Update 29 Jan 2018

For general discussion of the game.
ninjadyne
Implementor
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:39 am

Update 29 Jan 2018

Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:21 am

* Changelog information is now relayed in-game through the changes queue, instead of help recent.
* Forgery is now a trait which can be chosen upon creation, and some of its longstanding bugs are fixed.
* The aristocrat trait has had its functionality expanded to be much more effective over time.
* Many swordmaster, assassin, and watcher items have had their stats altered to better accomodate class changes.
* Scrolls of identify have been replaced by scrolls of scan.
* Haggle and bargain now have independent calculations, and haggle has wider variance on its price reduction.
* Buying pets and objects no longer require you had the full pre-purchase price\; instead, you only need to have the amount of money you would actually spend.
* Pet shops have had most of their flavor text rewritten, and purchased pets should retain their proper descriptions.
* Merchant mobs now properly use channels and languages when performing their sales functions.
* Faction friends can now get an additional discount when shopping at allied stores for some factions.
* Price reduction adjustments now apply to having weapons repaired at a blacksmith.
* City guards should now be properly fooled by all disguises, not just the assassin skill and hooded rogue.
* The compare command has been removed from the game.
* The who command's "group" argument has been removed, as all characters are able to group with one another.
* PK range has been tightened significantly, returning it to approximately the same values as in 2001.
* The areas command has new, and more easily readable, output.
* Examining a worn container with the same keyword as a container in your open inventory now displays the proper contents.
* Many damage over time effects now properly credit the caster for damage dealt while in combat.
* Stock weapon effects (flaming, frost, shocking, etc) have been reworked to trigger less frequently and properly check conditions.
* The flaming effect now leaves items from a destroyed container in the inventory of the character who was carrying it.
* The poison flag on weapons now has expanded functionality, and its strength penalty scales.
* Poisons which use the AFF_POISON bit now all apply damage over time, instead of just the generic one.
* Many weapon-based debuffs now reflect the quality of the weapon used in their duration, magnitude, etc.
* Most in-round attacks and skill-related buffs now incur a mana cost when used.
* Regeneration rates will now be the same if you are affected by PK adrenaline or not.
* Chaja can now be chosen as a bonus language during creation.
* Mobs which use OFF_AREA_ATTACK should now function as intended.
* Mobs will now attempt to recover their dropped weapons more uniformly.
* The sun rising and setting should once again be visible when awake and outside.
* Ambient wind can only move characters which are standing and flying.
* Mundane snowstorms can now impact the difficulty of beating an opponent's armor class in melee combat.
* Itemreturn should no longer allow you to return a worn noremove item.
* Campfires which have gone out should no longer fail to purge themselves if no one is in the room to see it.
* Significant code clean-up in many skills and spells.
* Typos, minor bugfixes, and echo corrections.

* Watcher is now categorized as a mentalist, having gained psionic abilities.
* Watchers no longer receive: find items, investigate, contact agents, disarm, plant, listen, pursuit, sword, dagger, sentry, cover tracks, endurance, sixth sense, blinding dust, dagger trap, trip.
* Watchers now receive: focused precision, flash powder, Harrudim talc, Rynath's brew, caltraps, smokescreen, channel force, vault, flurry, mind's eye, mindshield, read thoughts, Shutharka's veil, panoptic viewing, catch throw, tripwire.
* Wariness and agility have new implementations, and are now psionic foci.
* Read thoughts has a new implementation, changing its functionality to allow users to overhear certain channels of all characters in the room with them.
* Watchers no longer receive the sneak or eagle-eyed traits automatically, receiving the forger trait instead.
* Pick lock has a new implementation, and now incurs a low mana cost to use.
* Distract has a new implementation, and should continue to function as it did before.
* Bolo has a new implementation, inspired both by dart and by bolo's 2001 functionality, and is useful in more cases.
* Caltraps now properly checks failure conditions it otherwise ignored.
* Smokescreen has a new implementation, incurs a mana cost, is more effective at spell avoidance, and hampers archery use.
* Cutoff has a new implementation, accounting for more factors and improving its success rate.
* Harrudim talc has a new implementation, with adjusted lag, damage, and damage types, and now improves properly.
* Rynath's brew no longer causes a charisma penalty, deals more damage, and renews duration instead of self-stacking.
* Flash powder has a new implementation, no longer hits the user's group, and now improves properly on failure.
* The "lightsleep" command has been removed, and light sleeper functionality is activated by the "sleep" command.
* Inquire has a new implementation, containing the functionality of the inquire, investigate, and contact agents.
* Inquire once again produces readable output about the equipment of the target character.
* Inquire's basic function, as well as its contact agents functionality, now cost less to use.
* Inquire's investigate functionality now provides deeper research into a target character (rather than an object).
* Inquire's contact agents functionality now also provides the names of the target's groupmates and improves its percent.
* Record has a new implementation, formats records correctly, and no longer improperly strips punctuation on recorded data.
* Tripwire has a new implementation, and only watchers who have the skill can automatically evade them (instead of all watchers).
* Find cover has a new implementation, requires mana to use, and its duration and recast delay scale with level.
* Submission hold has a new implementation, and should no longer erroneously strip the garrote affect.
* Watchers no longer have access to the bounty command, and no longer gain a bonus using the search command.
* Assassins no longer receive: caltraps, smokescreen.
* Assassins now receive: focused precision, retreat, vanish.
* Levels for some assassin foci have been adjusted to smooth out their skill progression.
* Retreat has a new implementation, with proper error checking, lessened possible failures, and better success rate.
* Reduced activation and upkeep cost of beguile and seeping wounds.
* Acuity's implementation has changed, to make it properly account for other forms of detection when activated.
* Shadow fist now changes an assassin's unarmed damage type to illusion rather than mental.
* Erosive poison no longer deals charisma damage.
* The disfigure command is now a part of the prepare skill rather than an assassin class feature, and now scans the user's inventory for a vial of erosive poison instead of requiring them to hold one.
* Disguise has a new implementation, and should continue to function as it did before.
* Blinding dust now offers the same penalty when used on yourself or someone else.
* Garrote is once again a lethal skill, and again prevents speech shortly after it ends, inspired by its 2001 implementation.
* Psionic blast now has a different save type, and deals energy damage instead of mental damage.
* Mind thrust no longer requires beating a mental save before attempting to dispel foci (which requires its own save).
* Shove has a different save type, which should allow it to be more effective in actual use cases.
* Vertigo and confusion no longer allow a psionicist to afflict himself, to maintain consistency with other psionic abilities.

