Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

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The Undying
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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by The Undying » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:47 pm

emeketos wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:55 pm
Shield Willow already does this my windling elementalist had +4/+4 defense before 5th circle now at 7th he is +5 (and more from the group pattern)
there is already enough in the game to boost Physical Defense & Mystic Defense

Shields have a cost to use be it a lower initiative for better protection or minimal for hopes of a better initiative. A crystal buckler with shield willow is what I use. My windling doesn't get hit often
You seem to have missed the point of my entry, which is about cascading changes. What seems like it "just makes sense" suddenly becomes a huge thing (+15-20 Defense if you allow easy Forging access!). These are in addition to know quantities (like Shield Willow and group threads), which would only make things more painful. Now, you have to make other sweeping changes to address the artificially created imbalance (let's say you double the step increase for attack skills/talents). But that breaks other stuff (Avoid Blow and Steel Thought are now super gimped). Changes accumulate, sometimes unexpectedly, usually not for the better.

Shield Willow is a known quantity. *If* you have an Elementalist in the party, they *may* choose to take the spell, and they *may* choose to keep it in a matrix so they can either chain cast it or *maybe* cast it. Ignoring high circles, this tops out at +4/+4, but as I've demonstrated in my last sentences, it has drawbacks in recurring cost and timing and requires a trade off (limited matrices). It can also be Dispelled. Shield Forging would be a one-time cost, that cannot be interfered with, and create both obscene average bonuses (+7/+7 or worse) or unworkable focused bonuses (+14/0). Worse yet, these bonuses could be stacked with Shield Willow! [Side note: for those that are actually worried about unmanageable defense growth, You can also easily eliminate Shield Willow from the game without significant impact - the game surely is not balanced around a spell that is almost certainly not available to every party.] [Side note 2: technically, Forging is an ongoing effect and should be Dispel-able ... but it's kind of a jerk move in my opinion.]

As for the group pattern, I'm actually against its use to bump defenses. It becomes hard enough balancing the different Disciplines as time goes on, allowing their defense values to sway even further in no way helps. Feels too munchkin-y. But that is completely my own opinion and totally deviant from Rules As Written. Again, though,you know what you're getting in to if you allow it, which is to say a hard cap of +5, if they want to dump huge amounts of LP (scarce resource), rather than a chaos spiral of shield forging, which only requires money.

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Mataxes
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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by Mataxes » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:16 am

Okay. It turns out I'm not going to need to say as much as I had thought, mainly because it would just be repeating the development blog post posted earlier in the thread. (At least with regard to Forge Weapon/Armor.) It pretty much sums up the reasons for why the choices were made as they were, with the development history to provide context.

If you have any questions about that which aren't addressed there, feel free to ask.

The other topic raised, however, was related to the change in armor-defeating hits. Here's the reasoning there.

In the old system, which was all-or-nothing, armor actually had questionable utility, especially for low-PD characters. The lower your Physical Defense, the more likely you would be affected by armor defeating hits, making what armor you did have useless. This was especially troublesome for characters who didn't have much in the way of active physical defenses (like Avoid Blow). If a Warrior or Swordmaster got in close combat range of a magician (or even some specialist Disciplines), armor likely wouldn't matter (barring a couple of spells like Shield Mist that allowed defensive effects on par with the attack Steps).

Related to that, there wasn't really a viable 'not as fast, but strong and tough' combat Discipline build. Swapping Dex for Armor was not a good trade because the lower PD that could result made the armor less effective.

The changes that made good basic melee and ranged attacks do extra damage to overcome armor instead of the binary all-or-nothing approach means that armor is now more generally effective. A few points of armor could mean the difference between taking a Wound or not, and makes 'tankier' approaches more viable. A good hit is still likely to overcome your armor, but heavier armors are more effective at protecting you than lighter ones. Trading Dex for armor, while still not perfectly balanced, is a little more viable as a strategy. Even without that, it works well with talents like Distract, where you make yourself a tempting target for opponents in order to give your allies an advantage.

