Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon


Although the central place for this kind of discussion is on the CDO wiki, some may find it helpful to discuss potential requests and suggestions here first.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 18:47

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

I can't be sure since I can't see it before the crash, but it's lair:5, so it's possible. I assume from the sound of it that the crash would happen anytime it's trying to place an exclusion somewhere too far away from where you are/have seen. I'll try rebuilding crawl with that latest branch.

Edit: Ended up just copying the one line fix in, so thanks for linking to the specific commit. Doesn't crash anymore and it was an oklob farm vault, with 4 oklobs behind a wall of plants.

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Post Monday, 14th May 2018, 01:19

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

I just finished playing a Faerie Dragon run (morgue). I very much enjoyed the experience, with no hunger costs being especially nice. My highlight was perhaps using free Shocks to kill ghost moths in Zot while completely drained of MP :D

As far as balance goes, I think the species is in a pretty good spot. The early game, with strong innate defences and essentially unlimited mana, is a caster-noob dream. I really like the idea of having a magic-themed species that can play through the start much like a noob would with, say, a MiFi where they are just going to autoexplore and then fight, positioning be damned. As the game goes on, the aspiring mage needs to learn positioning and so on but the point is that they had their hand held while getting a feel for using magic. There's a very common belief among new players that magic in Crawl is simply too difficult to even bother with (presumably because they tried a couple of times and died immediately to the first jackal pack they found) and a species such as this addresses that.

Reading this thread, it seems there's still a lot of skepticism the demand for a noob-friendly, obviously-magic-themed species exists. The argument is that Draconian already covers this field. As someone who spends a fair bit of time talking with and teaching new players, I promise you that demand is there. Draconians and Gargoyles (hell, even Hill Orcs, Deep Dwarves and Merfolk) can do absolutely fine with magic but nothing about them screams "I'm a magic species, pick me!" Anyone who wants to play the magic fantasy will invariably go for Deep Elf but that's an extremely difficult and punishing species to play and learn with when you're new. Tell them "pure caster" isn't a real thing until you're blue in the face but they won't care because the idea of being a powerful wizard blowing up enemies with spells is too strong. You might not think Faerie Dragon does an acceptable job of answering this demand but that's separate to whether or not the demand exists.

Places like Tavern and IRC tend to be much more populated by experienced Crawl veterans than noobs. If you hang out in a such places a lot, I think it can be easy to forget what the common player experience is like. These players aren't thinking about winning the game: they are pumped when they even make it to Lair. To show the hype generated by the idea of a noob-friendly, obviously-magic-themed species, I'd like to share some of the comments my Faerie Dragon videos received:

Joe Childers wrote:many newbies, coming from other fantasy games, want to play a mage. But mages in Crawl are difficult. So a MiBe of spells is a good thing for the game, if only because it makes it easier for more people to get hooked on the game.

T. wrote:I downloaded this build about an hour ago. I'm still doing good with my first faerie dragon!
...
I made it down to the second floor of the Crypt. I had defeated even an Ancient Lich by then, but I overextended in a battle with a revenant. This had probably been my best spellcaster run in the game yet. As far as I know so far, the faerie dragon is really good and strong. Their powerful magic compensates well for their subpar melee ability.


Eletar wrote:The concept of having 0 MP spells in the game is awesome, I think it'd give magic characters some fresh air.

Juan C Peirano wrote:currently trying out the fairy dragon, pretty awesome, really makes mage more viable.

Brandon Roberts wrote:As someone who has won several melee characters but has never won a caster, I like the idea of a beginning caster species

Bizzy Buzz wrote:A mage character who do not need to run away like 100+ turns? Sounds amazing!

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Post Monday, 14th May 2018, 17:55

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

As someone who never made it to Lair with a mage background I add my vote to the species, especially as I find it has a really cool flavour.

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Post Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 04:00

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Someone should compile a build where every species has:

-25% MP
-1MP cost to every spell

In other words, the concept of 0mp spells may be too good for the game for it to be limited to one species
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Post Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 11:01

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

I might not be the target audience for a "beginner" mage race, but as someone who gets very frustrated with mage backgrounds I want to share my thoughts on what turns me off.

* Spell hunger is really punishing, and not in an "i'm going to run out of food kind of way. In a "you are hungry, you are hungry, you are hungry" kind of way. And it's worse for some races that i think are top candidates for forgiving casters, like orc.

