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Casting outside of combat  

148 members have voted

  1. 1. Should casting outside of combat be allowed?

    • Yes, bring back the glory days!
      59
    • No, 'tis a silly thing
      42
    • No opinion on this matter
      9
    • Only allow utility spells outside combat
      38


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How are you gentlemen

 

Recently, there’s been a lot of bellyaching about lack of wizard spells. I think the real culprit here is not the variety of wizard spells, but the fact that you can’t cast outside of combat. Apparently this rule was implemented for the following reasons (to my understanding):

 

  • Without it, players would cast hundreds of buffs before combat
  • This is presumably a waste of time, and makes things hard to balance, because if you balance for a normal party, super-buffed parties have it easy, if you balance for a super-buffed party, normal characters will suffer.

I would argue that:

  • If you take the time to do all that buffing, you deserve to have an easier time of it.
  • This rule means that all spells = combat spells. There is nothing utility because you can’t cast outside of combat.
  • In particular, this has led to a lame summoning system. Summons are best used to draw enemy attention/fire, but this is very difficult when the main summoner can only call a few skeletons about 5 minutes into combat.
  • Isn’t munching 30 plates of dragon meat pie or sleeping in a special place before combat just as ridiculous as casting buffs before combat?
     

What do you guys think?

Edited by Heijoushin
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I'm weakly in favor of eliminating the casting time restrictions altogether; I'm strongly in favor of getting things like the Druid's storms out of the no casting outside of combat rules. It makes no sense that I can start a fight by throwing a normal attack spell at an enemy but have to wait for the official "in combat" flag to flip before I can throw up those spells (presumably because they're internally implemented as buffs).

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As long as the encounters are balanced properly, I'm fine with not spending time casting buffs prior to combat. If you allow some players do it, then everybody ends up having to prep with buffs because the encounters will be increased in difficulty.

Edited by rjshae

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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I'm definitely in favor of having spells/invocations/powers/potions/etc. available outside of combat. It seems like there'd be various ways in which to ensure that pre-battle spell preparations don't get completely out of hand, some of which were already in the game (e.g., bonus stacking limits). I also agree that going to the trouble buffing yourself extensively before a fight should probably make it easier, but to keep it from getting to the point of completely steamrolling encounters, a few possibilities come to mind:

 

1. Piling strong enchantments on the party could increase their visibility for magic detection-type effects, complicating attempts at stealth when dealing with enemies with a natural sensitivity to magic or access to resources that facilitate its detection. This could also potentially trigger traps/hazards in certain areas or allow enemies to relocate/prepare an ambush when appropriate.

2. There could spells and effects that function by turning beneficial effects against their original recipients - sort of like the d&d 3.5e warlock's Voracious Dispel invocation or perhaps even by transferring them from the intended target of the effect onto the caster. 

3. Some of the stronger effects could have corresponding crash periods like drugs do (maybe even if the beneficial effect is dispelled, transferred, or cut short for added risk).

Edited by blotter
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Prebuffing was incredibly boring and repetitive, I don't see how anyone can miss that.

 

Also, you *can* already cast outside of combat in Pillars: haven't you ever set Pasca on fire during your evil playthroughs? ;)

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Way to make the poll choices objective.  :yes: No bias in those answers. ;)

 

What? There's yes/no/maybe options. The rest is just flavor text.

 

If this was a J-RPG, it would go like this:

Want to save the world?

A: Yes

B: Yes

C: Yes

 

Prebuffing was incredibly boring and repetitive, I don't see how anyone can miss that.

 

Also, you *can* already cast outside of combat in Pillars: haven't you ever set Pasca on fire during your evil playthroughs? ;)

 

I don't miss prebuffing. I miss utility and summon spells outside of combat.

 

I don't remember setting Pasca on fire... was that a dialogue option?

Edited by Heijoushin
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How about this: while in scouting mode, if a party member has a partly red circle, any nearby character can start casting a combat-only spell. However, the casting can not be completed before combat starts.

