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let's talk about spiritual weapons


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#1 subtledoctor

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 11:01 AM

As I begin the process of making my own cleric kits compatible with DR's sphere system, one of the major tasks to complete is giving each one a spiritual weapon comparable to DR's. But I don't completely love DR's implementation. So, now that DR has s new beta out and is being active worked on, maybe it's worth starting a conversation about it.

1) These games tend to involve acquisition of lots of loot, and by mid-game every character has tons of options in which weapons to use. To be relevant, DR's spiritual weapons need a reason to exist; they basically have to be better than a given weapon the player might otherwise be using at their level. But, that can make them too powerful.

2) The weapons need to stay relevant as the priest gains levels. DR handles this by increasing their enchantment and power. But the proficiency with which they are wielded does not change. GM at 1st level, GM at 26th level. Especially if the player uses a mod like 'WSPATCK for All,' it might be nice to set proficiency depending on player level as well.

3) They are usable once/day. This feeds into the first point; to be relevant, they must be an upgrade over what's already in the player's inventory.

My solution, which I've done in my Alaghor kit, is to make a weapon that scales in power and in the level of proficiency with which it is used; but rather than just making it better than other weapons, I tried to make it about equal, just with a certain tactical abilities (in that case, extra powers against undead - important since the Alaghor is multiclassed and thus has reduced Turn Undead abilities).

To balance being less powerful and make it tactically useful when needed, I make it an at-will ability instead of once/day. No more stressing about making sure you use it at the optimal time.

This could encourage creativity and diversity of play-styles, along the lines of deities' particular ethos. Mystra's wespon could Dispel or Breach on hit; Lathander's could do fire damage; Shar's could cause Confusion; etc.

Giving them distinct, limited tactical advantages would give players all the reason they need to use them, in certain situations where their deity would naturally give them an advantage. And making them usable at-will takes some of the pressure off the player and allows the weapons' power level to be reduced a bit, so they don't need to walk that line between 'more powerful than what you're carrying' and 'overpowered' (they can be less powerful, but with distinct situational advantages).

Faiths & Powers: Spell spheres and kit pack for priests and paladins
Might & Guile: Tweaks and kits for warriors and rogues
Scales of Balance: Game tweaks and rule overhauls
NPC_EE: More options for NPCs in BGEE, SoD, & BG2EE


#2 CamDawg

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 07:02 AM

I think there are some really good ideas here. One of the original goals of the spiritual weapons was to find a way to get a deity weapon into the hands of its priest, even if the weapon was normally disallowed (e.g. axes and Battleguards). We did not want to try and revamp the entire weapon proficiency system in the process on top of everything else.

I like the idea of the weapons having special abilities; my concern is more about whether there's enough to make each unique and within the theme of each kit. Shar and confusion work, but Red Knight's a little more difficult. Spitballing some ideas--

  • Lathander - disruption
  • Helm - blindness
  • Talos - electrical damage
  • Selune - silvery outline (AC penalty like Alicorn Lance)
  • Shar - confusion
  • Red Knight - slow
  • Tempus - hold
  • Ilmater - fatigue or pain
  • Kossuth - fire damage
  • Iyachtu Xvim - fear
  • Oghma - feeblemind
  • Sune - charm or hopelessness
  • Corellon - bonus vs. drow, orcs
  • Cyric - hp drain

Some other ideas: berserk, bleeding, sleep, stun, silence, slow, vorpal hit, curse (bad luck), miscast magic, lower MR, doom/lower saves, web/grease/entangle, poison, disease, or spell-on-hit like Otiluke's Resilient Sphere.

 


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#3 subtledoctor

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 09:08 PM

Ah! I'm relieved. Looking at this again, I worried that either 1) it would come off as unduly critical, or 2) my Wall Of Text would makes someone's eyes bleed, and then I maybe have a lawsuit on my hands. Further thoughts:

While there are more deities than interesting/distinct/balanced effects to use, there are also way more interesting effects than there are available slots for mod kits in the CharGen screens. So it's probably possible to make some assumptions about what combinations a player might adopt or avoid, accounting for alignment and racial requirements.

Those are all great ideas. Some are just dead perfect - fatigue for Ilmater, 'Alicorn Glow' for Selune, great stuff. What about something more wild for Tempus - maybe a small AoE slashing damage. I could see that priest wading unafraid into hordes of enemies.

Disruption for Lathander might be OP. What I did for Clangeddin is have undead, when struck, save or suffer a very short Hold - just 6 seconds. Not to destroy them, but just to turn the tide of battle toward the priest's favor. That kind of balancing calls to question usability; if it's a once per day ability then they should be powerful. If they are usable at will then they are essentially just another weapon in the priest's inventory. In that case they should be not so powerful, but have really very concentrated, situation-specific abilities.

Finally, while standardization is broadly good, breaking the mold can be interesting, as long as it is rare. So for instance, I'm really not sure I see priests of Oghma wielding special weapons at all. Maybe another kind of innate ability instead - maybe a Word or Chant that causes Deafness in everyone nearby (renewing each round like a bard song, thus defeating Vocalize spells). As you say, just spitballing...

