Remove Spell Buffs


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Post Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 09:44

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Phase Shift removed.

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Post Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 18:32

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

archaeo wrote:That's fine Reptisaurus; judging from the changes we've seen, I don't know that the devs like my specific proposal either. :)


I completely agree with everything else you said, though!

In theory I really like buff spells, but I really like the idea that every decision should be tactically meaningful.
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Post Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 22:14

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:Phase Shift removed.


Requesting the addition of a thumbs up emote for GDD. :D
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Post Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 23:05

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Oh God.

GOOD, but now I'm worried about repel/deflect missiles.

My argument for keeping them is "I'm a wuss" but I'm worried for my poor, squishy casters.
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Post Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 23:51

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Reptisaurus wrote:Oh God.

GOOD, but now I'm worried about repel/deflect missiles.

My argument for keeping them is "I'm a wuss" but I'm worried for my poor, squishy casters.


Repel missile has actually been fixed though. I like it as it is now, having low level utility magic is a good thing imo. Same goes for swiftness.
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Post Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 23:58

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Tiktacy: But the fix only goes for the interface. Unlike spells you have/had to manually spam, Repel/Deflect Missile are easy to use. The underlying issues were not really solved though: a numerical buff on a spell without downsides.

I'd say Reptisaurus' fears are not entirely unfounded :) (There are no plans yet, at least I am not aware of any.)

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 00:40

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:The underlying issues were not really solved though: a numerical buff on a spell without downsides.

I never understood why some people are dead set on thinking it is a problem. Especially since this argument is only ever used in the particular case of spells.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 01:37

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Hurkyl wrote:
dpeg wrote:The underlying issues were not really solved though: a numerical buff on a spell without downsides.

I never understood why some people are dead set on thinking it is a problem. Especially since this argument is only ever used in the particular case of spells.
Me neither, but I think other buffs get exonerated with the rationale that they cost piety or consumables or an equipment slot. Charms take up spell slots but the player can make that not a thing by training spellcasting. Except that, for example, armor skill has no downsides and depends on armor finds, and charms skill similarly has no downsides and depends on book finds, so I don't know. The argument was also brought up with rods but we don't have such rods anymore. Kind of nice to see spells getting removed though, rather than shuffled into other schools.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 02:35

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

HardboiledGargoyle wrote:Me neither, but I think other buffs get exonerated with the rationale that they cost piety or consumables or an equipment slot. Charms take up spell slots but the player can make that not a thing by training spellcasting. Except that, for example, armor skill has no downsides and depends on armor finds, and charms skill similarly has no downsides and depends on book finds, so I don't know.

And weapons skill has no downsides and no cost (not even MP cost!) and depends on weapon finds, and so forth. But that's not entirely true for any of them, because the downside theoretically is that you're diverting attention away from other skills. That's not really a thing currently because there is xp and to spare past early game, but conceptually, it's the main downside for any of these things.

With regards to this topic overall: I don't know that it's gotten to a bad point yet, but I feel a trend towards a homogenization of characters and playstyles that isn't ideal. With the removal of more buffing charms, for example, characters who want those defenses just train Armour and Dodging more with that newly freed xp. There are other examples, but this one is topical. Not bad, exactly, but it does make them blur into each other more.

To illustrate, I haven't played many IEs. When I used one recently, I was surprised by how much I liked ozo's armour and condensation shield. I left my natural defenses lower and relied on those, and it felt different--in a good way--to my standard, even though the end result was the same. If I had played that this week or in a hypothetical future where more are removed, that different feel would have been gone as it would have quickly morphed into yet another otabber.

Yes, charms have some imperfect design traits, but preserving variety and viability for less common playstyles is worthwhile.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 03:36

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Blade wrote:With regards to this topic overall: I don't know that it's gotten to a bad point yet, but I feel a trend towards a homogenization of characters and playstyles that isn't ideal. With the removal of more buffing charms, for example, characters who want those defenses just train Armour and Dodging more with that newly freed xp. There are other examples, but this one is topical. Not bad, exactly, but it does make them blur into each other more.

To illustrate, I haven't played many IEs. When I used one recently, I was surprised by how much I liked ozo's armour and condensation shield. I left my natural defenses lower and relied on those, and it felt different--in a good way--to my standard, even though the end result was the same. If I had played that this week or in a hypothetical future where more are removed, that different feel would have been gone as it would have quickly morphed into yet another otabber.


This is one of the reasons I liked OP's idea of moving some of these effects into items (amulet slot did seems apropos) -- depending on you character's skills and item drops, some of those items could be good. But you do need to choose; you can't just use a ton of them at once.

I don't think the idea of "ice spell power helps some characters get more defenses" is a bad one at all -- but it's really more of a strategic effect and Crawl's spellcasting system doesn't work very well for strategic effects.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 03:44

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:Tiktacy: But the fix only goes for the interface. Unlike spells you have/had to manually spam, Repel/Deflect Missile are easy to use. The underlying issues were not really solved though: a numerical buff on a spell without downsides.

I'd say Reptisaurus' fears are not entirely unfounded :) (There are no plans yet, at least I am not aware of any.)


If a strict buff is what you are trying to avoid, you could always make the effect permenent(casting activates/deactivates) and have it increase accuracy of melee attacks.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 09:23

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Hurkyl wrote:I never understood why some people are dead set on thinking it is a problem. Especially since this argument is only ever used in the particular case of spells.
There is a very good reason for this: spells are the most problematic, or fragile if you want, aspect of such powers. In other words, some effects just don't belong on spells. In Crawl, you can slap any given effect (damage, buff, hex, summon, mapping, etc.) on a number of sources: spell, evokable, consumable, god, item. All of these have different advantages and drawbacks.

