ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:26 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:35 am
Posts: 708
Okay, I have several problems with mages in T2:
- They must almost always be glass cannons
- Their spell selection usually ends up looking the same
- Interesting/specialized builds, e.g. water mages, end up underpowered

I would like to make a go at fixing these (perceived) issues. I have two strategies I am considering.

1. Every school as a realm unto itself.

This would involve making each school stand mostly on its own. Schools would get additional spells of whatever sort I deemed sensible, e.g. the Air school would get detection spells and maybe movement spells.

Possible good points:
- Presents an opportunity to add interesting new spells
- Makes specialized mages possible, and active encourages specialization
- Generally looks like it would do what I want

Possible bad points:
- Might make some schools underpowered or overpowered, depending on what spells are sensible
- Creates redundancy, especially for Sorcerers
- Some schools would definitely get more attention than others
- Risks making Geomancers and Warpers a lot less fun

2. Schools are interconnected.

Instead of making new, redundant spells, I could "interconnect" the schools by making more spells effectively multi-school. For instance, Elemental Shield could require a combined level of 20 in the four elemental schools and the Mana school, instead of just the Mana school... So with at least one point in each of those schools, you could pump any specific one and still get Elemental Shield at a decent level.

Possible good points:
- If done right, could probably allow for more specialized mage builds without introducing redundancy.
- Could allow (some) specialized builds to focus more exclusively on their schools of choice, with minimal skill point expenditure on other schools

Possible bad points:
- The spell system could become pretty Byzantine, with every school requiring a bit of another school to get its full potential.
- Some builds could end up with a lot of skill points freed up, making them much more powerful.
- I haven't plotted everything out, but I don't think I could accommodate all the various types of potentially interesting specialized mage this way. New strictures might be introduced.
- Again, there would be some risk of breaking gameplay for Warpers and Geomancers.
- It would be more awkward than the redundant schools method from a gameplay perspective, since spells linked to a school could could be scattered through several tomes.
- Might have unintended consequences affecting available spell choice for some classes (I'm thinking "half-casters" like Monks).


I'm still trying to figure this out. I figure I'll give option #2 a go in a git branch tomorrow... Meanwhile I'm open to any input. (Including input to the effect that my ideas are stupid and the problems I am describing are not signficant.)

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:22 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2003 11:49 pm
Posts: 1727
Location: West Virginia
Right now the only mages I bother to play are sorcerors. They have the minor issue of not having many hit points, but they have access to all the spells needed. I use the following spells (assuming that they are available):

Sense Hidden
Ents Potion
Essence of Speed
Detect Monsters
Probability Travel

Stone Prison
Noxious Cloud
Globe of Light
Stone Skin
Greater ID
TP Away
Phase Door
Grow Trees

The only absolutely necessary spell is Manathrust. It is the only guaranteed high level killer (Curse can also work in combination with some other offensive spell). Probability Travel is not necessary but very useful. It provides instant escape from most situations and also allows creation of killing arenas to take out high level uniques. Dig is almost necessary for a low-strength character. Disarm is hard to substitute at deeper levels since the staff will get drained and the rod recharges too slowly. Most of the other spells I use all the time can be substituted by scrolls, potions or rods.

The spells I use occasionally I could do without, but they are useful in certain circumstances.

Right now I think that there are only two high level offensive options, Manathrust and Curse. Any mage needs access to one of those.

Disarm is necessary and probably Dig. There just aren't good alternatives to either one.

Sense Hidden/Detect Monsters/Vision are needed in some form.
Recall/ID/Ents Potion/Recovery eliminate having to carry stuff or make frequent trips home.
Probability Travel/Essence of Speed/Curse increase your ability to hit without getting hit in return.
Genocide is great for eliminating unwanted monsters guarding vaults or companions to uniques.
Healing speeds things up and simplifies tactics.

I think that if you move things around you could come up with some combinations that have most of the important functions but don't overlap completely. If you do that you should eliminate Sorcerors since they will always be better than any individual mage.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:27 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:35 am
Posts: 708
I think Manathrust is maybe a bit overpowered.

For trap detection and disarming - in my fork I've made the relevant skills much more effective, and both available to mages. It's a little broken, but I think it helps resolve what IMO is by far the game's most annoying aspect. I may end up just removing the Disarm spell.

The more I think about it, the more option #2 looks like a non-option, at least without some changes to the source code.

As for removing Sorcerers, I may do that. I never did like them very much.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:28 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2003 11:49 pm
Posts: 1727
Location: West Virginia
Manathrust may be overpowered, but you need some alternative way for magic users to take out a non-evil high level monster immune to all elemental attacks without getting smeared all over the floor. About the hardest fight I ever had was as a Geomancer taking on a level 98 Princess quest for Grand Master Mystics. I had to recall three or four times before I eventually managed it. To me that is the main reason that all magic users end up the same.

Curse is even more overpowered than Manathrust, since it lowers speed, armor class, and level all at once. A Melkor-worshiping warrior only has to go one round with Melkor before he is reduced to a joke.

Maybe the solution is to adjust the high level monsters to remove the immunities. That would allow a variety of attack strategies.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:20 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:35 am
Posts: 708
Thinking, thinking...

- Strike and Geyser should definitely be more powerful. Strike is pathetic for the amount of mana it uses, and Geyser still has increasing mana cost without increasing damage.

(Also, why does GF_WATER confuse and stun the player, but not monsters? I should fix that.)

- Maybe Air school should get a decent attack spell. Downburst? Whirlwind? Explosive Decompression?

- Geomancer spells in general need to be more effective.

As for Curse, I think I may have already removed the auto-casting code; if not, I will do that. Also considering making it not work on uniques.

As for removing the immunities, resistances alone are pretty powerful IIRC. Though I think removing some of the high resists (plasma, water, stuff like that) from powerful monsters might be good.

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