* Swordmasters should now get the intended damage bonus from favored blade.
* Grace now incorporates the functionality of focused precision, in addition to its other features.
* Pommel can now be used to initiate combat and applies a higher penalty to the target.
* Cover, guard, and drive have new implementations, and should continue to function as they did before.
* Forced march and scouting have new implementations, and can now improve upon failure.
* Withdraw has a new implementation, with proper exit and autofail checking.
* Numerous issues with strip resolved.
* Choke has a new implementation, and is now considered a melee attack.
* Feint has a new implementation, improving its effectiveness in combat.

* Backstab, dual backstab, and circle have had their overall damage reduced.
* Backstab can now take advantage of the exploit functionality available to assassin's unseen strike.
* Sleeve now allows a character to arm themselves every round of combat, assuming they aren't.
* Sleeve no longer allows someone to attempt to sleeve an item when they have no free slots to do so.
* Grease trap now consistently makes characters more flammable, extending the duration on ignite/consume.
* Dash has a new implementation, and the duration of lagless movement has been slightly decreased.
* Sneak no longer makes clear its success in the way it did before.
* Cowardly still grants a bonus to fleeing and an increase of the character's wimpy threshold, but both have been reduced.
* Wimpy fleeing now requires that the character fleeing be free of lag when doing so.
* Wimpy fleeing has a general max threshold of 1/3 of a character's total health.
* Mobs that use wimpy will now work as intended.
* Bind now applies the proper penalty with the hood portion of the skill.
* Gag has a new implementation, and should continue to function as it did before.
* Shield slam's melee attack is now only performed with a successful dual wield check.
* Pummel now has a lower chance of disarming and lagging than before.

