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  • Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

    Hello all,
    I have queries about the power balance of cold shaping and fire shaping, two of the primary offensive arcanum. I am aware that some of the developers may see this, so I should first say that I am greatly enjoying the book and do not want to sound unduly critical. I am just finding this contrast puzzling and am hoping someone can show me a different perspective to justify it, or perhaps point out my mistake.

    The offensive aspect of cold shaping, ‘frostbite’, is simple. A straight intelligence (shaping) test to inflict penetrating damage, with the excess outcome increasing the damage. It comes with the danger of a fatigue test equivalent to the result of the arcane test but is still a very effective attack.

    Fire shaping, on the other hand, is decidedly more complex, and remarkably less effective. The basic offensive ‘ignite fire’ inflicts 2D6 damage, which pales somewhat in comparison to the average 3D6 or more of ‘frostbite’ (which is also penetrating don’t forget). Now, this might well be compensated for, as the fire continues to burn the victim (presumably still dealing 2D6), and further, the caster can ‘increase fire’ to pile a bunch of D6s onto the base damage. I really like this, the slow build up of setting a person alight before engulfing them in flame is appealling.

    However, there are some issues with it:

    First, and most problematic, while ‘ignite fire’ does not technically have a ‘resistance test’ it has a very similar effect as the target immediately makes a ‘dexterity resistance test’. This test is TN 13, which is quite easy to pass for a lot of the adversaries and will immediately nullify the effect of the arcanum. If they fail, and the damage is taken, then they must again take this test to put the fire out or suffer further damage at the beginning of their next turn. In effect, this gives the target two chances at a relatively easy TN test to put out the fire before the caster even has a chance to increase the fire damage. As such, fire shaping will always fall behind in damage, often doing none.

    Another issue is that the ‘increase fire’ effect does not increase the damage in the same way as ‘frostbite’. While ‘frostbite’ relies on the excess outcome of the test result, the additional damage of ‘increase fire’ corresponds to an increase in the TN of the test. This means that, a fire shaper must decide how much extra damage they want before taking the test, the TN becoming harder the more damage they intend to inflict. This means that the caster must make a gamble, either moderately increasing the damage and taking a safer test, or the risk of achieving nothing at all as they fail the harder test. Additionally, if the caster makes a very good roll, it will have no effect as the static TN still determines the damage. ‘Frostbite’ suffers none of these drawbacks, not being punished fore average rolls and being rewarded for good ones.

    This differences in how damage is increased also becomes apparent when the bonuses to for the outcome version are considered. The arcane stunt ‘powerful channeling’ increases the outcome of an arcanum, again benefiting ‘frostbite’. Similarly, the specialization ‘shaper’ adds 2 to the outcome of successful tests utilizing your favored element. This further accentuates the superiority of cold shaping as a combat arcanum.

    The only scenario I can imagine in which fire shaping outperforms cold shaping is against an opponent with a lot of health. If such an enemy were set alight, and failed both their tests to put it out, and then the fire shaper passed their ‘increase fire test’ they would do a lot of damage over the course of a fight. This is because increase fire can be maintained and cannot be put out (as ignite fire can be). This could allow the fire shaper to deal a lot of damage and with far less risk of fatigue than a cold shaper. However, this requires a lot of ifs and special circumstances. In most fights the fire shaper will be flailing about getting all hot and bothered, watching as the cold shaper strides about looking pretty damn cool.

    There done. That took longer than expected. My apologies if it sounds harsh, or if it was unclear (I have tried to be succinct). This has just caused me some frustration over the last week, as I have not been able to understand it. I would appreciate any other perspectives.

    P.S, There a couple of things more, I think, but this was becoming lengthy.
    P.S.S Of course the one part of the post that I cannot edit, is the laughably dumb mistake in the title. My apologies.
    Last edited by aldinpeasant; 10-13-2018, 03:07 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

    Originally posted by aldinpeasant View Post
    as I have not been able to understand it. I would appreciate any other perspectives.
    At the risk of sounding flippant, I'd say that you understand it quite well: in Aldis, magic that summons cold is a more reliable but more fatiguing method of inflicting injury. Fire, on the other hand, has potential to do grievous harm if the victim isn't canny enough to put the fire out, with less risk of fatigue.

