Elminster Open Discussion

For the discussion of general topics about the game.
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Harroghty
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Harroghty » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:52 pm

Talos wrote:If illusory pit is broken and/or every agrees it is creating a too imbalanced situation for combat, it may be considered included with no instakill spells.

Also, as there has been some question, when starting the stun portion of a bout, one is not obliged to use an attack spell. But once you begin casting, effectively combat has begun, so your opponent may start attacking you.

Disintegrate is mechanically just dealing damage, far as I can see, so it's legal if it's not actually instakilling.

viewtopic.php?f=72&t=22296&start=40#p145100
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Hrosskell » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:33 pm

I guess, ultimately, I interpreted that post differently than those across the aisle. Two ifs and a maybe do not calculate to "yes, it is broken, and yes, the community agrees" for me. Is this clarification that the spell is actually banned from the tournament?
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Zorinar » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:21 am

Harroghty wrote:
Talos wrote:If illusory pit is broken and/or every agrees it is creating a too imbalanced situation for combat, it may be considered included with no instakill spells.

Also, as there has been some question, when starting the stun portion of a bout, one is not obliged to use an attack spell. But once you begin casting, effectively combat has begun, so your opponent may start attacking you.

Disintegrate is mechanically just dealing damage, far as I can see, so it's legal if it's not actually instakilling.

viewtopic.php?f=72&t=22296&start=40#p145100

Disintegrate is supposed to turn the foe into dust if they fail their save. The fact that it just does damage on stun mode is the code blocking the effect. There is no way to "control" the effect of turning someone to dust and just stun them, which is why that spell has always been considered "cheese" for spars, if not outright code metagaming. The Orbs are/ and always have been 100% broken (especially fire) and should not be allowed, they are an "I win spell" and thus classified as "cheese", Earth Reaver is "cheese", Illusory Pit is "cheese", Phantasmal Killer is just like Disintegrate and should not be used because how do you control an insta death spell to only stun? It also doesn't have the right spell saves on it I think. The issue is that most spells are not correctly working on FK so players need to resort to the Cheese Spells. Why does it take 20 GM lightning bolts to kill a fighter? None of the damage spells do their proper damage ratio (since everyone has 30% greater HP, all damage spells should be doing 30% greater damage) and thus the player-base has been forced to use spells in ways they should not be used. Clerics have the same set of issues but with different spells. Honestly, the entire spell system needs to be overhauled.
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Areia » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:02 am

Disintegrate doesn't (and shouldn't, as per SRD) instantly kill if the save fails. It just does damage, 2d6/level max 40d6, to be precise, unless the target successfully saves, in which case (s)he takes 5d6 instead. In either case, if the damage dealt kills the target, then the target is disintegrated. It's purely a damage spell, in FK and D&D alike, not an instant-death spell akin to phantasmal killer etc.

Either way, I'm overall pretty happy with the way the contest was devised, pains were taken to make the field as even as possible between classes that weren't originally meant to be pitted against each other without having a million rules no one could remember. And so far, it seems there's a pretty even split between the classes: some warriors are doing well, some clerics are doing well, some wizards are doing well, while on the other hand some of all the same are not doing well. So it feels pretty fair to me, as fair as it can get, again, without making a ton of rules or exceptions for this or that circumstance. Someone's always going to feel like their the most disadvantaged member of the lot, and someone's always going to be unhappy. Nothing really to do for that. But I'm grateful for the effort put in.
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Simossus » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:17 am

