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Old 09-18-2017, 03:21 AM   #41
evileeyore
 
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

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Originally Posted by Set View Post
I enjoy the vision that spells are tomes written by very very powerful wizards - the regular apprentice can't shape magic at will. So, the most powerful spells are secret and rare, and if you want to cast something you can't just amass enough people and do it, you'd have to search for the old tome lost in the catacombs of the Wizard King of the 3th Century, then gather the required materials - that will probably include some hard to find stuff too. And then, maybe, it will also require assistance or sacrifice.
Then you should probably switch to Effects Shaping Book magic, which requires one have access to those long-lost books of magic.

Totally not a D&D style magic system, but then... eh.




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I may be horribly wrong, since I don't know the system very well, but take the following example:
In your examples the Apprentice dies horribly every single time. If he's close enough to not take range penalties, he's struck by the Knight (or Archer, or Wizard's) attack since they have higher Base Speeds before he can act and is suffering penalties to his action on his turn. This begins his immediate death spiral. Favor everyone but the Apprentice.

But this is as it should be for an Apprentice facing foes that are twice his point total.


Quote:
Knight, sword and shield. Fearlessness 4.
He's got a 3 + 8 (Shield-16 /2) + 2 (medium shield DB) + 1 (Combat Reflexes) + 1 (Enhanced Block) = 15 Block.
And a Will of 14 against things that could scary him.

Wizard, has some spells, but whatever. One of them is Deflect Missiles (Since it's so cheap to cast and to acquire, wizards get so many spells and being protected against arrows is surely a very common thing to be desired by a relatively fragile ranged combatant.).
Also has a Will of 19.
That's a very high Will for a starting Wizard, but easily doable. Not my choice... but okay.

Quote:
Archer, has Bow-16.
A Scout starts at a 19, if they take Weapon Bond (and for 1 point they should).

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Apprentice, has Panic-14.
Should be a 13. But sure, it could easily be a 14, not a real issue.

Quote:
Vs the Wizard, the Apprentice has a very low chance of hitting Panic. Archer simply won't hit his arrows.
Why? Is that Wizard rolling with Missile Shield up constantly? With a Will 19 he can't start with a 20 in Missile Shield so it costs him 1FP per minute to maintain. Since the Scout goes first (higher Base Speed) he puts a pair of Leading the Target/Deceptive Shots into the Wizard*, putting the Wizard's next action into Shock Penalties, beginning the poor Wizard's death spiral. Favor Scout.

* But only one hits due to Deflect Missiles. Skill 22, -2 Dual Weapon Attack, main body hits, Scout can be up to 10 yards away (-4) and still have an excellent chance (Scout can even get risky and try for Leading the Target/Deceptive Strike). Wizard Deflects one and must Dodge the other at 9 (or worse if Deceptive). Likelihood is Wizard takes one to the chest.

But you keep saying Archer... so sure. Let's look at the hench version: Archer can have a 17 bow skill, so a 20 after Acc. No reason to go for the eyes, it's a Wizard who is a 'squishy clothy' so just put two into his torso. Like the above, Wizard probably takes one to the torso. (Unless the Wizard goes first, they have the same Base Speed, so it's fifty-fifty).

Quote:
Vs the Knight, the Apprentice has an equal (minus distance in yards) chance of hitting and of missing the Panic spell.
Why are you ignoring the distance? That's the only thing saving the Apprentice from an immediate death in the first turn... and of course reducing the Apprentice's capacity to actually affect the Knight with Panic.

So if the Apprentice starts far enough away, he can't affect the Knight, but if close enough he dies before he can cast.


Quote:
The Archer has a skill of 10 to hit the eye (Bow-16 + 3 Acc -9 eye), before Size/Speed modifiers. In any case, the Knight will have a Block skill of 15. That's 95% chance of blocking. The Archer would have to do Deceptive Shots, and that would reduce his skill even further. He could offset a the -2 for a -1 on the block with +3 seconds of aiming. But still, Block-14 is 90%. That's assuming the Knight is going straight to him, and not taking any step to Retreat.
Why is the Archer being so dumb as to stand still? He can Move and Attack at full skill, so he does. He keeps simply moving away and firing and on this infinite plan of theorycrafting, eventually get's lucky. Favor Archer (yes even the Archer, the Scout is simply better at it).

Quote:
In a situation where there's a Knight and +2 thugs against a party of 4 adventurers...
Why are you rolling a Knight +2 thugs versus 4 Adventures? Do you just want the Evil Knight to go down like a punk?