HardboiledGargoyle wrote:[I don't understand that either] but I think other buffs get exonerated with the rationale that they cost piety or consumables or an equipment slot. Charms take up spell slots but the player can make that not a thing by training spellcasting. Except that, for example, armor skill has no downsides and depends on armor finds, and charms skill similarly has no downsides and depends on book finds, so I don't know. The argument was also brought up with rods but we don't have such rods anymore. Kind of nice to see spells getting removed though, rather than shuffled into other schools.
This thinking is quite correct, you just stop shy of the final implication: Armour has no downsides, but you have to actually train it. And it never stops (more Armour, more AC), so in this sense the skill is continuous. On the other hand, the buffs provide their utility for a limited investment, they are discrete. Of course, you also only get a limited effect, but you get it for very cheap. This is why these are pretty bad on spells, you don't have such questions for the other sources. To be more precise, choice of an rMsl item/god/consumable, say, always comes with an opportunity cost. Setting out to cast rMsl comes with a pretty small fee. At some point of the game, you just pick it up.

Blade wrote:I don't know that it's gotten to a bad point yet, but I feel a trend towards a homogenization of characters and playstyles that isn't ideal. With the removal of more buffing charms, for example, characters who want those defenses just train Armour and Dodging more with that newly freed xp.
The point of these changes is precisly to make characters less homogeneous. It is the *sole* purpose of Armour and Dodging to provide AC and EV, respectively. So if you want more of those, train those skills. I believe this will create more choices in the skilling department for casters than what we have now: you have to decide what kind of armour you wear, when to train Armour, and how far, and how to distribute stat points.

Tiktacy wrote:If a strict buff is what you are trying to avoid, you could always make the effect permenent (casting activates/deactivates) and have it increase accuracy of melee attacks.
This does indeed solve one problem, but why should such an effect be a spell? In Crawl, spells are something you strategically expend skills and magic slots and tactically you spend a turn and MP (and there's the miscast chance). I say that permanent effects don't belong on spells. Such effects can be very fine in Crawl, but they fit much better on items, such as jewellery or armour.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 11:10

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

On that note, equipment that had evokable ozo's/c. shield/stoneskin/phase shift could be interesting....
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 14:12

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

How is having no buff spells realistically going to effect what armor you wear as a caster? Your priority is mostly damage spells, which are on a whole much higher level than charms? Ozocubu's + robe is still probably the best unless you are a fire elementalist, 0.1 move delay has not changed this. You probably won't use condensation shield because a buckler with a resistance on it is better (I know the spell is gone). Your character is mostly just worse because you can't cast phase shift, which I thought used to be considered "OK" because of its short duration, but casting anything before combat is now considered tedious.

If someone is dumping all their XP into conjuration and taking INT at every levelup, I doubt they are going to wear anything heavier than ring mail unless they have strength-boosting gear or are in the win-more stage of the game, where they can get a ton of XP in armor to wear heavier things with no penalty. Similarly, by the time a heavy-armor character can afford to start putting XP toward phase shift they are already in the win-more part of the game. By win-more I mean that you can easily win without the "problematic" spells but you train them because you have nothing else to train, and you may as well get 12 Translocations for phase shift rather than train Dodging from 20-22.

This change mostly hurts light-armored characters with low strength who are casting midlevel (5-7) support spells like summons and clouds, and using melee alongside it, or chei characters. It won't really change their armor choice either, it just makes them strictly worse.

Another thing is: Realistically, you don't cast buffs in every combat. By the time you actually have something like phase shift, chances are most fights are trivial, so that you don't need to bother casting it - I've learned spectral weapon or phase many times in Vaults or Depths and almost never bothered to cast them, because you can mostly just hold down buttons to win at that point. Still, I think the buff spells are reasonably fun and provide some build variety if you aren't obsessed with optimal play - the game is so easy that it's unnecessary in the first place.

I feel like a lot of variety has been cut over the years over optimal play concerns when almost no one does most of the things that people complain are "hypothetically optimal yet tedious" because their contribution to winrate is trivially small, and the worst issues with tedious-yet-optimal play that actually do affect your chances to win (see: luring monsters) are unfixable without an overhaul of the game. It looks like Charms/Charmlikes and Transmutations will be next on this list.

If you wanted buff spells to be in the game without having to recast them before every fight, I think you ought to just remove the failrate from them, but give them strong power-dependence so that the player has motivation to level up the spell, and perhaps require the player to be 2*(spell level) to learn a spell. The main reason people use charms and charmlikes is because there aren't a ton of fail states like there are with conjurations - charms don't miss, or do no damage, you'll almost never be too hungry to cast them mid-fight (why is this still in the game) and don't have a dual school that exists only to eat XP (*/conj), and because of charms' relatively weak power dependence.

Actually, I think this is a good idea for spells in general, I think conjurations have too many fail states as-is.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 16:23

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:
Blade wrote:I don't know that it's gotten to a bad point yet, but I feel a trend towards a homogenization of characters and playstyles that isn't ideal. With the removal of more buffing charms, for example, characters who want those defenses just train Armour and Dodging more with that newly freed xp.
The point of these changes is precisly to make characters less homogeneous. It is the *sole* purpose of Armour and Dodging to provide AC and EV, respectively. So if you want more of those, train those skills. I believe this will create more choices in the skilling department for casters than what we have now: you have to decide what kind of armour you wear, when to train Armour, and how far, and how to distribute stat points.


