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Your experience with combat sorcery

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  • Your experience with combat sorcery

    From Death of Obsidian Butterflies and Flight of the Brilliant Raptor to Magma Kraken and weirdly low-velocity Death Rays, what has been your experience with sorcery as applied in combat?

    I have in mind a focus on the attack spells, which present some interesting options in terms of decisive damage that doesn't reset to base initiative and things like unblockable/undodgeable area attacks, but I'll keep it open to any spells used in combat time.

    How have you found shaping sorcery in combat? In practice, have spells been practically useful combat options in your group (especially as compared to just dropping some solar charms)? How have you used or seen combat sorcery used in games?

    I find it especially interesting having played 1E and 2E in which combat sorcery was... suboptimal, let's say.

  • #2
    Hm... The sorceress in my game hasn’t actually used Brilliant Raptor on people yet, but I can say for sure that it’s really great for destroying enemy siege weapons.

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    • #3
      Really good against battle groups.
      Okay against non-battle groups.

      Admittedly, Death Ray is amazing against everyone, but it's an Essence 5 spell, so what do you expect?

      One thing I've noticed is that sorcerers actually generally can cast a combat spell in one round... but only once per combat, and then they've used up all their stored sorcerous motes. So they tend to only cast a combat spell once, and not bother trying again. Sometimes they do again.


      "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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      • #4
        I will note that there are many spells good for combat that can be cast out of combat, but none of those are really "attack" spells. Now to the set you requested.

        To actually use most attack spells in a single round you really have to lean in on the shaping rituals and charm boosts to the shape itself.
        This is the big deal with in-combat sorcery, you can't half-ass this. Presuming you do...

        If you use spells that attack with your initiative, note that sorcery by itself doesn't really give you anything that builds initiative. So you want to be a decent combatant before sorcery.
        If you use spells that don't, of course, you can more or less just spam it.

        Brilliant Raptor has been used amazingly well for two things: Zoning the enemy out with fire and assassinating someone even at extreme range. The former is particularly well suited to someone with alpha striker initiative, since a round 1 blast is precious and a hazard for the whole fight can make or break the fight, especially against bgs, but is good all over the fight. Its damage of init + temp wp will usually mean even at base init you can expect to roll 7 dice unless the sorcerer is particularly spent.

        Obsidian Butterflies is nice to wreck battlegroups and attack someone with bad parry, but its damage is pitiful against someone with good parry (hit threshold + essence).

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        • #5
          I'm going to point out that for a Dragon-Blooded, Stormwind Rider is an incredibly useful combat spell, basically saving you two Charm slots for the price of one, in addition to showering you in both Charm and non-Charm dice on your combat movement rolls.


          Evocations for the demonic tattoos gained from the Pact with Mara sorcerous initiation || Pyre-Kindler (Soulsteel and Red Jade Grimscythe, Artifact 3) || Tenebrous Descent (Stormcaller's Black Jade Reaver Daiklave cousin, Artifact 5)
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          • #6
            Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post
            I'm going to point out that for a Dragon-Blooded, Stormwind Rider is an incredibly useful combat spell, basically saving you two Charm slots for the price of one, in addition to showering you in both Charm and non-Charm dice on your combat movement rolls.
            Could you unpack that a little bit? I guess I'm not seeing some of the advantages you're referring to.

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            • #7
              I've had a lot of success with both Flight of the Brilliant Raptor as a single target nuke and Death of Obsidian Butterflies as a BG killer and frankly an easy attack to perform when Initiative is low. Having a high shape sorcery pool and making full use of your initiation benefits is a must for busting these out quickly, but it's nice. (Not to mention it's often a faster ranged attack than archery or thrown at medium+ range)


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              • #8
                Not my character, but in the game I'm playing in, the sorcerer character dropped a Mists of Eventide on the fair folk side of the combat. It was kinda binary in effects. Those who failed it started to bleed init fast and those who succeeded, ignored it utterly. It did go a long way t bringing down the big bad though. He botched his resistance roll and that -2 penalty is really handy when you're trying to take down a dude with defense of like 8-9 and only one guy in the circle is really combat specialized.

