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The loss of Vancian casting?!

combat vancian per-encounter

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#1
Arulan

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Josh Sawyer recently explained what the current combat system looks like:

 

Currently, everything is either per encounter or based on a resource that builds up (i.e. resources like Focus, Phrases, or Wounds).

 
The per rest resource is Empower. Every character has a certain number of Empowers per rest. When you click Empower, your active abilities will highlight, allowing you to click on one to boost its effect. The effect may be more projectiles, a longer duration, more damage/healing, etc. A wizard could empower a Minoletta's Minor Missiles, adding missiles. A fighter could empower Vigorous Defense, increasing the bonuses.

 

I believe this will be a significant step back in terms of strategic resource management. Even if spells are weaker, making Empowerment a significant boost, or very limited per-encounter uses, I don't think this is enough. You'd still have the problem of the original game in which you'd use the same (per-encounter) spells too often, and even if they are very limited in (per-encounter) uses, it would only create a priority list.

 

I'd love for Josh Sawyer to explain his reasoning in detail and give some example scenarios. That said, I think eliminating having to make a conscious decision of saving spell uses for following encounters would be a huge loss.


Edited by Arulan, 01 February 2017 - 11:23 PM.

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#2
Gairnulf

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I think it all depends how how it's balanced - how much more powerful the spells/abilities will be exactly, when modified?

What I certainly dislike is the moving away from the IE games in one more important aspect.

On the whole, I'm skeptical about this change.
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#3
Heijoushin

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Hmmm... well, early level wizards were a bit of a pain with the Vancian system, so I can see why they went in the per encounter/resource direction. I do feel sad about leaving the Vancian system behind though. 

 

Not sure how I feel about this "empower" thing. Wouldn't it just come down to a damage boost that you have to manually toggle each move?

I would also love to hear details and reasoning behind it. 


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#4
kirottu

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I do hope this doesn't end me constantly having to micromanage my casters, because everything(?) is per encounter now. I mean, non-empowered spells are still stronger than bolt from your wand, right? Especially in higher levels this would make wands(and other ranged weapons) obsolete for casters, because they would just spam their spells.
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#5
Flow

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Boo.

 

Managing per-rest spells is part of what makes Infinity Engine/Pillars 1 tactically interesting.


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#6
Fenixp

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I love Vancian casting, but... More importantly, I love things that are interesting and fun. I tend to say "We already have an X, we don't need another" - so that's what I'll say here as well. We already have a robust magic system and gameplay mechanics along with huge replayability in Pillars of Eternity, so we don't necessarily need another one of those. Let's see what can Obsidian do with the new ideas they have now. As long as it's not all cooldown-based...

#7
limaxophobiacq

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On one hand I'm for it because resting never was a meaninfull limitation but just pretended to be (and its hard to make it meaninfull without potentially landing people in unwinnable game-states), on the other hand I worry they'll make spells less impactfull and more bland to as a result.


Edited by limaxophobiacq, 02 February 2017 - 02:52 AM.

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#8
general_azure

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I do hope this doesn't end me constantly having to micromanage my casters, because everything(?) is per encounter now.

 

I have the suspicion that part of the reasoning here is that you have to micromanage your casters less if everything is per encounter, because they are less likely to use up a limited resource. There is no obvious way for the AI to know if you want those per-rest spells used right now or saved for the next fight.

Of course they still need some system where you can configure the AI on when and how often to empower, but this is probably easier (at least UI-wise) than setting up something similar for individual per-rest spells.


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#9
PrimeJunta

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Rationing spells is a huge part of the experience. At higher levels things often only get interesting when you don't have your favourites anymore and need to make do with what's left. By all means make other abilities per-encounter, but please, Obsidian, don't drop Vancian casting.


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#10
Rolandur

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The new Injury system will have us resting so often they might as well keep the Vancian spellcasting system. I could be wrong about everything too. =)



#11
TrueNeutral

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TBH I've never liked Vancian casting. It works in tabletop, but in game so far it's come down to spamming a sleep button. Oh no, Aloth ran out of spells again, better sleep in this dungeon surrounded by enemies even though it's the middle of the day. In all practicality it IS per encounter because you can just sleep between every fight, with a slight inconvenience - camping supplies/finding an inn is at most a bit irritating. It's not like dungeon enemies respawn, or at least I've never seen them do it. If I really need more spells I'll go through the irritating slog of retracing my steps, going to an inn, and finding my way back. The only thing encouraging to use less spells isn't strategy, it's annoyance.


