WHFR 4e - Are Wizards playable?

Cubicle 7 // 2018
fluminor
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Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:54 pm

And if advantage is modified as Cap suggests it can give at most +2, so casters can no longer hope to use advantage to cast with fewer penalties.

I am wondering if something as simple as a flat reduction of the CN of all spells by 2 points could be a decent quick fix.
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Orin J.
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Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:15 pm

fluminor wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:05 pm
So... it’s been a while since my first post. Has anyone come up with a reasonably simple and effective way to fix magic?

It’s not just a matter of mages being weak. The current rules force a mage to focus on depth instead of breadth, to be able to survive. The result being mages that are, perhaps, decent at casting an extremely limited set of non-petty spells. Which is not fun.
It's not an issue with the magic system, it's an issue with the entire game mechanic's balance. The game design leans on the entire system of combat to keep things sped up, so either a spell caster is too slow to be effective in time to make a difference in combat or they're flat out overpowered to compensate for the mechanics working against them and causing massive damage to everything.

a great deal of work was put into making sure that 4th edition's combat as fast, fun, and unpredictable- and all the serious testing was One vs. One melee combat. so trying to handle fights in another way is a little....er, lacking....
CapnZapp
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Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:52 am

fluminor wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:05 pm
So... it’s been a while since my first post. Has anyone come up with a reasonably simple and effective way to fix magic?

It’s not just a matter of mages being weak. The current rules force a mage to focus on depth instead of breadth, to be able to survive. The result being mages that are, perhaps, decent at casting an extremely limited set of non-petty spells. Which is not fun.
To help you, you must first tell us what *your* problems are - we might be several people finding the rules to come up short, but not always in the same way.

Is your issue that your wizard player is not purchasing as many spells as you'd like? If so, is the reason the player is content with just the one spell, or because they'd rather put the xp on Talents (indicating the spells might be too expensive)? Do they use channelling? Is the player a minmaxer or more casual? Is your campaign cutthroat or more casual?

You see? I could offer several suggestions, such as:
- talk to your player and try to make them lower their expectations
- lower the cost of spells (maybe by offering package deals much like for Petty Spells; or maybe even simpler: by you placing a magical grimoire into the game that gives out specific spells for free!)
- remove the stipulation that Channelling must complete before it has any effects
- lower the Casting Number of spells (so players don't feel forced to become very good right away)

Myself, I've introduced Magic Points into my game. Each MP spent lowers the CN of the spell by one. Each casting costs a minimum of 1 MP as long as you have any Magic Points left. You have about as many MPs each day as you have Wounds.

Not knowing more of what bothers you, I can't know if this is too much or too little, or even if it is relevant at all :)
fluminor
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Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:35 am

Thank you guys.

I don't have "problems" because we are not playing as of now. I am (probably) going to start a game, as a player, with some friends, and we may decide to try a modified rule set to see how it goes. So, what I am trying to do is put together some modified rule with the objective of making them as fun, simple and balanced as possible. In other words, given that we all know how the current rules work, find a deviation from the rules that *improves* over them without being completely different.

Now, it is true that things like "good" "improved" and "fun" are subjective. But having discussed with you in these boards for a while, i suspect that what is reasonable for you will most likely also be reasonable for me and my group. So this is what I am asking. How would you modify the rules for your group, in order to make magic viable/fun/etc.

My understanding from what Cap wrote is that, at a high level, a reduction of CN could be a good idea. What you are doing Cap is essentially giving our magic points, with the difference that the MP instead of making magic possible make magic easier to cast. I like your system but it might be a tiny too different from the RAW. A flat reduction in CN would be simpler. So, let me ask you and Orin and whoever wants to answer: if the only change to the magic system you were allowed to do was a flat reduction to CN to all spells, what reduction would you pick for your group?