    Real Talk: There's no goal of balancing these arcana as combat applications against one another for us as designers. We're far more interested in flavorful expressions of arcane ability with a variety of useful applications, some of which may include the ability to injure people. Yes, Fire Shaping may be less effective at inflicting damage, but it's also a good deal more versatile, in terms of things you can do with it. That's intentional.

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    • #3
      Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

      Just a note, Cold Shaping is fatiguing at the test TN. So, Frostbite would have a fatigue TN of 11 instead of the opposed test result.[1][2]

      Frostbite is great against subjects with both a high Defense and Armor Rating. In addition, it only requires line of sight. If the subject doesn't have a high Defense and Armor Rating, then I suggest you consider other less fatiguing options. For example, Psychic Weapon against subjects with low Defense but high Armor (unless range is a problem, then Frostbite away) or Move Object against subjects with low Defense and Armor (a Cryston works too).

      Ignite Fire is great against low Dexterity targets, and I feel that there are plenty enough adversaries for it to be useful. Liches have 1 Dexterity, and Master Vampires only have 2 Dexterity. From the FAGE Bestiary, the Thunderlord has 0 Dexterity. The main draw of Ignite Fire is that once you've cast it, it continually deals damage without you needing to concentrate on it. So, you can do other things.

      Increase Fire is great because it deals additional damage and removes the Dexterity test, but at the cost of a minor action every turn. It is even better if you can perform Ignite Fire and Increase Fire in a single round by using a Conviction token or the Fast Casting arcane stunt (hint for Journeyman Fire Shapers).

      Two things to consider -

      1) At Lv8, Adepts gain the ability to add their Willpower to any damage done by an arcanum. So, arcana which deals damage multiple times from a single cast (Ignite Fire, Psychic Weapon) benefit from this a great deal more than arcana which deal damage only once per cast (Frostbite).
      2) Remember that you can target multiple subjects with a single cast by taking a +1 penalty to the test TN and fatigue TN per additional subject (see pg 92 Multiple Subjects for more details). Ignite Fire has a static effect no matter how many subjects you choose to affect. Meanwhile, increasing the test TN for Frostbite means dealing less damage per subject (though more than if you only targeted one).

      --

      EDIT:

      Another point, a non-Adept also benefits from non-scaling arcana as they do not need to invest as many ability advancements as scaling arcana. You need a high Intelligence (Shaping) ability to make the most of Frostbite, but not so much with Ignite Fire.
      Last edited by Sentinel Ark; 10-14-2018, 05:44 AM. Reason: Grammar and Typos.

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      • #4
        Re: Cold Shaping and Fire Shaping: A discussion

        Thank you for the replies.

        Carriker, I apologize for being unpleasant. I admit that rereading my post I do come across as a power-gaming balance-obsessed violent D&D grinder. I was simply concerned that it might cause contention amongst my players. It is of course right that you focus on the utility and flavor of arcana rather than it’s combat potential. Again, I must express my admiration and appreciation for such a nuanced and intriguing book.

        Sentinel Ark, thankyou for drawing that alteration to my attention. You are of cause right that many creatures in the bestiary do not have 2 dexterity, that was a mistake on my part. I too had considered the potential of the combination of ‘Ignite Fire’ and ‘Increase Fire’ in conjunction with the ‘Fast Casting’ arcane stunt.

        It still doesn’t sit right with me, but then, I guess that is my problem rather than the book’s. However, your input has helped me to come around somewhat, so thank you again.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Cold Shaping and Fire Shaping: A discussion

          Originally posted by aldinpeasant View Post
          It still doesnít sit right with me...
          I have a player who wants to specialize in the Shaping discipline, but I am waiting for him to learn Fire Shaping and see how it plays in the campaign before I modify the arcanum. I have already tentatively drafted an arcane item which reads "You gain the Fire Shaping arcanum. If you are already trained in this arcanum, then the test TN for the Dexterity (Acrobatics) test is equal to 10 + your Intelligence (Shaping) ability."

