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Vancian caster discussion


KDubya

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First off, if it was up to me I'd rather that back in PoE they did not have any Vancian casters (or elves or dwarfs for that matter - the new Orlans and Aumaua plus humans and godlike would have been more than adequate while being fresh and new). Make a clean break from the past and go forward with Ciphers that generate focus via damage, Chanters that build up chants and then either made something unique for wizards like needing to cast a low level spell to then cast a more powerful or some other sort of unique mechanic rather than per encounter or per rest. Unfortunately this did not happen and we are where we are.

 

That said what can be done to improve casters in DeadFire?

 

PoE had per rest which at least theoretically gave you some sort of strategic resource management where you'd save your best spells for the tough fights. Now rest spamming removed even this slight restraint and Vancian casters are universally considered to be in a power tier all their own regardless of how much rest is spammed.

 

Now DeadFire makes all spells per encounter but decreases casts per level to 2. At low levels (this includes the Beta) you will be limited to maybe six or eight spells per encounter which might end up running out. At higher levels you won't be running out of spells when you get 18 or so casts per encounter.

 

I envision DeadFire spell casting to go like this:

  1. Approach enemy while party is stealthed
  2. Move wizard into range 
  3. Cast your most powerful AoE damage spell or hard CC
  4. When the spell lands combat starts
  5. Cast a few quick cast low level buffs like Infuse with Essence, Fleet feet and some version of a defense buff like Mirror Image. This should take less than 0.5 seconds per buff so three is probably the limit
  6. Cast next most powerful spell repeating as needed until enemy is dead
  7. Approach enemy while party is stealthed .....

I don't see this as particularly strategic, tactical or even fun. Looks like it will get pretty boring.

 

 

Suggestions for improvement:

  • Change casts per level to some sort of resource expended that increases with spell level
    • Something like you have 'x' amount of mana or whatever to use per encounter and that can be spent on one or two massive spells like meteor swarm or lots of smaller spells like flan of flames or such.
    • This would then make dropping the big nuke instead of a steady stream of magic missiles into a tactical decision

 

But since we are like six weeks from release I don't think there is any chance that anything can or will be changed.

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Yes. Every class now has some resource pool that they can use freely until it's empty - if they don't have any unique mechanic like focus, wounds or phrases. It's kind of a mana system basically.

 

Only the former vancian caster don't but have 2 uses per spell level. The result is you always choose the most oomphy ones and you always cast the same spells over and over in every fight.

 

Why not give them a class resource pool as well and give every spell a resource cost?

 

Maybe there are reasons and I just can't see them at the moment though.

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Yes. Every class now has some resource pool that they can use freely until it's empty - if they don't have any unique mechanic like focus, wounds or phrases. It's kind of a mana system basically.

 

Only the former vancian caster don't but have 2 uses per spell level. The result is you always choose the most oomphy ones and you always cast the same spells over and over in every fight.

 

Why not give them a class resource pool as well and give every spell a resource cost?

 

Maybe there are reasons and I just can't see them at the moment though.

 

I agree that something like this would be good. Make me choose between Meteor Swarm and casting Jolting Touch eight times in a row or whatever. As it is now I'll start every time from stealth with Fireball, Meteor Swarm, Call to Slumber or what have you. Only getting one spell pick per level up just makes it worse.

 

I think the reasons go back to getting rid of all per rest abilities and endurance/health becoming just health. At that point they must have correctly decided that four casts per level would be way too much and went with two because one would be too little and three is still too much. Then you make spells much longer to cast and interruptible in order to tone them down. All of which makes spell casting unfun, repetitive and both under and over powered (under powered in that they take so long to cast while in combat and over powered in that you can stealth alpha strike with the biggest spell you have every battle)

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My PoE spell strategy is:

1. Approach enemy when stealthing.

2. Spamming Shadowflame to enemy not immune to Paralysis or Grease Ground to enemy who immune to Paralysis.

3. Repeat spamming these until enemy dead

4. 1 again or rest when no spells at lvl 4 spells

 

I don’t feel it’s too interesting to play that way either...

