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Old May 3, 2011, 16:18   #1
Spacebux
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Mage-er Change

Like arrows in a quiver, these are the pages of our spell-book.. (for U.S. folk who remember a gawd-awful show called "Days of Our Lives", you'll recognize the parody, I hope...)


Mages / Priests, I think, should start off with a single book containing a single spell. As they play through the game, they collect more scrolls of new spells / prayers to put in their book. The book should be impervious to fire, I think, yet, not wholly in-destructable or steal-able. Some level of protection ought to be necessary. A new, blank book can be purchased or sometimes found.

Spell and Prayer scrolls would all be collectible in a single volume, though.

I know many would say this makes mages / priests too powerful as they would have many more slots available. I would disagree, as the mage class, in particular, is quite weight-encumbered-challenged already. I cannot tell you how many mages I have in the beginning levels traversing dungeons at -2 or -4 speeds.
Spell / Prayer scrolls can either be in inventory slots, or like missiles, fulfill the book-quiver slot.

These options would make the mage / priest class more interesting to play, yet not make them overly powerful in any way. Indeed, they would be more challenging as they have to find or buy each and every spell. Based on a spell-scrolls prevalence, it might be for sale in Magic shop, it might not be. Coders could not guarantee a ? of Magic Missile, e.g., is always there, but there would be a good chance it would be. Same for the Priests.

As is, finding the advanced books are often key to winning with the pure spell classes. It's very trying as a mage in the mid-30s level-wise, to find Raals, e.g. If/When a mage does find Raal's the game becomes much easier, as a mage finally has a good set of attacking spells. Up to then, the set of basic attack spells is relatively weak against most mid-range mobs with high HPs & uniques with almost all the Base Resistances. Mages have little choice but to try and whittle away at foes. Priests fare a bit better in melee, but are still quite challenged in the mid-levels. With a spell-scroll system, the game would be much smoother in terms of incrementing mage/priest prowess. In the current setup of books, finding a book is a HUGE upgrade in power-level, in many cases. Too much of the game balance swings with the locating of a single volume for the pure spell-casting classes.

Having looked at the code, this would require a major re-write of the spell system---which probably needs to happen sometime anyway.

One could structure it whereby say Mages / Priests could memorize 100% of the spells / prayers found, Paladins, Rangers, or Rogues could only memorize a subset of those (similar to the system today, but more restrictive) - say 75% or even 40% of the total number. I.e., choose carefully which spells are most critical.



-more-

Last edited by Spacebux; May 3, 2011 at 20:17.
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Old May 3, 2011, 16:25   #2
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New Spell Ideas.

(relating to my previous post)

Duplicate - creates a duplicate image of the caster for a period of time, confusing mobs as to which '@' to attack. Could you imagine how much tougher Morgoth would be if he could duplicate or triplicate his image??

Ventriliquate - The caster can chose a location up to xx(level-dependent) squares away to place a distracting noise. Mobs within a certain radius would be drawn to investigate that noise unless a save is made, in which case they just become alert. Effect would last as long as it took said mobs to make saves. I know this seems similar to "Confuse Monster", but this would affect more mobs, and in a dissimilar fashion.

Cone of Cold - An actual cone where the wider it spreads the less the effect/damage. Range & power increase with level. Could have versions for different elemental attacks - acid, fire, elec (a.k.a. the Sith-lord version )...

Wizlock - A spell to lock a door shut with magic for a period of time dependent on caster level.
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Old May 3, 2011, 16:34   #3
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Old Spell Improvements

(I realize most of these ideas relate to mages, hence the "Mage-er" title. But, I would think Priest spells could be revamped a bit as well.)

Not sure why mages lost Heroism, Beserker Rage, and Detect Treasure.

Cure Light Wounds ought not to be a Mage spell in the first place, but there are other spells that could take its place. How about another Resist spell or mapping utility or RConf Shield spell? Anyway, switching to the spell-scroll idea I wrote about earlier is the solution to Mage/Priest spells in general.