* Damage spikes, i'm not going to type out the mechanic that must not be named, but, i will always remember that 40 AC draconian conjurer. More importantly, EV as a defense causes much more damage variance then AC builds. The game pushes casters away from AC builds with the mechanics of spell failure, and that's ok, it's logical that casters have lower defense because they generally get swung at way less often. But for someone playing casually, or "playing by ear", the jarring damage spikes that happen when you're working with mostly EV defence makes lethal damage appear from seemingly harmless monsters, or seemingly nowhere at all (hello unseen horror).

* Monsters that are dangerous or highly annoying to mages, or a subset of mages, but are mostly harmless to an Plate Armor Axe Maniac. This list is long, first you've got the random resistances on every other creature in the dungeon, honestly. Then you've got the hand crafted mage assassins, eyes of draining, ghost moths, silent specters, quicksilver dragons... And then if you count other ranged/fast but bounce off armor style monsters like centaurs and bees, it just seems like the number of lethal monsters doubles in mage background games.

* And last, buffs are too tedious, there was allot of talk about this topic in hell crawl development. And while i don't think the system over there should be imported or anything, i think the discussion on the problems with buffs and how applying them to yourself in every situation where you would want them on is way to tedious to actually do for most people is relevant to why mages are hard to get into for new players.

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Post Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 21:23

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

braveplatypus wrote:I might not be the target audience for a "beginner" mage race, but as someone who gets very frustrated with mage backgrounds I want to share my thoughts on what turns me off.

* Spell hunger is really punishing, and not in an "i'm going to run out of food kind of way. In a "you are hungry, you are hungry, you are hungry" kind of way. And it's worse for some races that i think are top candidates for forgiving casters, like orc.


Add this to your init.txt file:
  Code:
easy_eat_chunks        = true
auto_eat_chunks        = true
auto_butcher           = very hungry

Magically you will have about 5-10% of the work from spell hunger. While this also makes hunger less tedious for non-spellcasters, you're less likely to notice the difference.
braveplatypus wrote:
* Damage spikes, i'm not going to type out the mechanic that must not be named, but, i will always remember that 40 AC draconian conjurer. More importantly, EV as a defense causes much more damage variance then AC builds. The game pushes casters away from AC builds with the mechanics of spell failure, and that's ok, it's logical that casters have lower defense because they generally get swung at way less often. But for someone playing casually, or "playing by ear", the jarring damage spikes that happen when you're working with mostly EV defence makes lethal damage appear from seemingly harmless monsters, or seemingly nowhere at all (hello unseen horror).


I always put points into strength on my spellcasters, being a glass cannon is not for casual play; it requires a lot more attention to play a low-AC game by far. Ring mail or better is the way to go your durability shoots up noticeably, if you just can't stuff 3-6 more points into strength, then at least use Troll leather, it's not much more protection than robes, but it's easy to find and the regen will keep your hit points a little higher. Robes have some great egos, but archmagi is about the only one I find worth the AC trade.

You don't have to optimize for best-possible success rates on your spells, it's very frequently the case that your highest-possibly-castable-level spell isn't the optimal one to cast. If I can kill something with 5 shocks, or two static discharges, using lightning bolt is most frequently your worst choice, even if you can get the failure rate down sufficiently.
braveplatypus wrote:* Monsters that are dangerous or highly annoying to mages, or a subset of mages, but are mostly harmless to an Plate Armor Axe Maniac. This list is long, first you've got the random resistances on every other creature in the dungeon, honestly. Then you've got the hand crafted mage assassins, eyes of draining, ghost moths, silent specters, quicksilver dragons... And then if you count other ranged/fast but bounce off armor style monsters like centaurs and bees, it just seems like the number of lethal monsters doubles in mage background games.


While it's true that mages do have a bad time with a subset of things that a melee-using character does not, at the point where they're dangerous, centaurs are still dangerous to your melee-using character (and you don't have a ranged response available) as are bees (and all the current starting conjuration-focused books have at least one attack that can't miss, which happens to be very very effective against bees), try axe-tabbing through a bee cluster with a +0 plate mail and low armour skill and nothing else, it will not go particularly well, by the time a platemail-using, axe-tabber can tab mindlessly through a cluster of bees, a fire elementalist has conjure flame and fireball online.