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#12
mumbogumshoe

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TBH I've never liked Vancian casting. It works in tabletop, but in game so far it's come down to spamming a sleep button. Oh no, Aloth ran out of spells again, better sleep in this dungeon surrounded by enemies even though it's the middle of the day. In all practicality it IS per encounter because you can just sleep between every fight, with a slight inconvenience - camping supplies/finding an inn is at most a bit irritating. It's not like dungeon enemies respawn, or at least I've never seen them do it. If I really need more spells I'll go through the irritating slog of retracing my steps, going to an inn, and finding my way back. The only thing encouraging to use less spells isn't strategy, it's annoyance.

Agreed. I used to defend vancian casting and I still like it in pnp games but I've come around to thinking that a system that's built around per encounter abilities and some resource is simply better in video games. I can't imagine what people mean when they speak of "rationing spells". Nobody ever really had to ration spells in the IE games. You casted spells that seemed appropriate for the encounter and when you ran out of your high level ones you rested. PoE tried to counter that by limiting resting with camping supplies but that didn't work either. You could carry at least 2 with you and you would always find more in every dungeon. So you could rest at least 3 times wherever you went. Nobody is ever really in danger of running out of spells in such a system. I can remember exactly one time that I ran out of camping supplies and had to go back to get more. But at that point I didn't need resting to replenish my spells but because everyone in the party was badly beaten up and two were maimed. Thinking about it, injuries and health were the only real reasons for resting, there was never a moment where I felt that I had to rest now to get back spells. I rested because because of injuries and because health was running low and spells just refreshed as a side effect. The system just doesn't work as intended for limiting spellcasting, it never has.


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#13
Aotrs Commander

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TBH I've never liked Vancian casting. It works in tabletop, but in game so far it's come down to spamming a sleep button. Oh no, Aloth ran out of spells again, better sleep in this dungeon surrounded by enemies even though it's the middle of the day. In all practicality it IS per encounter because you can just sleep between every fight, with a slight inconvenience - camping supplies/finding an inn is at most a bit irritating. It's not like dungeon enemies respawn, or at least I've never seen them do it. If I really need more spells I'll go through the irritating slog of retracing my steps, going to an inn, and finding my way back. The only thing encouraging to use less spells isn't strategy, it's annoyance.

 

I'm not especially fond of Vancian casting myself - even on the tabletop. (I actually went through the enormous effort of decoupling it for my current campaign world and made it into a mana system). (But that only changes the implementation of spells, not the strategic implications, mana points run just as much on the fifteen minute adventuring day.)

 

The problem is, it's only a self-imposed strategic limit. Only the people that want to basically roleplay it are the ones limited by it; even in IE games it was pretty trivial (if tedious) to circumnavigate. PoE actually only sort of partly took some of the irritiation out with the camping supplies... But as inns gave you bonuses, there was some benefit to the tedium of traipsing back out of the dungeon every time.

 

(And random-encounters-while-you-sleep to try and force people to not rest when they like doesn't really work, since if the PCs have stopped to rest, it's because they're out of combat powers. Throwing combat encounters at them to punish them while they're already week will only work if the DM is prepared to end the campaign by killing them, or the CRPG is going to reload (or game-over). There's only so much you can do with respawn or moving monsters around the dungeon too.)

 

 

 

On the other hand, I made it through more-or-less the entire of White March 1's dungeons on the strength of the then-per-encounter low-to-mid level spells; but part of the reason I stalled out until this week on WM2 was, I think, the dropping of that feature. So while it did mean that I rested less often, because I only burned my high-leve resources more sparingly, there were time when I didn't have to use them at all. (Conversely, outside Concelhaut's tower, when I went in at level 12, I was resting more or less after every fight.)

 

So... yeah. The problem is, basically, it's trying to do diametrically opposite things - have a limitation on resources and also having the abiity to refresh the resources whenever desired.