I think this is the heart of the problem. You want a singular individual* who is the same weight class as one of his foes to be able to stand up to and challenge a group of them without heaping him with one-shot protections.

He won't. He'll go down like a punk. Even if you shore up his weaknesses, he's one foe versus 4, he won't stand.


* Two thugs? One of the party will take them out instantly. Okay, it won't be the Thief, they suck at combat.
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:36 AM   #42
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
The system in Incantation Magic is Effect Shaping.
Is it? I haven't read it yet (not exactly, i skimmed it). Somehow I got (slightly) the wrong impression. Interesting.

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I think you might want to actually play with them first and see how you feel. I ran a long DF campaign with multiple PC parties in the same setting and with a range of foes, quite a few of whom could cast spells like Flesh to Stone or Entombment, and I don't think that any of them ever managed to successfully kill a PC with one.
That's similar to what I've read of other's long-running DF games. The 'save-or-die' spells just never manage to really do much... but the few times they do, it's pretty cool.




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Originally Posted by Set View Post
Do you disagree with this? Do you think save-or-die spells are actually fun?
Personally as a Player? I hate 'em. But then I prefer more Narrativist approaches when I'm a Player...

AS a GM... eh... I run Action so having the BBEG go out in a puff of smoke as the mage unleashes with all their mojo can be fun.



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Originally Posted by Set View Post
I suggested that they would be less prepared against spells than against swords and bows (and especially that they wouldn't be prepared to face exactly the player party and fall just short of defeating them) - not that they wouldn't be prepared at all.
Which is why they all wear armor and only a couple of foes 'up armor' versus magic.

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This is the most obvious solution. The one I want, though, is to balance them.
What I'm asking is for help on this.
Welcome to the forum, this debate has been going since forever and doesn't look like there's a solution in sight.
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:39 AM   #43
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
I think this is the heart of the problem. You want a singular individual* who is the same weight class as one of his foes to be able to stand up to and challenge a group of them without heaping him with one-shot protections.

He won't. He'll go down like a punk. Even if you shore up his weaknesses, he's one foe versus 4, he won't stand.
It was a bad example, I'll admit. No, I didn't mean Scout, I really meant Archer every time.

I was trying to compare what an Archer can do to a Knight and what an Apprentice can do to a Knight. I included the Wizard to the mix to show that it isn't really a thing of "Apprentice counters mundane heavy armor guys".

It's 14 because I was taking the approach of taking Magery 3 and saving in Advantages for spells.

What I want to say is: Against basically any "boss fight" using an adventurer-level guy as the boss (for henchmen) (with enough mobs to equalize the CER, just for the sake of testing), the Apprentice still have a decent chance of neutralizing the big guy with a single spell.
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Old 09-18-2017, 03:45 AM   #44
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Which is why they all wear armor and only a couple of foes 'up armor' versus magic.
Exactly. And this is exactly why save-or-die spells can be so anti-climatic in the hands of the players.


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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
AS a GM... eh... I run Action so having the BBEG go out in a puff of smoke as the mage unleashes with all their mojo can be fun.
Both as a player and as a GM I prefer when the battle against the BBEG is an epic one with much give and take, and running around the field with columns dropping everywhere and things exploding, lightning-bolt-hurling-swords awild and two or three of the party almost die, when finally the two still standing manage to deliver that final hit.


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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Welcome to the forum, this debate has been going since forever and doesn't look like there's a solution in sight.
Thanks.
I've seen the debate going around on some older threads.
What do you think of my suggestions on page 3? Could work with some adjustments?

EDIT: I've edited it into OP, so it can have better visibility and net me more suggestions.
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Last edited by Set; 09-18-2017 at 03:56 AM.
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Old 09-18-2017, 07:28 AM   #45
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

As others have also implied, I think you ought to try playing a campaign with the magic system more or less as written. It certainly does well with tweaks and spell rewrites, but you may find that the save-or-die spells don't cause the kind of anticlimaxes you're afraid of. I have played many campaigns using Magic, and I believe resisted affliction type spells actually do a great job of adding suspense.

PCs tend to buy up high resistance (since no one wants to be mind controlled, turned to stone, etc.) and Luck, and NPCs will vary depending on what the GM thinks will be fun.
For players, it can be quite satisfying to cast Entombment successfully, for example, and it doesn't feel like an "easy win" since it costs a lot of energy and often the enemies will successfully resist. On the defending side, having to use Luck, Bless and other resources (such as defensive magic) to defend against save-or-die spells can add complexity to tactical thinking and resource management. It's very rarely the all-or-nothing situation you seem to be so afraid of!

