My band of Heroes – an after action report

This is the place to provide bug reports and suggestions about KotC 2 Augury of Chaos.

My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Atoch » Mon Aug 09, 2021 10:06 am

After making a half-playtrough with Version 1.06 and a playtrough with Version 1.13/14, I want to share some of my experience and analysis about my party combination.

I played mostly on “Hard” (Enchanter-Mode”), but with more HP on Level-Up (at least 75%) and activated gold cost for levelling up.
Having to pay gold for levelling up means, that I was always out of money and most of the time under-levelled (but with a lot of of unused XP). This makes the game more difficult of course, but I would still recommend it. It gives the game an additional layer of strategic depth – and makes it (potentially) more fun. At least, if you don’t mind to save and load often. And that I did – a lot!
(Of course the game-modul has to be designed with the “gold cost for levelling up” in mind. In “Hearkenworld” you just can’t use this option).

In medias res:

1. The Strength-based Melee-Warrior:
With a lot of enemies using “Bullrush”, “Trip” and “Grapple” I highly recommend having at least one expert, who can counter such attacks. (And of course, using such attacks on more fragile enemies is great fun too).
In my first “half-playtrough” I had a Samurai Fire-Drake for this position. I gave him a personalized Reach-Weapon with “swift”, elemental- and holy-damage (or something similar) - and until level 8 or 9 he did quite good.
But then … his weaknesses became more and more obvious.
His AC wasn’t high, his damage-output was (a lot) less than I hoped for and he was feats-starved! It just takes to long to give him all the “essential” feats a strength-based warrior should have!
Later in the game you find a “skewer-vorpal-barbed” axe, which gives immense damage to most enemies (at least 150 per hit, if I remember correctly) and with such a weapon the Samurai is still a viable option, I think.
But before I got this weapon I started my second playthrough.

Remembering the problems with the Samurai, I thought on making a classical tank-warrior:
A tower-shield-wearing Fire-Drake Fighter with lot of feats.
And no – that wasn’t a good choice either.
Giving up the initiative and instead taking it more slowly and passive isn’t a good idea in this game.
So I changed the focus, gave him “Superior-Two-Weapon-Fighting”, a Reach-Weapon in the one hand and the “skewer-vorpal”-axe in the other hand – and my Fighter became a slaughter-god!
His many feats give a lot of options, which are a lot of fun to play with.
And there is “Wade-In”. “Wade-In” makes a huge difference – especially if you use more than one weapon. The Fighter-Class is strong and fun to play. I got to love it.

About the Fire-Drake:
I mostly took this background in order to easily burn “web” and “grease” spells. And in the beginning this is really helpful. But soon the enemy is only using the improved versions of these spells and you can’t burn them down anymore.
I did give all the breath-weapon feats to my fighter, but I can’t recommend it. After Level 9, when you can get “Wade In”, it is just better to move in and kill the enemy with a full-round attack instead of injuring “some” enemies with your breath weapon and then using a standard-attack.


2. The Dexterity-based Damage-Dealer:
If we talk about Dexterity based melee-Warrior, we talk about mantis, don’t we. I mean, if you don’t intend to use the mantis as basis, then you should just make a Strength-based close-combat warrior!
(Could you use the mantis as a Strength-based basis? Probably yes. I think, it would have some non-trivial disadvantages but still much potential. If you have experience with such a build, I would like to read about it!).

The mantis can’t wear armour (but robes, and there are very potent robes in the game) and can only use light weapons without attack mali. So a “Weapon Finesse” Dexterity-based Warrior-class is the natural choice.
A Dexterity-based Damage-Dealer is not a “must have”, but very appealing. It can have an insane number of attacks per round (20+) and high or very high AC. The potential damage-output is unparalleled. Wizards with their nasty “Mirror Image” aren’t safe anymore.
With the promised feat “Greater Weapon Finesse” they will become even deadlier! Isn’t this overpowered and unbalanced?
Yes and Yes – until your greatest damage-dealer is ganged up by a group of minions with Reach-Weapons and they trip him (strength-based!). Once he is prone, all his high dodge-AC bonus isn’t worth a shit and he becomes a helpless fish on the slaughtering block.
So – this great weakness of every Dexterity-based warrior is actually a great strength gameplaywise. And I appreciate it.

