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Old March 14, 2020, 05:07   #1
DavidMedley
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Blackguards: 4.2.0 to 4.2.1

Hoping to concentrate information and opinions about Blackguards in this thread. Please post bugs, ideas, pros and cons, and anything else about Blackguards here. I'll edit this initial post several times to add relevant external links, such as to other threads where BGs were discussed at length.

BGs get more than their fair share in this recent thread "Preparation for Angband 4.2.1: classes"
http://angband.oook.cz/forum/showthread.php?t=9863

January 2020 Dunadan Blackguard competition
Discussion http://angband.oook.cz/forum/showthread.php?t=9762
Entries http://angband.oook.cz/competition.php?showcompo=229

Last edited by DavidMedley; March 14, 2020 at 07:03.
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Old March 14, 2020, 05:07   #2
DavidMedley
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Nick Says

This quote seems like the best place to start.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
Blackguard: 3-week competition, 2 winners out of 30 attempts with a strong race (Dunadan). The final new class is looking like it's missed the mark. The concept is supposed to be of a big evil thing which just beats everything around it into submission, and it feels like it gets close to that in the late game, but a bit too late.
What worked:
  • Thirst for Blood
  • Throw Monster
  • Shield bashing
What didn't:
  • Forceful Blow
  • Impaired HP regen with no counter-balance
  • High effective minimum weapon weight
So I have come up with some ideas for a pretty big revamp of the class, which should give a distinctive play-style but may take some balancing. The basic ideas is that this class should seek out monsters to fight, and the more the better. Specifically:
  1. Keep the HP impairment, but give a bonus to HP regen based on number and power of monsters who have LoS of the character;
  2. Also have a percentage reduction in damage based on monsters in LoS;
  3. Replace Powerful Blow with area of effect melee - monsters adjacent to the monster you are hitting also take damage, more the heavier your weapon;
  4. Permanent aggravation;
  5. Reduce minimum weapon weight by half.
This is a big series of changes, but I think capable of being balanced and likely to be fun, again opinions solicited.
http://angband.oook.cz/forum/showpos...84&postcount=1

Last edited by DavidMedley; March 14, 2020 at 06:33.
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Old March 15, 2020, 10:55   #3
Grotug
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What if instead of regen health when monsters are in LOS regen health when you kill a monster? Health regenerated would be directly proportionate to either the amount of damage dealt in killing a monster (so more health regained for killing healers) or experience points gained from the kill (problematic if you quaff an early !experience as doing so would suddenly result in little health gains from killing tough monsters).
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Old March 16, 2020, 01:46   #4
archolewa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grotug View Post
What if instead of regen health when monsters are in LOS regen health when you kill a monster? Health regenerated would be directly proportionate to either the amount of damage dealt in killing a monster (so more health regained for killing healers) or experience points gained from the kill (problematic if you quaff an early !experience as doing so would suddenly result in little health gains from killing tough monsters).

Could also scale the healing based on monster health, kind of like breath damage. This could be interesting because it might incentivize putting a couple of beefy monsters at almost dead so you have some quick healing available. Especially if they didnt pose a large threat, like dragons.
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Old March 16, 2020, 01:58   #5
Diego Gonzalez
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grotug View Post
What if instead of regen health when monsters are in LOS regen health when you kill a monster? Health regenerated would be directly proportionate to either the amount of damage dealt in killing a monster (so more health regained for killing healers) or experience points gained from the kill (problematic if you quaff an early !experience as doing so would suddenly result in little health gains from killing tough monsters).
The current behavior has its uses, like when a character is running from monsters. Or when you are fighting a monster in the entrance of a corridor. The splash damage made by "crowd fighting" can hurt 3 others monsters in LOS behind the first monster (the epicenter is in this monster) and you get the regeneration boost.

Related to this... I would like to see with bigger detail the bonuses and penalties that crowd fighting has (or shield bash, or shapeshifts). Can be in the documentation, or from the new S command.
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Old March 19, 2020, 21:06   #6
DavidMedley
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Lightbulb Blackguard Candidate

As some of you know, I'm working on a significant revamp of the Blackguard with Nick. I'd like to describe what I'm shooting for. Hopefully I'll hear back that people can't wait to give the new model a test drive! But if people aren't enthused, that too is valuable.