Edited by dunehunter
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I do agree that spellcasters system feels like an odd modification of old system, and isn’t designed from ground up to support the new rules. Way ciphers or chanters worked was great and was more intuitive.

 

I soundly mind seeing a set pool of “mana” to spend per encounter, with higher level spells having higher cost, or having mana passively grow through the encounter. It is certainly too big of a change for 1.0, but potentially an upgrade to consider for expansions? After all, the biggest design obstacle would be to decid how much mana spellcasters need and how much spells should cost. Once the game is out it will become more clear if the current system is serviceable.

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First off, if it was up to me I'd rather that back in PoE they did not have any Vancian casters

Good news - they didn't!

PoE used something like "leveled mana", you were able to choose your spell right before casting it.

The "vancian problem", which is

A caster has prepared wrong spell

did not exist. Even for wizards thanks to multiple grimoires that could be swapped in 1s or something.

 

 

I don't need vancian in my cRPGs. I'm fine with per rest leveled mana. But to make it work game needs proper economy and costly resting or time being important but that would upset too many players.

Actually proper economy could also upset many players, maybe even players who are first to criticise economy if it's broken.

Edited by hilfazer
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Vancian =/= per rest.

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Now DeadFire makes all spells per encounter but decreases casts per level to 2. At low levels (this includes the Beta) you will be limited to maybe six or eight spells per encounter which might end up running out. At higher levels you won't be running out of spells when you get 18 or so casts per encounter.

Speaking of low levels, lets compare a level 5 wizard in PoE1 and Deadfire:

 

PoE1:

- has access to rank 3 spells

- has 4 spell-usages of rank 1, 4 of rank 2, and 2 of rank 3

- has 2 talents, 10 learned spells + x from grimoire + arcane assault

 

Deadfire (single-class)

- has access to rank 3 spells

- has 2 spell-usages of rank 1, 2 of rank 2, and 1 of rank 3

- has lets say 2 talents, and thus 3 (or 6 in preBeta4) remaining points for spells + up to 6 spells usable from grimoire

 

In regular fights my low-level wizard was making 1-2 casts per encounter; and was feeling like a liability.

While in harder fights, such as Raedric, he was unleashing his whole arsenal (10 casts) and was feeling like an mvp.

 

Deadfire somewhat balances this. A lvl 5 single-class wizard can cast 5 spells.

And here he can choose to take mostly long cast spells; or he could focus of faster spells, with intent to switch to auto-attacking after that; or simply invest less in DEX and stretch his arsenal along longer time span.

 

But yes, I would still advocate for ability to learn a bit more spells, as it increases versatility of our casters.

And also few talents, like "+1 bonus spell-usage of rank 1 spell" that you could take on power level 4; "+1 bonus spell-usage of rank 2" that you could take on power level 5, and so on; if there are no items ingame that provide bonus spell-usages.

 

I envision DeadFire spell casting to go like this:

  • Approach enemy while party is stealthed
  • Move wizard into range 
  • Cast your most powerful AoE damage spell or hard CC
  • When the spell lands combat starts
  • Cast a few quick cast low level buffs like Infuse with Essence, Fleet feet and some version of a defense buff like Mirror Image. This should take less than 0.5 seconds per buff so three is probably the limit
  • Cast next most powerful spell repeating as needed until enemy is dead
  • Approach enemy while party is stealthed .....
  • I don't see this as particularly strategic, tactical or even fun. Looks like it will get pretty boring.

     

Agreed, if we'll have to repeat the same approach in every encounter, again and again, it gonna feel repetitive not fun.