For fun, I turned those old spells back on - didn't change a thing. In fact, Detect Treasure tends to slow the play of the mage more than make it "cheater".

Book 4/D "Sorcery & Evocations" ought to have an upgraded version of magic missile.. by the time mages are in the mid-20s, either magic-missile needs to be upgraded, or a "mana bolt" needs to be introduced. (Mass Sleep is a wasted spell slot.) Most mobs, especially the higher uniques, are equally resistance to the Base4 attacks & Stinking Cloud never really had much of an impact on anyone, or anything. By the mid-20s, Mages are required to somehow survive until finding Raal's where more powerful spells become available. This is one more reason why I would like to see the spell system redone to a "Spell-Scroll" system. While that may be by design to weed out weaker Mage / Priest players, the game is a bit of a dis-advantage to mages in particular. No mob can really resist Orb of Draining, for example. Which makes Priests having much more useful spells at the mid-20s / 30s compared to anything a Mage can muster... and one normally thinks of mages as having more of the attack spells. Yes, they do, but only at the latter stages of the games when Raal's is found, and finally with Kelek's. A mid-20s Priest is vastly superior to a mid-20s mage: better HPs, better melee abilities, better saves, better heals, and, better spell attacks. There is no mage equivalent to Dispel Evil, for example.
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Old May 3, 2011, 16:42   #4
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I would be happy if they just added a way to carry more stuff. Even if you can't carry more stuff by default, maybe you could get a bag of holding or something.

Maybe you could have a bunch of spell books but just make them not count as part of your inventory. It would be like equipping arrows in your quiver, like Spacebux said. Maybe you could allow scrolls/potions in those slots too so that other classes have a use for them.

I don't think that finding a new spell book is really a big increase in power level. The issue is that you can only use the spells that you are high enough level for. Unless you're behind on finding a spell book, you won't gain all those spells at once.

I would also be happy with having each spell book contain one spell that you learn and permanently know when you read the spell book. I doubt that would be implemented though because it seems like it would be a significant change to game balancing.

In fact, I would be surprised if they even made it so that you had more inventory slots or special spell book slots. It seems like being out of backpack space is a major "feature" of the game.
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Old May 3, 2011, 16:59   #5
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Originally Posted by cowgod View Post
I would be happy if they just added a way to carry more stuff. Even if you can't carry more stuff by default, maybe you could get a bag of holding or something.
Unfortunately, I agree with the coders on this one: a Bag of Holding or even just being able to carry and put stuff into chests opens up a whole bag of worms (no pun intended) in the code and in the game. Just adding a Quiver for arrows was a huge under-taking in the V. Code. My spell-scroll idea mimics that idea for spells, and, hopefully will allow the coders to create a whole plethora of spells (not all of which will be found, not all of which would be able to be learned) thereby increasing the excitement of the game.

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I don't think that finding a new spell book is really a big increase in power level. The issue is that you can only use the spells that you are high enough level for. Unless you're behind on finding a spell book, you won't gain all those spells at once.
Ideally, yes, but in practice, those books are hard to find. One does not typically see Book 5 "Resistances of Sacarbtaices" until ~2000' (DL: 40+). Usually, a mage is at character level 29+, which means all but the last one or two spells of the advanced books are learn-able immediately. Hence, the ratcheting up spell-power is huge each time one finds a new book. If one were to find the advanced spell books much earlier, say < 1000', then, yes, you would see much less of a power-jump. However, then, you have the tilted the balance of the game a bit too much in the wrong direction.


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I would also be happy with having each spell book contain one spell that you learn and permanently know when you read the spell book. I doubt that would be implemented though because it seems like it would be a significant change to game balancing.
As is, gained/learned spells & prayers are permanent. But, one must maintain a copy in-hand. Ideally, the more one casts a spell / prayer, the more efficient one ought to be at it, but that is bit of coding I don't think I our team of coders has opportunity to tackle at the moment.

Looking at the code, and trying fit within the bounds of balance, I think either making each spell a specific scroll -or- as you put it, a book, is a relatively easy idea to encapsulate into the game - code-wise and balance-wise. Just that scrolls (& books!) weigh way too much to collect into a big book. Scroll weight will have to be reduced by 75% or more to make the spell-scroll system plausible.