Also "every other creature in the dungeon" is a bit hyperbolic, it's certainly true that some subset of critters is resistant to, or immune to, some subset of spells, it's not a super large cognitive load to figure out which is which, particularly in the "my starting kit is a significant portion of my power" portion of the game (Which is certainly larger for most book starts than it is for most melee-users) there's only a handful of critters that you have to watch out for per element (plus there's non=elemental conjurations if you really want to avoid having critters be resistant)

There are certainly some particularly nasty anti-mage critters out there, and not as many anti-melee critters, but the difference isn't as vast as you seem to imply, and centaurs and bees are not really among them.
braveplatypus wrote:* And last, buffs are too tedious, there was allot of talk about this topic in hell crawl development. And while i don't think the system over there should be imported or anything, i think the discussion on the problems with buffs and how applying them to yourself in every situation where you would want them on is way to tedious to actually do for most people is relevant to why mages are hard to get into for new players.

If you're a *new* player, you'll only get like 0-1 buff spell per game, and I seriously doubt the tediousness involved is anything close to an overriding reason that new players don't want to play mages; By definition something is tedious if you've had to do it a lot, and by definition a new player hasn't done *anything* a lot, while tediousness *is* an argument against buff spells, it doesn't apply to new players nearly as strongly as it does to ones with experience, when *everything* is new, buff spells are just one other new thing. (By contrast a new player is significantly more likely to not play a mage because "there are too many choices and I don't understand how to tell what the best one is")

If you mean "Buff spells are a significant reason why people who are reasonably experienced at playing melee backgrounds don't enjoy playing mages as much after a while" then that's a much stronger position.
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Post Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 21:27

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

braveplatypus wrote:Then you've got the hand crafted mage assassins, eyes of draining, ghost moths
Can we just get rid of these? All they do is scare players that don't know how the MP draining works.

(When they gaze, they heal themselves whether you have MP or not, which is the reason ghost moths appear to be hard to kill, but you can simply turn invisible and they won't gaze at you ever.)

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Post Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 22:30

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

duvessa wrote:.

(When they gaze, they heal themselves whether you have MP or not, which is the reason ghost moths appear to be hard to kill, but you can simply turn invisible and they won't gaze at you ever.)

The things I learn after twenty wins :D Is it described in the moth spell / ability?
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Post Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 23:48

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

duvessa wrote:
braveplatypus wrote:Then you've got the hand crafted mage assassins, eyes of draining, ghost moths
Can we just get rid of these? All they do is scare players that don't know how the MP draining works.

(When they gaze, they heal themselves whether you have MP or not, which is the reason ghost moths appear to be hard to kill, but you can simply turn invisible and they won't gaze at you ever.)
3,653 games and I just learned this

I had no idea they had any healing mechanic whatsoever, and in fact have never even seen any other person mention this. I think basically no one actually knows about this minus the dev team and you.
(at the very least, they should definitely have a message like "The ghost moth is healed!" when it happens... but why does it happen? antimagic weapon does not heal. seems like a very unrelated effect)

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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 03:56

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

It predates antimagic by like 15 years.

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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 04:04

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

I looked it up and the healing is actually capped at the amount of MP you have. It's still really silly to me that they heal, since it's not even relevant in the usual case on account of them wiping your MP bar in three turns. For practical purposes it's just a hidden extra punishment for desperately using channel or a potion of magic to get something off.

It's also not mentioned in the ability's description.

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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 05:18

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Doesnt wrote:I looked it up and the healing is actually capped at the amount of MP you have.
Interesting, it used to be a constant 10.
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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 07:18

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Instead of "feed themselves", the description should say something like "feed and heal themselves" on "magical and then life force". Also a "looks healthier" message. And there's also that "living beings" thing, are undead and unliving immune?
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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 16:12

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Ultraviolent4 wrote:
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I just finished playing a Faerie Dragon run (morgue). I very much enjoyed the experience, with no hunger costs being especially nice. My highlight was perhaps using free Shocks to kill ghost moths in Zot while completely drained of MP :D

As far as balance goes, I think the species is in a pretty good spot. The early game, with strong innate defences and essentially unlimited mana, is a caster-noob dream. I really like the idea of having a magic-themed species that can play through the start much like a noob would with, say, a MiFi where they are just going to autoexplore and then fight, positioning be damned. As the game goes on, the aspiring mage needs to learn positioning and so on but the point is that they had their hand held while getting a feel for using magic. There's a very common belief among new players that magic in Crawl is simply too difficult to even bother with (presumably because they tried a couple of times and died immediately to the first jackal pack they found) and a species such as this addresses that.