I see where you're coming from, but at least for my characters, it won't really work that way in practice, in part because it was already working that way. I already make a decision game-by-game, based on drops and characters, whether to go light/medium/heavy armour. I already take it as a given that I will train dodging and probably armour at some point. The interesting decision for me was (is) always: Should I branch into charms/tloc? If so, how early? For a lot of my characters, not having that option won't be painful, really. It will just be a bit more boring. Let's take FE for example, because that's my default conjurations build. Here's a recent one I played, for reference: http://crawl.akrasiac.org/rawdata/comborobin/morgue-comborobin-20160208-215202.txt

Early game, I push conjurations/fire until my main damage spells are online, sometimes branching into one other school depending on drops (here, it was earth). Midgame, I train charms for haste, train a weapon skill, and train fighting and dodging a bit. Later, I train for high-level nukes and consider branching into evocations or tloc for MP/defense, respectively. It's a straightforward character build--powerful, reliable, and requires very little variance game-by-game. It just... kills everything, without too much sweat. Without buff spells, it would play exactly the same, except it might end with 23 dodging instead of 18 because I would have more xp to dump into it.

For an example on the other end, let's go with something like this MfEE http://crawl.akrasiac.org/rawdata/comborobin/morgue-comborobin-20160209-062713.txt, who picked up the first polearm he saw and went almost entirely melee. Good enough to kill just about everything with ease. Eventually, I branched out into charms/tloc because it made sense, I had xp to spare, and it added variety to my fights. Again, with those spells removed, it wouldn't hurt him, just turn him into a more straightforward fighter who perhaps reaches 27 dodging a bit earlier.

With a bit of work, 80% of my starting builds can go down one of these two paths: Kill everything with conjurations and build defenses around it later, or kill everything with weapons and build defenses around that. You could say that's just indicative of problems elsewhere, which I'd agree with. There's just not a whole lot of incentive to add variety unless I'm looking for new challenges. Charms are not the reason everything feels the same, though. Charms are the moment when I start feeling like my character is getting some variety. And they don't really add a lot, since there are only a few worth picking up game-by-game and those stay mostly the same each time, but it feels good to train more than 5 skills during the game. More importantly, they did add a lot when I was newer.

I feel like sometimes we start viewing things through the lens of experience and forget what they look like when they are new. When I started Crawl, every new spell and branch was exciting. It was awesome to see that, instead of putting armour on, a character could get away with spells that added an icy envelope. It was cool, after getting pelted by arrows, to realize that there was a spell for that, also. It was fun to realize that I could do almost everything a monster could, that there were spells for all of that. Of course, at some point, it all becomes numbers--what gives me the best chance here, what will keep me alive better there. That's inevitable. But even at that point, having several ways to reach the same number leads to more variety, not less. Crawl has gotten a bit of a reputation of being "the game that cuts things", which does drive some newer players away. Cutting redundant rubbish is good. Streamlining away irritation is great. Reducing the number of paths players are able to take to reach their goals... less often good.

It's clear that this is a minority opinion among devs, and that's fine--Crawl has mostly developed in a positive direction, and it will continue to do so. But there is not more variety in my 0.18-a characters than there was in my 0.9 characters, and if development keeps going this direction, I do not expect to see any more variety in my 0.27 characters, either.

In short: When a few options (ex: conjurations and melee) remain powerful enough to kill everything from early to late game with little trouble, every character will gravitate towards those options. Removing support spells like Charms won't make people seek out other, less effective support; it will just make them focus harder on the areas that already let them kill everything.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 16:38

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Blade: I understand you, and I think you are right: some Crawl games don't get more interesting than this. But I fail to see how jumping through the extra Charms hoop makes matters more interesting -- this is probably the point where we diverge.

How I really understand your point, however, is that there's too much experience in the game, and we need to cut on it.

I am not at all concerned about "driving new players away"... once you start thinking in these terms, all decisions are crippled. Developers have agreed that numerical buffs are tedious and boring, so we try to improve on that. If it makes the game better for us, it will certainly improve the game for many players (never for all players, but that'd be a hopeless goal).

Note that what's actually happening is much less drastic than what Megane proposed on SA, I proposed on the c-r-d mailing list, and archaeo proposed here.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 17:16

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

tabstorm wrote:don't have a dual school that exists only to eat XP (*/conj)

Aside: that's an advantage, not a disadvantage. Bolt of Fire would probably be level 7 if it were single school, but then you'd spend an extra spell level, spend more hunger, get more severe miscasts, and training for it wouldn't give partial credit towards training for Orb of Destruction or Iron Shot.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 17:17

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:Blade: I understand you, and I think you are right: some Crawl don't get more interesting than this. But I fail to see how jumping through the extra Charms hoop makes matters more interesting -- this is probably the point where we diverge.

How I really understand your point, however, is that there's too much experience in the game, and we need to cut on it.

I am not at all concerned about "driving new players away"... once you start thinking in these terms, all decisions are crippled. Developers have agreed that numerical buffs are tedious and boring, so we try to improve on that. If it makes the game better for us, it will certainly improve the game for many players (never for all players, but that'd be a hopeless goal).

Note that what's actually happening is much less drastic than what Megane proposed on SA, I proposed on the c-r-d mailing list, and archaeo proposed here.