Thanks in advance,

F

ps: Orin I disagree with your assessment that "either a spell caster is too slow to be effective in time to make a difference in combat or they're flat out overpowered to compensate for the mechanics working against them and causing massive damage to everything.". I think rules, and especially rule changes, can be made granular enough to avoid jumping from ineffective to overpowered. I agree, however, that finding a good compromise may not be easy. :D
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Orin J.
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Thu Jun 20, 2019 3:56 pm

i need to stop assuming people understand when i let the context sit implied, it's a bad and honestly dumb habit of mine. i meant that a wizard can't use all their spells in normal gameplay without either being made useless by building the requisite CN (and therefore taking so long that the combat is effectively over for better or worse) or getting enough of a bonus to make the higher CN spells excessively powerful (and therefore inflicting enough damage to large swathes of enemies that it relegates the rest of the team to "meat-shield" and makes them much to powerful) .

leaving them with the current issue that only a narrow breadth of spells that are both effective and castible enough to use in gameplay effectively.
ahrkid
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Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:40 pm

I am considering the following set of modifications for a play-by-post game (thus a bit less concern about extra math during play):

- Allow Channeling users to cast spells prior to meeting the full CN for a spell
- Automatically grant WP Bonus/2 casting points (rounding down) for every successful Channeling test, in addition to any SLs earned on the roll
- Ditch Overcasting

I've toyed with WP Bonus/3 for the Channeling sweetener, but don't expect to see WP getting goosed so much by players that dividing by two will be a big issue.

Will this make enough of a difference to empower Wizards without breaking the game further?
CapnZapp
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:01 am

A flat reduction in CN might seem attractive and simple, but keep in mind that once a spellcaster reaches an effective score of 80% and above, most concerns about weak casters disappear, and casters become instead rather powerful.

The jury is still out whether they become "overwhelmingly" so. I currently am not sure, since every character at that point becomes very powerful in combat (if built for combat, of course). Whether you use an axe or a bow, at this time you will start mowing down start-levels NPC (and/or) be able to take them on en masse (with but one level of Combat Master, your foes only gain +20% for outnumbering you if they are 4 or more!) With Talents such as Dual Wielding or Furious Assault (not to mention Riposte!! :o ) you will also start inflicting more than one hit per round.

So, when a Wizard starts to Dart two or three people a round this starts to feel very powerful and that I am not denying. I am only saying I'm not sure it should count as "overwhelming".

What truly deserves the epithet "overwhelming" however is the Advantage you amass against lesser foes. Before we basically removed Advantage entirely we witnessed the Dwarf (because of his skill) and the Wizard Apprentice (because of unopposed Tests and a fortune point or two) to easily gain both +50 and +80 from Advantage. So reaching the high skill scores you need to dominate can happen very quickly indeed.

But there's a big question mark here: combat against equal or superior foes. At least in my experience few WFRP2 scenarios featured adventure on Gotrek & Felix levels of badassery - in WFRP4 you reach that point much sooner.

Here Magic Missiles will be invaluable (as far as I can see). You absolutely must have ranged fire in your party to shoot away any mounting Advantage which otherwise WILL accrue among the enemies, and Magic Missiles are perfect for the job, since they hit automatically.

Which brings us up to the final layer of combat, where the enemies feature both Chaos Knights in plate armor AND competent Chaos Sorcerers that can (and will) ruin your Wizard's day, given the counterspelling rules.

But that is playing Warhammer on an almost Fantasy Battleian level, which we have never done in all the decades we have played WFRP1 and WFRP2...

Point here is simply that I considered it too early to lower Casting Numbers. Instead I added Magic Points. Both as a nod to v1, and as a crutch, which I can later take away if and when the Wizard no longer needs them.

Mainly because I don't ever see myself adding a lot of enemy Wizards and plate monsters to my adventures just to keep heroes with a few thousand XP under their belts...

