Redesign Makhleb's active abilities


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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 01:57

Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Background
In its current state, Makhleb is essentially the god of heal on kills. Its active abilities feel somewhat tacked on, in order to justify the god as not simply a single passive effect, even though the god is almost always taken simply for that passive effect. Considering power level alone healing on kills is enough power to justify taking Makhleb over other gods, particularly on Deep Dwarves, who worship Makhleb frequently. This leaves Makhleb's active abilities in a tough spot - they can't actually be that strong, since the god is already very strong. This is usually given as the reason why its summons have a chance to be hostile - so that they are inferior to other summons such at Trog's Brother in Arms, which won't backfire and kill you (or at least try to kill you). The conjurations are likewise somewhat unpredictable (in damage type) so it's hard to rely on them, and the damage isn't really that incredible that you see people using them as a main attack. People tend to develop whatever offense they were going to use independent of Makhleb, and fairly soon that eclipses the damage of his destruction abilities.

In many cases players will entirely or almost entirely ignore the active abilities for an entire run. It isn't terribly hard to find a run that uses one ability < 5 times, and never uses the other three. There are some runs where people do use a fair mix of the skills, but it is generally optional and not really central to the character.

Proposal
1) Remove all active abilities
2) Replace them with only 1-2 higher impact abilities. These abilities still can't be incredibly powerful due to the power of the heal on kills passive, but I'd rather see one good ability than 4 "filler" abilities that are tacked on justify Makhleb's existence.

That's the end of the proposal; I'm not too certain what the ideal 1-2 abilities to replace should be, and would be happy to have other people post suggestions. I am going to suggest my own here, but I wanted to focus more on the reasoning and justification of needing to redesign Makhleb, rather than the suggested replacement.

Sample active ability
In order to keep with the theme of blood/healing, I think the ability should have a large health cost. Offering you tremendous power at the cost of most of your health works well with being able to heal on kill.

Name: Avatar of Makhleb
Moderate version: Sacrifice 25% of your max health: Gain +50% damage, +5 AC/EV/SH, lasts 100-150 auts (10-15 turns). High piety cost, available at 3*.

Extreme version: Sacrifice 75% of current health: Gain +100% damage, +10 AC/EV/SH, lasts 100-150 auts (10-15 turns). Extreme piety cost, available at 4* or 5*. Optionally grants death protection for a shorter duration than the full effect's duration, about 2 turns.

Works with all damage sources - spells, ranged weapons, melee. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about offering a brief death protection effect - without it, taking off 75% of your health might be too severe, with it, it may be too strong. In all cases for both versions the goal is to restore your health by killing several enemies to make up for giving up the health initially. You could take only one version of the ability, or give both, like how the current active abilities have two levels.

I'm a bit conflicted on if it should use max health or current health - the moderate version seems like something you'd want to use early on as a boost for a tough fight, but the extreme version is more of a desperate last stand when you're already losing a fight. Having that require 75% of your max health would mean it's unusable when you need it since you're already below 75% health.

Some more complex formula like "Attempts to use 75% of your max health but will always leave you with at minimum of 20-30 (randomly chosen) health, and requires at least 30 hp to be spent in order to activate" is probably best, but then it's harder to communicate to the player how much they're giving up.

Conclusion

Makhleb is the god of healing on kills; its active abilities are mostly forgettable and often unused. They are generic and weak, although this is probably due to how powerful healing on kills is. It would be better to replace them with 1 or 2 abilties which had more direct interaction with the healing on kills passive.

I've suggested one sample ability that does that, although I'm not really that wedded to the active; it's more the idea that Makhleb should have a completely different set of active abilities that I'm trying to sell here. I am fond of the general idea that the active has a significant health cost - this is one thing that Makhleb's active abilities do well (cost hp rather than mana).

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 02:13

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

I reject the premise that Makhleb's actives are weak or forgettable. People underuse Makhleb's actives because they underuse god abilities in general. My last Makhleb game used 117 lesser servants and should have used more. Minor destruction has no piety cost and is therefore extremely spammable if you don't have a better ranged option. Greater servant is excellent if used correctly. Major destruction in particular is somewhat awkward to use and not usually that great in my experience, but the rest are powerful.
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bel

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 04:07

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Lesser servants are pretty good and I use them often. Of course, heal on kills is also very good.