For my playtrough I used a Gladiator mantis. The Gladiator can get a high AC bonus if he doesn’t wear any armour – so this class goes well with the mantis race.
Resources were always scarce for my party – and my mantis Gladiator needed more than the other classes – four hands want to be fed with weapons! But until Level 11/12 he was my highest damage dealer by far!
But then “Wade In” kicked in for my Fighter. Without “Wade In” a lot of your potential damage output is wasted, because you just can’t bring it “on the man”.
In the late game you can buy an (very expensive) item (“Belt of the Lion”), which imitates the Psychic Warrior Spell “Psionic Pounce” allowing a Full-round attack after a straight charge. This helps a lot, but it is still not as good as “Wade In”.
With “Combat Training” the Gladiator gets a few essential feats on his first level – so this class isn’t as feats-starved as the Samurai. While the “Blinding Strike” ability is a nice to have feature, it isn’t that important. Warrior-type enemies can normally killed with one Full-round attack anyway and caster doesn’t even care if they are blinded.
But it is o.k – it is still a very strong build (if you invest the money!), it’s only… a bit boring to play…
You just pounce on the enemy and attack and attack, sometimes you blind someone, sometimes you even grapple a caster, but there is not much variety. If this wasn’t a game for a group of heroes, it could get really boring. But so it is – let us say- “easy to use”.


3. The “Whatever you like” melee-position:

As the name suggest, you are free to experiment with this position. It doesn’t have to be a pure warrior-class, but I recommend a build, which can “stand its man” in close combat.

I chose a dexterity-based mantis Monk. ‘Cause I like monks … and I had quite a high expectation for my build.
But the beginning was quite hard.
It is not, that the monk class is so bad in its lower level (it is bad, but not so bad), rather my monk had to bear the full scarcity of resources in my party.
The monk-class doesn’t need as much resources as other classes, so my monk got – nothing!
All acquired light weapons got sucked up by my mantis gladiator!
Even for the early parts of the High Sewer (inclusive the second Pizarra-Fight) I didn’t have weapons for her.
Yes, a Monk can dish out quite a lot of damage with her bare hands and her “Ki Strike” feature – as long as she can hit her target without weapon enchantments. But there is a very big difference between an armed and unarmed mantis monk, because:
a. (and don’t tell this Pierre) all special monk abilities are also active with weapons (even if the description speaks only about “unarmed” attacks) and
b. “Haste”, “Improved Two Weapon Fighting” and “Greater Two Weapon Fighting” give their extra attacks to armed hands only, and finally
c. only weapons can have cool weapon-enchantments like “Swift”, etc.


Some may regret that an unarmed monk is so outclassed, but I don’t think it is a big deal. In a prison-break scenario, the monk is still the king (or queen), and strong and expensive weapon-enchantments can’t be compensated reasonably anyway.

After I got her equipped, my monk finally began to shine.
Especially in her role as “Mage Killer” or better said “Caster Disabler”.
With her many movement points she can sprint behind the enemy lines, close in on the caster group and stun (or with “Wade In”) outright kill them.
She is annoying and hard to kill with magic. She is still not free of the vulnerabilities of dexterity-based warriors, but at least minions need some luck to beat her high touch AC.

There are some battles in which the A.I. has some monks at her disposal, and they tend to be really annoying. A mantis monk is even worse.
So just sit back and enjoy the chaos which she will create, with a heart full of evil laughter.

PS: With the addition of “Wade In” as selectable feat, the “Tiger Leap” abilities of the monk-class has become obsolete. Instead I would prefer - more bonus-feats?


4. The Paladin

Minor Spoiler:
[Begin]

One of the companions you can acquire is a Paladin – and she is not totally useless. I mean, her very high charisma attribute lowers the shop prizes – and as you know, I’m always out of money!
But in combat, yes, there she is (almost) totally useless. After her two or three Smite Attacks, she just never hits. It’s almost comically.

And the reason she is so useless is not only because of her lower class-level and low strength attribute – but because her Paladin-class itself is helplessly behind all other warrior-classes.

[End]

But the weakness of the Paladin-class is its “One-handed Weapon and Shield” combat style.

As I mentioned above, I tried to make my Fighter a classical tank – with the same “One-handed Weapon and Shield”- until I discarded this choice as useless. Why is this combat style so outclassed?

a. In the modul “Augury of Chaos” combat resources (like spells or healing resources) are scarce and there are no easy encounters. The enemy has almost always more troops and more firepower. So how to win?
The most effective solution is in many cases: Blast them into oblivion with all you have before they ever get their chance to attack! (and in some cases, this is the only solution). But then you are powered out and you need to rest. If however resting is not possible, then you should think about a more efficient solution. And there is a simple truth: Killing with spells is expensive! But there are many low level spells which can effectively hinder, delay, stun, disable, silent the enemy, even in late game.

So during most encounters, the job for the caster is just to hamper the enemy from attacking you and the job of the warrior-classes is: to kill the hampered enemy fast.
And as we have seen, melee classes can be very effective in killing!


But the very idea behind the “One-handed Weapon and Shield” combat style is contrary to this considerations. The shield-warrior wants to hamper the enemy so that the spellcaster can kill the enemy!

Of course, there are cases in which the shield-warrior approach is legitimate or even necessary.


My suggestions to make the “One-handed Weapon and Shield” combat style more viable:
- Treat shields like (potential) bludgeon weapons (but without access to weapon-enchantments), with all the potential extra attacks a weapon in the shield-hand could have, so that shield-bearers can have a bit more killing potential.
- Give shields a bonus for and against “Overrun” and “Bullrush”, and a bonus against “Charge”, “Grapple” (and perhaps “Trip”).