* Minor fire no longer receives: coronal glow, smoke, immolation, warmth, flamestrike, temper.
* Minor fire now receives: immolate, enflame, deny entropy, baptism of fire, Shiyul's fury, cinder scry.
* Baptism of fire cures more cold debuffs and is more consistent in how it clears other afflictions.
* Objects with a rune of fire on them can now be manipulated freely by the caster, and can discharge in combat when wielded.
* Cinder scry has altered flavor but should continue to function as it did before.
* Major fire no longer receives: parry, ethereal blaze, consume, Shiyul's fury, pyrotechnic artistry, cinder scry.
* Major fire now receives: axe, burnout, warmth, smoke, ignite enchantment, corona, intensity, slow burn, cunning wisp, living flame, evoke hatred, Jaziji's fade, elemental flame.
* Wings of flame no longer deals damage to characters using it over time.
* Warmth has new functionality, completely replacing its old implementation.
* Living flame has absorbed some of the mana restoration properties of the former mindkindle skill.
* Flameheart no longer receives: mindkindle, living flame, infernal dance, brimstone ward, wrath of an'akarta.
* Flameheart now receives: wrath of Kyez-Ralin, Yesa's radiance.
* Aspect of the inferno's resistances and vulnerabilities have been removed, shifting that functionality to the flameheart passive.
* Flameheart no longer grants ridiculous levels of fire resistance, and the amount it does grant scales with skill percent.
* Conflagration has a new implementation, with altered functionality.
* Cloak of embers has new functionality, completely replacing the old implementation.
* Path of the Raging Inferno has been replaced by Path of the Undying Blaze.
* Undying Blaze receives: phoenix dirge, blazing inferno, rain of fire, implosion, firestorm, pandemonium.
* The success rate of phoenix dirge now mirrors that of the legacy spell, phoenix fire.
* Implosion's die has been returned to their original value.
* Rain of fire now lasts longer, and its consume functionality is more effective.
* Blazing inferno has new functionality, replacing much of its old implementation.
* Firestorm has new functionality, completely replacing its old implementation.
* Path of the Golden Flames has been replaced by Path of the Infernal Harbinger.
* Infernal Harbinger receives: invocation of Thuyile, disintegration, infernal conduit, mindkindle, incineration, brimstone ward.
* Disintegration has a new damage formula, which more closely resembles its 2001 implementation, and can no longer backfire on the caster.
* Incineration has new functionality, completely replacing the legacy spell of the same name.
* Mindkindle has new functionality, completely replacing its old implementation.
* All scholars now receive: scan.
* Armor and shield have different calculations for their low level duration threshold.
* Locate object now compares the object level to the effective CL of the spell, rather than the caster's actual level.
* Locate object no longer returns items with the nolong flag (usually furniture).
* Word of recall no longer takes longer to activate while fighting than it does out of combat.
* Word of recall now appropriately checks spirit of freedom.
* Hidden/camouflaged characters no longer remain hidden/camouflaged if they were when they recalled or were teleported.
* Wellspring's movement restoration is now considered water-based healing.
* Heatsink can no longer affect the same weapon more than once.
* Grip of Elanthemir now performs the cold effect that a dragon's frost breath would.
* Caustic blast no longer has a charisma penalty, and increases its damage over time more quickly, renews duration on hit, and applies the acid effect acid breath would.
* Nightfears has some new lines for its assorted nightmares.
* Demon summoning spells have been rewritten, allowing demons to scale more uniformly based on caster level, and to prevent scenarios in which failure results in no action.
* The poisonous N'jith now more uniformly affects created water sources.
* Some corner cases of plague which allowed the wrong modifiers to be applied have been fixed.
* Fixed a crash bug in aura of silence.
* Iron bond no longer erroneously echoes when unshackling charmies whose master doesn't have the skill.
* Vortex has been significantly modernized, bringing it in line with other room creation spells.
* Vortex lasts slightly longer, and now has a cooldown when it has successfully drawn someone into the Void.
* Spells which create rooms now eject all corpses from them when the temporary room's duration ends.

* Fire templar no longer receives: parry, flamestrike, warmth, blazing spear, immolation, spear.
* Fire templar now receives: enflame, temper, cunning wisp.
* Fire templar has a new level progression, to more closely align with its current skill list.
* Ring of fire has a new implementation, which closely reflects the functionality it had in 2001.
* Blaze has new functionality, completely replacing its old implementation.
* Weariness has had its penalties adjusted.
* Corrected how healing ward and life shield interact with field medicine.
* Healing ward now properly works with any shield, and its healing is improved when using a life shield.
* Form of the winter wind now functions more like other forms, in that its effect is not based on the target's saves.
* Form of the living seas restores less health to groupmates of the user.
* Curse of Kijjasku now uses the level of the spell rather than the level of the caster when calculating saves.
* Teleport is no longer prevented by curse, and properly handles matrix/spirit of freedom and planar barrier.
* Devotion no longer gives hp/hitroll gains when it improves, and its rate of improvement more closely matches favored blade.