No, you're right, jumping through the extra Charms hoop isn't terribly interesting. I suppose my actual fight here is for more support to alternate ways to play the game. My perception is that changes to anything but conjurations and melee just push characters more and more towards conjurations and melee. My hidden agenda is "I've seen people do such cool things with some removed spells, changing their play experience drastically, and I miss that, and I don't want it to keep happening."

This starts to drift into a broader topic, so it may merit a different thread. Changes that fit that category include (off the top of my head) nerfs to invisibility, removal of evocable teleport, removal of projected noise, etc. Don't get me wrong: the removals make a certain sense, as much as I miss them. It's just that they all primarily supported playstyles outside the "get incredibly buff and otab or fire storm everything" range--things like rune ninjas or diving.

But wait, what does all that broader topic have to do with what's happening now? Not much, except for this: When you remove options from Charms, Translocations, and so forth, you make those spell schools less attractive. You make people less likely to branch into creative options in those categories. Suddenly the chances of characters sticking with simple, straightforward killdudes increases. And whatever else they may be for, these removals are not balance-based: the easiest parts of the game are unrelated to these buffs.

There's more I could say, but in the interest of not drifting too far from the original topic, I'll stop there, and maybe write the rest up in a different location. The short of it is that I have no problem with the actions the devs are taking currently, but I am wary of suggestions that involve stripping out large parts of the game that don't involve directly hitting dudes, since those parts lead to my favorite things.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 17:38

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

My point of view is different: I don't think that Phase Shift (say) is a creative option. By removing the crutch, someone may come up with an actual good idea on the matter. Like you said: these spells were fun when we explored them, but (that's what I say) now they're work-like to use. Best to improve on that right away -- and note how Swiftness and Ozo Armour got nerfed rather than removed.

Note how very similar discussions were had when Divinations lay on the chopping block.

And I am certain that players will come up with unexcepted ideas and abuses.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 19:36

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:Developers have agreed that numerical buffs are tedious and boring, so we try to improve on that.


I don't think numerical buffs *automatically* tedious and boring, Crawl is a game of numbers, it's *ALL* numbers all the way down, accusing the *numbers* of being tedious and boring strikes me as accusing Crawl as being tedious and boring at it's core (and really if you care to extend it far enough, it accuses all computer games of being tedious and boring).

So if it's not the numbers themselves, then is it *buffs* specifically that are tedious and boring? Are all ways in which one can improve one's combat odds automatically tedious and boring? I don't think armour or weapons are tedious and boring, so I suspect it's something about the *temporary nature* of buffs. Permanant (or semi permanant) buffs aren't boring or tedious, they just are things that you play around.

So is it *all* temporary improvements, or just some of them that are tedious and boring, is it only the ones that produce a visible change in your numerical status that are boring? To put it another way, is "+8 EV" more or less boring than "50% chance of dodging missiles" I don't see a fundamental difference between the two..

To me what becomes boring and worklike is if it's technically optimal to reproduce the same activity over and over, when *most of the time it doesn't make a difference* That's why conjurations melee aren't boring, while repetative, *they have a direct and meaningful result in the part of the game that you are actively engaged in now* which say, casting phase shift over and over might have a meaningful result, but it's always a "maybe sometime in the future this will help in some indirect way"

I think buff spells *can be* well designed, but whether they have a direct impact on the visible numbers on your screen or not is irrelevant, it's whether they are limited to only having an impact on the part of the game you're playing now that's important.

tl;dr: I do think most of the games buffs are tedious and boring as presently implemented, but I don't think that it's specifically because they are numerical in nature.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 19:57

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

I agree with Siegurt, but reach the opposite conclusion: the numbers aren't the problem, it's the buffs, and it's because Crawl has too many fights for buff spells to not feel like a pre-battle chore or checklist you repeat over and over again. For that reason, I think the Ozo's change is toothless; it only adds a new checklist item, "stop wanting to move," and adds a post-battle 5 so you can wait off ponderous. That checklist item is marginally more "interesting," since it requires an actual tactical decision, but it's not much of one, and it doesn't really justify retaining pre-battle buffs imo.

To tabstorm and Blade, I'd point out that hexes, summons, and translocations are all very sensible reasons to do light/medium-armored melee right now, with or without charms. I also think all three are more fun and more interesting than wearing virtual equipment you have to remember to "put on" before every fight. Instead of trying to keep a bad spell school to retain a fun playstyle, we should look for ways to find cool and good spells that enable the fun playstyle.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 20:10

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

How about we change the Charms school so it becomes a bit like Evocations, but working on amulets/rings? Maybe move some things governed by Evocations to Charms
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 20:31

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

archaeo wrote:I agree with Siegurt, but reach the opposite conclusion: the numbers aren't the problem, it's the buffs, and it's because Crawl has too many fights for buff spells to not feel like a pre-battle chore or checklist you repeat over and over again. For that reason, I think the Ozo's change is toothless; it only adds a new checklist item, "stop wanting to move," and adds a post-battle 5 so you can wait off ponderous. That checklist item is marginally more "interesting," since it requires an actual tactical decision, but it's not much of one, and it doesn't really justify retaining pre-battle buffs imo.


