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[v392] Thoughts on The Paladin

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#1
Luckmann

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The Paladin is by far the class I've played the most, and since paladins are generally the class I favour the most, it is also the class that I have the most thoughts on. The Paladin class has a number of outstanding issues that I'd like to raise, but first, let's go through what the Paladin gets, level per level.
  • Character creation. At this point, the Paladin gets to choose between Flames of Devotion, a 1-per-encounter Ability that does Weap.Dmg.+100% Burn Dmg. and Lay On Hands, a pitiful 3-uses-per-day HoT (Healing over Time) Ability.

    The Paladin also gets Faith and Conviction, a passive bonus to all defences that depend upon your Behaviour/Reputation; the Paladin also gets to choose an Order that defines what Behaviour improves or diminishes the bonus from Faith and Conviction, however, what disposition is celebrated or condemned by each Order is not actually explained or expanded upon, which is just all kinds of odd.

    Finally the Paladin gets +1 Lore and +2 Athletics, which strangely implies that the Paladin is more Athletic than even a Fighter.

  • Skill Points and a Talent. Nothing special, which makes perfect sense and it's alright. All Paladins get to choose between a number of unique Talents, same as any other Class, really.

  • Skill Points and a Class Ability. Apart from the aforementioned Flames of Devotion and Lay On Hands, the Paladin now has three more Abilities to pick from; Zealous Charge, Zealous Focus and Zealous Endurance. All of these are Modal Abilities that can be toggled, with a incredibly short range of 2.5m, acting as Auras, and as of v392, only Zealous Focus is remotely worth considering.

  • Skill Points and a Talent. Nothing to see here, same as everyone else. Move along.

  • Skill Points and a Class Ability! This time, the Paladin adds the following to his list of choices: Inspiring Triumph, a passive Ability that triggers a defensive bonus to all allies within 5m every time the Paladin downs an enemy; Sworn Enemy, a once-per-rest Ability that targets a single enemy and gives the Paladin (and only the Paladin) a damage and accuracy boost until that one enemy dies; and finally, the first "Command"-style Class Ability, called Liberating Exhortation, a once-per-encounter Ability that lets a single ally ignore Hostile Effects for 15 seconds (they will resume afterwards).

  • Skill Points and a Talent!

  • Skill Points and a Class Ability, go figure! Again, the Paladin gets to choose from all the previous Abilities that hasn't already been chosen, and adds Deprive the Unworthy and Reviving Exhortation to the list. Both are "Command"-style Abilities, but for some strange reason, the offensive Deprive the Unworthy does not follow the same pattern of being named as an Exhortation. You'd think they'd at least come up with something analogous, such as Depriving Judgement or something.

    Anyway, Deprive the Unworthy is a straight-up offensive version of Liberating Exhortation, and it suppresses the Beneficial Effects of a single enemy for 15 seconds. Strangely, the Paladin only gets two-per-rest of Deprive the Unworthy, whereas Liberating Exhortation is once-per-encounter. Reviving Exhortation, also added at this level, is also a once-per-encounter "Command"-style ability that allows the Paladin to revive a fallen ally with a modest amount of Endurance restored, much of which will be taken away from him after 15 seconds.

  • Guess what. Skill Points and a Talent. Booyah.

  • Skill Points and a Class Ability! Another two Abilities are added to the list; Righteous Soul, a underwhelming passive Ability (why are passives even offered up as Class Abilities?) The exact nature of this passive is questionable, because the wording of the Ability is ambiguous at this point, but it supposedly makes you resist all Poisoned, Diseased, Charmed, Dominated, Frightened and Terrified Effects, as well as reducing their duration by 5 seconds. Potentially powerful, but again, why would passives even be offered up as Abilities? Passives are by their nature and definition passive, and even if powerful, definitely not contributing to interesting choices in combat.

    Second, Reinforcing Exhortation, a twice-per-encounter Ability that increases the Deflection of a single recipient ally for 20 seconds. Another "Command"-style Class Ability.

  • Skill. Points. And. Talent.

  • Skill Points and... Class Ability! This time, only a single Class Ability is added: Hastening Exhortation. This is unsurprisingly another "Command"-style Ability, but this time it's three-per-rest, and it multiplies the attack speed of a single ally by 1.2.

