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View Full Version : Fitting mechanics to backstory



Ocule
12-03-2014, 11:36 AM
So my character is largely complete in terms of stats and just need to choose a school of magic to focus on primarily. I am still brand new to the game but im familiar with the dragon age video game series. So far I have a Tevinter Atlus sent to a neutral area between Fereldan and Orlais in the frostback mountains. The area is currently disputed between the two so im working a few kinks out of my character.

What kind school of magic would he likely be focusing on?
How can i spin this character to not be mustache twirling evil?

He grew up privileged in the Imperium, his parents owning many slaves. He never really questioned the morality of slavery it was simply a part of his life, there was always a master to serve he just happened to be near the top of this chain. Although when given the opportunity to leave the Imperium to see the rest of the world he jumped all over it without hesitation. He was confident in his magical abilities to keep him safe from harm and help him uncover any arcane secrets or artifacts from the neutral region while it is disputed. Any influence he can gain in the two rival kingdoms that would benefit the Imperium would also buy him points back home.

Personal Goals:
Bring pride to the family
Secure Artifacts or Arcane Secrets
Gain influence in the region


So far i was thinking Entropy/Spirit focus until he unlocks blood magic and either shapeshifter or force mage. They seemed thematic enough for the character, and something likely to be taught to him in the Imperium to defend himself from other magisters. Anyway any other suggestions?

shonuff
12-03-2014, 11:48 AM
With that character, I'd go Entropy then Spirit. Spirit would pair well with Force Mage, and Blood pairs well with Tevinter.

eliastion
12-03-2014, 04:14 PM
I think school of magic is really more of a personal preference. Canonically, some people have just natural talent for some schools above others - and Tevinter is definitely a place where such a talent would be quickly recognized. This basically means that any magic school you choose can be explained sufficiently with "that's his natural talent".
Also, magic schools are quite versatile. If you want someone who was prepared to face powerful mages, then Spirit is definitely the way to go - it's a good school with two strong anti-magic spell trees, great defensive capabilities (fade shield gives you +2 spellpower AND sets your Defense to spellpower, most likely giving you potential for the best defense in the party), great party-support (telekinetic weapons alone are possibly the strongest offensive support spell in the game) and lots of utility. Compared to that, entropy is much more limited, although it does offer good offensive capabilities, though of disabling rather than damaging type.
Basically, unless you really like the idea of throwing around curses, I would suggest pure spirit - and you'll still cry you can't have all the spells you would want ;)
But, as I said, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from taking any school you would like - whatever you choose it won't contradict your backstory.

As for not being evil... well, perhaps not going for entropy can help (people don't like curses for some reason) and being too fond of walking bomb is definitely not advised. As for the rest... well. Being good usually helps with avoiding evil reputation ;) If it doesn't hurt you - help people. If you see someone suffering - get sad (especially if you can't or won't help him). Don't kill babies for fun. Don't voice your support for idea of slavery too loud. Don't bathe in virgins blood except for very specific occasions. And if you want to be friends with someone from Orlais, I would advise against pointing out that serfs being sold with their land and the fact that any Chevalier can pretty much do whatever he wishes to them pretty much constitute slavery regardless of the official name.
Of course, if you want to befriend Ferelden people instead - feel free to suggest just that, they think this either way :D Oh, and don't speak ill of dogs in this case.
Ok, but more seriously: if you are somewhat empathetic and value people as people, not just tools, you will easily avoid being cartoonish evil. Basically, get friends, not minions. And don't shoot yourself in the foot just for evulz. Then you can actually be pretty evil (or not, if you so choose - I'm not sure if you want to not be evil or not be comic-villain-evil) and still stay clear from mustache-twirling (not only by virtue of possibly not having mustache at all).

EDIT: one more thing, for "good" blood mage, try to remember the motto: "my magic - my blood" :D And most specialization spells are really ghastly, don't use them or your good reputation won't last long...

Ocule
12-03-2014, 06:02 PM
Was mostly having trouble deciding what would be fun and thematic. Spirit looks pretty awesome but none of the schools look particularly bad.

eliastion
12-04-2014, 01:54 AM
I myself am a big spirit fan (Pure magic, no dirty elemental peasant-tricks! :P )...
But it really comes down to personal preference and role you plan to play in the party (as I assume you won't be playing solo?). A spirit mage, for example, might find himself in more of a supporting role (throwing mindblasts left and right while the party hacks helpless foes to pieces) while a primal mage could have a bit more fun incinerating people/freezing them to death directly with his magic.

Ocule
12-08-2014, 12:19 AM
Oh i see. How many different magic schools will i likely end up with by end game or how many should i plan to become competent at. Few things i was looking for and having a direct damage option really wouldnt hurt either. I definitely did want to grab animate dead for this character. As of now i had planned for being competent in at least 2 schools, am i mistaken in this notion? And should i plan for 2 specializations if any?

eliastion
12-08-2014, 07:37 AM
The magic schools are vast. You could actually concentrate on only one school if you prefer. Take Spirit, pick goals:
- telekinetic weapons (for support)
- memory (utility)
- animate dead (dead animation :p ) (two versions of walking bomb on this path)
- fade shield (defense)
- mana-clash (a good meta/antimagic tree)
A non-redundant list above, along with requirements, consists of 15 spells. With master in Spirit magic, the maximum you can get is 15. So, you're maxed-out only on Spirit magic. And you still missed out on things like
- dream sending (great for communication, though one-way; and can trick superstitious people)
- levitate (universal telekinesis that can be even used for short-distance flight if GM lets you)
- whole dispel-magic tree (you have mana cleanse but that won't work on spells already in place)

That's the thing. As a mage, you have to choose, and not only on school level. You can't fully master even a single school of magic. You are limited to total of 13 spells +2/school Talent (mastered).
Perhaps other schools are less diverse than Spirit - Primal, for example, can get redundant as you probably won't need more than two elemental damage types. Still, you can go for a long time without reaching for any spells outside your chosen school.

