Underused Spells


Although the central place for design discussion is ##crawl-dev on freenode, some may find it helpful to discuss requests and suggestions here first.

User avatar

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 804

Joined: Monday, 31st January 2011, 23:19

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:28

Underused Spells

There are some spells that I never use.

For example, Alistair's Intoxication. I can't imagine a situation where it would be useful and you couldn't win without it and the mechanics are really complicated. Silence is another one. The term I see tossed around in various games for these sort of things are "win mores" in that they only help you if you were going to win ANYWAY without them and seem to be designed specifically to NOT be "game changers" by adding complicated mechanics.

Are there any design goals to make such spells used more? Currently the trend seems to be to create a useful spell, nerf it until it's no longer useful, then remove it since it's no longer used... or alternatively, imagine a corner cause that the spell would be useful and then otherwise ignore it and leave it unused. The only reason I can see for this trend is to keep balance between holding tab with an axe and holding tab with a conjuration spell... is there a fundamental design flaw with heavy armor and conjurations that's bottlenecking what spells can be useful in the game?

One possible solution is to make some spells easy to cast in armor and some spells hard to cast in armor instead of adding 4000 clauses and side effects to a spell that MIGHT confuse a monster.
Last edited by snow on Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:31, edited 1 time in total.

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 11111

Joined: Friday, 8th February 2013, 12:00

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:29

Re: Underused Spells

Silence is amazing spell.

For this message the author Sandman25 has received thanks: 5
4Hooves2Appendages, Brannock, cerebovssquire, hannobal, PleasingFungus
User avatar

Vestibule Violator

Posts: 1589

Joined: Saturday, 18th June 2016, 13:57

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:31

Re: Underused Spells

Gell's Gravitas.
I Feel the Need--the Need for Beer
Spoiler: show
3DsBeTr, 15DsFiRu, 3DsMoNe, 3FoHuGo, 3TrArOk, 3HOFEVe, 3MfGlOk, 4GrEEVe, 3BaIEChei, 3HuMoOka, 3MiWnQaz, 3VSFiAsh, 3DrTmMakh, 3DsCKXom, 3OgMoOka, 3NaFiOka, 3FoFiOka, 3MuFEVeh, 3CeHuOka, 3TrMoTSO, 3DEFESif, 3DsMoOka

For this message the author Shtopit has received thanks: 3
nago, Sandman25, vergil
User avatar

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 804

Joined: Monday, 31st January 2011, 23:19

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:32

Re: Underused Spells

Sandman25 wrote:Silence is amazing spell.


I never said it wasn't. I said it's underused because if you can win with it you can win without it.

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 11111

Joined: Friday, 8th February 2013, 12:00

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:32

Re: Underused Spells

snow wrote:One possible solution is to make some spells easy to cast in armor and some spells hard to cast in armor instead of adding 4000 clauses and side effects to a spell that MIGHT confuse a monster.


Such mechanic already exists, it is failure rate and spell levels.

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 11111

Joined: Friday, 8th February 2013, 12:00

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:34

Re: Underused Spells

snow wrote:I never said it wasn't. I said it's underused because if you can win with it you can win without it.


That's bad criterion IMHO, it is not too hard to win with 15 runes as DEBe without abandoning Trog. Does it mean all spells are underused?
Silence is amazing in Elf, Vaults, Zot and especially Tomb.

For this message the author Sandman25 has received thanks: 2
Sar, yesno

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 8651

Joined: Sunday, 5th May 2013, 08:25

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:41

Re: Underused Spells

silence actually is bad though

For this message the author duvessa has received thanks:
gammafunk
User avatar

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 804

Joined: Monday, 31st January 2011, 23:19

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 19:55

Re: Underused Spells

Sandman25 wrote:
snow wrote:I never said it wasn't. I said it's underused because if you can win with it you can win without it.


That's bad criterion IMHO, it is not too hard to win with 15 runes as DEBe without abandoning Trog. Does it mean all spells are underused?
Silence is amazing in Elf, Vaults, Zot and especially Tomb.


The berserker example is unfair. If there was a spell that did 1 damage to yourself and nothing else that spell would be underused because the utility is marginal regardless of if people play berserkers or not.