  • Final level. Skill Point and a Talent. Final stop. Everyone get off the rapetrain, it turns out that it's got brakes after all.
Now, after going through all that, let's take a look at the available Talents as of v392:
  • Critical Focus; Improves Zealous Focus.
  • Deep Faith; Improves the defensive bonuses of the Order-dependent Faith and Conviction passive.
  • Greater Lay on Hands; increases the healing of Lay on Hands.
  • Intense Flames; Increases the damage of Flames of Devotion.
  • Untroubled Faith (Paladin); negates some of (removes?) the negative effects from Reputation on Faith and Conviction. At the very least, this should be renamed, because it really stands out with that "(Paladin)", since no other Talent is class-marked like that.
There are also several Order-dependant Talents, all which affects either Flames of Devotion or Liberating Exhortation (for some damn reason), or triggers on kills:
  • The Black Path, Bleak Walkers; similar to the Inspiring Triumph Class Ability, except it Frightens all nearby enemies whenever the Paladin kills someone.
  • Remember Rakhan Field, Bleak Walkers; nearly identical to the Intense Flames Talent, except it adds 50% Corrosion Damage instead of 50% extra Burn Damage to Flames of Devotion.
  • Inspiring Liberation, Darcozzi Paladini; affects Liberating Exhortation, and gives the target ally a bonus to Accuracy in addition to the normal effects.
  • Fires of Darcozzi Palace, Darcozzi Paladini; affects Flames of Devotion, giving the Paladin a Flame Shield upon using it.
  • Enduring Flames, Goldpact Knights; causes Flames of Devotion to also cause a Burn-dmg DoT equal to 50% of the total damage.
  • Bond of Duty, Goldpact Knights; whenever the Paladin uses Liberating Exhortation, the target ally also gets a large defensive bonus against Charmed, Confused and Dominated.
  • Strange Mercy, Kind Wayfarers; again similar to the Inspiring Triumph Class Ability, except nearby allies gain Endurance every time the Paladin kills someone.
  • The Sword and the Shepherd; Kind Wayfarers; every time the Paladin uses Flames of Devotion, all nearby allies heal a trifling amount of Endurance.
  • Shielding Flames, Shieldbearers of St. Elcga; similar to the Kind Wayfarers ability above, it grants a small deflection bonus to nearby allies every time the Paladin uses Flames of Devotion.
  • Shielding Touch, Shieldbearers of St. Elcga; again, the target ally gains an Accuracy bonus when the Paladin uses Liberating Exhortation. Yawn.
Now that I've gone through all of that so that everyone gets a more or less clear picture of what the Paladin has and can get, several thoughts and ideas have occurred to me based on playtesting paladins in v392 BB. In no particular order of importance, here are some issues and potential solutions. Mileage may vary.

First of all, the paladin suffers from a lack of combat options. This is particularly glaring for the first 5 levels, which in the context of Pillars of Eternity is a figurative eternity. The fact is that at the moment, Flames of Devotion doesn't just appear to be a default assumption made by the developers that the Paladin is expected to have (judging by Talent support, more on that later), but it completely obliterates Lay on Hands.

So while every (almost?) other class gets either multiple uses per encounter of one ability or another, or gets something that hinges on being deployed tactically, the Paladin gets a once-per-encounter ability that is swiftly blown (because there is often no reason whatsoever to not use Flames of Devotion almost immediately, or even attempt to initiate with it) and is then relegated to autoattack.

At level 3, when the Paladin gets to pick a new Class Ability, all that is offered up are auras. Now, likely to inflate the sense of combat options artificially, Auras have been turned into a "Combat Only"-Ability, but it doesn't functionally change the fact that it is completely passive. It is not until level 5 that a Paladin can even think about doing anything in combat that isn't healing 3 times per day, or use flames of devotion once per encounter followed by auto-attack.
 
Second, the supposed core abilities of the Paladin is seemingly lost in translation. It is my understanding that a few aspects of the Paladin was intended by be part of his core concept, primarily Commands (Exhortations + "Deprive the Unworthy") and Auras. Due to the way ability gain has been modeled, however, it is entirely possible to opt out of these things completely.

This isn't necessarily something bad, and it depends largely on what the developers want to do with the class, but it is definitely something that should be discussed. What is the concept of the Paladin, what assumptions are made? This ties into a third point.
 
Third, the Order-specific Talents are somewhat out of whack. Why is it that the Order-specific Talents all favour either Flames of Devotion or Liberating Exhortation specifically? There are two notable exceptions, The Black Path (Bleak Walkers) and Strange Mercy (Kind Wayfarers), both which gains on-kill bonuses to nearby allies. It is still a very strange, lop-sided favouritism that seems to assume that these two abilities are part of any Paladin's core skillset.

The Paladin-specific Talents need to be looked over, and spread out to apply to more or different Abilities. Not a single Order-specific power affects Lay on Hands, for example, even though you'd think that such a thing would fit the Kind Wayfarers like a glove. Even though there only exists two different Paladin abilities that can be taken on creation - Flames of Devotion and Lay on Hands - only one of them is consistently affected by Order-specific talents.

This is very odd and jarring. This also goes double for Liberating Exhortation. If Flames of Devotion seems to be a default assumption of the class that can conceivably be missed, it is currently very unlikely that anyone would. Liberating Exhortation, however, enters the scene when there are multiple possible abilities to choose from, and it is entirely possible to build a Paladin completely without picking up Exhortations.
 
