Magic Discussion

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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 16, 2013 2:41 am

So Cardbo, if Magecraft is borderline too powerful when it costs 2 utility talents... Making it cost *none*?

That'd be kinda the opposite of balancing the mechanic. Unless I'm missing something. =)

As for the suggestions thus far, it's great to see so many ideas working towards possible solutions now. Any solution we implement needs to be as simple and elegant as possible. We definitely can't rework every utility talent to be more broad just to make one talent less 'relatively' expansive. Reworking the skill system to give the equivilent of spell resistance is going to change a lot too.

It seems that the problem with magecraft has to either be...

1) The balance of the talent

or

2) The structure of the talent

If it's the balance, altering either the DCs for Magecraft's effects or the gameplay elements that let you get high skill bonuses to arcana will fix it.

If it's the structure - the problem is instead because the talent is too vague and too dependent on a DM to keep it fair.

Which do you think is the issue? Or is it both?

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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  ZamuelNow on Fri Aug 16, 2013 2:53 am

Hayatecooper wrote:4. Magic Fatigue(Essentially). This was a cool idea, essentially every time you cast a Magecraft check the DC for the next Magecraft check you do is increased by 5. Yes, it promotes book keeping. But it would also allow people to do the same multitude of effects, but forces them to stop and think "Can a party member do this better? I mean, I could brute for this door, but we have Tanky for that so I might save my energy." Not sure how well this would go in testing, but seeing as most mages are around about 15-18 mark it should allow them to preform several small spells at least without help, making that really big one they cast all the more cool and impressive cause the party understands what they just sacrificed.
While I have a feeling it won't make it in, I absolutely love this concept. Seems in line with the genre from multiple perspectives, a mage throwing massive world changers can tire from it, plus forcing the sorcerer to over exert is the way you beat them next to being a better mage or simply punching them in the mouth.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Hayatecooper on Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:18 am

The structure needs to be limited(In the sense some things need to be better clarified such as not being able to do Destiny/boons, being able to use UT's/Racial like effects but needing to do it at a higher DCs, not being able to just make people spontaneously combust)

and I guess DCs, which is why I suggested a couple of different ways to make hitting those DCs harder(through things such as Magic fatigue and upping DCs based on how many creatures it's currently affecting).

The versatility of the talent is great, And the fact you can do so much with it is kinda of the fun. But it needs more limits(both in what it can and can't do through either flat rules or higher DCs on the crazier stuff) to stop it being so spammable and abusable. Suggestion of course on page 5.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:35 am

ZamuelNow wrote:
Hayatecooper wrote:4. Magic Fatigue(Essentially). This was a cool idea, essentially every time you cast a Magecraft check the DC for the next Magecraft check you do is increased by 5. Yes, it promotes book keeping. But it would also allow people to do the same multitude of effects, but forces them to stop and think "Can a party member do this better? I mean, I could brute for this door, but we have Tanky for that so I might save my energy." Not sure how well this would go in testing, but seeing as most mages are around about 15-18 mark it should allow them to preform several small spells at least without help, making that really big one they cast all the more cool and impressive cause the party understands what they just sacrificed.
While I have a feeling it won't make it in, I absolutely love this concept.  Seems in line with the genre from multiple perspectives, a mage throwing massive world changers can tire from it, plus forcing the sorcerer to over exert is the way you beat them next to being a better mage or simply punching them in the mouth.
I too support this idea... While it does have it's flaws... It's a really interesting idea. Maybe having it be put in the GM hands the next magecraft pentalltiy be put into the GM hands could be a thing... Or put it as an optional rule for some GMs to use if they feel Magecraft is too powerful as is.. Also could open up options with somehow doing a type of "skill challange" magecrafting thingie for the weaker mages... (and for the stronger mages if they are trying to pull off something really epic)...
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:28 am

While added specificity will certainly help (though ultimately, it'll never be truly specific enough to remove all doubt - it'll always be up to the DM) - I think a major reason magecraft feels unfair to some people is because it's At-Will. Each check you make resulting in your next check being harder is an interesting mechanic to be sure - but it also means that the first use always hurts. If Magecraft was an X/Day ability...