That is, my final conclusion is that v4 feels very wobbly as a whole. I fear adding enemies of real skill - it seems much easier to cause a TPK in this edition than any recent fantasy RPG I've GMd. It is quite possible the entire framework will come crashing down at higher levels if you're not ready to gamble with 100% combat monsters and spellcasters in every group of foes, a way of playing the game we have never done and never will. The balance of having combat Tests be opposed is very delicate, but unfortunately we see no evidence of the WFRP4 designers having realized this by reining in bonuses (from whatever source) - quite the opposite in fact: Advantage of course, and various bonuses from circumstance, enemy criticals, but also the cumulative effects of all those SLs you gain from Talents. It appears to me that when you have decided on Opposed Tests as the centrepiece of the edition you would try to minimize every other modifier compared to WFRP2. A +10% to your melee Test is much more valuable here than in v2, so why can you get +100% here when you could barely get +40% there? (Because v2 was much much more competently designed, is why)
CapnZapp
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:14 am

Edit: so that came out as a whole new post. Oh welll...

keep heroes with a few thousand XP under their belts... from spiraling entirely out of control against the middling NPCs featured in especially the gritty down-to-earth adventures you'd find over at Liber Fanatica and in BI Scenario Contests.
fluminor
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:26 am

CapnZapp wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:01 am
What truly deserves the epithet "overwhelming" however is the Advantage you amass against lesser foes. Before we basically removed Advantage entirely we witnessed the Dwarf (because of his skill) and the Wizard Apprentice (because of unopposed Tests and a fortune point or two) to easily gain both +50 and +80 from Advantage. So reaching the high skill scores you need to dominate can happen very quickly indeed.
Thanks Cap. You raise many points in a train-of-thought fashion so it's nigh impossible to reply to all. Let me just say that when advantage is capped at +2, it simply won't happen that the mage who can barely cast dart 50% of the times in round 1 will be wreaking avoc in round 8 with a +8 advantage.

I confess I was overall surprised by your answer. You yourself agreed multiple times that magic sort of sucks, but when asked if you'd lower the CN of spells if this were the only thing wou'd be allowed to do, you reply you would not even lower it by 1 point. Should I take it as an update that in your opinion magic is actually fairly close to being balanced in the current edition? Or is it more a sign that magic is weak at lower XP levels but you fear it might become too powerful once 2,000+ XP are earned and spent? Which is sort of what Orin was also saying (if this time I interpreted his words correctly).
fluminor
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:28 am

ahrkid wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:40 pm
I am considering the following set of modifications for a play-by-post game (thus a bit less concern about extra math during play):

- Allow Channeling users to cast spells prior to meeting the full CN for a spell
- Automatically grant WP Bonus/2 casting points (rounding down) for every successful Channeling test, in addition to any SLs earned on the roll
- Ditch Overcasting

I've toyed with WP Bonus/3 for the Channeling sweetener, but don't expect to see WP getting goosed so much by players that dividing by two will be a big issue.

Will this make enough of a difference to empower Wizards without breaking the game further?
I like this attempt to make channeling relevant. As of now I feel wizs are better off skipping it entirely. Would you still roll miscast if channelling + spell casting fails? By ditch overcasting what do you mean exactly?
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Orin J.
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:53 am

fluminor wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:26 am
Or is it more a sign that magic is weak at lower XP levels but you fear it might become too powerful once 2,000+ XP are earned and spent? Which is sort of what Orin was also saying (if this time I interpreted his words correctly).
specifically, my opinion is that 4th ed. magic's problem is the overarcing problem with 4th ed. there's simply too many working parts that interact with each other. at low levels, the magic system isn't balanced for combat in any useful sense but is "corrected" by talents, modifiers, ect. at higher levels, the rat stats let a wizard "brute force" their way through using the system, and suddenly the crutches that make wizards usable (note that i'm not saying they're viable in lower levels of advancement) turn into wildly unbalanced assistance.

