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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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If they just brought in mana, they could utilize concepts like upkeep-spells ^^

Don't need mana for this - upkeep could simply limit your number of spells per rest / per encounter.

 

 

SHHHH! not so loud, everyone will hear. I want to get a mana system  :biggrin:

 

And I would like a magic system based on drain in the style of Shadowrun pen&paper. But hey, what can you do.

 

To be honest, though I can live quite well with spell slots. Now, if we were able to combine spell slots in the way of D&D's Ur-Priest (basically, use higher level spell slots to cast lower level spells, use up several lower level slots to cast higher level spells), that would pretty much be the same as a mana system. Probably a bit of a nightmare on usability and clarity though.

 

...oh, right thread topic. Gotta have me some yummy out of combat utility spells! Say no to pre-buffing!

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One problem I see with this, it will REALLY hurt replay value, once you know what encounters are coming you can prebuff the exact needed buffs and destroy the encounter. Really not interested, also often it becomes a routine where you need to prebuff the same best 5-6 spells every fight and if you are slightly ocd like me you'll do it for every fight. Yuck, yuck YUCK! 

 

Not where I want to be spending my time. 

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And I would like a magic system based on drain in the style of Shadowrun pen&paper. But hey, what can you do.

 

To be honest, though I can live quite well with spell slots. Now, if we were able to combine spell slots in the way of D&D's Ur-Priest (basically, use higher level spell slots to cast lower level spells, use up several lower level slots to cast higher level spells), that would pretty much be the same as a mana system. Probably a bit of a nightmare on usability and clarity though.

 

...oh, right thread topic. Gotta have me some yummy out of combat utility spells! Say no to pre-buffing!

 

 

Yeah, though a Mana system is easier to balance on a per-encounter basis, as it is so much simpler than dealing with multiple levels of spell-slots. (mana system also allows for neat spell concepts like mana-drains and mana-burns). Spell slots as they are tend to be so numerous that pre-buffing and an upkeep spell would essentially be the same thing. Unless you specify that certain spells have upkeep costs of more than one spell slot. Hmm, that just might work. I think it would be an eloquent solution to the whole thing; you can have certain buffs ready, but it severely restricts what you can cast in combat. Would also work insanely well for caster/fighter combos. I really liked playing Arcane Warriors in DA:O, despite them being incredibly over powered. Something about the concept just appeals to me.

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Not sure a mana system would be easier to balance - with fixed spell slots, you are absolutely sure how often the highest level spell can go off on a character. WIth mana, you wouldn't be.

Same problem with spell slots that can be used freely, no matter the spell level. Those are the same as spell points, which are basically the same as a mana system. Mana drain and mana burn?  "Steal spell (slot)" and "Destroy memory" then. It's all just a different abstraction of the same thing.

 

Moving on to upkeep: Yeah, that definitely needs to hurt some other area - otherwise you're getting something for nothing. A cost of several spell slots was what I had in mind for more powerful buffs anyway. Not sure how easy balancing would be for this, though, and how well it would fit with the Pillars system.

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Not sure a mana system would be easier to balance - with fixed spell slots, you are absolutely sure how often the highest level spell can go off on a character. WIth mana, you wouldn't be.

Same problem with spell slots that can be used freely, no matter the spell level. Those are the same as spell points, which are basically the same as a mana system. Mana drain and mana burn?  "Steal spell (slot)" and "Destroy memory" then. It's all just a different abstraction of the same thing.

 

Moving on to upkeep: Yeah, that definitely needs to hurt some other area - otherwise you're getting something for nothing. A cost of several spell slots was what I had in mind for more powerful buffs anyway. Not sure how easy balancing would be for this, though, and how well it would fit with the Pillars system.

 

The problem with balancing spell slots is really tied to the whole spell level concept. In a mana system, you don't need to create spells that are fundamentally more powerful than others, because they can freely scale with level and stats without worrying about stepping beyond their spell-level constraints. Same applies to spell-burns and spell-theft; you need to specify which level it is that the spell slots are stolen from, which not only adds potential balancing issues but also feels kinda arbitrary. Mana system or equivalent has the benefit of staying within one power-range of spells, with 9 spell levels you effectively have 9 systems to balance out, and after that you need to take into consideration how those levels relate to each other in terms of power.

 

Having a one pool to draw power from is much easier to manage both from design standpoint and a player standpoint than having 9 pools. This also helps define the power level of upkeep spells, *and* the amount of upkeep spells there are. You don't need to have weird stacking rules defining how multiple versions of effectively the same spell interact together. I'm sure you've heard of K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Simple designs are far more flexible than complex ones, and thus can be used to allow for *way* more potential approaches for both the player and the designer. I like the way a mana system easily bends to different forms and functions, while the more rigid spell slot system will often break rather than bend when you try to mold it.

