Should mages be as fragile as they are?

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Huw
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Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Huw » Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:13 pm

This is based on my experiences, but also other things I've seen, hence the theoretical example.

Johnny Telefret-Face is a High Mage. He's one hit per with, I dunno, presumably some magic. His modifiers are at a disadvantage to buying extra hits and damage grades. So he puts his skill into magic ability. As such, when a fight breaks out, he has to run away or hide. One blow will knock him out or break his arm, even at the start of the game. This only gets worse the more skill he gets, because the monsters are statted to deal with fighters of equivalent skill who can take much more punishment.
At a very high-level adventure - rarely - one blow from a monster can kill him instantly, or cut off a limb. He's seen friends in a similar position killed by magic storms aimed at other people, but this issue has been addressed elsewhere.


What Johnny could do is invest in Light and/or Shadow Magic, not because he wants to play that kind of character but because he wants a Shield of Purity/Darkness to make it harder for him to die. Other spheres have spells that could help as well. Now he isn't so fragile, but he still only calls Single or (for 4 essence every fight) Elemental Double when he fights meaning it'll take a long time to kill even a basic monster. If he gets hit he'll need to repair his shields, costing relatively high essence every time.
And pretty much anything he could do is already being done better by a dedicated fighter character for little or no essence.


So fights are Not Fun for Johnny. Which is sad, because they happen a lot. He'd like to be involved, but he'd just die or become a liability to any healers around. Lets say 30% of his time at an event is spent hiding or running.


Opinions. Does this merit changing or attention? Does Johnny's large spell list make up for the fact that he can't really engage with fights? Should he just be better at picking spheres of influence and building characters? If he wanted to get involved in a fight he should have been a different class and type of character?
If it is worth changing, what could be done to change it?
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:54 pm

My feeling is that Mages should not be getting into the middle of combat. Nor should archers for that matter. Sometimes it's unavoidable but they're not designed to go toe-to-toe with monsters, they're there for range support. High Mage is great if you want lots of spells or if you want high level spells fast however If you want to play a magic user who gets stuck in play a Ranger or Bard. Or multi-class because people keep telling me that Bards and Rangers suck.

That said, at 60 skill Mages (rather than high mages or any other class) can spend just 3 skill(!) to take their armour limit up to 8 which is pretty awesome.

We have classes ranging from pure fighter to pure magic user with several in between: I would suggest playing a class that suits your play style.

My feeling is that being a mage who blows all his essence on damage is a bit pointless: much better to use it on Halt and let the whole party surround it, or shatter on its weapon or trip or ignite or chameleon and leap out and stab it from behind (or a dozen other low level spells that distract or incapacitate a monster). Or be the guy who repairs stuff: some people may feel this is boring but it is always useful.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:27 pm

Just having a look through the rules, lots of races of mage can get a -1 to stealth. That's not bad: at legendary he could have bought 3 dex, either handed and 3 points of 1HS along with Battle Caster and a few circles of spells and be charging around in chain calling quad with each hand (although there's probably some issue with encumbrance). Alternatively he could be calling 'six' with a staff or go sword and shield for more survivability.

Something that magic users might overlook: Physical Damage Resistance. It may cost you between 20 and 22 skill depending on your race but even the hardiest warrior has to pay 17 skill for it: it's not a big difference if you're planning on being a mage who gets into the middle of combat.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Huw » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:21 pm

Cool. So it's possible to write a mage who gets in fights provided you have that in mind when making the character. Thanks, there's some things I hadn't considered there.

I've looked at a Varyan Knight and done a theoretical points spend. I might be misinterpreting the encumbrance rule, so correct me if I'm wrong:

If he's in armour, he's a passable tank, buying hits per and sword & shield cheaply. Can't cast magic, but...

If he's not in armor (any) and he's invested the skill, he's a Life Specialist who buys Life magic at 6+ thanks to his Lay Healer ability. It's not cheap skill-wise, but not expensive either.

So his play style/use to the party can change just by taking off all his armour. I remember in CP there was at least one character with specially designed quick-release chainmail for emergencies, would that be a valid tactic in HoP?
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Ben » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:36 pm

Yeah, if he wants to use his life magic without suffering encumbrance then I think it's fine although a knight is very connected to his armour so might not want to take it off for any period of time: though that would be a roleplay factor I think.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Ben » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:45 pm

Cool. So it's possible to write a mage who gets in fights provided you have that in mind when making the character. Thanks, there's some things I hadn't considered there.