And because I make already suggestions:
- Give the Samurai something like the “Flurry Attacks” of monks for one additional attack per round on higher levels.
Edit: After thinking about it: Instead of a specific Samurai feature, how about a general feat - something similar to “Rapid Shot”, if you only use one melee weapon?

So this is enough for now. I would like to hear your opinions.
Last edited by Atoch on Thu Aug 19, 2021 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Atoch
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My band of Heroes – an after action report

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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Atoch » Wed Aug 11, 2021 9:21 am

2nd Part of my small retrospective: The Caster


1. “The Healer”

“Augury of Chaos” gives you about a dozen “True Resurrection”- scrolls. If you don’t mind to repeat some of the battles-gone-wrong, then these should be enough and you don’t need the Cleric-Class in your party. (To be honest, my (under-levelled) party got access to 9-level spells just before the final battle – so it really doesn't matter).
But you still need a divine caster.

I chose a cleric for my party, ‘cause cleric have domains and domains are really nice to have, aren’t they?
My agrossian human with 3 feats, 18 Strength and 20 Wisdom at Lv. 1, has been built with her second job as archer in mind. And with “Zen Archery” she did really well. She had a good hit-chance and a solid performance.
Unfortunately, the lack of money let her only use a very mediocre bow – limiting her damage output.
As background member, caster and archer, she didn’t need expensive armour or accessories – and she didn’t get them.
I chose “Mysticism” and “Flux” as domains. The boni for “Bless” and “Prayer” of the “Mysticism”-domain were very helpful for my (under-levelled) party and I wouldn’t want to miss them.
My “Flux”-domain didn’t harmonize well with my playstyle, however, and I seldom resorted to it.

All in all I’m quite content with her – she’s just a bit … tasteless?

In a later playthrough I want to give her the “Reach”-domain. Boni to “Sound Burst” and “Holy Smite” should be going better with my combat-philosophy.

2. “The Wizard”

“Wizards begin weak, but if they survive, they become as strong as only wizards can be.” (could be common proverb in Mindrel, couldn’t it?)

Like (probably) most players, I chose the red wizard profession as my arcane caster.
Maximal damage output per round convinces even me, and the Red Wizard really delivers this.
But wouldn't be a Blue Wizard more compatible with my requirements for caster?
Hm, perhaps, if there wouldn’t be “Mind Blank” and “Contingent Break Enchantment” spells.

In the late game, two accelerated “Prismatic Sprays” cast by a Red Wizard seem to be the most cost-efficient way to stop a diverse group of enemy-casters from acting – by killing them. And compared to the amount of healing resources needed, if even one caster manages to fire a spell on your party, it is not even that costly.

3. “Psionicist or not – that is the question!”

For the first five level my Psionicist was probably the most important member of my party. He could delay enemies (“Stomp”), he could reliable damage high AC-enemies (“Energy Missile” and feat), stun them (“Energy Stun”) or “Demoralise”.
But then he became more and more colourless.
In the late game he can’t compete with the wizard at all. The wizard is more effective (= higher damage output per round (“Prismatic Spray” is just to good)), is more versatile and has a lot more prolonged firepower.
The last point is the most important.
The “Fireball” of a level 10 wizard is more potent than a fireball of a level 5 wizard – without costing more spellpower.
The Psionicist can enhance his “Energy Ball” too – but it will cost him more PP.
So – the higher the party level the faster my Psionicist trounced through his PP.

But I still love my Psion, I love his feats, he is just not... efficient – and I love efficiency too!

I wished, there would be a spell or item, which would allow you to regain some of the lost PP after a battle… (depending on your performance(?) during the battle (eg. number of enemy-levels killed?))
You can always wish, can’t you?

4. The Dual-caster Companions

The dual-caster classes suffer from the segmentation of their attribute-points. Spells, which allow a saving throw, are cast with more and more unreliable effects. So I used my companions mostly for healing, support spells and summoning – and yeah, they often did nothing after a few rounds.
They lack feats.
They don’t have alternative attack abilities.
I can’t recommend them for a 6-man party.
But for a 4-man party? I still don’t like them, but you could concentrate on just one attribute and build them just like a solo-caster class. So you could preserve the offensive potential in at least one branch of your class.


That’s it.