Important enemies will have Luck (and possibly Bless), supernatural immunities, their own casters that can negate bad spell effects with Dispel Magic, Ward, Stone to Flesh, Remove Curse, etc.

And if you don't want the PCs to have Panic cast on them, don't have the enemies cast it! Spells like Daze or Stun can be a great hindrance without instantly removing a character from the fight.

My own tweaks to Magic might help you a little, since I've made magical countermeasures easier and weakened some problems spells (including Panic) a bit. Feel free to take a look: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b0ulwtzujq...%20DF.pdf?dl=0
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:11 AM   #46
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

There's a point that hasn't been raised yet: the difference between mooks and bosses. Out of game, bosses are meant to be a tough fight, mooks are not. In game, bosses are capable of being a serious threat; either through skill and preparation, luck and aptitude, divine (profane?) blessing, or by cheating.

Mooks, like the theoretical garrison of troops who just barely lose to a party of four heroes, probably aren't going to have much in the way of anti-magic preparations. A few of them may have innate Magic Resistance, and some of the officers may have bought up a bit of Will, but otherwise not that much.

The Boss, on the other hand, will likely prepare specifically to deal with mages as well as mundane foes. Perhaps he keeps golems or undead around to counter mind affecting spells, has gotten himself blessed, is unusually Lucky, or has been gifted with a cursed moly amulet by his dark gods (got to love the Legion of the Damned perk).

Most likely, he's had time to realize that delvers are on their way, and perhaps even had time to study their methods. After all, if the delvers are fond of the Panic spell, that's a lot of survivors who've seen them in action and fled. And if and when the delvers stop to rest to recover all that spent FP, they can get a bit of a head start for planning or reporting back.

If the Boss doesn't think he can counter the delvers' tactics, he's not going to stick around to lose to them. He's gonna run, find some way to beat them, and then face them on his own terms. A boss who's a pushover against the players isn't a Boss; he's a Mook with a backstory.

Some examples from my own campaign:
  • A Swashbuckler boss challenged the player swashbuckler to a duel, exploiting her code of honor to prevent the party casters from interfering too much. Other than an Armor spell from the cleric, and a lightning weapon from the elementalist, the duel took place without magic.
  • An evil cleric used Terror against the players, which took out the barbarian for a turn. After which the tavernkeeper put a bolt in his eye, and the swashbuckler hacked him up fairly quickly. Everyone else made their save. I suspect the party will invest in a Moly Amulet for the barbarian, despite the consequences for allied casting.
  • The big bad, a Mind Warper Bioengineer, has thus far never actually faced the players directly, staying safely behind an ancient and evil network of portals. From his first engagement with the players, he learnt that they have a maddening ability to use the power of friendship (and gold) to recruit his goblin minions. So he's developed a psychic collar creature to keep the goblins in line (which will likely last until the players start targeting the collars; at which point the next generation will poison the goblin when it dies). Basically, the boss discovered that his minions were pushovers, and did something about it.
  • The players did manage to blindside a Master Vampire at one point, by showing up to his houseparty and sneaking in with concealed weapons. Which involved a lot of social manipulation and double talk, and a fairly subtle spell duel, until they finally shoot him repeatedly in the heart with a flaming crossbow, before he turned to mist and fled the scene (almost getting killed a second time by a Destroy Air spell in the process; proving that any spell can be deadly). His body-double in a sarcophagus trick almost worked. Every step of the way, the players used cleverness and subtlety to gain an advantage over their foe; so they never had to deal with him in his DR 17 war loadout, and damn well earned the easier fight that ensued.
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Old 09-18-2017, 09:11 AM   #47
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

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But, you see, my grudge lies specifically with save-or-die spells.

And from what I've seen, pretty much every GURPS system suitable to a high fantasy setting has those.
And that's because fiction with high fantasy has those. And they're usually not "save or die", but instead just "die". The games are being nice by allowing a margin of success.
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Old 09-18-2017, 10:17 AM   #48
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

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Originally Posted by Set View Post
Exactly. And this is exactly why save-or-die spells can be so anti-climatic in the hands of the players.