                Hell, the sorcerer literally didn't have dots in any combat skill. He was our medicine expert who had picked up sorcery as an aside. Made him a damn useful member of the group in a combat though.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Therian View Post
                  Could you unpack that a little bit? I guess I'm not seeing some of the advantages you're referring to.

                  It allows you to roll combat movement with Wits+Occult - since you're a sorcerer, you probably have mental primary and a wits of 3-4, likely comparable to your Dex, and very likely a much higher Occult score than your average of Athletics and Dodge. You also already have an excellency in Occult, whereas you probably need to buy one in Athletics (and depending on your defensive combat ability of choice, possibly Dodge).

                  A few other things to consider: if your Occult is higher than your other two skills, this already gives you a bunch of non-Charm dice and a higher excellency cap. However, the advantages do not stop here: unless you're a rather mediocre sorcerer and/or also have a specialty in Rushes and Disengages, the Occult excellency is going to give you a higher dice cap, since the excellencies in Dodge and Athletics only allow you to buy successes (so, at a rating of Athletics 5, Dodge 5, Occult 5, the Occult excellency is still going to be better purely because you can only buy two auto-successes with the movement ability excellencies, whereas you'd get five dice with Occult - meaning you get the equivalent of an additional non-Charm die).

                  But wait, there's more! The Occult excellency doesn't just give you extra dice, it also allows you to reroll non-1 failed dice for every 10 that comes up. This immediately marks it as superior compared to the Dodge excellency, which gives no benefit on disengage rolls. At the first glance, it seems about on par with the Athletics excellency in this respect - one gives you extra dice for 10s, the other allows you to reroll failed dice on 10s, these are practically the same thing except in an incredibly narrow subset of cases where you're overwhelmingly likely to have already won anyway (because you had fewer failed dice than 10s on your roll). However, the Athletics effect does not add extra dice, which means fewer chances of getting 10s - at a rating of 5 in either ability, the Occult excellency will, on average, get you half of an additional non-Charm die at no cost.


                  Evocations for the demonic tattoos gained from the Pact with Mara sorcerous initiation || Pyre-Kindler (Soulsteel and Red Jade Grimscythe, Artifact 3) || Tenebrous Descent (Stormcaller's Black Jade Reaver Daiklave cousin, Artifact 5)
                  Advice for running the corebook shikari antagonists

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                  • #10
                    My Twilight didn't cast spells inside battle, just waltzed in with the buffs I list at the end, relying on an obscene amount of soak to no-sell attacks and using IBA's weaponry. Until they made themself a warstrider.

                    Our Eclipse's control spell was Death of Obsidian Butterflies, she kept staff on hand whose jobs were to carry a lit flame for her. She shredded battlegroups; at 5 Occult and 1 Essence the -2 Defense means that if you would hit a person, you do 2 automatic levels of damage to the BG before rolling; she tended to be able to get two spells off in the first 2 rounds, sometimes the first 3, and after that the BG tended to have routed.

                    Our ST attacked us with the Magma Kraken spell once, but just the spell so I'm unsure how different it would be in a standard setting. It was scary, and against anything weaker than a circle would probably be triply so, because if it gets the upper "hand" it seems to be extremely dangerous; that control roll gets a number of automatic successes that if unless you're a Brawler/MA you need to avoid getting hit. I reckon in a non-dedicated combat it would also exist for an upsetting duration, and the extra onslaught penalties might be a danger.

