Spellcaster damage

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Spellcaster damage

Post by Moonwolf » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:48 pm

I've had one of my players complain that he feels like he's grossly underpowered in combats. The enhancements are useful, but an elemental spear is Will+4 (plus successes), when the party archer is doing str+13 because of forging and a minor thread item. Is this expected? Is Willforce just too high circle? Extra threads for damage is absolutely not worth doing except under the situation where an enemy is closing and is out of range the turn before, because it trades 2 or 4 steps for the entire effect.

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Re: Spellcaster damage

Post by Mataxes » Tue Dec 10, 2019 1:10 am

Spellcasters in Earthdawn are not designed to be direct-damage dealers, and players who approach them that way are likely to be disappointed.
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Re: Spellcaster damage

Post by Bonhumm » Tue Dec 10, 2019 3:08 am

As Mataxes said, the big advantage with casters is versatility: their damage (on average) is lower than the 'physical' adepts but they have a lot more options open to them:

Round 0:
Elementalist: Boost everyone's defenses (with an extra thread) with Air Armor
Archer: Stand by

Round 1:
Elementalist: Breaks the main enemy armor (Earth Dart)
Archer: Shoot an arrow

Round 2:
Elementalist: Harries the main enemy (Ice mace and chain)
Archer: Shoot an arrow

Round 3:
Damage multiple targets (Lighting bolt)
Archer: Shoot an arrow

Round 4:
Elementalist: Heal the 'tank' (Grove renewal)
Archer: Shoot an arrow

Archer: I'm the reason why the target is dead!
Elementalist: I'm the reason why you lived long enough to do it!
Last edited by Bonhumm on Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Spellcaster damage

Post by Sharkforce » Tue Dec 10, 2019 3:21 am

yeah, you get all the crazy utility, you don't do the crazy damage too. otherwise what's the point in being a kind of adept that is not a magician?

i mean, on the flip side of things, how much healing does the archer do? how does he do at removing poisons, diseases, and wounds with cold purify? how much does he add to the party's armour and physical/mystic defence ratings via air armour, resist element, and shield willow? when was the last time he kept the entire party well-fed, rested, and getting substantial boosts to their recovery tests? how well does the archer do at area effect damage compared to your elementalist's blizzard sphere and fireball? what about the other things that elemental spear does... knockdown, harried, action test penalties, or healing? how many spirits has the archer summoned? how many spells has the archer dispelled?

there are 15 disciplines in the game. if you're going to focus only on what you don't do, then yeah, expect to be disappointed. the archer doesn't have only damage and nothing else, but as a discipline archer has a much tighter focus on doing damage, while magicians have the potential to be good at a huge variety of things. if the player was hoping to excel at dealing damage, they've kinda picked the wrong class. there are options, of course; the elementalist could pick up a second discipline, which could be better at dealing damage. he could also pick up some skills, and while he won't have talents to add to damage, or karma to roll on attack or damage, he'll probably still be better at dealing damage. he could be patient and wait for circle 6, where magicians get much better at dealing damage (but still not as good as a dedicated combat specialist discipline, and as noted above, that is kinda how it should be), or wait for area damage spells to start coming online (magicians are much better at area damage than they are at single-target damage).

but ultimately, if the player wants to roll big damage numbers, well... being a magician was probably not the way to go.

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Re: Spellcaster damage

Post by Michael » Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:54 am

Yes I have been seeing the same thing with the lack of extra successes on spellcasting adding to + effect (well for most spells it adds to the secondary effect.)

That being said, I have to agree with versatility not damage dealing. My current party is sort of making me continue to play an elementalist whose player left, for all those damn fine elementalist spells.

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Re: Spellcaster damage

Post by Lursi » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:59 pm

I once had a group of scout, thief, troubadour, traveling scholar and elementarist.

Believe it or not, the elementarist was the main damage dealer but only because thief and scout saw the enemy before the enemy saw them.

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Re: Spellcaster damage

Post by Slimcreeper » Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:38 am

From our PbP:

Our heros have fought horror-tainted children. The party is bloody and frail, nerves stretched to the breaking point. Favu, my portly human wizard, has gone a bit down a tunnel to see if anything nasty reveals itself to his magical senses. It is bad, very bad - he honestly can't make anything out with Astral Sight. There is plenty in the physical realm to keep his attention, though: a Cadavarman strides out of the darkness.

Favu step back a bit to make sure that the others can see what he can see, but doesn't retreat.
"You must be the sitter. Can't say I'm impressed."

Favu shifts his weight back into a defensive stance, staff at the ready, and his body begins to glow with a soft light.

"Come get your payment."

OCC: [rolls link]

Favu has Mage armor up for 4 rounds and is in defensive stance with a quarterstaff (+4 PD) and woodskin up. He is your wizard tank.

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