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Old December 8, 2010, 18:58   #1
Dean Anderson
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Thinking about classes for my upcoming variant...

I'm in the early stages of making a new variant, but unlike my previous two - Cthangband and Hellband - I'm not going for a wholesale makeover of the theme.

I'm going to add features - mainly my favourite features from those variants - but keep the basic theme and "feel" of the game the same as that in Vanilla.

One of the things I want to add is new classes, and I have three ideas that I want feedback on.

The Hierophant.

This class would be wimpier than a normal Mage physically, but would be able to cast spells as both a Mage and a Priest. On the one hand, the fact that they'll have a lot of redundant spells and will need to carry around a large number of spell books - thus making inventory management harder - will be a big balancing factor for the fact that they'll have access to both the best Mage spells and the best Priest spells. On the other hand, I think I might need a second balancing factor too. Maybe something to force them to rely on magic more like only allowing them to use daggers as weapons and giving them an even stricter encumbrance limit than Mages before starting to lose Mana.

The Mentalist

Basically, this would be a version of Z's Mindcrafter. They would only have a limited number of spells when compared to Mages and Priests, but would not need to learn or cast them from books. They'd just automatically gain new spell-like abilities as they increase in level (but they'd still use Mana derived from their Charisma to power the active ones). They'd probably fight like Priests, and I'd want most of their spell-like abilities to be passive and "always on" if possible, to further contrast them from the more active spell casters. I'd almost certainly give them a helmet limitation similar to the glove limitation of Mages.

The Channeler

This class would have a single special ability: when using items that normally get either permanently or temporarily used up (potions, scrolls, wands, staffs, rods or even activated artifacts), they can channel (i.e. spend) mana through the item to power it instead of using the items own charge(s). I think these might be very difficult to balance right, and if they're relying on items for attacking I'd probably want them to fight (and be encumbered) like Mages. Depending on how the balance works out, they may need a chance of "burning out" an item rather than using it properly.

Any thoughts?

Any other class ideas?
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Old December 8, 2010, 19:40   #2
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It's been awhile since I played a dual mage/priest class, but from what I can recall they don't gain that much versatility compared to the single-realm classes. At least currently, the realms are not very strongly differentiated. For example, comparing the first two spellbooks in each realm, here are the spells that are a) useful, and b) realm-specific:

Magic Missile / Stinking Cloud / Lightning Bolt / Frost Bolt (mage)
Spear of Light (mage)
Phase Door (mage)
Detect Monsters (mage)
Detect Treasure (mage, but only rogues so moot)
Cure Light Wounds (priest, now that mages/rogues don't get this)
Resist Heat and Cold (priest)

In short, a heirophant would probably ignore the first two priest books. Now granted, this is much less of an issue for the later books -- both realms have very useful third-book spells for example (Identify vs. Sense Surroundings, Acid Bolt vs. Orb of Draining). Still, there's going to be a huge amount of overlap, especially once you start factoring in the dungeon spellbooks that exist to cover holes in the respective realms' spellsets (c.f. Ethereal Openings and Godly Insights, which patch the priest's lack of movement and knowledge spells).

In short, there's going to be a lot of books that just aren't worth carrying.

I'd say, start them out as high-INT/WIS, low-STR/CON casters, give them mage- and priest-level casting in the respective realms, and just see how well they play. I don't think you'll need to take them down too many rungs before they're balanced.
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Old December 8, 2010, 21:15   #3
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For the Mentalist, you'd need to decide whether the abilities would be cummulative, or whether they would be one at a time. I'm not sure how a spell failure would work here, but it seems like they might be confused/stunned on failure, or suffer temporary drain to Int/Wis/Cha.

For the Channeler, I think having to wield the device (in exclusion of a weapon and/or shield) would help to balance.
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Old December 9, 2010, 02:25   #4
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I say make the Heirophant simply have the restrictions of both a mage and a priest, and have their mana based on the minimum of their Int and Wis (or maybe on the average of the two).

Your mentalist could need to find special "crystals of power" to improve their powers. So initially they might have a detection spell that is fairly wimpy but after using several power crystals towards it, it could detect everything and even wizard-lite the level. You could have it so that applying a crystal of power towards a spell is something you can only do for one spell at a time per crystal: so if you had 6 crystals (which would take 6 inventory slots), you would be able to pick any 6 spell improvements and could change them around given 6 commands. The danger with the mentalist is that freeing up that many slots is a huge boon and it needs to be counterbalanced.