You know what's also super amazing though? Automatic rifles. Does everyone carry around automatic rifles though when handguns work just fine except in extreme corner cases? Silence in Elf is like an automatic rifle you bought to use on ONE day when you probably could have used a handgun with about the same success (presuming you're not in the military). As for your other examples I'm just not seeing it. The main threat in Vaults is that guy that stops you from using doors/stairs and arrows/bolts/rocks/beams being shot at you. Tomb is trivial if you know what you're doing... just don't Rambo it and you'll be fine with whatever you use (in my current game I just used melee and abjuration and it was super easy as long as I pulled things and fought them 1 on 1). By Zot you've already won unless you're not paying attention because it's 3 am and you just want to win and go to bed already.

Another way to explain what a "win more" is in Crawl: it lets you handle multiple enemies at once, quickly, instead of killing them the easy/slow way by pulling them with stealth into 1 on 1 fights.

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 11111

Joined: Friday, 8th February 2013, 12:00

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:00

Re: Underused Spells

I bet you don't play hybrids often. Silence is amazing vs half of crawl monsters which are more dangerous as casters than as fighters. It is a huge advantage to be able to choose how you want to fight a monster. Met a Hill Giant - cast some spells, met an Ancient Lich - cast Silence and kill it with melee.
Silence is especially great because it is in the same school as Invisibility. Invisibility + Silence trivialize Elf 3, for example, there is no monster who is dangerous for the combo in the whole branch.

For this message the author Sandman25 has received thanks:
Brannock

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 11111

Joined: Friday, 8th February 2013, 12:00

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:03

Re: Underused Spells

snow wrote:Another way to explain what a "win more" is in Crawl: it lets you handle multiple enemies at once, quickly, instead of killing them the easy/slow way by pulling them with stealth into 1 on 1 fights.


Right, there is no spell "I am DD of Makhleb in GDA with +9 vampiric executioner's axe".

For this message the author Sandman25 has received thanks:
scorpionwarrior
User avatar

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 804

Joined: Monday, 31st January 2011, 23:19

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:31

Re: Underused Spells

Sandman25 wrote:I bet you don't play hybrids often. Silence is amazing vs half of crawl monsters which are more dangerous as casters than as fighters. It is a huge advantage to be able to choose how you want to fight a monster. Met a Hill Giant - cast some spells, met an Ancient Lich - cast Silence and kill it with melee.
Silence is especially great because it is in the same school as Invisibility. Invisibility + Silence trivialize Elf 3, for example, there is no monster who is dangerous for the combo in the whole branch.


I play them often and my current game is a hybrid actually (started as a wizard and used long swords most of the game). Not to brag, but I've won every species and background so I know a thing or two about hybrids. Elf 3 is one floor and a whole spell shouldn't exist for just one floor. Also, I think you're over estimating what an Ancient Lich can do. Silence just makes them faster in that you can be less careful but not easier in that it changes your success rate for killing or dying to them.

Barkeep

Posts: 3890

Joined: Wednesday, 14th August 2013, 23:25

Location: USA

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:34

Re: Underused Spells

I'm having a hard time understanding the argument in the OP. The first post brings up several things at once that are actually different problems.

I agree that very weak spells should be buffed or removed. I also agree that Crawl should avoid spells that create lots of rules/exceptions/knowledge burden in order to be used effectively. But for reasons that I hope are obvious, it wouldn't be good if every spell were a "game changer" that is highly, strictly useful for every single non-Trog character.

There are redundancies amongst spells and between spell schools and (e.g.) evocations, which means that some spells get left out more than others if they are (rightly or wrongly) perceived to be weaker than similar effects available elsewhere. These redundancies would be an issue even if spellcasting penalty from heavy armor were drastically reduced. Regarding "some spells being easier to cast in armor than others," that is already the case, and there are low-level spells that are very useful and (assuming reasonable str/int) that do not require very high skill investment to cast. If anything I would say that those spells are potentially a bigger problem than spells that are too weak.

Regarding spells with very specific uses, I don't know what the dev consensus is, but it seems they are ok with niche spells considering, like, the fact that the entire transmutation school exists.

For this message the author and into has received thanks: 2
Sandman25, Shard1697

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 11111

Joined: Friday, 8th February 2013, 12:00

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:35

Re: Underused Spells

snow wrote:Also, I think you're over estimating what an Ancient Lich can do. Silence just makes them faster in that you can be less careful but not easier in that it changes your success rate for killing or dying to them.