In the end, I would suggest concentrating on one or two schools. And more than that - choose your priorities within those schools, specific mid-high level spells you aim for. The number of spells you can have WILL be limited and they WILL come to you slowly, one every 2 levels is not a lot. Still, don't try to reach your ambitious goals too fast, be mindful of TN requirements. There are utility spells that you could risk casting 2-3 times before they go off, but most combat-related spells have to be cast reliably or not at all. Especially since even a minor mishap in battle can cost you dearly.
As for specializations, mage's situation is a bit different than what the other classes struggle with. In fact, for a mage it's arguably preferable to take only one specialization. Most specialization conflict with each other (they require specialist to switch to some "X-magic mode") and are... well. Very specialized. So, unless you have some specialization-specific spell you REALLY want, your blood-mage could actually be better off by ditching opportunity to specialize a second time and getting three levels of, say, Creation Magic Talent, granting him two additional spells, free reliable source of light and +1 to Defense.

Ocule
12-08-2014, 11:29 AM
Well so far i have a few goals for the character lets see. Originally was going to go entropy but grab walking bomb and animate dead but considering more on the spirit side of things.

Goals for spell list:
-Animate Dead
-A means of dealing damage
-Contributes to the party but can function just fine on his own if he is ever seperated
-Blood Magic

Avoiding:
-Redundancy with the party's second mage who is going primal/Keeper/Arcane warrior who im sure is already on my craplist for not taking into account party needs. Shows up later after everyone has already declared roles and picks one im fairly certain will be redundant and make me want to kill him.
-Creation tree/dedicated support. I always play ancillary roles I really didnt want to play one again. One of the first things i said on creation of the character is im not a support mage. I dont mind some party support but that will not be my only role.

eliastion
12-09-2014, 05:08 AM
Make the "keeper" get heal, keeper without some healing capacity is laughable ;)
(though mechanically the specialization is a joke either way, but that's another story).

For you, I think, it would be best to start with
Arcane Bolt - that's a nice spell that benefits heavily from journeyman in Spirit Magic and reaching 6th level. It's reliable, cheap, deals 3d6 damage (3d6+2 from 6th level on), has good range, effect is reduced by relatively uncommon saving roll - and it's your first step towards Fade Shield (+2 Spellpower and really good defense - it's a great spell later on).
Mind Blast - that's a bit dangerous spell to take for one reason. It's really broken. You'll find yourself casting a lot of it, dangerously dragging you into the support mage area. Still, it opens path for spells like memory (you can literally make people unsee the fact that you used blood magic ;) and that's only the most obvious and vulgar use) and levitation (depending on your approach its tremendous versatility can make this your favorite spell ever; and if you feel evil you could use this against your hated Arcane Warrior teammate - he might use Magic for melee damage, but what do you think, will that poor steel-waving fool's Strength(Might) roll be better than your Magic(Spirit)?)
For your third starting spell the Walking Bomb would be an obvious choice (since you aim for Animate Dead), but there are other good choices, perhaps from branches you don't really plan to advance, like:
- rock armor (combined with arcane- or fade shield this will make you surprisingly hard to kill)
- drain life (this can come in helpful for when you are Blood Mage since you CAN be healed by this spell as it's not creation)

When advancing later on, it would be wise to keep track of what situations you find yourself in. Do you need defense from arcane or fade shield? Or perhaps you lack utility, then levitation is for you. Then, perhaps, there is lots of intrigue going around your character and you decide Memory is indispensable. Or maybe you feel confident and want to go straight for animate dead. Or maybe you find yourself fighting tons of mages and decide that you really want to put your plans on hold and grab mana drain->mana cleanse or spell shield->dispel magic...
Basically, I don't think it's wise to stick to one set-in-stone plan . Adjust ;)

Oh, one last word - I didn't speak much about damage-dealing. You might find it a bit lacking as Arcane Bolt is nothing spectacular and walking bomb is both gross and somewhat... situational. Still, as you're aiming for blood magic, when you get there your ability to hurt people will skyrocket. Blood Wound is arguably the single best combat spell in the books. It's not easy to cast, and d6+Magic penetrating damage might not seem that powerful... but it does said damage to every enemy within 12 yards, with no save and no friendly fire AND it has powerful crowd-control effect if not resisted. It's not a rain of fire - leave it to this pathetic barbarian that can hardly control the powers he summons - but it gets the job done, without hurting friends or leting the enemies hurt them... Now THAT is real magic.

shonuff
12-09-2014, 05:53 AM
The problem with Blood Wound is that warriors eventually get plate and master armor training... Then they're resisting damage like crazy.

eliastion
12-09-2014, 11:34 AM
It still remains powerful compared to its alternatives. It's still a BIG AoE, still deals some damage (halved armor offsets less then Magic modifier), still denies actions. Also, I consider it unlikely for enemies to sport plate mails with full armor training on regular basis.

Then there is the fact that Master level of Armor Training is one of the things that really needs some houseruling due to the simple fact of not making any sense (oh, I'm so adept at using armor that it protects me from my blood boiling and that poison and that magical disease I got infected with a week ago that makes me suffer damage every time I run, and...)
There is a good reason why penetrating damage ignores armor. But that's a discussion for another time. Even with master Armor Training working as in RAW, Blood Wound remains a terrifying spell.