TL;DR #9: A New Lighting System

Tactical Myzzrym
Level 14
Tactical Adventures Dev
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2 years ago

Hey there folks!

Today's going to be a shorter article, so strap up and let's get going. Oh but before that, let's welcome our newest team member, Newt!

Who's a good pupper? That's right, you are!

Now that you've all met Newt, let's move on to the main topic: Lighting. 

We've been talking about Lighting quite a lot recently after receiving feedback from the community (that's you!), and we've been hard at work to tackle the issues you've brought up. I can safely say that we were quite happy to read your comments on our most recent Dev Update, however we also want to clarify a few things to avoid any misunderstanding.

Monsters Inc.

Some of you mentioned that if we are to buff monsters when they are in the darkness, than the problem would remain the same. Now, you have to keep in mind that we're not just planning to slap some generic buff on any hostile creature sitting in the dark - only a few, selected dwellers from the deep get to enjoy this. It will be part of their identity, not a simple video game gimmick - just like how Vampires regenerate while they aren't exposed to sunlight.

Those who had to fight Aksha know how tough these darkness-loving monsters can be!

Of course we don't necessarily think that we'll hit all the right notes straight from the get go, which is why Early Access is here. Considering how our previous lighting system added a hefty layer of complexity (although not necessarily well explained nor particularly fun to play with), some fights may become way too easy for parties with Darkvision. Monsters who get bonuses while staying in the darkness might end up a bit too strong to deal with at first. We'll be collecting data and feedback from you to make sure we adjust the difficulty properly for the 1.0 release in 2021.

Playing with the Light

Lighting is and will always remain a pillar of Solasta, which means that fighting certain monsters will require you to use light. Yes, even if your entire party has Darkvision. Just like how fighting Trolls with no fire or acid at hand is like shooting yourself in the foot with your hand crossbow, some Solastan monster will be extremely hard to take down if you refuse to shed some light in the darkness. Now the good part is, lighting a torch is something everyone can do!

Jokes aside, we've also taken to heart your comments about how hostile creatures could easily get out of an illuminated area which would lead you to a wild goose chase every round. We're currently testing around with a few new features to combat that, but keep in mind that not all of them may be implemented in the upcoming patches!

Secret Martial Technique: Torch Throw! 

New homebrew cantrip: Sparkle. Light up multiple interactable objects at once from afar

New homebrew cantrip: Shine. Temporarily light up a hostile creature from range.

Too Easy, Too Hard!

We've also seen some of you quarrel about the right level of difficulty for the game. Well, not to worry - as we've said before, the final release will feature difficulty level options, so you'll be able to adjust the experience to your own taste. For those who preferred the old lighting system, we're also considering adding an option to swap back to the original Solasta Lighting system - that being said we'll need to see if we have the time to implement it before launch, so no promises!

Read our previous articles here:

Article by Tactical Myzzrym

Cover screenshot taken from Lord Lambert's video (hello Porro!)

Level 4
2 years ago

... so basically, you heard the community, you talked about it, and decided to change nothing, except make action economy _worse_ by requiring a cantrip, even for those who opted for darkvision on character creation.  Gotcha.  Why shouldn't everyone roll halflings?

Could you at _least_ provide some way to see what kind of conditions apply to what voxels?  Right now, i can't plan moves or figure out what kind of tactics to use because I can't see what voxels are affected by what kind of lighting.

Also might be good in character creation to have the orc tutorial show more than just "hey, you have to light a torch to get past this part", since that entire interaction makes no sense for someone who's assuming you're following 5e rules.

Level 8
Kickstarter Backer
2 years ago (edited)

Jokes aside, we've also taken to heart your comments about how hostile creatures could easily get out of an illuminated area which would lead you to a wild goose chase every round. We're currently testing around with a few new features to combat that, but keep in mind that not all of them may be implemented in the upcoming patches!

It's a little unclear from the update, but are the torch throw and two new cantrips the extent of the new features you're adding?

You could allow for the Light cantrip to be cast on arrows, bolts, or even small rocks which could be thrown, which should work according to the 5e rules.

I suppose you could take one of those new cantrips instead of Light which might help, however, in my view the issue is with the Disadvantage on Dim Light you added. Someone pointed out that is the same penalty which applies by 5e rules when the target is completely invisible

By all means, give monsters certain advantages PC's don't have, but Disadvantage on Dim Light attack rolls is too strong of a change. One unintended effect of the change is that any source of Disadvantage negates Sneak Attack.

