Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell


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Zot Zealot

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 02:59

Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

Silence is a great mechanic that has a major effect on the options available to players and monsters. However, its rules are unintuitive, complex and surprising. Because the mechanics are so confusing, people don't use silence or enjoy using it as much as they could.

I propose making silence rarer, stronger, and simpler. Specifically two changes:
1. Remove the player Silence spell
2. Make silence stop all spells and divine abilities

---

The current rules (probably incomplete):
* Monsters: prevents casting normal ("wizard") spells (unless the monster is a demon)
* Monsters: doesn't prevent natural or innate ("magical") magical spell casting (although there are exceptions)
* Monsters & player: prevents scroll reading
* Player: prevents invocation usage (except Nemelex drawing), but not other abilities (eg breath attack, evocable items)
* Player: prevents all spellcasting
* Player: reduces stealth by one pip

I believe the rules around monster spell casting under silence are complex in an attempt to balance it as a spell the player can cast unlimited numbers of times. You don't want a player spell to trivialise every monster-caster fight in the game. But in the majority of games, players only have access to a very limited number of uses via the scroll. It would be fine for the effect to be stronger if the player can only use it 2-3 times per game.

Examples of difficult cases to remember:
* Is silence ignored by demons? Or was it undead?
* Are curse toes demons? What about killer klowns? Orbs of fire?
* Why are mummy spells affected, but not mummy death curses?
* Why are draconian breaths not affected?
* Why is the same spell on different monsters affected differently? (eg pan lord vs elf LCS)

The specific mechanics for silence I'm suggesting:
* Player & monsters: it prevents all spell casting (no exceptions for different spell types or demons)
* Player & monsters: it prevents scroll reading
* Player: it prevents use of all divine abilities (including Nemelex drawing)

PS, There might be a complaint that this leads to confusing lore. How does silence prevent crocodiles sprinting? My lore answer is that in the Crawl universe there is no such thing as "natural abilities" for non-player monsters. Crocodiles are magical beings that can cast the sprint spell by roaring.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 03:03

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

chequers wrote:PS, There might be a complaint that this leads to confusing lore. How does silence prevent crocodiles sprinting?
You can always just rename it to something other than "silence".

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 09:32

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

I think the vast majority of cases where Silence affects something or not is shown in the "x-v" screen. Most of the "hard things to remember" can be determined by looking at the "x-v" screen. So there's not much upside to simplification, imo.

The proposal itself seems to be doing something more radical than simplification: namely removing Silence as a player spell. Unlimited Silence isn't overpowered or tedious (like unlimited Haste was), so it's not clear to me why it needs to be removed. Indeed, many people feel that Silence is underpowered, not overpowered. I don't think unlimited Silence has any design problems which, say, unlimited confusion doesn't.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 15:25

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

Not much discussion in OP about noise effect either, which is a pretty relevant consideration on when to cast silence (and gives credence to calling it that). Silence + darkness is a pretty useful hex combination.

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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 20:24

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

bel wrote:The proposal itself seems to be doing something more radical than simplification: namely removing Silence as a player spell.
It might be more radical, but it's still not very radical. Removing a single player spell is something that happens all the time. And in this case it's even a pretty weak player spell, so the impact on the game is small.
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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 21:44

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

bel wrote:I think the vast majority of cases where Silence affects something or not is shown in the "x-v" screen. Most of the "hard things to remember" can be determined by looking at the "x-v" screen. So there's not much upside to simplification, imo.

The proposal itself seems to be doing something more radical than simplification: namely removing Silence as a player spell. Unlimited Silence isn't overpowered or tedious (like unlimited Haste was), so it's not clear to me why it needs to be removed. Indeed, many people feel that Silence is underpowered, not overpowered. I don't think unlimited Silence has any design problems which, say, unlimited confusion doesn't.