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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:45 am

My issues with Magecraft though are less with balance (there's a correct DC set in there somewhere, even if the current set isn't right) and more with how vague it is and how much time and skill-at-balancing it demands from DMs. It also is likely to produce arguments at the game table about how difficult certain magical effects should be to produce and is prone to being overpowered or underpowered in various campaigns. I've heard people declare Magecraft useless in some campaigns while others say it's better in their games than some level 10 destiny features.

What I don't like about the talent is how NOT pony tales it is in execution. Pony Tales exists to create a simple and hassle-free ruleset with lots of strategic and character-building depth and freedom, while making the playing and DMing of the game require as little experience or prior knowledge as possible to dive in and enjoy. We've cut talents such as Insight (which let you learn a secret about an NPC of your choice) because they made life harder for DMs (had to come up with interesting secrets for anyone on the fly once per game-day). Magecraft not only requires the DM have a potent understanding of game balance - but also is going to likely cause arguments at tables regarding what DC a specific task should be and further issues that result from its vague nature.

While Magecraft is cool, I worry it wanders too far from what the system is actually trying to achieve - and in its dazzle blinds us to the fact that its actual impact on gameplay might be more con than pro.

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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Ramsus on Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:30 am

It's never going to be more con than pro because without it or something very similar magician type characters would be incredibly restricted in a way that just doesn't mesh with the source material.

The magical fatigue idea has some merit and would actually serve as a way to let non-specialist wizards actually able to cast spells that are worth casting if done right (as it would allow us to actually decrease the DCs of some spell ideas as there would no longer be a worry of people just spamming them). It'd also be a better way to use that casting time table concept than the current rendition, as instead of giving you penalties/bonuses to the checks it might just let you not gain as much fatigue (possibly it might still provide a bonus at really lengthy casting times such as an hour and higher). The concept does need to be balanced really carefully though. The amount of fatigue you gain would need to be based on the strength of spells you had been casting and would also need to decrease over time at a reasonable rate. Just as importantly, the amount of fatigue gained should not be incredibly punishing. And of course very simple effects probably shouldn't increase fatigue at all. (This might also open up the possibility for a utility along the lines of Favored Spells, where you wouldn't gain fatigue from that specific spell and might even have a bonus to casting it or some such. I figure it'd probably grant 3 or so such favored spells per time the utility was taken.)
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Cardbo on Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:46 am

Stairc -Dan Felder wrote:So Cardbo, if Magecraft is borderline too powerful when it costs 2 utility talents... Making it cost *none*?

That'd be kinda the opposite of balancing the mechanic. Unless I'm missing something. =)
"When everypony's super, no one will be" Basically, my argument is if everyone has magecraft, there it doesn't have to be as balanced against other core concepts because everyone has access to it already.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  ZamuelNow on Fri Aug 16, 2013 6:13 pm

I like the "because of awesome" aspect of defeating magical effects since it fits the setting and gives each of the skills a bit of a pinnacle of what it can do.

I think the fatigue idea could be governed by how big the affect is you're going for. Perhaps make the penalty 1/10 of the DC. Big stuff is quite tiring while little stuff is of little effort as long as you're not spamming it. I don't think favored spells are really needed due to Magecraft's sheer versatility and the fact that you still have 3 other utility talents to use. On a per GM level, they might choose to lower those DCs over time for that player but it doesn't need to be built into the talent itself.

As far as the power being contrary to the system style, I think it's fine if noted as such and that it's not a constantly recurring thing in utility talent design. It probably helps to think about the system more and as stated it has helped bring some discussion to the forefront about other concerns about skills and versatility.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:07 pm

I agree. Being able to defeat Arcana via non-magical means would be awesome.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Hayatecooper on Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:09 pm

Either the fatigue limiter or limiting it to 2-3 times a day would be enough
Just to stop making it so spammable and force people to use other UT's to do stuff instead
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Ramsus on Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:44 pm

2-3 times is so limiting you might as well not have the utility at all. X/day limits don't work since the talent's power is variable.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:48 pm

Kindulas pointed out that Magecraft was originally supposed to be about manipulating existing magical effects the way mechanics lets you fiddle with machines. It could do VERY minor things without effects, like send up some sparks or move a 5lb or less object a few feet.