Have you actually tried casting Silence vs them? Because I don't understand your comment otherwise, it is a speed 10 monster with 20 damage attack in melee, exactly like Orc Warrior except Orc Warrior can use weapon and thus is more dangerous.

Sar

User avatar

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 6418

Joined: Friday, 6th July 2012, 12:48

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:40

Re: Underused Spells

Silence ~trivializes~ Tomb, though one can argue Tomb is already trivial.

For this message the author Sar has received thanks:
Sandman25

Tartarus Sorceror

Posts: 1694

Joined: Tuesday, 31st March 2015, 20:34

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:48

Re: Underused Spells

An ancient lich can kill you in two moves, a silenced ancient lich cannot kill a character at the level they are meant to be encountered. There's no such thing as overestimating an ancient lich, they're like... the most dangerous monster in the game.

Of course, most of the time they'll do a bunch of silly things instead of killing you, but you only need to be killed once to lose.

For this message the author dowan has received thanks: 3
genericpseudonym, Sandman25, ximxim
User avatar

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 804

Joined: Monday, 31st January 2011, 23:19

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:51

Re: Underused Spells

and into wrote:I'm having a hard time understanding the argument in the OP. The first post brings up several things at once that are actually different problems.

I agree that very weak spells should be buffed or removed. I also agree that Crawl should avoid spells that create lots of rules/exceptions/knowledge burden in order to be used effectively. But for reasons that I hope are obvious, it wouldn't be good if every spell were a "game changer" that is highly, strictly useful for every single non-Trog character.

There are redundancies amongst spells and between spell schools and (e.g.) evocations, which means that some spells get left out more than others if they are (rightly or wrongly) perceived to be weaker than similar effects available elsewhere. These redundancies would be an issue even if spellcasting penalty from heavy armor were drastically reduced. Regarding "some spells being easier to cast in armor than others," that is already the case, and there are low-level spells that are very useful and (assuming reasonable str/int) that do not require very high skill investment to cast. If anything I would say that those spells are potentially a bigger problem than spells that are too weak.

Regarding spells with very specific uses, I don't know what the dev consensus is, but it seems they are ok with niche spells considering, like, the fact that the entire transmutation school exists.


They are different but related problems. There's a problem, and a solution for that problem that causes another problem, and so on down the line. I think ultimately all spells/gear should be somewhat niche (I particularly don't like mystic blast because it's too general in use) but not overly niche (resist corrosion for slime seems overly niche for example).

I don't think spellcasting penalties for armor should be reduced. Rather, conjurations could be harder to cast in heavy armor than other spell schools or something like that.
User avatar

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 804

Joined: Monday, 31st January 2011, 23:19

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 20:53

Re: Underused Spells

dowan wrote:An ancient lich can kill you in two moves, a silenced ancient lich cannot kill a character at the level they are meant to be encountered. There's no such thing as overestimating an ancient lich, they're like... the most dangerous monster in the game.

Of course, most of the time they'll do a bunch of silly things instead of killing you, but you only need to be killed once to lose.


I meant faster in real time and not faster in turn count.
User avatar

Tartarus Sorceror

Posts: 1750

Joined: Monday, 14th October 2013, 01:05

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 21:08

Re: Underused Spells

What? Why does that matter?

You said "Silence just makes them faster in that you can be less careful but not easier in that it changes your success rate for killing or dying to them", but like... Silence does in fact make them much easier and changes your success rate for killing them without dying, because they can't cast LCS or summon dangerous demons...
snow wrote:I think ultimately all spells/gear should be somewhat niche (I particularly don't like mystic blast because it's too general in use)
Why mystic blast instead of... anything else in the conj starting book? I don't even learn mystic blast on conjurers since I just use ray/spray/prism until I have battlesphere online, and I don't really use it on other characters either... I'd call it a kind of mediocre spell.
snow wrote:I don't think spellcasting penalties for armor should be reduced. Rather, conjurations could be harder to cast in heavy armor than other spell schools or something like that.
Why should such a niche thing be nerfed? Heavy armor users almost never use conjurations already, it's almost always better to go throwing or some other ranged weapon instead of ranged spells. If you even bother with ranged attacks, which a lot of players don't!
User avatar

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 804

Joined: Monday, 31st January 2011, 23:19

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 23:05

Re: Underused Spells

Shard1697 wrote:What? Why does that matter?