-Sbux-
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Old May 3, 2011, 17:29   #6
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Okay, there's a lot of stuff in this thread already. I'll just address the first post for now: breaking up the spellbooks into per-spell scrolls and combining those scrolls into a single spellbook.

Mages already have the easiest time with inventory management of any class. The only constraint they have on inventory is weight, practically speaking, since they don't have to worry about carry phase door, teleport (in scroll and staff form), teleport level, detect traps, detect objects, speed, etc. All they need to carry is a handful of CCW potions. Now it's certainly true that in the early game they also have a fairly restrictive weight limit due to their low starting STR, but that can be fixed fairly readily and in the meantime is by no means crippling. If you're running around at -2 speed from burden, then you're carrying too much stuff and/or wearing too much armor. Why do you care about AC? You aren't getting into melee range anyway.

Thus I can't say I agree with your premise. Now, I do agree that currently finding a new spellbook is a huge watershed moment for mages and that there's a gap in the game currently where the basic attack spells are a bit lackluster and Raal's isn't available yet. Here's a few things you can do to mitigate this:

1) Carry attack wands. Fireball, acidball, and Drain Life are particularly helpful, but even Firebolt at base 12d8 damage is useful. The damage output in the description is actually lower than reality for mages because of their high device skill -- a level 40 mage, for example, should deal about 220 damage/bolt from Drain Life (1.48x multiplier). The main problem here is the high chance that Lesser Recharging has of blowing up a wand.
2) Don't kill everything. Kill what you can and avoid the rest. Mages have to be very choosy about who they pick fights with. Abuse the heck out of Teleport Other in the meantime for when unpleasant monsters are pestering you.
3) Use potions of Restore Mana. They certainly seem to be all over the place these days so you may as well use them. You shouldn't need more than 10-15 for the final fight, so the rest are available for taking out the occasional nasty monster.
4) Use archery. A decent bow and decent ammo should get you better damage than your spells, when you hit anyway. Carry some Holy Chant and Heroism to up your hit rate.

If we do want to have individual spells be findable outside of their books, I'd go for the ToME 2 way of handling it, where you can find each spell either as its own (full-weight) book, or as part of a compilation book. Then you'd have a chance to find e.g. Explosion well before Raal's actually turns up, but still appreciate Raal's when you do find it for the inventory compression and added variety.
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Old May 3, 2011, 17:58   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
Mages already have the easiest time with inventory management of any class. The only constraint they have on inventory is weight, practically speaking, since they don't have to worry about carry phase door, teleport (in scroll and staff form), teleport level, detect traps, detect objects, speed, etc. All they need to carry is a handful of CCW potions. Now it's certainly true that in the early game they also have a fairly restrictive weight limit due to their low starting STR, but that can be fixed fairly readily and in the meantime is by no means crippling. If you're running around at -2 speed from burden, then you're carrying too much stuff and/or wearing too much armor. Why do you care about AC? You aren't getting into melee range anyway.
Thank you for the thought-out response, but I have to dis-agree with you there. Weight is not an issue easily averted until well into Mage-level20s &/or when other equipment and !s of +Str start to appear, typically below 1500'. Even then, the game puts a pretty big constraint on what the mage can wear. Not until the very deep levels, when +6 STR rings or other +STR or ImmFire artifacts appear do weight issues really dissipate. Without ImmFire, for example, a mage must lug around multiple copies of books. Plenty of dead-weight right there. It's not just armor. Staves?? 5lbs. each. If you are lucky enough to find a good staff of the magi, e.g., or staff of healing, or other high-level staff, that weight also adds up. Ditto for rods and scrolls. It's not just armor!

I may be guilty of carrying too much, but, wands and missiles alone are often not enough to stave off mid- and high-level uniques / mobs intent on hunting one down. Running for the stairs is not a pleasant alternative either.

The game is structured such that mages can and do have the ability to melee, though rather poorly. I agree with that aspect whole-heartedly.