The point is that you need complex rules to make it not overpowered as a player spell and complex rules are bad. Confusion is a similar story where there are monsters who either are immune to it or have high enough mr to make them unrealistic targets without a limited consumable, but at least the mechanic that handles this is uniform across a number of similar effects and has some symmetry with monster versions of the spell.
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Post Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 22:23

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

I recall already having discussed this in another thread. Suffice it to say that I don't find Silence to be particularly complex or unintuitive. Everything one needs to know is available on the x-v screen.

Silence has a lot of niche uses. I would much rather have an underpowered spell in the game rather than an overpowered spell. Removing the former removes a real option, while removing the latter isn't removing a real option.

----------------------------

That said, if one wants to make Silence more similar to other hexes, one could always make it work through monster MR. One simple idea is to reflavour the silence aura as "disruption aura", and make it increase the failure percentage of spells based on spellpower and monster MR.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 06:35

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

bel wrote:Most of the "hard things to remember" can be determined by looking at the "x-v" screen. So there's not much upside to simplification, imo.

Not having to use the "x-v" screen is an upside.
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 09:31

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

That's pretty thin gruel.

You know all the resistances, spell sets, AC, EV, HP, MR of all the monsters without looking them up on the x-v screen? Is that a reason to remove these mechanics from the game?

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 09:57

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

I love how a spell that makes ancient liches into endgame wights is described as weak. This thread is beautiful.
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 10:02

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

I think it would be nice, if silence worked in a way that's easy to remember. To make an example, compare with opening doors: the question right now is "does it have hands?" Silence also should work according to a simple question.

Otherwise, silence is like rage: very powerful in certain situations, but can easily get you killed. I actually would find it interesting if artifacts could have *silence (and/or +silence) as a property. The difference with rage is how hard it is to come by. I don't think it needs to be taken away from the player, but just made more usable and understandable.
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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 18:29

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

Shtopit wrote:To make an example, compare with opening doors: the question right now is "does it have hands?"
How am I supposed to know whether an ugly thing has hands

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 19:41

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

Dragons have hands but I guess they're not long enough in most cases. Unless it's a special dragon that throws a tantrum and breaks the door. Or a jelly.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 20:05

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

doors often confuse me too.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 20:39

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

I guess I have a different angle on this. Aside from the part where silence decreases stealth, it all seems pretty intuitive.

Divine abilities and wizardly spells are blocked (anything where you'd need to speak a spell or invoke a god), and scrolls (which you'd need to read) are blocked.
So no scrolls, and it shuts down anything priest- or wizard-based.

Abilities that are innate are not blocked.
So species- or mutation-based abilities are not blocked, which includes demonic abilities.

Evocations are the only thing that takes any effort to remember, and those could easily just be explained away as flavor, or rolled into "blocked" like scrolls.

Besides, the x-v screen now says what abilities are blocked by what.

And any spell that could only be used 2-3 times per game is something that would probably be better to weaken or remove, rather than allowing the trivialization of extremely hard battles.
...which would take us right back to where we are now.
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Post Friday, 25th October 2019, 00:23

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

chequers wrote:* Monsters: prevents casting normal ("wizard") spells (unless the monster is a demon)
* Monsters: doesn't prevent natural or innate ("magical") magical spell casting (although there are exceptions)


I was taking a look at magical abilities. Why have some immune to silence, and others that aren't? Is there any difference between a spell and a magical ability that is vulnerable to silence?
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Post Friday, 25th October 2019, 02:44

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

As mentioned (perhaps in the reddit thread that inspired this suggestion), DCSS inherits an old D&D idea. Wizards cast spells by moving their hands and using their voices, so silence prevents them from casting spells. Demons and other magical creatures cast spells with sheer force of will, so need for speaking or caring about silence.

You can read about this here: https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Spells#toc_16
Crawl casters are verbal, demons and magical creatures are somatic.

Also, some spells are "natural abilities", like draconian breath or crocodile sprint. They look like spells in the UI for technical reasons, lore-wise they are unrelated. As they aren't spells, they are also unaffected by silence. (Some natural abilities like Orc Warlord's battlecry have lore that suggests they wouldn't work under silence and so they are also affected. But there are only a couple of these exceptions.)

