Suggestions for fixing Sorcery

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Vortigern
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Postby Vortigern » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:16 am

I'm not very concerned... at that point we are talking about legendary sorcerer grade characters. Those are precisely the type of people that 'should' have ready access to such materials/equipment. It makes sense.

As for meta-concerns, I don't really find those terribly serious either. A warrior type character, much less a thief with all those sneak attack dice, is going to be doing so much damage as to be exceedingly lethal as well.

Access to the tools of the trade as it were, to me, just levels the playing field a bit for scholars in general... both low and high level.

Maybe it would suck to get double banged with kothic demon fire. But not more than it would suck to get hit with a greatsword two or three times in one turn, or to get your throat slit in the dead of night. Getting hit with nasty stuff sucks. My reaction however isn't to turn around and start nerf everyone/thing... because the lethality is something I /like/ about the system. Instead I concentrate on not being hit with nasty stuff. Oh, and having a bag full of demon fire handy. :wink:
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Postby LilithsThrall » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:23 am

Vortigern wrote:I'm not very concerned... at that point we are talking about legendary sorcerer grade characters. Those are precisely the type of people that 'should' have ready access to such materials/equipment. It makes sense.

As for meta-concerns, I don't really find those terribly serious either. A warrior type character, much less a thief with all those sneak attack dice, is going to be doing so much damage as to be exceedingly lethal as well.

Access to the tools of the trade as it were, to me, just levels the playing field a bit for scholars in general... both low and high level.

Maybe it would suck to get double banged with kothic demon fire. But not more than it would suck to get hit with a greatsword two or three times in one turn, or to get your throat slit in the dead of night. Getting hit with nasty stuff sucks. My reaction however isn't to turn around and start nerf everyone/thing... because the lethality is something I /like/ about the system. Instead I concentrate on not being hit with nasty stuff. Oh, and having a bag full of demon fire handy. :wink:
You might want to check the rules again. Greater TK allows you to throw one item per level. If you just make sorcery items cost less silver, you can end up with a 10th level sorcerer doing 50d6 points of damage in a round.
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Postby Vortigern » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:38 am

Possibly, yet highly unlikely for someone with a head on their shoulders IMO.

I at least also stop to think about effect vs. expense. Sure, smack some goon or guard captain with a bunch of the stuff and you are quite likely to have solved that 'problem'. ( About as effectively as the aforementioned greatsword or sneak attack imo. Possibly you disagree, but I don't see how. A sneak attack in this system is hard to live through. The greatsword is almost as bad. )

But you've also been put out monetarily because your attack was based on an ( expensive ) expendable item.

At least at current put out rather significantly. ( Yes, I argue it should be less significantly. )

So the important question to the scholar becomes, is that guy worth using my stash of cool stuff on? Magic is expensive. Good magic costs even more.

So, while you could theoretically have some high level sorcerer smack someone with a whole pile of fire-globes... my question, aside from the gamist nature of the posit to begin with, is 'why' would he ever do so outside of some rather particular circumstances of extreme danger/hatred?

If it is IC, following the story etc, I don't mind it at all. If the moment really matters, maybe he thinks it is worth the expense.

If he hits every encounter with the stuff until they are all smoking craters... fine. I don't mind it still, I'm just going to rigorously enforce the cost of all of those globes. He won't be doing that for long.

I simply don't agree with you on that one.
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Postby LilithsThrall » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:52 am

Vortigern wrote:Possibly, yet highly unlikely for someone with a head on their shoulders IMO.

I at least also stop to think about effect vs. expense. Sure, smack some goon or guard captain with a bunch of the stuff and you are quite likely to have solved that 'problem'. ( About as effectively as the aforementioned greatsword or sneak attack imo. Possibly you disagree, but I don't see how. A sneak attack in this system is hard to live through. The greatsword is almost as bad. )

But you've also been put out monetarily because your attack was based on an ( expensive ) expendable item.

At least at current put out rather significantly. ( Yes, I argue it should be less significantly. )

So the important question to the scholar becomes, is that guy worth using my stash of cool stuff on? Magic is expensive. Good magic costs even more.

So, while you could theoretically have some high level sorcerer smack someone with a whole pile of fire-globes... my question, aside from the gamist nature of the posit to begin with, is 'why' would he ever do so outside of some rather particular circumstances of extreme danger/hatred?

If it is IC, following the story etc, I don't mind it at all. If the moment really matters, maybe he thinks it is worth the expense.