 

Damn I really can't shut up about the mana system, can I. The whole point was upkeep spells, and how they remove the hassle of pre-buffing while still allowing for that "arcane-warrior" - style approach where you keep certain buffs on you at all times to compensate for your weaker physique. Having to cast those buffs at the start of combat kinda butchers that game-play style, as if your character serves an offensive role, a crowd control spell or a debuff is almost always a better choice than a buff. Except for priests who really don't have that many good debuffs, but that just makes for a binary choice of absolutely having to have a priest in your party if you want any reasonable buffing to occur.

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Ah, we were working from different starting points: I wasn't aware of your assumption that "mana system" also encompasses "no spell levels". I agree with your assessment then. This offers a lot of freedom, though, which is great for the player, but a significant impact on balancing. Easier to manage? Yes. Easier to balance per encounter? My gut says no. "more potential approaches" equals more complex balancing. Personally, I love systems like this, but again, I'm not sure it fits with Pillars all that well. Maybe for a level-less system. Again, Shadowrun :)

 

Arcane Warrior style rocks - but it probably really requires either pre-buffing (Booo!) or upkeep spells.

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Simple designs are far more flexible than complex ones

 

Also they are far more stupid.

 

 

Untrue; a solution can be simultaneously simple and deep. That is called eloquence. Overly complex solutions lack this sadly underappreciated quality. It is the fool that mistakes complexity for wisdom.

Edited by Ninjamestari
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Arcane Warrior style rocks - but it probably really requires either pre-buffing (Booo!) or upkeep spells.

 

Precisely the reason I want to get upkeep spells :D

 

EDIT: btw, you've got me intrigued on that Shadowrun game. I noticed there are several games in the series; which one would you recommend as a starting point?

Edited by Ninjamestari

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Tell that to anybody that ever threw a grenade into an elevator in Shadowrun 3rd Edition. Calculating wall-reflecting explosions reflecting off other walls quickly get's old.

Edited by Katarack21
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Tell that to anybody that ever threw a grenade into an elevator in Shadowrun 3rd Edition. Calculating wall-reflecting explosions reflecting off other walls quickly get's old.

Are you ever right here... the chunky salsa rule is a nightmare. As is initiative order in version 2. They can't all be winners. Magic system is top-notch in my opinion, though.

 

EDIT: btw, you've got me intrigued on that Shadowrun game. I noticed there are several games in the series; which one would you recommend as a starting point?

 

Depends on whether you want the crpg or the pen&paper one. p&p wise, I've only played versions 2 and 3. Personal favourite probably is 2 due to nostalgia. crpg wise, I'd say start with Dragonfall - Director's Cut. The magic system did not survive the translation from p&p to crpg, unfortunately. Neither did most of the system, actually. Still, the Shadowrun games by Harebrained Schemes are all solid choices in my opinion.

 

Returning to upkeep: Shadowrun p&p has another version of upkeep cost: While a spell is in effect, everything gets more difficult for you because you need to concentrate on upkeep. That could be translated to other systems as well, e.g. as an accuracy penalty in Pillars. You'd need to weigh pros and cons of a spell more carefully then, as opposed to upkeep that "only" came at the cost of other spells.

Edited by Regggler

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It is the fool that mistakes complexity for wisdom.

 

At least complexity is interesting. Just compare Baldurs Gate to Diablo.

 

I played a *lot* of both BG 2 and Diablo 2.

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It is the fool that mistakes complexity for wisdom.

 

At least complexity is interesting. Just compare Baldurs Gate to Diablo.

 

I played a *lot* of both BG 2 and Diablo 2.

 

 

I played quite a lot Diablo 1 too. But you don't play Diablo and Baldur's Gate for the same reasons. At least i don't.

 

Complexity for the sake of complexity is not usefull, and i guess Ninjamasteri is right when he says "a solution can be simultaneously simple and deep. That is called eloquence. Overly complex solutions lack this sadly underappreciated quality. It is the fool that mistakes complexity for wisdom."

 

But on the other hand, i think you can't achieve certain goals while designing a RPG if you refuse to invite a certain degree of complexity in your creation. I don't want to post one day in a thread called "I did not finish Deafire" something along the lines of "the over simplified game system, while efficient at a certain degree, feels way too shallow, and fails to take into account way too many things for me to be bothered anymore by the game".

