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Josh Sawyer on immunities and hard counters


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It's apparent that Pillars of Eternity will have few to no spells and items that grant outright immunity to things. Instead, it'll make more use of the saving throw and resistance systems. So, for instance, instead of "Immunity to Charm" you'll get "Resistance to Charm + 50".

 

I asked Josh about the details of this principle on his Tumblr:

 

 

 

melnorme said: Your opposition to hard counters is well known, but I'm curious. Is there a level of absolute immunity to some spell or status effect that you ARE willing to accept? What if it only protects against a very narrow set of spells/effects? What if it's only temporary?

 

There are effects on items, racial abilities, talents, and spells that grant high Defensive bonuses against families of effects.  The most notable examples are the priest’s Prayer Against _______ spells.  They aren’t immunity, but they reduce existing durations a lot and they give large defensive bonuses, which tend to result in a lot more Miss or Graze results and few Crits.

 

 

 

melnorme said: So I take it the answer is "no", then? However, if the immunity has a short enough duration - I'm talking seconds, not minutes - isn't it no longer a hard counter? You can always just wait it out. And if it's also resource-limited, you can't repeat it endlessly. Another thing - what if you cast a "Prayer against X" type spell and then apply lots of additional resistance enhancing buffs _in addition to that_, making that resistance SO high you're practically immune? Would that be okay with you?

 

I think most people generally consider a hard counter to be a single or narrow spectrum of reactive tactics that comprehensively cancel the opponent’s tactic to such an extent that all other choices are rendered obsolete.  Using that definition, I don’t think the scenarios you’re describing involve hard counters because there are a lot of other things you could do (including going heavily on offense) that could bring victory.

 

You could cast Prayer Against X spells and additional defense spells as a very strong counter, but buff spells in PoE all have an opportunity cost because they must be cast in combat.  In the IE games, because buff spells typically did not have an opportunity cost, the ideal way to play through a fight was to wade in, get murdered, reload, and metagame by layering on tailored buffs before fighting again.  If you didn’t pre-buff, you were fighting at a huge disadvantage.  In PoE, the opportunity cost of buffs means they can’t really be taken for granted in the overall balance of fights.

 

Winding up with practical immunity to a type of attack (especially if it’s a narrow spectrum) over the course of a battle isn’t really an issue as much as what tactical choices the player made (or skipped over) to get to that point.  The aim of these changes is to create a wider variety of effective party builds instead of requiring the player to always tote around a character of a given class because the game’s content would be enormously difficult to complete without them.

 

Ideally, I would like players to feel that priests are valuable, but not necessary.  Wizards are valuable, but not necessary.  Fighters are valuable, but not necessary.  Even certain weapon types are valuable, but not necessary.  Some of the creatures in the Backer Beta have very high resistance to one or two type of damage but are much more vulnerable to the other five or six basic types.  I think there’s an important difference between that and saying, “You can only damage this creature with Slash.” or “You can’t hurt this creature until you cast one of these three wizard spells.” The latter prohibitions narrow the player’s viable tactics down to a tiny number.  The former says, “Try something else.” and gives the player more room to find their own way through.

Edited by Infinitron
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I'll go on a tangent here...

 

From Josh's response I read that it wouldn't be possible to buff before combat and that there are no long-term magical buffs (such as magic armor). So playing a character that relies on self buffs would mean, standing in place casting all the defense buff spells, while rest of the party is doing fun stuff, such as killing enemies. By the time you are ready, the fight is practically over (for better or for worse). That doesn't sound like fun to me.

 

I might read it wrong though.

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It's not DnD with pre-buffs removed. It's a system designed from the ground up with no pre-buffs.

 

The priest area-effect buffs are extremely powerful (too powerful ATM IMO), because many of them buff multiple defenses at once. I.e., they're already layered, as it were, but short-duration. The character self-buffs are usually relatively short-duration and activated extremely quickly. You won't layer them on either; you'll just use them as needed.

 

Examples: Barbarian's Rage, Wild Sprint, and Savage Defiance, Wizard's Arcane Veil. The rogue's Escape ability is arguably similar.

 

In practice, I've found that a typical combat goes something like this:

 

(1) Spot enemy.

(2) Move fighter forward in center, rogue forward a bit to the side.

(3) Move fighter forward until he pulls in the enemy.

(4) Priest casts buff.

(5) Wizard casts offensive spell.

(6) Hero does what a hero's got to do.

(7) Roughly simultaneously, the priest buff takes effect, the wizard spell hits, and the fighter engages the enemy frontline.

[8] Cast spells and use abilities as appropriate (hobble with rogue, knockdown with fighter, moar magic with wizard; I usually have the priest shoot things with guns at this point unless it's a really tough fight in which case I have her slap on an area debuff).