Well, to put it another way, how is "cast Ozo's before starting to shoot creatures" more tedious than "Shoot creatures before they come into range of your conjurations" or "shoot at things before they come into range of your melee attack" (Or for that matter "Shoot long range conjuration a before they come into range of your shorter range conjuration b") ? (I agree with it being bad to add a post-battle rest, although I end up doing that after nearly every battle to regain HP and/or MP, so for me that's negligable)

It's the same number of keystrokes, takes the same number of turns, it's equally optimal, and it's equally obvious that it's optimal, would it be better if the only thing you ever did when creatures were in range was a singular "killdudes" skill and move a bit sometimes?
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 21:24

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

The problem is that it isn't just "cast Ozo's," but if you're the kind of character that wants to cast it, it quickly snowballed into "cast Ozo's, Cond. Shield, and Phase Shift always, and sometimes Haste." That's not even Hypothetically Optimal Play, that's just normal optimal play, and it's the use case that bothers me most.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 22:01

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

I think the problem are not the buff spells but that the late game was designed with assumption that the player will be doing it with buffs on
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 22:13

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

It's not really an either/or thing, kuniqs; they're both problems. I don't really believe this whole "buffs are required for extended" meme, but if it's true, then the solution isn't to keep these bad spells, it's to fix extended.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 22:35

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

archaeo wrote:It's not really an either/or thing, kuniqs; they're both problems. I don't really believe this whole "buffs are required for extended" meme, but if it's true, then the solution isn't to keep these bad spells, it's to fix extended.

Well without buffs of any sort you do reach a power plateau earlier, spells give you a place to dump your xp once you are at 27 weapon, fighting, armour and dodging. Without that, the maximum power a character can get to is lower, meaning there is a much smaller posible gap between "can barely win a 3 rune game" and "is getting ready to get the 15th" which leaves a much smaller design space, I think removing all buff spells with no compensation would ultimately leave extended really really boring and same-y.

Regardless back to my point, what is the difference tedium-wise between casting 6 buff spells, and casting 6 conjurations at the start of every combat?
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 22:46

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

If there's a power plateau, we should do what dpeg suggests: remove XP so that the power plateau comes a lot later, and make the game fun and playable given that new paradigm. I think the best way to do that is to make the game a lot shorter, but I'm not exactly batting a thousand when it comes to "suggestions that make it into the game."

As for your tedium question, there's a big difference between spells you cast at enemies and spells you cast at yourself, especially the part where you want to cast those spells at yourself before you're in any danger at all. Fights are dynamic; buffing is static. Fights have active and moving parts; buffing is just a checklist you run through when enemies aren't in LOS.

Anyway, I get the distinct impression I'm just digging myself deeper into a hole of my own making with this, so I'm going to let it go.
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 22:59

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

I guess I'm with Siegurt here. I don't see a problem in casting buffs when engaging in combat. The problem to me is recasting buffs all the time while exploring because that is the optimal thing to do. So the slowness with Ozo's would be otherwise ok but now you have to wait it out after combat.

I still like Siegurt's earlier proposal of buffs tied to location (and of course with a short duration so you can't just lure everything into your buff zone).
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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 23:16

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

I'm not overwhelmed by this removal of spell buffs and moving the effects to items. It sure seems like utility hybrid light-mid armour chars are getting shafted because people don't like casting buffs.

So, if I'm playing a sneaky EN type, I get access to 1) less armor, 2) less ev 3) less invis. And I get what exactly?? To lure more because I'm weaker across the board? Having to choose between items?

Sorry, I don't see it. I would say +1 base armor to everything lighter than scale, and remove scale. Move the effect to items? Are the base stats of items going to get better? Are randarts going to get better? Are characters who specifically don't have much access to items going to get better?

I'm not exactly looking forward to playing more tediously optimal because less tediously optimal things are being removed.

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Post Thursday, 11th February 2016, 23:16

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:
Tiktacy wrote:If a strict buff is what you are trying to avoid, you could always make the effect permenent (casting activates/deactivates) and have it increase accuracy of melee attacks.
This does indeed solve one problem, but why should such an effect be a spell? In Crawl, spells are something you strategically expend skills and magic slots and tactically you spend a turn and MP (and there's the miscast chance). I say that permanent effects don't belong on spells. Such effects can be very fine in Crawl, but they fit much better on items, such as jewellery or armour.


I refer back to one of my previous posts in the thread:

Tiktacy wrote:I like repel missiles much better as an amulet effect(and god effect with qaz). It makes more sense for the effect to take up a valuable equipment slot rather than 2 spell levels.

I think its worth experimenting giving the same treatment to other charm buffs as well. For example, rocksin and ozo could become ring brands that gain effectiveness based on spell level(similar to pain branding for weapons).


In other words, I completely agree and am glad to hear you expressing a similar desire. :D
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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 07:09

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

This thread is not a sort of judgment about design decisions. I've tried to explain what is considered problematic about *numerical* *buff* *spells* (all three components are important). It's fine that some of you have fun, or don't mind, casting these, but that does not address my points. It goes into the "if you don't like it, then don't it --- why take it away from us" direction, which is not a good yardstick for design.
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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 09:10

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:
Tiktacy wrote:If a strict buff is what you are trying to avoid, you could always make the effect permenent (casting activates/deactivates) and have it increase accuracy of melee attacks.
This does indeed solve one problem, but why should such an effect be a spell? In Crawl, spells are something you strategically expend skills and magic slots and tactically you spend a turn and MP (and there's the miscast chance). I say that permanent effects don't belong on spells. Such effects can be very fine in Crawl, but they fit much better on items, such as jewellery or armour.


dpeg wrote:Armour has no downsides, but you have to actually train it. And it never stops (more Armour, more AC), so in this sense the skill is continuous. On the other hand, the buffs provide their utility for a limited investment, they are discrete. Of course, you also only get a limited effect, but you get it for very cheap. This is why these are pretty bad on spells, you don't have such questions for the other sources. To be more precise, choice of an rMsl item/god/consumable, say, always comes with an opportunity cost. Setting out to cast rMsl comes with a pretty small fee. At some point of the game, you just pick it up.