Both as a player and as a GM I prefer when the battle against the BBEG is an epic one with much give and take, and running around the field with columns dropping everywhere and things exploding, lightning-bolt-hurling-swords awild and two or three of the party almost die, when finally the two still standing manage to deliver that final hit.
A few things: I agree that save/die spells suck, but I found they don't happen as often in play as you would assume. with your above example you're giving the 125 apprentice skill 14 with a spell. However, regular spells take a -1 penalty per yard away from the target. How many fights will start with the apprentice being 0 yards away from our Evil Knight? (should be around zero. Unless you gave the apprentice invisibility, some sort of sound dampening spell, and they rolled well on their Stealth [they get what, a skill 11 Stealth? IDHMBWM].)

Also, your title says "DF" in it. In DF, magic is as common as swords. Peasants and guards probably shouldn't be walking around with Moly Amulets. But you should probably have Bosses (not the common rabble) have defenses against magic, or contingencies if magic shows up.

If you want epic battles with the BBEG, ummm, make them epic. A Knight with two thugs isn't epic. A Knight, who prays the evil god Set, granting himself an armored intelligent bear companion that he can ride and two thugs with pikes makes for an epic battle. In your OP example adding a bear companion does a few things to your encounter: the knight getting taken out isn't a problem because, the 1) wizard gets to feels cool and 2) you still get the metal encased bear to fight the party, ensuring a grand melee.


Parting comment: If you hate save or die spells, instead of ditching the base magic system, remove save or die spells. Simple, elegant, and removes the thing you really don't like.
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Old 09-18-2017, 11:40 AM   #49
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

If you don't like "save vs die" spells, then don't allow them! Problem solved.

But I have to say I've never seen "save vs die" spells become much of a problem. Things like distance modifiers (that reduce skill and force the wizard to get into uncomfortable close to the melee), (2) the Rule of 16 (again lowering skill and potential Margin of Success), and (3) not knowing the enemy stats, means that there is always a chance of failure. This means that a net outcome of "nothing happens" is a risk that wizards have to make, and I've found that most will take a "safer" approach and cast area spells vs something that is resisted.
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Old 09-18-2017, 11:48 AM   #50
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

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Indeed, but that assumes Magic is as common as swords and while that, surely, is very much true when we're talking about parties of adventurers we play - and GM to -, the general assumption is that overall magic workers are way more rare than people that can swing a sword, so it makes sense that most people won't be as prepared to deal with magic as they are to deal with incoming blades and arrows.
It's important to look not at how common magic-workers and magic are, but at how common those things are in crucial engagements, how much influence they have when they're brought to bear, and how these things affect the world in which they exist. To compare to modern-day warfare again:

Few infantry units smaller than battalions have organic artillery. You certainly don't encounter artillery bigger than a small mortar in the hands of units comparable in headcount to fantasy adventuring parties. By comparison to infantry units, artillery units are few in number; by comparison to rifles, artillery weapons are incredibly few in number.

However, nobody with the resources to send infantry battalions into battle wants to do so without artillery support. Most of the casualties in modern warfare are attributable to artillery. Consequently, facing artillery is the preoccupation of troops of all kinds.

A lot of hours of training for infantry involve learning how to "dig in," largely as a countermeasure against artillery; a lot of hours in the field are spent digging. For a long time (and arguably still), the main purpose of body armor was to limit the deadliness of fragments from explosions, not to stop bullets. In short, huge amounts of training and time and resources for the riflemen who are the backbone of the fighting force are expended on being capable of standing up to the artillery that menaces them.

In fantasy, wizards are the artillery. Not always actual artillery in the sense that they can destroy huge numbers of enemies, but they tick off all the other boxes: Small units won't have wizards, who will be few in number by comparison to swords and bows, but nobody with the resources to support troops in the field will willingly go without wizards. Wizards are necessary to win battles and wars, and facing wizards is likely to be the focus of huge amounts of training and time and resources.

I think this tends to be overlooked in fantasy gaming. If "special ops" units laden with magic-workers (read: "adventuring parties") exist and can menace high-value targets (boss monsters), successfully raid fortified positions (dungeons), and take on many times their number in ordinary troops (orcs, zombies, whatever), then anybody who wants to be taken seriously – barons, evil overlords, lich-kings, etc. – will plan for these units. Preparing for the PCs isn't a ham-fisted attempt to balance them; it's a logical world-building step in a setting where roving bands of super-well-trained mercenaries with inordinate amounts of magic and first-rate gear make sense. It's actually harder on willing suspension of disbelief if the entire military and security situation of the world looks like medieval Earth.
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