We had some discussions when I got started, and I'd like to single out this gem:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
their abilities and spells should be leading the player to stay in fights rather than escape, the idea being that the character is having too much fun to stop.
Armed with this principle and all of the other discussion I referenced above, I tried some things, bounced some things off Nick, and here's what I have tentatively arrived at.

Goals
  • Melee class
  • Maximize Action
  • Fun to play!
Melee class
  • Ability to close quickly or otherwise minimize enemy breaths and spells
  • Mitigate enemy melee tricks (confu, stat drains, etc.)
  • Staying power
  • Reward heavy weapons
Maximize Action
  • Give incentive(s) to keep moving rather than resting
  • Bad stealth / aggravate / other enticement to fight more often
Fun to Play!
  • Unique play style
  • Not much harder or easier than other classes
  • Optimal play close to theme (e.g., if the best play style is to avoid melee, we failed this test)

Blackguard in Prose

Blackguards love combat when it's up-close and personal. Whether laughing in the face of mortal danger or cursing the mothers of their adversaries, there's no place a Blackguard would rather be than in a fight.

Blackguards are no ordinary brawlers, however. They learn powerful Shadow Magics that help them harness their martial spirit and battle rage. With this power they bolster their strength, weaken their enemies, and sustain their life force.

Blackguard exemplars include Morgoth, Tulkas, Feanor, Boromir, and Uruk-hai such as Ugluk.

Mechanics Overview

Figuring out how to reward BGs for jaunting from one combat to another (without making them overpowered) is the defining characteristic of the current design. We encourage players to forge on relentlessly by reversing MP regeneration. BGs lose MP at half the rate other classes gain them. They gain MP by attacking in melee or getting damaged by enemies at any range.

So at the end of a battle if you have 50% or so of your HP and 50% or so of your MP, it should be optimal (given your arsenal of spells) to keep moving rather than rest to 100% HP and 0% MP. If you've played a Rage Mage in some other variants, the MP in this design rise and fall much slower so the BG has more time to find his next victim or cast utility spells.

As your MP degenerate or are spent, you get a small amount of HP back. The more damaged you are, the more HP you recover from this process. Even when very hurt this HP boost is not huge, but it's enough to keep you in the fight longer (25% longer seems about right). Degenerating MP giving some healing diminishes the (not fun!) urge to cast post-combat spells before your MP evaporate. And the increased healing while hurt lessens the impact of entering a battle when already banged up.

So while BGs have their HP regen reduced 50% and their MP regen reduced 150% (to -50%), they regenerate both faster in combat. They can also do a little thematically appropriate bullying to generate some MP or quaff a !Restore Mana to get ready for a big fight. (Might have to nerf those potions a bit for BGs only, if we continue down this road.)

BG spell arsenal, at present:
  • 5 buffs
  • 3 debuffs (debilitate monsters)
  • 3 attacks (2 melee and 1 to move-and-melee)
  • 2 heals (neither are direct HP healing spells)
  • 2 utilities
  • BG now uses 3 books

Attacks and debuffs will rely on scoring a melee hit - think how ?Confuse Monsters or Forceful Blow works, but you get one free blow. For example, one spell in the works puts ATT_STUN on the player and then attempts 1 melee blow on the target. If it hits, the target is stunned and ATT_STUN ends. If it misses, ATT_STUN stays in place for 10 turns or until the player's next melee hit. 5e D&D calls these "smites" and I think they're fun. I think the (not fun!) spell fail rates can be lowered on these spells since they have a potential secondary fail of missing the melee blow.

How bad to make their stealth is still under consideration. One version gave BGs permanent aggravation. This seemed way too hindering, though we could possibly change the range. The current nightly version gives BGs -1 stealth to start and -1 every 10 levels, totaling -6 at CL50. This would make everything wake up 4x as fast. I'm concerned with how difficult vaults in particular would be with either of these. The best alternative proposal that I'm aware of says BGs don't aggro everything, they only aggro things they think they can bully, like creatures whose native depth is much less than the BG's max depth.

