Making Wizard Specializations Unique

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Kaenas
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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Kaenas » Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:29 pm

This thread on stackexchange might be helpful.

It provides an explanation of assorted feats, variant specializations, and prestige classes from various supplemental materials that might be useful for at least providing inspiration for ways to make the wizard specializations more attractive.

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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Althasizor » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:24 pm

Can't mages still hit 'master' with every spell? Could make the choice meaningful by just not letting them be jack-of-all trades, masters-of-all. I just think what we have now should be enough, as long as we let them be significantly better at their one thing than generalists.

Not that I"m opposed to giving specialists something even.. Well, more special. It'd be pretty cool to have some Force evocations of a higher-level than magic missile, for a completely-unbiased example!
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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Lyndin » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:40 am

I've only played this game for about 300 hours (and 2/3 of that is meditation, wandering around, roleplaying, and otherwise not engaging with the mechanics) so don't take my perspective as a matter of any authority. Still, it appears to me that if you want to make the various wizard guilds more distinct, greater attention could be paid to the actual wizard guilds. I'm playing a transmuter, and initiation into that guild involved begging assistance in finding some spell components, talking to some NPCs, then never going back. The NPCs were dull, the teachers taught nothing that couldn't be found elsewhere, and the shops were out of stock.

Of all the characters in this setting, the ones with the greatest leeway for eccentricity are old wizards with nothing left to prove. Why were all the guilds I visited so flat? Mechanical distinctions would be neat, but I'd be far more likely to roll up different wizards and introduce greater diversity to our cast of PCs if I knew amusing and challenging quests could be unlocked on an alt. What we have right now alternates between prohibitive and silly. When I'm told what it currently takes to be a mage, I'm horrified out of ever going through with it. In the ideal circumstance, initiation into a guild takes hours of solving puzzles, researching game lore, and answering riddles, providing enough Quest XP to take a wizard from level 3 to level 10. It'd be a lot truer to form than beating up dummies for ten hours, and a lot more fun.

The Guilds would also be the ideal places to introduce new spells. This game does have a few gaps. Abjuration probably has the worst of it, but there's no school that looks complete aside from perhaps Enchantment.

While any spells you introduce to a Guild as signature effects are inevitably going to be spread around (I'm taking Teacher and Scholar, so Transmutation is already compromised!), you could potentially limit the sale of their material components to the Guilds. Let's say we introduced Baleful Polymorph, which boils down to a particularly amusing 5th level Save or Die effect for Transmuters. If it requires unobtanium rods to cast, and those rods are only for sale in the Transmuters Guild, it matters what sort of wizard you are, and more importantly, what sort of wizards you know.

As an aside, I strongly disagree with the sentiment that spells learned should be limited, but a similar effect could be achieved by implementing spell books as they exist in game. 100 spell levels per book goes by rather quickly. If you do decide to limit the number of spells learned for a wizard, it's imperative you implement research so that a character can actually achieve some of what they're looking for. I played for fifty hours without a first level transmutation spell, because both enlarge person and reduce person were so hard to find. I still haven't found enlarge! It wasn't even taught at the Guild.

Finally, while we're brainstorming, here are some ideas that would be easier to implement and lead to meaningful distinction than the ideal pipe dream of building a dozen complicated guilds to play through:

Doubling the skill learning rate for spells in-school. That would provide incentive to focus on your school's spells, moreso than the ever-distant Master/Grandmaster cap. I'm pretty slow at this, granted, but Lyndin still hasn't exceeded Adept in any spell, even though he Mastered Riding and Grandmastered Meditation long, long ago.

Introducing the Signature Spell feat, and limiting the selection to a spell in-school. Signature Spell allows a caster to reduce the cost of each metamagic feat applied to a spell by 1. A maximized, twinned magic missile spell is ordinarily 8, but for a Signature Spell (Magic Missile) caster, it'd be 6. This obviously favors some schools over others. (Poor Abjurers!)

That guild shops might sell unique components is independent of the other ideas I provided above. That alone would introduce a meaningful distinction.

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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Dranso » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:48 pm

Lyndin wrote:initiation into a guild takes hours of solving puzzles, researching game lore, and answering riddles, providing enough Quest XP to take a wizard from level 3 to level 10. It'd be a lot truer to form than beating up dummies for ten hours, and a lot more fun.
I have to say, this seems like a very interesting solution to the low level wizard conundrum, especially for drow wizards.