 

This lets you pause, get off a quick buff spell, then ready your next action before engaging the enemy.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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How about this: while in scouting mode, if a party member has a partly red circle, any nearby character can start casting a combat-only spell. However, the casting can not be completed before combat starts.

 

This lets you pause, get off a quick buff spell, then ready your next action before engaging the enemy.

 

Let's say you're going to fight someone. He's waiting in the next room for you now. Would you put the brick in your gloves before you enter the room, or wait until you've spotted him?

 

But that's irrelevant. I'm not interested in buffing. I want utility spells and summoning outside of combat.  

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We can cast some spells prior to combat already, no? (Priest seals, fireball, etc).  I think so long as the game is built around this, then it's fine - We can't prebuff and neither can enemies.

This doesn't preclude utility spells (e.g. invisibility/unlock) becoming available if Obsidian decides to implement them - they can flag them for use outside combat. (Though I don't like the idea of a 'knock' spell)

Perhaps expand the poll to include:

  • Yes for all spells,
  • Yes for utility spells,
  • Keep it as it is now,
  • No for all spells,
  • I just like to push poll buttons.
Edited by Silent Winter
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Let's say you're going to fight someone. He's waiting in the next room for you now. Would you put the brick in your gloves before you enter the room, or wait until you've spotted him?

 

 

 

But that's irrelevant. I'm not interested in buffing. I want utility spells and summoning outside of combat.  

 

Yes, it's irrelevant. I was offering a compromise of limited pre-buffing, one per caster.

 

Why summoning outside of combat, unless you plan to use them as a meat shield? I.e. a form of buffing.

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I believe out-of-combat casting should be brought back. As I understand it, there are two main reasons why it was left out of PoE1:

 

1 - The devs thought that the ritual of pre-buffing could be tedious and added busywork to fights.

 

2 - They wanted buff spells (and potions, etc) to be included in the action economy - that is, when you cast a buff spell, you have to take into account not only the pros/cons of casting a buff spell instead of a heal/damage spells with your limited slots, but also the time it takes to cast it vs. another type of spell.

 

Here are my reasons why I don't care for this reasoning:

 

"Pre-buffing is tedious": First, you don't have to do it. You could play BG without pre-buffing and do just fine. The same has been true of other isometric-style RPGs that allowed it. (And if you don't want tedious gameplay options to give players a mechanical advantage then you're gonna have to do a whole lot more than just restrict pre-buffing. Like remove the entire "camping supplies" system, for instance.)

 

Second, I don't see why casting spells before combat is any more tedious than casting them during combat. When I didn't pre-buff what I often did instead was have my Priest (usually) casting a chain of buff spells during combat instead of before. If anything that meant more micromanagement in my experience.

 

Third, in PoE1 you can still pre-buff if you're willing to cheese a bit. You can have someone pull with a ranged weapon while your party waits around a corner, or use a spell/scroll of tanglefoot to slow the enemies down, or have someone with move speed kite them in a circle, or some combination of all of the above to create an interval between the formal start of "combat" and the point where the fight is actually joined. This means that in practice most of the time you still CAN pre-buff, but now it actually requires more busywork than before.

 

Fourth, I'm not sure tedious pre-buffing was actually removed from the game in the end. There's a reason that Priest is the closest thing to a required class, there are many fights whose outcomes hinge on whether you have the proper immunities up when the fighting starts. There was plenty of de-facto "pre buffing" in my playthroughs whenever I had to fight Fampyrs or Lagufaeth or Caen Gwyla or anything that used powerful status effects.

 

Not only that, but there are buffs you can cast outside of combat. Food and drugs aren't mechanically much different than buff spells, and they're available outside of combat. I can wolf down four different meals, chug an ale, and munch on some svef before a fight and walk in with a combined (if I remember right) +9 to various stats, extra move speed, extra DR, and faster attack speed without giving the action economy a second thought. What line of reasoning says that that's OK but casting blessing before a fight isn't?

