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What is with the significant "nerf" to Arcanoi in Wraith-20?

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  • What is with the significant "nerf" to Arcanoi in Wraith-20?

    While the book itself is impressive, the systems content unfortunately leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I'm a little disappointed at the needless self-nerfing, as my fears have been confirmed after I had a chance to review my buddy's pdf. To clarify, over the past decade and a half in various conversations with the community, I got the perception that there was a vocal minority that somehow decided certain arcanoi were too powerful at level 5. This was really quite arbitrary and not in-line when you compare the iconic level 5 abilities of various other powers in the greater World of Darkness.

    Here are some examples of these changes in Wraith 20:


    a) Obliviate now requires you to touch the target, and can be soaked with the appropriate "art", and grants 3 angst minimum (if not 4 depending on how you read it). Really? Nothing in Spook's book indicates touching anything - and not to mention you will never really touch any important target... let alone touch it multiple times. So much for this being scary.
    b) Tempus Fugit now affects only a 10-yard area (for both speeding up and slowing down), you can no longer "carry it" with you. You are also only limited to 1 extra action c) and successful use only provides this bonus for 1-turn per success. This pretty much was nerfed in every possible mechanical manner. Less Actions. Less Duration. Forced area of affect so it's hard to pick out who it affects and who it does not. Wow.
    d) Aggravated damage can only be soaked by armour/arts (yes I know the player base was split on this - but the official errata for second edition wasn't).
    e) There are several other downgrades that I'm sure you'll all notice to various level 5 and level 4 Arcanoi (take look at Masquers, Monitors, heck even Chanteurs)

    With some pretty impressive level 5 traits available across WoD - its disheartening to see this trend. The arbitrary weakening iconic powers makes me happy I did not contribute to the product. I was really looking forward to some system clarifications for Arcanoi - not this random nerfing with no logical premise (other than perhaps, wraiths should be weaker? Because you definitely can't draw reasons to reduce level 5 Arcanoi effectiveness when compared to mage, werewolf, vampire, demon, changeling or anything else I can think of to be honest).

    Have you folks noticed this? Thoughts?
    Last edited by Nerhesi; 02-20-2018, 05:37 PM.

  • #2
    I don't mind it, but I've always been more favorable to less godlike 5-dot powers.

    I'm a bit amazed at your statement that "the arbitrary weakening iconic powers makes me happy I did not contribute to the product". Damn, everything else doesn't get your support?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Callishka View Post
      I don't mind it, but I've always been more favorable to less godlike 5-dot powers.

      I'm a bit amazed at your statement that "the arbitrary weakening iconic powers makes me happy I did not contribute to the product". Damn, everything else doesn't get your support?
      As I had mentioned above, I think the book is beautiful, and the further non-system explanations (Stygia, the Tempest, other Dark Kingdoms, Spectres, etc) are much needed. But, I can't simply ignore the system changes.If it was one random occurrence, I wouldn't have even posted or cared. At the current level though, I'm considering honestly putting up a side-by-side comparison of the arcanoi from 2e to 20th.

      Personal opinion aside, I think it was just not the best call given the power of 5-dot powers across WoD. If we want to weaken them across WoD then we should do so uniformly. But doing so just in Wraith, is both a disadvantage for Wraiths within the Wraith line, and when playing Wraiths alongside others.

      Ugh.

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      • #4
        Balance is a myth. Their powers should reflect lore about ghosts and work to flesh out their own setting, not make sure they can hold their own in a white room fight. I'm not saying weaker is better, but "they're weaker than 5 dot powers other supernaturals get" shouldn't be a factor. The bizarre mechanics around Wraiths and the shadowlands already make them capable of things that are incredibly powerful compared to other supernaturals, and make them incredibly limited in ways other supernaturals take for granted - 1 to 1 comparisons are impossible.

        That said, I'm pretty sure "balance" is exactly why tempus fugit was weakened. As it previously existed, Pandemonium 5 was the be all and end all of any Wraith who wanted to take combat seriously. That should never be the case for one power of one Arcanoi out of 16.


        Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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        • #5
          And that’s without getting into how WoD in general was never really designed to have clean systems crossover with the other gamelines.

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          • #6
            Great - let's assume you're right with balance is a myth (this of course would be silly because then my powers should be so inconsistent to the point of silliness. For example - perhaps outrage 4 should do 10 aggravated to a target or that Keening 3 should simply sever a human soul at whim). Still - let's go with that..

            If so, then why change them? They were in no way changed due to somehow or fitting the some "ghost theme". The changes were purely mechanical and completely focus on downgrading the power from a systems perspective.

            Therefore - the changes were balance based. We can also forget cross-line impacts. Done! They're still devaluing the power of the specific power within the Wraith system itself .. and again, not due to any thematic reason.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Nerhesi View Post
              Great - let's assume you're right with balance is a myth (this of course would be silly because then my powers should be so inconsistent to the point of silliness. For example - perhaps outrage 4 should do 10 aggravated to a target or that Keening 3 should simply sever a human soul at whim). Still - let's go with that..
              Crossline balance is a myth. They're separate gamelines with different thematic requirements.


              Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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              • #8
                Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post

                Crossline balance is a myth. They're separate gamelines with different thematic requirements.

                Still, I would prefer something more balanced with the other games.

                Wraiths were treated like chumps, especially in Vampire, despite being rather powerful. I understand not wanting to limit the players of one game at the expense of others, but I don't mind crossovers. I really loved Wraith, but could never get the motivation from my old group for a full on game. It lead to us using Wraith to enhance our plots with other lines in the WoD.