Some things we are not doing: Direct healing of HP like Paladins. Vampiric attacks. Ranged damage spells. Spell damage without a successful melee strike. Teleportation. Some of these things could work in a Blackguard concept, but they're not part of story we're trying to tell.

Final Word

Thanks if you got through this whole post! None of these concepts are final. I'm interested to hear what feedback we get back from the community!

Last edited by DavidMedley; March 19, 2020 at 21:14.
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Old March 19, 2020, 21:42   #7
archolewa
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I am super excited by this. Barbarians are some of my favorite classes in RPGs (I recently had my first ADOM win with one in fact), and I've always been a little bit sad that Angband didn't really have one. Looks like the Blackguard is Anband's answer to this.

I also like that you've posted some non-evil examples of Blackguards (i.e. Tulkas and Feanor). I don't really like playing evil characters, so it's nice to have some lore that assures me that wielding shadow magic and loving a good fight doesn't mean I condone eating children and raising their undead bodies as my slaves.

For the whole aggro thing, what if that was a special ability that players had? Like, they could turn it on and off (think a battle shout or something). This could help blackguards get into fights faster when they are a lot of weaker monsters around, and turn it off when they really need to be stealthy.

I'm less concerned about vaults to be honest, the only times I seriously consider raiding vaults is when I'm playing a sneaky class (rogue or mage). Usually diving ten-twenty levels means I'll find stuff just as or almost as nice, and guarded by snagas instead of ancient dragons.

Are the extra melee attacks full attacks with full damage? That'll be fun.

Also, if you really want to double down on the whole "super-aggressive raging berserker" you could give them a bonus when they're not carrying a shield. Like, a spell that lets them upgrade their melee hits (so a miss is still a miss, but hits become good hits, good hits become great etc) if they're not wearing a shield. This will massively increase your damage output, but you're losing a lot of defense and almost certainly some elemental resistances.

This would partially balance the fact that bows will pretty much be used solely as stat stick, by taking away one of your slots. It also allows the player to better keep from getting overwhelmed by letting them tear through enemies faster.

Also, I'd really like to see a top tier spell that lets them shatter the dungeon with melee hits, and maybe getting a rapidly degenerating buff if an enemy gets crushed by the ceiling (though I don't know how easy that would be to code). I just love the idea of Morgoth and a Blackguard shattering everything around them. Though you'd have to make Morgoth immune to being crushed. It would suck if you couldn't use your Ultimate Spell in the Ultimate Battle.
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Old March 19, 2020, 22:15   #8
DavidMedley
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I'm just going to try to keep my responses short, but there's a ton I'd love to respond to here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
Are the extra melee attacks full attacks with full damage? That'll be fun.
The melee attack spells and debuffs are geared to reward heavy weapons / low number of blows right now. I don't think any of them will do a normal round of blows. But they will do one or more blows just like you bump-attacked the monster, plus additional effects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
Also, if you really want to double down on the whole "super-aggressive raging berserker" you could give them a bonus when they're not carrying a shield.
I did throw out this idea while brainstorming with Nick. I don't want to try to take this on as it could affect the whole game, and I'm sure most people don't want me monkeying around this broadly! But, yeah, I think it's a good idea and BGs would probably be the class best poised to benefit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
Also, I'd really like to see a top tier spell that lets them shatter the dungeon with melee hits.
Yeah, Forceful Blow actually did this. I'm not sure earthquake is a very desirable effect, but it does seem cool and on-brand.

Thanks for the response!!
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Old March 19, 2020, 23:00   #9
archolewa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMedley View Post
Yeah, Forceful Blow actually did this. I'm not sure earthquake is a very desirable effect, but it does seem cool and on-brand.
Is that one of the spells that blackguards currently have? I admit I haven't played them as they are currently, partially because I interpreted their branding as "evil knights," and partially because they were so new and I was so new that I didn't really feel comfortable trying to figure them out while also figuring out the game itself.