Yes, you just pick up some charms at some point, because they're common and cheap. And due to low skill levels being cheap, you train both armor and dodging on most characters. If what you're denouncing in the quote is supposed to sound negative, well, it can be said of armor too.

But now you also bring up: 1)you get charm buffs at discreet intervals, and 2)charms are very cheap. 1 is just a way of doing things, and doesn't have to be that way. Armors could require particular skill levels to be equipped, or "unlocked", instead of the encumbrance mechanic. Conversely, buffs can be made to scale significantly by spellpower. Both are viable and both have advantages. I can see why continuous returns on investment would be preferred, in general, over discreet ones. As for 2, that just sounds like a balance issue because the formulas are off, much like "throwing is overpowered", so it can be improved even by just increasing their spell level.

Right now there is one set of stat/skill/item combos that gives you defenses (str,dex/arm,dging/armors) and another stat/skill/item combo that gives you defenses (int/charms/books). They both compete for the way you invest in your defenses. (And your offenses.) Is this necessarily a bad thing? I don't think so. Spells don't have to be exclusively "spells you cast in combat" any more than all wielded objects have to be weapons. Imagine if armors happened to have the exact same mechanical issues that charms have - I don't think it would follow to say that all armor should be removed from the game, just because armor stays on for a duration before falling off, and would only give a boring numerical buff if that tedious part of re-dressing was fixed.

Let's not conflate perma-charms with such "strategic spells" as Divinations. You could perform a ritual of putting on wizardry and +int clothing, while completely alone, to gain a permanent benefit once and for all, or to cast Magic Mapping on every level. But this seems to be recognized as bad now. DMsl can unravel; I think only delayed fireball remains among such effects. Just something I thought of: you can force players to have decent spell success in-combat by making active charms reduce max MP by (spell level / success rate) - this would be 8 MP for a level-4 charm at 50% fail rate, 5 MP for the same level-4 charm at 20% fail rate, 40 MP at 90% fail rate - and have charms unravel whenever max MP is reduced to zero. And of course, more monsters with purple breath :p

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 13:41

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

I just skimmed this thread, so this may have been addressed, but I would like to point out (as I have in the past) that transmutations (with the possible exception of lichform) already all have significant built-in drawbacks that make you not want to use them at all times anyway. They're not problematic in the same way charms are; in fact, they are the model charms were trying to be!

(Lichform is a spell that really shouldn't exist anyway, so I would just get rid of it.)

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 14:04

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

crate: Yes, good call. Nobody wants to remove transmutations, except for archaeo, the OP :)

HbG: I am fine with how Armour/Dodging work. Making buffs more dependent on spellpower does *not* help. If you only got 2 AC/EV instead of 4, you should still do it.
And yes, I think it is quite hard to design good spells for out-of-combat use.

I already wrote enough long treatises, so just in brief: I believe that buffs are much better off on evokables, consuables, items and gods than on spells.
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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 16:30

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

If buffing yourself is boring but affecting other creatures is interesting, maybe buffs should be turned to spells that affect other creatures instead of you? So instead of casting Phase Shift you would cast Cloud of Inaccuracy, Instead of Stoneskin/Ozo's Armour you would cast Cloud of Weakness etc.
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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 16:35

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Sprucery: Yes, moving the effect from the player to the monster(s) would go a long way. I proposed something like this in my first c-r-d email on the topic. Of course, you effectively turn Charms into Hexes (or, in other words, Hexes are cool and Charms aren't), and you have to come up with new spell designs.

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 19:31

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Why not just make most Charms fall off near-immediately at low tension? (I notice that Dragon Age: Inquisition does this with Barrier. Out of combat, it slides off your characters in about 2 seconds, so players aren't running around Barrier'ed up all the time.)

Removing buffs seems like a wasted opportunity for creativity. There could be many ways that one could address "they have negligible tactical costs that are never an actual factor in their use" instead.
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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 19:43

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:crate: Yes, good call. Nobody wants to remove transmutations, except for archaeo, the OP :)

And I still do, for what it's worth. The "drawbacks" of transmutations don't make much sense to me; there's never really a "which form is best" question, given the fact that you have to decide between ice form and blade hands for a few thousand turns in Lair, and then between statue form and dragon form during the interminable time you spend in extended. Even those choices are largely illusory and are mostly dictated by whether or not you're playing a character that can wear armour, but whatever.

As spells, they have most of the same problem as charms with only the fig leaf of "drawbacks," none of which seem to matter much. I'd infinitely prefer a solution by which transmutations were taken out of spell slots and made into semi-permanent changes, ideally using dungeon features. Or you could move them to the weapon slot, maybe as "talismans" or the like.

And speaking of lichform, the only reason I'd move it to an amulet to replace amulet of gourmand is because the only reason I learn lichform is to rid myself of the annoyance of hunger if I want to play extended with a """caster.""" It's not optimal, but given the option between "paying the food parking meter" and not doing that, I pick the latter if it's at all feasible. I'll be more than happy to see lichform go away when hunger gets removed.