If he hits every encounter with the stuff until they are all smoking craters... fine. I don't mind it still, I'm just going to rigorously enforce the cost of all of those globes. He won't be doing that for long.

I simply don't agree with you on that one.
Your argument is that you can find a sweet spot where alchemical items are reasonably affordable to low level scholars, yet expensive enough that ten levels later scholars will think twice about using them. Where do you think this sweet spot is?
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Postby Vortigern » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:47 pm

I rather like Thulsa's alchemy feat/class feature. It gives a good baseline. You have to have the skill to take it and it reduces the prices of the items for purposes of crafting them.

That would be a step in the right direction. These things should still be rare and expensive outside of sorcerous circles, just like sorcerers themselves.

And really, this sweet spot concept you are talking about ( which is not what I was arguing, but more your attempt to rather snarkily conform my points into your viewpoint IMO ), revolves more around play and gming style than anything else. The people who play in 'episodic' type styles tend to just give their scholars a list of the 'cool stuff' that they have at the start of each adventure/session.

Money-flow is very dependent here. If your scholar ends up in a socially dominant position with a high income... is going to have a different threshold for viewing something as an acceptable expense than the guy who is a wandering druid.

My point I suppose is that there is no magic number to come up with that will solve that particular issue to everyone's satisfaction because it pivots so strongly on play style. Both in relation to the pricing, and how it would achieve a given meta-game end in a given moneyflow circumstance, and in relation to the fact that people are going to disagree ( like you and I ) as to how proliferated these items should be.

Which is why I like the alchemy feat and think a line of such feats or class options would be a good set of optional rules to allow people to make such things more available to the right people without being a floodgate type of thing.

And contrary to your, rather argumentative, framing of my position... no... I don't really think 'ten levels later' the sorcerer should be worrying much about throwing a globe of demon-fire here and there. That, rather, is my point. He shouldn't. Throwing huge volleys of the things would still be prohibitively expensive, but it shouldn't be a big deal to use these things in general, which you seem to disagree with.
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Postby Demetrio » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:00 pm

Why will high level characters have more silver available, as a rule, than low level ones anyway?
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Postby Spectator » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:57 pm

Demetrio wrote:Why will high level characters have more silver available, as a rule, than low level ones anyway?
#1 their skills are sought after (especially Wizards, who could end up being "Court Scholar" of a realm), thus they can command more money.
#2 They can take it with impunity from those who have it and don't wan't to hire them
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Postby Demetrio » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:07 pm

Spectator wrote:
#1 their skills are sought after (especially Wizards, who could end up being "Court Scholar" of a realm), thus they can command more money.
#2 They can take it with impunity from those who have it and don't wan't to hire them
Then let them. After all they now have to do things to actually get the silver - toady and bootlick as a monarch's pet magician or go forth and rob all that silver that people keep lying about in their houses. And then transport it. And keep it safe til needed. And check its purity. And suchlike sorcerous behaviour.

I just can't see oodles of silver being readily available for sorcerous purposes. Or at least not readily available enough to worry too much about.

But if your campaign does feature an abundance of silver then why not make the essential element something rarer - or at least not as readily attainable?
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Postby LilithsThrall » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:13 pm

Spectator wrote:
Demetrio wrote:Why will high level characters have more silver available, as a rule, than low level ones anyway?
#1 their skills are sought after (especially Wizards, who could end up being "Court Scholar" of a realm), thus they can command more money.
#2 They can take it with impunity from those who have it and don't wan't to hire them
High level characters aren't still chasing sewer rats in the middle of nowhere. High level characters engage in bigger campaigns. They are movers and shakers in the campaign. Conan became a king. Belit became a Pirate lord. High level characters aren't rank and file soldiers, they command armies. They aren't minor league players in the game of houses, they are powerful puppeteers in the king's court (if not the king himself). And with that power comes wealth at least most of the time unless the GM wants to make it harder to suspend disbelief.
If you are European (and I know many people on these boards are), know that "sweet spot' isn't snark. It's an American expression meaning roughly the best place to put the fulcrum, or the bullseye on a target, or the like.
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Postby Demetrio » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:20 pm

Some are movers and shakers. Some aren't. Some, like Conan, move and shake erratically.

But if you're moving and shaking then why not just shift the focus to another, less ubiquitous element than silver?
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Postby Teriudin » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:46 pm

My experience is that at high level, you have more things to spend silver on than piles of alchemy. Bribing nobility, assembly an army, paying your cohorts/followers, and practically every spell worth casting requiring 300+ silver in components.