Level 10
2 years ago (edited)

Great to see new content! Thanks for the great works. Can I ask a bit more suggestions? \

Would it be possible for non-caster-party to also have an option of ranged-lighting other than throwing torch? New homebrew cantrips look good, but they are only for casters. Similar options could be given to Martials or non-casting ranged classes such as: 

- Fire a flame arrow to the wall and flame arrow stuck to the wall = torchlight effect around the stuck flame arrow for 1~2 turns 

- Fire a flame arrow to the unlit torch on the wall = enlight the torch on the wall. 

- Fire a flame arrow to enemy = 5 flame damage per turn and torchlight effect for tiles around the burning enemy, for 2 turns.

There is no explicit d&d 5e rule for fire dot damage, so I think it would be great to use the content of Oil. 

- Craftable/purchasable oil lamp, can be equipped in an accessory slot. Same effect with torch light effect. 

Level 14
2 years ago

Thanks for shedding some light on that issue :p

All that sounds (or looks?) very promising, looking forward to testing it!

Level 8
2 years ago

I don't think the new cantrips are that good of an idea. Currently spellcasters enjoy a significant advantage in being able to produce light (a burden and a curse in that they can be expected to use their action to produce light). Giving them even better cantrips to produce light will make them even better at this extending the advantage.

As it stands, throwing a torch is a great addition. Especially if its an action for everyone but thief rogues due to thief rogues ability to use an item as a bonus action(hint hint)

Its difficult to tell, you said you were moving to the RAW darkvision interpretation. Does this include giving darkvision a range?

Level 10
2 years ago (edited)

One more suggestion for difficulty setting: I'm not sure if it would be possible or not, but would it be possible to introduce all difficulty-related contents to on/off custom options, and call them "custom" difficulty, so that players can approach the various individual setting? 

Though it is not an RPG game, The Long Dark is a good example.

In The Long Dark, 4 difficulties are given by developers: Pilgrim (easiest), Voyager, Stalker, and Interloper (toughest). In the wiki page I linked, there is a table of contents & options for each difficulty. The great thing in TLD is that, players can approach the individual setting options, selectively on/off or change the setting for individual contents. They are called "custom" difficulties. This way, players can enjoy their own game with their own settings. 

If we use a similar approach for Solasta, something like this would be possible: 

Darkvision: D&D / TA-homebrew

Magic/Unique item drop from enemy: Frequent / Medium / Rare / None

Magic/Unique item drop from chest box or loot box: Frequent / Medium / Rare / None

Food weight: Light / Medium / Heavy

Food harvest chance (world map): Frequent / Medium / Rare / None

Food consumption: 1 box per person per night / 0.5 box per person per night / 0.25 box per person per night 

Crafting ingredient harvest chance (world map): Frequent / Medium / Rare / None

Crafting ingredient harvest chance (chest box or enemy): Frequent / Medium / Rare / None 

Local weather effect (more fatigue build up speed in the world map for local region due to random weather): On / Off

Martial Damage modifier (enemy): Very high / High(5e rule) / Medium / Low

Magic Damage modifier (enemy): Very high / High(5e rule) / Medium / Low 

Enemy health pool modifier (enemy): Very high / High(5e rule)  / Medium / Low

Bonus reroll-anything chance for noobs from "poor DM": Twice per day / Once per day / None

Ironman mode: On / Off

Event/Dialogue dice roll: On (D&D rule) / Weighted (still rolls but favors to player) / Off (no dice roll for event/dialogue for easy difficulty) 

etc etc...

Then, you can mix these settings, then introduce Easy / Normal / Hard (= Pure D&D 5e rule) / Impossible / Custom (if a player changes one of any settings from pre-determined options) difficulty to the game. 

This is just a brainstorming suggestion, I never meant to pressure anyone among devs. But if things like this (custom options) are introduced, we can expect several merits: 

1) Player satisfaction among different groups of player base with different taste of RPG will be increased, because players can make their own story and set their own difficulty. 

2) This is what DMs do with their party, so D&D players can feel the glimpse of TRPG in Solasta. 

3) This will give a more or less different experience to players and will increase the replayability of the game. With user modding contents, such options will make players play Solasta again and again with different parties with different settings. 

Level 1
2 years ago

The torch throw is awesome... Can I also suggest some kind of magical molotov cocktail that explodes and lights up a larger area with flickering flame...

Also, glowing arrows that when they hit a monster magically illuminate it...

Also.. If you're making deep scary monsters -- that love darkness, then it sounds like they should have some Light vulnerability :)  

The lighting is  great.  I still think you should be alittle more careful with handing out disadvantage... 

Level 10
2 years ago

I think this is a step in the right direction to making the game more enjoyable. Let's wait and see how the lighting changes work out. Thank you for listening to our feedback :) 

When can we expect the Winter Patch?

A hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is.

2 years ago

Thank you for keeping Lighting as a pillar of the game! Interested in trying these changes.

