Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

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pkitty
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Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby pkitty » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:24 pm

If you take a new arcane perk (e.g., Spellcaster), you get three new abilities (miracles/spells/powers).

If you take an "add-on" perk (like Optant or Pulp Sorcerer), you get two or three new abilities, and an expanded spell list.

But if you take the same arcane perk you already have, again, you get just one new ability.

It seems like this is a conscious decision to encourage generalists and discourage specialists. So in a game where we'd be okay with people "focusing" on just one path, would there be any issues you see with bumping the latter to two new abilities instead of one? Let me be clear that I'm not complaining or second-guessing the design decision. I just genuinely would like to know the reasons behind it, so I don't introduce a house rule that causes a bunch of problems.

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TorgHacker
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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby TorgHacker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:37 pm

pkitty wrote:If you take a new arcane perk (e.g., Spellcaster), you get three new abilities (miracles/spells/powers).

If you take an "add-on" perk (like Optant or Pulp Sorcerer), you get two or three new abilities, and an expanded spell list.

But if you take the same arcane perk you already have, again, you get just one new ability.

It seems like this is a conscious decision to encourage generalists and discourage specialists. So in a game where we'd be okay with people "focusing" on just one path, would there be any issues you see with bumping the latter to two new abilities instead of one? Let me be clear that I'm not complaining or second-guessing the design decision. I just genuinely would like to know the reasons behind it, so I don't introduce a house rule that causes a bunch of problems.


There were two main reasons.

First, we didn't want what happened in Original Torg where players were swamped with tons and tons of spells or miracles. Cognitive load is a thing, and we didn't want beginning players to feel overloaded.

Second, we didn't want mages, priests, and psis to basically become "people who could do everything well".

However, we did want those people who _really_ wanted to have lots of spells be able to have that option. That's kinda like the Axiom Increase Perk. It's not intended to be balanced with anything. It's there for people who really wanted it.
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utsukushi
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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby utsukushi » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:50 pm

pkitty wrote:It seems like this is a conscious decision to encourage generalists and discourage specialists.

From what we've seen so far, I think it's actually the opposite. When you take `the same' perk, that's usually just "Spellcaster" or "Miracles", and it just adds one, but that one can be from any list you've opened up, which at least includes your basic Cosm list. The choices that give you multiple picks again are usually from a smaller (more specialized) list, that suggest that OK, you're not just learning magic generally anymore - you're on this path.

We've only seen a few, but they already seem more `exclusive', too. (Like the Mathematician and Engineer tracks, say. Optant doesn't really shut down everything else the same way, but it's definitely not compatible with everything, and Miracles tend to be a little more single-track already by nature.)


The other thing I had to work through from the very beginning was that a lot of the spells (etc) are designed to be Perk-level already, while others are more utilitarian. I kind of wish it was better encoded for this, but the intent seems to be very much that you take one Perk-level spell and two of the more.. either less powerful or more situational types, with your first pick, and then your subsequent ones will probably tend to focus more on the better spells. With a relatively limited spell list, that helps encourage differentiation between multiple spellcasters in the same group, too, so the CyberWitch will probably, even over time, really do things differently than the Elven Sorcerer. If everybody got three spells over and over again, pretty soon they'd both be able to do almost everything the other one could - so, again, the narrowing of choices actually encourages specialization. You want to stick with, generally, the one (possibly two, for Mages) track that your Attribute and Skill choices support, since developing a second track is too prohibitively slow to be worth developing another Attribute and Skill pair over. (Mages have their linked pair where they don't have to worry about a new Attribute. And of course, if you want to learn Magic, Miracles, and Psionics, you can get pretty far with Spirit. Thinking about it, I think I might actually have put Conjuration and Apportation under Charisma just to break that up a little, if, you know, I had that kind of power. ...Actually, if I really had the kind of power I'd need to make that happen now, I think there are more important things I could be doing with it. But anyway.)

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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby Staffan » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:11 am

TorgHacker wrote:There were two main reasons.

First, we didn't want what happened in Original Torg where players were swamped with tons and tons of spells or miracles. Cognitive load is a thing, and we didn't want beginning players to feel overloaded.