Edited by Abel
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It is the fool that mistakes complexity for wisdom.

 

At least complexity is interesting. Just compare Baldurs Gate to Diablo.

 

 

Neither of those games is really complex though. There is a fundamental difference between "rich" and "complex". Complex systems are usually quite shallow. Take for example just about any MMO and their rotation based damage spells: A needlessly complicated system that still doesn't manage to accomplish anything beyond the very basic task of dealing damage. Complexity isn't the thing you're looking for, it's depth you want, and making a simple system with loads of depth is the holy grail. Having simple tools that you use to solve complicated problems is far more satisfying than having complicated tools for a simple problem.

 

The problem with complicated systems is that they're highly restrictive; the complexity restricts player actions rather than enables it, and as such the layers of problems the designer can introduce in a given encounter are more limited. The more specific requirements an ability has before it can be used effectively, the less this ability is used and the less likely it is that players find the ability useful. Same goes with a resource system; if your resource management is simple and doesn't require much thought and management on the part of the player, it frees the players mind to tackle the problems presented by the encounter and thus frees the designer to design more layered encounters.

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Simple designs are far more flexible than complex ones

 

Also they are far more stupid.

 

 

Untrue; a solution can be simultaneously simple and deep. That is called eloquence. Overly complex solutions lack this sadly underappreciated quality. It is the fool that mistakes complexity for wisdom.

 

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OK, originally I just wanted to troll a bit, but this has gone further than intended so I feel the need to give a serious answer. Personally I made the experience that using the KISS rule usually leads to dumb outcomes, that's why it is kind of a red rag to me. I dont know if that's how this rule is meant or if people just use it for a good excuse not to think. I'm a web developer, so I knoow what I'm talking about. The people that are too lazy / too dumb to write clean and simple code are usually the same ones that justify lazy decisions with what they call "simplicity".

For me Diablo looks like a good example of how close simplicity and stupidity are too another (I played Diablo 1+2 very often, but never finished one of them). It's dead simple, easy to learn, has a very addictive gameplay, but sooner or later the point comes when you ask yourself: What the hell am I doing here? It's like the pumped up version of some internet game.

 

Of course a mana system would simplify things. But the question is: Why do you want that? Just because KISS? Well, maybe you should consider switching back to Pong. You won't get more KISS ever again.

I for one want above all things that the magic system feels like magic. Magic isn't just pumping energy into something and getting damage in return. This is no space shooter. Magic should have it's own mysterious rules and they should be complicated. That's why I like the Vancian System. That's why I like BG. Of course, it's not balanced. Who cares? At least I never get the feeling that all that magic does is converting energy into certain damage types. In my opinion Pillars is already leaning to much into that direction. It's OK for the cipher or monk, but the other casting classes should be more clearly set apart. I fear that the enforcement system will only make it worse.

 

Excuse my terrible english, I'm in a hurry. I should be working already.

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I advocate KISS because it usually works, KISS is not an authority, just a rule of thumb you want to keep in mind at all times.

 

The people that are too lazy / too dumb to write clean and simple code are usually the same ones that justify lazy decisions with what they call "simplicity".

 

But as you know it doesn't really lead to simplicity; a chaotic code is a mess because it is complicated. What I mean with simplicity is that the core system, the core systems should be simple. Take math for example; it's the simplest system there is on the planet. Everything hinges on the assumption that 1+1=2, and everything beyond that are merely implications of that core assumption. Mana system is like that; the core principle is simple, yet there is an enormous amount of depth to be achieved when you start building around it. It doesn't really matter what external goals you have for your system; you can tweak a mana system to achieve that, and you can easily use mana system in tandem with other factors.

 

In gaming, mana has the advantage of translating easily to other variables, you can calculate the value of mana in terms of health and damage for example, you can tweak the experience by adjusting values without tampering with the core mechanics at all. Want a meaningful resource management? Have no mana regeneration. Have an even more punishing resource management? Have negative mana regeneration and thus force the player to consume potions prior to encounters. Mana can easily be viewed as a substance that can easily be transfered from one object to another, from one character to another, from one character to an external object like a mana-battery item, from external objects such as mana fountains (which need not be limitless!) to the character, etcetera etcetera. Hell, you could even make a game where mana could act as a currency of its own if you want.