Zorinar wrote:Disintegrate is supposed to turn the foe into dust if they fail their save. The fact that it just does damage on stun mode is the code blocking the effect. There is no way to "control" the effect of turning someone to dust and just stun them, which is why that spell has always been considered "cheese" for spars, if not outright code metagaming. The Orbs are/ and always have been 100% broken (especially fire) and should not be allowed, they are an "I win spell" and thus classified as "cheese", Earth Reaver is "cheese", Illusory Pit is "cheese", Phantasmal Killer is just like Disintegrate and should not be used because how do you control an insta death spell to only stun? It also doesn't have the right spell saves on it I think. The issue is that most spells are not correctly working on FK so players need to resort to the Cheese Spells. Why does it take 20 GM lightning bolts to kill a fighter? None of the damage spells do their proper damage ratio (since everyone has 30% greater HP, all damage spells should be doing 30% greater damage) and thus the player-base has been forced to use spells in ways they should not be used. Clerics have the same set of issues but with different spells. Honestly, the entire spell system needs to be overhauled.
  • Disintegrate is a ray spell that does an unspecified type ofdamage in which -can- turn a foe to dust should they be taken to 0 or fewer HP. It has in the very far past been a save-or-die spell, but not within the turn of the decade.http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Disintegrate
  • 'Orb of element' needs a serious look at. Or a glance.
  • Earth Reaver in its current iteration gives too much bang for the buck. Save works now, so that's something. Ties into FK's list of conditions that, in my opinion, need a little revamping.
  • Illusory Pit in its current iteration gives too much bang for the buck. Save works, along with effect immunities. Ties into FK's list of conditions.
  • Phantasmal Killer hints at a need of a secondary save check - namely fortitude.
  • Save-or-die spells hold no place in a spar, let alone in a tournament setting unless otherwise specified. I could dig those kinds of tournaments.
  • Why am I hungry for baby swiss?
  • Everyone has the health they have. You know we are 2.5 times more hardy than tabletop characters. There is to account the lesser relative damage for spells in conjunction with the lesser relative damage for melee/ranged strikes. Change one, gotta change the other. But I believe that is more than accounted for in the number of spells a caster here on FK can memorize and regain via meditation. What have non-casters gained in that regard?
  • This cheese is human nature working with unknowns. Conduct -> Observe -> Hypothesize -> Conduct. Human nature to record what works best and to repeat the conditions. FK is generally a huge unknown.

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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Yemin » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:06 am

All points are well laid out Sim, one thing I do strongly disagree with though is the health increase vs spell damage.

Unless we are going to see a marked increase in the number of spells we can memorize or cantrips no longer have to be memorized and dont' need recharging plus are pumped up in damage melee attacks have a big advantage over every other form of damage. Even were ranged damage on bows working properly.

the reason so many people use the killer, or big bang for least cost spells is as Zorinar says, Even my wizard who's been at the top of his game for years now, sporting his 100 or so spells will run out of offensive spells in about 5 minutes if he wanted to keep up with the damage output of a fighter or cleric meleeing. this isn't an endorsement to keep the spells the way they are. I'm just pointing out that in my experience the statement that casters have enough spell slots is woefully overestimating the situation.

I'd go so far to say that this very facet of the game goes a logn way to make pure casters whether spell built bards / clerics or wizards much harder to play. I'd estimate that until about level 31 as a wizard, there is just no point in using straight damage spells. You will run out in about 2 minutes then have to spend the next 5 to 10 minutes regaining them.

I will also point out, for the sake of completeness that the skill system in terms of damage spells isn't very useful either. A grand mastered or mastered lightning bolt might be able to kill a howling peak goblin, but for a long time it just doesn't do much than soften a single target. As Zorinar said, why does it take 10 or more more lightning bolts at GM to kill a fighter. Something I'd say is a conservative estimate in my experience. A table level 20 fighter with 20 constitution gets 300 Hp right? At this point he will have something like a +10 to his reflex save, 6 base +1 dex +3 from magical item we'll say.

A table level 20 wizard with 20 int and only spellfocus evocation, as nobody to my knowledge here has greater spellfocus. He's an evoker so he prob maximizes and I think we're ready for the simulation.

Dc19 on a maxed lightning bolt, 60 damage if fighter fails the save, 30 if he succeeds. this fighter will on average fail a lightning bolt a bit more often than 1 in 3 times

This wizard will kill the fighter in about 8 hits of his lightning bolt. If the fighter just stands there and takes it like a champ of course :)

I'd prefer this not turn into a what if he had this feat or the wizard had that feat, there are too many feats to consider. I was very conservative with both for the purposes of the example which in my experience is roughly correct.

Now against NPCs:
Goblins usually have 5 hp or thereabouts and have a ref save not worth even thinking about, a level 5 caster with lightning bolt can fry them everytime since the lowest roll at that level is 5D6

Now, there are a lot of NPCs here that are stronger or weaker than their table counterparts. Thats actually a good thing, adds variety which I like. But for the purposes of explaining my point. You see that the area spells that are meant to be able to handle large swathes of enemies as the artilary unit in a military board game does, can no longer do so. Evocation is practically a support and debuff school now, it softens enemies a little bit so the fighter can one round the enemy with his 4 hits instead of needing to take 2 rounds. Illusion, conjuration and transmutation have become the artillary school which is odd, but it is what it is.

