Name dcss:brainstorm:background: artificer
Summary Artificers.
Added by XuaXua
Added on 2011-12-21 17:08

Evoker Playstyle

Recently in trunk DracoOmega overhauled the elemental evokable items and added a new Phial of Floods. These items make an evocations-based playstyle (outside of Nemelex worship) potentially more interesting. Perhaps more can be done about the items. But the Artificer background could be more closely scrutinised.

The description for the background states “Artificers start with a few magical devices and are competent at using such tools.” Three reasonably common wands does not really cut it for me as “a few magical devices”. Additionally they start with a sword when rods are maces.

I would rather see them start with a *range* of magical devices rather than three of the same type. Since most evokables are somewhat powerful for a starting item perhaps we need some new ones.

  1. I like the wand of random effects, I think this should be retained as the only wand. Throw flame is kind of boring-but-reliable, enslavement is certainly more interesting; but I like the slightly unreliable nature of random effects, for me it fits with the slightly unreliable/unpredictable nature of many magical evokables, and my mental image of the artificer as a mad gadget-lover for whom things don't always quite work right first time.
  2. A new rod - either a rod of magic darts (with a low number of charges) or perhaps a “rod of unreliability” that has a slightly stronger spell but a non-trivial failure chance. The artificer can use the rod for melee initially and no longer gets a sword.
  3. A third evokable device (one that will expire). This could even be Box of Beasts if reworked - as per box_of_beasts - to be more balanced at low evo levels. Other viable options might be a plain deck of escape, or a new basic item to be designed.

To me this is a more interesting Artificer as it has a more varied range of toys to play with, and at least one evokable they will can use regularly through the early game until they find more wands and hopefully other devices. It also presents a small extra choice when finding recharge scrolls - top up wands, improve the rod, save them for later?

I object to calling this “a playstyle”. Deck-based evokers end up being summoners, rod/wand based end up conjurers. The difference is that you have to find some items… wait, what difference ? Books also need to be found. Nemelex gives decks, Vehumet grants spells. The difference is getting smaller and smaller with recent changes - rods are hunger/MP based, just like spells. Want something new ? Make a skill based entirely on usage of items with finite uses, or the opposite - infinite items, but each has a cooldown. Try Tome4 and see how it feels. If you want something similar to spells, you know where to find it !
I'm interested in genuinely new playstyles. Maybe a system similar to Teleglitch or Notrium would be better. A system where you find component items and combine them to make new devices. Notrium is a free game, Teleglitch has a demo. — b0rsuk 2013-05-31 23:09
You've described the existing problem very well but you don't really offer any new ideas. Box of Beasts and decks *are* finite use items, as are wands (they can be recharged but recharging scrolls are still finite). And the new elemental evokables are the other thing you describe - infinite (and powerful) items with a significant cooldown (tied to XP so it can't even be simply waited out). There has been some discussion on ##crawl-dev about this too and indeed I'm moving away from the idea of the rod altogether (although note: a rod is also a infinite item with a cooldown and I don't know where you got the idea that they've been changed to MP based). The proposal has slightly changed since I wrote this but I haven't updated the page.
I don't think a system of component items works in Crawl, but that's a very interesting concept for a completely different game. The objective here is to make the Artificer background something a bit deeper within the context of Crawl. If you have any specific suggestions, for instance actual items and associated mechanics, they would be welcome. — mumra 2013-06-01 16:38
I would enjoy a system of cooldown-based items, similar to how everything works in Tome4. The difference is, in Tome4 you are swarmed with cooldowns and status effects, and it certainly CAN be annoying. If cooldown hell is limited to a single skill, I don't see much problem because people who don't enjoy it won't use it.
The next step could be adapting the UI to display cooldowns. With multiple items, the only way I can see it fitting in console version of Crawl is 1 character per item. This can support cooldowns 0-9, more if you use colors and make players learn.
I like the idea of removing some or all rods and evokables. Not only because they are weak no one will be missing them, but because Evocations skill needs an identity. If it's all over the place and evokables don't share an interesting mechanic unique to it, I fear they will always be “poor man's X”.
In general, I would be pleased if each of (Evocations, Spellcasting, Throwing, Melee_skill) felt unique and there wasn't much overlap. Weapon skills need to be either more distinct or merged together. Either way, I would love to play a game where each of (Evocations, Spellcasting, Throwing, Melee) each have a situation where they shine. In crawl, you can be 100% anything - 100% caster, 100% melee - and it very rarely feels like you're missing some opportunity. — b0rsuk 2013-06-01 19:37
I completely agree that evocations needs to be more distinct - this is of course why I started this proposal. Have you looked at the new elemental evokables in trunk? They are much more powerful than the old versions, and they have a cooldown which is tied to XP gain rather than time, this seems much better as they can have a very long cooldown without encouraging tediously waiting around for 100s of turns. I think they are very much going in the right direction as they have powerful and interesting effects unlike anything else available. The cooldown is communicated simply in the item description, no indication of how long is left (maybe this could be improved).
At this point the only actually *weak* evokable items IMO are Box of Beasts (which I have already implemented improvements to as per the proposal I linked) and Tomb of Destruction (which I'm considering a couple of possibilities for). Perhaps Bottled Efreets are a bit silly. Decks are fine, and *can* be used effectively now by non-Nemelex artificers using ?id, and they're interesting due to the range of effects available. Disc of Storms should probably get a cooldown or limited charges.
This leaves rods to deal with. I consider the Lightning Rod far and above the best implemented rod because it has a really interesting mechanic. It feels the most like how evokable gadgets should work - it's fun and makes you think differently but the interface is still simple. The Rod of the Swarm is pretty good. I think that all the other rods should be reworked or removed since they are either just a list of standard spells, or a single unique but boring spell (striking/inaccuracy). Grunt has been experimenting in a rod_rework branch and while I don't agree outright with all the changes there, we have some interesting ideas. The rod of clouds is nice but I maintain this should be another misc item with XP recharge (a conch shell that you blow on to produce clouds).
At this point I have ideas for a further half-dozen or so new items/rods with unique mechanics to replace the potentially removed rods, however I'll detail them on the Misc. Items page after cleaning it up a bit. — mumra 2013-06-03 12:22