Second, we didn't want mages, priests, and psis to basically become "people who could do everything well".


TL;DR: I realized I went on a bit of a rant below, so here's the core of what I mean: Limiting the spells available to any given mage is probably a good thing, but to then spread those across four skills using two different stats is unnecessarily harsh. Read on if you want the actual ranting.

I get why you did this, and I mostly agree with the goals. However, given these goals, I think it would have been a good idea to reduce the number of skills used for magic. Now we instead have four skills spread across two stats, and that makes it hard to build a good wizard. It's probably easier, in cosms that support it, to get more flexibility by combining Spellcasting (using Conjuration + Apportation) with Miracles, because then you get six tricks that all work off the same stat.

For example, let's look at an infiltrator-type Cyberwitch. I look at the Cyberpapacy spell list, and think "disguise, electromagnetic pulse, mage hands, open lock, and scrambler sounds like they'll fit right in." That requires Alteration (Mind) 12, Conjuration 12 (Spirit), and Apportation (Spirit) 12, in addition to the three perks needed for five spells. And that's without putting any cyber in the cyberwitch (OK, that sounds more naughty than I meant it). Scaling back my ambitions to three spells would get me disguise, open lock, and scrambler, and that's still Alteration 12 and Apportation 10 (using different stats) - doable, but requiring a large investment.

In oTORG, having four different magic skills (using two different stats) meant that if someone wanted to be a good caster, they needed to invest heavily into many different skills, but they were rewarded by getting easy access to many spells so they could leverage those four skills to do a great many things. But TORG:E instead puts heavy limits on what you can use the magic skills for, so IMO the multiple skills and stats are no longer needed. I think in TORG:E, things would be fairly balanced with just a single Mind-based "Spellcasting" skill. After all, a single skill works for miracles (and those used to require two skills in OTORG).

Psionics have sort of the same issue, but I don't mind it so much there because there's a stronger tradition of psychics being limited to one category of stuff they can do. For example, in the original X-Men the Professor was a telepath and Marvel Girl a telekinetic (though that changed over the years).

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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby Spatula » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:05 am

Staffan wrote:For example, let's look at an infiltrator-type Cyberwitch. I look at the Cyberpapacy spell list, and think "disguise, electromagnetic pulse, mage hands, open lock, and scrambler sounds like they'll fit right in." That requires Alteration (Mind) 12, Conjuration 12 (Spirit), and Apportation (Spirit) 12, in addition to the three perks needed for five spells. And that's without putting any cyber in the cyberwitch (OK, that sounds more naughty than I meant it). Scaling back my ambitions to three spells would get me disguise, open lock, and scrambler, and that's still Alteration 12 and Apportation 10 (using different stats) - doable, but requiring a large investment.


That requires a Mind of 9 and a Spirit of 7. I disagree that that's a large investment. Yeah, it'd be expensive to have all four skills at high levels, but that's not necessary, especially for a starting character - it's unlikely you'd have one spell from each skill to start, in part because you're only going to have 3-4 spells (and if you're from Core Earth, there are no conjuration spells to take!). The only time the prospective starting spellcaster needs to make hard choices is if they really, really wanted two spells that needed skill 14 (and thus, an attribute of 11) in both a Mind and a Spirit skill. Because starting with an 11 in both would require some hard choices to be made elsewhere. But otherwise, I don't see an issue.

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pkitty
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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby pkitty » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:36 am

TorgHacker wrote:However, we did want those people who _really_ wanted to have lots of spells be able to have that option. That's kinda like the Axiom Increase Perk. It's not intended to be balanced with anything. It's there for people who really wanted it.

Since that's pretty much exactly what I want to be possible (someone able to have lots of abilities, but just from one tradition/style), I think the house rule sounds like a good idea. Thank you (all of you!) very much for the insight.

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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby Staffan » Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:49 pm

Spatula wrote:That requires a Mind of 9 and a Spirit of 7. I disagree that that's a large investment.

Only if you sink 3 skill points in each, which is almost 40% of your skill points. Personally, I don't like starting with more than one skill at +3, but that's my old-school "tag skill" thinking shining through. And as an infiltrator, you probably need a reasonable Dex as well, so you can't dump your other stats.