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1) Carry attack wands. Fireball, acidball, and Drain Life are particularly helpful, but even Firebolt at base 12d8 damage is useful. The damage output in the description is actually lower than reality for mages because of their high device skill -- a level 40 mage, for example, should deal about 220 damage/bolt from Drain Life (1.48x multiplier). The main problem here is the high chance that Lesser Recharging has of blowing up a wand.
If you are lucky to find those early enough! Again, those wands are usually found much deeper, where the other advanced books are also found. And, even with greater recharging, its doubtful that would be a reliable source of damage! Again, try to stack a pile of rods of ****ball - the decision would weigh on most mage's minds. The only rod you really want to stack a few of, as a mage, are the rods of probing. Rods of anything else are a waste at the moment.

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2) Don't kill everything. Kill what you can and avoid the rest. Mages have to be very choosy about who they pick fights with. Abuse the heck out of Teleport Other in the meantime for when unpleasant monsters are pestering you.
This post is not about trying to kill everything. This is about trying to smooth out the progression of mage power throughout the game. I never whined about not being able to kill everything. The main gripe I have, however, is that most higher-level mobs and uniques simply resist most mage elemental attacks prior to finding Raal's. Look at the mobs for DL30-DL50---you will understand what I'm talking about.

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3) Use potions of Restore Mana. They certainly seem to be all over the place these days so you may as well use them. You shouldn't need more than 10-15 for the final fight, so the rest are available for taking out the occasional nasty monster.
Granted. I usually need about 3 for the final fight... and not because I use the mana for offense.

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4) Use archery. A decent bow and decent ammo should get you better damage than your spells, when you hit anyway. Carry some Holy Chant and Heroism to up your hit rate.
No. You don't know the inability of mages to shoot anything at low levels. I could sling 9 stones at a small kobold pummeling me from an adjacent spot. I will die 10 times out of 10. Mages cannot reliably fire missiles, nor should they be relying on that form of attack. Need I mention weight??

My point is that the base elemental attack spells simply do not to overcome the mages' shortfalls in melee and missile abilities. Nor do they come close to the power priests have with Orb of Draining.

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If we do want to have individual spells be findable outside of their books, I'd go for the ToME 2 way of handling it, where you can find each spell either as its own (full-weight) book, or as part of a compilation book. Then you'd have a chance to find e.g. Explosion well before Raal's actually turns up, but still appreciate Raal's when you do find it for the inventory compression and added variety.
I haven't played ToME 2, so I cannot comment to that point.

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Now, I do agree that currently finding a new spellbook is a huge watershed moment for mages and that there's a gap in the game currently where the basic attack spells are a bit lackluster and Raal's isn't available yet.

Thank you, that is one of the points I was trying to convey!

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Old May 3, 2011, 18:12   #8
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Also - please note - I am not trying to make the mage (priest) class easier/harder to play. That is not the point. I am not whining that the mage class is too hard to play.

The point is to make it more interesting and, at the same time, smooth out the progression of mage (and priest) power.

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Old May 3, 2011, 18:29   #9
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As it happens, I'm playing a mage right now. At no point in the early game did I find myself slowed down by the weight of my standard equipment, though I did go without significant amounts of armor for awhile and prioritized STR-boosting gear when available. I'll grant I'm playing no-selling, so I have less loot to carry around, but loot can always be stashed if you have a fight to deal with (and if you have to flee the fight, well, too bad!).

As for your other points:

* Book burning is not that common. I haven't yet had to return to town specifically to replace lost books -- the only time I've run out of books is because I was ditching them to make room for loot. I'm only carrying two of each book. Just don't stand where a bunch of fire hounds can see you, and keep the relevant resistance spells up once you get Resistances. Mages have to be cautious!

* By the time you're finding deep staves, your STR is a non-issue. Or else you got very lucky, so why are you complaining?

* Attack wands are a bit luck-of-the-draw, I'll grant. An early acidballs wand can make a huge difference, as can not finding any attack wands at all. On average you should find something useful though, and be able to save it to help you take out a few big enemies before recharging blows it up. Rods are less useful IMO since you absolutely have to find several of the same type before they become a useful offense.