 

A few things could partially help with this:

  • increase the noise parameter on the spells that take more than 3s to cast. It's ok if you can stealth-fireball an eoten, but if there are some scout enemies or rangers with animal companions, they would get more alert and will have a chance to interrupt you. Hence we might want to use another opener.
  • decrease the maximum range of ranged aoe offensive spells while out of combat. To let's say 7m. This will make opening with the slowest aoe spell - situational; and also help combat potential exploits, when killing enemies not yet visible, but known to be there.
  • make different approaches equally viable:
    • start with slow fireball from stealth - and have a support toss aoe concentration once spotted
    • start with slow fireball from stealth - and let your dedicated debilitators take care of enemy interuptors
    • start with quick hard cc - and let glass-cannons engage
    • start with quick buffs - follow up with soft cc - and brute force stuff
    • start with dots - follow up with heals, defense buffs - and just wait
    • aoe immobilize and blind enemy backline (for at least 12s) - this way you will be out of reach for them - and will be able to deal with enemies not all together, but one group, than another. aka divide and conquer
    • aoe immobilize or hard cc enemy frontline - and let assassins deal with their backline

Suggestions for improvement:

  • Change casts per level to some sort of resource expended that increases with spell level

 

If I will have mana pool on casters, there is a high chance I'll just take a lot of passives, while spamming the 1-2 most efficient spells for that character.

For example: Cleansing Flames -> Shining Beacon x N (while there is mana).

I mean there is a chance that this change will increase the repetitiveness, not hinder it.

Edited by MaxQuest
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If I will have mana pool on casters, there is a high chance I'll just take a lot of passives, while spamming the 1-2 most efficient spells for that character.For example: Cleansing Flames -> Shining Beacon x N (while there is mana).I mean there is a chance that this change will increase the repetitiveness, not hinder it.

Good point. Than mana + cooldown? Bah, now we have DA:O system which I never liked very much.

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If I will have mana pool on casters, there is a high chance I'll just take a lot of passives, while spamming the 1-2 most efficient spells for that character.For example: Cleansing Flames -> Shining Beacon x N (while there is mana).I mean there is a chance that this change will increase the repetitiveness, not hinder it.

Good point. Than mana + cooldown? Bah, now we have DA:O system which I never liked very much.

 

Cooldowns are also so-so of an idea as they don't play well together with the current DEX.

You might want to build a quick caster... and then having to wait for cooldowns in each encounter, because you were too fast.

 

Sure DEX could lower the cooldowns as well. But personally I don't see yet why do we need mana pool in Deadfire in the first place.

 

If a player is repetitively using the same tactic with his spellcasters - it's either that some spells are clearly better than the other (and can be fixed via balancing), or there are repetitive enemies who act in repetitive manner and that's on encounter designers.

 

Imagine if enemies mainly used quick paralyze to interrupt you (like lagufaeth in current beta). Player tactics would quickly shift towards making wood elves and using slow spells. And than suddenly there are enemies who would use stun instead... or enemies with really high reflex or immunity to fire.

Edited by MaxQuest
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Per-rest spells felt best in PoE when I played them in the way I assume was intended - i.e., using spells conservatively throughout a level to win fights efficiently with minimal loss of Health, and resting when that ran out. The problem is a non-trivial amount of players (from what I've seen and heard both from forums and dev comments) instinctually horde spells (like I used to) or just rest spam. I don't know how you could guide players into the "intended" playstyle without it seeming forced.

 

So I wouldn't be opposed to Priests, Druids and Wizards going to a mana-esque system. I feel like they'd need some gimmicks to set them apart from each other, though, like Ciphers and Chanters have, whether that's how they can use their resource or how they can build it.

Edited by Lamppost in Winter
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Per-rest spells felt best in PoE when I played them in the way I assume was intended - i.e., using spells conservatively throughout a level to win fights efficiently with minimal loss of Health, and resting when that ran out. The problem is a non-trivial amount of players (from what I've seen and heard both from forums and dev comments) intellectually horde spells (like I used to) or just rest spam. I don't know how you could guide players into the "intended" playstyle without it seeming forced.

 

So I wouldn't be opposed to Priests, Druids and Wizards going to a mana-esque system. I feel like they'd need some gimmicks to set them apart from each other, though, like Ciphers and Chanters have, whether that's how they can use their resource or how they can build it.