And it also doesn't necessarily flow like water. In conan, there isn't much drawback to throwing a ton of silver on your players at low level - it'll be gone before you know it through high living. Scholars can prevent some of that, but not all. As a GM, simply limit the amount of alchemy available and watch the silver go away.

I have no problem if I were GMing of giving 2000 silver to low level characters who pillage a tomb or something. Conan does get the gems and jewels as often as he is forced to leave it behind to save the damsel.

The biggest drawback of alchemy is it takes massive amounts of time to create for a player, so no matter what the DM is going to control the valve on how much alchemy is available. Fate points/silver/supply are all controlled by the GM.

Since fate points in general are equivelent to lives (Left for dead and "Found by somoene after Left for Dead" being the most common application in my experience)
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Postby Spectator » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:05 pm

I think LT really brought up a good point:
1. Low lvel wizs suck
2. Alchemy is a level balancer
3. Low level wizs who can benefit the most can't obtain it w/o massive weath.
4. High level wizs who can make it, probably don't need it.

She asks the question what is a useful trade for some one w/ out wealth and skill to get it?

I think the happy medium/ sweetspot/ is the fate point OPTION. It's just an option, it doesn't replace the tedious and costly 1st Ed. way of brewing up a potion.

IF you are not pleased with LTs idea, explain what you would do, if anything at all to bridge the paradox listed in items 1-4 above?
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Postby LilithsThrall » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:06 pm

Demetrio wrote:Some are movers and shakers. Some aren't. Some, like Conan, move and shake erratically.

But if you're moving and shaking then why not just shift the focus to another, less ubiquitous element than silver?
That's what I did. I shifted it from silver to fate chips which are not only a different game element, but are more evenly distributed across levels.
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Postby Demetrio » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:27 pm

Yes but they are not real in the game world, they're a meta gaming artefact. I don't see a gameplay problem with using them particularly, apart from their relative rarity and the fact that they don't really tie to alchemy in any way, I just don't especially see the need either.
Low lvel wizs suck
Well yes and no. Their knowledge base can be more useful than their spells in some campaigns.

That said, I quite like the idea of an Alchemy feat.
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Postby LilithsThrall » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:30 pm

Demetrio wrote:Yes but they are not real in the game world, they're a meta gaming artefact. I don't see a gameplay problem with using them particularly, apart from their relative rarity and the fact that they don't really tie to alchemy in any way, I just don't especially see the need either.
Low lvel wizs suck
Well yes and no. Their knowledge base can be more useful than their spells in some campaigns.

That said, I quite like the idea of an Alchemy feat.
Noone who supports the idea of an Alchemy feat (which, I presume, means a feat to make Alchemy items cheaper) has made any attempt to point out where the sweet spot is - where Alchemy items are cheap enough for low level characters to have reasonable access to them without being so cheap that high level characters can toss them around without thinking about their expense.
I'd like to see -somebody- who favors an alchemy feat address that.
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Postby Spectator » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:26 pm

LilithsThrall wrote:
Demetrio wrote:Yes but they are not real in the game world, they're a meta gaming artefact. I don't see a gameplay problem with using them particularly, apart from their relative rarity and the fact that they don't really tie to alchemy in any way, I just don't especially see the need either.
Low lvel wizs suck
Well yes and no. Their knowledge base can be more useful than their spells in some campaigns.

That said, I quite like the idea of an Alchemy feat.
Noone who supports the idea of an Alchemy feat (which, I presume, means a feat to make Alchemy items cheaper) has made any attempt to point out where the sweet spot is - where Alchemy items are cheap enough for low level characters to have reasonable access to them without being so cheap that high level characters can toss them around without thinking about their expense.
I'd like to see -somebody- who favors an alchemy feat address that.

I suppoert it (the alchemy feat) and THULSA even described it in his Scholar varian class.
It stillmade Alchemy expnesive but not as much.
I think the simpler potions and such were knocked to about 1/4 their cost to make.
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Postby LilithsThrall » Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:16 pm

Spectator wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:
Demetrio wrote:Yes but they are not real in the game world, they're a meta gaming artefact. I don't see a gameplay problem with using them particularly, apart from their relative rarity and the fact that they don't really tie to alchemy in any way, I just don't especially see the need either.
Well yes and no. Their knowledge base can be more useful than their spells in some campaigns.