Fourth, the oddity of the 2 Athletics, 1 Lore starting Skills. It is odd that a Fighter would be notably less Athletic than a standard Paladin, but I also think that there is a missed opportunity at play. I would suggest that instead of cementing the starting Skills of the Paladin, make the starting Skills 1 Athletics, 1 Lore, and 1 Order-dependent as such; http://forums.obsidi...s/#entry1553094

 
• For some concrete suggestions, partly based on personal preference and interpretation:
  • Revamp and look over all the Order-specific Talents, to diversify them based on more open-ended assumptions. It should not be assumed by the entire system that you end up with very specific Abilities, unless these Abilities are specifically granted.
    There are many Exhortations, why only favour one? There are two starting abilities, why only favour one?

  • Lay on Hands need to be considerably buffed. In earlier versions, healing was stronger than it is now, and it was supposedly nerfed across the board. I do not think it would be inappropriate for Lay on Hands to be a premier healing Ability that blows others out of the water; it is per-rest, and potentially a core ability of the Paladin class as a whole.
    It should also not be a HoT; it should be instant. The Greater Lay on Hands Talent could add a HoT to the Lay on Hands ability instead.

  • For some reason, there is no "Extra Lay on Hands" or "Extra Flames of Devotion" Talents. This should be rectified, and the former should add two additional uses of Lay on Hands per day, and the latter should add one extra use of Flames of Devotion per encounter. It is not interesting, but it is useful and consistent with what other classes can often get.

  • Make Auras a core part of the Paladin concept; on Level 2 or 3, allow the Paladin to choose one of the three auras independently of other Abilities. Additionally, there should be Talents to support all Auras, not just Zealous Focus, an aura already well-known to currently be the only worthwhile one.

  • Rebalance the auras. Especially Zealous Charge is utterly useless due to the Engagement system's current implementation making movement in combat largely meaningless.
    Also, auras as "Combat Only"-abilities (if "Combat Only" is to be a thing at all, rubbish as the concept is) is utterly ridiculous, an artificial buffer at the initiation of combat meant to inflate the feeling that the Paladin is doing something worthwhile besides auto-attacking. Stop it. Auras are passive modals that should be on at all times if the Paladin wishes it to be so.

  • Rework the Exhortations (including the oddly-named Deprive the Unworthy); ideally, they should similarly be part of the Paladin's core skillset in some capacity, possibly being granted outside of the regular choices offered to the Paladin. Additionally, they should all either be Per-rest (preferably not) or have a similar Per-encounter use (preferably).
    Them being so conceptually similar as to share names almost across the board, but mechanically dissimilar feels odd and contrived. Instead of making the core functionality between them different, balance them based on the assumption that their functionality is conceptually similar, such as "2 per encounter", "1 per encounter", or "3 per day". Create the framework for how the concept is meant to work, and balance it based on those assumptions afterward.
    If all Exhortations would be offered outside of the normal Paladin Ability choices, all of them would ideally be offered up at once, instead of the odd progression that they go through. There is no conceptual reason why Liberating Exhortation should be offered before Reviving Exhortation, and I believe this to be a vestigial holdover from a time when the Exhortations were granted at given levels, rather than as a choice amongst a plethora of different abilities.

  • Righteous Soul is terrible. Complete passives should never be offered up as full-fledged Class Abilities. This feels much more like a high-level Talent than anything else. The Paladin already suffers from combat option(s) starvation, and while flavourful and perhaps powerful, this is a bad choice not from a player perspective, but from a development perspective; it should not be offered like this at all.

  • Inspiring Triumph should be made into a Talent. There are several Paladin-only Talents with the exact same functionality, but with different effects, and this has no business being a Class Ability to begin with. It would be much better served being turned into a Talent. Doubly so not only because of it's relation to how other Paladin-specific Talents already work, but also because of the aforementioned "passives are bad as Class Abilities, especially for Paladins"-issue.
That is it for today, and I hope that this doesn't read as an enormous wall of text. I did my best to avoid it, but I'm not sure how successful I was. I hope the relevant developers take the time to read this brick, and any thoughts not just on my thoughts but also on the Paladin class in general would be greatly appreciated.

It is not uncommon for large posts to kill their own threads, but I hope people instead see it as cause to discuss the Paladin class and possible perceived issues with it. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and is just some thoughts and notes on my perceptions of the Paladin class and issues I've discovered during play or from subjective analysis.
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#2
aeonsim

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I've not used the Paladins much yet so won't comment on much, but I do disagree on the no passives as class abilities bit.

Thematic passives make a lot of sense for a class and most classes appear to have them (off the top of my head Wizard: blast, Quicker defence casting; Rogue: backstab, Deep wounds? (the DoT); Chanters: Ancient memory; Barbarian: something to reduce flanking, accurate carnage etc). They allow players to build characters that still do interesting stuff or are more thematic but require minimum player interaction to trigger.

 

I also see Righteous Soul as something fairly decent by boosting resistance to a wide range of negative status effects and reducing there duration as well it allows you to use the paladin in a way you can't with other classes.



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Doppelschwert

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Great writeup and a lot of good criticism / suggestions!