I see class as a tool to give you particular abilities and modifiers rather than define what you do: It's possible to write any character class to work in a fight (or in lots of situations), but if you're worried about spending skill efficiently or being at a similar level to others then some level of planning is useful. It doesn't hurt to do a 30 skill/60 skill spend of your chosen class/race to see if you feel happy with where they could go. By 120 skill it's probably less important though.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Luke » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:53 pm

I was going to raise a similar issue after talking to you Ben about mages.

In short what are our thoughts on;

Remove shield of purity/darkness - too many mages characters rely on these entirely.
Remove Mages ability to wear METAL armour. Though battle caster remains the same.

Include a new spell:
Mage Shield - works exactly like shield of purity/darkness. The spell is based on the highest circle you can cast.

This means that we get rid of the plated mages (not that this actually happens much), we allow a pure fire mage to exist without going into the light/shadow circles.

I am also - provided the above changes or similar happened - be all for removing light/shadow from mages and high mages influence list.

A little radical but i'm interested as to peoples thoughts?
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Ben » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:00 am

Remove Mages ability to wear METAL armour. Though battle caster remains the same.


Makes them a bit like Rangers/Druids though.

Remove shield of purity/darkness - too many mages characters rely on these entirely.


Is that necessarily a problem? Compare the following statements:
"I'm a mage. I want extra hits but I don't want to buy circles in Light/Shadow."
"I'm a warrior. I want extra hits but I don't want to buy Extra Location hits."

If looked at in this way, is the first statement any more ridiculous than the second?

Mage Shield - works exactly like shield of purity/darkness. The spell is based on the highest circle you can cast.


What if we added Mage Shield as a meta spell? It doesn't make a huge change but allows characters to access a shield spell without choosing to go Light/Shadow (which almost feels like an alignment choice).

I am also - provided the above changes or similar happened - be all for removing light/shadow from mages and high mages influence list.


Actually quite like this though would be worried about existing characters.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:48 am

Yeah all great criticisms and suggestions. I had considered adding it to meta also, and I do like the idea. It means that mages end up with a sort of 'core' knowledge of useful magic spells before they focus on one school.

As for extra hits etc, I think the only difference is that mages in general don't take damage to varied locations, it's area effects and spells (which usually go to the chest) making the shield spells IMO a much much much better choice. Though there is no cap to extra hits I suppose.

With armour and mages being too similar to rangers i've always seen it like this;

Druids - no armour limit, no metal, Life/Death and Elemental (without light and shadow is it any wonder we dont see many druids in hop?), Academic mod.
Rangers - no armour limit, no metal, Life/Death and Elemental, but that all important STEALTH mod.
Mage - medium armour limit, elemental, light and shadow, academic and magic mods (easily the most defensive caster with battle caster - potentially 40 globals (or more) and high armour limit)
H. Mage - low armour limit, elemental, light and shadow, super low magic and academic mods.
Celebrant - medium/low armour limit, absolute castings, must take a vow to remove their limit with harsh restrictions (less versatile than mages, with similar mods, but can heal)
A. Celebrant - low armour limit, absolute castings, must take a vow to remove their limit with harsh restrictions, super low magic and academic mods (usually better than celebrants when you take the armour vow)
Sorcerer - Low armour, versatile.

The way I see it some of the above are much better than others, IMO mages shine because they have great mods, good armour and huge influence list. Druids and rangers are more versatile than celebrants, and with no armour limit, but they are quite hard to keep alive as the current armour rules mean layering leather/fur means you have a realistic armour limit of about 4/5.

Personally I think celebrants should be the only casters with metal armour, mages should have next to none, druids and rangers get leathers. Depending on what you want to play, a combat mage - celebrant, a boom mage - mage, a mix of the two - druid.

This would require a lot of (unrealistic) changes, and it makes it VERY dnd like. But I'm really only throwing out things for debate. Overall I think the class system for magic is good. I just really like classes to feel different and with a system based on buying grouped abilities that can sometimes feel like all classes blur into three arch types - warrior, mage, scout. I think Celebrants, Warriors, Thieves, and Serkanians are really flavoursome because they get to buy abilities for their class.

Anyways I digress. Just my ten cents... and then a penny jar.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Ben » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:56 pm

Personally I think celebrants should be the only casters with metal armour, mages should have next to none, druids and rangers get leathers. Depending on what you want to play, a combat mage - celebrant, a boom mage - mage, a mix of the two - druid.