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 06:40

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Vehumet is a nice god for mages when you want a god without active abilities and to avoid training Invocations. Currently we lack a god without active abilities for melee characters. Can we just remove Makhleb's active abilities without compensations?
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 06:43

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Hellmonk wrote:I reject the premise that Makhleb's actives are weak or forgettable. People underuse Makhleb's actives because they underuse god abilities in general. My last Makhleb game used 117 lesser servants and should have used more. Minor destruction has no piety cost and is therefore extremely spammable if you don't have a better ranged option. Greater servant is excellent if used correctly. Major destruction in particular is somewhat awkward to use and not usually that great in my experience, but the rest are powerful.

I agree that lesser/greater summons are good, lesser destruction is free, and not terrible, and that greater destruction is awkward (and I would argue that it costs too much for what it does, particularly when compared to the nukes available from other gods)
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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 06:52

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

If you're not a DD or Vp then heal on kills is not a good reason to take Makhleb, the main attraction is the servants. That said, the current active abilities are basically clones of summoning and conjuration spells. So removing/replacing them would be good.

The proposed abilities strongly favour conjurers. Melee/missile characters' damage is both unstable and lower in the first place, so there's a danger that the effect will run out before it can make up for the cost. Conjurers have finished the fight by the time the effect would run out anyway (if they didn't, they'd just run out of MP anyway, and that will never happen with a 50% damage boost).

The extreme version or anything similar is just useless without Death's Door, and using it as a "desperate last stand" would be a terrible idea, a little AC+EV is not worth losing the turn to activate the ability, let alone 75% of your HP. It's also fundamentally the same idea, so why have two abilities at all?

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Vehumet is a nice god for mages when you want a god without active abilities and to avoid training Invocations. Currently we lack a god without active abilities for melee characters. Can we just remove Makhleb's active abilities without compensations?
Vehumet is also one of the weakest gods outside of ziggurats, and Makhleb with only heal on kills would be the same. This is "nice" from the perspective of a player who hates actives and isn't trying to use gods effectively (e.g. me), but gods with actives are clearly much stronger. The gap between Vehumet and, say, Gozag is already bigger than the gap between atheist and Vehumet.
If your passives-only god is terribly weak compared to the gods with actives (it is), it's not really filling a role that atheist doesn't fill already. If you bring Trog/Gozag/Fedhas/Nemelex/Ru/etc. down to Vehumet's level first, then this line of thinking would be useful.

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 14:34

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Can we give hellfire to Makhleb? He clearly needs hellfire
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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 19:08

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

While I personally enjoy Makleb as is and use the shit out of 3 of it's powers (Or all 4 in HC where hellfire is a thing) it would be interesting to see a list of gods that could be merged/removed and spellified/equipified. Off the top of my head oka+wjc and Fedhas +pleasegod anything but fucking fedhas.

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 19:35

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

nago wrote:Can we give hellfire to Makhleb? He clearly needs hellfire

https://github.com/crawl/crawl/blob/mas ... .txt#L3369

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 19:56

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

So some people definitely like the servants, so maybe they aren't as terrible as I consider them to be. That said I mostly agree with duvessa in that they feel like 'just spells', being a typical conjuration/summoning spell without really feeling like a god ability. And while minor destruction gets overshadowed as you get more powerful abilities online, I suppose being useful early while you're still developing your character doesn't mean it was worthless. All those caveats aside, I'd still think we can do better. Hellfire replacing greater destruction would be more interesting, and if it's like the demonspawn hellfire ability I think that costs a significant amount of HP (about 15?) so it'd be in line with Makhleb's actives draining health too.

duvessa wrote:The proposed abilities strongly favour conjurers. Melee/missile characters' damage is both unstable and lower in the first place, so there's a danger that the effect will run out before it can make up for the cost. Conjurers have finished the fight by the time the effect would run out anyway (if they didn't, they'd just run out of MP anyway, and that will never happen with a 50% damage boost).

I hadn't really considered trying to balance it for all play styles, just that it would be useful for all play styles. You could include an accuracy bonus to make misses somewhat less common to boost weapon users, but overall if it's slightly more risky for melee/ranged characters I'd be alright with that.

duvessa wrote:The extreme version or anything similar is just useless without Death's Door, and using it as a "desperate last stand" would be a terrible idea, a little AC+EV is not worth losing the turn to activate the ability, let alone 75% of your HP.

The way I pictured it, especially in the version with death protection, is that it was similar to a mini death's door + berserkish effect. If you've gone down to 50% health but still have 3-4 nasty monsters, you toggle this to go down to 25% left, but get enough damage to kill them in 1-2 hits. Especially with axes, that might be enough to clear most of the enemies, and doing so heals you to a somewhat-less-critically dead state. It might need to do something like double the healing on death though, in order to make the "you can save yourself through Makhleb's healing" more viable. It is a somewhat tough to balance idea because a lot of it depends on exactly what you're facing and if you can accurately predict if your damage will be enough to clear them in time and the healing enough to make up for the cost. It may be too complex overall.

duvessa wrote:It's also fundamentally the same idea, so why have two abilities at all?