Starting Build

It feels like to me that starting with a short sword is not really what this class is about. The class really doesn't need a 'buff' in the weapon, but given their eventual focus on Evocs, like rods, I think even starting them with a +0/+0 Club and skill in M&F would be more in line with the class. Or give them a choice like other starting Backgrounds. Perhaps balance this by reducing the starting skill level in a weapon? — Aarinfel 2014-01-02 19:56

Deck Usage

Decks for non-Nemelexites are much better since the top card can be id'd. However, requiring the player to wield the deck to use it seems more like an interface screw than anything necessary. I propose allowing cards to always be drawn directly from the inventory. Nemelex's 1* ability can be removed or changed. Perhaps it could simply allow the player to draw a single card in half the time. As a 1* ability it doesn't have to be exceptional, Nemelex is about the high-level powers, and “Draw One” seems to be there mainly to alleviate the interface burden caused by otherwise needing to juggle decks constantly. Interface improvements would allow all evokers to use a multitude of decks easily (and would incidentally mean Ash worshippers are more able to get some use from them).

mumra 2013-05-27 20:43

Previous Discussion

For all the work thats gone into balancing them artificers are still problematic. Their starting equipment is powerful but unreliable and their best strategy seems to be “turn off evocations immediately and play as a fighter until you reach nemelex”. Recent versions have been doubly unkind to them, usually in form of tangential or unrelated nerfs but some direct. Since .9 we've gotten the following:

  1. Starting weapon reduced to staff (which is antagonistic to most evocations friendly species anyhow).
  2. Starting skills lowered.
  3. Rod Acquirement got more difficult.
  4. Experience card nerfed.
  5. Wands and rods rely more strongly on Evocations skill.
  6. Lost rod of striking. (whether thats a nerf or a buff is questionable, but it was our only reliable tool)
  7. Did enhancers staves take a nerf? (Not sure about this one)

Its not that artificers are weak as a starting class (though they certainly aren't overpowered), its just not actually viable to play them as evokers for some time. You're starting with a weapon you probably can't use, armor you don't have skills for, and some highly spread out skills of questionable value. Without victory dancing there's really nothing stopping you from just starting with a more focused class like a gladiator or mage and then moving into evocations at your leisure. The fringe benefits of pre-identified items and the three wands (nice as they are) don't even begin to compensate them for their difficulties. I suggest we either do something to differentiate them significantly from other classes or else end the ghostly half life of Artificers once and for all. Any ideas? — Petro 2012-03-29 20:59

Can non rod items have rod like properties? If so, I suggest changing the starting staff to be evokable for magic dart. Or maybe just make it an evokable magic dart like from a ring of levitation? Oh great, now I'm thinking merge the rods into the enhancer staves and randarts with rod properties… — HousePet 2012-03-31 02:41

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dcss/brainstorm/background/artificer.txt · Last modified: 2014-01-02 20:04 by Aarinfel
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