Disbelieving damaging illusions

Discussion on playing Earthdawn. Experiences, stories, and questions related to being a player.
Tattered Rags
Posts: 359
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Tattered Rags » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:21 pm

Ferretmonger wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:53 am
Doing the math, which isn't really that hard in this case, shows that if the target known that if you're attacked by and Illusionist you might as well go ahead and always automatically disbelieve all damage spells being cast, since the True versions of the spell has its base damage lower than its illusory counterpart, meaning that even if you lower your MD to 2 you'd still walk away "winning" with much less incoming damage than if you would believe all damage spells, since you'd be automatically ignoring all spells with the Illusion keyword, as in the example above where two full rounds of weaving/casting just goes up in smoke.
Your math is off. On average, the difference between a target always disbelieving and hit by True Ephing Bolt vs. a non-disbeliever hit by regular Ephing Bolt is 3.5 points of damage more against the disbeliever.

I used anydice.com to put my statistics together. Use output [explode d8] to make the dice explode.

Assume an MD of 8 on the target and the Illusionist has WIL 7, Spellcasting 9 (basically the example character in the back of the PG).

When doing the calculations, percentage is how often the given damage step is likely to appear. We'll simplify things by not rolling the damage step but simply use it as is and multiply it by the percentage of time it appears. Summing it up across the different damage steps for the attack should yield the average damage output per round.

Ephing believer
percentage of time / damage step / average damage
  • .4167 / 0 / 0
  • .3802 / 10 / 3.802
  • .1329 / 12 / 1.5948
  • .0487 / 14 / 0.6818
  • .0215 / 16 / 0.344
Total: 6.4226 damage on average

True ephing non-believer
percentage of time / damage step / average damage
  • .0208 / 0 / 0
  • .2917 / 8 / 2.3336
  • .4383 / 10 / 4.384
  • .1584 / 12 / 1.9008
  • .0630 / 14 / 0.882
  • .0277 / 16 / 0.4432
Total: 9.9436 damage on average

This assumes a crit-failure results in no damage to the target. The numbers become significantly worse, as well, if the target MD is higher.

The benefit is realized in that first round for the always disbeliever when the first ephing bolt vanishes. Three rounds later, disbelieving is now a detriment if the Illusionist switched to True Ephing. If the fight doesn't last that long, then the whole question is moot anyway.

edit: for spelling
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 359
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Tattered Rags » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:56 pm

Oops. MY math was wrong. Ephemeral Bolt doesn't increase effect with each success (but True does).

Ephing believer
percentage of time / damage step / average damage
  • .4167 / 0 / 0
  • .5833 / 10 / 5.833
Total: 5.833 damage on average.

Apologies, True Ephemeral Bolt is 4 damage more on average if someone always disbelieves vs. someone never disbelieving Ephemeral Bolt.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Karhald
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:40 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Karhald » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:46 am

So, the take-away from this is that.

~sunglasses~

Illusionists are ephing dangerous?

I'll see my self out.

Slimcreeper
Posts: 782
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Slimcreeper » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:36 pm

Will you? Or is an oversized striped shepherd’s crook pulling you offstage?

Telarus
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:16 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Telarus » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:56 pm

Ferretmonger wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:53 am
I'm talking about the part where a target can freely decide that a spell being cast is an illusion or not, even before the actual spell even being cast, and by doing so totally ignoring any of its effect, no roll needed whatsoever. So the poor Illusionist that just tried casting Phantom Flame just wasted two full rounds of weaving and casting.
Illusions with short durations are less subtle in their effects, and allow for a target to disbelieve what is happening. These types of illusions are mainly damaging spells, and it will be noted in the spell description if the spell can be disbelieved. If a target chooses to disbelieve one of these spells, they will not suffer any effect from the spell. If the spell is not an illusion, however, the target’s Mystic Defense is considered to be 2 for the purpose of determining the number of successes, as they have opened them-selves up to the magic. In addition, the target cannot use any active defenses (such as Steel Thought) to resist the spell.Illusionists have access to spells that are both real and illusory. The target must decide if they are going to disbelieve prior to the Spellcasting test being made. No test is required—if the spell is an illusion, it simply has no effect.
I'm stating that this automatic "ignore a spell before it is being cast" is way to powerful. Doing the math, which isn't really that hard in this case, shows that if the target known that if you're attacked by and Illusionist you might as well go ahead and always automatically disbelieve all damage spells being cast, since the True versions of the spell has its base damage lower than its illusory counterpart, meaning that even if you lower your MD to 2 you'd still walk away "winning" with much less incoming damage than if you would believe all damage spells, since you'd be automatically ignoring all spells with the Illusion keyword, as in the example above where two full rounds of weaving/casting just goes up in smoke. If I in the example above would've cast True Ephemeral Bolt instead I would have had two guaranteed damage sources that can't be disbelieved, no matter what, and even though the damage is lower than its illusory counterpart it is still 100% guaranteed damage.
I know what I would choose, ten times of ten.