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                • #9
                  With a guild mentor, you can go from zero to complete mastery of an Arcanos with 25 experience points. That amounts to about two months of weekly play, depending on the generosity of your Storyteller. If you're wondering about balance, your answer might lie there.

                  But it mainly seems like you're displeased that the five-dot powers aren't what they used to be. That's understandable, but I imagine the decision came after plenty of playtesting, and I don't think they're likely to change it. I hope you find a solution that gives some peace.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post

                    Crossline balance is a myth. They're separate gamelines with different thematic requirements.
                    Absolutely! Let's go with that ... (in fact that's what You quoted there. I wasn't talking about cross line there but in-line balance).

                    Care to take a guess as to why Outrage 5 is almost always worse than a soul steel blade? Or any barrow flame weapon? Things that cost a fraction of outrage 4 from every possible manner? (Xp , legality, guild membership etc)

                    Perhaps why getting 2 extra actions for a wraith will cost you nearly HALF your corpus and Pathos? And that would last perhaps for 4-5 turns during an entire scene ...

                    This isn't some discussion around whether celerity was too powerful going from 2e to revised or 20th. This is as if they took celerity 5, increased the cost - and made it less than half as effective.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hsienfan View Post
                      With a guild mentor, you can go from zero to complete mastery of an Arcanos with 25 experience points. That amounts to about two months of weekly play, depending on the generosity of your Storyteller. If you're wondering about balance, your answer might lie there.

                      But it mainly seems like you're displeased that the five-dot powers aren't what they used to be. That's understandable, but I imagine the decision came after plenty of playtesting, and I don't think they're likely to change it. I hope you find a solution that gives some peace.
                      I'd like to believe that but my experience in game design makes me feel otherwise. This is indicative of "this seems too powerful, let's make it weaker" without any thorough analysis. It's also a bit of a dangerous spot to discuss given the history of quickly painting systems discussions as possible "munchkinism"

                      Although I'm happy the discussion thus far is civil.

                      I place a lot of value on Systems being able to support the intended theme and lore. If it is functionally inferior or not optimal to use powers that high level guild or hierarchy members would have, then it hits a sore spot.

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                      • #12
                        I suspect it's because Arcanoi are now much easier to gain (you can spontaneously learn at emotional points in the game). Personally, I'd rather have more powerful Arcanoi that are harder to obtain, especially because wraiths can't exceed level five Arcanoi, whereas vampires, for instance, get six to ten dots in their Disciplines for really old and powerful vampires. Level five is supposed to be the pinnacle of wraithly achievement in an Arcanos, so I'd use 2e/Great War level five powers.

                        As for soak . . . I'm just leaving it the way it was. I was in the 'soaks everything' camp anyway. After all, they're dead already, and you already have to worry about Harrowings, the Shadow, Fetters, etc. A bit less frailty means one less thing to worry about.

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                        • #13
                          For almost every Vampire game, the limit is 5, just because there are rules for 6+ doesn't mean the players can or should get them.
                          Think of it like Charon, and other similar power levels, they have things that can't be explained by powers 1-5. Vampire just explains what those higher levels can do, rather than narratively in each character's Bio

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Illithid View Post
                            Think of it like Charon, and other similar power levels, they have things that can't be explained by powers 1-5.
                            Yeah. I like to think of it like this: the common/initiate arts from 1-5 are the most well known, codified applications of an Arcanos. The list is incomplete: there are arts between them and "behind" them, already known and waiting to be discovered. The arts can be blended. But beyond level 5, the arts are so potent that they could better be called "narrative moves", flourishes players can make to temporarily direct the story according to their characters' goals. In world, the wraiths would experience castings of these arts as mythically awesome, breathtaking, miraculous, hauntingly beautiful, terrifying. For example, high-level Argos could bend the psycho-geography of the Underworld to such an extent that one wraith could spy in many places at once (and be spied on...mainly by some Harbormasters), or it could cause the Harbinger to separate into a hundred copies of itself that can cooperate on one task for one Stygian tide cycle. That sort of thing. The sort of powers that let a society of Ferrymen create and operate the Midnight Express, or Charon roam the Labyrinth unmolested, or Coldheart sack Stygia.

                            Of course, like all arts, the more you rely on them, the more they morph you, guildmark you. The arts make you more like themselves, in a way. At higher levels, I like to think that the Arcanoi have an even greater impact on how you appear and perceive the world. The Hub of the Solictor's Wheel must be some kind of walking locus of emotional manipulation, people's desires warping like a wave around him wherever he goes. History writes itself around what this person wants and does.

                            Games that feature these kind of powers might feel a bit more like Mage, which sounds pretty great, or like the Silmarillion. Mythic, legend-like events and larger-than-life characters. I think it makes the Underworld appealing, to have mythic powers floating about like that

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                            • #15
                              When I first browsed this thread, I wanted to wait and see. Honestly, he's got a great point -- but a "nerf" doesn't really do it justice. It goes beyond just weakening wraiths/spectres, often in really annoying ways; at least two VERY essential elements of the game (the yin and yang as I see it) are stripped out; wraiths taking dreamers along with them to the underworld, and specters hijacking dead bodies (what got me into specters in the first place). I suppose they can do so for a few seconds or as a crummy zombie.

                              The nuisance factor in getting normal people to interact with wraith's setting, or specters to interact with the waking world, is already quite high. What makes V20, W20, etc. cool is that its your old RPG stuff, compiled, arranged for comfort, etc; whereas with Wr20 you not only have to relearn everything over again, but get to find out most of the stuff you liked doesn't exist anymore, or is largely untenable.

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