Reading this thread, it seems there's still a lot of skepticism the demand for a noob-friendly, obviously-magic-themed species exists. The argument is that Draconian already covers this field. As someone who spends a fair bit of time talking with and teaching new players, I promise you that demand is there. Draconians and Gargoyles (hell, even Hill Orcs, Deep Dwarves and Merfolk) can do absolutely fine with magic but nothing about them screams "I'm a magic species, pick me!" Anyone who wants to play the magic fantasy will invariably go for Deep Elf but that's an extremely difficult and punishing species to play and learn with when you're new. Tell them "pure caster" isn't a real thing until you're blue in the face but they won't care because the idea of being a powerful wizard blowing up enemies with spells is too strong. You might not think Faerie Dragon does an acceptable job of answering this demand but that's separate to whether or not the demand exists.

Places like Tavern and IRC tend to be much more populated by experienced Crawl veterans than noobs. If you hang out in a such places a lot, I think it can be easy to forget what the common player experience is like. These players aren't thinking about winning the game: they are pumped when they even make it to Lair. To show the hype generated by the idea of a noob-friendly, obviously-magic-themed species, I'd like to share some of the comments my Faerie Dragon videos received:

Joe Childers wrote:many newbies, coming from other fantasy games, want to play a mage. But mages in Crawl are difficult. So a MiBe of spells is a good thing for the game, if only because it makes it easier for more people to get hooked on the game.

T. wrote:I downloaded this build about an hour ago. I'm still doing good with my first faerie dragon!
...
I made it down to the second floor of the Crypt. I had defeated even an Ancient Lich by then, but I overextended in a battle with a revenant. This had probably been my best spellcaster run in the game yet. As far as I know so far, the faerie dragon is really good and strong. Their powerful magic compensates well for their subpar melee ability.


Eletar wrote:The concept of having 0 MP spells in the game is awesome, I think it'd give magic characters some fresh air.

Juan C Peirano wrote:currently trying out the fairy dragon, pretty awesome, really makes mage more viable.

Brandon Roberts wrote:As someone who has won several melee characters but has never won a caster, I like the idea of a beginning caster species

Bizzy Buzz wrote:A mage character who do not need to run away like 100+ turns? Sounds amazing!

Thanks for the comments from new-ish players. I mentioned in the thread that most people here are relatively experienced, so that can distort discussion. So it's good to hear from non-Tavern people. I have several comments:

The main point of this species is that it is very powerful: MP reduction is huge in the early game, and remains a bigger buff than every other species forever.

Now, if one wants to make a species which is overpowered, of course people are going to find it smooth. You report that in the early game, you have basically infinite MP and you don't need to care about positioning (since spells work at a distance), so you can just power through. Later on, it's still powerful.

Is that a good thing -- for newbies or anyone else? I am skeptical.

I see that you compare it to MiFi, but that is misleading. I'll copy paste from my comment upthread:
bel wrote:Let's compare the idea to Be, in particular MiBe.

Berserkers are simple because you can simply ignore one aspect of the game (magic and MP), and Trog provides good panic buttons. Also, weapon selection is simplified with MiBe because they're good with everything. Playing MiBe teaches you the basics of crawl combat: positioning, stairs, luring, dealing with exhaustion, allies, MR. Also you still have to train skills sensibly (though there aren't many skills to train).

None of these aspects are true for this species as the "magic" counterpart to MiBe. Magic is inherently more complicated than melee because you have to keep track of two things (HP and MP). The species as it currently exists is just a "strong" species [...]


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

Here's another way of looking at the "demand" for "easy" magic species: Suppose DE, instead of having -20% HP, had +20% HP. This species would also be very smooth and easy to play. Would it be a good idea?

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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 21:33

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Semi-serious addition to bel's suggestion: deep elves are supposed to be glass cannons, so rename the +20% HP kind to high elf.