I think that covers everything at this point. (?) If I've missed anything, ask follow-ups and I'll do my best to address them.
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The Undying
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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by The Undying » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:46 am

Mataxes wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:16 am
I think that covers everything at this point. (?) If I've missed anything, ask follow-ups and I'll do my best to address them.
Appreciate the message, Mataxes.

I think one potential outstanding question that a lot of people have raised is accessibility to 'high Rank' Weaponsmiths. Could you weigh in on that? Undoubtedly, some of it is a per-table / per-GM universe element about Adept population density and market elements (how many Adepts become merchants, etc). However, in the developer's blog, there's the following note:

"What this does is make highly skilled Weaponsmiths in demand. Low bonus weapons will be relatively more common (as most apprentices and Novice characters can maintain them), but it will make weapons with higher damage bonuses the property of officers and nobles (and by extension, adepts), rather than the common soldier."

This suggests that, during design, there was an assumption that the default universe has a steadily degrading access to Weaponsmiths of higher Circle / Forging Ranks, which in terms continually makes higher Rank less accessible. Even if you're not willing to state it as official rules or canon, insight into your perception on accessibility for Forging Ranks would be very helpful. For example, what is considered "low weapon bonus" - the kind that is 'common' in availability. Following that, what is "higher damage bonuses" - the kind available to officers and nobles. The latter question may seem like an obvious "anything above low," but my expectation would be that there is one, or more, tiers above that "higher" bonus that would not be easily accessible to mere officers and nobles.

While steadily increasing scarcity may just make sense or seem natural, this is not presented in the 4ED published material in any way (that I am aware). This seems to be one of the primary points of contention/concern - if 4ED designers assumed that players are only running around with, say Forge at their Circle level, or up to Forge X (say 6) unless they make powerful friends, this is important information. Otherwise, it seems that the 4ED simply opens the gate to Forge 15+, so long as the players can pay, which is where the other questions start creeping in (how do magicians keep up with this, etc).

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by Lys » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:22 am

The Undying wrote:
Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:06 am
Your statement is true, though, that Close/Ranged combat is more effective than spell combat, as a rule (there are always outliers, same goes for very specific spells for certain Disciplines). Also, yes, this is by design. However, this gap became more pronounced in 4ED as a design goal. The question that seems (at least to me) to be asked is "has the gap gotten too big"?
Actual play experience in my group is that between buffs, debuffs, and direct damage spells our two spellcasters contribute meaningfully to combat. This is a bit of an outlier, but in our second to last combat our 6C Elementalist's kill score was the greatest in the group. He fried eight ghouls with two lightning bolts, and also used Water Spear to heal a friendly NPC Warrior. Second place was the 6C Warrior/3C Beastmaster who got seven kills between himself (5) and his elephant (2), and third place for my 6C Swordmaster with five kills aided by her Stajian. The 5C Troubadour/1C Swordmaster got 2 kills, the Thief got 1, the Wizard got 1, the three friendly NPCs got two.

In the next combat the PCs fought four really tough ancient undead fighters, one undead mage, and their three pet undead lizards which were taken out by our two friendly NPCs. The Wizard and Elementalist obliterated a fighter in one turn with a combined flame flash and lightning bolt, which was the fastest any enemy went from "full health" to "destroyed". The Warrior got two finishing blows, and the Troubadour one, but nobody got any unassisted kills. The Wizard in particular helped with Mind Dagger, as our enemies had defences in the 13-15 range. While my Swordmaster got no kills, she did incapacitate the mage by opening the fight with a Stajian charge while screaming, "Geek the mage!" Poor bastard was pinned to the ground with a glaive and didn't get to do anything before the Warrior decapitated him. Calling that a win. The last undead fighter was crippled but not destroyed, and we're hoping to interrogate him.

Really at present it feels like the person getting the short end of the stick in combat is the Thief. He's great at sneaky stuff, but fighting just hasn't worked out all that well for him in a while.

