Dev Stream, Multiplayer Beta Weekend & Lost Valley DLC announced!

IXI
Level 14
5 months ago

...

And, most importantly, don't create spells like Plane Shift to begin with. That'd help too. Higher tier spells in D&D are a nightmare to build around, both in gameplay and lore.


that could be one inelegant solution, have levels 1-20 but just don't allow the spells from 7th-9th exist or maybe just a select few.  solasta has there own world so they can do what they want.  in my home game, the mindflayers have developed anti-planar fields [block access to other planes] and are working on making a planet wide field.  this helps them in two ways, #1, it blocks their foes in the astral plane from getting to them and #2, it will block magic which will give the mindflayers an advantage over the rest of the world.


later on TA could make a new setting that might not be to disrupted by 7-9 levels spells.


yellow flower of courage

KillerRabbit
Level 8
5 months ago

ging swords isn't interesting, gimme world changing magic.


I don't find spells like Plane Shift "interesting". I find them to be unhealthy for encounter and world design. Same goes for stuff like Forcecage, where characters/enemies without a decent Charisma save and magical means of teleporting are just screwed. I'm all for high magic worlds, but they really do have to make some sense and when designing a game you very much have to consider the mechanical implications even if you don't care about the lore ones.

The way Solasta (and 5e in general in my experience) is built, spells like Forcecage can be utterly broken. 1 hour duration, no concentration, can't be dispelled and there is no save to avoid getting trapped. It prevents magic from passing through as well as physical objects. You need magical teleportation to try to escape, which is when the saving throw comes into play. 

Are all spells that broken? No, but seriously, take a look at the basic rules spells for 7-9th level and explain to me how one is supposed to design encounters around this without removing (or otherwise completely negating) certain spells that 1) doesn't completely invalidate non-casters, and 2) is actually capable of challenging the party.

Spells for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) Fifth Edition (5e) - D&D Beyond (dndbeyond.com) I've reduced the list to the spells in question here.



Oh and because I'm not sure how I'm coming across online just wanted to add that I appreciate the intelligent, articulate replies and this conversation has been good fun.

 I appreciate good conversations too, but I honestly have to admit I don't see what your argument is beyond "I want to play an overpowered mage". Which is fair enough, but it isn't a very constructive when we're talking encounter design or lore implications.

Gosh. On plane shift it seems like a good spell. In some cases it's just a variant dismissal / disintegration where you get rid of a monster but lose out on the opportunity to loot. It's really easy to design something around. Just like some enemies have immunity or resistance to poison have an enemy anchored if you, the DM, don't want that monster to go. Otherwise plane shift is the spell that starts an adventure or, alternatively, it's a variant on mordenkainen's mansion. Classic, fun, spell.

I guess I just have never gotten the overpowered objection.

1. its false - my solasta Paladin will kill my solasta mage in an arena battle the Paladin has much higher DPR.  I can take a risk but with save or suck spell like disintegrate but if the paladin makes her (fairly high) saves they're going to smite my unarmored toon three times.  I try to power game mages but only TOB and WOTR let me do that.

2. Balanced games are boring. Yeah I like the power fantasy. Find that loot, get even stronger, take on even stronger monsters. Good fun! I simply reject the Monte Cook / JE Sawyer church of balance and game design. BG2, DOS2 and WOTR are terribly balanced but sooo much more fun than the perfectly balanced, perfectly boring game of Torment: ToN.

Likewise I think your argument boils down to I'd like to take the luster off your favorite class so mine can shine bit brighter. Which is just not a good way to think - think about how to make your class shine, not dull others.  Strikes me as a church of balance creed that leads to nerfing.

So yes, all those spells look like fun! Why would you want to reduce the game to swinging weapons around?

On design implications: 1) DMs are above the gods. If they declare a boss or a castle dimensionally anchored it is, end of story. 2) These are good opportunities to get creative. I mean TA found a way to implement divine intervention and no one is complaining about that, right?

Of your list, what's the problem? Nearly every spell on that list was in BG2 and it wasn't a problem and any spell on that list can be nullified if a DM wants to do so. And if they don't want, why not let them?