And of course in my experience it isn't normal to GM a spell, I still have no GM spells. The activity of grinding skills is too repetetive for me but I understand there are those who enjoy it? Though its hard to fathem how for me.

The current HP level far favors melee. The point at which we would get enough memorized spells to balance out would be too many an may cause other problems though.

In the end, this isn't really about how much damage a spell does. The numbers are just the packaging. One school of magic or a category of spells were originally calculated to have defined and sure effects to the original game. A lightning bolt will always reduce a stock goblin to 0. thus the DM can feel free to throw 15 goblins at a party of levle 5 characters plus a big bad, and some other things and know that in one stroke the wizard could if he/she is is so inclined, decimate the field. To the players it looks cool and feels satisfying.

You can only get a fraction of this effect with evocation damage spells if you GM each and every single one. And even then, well. As explained above they tend to still fall a little flat.

In summary:
the HP increase changes the entire planescape in dealing damage with spells. Damage is just the pretty packaging, offensive damage spells are supposed to be a tool to use to remove some kinds of enemies off the board and leave other kinds still able to fight via the mechanic of lower or high HP.
Last edited by Yemin on Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Talos » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:12 pm

Please keep this focused on the topic itself. How it effects the tournament or should effect it. Discussion of the game balance at large sans the tournament should be its own thread. There are many good points here, but also remember to keep it constructive.
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Yemin » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:40 pm

Apologies, got carried away.
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!

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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Areia » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:43 pm

Given past experience, I've been sort of going back and forth as to whether to post more here, but why not? I'd only start by saying I hope the below ideas are taken as they're meant, as sincere offering of the conclusions of a few personal brainstorming sessions made to try to make future such tournaments more fun for all involved, since that's what we're all here for. To those whom the post offends, true apologies, but please stay out of my inboxes. ^^

So, these have been super fun for me and, I think, for a lot of other participants, too. I didn't have any OOC troubles during the first tournament, and this second went just as fun through my first three or so duels, but the fun was rather sucked out of it when I started to see osay/otell/PM/forum post/even further out-of-game discussion turned toward class OPness and even worse, accusations of my personally being a cheat/powergamer/whatever. I understand some PCs will IC not be happy to lose--I have a sore loser among my own roster--but when things start bleeding into OOC I had a very hard time enjoying, and frankly have since had some real difficulty in enjoying Areia in general when it comes to combat situations even PvE, which really, really sucks. That is the main reason I elected not to partake further beyond a re-match I was asked to give despite also being re-assured that I never broke any rules. I don't know (and don't particularly want to know) whether I was the only one in this second season to be complained at for such things, by participants and even by non-participating observers alike, but if not, hopefully this will help make future contests feel even more level.

Some of the points above taken together, I'm led to believe the biggest issue (again, in my own experience) was a feeling that certain classes are vastly underpowered compared to other classes, even given the rules--rules that, judging by the numbers I've seen as they continue, have actually done really well despite popular opinion--already put in place to try to mitigate those gaps. The first tournament saw very, very few casters as I recall, and so it wasn't so much a trouble then. So, what if in the next contest (I do hope there'll be a next just as soon as this one came!), we keep the open format of bouts but within base-class limitations for the beginning, let that go on for a time, and once the best of each class has proven him or her self, then open it up fully to cross-class competition? Essentially, these are the benefits I see gained from such a format:
  • Not overly complicated to understand or remember. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think ease of use, so to speak, is just as important as fairness for rules. If witnesses, or for that matter the combattants themselves, who are already burdened with the pressure of performing well, have to memorize five thousand unclear rules, less fun will be had and more complaints will invariably arise. So, keep it simple.
  • The open, free-for-all style format is maintained, giving each PC an equal chance at everyone instead of pitting one PC randomly against only one other, who might well be far beyond his or her skill level, before elimination. I very much like this format in general over the one-strike-your-out sort of field, and I think most agree.
  • Essentially round one would comprise warriors (including squires/paladins) v. warriors, priests v. priests, etc., which will start the game on grounds that I can't honestly see being challenged. Every combattant will have the same potential etc. as each of his opponents. What about the differences between secondary-casters and non-casters within one base-class? I suspect that casting differences in general will only be felt most strongly during the second, cross-class round (see below), in practice. Fighters don't have magic but paladins do; nevertheless, none of a paladin's magic actually targets a fighters worst weaknesses, and really only serve to bring the paladin onto equal footing with the fighter as far as stats, damage, tohit, etc. go. Likewise with rangers v. fighters, and bards v. thieves.
  • Once a winner or winners (I would say that if two or more people in the same base-class gain an equal number of wins, they can all go to the open round)are found for each base-class entered, then it will be assumed that you are the best of your peers, proven capable of branching out to test yourself against a master wizard, or a superb thief. This allows for there still to be one ultimate winner at end, which is the goal in my mind, since having four or five different champions based by class feels messy and, given the rewards that we've seen for champions, too much.
  • Just as with the first hypothetical round, and as in the Elminster Open, whoever gains the most wins in this second round is named overall winner, ties determined by melees/whatever as normal.
Further but less sweeping ideas:

maintain the rule barring consumed/activated items. I felt that during the first competition, activated items, instead of skill and strategy, were the focus for a lot of bouts. Please god--don't take that as a swipe against anyone who used activated items during the first contest--I really, really, really love you all and just want to be friends! I don't mean to say it was unfair or whatnot, but it definitely gave characters with deeper roots, as well as those with better connections, an edge. More importantly to me, the duels in the Elminster Open have been much more exciting for observers and challenging for participants, I think, purely because it's more a test of who knows his class and strategy best, over who's going to pull out the flashiest item(s) which may or may not have been borrowed from buddies. I did consider suggesting allowing non-casters and secondary-casters to use activated items when pitted against primary-casters, but frankly, from what I've seen in the Elminster Open, it would likely do little more than to make casters feel like they're the ones being given unfair circumstance. Besides, the next idea will help even more with the cross-class issue I hope.

Consider ruling that all casters (i.e., wizards, clerics, druids, as well as paladins, rangers, bards) compete with combatmode -cast set. This is a more general rule than allowing certain things in certain conditions, so it is easier to follow and judge. Moreover, it will allow fighters and thieves a chance to interrupt spellcasting. I foresee a possible arising of complaint about how hard and awful it is to train concentration especially for low-CON or low-INT PCs, but as far as I've always seen, it takes really only middling concentration levels to be able to cast through most warrior's attacks half reliably, even without tons of CON. As an example, Areia faught a high-STR warrior the other day with combatmode -cast, and actually did a lot better than I had intended lol, without CON buffs and with only fair concentration proficiency.

These are the best things I could think to suggest while maintaining relative simplicity in rules. In addition to considering the rule about activated/consumable items, I thought about suggesting to add more spells to the ban list, as I myself refrained from casting certain spells (e.g., never used timestop, disintegrate)and certain others v. certain classes specifically to try not to be an ass even though that ended up not going well (e.g., didn't use black tentacles v. secondary-casters, etc.), as well as other possible suggestions, but it ended up getting too complicated. I sincerely think a format like the above with added non-defensive casting is a very good bet for finding suitably enjoyable grounds for our magically disabled friends as wel as our magically gifted ones. Feeling like you or someone else is being bullied by powerful characters is no fun, but neither is feeling like you're the bully when you never intended anything the like. Hopefully this will lead to more funzies all around!
TL/DR wrote: In future tournaments,
  • Keep the open format, but keep it restricted to like-classes v. like-classes to begin with.
  • Once a winner or winners for each base-class is found, open it up to cross-class combat.
  • Keep the restriction against consumable/activated items.
  • Everyone fights with combatmode -cast.
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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Aysa » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:42 pm

I'm going to throw my two pennies into the conversation, though I will make the full disclaimer: I do not like these things.

Talaedra - she'd be too busy being out in the woods to care, and this is such a "human" and "civilization" thing. Let's see you hunt in the wild, and then we'll talk about "who's the best".

Nixa - she's just here to look pretty. That, and well, she's designed to be a supporting role. By herself, she could charm the pants off of you but she lacks the marital skills to (OOC: in my best Mortal Kombat voice) "FINISH 'EM".

Galeena - she's just a squire, and fighting in tournaments is frivolous.

With the disclaimers out of the way, here are my thoughts when I see these tournaments. And really, I hope you don't take this negatively. I'm just voicing an opinion that's not directed to anyone.

In real life, there is no tournament to determine who's the best nurse, who's the best computer nerd, or who's the best human. Sure, there are events put on by certain organizations... but you have to be a member, or you have to pay an entry fee, or you have to do something where you go out of your way to join the tournament, and then you understand full well that these are the rules. If someone decides to sweep the leg, Johnny... there are penalties. If someone decides to do the swan kick and kicks an opponent in the head, which should have not counted but the judges wanted a cinematic victory, then so be it. *ahems* But I digress...

