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Zapp
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Mystics and Corruption

Thu 01 Oct 2020, 22:06

What is the expected math behind the Corruption mechanics?

When you replaced spell slots with Corruption, were you aiming for a number that allows for more spellcasting? The same? Less?
That is, how many spells are a character expected to be able to cast? Per encounter? Per day?

I'm asking because I trust you designers to have crunched these numbers. And I'm not really interested in a number (like "four" or "seven"). I'm curious about how you would characterize the differences to a regular Wizard or Cleric, if any. In "spell output", as it were.

Cheers
 
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Jacob Rodgers
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Fri 02 Oct 2020, 13:35

This will be a slightly difficult question to answer, not because we don't know the answer, but because it's really up to the player.

First off, just a general note. In our minds, story/setting needs to come first. It's possible to work up a mechanically perfect system that would not fit the feel of Symbaroum at all. So the system needs to feel right, it needs to reflect the growing darkness and make people feel like they are gambling with their soul.

So on to the math:

At 1st level, a Mystic's Corruption Threshold is probably 7 (proficiency bonus of +2 x 2) + spellcasting ability modifier, which is likely +3). The cost for an unfavored 1st level spell is 1d4+1 temporary Corruption, the 'expected value' for a d4 is 2.5, so you can cast two 1st level spells, which is shockingly close to what a Wizard or a Cleric can do at that level. Of course, Mystics don't prepare their spells, everything they know they have available to them.

At 5th level, a Mystic's Corruption Threshold is probably 10 (pb +3, ASI at 4th level). To cast a 3rd level spell is an expected cost of 5.5, which means casting two of them means you'd be over your Corruption Threshold by 1. So that's the first part of the 'push your luck' peeking through. More on that in a minute. Of course, favored spells also can help tremendously, since they turn the expected value for that 3rd level spell into 3, instead of 5.5.

At 9th level, their Corruption Threshold might be 12 or 13. Two unfavored 5th level spells cost 15 temporary Corruption, so we're exceeding our Threshold again, by just a touch more. Of course favored spells are still around to help mitigate this cost.

—•—

THE FIRST PUSH-YOUR-LUCK MECHANIC:

The first, as I'm sure you've noticed, is that the Threshold is not a hard and fast limit. If this was a spell point system, you'd run out of points and couldn't cast anymore. Instead, you can keep going, but every time you add to your total and you're above the Threshold you have to roll the d20 and, if your result is under the difference between your current score and your Threshold, you're going to need to deal with consequences. This can allow you to dance over the line and hope your luck holds. Or you can completely nova some big bad but then you're going to be dealing with the consequences of that decision for likely some time.

WHERE ARE MY LOWER LEVEL SPELLS?

You've probably noticed that I was only paying attention to your highest level spell slots earlier. Of course, it's likely you're going to want to cast some other spells too. You'll make room for those by casting favored spells and takings rests on occasion. A short rest gets you your proficiency bonus back in temporary Corruption and a long rest gets you twice that. Those are free, but you can get even more back by paying. More on that in a moment.

At 1st level, a short rest gets you two points. Maybe enough to take a gamble on an unfavored cantrip or to cast a favored 1st level spell a couple more times.
At 5th level, you get 3 points. So an unfavored 1st level spell or favored spell of any level.
At 9th level, you get 4 points. Several favored low level spells or one or two unfavored spells.

Again, it's impossible to predict what the exact mix will be, because it really depends on the balance between favored and unfavored. It might be a little less than Wizard/Cleric but its still more flexible because you still have all your spells available to you.

THE SECOND PUSH-YOUR-LUCK MECHANIC

Notably, this one has you gambling with your life. In Ruins of Symbaroum, Hit Dice can be used to recover hit points or temporary Corruption. For either a short or long rest you can spend Hit Dice to recover HP or reduce temporary Corruption. You don't recover Hit Dice until you take an extended rest or a character's feature gives you a chance to do so. So, yes, a 1st level and a 3rd level (or 9th level and 11th level) character has the same Corruption Threshold and recovers the same amount of temporary Corruption on a short rest, but the one with more Hit Dice has a choice to gain more magical power or more hit points. That should always be an interesting decision.

In the future, we will talk more about new Approaches to the Mystic and how some of them approach managing temporary and permanent Corruption in completely different ways.
 
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Zapp
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Fri 02 Oct 2020, 23:07

Thank your for your reply.

Yes, there are several factors at work.

Still, I hope you keep an eye on the balance between classes. Specifically the Mystic, since it's arguably the class most reworked.

After all, if the Symbaroum version of the Fighter class was just half as strong as the D&D Fighter, and everything else remained the same, very few players would be satisfied playing a Fighter.

The same goes for a Mystic. If the class ends up only being able to cast half as many spells, and there isn't any mitigating factors, well... why then play a Mystic? Reducing the power of magic just because the world prescribes low-key magics doesn't really work in the context of the D&D game rules. Every PHB class is equally capable of getting the job done (=be successful at adventuring). Reduce the power of magic and you'd just see fewer spellcasting characters, with no upside.

(Again, there can be plenty of reasons why your mechanic could work. Just to take a single example - if adventures feature far few combat encounters, the class doesn't "need" as many spell "slots". So I'm not saying your system can't work.)
Last edited by Zapp on Fri 02 Oct 2020, 23:17, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Fri 02 Oct 2020, 23:12

Another thought. This time about spellcasting repertoire and flexibility.

It is absolutely okay to have inflexible spellcasters that do just a few things (warlocks and sorcerers are sometimes played like "magical archers" in the base D&D game).

But if you intend at least some subclasses/approaches to be flexible, care must be given towards 1) enough spells to learn, and 2) enough spells you can favor. Otherwise you'll end up with players getting frustrated by only using the same few spells over and over.