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Post Friday, 25th October 2019, 10:20

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

OK, let's see if I have it right:

Natural abilities: ignore antimagic, some are affected by silence, while others are not.

Magical abilities: does not ignore antimagic, some are affected by silence, while others are not.

Divine abilities: ignore antimagic, always affected by silence.

Spells: are always affected by both silence and antimagic.


I don't see a difference between silence-affected magical abilities and spells, so, if it's just lore, then it probably would be best to turn the few "silence-affected magical abilities" into spells. It would be clearer. (one such ability would be Rupert's paralysis).

I also don't see a difference between natural abilities that are affected by silence and divine abilities (both affected by silence and unaffected by antimagic), so the few such natural abilities should become divine abilities (like the orc battlecry).


Urgh, I hope I wrote it all right, this is really confusing for me.

I am familiar with the D&D 3.5 version of somatic-verbal-material components, and the subdivision of divine vs arcane magic (both of which are fairly comprehensible). I am also aware that there is a D&D division between natural, supernatural, and spell-like abilities, but I never really looked into it.
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Post Friday, 25th October 2019, 21:10

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

Magical abilities: does not ignore antimagic, some are affected by silence, while others are not. <-- none are affected by silence

You can think of a 2x2 table:

  Code:
                         Affected by AM   Not affected by AM
Afftected by silence       wizard         divine
Not affected by silence   magical         natural

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Post Saturday, 26th October 2019, 04:07

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

chequers wrote:Magical abilities: does not ignore antimagic, some are affected by silence, while others are not. <-- none are affected by silence
This isn't true. Vault wardens' door sealing, Xtahua's paralysis, Rupert's paralysis and confuse, and Geryon's hell beast summoning are magical abilities that are prevented by silence.

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Post Saturday, 26th October 2019, 14:07

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

Sorcerous wrote:I love how a spell that makes ancient liches into endgame wights is described as weak. This thread is beautiful.


Not exactly "weak", but "underpowered", given its cost. The effect (scroll or spell) is situationally good, but only situationally, because of its drawbacks and the limits of what is affected. In addition, if your character is using offensive spells, you're gimping yourself quite a bit. OTOH, if your character doesn't rely on offensive spells, it's probably wearing armour, making the opportunity cost of not investing your XP into something more generally useful quite sizeable. If, of course, you were lucky and your melee character finds really good equipment, has damage output and defence in abundance and you don't know what to do with your XP, then, yes, silence is probably more useful than usually.

On paper, a character that uses melee supported by debilitating hexes should benefit from silence, because for such a character the opportunity cost isn't all that high. But, assuming you have the spells, such a character would also cast Mana Vipers with decent spell power. I've found that these get the job of dealing with dangerous casters much better done and without the drawbacks. So, yes, "underpowered, but not so much that you wouldn't ever consider it, at least with some characters" sounds about right to me.
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Post Sunday, 27th October 2019, 01:09

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

Utis wrote:if your character is using offensive spells, you're gimping yourself quite a bit.


If you're using offensive spells, but have even a modest physical offense (such as you would have if you had an enhancer staff and normal investments, or a fairly inconsequential investment in some other weapon skill) Killing a solo lich or ancient lich is typically safer by casting silence and whacking it with a secondary offense than it would be to slug it out with your primary offense. As such it's not really gimping yourself, it's just using your MP and spell skills to kill stuff in a safer way that happens to take more turns. It also lets you use up !might in an effective way which you otherwise have little use for.
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Post Sunday, 27th October 2019, 10:34

Re: Simplify silence, and remove it as a player spell

You're right, of course. My wording was unclear. I meant that it's more situational for such characters. You have to make sure that nothing else is around, even stuff that's normally unthreatening. You don't have your spells, if anything doesn't go as planned, so you have to be extra careful, etc.
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