                    I know you said "in combat" but to go with the other stuff quickly:
                    Stormwind Rider lets you use what's normally a better dicepool for movement actions, and can be used to move 2 bands in a turn (which is quite a rare ability for DB, and not cheap for Solars). For DB it also can save you an Excellency slot; my player is looking at picking it up when they learn Terrestrial Circle Sorcery pretty quickly for these reasons.
                    Invulnerable Skin of Bronze is +6 soak, which stacks nicely, and the abilities are gravy; it's not for seafarers, but it's brilliant for most combatants not relying on MA or their evasiveness. The control spell bonuses, in retrospect, are underwhelming.
                    Wood Dragon's Claws and Incomparable Body Arsenal are nice, but they're obvious in their effects so there's not much to describe there.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by armyofwhispers View Post
                      Not my character, but in the game I'm playing in, the sorcerer character dropped a Mists of Eventide on the fair folk side of the combat. It was kinda binary in effects. Those who failed it started to bleed init fast and those who succeeded, ignored it utterly.
                      Note, though, that due to the way the Mists work, targets are probably going to have at least two chances to get affected by it, if not 3, since it hangs around for 3 turns once cast. In the case of that fight, the one battlegroup did make a remarkably good Sta+Res roll, and avoided being poisoned the first turn, but then you guys sorta annihilated them before they got another chance to succumb. :-)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post


                        It allows you to roll combat movement with Wits+Occult - since you're a sorcerer, you probably have mental primary and a wits of 3-4, likely comparable to your Dex, and very likely a much higher Occult score than your average of Athletics and Dodge. You also already have an excellency in Occult, whereas you probably need to buy one in Athletics (and depending on your defensive combat ability of choice, possibly Dodge).

                        A few other things to consider: if your Occult is higher than your other two skills, this already gives you a bunch of non-Charm dice and a higher excellency cap. However, the advantages do not stop here: unless you're a rather mediocre sorcerer and/or also have a specialty in Rushes and Disengages, the Occult excellency is going to give you a higher dice cap, since the excellencies in Dodge and Athletics only allow you to buy successes (so, at a rating of Athletics 5, Dodge 5, Occult 5, the Occult excellency is still going to be better purely because you can only buy two auto-successes with the movement ability excellencies, whereas you'd get five dice with Occult - meaning you get the equivalent of an additional non-Charm die).

                        But wait, there's more! The Occult excellency doesn't just give you extra dice, it also allows you to reroll non-1 failed dice for every 10 that comes up. This immediately marks it as superior compared to the Dodge excellency, which gives no benefit on disengage rolls. At the first glance, it seems about on par with the Athletics excellency in this respect - one gives you extra dice for 10s, the other allows you to reroll failed dice on 10s, these are practically the same thing except in an incredibly narrow subset of cases where you're overwhelmingly likely to have already won anyway (because you had fewer failed dice than 10s on your roll). However, the Athletics effect does not add extra dice, which means fewer chances of getting 10s - at a rating of 5 in either ability, the Occult excellency will, on average, get you half of an additional non-Charm die at no cost.
                        Thanks! As always your knowledge of the system is invaluable.

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                        • #13
                          I'm currently running a Lunar game (homebrew to the maximum) and one of my players is initiated into both Sorcery and Necromancy. Due to a feature of the system, which is my homebrew lunars having a feat that lets them fuse their Sorcery and Necromancy, as well as a sorcery-enhancing artifact, he can toss out Internal Flame on one turn and then turn right around and cast Shattering Void Mirror. The other sorcerer in the party primarily focuses on buffing themselves and then plunking away with a magic slingshot, so their combat spellcasting isn't particularly relevant.

                          Really, any sorcerer with two shaping rituals can pull off Terrestrial Circle Spells basically whenever they want. It makes combat sorcery way more fun and easy than sorcery in 2e.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Equitable Remedy View Post
                            weirdly low-velocity Death Rays
                            ​I like to imagine the extent of Death Ray's range not being a matter of velocity, but angle.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post
                              (Stormwind Rider stuff)
                              It benefits DB sorcerers even more than that! Usually, being inside the storm creates light cover both ways, making combat within it a bit difficult, but the DB Thrown excellency allows you to automatically ignore light cover, so you can basically move around like crazy and with persistent light cover while ignoring the cover that enemies would usually get.

                              And since Air DBs have Occult and Thrown as caste abilities, this is a pretty natural and efficient combo for them.

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