Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

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Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby rookie » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:42 am

So I've been playing a Shadow Mage for awhile and had a few ideas.

First of all I think that if you want to play an evoker style, normal mage is the way to go and just pick Shar as a deity.

If you want to play a more roguish one that actually melees/shoots a (cross)bow, spellsword+roguish levels would work better.

I see Shadow Mage as fitting more with the Battlefield Control department, but it is tricky as Save or Lose spells are generally unfun for one side or the other due to their binary nature.

So 3 things.

1. I think soft control is the way to go, ideally persistent AoEs flavored as "Shades" that could be granted as Special Abilities with a long refresh (maybe 6 minutes ala Blackguard summons) or else acting as druid summon special abilities and burn spell slots (and for the non-illusion/necro/enchantment ones use the illusion DCs). Spells such as:
Web, Grease, Acid Fog, Cloudkill, Neg Energy Burst.

2. Then give the shadow mage their own version of Woodland stride that makes them immune to those "shadow" spells, either naturally or as part of the Shadow Shield spell.

3. Allow them to use the swordmage armor imbue on 1 or more of these (or specific normal spells) to place a "contingency" on themselves with the standard 1/use policy swordmages have. Ideally something that would allow them to get a short reprieve from a sucker-punch knockdown or some such. Imbue "shadow" grease would be an example (I can see the jokes now). Without access to strong damage spells and the fact that a lot of these would also affect their undead/summons it isn't a win button by itself but fits with the more slippery nature of shadow mages imo.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby Giftstoff » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:38 am

Increase the DC of all shadowmage spells when the target is blinded, or inside the shadowmages darkness spell. Make this ability scale as they level.

Give shadowmage permanent ultravision.

Make shadowshield hours per level and make it unbreachable.

Give shadowmages Epic SR pen for free, since shadow magic isnt supposed to have any SR checks anyway.

Add Hunters -shield ability. viewtopic.php?f=37&t=13317

Give them spell defense abjuration.


A few ideas to help the struggle.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby JediMindTrix » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:39 pm

Giftstoff wrote:Increase the DC of all shadowmage spells when the target is blinded, or inside the shadowmages darkness spell. Make this ability scale as they level.

Give shadowmage permanent ultravision.

Make shadowshield hours per level and make it unbreachable.

Give shadowmages Epic SR pen for free, since shadow magic isnt supposed to have any SR checks anyway.


+1, but it could be coded that shadowmagic ignored all SR anyway without doing a bandaid version via epic spell pen (would involve modifying every relevant spellscript most likely though and yuck)
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby Seven Sons of Sin » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:39 pm

Control mages are never totally going to work on Arelith because of the "save or die" design. There was a great reddit post I read somewhere recently that went into this in detail, but from a PnP/Pathfinder perspective. I'll try to paraphrase some of it -

Fighters can reliably swing a sword and deal a lot of damage. Wizards can reliably cast Magic Missile and do a chunk of damage. OR a wizard (or other caster) can run the gambit and cast Hold Person. If it wins, the party essentially wins. If they lose, the action is wasted, and the party is probably in a worse off position than if the wizard just cast Magic Missile.

The post continues by discussing how "save or die" spells are only at peak potential when a party is dealing with few, or a single, target. If you're fighting 10 kobolds, Hold Person isn't super effective. If you're fighting 2 super-mega kobolds, Hold Person suddenly halves the amount of damage your party is going to receive. That's huge.

I think this mirrors some of Arelith. In PvP, you're often dealing with one, or single, targets. A fighter can swing a sword, a caster can do a damage spell, OR, run the gambit and cast Finger of Death, Wail of Banshee, or otherwise. If their opponent fails the save, caster wins. Game over. If the opponent makes the save, the' spellcaster is (likely) dead. In PvE, you're dealing with upwards of 30, 40, or maybe even 50, individual enemies between rest cycles. Suddenly, "save or die" spells just really aren't that that impacting.

Relating it back to the specific discussion, I think the best example of subverting "save or die" design has been Peppermint's changes to the Weird spell. Stuff still happens if an enemy succeeds the save, it's just not as impactful as if they failed (read: dead). Unfortunately, Weird is one spell among many.

I don't think you're going to see successful Control Mage archetypes on Arelith until "save or die" spells are tweaked to ensure that, even on a successful saving throw, something still happens. But you can't go too far - otherwise, "save or die" becomes super broken in PvP environments where the action economy is tipped unbalanced.

So, in short, I don't think any of the original suggestions are really going to do a whole lot, because I believe the problem of Control Mages is based on the mechanics of "save or die" spells, and not other lateral abilities, like spell dcs, etc.

What would be very interesting is if Shadow Mages utilize Enchantment/Necromancy spells differently. A normal wizard casting Hold Person is a "save or die" spell. But a Shadow Mage casts Hold Person and it changes - if the enemy fails the save, nothing changes, but if they make the save, the Shadow Mage gains +50% movement speed for 3 rounds.