I would love to read about your experience and thoughts, especially with classes, which I have not tried yet, like Mage Knights or Psychic Warriors!
Atoch
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Atoch » Sun Aug 15, 2021 2:12 pm

Hm, I called this thread an “after action report” but I only talked about my Heroes not about the module…
So, here is a bit more of my rumbling - this time about “Augury of Chaos”! [minor spoilers]

a+. I liked the village map (“Finchbury”). Even if there aren’t many interactions or quests, it helps to embed my party into the wider world. It is probably very time consuming to produce content for a village or city map, so I don’t have high expectations - but every little bit helps. Finchbury is the only map, in which I used sprites instead of tokens giving it a more “adventurous” feeling.
If Finchbury hadn’t been conveniently burned down to the ground, it would had been good for the pacing of the module, if we could visit the village again before the castle map (you know, for stocking up arrows or catching some rumours and motivation).
Some minor nitpicking: the graphic assets of the village look more like a wild-west scenario than a fantasy setting, but I don’t care much.

b+. The encounter-designs. This (and the combat-mechanics) is, where the game really shines!
After “Augury of Chaos” I played “Solasta”, which got high praises for its combat. But I was so spoiled by KotC 2, that I couldn’t get into it.
There are no easy battles in AoC, but if you carefully observe the feats and immunities of your enemies, you will almost always find an exploitable way to win the battle needing a lot less resources.
Some of the battles felt like a puzzle in which I discovered new strategies and countermeasures.

But enough with the praises – time for some little kicks to the posterior:

a-. The automatic-group-movement on the map. Yeah, I got used to it, but I still don’t like it. Especially, if it is used to artificially lure the whole party into an obvious trap without a chance to counter it with a good pre-battle positioning. I get it, that
i. difficult encounters are fun. And
ii. perilous situations, which call for new strategies, are fun too. But then give me
iii. a compelling reason, why my party got into such a situation!
Just tell me a tale! Embed such situations into a story! (The King invited the Heroes to a great banquet. Suddenly a knight runs into the festivities and cries:”My liege! The enemy broke the treaty and teleported into the castle! We are surroun..arghh…”).
Don’t just use a questionable game-mechanic to create such an outcome.

Similar:

b-. The enemy-reinforcements. During one of the last battles I was wary about a closed door. “That would be bad, if they get reinforcement trough it!” And really, they got it - and they got me - unprepared. But it made sense and was cool.
Unfortunately there are more battles with reinforcements, in which the reinforcement comes out of thin air in a closed room. Without any further signs! (Yeah, magic – everything is possible)
What's the problem with it?
Even if the result is the same (my formation gets f**ed up and down go my heroes) - in the first case, I could have seen it coming and could be prepared. So, if I reload and replay it, there’s no breach in the logic if I’m prepared this time.
In the second case, I still know when and where the reinforcement arrives – but it is just meta-gaming!

Isn’t this a silly reasoning – just because it “feels” different? Yeah, quite silly, but a good reason nonetheless! And it shouldn’t be much work to change an annoyance into a cool feature.
So give me some hints, if enemy reinforcements are coming. Be it visually (doors, glowing teleportation circles, etc.) or by text (“… you hear some noises from the tunnel right from you…”)!

c-. The lack of low-level-spell-scrolls. I’ve got a lot of high-level spell-scrolls – but very few low-level-scrolls!
I understand, that having many spells does influence the balancing and you don’t want to give them away freely. The problem is: “Augury of Chaos” is the only module yet. Without cheating I have no chance to try and play with the many interesting spells. Besides, how can we thoroughly check the spells for possible bugs, if we don’t have access to them in “real” combat?
Perhaps we could get some, more exotic, low-level-spells at a higher party-level, so that balancing issues are less severe.

d-. The lack of arrows in the late game.
An unnecessary annoyance. (Yes, I used all my iron ingots for crafting arrows – but it was still not enough. And you can’t get additional iron ingots in the late game either!)
In the early game you have this merchant, who sells unlimited ammunition – which normally means, arrows and co. are not supposed to be scarce resources in this game. You really got me screwed this time!

But all in all, it was great fun!
Atoch
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby BlueSalamander » Wed Aug 25, 2021 7:56 pm

Hello Atoch! Thank you so much for all your thoughts and suggestions!!

First, on the matter of feats, based on what you said, I'm adding to the list of feats I'd like to add the following:

Rapid Strike [All]: You benefit from one extra attack at full base attack bonus if you are holding only one manufactured weapon.

Shield Tactics [All]: When holding a shield, you receive a bonus of +2 on Bullrush, Trip, Sunder, Disarm, Feint, Grapple, and with regards to the feat Overrun you are treated as being one size category larger.

Improved Power Drain [Psionic classes]: With this feat, half of the Power Points stolen from a target using the Power Drain psionic power are transferred to your own pool of Power Points.

How does that sound?

The dual-caster classes suffer from the segmentation of their attribute-points. Spells, which allow a saving throw, are cast with more and more unreliable effects. So I used my companions mostly for healing, support spells and summoning – and yeah, they often did nothing after a few rounds.

It's true, but if you consider for instance the Bard, he's really bringing something that no-one else does. As long as he's developed with Strength and damage output in mind, I think he's okay and even a very good asset with all the songs that can be used to improve everyone, plus the additional dialogue options obtained. I also think the Champion is fine, again especially if you focus on Strength and damage output.