* Barbarian is now classified as a naturalist, as its skills overlap more thoroughly with that archetype.
* Barbarian no longer receives: dual wield, parry, fetish.
* Barbarian now receives: shield block, blood sigil, forage.
* Levels for some barbarian skills have been adjusted to smooth out their skill progression.
* Blood sigil has a new implementation, and now improves the saves of the character using it.
* Wildcraft now allows barbarians to create wooden shields, in addition to the weapons and firekits it already produced.
* Ram now properly identifies the self-damage it causes as bash damage, and has an echo when you fail to find a door.
* Rangers no longer receive parry, bash, dual wield, aggression.
* Rangers now receive: Nariel's whistle, shared instincts, savage interception, set snare, feral bond.
* Rangers have a new skill progression, changing the levels at which they receive many of their prior skills.
* Rangers now automatically receive the eagle-eyed trait upon creation.
* Camouflage and camouflage blind have new implementations, ensuring that both have the same failure conditions.
* Wilderness movement has a new implementation, fixing inappropriate mana costs and allowing reapplication at any time.
* Pets summoned by Nariel's whistle now gain the benefit of camouflage and wilderness movement when you apply it to yourself.
* Poultice now heals pets summoned by Nariel's whistle at double the rate it does anyone else.
* Find water has a new implementation, and no longer allows the discovery of more than one spring in the same room.
* Forage now has a mana cost instead of a movement cost.
* Cook has a new implementation, produces more meat chunks per corpse, and no longer identifies the source of the meat.
* Entangle no longer requires a held net, and instead uses a net from the user's inventory.
* Entangle now allows a bonus attack from the user's pet if applicable.
* Wildcraft has a new implementation, broadening the valid terrain for item creation, lower lag, and less mana cost.
* Wildcraft bows weigh less and now have an inherent range modifier.
* All arrowcraft functions have new, uniform implementations, lower lag and mana cost, and easier bonus stacking.
* Rangers are no longer injured if they fail to apply barbs or poison to a hand-made arrow.
* Rangers now have a specific poison which they use, rather than the generic poison spell.
* Tan has a new implementation, no longer produces bonuses of 0, and can create fitted clothing.
* Tan no longer creates an about body coat\; instead, it creates a quiver for their arrows.
* Ranger tans can now be dyed the same colors that their arrows can be banded.
* Barbs can no longer afflict a target more than once.
* Archery can now be used in combat as well as out, with a separate syntax for in-round use.
* Nock and in-round archery will now look for (and draw) an arrow in a ranger's quiver if it isn't in their open inventory.
* Archery's aiming can now be foiled by whiteout, ice storm, and mundane snowstorms above a certain magnitude.
* Igniting an arrow no longer requires an equipped bow nor will it be automatically nocked.
* Ignite now has the same mana cost and lag of apply barbs or apply poison, and will only add the ignite effect when it doesn't overwrite an existing spell on the arrow.
* Ignite now has a different save, to make it useful more of the time.
* Ambush now allows a bonus attack from the user's pet if applicable.
* Sidestep now scans the user's inventory for a free net, rather than requiring them to hold one.
* Sidestep now allows a bonus attack from the user's pet if applicable.
* Set snare now consumes a net from the user's inventory when preparing one.
* Terrain lore has a higher success rate, and can now trigger on additional terrain.
* Terrain lore's bonus attack in the desert is now with the main hand instead of the off hand, and only works if the victim cannot see the attacker.
* Ready has a new implementation, its duration has been slightly increased, and it is no longer an independent skill.
* Lunge and jab have had the penalties to AC they inflict lowered.
* Pounce now activates a snare if it brings down a flying target in a room where one exists.
* Pounce now allows a bonus attack from the user's pet if applicable.
* Maul now applies its effect to pets summoned by Nariel's whistle as well as the user.
* Find herbs has a new implementation, herbs last longer, and the effects of many herbs have changed.
* Circle of stones has had some of its restrictions lifted, making it much more viable as a method of escape.
* The recall command now properly handles familiars, and checks spirit of freedom appropriately.
* Sticks to snakes has a new implementation, generating less snakes, introducing level limiting, and limitations of its penalty stacking.
* Snakes created by sticks to snakes deal poison damage, no longer leave corpses, track quickly, and can detect invisible targets.
* Tentacle growth, and similar item dropping abilities, now properly regard the flags of objects held.
* Handwarp and lycanthropy provide less of a boost to melee damage than they did previously.

* The Grand Federation of Merchants has joined the conflict of the Great Houses.
* Merchants now receive the following skills: merchantry, sterling acumen, Dorrod's touch, bounty, seal fortune.
* The antique appraise skill, and the find items skill, have both been rolled into merchantry.
* Appraise now correctly identifies the value of an item as an NPC merchant would with the value command.
* Merchantry's find items functionality costs less, and the maximum level of items it can locate has been increased.
* Existing house powers have been releveled, making their acquisition begin at level 30 and end at level 50.
* Guardian and Raider house powers have been reordered, adjusting when each is received.
* Holy avenger no longer makes weapons glow.
* Reveal can no longer be cast from a permanently dark room.
* Dedication now makes a weapon both noremove and nouncurse, and no longer makes weapons glow.
* Call guards no longer spawns guards based on the hp total of the caster, instead using a formula based on caster level.
* Call guards now calls at least two guards in all cases.
* Escape has a new implementation, and improves slightly more slowly than before.
* Existing, bound birds of prey can now be drawn to their owner's location if they are separated.
* Shroud of Nyogthua now hides all Shunned characters in the caster's group, rather than just the some of them.
* Shroud of Nyogthua's potential duration on secondary characters now matches that of the caster.
* Demonic might now bases the vulnerability to holy it inflicts on the user's karma rather than a static amount.
* Demonic might now changes the user's unarmed damage type to negative and allows the user to ignore age percent penalties.
ninjadyne
Implementor
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:39 am

Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:22 am

Perhaps the most important change of all is the new way we are transmitting changelog information. Now, when you log in, if there have been changes, you will see them listed in the same manner as you would with new notes. The reason I've elected to do it this way is because it is possible one might log in without looking at the website or reading help recent, and I would like for it to be clear when things have changed and have a short overview thereof for people to read. Hopefully you will find this system more efficient than the other, because honestly, updating the help recent monstrosities is tedious and ultimately a bit unhelpful. To use this feature, use it as you would the note system, except with "change" in place of "note".

