Charms


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

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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Thursday, 12th April 2018, 14:08

Charms

This is the expansion of a proposal that Hellmonk made. viewtopic.php?f=8&t=25269

The original proposal was that Deflect Missiles should not go out when its effect falls apart, instead being temporarily deactivated with a downtime depending on spellpower. Once the downtime is over, the spell goes back up on its own, without need to cast it again. I think that this is a good proposal, since it limits keypresses, while safeguarding tactical decisions regarding what to do when your protection from missiles goes out.

I think that such a proposal can be expanded to other charms. The obvious ones are ozo's armour and shroud.

So, the idea would be that higher spell power makes 1. the effect stronger 2. the spell break off less easily 3. the downtime shorter.

I don't think that it would make sense for such spells to care about armour encumbrance when calculating failure. We already see this with Deflect Missiles: once you can cast out of battle, you can just take off your armour and put it back on after casting. Spell failure in general would only matter for high-level enough spells to cause miscasts that are serious even outside of combat; the only one I can think of is contamination.

Using this mechanic for other spells depends on the following: is it a spell that you want to be on at all times, and which has some deactivation mechanic already implemented?

The only two charms that I could find that belong to this category are Spectral Weapon and Battlesphere. These are aggressively minded spells, and it can be discussed whether giving them this mechanic would make the game better or worse. It would serve to make them more differentiated from real summons, however. They also would look like the ancestor from Hep.

It's possible that other spells could be modified to adapt to this mechanic. In general, I think that stronger differentiation between magic schools would be good, and this is a way to reach that while improving user experience.
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Slime Squisher

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Post Thursday, 12th April 2018, 18:40

Re: Charms

Give it these mechanics, but also make it a permabuff a là Hellcrawl (which is really just a sustained talent from ToME4).

A description of how those work:
Sustaining a permabuff spell reserves a portion of the player's max MP based on base cost and failure rate. The player can cancel the buff to get the max MP back, of course. As the spell's failure rate changes (e.g. by removing a ring of wizardry, equipping a plate armor, or training a spell skill), the amount of MP reserved changes dynamically, and if max MP is reduced to 0 the permabuff is canceled.

Most timed buffs would work far better under this system, which would remove the need for the increasingly complicated workarounds crawl keeps implementing to stop the tedious behavior of "recast the buff all the time forever" from being Hypothetically Optimal.

There are a few balance concerns, of course: on the one hand, you don't need to spend turns casting buffs in the middle of a fight if you get taken by surprise. But on the other hand, if you're not surprised and get to prepare for a fight in advance, you don't get to set up all your buffs from around a corner and then use a staff of energy or crystal ball to refill your mana back to max capacity beforehand, since the buffs actually reserve a portion of your MP bar.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 12th April 2018, 18:59

Re: Charms

Personally, I really hate the sustained talent/permacharm mechanic, I've hated it in every game I've come across it in, and continue to hate it.
What you're effectively talking about is a kind of slotless equipment that draws on a collective pool. This works decently well if it's central to the game's core mechanic, if it's part and parcel of character building, and like you can't change it, or can only change it infrequently, and preferably if you only have a very small pool of choices. In a game where you have a large number of choices, and can swap those out more or less at will, this becomes a maintenance nightmare, you end up spending all your time optimizing your choices, it's like playing the inventory slot filling game, but you have to keep doing it before every encounter (Am I currently at the optimal set of active charms for the critters I'm likely to face? Should I cancel X and put up Y instead, do I need that extra mana for something?), instead of only when you come across something interesting (which for items happens less and less frequently as you progress) adding complexity to this system just starts making it exponentially worse, and while you don't actually have to do the keypresses needed to recast spells, you need to do just as much work on the player's side to decide if you need or want to keep the spells up as you have to do when you just recast them all the time, you add compexity for no net gain of enjoyability or playability.

A good solution for charms is to make them only useful, or practical to use, in an encounter. Where choosing to spend a turn, or not (regardless of MP cost) is significant. The current revision of OA does this by making it so moving breaks the spell, which is an Ok, if imperfect, mechanism. It's of course a slightly gamable, because you can cast your not-moving buff out of LOS of some critters, then shout a bunch, but that's only slightly worse than actually taking the time to cast it in combat, so it's not a major problem. Battlesphere and spectral weapon could simply expire right away if there's nothing to attack. Some other charms could be more elegantly be converted to spells which effect enemies in LOS (making them useless to cast out of combat)
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 13th April 2018, 05:03

Re: Charms

I am surpised you don't hate items. Do you swap rings in fight? Do you swap to armour with rPois for swamp? Do you swap to items with rElec for Nicola or MR+ for Louise? You can optimize items for every encounter and we have just a few permabuff spells, you will use the same Dmsl/Regen/Shroud combo in about 99% encounters. Also I don't think the choice is neccesarily a problem, transmuter decides which form to use before every encounter.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 13th April 2018, 05:33

Re: Charms

VeryAngryFelid wrote:I am surpised you don't hate items. Do you swap rings in fight? Do you swap to armour with rPois for swamp? Do you swap to items with rElec for Nicola or MR+ for Louise? You can optimize items for every encounter and we have just a few permabuff spells, you will use the same Dmsl/Regen/Shroud combo in about 99% encounters. Also I don't think the choice is neccesarily a problem, transmuter decides which form to use before every encounter.