          However, he is more interested in doing things with the Wind Shaping arcanum, but because Wind Shaping is lacking, I gave him limited access to the Wind Arcana from FAGE.

          Ultimately, if I had a player whose character concept ties strongly with the Fire Shaping arcanum, then I would wait and see how it plays within the group. Then, I would modify the arcanum so that it stays relevant in more scenarios and would tie these modifications to appropriate moments in the story (e.g. a mentor or arcane item which modifies the arcanum) or by sacrificing an arcanum choice to upgrade Fire Shaping by boosting the TN, educing cast time, adopting spells from Fire Arcana in FAGE, or other. It'll depend on what has (or has not) been working well in the campaign and what the player is looking for in their character.

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          • #6
            Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

            Sentinel Arc, if I cannot reconcile myself with the fire arcanum I may well institute a house rule myself. What exactly that would look like, I am not yet sure.

            As for wind shaping, I must strongly disagree that it is lacking. It may be indiscriminate, but it is downright terrifying in it's destructive capability. If you are concerned that it is limited in it's utility, the move object arcanum could be used to represent a more controled use of wind shaping. It would just require another arcanum for the adept to hone their skills to such an extent. I must admit though, that I have no knowledge of the wind arcana in FAGE.

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            • #7
              Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

              In terms of DPA Wind and Water shaping are lacking. But we have seen some epic uses of them in play. In Cat's Cradle, Water Shaping was used to wipe out an entire bandit camp near a river, ending a battle before it began in The Magnificent Seven and Wind Shaping was used to drop a Tornado on a division of an army scattering them in Dark Tides Rising, which had a...lets say major effect on the larger scale military battle taking place.
              Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
              "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

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              • #8
                Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

                Originally posted by Sentinel Ark View Post
                Just a note, Cold Shaping is fatiguing at the test TN. So, Frostbite would have a fatigue TN of 11 instead of the opposed test result.[1][2]
                Keep in mind, if you use a higher Outcome, that number should be your Fatigue TN, not just the base. So, yes, you can squeeze 4d6 damage out of Frostbite if you roll a 17 on the test, but that is now also your TN to resist Fatigue.

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                • #9
                  Re: Cold Shaping and Fire Shaping: A discussion

                  Originally posted by aldinpeasant View Post
                  Carriker, I apologize for being unpleasant. I admit that rereading my post I do come across as a power-gaming balance-obsessed violent D&D grinder. I was simply concerned that it might cause contention amongst my players. It is of course right that you focus on the utility and flavor of arcana rather than itís combat potential. Again, I must express my admiration and appreciation for such a nuanced and intriguing book.
                  Oh, hey, not at all. I don't feel you came across that way. I recognize that Blue Rose's design isn't entirely typical of most game design these days. I hope you don't think I was trying to take you to task or anything - I just wanted to make sure I was clear on our goals as designers.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

                    Originally posted by aldinpeasant View Post
                    Sentinel Arc, if I cannot reconcile myself with the fire arcanum I may well institute a house rule myself. What exactly that would look like, I am not yet sure.
                    I would love to brainstorm and workshop something with you! I've been contemplating what may or may not fit off and on. Always good to have another perspective for potential changes in my home game.

                    Originally posted by aldinpeasant View Post
                    As for wind shaping, I must strongly disagree that it is lacking. It may be indiscriminate, but it is downright terrifying in it's destructive capability. If you are concerned that it is limited in it's utility, the move object arcanum could be used to represent a more controled use of wind shaping. It would just require another arcanum for the adept to hone their skills to such an extent. I must admit though, that I have no knowledge of the wind arcana in FAGE.
                    Sorry, allow me to clarify. What I meant by lacking was for a finer way to control the wind as opposed to broad field-wide effects. My player's characters have experienced what it is like to have a tornado thrown at them and they survived it with single digits in their Health. It was fun... for me, but horrifying for them... but that was what I was trying to aim for.