 

"Our way integrates buff spells into the action economy":

 

I don't think the advantage of this, in terms of gameplay, is as big as Obsidian says. The "should I use a limited consumable/should I use one of my limited spell slots" decision is still there, so it's not as though there's no tactical angle to it. It seems to me that the "action economy" argument is on some level a tacit admission that they don't really want you casting buff spells at all, or at least not casting them as much - if so, they should either nerf them or remove them from the game entirely IMO.

 

I think a practical effect of the combat-only restriction is that many players either rarely use the game's combat-only consumables or don't use them at all. Which is a shame as I think PoE1's consumables (and the related crafting mechanics) were pretty cool and added a lot to the game.

 

My final objection has to do with immersion, for lack of a better term. The following never made sense to me as I was playing: I have a potion. I'm holding it in my hand. I'm looking at it. But I can't drink it - not until my buddy shoots an arrow at a nearby xaurip or whatever. THEN I can drink it - even if the xaurip is around the corner or on the other end of the map in someplace I can't even see. Things like that are a periodic reminder that game design supercedes and overrules common-sense notions of what I should and shouldn't be able to do in this world.

 

Even if it doesn't affect your immersion, it leads to fidgety, non-intuitive game systems. My cipher can start combat by confusing an enemy, but not by charming it. My wizard can start combat by shooting a lightning bolt at an enemy, but not by casting magic missile at it. I remember on my first playthrough I was irritated more than once at finding out that an ability that looked promising when I took it during a level-up couldn't be used outside of combat according to rules that don't have any rhyme or reason I can decipher.

 

To make one final conclusion and comment: from what the devs have said, it sounds like there's gonna be more customizable difficulty toggles in Deadfire, and there's also this "Berath's Boon" thing they're doing. Even if you don't like have pre-buffing in your base game, could you at least include it as a toggleable difficulty/new game+ option? It's a possible compromise.

Edited by Yougottawanna
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I'm wary of allowing buff spells to be cast outside combat. The party huddling like a sports team before a fight to cast all the buffs is fairly tedious gameplay and rewarding the player for doing tedious gameplay is bad game design IMO. Some of the most annoying gameplay for me has been applying buffs to people to survive in combat. I like the fact that buffs in PoE were much less a thing and they sound especially unneeded now since everything is per-encounter by default.

 

On the other hand, I do realize that not being able to cast spells out of combat sucks for ambushes with the new stealth system. A compromise I'd suggest is being able to pre-cast spells and otherwise ready actions on visible enemies before springing your ambush and the springing always automatically starting combat mode with the visible enemies. This way, any buffs would still be cast in-combat but the buffs would go up at the very start of it. Pretty much like Shadow Tactics' shadow mode, actually.

The downside to this would be the fact that enemies also have ears this time and a wizard chanting tends to grab the attention of everybody around (not to mention the chanter chanting). So a wizard casting a long spell could ruin the surprise.

 

There are more traditional ways to sidestep the per-encounter spell limit (if you cast outside combat, the spell slot will only come back after either the next encounter, the spell running out or you leaving the area) but that only leads to huddles again.

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@Heijoushin: Thanks for starting this thread, you raise an issue close to my heart!

 

I'm a fan of utility spells out of combat, because I love being able to use my casters for more than just magical guns. Invisibility, Sleep, Control Weather, ... I think the farther removed from the formula "do X damage to Y targets" a spell is, the more interesting it gets. Now, I'm well aware that this kind of utility magic is the domain of pen and paper RPGs. However, parts of that do work in CRPGs (see BG, D:OS), and I love to see this in games.

 

Prebuffing: I don't have a problem with the concept itself (@Yougottawanna makes a good point concerning immersion), but doing the same "click these 10 buttons before a fight" gets tedious quickly. Give me the ability to define spell macros, and I'll love prebuffing. Especially daily buffs can feel nicely powerful for higher level casters. Without macros though, I prefer the PoE 1 approach.

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While i would like to see casting OOC (out of combat), I am fine either way. Having attribute or ability checks instead of OOC casting never made sense thematically (altho i can understand why they did it).