I liked the village map (“Finchbury”). Even if there aren’t many interactions or quests, it helps to embed my party into the wider world. It is probably very time consuming to produce content for a village or city map, so I don’t have high expectations - but every little bit helps.
No worries, I'm going to work on that very soon. :)

If Finchbury hadn’t been conveniently burned down to the ground, it would had been good for the pacing of the module, if we could visit the village again before the castle map (you know, for stocking up arrows or catching some rumours and motivation).
I think you'll be able to visit the village again at some point. Not sure yet if that will be before the castle map or after the castle map.

Just tell me a tale! Embed such situations into a story! (The King invited the Heroes to a great banquet. Suddenly a knight runs into the festivities and cries:”My liege! The enemy broke the treaty and teleported into the castle! We are surroun..arghh…”). Don’t just use a questionable game-mechanic to create such an outcome.
Not a problem to do this; do you have specific places in mind where this happens and I could add a story element into it, please?

Isn’t this a silly reasoning – just because it “feels” different? Yeah, quite silly, but a good reason nonetheless! And it shouldn’t be much work to change an annoyance into a cool feature.
So give me some hints, if enemy reinforcements are coming. Be it visually (doors, glowing teleportation circles, etc.) or by text (“… you hear some noises from the tunnel right from you…”)!
True. You make a good point. Maybe you have suggestions for specific encounters, please?

c-. The lack of low-level-spell-scrolls. I’ve got a lot of high-level spell-scrolls – but very few low-level-scrolls! I understand, that having many spells does influence the balancing and you don’t want to give them away freely. The problem is: “Augury of Chaos” is the only module yet. Without cheating I have no chance to try and play with the many interesting spells. Besides, how can we thoroughly check the spells for possible bugs, if we don’t have access to them in “real” combat?
Perhaps we could get some, more exotic, low-level-spells at a higher party-level, so that balancing issues are less severe.
Not a problem here also, which spells do you have in mind? There is always the 'Spec' tab in the Character Sheet if you wand to try a different spell selection, though.

d-. The lack of arrows in the late game. An unnecessary annoyance. (Yes, I used all my iron ingots for crafting arrows – but it was still not enough. And you can’t get additional iron ingots in the late game either!)
In the early game you have this merchant, who sells unlimited ammunition – which normally means, arrows and co. are not supposed to be scarce resources in this game. You really got me screwed this time!
Okay, I will see what I can do about both the steel ingots and arrows in the mid-game and end-game.

Thank you for the awesome feedback!! Cheers 8-)
'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Atoch » Thu Aug 26, 2021 4:19 pm

Thank you for your response!

About your suggested feats:

Rapid Strike [All]: You benefit from one extra attack at full base attack bonus if you are holding only one manufactured weapon


Would it be more adequate, if attacks get a -2 penalty when using Rapid Strike? (similar to Rapid Shot?)

Mhm…

I would really like it, if you could use Rapid Strike on a standard-attack. (I don’t remember, if Rapid Shot could be used on a standard-attack…).
In this way, Rapid Strike would become something like the lesser brother of “Wade In” – you could close in to the enemy and make two rapid attacks – instead of one standard-attack. Still a high-level feat which should require BAB 9.

I tend to give Rapid Strike no malus, if it can only be used during a full-round attack, and a small malus, if it can be used instead of a standard-attack (or on a standard-attack).
But I’m undecided.

Should Rapid Strike be open to shield-users?
Yes, of course! This would be a lot better and simpler than my idea with the shield-attacks!

_ _ _ _

Shield Tactics [All]: When holding a shield, you receive a bonus of +2 on Bullrush, Trip, Sunder, Disarm, Feint, Grapple, and with regards to the feat Overrun you are treated as being one size category larger.

I like this feat in regard to the balancing aspect -but …
Perhaps, with the help of a lot of alcohol, I could somehow imagine, how a shield could help against Disarm, Sunder or Feint – but help to disarm, sunder or feint?

Is it hard to implement differentiating between a defensive bonus against some tactics and an offensive bonus on your own tactics? (or did I misinterpret your intention?)

I would rather see a +3 bonus on Bullrush than a +2 bonus on Sunder and Disarm.
I think, Bullrush is the most plausible way to use a shield offensively – it would be a substituiton for something like “Shield Bash”.
Also: Only Fighters would have enough feats to utilize that many different tactics options offensively.
Paladins, and the other classes, would have to choose one or two options and specialize in them, if they want to use them as a offensive tacticts.

_ _ _ _

Improved Power Drain [Psionic classes]: With this feat, half of the Power Points stolen from a target using the Power Drain psionic power are transferred to your own pool of Power Points.


Doesn’t this sound good, isn’t this exactly what I wished for – yeah, but there are a few, not minor, problems.

Power Drain (Mind affecting. Fortitude negates, melee touch attack reduces the target's pool of power points by 2 PP per manifester level, or if the target is not a psionics user but a spellcaster, it loses magic slots of equivalent value. A level-2 slot is worth 3 PP, a level-3 slot is worth 5 PP, etc. High slots are lost first. +2 PP to increase the DC by one point and the number of lost power points by five.)