The point being is that I understand the OOC reasoning behind the tournaments. You get to pit your character against another in this environment, where otherwise, it's considered PvP - and could really hurt feelings. It's supposed to be safe to see how one character matches up with another. After all, these tournaments appear to exist in a vacuum. For me personally, I like to ROLEplay. Though, I get it, people also like to ROLLplay. (Min/max stats, develop characters so that maximum damage can be dealt, etc). I don't fault those who choose to play either way.

My suggestion would be to have guilds hold the tournaments, but I know that we don't have the huge player base to make that truly interesting. But if you want to play that rogue, who can fight in the shadows, get in and out of a fight while utilizing a poisoned blade... a tournament is not your arena. If you want to be Battle Mage and blow up crap from a distance before the fighter can rip through you with his 80,000 attacks... a tournament is not really your environment.

I guess if I was going the TL / DR route:
[*]Suck it up, butter cup... this is a tournament. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! You are put in an environment that may cater to a certain type of character / strategy / skill sets. If you're upset because someone is able to excel at the parameters of the tournament... then create a tournament where the parameters are not quite the same. I would NEVER expect a rogue to win a heads-up one on one fight. They aren't meant to! Sure, I can craft a rogue to become a fierce warrior when pressed (dual-fighting, improved init, improved crit, blah blah blah)... but you're a rogue, you're coming in at a disadvantage to an arena style tournament.
[*]Results from these tournaments really don't change my opinion of the characters involved. Everyone has their strength. Everyone has their weakness. Situational dilemmas are going to call upon different people to excel.

Love you guys... I love playing here... do what you must to generate interest and excitement for FK.

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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Aysa » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:00 pm

After posting my post, I thought... Aysa, all you're doing is stirring the pot. How would you change the parameters, so that everyone can be involved and show off the traits of their character?

My suggestion would be a "scavenger hunt", or rather a "spell component hunt".

You earn points for collecting: liches skulls, dragon scales, yuan-ti eyes, violet fungus, bejeweled scales from a snake...

Whoever has the most points at the end wins "the championship belt"!

The points can be based on difficulty and challenge to a PC. The points can change based on "did you acquire this alone?" or "did you acquire this via a party?" or "I had to ask someone for help to find this rare component" ... or what have you.

This way, if one of the components, requires a disarm trap in order to acquire -- the tricksy rogueses can get points where a warrior could not. The spell caster with Locate Object may be able to find a component that others could not. Or the warrior can go up against a red dragon (stupidly on his own) to get that red dragon blood, or ask others to help to acquire the component. Oh, and perhaps also set limitations on how many items can be acquired based on their levels. So a low level person might be able to submit 10 hobgoblin ears to earn 10 points (1 point each), where as a high level person can only submit 1 hobgoblin ear. Again, this is done so that everyone can be involved in the collecting.

All the while, ICly... y'all are helping the Mystran church acquire spell components. In their appreciation, the Mystran folk reward those who achieved the most. And yes, I'm considering doing just that. I just need to figure out the point system and what items to acquire.

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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Vaemar » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:20 pm

Aysa wrote:Nixa - she's just here to look pretty. That, and well, she's designed to be a supporting role. By herself, she could charm the pants off of you but she lacks the marital skills to (OOC: in my best Mortal Kombat voice) "FINISH 'EM".
This is the best typo of the last few months, thank you, Aysa.

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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Aysa » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:12 pm

Vaemar wrote:
Aysa wrote:Nixa - she's just here to look pretty. That, and well, she's designed to be a supporting role. By herself, she could charm the pants off of you but she lacks the marital skills to (OOC: in my best Mortal Kombat voice) "FINISH 'EM".
This is the best typo of the last few months, thank you, Aysa.
Well... she is single, and she is a Sunite so she lacks marital and martial skills (though she sure can plan a wedding!!!).

Side observation: Is there any wonder why marital and martial so close in spelling?

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Re: Elminster Open Discussion

Post by Vaemar » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:20 pm

Marital comes from maritus, which in Latin meant husband and has cognates in the modern Romance languages (Fr mari, It marito, Sp marido). Martial on the other hand is related to Mars the god of war of the Romans.

So it is a curious, and in this case amusing, coincidence, but the words are not so closely related as one would think. :)

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