by itself, spellcasting is slow, poorly designed, and fails as a mechanic. the answer was for C7 to install a large number of direct boosts which scale out of relation to how needed they are and don't seem to reflect the presence of each other. a low level wizard does not have many/any of these mechanics to their advantage at first, becoming trapped by haing only a handful of spells that could potentially be viable for their average stats, they then gain enough advances to be effective and with the aid of talents and other mechanics a valuable part of the team, and soon keep going to the point that theoretically if the campaign is still going the wizard is grossly out of scale to the rest of the game mechanics in power simply because of all the assistance they bought before turning into force multipliers for their now advanced stats.

i've been focusing on low-level issues for this conversation because i felt there wasn't much point in arguing witch end of the candle is lit when we could just resolve the initial post's issues and then hope they don't level too much before the wizard gets killed. most of 4th's rules interact in some way or another, which means that most issues need to address like half the system to get a satisfactory resolution by me and that crap is exhausting.
fluminor
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:55 am

I am sure to follow. What crouches/talents are you referring to? It seems to me that the only somewhat viable strategy for low level wizards is to boost int and language (magick) since all relevant talents are out of reach.

In terms of talents the ones that can help are:
1. instinctive diction, which is only accessible at 3rd tier of wizard career, hence not so early
2. Perfect pitch, hard to get in absolute sense unless the GM is really generous

Am I missing something?
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Orin J.
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:22 pm

as far as potential game changers perfect pitch is one of the niggling ones, being as it's theoretically available at the start (and has already caused a small argument in one of the two games i've volunteered to assist-rules sort for) second sight ended up being one as the player essentially forced a roll for winds of magic (poor bastard GM is new, and let the wizard use a fortune point to reroll it- i explained that fortune points can only be used on rolls the players make and don't touch anything he rolls- poor guy)

advantage is something that deserves (and has) its own thread or two, but leadership is a possible issue- the wizard can channel for a few turns while someone else builds advantage, and then passes it to the wizard, something that can get out of hand when people use every trick in the book to gain advantage (charging + lore: greenskins + landing a hit quickly totals three advantage in a turn RAW, which can then be passed to a wizard to cast a spell next turn) if they're already planning to game the system... reminds me, psychology was a slight concern. camaraderie and love (and potentially inventing psychologies for the group) could lead to an excess of "free" SLs for casting (and anything else really) if let out of hand. i've been holding to "psychologies cannot grant more than a single success level in total to any given roll" but you might want to clear that up with your players sooner rather than later.

'm sure there's some other things i'm not recalling, but this was stuff i already discussed preemptively.
CapnZapp
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Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:53 am

fluminor wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:26 am
I confess I was overall surprised by your answer. You yourself agreed multiple times that magic sort of sucks, but when asked if you'd lower the CN of spells if this were the only thing wou'd be allowed to do, you reply you would not even lower it by 1 point. Should I take it as an update that in your opinion magic is actually fairly close to being balanced in the current edition? Or is it more a sign that magic is weak at lower XP levels but you fear it might become too powerful once 2,000+ XP are earned and spent?
Since I've gone ahead and given my Wizard player about seventeen CN decreases (let's call each one of them a "point of magic") I'm not sure how you could draw that conclusion...

All I've decided against is messing with Casting Numbers (by permanently changing them)...

I'm not significantly more worried magic in particular will become over-powered than I am worried high-experience characters in general will become over-powered.