Have you seen Makhleb's current actives? I'm keeping with tradition here :) Also, I'd be fine with only one version being added; I wasn't sure if a smaller or larger version is more desirable. Having both would be fine too, as Makhleb currently offers two versions of his two abilities.

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 21:01

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

tasonir wrote:If you've gone down to 50% health but still have 3-4 nasty monsters, you toggle this to go down to 25% left, but get enough damage to kill them in 1-2 hits. Especially with axes, that might be enough to clear most of the enemies, and doing so heals you to a somewhat-less-critically dead state. It might need to do something like double the healing on death though, in order to make the "you can save yourself through Makhleb's healing" more viable.
And I'm saying there's no way this is worth it. Melee cannot reliably kill anything in 1-2 hits, even with a large damage boost. You can just miss or do no damage and then you're dead. Starting a teleport is better in this situation. If you give it the "death protection" effect then the ability is mainly going to be used while waiting for a teleport to go off.

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Post Wednesday, 21st February 2018, 22:37

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

One thing that annoys me in RPGs, both crpgs and tabletops, is effects where you gotta roll dice/rng, and your choices are "thing you want" or "nothing happens". "Nothing happens" sucks all around. It should be interesting success, or interesting failure, not nothing. I know enforcing this is a big constraint on design and sometimes you don't want to have to contrive something interesting but negative, so I get it.

On this front, Makhleb is great. He's actually my most-played god. He really does have interesting failure modes! A hostile demon at a time when you really want a friendly one is definitely more interesting than "nothing happens". This is what makes it such a huge bummer to me that his summons also have the other failure mode, nothing happens. The developers put in the work to come up with an interesting way for the ability to fail and didn't bother to remove the uninteresting one. So please, if you are gonna touch makhleb and reason about balance and perhaps keep lesser/greater servant around, fold the nothing happens case into the hostile demon case. Worry about balance later, it's easy enough to tweak the probabilities once we see how it plays out.

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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 01:29

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 01:33

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Rather than a "cut your own HP to get a damage buff" active, how about a passive ability that works like a reverse augmentation? The lower your HP is under Makhleb, the harder you start hitting, so you can pull clutch victories without having to use up a turn for your ability.

One of Makhleb's active abilities could then be removed for a net nerf to the god, since this passive wouldn't contribute all that much under optimal play scenarios. Random conjurations is at least somewhat novel, so maybe the minor/major demons should go, since these are just plain summoning spells pretending to be god abilities?

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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 09:16

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Reverse augmentation is bad, because the lower your HP isthe faster you want to get away, not to keep fighting. And this starts around at 80% hp, not 20% or so.
Actually, augmentation in the past worked like you propose, and it was changed for this reason.

Plus, copying an ability from something already existing, albeit being tied to only 1 mutation of a race, usually isn't the best way to implement\change something.
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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 10:05

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Makhleb looks like a less cumbersome Nemelex to me, with weaker actives, a very good passive, and no inventory problems. After all, it's all about random conjurations/summons with varying level of strength.

My problems with current Makhleb have more to do with repetitiveness. Like minor destruction, in theory you want to be constantly using it. But that's pretty boring. Major destruction is the opposite, it is too random to be used and expect some good results.

Makhleb has two very good things, one is the risk of summoning hostiles, the other one is HP based abilities. Exactly because of the HP thing, it would be cool if its powers weren't very close to some spell, since, in theory, it's a god that could be very attractive for spellcasters.
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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 11:53

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Shtopit wrote:in theory, it's a god that could be very attractive for spellcasters.

Makhleb already is attractive for casters, in conjunction with Sublimation of Blood. But SoB has its problems, such as the need for an initial MP investment, and its dependence on spellpower in a school that many casters are not that interested in, at least early in the game. Why not replace lesser servant with the active ability "dark energy", which turns a somewhat random number of HP into the same amount of MP? The ceiling for this number would rise with Invocations, and each use would cost 1 or 2 piety, so it cannot be spammed. The only problem I can see with this is that non-casters would not have much use for this. But I never had any use for Makhleb' allies, and still like the deity.
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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 12:45

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Make Makhleb's active abilities into passives by making them autotrigger rarely, like Ru's. It would fit with the chaotic theme of Makhleb.
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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 13:28

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

kuniqs wrote:Make Makhleb's active abilities into passives by making them autotrigger rarely, like Ru's. It woPuld fit with the chaotic theme of Makhleb.