I just don't get it, really. It sounds like you are saying you wish other people would have fun the same way you like to have fun.

KillerRabbit
Level 8
5 months ago

in my home game, the mindflayers have developed anti-planar fields [block access to other planes] and are working on making a planet wide field.  this helps them in two ways, #1, it blocks their foes in the astral plane from getting to them and #2, it will block magic which will give the mindflayers an advantage over the rest of the world.


later on TA could make a new setting that might not be to disrupted by 7-9 levels spells.

Right. If you, the DM, don't want a particular spell to be used you find some lore consistent way to block its use. I liked the astral demons idea because players can still choose it if they want but it's probably a bad choice

TomReneth
Level 14
5 months ago

...

Gosh. On plane shift it seems like a good spell. In some cases it's just a variant dismissal / disintegration where you get rid of a monster but lose out on the opportunity to loot. It's really easy to design something around. Just like some enemies have immunity or resistance to poison have an enemy anchored if you, the DM, don't want that monster to go. Otherwise plane shift is the spell that starts an adventure or, alternatively, it's a variant on mordenkainen's mansion. Classic, fun, spell.

So your answer to those spells potentially screwing with encounter design is to not allow them to work as stated. Meaning you nerf them.


I guess I just have never gotten the overpowered objection.

1. its false - my solasta Paladin will kill my solasta mage in an arena battle the Paladin has much higher DPR.  I can take a risk but with save or suck spell like disintegrate but if the paladin makes her (fairly high) saves they're going to smite my unarmored toon three times.  I try to power game mages but only TOB and WOTR let me do that.

Paladins are also the only martial class that scale well, because they have a lot of insanely strong abilities. Aura of Protection being the worst offender, effectively giving proficiency will all saves and expertise in the ones they already have. If every martial class was as powerful as the Paladin, no one would complain about that part of it. 


2. Balanced games are boring. Yeah I like the power fantasy. Find that loot, get even stronger, take on even stronger monsters. Good fun! I simply reject the Monte Cook / JE Sawyer church of balance and game design. BG2, DOS2 and WOTR are terribly balanced but sooo much more fun than the perfectly balanced, perfectly boring game of Torment: ToN.

So you're fine with certain classes and playstyles being pointless, because ultimately not all classes have access to abilities akin to high level magic. Or do you prefer that some classes just faceroll the content because every class has to be accounted for in game design? You have to have one of the other if you don't care for balance.

BG2 can be fun, but it isn't balanced and I would never defend how it was handled there. It's also pointless, seeing as the game came out 20+ years ago and Solasta is still in its DLC cycle now. 


Likewise I think your argument boils down to I'd like to take the luster off your favorite class so mine can shine bit brighter. Which is just not a good way to think - think about how to make your class shine, not dull others.  Strikes me as a church of balance creed that leads to nerfing.

While I am in favor of buffing martials to be roughly on par with Paladins overall, nerfing is sometimes the right option. And some higher tier spells like Forcecage could definitely do with a rewrite at best. Like a non-magical way of trying to escape it.


So yes, all those spells look like fun! Why would you want to reduce the game to swinging weapons around?

On design implications: 1) DMs are above the gods. If they declare a boss or a castle dimensionally anchored it is, end of story. 2) These are good opportunities to get creative. I mean TA found a way to implement divine intervention and no one is complaining about that, right?

So your solution is to not let the spells work as written, ie nerfing them. Good to know. Why bother implementing them at all then?

As for DI, I never used it. Looks really bad and a waste of an action compared the results. Which is certainly better than it being completely overpowered, but hardly an implementation that is exemplary. Just in the other direction. I'm guessing no one is complaining because it is just a random effect with 88% chance of doing nothing.


Of your list, what's the problem? Nearly every spell on that list was in BG2 and it wasn't a problem and any spell on that list can be nullified if a DM wants to do so. And if they don't want, why not let them?

BG2 was a game for mages and multi- and dual classes. Maybe the occasionally Cleric or Druid. Everyone else were kinda pointless. Hardly something I think should be encouraged, since people might just want to play something other than wizards sometimes. It was a lot more realistic to use martial classes in BG1.


