Blade Hands

Note from evktalo: this page started from thinking that Blade Hands was overpowered and straightforward, and should have a drawback. Most importantly in the discussion, drpraetor and tgw pointed out Ice Form was just as good and often better. Also, Statue Form and Dragon Form aren't seeing enough use. The balance of Transmutations should be looked at as a whole. The easier forms should be disadvantaged in several situations, and the harder forms should be powerful to merit using them. All the shape-changing spells should have drawbacks.

None of this is very urgent. The school isn't broken as far as I can tell.

Proposal Draft

From drpraetor I propose that we do this on 0.6.2:

  • First, some background on the damage. Ice Form does (12 + UC) * 1.5 damage (unless the target is cold res). The damage from blade hands varies somewhat, but is typically (12 + UC + ~8). This is much less damage, blade hands do not provide net resistances and blade hands penalizes spell casting.
  • On the other hand, Ice Form melds several slots and slightly reduces your EV (with the current EV math the penalty is typically 2-4 pts, depending on skills, dex, etc.)
  • My overall contention is that nerfing blade hands will make it inferior to Ice Form; I say this as a result of several months of playtesting. Presently, blade hands has the *desirable* characteristic of being superior to Ice Form against rC opposition, and otherwise mostly inferior, although blade hands is better in “better” games where you have access to awesome equipment.
Okay. This makes me feel that Ice Form should be nerfed as well, which is probably not a happy thought. :) OTOH, it would be cool if Ice Form was still viable in much of the end-game.. if you invested in helper spells (Ozocubu's, Condensation Shield, the usual Crusader self-buffs) or branched to Ice Conjurations. With the helper spells, the problem is that most of them are just as useful with other forms. — evktalo 2010-10-12 11:22

Here is a proposal for 0.6.2 or whatever the current version is, which I think will make blade hands more *interesting*, as compared to Ice Form:

  • Blade Hands prevents throwing (incl evaporate!), evoking of wands and opening doors. Note: for consistency purposes, these features should probably go together, so spider-form shouldn't prevent any of these things.
  • The damage for blade hands is reduced from (12 + UC + (Str + Dex) / 4) ) to (UC + (Str + Dex) / 4) x 1.25. The blade hands have a SLICE brand which gives the x1.25. This is a damage penalty at lower levels (when blade hands may be insane) and a damage bonus at high levels (when more offensive boost is needed to compete with the defensive advantages of lich form.)
  • Blade Hands count as a short blade (short sword, saber, etc.) for purposes of *stabbing*.
  • The “including evaporate” part is a huge deal that bears repetition; this means that going blade hands will be a *tactical risk* against a lot of relevant opposition. Thus, it is highly desirable to confuse and stab enemies with blade hands, but blade hands prevents the evap; so the strategy would be evap-first, then blade hands, whereupon you can't evap any more.

Original suggestion

From evktalo:

Blade Hands seems to solve any situation without significant drawback. The other forms have much better defined downsides.

Existing downsides:

  • Melds weapon, shield and gloves (although all are true for most other forms)
  • Spellcasting malus (which actually is significant if you screw up and need to cast escape spells)

Statue Form and Dragon Form need to be looked at as well, so they become worthy of upgrading from Ice Form/BH.


  • Meld rings; depending on your gear and the situation, you might want to use some other form instead. — evktalo 2010-02-26 21:46
    • Full support! An excellent idea, thinks dpeg 2010-02-27 02:02
    • While rings are certainly used for survivability, they're also the most common slaying source - has this been considered? — og17 2010-02-27 04:49
    • Yeah, I had resists and slaying rings in mind, mostly. — evktalo 2010-02-27 11:45
    • Interesting idea and I think it would work, but it's a can of worms. Sure, you can no longer wear rings if you don't even have fingers, but what about Ice Beast, Dragon Form, Spider Form ? — b0rsuk 2010-02-27 15:13
      • Consistency schmoncistency. ;) Blade Hands would Just Be Special. This would (as you know) make it different from the other forms. — evktalo 2010-03-01 15:34
    • I love this! — jpeg 2010-02-27 16:28
  • Disable item manipulation (eg potions, wands, scrolls) and make the spellcasting reduction more significant - or would this be overly similar to berserk?— og17 2010-02-27 04:46
    • Prohibiting spellcasting would indeed feel a lot like berserk. But I think other kinds of manipulation would be fine. It's a shame that later in the game doors don't matter (branches with no doors, or virtually everything can open them). To be clear - I think most other forms should also be unable to open doors, that would give humanoid form a distinct advantage. b0rsuk
    • The spellcasting reduction is reasonably significant already; it doesn't completely gimp you, but it's definitely enough to make e.g. Blink, Teleport, Deflect Missiles, etc. unreliable such tht they might not cast successfully in a pinch when you need them. Excellent → Very Good and Very Good → Fair are some examples from a level 27 Spriggan. I admit I haven't used Blade Hands a ton, but the penalty feels just about right as it is; enough to give pause and potentially cause issue without copying Berserk. — twinge 2010-02-27 18:40
    • I agree with what Twinge says about the current spellcasting malus - “no significant drawback” isn't really true in my initial statement. Doors, that's an interesting idea, but I agree with borsuk, could be applied to (most of the) other forms as well. — evktalo 2010-03-01 15:34