And if you ever want to get skill 14 spells, you need a minimum of 9 in the associated stat. But yeah, it's not impossible, but it's definitely something that needs some work. And it irks me a little that a conjurer/miracle-worker is a stronger option for an Aysle, Nile, Orrorshan, or Cyberpapal character than a conjurer/diviner.

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Spatula
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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby Spatula » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:08 pm

That’s why we should bring back the Perception attribute. :) (for those who didn’t know or forgot, magic skills were divided between Mind/Perception instead of Mind/Spirit in oTorg, making Spirit less of a super-caster stat).

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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby Atama » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:35 pm

Staffan wrote:
Spatula wrote:That requires a Mind of 9 and a Spirit of 7. I disagree that that's a large investment.

Only if you sink 3 skill points in each, which is almost 40% of your skill points. Personally, I don't like starting with more than one skill at +3, but that's my old-school "tag skill" thinking shining through. And as an infiltrator, you probably need a reasonable Dex as well, so you can't dump your other stats.

Meanwhile I always get five skills at +3 and one at +1 during character creation. Skills are 1-for-1 at that point so spreading them out feels wasteful.

Let’s say you have 3 points left over to spend on skills at creation. You can get one skill at +3 adds now, or get it by spending XP later for (1+2+3) 6 XP. Getting three skills at +1 only costs (1 XP each) 3 XP.

I try not to min-max much, but you’re saving a ton of XP by loading up at the start. You could grab five new skills at +1 after finishing your first Act if you want to diversify. You can’t even get a single +3 skill after the first Act if it’s a new skill.

If you’re going to worry about investing, make sure you’re investing efficiently, or you only have yourself to blame.

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Re: Why does taking the same arcane perk just give +1 ability?

Postby utsukushi » Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:29 am

Yeah, we did the math.

Staffan wrote:Psionics have sort of the same issue, but I don't mind it so much there because there's a stronger tradition of psychics being limited to one category of stuff they can do.

That kind of makes me think that what's bothering you here isn't really what you think it is, though. The problem you're talking about is worse for Psionics, because they have three skills attached to three Attributes, and Attributes are a whole lot more expensive than skills. Any mage can easily support two magic skills (provided they're the right two), but for a Psionicist to have two disciplines has a much higher opportunity cost.

So if you're OK with that because it's more traditional, but it bugs you with magic, I'd suggest that your problem isn't that magic is too expensive, it's that you want a toolbox spellcaster.

And that, frankly, is a lot harder to `fix' in Eternity's system. If Magic were only connected to a single Skill and Attribute like Miracles are, that doesn't really help you. Your CyberWitch still only gets four of her five spells to start with, and still only if she doesn't take any Cyber. If you want toolbox magicians, you're really going to need to abandon a significant piece of Eternity's rules and go your own way. I... honestly can't think of anything I like for this. I'm trying to figure out a good way to make buying the pieces-of-powers (spells, miracles, and psionic powers) not come from Perks in the first place - like, it's a Perk to buy into the system, but after that they work more like Gear, or maybe you can learn a certain number for each skill point, or something. Actually, that last might work, especially if the number was the number-of-the-skill-point... so, like, with Divination 1, you get one divination spell, and with Alteration 3 you get six Alteration spells (1+2+3). Ultimately, that would mean that a Priest with a Faith of 5 would have 15 Miracles, while a Mage who built up all four magical disciplines would have 60 spells. Psionicists could have, theoretically, 45, but that would be a much heavier investment for them.

I'm not really sure how game-breaking freeing the various casters up to spend Perks on other things would be. Probably "very". Honestly... I think it's better to just accept that magicians in Torg Eternity are something different. I still like the idea of letting them use their magical skills for `minor magical effects', just to let the characters feel more, well, magical (or miraculous, or psionic), but overall, they're more focused in TorgE than in most games. That takes getting used to, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.

I will admit that I also personally dislike the idea of just collapsing all spellcasting down to a single skill because it is, indeed, just like Miracles, and... have I ever mentioned that they're already too much alike for my taste? I have? Are you sure? Because I could go on about it, if you'd like. No? Well... all right.


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