Stuff like that. Suddenly, Shadow Mages are totally happy filling all their spell slots with something other than IGMS, and suddenly, they become a really cool class to play.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby liver and bones » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:03 pm

Seven Sons of Sin wrote:Control mages are never totally going to work on Arelith because of the "save or die" design. There was a great reddit post I read somewhere recently that went into this in detail, but from a PnP/Pathfinder perspective. I'll try to paraphrase some of it -

Fighters can reliably swing a sword and deal a lot of damage. Wizards can reliably cast Magic Missile and do a chunk of damage. OR a wizard (or other caster) can run the gambit and cast Hold Person. If it wins, the party essentially wins. If they lose, the action is wasted, and the party is probably in a worse off position than if the wizard just cast Magic Missile.

The post continues by discussing how "save or die" spells are only at peak potential when a party is dealing with few, or a single, target. If you're fighting 10 kobolds, Hold Person isn't super effective. If you're fighting 2 super-mega kobolds, Hold Person suddenly halves the amount of damage your party is going to receive. That's huge.

I think this mirrors some of Arelith. In PvP, you're often dealing with one, or single, targets. A fighter can swing a sword, a caster can do a damage spell, OR, run the gambit and cast Finger of Death, Wail of Banshee, or otherwise. If their opponent fails the save, caster wins. Game over. If the opponent makes the save, the' spellcaster is (likely) dead. In PvE, you're dealing with upwards of 30, 40, or maybe even 50, individual enemies between rest cycles. Suddenly, "save or die" spells just really aren't that that impacting.

Relating it back to the specific discussion, I think the best example of subverting "save or die" design has been Peppermint's changes to the Weird spell. Stuff still happens if an enemy succeeds the save, it's just not as impactful as if they failed (read: dead). Unfortunately, Weird is one spell among many.

I don't think you're going to see successful Control Mage archetypes on Arelith until "save or die" spells are tweaked to ensure that, even on a successful saving throw, something still happens. But you can't go too far - otherwise, "save or die" becomes super broken in PvP environments where the action economy is tipped unbalanced.

So, in short, I don't think any of the original suggestions are really going to do a whole lot, because I believe the problem of Control Mages is based on the mechanics of "save or die" spells, and not other lateral abilities, like spell dcs, etc.

What would be very interesting is if Shadow Mages utilize Enchantment/Necromancy spells differently. A normal wizard casting Hold Person is a "save or die" spell. But a Shadow Mage casts Hold Person and it changes - if the enemy fails the save, nothing changes, but if they make the save, the Shadow Mage gains +50% movement speed for 3 rounds.

Stuff like that. Suddenly, Shadow Mages are totally happy filling all their spell slots with something other than IGMS, and suddenly, they become a really cool class to play.


Not too keen on how shadow mages work, but this is definitely the truth, especially given how NWN fight mechanics work. For an example, in WoW PvP you only face three limitations: mana costs, cooldowns, and spell reflect abilities. You can still run during the casting of a spell (usually), you can spam a spell so long as it comes back off cooldown, and spells will always land if someone isn't using an ability to reflect it. NWN (and PnP in general) screw that type of control mage type of play over. There needs to be a secondary option to control-like spells.

In my opinion, the best compromise for an existing spell is Evard's Black Tentacles; does damage regardless, but has the chance to paralyze.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby rookie » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:39 pm

Seven Sons of Sin wrote:Control mages are never totally going to work on Arelith because of the "save or die" design. There was a great reddit post I read somewhere recently that went into this in detail, but from a PnP/Pathfinder perspective. I'll try to paraphrase some of it


I'm feeling pretty odd about this post as we seem to feel the same way yet, I'm not sure if you glossed over what I wrote or I'm misunderstanding something.

As far as a PnP discussion, savvy control mages don't use stuff like Hold Person generally as enemy saves can often be +LOL, they use stuff like Wall of Force, Maze, etc that are saveless to split the enemies into two fights. It is trivial for a control mage in PnP to make a CR 20 fight into 2 separate CR 15s etc.

Back to Arelith:
Something like Grease while not saveless FoM only partially helps on, you can run at full tilt but you'll fall down and all that spellcraft +save doesn't help you (and it is reflex to boot). If the mage can chill inside completely unaffected like a druid can, it gives an area of soft control.

Then you have things like Arelith's Acid Fog or Cloudkill for example that are either saveless or still hurt on a save. If you changed the former to ignore FoM (I assume FoM works on it, never had someone run in with it up) and the latter to hurt even with NEP up you'd have a strong zone of "I really don't want to run/stand in this".

None of these are going to win the fight, but they can stack the odds in your favor.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby RedGiant » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:27 am

Kensai used to be the "trap-class" for melees. I now think shadow-mage is for arcanists. As keen as I am to try all things new, and as ridiculously large a stable of aborted efforts as I have, I honestly haven't even bothered to make one, because other than HIPS at lvl 20, I'm not really sure what you get out of the bargain that a small dip in rogue or bard wouldn't do better. Further more, a dip mage can effectively fake HIPS by using invisibility, g.sanc, etc. So, mechanically, I just don't get it. Maybe someone wiser can 'splain it to me.