Edited by subtledoctor, 06 November 2014 - 09:08 PM.

Faiths & Powers: Spell spheres and kit pack for priests and paladins
Might & Guile: Tweaks and kits for warriors and rogues
Scales of Balance: Game tweaks and rule overhauls
NPC_EE: More options for NPCs in BGEE, SoD, & BG2EE


#4 CamDawg

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 04:48 AM

Disruption for Lathander might be OP. What I did for Clangeddin is have undead, when struck, save or suffer a very short Hold - just 6 seconds. Not to destroy them, but just to turn the tide of battle toward the priest's favor. That kind of balancing calls to question usability; if it's a once per day ability then they should be powerful. If they are usable at will then they are essentially just another weapon in the priest's inventory. In that case they should be not so powerful, but have really very concentrated, situation-specific abilities.

Full disruption certainly would be--for a lot of these I'm thinking it's an x% chance on hit, with it going up based on level and with the starting value determined by how powerful the effect is. For something as powerful as disruption, I was thinking something like 5% + 1% per level, and maybe even further limiting it by using the HD of the target. Three White Doves in IWD basically uses PnP disruption, where the odds go down dramatically based on the target's HD, instead of BG2's straight destruction-on-save. I don't want a Morninglord's spiritual weapon to be a free pass vs. Kangaxx.


I came here with a simple dream: a dream of killing all humans. And this is how it must end? Who's the real seven billion ton robot monster here? Not I. Not... I.


#5 Galactygon

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 08:43 AM

Somehow I feel like x% chance do not fit so well with AD&D (you can't physically roll for x% with die unless you have a 100-sided die). I think powerful effects occuring on critical hits is better and should be doable once parts of IWD:EE are ported to BG(II):EE.
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#6 Linguist in Training

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 12:03 PM

You could just use two d10's.  I definitely recall doing that way back when I was playing 2e.



#7 CamDawg

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 12:13 PM

Yeah, I don't understand the percentile comment either--hell, warrior strength has a percentile component on 18s, and thieving rolls are nothing but.

 

And no, I won't be implementing something that's EE-only, either.


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#8 subtledoctor

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 02:11 PM

The only reason percentage chance gives me pause is because they were used so frequently in place of/alongside of saving throws in TOB-added items (and I think in IWD as well). In really in unsatisfying ways. Except in items that specifically call for a chance of something happening (like the Club of Detonation with its trapped demon), I prefer saving throws as a more classic D&D mechanic - with appropriate bonuses or penalties to regulate the power of the effect.

Percentage chances of an effect occurring can be done well enough, but it requires a bit of scrutiny/consideration because imho it can be done quite poorly as well. I say if something is magical, let its effects occur, unless they are resisted. If the magic is weaker, let the effects be weaker. A mere chance of an effect happening seems appropriate for Tymora or Beshaba, less so for other deities.

(This is also why I have a visceral hatred of the MR mechanic.)

Edited by subtledoctor, 07 November 2014 - 02:27 PM.

Faiths & Powers: Spell spheres and kit pack for priests and paladins
Might & Guile: Tweaks and kits for warriors and rogues
Scales of Balance: Game tweaks and rule overhauls
NPC_EE: More options for NPCs in BGEE, SoD, & BG2EE


#9 Galactygon

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 02:45 PM

What I really meant above was on-hit effects that occur at a percentage chance. In AD&D they usually occur based on the value rolled for the attack rolls on a d20 scale. The better the attack roll, the more bad things happen. OTOH in BGII x% effects happen regardless of attack roll and/or critical hit roll which makes less sense IMO. This has been bugging me as well, I feel like it is not the most elegant way to rebalance powerful on-hit effects.

Thieving skills, etc. are completely different, I wasn't thinking about those when I phrased my initial post.

Edited by Galactygon, 07 November 2014 - 02:47 PM.

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#10 Grammarsalad

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 06:56 AM

This seems like a good compromise: 

 

- Give a save for any possible added effect for a given ability

 

- Give save bonuses or penalties depending on the power of the ability.  EG: give a save bonus to Lathander's disruption that ensures (eg) Kangaxx will always save, but skeletons can be reduced to dust.  

 

This simulates a percentage effect based on level--higher level opponents will have higher saves and so will be affected less and with a bonus or penalty to save the chance can be tweaked up or down--but is less unsatisfying in the way SD describes.

 

I wouldn't mind 'on critical' effects for some, but I understand your reluctance to implement ee only features.



#11 Galactygon

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:37 AM

I could agree with Grammarsalad's suggestion - possibly level scaling effects as well (i.e. this and this happens to creatures x levels below the priest, etc.).

At high levels your turn undead ability becomes exceedingly powerful, so a disruption-like effect as mentioned in Cam's earlier post (Three White Doves in IWD) wouldn't be overpowered.

Edited by Galactygon, 08 November 2014 - 07:41 AM.

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