* My suggestion to use archery was for the gap before finding Raal's. Before hitting that gap, you should have enough mana (plus wands of Magic Missile, which should not be discounted) to deal with just about everything you meet. Missile weapons in the very early game are probably not worthwhile, but when a single shot can deal 100 damage and you have 50+% odds of hitting, that's a different story. Still not as good as attack spells, but uses no mana.

* Monster resistances: most monsters have at least one resistance hole. You just have to find it. Don't fight the few monsters that resist everything.

Mages are hard characters! There's no denying this. Even with Raal's their offense against single targets is a bit lackluster -- about half that of an equivalent warrior. But they're not broken -- or at least, not in the ways you're saying they are. You just need to adjust your tactics.
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Old May 3, 2011, 20:14   #10
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Mages are hard characters! There's no denying this. Even with Raal's their offense against single targets is a bit lackluster -- about half that of an equivalent warrior. But they're not broken -- or at least, not in the ways you're saying they are. You just need to adjust your tactics.
I will re-iterate - this is not a post about mages being too weak. You and I can discuss tactics until the sun runs out of hydrogen fuel....

The main point of this thread was to a.) eliminate the book system and introduce the spell-scroll concept to smooth out the game progression for mages; b.) point out that base elemental attack spells are too weak for mages in the mid-levels; and, c.) that weight is a good game balancing force for mages, preventing the spell-scroll idea from necessarily ruining the game.


Your points are that my tactics more than the spells themselves are the problem. If the system moved to a spell-scroll system, then you would actually see more mages die off mid-levels... no longer would you be guaranteed to find a ? of Fire Bolt in early levels. Early on (sub-1000'), you probably would have 3 of the 5 elemental attacks (I include Poison as the 5th element here), but the game would not grant it to you the way they are presently given in books 1-4.

Presently too many mobs have at least 2 resistances, some like Mim, have all 5 resistances. Your basic premise is that mages should just turn tail and bravely flee the other way. My point is that mages, unlike any other class, have little else to rely on. Even as Magnate changes the floor designs such that the chances of using "phase door" to flee to the relative safety of an adjacent hallway dwindle greatly, the challenge of the mage is that most elemental spells---aside from Magic Missile---are simply mute attacks to mid-level and higher-level mobs. In effect, with the base 4 town books, the only reliable spell a mage has is the measly Magic Missile. Priests, on the other hand, have Orb (for example).

Again, this is not whining... just pointing this out!

While the Orb does minimal damage to non-evil creatures, no creature has a resistance for this Orb attack. And, most mid- to high-level mobs are evil (save the silly Angel class), hence damage multiplies. At levels 15-25, a priest is much more potent than a mage with the unresistable Orb than a mage with all elemental bolt types. A priest has marginally better melee, missile, encumbrance, and armor skills. A priest will also have marginally better hps than a mage in the same range.

Acid is the most useful elemental attack - as you know - more mobs than any other have this resist hole. But it does not do double-damage to non-resistant mobs. The game does not give mage spells any *slay* ability, e.g. Mages dish it out equally to all. A Priest doesn't have to worry about whether his Orb will be resisted or not... just whether it will do double damage or not! (and whether he/she holds a blessed weapon or not...)
  • L20 Priest w/ blessed weapon: Lv. 9 spell - Orb of D. costs 7 mana/ ball-shot. At the center, it is doing avg. of 39pts. dam to non-evil. 78 to evil creatures.
  • L20 Mage w/ Acid bolt: Lv. 15 spell - costs 4 mana each / shot. Avg. dam will be 48, but is resistable, not likely to be a bolt and affect a line of mobs. (Magic missile, I believe is 6d4, if I read the code correctly @ Lv. 20).
My point is not about tactics. Or that mages are too weak, or too strong. My point is that mages (whom are supposed to be on the offensive side of spells) basically have no base spell other Magic Missile to rely on until Raals is in hand.
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