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Old April 26, 2011, 22:43   #1
Estie
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Mages, spells and rogues

In http://angband.oook.cz/forum/showthread.php?t=4358 Timo brings up the idea of a staff which adds to mana. It is not new; ToME 2 (and probably the older variants its based upon) already have it. But it is interesting to see it brought up in connection with vanilla.


Now the state of old vanilla can be summarized like this:

-Warriors have good melee offense and bad utility devices.
-Rangers and rogues have decent melee offense and good utility spells.
-Mages have bad melee offense, excellent utility spells and decent spell offense at early levels.

The question had been asked time and again: why dont mages use their spells for offense against Morgoth rather than melee ? to which the common answer was to point at Gandalf and his Glamdring.
I think a better answer would have been to point at the game mechanics and content. As it was and is, a warrior has a gazillion ways to improve his offense: from finding a better weapon (and theres more than one way for a weapon to be better than the other), to increasing his str, his dex, to levelling up to find armours and jewelry which add to his damage output, be it in form of to hit, to damage, both, extra attacks, brands, slays or whatnot. This makes for a complicated puzzle when playing a warrior.

Compared to that a mages options are rather limited: to increase his spell offense, he can a) level up, b) increase his intelligence or c) find one of a few dungeon spellbooks to gain access to better spells.
Given this state of things, I can understand very well why the devs of the time wanted mages to use melee: if there had been a high enough damage spell, a mage only needed to fulfill a) b) and c) to win, allowing him to breeze through the game. The warriors challenge was considered harder and better, so mages were required to also complete it before being able to kill M.

Recently mages spell damage has been boosted, to the point where it is actually possible to kill M with spells. It is still inferior to using melee and somewhat of a challenge option, but its there.

If a mage is to use spells for offense throughout the game I think it is neccessary to flesh out the "way of the spell" to a similar extent as the "way of the weapon". Adding staves that add to mana would be a start, but what is needed is at least this:

- a magic affix on items which adds to mana, probably to be found on jewelry and weapons
- a magic affix which adds to "spellpower" (spellpower being a pval that increases damage of all offensive spells)
- a few new "caster" ego types which include the above flags and combine them with other mods wanted by spell-casters as well as generic mods like +con.
- a few "caster" artifacts (possibly modifications of existing ones) which also include the new affixes.

If these items existed in the game, it would be easy to provide a meaningful challenge to the pure caster and crippling their melee/ranged ability to the point of uselesness would seem reasonable.

Now to something completely different (boum!)....
...seeing that between warrior ad mage there are 2 classes, rogue and ranger, who basically are the same....
..and furthermore seeing that there is one whole line of unused offense - fully fleshed out, but rarely if ever utilized - namely the offensive devices like wand of magic missile, rod of lightning balls -

what about making the rogue class a device user for their offense ?

Rogues as tricksters could very well be pictured as device users. Like with mages, there is currently no meaningfull way to improve the damage of devices with found items. This could be solved by having abovementioned "caster" affixes affect device damage, at least or especially for rogues.

I am thinking of something like this:

At level 1, a warrior swings his weapon at the yeek, the mage casts magic missile from his first book, the rogue (z)aps his wand of magic missile at the yeek.

At level 30, the warrior swings his weapon at the giant. The mage casts fire ball at the giants. The rogue zaps his wand/rod of fireball at the giants.

At level 50, the warrior swings his weapon of doom at M. The mage casts manastorm at M. The rogue zaps one of his half dozen rods of annihilation at M.

There are problems, certainly. They can be solved, if wanted. Use or dismiss at your leisure. Cheers (its 5 o´clock somewhere)
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Old April 26, 2011, 22:53   #2
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Regarding rogues as device users: the main difficulty is the destructibility of wands. My mages all use attack items to supplement their limited mana supply -- my current one got Raal's early, but Meteor Storm (45*3) is barely stronger than the output from a Wand of Acid Balls (125) and the latter is more reliable. Let alone Drain Life at 150/shot. Unfortunately I blew both my wands up with unlucky recharge attempts, so a major source of damage is now completely gone. However, if they weren't destructible, then I could spam acid balls until the cows come home; recharging spells are way more efficient than direct damage spells through the mid game.

Also keep in mind that if you want to provide mage-centric gear, then you'll need to weaken the mage's "naked" casting ability to compensate (which in turn means that you can't play a Gandalf-style mage any more).