However, I agree with aeonism that passive abilities should be available for people that wish to play low maintance characters. As long as there is enough active alternatives, there is absolutely no harm in having them. If there aren't, then there should be more instead of removing the passive ones.


Edited by Doppelschwert, 19 January 2015 - 03:19 PM.


#4
anameforobsidian

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I like the idea of skill bonuses based on order, and the kind wayfarers getting a boost to lay on hands.  Like the two posters above me, I think that passive bonuses are perfectly good choices on level up.  Sometimes you don't want to pay attention to a character.



#5
Sock

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I found the Paladin to be, in general, just completely underwhelming.

 

The problem with hybrid classes is when they're approached AS a hybrid class. They need to have one function in the party that they can provide and excell at, otherwise they're end up undefined and murky.


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#6
Sarex

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The universal solution to the Paladin is the Holy Avenger. That usually made up for any combat stats the Paladin was missing compared to other classes.



#7
Lord Wafflebum

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As a fan of Lay on Hands, I agree with your criticisms there. I like having that ability, but it isn't horribly useful as is. 

 

I like this thread. I'm a huge fan of Paladins, but in this build they're just not doing it for me. Playing a monk is much more worth my time right now than playing as a Paladin.


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#8
PrimeJunta

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Good write-up.

I think the reason for treating Flames of Devotion and Liberating Exhortation as core abilities is that they originally were. Things went a bit wonky when they opened up the talent and class ability selection.

I doubt there's time to do much about the lack of things to do in combat (also I believe the paladin was always intended as a low-maintenance class), but I hope they will adjust the numbers to make the talents less lopsided. As it is, the paladin clearly fails Josh's "no trap choices" test.

That said, when I tried it a couple of times in BB392 I found it both effective and reasonably fun.

#9
Sensuki

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Agree about Lay on Hands. It doesn't heal enough to warrant selecting, and 3/day < 1/encounter.

 

Paladin auras were fine how they were, no idea why they are combat only now. I have a feeling it's because people were using Zealous Charge during Stealth Mode for faster movement speed, but so what? Who cares. Back to always on please.

 

Paladins are getting two talents per Paladin Order in the next patch. Most of them are related to enhancing Flames of Devotion, Lay on Hands or Liberating Exhortation (according to Josh).

 

They probably do need to tweak a lot of the Paladin abilities.

IMO they are a useful class to have in the party, but yeah ... Chanters far outshine them for efficacy atm.


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#10
Luckmann

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Good write-up.

I think the reason for treating Flames of Devotion and Liberating Exhortation as core abilities is that they originally were. Things went a bit wonky when they opened up the talent and class ability selection.

If I didn't bring that up, I apologize, because I fully intended to. It's actually very obvious that a lot of the current problems for the Paladin is because default assumptions have changed, but the actual Abilities and Talents haven't.

Exhortations are inexplicably spread out per level even though they're now part of an ability pool, both Flames of Devotion and Liberating Exhortation is considered default abilities even though they aren't, Talent choices are lopsided and/or lacking, etc.
 

I doubt there's time to do much about the lack of things to do in combat (also I believe the paladin was always intended as a low-maintenance class), but I hope they will adjust the numbers to make the talents less lopsided. As it is, the paladin clearly fails Josh's "no trap choices" test.

That said, when I tried it a couple of times in BB392 I found it both effective and reasonably fun.

I think the concept of a "low-maintenance class" is inherently flawed; in the interest of consistency and viability independent of what individual players desire from any one given class, every class should be relatively similar in regards to maintenance.

Players can be expected to pick classes more or less blind, going for what they either consider conceptually interesting or in line with what they want to roleplay as. Marking one class or another as "low-maintenance" completely disregards that, and is incredibly unfair to anyone going into the game, expecting some amount of consistency amongst the classes in playability and options.

The Paladin Class is.. it's "alright". It's not terribly underpowered, and it's not horrendously boring, it's just flawed and I can't help but to think all the way back to World of Warcraft vanilla, when a similar dilemma of "We have no idea what to do with this class" lead a far wealthier developer to spend the next 5 years trying to patch things up without rhyme or reason.
 
Comparing it to the more well-known and oft-discussed issues with the Ranger, the Paladin doesn't actually have as many clear problems as the Ranger does, but it also lacks the very clear concepts of the Ranger and the more obvious solutions. I think that the Paladin needs to be conceptually tightened up and have a deep and proper run-down of it's default assumptions and mechanical consistencies.
 

As a fan of Lay on Hands, I agree with your criticisms there. I like having that ability, but it isn't horribly useful as is. 
 
I like this thread. I'm a huge fan of Paladins, but in this build they're just not doing it for me. Playing a monk is much more worth my time right now than playing as a Paladin.

 
I'm also a huge fan of Paladins, and although I tend to prefer the more religious interpretations, the background concept of ideal and ideology as the driving force behind Paladins in the world of Pillars of Eternity is potentially interesting. So I completely agree, I guess that's what I wanted to say.
 
