Update 6 May 2018

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Update 6 May 2018

Post by ninjadyne » Sun May 06, 2018 10:56 am

* Mixed water/fire no longer receives: steam.
* Mixed water/fire now receives: antipode, martyr's fire.
* Minor fire spells have been releveled to more appropriately integrate with major water.
* Immolate has had its implementation adjusted to accomodate antipode.
* Martyr's fire has had its mana cost increased to 45 and its lag increased to 1 round.
* Martyr's fire is now self-targeted only.
* Baptism of fire can now be cast in combat, and has altered functionality when used with martyr's fire.
* Baptism of fire has had its mana cost reduced to 65 and its lag increased to 1.5 rounds.
* Baptism of fire now properly removes petrification per the spell.
* Boil seas no longer affects the caster and has had its recast delay significantly reduced.
* Boil seas deals less damage and triggers less often to accomodate its ease of use.
* Boil seas is no longer cancelled or restored by flight or earthbind and has more consistent NPC checking.
* Boil seas has additional error checking to prevent harming invalid targets.
* Sanctuary's damage reduction now has magnitude scaling.
* Soothing mist no longer heals you while you are under the effect of martyr's fire.
* Mixed fire/water no longer receives: sauna, thermal mastery, martyr's fire.
* Mixed fire/water now receives: frost infusion, icebreaker, martyr's fury.
* Minor water spells have been releveled to more appropriately integrate with major fire.
* Heatsink now automatically succeeds if the caster uses it on their own weapon.
* Heatsink now changes the damage type of the weapon coated in frost to cold damage, assuming proper conditions.
* Heatsink's duration has been increased to make it more useful.
* Draught of the seas is now available as intended to minor water scholars of all types.
* Boil blood's initial save is now drowning instead of cold, and that save is improved by intensity.
* Mixed fire/void no longer receives: ashes of Logor, chillfire shield, nightflame lash.
* Mixed fire/void now receives: barbs of Althajji, flame tongue, linear amplification, scarlet infection.
* Minor void spells have been releveled to more appropriately integrate with major fire.
* Enervating ray's strength penalty duration has been reduced by half.
* Fell purpose now grants a CL boost which scales with aura grade, and can never be less than +1.
* Flame tongue now weakens the spell level of water affects if it fails to dispel them.
* Barbs of Althajji is now a passive skill, improving fire damage on characters afflicted by minor void debuffs.
* Mixed void/fire no longer receives: barbs of Althajji, call fox, pain channel, focus fury.
* Mixed void/fire now receives: ashes of Logor, infernal apotheosis, mantle of the Maevis'hra, true infravision.
* Minor fire spells have been releveled to more appropriately integrate with major void.
* Cloak of embers and aspect of the inferno have swapped levels of acquisition.
* Aspect of the inferno now grants a scaling bonus to hitroll while active and its CL penalty has been reduced.
* Cloak of embers has had its CL penalty reduced.
* Yesa's radiance has had its damage increased and now improves appropriately.
* Flameheart now has more chances to improve from routine activities.
* Flare's healing on trigger is doubled and its recast delay is halved on a successful flameheart check.
* Firekin now negates the regen penalties from haste/living flame with a successful check per type.
* Evoke hatred now has a slightly more difficult save.
* Intensity adds additional spell penetration to many fire spells as the caster's red aura increases.
* Red aura makes it more difficult to save against evoke hatred, mindkindle, and pandemonium with a successful intensity check.
* Ignite enchantment now weakens the spell level of earth affects if it fails to dispel them.
* Skill-based Water-typed healing now weakens as the caster's red aura increases.
* Fixed an issue with Nightfall bonds which allowed inappropriate affect stacking.
* Profane flesh is now more effective at reducing healing provided by water magic.
* Call upon earth can now be used in rooms affected by rock to mud and stone to mud.
* Sauna no longer has intermittent echoes, now providing a silent bonus to characters when applicable.
* Steam has had its base damage reduced slightly and no longer damages shades.
* Scholars no longer receive parry, and in its place, receive warding weapon. See HELP WARDING WEAPON.
* Characters with a skill percent in staff now gain a caster level boost while using one.
* Water scholars and mixed scholars adjusted in this update have had their titles altered to reflect their current implementation.
* Firebrand and frostbrand can no longer type change weapons with the flaming or frost flags.
* Fixed a bug in which demonic possession was not assigning the correct holy vulnerability value.
* Many healing powers now properly determine when they should echo their success or not.
* Fighter no longer receives: dual wield, staff, polearm, dagger, pugil.
* Fighter now receives: flail, mace, defensive stance, Kalysian cunning.
* Fighter's parry skill now ignores weapon type to deflect at a uniform rate.
* Fend now applies to all weapons in which a fighter has proficiency.
* Flank, gash, pommel, rout, and sweep are now able to be used with any weapon type a fighter receives.
* Bandage's recast delay has been lowered for general use, and increased when paired with field medicine.
* Readiness now modifies the user's hitroll, saves, and armor class, instead of hitroll and damroll.
* Archery is no longer erroneously blocked by melee defenses.
* Smoking is now an actual skill rather than a soft-skill, and many existing smoking items have been updated.
* Dorrod's touch now has an improved return for items it affects.
* The aristocrat trait now grants less platinum gain per year.
* The Tempestuous Temple has been changed into the Summit of Mount Khorak and moved to a new location.
* The Earendam Gallery's public section has been reworked to ensure players can see the paintings, sculptures, and plaques as intended.
* A new hero-level staff has been added for good-aligned characters.
* Assorted items have had resale values and/or limits reduced.
* Several guildmasters in Earendam have been changed, featuring some all-new gear.
* Enirra has a revised history and adjusted factions, as well as new locations and items.
* Gaining standing with The Servants of Balance faction is now possible and can provide rewards to Enirran characters.
* Gahret Mieldoon will now attempt to seal away Stones of Power which are given to him, per the Enirra sigil.
* Converted the skill formerly known as chillfire shield into a new Enirran power, reactive shield.
* Calendar years are now visible in the time command.
* Fixed a crash bug related to sourceless damage.
* Various typo and echo fixes.
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Re: Update 6 May 2018