Finally, I'm pretty certain I've read about players killing Morgy with manastorm back in the days when it was still in Raal's and Raal's was the rarest mage book. It wasn't very efficient, but it worked fine.
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Old April 26, 2011, 23:31   #3
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Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
Finally, I'm pretty certain I've read about players killing Morgy with manastorm back in the days when it was still in Raal's and Raal's was the rarest mage book. It wasn't very efficient, but it worked fine.
Wasn't manastorm called Hellfire way back in the day? I remember my very first win coming from three simple steps:
  1. Globe of Invulnerability (since removed)
  2. Hellfire
  3. Restore Mana
With steps 1 and 3 being done only when necessary, otherwise generously applying step 2 and repeating until victorious.
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Old April 27, 2011, 06:48   #4
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Might be too much a departure from V, but building the rogue as much weaker in melee/ranged combat (lower HP, lower to-it), and giving a greatly improved save vs item damage might be an option for the class.

It is interesting to me that I find rogue to be the easiest all-around class to win with (ranger coming in a close second, if only because the early game is marginally easier with a rogue). I think turning the class into more of a specialist would be a nice change -but rogue as a caster/fighter/stealth combo is pretty deeply ingrained in V.

(cue J. Cleese)

I definitely second the notion of mages having better means to improve their spellcasting. I think the changes to damage/cost for spells and some of the reworking of spellbooks have been big steps in the right direction. I really do think there should be rings that add to spell damage, both as a new class of ring, and some artifacts (the rings of power spring immediately to mind).

Wielding staves is interesting as a notion, but I'd rather see a better range of ego/artifact quarterstaves, if we're just concerned with the theme of "mages carry staves".

The Glamdring argument is a bit silly, IMO. Tolkein is full of powerful magic-users who more or less exclusively rely on magic (even if they may also be capable melee combatants). Elrond, Galadriel, Sauron, and Saruman all spring immediately to mind - and that's just from the trilogy. Gandalf's tendency to leap into the fray was a bit unique, I think - likely a side-effect of bearing Narya, combined with the necessities of his role as a leader in middle-earth.
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Old April 27, 2011, 07:39   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hariolor View Post
Might be too much a departure from V, but building the rogue as much weaker in melee/ranged combat (lower HP, lower to-it), and giving a greatly improved save vs item damage might be an option for the class.

It is interesting to me that I find rogue to be the easiest all-around class to win with
In there our opinions vary a lot. I find rogue most difficult without competition. Priest is the easiest, then maybe ranger followed very closely by warrior, then mage followed closely by paladin, and rogue last after those. Paladin this low mainly because I find it boring, and rogue last because it isn't excellent at anything except avoiding fights, and to win you need to fight.

This is a case where you ask same question from ten people and get ten different answers.
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Old April 27, 2011, 10:35   #6
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I think this is an excellent summary of the issues with casters, and it is worth noting that many variants already have many of these ideas implemented. Sang, for example, has all of +mana, +device skill and +save as pvals, albeit not +spell_power.

I've added this to trac, as I hope takk will sanction a move in this direction.

On rogues, personally I'd rather see them get stealing and trap-setting abilities than anything else - it's going to be hard to explain why magi aren't the best users of *magic* devices.
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Old April 27, 2011, 11:08   #7
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On rogues, personally I'd rather see them get stealing and trap-setting abilities than anything else - it's going to be hard to explain why magi aren't the best users of *magic* devices.
Add the NPP Brigand class, instead of or as well as Rogue?

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Old April 27, 2011, 18:21   #8
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This game is a roguelike, because it is descended from a game called rogue.

The original rogue had no spellbooks.

I'd prefer that we rename the warrior class "rogue", because that class plays most like the original rogue, and forget about theft entirely.
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Old April 27, 2011, 19:03   #9
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I've never really found theft or traps to be particularly compelling concepts myself. That doesn't mean that they're flawed, just that they don't appeal to me. Certainly the game currently has a weird asymmetry going on where there's two arcane hybrid casters but only one holy hybrid. We could rebrand the ranger as an archer and take away his magic (and probably boost his melee a bit) then nerf the rogue's combat. Then there'd be two nonmagical classes, two arcane classes, and two holy classes.
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Old April 27, 2011, 23:19   #10
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I've never really found theft or traps to be particularly compelling concepts myself. That doesn't mean that they're flawed, just that they don't appeal to me.
Agreed about theft, but trap-setting can be great fun.

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Certainly the game currently has a weird asymmetry going on where there's two arcane hybrid casters but only one holy hybrid. We could rebrand the ranger as an archer and take away his magic (and probably boost his melee a bit) then nerf the rogue's combat. Then there'd be two nonmagical classes, two arcane classes, and two holy classes.
Or introduce druids, and give rangers druid spells.
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