I guess that leaves the RP factor of saying youre a "shadow mage" as the chief draw. There is the inevitable RP downside to this, that rest assured the restriction on evocation will also be "meta'ed"...if it hasn't already, and there will be "tests" administered to shadowmages...if there haven't already been. I'm with "rookie", then, in that if I really wanted to play a secret Sharran...I think I would just make a normal mage.

I still think some of the ideas below had merit, though I realize we've moved away from infini-casters. But a wizard-based infini-caster is never truly infini as long as spell components exist. Also, if I could POSSESS my shadow, as in the idea below, well now...that has much more interesting potential than the player tool 1 provides.
viewtopic.php?f=26&t=1325&p=12399&hilit=adept#p12399
How Arelith Really Works:
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ActionReplay wrote:Oh dear, its adapting.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby Giftstoff » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:35 am

I have to agree that it is a significant and direct downgrade from mages right now, and in its current form I very much regret making one.

But that leaves it a lot of room for improvement in the future, so i'll wait and see.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby gilescorey » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:03 am

RedGiant wrote:Kensai used to be the "trap-class" for melees. I now think shadow-mage is for arcanists.

What's the common denominator?
Peppermint wrote:barbarian rage lore.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby rookie » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:10 am

Despite what I've said, I've enjoyed my Shadow Mage quite a bit. I never was a fan of reducing stuff to 0 HP with evocation (I'd play a True Flame or Weapon Master for that) or wild surges on a non-wild mage.

From level 3 to the low 20s range you can decimate NPCs and PCs with saves, and you generally can just not get involved in places or PvP with those you know are going to laugh them off. PCs are only going to burn a True Sight scroll if you give them a reason to suspect you're about. Past the no-wild surges part though you can do the rest with a stock mage.

My thought process went like this:

Vanilla - Sorcerer/Wizard
Super damage arcanist - True Flame
Mage Knight - Spellsword
People who like Wild Magic - Wild Mage
??? - Shadow Mage

I think expanding it to have some 'neat' soft control options would allow it to do something that the rest cannot do. It can even be a bit weak, but give it an identity based on its spell casting like True Flame, Spellsword, and Wild Mage have.
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby Seven Sons of Sin » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:15 am

rookie wrote:
Seven Sons of Sin wrote:Control mages are never totally going to work on Arelith because of the "save or die" design. There was a great reddit post I read somewhere recently that went into this in detail, but from a PnP/Pathfinder perspective. I'll try to paraphrase some of it


I'm feeling pretty odd about this post as we seem to feel the same way yet, I'm not sure if you glossed over what I wrote or I'm misunderstanding something.

As far as a PnP discussion, savvy control mages don't use stuff like Hold Person generally as enemy saves can often be +LOL, they use stuff like Wall of Force, Maze, etc that are saveless to split the enemies into two fights. It is trivial for a control mage in PnP to make a CR 20 fight into 2 separate CR 15s etc.

Back to Arelith:
Something like Grease while not saveless FoM only partially helps on, you can run at full tilt but you'll fall down and all that spellcraft +save doesn't help you (and it is reflex to boot). If the mage can chill inside completely unaffected like a druid can, it gives an area of soft control.

Then you have things like Arelith's Acid Fog or Cloudkill for example that are either saveless or still hurt on a save. If you changed the former to ignore FoM (I assume FoM works on it, never had someone run in with it up) and the latter to hurt even with NEP up you'd have a strong zone of "I really don't want to run/stand in this".

None of these are going to win the fight, but they can stack the odds in your favor.


Totally didn't gloss over! I just don't think adding cookies to class mechanics is going to make the Shadow Mage fun - unless we define that as alternative effects to typical enchantment/necromancy/illusion spells. I think that'd be the best way forward with the Shadow Mage (and, in the future, other mage subclasses).
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Re: Not another Shadow mage feedback thread

Postby rookie » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:42 am

Seven Sons of Sin wrote:Totally didn't gloss over! I just don't think adding cookies to class mechanics is going to make the Shadow Mage fun - unless we define that as alternative effects to typical enchantment/necromancy/illusion spells. I think that'd be the best way forward with the Shadow Mage (and, in the future, other mage subclasses).


Well the Shadow Conjuration line by theme allows for all Conjuration spells under x level to be substituted, that was why I was throwing those out there (especially as you can't even use the evocation spells in the Shades line). They can be reflavored to look different (Acid Fog looks like Black Tentacles etc) and use the illusion DC if they were put as special abilities that burn spell slots.

If the soft control can give you more chances to use hard control spells (for example it is a coin toss if you can succeed 3 times in a row at a save you only need to roll a 4 or better on), debuff them, use your summons effectively, or else have the ability to disengage and hide then you can be the slippery shadow caster.
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