 

Agree about Lay on Hands. It doesn't heal enough to warrant selecting, and 3/day < 1/encounter.
 
Paladin auras were fine how they were, no idea why they are combat only now. I have a feeling it's because people were using Zealous Charge during Stealth Mode for faster movement speed, but so what? Who cares. Back to always on please.
 
Paladins are getting two talents per Paladin Order in the next patch. Most of them are related to enhancing Flames of Devotion, Lay on Hands or Liberating Exhortation (according to Josh).
 
They probably do need to tweak a lot of the Paladin abilities.

IMO they are a useful class to have in the party, but yeah ... Chanters far outshine them for efficacy atm.

 
I remember us talking about it in another thread, and the Chanter is actually a great comparison to the Paladin. Compare the effects of the Chanter "auras" to the Paladin ones, for example. The Chanter has higher flexibility and more to do at every stage in combat, most of the time with much greater effect.

Honestly, it might be too much to ask for, but I would personally see no fault in providing the Paladin with all three Auras, and add supporting Talents for each of them (allowing the Paladin to specialize in one if he so desires). And obviously, auras being "Combat Only" is utter and complete horse****.

Lay on Hands needs a huge boost and instantly heal (instead of HoT) to even be considered close to as relevant as any basic offensive power (in this case, Flames of Devotion), with Greater Lay on Hands adding a bonus at least as powerful as the current full Lay on Hands HoT effect, and an Extra Lay on Hands Talent, because.. everyone else is getting extras and if you want to be really good at Lay on Hands, you should be able to specialize with your Talents.
 
With that, I would actually be rather split on creation whether to grab Lay on Hands or Flames of Devotion. As it should be.
 

I've not used the Paladins much yet so won't comment on much, but I do disagree on the no passives as class abilities bit.

Thematic passives make a lot of sense for a class and most classes appear to have them (off the top of my head Wizard: blast, Quicker defence casting; Rogue: backstab, Deep wounds? (the DoT); Chanters: Ancient memory; Barbarian: something to reduce flanking, accurate carnage etc). They allow players to build characters that still do interesting stuff or are more thematic but require minimum player interaction to trigger.

I also see Righteous Soul as something fairly decent by boosting resistance to a wide range of negative status effects and reducing there duration as well it allows you to use the paladin in a way you can't with other classes.


Thing is, most of the things you mention (Wizard Blast, Barbarian Accurate Carnage, etc) are actually Talents. They're not Class Abilities. Making Righteous Soul into a Class Talent is exactly what I would propose doing. It is very rare that Abilities are completely Passive, and both Righteous Soul and (especially) Inspiring Triumph functions very much like Talents, except that they are taken as Class Abilities.

By no means should Righteous Soul be removed. I consider it very thematic, flavourful and perhaps even powerful (depending on how it's meant to actually work; I'm still not sure on that).


Edited by Luckmann, 20 January 2015 - 01:10 AM.


#11
PrimeJunta

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I think the concept of a "low-maintenance class" is inherently flawed; in the interest of consistency and viability independent of what individual players desire from any one given class, every class should be relatively similar in regards to maintenance.

Players can be expected to pick classes more or less blind, going for what they either consider conceptually interesting or in line with what they want to roleplay as. Marking one class or another as "low-maintenance" completely disregards that, and is incredibly unfair to anyone going into the game, expecting some amount of consistency amongst the classes in playability and options.

 

I disagree. Especially with a party of six to manage, I like it when I have a few chararacters I can just park somewhere and let them do their thing, while actively focusing on managing others. The monk for example is extremely high-maintenance and "active," and I really dig it -- but I could not put up playing with a party of six monks, it would just get too frantic.

 

I think this too is largely a matter of how the game communicates itself to the player. In this case, if a class is designed as low- or high-maintenance, this should be communicated to the player in character creation. 

 

Even better would be -- as the case actually is with many classes in P:E -- if the player can skew a class towards high- or low-maintenance as she gains levels.

 

Ultimately, the point of having classes in the first place is that they provide different gameplay experiences. High or low-maintenance is one way in which designers can create class differentiation. It would be a shame to leave it unused.


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#12
Sensuki

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I think the concept of a "low-maintenance class" is inherently flawed; in the interest of consistency and viability independent of what individual players desire from any one given class, every class should be relatively similar in regards to maintenance.

 

I flat out disagree here. I think a mix of micro-requirements are good. Having played DotA where it can involve as little as movement, using one item and aiming one auto-hit skill to omgwtfbbq the sky is the limit Scepter Invoker, a range is nice because some people aren't into heaps of micro, and some like to alternate between them.

For a class based game, it makes sense to have a mix. Fighters and Paladins are two classes that were designed to be low maintenance from the beginning. I think that's fine, and while tweaks have been and will be made, it's more important for these classes to be an effective class, than anything else.

Paladins used to be one of the best classes in the game. I think they've been nerfed a bit, or surpassed by buffs to other classes. Some tweaks to their abilities and auras would do enough to bring them back into the game.