                    Arcana like Move Object and Manipulate Object definitely fits well with the wind theme and makes up for most of it. Overall, I'm happy with how Wind Shaping was designed. However, since my player's character concept ties very closely and strongly to Wind Shaping (and because I played FAGE first), I find myself wanting a little more from Wind Shaping.

                    Originally posted by Carriker View Post
                    Keep in mind, if you use a higher Outcome, that number should be your Fatigue TN, not just the base. So, yes, you can squeeze 4d6 damage out of Frostbite if you roll a 17 on the test, but that is now also your TN to resist Fatigue.
                    Oh? I thought if an arcanum is fatiguing at the test TN, then I use the base TN required to cast the arcanum, regardless of outcome, as opposed to test result where the fatigue TN includes outcome.

                    If that is the case, then I have been playing it all wrong. Boy, will my players will be in for a treat. Luckily, Arc 2 of my campaign will be ending in a few months so I can make the rule changes then. Hmm... this will change a few things...

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                    • #11
                      Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

                      Originally posted by Sentinel Ark View Post
                      Oh? I thought if an arcanum is fatiguing at the test TN, then I use the base TN required to cast the arcanum, regardless of outcome, as opposed to test result where the fatigue TN includes outcome.
                      Yeah, played in that fashion, fatigue tends to become something of a paper tiger, as my home group discovered as well. But if you're pushing the limits of the power to do things that are larger in scope and scale, it only makes sense that the fatigue would be similarly expansive.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

                        Also, I'd encourage folks to look at the new Arcana Knacks we did for Aldis: City of the Blue Rose. Not only are there some useful tricks there, but they provide inspiration for new "tricks" with existing arcana.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

                          Originally posted by Carriker View Post
                          Yeah, played in that fashion, fatigue tends to become something of a paper tiger, as my home group discovered as well. But if you're pushing the limits of the power to do things that are larger in scope and scale, it only makes sense that the fatigue would be similarly expansive.
                          I have noticed that in my games too, where my Adepts aren't getting fatigued as easily. However, I've noticed that once my players get 1 fatigue that they can easily snowball into 2 or 3. So, they've been playing very cautiously and utilizing arcana where needed.

                          Thinking it over, I may leave how I've been using test TN/result for now because I had some interesting plans for arcane items / artifacts based on what I've read in the City of Aldis book...

                          Originally posted by Carriker View Post
                          Also, I'd encourage folks to look at the new Arcana Knacks we did for Aldis: City of the Blue Rose. Not only are there some useful tricks there, but they provide inspiration for new "tricks" with existing arcana.
                          Speaking of, that book inspired the next wave of item rewards I had for my players for the end of Arc 2. Based on what I've read so far, it seems fairly common to have stones which grant a specific arcanum. I took that idea and ran with it - creating Arcana Knacks through FAGE Arcana with parts of the Companion (attunement, tiered artifacts, etc.) and some of the feats in the BR True20 books (Empower, Quicken, Subtle, and Widen Arcana), then tiering the feats into 3's.

                          I end up with something like this:

                          Stone of Flame +3

                          Arcane Power. You gain the Fire Shaping arcanum. If you are already trained in this arcanum, then you gain the Flaming Shield arcana knack.

                          Quicken Arcana II. You can use the Fire Shaping more swiftly, reducing the cast time from a Major action to a Minor action, but you also increase the fatigue TN by +4.
                          Stone of Healing +3

                          Arcane Power. You gain the Cure arcanum. If you are already trained in this arcanum, then you can use the Cure arcanum at a range, but the arcane and fatigue test TN is increased by +1 for every 2 yards beyond melee.

                          Empower Arcana II. When you cast the Cure arcanum, you can increase the arcane test result by +1 (even after knowing your test result), but you also increase the fatigue TN by +2. You cannot empower the Cure arcanum more than twice at a time.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Cold Shaping and Fure Shaping: A discussion

                            We have been using Fatigue as Joe outlined and it has given it more teeth but it also rains in Adepts a bit which I think is good.
                            Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle) Blue Rose AGE (Big Damn Heroes)
                            "That Queer Goth Chick." "You are going to have to be more specific"

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