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  • Wards and Signs balance

    Wards and Signs produce a whistand rating based on its potency which will oppose any spells that directly affect people.
    As its potency follows the same rules than the other spells, I understand that it will fully counter any spells of similar arcana level (and similar dice pool), and even above considering the whithstanding stacking rules. Moreover, it negates or cripples spells that are not suppose to be withstood.

    So it seems to me this spell is very effective as an almost universal magic countermesure, with few limitations (primary factor duration, ineffective on the environnement, or defensives attributes already very high). So far it would be a no brainer to use any tweak available to maximize the spells and have a very strong defense against magic threat, i.e. most threats in a mage campaign.

    Therefore, I am Wondering about the spell's balance.

    Have anyone tested this in gameplay ?
    Am I overlooking something ?
    Or is it intended that you shall not cast any spell on a prime mage you do not overpower ? (but then what's the point, only the big bad guy does that)




  • #2
    It only works against targeted spells. Area of Effects don't give a damn about Wards and Signs. Still, yes, it's very powerful. I think my current character has Withstand rating 10 or something thanks to ritucally casting it once per month.
    Remember, though, that any Exceptional Success will still punch through this defense.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Golgot27 View Post
      Wards and Signs produce a whistand rating based on its potency which will oppose any spells that directly affect people.
      As its potency follows the same rules than the other spells, I understand that it will fully counter any spells of similar arcana level (and similar dice pool), and even above considering the whithstanding stacking rules. Moreover, it negates or cripples spells that are not suppose to be withstood.

      So it seems to me this spell is very effective as an almost universal magic countermesure, with few limitations (primary factor duration, ineffective on the environnement, or defensives attributes already very high). So far it would be a no brainer to use any tweak available to maximize the spells and have a very strong defense against magic threat, i.e. most threats in a mage campaign.

      Therefore, I am Wondering about the spell's balance.

      Have anyone tested this in gameplay ?
      Am I overlooking something ?
      Or is it intended that you shall not cast any spell on a prime mage you do not overpower ? (but then what's the point, only the big bad guy does that)
      What is the problem with the spell as written? "Incognito Presence" now requires Active Mage Sight for you to even see the subject and only after a successful Clash of Wills, which to me is even more powerful than being seen but no spells can affect you and is better than Invisibility because people just ignore you and invisibility does not provoke a Clash of Wills to be seen. Think about the fact that you could have a Mastigos throwing spells at you from a corner or right next to you or perhaps performing called head shots without your defense because it would be a surprise since you are unaware of their presence. With the spell slinging you would get your Peripheral Mage Sight, but against the called head shots unless you have Spidey-Sense active (which I recommend) you are left surprised and no defense.

      Invisibility provides a similar experience, but without a Clash of Wills to be detected. Essentially, what I am saying is no one should get into a spell slinging contest with another Mage because they are extremely powerful and it is just not wise to do so without lots of preparation. Wards and Signs does not protect you against mundane threats or area affecting spells, so there are plenty of indirect options

      Also, Balance? This is Mage! *kicks random guy into a large gaping hole*


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      • #4
        While it is true that an Exceptional succes has the option to ignore any and all Withstand levels, Wards and Signs is indeed a pretty solid countermeasure against hostile spellcasters. It is also a pretty good countermeasure against friendly spellcasters, since it does not distinguish between hostile and friendly magic. So if you want to get some buffs on you or keep the buffs you already have on you active may want to reconsiders boosting it as high as WHW does.

        Now that I think of it, this would be a pretty nasty move to pull off when someone goes and tries to heal an injured ally.


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        • #5
          It actually does distinguish. It's in the Withstand rules; subject can always decide to willingly drop their Withstand, as long as they can do so consciously. Which boils down to "better don't drop near dead and unconcious with massive Wards and Signs on you that your healer won't be able to pierce".

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          • #6
            By balanced, I mean "thats does not need to modify the setting because of the spell". Like, "prime mage are the enforcers of the magic world because they really have the upper hand in magic confrontation." (and as I asked frst, it may be intended, but then I would like to know)

            For exemple, Veiling spells are countered by unveiling spells, and available in various arcana. Therefore, I don't see them modifying the balance.

            Also, I agree about what a mage should do. Acting prepared, avoid open confrontation, etc. But that's what a scenario is for : making players do stuff they dont want to or better, they know they should not do.



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            • #7
              Other interesting ways to fuck with Magic using different Arcana:
              - Death - Death probably can do it's own version of the spell
              - Space - Space could manipulate your real (or virtual) Size; you know how annoying it is to figure out that your spell isn't working on the dude, because he overwritten his actual size with fake size of 12? It's even worse than Withstand, because you can't just punch through with ExSuccess!
              - Time - I always liked idea of a Time Anti Magic fucking with Duration; something like "all spells reduce their Duration by X, and if their Duration is 0 afterwards, they never happened in the first place"
              - Life - Life also can manipulate your Size, I guess.