Original Symbaroum magic Talents featured broader and more awesome spell effects (relatively speaking). Standard D&D spells can come across as a tad... utilitarian, and they are often highly specific. What I'm saying is that you need comparatively more spells in your repertoire as a D&D Wizard than a magic user need in many other systems, including "classic" Symbaroum.
 
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Sat 03 Oct 2020, 16:17

Just as a point of consideration, we've been fairly clear about this, but I want to repeat that we are using the 5e core engine to present Symbaroum to folks who are interested in the setting but not ready to tackle a new set of rules (for themselves, their players or both). Ruins of Symbaroum does not use the same expectations about resting, number of combat encounters per rest, Hit Dice recovery, etc. Changes were made (and will be made) to make sure that the play experience will be evocatic of the setting.

Now, we will still maintain things like internal balance between classes and you'll find (as in our discussion above) that, when appropriate, we'll stick to something close to the baseline assumptions, perhaps trading in more versatility for a slightly shorter spell list, in order to keep as many familiar systems in place. But if you intend to extract out one of the RoS classes for use in a different setting, then you'll want to remember to account for the changes in setting expectations. And that won't be hard to do. But our primary goal is being able to sit down with the 5e rules and play in Symbaroum with both 'look and feel' being right.
 
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Zapp
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Mon 05 Oct 2020, 07:48

Sounds good, and again thanks.

D&D is successful to no small extent because it is a game where the utmost care has been taken to let every class bring roughly equal to the table; every class has just about the same capability to stand in the spotlight and contribute to the adventure's success. Just about no other game spends as much design energy on this aspect.

There have been so very many D&D adaptations that have forgotten about this expectation. Anything from World of Warcraft's 2nd and 3rd adaptations where class balance is clearly broken, to the more recent attempt by Cubicle 7 to bring Lord of the Rings to 5th Edition. Actually, Adventures in Middle-Earth is likely a good comparison - and a good cautionary tale that I hope and trust you are willing to learn from.

I completely understand the desire to scale back magic in both your world and that of Middle Earth. But when Cubicle 7 replaced Wizards with Scholars, they forgot to replace the magic that they reduced with "adventuring capability" somewhere else. You can't expect players to choose "half a class". The Scholar was widely criticized for being overshadowed by the Wardens and Warriors of that game, and C7 had to respond by updating the class in a supplement.

The unavoidable fact is that you have chosen to adapt a game whose very foundation is that every class is equal. Please don't repeat the mistake of underestimating how important this will be to your intended audience of D&D lovers curious about playing in your world. It is so very easy if you come from the rpg world outside of D&D, where this is often a much smaller issue. After all, you're positioning this game not for your regular customers, but for customers that are used to a far higher degree of class balance.

Good luck!
 
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Mon 05 Oct 2020, 13:52

Actually, Adventures in Middle-Earth is likely a good comparison - and a good cautionary tale that I hope and trust you are willing to learn from.
.

I joined the Adventures in Middle-earth team with the Loremaster's Guide and was able to lead the conversion effort from Rhovanion Region Guide and on. Of course, I learned a lot from that process and there's always room to improve. And, yes, I'm proud of the alternative Scholar and Warden, but that doesn't mean that the originals don't fit a particular playstyle. I'm very excited about the Approach system for Ruins of Symbaroum and how we will be able to accommodate different style characters with the same base class for balance reasons. More on that later in the designers' journal.
 
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Fri 06 Nov 2020, 18:18

D&D is perhaps the game where magic is most viewed as a tool as any other.

If your objective is to defeat your opponents, you don't care whether you do so by steel or fire.

If the mystics of RoS are significantly less powered than regular D&D spellcasters, while martial characters retain the same power level, players will simply choose to play Warriors and Rogues instead. This is a simple calculation, just as if you were playing a regular game of D&D, and the gamesmaster said "in this world, no armours are available". This would instantly make monks and barbarians much more worthwhile than Strength fighters. (Just a single example)

By lower power I mean if, for instance, the Corruption mechanic makes RoS casters cast fewer spells in practical play (or spells of less power than in default D&D). Obviously this remains to be seen.

Unless, of course, this is balanced somehow. If mystics are feared, for instance (plus in Intimidation? more of those Influence points? etc) or ideally something more direct to prop up magic.

Cheers.
 
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Re: Mystics and Corruption

Sat 07 Nov 2020, 15:50

First off, let's clarify what you're saying, a bit. When you mention the idea of a setting having a class in it that would (because of the setting) be a greater challenge to play and mechanically suboptimal, you are saying that you would not play that class. That's a perfectly valid opinion. However, there might be other players who would view that as a special challenge and purposefully elect to play that class in that setting. There are many other types of players and they would make their decisions based on other factors (desired story elements, playing either a favorite type of character or one different from their previous character, etc.).

But fortunately we're aiming for that not to be a concern with Ruins of Symbaroum. Remember that a Mystic (for the most part*) does not prepare spells and does not have an ultimate upper limit to the spells they can cast. Sure, you want to stay under your Corruption limit, but you don't have to. And all of your spells are available to you. But, yes, you're also much more vulnerable to Corruption both through the push-your-luck mechanics and in the setting socially, as you can easily become the target of the Church or Witch-hunters. In playtesting so far, mystics are very comparable to core class capabilities, using (especially favored) cantrips when not under direct threat and letting loose with levelled spells when the situation warrants it, or allows them to be especially effective with them.

It's also worth mentioning that fighters and magic-users consume the same resource — Hit Dice — in order to stay active longer. It's just that the magic-users are balancing those Hit Dice between using them for hit points and reducing Corruption. But they also usually have the advantage of range and are less likely to need the Hit Dice for healing.

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