I don’t expect that a Psionicist can use Power Drain in every battle and allows him to easily improve his usefulness during times of prolonged explorations without resting. But as it is described, the hurdles for a practicable use of Power Drain are set very high - it is risky and it is probably in most cases not worth the cost.

As it is described, you have to isolate and disable an enemy caster, so that your Psionicist can safely close in, touch and power drain him. That is not easy and it cost spells and/or manpower. After your Psionicist is in position you will want to repeatly power drain your victim for several rounds – ‘cause one Power Drain doesn’t net you much PP (at level 10 you gain just 3 PP per successful(!) Power Drain). So for several rounds neither your Psionicist nor a second member of your party who disables/holds your victim is available for the ongoing battle.
To be honest, in AoC I don’t remember any encounter which could be resolved under such circumstances easily– especially because enemy caster happen to be involved mostly in major battles – not in the minor ones.

Power Drain is Mind affecting and in the late game only clerics aren’t under the protection of a Mind Blank spell – further decreasing the usability of this spell.

Power Drain has negligible offensive characteristic. One use of Power Drain only slightly hinders wizards and clerics and has as much as no effect on Psionicist – they can still cast their highest power. The basic spell, without feat, is practically useless! (against the A.I. -not against you!)

I suggest to replace the basic Power Drain spell with the version of the Improved Power Drain.

Further Improvements could either enhance its offensive characteristic and/or its usability as a “battery charger” spell:

- More offensive potential could be created, if a successful Power Drain results in a nauseated or stunned effect (for 1 round).

- The melee touch attack could be changed into a close range touch attack – reducing the risk for your Psionicist.

- The net gain on PP could be increased.


The A.I. has not to worry about its spell resources – but you have. So Power Drain has more offensive potential in the hands of the A.I. than in your hands. So I’m a bit unsure about the balancing. I don't want to see the A.I. becoming to annoying with an improved version of this spell...
On the other hand: Closing in with a caster to an enemy caster is in most cases just suicide – I don’t think the A.I. could handle it well.


I will write more at a later time...
Atoch
Hezrou (CR 11)
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Sangarunya » Thu Aug 26, 2021 7:53 pm

I think you are looking at the power from the point of view of the Psionicist exclusively, but don't forget that there are more psychic classes: the Warlock, the Psychic Healer and the one that benefits the most of the Drain Power, the Psychic Warrior. This class is in the front line, so reaching the position of an enemy spellcaster is not a problem for them, like doing a melee touch attack. It's true that at lower and middle levels Drain Power is underwhelming but at high levels is far more useful. And don't forget that the power has augments.

Let's see: a level 19 Psychic Warrior can use six augments to increase the DC of the power by six and the number of power points lost by thirty. The original cost of a level 4 power is 7 plus 12 for the six augments aggregates 19. The damage will be (38+30) - 19 levels multiplied by two adding the damage of the increments. 68 power points lost are a respectable amount. If you consider a traditional enemy spellcaster, a level 9 spell counts as 17 power points. Landing a melee touch attack and eliminating four level 9 spells is pretty powerful. Again, is not the most useful power in the list but it can be pretty annoying (specially if used by an enemy against one of the heroes).

With the draining effect of the Improved Drain Power feat, the power is used for free - in the previous example the psychic warrior dissipated 68 power points and got half of them (34) for a net gain of 15 points (34-19). I think this can be exploited if the group is fighting against other psychic users: instead of killing all the enemies and ending the battle, incapacitate an enemy psion and let yours feast on the enemy power points. Every turn you can refill 15 points on your character. When the enemy is completely depleted, finish it and continue the adventure with more power points. This could be an issue with bonfire management, allowing psychic characters to use more powerful powers more often. It also can be seen as a feature :) And if the drainer is a melee oriented Psionicist, then could use Bestow Power to redistribute points between other members of the group.

And yes, the Shield Tactics feat sound like a hurried bonus to the shield bearers. We know that they are somewhat underpowered, but giving a lot of random bonuses in one feat is not the solution. Increasing their usefulness in battle will take time and many well-thought feats. Anyways, is something normal in D&D: shields were useful in Baldur's Gate 1 but at high levels in Baldur's Gate 2 it was far more powerful use two weapons at the same time - offense trumps defense (not counting the mighty Shield of Balduran :) ).

I'd focus on finishing the game before trying to increase the power of certain classes to make them more fun - that's going to be a long winding path.

This could be an interesting discussion. More thoughts?
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Atoch » Fri Aug 27, 2021 2:54 am

Psychic Warrior is a good point. (I was somehow under the impression, that Power Drain isn’t on the spell-list of the Psychic Warrior – but it is!)

Your other points sound valid too:
- your example shows, that Power Drain on higher level is a lot more damaging to the enemy than I thought, and
- Psychic Warrior benefit the most of it – (and, if I may add, they need it the most!)