That said, I quite like the idea of an Alchemy feat.
Noone who supports the idea of an Alchemy feat (which, I presume, means a feat to make Alchemy items cheaper) has made any attempt to point out where the sweet spot is - where Alchemy items are cheap enough for low level characters to have reasonable access to them without being so cheap that high level characters can toss them around without thinking about their expense.
I'd like to see -somebody- who favors an alchemy feat address that.

I suppoert it (the alchemy feat) and THULSA even described it in his Scholar varian class.
It stillmade Alchemy expnesive but not as much.
I think the simpler potions and such were knocked to about 1/4 their cost to make.
Okay, you support it. So, please point out where the sweet spot is.
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Postby Voltumna » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:54 am

LilithsThrall wrote:Okay, you support it. So, please point out where the sweet spot is.
There doesn't need to be a sweet spot. It is just an artificial recourse to make alchemy more accessible, just like the use of fate points for the same purpose.

Vortigern makes a good point about the lethality of different killing styles: the two handed weapon, the sneak attack and alchemical bombs, being alchemy very expensive. In that light, I would make the more vulgar alchemical items (lower cost explosives) plain easy to manufacture, not even a feat required, very low cost for materials, and even in an improvised (no cost) laboratory. Let the poor man's kothic fire be FREE!!! :lol:
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Postby Demetrio » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:00 am

Vortigern makes a good point about the lethality of different killing styles: the two handed weapon, the sneak attack and alchemical bombs, being alchemy very expensive. In that light, I would make the more vulgar alchemical items (lower cost explosives) plain easy to manufacture, not even a feat required, very low cost for materials, and even in an improvised (no cost) laboratory. Let the poor man's kothic fire be FREE!!!
It is a good point if character damage dealing is the only factor. But we should also surely bear in mind that 'tone' is important. A sorcerer who can basically hurl hand grenades willy-nilly isn't desperately Conan to my mind. And sorcerers have uses outside of combat which compensate, at least partially, for their limited damage dealing.
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Postby Voltumna » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:06 am

Demetrio wrote:
Vortigern makes a good point about the lethality of different killing styles: the two handed weapon, the sneak attack and alchemical bombs, being alchemy very expensive. In that light, I would make the more vulgar alchemical items (lower cost explosives) plain easy to manufacture, not even a feat required, very low cost for materials, and even in an improvised (no cost) laboratory. Let the poor man's kothic fire be FREE!!!
It is a good point if character damage dealing is the only factor. But we should also surely bear in mind that 'tone' is important. A sorcerer who can basically hurl hand grenades willy-nilly isn't desperately Conan to my mind. And sorcerers have uses outside of combat which compensate, at least partially, for their limited damage dealing.
And I agree with that. Assuming some alchemical items could be available for almost no cost, that doesn't mean that you will be producing industrial volumes of the substance daily. I would say that as cheap as it may come to be, there is still time involved in manufacture, making it fairly common among those knowledgeable to make it, but not in any manner abundant, unless you spend a month in your improvised laboratory doing nothing else but produce the stuff. Even then it would be ridiculous to have a character carry loads of the stuff around to throw left and right. So yes, it is a matter of tone and play-style. And yes, there are other uses for mages in the game, easily available alchemy does not exclude those other uses. Speaking of which, this thread is focusing mostly on alchemy when it should be focusing on sorcery and scholars.

One thing I dislike about the system is the limited number of spells and sorcery styles a sorcerer gets, even with bonus spells for higher intelligence. I liked the fix of Thulsa where there are only a given number of sorcery styles, but access to advanced spells is unrestricted as long as there is a way to learn the spells. So, a straight scholar gets 7 sorcery styles in his 20 levels career, which may amount for a fair degree of versatility, but I sometimes find this limiting. For example if I remember correctly, Tsotha Lanti in Skrolls of Skelos doesn't have the Counterspells style. Now, any sorcerer worth its salt has to have Counterspells, specially an archsorcerer. So in order to achieve a canonical Tsotha (loaded with black magic and the oriental spells that allowed him to outmaneuver the panterish Conan) he ended up without magical defenses. One fix I've thought for this is that a sorcerer could gain a new sorcery style whenever his base magic attack bonus improved. In this manned a sorcerer may end up with as many as 10 sorcery styles. I would make it an option to learn either a new sorcery style or an advanced spell of a known sorcery style. As there are also character concepts that don't require as many sorcery styles. Normal rules as to which style or spell would still apply.
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