This would require a lot of (unrealistic) changes, and it makes it VERY dnd like


HoP took some inspiration from Shadow Realms and Labyrinth. SR came out of Broadsword, Broadsword from Treasure Trap and (so the story goes) Treasure Trap developed out of an incident in a D&D session where someone pointed out that a day's walk had taken 5 minutes and a 5 minute combat had taken over an hour, allegedly they got out some fencing gear and worked out the combat like that and so LRP was born. Probably not true but a nice story.

The point is that we have some links to D&D but I think (in the beginning of HoP) certain decisions were made to make us different from other systems: Orcs would be good, Elves would be evil, Dwarves would be beardless, greenskins would be black and Celebrants would not be able to wear chain. I think Celebrants were inspired by WoW priests rather than by D&D clerics. For armoured spellcasters WoW has chain wearing Shamans and plate wearing Paladins which we don't have as standard classes.

This was before Arch Celebrants (a class that I'm still not sure about) so maybe to change them a bit Celebrants could have a higher standard armour limit.

Never been 100% sure about mages adventuring for 60 skill then suddenly being able to cast through metal armour...

Also, when I first put the skills into schools and gave people a -1 a +1 and a 0 I think I gave all spellcasters a -1 to academic because I thought to myself "you have to be clever to cast magic" (or possibly I thought "magic users get magic, they shouldn't get a good fighting modifier too"). I wonder now whether that was too arbitrary and should be revisited?

Like you Luke, just thinking out loud
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Ben » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:27 pm

Weird idea: some sort of Academic fighting skill.

Picturing someone who isn't necessarily strong or dexterous but who knows anatomy and studies a situation, using his intelligence to strike someone's most vulnerable spot.

Just realised I'm probably picturing Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes.

Dunno whether this would work: an ability with an academic mod that increases your damage with certain weapons. The weapons skill themselves would still be in martial/stealth so that would still be a skill tax but this new third skill could be taken instead of strength or dex.

Could be linked in with DNW perhaps? New skill called "Anatomy" or something which replaces DNW as a separate skill. Each rank in it grants you DNW with the effects of that level of DNW as well as allowing you to increase your damage with hand-to-hand, projectile and short weapons instead of dex.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Will » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:51 pm

Luke wrote:Include a new spell:
Mage Shield - works exactly like shield of purity/darkness. The spell is based on the highest circle you can cast.


This just really jumps out at me as an idea that I love... I also feel too many mages/celebrants are forced into Shadow/Light just for shield of xyz

We did make a big effort a few years ago (with abilities/essence/instant abilities) to balance the playing field... maybe it's gone a little too far?
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Huw » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:37 pm

I like the principle behind Mage Shield, though the execution I'm not so sure about... If it's a Metamagic spell, then people just buy Metamagic circles they don't really want instead of Light and Shadow circles they don't really want...and still get extra spells in the bargain.

Make Mage Shield a seperate spell that anyone of a certain class (Mage, High Mage, Bard?) can buy, slightly more expensive than a warrior buying hits per or a scout buying dexterity. In buying it you don't gain any extra abilities apart from the one spell, so you're deliberately and just getting hits.
Combine this with Ben's "Anatomy" idea and you leave the toughness of the character up to the player. They can be 1-hit per but overflowing with magic ability, or they can be less good at magic, but harder to kill.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Rebecca » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:29 pm

I like the idea of the power of your shield being contingent on the highest circle of magic you can cast, and Mage shield being a kind of general magic user class ability. However, I'm not into the idea of magic shield being something you buy like hits per: it would merely prove to be a skill drain for mages compared to armour wearing classes that, in being able to wear armour, essentially start off with free hits. If anything this weakens mages (unless magic would cost less as a result, since you would get less defensive abilities, and just split the spend making skill allocation more versatile). Basically, if you want want somekind of battle Mage pathway, sure, that should be a possibility, but it should be born in mind that not everyone wants a warrior-like Mage (actually, the idea of pathways is something that could be looked into? sort of like the paragon paths and epic destinies in D&D). Personally, when I play a Mage, I *don't* want to be in melee fights all that much. Sure, they can be at a disadvantage if you do want to get stuck in battles, but then warriors can often be at a disadvantage in prolonged role play encounters compared to mages who have access to com's or domination or lie detecting abilities.
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Re: Should mages be as fragile as they are?

Postby Luke » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:42 pm

+1 Rebecca
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