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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 21:38

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

While Bel does have a point, I don't think it's as dire or necessarily a fatal flaw for faerie dragons. Positioning is less important on casters, but that is a part of being a ranged caster type (same applies to ranged weapon users) and isn't a faerie dragon thing. The thing they simplify is mana management in the early game - if you're only casting level 1 spells, you literally don't have to manage mana. But in my opinion this is fine for the first 5-10 floors; and you get gradually forced to pay more and more attention to your mana bar as you move up in spell level. The bonus remains strong when you're casting level 5/6 spells, but it isn't overpowering at that point. Level 5/6 spells is my usual benchmark for "endgame 3 rune spells"; higher magic is usually for 15 rune/zigg games. If you did go for level 9's and extended, the bonus is even weaker there, although of course it's helpful at all points.

It's also interesting because while FD should eventually learn a weapon skill like any other caster, most of the time on casters you want to put some skill into weapon around the end of lair to first rune timeframe, but FD can use "level 1 spells" as their weak weapon type attack, and can delay getting a weapon skill until 2 or even 3 runes. This isn't mandatory of course you can train the weapon whenever you want, but it does make putting it off longer more viable. People have talked about using shock to deal with ghost moths, for example, which is one of the classic scenarios for why mages should have a weapon trained by then - now they have an alternative.

I'd consider FD to be both interesting and different from other races, which are the two primary concerns for new races. That they're strong or easy, isn't really a problem. It's actually their design goal. You can still argue that they go too far in that direction, but imho an easy caster is fine and while powerful, I wouldn't say they're too powerful. They might become a favorite for streaking, though, with that starting +6 ac.

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Post Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 21:52

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

tasonir wrote:You can still argue that they go too far in that direction, but imho an easy caster is fine and while powerful, I wouldn't say they're too powerful. They might become a favorite for streaking, though, with that starting +6 ac.

This. That the species is super strong on D:1 is not necessarily unacceptable, just look at Trolls/Deep Dwarves.
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Post Thursday, 17th May 2018, 10:27

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Or among recent addition, Gn.
screw it I hate this character I'm gonna go melee Gastronok

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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 02:40

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

tasonir wrote:While Bel does have a point, I don't think it's as dire or necessarily a fatal flaw for faerie dragons. Positioning is less important on casters, but that is a part of being a ranged caster type (same applies to ranged weapon users) and isn't a faerie dragon thing. The thing they simplify is mana management in the early game - if you're only casting level 1 spells, you literally don't have to manage mana. But in my opinion this is fine for the first 5-10 floors; and you get gradually forced to pay more and more attention to your mana bar as you move up in spell level. The bonus remains strong when you're casting level 5/6 spells, but it isn't overpowering at that point. Level 5/6 spells is my usual benchmark for "endgame 3 rune spells"; higher magic is usually for 15 rune/zigg games. If you did go for level 9's and extended, the bonus is even weaker there, although of course it's helpful at all points.

I don't think I made my point clear, or you didn't get my point.

As I said, for a newbie, MiBe teaches them basic crawl combat (I detailed the various things in my previous post.) This species, on the other hand, doesn't have anything of the kind. If positioning doesn't matter, and MP doesn't matter -- for a "caster" no less -- then what's the point of combat? The monsters are just bags of XP to be slaughtered mindlessly to get to the next XL?

Second, the comparison with ranged users doesn't work either: hunters start with limited ammo, just like normal mages start with limited MP. (Of course ammo is plentiful in the later game, but that's not relevant here.) I made this point in my old post as well.

Lastly, as I (again) mention upthread: a -1MP reduction on a lvl 5 spell translates to +20% MP. That's more than even Dg or DE get. This is a huge bonus, right until the end of a typical 3-rune game.

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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 04:00

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

bel wrote:I don't think I made my point clear, or you didn't get my point.

As I said, for a newbie, MiBe teaches them basic crawl combat (I detailed the various things in my previous post.) This species, on the other hand, doesn't have anything of the kind. If positioning doesn't matter, and MP doesn't matter -- for a "caster" no less -- then what's the point of combat? The monsters are just bags of XP to be slaughtered mindlessly to get to the next XL?

Second, the comparison with ranged users doesn't work either: hunters start with limited ammo, just like normal mages start with limited MP. (Of course ammo is plentiful in the later game, but that's not relevant here.) I made this point in my old post as well.

Lastly, as I (again) mention upthread: a -1MP reduction on a lvl 5 spell translates to +20% MP. That's more than even Dg or DE get. This is a huge bonus, right until the end of a typical 3-rune game.