However a re-design of the class just aint gonna happen. Even at the start of the beta, Obsidian weren't willing to revise any of the classes. They changed some abilities or features, but stuck to the concepts. Other than tweaks, nothing is going to happen here. I'd save your effort for the expansion discussions.


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#13
aeonsim

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I doubt there's time to do much about the lack of things to do in combat (also I believe the paladin was always intended as a low-maintenance class), but I hope they will adjust the numbers to make the talents less lopsided. As it is, the paladin clearly fails Josh's "no trap choices" test.

That said, when I tried it a couple of times in BB392 I found it both effective and reasonably fun.

I think the concept of a "low-maintenance class" is inherently flawed; in the interest of consistency and viability independent of what individual players desire from any one given class, every class should be relatively similar in regards to maintenance.

Players can be expected to pick classes more or less blind, going for what they either consider conceptually interesting or in line with what they want to roleplay as. Marking one class or another as "low-maintenance" completely disregards that, and is incredibly unfair to anyone going into the game, expecting some amount of consistency amongst the classes in playability and options.

 

 

So the idea that all classes should be relatively similar with regards to maintenance/player attention really does not work. Spell casting classes are always higher maintenance than combat focused classes, due to the fact they have a wide range of abilities from which you need to select possible options when using them (Monks being somewhat of an exception here, but then there Chi (as it's often called) abilities are effectively another type of magic). If you were to make them equal maintenance you'll need to do one of two things either work out how to give classes like Fighters, Paladins and Barbarians 30+ abilities that they can use at different times and places or your need to trim a Wizard back to only half a dozen spells many of which it casts automatically. That does not at all fit the common idea of a spell caster and is completely different from the IE games.

 

In the IE games if you have spell casters and want to get the most out of them you have to pay a lot of attention to them, they're squishy so they need to be managed, there abilities are often dangerous to both ally and enemy and thus need to be managed and a lot of there abilities are highly specific. Nearly everything in a fantasy world will take damage after being hit by a lump of cold metal but use a lightning spell on a air elemental or poison on a construct or undead? While you can make a decent game where a wizard is just a character who uses a different type of damage (DS3 for example) it's certainly nothing like the IE style game we are expecting.


Edited by aeonsim, 20 January 2015 - 01:22 AM.


#14
Luckmann

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I think the concept of a "low-maintenance class" is inherently flawed; in the interest of consistency and viability independent of what individual players desire from any one given class, every class should be relatively similar in regards to maintenance.
Players can be expected to pick classes more or less blind, going for what they either consider conceptually interesting or in line with what they want to roleplay as. Marking one class or another as "low-maintenance" completely disregards that, and is incredibly unfair to anyone going into the game, expecting some amount of consistency amongst the classes in playability and options.

 
I disagree. Especially with a party of six to manage, I like it when I have a few chararacters I can just park somewhere and let them do their thing, while actively focusing on managing others. The monk for example is extremely high-maintenance and "active," and I really dig it -- but I could not put up playing with a party of six monks, it would just get too frantic.
 
I think this too is largely a matter of how the game communicates itself to the player. In this case, if a class is designed as low- or high-maintenance, this should be communicated to the player in character creation. 
 
Even better would be -- as the case actually is with many classes in P:E -- if the player can skew a class towards high- or low-maintenance as she gains levels.
 
Ultimately, the point of having classes in the first place is that they provide different gameplay experiences. High or low-maintenance is one way in which designers can create class differentiation. It would be a shame to leave it unused.

 

 
In the interest of consistency and quality, that is really the only acceptable option, IMHO. I perfectly understand that someone might not want everyone in the party to be high-maintenance, but to have high-/low-maintenance be a core concept of a class is inherently flawed; if you can build it both ways, that's perfectly alright, and is frankly what would be most in line with the approach to character building that Pillars of Eternity seems to take.

In a roleplaying game, there is really no excuse as to why one character concept (class) should be inherently less engaging than any other, unless you as a player chooses to play the concept (class) in such a way.
 

So the idea that all classes should be relatively similar with regards to maintenance/player attention really does not work. Spell casting classes are always higher maintenance than combat focused classes, due to the fact they have a wide range of abilities from which you need to select possible options when using them. If you were to make them equal maintenance you'll need to do one of two things either work out how to give classes like Fighters, Paladins and Barbarians 30+ abilities that they can use at different times and places or your need to trim a Wizard back to only half a dozen spells many of which it casts automatically. That does not at all fit the common idea of a spell caster and is completely different from the IE games.

[...]


Do not misunderstand this as a call for equality, the bane of interesting everything. Classes will by their nature be more or less maintenance, but that does not mean that they'll have an equal amount of (or should have) opportunities or perform the-same-functions-just-differently. However, making a class "high-" or "low-" maintenance as part of the core concept of that class is ridiculous; no class should be relegated to auto-attack by default, with the simple excuse that "They were always intended to be low-maintenance".