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 19:57

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

mattlistener wrote:Why not just make most Charms fall off near-immediately at low tension? (I notice that Dragon Age: Inquisition does this with Barrier. Out of combat, it slides off your characters in about 2 seconds, so players aren't running around Barrier'ed up all the time.)

Removing buffs seems like a wasted opportunity for creativity. There could be many ways that one could address "they have negligible tactical costs that are never an actual factor in their use" instead.
Then go ahead and enlighten us. We discussed changes to Charms for years by now. Until a few weeks ago, the only improvements were for Repel/Deflect Missiles (interface only!), and the Swiftness nerf.

Your suggestion suffers from relying on tension. Tension is alright for things that need not be reliable (such as Xom), but not for much else. Do you want to witness players dragging a slow moving monster in tow to keep their buffs up?

I've said it a couple of times: the problem is not so much about the effects themselves, it is about putting them on spells.

archaeo: I see where you come from, and still I think the problem is much smaller than for spells like Ozo Armour etc. In the benefit of getting something done, I suggest to discuss form changes separately. I know it's your thread, please don't feel offended. I'm really happy that some of the bad spells have been cut/nerfed by now.
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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 20:13

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:archaeo: I see where you come from, and still I think the problem is much smaller than for spells like Ozo Armour etc. In the benefit of getting something done, I suggest to discuss form changes separately. I know it's your thread, please don't feel offended. I'm really happy that some of the bad spells have been cut/nerfed by now.

Oh, I'm not offended, and I'm also happy to see progress on this. The "getting something done" issue might be pressing if we needed to go gold this weekend in order to hit some kind of publication deadline, but that's thankfully not the case.

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 20:21

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

archaeo wrote:there's never really a "which form is best" question

If you mean there's not much question which form is best in a particular, individual situation, okay, I guess (I'm not sure I agree but I really don't want to argue it). But if you mean which form is best for being stuck in forever, the pretty clear answer is "not using any tmut spells" form. Unless you're a felid in a version that can't use wands, perhaps; then blade hands might be better.

I'd like to assert that it is also equally true that whatever form of offense other characters use in any situation is, however, equally clear-cut, especially if you are looking at, for instance, a Trog worshipper. So how is this a problem in one case but not the other?

As spells, they have most of the same problem as charms with only the fig leaf of "drawbacks," none of which seem to matter much.

The drawbacks are actually very significant. (I'm ignoring lichform here, because lichform's problems are for a separate topic.)

Every form except statue form removes the ability to use wands. This (well, plus statue form's speed penalty) alone makes no-form better than any of the individual forms if you must choose one to be stuck in forever, for many characters.

All the forms except statue form also hurt your defenses (and being slow hurts your defenses also, just in a different way), and blade hands and spider form have significant spellcasting success penalties.

If you think the drawbacks are not large enough, okay, I guess. I don't feel like arguing that either, but I don't agree with you.

you have to decide between ice form and blade hands for a few thousand turns in Lair

For what it's worth I avoid blade hands in favor of ice form against as many enemies as possible (i.e. the ones that don't have fire attacks) on many of my transmuters. I recognize I am probably the only player who does this, but I think it's legitimately quite good.

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 20:35

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

crate wrote:If you mean there's not much question which form is best in a particular, individual situation, okay, I guess (I'm not sure I agree but I really don't want to argue it). But if you mean which form is best for being stuck in forever, the pretty clear answer is "not using any tmut spells" form. Unless you're a felid in a version that can't use wands, perhaps; then blade hands might be better.

I'd like to assert that it is also equally true that whatever form of offense other characters use in any situation is, however, equally clear-cut, especially if you are looking at, for instance, a Trog worshipper. So how is this a problem in one case but not the other?

It's not much of a drawback when the answer is exiting the form; if you die because you couldn't use a wand and you don't have enough time to untransform, I have a hard time blaming that on the form.

As for the clear-cut-ness of tmut decisions, that comparison might be true if starting as a Be included a suite of weapon going from clubs to morningstars of crushing. That aside (since floor drops make that irrelevant), the fact that tmut is a kind of hybrid weapon/armor that you constantly re-equip by casting it is what makes the problem a problem, imo. In effect, the only "benefit" is that unlike other weapons, you have to train an additional skill or two to use it. The clarity of the cut, here, is that all of the things that might make it interesting (being locked out of wands, for example) are ruined by the fact that they're recastable spells that can be exited in a turn.

The drawbacks are actually very significant. (I'm ignoring lichform here, because lichform's problems are for a separate topic.)

Every form except statue form removes the ability to use wands. This (well, plus statue form's speed penalty) alone makes no-form better than any of the individual forms if you must choose one to be stuck in forever, for many characters.

All the forms except statue form also hurt your defenses (and being slow hurts your defenses also, just in a different way), and blade hands and spider form have significant spellcasting success penalties.

If you think the drawbacks are not large enough, okay, I guess. I don't feel like arguing that either, but I don't agree with you.

I don't think the drawbacks actually make them better than charms, is my deal. I don't deny they exist; I think that the fact you can exit the form, however, makes them into drawbacks-in-name-only, especially given that the loss of wands and spellcasting a) only lasts as long as you want and b) aren't really that big of a deal in a game where every good wand effect is also a much more common potion or scroll effect, or where going hexes+tmut or conj+tmut is probably bad XP use. Losing defense in exchange for offense isn't a drawback but a trade-off, the best part of tmut design imo.

