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Annoyed with AD&D spell power ladder

GoidaGoida Member Posts: 118
What annoys me about AD&D spell power, maybe just or mostly in the context of the computer adaptations, is how late in the games so much of the more interesting power comes in. The AD&D logic, from the completely different context of tabletop playing, dictates that strong and impressive spells have to be level 7th, 8th, 9th for wizards (and even then some are not at all impressive, like Energy Drain), level 5th-7th for priests. Up to then players have to make do with illusions, enchantments, Leomund's Secret Lodge, Rope Trick, teleport... Actually, everything from that list and more can be very exciting, but these subtle powers hardly carried over to the PC at all. The most magicky stuff we have until the very concluding chapters of the games is the fireball and the lightning bolt. Whee. When we do get access to a Shape Change, nerfed, of course, it is so late in the day that the party can just blow through anything with the iron fists of fighters alone - whereas in tabletop play, of course, any level of fighter with any + sword would be helpless, running around on the ground while a wizard turned into a dragon to vomit fire on him at leisure or into an ant he'd simply never find.

Overall, I think that AD&D has far too much medium-level magic available, fireball-teleport level, to too many people, but too rarely shows real wonders of magic. Special settings like Al Qadim had to be created just to get out of that rut. The restriction is only more pronounced in the PC games. And this stunted power structure is binding for modders. When we come up with a concept of a spell, say, a flame wave, and actually invent a technique to implement it, what hits us in the face like a wet pancake is the realization that we must make it at least a 7th level. Because it needs to be on par with previous, lame spells. Or else we have to greatly reduce the spell's effect and impression, cut down its damage to squeeze it into level 5, at least, if not 4, so that people actually spend some time using it before game over. But why would a big, gorgeous flame wave do only 1d6 damage per level? So we proceed to shrink down the graphics until it's more like a flame ripple and we don't care for it ourselves any longer - all to fit into this game system's idea of normality and balance.



  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 7,009
    I don't see anything dictating how you mod the game. If you want to have a super-powered lower-level spell then just do it :D. Personally I don't see any sudden jump in the power of later level spells anyway - there are lots of extremely strong spells at lower levels (like PfMW, PW:silence, spell immunity, mislead etc).

    I agree that the constraints of computers mean it's difficult to translate the full variety of PnP spells into the game, but that shouldn't stop you from imposing your own view of how things should work through a mod.

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  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,644
    I think simple Magic Missiles are highly underrated. I usually kill Firkraag and other dragons with my parties, which almost always include at least two arcane casters, with a simple Sequencer: Lower ResistanceX3, Breach, and Magic Missile barrage combo, while my fighters and clerics do nothing but keep him busy for the two or three necessary rounds for my mages to bring him down.

    I've also found Melf's Minute Meteors to be extremely effective in a lot of fights, because of their high bonus and 5 APR fire rate.

    Attack magic also isn't really all that great in the first place, though, imo. I think arcane magic is way more valuable for its crowd control and disabling abilities. Sleep for levels 1-2, Web for levels 3-6, then Confusion, Chaos, and Emotion are almost "I win" buttons for fights of those levels.

  • GoidaGoida Member Posts: 118
    edited March 2019
    Yes, MMs are overpowered, but this goes farther.

    The problem is that new powers need to mesh with the old. We are not - we can not - create a whole new game, with its own world. We are limited to additions, expansions and insertions. It might be possible to create a very different magic system, and a few people have done it, but how is that going to coalesce with the rest - the Realms setting, geography and personages, buildings, dialogues, distances, classes, let alone the plot? It would be like putting a giraffe's head on an elephant. If you sort of close one eye and pretend you don't see the rest of the gameplay, or if you don't care for the rest and just admire your far-out ingenuity, then indeed you can distribute your Meteor Swarms to Tom, Dick and Harry. But if you want a semblance of a real (real fantasy) world, then you need to take notice of all the other things in place in it. Which is exactly what is annoying.

    Of course, I know it's perfectly useless to complain, and of course I'm going to end up putting my Flame Wave at level 6 and hopefully manage to keep it useful. But, for all the differences, on my mind I have a game like Diablo, more the first one than the second, where you would often and constantly acquire new powers, see new monsters who are more than a logical extension of the old - outside of the system, because there was no system. In AD&D, especially here, there is a system everywhere, and if you stick out, you are either damaging or just useless. It's the same with introducing new creatures in one of the IE games. If you say A, they come from another world, quality requires that you say B - which world. They are all labeled on the Cosmic Wheel, they are all connected, the inner planes in the center, the ethereal, then Prime Material, the astral is the next layer of the egg and so on, and they have conduits, and power games, and the Blood War, and githyanki vs. illithid, and Sigil holds it all in place like a nail. The only place not known is the Abyss. There, at least, you can always dig up a layer and pretend your creatures are from that place. And even then you have to ponder how many charges of fireballs to give them, no more, no less.