This is no way means that there won't be differences, just that the concept of a "low-maintenance class" is inherently flawed. Ideally, no class should be "low-maintenance" by explicit design, rather than what is appropriate for it's role. Therefore, Wizards will always be higher maintenance than Fighters, simply because of how the class works; it has different assumptions.

The key phrase here that was glossed over is, I believe, "relatively similar". The "relative" being the nature of the class and it's core concept(s), none which should be "low-maintenance" or "high-maintenance".


Edited by Luckmann, 20 January 2015 - 01:31 AM.

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#15
Doppelschwert

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Even better would be -- as the case actually is with many classes in P:E -- if the player can skew a class towards high- or low-maintenance as she gains levels.

 

In the interest of consistency and quality, that is really the only acceptable option, IMHO. I perfectly understand that someone might not want everyone in the party to be high-maintenance, but to have high-/low-maintenance be a core concept of a class is inherently flawed; if you can build it both ways, that's perfectly alright, and is frankly what would be most in line with the approach to character building that Pillars of Eternity seems to take.

In a roleplaying game, there is really no excuse as to why one character concept (class) should be inherently less engaging than any other, unless you as a player chooses to play the concept (class) in such a way.

 

Then you shouldn't complain about the existence of passive class abilities in the first place because that is exactly why they are there. If you look at the numbers, then you'll see that there are actually more command abilities than passives and auras combined, so it's already implemented with this 'acceptable option' (in theory). I'm counting 6 passive abilities and 8 active abilities in the wiki (don't have much time to extract that info from your post just now).

I agree that the active abilities are too restricted in their use and /or applicability, but it's not as if there are only passive abilities. Besides, the paladin gets to enjoy way more talents because of the orders, which gives you way more character building than building a monk for example. It may not be properly balanced as of now but there really is enough choice as it is.

 

Personally I think one design goal was to have all the auras equally useful in different situations such that there would be an incentive to switch them around all the time during combat for optimal play, making the class way more active although it's just passive boni. I think with proper numbers there may be merit in switching between Zealous Focus and Zealous Endurance, but Zealous Charge seems kind of pointless as already pointed out by the others.



#16
prodigydancer

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Spell casting classes are always higher maintenance than combat focused classes

Usually but not always. Example: DA2 on Nightmare. In tougher fights auto-attacking didn't cut it - you had to use cross-class combos all the time so you wanted to have a fair number of active abilities on every character.

Still, micromanaging a party of six high-maintenance characters can be overwhelming. Some may like it but I'd rather have passive options too, at least for tanks.
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#17
PrimeJunta

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In a roleplaying game, there is really no excuse as to why one character concept (class) should be inherently less engaging than any other, unless you as a player chooses to play the concept (class) in such a way.

 

Low/high maintenance is not the same as more or less engaging. The former is something of an objective, unambiguous quantity: a character with lots of passives and modals is low-maintenance compared to a character with lots of abilities you need to explicitly invoke. The latter, however, is a matter of preference.

 

Several players in my AD&D group always rolled with fighters, despite the fact that there isn't much for them to do in encounters except hit things. Others always swung with mages and showed up at the session with a list of spells they'd decided to memorize beforehand so they wouldn't waste everybody else's time on that.


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#18
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Spell casting classes are always higher maintenance than combat focused classes

Usually but not always. Example: DA2 on Nightmare. In tougher fights auto-attacking didn't cut it - you had to use cross-class combos all the time so you wanted to have a fair number of active abilities on every character.Still, micromanaging a party of six high-maintenance characters can be overwhelming. Some may like it but I'd rather have passive options too, at least for tanks.
I'm well aware there are exceptions though I think DA2 is a pretty poor example for the reason it's a massive move away from PC RPGs that IE style games were towards console or action RPGs.

Edited by aeonsim, 20 January 2015 - 02:06 AM.

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Then you shouldn't complain about the existence of passive class abilities in the first place because that is exactly why they are there. If you look at the numbers, then you'll see that there are actually more command abilities than passives and auras combined, so it's already implemented with this 'acceptable option' (in theory). I'm counting 6 passive abilities and 8 active abilities in the wiki (don't have much time to extract that info from your post just now).

I agree that the active abilities are too restricted in their use and /or applicability, but it's not as if there are only passive abilities. Besides, the paladin gets to enjoy way more talents because of the orders, which gives you way more character building than building a monk for example. It may not be properly balanced as of now but there really is enough choice as it is.

Personally I think one design goal was to have all the auras equally useful in different situations such that there would be an incentive to switch them around all the time during combat for optimal play, making the class way more active although it's just passive boni. I think with proper numbers there may be merit in switching between Zealous Focus and Zealous Endurance, but Zealous Charge seems kind of pointless as already pointed out by the others.


Not all Abilities are equal in reactivity. For example, Lay on Hands could be argued to be decidingly lesser maintenance than Flames of Devotion. My complaint about passive Class Abilities has nothing to do with the merits (or lack thereof) of "high-" and "low-" maintenance as part of the core concept of a class.