In the late game, I think, the greatest problem for Power Drain is still Mind Blank – but if there is an enemy cleric or druid, then a Psychic Warrior has a good chance to get benefits out of it.

I don’t think that is bad. A Psychic Warrior can’t get benefits in every battle - but often enough.
I still think, that using Power Drain is making a battle more difficult – as it should be, because you get long-term benefits. [more difficult, because you use time and manpower for something, that doesn’t kill or doesn’t stop an enemy from acting]

As I see it, Pierres “Improved Power Drain” is quite right for the Psychic Warrior – but not for the other psionic power user.

For the other psionic power classes the hurdles for a practicable use of Power Drain are to high, so I think – and I would like to see, if they can get access to a feat, which lowers these hurdles. (Psychic Warrior don’t need to have access to such a feat)
I’m just not sure, what the best approach for such a feat is.

.
.
.
oh

After re-reading your text, I think, I missed your most important point.
There are spells and powers (such as Decerebrate), which allow you to incapacitate an enemy caster for a prolonged time.
If you eliminate all other enemies in this time, you are then in the position, that you can “empty” your victim without any further danger or time restrictions - and this isn’t even so difficult to achieve at higher levels…

I fear, this changes everything. I was to fixated on lower party levels, in which incapacitating enemy caster safely isn’t easy, and the concept "Kill the Mages first"...
But if you can postpone the use of Power Drain after the battle-action without any major difficulties, then I fear, the whole concept of “Improved Power Drain” breaks down...

I don’t see a way to save it...
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Atoch » Mon Aug 30, 2021 1:52 pm

After some thinking I “found” a kind of “solution” – or the form, a possible solution could look like:

Limit the use of the improved version of “Power Drain” to the first three or four rounds of a battle.

Obviously I have no idea, how such an arbitrary restriction could be explained ingame (- other then: A short time after the begin of a battle, the magical energies get to much into turmoil and can’t be safely consumed anymore. Yeah...)

But such a restricted improved Power Drain sounds quite intriguing to me.
It would be like an optional extra-puzzle which, if it can be solved, give you a limited reward.

The reward and extra-difficulty can be rather easily fine-tuned by limiting the time-frame of the allowed use. Also, it doesn’t change the battle-flow to the worse – rather, I think, it would be an appealing enrichment of the gameplay.


That said, I realized, being blind to the obvious again, that the relative weakness of the late Psionicist can easily addressed and balanced by adjusting the modul-design:
Just give us more PP-recovering consumable as loot – and there is no need for a new feat anymore...
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby BlueSalamander » Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:07 pm

Hello all :)

On the subject of low-level spells being too rare, I did try to give access to more of them in the new village content.

Would it be more adequate, if attacks get a -2 penalty when using Rapid Strike? (similar to Rapid Shot?)
That is also doable but it does require more work than simply granting one extra attack. There needs to be one more option in the combat-actions menu, just like Rapid Shot. The -2 penalty would then apply to all of your attacks on this round. Enemies would also utilise this option.

Rapid Shot (see https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Rapid_Shot) only works as part of a full-attack action.

Still, from both a gameplay point of view and ease-of-implementation point of view, I think I'm more in favour of simply granting an extra attack.

I would really like it, if you could use Rapid Strike on a standard-attack. (I don’t remember, if Rapid Shot could be used on a standard-attack…).
In this way, Rapid Strike would become something like the lesser brother of “Wade In” – you could close in to the enemy and make two rapid attacks – instead of one standard-attack. Still a high-level feat which should require BAB 9.
An interesting idea, but the added implementation complexity makes this very unlikely to happen.

The BAB 9 requirement sounds fine, though.

Should Rapid Strike be open to shield-users? Yes, of course! This would be a lot better and simpler than my idea with the shield-attacks!
Yup. As long as you're holding only one weapon you'd get the extra attack (or the extra option in the combat-actions menu).

I like this feat in regard to the balancing aspect -but … Perhaps, with the help of a lot of alcohol, I could somehow imagine, how a shield could help against Disarm, Sunder or Feint – but help to disarm, sunder or feint?
For Sunder, in my view, it's just another version of Shield Bash. You're aiming at a person's armour to damage it, and you could do that with a shield.

For Feint, I guess a fighter could pretend to be performing a Shield Bash attack with a shield, but the real attack is with the sword.

Disarming would be something like a Shield Bash attack aimed at a person's hand only.

Is it hard to implement differentiating between a defensive bonus against some tactics and an offensive bonus on your own tactics? (or did I misinterpret your intention?)
For sure it would be more work and a risk of new bugs too. That's because the game currently does not differentiate between offensive and defensive bonuses on things like bullrush, trip, disarm or sunder.

I would rather see a +3 bonus on Bullrush than a +2 bonus on Sunder and Disarm.
That's doable. We could have the feat grant +3 or +4 on Bullrush, as well as the size increase for Overrun.