I just want to understand why this has been added? And please prove me wrong in my assumptions if I've missed some vital parts in this.
I think you are misreading this slightly. In my opinion, it is _not_ a requirement that the GM stop and 'check with each target character' to see if they disbelieve before the mage gets to cast. That must be an active decision based on the totality of the situation, and it must be _declared_ before the mage makes the Spellcasting test. Really, this is only saying "you (as a player) cannot disbelieve after you see the dice explode". And as Mataxes said, this avoid another 'test' which complicates things. My general rule at the table is nobody can try to disbelieve if you have never encountered the casting character before (*exception - astral sight & illusion magic background yourself). After you have seen an illusion fail or create a paradox (_all_ tests made in reaction or when interacting with an illusion count as Sensing tests), you can be as paranoid as you want.

Sharkforce
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:39 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Sharkforce » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:22 am

Telarus wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:56 pm
I think you are misreading this slightly. In my opinion, it is _not_ a requirement that the GM stop and 'check with each target character' to see if they disbelieve before the mage gets to cast. That must be an active decision based on the totality of the situation, and it must be _declared_ before the mage makes the Spellcasting test. Really, this is only saying "you (as a player) cannot disbelieve after you see the dice explode". And as Mataxes said, this avoid another 'test' which complicates things. My general rule at the table is nobody can try to disbelieve if you have never encountered the casting character before (*exception - astral sight & illusion magic background yourself). After you have seen an illusion fail or create a paradox (_all_ tests made in reaction or when interacting with an illusion count as Sensing tests), you can be as paranoid as you want.
i would add (and suspect you would too) that knowing that there is an illusionist in the enemy group would be sufficient reason to disbelieve as well. like, if you've heard that there's a theran group in the area and they have a warrior, a weaponsmith, and an illusionist, and you then encounter a group that you believe to be that theran group, that is sufficient reason for someone to disbelieve.

Telarus
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:16 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Telarus » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:43 pm

Yeah, sure. But the paradox there is "Disbelieve what?" Everything all at once? Great, someone walks up and sticks a dagger in your belly. No need to be concerned, right? Yeah, well - it's real, your PD is 2, and no active defenses. And honestly, when a target does catch on to the short-term damaging Illusion magic and starts disbelieving the direct attack spells, it's really on the Illusionist to change tactics (including hitting them with a 'real' version, but not focusing solely on that).

Sharkforce
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:39 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Sharkforce » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:20 am

Telarus wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:43 pm
Yeah, sure. But the paradox there is "Disbelieve what?" Everything all at once? Great, someone walks up and sticks a dagger in your belly. No need to be concerned, right? Yeah, well - it's real, your PD is 2, and no active defenses. And honestly, when a target does catch on to the short-term damaging Illusion magic and starts disbelieving the direct attack spells, it's really on the Illusionist to change tactics (including hitting them with a 'real' version, but not focusing solely on that).
well, sure, but figuring out what to disbelieve and what not to disbelieve is supposed to be tricky though... if it was easy, it'd be hard to have an entire discipline revolve around illusion magic :)

Tattered Rags
Posts: 359
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Tattered Rags » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:11 am

Sharkforce wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:20 am
well, sure, but figuring out what to disbelieve and what not to disbelieve is supposed to be tricky though... if it was easy, it'd be hard to have an entire discipline revolve around illusion magic :)
That's kinda the point of this whole thread, I think. There's a certain level of meta-gaming that goes on at a table. That can ruin an illusionist. Talk shifted to the idea of just always disbelieving (which is a bad idea).


Specifically the OP question was about NPCs. The GM has too high a knowledge about the players and what they're doing, but there are techniques to handle GM omniscience.

A good GM will have some idea of how a character might behave when faced with illusory magic. Some might never disbelieve (maybe they don't know), some might always disbelieve whatever the illusionist does. Those are the simple cases (and probably rare for the always-disbelieve person). But, assuming the NPC knows the other person is an illusionist, how is the GM to handle the sometimes-disbelief?

They could have the player use cards. Playing cards where the color denotes true or not or spell cards that just shows whatever spell is being cast. Placed face down, then the GM has no idea and can just act like a player.

For cases where that doesn't work, GMs can roll a die. Set a threshold depending on if they're more likely to believe or disbelieve, roll, and see what they do.

The key is simply don't be a jerk and always only disbelieve illusions.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Belenus
Posts: 121
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:27 pm
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Belenus » Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:34 pm

Tattered Rags wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:11 am
They could have the player use cards. Playing cards where the color denotes true or not or spell cards that just shows whatever spell is being cast. Placed face down, then the GM has no idea and can just act like a player.
I'm playing an illusionist and I put a D4 somewhere another player can see it but the gm doesn't.
If it's an odd number, it is a true spell, if it isn't, it is an illusion.
After one of the gms (we take turns) failed with his choices 7 times in a row he stopped trying to disbelieve my spells :lol:

Post Reply