In addition, PK range has again been contracted to a maximum of +- 8 levels. This is because a potential 13 level jump is outrageously large, and essentially a death sentence for characters who are at the outer edges of that range. It's possible in the future that I will contract this range further, but for the time being, I'd simply like to limit the amount of PK which is grossly unfair to the point of frustration; a level 38 character is essentially defenseless against a hero. Relatedly, regeneration rates are no longer changed by PK adrenaline. Essentially, I have reverted these numbers to how they worked back in the day, which means no hyper-accelerated regeneration between mob fights. Some of you may dislike this change, as it does increase the time it takes to level by limiting how quickly your character recovers. However, the speed at which it was occurring before essentially removed most of the mechanism which allowed high end fights to be even remotely challenging. They became simply a matter of attrition in every case, allowing single characters to easily succeed against what were intended to be group challenges. As well, with the improvements to water scholar and water templar, it seems unfortunate to make them mostly a bonus, as a large part of their role is in healing other characters (or themselves).
ninjadyne
Implementor
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:39 am

Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:22 am

Watcher has been reworked, and by that I mean I scrapped half of their skill list and essentially started over. My goal with these changes has been to bring together the original vision of watcher from ~2001, and some of the modifications to it from ~2009, and fuse them into an actually good and fun class. This meant reverting bolo to how it used to work, improving cutoff, returning catch throw, and so on. However, it also meant consolidating a myriad of skills into a single one (i.e. inquire), or translating their skill set into psionic foci (such as wariness or agility). The thing is, watcher has always suggested (in much the same manner as assassin) mind powers or particular enhancements which went beyond what was capable through common training; this transition from rogue to mentalist simply confirms that.

Many of their new powers are elaborations on the notion of a watcher as essentially a psychic, but in the most oppressive way. Their powers are geared toward "secret police"-style eavesdropping, remote viewing, and self-concealment. This is in addition to their specific counters to many physical or trick-based skills. Their melee capability has increased, giving them more to do with their staff as a weapon, rather than repeating the same two skills. Finally, they have absorbed a number of nefortean-style tricks, which some of you may remember from alchemist. The idea here is that this chains with the original watcher, which contained the progenitor of all alchemist tricks (flash powder), and expands upon the thread which was set by the original implementation team in 1998.

Assassin has seen some additional refinement, in that some of its skills have been altered, replaced, or refined into being more effective in more situations. In effect the class is the same, with the notable exception that garrote has returned to being its classic, lethal self, and the vanish ability has returned to them after a twenty-or-so year hiatus. Psionicist's changes are minimal, mostly in the realm of damage typing, to make them more effective against undead (as the immunity of undead to psionic blast made no logical sense, in addition to it being crippling to psionicist characters in high undead ranking or grinding areas).
ninjadyne
Implementor
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:39 am

Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:23 am

Warriors and rogues have essentially remained the same, with most of the focus on them directed at fixing bugs or modernizing ancient implementations. In some cases, this resulted in new functionality (such as being able to lead with pommel), or different calculations (such as choke being considered a melee attack). In the case of rogues, backstab and dual backstab are now more similar to unseen strike, in that they aren't as instantly lethal but contingent on more factors. I believe this should make those classes less one hit wonders if properly geared. I suspect that will be taken to mixed reviews, as the biggest upside to thief is its essentially instant-kill capacity, and the biggest downside is how frustrating it is to be killed by overwhelming damage in PK. I think this should provide the best of both worlds and eliminate some of its harsher downsides, but I will keep my eye on how the metagame adjusts to it.

On the subject of the metagame, watcher, assassin, and swordmaster have all gained functionality which allows them to substitute hitroll modifiers for damroll modifiers when in combat. My goal with this is to encourage these classes to focus on light, dexterity-based gear more than the traditional warrior standbys. From a design perspective, it is frustrating to know that for virtually all classes, the gear metagame is identical; often seeking exactly the same items in exactly the same configurations, based mostly on damroll and saves. This should change for these classes, and hopefully lead to some new exploration in terms of what gear is best. As a side note, to keep prior characters effective, and to maintain the integrity of some classes (such as barbarian and thief), the amount of hitroll you can translate into damroll has a geometric ceiling, reducing the effectiveness of overwhelming values in the same manner as favored blade. However, swordmasters should now get the bonus they should have always received from overpercent in terms of damage, which I believe should make them competitive with higher damage classes. Watcher and assassin do not necessarily rely on overt damage in the same way, so for now, I am monitoring their state to see if the numbers need to be tweaked.

Note also that while many classes have gained mana costs for all of their in-round abilities, bandit and thief have not... yet. Unfortunately I wasn't able to complete that before this patch, and will be properly uniform by the next one.
ninjadyne
Implementor
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:39 am

Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:23 am

Fire scholar has seen some dramatic changes. The first of which is that the minor sphere has been significantly changed. It goes without saying that flamestrike was ridiculously OP for a minor spell, to the point that it was preferential to major spells of another sphere. As well, the minor sphere it self was was essentially a condensation of all of the "good" abilities from major fire, making the actual major insanely bad comparatively. By my reading, essentially one would be best to choose greater, or minor, but not actually a major split favoring fire. As a result, more utility abilities which could be considered useful to multiple majors were moved to the minor sphere, to make it more of an accent, rather than essentially a double major.

By the same token, the major sphere lacked punch or interest in and of itself. To remedy this, some of the classic major abilities have returned to it, and some abilities which had been duplicated throughout multiple greater sets (such as living flame) have been moved into it. My goal is to elaborate on a variety of themes within fire, such as its ability to tear down the machinations of the earth sphere; its ability to induce magical anger or hatred; its regenerative properties; and of course, its actual ability to empower fire spells. This should allow fire scholars to penetrate saves with more efficacy, increase the duration of their damage over time abilities, and so on.