Yes, I think those "wrong" approaches to per-rest spell use on the players' side was the biggest problem. Same like hoarding consumables by the way.

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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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I am uncertain about this:

 

In a system without per rest restriction and restricted resting, players will always spam their best abilities every fight.

 

In a system with strong restictions, some players might never use limited resources and try to do everything with auto attacks and per encounter abilities, while having powerfull abilities that they never see.

I admit that I am guilty of doing this too.

At the end of almost every RPG I have tons of unused items such as potions or scrolls. When I use a potion in a fight I almost feel bad for doing so ( My thoughts then: "crap, I am sure I could make it without. Should I reload?")

These words are being written by an idiot who has never beaten the alpine dragon or LLengrath fight on hard. (but I managed all other fights)

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Per-rest spells felt best in PoE when I played them in the way I assume was intended - i.e., using spells conservatively throughout a level to win fights efficiently with minimal loss of Health, and resting when that ran out. The problem is a non-trivial amount of players (from what I've seen and heard both from forums and dev comments) intellectually horde spells (like I used to) or just rest spam. I don't know how you could guide players into the "intended" playstyle without it seeming forced.

 

So I wouldn't be opposed to Priests, Druids and Wizards going to a mana-esque system. I feel like they'd need some gimmicks to set them apart from each other, though, like Ciphers and Chanters have, whether that's how they can use their resource or how they can build it.

Yes, I think those "wrong" approaches to per-rest spell use on the players' side was the biggest problem. Same like hoarding consumables by the way.

Yes, I encountered an issue where I wouldn't use spells majority of time. I am kind of guy who finishes old Tomb Raider games with over hundered medpacks, because they might be useful one day. I had a much better time in PoE on my later playthroughs where I knew where big enemies are, and therefore didn't feel a pressure to conserve as much as I can. Most of high level spells haven't been used outside big boss fights like dragons. I liked the wizard ability to use 1st level spell with 1st expansion, though it made them a bit too good. 

 

I am not against resource management - if PoE3 will be a thing, and it will be announced that they are doing full one per rest system, I will welcome it. However, IE and PoE were somewere inbetween, a soft resource management, which if badly managed could be fixed by simply resting. While satisfaction of doing a well planned run was real, it did encourage unintended playstyles - camping supplies were implimented, to give player an idea how much they should rest (I found 2 camping supplies to be more than enough) but didn't find a way to make players like me spend spells. 

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If they introduce cooldowns I swear I'll delete the game and never touch it again. I'll also hack the forums and will install the equivalent of a PoE Barbarian with Vengeful Defeat + Firebrand as a virus. ;)

I'd much prefer cooldowns and insta-cast abilities over per-encounter and cast times. That way, at least, you can have your character do something else while waiting for the spell to cooldown. Now you want to use an ability and spend time casting it.

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If they went with a resource pool (like mana) for spell casters, it could work kind of like ciphers. You have a max amount (say 100) and you start each encounter with 1/4 of your max (so 25). Your mana would slowly accumulate over time. Spells would cost say 10 mana for each level of the spell. You start the battle by deciding if you want to cast 1 level 2 spell, 2 level 1 spells, or wait and let your mana increase so that you can cast higher level spells. Of course just like the per encounter system, the difficulty balance and using the same spells every encounter depend on how they balance the spells and enemies.

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I was thinking that a new system could be something like this:

 

  • Wizard casts spell and as it does damage he generates more mana which can then fuel a more powerful spell or you can keep with the cheaper spell until you have enough for the big daddy spell. Sort of like focus generation for a Cipher but its based on spell use.

Not sure what to do for priests or druids?

 

Regardless of what we want, nothing is going to change in the short time left.

 

I'm thinking if i want a Wizard it'll be a multiclass with Devoted, Paladin, Monk or Cipher and just use the quick buffs and a summoned weapon while initiating combat from stealth with the best nuke I can.