I just don't get it, really. It sounds like you are saying you wish other people would have fun the same way you like to have fun.

If this was a tabletop game for a handful of people who all wanted to deal with the consequences, that'd be one thing. But seeing as this is a game that tries to reach a slightly wider audience than 3-7 people, trying to find a more common denominator is a good starting point. And I don't think there is a better starting point for game design than every class being relevant to the game and capable of finishing it in any combination thereof. We are, after all, stuck with our party composition once we begin, so any combination of 4 characters need to be capable of finishing the game. 

If your stance is "just let wizards be overpowered" then there is no argument to be had because I am categorically not interested in encouraging some classes being too much stronger than others. And the key reason for that is precisely because not everyone wants the same party compositions that I do, not because everyone has to enjoy the game the way I do. If anything, your way of thinking is more likely to push people to have to enjoy it your way instead of their own.


Typos happen. More so on the phone.

KillerRabbit
Level 8
5 months ago

1. I think there's a difference between contextual nerfing and class nerfing. Making a boss immune to save or suck spells is pretty normal.

2. Sure, I'd support a non magical way of getting out of forcecage.

3. What would you do to buff fighters to make them as interesting as paladins?  Bring back some 3.5 feats? Death blow? Disarm? Charge? Coup de grace? Only now am I realizing you weren't including paladins in 'martials'. When I say martials I mean battlemasters, barbarians, rangers and paladins.

4. Well that's a agree to disagree. I will always, always think BG2 is best CRPG ever made, love my demigod.

4a. And it, WOTR and DOS2 are just more fun than any of the all classes are the same games like POE1 or Torment: ToN. While "equalize all classes" sounds good in theory it's always fallen down in practice.  I mean the both us tacitly acknowledge that 4e wasn't much fun, right? But it balanced classes better than any other edition . . .

TomReneth
Level 14
5 months ago (edited)

1. I think there's a difference between contextual nerfing and class nerfing. Making a boss immune to save or suck spells is pretty normal.

Then why implement certain spells to begin with? Teaching the player that they can use something only to yank it away makes the experience inconsistent, which is going to be a source of frustration for people learning the game.



3. What would you do to buff fighters to make them as interesting as paladins?  Bring back some 3.5 feats? Death blow? Disarm? Charge? Coup de grace? Only now am I realizing you weren't including paladins in 'martials'. When I say martials I mean battlemasters, barbarians, rangers and paladins.

Paladins are martial characters, but they are exceptionally powerful martials and therefor aren't really included when talking about the problems between martial and caster classes. It's a lot like saying that Rangers as a whole are fine, because Gloom Stalker is great, ignoring every other subclass.

As for how to buff other martials, there are a few ways. Give Fighters some more expendable resources (more uses of Action Surge, Second Wind and Indominable as you level) and make their multiattack progression match Eldritch Blast (5, 11, 17 instead of 5, 11, 20). A fun capstone could be to be able to Action Surge twice in the same turn for a whopping 12 attacks. 

Rangers need something to help them maintain concentration, which I would add as a lvl 6 feature, and more consistently applicable defensive features in their subclasses at lvl 7. Concentration is a problem for this class, since most of their good spells use it, but they have nothing to make the saves more consistent. Apart from that, I think they should have a minor upgrade to damage in their base class around lvl 11-14 somewhere, since they barely scale as martial characters between 5 and 20.

Barbarians should probably have some scaling that is independent of Rage, making them a bit more consistent after they run out in higher levels.

Rogues have good core design, but would need to have their damage output scaled up a bit if we're buffing other martials. Maybe a focus on short rest resources.

Something that would be fun would be to replace the Fighting Styles we have now with special actions that can be made in place of an attack in an attack action. So instead of getting your ability score modifier to damage with off-hand attacks with Two-Weapon Style, you got a special "twin strike" or something to use in place of a regular attack in an attack action. Would make each Fighting Style easier to balance too. This would also help melee Rangers with their bloated bonus action economy, streamlining their gameplan a bit to help them more consistently incorporate magic on their turn.