Level 2
2 years ago

Giving certain Monsters an advantage in total Darkness/Combat while staying true to 5e lighting seems like the easy fix. Not sure why you guys are obsessed with adding unnecessary changes and layers to the 5e ruleset.

Torches and other Magical lighting has always been the pillar for Perception checks for locating secret passages, traps, etc. This alone made even a party of all Darkvision characters reliant on light, unless they are willing to chance missing some tasty secret doors, or springing a trap or two.

All I see is more layers to an already broken lighting system that doesn't make sense. Dim light should never impose a penalty in combat to players. Even in the dimmest light, I'd still be able to hit my target.

Monsters that have a combat advantage in Total Darkness and a slight combat advantage in dim light would punish an all Elven party that is only relying on Darkvision. If that's what you are indeed after. Simple and would eliminate all the annoying lighting changes that many 5e peeps are not going to like...and frankly don't make sense.

Put your energy into what looks to be a great game, and stop wasting time on the lighting. 


Level 5
Discord Link Newsletter Link
2 years ago (edited)

A bit disappointed that you had to change the lighting system that you developed as I thought it was better than 5e RAW.  I see where you say that you will try to make it an option to revert back to previous lighting system for those who preferred it but that the option might not be ready at launch.  Can you say for certain that the option would be available sometime after launch, if not at launch?  I would like that clarified as I am concerned that if you can't make it available at launch then you just will scrap it altogether.

Level 6
2 years ago

If they want to have lighting be impactful but not a game breaking annoyance they should have it work similar to having partial cover. Under dim lighting give them half cover, a simple and direct AC bonus. Disadvantage is a huge negative to apply for this condition. It also doesn't make sense that you have the exact same penalty for both dim light and no light scenarios. Keep total darkness as disadvantage, that's makes sense.

Level 6
2 years ago

Seems like one of the game's most interesting features is going to be relegated to a menu toggle. Disappointing, but fine by me. I guess at least this way it'll generate more sales (since less complaints = better reviews) and we get more content and updates

I honestly can't understand people who play tactical games and find the task of minimizing RNG and using the mechanics in place to your advantage annoying. With the addition of the new cantrips, and the torch throwing ability, I think this is the right way to go: giving players more lighting tools rather than changing the system altogether. 

2 years ago

Looking forward to test the changes to lighting. My main gripe was with the limited tactical options on creating light. Essentially lighting up yourself with a torch or Light. Or using Dancing Lights which requires concentration. And feeling that a cantrip is the best use of concentration in many/most encounters just felt wrong for a primary caster. Even at level 5/6. If there were more encounters where it was not a big factor it would also feel less bad.

I think the torch throw sounds like the best new option to create light. It allows you to place a light away from yourself. But can't move around once placed.

The cantrip to light multiple interactable object also sounds nice, but possibly a bit too powerful depending on how many it can affect and the range. Just thinking about it I would probably limit it to two or three. Or make it an area effect affecting all objects in a cube or sphere.

The cantrip to light up one enemy seems a bit op, and I guess it will also require concentrating on it. But the screenshot does not seem to show any concentration. Which is very op. Since it is almost a single target Faerie Fire in dark or dimly lit conditions it would need concentration and a save to avoid by the target to be balanced. So not really fixing things. And with potentially light sensitive creatures it would be even more powerful.

I would be happy with a non concentration cantrip that creates a single immobile point of light at range. And if you cast it again the previous one disappear. You could still concentrate on some higher level spell and use your Action to move the light on the battlefield by casting it again. So the spell version of torch throw, but only one in effect at a time. Makes it still be a tradeoff to manage light, but not as huge as to take priority over crowd control, buffs and debuffs that generally require concentration.

I never felt that the game was too difficult. The only part I got frustrated with was the shove in the first Sorak cave. And there I would have been fine if a featherfall saved the day. A simple way to create an "Easy" mode would be to just have it add a flat bonus to AC, Saves, Attacks and Spell DC. I would not add it to other ability checks as I doubt that is where people have issues. Given how bounded accuracy works in the 5e/SRD 5.1 +1 or +2 to all those would make everything much easier. I've never tried it but it sounds pretty simple to add and test.

Level 6
Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer Armorsmith (Bronze)
2 years ago (edited)

Something that could be good to add is the ability to light torches if you have a flaming object in your light box even if that is not equipped in your current Hand-set (even if it reduces the lightsource by a minute per go).
As it is if you have a weapon or shield with a light spell on it, you constantly need to swap back and forth to a torch/candle to light the sconces.

For in combat I had little issues with lighting but then I tended to hold back and take cover, using held actions to draw enemies into my lit up areas/characters.

That said, more tools are always handy.

- Loswaith