As well, fire scholar has become weapon independent and no longer requires the use of a staff. For a class so influenced by the nefortu race, and being chaotic in general, it seemed odd to me that the class was so completely reliant on a staff. My intent is to use this as a model for other chaotic scholars, in that their defensive abilities will not be instantly removed by disarm. This is in part because lawful scholars trend toward defense already, and also because chaotic casters need to feel quick and slippery. I will be interested in how this sort of change is received.

As a final note, fire templar is now also weapon independent, having absorbed cunning wisp from major fire in place of parry.
ninjadyne
Implementor
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:39 am

Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:23 am

And now, for the greater fire paths. This was one of the most difficult parts of this update, as I did not agree with the direction or implications of some of the previous ones. I will lay out first my objections:

1) The inferno, unlike the void, is not a place one trivially travels into or through, and should not function as the void does. Being able to draw characters, or yourself, through the inferno with specificity (as one would gate) is an inappropriate overlap which reduces what makes fire and void distinct from one another.

2) Bloodpyre is not a fire-themed ability. It is essentially a void ability masquerading as a fire one. The idea of offering something in return for something else from a magical force is the heart of the transactional nature of void; virtually all void lore is dependent on that idea. Fire has never been concerned with transactions-- it is concerned with destruction, first and foremost, and any exchange is incidental at best. Therefore, bloodpyre on a conceptual level was wrong.

3) Making fire so suicidal as to essentially incinerate themselves in exchange for utterly broken and overwhelming power is a poor decision. I understand the self-immolation concept on a conceptual level, and it's more or less fine; but in the actual sense of play, requiring characters to use a lethal skill to be effective is silly and counterproductive.

4) None of the paths as presented before made an attempt to reconcile the importance of fire to the shuddeni in a meaningful way. None of them were inspired by shuddeni lore or imitated shuddeni methodology. As a result, they felt curiously absent from a place in which they should have been important.

5) Fire devils, another staple of Avendarian lore, were also absent. Given that some of the most memorable quests of the 2000-2001 era included them, it was a missed opportunity to not give them their chance to shine, at least in terms of skill descriptions. Using An'akarta, again, provided an uncomfortable overlap with void.

While it's tragic, given the amount of dev time that went into this, that it was aimed in the wrong direction, it doesn't change what had to happen to fix it. This information should make clear what I was attempting to do with the rework of the three fire greaters. Flameheart has translated into a fire devil-themed specialization, which focuses on the melee output of the caster, in addition to (or at the expense of) his spellcasting power. Undying blaze is primarily nefortean, inspired by Bayyal and the War of Fire, and focuses on mass destruction. Infernal harbinger is the shuddeni-inspired greater, which focuses on direct damage and the singular harrassment of individual characters.

Bloodpyre, for the time being, is not available to players. I know this was a popular skill for some, but having looked through these abilities at length, I can only determine that this was due to their OP nature. There is simply no reason a fire scholar, for example, should ever have a fire-related charmie given the damage output of their spells (that is not alone in my objections to bloodpyre, power-wise, but I'm not going to beat a dead horse). Heartfire is in the same category, and is likewise no longer available. I only ask that those of you who will protest these changes try the paths I have assembled before deciding they are not fun or interesting; I personally think they will provide more unique experiences than an incomplete simplification of another sphere.
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Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:23 am

All scholars now receive a new spell, scan. This is a scholar basic akin to armor or locate object, and provides the caster with the opportunity to evaluate the relative power of the target, including their immunities, resistances, and weaknesses. It has bothered me for a long time that this data was essentially priviledged to either being an immortal or scouring area files, which may or may not be current. This should allow information helpful to players in terms of determining how to approach their battles to be available to them in-character. Scrolls of identify which had been in the game previously have been replaced with scrolls of scan, to expand the use of this skill to templars who do not receive it natively.

Sort of relatedly, word of recall/circle of stones have been changed to make them less arduous. Circle of stones, in particular, is no longer prevented from working in its entirety by adrenaline. That more or less ruined the ability in terms of any real utility; now it should allow them to indeed be at home anywhere in the wild, as they were intended. Word of recall has a much shorter delay on its activation, and is no longer lengthened by PK adrenaline. This should allow characters who wish to recall out of combat a fighting chance to do so, rather than essentially standing in place and waiting for death. Circle of stones' recall is instantaneous, like the recall powers of old, while word of recall still has a roughly three round delay.
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Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:24 am

Naturalists have a new member class, barbarian, under their umbrella. This was a fairly easy choice to make as barbarian already contained a significant skill overlap with ranger. This adjusts the balance to three mentalists, three rogues, three warriors, three naturalists, and six scholars and templars. For the moment, I am pleased with that and hope that it will be both logical and provide new opportunities for classes in the future to fit into these designations.

