on your buffs. You don't wanna get bitten." Their approach has been a bit bland in most games. ESPECIALLY MMOs. MMOs are the epitome of the mentality toward buffs that I'm talking about. Not saying the IE games are the same as MMOs. But, MMOs are an extreme case of primitive buff design.