Paladins, and the other classes, would have to choose one or two options and specialize in them, if they want to use them as a offensive tactics.
That's true. But again, the defensive bonus on the other combat manoeuvres would still be of benefit to them.

I'm fine with either possibility. +2 on all combat manoeuvres, or +4 on bullrush only.

one Power Drain doesn’t net you much PP (at level 10 you gain just 3 PP per successful(!) Power Drain)
Ah, I was going to explain that Power Drain would be better at higher levels, but Sangarunya has already explained it.

So yes, at level 20, Power Drain will reduce the target's PPs by 2 x 20 = 40 and it would grant you 20 PPs back. The cost of the power is 7, so you would get a net gain of 13 PPs at level 20.

As you said, we could have the feat 'Improved Power Drain' do more (or do something other) than grant a PP transfer to you. It could indeed convert the power from melee-touch to ranged-touch, and/or make the target sickened or nauseated for one round, and/or allow you to recover more PPs.

But then again, it's a good point that the game shouldn't really encourage the player to keep certain enemies around as PP recovery fodder.

Also true that the item rewards after certain battles could simply include more PP-recovery food items, so that's probably a better solution.

Thank you everyone!! 8-)
'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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Re: My band of Heroes – an after action report

Postby Atoch » Tue Sep 28, 2021 8:13 pm

I drew up the following text before I could read BlueSalamanders post and I’m to lazy to change it – so it is a bit out of date.
- - -


No objections or further ideas? Then allow me to condense my thoughts into a concrete suggestion: Change the psionic power “Power Drain” into:

Power Drain (Mind affecting. Fortitude negates, melee touch attack reduces the target's pool of power points by 2 PP per manifester level, or if the target is not a psionics user but a spellcaster, it loses magic slots of equivalent value. A level-2 slot is worth 3 PP, a level-3 slot is worth 5 PP, etc. High slots are lost first. +2 PP to increase the DC by one point and the number of lost power points by five.) Additionally, if “Power Drain” is successfully used during the first three rounds of a battle, the user can transfer 7 PP plus half of the Power Points stolen from a target to his own pool of Power Points. Stealing Power Points in such a way is only possible twice per battle – anymore alien energy is rejected by your body.

The class Psionicist should have access to the optional feat “Improved Power Drain”:

Then range of Power Drain changes to close range touch attack. Additionally, absorbing Power Points from a victim is possible during the first four rounds of a battle.

_ _ _ _ _



Just tell me a tale! Embed such situations into a story! (The King invited the Heroes to a great banquet. Suddenly a knight runs into the festivities and cries:”My liege! The enemy broke the treaty and teleported into the castle! We are surroun..arghh…”). Don’t just use a questionable game-mechanic to create such an outcome.

Not a problem to do this; do you have specific places in mind where this happens and I could add a story element into it, please?


Yeah, it’s not that easy to find a concrete idea in a dungeon map – because everything in a dungeon is suspicious! The core of the problem is: Not breaking the “Suspension of Disbelieve”.
If the goal is to bring the party into a perilous situation and everything in a dungeon is suspicious: how can you trick the player into such a situation – without making it look like a stupid and implausible decision?

Let us look at the “Lower Sewer” map, the encounter with the lizardmen and the sword in the pool as bait.
Honestly, I only came up with one (not so original) idea: the illusion trap.

As you cautious progress, your [wizard/ highest intelligence character] notices some arcane symbols - almost hidden on the wall. Curious, while removing some rubble, he accidentally touches the symbols – which lightly glow up and vanish – but nothing further seems to happen…

That’s it. The Hook…

The small corridor of the sewer opens up to, what seems to be, a natural cave with a small pool of fresh spring water. Cheerful voices entice your party to approach it. Only [cleric / high wisdom score] feels some uneasiness, something’s not right – but he can’t sense any maliciousness and follows the group.

The [cleric / high wisdom score] can prevent a surprise round.

Nymphs! A few of this lovely creatures look out of the water. While surprised and wary of you, they can soon be convinced that you mean them no harm. They only look for the golden toy of their princess. Perhaps you can help them?
Gladly you agree to look out – and looking you are! (and sometimes touching too, which can’t be helped)
Alas, soon one of them triumphantly holds up a golden ball and in bright light - everything vanish and you are back in the sewer. Surprised you are confronted by the reddening faces of lizardmen - as you abruptly stop hugging their tails.

To late for sorry – the battle commences! A gory mess for the victor is all that remains – or not?

As the last of your enemies dies under your sword a small fairy descends into your midst. Shocked by your bloody appearance she hugs her new found golden ball. “Thank you, mortal, for your help, but … why?” She looks at your dead victims and helplessly shakes her small head.
“Here, your reward!” she holds a small bag reaching out to give it to you, but... “Oh, you stink terrible”.
The bag drops into you hands and the fairy vanishes into small sparkles of butterflies.
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