I like prebuffing because i can routinize the start of combat, so i can focus on the 'fun' part. If you'd really want to you could potentially balance around it. But from how i understand it this would require a lot more work than simply "not restricting" casting OOC (as you can't have or shouldn't have the ability to cast stuff everywhere you go -> less immersion).

Then again if i had to choose: having more interactions with spells OOC is certainly more important to me. Providing choices in conversations / OOC with only attribute or ability checks feels way to artificial for me (more immersion).

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Guest 4ward

 

i‘m also for allowing casting outside of combat, i enjoyed combat in BG2SoA very much. Since Obsidian is going per-encounter for the sequel, that means also that casting outside of combat probably won‘t happen. I‘d still like to bring up my reasons in favour of it because as i said i‘m actually a fan of BG2, so this is more in relation to BG2 than Pillars1:

 

1) extensive prebuffing doesn‘t make sense in BG2 as your first casted buffs wear off if you take too long

2) prebuffing isn‘t required in BG2 that much as the game is per-rest and thus has different layers of encounter difficulty, i.e. you only prebuff before major battles

3) prebuffing before a.m. big battles gives the player the feeling that a difficult and important battle is about to happen unlike with easier battles

4) enemies, specifically casters were tougher in BG2 having protections like vs normal/magic weapons or sanctuary meaning you couldn‘t one-shoot them from afar; they actually were able to launch their spells adding to the reactivity and tactic in battles; this in turn is the reason that Bioware allowed the player to prepare. IMO, you take out casting outside of combat, you take out potent (enemy) casters and thus you take out a good portion of reactive combat gameplay

 

I think that‘ll be it off the top of my head.

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My opinion:

 

- Utility spells: Yes, tons of them!

- Prebuffs: A few. What's the problem if the first thing my mage does after getting up in the morning is casting iron skin? Less surprises while shaving.

- Summons: Why not? They are fun. Maybe they are a bit weaker then the combat only ones. Maybe they are incredibly weak. I still could use them for scouting, trap detection or to lure enemies away. I have nothing agains the chanter class. He can call ghosts and spirits from elsewhere. Im fine with that. But summoning skeletons is a wizard thing. And skeletons last for a long time.

Edited by Lord_Mord
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I believe out-of-combat casting should be brought back. As I understand it, there are two main reasons why it was left out of PoE1:

 

1 - The devs thought that the ritual of pre-buffing could be tedious and added busywork to fights.

 

2 - They wanted buff spells (and potions, etc) to be included in the action economy - that is, when you cast a buff spell, you have to take into account not only the pros/cons of casting a buff spell instead of a heal/damage spells with your limited slots, but also the time it takes to cast it vs. another type of spell.

 

Here are my reasons why I don't care for this reasoning:

 

"Pre-buffing is tedious": First, you don't have to do it. You could play BG without pre-buffing and do just fine. The same has been true of other isometric-style RPGs that allowed it. (And if you don't want tedious gameplay options to give players a mechanical advantage then you're gonna have to do a whole lot more than just restrict pre-buffing. Like remove the entire "camping supplies" system, for instance.)

 

Second, I don't see why casting spells before combat is any more tedious than casting them during combat. When I didn't pre-buff what I often did instead was have my Priest (usually) casting a chain of buff spells during combat instead of before. If anything that meant more micromanagement in my experience.

 

Third, in PoE1 you can still pre-buff if you're willing to cheese a bit. You can have someone pull with a ranged weapon while your party waits around a corner, or use a spell/scroll of tanglefoot to slow the enemies down, or have someone with move speed kite them in a circle, or some combination of all of the above to create an interval between the formal start of "combat" and the point where the fight is actually joined. This means that in practice most of the time you still CAN pre-buff, but now it actually requires more busywork than before.

 

Fourth, I'm not sure tedious pre-buffing was actually removed from the game in the end. There's a reason that Priest is the closest thing to a required class, there are many fights whose outcomes hinge on whether you have the proper immunities up when the fighting starts. There was plenty of de-facto "pre buffing" in my playthroughs whenever I had to fight Fampyrs or Lagufaeth or Caen Gwyla or anything that used powerful status effects.