You said "Silence just makes them faster in that you can be less careful but not easier in that it changes your success rate for killing or dying to them", but like... Silence does in fact make them much easier and changes your success rate for killing them without dying, because they can't cast LCS or summon dangerous demons...
snow wrote:I think ultimately all spells/gear should be somewhat niche (I particularly don't like mystic blast because it's too general in use)
Why mystic blast instead of... anything else in the conj starting book? I don't even learn mystic blast on conjurers since I just use ray/spray/prism until I have battlesphere online, and I don't really use it on other characters either... I'd call it a kind of mediocre spell.
snow wrote:I don't think spellcasting penalties for armor should be reduced. Rather, conjurations could be harder to cast in heavy armor than other spell schools or something like that.
Why should such a niche thing be nerfed? Heavy armor users almost never use conjurations already, it's almost always better to go throwing or some other ranged weapon instead of ranged spells. If you even bother with ranged attacks, which a lot of players don't!


Silence doesn't make you more likely to win if you take the right actions. It goes from 100% to 100% and thus is a "win more" in that sense. Mystic blast is bad because, even though there are better things, it lets you mindlessly press tab with little consideration of resistances or tactics.

I don't want conjurations nerfed. It's ALREADY nerfed in that it's hard to cast in heavy armor. I feel heavy armor is the reason why there's only a narrow band of possibility between things that are never used and things that are always used because people end up with 2 builds by the lair: "tab with an axe" or "cast all good spells and ignore the rest" and very little in between. The hybrid argument comes up from time to time regarding this but hybrids are basically just spell casters who kill popcorn with an axe to save MP or something like spen/ddne which are very specific builds based on species/background synergy and aren't really general cases.
User avatar

Tartarus Sorceror

Posts: 1750

Joined: Monday, 14th October 2013, 01:05

Post Thursday, 18th August 2016, 23:27

Re: Underused Spells

snow wrote:Silence doesn't make you more likely to win if you take the right actions.
...yes, it does. It prevents(most) spellcasters from casting any spells at all, and certain spellcasters are really, really dangerous. Casting silence vs. an ancient lich makes you much more likely to kill the ancient lich instead of dying, pretty objectively, because what makes an alich dangerous is its spells.
snow wrote:Mystic blast is bad because, even though there are better things, it lets you mindlessly press tab with little consideration of resistances or tactics.
Resists usually don't matter anyways, and a player who does this is pretty likely to lose horribly so I don't see the problem.
snow wrote:I don't want conjurations nerfed. It's ALREADY nerfed in that it's hard to cast in heavy armor.
If you don't want conjurations nerfed, why did you call for a conjuration nerf in "Rather, conjurations could be harder to cast in heavy armor than other spell schools or something like that."?
snow wrote:I feel heavy armor is the reason why there's only a narrow band of possibility between things that are never used and things that are always used because people end up with 2 builds by the lair: "tab with an axe" or "cast all good spells and ignore the rest" and very little in between. The hybrid argument comes up from time to time regarding this but hybrids are basically just spell casters who kill popcorn with an axe to save MP or something like spen/ddne which are very specific builds based on species/background synergy and aren't really general cases.
If your idea of a hybrid is "spell caster who kills popcorn with an axe to save MP", I don't think you've ever played what most people would call a hybrid... AKA, killing enemies with weapons at basically all times but also using spells to assist(beyond really low level stuff every character can get), using more light armor than a more pure-melee focused character would to facilitate those spells.

For this message the author Shard1697 has received thanks:
Sandman25

Ziggurat Zagger

Posts: 11111

Joined: Friday, 8th February 2013, 12:00

Post Friday, 19th August 2016, 00:18

Re: Underused Spells

A hybrid is a character who is equally comfortable with killing dangerous monsters both with spells and without them. Something like
http://dobrazupa.org/morgue/Sandman25/m ... 122804.txt
Also heavy armor is overrated by some players. AC 30+, EV 30+ is more than enough to win the game, especially when you have Tornado in 3 rune game and it can be done with +5 ring mail, +6 MDA etc.