(Note that every PC has the exact same amount of LP.)
CPFCPF wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:27 pm
I'm still limiting that because of the ridiculousness a dagger with a +20 (15 talent and +5 for a group pattern , eventually more from other items) forging would be for us. And there shoould be a reason to wield heavy weapons such as two handed swords. If a dagger comes with damage step 22 and the two handed sword is maxed at 28, that feels odd.
You can't use Group Patterns to directly improve your damage, and as a practical matter you're unlikely to ever see weapons forged all the way to 15. Most like upper end of non-Thread weapons is around +10, or Step 12 vs 18 for dagger vs two-handed sword, which is not so bad. That said, it is true that the difference in weapon damage becomes less meaningful the larger the Forging bonuses become. However the flip side on this is that the vast majority of game time is spent at lower circles, a flat +5 to all weapons and armour still leaves some meaningful variation.

The larger problem is really that the system does a poor job of modelling the real life advantages and disadvantages of larger weapons. They can be uncomfortable and unwieldy (try climbing a cliff with a halberd on your back), and are likely to carry social and legal consequences if borne within settlements. On the other hand, they can do a lot of damage, give you a significant reach advantage, and allow for a number of combat manoeuvres that are not possible with shorter weapons. As the game currently stands, the only advantage is the damage, but on the flip side the only disadvantage is not having your off-hand available.
Mataxes wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:16 am
I think that covers everything at this point. (?) If I've missed anything, ask follow-ups and I'll do my best to address them.
Well i could have sworn that you or Panda mentioned that ED4 expected a group's Forge bonuses to be roughly equal to their current Circle, particularly if there is a Weaponsmith in the group. However i have not been able to find an actual quote to the effect. Is this true, or does my mind deceive me?

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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by Lys » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:24 am

Also the note of the topic title. It seems to me like it would be good to think about Shields and Forging from a logical in-universe perspective. A shield provides a defensive bonus because it blocks lines of attack against its wielder. This is how shields work in real life, it's how shields work in Earthdawn. Applying Forge Armour to it won't make it any better at blocking lines than it was before, since what Forge Armour does primarily is make armour stronger. Now there's no reason why you couldn't use Forge Armor to make a shield stronger, but logically what would be improved as a consequence is its Shatter Threshold, not its Defence. So as it happens in-universe logic and game balance actually align pretty well here.

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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by Mataxes » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:52 am

The Undying wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:46 am
I think one potential outstanding question that a lot of people have raised is accessibility to 'high Rank' Weaponsmiths. Could you weigh in on that? Undoubtedly, some of it is a per-table / per-GM universe element about Adept population density and market elements (how many Adepts become merchants, etc).
I kind of addressed that in a developer's blog where I talked about adept populations.

While those baselines aren't hard-and-fast canon, and you can certainly change them up for your own game, they do establish that -- depending on your assumptions -- you're likely looking at maybe a hundred total Warden and Master tier Weaponsmiths in all of Barsaive. (And the upper bounds of Journeyman aren't likely to be very heavily populated either.)

So, in my mind, I would put the "typical" bound for forge bonuses at roughly +6 or so, depending on how you distribute Weaponsmith adepts. On top of that -- at least based on these assumptions -- anything higher than +10 is probably super rare, just because of the requirements needed to maintain such a high degree of enhancement. Not only do you need to have a Weaponsmith capable of doing it in the first place, you then need to have them regularly maintain it.
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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by Mataxes » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:06 am

Lys wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:22 am
Well i could have sworn that you or Panda mentioned that ED4 expected a group's Forge bonuses to be roughly equal to their current Circle, particularly if there is a Weaponsmith in the group. However i have not been able to find an actual quote to the effect. Is this true, or does my mind deceive me?
I don't think it was something we said in direct relation to forge bonuses? When we're looking at stuff, and doing initial eyeballing of whether something might be balanced/realistic/whatever, we use baseline assumptions.

For instance, in working out the base difficulty numbers related to gathering enchanting materials (which we were working on for the enchanting chapter), we assume a certain Attribute Step with a bonus equal to the character Circle. We take that assumed Step which, based on the mechanics, will average that result, and compare it to different DNs. How many successes would it generate? What are the odds of extra successes, and what does that mean for -- on average -- how much time it would take to gather enough materials for a booster potion? A healing potion?

