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There are a number of different playstyles available in crawl. Many characters have one primary sphere that they make substantial use of, while dabbling in other fields to support themselves and fill in any gaps in their abilities and defenses. Melee combat is one of these dominant skills. Spellcasting is another. Invocations can be too.

Evocations, though, is mostly relegated to support-status, which I think is unfortunate because it bears the potential to be something interesting on its own. There are a number of great options in the game to get this going already, but there are a few gaps in the usual play route. For the most part, getting an evocations-focused character going early can be difficult. “Pure” evocations (for a given value of pure, think “pure” spellcaster) is extremely difficult early on. For the most part, this represents a buff to evocations.

In short, an evoker should become Batman. They have a toolbelt of evocable items ready to go at a moment's notice. They don't have the raw power of a true spellcaster, or the durability of a true warrior, but manage to get by with a wide assortment of tools. Melee, spellcasting, and invocations might be dabbled in too, but the idea is to give evocations more gall to stand in the spotlight. There are a couple things I feel need to be changed to get this idea off the ground.

1) The Rod of Striking. If you're doing the evocations gig, you need to start off with an evocable item you can use on early foes while you build up your tool belt, grab nemelex, and so on. It also needs to be a non-exhaustable item, not something like a wand that will run dry, forcing you to pick up melee or whatever. The Rod of Striking tries to fill this role (it is in fact your only option in this regard at chargen) but it is absolutely not up to the task. The only thing worse than its damage is its accuracy. There is no enemy in the game this thing doesn't struggle with trying to defeat. And it never gets any better. I think the rod should simply use weapon rules to determine its damage and accuracy, using evocations as its “weapon” skill. Its enchantment level should be added as well, as though the enchantment on a weapon. This should allow you to get through to lair on this rod and not have to fall back on other skills.

2) Magic skill meddling. Some of the more awesome and flavourful evocation items are the summoning items. Unfortunately, they require magic skill to be at all useful. This is inconsistent with other evocable items (rods) which generate spell effects but do not require spell school skill at all! Is this meant to make it more accessible to spellcasters of the relevant element? Surely they would be better off casting Summon Elemental. The hostility function of these items can be retained, but it should really be based on evocations!

I think those two things will make evocations workable as a primary playstyle, and a lot more fun. Further things could be added, though, to lend the support necessary for an artificer. Note that the intention here isn't just to carry the character long enough to pick up nemelex. Nemelex should be a strong and popular option, but not the only route.

New Evocation Item Ideas

Magic Hat - Evoke for apportation effect.

Orb of Fire Figurine - Evoke for a fireball effect centered on the character.

Ring of Force Shielding - Evoke to grant {3 + Evocation Skill} SH for a short duration. Goes away when ring is removed.

Rod of Antimagic - Slaps everything in LOS (including yourself) with an Antimagic effect.

Artifice God

An alternative for evokers to Nemelex. I think his flavour as an Artificer gives him strong distinction from the trickster, nemelex. The god of artifice is just happy to know his followers see the genius of his craft. The Artifice God will not be angry with the player if the lose their religion so long as they converted to Nemelex (or Sif Muna?).

Appreciates: Making kills with evocable items, or through creatures summoned by evocable items.

Depreciates: Nothing. Loses piety over time.

Possible Abilities

  • Allows evoking items from the inventory that would otherwise need to be wielded.
  • Makes evocable items safer (summoned creatures less likely to be hostile, staff of dispater/asmodeus less vicious, crystal balls less dangerous, etc).
  • Gifts (Scrolls of Recharging, Wands, Rods, Miscellaneous Evocables).
  • If an enemy would use an evocable item (wands) the Artifice God has a chance of taking the item and throwing it at the player's feet.
  • Enhances the spell power of evoked effects.

Wrath: Has a chance to apply miscast effects to you whenever you evoke something. Wands and rods might drain an extra charge when used, as well.

Spirit (Species)

The idea of a “lich-like” magical species has been thrown around a lot. I think a fun way to do this would be to make them completely formless. They rely entirely on magic, so the composition and traits of the spirit depend entirely on the spirit's magical skill. Here would be the basic proposal:

  • No equipment. Weapons, armour, and jewelry are all useless to the spirit because it has to form with which to wear them.
  • In fact, no items at all. No wands, scrolls, or potions (again, no body, no items).
  • Consume knowledge. The spirit is able to consume spellbooks and acquire their knowledge. Spells in the book are added to a list that the spirit can then learn spells from (or forget).
  • Expanded magical capacity. The spirit gains more learnable spell levels. They also gain much more MP.
  • No physical skills. The spirit cannot fight and thus can't gain weapon skills, fighting skill, etc. They can train dodging still, but no traps and doors.
  • MP = HP. The Spirit's capacity to live and their capacity to cast spells are drawn from the same pool. (Innate Guardian Spirit?)

Selling Point: Magic Schools as Stat Enhancers

The Spirit's stats and resistances are derived from their training spell schools rather than from gear. Again, the spirit is a magical creature, and thus their potency in magic is reflected in their actual form. Examples:

  • Enchantment Skill increases the Spirit's MR (like it used to for all species)
  • Fire Magic Skill grants fire damage shaving
  • Transmutations Skill grants AC
  • Translocations Skill grants EV
  • Necromancy Skill grants MP/Regen.
  • Etc.
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