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Read Magic...

chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
edited October 2017 in General Modding
I wonder if I should bring that spell back. The computer games eliminated it for convenience, but not knowing just what the found spells were on a scroll had added to the excitement of playing Eye of the Beholder. And put more emphasis on camping for all this satisfying preparatory work: reading magic, patching up wounds... Now all of that nuance has been successfully automated out of the window, leaving us to sit on the bare floor and jerk off to "Flight of Dragons." Then again, in the IE environments simply making Read Magic an extra shell around a scroll to take off, a sort of Identify for spells, would probably only be a time waster. But what if we combined it with randomization? Instead of finding preset scrolls whose placement, after a few goings, we already know by rote, we could convert references to scrolls in containers into special items of levels 1-9. These tokens, the unread scrolls, would come with a button to make use of a memorized Read Magic, preferably without dialogue, but perhaps with, and then they would be swapped for a spell scroll of that level.


  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,985
    It might also allow modders to create "magic runes" that require a Read Magic spell to translate. This could be used for a variety of reasons, particularly information about the Holy Grail at the Castle Aaaaaaggghh...
  • But would it be worth it? It's just more clicks to put further strain on our carpal tunnels. How about a spell scroll randomization mod instead? Perhaps keyed to levels or level ranges. That'd ensure more randomness in spell distribution, but spare your mouse hand a bit - no need to click ID on every scroll.

    CDTweaks (I think) has a randomization feature for random treasure drops in IWD. IR may have something similar. Perhaps those may serve as inspirations.
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
    @tbone1 , You won't mind if I ignore you, will you? Good. @rrchristensen , randomization is just part of it. It's good in combination with other ideas. By itself it's not too interesting and it throws off one of the best things about Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale - careful distribution of treasure by the designers at Bioware. Everything or most everything about where treasure is found makes sense. There are locked drawers with spell scrolls, unlocked book shelves with books, guards' chests with just a little gold and a basic halberd or sword inside... A big part of suspension of disbelief. If you just shuffle all that around, well, then you are getting out of character completely and it's just another "playthrough"... Bioware tried to plant rewarding scrolls as well at major plot turns, e.g. we find a scroll of Fireball after we deal with the bandits in their camp. This is a bit less precious when Skull Trap has been available merely for sale at High Hedge, but still. By randomizing scrolls at the same level we can make sure the power scheme is mostly intact but make space for more surprises.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually advocating Read Magic, just thinking. It's only one of those things that could add to the mystery and fun, instead of a complete streamlining. It keeps surprising me how people fail to see possibilities and when they think of improvement, they always think about more of the same familiar stuff. Bigger swords, fewer errors, and they are happy...
  • Okay, well, code it and send it around for comments.
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 3,938
    I think it is an interesting idea. I added the tweaks option that makes a lore check for potions and gems that I use on all games now. At least a lore check for scrolls would be nice. With Arcane users not being able to lore clerical magic and vice versa would be nice I think and add just that little something extra needed that I enjoy seeing.
    I think clerics never needed the spell in D&D, just MU's but would be a good idea.
    I guess it could be seen as an extra step to go through but in reality , with each new character created they don't know what we as the gamer knows about the items, so makes sense to me.
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  • kjeronkjeron Member Posts: 2,347

    Would be pretty easy to add a Lore check to scrolls. Call it 20 + 10/spell level, or something.

    Then add an equipping effect for each one, using opcode 177 to grants a Lore bonus while equipped to the respective class that matches the type of magic in the scroll. So mages would be better at identifying wizard scrolls, etc.

    Quick-item slots don't trigger "equipping" effects, so unless you turned them into weapons...
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
    edited November 2017
    Zaghoul said:

    I think it is an interesting idea. I added the tweaks option that makes a lore check for potions and gems that I use on all games now.

    What's that?
    kjeron said:

    Would be pretty easy to add a Lore check to scrolls. Call it 20 + 10/spell level, or something.

    Then add an equipping effect for each one, using opcode 177 to grants a Lore bonus while equipped to the respective class that matches the type of magic in the scroll. So mages would be better at identifying wizard scrolls, etc.

    Quick-item slots don't trigger "equipping" effects, so unless you turned them into weapons...
    Where are you people getting all this? Lore Bonus is a simple effect... @kjeron , Not necessarily weapons. Anything to put on the paperdoll. The head slot, for example. Or the cloak slot. Or the off-hand slot, and here we might have more options with the sound. But then what?

    By the way, I'm just discovering how scroll icons don't have the "folded roll" frame, like letters. They are the same picture lying in the inventory and on pick-up. Never noticed that before. How pesky! I guess I'm going to have to go through all A icons and edit them to roll up nicely, the way I do with my own scrolls.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 3,938
    This is the CDTweaks option for gems/potions:
    Gems and Potions Require Identification
    All games except PsT, PsTEE

    This component assigns a lore value to gems and potions, meaning that they now require identification. Lore value is calculated by an algorithm based on the value of the item, but smaller gems and lesser potions should still be fairly easy to identify by the party. The component has the option to be applied to just gems, just potions, or both.