In the past, guild houses did serve the purpose you mentioned. They were the only places that certain powerful spells (or powerful at the time) could be trained. Spells have become more accessible through scrolls and teaching though, but I'm not mad. It can make for interesting RP. However, I think you're right again. Guild houses have been left behind and wizards form no real attachment to them. Having guild houses offer unique items (The illusionist guild in Golden Oaks is a good example of this. They offer unique items, not powerful ones), hard to find spell components, and a more creative and interactive initiation is a great way to make specialists feel more special. I think Lyndin hit it on the head.

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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Yemin » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:17 am

The learning rate for specialty spells is already increased far as I know. And No Althasizor, actually that is another facet of the whole system that needs brain surgery, Mages are grand masters of all not masters. of all.

The help file saying mages can only reach master is incorrect. I don't believe a skill gap of 3 ranks is realy enough to distinguish anyway. And on the topic of raising wizards from 3 to 10. I'm not sure any initiation process should ever give you more than 1 level. I also played a wizard as one of my first characters who had 10 strength for a long time. It takes a while and as a true noob I didn't know nor did the character care to seek a faith, one of the main ways to speed your progress here but the classs does and should take the patience it currently takes to level if you're going to go at it alone.

Wat I don't really understand is why wizards here have to do the school of wonders at all. And why they are limited to only having the ability to cast 1st level spells till they finish. Its a hard wired measure to force RP, however its not really a measure that makes any sense IC not only because most wizards when starting are self taught, have a tutor or join a guild in or near their home town / capital of their kingdom.

The school itself has no purpose other than to train wizards because Mystra, making it immediately forgettable once your done. A feature shared by almost every guild. They are guilds because the world needs them there somehow, not because once joining them, you're told of their purpose. A lot of them seem to have no real personality as far as I've held.

Lets take the Berdusk guild for example. How is it possible that a wizard guild in a city seems to have no consequence for being in the middle of a major citty. I believe it would help if guilds were more like organisations. Every grouping of people has a purpose and a goal. Even if it was something as simple as the Berdusk mage guild Wants to outdo the School of wonder's mage gild. Having NPCs that would give you useful consumables, or sell you restricted items if you bring them scrolls with certain spells on them.

or perhaps the conjurer's guild pays the character with a good chunk of gold and a token for an item rename once an rl year for submitting a research paper. Letting those without as much time to play, and those with a lot of time to play the opportunity to Roleplay the more scholarly side of things towards a goal over the year.

the specific rewards obviously aren't important. They're just what i came up with on the fly.

Give the school of wonders or guilds more of an organisation's type of purpose. And stop restricting the class in general from being only able to cast level 0 to 1 spells, Feel free to give them a reduced spell list from 1 to 9. Perhaps pick out 2 or 3 spells from each school and yank them out of the base class's spell list.
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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Ailyn » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:58 pm

So seeing all the suggestions and discussion, it would seem that instead of abilities and the like, really the first thing would be to fix spells in the game that need it and add more spells as well. Of course, some spells could still be restricted to specialists alone over generalists, but working on the spells would add more of a variety. I do not know how much of a priority this would be though amongst everything else, and would be happy to help where I can. Anyways, thank you for taking the time and offering different views on the matter everyone. :)
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Yemin » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:21 pm

Just to note, as it was a bit of a mystery.

help spells mentions:
You should not train every single spell in the game, it is unreasonable for a
character to know everything.

Felt like I was going mad for a second there.
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: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Areia » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:26 pm

Yemin wrote: You should not train every single spell in the game, it is unreasonable for a
character to know everything.
There it is! Thanks.

And to clarify
Ailyn wrote: some spells could still be restricted to specialists alone over generalists
If something like that were to be considered ever, I'd restrict them to their respective specialists, not just from mages.

As for the guilds themselves, I do agree that something could be done to improve them. But ultimately it wouldn't do much to affect the variety of wizards in the field, as it were. I haven't, for instance, ever seen any difference between GO illusionists and Nomad illusionists, despite that more than a few agree that the GO guild has some nifty unique items etc., because there's no sense of this guild being good at teaching X (e.g., shadow illusions) while this other guild of the same specialty is way better at Y (e.g., cloaking, trickery, etc.), or that that one invoker's guild specializes in fire magic while that other wussy one prefers ice. and so most every specialist just ends up being the same machine as any other wizard of that specialty, and they in turn are essentially mages with a few fewer spells, because what wizard isn't going to take all the juicy delicious magic power they can get their hands on.

Whereas in tabletop, where you're forced to pick only a few select spells from the list (and yes, you definitely are--DMs who bury their wizards in endless scrollery aren't Dming well), wizards tend to be, at least in my experience, vastly different from one another, as even the minor spells are taken with much thought.