 

Due to it's simplicity, mana system is extremely flexible, and there are countless concepts that can be incredibly easily implemented with mana as a base. If you want to add complexity, there can even be several types of mana in play at once, although I wouldn't do that without a good reason. One such reason could be that maybe arcane mana and divine mana are separate; you wouldn't even have to call divine mana mana, you might call it faith or divine favor, and since both are numeric values you can have mathematical relationships between the two easily. Perhaps divine favor is more powerful than pure mana, and can be used to cast both divine AND arcane spells, while normal mana is restricted to the latter. Or you could dictate that you can use any form of mana to cast any spell, but the sort of mana you use dictates a set of side effects; you could have some "evil chaos mana" that is more readily available but drains a little bit of your soul away every time you use it; you could track this with a debuff that grows stronger as the "evil-mana spent" - variable increases; converting a healing spell to heal this 'spiritual damage' is as simple as writing a flag for it. Then there's the obvious opportunity for 'blood-magic' that in one way or another converts health points into mana.

 

The reason you don't see the limitless potential of mana systems is because a) you haven't given it nearly as insanely unhealthy amount of thought as I have and b) I don't think any game has ever truly taken advantage of the incredible potential within the idea.

 

And as far as a sense of mystery goes, arbitrary feeling systems such as spell slots that don't really feel like they represent anything real in the context of the world kill that mystery far worse than mana, as with mana you can imagine it as an energy you use to cast spells. It's incredibly intuitive, and if you build enough depth around your mana system, then believe me, the mystery can be there. Just imagine the kinds of cool implications you could have for a concept like a biawac; if it attacks your soul, it could first drain your mana, and only after having drained your mana it could turn to draining your health. Or there could be a hazard / spell that burns mana, not only destroys it but causes it to ignite, dealing damage equal to the amount of mana they burn. WarCraft III used this concept and I have to say I LOVE it, along with concepts like creatures that feed on mana etc etc etc.

 

Also having mana doesn't exclude having other resources when applicable as well. Let's say most spellcasters use mana (Cipher, Druid, Mage), but priests use Divine Favor instead. It functions like mana, but cannot be influenced through ordinary mana drains and mana burns; a priest doesn't have to use natural flows of magical currents, as their spells are powered by the gods they worship, but as another consequence they are unable to benefit from mana potions for example. The examples of cool things you can do with mana are *limitless*, and you can tailor a system to fill every single need.

 

Oh, and mana doesn't have to be a property of the character either; maybe you could have a spell casting process where first you need to connect to a power source through an incantation; let's say mana is intrinsic to the natural world, and you can start draining the magical energies of your environment in order to cast your spells, or you might be able to carry magical substances to compensate if you run into an area with no natural sources of mana. This could be combined with the whole different mana types and side effects thing: let's say you're in some mad wizards tower. The wizard has created a portal to a hell-dimension, which would grant you a virtually infinite font of mana for the encounter, but it is of the "evil-chaos"-kind of mana that has side effects, so you can choose whether or not you wish to draw upon the portal or try to make do with what little other means of mustering mana are available for you at the moment.

 

Ok, I'll shut up now before this turns into a damn novel. I hope I've managed to make my point though; a mana system can do *anything*. It's simplicity gives it versatility and flexibility, and that versatility and flexibility can be used to build *depth* around the system.

 

EDIT: oh, and a spell slot system is already just a badly made mana system, you just have these arbitrary 1st - level mana points, 2nd - level mana points, 3rd - level mana points etcetera etcetera, and the system is never used beyond the basic function of restricting the amount of times you can cast spells. A proper mana system can do so much more.

Edited by Ninjamestari
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If you ask me i can't understand why i need the option to cast spells ouside of combat? There is no reason to do that, maybe some magic of light which will shine the watcher's path in the dark-dark caves or bays(also it will be great because of new lighting system, which looks really great) or some repairing magic(but then Obsidian needs to create spoilage system, which must be testing by people if they do that), maybe if some puzzles in the game will need to use combat magic(like frost, fire or electric magic) or some special quests will need to scare NPC on the squares then it makes sense. Otherwise, it's a needless function.

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If you ask me i can't understand why i need the option to cast spells ouside of combat? There is no reason to do that, maybe some magic of light which will shine the watcher's path in the dark-dark caves or bays(also it will be great because of new lighting system, which looks really great) or some repairing magic(but then Obsidian needs to create spoilage system, which must be testing by people if they do that), maybe if some puzzles in the game will need to use combat magic(like frost, fire or electric magic) or some special quests will need to scare NPC on the squares then it makes sense. Otherwise, it's a needless function.

 

Rosting wild boars in the wilds, performing shows in the streets, turning grandma's cat pink because it's fun, solving quests, opening doors, reaching areas, infiltrating a den, charming a stubborn guard to have our way, avoiding combat by dominating this soldier beforehands, getting informations or exploring ahead through divination magic, all utility magic... There are infinite reasons why this would be useful. And i'm just someone without much imagination.