Slime Squisher

Posts: 352

Joined: Monday, 14th December 2015, 00:43

Post Friday, 19th August 2016, 00:46

Re: Underused Spells

Irradiate's effect looks good on paper, but I'm not sure about having to train two contradicting spell schools that aren't hexes/charms for a melee support level 5 spell that doesn't synergize very well with Invisibility and Haste.

edit: just correcting some silly word choices
Last edited by Leszczynek on Friday, 19th August 2016, 00:56, edited 1 time in total.

Slime Squisher

Posts: 395

Joined: Monday, 28th April 2014, 19:50

Post Friday, 19th August 2016, 00:59

Re: Underused Spells

snow wrote:Silence doesn't make you more likely to win if you take the right actions. It goes from 100% to 100% and thus is a "win more" in that sense. Mystic blast is bad because, even though there are better things, it lets you mindlessly press tab with little consideration of resistances or tactics.


So you are saying that with optimal play a player should always win and never die, and since a perfect player is going to always win with or without it, silence is bad. But how is this argument unique to silence? Can't you apply the same to heavy armor, or to armor at all? (People can win the game as octopodes or felids, after all...)
User avatar

Blades Runner

Posts: 546

Joined: Friday, 2nd October 2015, 14:42

Post Friday, 19th August 2016, 02:30

Re: Underused Spells

genericpseudonym wrote:
snow wrote:Silence doesn't make you more likely to win if you take the right actions. It goes from 100% to 100% and thus is a "win more" in that sense. Mystic blast is bad because, even though there are better things, it lets you mindlessly press tab with little consideration of resistances or tactics.


So you are saying that with optimal play a player should always win and never die, and since a perfect player is going to always win with or without it, silence is bad. But how is this argument unique to silence? Can't you apply the same to heavy armor, or to armor at all? (People can win the game as octopodes or felids, after all...)


It's almost as if "optimal play" analysis is only useful in teasing out interface and user experience problems, not evaluating strategic choices...

re: The OP, I definitely don't see the trends or patterns outlined there. That said, there are a lot of useless spells and some useful spells I almost never use. The latter surely has something to do with the "win more" argument.

It would be better in general for the game to have far fewer spells. A big piece of the problem is the design of direct damage spells, where you have this matrix of attack patterns and damage flavors that looks like a bingo card after a 3 hour long game. At some point you have to realize this isn't a good model for spells. It's just a really badly designed ranged weapon.

Once you've handled the spells that do mostly the same things, having a sparse magic system with consistently meaningful effects makes a lot of sense. I wonder how many non-conjurations got into the game originally just to keep pace with the number of spells you'd see in a typical conjurations heavy book with 4 copies of the same effect.
The Original Discourse Respecter
User avatar

Dis Charger

Posts: 2056

Joined: Wednesday, 7th August 2013, 08:25

Post Friday, 19th August 2016, 02:57

Re: Underused Spells

Spells have different levels of impediment from armour would be an interesting positive change I think.

Of the spells specifically mentioned: Silence is a midgame spell and kinda situational, but it makes Tomb one of the easier 3rd rune choices, instead of...once of the hardest. (Without silence there's a crapton of torment, smiting and summoning; with silence...if you can deal with a dire elephant, you can clear tomb, pretty much).

Alistair's is similarly situational as hell. (Human or Better intelligence) and (No rPois) means it primarily disables) These threats: Humans (most notably Vault Guards, Vault Sentinels, etc.); Draconians (except green), Sphinxes, Merfolk, Elves, Demonspawn (except Putrid). Only time I ever actually used it was on a Troll Transmuter that got it online after blade hands and used the combo to clear Elf; IDK how worthwhile it is in other places; but there is a decent list of things it works on.
I'm beginning to feel like a Cat God! Felid streaks: {FeVM^Sif Muna, FeWn^Dithmenos, FeAr^Pakellas}, {FeEE^Ashenzari, FeEn^Gozag, FeNe^Sif Muna, FeAE^Vehumet...(ongoing)}

Spider Stomper

Posts: 201

Joined: Thursday, 16th July 2015, 21:47

Post Sunday, 21st August 2016, 20:17

Re: Underused Spells

It seems like any spell that allows a save is (and should be) underused. I mean, if a spell doesn't allow a save, you know it does something and if it does then by the time you can cast it reliably you know it will work 2% of the time. What's annoying is that the spells aren't always clearly labelled as to which is which so you don't know for sure if the spell is worthless or not.

Return to Game Design Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by ST Software for PTF.