    This is another I like that made sense to use.
    Shopkeepers Have Limited Identification Ability
    All games except IWD2

    This component makes the identification abilities of stores more in line with the shopkeepers' abilities. There are three ways to implement this, and players are given a choice:

    Only mages and bards can identify items. Any non-mage, non-bard shopkeeper cannot identify items at all. Mages and bards can identify any item.
    Identification based on lore. Any shopkeeper can identify items up to their personal lore value, regardless of class. The shopkeepers are given a slight lore boost over normal characters to reflect their occupational experience with magical items. Items with exceptionally high lore may not be able to be identified at all by shopkeepers.
    Hybrid. Mage and bard shopkeepers can identify anything, and other shopkeepers use lore scores based on their character.
  • chimericchimeric Member Posts: 1,163
    edited November 2017
    The hybrid option is the one that makes sense to me. But for the gems and potions, this is an example of where the idea is right, but something more is needed to make this more than annoyance - with gems, perhaps, some kind of generic stone in their unidentified state but worth more than 1 gp, surely. Still, it's something, so long as the really expensive stones like diamonds and rogue stones have much higher thresholds, requiring perhaps an Identify spell. Then identification becomes a matter of appraisal and proof of value to shopkeepers more than knowing what a gem is, a sort of substitute of Charisma for selling, Appraising or even Gem-Cutting proficiencies.

    Identifying potions are a separate case. I've always wanted cursed potions to be regular bottles of various types rather than the "murky" varieties that we stay away from. The murkiness or other suspicious qualities might be present in the description as a couple of lines in the end, to make players look at their bottles, but these properties should sometimes be present in potions sufficiently good, or insufficiently bad. Then Lore or Identify would definitely tell what is what. A Weidu patch could randomize potions, not shuffling around types in containers, but replacing some of the potions of type A with cursed potions of the same type and A-potion appearance. Then again, Weidu can't do randomness as far as I know, it would replace all of the items.

    What can be done, though, is replacement on pickup. I've done this with randomized armor appearance, a little mod that I might finish someday. For a trial, I edited the basic leather armor so that it automatically replaced itself with one of the four differently toned varieties when it was put on, to represent some of the many shades of hide that exist. NPC and monsters already came with leather equipped, so it changed for them on spawning, resulting in a nicer, more varied look for all of those people in leathers, but this property crashed the game if the armor tried to replace itself on the paperdoll. So I put a PartyHasItem check in BALDUR.BCS (nowhere else to write these things) to replace the starting set, LEAT01, with one of the four varieties as soon as LEAT01 entered the party's inventory from anywhere - a store or a looted body or a container. If replacement is done by a spell with effects 122 and 123, Remove/Add Inventory Item, no "The Party has lost (gained) an item" message is displayed in the bottom window. Thus, the party only ever got to put on suits that were already replaced at random, everything was done behind the scenes. In the same way we could replace starting potions: at different RESPONSE probabilities, say, 10% with bottles that are cursed and have hinting descriptions, some other percentage that are cursed but there is no telling from looking at them, then good potions that happen to look suspect and finally those that look good and are good.

    But the effects of cursed potions should be more varied and less dreadful. Some, on the other hand, should just be poison. This would really put bards with their Lore in the spotlight, because no one wants to cast Identify for every bottle that comes along. Or perhaps Lore should not apply here. This is the interesting bit from the AD&D Player's Handbook that I have open in front of me:

    "Potions and Oils:
    Magical potions and oils are easily found but hard to identify. They come in small bottles, jugs, pots, or vials and clearly radiate magic if a detection spell is used. However, the effect of any potion is unknown until some brave soul tries a small sample. The results can be quite varied. The imbiber may discover he can float or fly, resist great heat or cold, heal grievous wounds, or fearlessly face the greatest dangers. He may also find himself hopelessly smitten by the first creature he sees or struck dead by a powerful poison. It is a risk that must be taken to learn the nature of the potion."

    And this reminds us that Identify originally had nothing to do with telling apart the cornucopia of unknowns, it was only for magical items, and it was a difficult and long process that only revealed some of the information, and then without precise knowledge of bonuses. But potions - they had to be tried. There are two things in that passage that we lack in the computer games: 1) sipping from potions, over several uses, 2) sampling to find out... and 3) fun. :wink: I wonder if sampling could be implemented with a second item ability. Can potions have more than one? The second ability, for one of the cursed potions, could subject the drinker to a milder version of the bad effects (and automatically replace the bottle with an identified variety with an exact and revealing name, e.g. "Murky Potion of Healing, Paralyzes"). These known cursed bottles should not, in my opinion, be worth any less gold, except the "murky" etc. variety, whether really good or bad. Storekeepers have to go by appearances as much as the characters, or let them sample. And leaving value to cursed stuff maintains its role as loot.

    With this approach, Lore could be used to find out the function, but not the curse. Like so: basic "dummy" potion acquired -> replaced by BALDUR with a blue (unidentified) bottle that reads "Murky Potion..." -> either sample directly or -> high Lore or Identify reveal it to be "Murky Potion of Healing" -> sampling checks for curses and gives a mild benefit. Of course, this would require bottles to hold random contents, otherwise no one would need Lore to know what a blue bottle does. But, of course, random bottles would be less handy and instantly recognizable quick-use items, the Diablo quick bar approach that action-minded players crave. Here we sense the gap between pen-and-paper games and computer games. For the former kind, detail is important and absorbing, for the second, the design favors easy icons and quick clicks. Would I want to sort out strange bottles this way? I would, I think it's fascinating, but others might just snort and chortle at the extra complication.

    And, if you think what I just set out is a good plan for a mod to change people's approach to potions, come forward and offer your help. Planning out ideas like this already takes up my time and mental effort, and I have mods underway. If ideas are to become a reality, modders need to work together, otherwise we are stuck with either small, forgettable personal-taste tweaks... god, I hate that word... or with long, idle conversations on might-have-beens. And I'm not interested in that. It takes concerted effort to change perceptions and convince people to do things differently (they'll end up loving it) rather than skulk in corners and timidly offer little virtual gadgets, apps.
    Post edited by chimeric on
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