What kind of income would a dedicated alchemist be able to make based on their skill level? Is that realistic? Does it line up (even roughly) with the guidelines established with the Forge Weapon talent?

What about true elements? We want it to be feasible for larger-scale mining operations to be profitable... given certain assumptions, how long would it take to tap out a "small" lode? How much value can be extracted? if we change this value or variable (increasing/decreasing), what does that do to the results?

It's not unreasonable to assume that higher-end Novice or lower-end Journeyman adepts will have access to a Weaponsmith who can provide damage bonuses roughly equal to their Circle. But once you start getting into upper Journeyman, not to mention Warden or Master tiers? It's easier if the Weaponsmith is a PC, otherwise...
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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by The Undying » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:47 am

Mataxes wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:52 am
So, in my mind, I would put the "typical" bound for forge bonuses at roughly +6 or so, depending on how you distribute Weaponsmith adepts. On top of that -- at least based on these assumptions -- anything higher than +10 is probably super rare, just because of the requirements needed to maintain such a high degree of enhancement. Not only do you need to have a Weaponsmith capable of doing it in the first place, you then need to have them regularly maintain it.
Appreciate the insight. This is fairly close to what we did at our table.

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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by Calamrin » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:03 pm

Mataxes wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:06 am
I kind of addressed that in a developer's blog where I talked about adept populations.

While those baselines aren't hard-and-fast canon, and you can certainly change them up for your own game, they do establish that -- depending on your assumptions -- you're likely looking at maybe a hundred total Warden and Master tier Weaponsmiths in all of Barsaive. (And the upper bounds of Journeyman aren't likely to be very heavily populated either.)

So, in my mind, I would put the "typical" bound for forge bonuses at roughly +6 or so, depending on how you distribute Weaponsmith adepts. On top of that -- at least based on these assumptions -- anything higher than +10 is probably super rare, just because of the requirements needed to maintain such a high degree of enhancement. Not only do you need to have a Weaponsmith capable of doing it in the first place, you then need to have them regularly maintain it.
I like that developers blog a lot..it really gives a rough feel to adepts in the world.

Continuing the topic... and dont mash my figures to bits, im making plenty of assumptions, and working very roughly...

Say 600,000 Barsaive world, population, 30,000 adepts, 2,000 each class, halves each circle...im refering to the developers blogs rough ball parks figures.

Circle 6 weaponsmiths is 32, say half adventuring or doing other stuff or even retired!...leaves 16 at the forge full time (totally guesstimating here)

Each makes weapons and armour equally thats 26 of each....im going to give them 6 weeks off a year...illness, family dos, holidays, maternity leave, defending the world, and am a generous employee...so 23 of each.

Now i halve those numbers, as im sure customers and others keep coming to them to renew their forgings.... so 12 of each.

They dont make every forge so call it 10 (bearing in mind im assuming most their forges on already highly forged items that relatively easy to do)

Thats 160 suits of armour and 160 weapons forged a year, by 16 full time weaponsmiths for all Barsaive..... and about 53 for the entire kingdom of Throal (by about 6 weaponsmiths)

By circle 8 using those figures drops to 40 worldwide, and in kingdom of Throal about 13 made by one or two smiths.

Anyway thats just me meandering away after having looked at it....my first thought is why i can see why many GMs put availability caps on it.

I can also see that a lot of those smiths would be hired and paid for by the nobility/military and not available to buy off the shelf.

And ive prolly made lots of mistakes but im a noob and sure will be duely corrected)
Last edited by Calamrin on Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Shield and Forge Armor, why not?

Post by Kosmit » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:03 pm

^Up^

That's why Weaponsmiths are understimated by the players :D And that's why I loved to play a traitor in one-shot during convention when I was Horror Marked. Whole team was laughing before session and not so much after I showed them that WS is way better than most of us think he is.

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