4a. And it, WOTR and DOS2 are just more fun than any of the all classes are the same games like POE1 or Torment: ToN. While "equalize all classes" sounds good in theory it's always fallen down in practice.  I mean the both us tacitly acknowledge that 4e wasn't much fun, right? But it balanced classes better than any other edition . . .

I'm not very familiar with DOS, but both Kingmaker and WotR are horrible when it comes to classes. Most martial classes feel utterly pointless because we either have half-caster variants (Eldritch Scoundrel as opposed to regular Rogue. D10+full BAB Eldritch Knight to use with Wizard/Sorc) or they can't compete with Ranger/Slayer (Str build with Dex combat styles) and Barbarian (damage reduction). And it gets worse when you take into account some of the subclasses, like Freebooter buffing everyone for free and that one Barbarian with even more passive damage reduction.

Contrarily, I found the relative class balance in the Pillars of Eternity quite nice and engaging, though Ciphers did seem a little overtuned compared to other casters in the early game, while Druids got ahead later. Having martial characters feel like they were integral in the party composition at every level of play was a nice change from 5e, where Clerics are usually able to replace martials at lvl 8 onwards. Solasta's Battle Domain didn't exactly help the balance there. Who in their right mind gives Extra Attack to a full caster in a system with this easy access to powerful weapons?

I never played 4e, but the reason it looks like it wouldn't be fun to me is because it looks like it tried to be a video game you play at the tabletop with a million billion things to keep track of at every turn, bogging down playtime to something unmanageable. When it comes to tabletop, there is a breaking point when complexity stops being engaging and just a slog because of the additional time spent just keeping track of the rules, which takes away from roleplaying and experiencing more encounters. I could probably also not get back into 3e or PF1 now, because of the huge amount of bloat those systems have accumulated since 2000, even though I can play Kingmaker and WotR without problem. The relative simplicity of 5e is a strength for tabletop since it keeps things clean and manageable. But it comes at the cost of making character building less rewarding.

I think a party based RPG with 4e mechanics would probably be a lot of fun, when you outsource rulekeeping to the computer. If other RPGs have taught me anything, having the baseline abilities for martial abilities be "weapon spells" is a very effective way of handling both fun and balance. I think Pathfinder 2e does something 4e-ish that has beem streamlined for tabletop and it looks great. 


Typos happen. More so on the phone.

TomReneth
Level 14
5 months ago (edited)

This post has been deleted.

KillerRabbit
Level 8
5 months ago

Why have it you don't always use them? It's like on off switch. Insta kill is good for minions but a let down with bosses so bosses being immune to some spell is a common DM tactic.

On WOTR v POEit just comes down to taste. I think POE1 has the best story of any RPG but a terrible, dull, ruleset. Not the worst - that goes to Torment: TON but a boring system non theless.

This why I tend to the think so much design theory should be thrown out the window.  It's like so many economic models - impressively complex but pretty bad a producing results. All the of the design heavy "this class plays this role / all classes are equal and balanced" games are simply lackluster.

I think it's like jazz. I hate listening to jazz. But then again I don't play an instrument, I just like the music I like. Jazz is music for musicians and POE is a game for people who really like game design theory. The pleasure isn't in the playing, it's in seeing the theory come to life.

TomReneth
Level 14
5 months ago (edited)

Why have it you don't always use them? It's like on off switch. Insta kill is good for minions but a let down with bosses so bosses being immune to some spell is a common DM tactic.

Is it good for minions though? Maybe in some games where everyone can do it and it is part of the core design (like Dynasty Warriors, maybe?), but 5e heavily revolves around the action economy and being able to instantly reduce the enemy's action economy on some classes would definitely run into some balance problems. 


On WOTR v POEit just comes down to taste. I think POE1 has the best story of any RPG but a terrible, dull, ruleset. Not the worst - that goes to Torment: TON but a boring system non theless.

And I find it to be a much more engaging ruleset where every class is capable of doing something interesting and worthwhile.


This why I tend to the think so much design theory should be thrown out the window.  It's like so many economic models - impressively complex but pretty bad a producing results. All the of the design heavy "this class plays this role / all classes are equal and balanced" games are simply lackluster.