 

If anything, RPGs and magic should not all be about combat. And to me, that's the first reason of them all. Thankfully, Pillars is not a A-RPG where magic is only another way to have some DPS with spell effects of different colors... It's not this boring. Or should not.

Edited by Abel
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PoE is only a step away from that though, what with not having any sort of utility spells what so ever. One of the biggest flaws in PoE, if not the biggest, is its overly exclusive focus on combat.

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I have to say i dont love wizards usually and priest even less. Anything that makes them more useful in POE would not be fun. I think they were powerful enough. I actually enjoyed them more than any previous game i have played. I know this is subjective view. But what would be worse is if they become indispensable to quest solving and dungeon puzzle solving. We dont need classes that are absolutely needed for play throughs. The worst things games can do is make god classes that can do everything by themselves. So something like a wizard that can cast invisible (so become better than a rogue) cast charm a random npc (so better than a skilled talker, although i know POE is a little different), telekinetic and move crap out of the way (so stronger than a body builder), etc. I hate that stuff. Making a magic user basically better than anyone at anything is not fun. However, they did try to add some stuff in WM scripted interactions where you could use your powers, that would be fine to add some more of that stuff. Where multiple classes and class skills and yes magic could solve issues even outside of scripted interactions. In that since i would agree in a limited way where all classes including non magical classes skills could be used in different scenarios. 

Edited by draego
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I have to say i dont love wizards usually and priest even less. Anything that makes them more useful in POE would not be fun. I think they were powerful enough. I actually enjoyed them more than any previous game i have played. I know this is subjective view. But what would be worse is if they become indispensable to quest solving and dungeon puzzle solving. We dont need classes that are absolutely needed for play throughs. The worst things games can do is make god classes that can do everything by themselves. So something like a wizard that can cast invisible (so become better than a rogue) cast charm a random npc (so better than a skilled talker, although i know POE is a little different), telekinetic and move crap out of the way (so stronger than a body builder), etc. I hate that stuff. Making a magic user basically better than anyone at anything is not fun. However, they did try to add some stuff in WM scripted interactions where you could use your powers, that would be fine to add some more of that stuff. Where multiple classes and class skills and yes magic could solve issues even outside of scripted interactions. In that since i would agree in a limited way where all classes including non magical classes skills could be used in different scenarios. 

 

It's all about having different ways to do things. Not to have spellcasters being OP. It's a RPG after all. Plus, there is a difference between making spellcasters OP and giving them opportunities to do things with magic others can't. BG was not perfect in this regard, but if you take a good look at 1st level spells in this game, you will see that there were some pretty nice ones which, while not being OP, granted some fun and made the player feel that magic was not just another weapon to kill things (which is very important).

 

Charming Glaicas at the De Arnise Keep was not an OP solution. It was a way to avoid the combat for players who did not want to kill a possessed good guy. Allowing the player to think of this other way to handle things and then, granting him another neat possible outcome was rewarding and made me feel my wizard/priest was not limited to one of the traditional tank/DPS/... MMO role. There are ways to achieve this kind of thing inside and outside combat. That is one of the things i'm looking forward regarding magic in Deadfire.

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You just have to really careful that the magic solution doesn't take the spotlight away from more mundane characters that have that particular thing as their main focus.

Spells that open locked doors are fine as long as the wizard sacrifices as much skill points, hit points, or whatnot to use them, as a rogue does. Using a wizard as as rogue is good; using him as rogue plus various other things that eclipse the role a rogue could play, is not.

It's not impossible to do, it's just not easy to balance these utility spells plus combat abilities in order to make all classes useful.

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You just have to really careful that the magic solution doesn't take the spotlight away from more mundane characters that have that particular thing as their main focus.

Spells that open locked doors are fine as long as the wizard sacrifices as much skill points, hit points, or whatnot to use them, as a rogue does. Using a wizard as as rogue is good; using him as rogue plus various other things that eclipse the role a rogue could play, is not.

It's not impossible to do, it's just not easy to balance these utility spells plus combat abilities in order to make all classes useful.

 

I'm not a game designer, nor are you i guess. Fearing that something is not balanced because one fail to see how he could make things interesting and somewhat balanced is underestimating way too much game designers, especially game designers at Obsidian. It's their job to fine tune things, not mine. So, while i feel magic should be way more than just colored DPS, i will refrain to speak about class balancing and advanced game mechanics, especially when i don't know this much about Deadfire yet.

Edited by Abel
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