Well, so for me, there's two different experiences, there's 'optimize prior to what I expect to encounter, for the most likely general case' and 'decide how I should react to an actual known situation' the latter i have no problem with, primarily because usually there's a limited number of turns in which I can engage, and so I have to decide "what is optimal to do with the turns I have at my disposal" sometimes I can escape, and prepare for that specific combat (this is my preferred method to deal with for example nicola) then revert to my "generally optimized layout"

I don't like having too many knobs to tweak to optimize my "generally optimized layout" as it results in lots of figuring out what I *might* encounter and tweaking for that. Generally equipment in crawl is either an upgrade for existing equipment-- or something I can ignore and forget about. I don't have to re-decide which of several body armours I am going to wear for a given floor very often (I do redo my equipment for a couple of themed branches, but really that's about 4-6 times per game, so the overhead there is minimal)

Swapping rings *does* fall into this category (as a tweakable general baseline), and while I don't love swapping rings, I don't hate it, simply because *most* of the time I wear whatever my two generally optimal rings are, and switch in situational rings as a response to a given combat, there's not that many slots, and I'm only going to be carrying like 3 extra rings that I could swap in. (I don't like playing octopodes for that reason, the combinations of possibilities get annoying large unless you are very lucky and have a few amazing rings that don't compete for placement). But the more slots you add that have this sort of hot-swapping behavior the more overhead it imposes, and arbitrary sized "MP" slots for charms even add an additional layer of complexity, which comes with it's own additional overhead beyond just a generic set of hot-swappable slots (How much MP do I want to keep in reserve? How much do each of these charms cost me? What can I optimally fit into this chunk of space? Can I combine charms in *this* way and squeeze just a few more available MP points?) And more than that the current implementation has those variables change over time as you earn Xp. Bleh. It's like having to play the item-juggling game with your inventory, but all the time, instead of just when you find something new and interesting.

Transmuters are a special case they have exactly *one* slot that they swap out, there's no combinatorics, and since the forms are relatively short-lived you simply decide which out of a single dimensional choice set is best for the challenge you now face (and perhaps if you're obsessive you recast a single form over and over to ensure you less frequently need to spend a turn on your form of choice, although personally, I prefer having some ranged options on hand generally in my natural form, and switch to my transmutation when things approach in melee)

Finally, If you do limit the number of perma-charms to few enough that there's really no meaningful choice about what combination to use, then what's the point in having them at all?
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Post Friday, 13th April 2018, 10:27

Re: Charms

The basic point of the permacharm model is that it assumes that if the encounter is "interesting" -- by which I mean that there is a non-trivial chance of dying -- then it is usually better to have the charm up rather than not. For non-"interesting" fights it doesn't matter what you do, so everything is "optimal".

For instance, what is the proportion of "interesting" fights where you'd rather have battlesphere up rather than not? How about Spectral Weapon, or Repel Missiles, etc.? The answer is: the vast majority, perhaps all of them.

If you are having problems with "optimizing" before every encounter, you can put your mind at ease by considering that (a) the vast majority of encounters in Crawl are not "interesting" (b) if they are really "interesting", it's almost always better to have the charm on rather than off.

Of course, every rule admits exceptions, and you can always "opt out" of a particular charm by simply not casting it, and only casting it in combat if you wish. For instance: regen has the problem that it is almost completely useless if you have full HP, so the MP is strictly wasted. But that is a problem with regen, which is a badly designed spell, not charms in general.

Slime Squisher

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Post Friday, 13th April 2018, 19:36

Re: Charms

For what it's worth, the practical limit on how many permabuffs you can keeps up is almost always more based around which spells you have the skill to cast, the books to learn from, and the spell slots memorize. You're not often going to 'run out' of MP and have to pick and choose which ones to fit in. Have you ever played a character in vanilla crawl with more buffs in your spell list than MP?
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Snake Sneak

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Post Friday, 13th April 2018, 20:42

Re: Charms

Stupid idea: what about a new spell, Sustain, (Lv7 Charms) that lets you sustain a buff at the cost of an extra spell slot. Number of sustained spells rises with spellpower.

If you don't like the using extra slots it can use max MP, but I like the idea and it might make it easier to balance for strong spells. It doesn't have to be just one spell slot, maybe up to double the spell slots, if you like, or different based on particular cases.

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