"Let's make the game so the player can pick the class they want without being punished" is something that should never be thrown out. 


I think it's like jazz. I hate listening to jazz. But then again I don't play an instrument, I just like the music I like. Jazz is music for musicians and POE is a game for people who really like game design theory. The pleasure isn't in the playing, it's in seeing the theory come to life.

So you don't care about game design so long as your favorite class can be overpowered and you dismiss people who prefer a more balanced approach to class design as not enjoying playing the systems they say they like.

You said you enjoy good conversations, but I am starting to wonder when you're being that dismissive.

Edit: Altered needlessly rude remark.


Typos happen. More so on the phone.

KillerRabbit
Level 8
5 months ago

I don't blame you for writing something rude because I forgot to say that I think you've made a good list. :) I'd be for those changes but I fear that warlocks might feel slighted since they pay a price for quick level.

(also, as someone who likes to play rogues I don't consider them martials - I put them in class with bards as a utility classes)

And while I failed to do so I was trying to say: "It's been fun but we've gotten to the end right?

It's a matter of taste, do you like nicely balanced or unbalanced but interesting" I even tried (unsuccessfully obvs) to use an analogy that paints you in good light.  After all Jazz is a sophisticated taste. My tastes are tacky and less sophisticated. I like the power fantasy.

Now I should leave it there but I'll add this:


1. I think hybrid fighter / spell caster has always, always, always been the D&D model. That's my point with the helm of brilliance - the 20 level fighter is almost fireproof, is able to instantly case prismatic spray on bosses and take our hordes of underlings. The pure martial ideal comes from other rulesets.

2. On minions.  Just did near the end of this game - the ambush where you take Merton along with you - my toon killed one abomination with a disintegrate spell and it was fun. Took me the entire game to get that powerful and it was nice to have an opportunity to use that ability . . .

:)

TomReneth
Level 14
5 months ago (edited)

I don't blame you for writing something rude because I forgot to say that I think you've made a good list. :) I'd be for those changes but I fear that warlocks might feel slighted since they pay a price for quick level.

Warlocks are a strange class that is unique enough that it kinda has to be balanced after the fact compared to the more traditional classes, but overall I do think they should be buffed in some capacity. 


(also, as someone who likes to play rogues I don't consider them martials - I put them in class with bards as a utility classes)

I usually just divide the classes into martials and casters and Warlock. Rogues focuses on skills and weapon based combat, so they are martials. Utility martials, but still martials. They also deserve a buff if other classes get them, because they are hardly overpowered as it is now.


And while I failed to do so I was trying to say: "It's been fun but we've gotten to the end right?

If you want. I've got enough of a debate bro in me to instinctually not let others have the final word =P

It's a matter of taste, do you like nicely balanced or unbalanced but interesting" I even tried (unsuccessfully obvs) to use an analogy that paints you in good light.  After all Jazz is a sophisticated taste. My tastes are tacky and less sophisticated. I like the power fantasy.

I think your dicotomy is fundamentally false. I don't find less balanced systems more interesting and while there is nothing wrong with a power fantasy, it isn't a great starting point for game design if it is unevenly applied. And since we're stuck with 5e rules, it is already a very scewed system. Wizards, Clerics, Druids and Paladins are typically on top by a fair margin. Other classes can sometimes compete with powerful feats or subclasses (Gloom Stalker Ranger comes to mind), but this is more the exception than the rule. 


Now I should leave it there but I'll add this:


1. I think hybrid fighter / spell caster has always, always, always been the D&D model. That's my point with the helm of brilliance - the 20 level fighter is almost fireproof, is able to instantly case prismatic spray on bosses and take our hordes of underlings. The pure martial ideal comes from other rulesets.

I'm of the opinion that the dependency on items for the baseline competence in a system should be roughly equal across all classes, because you can never assume what items will be available. There is a bit more leeway when you're designing your own system for a game where you control the loot yourself, but I'd still recommend against it.