And I'm inclined to agree that earthquake isn't particularly desirable, which is why I suggested getting a buff for crushing enemies with the ceiling. I feel like Blackguards would need some benefit from the earthquake for it to be useful. Whether it's a buff for crushing enemies, or they automatically know the new layout without having to reuse a Staff of Mapping, or something.
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Old March 20, 2020, 03:21   #10
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I understand the idea of rewarding risky "charge into battle" behavior by regenerating mana when taking damage, but there is something about this mechanic that feels cheesy to me. I think it would be more satisfying/more fun, less cheesy, if you regain mana only when you kill a foe and whenever you get a *GREAT* hit on a foe. But gaining mana when a dragon breathes fire on you seems cheap to me and not fun.

I do like the concept of having mana that is always degenerating. I'm not sure how you can remove healing and HP regen while keeping @ in battles most of the time, though (actually, I have a novel idea towards the end of this post). One option could be: since Blackguard degenerates mana quickly they could regenerate health quickly, thus solving the problem of them being confused with a tanky Paladin. I do like the idea of blackguards losing stealth every 10 levels. What do they gain every 10 levels to counteract this? better performance with heavy weapons/more critical hits?

I'm not too concerned about low stealth ruining vaults. Characters who can't kill a lot have to get their loot using stealth getting into vaults. Characters that can't use stealth to get into vaults need to find their loot by killing stuff. I've had lots of games with HT/Warrior where 70% of my endgame equipment came from drops. If you want to raid vaults, play a hobbit rogue.

I like the idea of aggro only affecting monsters lower than @'s level. You can combo this with giving blackguards the "protection from evil" spell, though maybe rebrand it as something like "protection through evil" as a form of immunity to evil (kinda like how undead have an immunity to nether) rather than a protection from it. Blackguards can gain a high resistance to evil creatures because they are themselves aligned with evil (sorry Archolewa, just spit balling here).

Just my $0.02: I never pick up Grond at end of the game because I don't like the earthquake effect.

I'm wary of having regeneration happening on HP as well as MP from combat. I think it probably should be one or the other and I am campaigning for MP over HP, although I think a special caveat or exception could be fun where when you kill certain Uniques you gain some health (the higher above your level it is the more health you regain--maybe any unique that is 'evil'?) but for all other monsters you do not gain any health for killing them. I propose this because the more I think about it the more I like MP negative-regeneration with mana regenerating through damage delivery rather than health regenerating as a consequence of combat. This way you're only regenerating health occasionally from combat and not mana and health all the time (which would be cheesy). Also: good things that only happen on occasion or through taking risks are more fun.

A variation on this idea is you could maybe give a health bonus only when Blackguards deal damage to (only evil?) monsters at a higher level than them and you give BG's an even more terrible fail rate on devices to compensate. (I personally would really like to play a class that does not need to rely on teleport other in order to succeed, and Blackguard seems to be the ideal candidate for such a class).

Finally, I would discourage any kind of healing for Blackguard (why can a blackguard get healing when my Ranger cannot?) and instead focus on coming up with creative alternatives to healing. One way to do this is to give Blackguards someway of getting augmented AC (shield spell used to be one way to do this) but they could also get a new spell that allows AC to absorb enemy breath or spell damage.

It could work like this: when you cast the spell, your armor becomes temporarily imbued with a special magical power that makes your AC absorb non-melee damage, so if you have 210AC and a great wyrm of chaos breathes for 600 damage at you and you do not resist Chaos you only take 390 damage. Or if Morgoth invokes a mana storm for 560 damage you only take 350 damage. Such a spell would have to be quite expensive (I'm thinking at least 70 mana points and must be CL40). Furthermore, since this spell would be quite OP, non-melee damage absorbed by AC would shorten the duration of the spell. So if the spell lasts for 25+1d25 turns, then each 10 points of damage absorbed by AC would reduce the amount of time the spell lasts by 1 turn. So if you have 210AC and have had the spell active for 5 turns when you get blasted by 600 damage then your spell will only last another 1d24 turns instead of another 20+1d25 turns. Ie. absorbing 210AC would result in the spell duration being reduced by 21 turns.
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