I'll keep thinking on it, though!
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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Lyndin » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:58 am

I do not know that we have enough spells for limited spell selection to result in your desired diversity. No matter what, everyone who is not a transmuter is going to take stoneskin, and the same goes for all of the other most commonly used buff spells. When it comes to selecting damage spells, I don't see how scarcity introduces meaningful choice. If some spells are better than than others, everyone will pick them. If the spells do comparable damage per spell level, then the choice is mostly meaningless.

The meaningful difference between wizards in tabletop is how they select and purchase spells that compliment their parties and circumstances. For starters, not all buffs are created equal in various tabletop games, but the circumstances of a FR fight seem pretty uniform, with a few exceptions (such as enemies that use Save or Dies). Then there are utility spells and environmental effects which just do not translate well to muds at all (Wall of Stone, Control Winds, etc.). Those factors add dimensions to spell selection that the mud naturally lacks.

What seems to distinguish wizards in this mud is largely what spells they choose to specialize in for the sake of skill levels. That's a meaningful investment of time that results in a measurable difference in abilities, though it rarely matters what flavor of damage you deal best.

What I'm getting at is that if wizards seem same-y, that may be a result of the game being played, not the build options available to the players. I think resolving that is best handled outside the combat/mechanical system entirely, as I've expounded upon in my previous post.

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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Yemin » Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:10 am

Your point is well received on my end Lyndin. The MUD in essence is not the same experience as tabletop in the least. Most often a wizard there will pick his spells to compliment a party, the same party he willb e playing with for at least half a year if its a long game and thigns will work well. The MUD being as it is, one wizard might be useful to a certain group and be useless elsewhere.

I'm not entirely convinced though that this will ever happen. I feel like it will simply be another factor you should consider when picking spells.

The other facet that your reply has reminded me. One that I'v eoverlooked is indeed that there are certainly good spells and bad spells. I can't remember where it was, but I remember reading something some years ago that irritated me to no end. In that some of the DND lead designers initially included bad spells in the 3rd edition of the game to force people to think more critically and become *better* players. Something which thankfully hasn't been reproduced in the 5th edition where you could literally roll a dice for all your spell choices and still be useful.

In the end I'd still be supportive of some form of cap to what you have in your spellbook, I feel that measure would help encourage better formulation of what you want to be and push wizards as a community. I grant you that most wizards might always choose stoen skin, but I also know that after some time, some will not. Instead opting for a build that might have so much AC that there would be no point or a debuff build that made it so hard to hit them in the first place etc etc

I can tell you now that as is. My most experienced wizard has gone through no less than 3 different play styles, the latest putting such little emphasis on Ac that he goes without shield and phantasmal armor most of the time. One of which at least is considered a must for all wizards.

But again, this is for whenever it is that more spells have been added, and the currently broken ones, fixed. As well as the disparity between specialists seen to etc.

I disagree that environmental spells don't translate well to MUDs. Its perfectly possible to make a wall of stone by creating a tempry doors between rooms and having the spell place wall objects to indicate this. Not all spells will have the same functions, but its completely possible to represent them here in some fashion. Just takes imagination.

And as for uniform fights. Well, that is an interaction between the builder and the adventurers. Even if the builder should choose to fill his zone full of agro melee trolls for example. You could just run through with a party and blast them all with fire and acid as a wizard. Or you could take the far easier route of debuffing and blinding them all, Put them all to sleep and just walking past. The uniformity of combat here stems from the lack of experimentation from both builders and players. Something which has bgan to shift as some of these new zones are in one word... epic. In the end though, with a restricted spell list, I would trust to people's need to be special and the eventual boredom they'll face from being the same as everyone else to push them to swap out known spells for knew ones and fiddle.

Heck, if we had some wall spells. Thats when we could really start cooking.
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: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Vaemar » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:24 pm

Yemin wrote:help spells mentions:
You should not train every single spell in the game, it is unreasonable for a
character to know everything.
Let's assume it is not some obsolete reference to the more exclusive training access system that was in place before: you and Areia are the only ones who knew of this suggestion and at the same time the only ones who have admitted to have disattended it.