Please no - that would mean dealing with more allies I never asked for.
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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 13:29

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Makhleb is basically entirely agnostic to the character build you are playing. High tier demons and heal on kills are useful to everyone.

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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 15:55

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities


Wow....embarrassing....guess I ain't been paying attention.

I would have rather folded the two failure chances together than eliminated the random portion but...I'll take it.

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Post Thursday, 22nd February 2018, 21:12

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

johlstei wrote:I would have rather folded the two failure chances together

...that's what the commit does

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Post Saturday, 24th February 2018, 17:47

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

I'm a huge fan of Makhleb because of his invocations. Specifically minor destruction followed up by lesser servant stabilizes the early game the same way that heroism, berserk do. Lesser destruction just comes out at 2 pips instead of 1 pip.

The following conclusion is wildly different than my experience:
tasonir wrote:Makhleb is the god of healing on kills; its active abilities are mostly forgettable and often unused. They are generic and weak, although this is probably due to how powerful healing on kills is.


From an old post:

edgefigaro wrote:So when i'm talking about spamming Minor Destruction like a ranged attack, this is what I'm talking about:

Invok: Minor Destruction | | | 172 | 426 | 690 | 494 | 176 | 166 | 89 || 2213
http://crawl.berotato.org/crawl/morgue/ ... 221912.txt

or this:

Invok: Minor Destruction | | | 71 | 509 | 707 | 489 | 406 | 66 | 43 || 2291
http://crawl.berotato.org/crawl/morgue/ ... 054840.txt

Its really really good. Use it all the time against all of the things.

This character used it signifcantly less due to becoming strong enough to hold down the buttons o and tab.

Invok: Minor Destruction | | | 5 | 123 | 188 | 63 | 55 | | || 434
http://crawl.berotato.org/crawl/morgue/ ... 011403.txt


I made a post a while back with a proposal for tweaks to minor and major destruction.

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Post Sunday, 25th February 2018, 17:33

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

tasonir wrote:So some people definitely like the servants, so maybe they aren't as terrible as I consider them to be.


No, I think you called it correctly from the beginning, health on kills is the primary feature.

If you want to use the summoning features with Mak you need to be prepared to take a loss of XP from summons, loss of mana when they aren't friendly, need to deal with them when they go hostile, avoid a number of AOE tactics, possibly get malmutated, possibly get tormented, possibly get blasted with hellfire, spend XP on invocations, deal with all the crappy micromanagement associated with summoned allies. Abjuration helps (for additional mana drain), but if you have it and you've invested in summoning then likely already have a means to summon allies. 9/10 in an emergency or to prep for a big fight, you'd be better off using a bag of spiders or a box of beasts anyhow since they don't require mana.

Probably the best feature of Mak summons is for a slow or -Tele character to be able to summon a lesser demon to be used as fodder to help escape a bad situation or block LOS because of malmutate. On the other hand, not putting a bunch of XP into invocations when using Mak can alternatively make you strong enough that you don't have to run away.

On the lesser and greater destruction abilities, I think they are quite good. I find that lesser destruction is more valuable overall primarily for the fact that it doesn't use piety and adds a decent ranged damage option which can be very helpful for the early to mid-game without much investment in invocations. By the time greater destruction could be useful, your character generally has already developed more specialized, effective and reliable tactics or it would simply be more sensible to just use an acid, cloud or ice blast wand for the special case scenarios.

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Post Monday, 26th February 2018, 23:51

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

Shtopit wrote:Makhleb has two very good things, one is the risk of summoning hostiles, the other one is HP based abilities. Exactly because of the HP thing, it would be cool if its powers weren't very close to some spell, since, in theory, it's a god that could be very attractive for spellcasters.

While not entirely precise, this is basically 90% of what I was trying to convey in the original post, written in two sentences. Well said.

svendre wrote:
tasonir wrote:So some people definitely like the servants, so maybe they aren't as terrible as I consider them to be.

No, I think you called it correctly from the beginning, health on kills is the primary feature.

Agreed - what I meant is that I consider Makhleb's actives 99% forgettable, and others have said they sometimes like them, so to be fair, they're more like "mostly optional but some people like them". I'd still definitely say that healing on kills and the HP cost of abilities is the core unique concept of Makhleb.

I think my proposed "Spend a lot of hp for a strong buff effect" is probably not quite hitting the mark, but I still think there is some sort of "blood sacrifice" ability that'd be better than its current active abilities.

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Post Friday, 2nd March 2018, 22:48

Re: Redesign Makhleb's active abilities

I keep abandoning Makhleb worshippers out of boredom. So yeah.
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