Good examples of this are Kingmaker and WotR. If you start to build feats towards specific weapons, there is a fair chance you'll end up with underperforming equipment towards the middle to end of the game, which certainly favors classes that can use weapon neutral stats (like Rangers being Str based dual wielders) compared to something like Rogues, who can only properly use 3 types of weapons with their Dex through Finesse Training (unlocked at 3, 11 and 17). 


2. On minions.  Just did near the end of this game - the ambush where you take Merton along with you - my toon killed one abomination with a disintegrate spell and it was fun. Took me the entire game to get that powerful and it was nice to have an opportunity to use that ability . . .

:)

You used a high tier spellslot to remove 1 enemy who did have a chance to pass a saving throw. Not something I would consider problematic, since direct damage tends to be a bit resource inefficient anyway. And it isn't like having the first 6 tiers of spells leaves full casters unable to fullfil a power fantasy. It just leaves out some of the broken stuff. 

I don't remember the exact starter position for the various monsters, but a single Forcecage could take out several enemies of the fight, including the Shikkath, with no save or concentration involved, letting you split it into 2 much smaller fights. It is the higher tier control and utility spells, more than the damage ones, that are problematic for encounter design. And I don't think situationally nerfing spells is the answer here, because suddenly changing the rules can be very annoying. That's why I think the dead magic zones in BG2 were such a bad idea too, because suddenly the class doesn't behave like you were taught it should. 

Control spells in general are actually a bit of a problem in the game, since the AI has a really hard time dealing with them, and can let you cheese encounters like nothing else. I've tested Spike Growth with a Druid and Ranger and the enemy will keep trying to get through it if it thinks there is no other way to the player, completely trivializing a lot of fights. Same goes for Wall of Flame. And Greater Invisibility + upscaled Spirit Guardians. 

The last thing you want is for some classes to feel necessary to clear content or completely trivialize it, because both of those can punish a player for picking what they want. Either by making something much harder than intended or robbing them of a decent encounter. 


Typos happen. More so on the phone.

Ranger Reek
Level 4
Discord Link Steam Link Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer
5 months ago

WotC don't really support D&D after level 14. None of their official adventures go over that level, and there are less than a handful of monsters that can challenge characters of that level.


The Tyranny of Dragons 2 book campaign takes you to level 15


Fight with honor, die with glory

IXI
Level 14
5 months ago

The Tyranny of Dragons was horribly written 


somewhere someone said "On design implications: 1) DMs are above the gods. "  which is the heart of the issue, the computer is not able to make the kind of calls and adjustments a human DM can to keep the game functional.  if it did then we would be hairs breath away from a terminator movie


yellow flower of courage

kanisatha
Level 9
Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer
5 months ago

This discussion continues to be great, and is really helping me get more educated on 5e.

One question, though, about going above 12th level and dealing with 7th+ level spells: the SRD allows TA to use whatever is allowed in it but it doesn't require that everything be used. So why not go beyond 12th level, including bringing in spells of 7th level and higher, and simply leave out those spells that would be innappropriate/game-breaking/OP/a pain to implement? It would also be an opportunity for TA to create some interesting and fun home-brew spells and abilities to offset those from the SRD that are not used.

TomReneth
Level 14
5 months ago (edited)

It is a possible compromise to simply not add the more problematic spells. They have left the 1st lvl Conjure Familiar out, for example. Part of the problem is that such high tier spells tend to be very mechanically complex as well, which will be a strain for actually making them work. I'm not against it, but I'm not expecting it.

Something worth keping in mind is that the balance isn't just going to be a problem of full casters vs everyone else. At 13th level, half-casters and 3rd-casters also get a major powerbump, by unlocking 4th and 3rd level spells respectively. In Solasta, this is a major win for Paladins and Rangers. And as much as I enjoy Rangers (and love the new Swift Blade as a perfect callback to the dual wielding masters of earlier editions) Fighters are already having a hard time keeping up. If we're going to get more levels, non-casters are going to need really strong subclasses to compensate for it. Which I am in favor of, but Fighter has been pretty underwhelming until Commander.

Poor Fighter... they're almost as pointless as they were in 3rd edition. Luckily Commander has a fairly unique role.


Typos happen. More so on the phone.