I agree that points 2 and 3 are compelling arguments, but I believe you are oversimplifying point 1, specifically from the perspective of teaching about magic in crawl. Seriously, magic in crawl is way more complicated than melee, and while the species removes the focus from positioning and MP economy, there is still a lot to learn to play a successful mage, from the top of my head : spell selection from the huge array of available spells, the different types of spells (way more dissimilar than types of weapons), spell success, spell power, spell hunger, spell noise, spell levels being gained from xp and spellcasting half-points, not overtraining spellcasting, training Fighting a lot (super unintuitive).
I do not believe that melee (or even ranged) fighting is that complicated, you could argue that's it hard to get a good feel of weapon delay and amount of defense, but that's about all that's complicated in melee fighting.

tl;dr magic is more complicated than melee, a beginner species should allow the player to focus on some aspects of the game and ignore some others, removing MP economy does not trivialize the magic learning process
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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 05:02

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

+20% MP is less powerful than +20% HP and we have species with +30% HP...
Even if the species does not teach to manage MP, it is still miles further from mindless tabbing than MiBe because you still need to choose spells to cast and schools to train. Also in my games I was running out of MP late game quite often which proves that MP management is not irrelevant.
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Fingolfin

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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 06:36

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Fingolfin wrote:spell noise
Spell noise is not nearly as opaque as melee noise, and it's no more important than melee noise is.
Fingolfin wrote:not overtraining spellcasting
Overtraining spellcasting on casters is a pretty direct parallel to overtraining fighting on non-casters.
Fingolfin wrote:training Fighting a lot (super unintuitive).
You don't need to train Fighting at all to win, a ton of people get their first win with no Fighting skill. Also the idea that you should train Fighting "a lot" if you're not using melee/missiles is just wrong.

Agreed on spell success and spell levels being confusing, and spell hunger being a newbie trap.

As far as spell power, spell selection, and the overall complexity of magic in DCSS, I'm not convinced. Correct weapon selection is infamously difficult to do without fsim, and if you watch unspoiled players they're usually running around with some randart war axe or spear and passing on 100 better weapons, and they really have no realistic spoiler-less path to improvement because of the extremely high variance of melee/missile damage coupled with the number of variables involved. Damage spells, on the other hand? Above spell level 1, practically all of them have multiple dice. The damage of Bolt of Fire is very stable, you can immediately discover that it does more damage than Fireball, if the level difference didn't clue you in already. Speaking of which, there are no +6 Throw Flames with {protect, rF+, Dex+3}, so one of the biggest newbie traps in melee/missiles just doesn't exist in spells.

All that said, what's really relevant here isn't whether magic is harder to learn than melee, it's whether faerie dragon would make magic significantly easier to learn. Perhaps it's just me, but even when I was very new to DCSS and very, very bad at DCSS, when I was playing pure conjurers I never saw MP economy as a difficult or even particularly relevant mechanic. This number goes down as I cast spells, if it gets too low I have to run away until it regenerates. I'm already familiar with that because it's exactly what HP does, right down to running away from the hobgoblin while it regenerates. I do not think MP cost reduction would have helped me learn the game. Things that really would have helped me:
  • Removing spell hunger. Yes, even I was initially fooled into thinking it would matter.
  • Simpler spells. For Unspoiled Me, the worst offenders were transmutations, anything that made allies, and anything that made a cloud (hard to figure out how much damage it's doing, I had no idea why my Mephitic Clouds weren't working well on death yaks etc. because how am I supposed to know what HD is?). I'm glad to see Evaporate and Bone Shards and Twisted Resurrection gone, but on the other hand, the new wave of conjurations is frankly awful in this regard: Searing Ray has multiple damage levels to keep track of, a weird interface, and only the third beam penetrates or something??? I'm a code diver and I'm still not sure what Dazzling Spray's targeting is doing. IMB has this explosion tacked on with a bizarre shape, and the chance of exploding depends on its range for some reason, and the explosion basically never hits anything anyway. Force Lance requires knocking the target into an obstacle to do decent damage, and the description makes no mention of this. Fulminant Prism is a weird pseudo-monster and again has several damage levels to keep track of. Battlesphere too. Orb of Destruction is a monstrosity of all the previously mentioned problems combined and more.
  • Better communication of what spell power is and does, and how much I have. I mentioned that spell damage is generally quite stable, and it is, but not so stable that the effects of increasing power are immediately visible. Even the effect of an enhancer is not always apparent. I wonder how many players are running around thinking that Int (or skills for that matter) only affect spell success, not spell damage? It's worse for non-damaging spells too, even experienced players often have no clue what power does for certain summoning and transmutations spells. Oh yeah, and to complain about cloud spells again, cloud damage is independent of spell power. And the spell power display is this weird nonlinear breakpoint bar with little indication of how to interpret it.
  • Warning me about how much damage monsters are able to do. This part has improved a lot since I started playing, since you're now shown monsters' spells and their melee damage, but even rough estimates of their missile damage or the damage of those spells (and often their other effects) were things that I usually had to learn by dying to them.
  • Showing % spell failure instead of "Good, Great, Excellent", and so on. This one has already been fixed.
  • Better communication of how massively expensive high skill levels are compared to low ones. Also mostly fixed.
  • Free reign over my spell list, and no miscast effects that kill/cripple me, so that I could try out new spells with no penalty. There was Selective Amnesia, but I wouldn't always find it, or would even think I couldn't spare the spell levels to keep it in my spell list (again, stupid new player things), and I didn't want to burn my Sif piety because that would mean less books!!!