 

 

D&D 4E presents the same set of problems, with the mix of perencounter and daily powers. The early (official) modules taught us not to go wandering when low on resources, so for the next umpteen levels we regularly rested and caused the DM no end of problems; in the end, we made a gentleman's agreement we would aim to do four comabts between rest and use our resouces accordingy. (So anecdotally, even o the tabletop, someitmes the rest-limitation only works if the players agree to it.)

 

And on top of that, you have the trash mob/ boss battle issues as well, feeding directly into this, The more of the former you have, the more disposable resources you need. (Now, I tend to run games I write myself on largely a "trash mob to get the players settled in to the day session/all bioss battles thereafter." Preportedly, this is what Tides of Numenara is going too attempt to balance out the fact that turn-based combat can be really grindy and dull with trash mob fights.)

 

 

 

And about the only way to force people to divide out their resources (becaue otherwise, the designers have to take into account every fight will be treated like a boss fights by a not insignificant proportion of players) is to start having time-limits... But that itself tends to put unwanted pressure on people who want to take their time. (I particularly dislike them; one reason I have never finished Mask of the Betrayer was I just got sick of feeling like I had to rush through the entire game; especially when most of the companions were primary casters..)

 

 

 

There is no good answer, really.


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#14
anameforobsidian

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I wonder how this will interact with the more limited selection of spells in grimoires.  It could be designed to make players switch grimoires, which is an interesting mechanic.  I really like spell rationing too, but I find that in higher levels you didn't do it already in PE.  I was frequently using per encounter spells for most fights in WM2.


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#15
Sensuki

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Predicted this over a year ago lol

 

It is the wishes of the majority of the Something Awful and badgame crowd


Edited by Sensuki, 02 February 2017 - 03:32 AM.

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#16
IndiraLightfoot

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Having played PoE extensively, and at all difficulty levels... I even have a story mode playthrough going right now, heh.

And this is my conclusion about combat and spell casting:

-The limited camping supplies enhanced my satisfaction of combat

-All per rest abilities enhanced the challenge

-Certain per encounter abilities I spammed. They were like 2nd nature as soon as combat commenced

-The more spells limited to per rest (assuming camping supplies are limited), the better


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#17
Fenixp

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If a significant portion of spells/abilities goes the 'Per encounter' route tho, I'd very much like to see some form of automation - which could be solved if AI customization is deep enough. What I always did before starting combat would be going through numbers 1-6, pressing 'Q' where I have my most efficient start-combat per-encounter ability mapped for all characters. I don't particularly want to do this, but it'll get even worse with the amount of per encounter abilities increasing. So I'd like to do something along the lines of:
 

Aloth:

- If (multiple enemies) with (low reflex), use (AoE disable)

- If (multiple enemies) with (low fortitude), use (Magic missiles) on (strongest)

 

Y'know, that kind of deal - a bit more in-depth DA: O AI programming. Actually, I'd like to see something like that even in the original game, so... Y'know.


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#18
Merany

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All spells per rest is actually the first time I'm worried for Deadfire.
On one hand, I have a lot of faith in Josh, he has proven me time and time again that he knows what he's doing. And I like the vast majority of the changes that have been announced so far.
On the other hand, this seems unnecessary... I know it's not Tyranny's cooldowns yet but it looks like a step in that direction and I HATED that. Combat loses so much of it's tactical aspect :(

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#19
JerekKruger

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I think the empower system is a great addition for non-Vancian casters. I pretty much never used per rest abilities because I always thought they might be useful in a later combat before I rested. As a result I hardly got to see many of the more powerful abilities the game has to offer, and I think the empower system would help that a lot.

 

I am less keen on it for the three Vancian casters. All three had enough per rest slots that I didn't feel the need to hoard (4 spells per level per rest vs. one use of Heart of Fury is a big difference) and part of their balance was the resting limitation (a wizard could easily put out huge damage or control in a fight, but would have to rest afterwards to do it again, whereas a Cipher could perform consistently fight after fight). That said, I think a Vancian system could pair well with the empower system too: have limited per rest slots for spells and allow a limited number of empower castings per rest.


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#20
JerekKruger

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... on the other hand I worry they'll make spells less impactfull and more bland to as a result.

 

Yeah, that's my main concern.







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