    I think back on Douglas Niles "Moonshae" books, among the first FR novels, the first trilogy. And there he was obviously just having fun. Either the "facts" about the setting and AD&D monsters were not in place then, or he just invented them a second time. Bhaal there is from Gehenna, not the Abyss, and he gets eliminated, defeated forever in the end; the owlbear is one of Bhaal's "children"; Kazgaroth blasts a whole squad of giants; makes a man into a werewolf by looking into his eyes; a druidess becomes a cleric; cavalry slowly turns into undead; all sorts of things that are completely believable and completely against the "rules." And here we are stuck deciding whether 300 XP for casting a rare spell is acceptable or - too much.

    Ack! I know the objections myself. Enough. :grimace:

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    Ah, yes... the infamous Improved Ilyich fight. Amazing that the Fallen Deva's MR and saves didn't block the twin Webs and Greater Malison. In my SCS install, a Fallen Deva has 70% magic resistance and a save vs. spell of 6. The odds of getting ensnared by at least one Web in a given round are only about 20%, or about 25% if you manage to land Greater Malison against the odds. Maybe the Fallen Deva had lower MR in this install? I'm surprised 22 Minute Meteors were sufficient to kill the Fallen Deva, since their 1d3+3 base damage would amount to 110 damage on average even if all of them hit--but then, pre-SCS celestials didn't have a 50% HP boost, or the instantaneous casting that would have allowed the Fallen Deva to heal itself, and non-SCS Minute Meteors strike as +6 weapons instead of +2.

    I remember tackling that fight with the normal NPCs back in the pre-SCS days, when the primary difficulty mod was Tactics. I solved it the same way most people did: by abusing angles and line of sight in order to divide and conquer the various Soviet-themed enemies in the library.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    To address a point by @Goida: I would actually like to see a mod that messed around with spell levels a little. I've toyed with the idea of creating a custom kit that would get all the normal mage spells at a different level, like a level 6 Time Stop with a shorter duration or a low-damage Fireball at level 1. But the sheer number of spells I'd need to create would be daunting, and I eventually opted against it. But it would be very interesting to see the gameplay changes from a mod that re-worked spell levels. If you no longer had to wait until a certain level to learn a certain type of spell (no more waiting until late SoA to get a Maze spell!), that could have all sorts of fun and novel effects on gameplay.

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  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,820
    There's also my mod High Power Baldur's Gate, which goes in a similar angle. It lets party members cast versions of high-level spells (e.g. Maze, Time Stop, Improved Alacrity) as innate abilities, as well as certain some Throne of Bhaal innate abilities like Greater Whirlwind Attack and Critical Strike, right from the start of the game, and modifies the gameplay such that these abilities don't make the game too easy. It lets you experience what it's like to use these kinds of effects at level 1 fresh out of Candlekeep.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,678
    semiticgod wrote: »
    I remember tackling that fight with the normal NPCs back in the pre-SCS days, when the primary difficulty mod was Tactics. I solved it the same way most people did: by abusing angles and line of sight in order to divide and conquer the various Soviet-themed enemies in the library.
    yep, i believe that due to the lack of equipment and ranged ammo everybody had to divide and conquer.
    thing that was/is interesting (i still play that mod :) ) as the "russians" patrol and scout the area in groups of 2 or 3, so you had to be fast killing or other ones would join the battle. soloing that dungeon was really challenging, i don't know how i did with my sorcerer as a sorcerer at low level is not what he becomes later. probably the easiest solo was with a thief, i backstabbed almost everything that is possible, running away after each stab to turn a corner and hide again.
    i never managed to defeat the deva, i always waited for him to expire, then the challenge was to pick the cleric and kill him before resting, as if you rest he also does it, avoiding his allies. and also resting there is not easy as every time you try a group of durgar whit those mages and the strong fighter helpers spawns right in front of you.
    i think that every modern player, that started to play before the tactics era, should try that initial dungeon at least 1 time as now the mod works also for ee.

    anyway i posted the video cause there is shown how a low level mage can be effective, how the low level spells if used correctly are really effective. i did not mention it in the spoiler but which cast greater malison and the player is very reactive and aware as the fight goes on, as see that maybe the deva will make it in time to cast which cast on herself a protection from fire.

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