Perhaps Righteous Soul would stand out as an oddity less if the Paladin actually had more available passive abilities; for example, the Barbarian is riddled with potential Passive Class Abilities at the higher levels. I still maintain that Inspiring Triumph should be a Talent, though, if only because if it's not, we have to ask ourselves what is conceptually meant to be a Class Talent and what is meant to be a Class Ability? Right now, there are near-identical Class Abilities and Class Talents, built around the same framework, which is all kinds of odd from a conceptual viewpoint.

The fact that the Paladin gets more Talents than others is really a moot point, because either way, you'll only have access to two of them per Paladin; Priests are in a similar situation, but my point is that it doesn't actually functionally change anything. It just means that on paper, it seems Paladin characters are getting a bunch of neat Class Talents no-one else is getting, but in reality, to the individual Paladin, it doesn't change anything, it doesn't solve any issues.

Having all the auras be equally useful (at least without taking aura-boosting talents) is really just a matter of balancing, and it would be interesting to see if building a multi-aura Paladin would be viable. I doubt it will be, but it would be interesting to see, since we've definitely seen games do it in the past. And yeah, Zealous Charge is a false choice because of how Engagement currently works, it needs to be reworked. If it gave a big bonus to disengaging, it might actually be a good Aura, and also tie into the idea of switching auras in combat being a viable tactic.

Perhaps Auras should be more powerful and more situational, to make any aura always good, but make switching between them a powerful option comparable to taking other Class Abilities.
 

 

In a roleplaying game, there is really no excuse as to why one character concept (class) should be inherently less engaging than any other, unless you as a player chooses to play the concept (class) in such a way.

 
Low/high maintenance is not the same as more or less engaging. The former is something of an objective, unambiguous quantity: a character with lots of passives and modals is low-maintenance compared to a character with lots of abilities you need to explicitly invoke. The latter, however, is a matter of preference.
 
Several players in my AD&D group always rolled with fighters, despite the fact that there isn't much for them to do in encounters except hit things. Others always swung with mages and showed up at the session with a list of spells they'd decided to memorize beforehand so they wouldn't waste everybody else's time on that.

 


... "unless you choose to play the concept (class) in such a way". Fighters in PnP are no less engaging than Wizards unless you choose to play them that way; in a DnD combat scene, you can do anything you want, not just swing your sword. The level of engagement really has very little to do with what powers you have, in a PnP, but in a CRPG, you are limited to the actions handed to you by the game. You cannot cut the cord of the chandelier and throw yourself at the king.

In a CRPG, the level of engagement, the low-maintenance vs. high-maintenance, must be mechanically supported in one way or another, choices offered by the system and arbitrated by the player in how much he desires to put into that one character.
 

I'm well aware there are exceptions though I think DA2 is a pretty poor example for the reason it's a massive move away from PC RPGs that IE style games were towards console or action RPGs.

DA2 should be kept out of any arguments if for no other reason than to not sully the discussion with it's mere mention. God damn it, Bioware, why did you forsake me?

Spoiler


Edited by Luckmann, 20 January 2015 - 02:29 AM.

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Not all Abilities are equal in reactivity. For example, Lay on Hands could be argued to be decidingly lesser maintenance than Flames of Devotion. My complaint about passive Class Abilities has nothing to do with the merits (or lack thereof) of "high-" and "low-" maintenance as part of the core concept of a class.

Perhaps Righteous Soul would stand out as an oddity less if the Paladin actually had more available passive abilities; for example, the Barbarian is riddled with potential Passive Class Abilities at the higher levels. I still maintain that Inspiring Triumph should be a Talent, though, if only because if it's not, we have to ask ourselves what is conceptually meant to be a Class Talent and what is meant to be a Class Ability? Right now, there are near-identical Class Abilities and Class Talents, built around the same framework, which is all kinds of odd from a conceptual viewpoint.

 

Agreed.

The fact that the Paladin gets more Talents than others is really a moot point, because either way, you'll only have access to two of them per Paladin; Priests are in a similar situation, but my point is that it doesn't actually functionally change anything. It just means that on paper, it seems Paladin characters are getting a bunch of neat Class Talents no-one else is getting, but in reality, to the individual Paladin, it doesn't change anything, it doesn't solve any issues.

 

My argument was with the limited access to those talents in mind. The monk can choose exactly 3 class talents in the talent section. The paladin has 5 class talents independent of order and 2 additional from his order, making that 7. I think it's not a moot point that this is more than the double amount of the monks list.

I think its important to keep that in perspective, as it shows that there probably was more time spent on implementing these additional talents for some classes, especially if you consider the order talents you don't have access to. Every spell can be considered the amount of programming needed to implement a talent as well, so the spellcasting classes had even more time spent on their ability implementation. I use this as an argument to say that the existing abilities should of course be fixed and balanced accordingly, but for the purpose of adding new stuff to the game (expansion, I'm looking at you), I think there are other classes which should come first. I can build a paladin with only class talents, but I can't do that with a monk.


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