Barbarian's changes are minimal. It no longer receives parry, instead gaining shield block, which should be more effective than parry in most cases. They also no longer gain dual wield, which was a choice made to encourage them to use larger weapons to make use of rend for its additional attack, or, for example, an axe/shield configuration. Naturalists in general are now unified in that they do not receive dual wield. I personally doubt this will significantly impact most barbarians, as their damage output has primarily come from skills such as hew. Druid's changes were also small, mostly refinements to abilities such as circle of stones or sticks to snakes.

Ranger, on the other hand, has changed substantially and requires some explanation. The first is that many ranger abilities had very antique implementations, and many of them have changed; in the process of doing that, I have attempted to refine how the class operates on a number of levels. Perhaps the most noticable is that archery can now be used in-round by rangers. This allows them to perform what is essentially a quick shot while fighting (with some limitations). The utility and strength of their arrows has changed a bit as well, which should prove once and for all that archery is a weapon skill in its own right and has a lot to do with the power of an arrow. Their damage over time abilities connected to archery have also become more potent or specialized.

The second major change to ranger is that they now have the ability to call a specialized ranger pet. I'm going to be clear here and say no, this is not the system some of you may have seen reading the codebase. I have no intention of letting rangers collect and select pets of different types, because again, it treads too close on one of the major selling points of another class (void) with none of the penalties or drawbacks. They are limited to one pet, which is randomly selected at creation, and has been designed to assist in the damage dealt by rangers without supplementing their ability to tank directly. That is to say, they do not rescue, nor is it trivial to emulate that even without them having the skill. Pets have enhancement skills which a ranger receives, not the pet itself by way of progs. Still, I think this will be fun and kind of cool for people who enjoy having a specialized helper, and should give ranger some of the flavor it probably should have had after its last overhaul nine or so years ago.
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Post by ninjadyne » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:24 am

Finally, houses have had some adjustments, including a new entry in to the house battle. We'll start with the old, before getting into the new. Many skills and spells of extant houses have been adjusted, changing their level of acquisition, their order in terms of stones required, or their actual functionality. Some of these changes are minor, and some are not. Perhaps the most notable is to Guardians, whose aegis of law ability has been moved to ten stones. That probably seems harsh, especially if you are playing a Guardian-- but consider this: the ability to give oneself better-than-sanctuary which stacks with sanctuary is absolutely OP at four stones, and encourages Guardian characters to essentially shrug their shoulders at ever having more than four. This is the same issue Shunned had prior to its power overhaul a number of years back, which moved mantle of fear and shroud of Nyogthua to ten stones each. Other changes are generally minor, and are more or less outlined as needed in the changelog. For characters already housed, looking at their skill or spell list should show the progression of their abilities, as higher stone requirement spells are received at higher level.

The new entry is of course the Grand Federation of Merchants, which is the first real great house to open in almost two decades. Unlike the former Knights of Enaerai/Enirra/Balance, Merchants not only have a house and a communication channel, but a proper vault, house powers, and other house perks reminiscent of Champions or Shunned. Their house powers are often connected to wealth, but not always directly; this isn't a final fantasy style "Gil Toss" skill. Their skills are intended to allow them to actually act as a merchant would, by locating items, appraising things, improving their luck and persuasiveness with haggle, transmuting items into gold to improve their sale value, placing bounties on other characters, or locking another character out of most or all of his wealth. While some of these may not seem on par with other house skills at first blush, the luck adjustments alone are substantive, not even getting into how debilitating it actually could be to prevent a character from accessing his bank or any pay services from an NPC. There will be further changes and adjustments to the region surrounding the Merchant house to further entrench their power, so stay tuned for that in subsequent patches.
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Post by neongrey » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:45 pm

We also have new art for the alatharya! Visible occasionally on the frontpage and on the alatharya page, you can now see Captain Bromrin.

Which leads into another part of the update. This is a long story, and there's a lot of places I could start, because it brings a lot of things together.

First, let's talk about the way alatharya have been depicted in the game to this point. By and large, there aren't all that many in the game. They're rarely in groups-- I think the Beast and Bandit was the largest specific congregation of alatharya in the game. And that was two of them. What individuals were there-- a lot were fine. Ghonst and Emrelna are really nice characters, and Captain Bromrin is a fixture with good reason (we fixed up his desc and gave him his iron crown back; he's earned it).

But a lot of them... well. For a while, there was a prevailing thought on staff that alatharya should be depicted as having real-world intellectual disabilities. I... objected to this. Both for mechanical reasons-- alatharya int tops out above human starting int, and their wis is on par with kankoran (nearly as good as aelin, which isn't terribly wise, but no one gives aelin crap for that). But mostly for human reasons: you can't take a whole species of people and paint them that way without it being tasteless, no matter how sensitively you do so. And frankly, the depictions of alatharya that went in for a number of years... weren't. They were written as (for lack of a better word) sub-human, simultaneously infantilizing them and treating them as brutes.

Additionally, where they were physically described, their features very consistently aligned with highly stereotypical imagery of African-American men.

This, I felt, was not a good combination.

I had been working on another area that was, in addition to some metaplot movement, was also oriented to improving alatharya representation in the game. I'll come back to that later on.