And even then I don't mean in absolute terms - as the DM I can always give a Chaos Knight 100% in all skills and the problem should go away quite quickly... ;)

I mean it in the context of the reasonably down-to-earth games I'm used to running; that is, I'm not sure I like a version of the Old World where "100% Chaos Knights" can be randomly encountered in Imperial villages exist...
CapnZapp
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Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:57 am

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:53 am
specifically, my opinion is that 4th ed. magic's problem is the overarcing problem with 4th ed. there's simply too many working parts that interact with each other.
...

i've been focusing on low-level issues for this conversation because i felt there wasn't much point in arguing witch end of the candle is lit when we could just resolve the initial post's issues and then hope they don't level too much before the wizard gets killed. most of 4th's rules interact in some way or another, which means that most issues need to address like half the system to get a satisfactory resolution by me and that crap is exhausting.
This and this.
CapnZapp
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Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:06 am

Orin J. wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:22 pm
advantage is something that deserves (and has) its own thread or two, but leadership is a possible issue- the wizard can channel for a few turns while someone else builds advantage, and then passes it to the wizard, something that can get out of hand
I quickly realized Advantage as written leads to a game where the hunt for Advantage becomes the central strategy, which simply isn't a game I want to play.

After trying a few iterations of limiting the speed at which you gain Advantage, we simply capped it to either "no advantage" or "you have advantage, you gain +20%".

Basically we had to remove it, and now Advantage is another take on the v1 "Winning and Gaining" rule (page 119) that did work.

(Yes, this makes a small selection of Talents into pretty much crap. Solution: tell your players they don't have to pick 'em if they don't like 'em.)
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Orin J.
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Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:11 am

CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:06 am
(Yes, this makes a small selection of Talents into pretty much crap. Solution: tell your players they don't have to pick 'em if they don't like 'em.)
it's probably not much work to imply rewrite them as it comes up to fill holes later, i'm a fan of filling holes after all, and i'm pretty confident there will be a few issues you can recover with talents later so composing a short list of the talents for review as needed ought to prove worthwhile.
CapnZapp
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Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:21 am

Orin J. wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:11 am
it's probably not much work to imply rewrite them as it comes up to fill holes later, i'm a fan of filling holes after all, and i'm pretty confident there will be a few issues you can recover with talents later so composing a short list of the talents for review as needed ought to prove worthwhile.
A good start is to position your cursor at the start of the Skills and Talents chapter of the PDF and then searching the word "advantage".

This will quickly give you every Talent that interacts with Advantage. It's not a large number, and not all of them become worthless - only the ones that specifically rely on you (or monsters) having lots of Advantage. Some of them actually become better (the ones asking you to pay all your Advantage for some benefit).
ahrkid
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Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:57 pm

fluminor wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:28 am
ahrkid wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:40 pm
I am considering the following set of modifications for a play-by-post game (thus a bit less concern about extra math during play):

- Allow Channeling users to cast spells prior to meeting the full CN for a spell
- Automatically grant WP Bonus/2 casting points (rounding down) for every successful Channeling test, in addition to any SLs earned on the roll
- Ditch Overcasting
I like this attempt to make channeling relevant. As of now I feel wizs are better off skipping it entirely. Would you still roll miscast if channelling + spell casting fails? By ditch overcasting what do you mean exactly?
Still planning on using miscasts, but "ditching" overcasting means I do not plan to use those extra effects in the game-- no matter how much a spell succeeds by, the effects are the same. Taking that away in order to keep the benefits provided up front from getting too out of hand. (Also somewhat because overcasting doesn't interest me terribly much to begin with.)
fluminor
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Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:50 am

CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:53 am
fluminor wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:26 am
I confess I was overall surprised by your answer. You yourself agreed multiple times that magic sort of sucks, but when asked if you'd lower the CN of spells if this were the only thing wou'd be allowed to do, you reply you would not even lower it by 1 point.
Since I've gone ahead and given my Wizard player about seventeen CN decreases (let's call each one of them a "point of magic") I'm not sure how you could draw that conclusion...
You wrote in your long post " (...) Point here is simply that I considered it too early to lower Casting Numbers". I see that you did something similar with Magic points. And I see it is not exactly the same as lowering CN, but it seems quite similar, so I was wondering why Magic Points are fine in your view but, say, lowering CN by one point is not. Both can be 'taken back' later if the mage grows strong enough.

Again, not a major point but I realized I never replied to your query so, well, this is why I drew that conclusion. :)
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