Then perhaps this should tell you something. I have never heard even real life decade old wizard PCs saying they know all the spells.
Lyndin wrote:I do not know that we have enough spells for limited spell selection to result in your desired diversity. No matter what, everyone who is not a transmuter is going to take stoneskin, and the same goes for all of the other most commonly used buff spells. When it comes to selecting damage spells, I don't see how scarcity introduces meaningful choice. If some spells are better than than others, everyone will pick them. If the spells do comparable damage per spell level, then the choice is mostly meaningless.
This is in fact the main flaw of the idea and the one with the highest amount of evidence to support it, as most charisma casters builds (i.e. sorcerers, favored souls, etc.) for tabletop and D&d-based videogames suggest always to take the most powerful spells for the campaign in question. It seems only logical that the most chosen spells here would be the ones more functional for the game world of our MUD, with only minor differences, perhaps, for Underdark spellcasters.

In other words a spell cap promotes uniformity rather than diversity. Given that I mentioned it in my very first post and that so far Yemin and Areia have failed to provide any evidence to the contrary I doubt they will do so anytime soon.

Add to this the fact they failed to provide any counterargument for all the other non-small flaws, like the issue of old wizards who would be more powerful than the new ones, the decrease in mechanical life for characters and the simple fact that such a thing does not exist in any incarnation of the wizard class in D&d and goes against its very essence, and we can safely put a good RIP on all this hijacking.

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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Areia » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:31 pm

We both, I think, have offered responses to those arguments, even provided links to source material, but one cannot force another to read his postings. That rule isn't some old remnant from long-forgotten systems; immortals have reiterated it more than once in recent memory. As for failing to have followed that rule, in my case at least, I had never seen it until well, well into Areia's lifetime, and by that time it was too late to change how she goes about things. Since then, though, she has indeed stopped hunting for those last few, and I think my latest wizard shows quite well that I've changed how I look at FK wizards. Just counted it up, she knows just a little over half the number of spells Areia does, with one ninth level to Areia's ten, and four eighth to Areia's eleven, to give a rough idea. She doesn't even use most of her spells, plans to learn one more ever, that's it; and I can say from experience she's no less frightening in a fight than Areia is--more so, in fact, on many occasions on account of a certain metamagic Areia never had room to learn. My point being, one can limit one's self without weakening one's self. And I'd hardly call her limited choice of spells anywhere near uniform compared to those of a certain other invoker she knows, most of whose spells she'd never even dream of using because they're so inefficient and messy (or so goes her IC reasoning even though OOCly I know they do more damage in one shot than she'll ever manage). So yeah.

But this particular point is only going in circles now. I'd encourage going back to look at what Yemin and I have said and reading more than half of it if interested. Regardless, the present spell pool isn't diverse enough, so the point's moot for now anyway.

P.S., just read through this, and it felt a little stern in tone--not meant! I enjoy the discussion. :D

Edited to add a bit I forgot.
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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Yazzt » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:46 pm

Wizards are limited by proxy via slots. The ability to know every spell as a Mage really does not make you a master-of-all. Once you take into consideration utility and ward spells, you have a very limited amount of slots to work with. If you include metamagical feats into your preparation, then it is even less. You can memorize anything you want, sure, but you probably won't live long.

It takes a very long time of grinding a spell to reach a master level with it and more often than not, you aren't going to select an apprentice level offensive spell over one that you have at expert, barring advanced (7-9) spells. It is possible, but by the time you had achieved a master-of-all Mage... you would really just be using the same spells as before - due to slot priority.

Summarily, If spells did not have mastery levels, then a learning cap would make sense.

I don't think the game needs to make a lot of coded changes for the specializations to be 'unique'. You can do these things yourself. At least, I always have. I have an arcane archer, an arcane assasin, a fell illusionist, among many others...

As a wizard you get numerous races to choose from, 8 subclasses, 6 attributes to designate, 5-7 general feats and another 4 bonus feats along with metamagic, access to a myriad of spells, glory to spend for unique items, familiar shops, and a random loot table stocked full of wands, rings, cloaks, and amulets... a number of these items also contain skill abilities. And, don't forget the massive world. You can be a Zombie-wise Necromancer of Chult with robes made from the woven hair of dead wild elf children... it's all in the way you decide to build it.

With some ideas and some planning, you can already make any kind of wizard that you want. Once of the main reasons why wizards seem to be the same is because many of them tend use the same spell selection and don't make use of all of the spells available to them.

Hint: Attire of region with X element + Resist X element + Make vulnerable to X element + Offensive spell of X element = Specialized Elementalist. Shhh, don't steal my idears.
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Re: Making Wizard Specializations Unique

Post by Althasizor » Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:44 pm

Nobody said the impetus to make a uniquely flavoured character wasn't on the player in question. Mechanically though, it's a mistake to choose a specialisation rather than a mage.
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