So we've been getting art done this past while, obviously. We had a couple options lined up and went with the alatharya, and specifically a man to start. We had some inkling at this point that the depictions were bad and had intentions of beginning to clean it up, but-- we have so many messes to clean up. We wanted an image of someone who, well, hearkened back to depictions of alatharya as people, not racist, ableist cariactures. So we went with Captain Bromrin.

In the process, we very much went into what alatharya ought to look like visually and one thing was really, because of what they had been, and because of what they are now (you know, muscular, silver-haired giants), they really must be awfully attractive.

Let's shift gears and talk about the way Avendar has typically depicted sex.

Mostly it doesn't. That's fine, it's not an erotic game, we're not really interested in catering to people who only want to get off-- there's plenty of other muds for that.

However, when the game does depict sexuality, it tends to follow a specific pattern:
a) It's for evil people.
b) Especially evil, slutty, women.
c) The evilness and sluttiness are inextricably linked.
d) Is it hetero? Boy howdy yes it is.
e) ... maybe lesbian. Eeeevil lesbian.

Now, look. I have nothing against evil, slutty lesbians. But when that's what our primary depiction of sexuality is, that's a problem.

So there I was, thinking of what a goddamn beautiful man was being used for reference for alatharya, thinking 'you know, people would be into that. of course, interspecies attraction is seen as a little weird, it would probably be a little underground...'

So the next thing I know I'm walking around that little place in the sewers. I don't have time to take on another project, I'm saying-- I want to get that other area done in time for the update.

But this place, I notice, is bad. Really bad. I'd already done some cleanup work to smoothe off some of the cariacture-ness of the door guard. It's still not good, but half as bad as before. But it's written in a way that makes it seedy without purpose-- lot of random thugs hanging around, sure, that's okay but nothing that left me with the sense of who they were, why they were there, or what they did with their lives. The place had an absolute obsession with urine, to a downright discomfiting point. Like, even in a place as lousy as had been written there, they would at least find a corner or something. And the way the women were written... you had ethron, who were written as being youngish, not much makeup, attractive, etc. And you had aelin, who were heavily made up, old, washed-up sluts. Both of these were awful in their own right, but placed next to one another it's clear that this was written by someone who a) personally considered ethron extremely attractive and b) hated aelin.

Like, look, AO3 is right there. Use that for that sort of thing, don't build it into the game.

So I ratcheted up the priority of fixing up this sub-area, sighing as I noted that the workers (I refuse to call them what the original iteration did) would actively be awful if their flavour progging fired on other women. Then I looked in on the potion-seller, the one with the good flight potions.

And I sat down. And I read every single word of his desc. Then I pasted it to other staff. Then some friends. Then some friends who never played the game and don't care about it. Generally accompanied by "uh, does this seem really anti-semitic to you?". It did. To literally everyone I showed it to.

And that's the story of why rather than finishing a different area, Avendar now has altharya sex communists.

You'll see the return of some characters and gear inspired by classic mobs from the original thieves catacombs. It's certainly for the best that that area is gone, but I had some very fond memories of both the two named characters I cribbed from, and some of the gear I was inspired by. None of it is the same as that was. But, you know. Good luck getting it. You'll need it.

There's also a ton of flavour items in there now. Most of it's not very good mechanically, but it satisfies a lot of looks for your costuming needs. Every single player-facing instance of the word 'whore' has been removed from the game. The word 'nipple' has been added. The weird heteronormativity has been removed. Look, sex work is work, there's no need to be juvenile in writing its simple existence, and there's no need to write with apparent contempt-- the trick to good mobs, I've always felt, is to know who they are as people, no matter how much of a bit player they are. It's not the classiest place around, but now it's a place where some alatharya have come together to make a little community for themselves and also have steady work. It even passes Bechdel, for PC female alatharya, anyway.

And, something that's important to me, something which wasn't present in the original sub-area, is that the place is now meticulous about consent. In particular, PCs can walk right through to get their potions with at absolute most getting cheerfully ogled. A player isn't given the opportunity to consent to flavour progs, and previously it went a little over the line. But the mobs written as minding that with each other too-- part of the appeal to this place for customers is that they're not alatharya and the workers are, which is definitely not the most socially acceptable kink in Earendam, so not everyone is certain, and they have been drinking as well. I've done my best to create at least a modestly respectful environment. Is this a little bit fluffy of a fantasy? Yeah, sure. I don't mind that. I don't think it strains credulity.

Had to cut a few corners in order to make this release so I expect there'll be a few refinements coming in at a later date. Mostly fiddly flavour stuff, nothing critical but that will bug me until it gets in. Other than the total removal of esithi oil (and we can talk later about how that was an issue re depictions of drug users) every service, by which i mean the good flight potions, is still in there.

Of course this means that the single largest collection of alatharya in the game is now a sex commune. This itself is kind of an issue-- so you'll still be seeing that other area I was working on sooner rather than later, just so we can have representation of a different sort.

Anyway enjoy the OSHA-compliant sex commune with a live pettable cat.
Last edited by neongrey on Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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