I generally got much further playing fast species (spriggan and centaur) than I did playing other species, but that's because speed is really powerful and makes those species really powerful. All I learned from playing centaur was that being fast was really good, and that a lich could do like 90 damage with Bolt of Iron. I do not think that making my characters really powerful inherently helped me learn magic, or much else. Even if it did, again: if you want that just buff DE instead of adding a new species.

This isn't to say that this faerie dragon species couldn't have a place in DCSS. Alternative MP mechanics have the potential to be interesting and unique. Heck, I even liked the shared HP/MP mechanic on Dj before it got buried in special cases. But I'm not thrilled at the idea of adding a new species just to have a more powerful magic-oriented species.

This is to say that making magic approachable demands a lot more than a new species.

But as long as we're talking about species: that list I presented was mostly not things that would make sense as species features, but the last one could work. A species could have unlimited spell amnesia with no penalty, and still be balanced and maybe even interesting. Feel free to combine that with MP cost reduction or just unlimited MP, with some way of preventing summon spamming from being strictly better than resting. I don't buy that MP is tactically interesting as it currently stands anyway, you get too much of it. Again, such a species would not be a substitute for fixing the complexity and opacity problems I outlined above.

And with all that said, all my first wins were still with pure conjurers. Even in 0.4 and 0.5, I thought they were a lot easier than melee.

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bel, Fingolfin, nago, njvack

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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 07:22

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

duvessa wrote:A species could have unlimited spell amnesia with no penalty, and still be balanced and maybe even interesting.


I remember a discussion of similar idea and then there was a good counter-argument that we don't want to retreat from every monster just to prepare a special spell set for the fight. It could be worse than retreating from monsters when item destruction existed.
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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 07:51

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

What about a species with no spell slot limit? No big difference with infinite amnesia.

However, I'm not fond of either the two and personally I think faerie dragon, from what I understood they do, are kinda better suited for new players, because infinite spell list means a truckload of cognitive load.
Moreover, Gn already gives a good way to try in a single game lot of different spells up lv.6 and I don't think they're very good for new player from this point of view.

I mean, I am a "very experienced" player and yet I am baffled with Gn's spell selection from midgame onwards as it is very difficult to decide which set would be the best - even if while having almost all the knowdlege about the single spells.
screw it I hate this character I'm gonna go melee Gastronok

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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 09:10

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

nago wrote:What about a species with no spell slot limit? No big difference with infinite amnesia.

However, I'm not fond of either the two and personally I think faerie dragon, from what I understood they do, are kinda better suited for new players, because infinite spell list means a truckload of cognitive load.
Moreover, Gn already gives a good way to try in a single game lot of different spells up lv.6 and I don't think they're very good for new player from this point of view.

I mean, I am a "very experienced" player and yet I am baffled with Gn's spell selection from midgame onwards as it is very difficult to decide which set would be the best - even if while having almost all the knowdlege about the single spells.