(9) If your frontline is taking a beating, healing abilities kick in. The priest is obviously awesomest here, but if only one is in trouble and he happens to be a fighter, barb, paladin, or other with self-healing per-encounter abilities, use those.

(10) If it really drags on, priest renews buff and/or debuff. (But it probably doesn't.)

(11) Win.

 

Okay, this is somewhat idealized given the currently clusterhugged state of the combat, but IME this is roughly the "standard" flow when fighting a mob. Obviously there's more to it like picking which targets to take down first, dealing with special abilities or attacks and so on and so forth, but, yeah.

 

IMO the combat flow is actually not that different from IE/NWN combat flow. I'd usually open with a short-duration buff or debuff + area-effect damaging spell there too. The only difference is that in IE/NWN I'd go into the fight pre-buffed; here I don't, and the encounters are designed with this difference in mind.

 

Finally: there is time to throw on the buff at the beginning of combat. If you know what the enemy can do, you can screen yourself with the appropriate defense before it nukes your party.

 

And finally finally: IMO the combat is fundamentally sound. It's just currently terribly hard to find under the really poor feedback and critical pathfinding, AI, and general complete character freeze bugs.

Edited by PrimeJunta
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From Josh's response I read that it wouldn't be possible to buff before combat and that there are no long-term magical buffs (such as magic armor). So playing a character that relies on self buffs would mean, standing in place casting all the defense buff spells, while rest of the party is doing fun stuff, such as killing enemies. By the time you are ready, the fight is practically over (for better or for worse). That doesn't sound like fun to me.

 

To me this is such an odd reading. I often play spellword or gish characters, and have been frustrated under D&D-based systems that to be viable these characters do indeed have to stand there casting Blur, then Shield, then Magic Weapon, then Divine Favor... and so on before I can engage the enemy.

 

Sawyer's setup sounds like it's intended to do away with that boring pre-battle routine -- not just transpose it into the first minute of combat.

 

With short-term buffs targeted as defense against specific damage types or statuses, you will presumably not be standing there casting all of your buffs one after the other, but choosing among them reactively in the course of a fight, making them part of the action rather than a prelude to the action.

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DID YOU KNOW: *Missing String*

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I kind of feel like I derailed the topic with my comment. I apologize for that.

 

 

I'm actually curious to try a wizard-based gish now. Just have to work up some courage to face the bugs again...

 

If you do that, please let me (us) know how it feels, as personally I'm very interested in how it would play.

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@Hamenaglar and others -- gave one a very brief spin today. It did not work very well. Perhaps I'm missing something though.

 

Trouble is that the first-level accuracy buff is a rehash of that one DnD spell that gives you +20 to hit for your next attack. I.e. it's ridiculously short-duration. To make gish tactics viable I'd need a longer-duration, possibly less dramatic accuracy self-buff to make up for the abysmal base accuracy wizards have. Now everything else works as adverised except that instead of the expected burst of magically-enhanced sword-slinging it's whack whack (accuracy buff runs out) whiff whiff whiff whiff whiff whiff whiff (arcane veil runs out).

 

I added a post to the General Builds Thread that a gishy accuracy self-buff would be nice. Hope some of the devs read it.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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It's not DnD with pre-buffs removed. It's a system designed from the ground up with no pre-buffs.

 

The priest area-effect buffs are extremely powerful (too powerful ATM IMO), because many of them buff multiple defenses at once. I.e., they're already layered, as it were, but short-duration. The character self-buffs are usually relatively short-duration and activated extremely quickly. You won't layer them on either; you'll just use them as needed.

 

Examples: Barbarian's Rage, Wild Sprint, and Savage Defiance, Wizard's Arcane Veil. The rogue's Escape ability is arguably similar.

 

In practice, I've found that a typical combat goes something like this:

 

(1) Spot enemy.

(2) Move fighter forward in center, rogue forward a bit to the side.

(3) Move fighter forward until he pulls in the enemy.

(4) Priest casts buff.

(5) Wizard casts offensive spell.

(6) Hero does what a hero's got to do.

(7) Roughly simultaneously, the priest buff takes effect, the wizard spell hits, and the fighter engages the enemy frontline.

[8] Cast spells and use abilities as appropriate (hobble with rogue, knockdown with fighter, moar magic with wizard; I usually have the priest shoot things with guns at this point unless it's a really tough fight in which case I have her slap on an area debuff).

(9) If your frontline is taking a beating, healing abilities kick in. The priest is obviously awesomest here, but if only one is in trouble and he happens to be a fighter, barb, paladin, or other with self-healing per-encounter abilities, use those.

(10) If it really drags on, priest renews buff and/or debuff. (But it probably doesn't.)

(11) Win.

 

Okay, this is somewhat idealized given the currently clusterhugged state of the combat, but IME this is roughly the "standard" flow when fighting a mob. Obviously there's more to it like picking which targets to take down first, dealing with special abilities or attacks and so on and so forth, but, yeah.