I don't think the channeler idea would work very well, sorry. I think you'd have to make too many exceptions because some one-shot items are really not meant to be used over and over: scrolls of acquirement, potions of experience or stat gain come to mind, scrolls of enchant weapon or armor. But if the channeler gets limited to wands, staves, and rods, it's almost like they just have one spell: recharging, and can use it without a book.

Another idea might be to have a character class that isn't that wimpy physically and can use all the spell books but does not regenerate mana. Instead, they have to consume magical items in order to generate mana, and moreover, you need to consume good magic items to push your mana total high (e.g. consuming a low-level potion like slow poison might give you 1 mana but only if you have less than 5 mana.)

Actually come to think of it, that's one way you might balance the channeler: they use magic objects as their spellbooks but they also need to use up magic objects to produce mana.
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Old December 9, 2010, 02:46   #5
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The channeler as originally stated sounds weak if limited to sticks. Remember, without spellbooks every single ability takes a slot. No multiple useful spells in each book like casters get. While there are some good devices later on the channeler's power set is probably never going to be better than the half caster spell sets. I think we're talking rogue equivalent. Certainly it'd be more reliant on physical combat than a mage or priest since they can just buy the first four books in town, but devices are not found as reliably.

And that's with the ability to use drained sticks. Without that I'd really hate to take a channeler against any charge drainer and unfortunately that includes Morgoth. IIRC some of the bookless mage runs have done it, but it would be difficult. I'm not against challenge classes, but a class that's about equal to the others in difficulty down to 4950 feet but far harder at 5000 feet seems wrong.
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Old December 11, 2010, 11:30   #6
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Well, the Hierophant doesn't seem worth it.

The problem is that the way that 3.1.3v2 handles spells and spellcasting it assumes that you only have one set (mage or priest). While giving a class both sets is possible, it would mean rewriting major chunks of that spell code and I don't think that's going to be worth it for someone who would basically be a mage with a few extra spells.

I've done the Mentalist.

Whereas to cast a spell, mages and priests must:

1) Be high enough level
2) Have learned it
3) Be carrying the correct book
4) Be able to see
5) Not be confused

Mentalists can cast spells if:

1) They are high enough level
2) They are not confused
3) They are not stunned

On the other hand, they only have 10 spells; compared to the 64 that a mage has and the 58 that a priest has.

In keeping with their theme, their spells are all detection and/or self-movement and/or mental spells:

Phase Door
Find Traps, Doors & Stairs
Confuse Monster
Sleep Monster
Sense Surroundings
Haste Self
Teleport Self
Word of Recall
Mass Sleep

They generally fight and wear armour as well as priests can, but they are unable to wear helms (with a couple of exceptions) without limiting their mana in the same way that mages are unable to wear gloves (with a couple of exceptions) without limiting their mana.

So far, of course, this class just sounds like a priest with more armour limitations and fewer spells (and who uses Charisma rather than Wisdom as a spell-casting stat).

However, they make up for it with their miscellaneous abilities. The main focus of the class is on their passive abilities. Starting with Resist Confusion at 1st level, they gain a total of 13 of these as they go up levels:

Resist Confusion
Resist Fear
Feather Fall
Slow Digestion
Sustain Charisma
Resist Poison
Sustain Intelligence
Sustain Wisdom
Hold Life
Free Action
Sustain Constitution
Resist Chaos

Having all these innate abilities means that they don't need to take up valuable equipment slots covering them, so they have a much easier time with inventory management.

Obviously I'm going to have to do lots of tweaking of levels and mana costs for the spells, and levels at which the abilities are gained in order to balance them...

I haven't looked at the Channeler yet. They're next on my to-do list. I expect that (given the way the code is structured), it will be easiest to let them use all items without using charges or - in the case of potions and scrolls - using them up, but I should be able to limit certain effects (such as stat gains, experience gain, and the like) to always use charges as normal regardless of what sort of item grants it.
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Old January 17, 2012, 13:08   #7
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Originally Posted by Dean Anderson View Post
I'm in the early stages of making a new variant, but unlike my previous two - Cthangband and Hellband - I'm not going for a wholesale makeover of the theme.
I did a fast search, and I didn't find any announcement...there were any (unofficial) progress in at least one of these variant, recently?

cthangband in particular looks intriguing, but it seems it has been abandoned...
I just love the Lovecraftian setting is there at least a tiny hope you'll start maintaining it again? or has it reached all the goals you had in mind, and can therefore be considered "finished"?

I'll check hellband when my present character in NPP will die (it shouldn't take long LOL)
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