All that said, I'm pretty sure I'm already past the point where I'm making strong arguments, and I'm probably grasping at straws to defend a proposal that is unpopular with players and devs alike. I'll (really, this time) leave it at that.

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 20:39

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

It's entirely reasonable to bump up transmutation exit times.

I thought this had happened in the past (at least for lichform) but either I somehow imagined that, it got reverted, or it doesn't show up properly in the time display in-game.

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 21:02

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

Must confess i have not been able to understand the arguments for removing so many fun buffs myself.
Some people dont like to recast them, so they are getting removed for everyone?

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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 23:03

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

lord_khaine wrote:Must confess i have not been able to understand the arguments for removing so many fun buffs myself.
Some people dont like to recast them, so they are getting removed for everyone?
Sounds like you need to RTFM. Crawl's manual has a philosophy section; here is the beginning of it:
  Code:
****************************************
N. Philosophy (pas de faq)
****************************************

In a nutshell: This game aims to be a tactical fantasy-themed dungeon crawl. We
strive for strategy being a concern, too, and for exquisite gameplay and
interface. However, don't expect plots or quests.

You may ponder about the wisdom of certain design decisions of Crawl. This
section tries to explain some of them. It could also be of interest if you are
used to other roguelikes and want a bit of background on the differences. Prime
mainstays of Crawl development are the following, most of which are explained in
more detail below. Note that many of these date back to Linley's first versions.

Major design goals
  * challenging and random gameplay, with skill making a real difference
  * meaningful decisions (no no-brainers)
  * avoidance of grinding (no scumming)
  * gameplay supporting painless interface and newbie support

Minor design goals
  * clarity (playability without need for spoilers)
  * internal consistency
  * replayability (using branches, species, playing styles and gods)
  * proper use of out of depth monsters
These spells violate multiple major design goals. Casting them out of combat is grinding, a no-brainer, and the interface for it is bad too.
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Post Friday, 12th February 2016, 23:06

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:I've said it a couple of times: the problem is not so much about the effects themselves, it is about putting them on spells.

dpeg wrote:I already wrote enough long treatises, so just in brief: I believe that buffs are much better off on evokables, consuables, items and gods than on spells.

I'm sure you have; could someone perhaps find a link (not your first post) if it can be explained? I fail to see why evocable invisibility or shroud is better than castable invisibility or shroud. I can't figure out by myself why you can't turn around this:
dpeg wrote:HbG: I am fine with how Armour/Dodging work. Making buffs more dependent on [int and charms skill] does *not* help. If you only got 2 AC/EV instead of 4, you should still do it.
And yes, I think it is quite hard to design good [persistently activated] spells.

into its opposite, a complaint about armor and dodging:
dpeg wrote:HbG: I am fine with how perma-charms work. Making physical defenses more dependent on [str/dex and armor/dodging skill] does *not* help. If you only got 2 AC/EV instead of 4, you should still do it.
And yes, I think it is quite hard to design good [persistently activated] items.

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Post Saturday, 13th February 2016, 02:26

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

lord_khaine wrote:Must confess i have not been able to understand the arguments for removing so many fun buffs myself.
Some people dont like to recast them, so they are getting removed for everyone?
Exactly. Those people happen to include the developers. As for reasons, the thread is full of them.

HbG: My first posting in this thread contains a link to my c-r-d mail. By the way, I never argued about the Invisibility spell -- that's a completely separate discussion. When I said "evokables", I had the new type in mind, where you need to accumulate experience. Between a ring of invisibility and the spell, I don't see much difference (and I think one of these two sources is enough). Regarding your (rhetorical) question: it is my personal opinion that spells should be all about immediate, tactical effects. Armour items are quite the opposite. Powers that are longterm or strategical should not be on spells: for those, success chance and MP cost matter less, to pick an obvious point.

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Post Saturday, 13th February 2016, 02:41

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg wrote:Then go ahead and enlighten us.


Remove the Charms school and add individual buff spells to the skill list upon learning them, so becoming reliable or powerful with each would be a tradeoff against other skills (like armour/dodging).

Individual buff spells could take a long time to cast, comparable to changing armour. Not always safe since something could show up, but costs no additional seconds of player time just turncount.

Perhaps buff spells should have their level raised, so that existing systems that make spells have meaningful cost are felt in more circumstances.

There's three ideas from one person in five minutes. Probably all of them crap -- but is there really nothing in the design space that can provide the missing qualities to keep buffs within the design philosophy? It seems like we're talking about losing an archetype of play here (sacrifice some pure tank/damage for some spellcasting benefits).
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Post Saturday, 13th February 2016, 03:17

Re: Remove Spell Buffs

dpeg: is it the feels of it, the flavor?

I already made the comparison with wielded items. One may as well say: "It is my personal opinion that wielded items should be all about bashing monsters. Resist sticks and enhancers are quite the opposite." But, does that justify removing all non-bashing properties from weapons because they "should not be on weapons"? One could say, "for those, damage output and delay matter less, to pick an obvious point."

I am making a rhetorical point, yes, and I can keep playing this game, but it is a point, and it's going unanswered. Is it unclear, what I am trying to say?
dpeg wrote:Powers that are longterm or strategical should not be on spells: for those, success chance and MP cost matter less
One way to make success chance and MP cost matter more is to "make active charms reduce max MP by (spell level / success rate)...and have charms unravel whenever max MP is reduced to zero".
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