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In PoE I found myself using similar openers for every battle, where before spell mastery I'd reserve spells for tough fights and sometimes let them go unused and after spell mastery still not use any unmastered spell much outside of certain fights. I understand the logic behind the Deadfire change and agree with it, but I think some adjustments could be made to where spell ambush isn't the tactic to use. Perhaps make spellcasting certain spells loud where it alerts enemies or something.

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In order for per-rest abilities to be remotely viable and healthy for the game, every class needs equal access to them and they need to be equally powerful. But of course, per-rest abilities for classes other than the "big three" were few and far between... not to mention frequently underwhelming. Like... a rogue can stab/shoot someone to weaken and fear them. At a level where a wizard can do the exact same thing, except in an area.

 

If three classes have powerful abilities that can only be used a limited number of times per day, there's just no earthly way to balance it. Particularly since enemies use the same spells and powers as the player-controlled characters do. Then there's the issue of what the spellcasters are doing if they're not casting spells. Should they be weaker than the non-spellcasters in that situation? That makes them decoration for any fights in which the player decided not to bust out the big guns. Should they get to contribute? Then we get the situation from Pillars, where the "big three" had plenty of solid per-encounter or even at-will abilities (radiance, interdiction, spirit-shifting, spell mastery, blast)... making them on par or close with the other classes in addition to having tactical nukes.

Edited by MortyTheGobbo
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Per-Encounter VS Per-Rest.

Pillars I :

  • You had Per-Encounter & Per-Rest.
  • Those who liked Per-Encounter had what they wanted. [some Spells Per-Encounter]
  • Those who liked Per-Rest had what they wanted too. [some Spells Per-Rest]
  • Both Sides : Happy.

Pillars II :

  • Empowering got introduced : Which is now a new way to replenish your "Consumed Spells", aside from Resting.
  • Yet, Per-Rest has been Removed.
  • Everything became Per-Encounter.
  • Those who liked Per-Encounter still have what they wanted. [spells Per-Encounter]
  • Those who liked Per-Rest got F*cked.

Per-Encounter Players : Win.

Per-Rest Players : Lose.

 

Fair.  :thumbsup:

Edited by DexGames
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Per-Encounter VS Per-Rest.

Pillars I :

  • You had Per-Encounter & Per-Rest.
  • Those who liked Per-Encounter had what they wanted. [some Spells Per-Encounter]
  • Those who liked Per-Rest had what they wanted too. [some Spells Per-Rest]
  • Both Sides : Happy.

Pillars II :

  • Empowering got introduced : Which is now a new way to replenish your "Consumed Spells", aside from Resting.
  • Yet, Per-Rest has been Removed.
  • Everything became Per-Encounter.
  • Those who liked Per-Encounter still have what they wanted. [spells Per-Encounter]
  • Those who liked Per-Rest got F*cked.

Per-Encounter Players : Win.

Per-Rest Players : Lose.

 

Fair.  :thumbsup:

 

Parts of this post may have been remotely correct if the per-rest and per-encounter abilities had been spread evenly across the classes in frequency and power. See my post above yours for a full rebuttal.

Edited by MortyTheGobbo
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Removing “per-rest” abilities certainly will have an impact on a game and I am curious to see how it will turn out. Not in terms of made up “hardcore resource management”, as it never existed, but in terms of those power spikes.

 

Spellcasters were weak and uninteresting in majority of fights, but also capable of delivering incredible spikes of power, in those few encounters. That was their biggest problem, and their most interesting aspect.

 

From the very beginning I have been wondering how “legendary” enemies, like dragons or powerful wizards, will work in Deadfire. With spellcasters getting rebalanced for consistent use, I am worried if there will be those memorable fights. An an average fight expects players to use their full arsenal of abilities, so how do you make those big fights unique? In previous games, those were fights which expected players to use their full arsenal to win. In Deadfire devs will need to do some clever enemy design to keep them interesting.

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