 

IMO the combat flow is actually not that different from IE/NWN combat flow. I'd usually open with a short-duration buff or debuff + area-effect damaging spell there too. The only difference is that in IE/NWN I'd go into the fight pre-buffed; here I don't, and the encounters are designed with this difference in mind.

 

Finally: there is time to throw on the buff at the beginning of combat. If you know what the enemy can do, you can screen yourself with the appropriate defense before it nukes your party.

 

And finally finally: IMO the combat is fundamentally sound. It's just currently terribly hard to find under the really poor feedback and critical pathfinding, AI, and general complete character freeze bugs.

 

Thanks for your valuable feedback. Too bad there are so many bugs in combat ...   :unsure:

Matilda is a Natlan woman born and raised in Old Vailia. She managed to earn status as a mercenary for being a professional who gets the job done, more so when the job involves putting her excellent fighting abilities to good use.

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It's not DnD with pre-buffs removed. It's a system designed from the ground up with no pre-buffs.

I said it before, will again.  This is the biggest problem people have with this game, they want to play it like it is 2nd edition D&D but it isn't any edition of D&D.

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It's not DnD with pre-buffs removed. It's a system designed from the ground up with no pre-buffs.

I said it before, will again.  This is the biggest problem people have with this game, they want to play it like it is 2nd edition D&D but it isn't any edition of D&D.

 

 

I'd be quite happy if it played like 3rd edition of DnD (IWD2 or NWN2). :D

 

I do think you have a point.

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@Hamenaglar and others -- gave one a very brief spin today. It did not work very well. Perhaps I'm missing something though.

 

Trouble is that the first-level accuracy buff is a rehash of that one DnD spell that gives you +20 to hit for your next attack. I.e. it's ridiculously short-duration. To make gish tactics viable I'd need a longer-duration, possibly less dramatic accuracy self-buff to make up for the abysmal base accuracy wizards have. Now everything else works as adverised except that instead of the expected burst of magically-enhanced sword-slinging it's whack whack (accuracy buff runs out) whiff whiff whiff whiff whiff whiff whiff (arcane veil runs out).

That might also be something that Traits could handle. I know they're looking for input on what to do with Traits. Of course, that doesn't mean it couldn't use some additional pre-trait TLC. I don't want to make a Wizard that's as magnificent as a Fighter, but it would be nice to at least not completely suck at melee combat. I take it currently, about the only thing you can do is max out DEX?

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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(1) Spot enemy.

(2) Move fighter forward in center, rogue forward a bit to the side.

(3) Move fighter forward until he pulls in the enemy.

(4) Priest casts buff.

(5) Wizard casts offensive spell.

(6) Hero does what a hero's got to do.

(7) Roughly simultaneously, the priest buff takes effect, the wizard spell hits, and the fighter engages the enemy frontline.

[8] Cast spells and use abilities as appropriate (hobble with rogue, knockdown with fighter, moar magic with wizard; I usually have the priest shoot things with guns at this point unless it's a really tough fight in which case I have her slap on an area debuff).

(9) If your frontline is taking a beating, healing abilities kick in. The priest is obviously awesomest here, but if only one is in trouble and he happens to be a fighter, barb, paladin, or other with self-healing per-encounter abilities, use those.

(10) If it really drags on, priest renews buff and/or debuff. (But it probably doesn't.)

(11) Win.

Hmmmmm.

  1. Stealth and approach.
  2. Fighters/Paladin in front, priest right behind, wizard and hired priest behind first priest, rogue depends on if stilettos or bow (I tend to switch, despite rogue focus on melee).
  3. If possible, shoot with a gun or if not possible then a bow or spell. This triggers combat.
  4. Fighters buff defenses, paladin fire strike thingy, main priest raises defenses, secondary priest raises damage threshold, ranged shoot, if rogue is melee then he waits for fighters/paladin to engage enemies.
  5. Fighters knock down as needed and the rest is autoattack (still better than AD&D Fighter), priests buff (or aggresive spells) as needed when not then attack (main as melee, secondary as ranged), wizard spells/wand and rogue... whatever.
  6. Risk disengagement attacks on people that shouldn't be involved in melee and are being beaten seriously. Emergency healing.
  7. Repeat previous two steps until victory or defeat.

That said, autoattack certain enemies on Normal is more than enough as long as you don't mind losing extra Health. Like lions.

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That might also be something that Traits could handle. I know they're looking for input on what to do with Traits. Of course, that doesn't mean it couldn't use some additional pre-trait TLC. I don't want to make a Wizard that's as magnificent as a Fighter, but it would be nice to at least not completely suck at melee combat. I take it currently, about the only thing you can do is max out DEX?

 

AFAICT yes. The wiz would benefit from gishy talents and/or spells.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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