  • As someone who plays transmuters all the time, I strongly disagree. It's true that bladehands is pretty superior to your base form (except for attacking Acid creatures, for example), but overall, so are all the forms except Statue. And they should be, since you have to learn a skill up to high levels and spend magic points in order to get them. Blade Hands does not need a nerf. — drpraetor 2010-02-27 14:29
    • First you say it's ok for other forms to be better than base form because they need a lot of skill investment. Second, you conveniently omit the fact that Blade Hands is a level4 spell with only Transmutation school. So Blade Hands is stronger AND easier to cast than all other forms. Spider is one level lower, but requires two schools. All other forms have pros and cons, Blade Hands has only pros. How many level4 spells are there which can take you through endgame ? It's a ridiculously overpowered spell considering its level, it's right beside Summon Small Mammals and Tukima's Dance. Have you tried finishing the game as spider, ice beast, or dragon ? — b0rsuk 2010-02-27 14:59
    • I'm guessing he omitted that fact because it's false. BH is level 5. Spider form is significantly easier to cast. Ice form is about as hard to cast. Ice form has several perks over blade hands, for example that it trivializes half of lair, acts as levitation, and gives rPois. I would venture to say that ice form is significantly stronger until late midgame. Your beef appears to be that statue and dragon forms are underpowered. — tgw 2010-02-27 18:19
    • TGW is right, of course. The only form that *might* need nerfing is Necromutation, which is what you actually cast in the late game, occasionally alternating into Ice Form depending on opposition, equipment, etc. OTOH, Necromutation is *outrageously* hard to cast (needs two magic skills in the upper teens or twenties, typically) and so is balanced against blade hands that way. Now, I agree that there should be more competition for Blade Hands in the mid game - dragon form and statue form should both be better (possibly much better), and there should be other mid-level forms that match the tactical versatility of ice form vs. spider form. — drpraetor 2010-02-28 14:07
    • I Agree that statue and dragon form need a look over. It is ashame that such a cool high level spell like dragonform is constantly poo-poo'ed by players. As to blade hands not having drawbacks, If you use it a lot, you lose your 'mage weapon' that has potentially been giving you nice resists and such, and player is probably also not using shields like other spellcasters. I disagree with the comparision to tukima and spammals, In my opinion, I do not really see the difference between the comment “Blade Hands seems to solve any situation without significant drawback” and spells like sticky flame, iron shot, haste etc. — porkchop 2010-02-28 14:27
      • Do any transmuters carry “mage weapons?” They're more like unarmed crusaders than anything else, so the lack of a shield isn't surprising either, and even if they carried these items around, they'd lose them in any (nonlich) form - this isn't a drawback at all, as they wouldn't be receiving the benefits regardless. If anything, this is why BH is out of line, as the only piece of lost equipment that's appealing to an unarmed fighter are gloves; it's not much different than normal form (compare to spider, statue, etc.). The other spells don't seem to be relevant, as other conjurations and enchantments may be specialized, but don't suffer distinct penalties like the other forms (and note that iron shot has range, piercing, and accuracy issues to make up for its general usefulness, and the other two are favored nerf targets themselves.) — og17 2010-02-28 18:46
      • According to the learndb, ice form has freezing brand, which does +25% damage, not *1.5, as stated at the top. — xyblor 2011-01-14 04:08
  • Shall we move the discussion here: Transmutations School? — drpraetor 2010-02-28 17:12
    • That would be absurdly distracting. — og17 2010-02-28 18:46
    • Not every form has to have major drawbacks compared to normal form. The level of difference - and the severity of the concomitant drawbacks - should vary. Putting these changes in perspective - for most characters, rings are better than boots+helmet-cap, and better than the non-AC component of body armour. Since with high Ice Magic (which is useful for other applications), Ice Form also gives more AC than a typical robe, the fact that it provides other powers would simply make Ice Form better than Blade Hands most of the time. Put another way - making blade hands less like your normal form makes it *more* like all the other forms. The problem, to my mind, isn't that the forms need to be different from no-form-at-all, they need to be different *from one another*. The assertion that blade hands is overpowered is based on a biased sample of people with great boots. I have proposed an actual solution to what really is a problem, and would like to discuss that now. — drpraetor 2010-02-28 19:40
      • Meh, was the second to last sentence necessary? (edit: I'm probably misinterpreting “great boots” as a jab at being a dev? hehe) I'm grateful for your input though, and glad that my strong original assertion provoked such a useful discussion. :) Top of the page edited accordingly. — evktalo 2010-03-01 15:34
      • I think Dr.P meant that if you have an awesome set of randart boots for your transmuter, loss of rings is not as bad? — porkchop 2010-03-04 16:31
        • Actually, what I meant was that if you have an awesome set of boots, then loss of boots is *worse*, so Ice Form is worse and blade hands is *relatively* better, vs. Ice Form, which is what matters here. — drpraetor 2010-03-04 19:09
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