Somehow it sort of morphed over time.

Perhaps we should split off the effects.

Make one talent the at-will 'mess with magical effects' and the other talent a limited type of "do whatever you want". Not have the second talent key off any particular talent... Instead you get 20 points or so that you can expend any number of on a given d20 roll for this talent and get +1 to that roll for each point expended (like the stealth destiny). That way you have an interesting way to go for one big effect, or lots of smaller effects... Then only being able to make magical effects on par with Magical Tricks without the point boosts to help you out.

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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Hayatecooper on Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:02 pm

That actually sounds like it could be good

Maybe make this magecraft a lvl 10 destiny feature for something?
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Ramsus on Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:56 pm

Yes Hayate, also talking should be a lvl 4 destiny feature. You don't get walking till lvl 7. I mean, damn, you can break the game so hard by walking wherever you like if the GM doesn't tell you you can't walk there. =P

As for Stairc's suggestion... I'd basically have to see the proposed versions of those. Though, I have the feeling that spell modification should just be part of Magical Tricks or simply a use of the Arcana skill itself.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Hayatecooper on Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:04 pm

Hmm, I don't know
If we put a limit on walking it should be fine as a lvl 4, but only if it's 1 per day. We wants players to be able to do some stuff right?

With Ramsus though, seeing a spell modification talent could be cool. Maybe one that works like fabricate, so that the more you lvl up the stronger the spells you are allowed to mess with can be.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Ramsus on Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:22 pm

lol

I actually wanted to see the non-modification talent.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Cardbo on Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:47 pm

Wait! Wait! What about walking -AND- chewing gum? Or is the munchkin in me showing?
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  SparkImpulse on Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:32 pm

Stairc -Dan Felder wrote:Somehow it sort of morphed over time.
Ah! That explains a lot, actually.
Stairc wrote:Perhaps we should split off the effects.

Make one talent the at-will 'mess with magical effects' and the other talent a limited type of "do whatever you want".
There's a particular reason I like this, is that while still powerful, the current experience of magecraft becomes a three-talent ability instead of just two.

And the player I have, specifically took it to become a small god. Which I wholly support since honestly what good is magic if you can't become a small god? Earth ponies can pick up heavy objects at distance (by building a lever).

Spell fatigue, while requiring increased bookkeeping, would make it meaningful again -- the player would have to declare when they're using magecraft, instead of just saying they're making an arcana check and watch their mostly effortless 50 convert the hard to the suddenly simple.

Any mechanic that forces the player to declare they're using the talent, would make it work as a whole, I think. Whether spell fatigue or x/day. At-will broad-spectrum magic-tricks wouldn't break anything, so I'm still in favor of making it a three-utility talent.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Fury of the Tempest on Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:28 am

I would like to see the proposed splits to Magecraft as well.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  A1C Bronymous on Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:30 pm

Hey I'm back, because this dead horse doesn't have enough bruises.

Focused Evolution (1)
Creatures of your race gain 6 extra racial trait points. Creatures of your race cannot have magic points or Magic Drain talents. Only a creature that would otherwise have one or more magic points may take this trait.

Yada yada how this affects other builds- Magic user. Magecraft specialist. Using magecraft, he can most likely come up with effects to replace (if not replicate, because huge DC, then other effects that are different but serve the purpose) those of the UTS he wont be able to use because no magic point, INCLUDING his Element. This just gives him 6 more racial points to outplay those other builds even more, and even if those other builds were to take this as  well, THEY can't replicate those lost effects, and for ones like AThletics or Persuasion, where some of the real power comes from Magic Point UTs, they are now considerably weaker if they take this.

