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DavidMedley September 24, 2020 04:33

Blackguards: 4.2.1 to 4.2.2 (and beyond?)

I've been soliciting feedback for quite a while and cultivating some of my own ideas. Sadly, I had a lot more time to devote to it when I did the big overhaul from 4.2.0 to 4.2.1, so I have to be selective about what I take on. But here's what I think can be accomplished, hopefully getting a lot of bang for the buck:
  1. Switch Leap and Whirl
  2. Require Maim and Forceful Blow to hit
  3. Upgrade Fear
  4. Grant extra blows from Bloodlust to Whirl, Leap and Maim
  5. Replace Quake with a blow like Morgoth's in his fight against Fingolfin


1) At CL20 Blackguards can cast Leap to get 2.0 blows, and this is useful until statgain gets rolling. If we make Whirl cost 4, start at CL5, etc., then Whirl can fill this role instead. Leap will cost 5, start at CL10, and won't be useful anymore when already adjacent to the enemy. Whirl will get a lot more casts this way, while Leap should still have a useful role.

2) Nick already made this change for Maim in the nightly (hit required). I wanted to do this towards the end of my development cycle, but ran out of time to program something new. Right now in the nightly Maim only does 3 turns of stun, which is way too low IMO (1d5+5 in 4.2.1, same as the wand). And since Stun doesn't increment, it can actually reduce an enemy's stun counter! So I think we'll make this do 1d5+5 stun again if any of the Maim blows hit. Forceful Blow will still be pretty awesome against select foes, but requiring your melee blow to hit will make it much more interesting.

I'm open to the idea of stunning an already stunned enemy adding to the stun counter, but this could have far-reaching consequences.

3) Already in the nightly Fear has a nice improvement: when an enemy would recover from Fear because it has nowhere to run, now the remaining Fear changes to a Hold. I think the messaging could be better, though. And I'd like fear'ed enemies to have the "debuff" flag which makes crits a bit easier (stun, confuse, and hold already do this).

4) Currently, when you get 1 or 2 extra blows from Bloodlust, it makes Leap, Whirl, and Maim much worse relative to normal bump-attacking, and that's boring. Bloodlust making those spells even better will be fun!

I think everything that happens with Bloodlust is a lot of fun, except Hallucination. So I'm OK with doubling down on any of that if need be for balance. Right now Bloodlust doesn't reduce stats if you have sustain, and I think that could be changed, for starters.

5) I added Quake near the end of my changes, hoping it would give the BG something cool to do with too much mana. This was a dud. I've had a much better idea in the meantime. In Chapter 18 of The Silmarilion, Morgoth fights Fingolfin in single combat:

Then Morgoth hurled aloft Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld, and swung it down like a bolt of thunder. But Fingolfin sprang aside, and Grond rent a mighty pit in the earth, whence smoke and fire darted. Many times Morgoth essayed to smite him, and each time Fingolfin leaped away
I'd like it to be the last spell BGs get, cost a ton of SP and give 1 and only 1 melee blow. If the blow hits it deals 10x the damage of a melee blow and applies Slow for a short duration. If it misses, the enemy has to step aside, and the square they just occupied becomes lava. Perhaps the player should be slowed on a miss, in addition to or in place of slowing the enemy on a hit.

I don't have a good name for this yet. The word "smite" is used in this passage, so that's a good start. I don't think we should invoke the name of Morgoth since that would be a bit awkward when you are actually fighting Morgoth. The name of Grond is already used in the Necromancer's book.

This will require a lot of testing, but could be very fun.

Keep It Coming

Let me know what you all think! Been a lot of good feedback over the last several months, and I appreciate it.

archolewa September 24, 2020 17:23

In general this sounds good. However, slowing when you miss is one serious downside. Maybe its not a big deal in the endgame, but many of the most dangerous enemies (including Morgoth) are so fast that it can be difficult to get up to speed with, and double moves risk instant death.

The last thing I need is to risk double moves from Morgoth because I missed! I feel like if you want a big downside, making it so expensive that you cant cast it more than once or twice with full SP would be sufficient. Keep in mind that draining all or most of your SP means you cant cast other spells until you get it back up. Thats a pretty high opportuniy cost for a class so reliant on in combat spells.

I mean, you could spam potions of mana, but using this spell every other turn isnt doing any more damage than bumping every turn. Especially since missing would be the equivalent of missing every attack!

Thats actually another concern. The final spell has two modes of failure: spell failure and attack missing. I worry that the two combined will make the spell too unreliable to be worth using. Im willing to wait and see though.

DavidMedley September 24, 2020 17:56

Yes, I think you've summarized nicely the give and take we're playing with here. Against Morgoth in particular, spikey damage isn't a problem because he's got just so much health. But against most foes you'd definitely prefer low variance damage output.

Still, the idea of some sort of penalty to the player when you miss with this ultimate attack is growing on me. I think there will have to be a small earthquake effect, too, otherwise it would be too easy to exploit the lava or whatever terrain feature the miss creates.

wobbly September 28, 2020 12:29

You angrily lash out at a nearby foe!
The small wooden chest was really a monster!

DavidMedley September 28, 2020 12:43

Yeah you also do this to invisible monsters you can't see. It's on my list of minor fixes.

wobbly September 28, 2020 13:39

Maybe you could fix it by making blackguards just randomly attack inanimate objects.

You angrily lash out at a nearby foe!
The chair is shattered!!

More serious random idea. Allow blackguards to cast as a werewolf. Most of their spells make sense in wolf form.

DavidMedley September 28, 2020 14:14

Are you saying keep it a shapechange effect, but allow spells? What about inventory access and all the other stuff you lose? I've thought many times that maybe this should have been a status effect and not a shapechange, but I haven't thought about fudging the shapechange rules.

wobbly September 28, 2020 15:28

yeah I meant keep it as a shapechange. I see no reason for them to be able to use inventory if other shapes can't, it'd just be nice to be able to use there melee specials in wolf-form.

Not sure how messy it is to fudge the shapechange code, haven't really looked at it. Probably just needs an "and not" somewhere in the logic. Maybe worth considering how much of a traditional angband caster you want it to be. Can they blind cast? Cast confused? Cast without the books? Cast shapechanged? etc.

mrfy September 28, 2020 15:50


Originally Posted by DavidMedley (Post 148578)
Are you saying keep it a shapechange effect, but allow spells? What about inventory access and all the other stuff you lose? I've thought many times that maybe this should have been a status effect and not a shapechange, but I haven't thought about fudging the shapechange rules.

As much as I would like to be able to do these things while a shapechanged, I don't think we should change the current rules. Changing into a shape means all your gear is incorporated into the shape, with the all pluses and minuses from your stuff. Access to inventory, spell books, etc. shouldn't be allowed.

If the Blackguard had abilities they learned rather than spell books tho, then they could use those while shapechanged. ;)

DavidMedley September 28, 2020 16:23

Yeah, I agree with you guys. I would be reluctant to make exceptions for this shape specifically, but I think making exceptions for some BG spells to be cast when you normally couldn't cast would be fun and interesting.

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