Gn is unique because it gives access to very many spells. The new species is more standard, to have access to high level spells you need to train corresponding schools so the list for spells will not be as overwhelming because most spells will be at 100% fail.
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Post Friday, 18th May 2018, 18:20

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

nago wrote:What about a species with no spell slot limit? No big difference with infinite amnesia.
The difference is that you quickly end up with more spells in your spell list than can fit on the screen, and eventually more spells than available hotkeys.
VeryAngryFelid wrote:I remember a discussion of similar idea and then there was a good counter-argument that we don't want to retreat from every monster just to prepare a special spell set for the fight. It could be worse than retreating from monsters when item destruction existed.
This is definitely a problem and I should have mentioned it from the outset, though it's definitely not as bad as item destruction. The penalty for not avoiding item destruction monsters was permanently losing power, the penalty for not rearranging your spell set is...the monster is a little harder. It is essentially equivalent to equipment swapping, and I suspect it will be useful much less often than equipment swapping - the optimal spell set for a particular character is going to be the same against 99% of monsters, and for the remaining 1% you have to get away from them to rearrange your spell set so it just won't be tactically worth it if you're in actual danger.

bel

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Post Saturday, 19th May 2018, 02:17

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

VeryAngryFelid wrote:+20% MP is less powerful than +20% HP and we have species with +30% HP...
Even if the species does not teach to manage MP, it is still miles further from mindless tabbing than MiBe because you still need to choose spells to cast and schools to train. Also in my games I was running out of MP late game quite often which proves that MP management is not irrelevant.

You have misread my point as well.

Most of the discussion here is talking about the early game, not the late game. This is because, for new players, early game is the important point, because they are not going to reach the late game very often.

The bonus at the beginning of the game is +infinity% MP. The bonus at the end of a (typical 3-rune) game is about 20%. Therefore, comparing it to a flat bonus is wrong and besides the point. I was just making the point that the bonus remains big right through to the end. Yes, you don't have infinite MP in the late game: I didn't say this, nor is it relevant to my main point.

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

About Fingolfin's points: A couple of things I can add to duvessa's post.

My first win was with a magic user as well: a more or less "pure magic" DEFE of Vehumet where everything dangerous was met with a Fire Storm or Crystal Spear to the face. Though I learnt the basics of the game with melee and my first rune was with MiBe. (I started in 0.15)

It's not clear to me that spell selection is difficult, relatively speaking. For instance, for a DEFE, spell selection is rather easy: you learn all the spells in your starting book (and train the corresponding spell schools - conj/fire), and that will take you through Lair. Yes, you need to train defences and so on, but that is no different from a melee start. The more tricky parts of spell selection come later, when the player is more experienced.
Last edited by bel on Saturday, 19th May 2018, 02:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Saturday, 19th May 2018, 02:39

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

oh yeah, that reminds me, inner flame is another noob trap spell

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Post Saturday, 19th May 2018, 06:06

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Bel
Probably now you miss our point. Early game casters are infinitely harder than melee starts and FD makes them relatively equal. Late game +20% MP is still inferior to +20%HP in heavy armour. Overall Tr is more powerful than FD at ANY point of the game but FD is more fun when you want to play as primarily caster
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bel

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Post Saturday, 19th May 2018, 06:31

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

nvm

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Post Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 08:45

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

For anyone who'd like to play Faerie Dragon online, I've just been informed that it's on the Korean server under the branch called "demigod_Rework_1.2"

I accosted one poor player in English:

Image

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denstark

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Post Thursday, 24th May 2018, 17:29

Re: Species Proposal - Faerie Dragon

Realz wrote:After encouraging as many friends and co-workers as I could to play Crawl (we filled 9(!) teams in the 0.21 tournament), I noticed that many of them expressed a desire to cast some spells after they got their fill of MiBe and similar, but for many reasons the playstyle of "killdudes with spells" is initially much more difficult than melee counterparts. Although I'm certain this will remain true, I noticed a lack of a species in the "Simple" category that clearly serves to guide players into spellcasting by directly speaking to that fantasy while providing bonuses that can help players go through the motions. In my own experiences and in speaking to others, Crawl really "opens up" to a player and reveals its potential for endless variable fun experiences as soon as they become more comfortable with spells.


I found the gargoyl to be what you are describing. They have very few drawbacks and the poison immunity helps a lot at the beginning (as does the terror resistance at the end). Moreover they get both natural armor (like draconians) *and* can use armour (unlike draconians). Finally they are also good conjurers, and flying helps newbies as it makes places like shoal/swamp or the fire and ice hells easier to play.

In fact if anything I think gargoyls are too powerful. So perhaps if Realz idea is implemented gargoyls could get some kind of nerfing, like -- imho the obvious choice -- make their movment 10% slower (1 square in 1.1 time). They are rock, after all. :)
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