 

Not only that, but there are buffs you can cast outside of combat. Food and drugs aren't mechanically much different than buff spells, and they're available outside of combat. I can wolf down four different meals, chug an ale, and munch on some svef before a fight and walk in with a combined (if I remember right) +9 to various stats, extra move speed, extra DR, and faster attack speed without giving the action economy a second thought. What line of reasoning says that that's OK but casting blessing before a fight isn't?

 

"Our way integrates buff spells into the action economy":

 

I don't think the advantage of this, in terms of gameplay, is as big as Obsidian says. The "should I use a limited consumable/should I use one of my limited spell slots" decision is still there, so it's not as though there's no tactical angle to it. It seems to me that the "action economy" argument is on some level a tacit admission that they don't really want you casting buff spells at all, or at least not casting them as much - if so, they should either nerf them or remove them from the game entirely IMO.

 

I think a practical effect of the combat-only restriction is that many players either rarely use the game's combat-only consumables or don't use them at all. Which is a shame as I think PoE1's consumables (and the related crafting mechanics) were pretty cool and added a lot to the game.

 

My final objection has to do with immersion, for lack of a better term. The following never made sense to me as I was playing: I have a potion. I'm holding it in my hand. I'm looking at it. But I can't drink it - not until my buddy shoots an arrow at a nearby xaurip or whatever. THEN I can drink it - even if the xaurip is around the corner or on the other end of the map in someplace I can't even see. Things like that are a periodic reminder that game design supercedes and overrules common-sense notions of what I should and shouldn't be able to do in this world.

 

Even if it doesn't affect your immersion, it leads to fidgety, non-intuitive game systems. My cipher can start combat by confusing an enemy, but not by charming it. My wizard can start combat by shooting a lightning bolt at an enemy, but not by casting magic missile at it. I remember on my first playthrough I was irritated more than once at finding out that an ability that looked promising when I took it during a level-up couldn't be used outside of combat according to rules that don't have any rhyme or reason I can decipher.

 

To make one final conclusion and comment: from what the devs have said, it sounds like there's gonna be more customizable difficulty toggles in Deadfire, and there's also this "Berath's Boon" thing they're doing. Even if you don't like have pre-buffing in your base game, could you at least include it as a toggleable difficulty/new game+ option? It's a possible compromise.

 

The problem isn't that pre-buffing is tedious. The problem is that pre-buffing is mechanically incentivised and the only other balancing factor is tedium. That's bad design.

Edited by illathid
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I don't think that tedium, as a few have suggested, is the reason for no pre-buffing. The phrase the devs use is action-economy: powerful effects often come at a cost of time. A wizard with DAoM, Ironskin, and Citzal's lance + Martial Power is a pretty stornk matey. That storngth comes at a cost though, you spend the first (often crucial) moments of battle doing nothing. There is no downside if these buffs are cast pre-fight. There are also tactical ways to work around this, one of the most common being luring the enemy into a trap.

Edited by George_Truman
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The problem with pre-buffing is easily adrerssed by not having so many damn buffs in the first place. A gazzillion different buffs don't really add anything to the game to be honest, there are a ton of spells that you'll ever need in the game. Pre-buffing only becomes tedious if you start casting more than 2 or 3 buffs per character.

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Pre-buffing only becomes tedious if you start casting more than 2 or 3 buffs per character.

Eh, I don't know, 2-3 buffs with only one character, or one buff per character can be plenty tedium for me if I do it often enough. To quote the great philosopher Bender, "With my mighty robot powers, I can get sick of things much quicker."

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Why is it "tedious and boring" to prebuff but not 5 seconds later to postbuff? If everyone buffs as soon as the battle starts, aren't the battles already scaled to buffed parties?

 

I think its because once the battle starts there is a trade-off with other spells. If you force buffs to be fight only you then have to choose whether you will throw out a damage spells first or buff first or another cc spell since some cc spells are pre battle. I like that buffs are part of the opportunity cost calculation. To me it feels more tactical to do it that way. I'm am not saying its perfect but i enjoyed it.

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