Just throwing this out there, I don't plan on using any of this as of yet.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Philadelphus on Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:20 pm

Stairc -Dan Felder wrote:While added specificity will certainly help (though ultimately, it'll never be truly specific enough to remove all doubt - it'll always be up to the DM) - I think a major reason magecraft feels unfair to some people is because it's At-Will. Each check you make resulting in your next check being harder is an interesting mechanic to be sure - but it also means that the first use always hurts. If Magecraft was an X/Day ability...
Alright, I've been gone for a week for family reasons, and boy have you guys been busy in my absence! I just wanted to add my 2¢ to this conversation and say that I think Stairc's suggestion here is a good one. To put a number to it, I propose a 10/day limit to Magecraft, while leaving Magical Tricks as At-Wil. Reasons:

  • It's simpler than the Magical Fatigue idea because we already *have* the concept of X/day talents in the system, so no new rules for people to learn and try to remember to follow.
  • 10/day keeps people from rolling Arcana to solve every problem, while still leaving them plenty of uses of it per day for when it's really important.
  • Theoretically, it should be easier to balance DCs if you know someone has a maximum number of times per day they can try something.

The more I think about it, the more I think that the At-Will status might be near the heart of the problem a lot of people have with Magecraft. After all, it has no opportunity cost. You "give up" two utility talents for the ability to attempt to replicate the effects of those talents (or other more useful effects) as many times as you want. It's not just that it's so powerful, but that you can use that power as much as you like.

As others have pointed out, once you have Magecraft, there's no incentive for players (other than perhaps in very specialized situations) not to just roll Arcana at everything. I think this – more than problems with specific examples, more than complaints about lateral thinking breaking campaigns, more than anything else – is what's bugging people (though I could be wrong, feel free to yell at me if so). Magecraft is different from nearly every other Utility Talent, nearly all of which of have a daily limit to the number of uses. Every talent that has such a limit has a cost-to-benefit calculation built in: is it really worth it for me to use _____ right now, rather than save it for later? Magecraft users don't have to make such a choice (there's pretty much no reason for them ever not to use it), and I suspect that's what's bothering a lot of people.

I know that you've tried to balance it around the opportunity cost of taking two Utility Talents, but from reading the thread it looks like most people don't find that cost enough. If it had an actual daily-use cost associated with it, I suspect it would be a lot more palatable for some people. If nothing else, it would force players to evaluate their uses of it and perhaps use it more sparingly, although it should still have enough uses to be actually useful.

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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Mind Gamer on Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:25 pm

Well, personally there's also the whole "You can only fight magic with magic" idea that is supposedly wrong in theory, but in practice gets enforced by mages. So I'd still love to hear ideas on how to nail down a system where other skills can be used to combat magic, same as how Arcana can combat... Well, anything.

I made a list of ideas on this earlier, but the topic sort of shifted to "Magecraft" than "what's annoying about magic in general." Some people seemed to like the idea of being able to beat magic "just by being that awesome," but it still didn't get far before being passed over for Magecraft discussion.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  Xel Unknown on Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:51 pm

Something that really bothers me about Magecraft, is that it demands you to have an Arcana of 15-20 as your base stat if not higher.... And if you do use it. You basically can't do much instantly if you don't have the max 20 without a lucky roll. (even with a 20 stat, you only can have the magic do stuff instantly if you roll a 10 or higher...)

To me, only high-level mages get any love with the magic system as a whole. Where low-level or mid-level mages are mostly without any options.

The easest way to fix this is making two more magic tables for low-level (arcana at 3 - Cool and mid-level (arcana at 9 - 14) users... Or more talents akin to Dispel Magic to allow magic to be done in a limited degree. Or something...

Also Failsafe Spell is in deep need of a buff of some kind since it's basically useless as is becuase you only get the reroll if you pop it /before/ the roll is made, and even if you do so, unless you are trying to dispel some magic you and/or you use Derp there isn't much odds that you were going to roll a nat-1 to begin with.
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Re: Magic Discussion

Post  ZamuelNow on Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:58 pm

Xel Unknown wrote:To me, only high-level mages get any love with the magic system as a whole. Where low-level or mid-level mages are mostly without any options.
One of the reasons why I think that you should be able to detect magic with just a base Arcana score. It's something you'd think is moderately low level or at least mid level instead of something only the absolute best mages could do. Sure, subtle spells would be harder but that's needing a higher roll as opposed to not even having the ability.
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