              EDIT
              It's very funny, but Giant Merit makes you immune to any targeted spell that doesn't spend one spell factor on increasing Scale.
              Last edited by WHW; 08-03-2016, 10:32 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by WHW View Post
                It actually does distinguish. It's in the Withstand rules; subject can always decide to willingly drop their Withstand, as long as they can do so consciously. Which boils down to "better don't drop near dead and unconcious with massive Wards and Signs on you that your healer won't be able to pierce".
                Whelp, you got me there. Although I would think that this would only really work for spells that do not take longer than the turn for which you dropped your Withstand.
                As an example: My character had used Wards and Signs (Potency 3) on an important object so that it would be harder to steal using something like Telekinesis. One of my allies who was under the influence of Invisibility (also Potency 3) decided to take the object somewhere safer, which resulted in us observing the object just floating away since we figured that the Wards would stop the Invisibility spell from affecting it. Fun stuff.

                As for if it is balanced: Yes, I think that it is. If you are a better Prime mage you can always just dispel the Wards since that would target the spell directly, not the person. In addition, the Wards do not protect against other forms of assault like a fist/rock/car to the face.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by WHW View Post
                  It actually does distinguish. It's in the Withstand rules; subject can always decide to willingly drop their Withstand, as long as they can do so consciously. Which boils down to "better don't drop near dead and unconcious with massive Wards and Signs on you that your healer won't be able to pierce".
                  Combine with Warding Gesture in that case.

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                  • #10
                    What I'm finding in my game is that my PCs are often going up against threats other than "Awakened mage casts a spell on them directly." Wards and Signs doesn't apply against spirit/ghost numina, for example. Not to mention magically enhanced weapons and tools. So it's a very helpful spell for them, but only against one type of attack.

                    If you're finding it to be an issue, I'd suggest you start pitting your PCs against mages with Prime 1 Dispel Magic as a Praxis, which lets them ignore Withstand with only 3 successes and banish the ward for a while (or forever, with some Reach.)


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                    • #11
                      W&S has some interesting aspects that affect how balanced it is.
                      For one, many of the most dangerous ways a Mage can kill you are indirect enough that even W&S won't protect you. And even when it works, most Mages will have at least one offensive spell as a Praxes and can probably get a Exceptional Success.
                      I also noticed that there is basically no reason to min-max your Withstand rating with W&S to make it as high as possible. Once you are in a fight with other Mages (as we were last session) you really don't have the time to find out your opponents' Withstand ratings, it's just not worth the action. Even if you wanted to, there isn't actually a spell that would allow you to know opponents W&S based Withstand rating, and even if you did Creative Thaumurgy one up any Mage that expected to go up against other Mages will have hidden all her spells behind something like Suppress Aura anyway.
                      So any Mage in a Mage vs Mage fight will operate under the assumption of arbitrarily high Withstand ratings that can only be beaten with exceptional successes or by indirect means, and getting your W&S all that much higher than 5 (I'd say 7 at most, in case someone does direct damage spell attuned for average stamina+size on you) isn't really worth it.

                      Originally posted by WHW View Post
                      It actually does distinguish. It's in the Withstand rules; subject can always decide to willingly drop their Withstand, as long as they can do so consciously. Which boils down to "better don't drop near dead and unconcious with massive Wards and Signs on you that your healer won't be able to pierce".
                      Wards & Signs does even more than that, because "the mage shields the subject from the effects of hostile magic."
                      emphasis mine.


                      Originally posted by Caladriu View Post
                      If you're finding it to be an issue, I'd suggest you start pitting your PCs against mages with Prime 1 Dispel Magic as a Praxis, which lets them ignore Withstand with only 3 successes and banish the ward for a while (or forever, with some Reach.)
                      Mages generally only need a single action to kill each other, so using yours on Dispel Magic is really only worth it if there is a friend directly behind you in Initiative.


                      My custom legacy (2e)- The Disciples of Rathma - Life/Death focused Moros/Thyrsus Legacy, comments appreciated

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by WHW View Post
                        It only works against targeted spells. Area of Effects don't give a damn about Wards and Signs. Still, yes, it's very powerful. I think my current character has Withstand rating 10 or something thanks to ritucally casting it once per month.
                        Remember, though, that any Exceptional Success will still punch through this defense.
                        Withstand rating 10 is pretty awesome. How do you get to that number, exactly? I'm still new to the rules!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Avenging Hathor View Post

                          Withstand rating 10 is pretty awesome. How do you get to that number, exactly? I'm still new to the rules!
                          I shall have to answer for you, since this user has not posted in four years.

                          Although Wards and Signs has Duration as the Primary Factor and thus could start out at a month with Reach and three dots of Prime, I expect that somebody wanting to boost Potency so would be better off spending the Reach to switch the Primary Factor to Potency and then take the lesser penalt-

                          Actually no, I think it doesn't matter either way, you'd end up with a -20 penalty to the dice pool. Yeah, it's either -14 for the Potency plus -6 for the Duration, or -2 for Duration and -18 for Potency.

                          In either case, assuming a character with Gnosis 3 or 4, you could use a rote to get a 5 dot skill as a yantra, with +4 from a Shadow Name with a Cabal Theme, +3 for a sacrament from the Shadow or something. So like, 7 starting dice, down to -13 from the penalties, back up to -2 from the yantras. Err, spend Willpower to get up to one die... Oh, of course, ritual spell, if you spend hours on it that will get you up to an extra +5. So you can be at three dice if you don't spend Willpower or six if you do.

                          Maybe a few more if you use the Fate spells that can add bonuses to spellcasting. It requires a lot of investment, but it's doable, and of course the advantage of putting so much into that Duration is that you don't need to worry about it very often.


                          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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                          • #14
                            No thread necromancy please.


                            Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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