Post by ninjadyne » Sun May 06, 2018 10:56 am

Hello everyone, it's been a little while since the last patch, but rest assured, we are still working on things. This is what I would consider a "reconciliation" patch, in that it intends to address a series of issues that could or should have been part of previous updates (had everything gone as planned). It is mostly about polish and adjustment, but includes a significant amount of new functionality that can and will change the metagame. I personally am very excited about the potential these changes offer, in terms of adding new complexity and strategy to the game as we move forward. At this point, some of it is just the seed of things to come, so I hope you will be as interested in the possibilities as we are.

As always, there are some general bugfixes, code optimization, echo corrections, and so on, but I'm going to focus specifically on the major centers of changes for my commentary.
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Re: Update 6 May 2018

Post by ninjadyne » Sun May 06, 2018 10:57 am

Fighter is one of the oldest of Avendar's classes, inherited from Merc/ROM. This is in most ways to its detriment; the theory of those games was slightly different for fighter than it is for us. In the past, we have attempted to upgrade or retrofit fighter to make it better in the overall, but in my opinion those efforts have always fallen short. Before anyone takes that as a dig at prior developers, I'll say outright that I worked on the original fighter overhaul, and have been involved in many of its tweaks since. So if anything, it's more of a shaking of the head at missing a few obvious details at the time.

As a class, fighter has always been tethered to a spear or polearm. In the beginning, parry was undifferentiated by weapon, so this was mostly a stylistic decision rather than a mechanical one. But as the years rolled on, parry began to be better or worse depending on what weapon was being used, alatharya lost the ability to one-hand a two-handed spear or polearm, and so on. For awhile, the dexterity component of defenses further shifted the metagame of fighter toward the high-dex races, and unfortunately, it's been more or less stuck there ever since. This is a shame, because the high-dex races tend to not be traditional warriors; yet, they were mechanically superior to the alternatives, which further deprecated play of races like ethron, alatharya, and so on.

Meanwhile, in the last few years, I've been making a significant push toward weapon-independence for various classes. I believe this not only improves roleplay (as your character can now be styled more closely to what you can imagine), but also highlights places in which we can increase weapon and encounter diversity. Fighter is no exception to this; while they are still effective with their canonical spear/shield combination, they have a number of changes which allow them to opt for different weapons if they so choose. Essentially, fend and parry both function identically for them irrespective of which of their granted weapons they use. This is as close to weapon-independence as fighter is like to ever become, as their unarmed combat is more or less a last resort and their weapon selection has changed but not increased.

However, since they can now use their weapons flexibly, their in-round combat skills have been adjusted to allow use with any weapon with which they are proficient. While the original limitations on which skills could be used with which weapons was intended to mimic in-game mob builds, I don't think they have ultimately served fighter well in terms of actual play. Therefore, flank, sweep, gash, pommel, and rout can now be used with any of a fighter's weapons-- they simply must have a weapon and not be unarmed. Unarmed fighters can still make use of lunge as they always have, as well as kick and trip. It should be noted, though, that I expect fighting unarmed is probably a last resort for most characters of this class, as they favor using weapons substantially over the alternative. The expected build is 1h weapon + shield for optimal use.

By the same token, shields are now even more valuable. One of the biggest flaws of fighter as a tank is that it was less good than other tank classes without help. Water templar, for example, is routinely superior to fighter because of its increased ability to heal and its superior damage reduction comparatively. This highlights in short what makes fighter so lousy as a tank-- they have a lot of damage mitigation, but no damage reduction and little healing. This means any routine templar or scholar can essentially roast them with direct damage abilities without much danger, as their melee output tends to be low compared to, say, swordmaster or barbarian. Bandage has been improved to be used more often for fighters, which is the first part of their rebalance. Their new shield skill, defensive stance, and their new readiness extension, Kalysian cunning, are both meant to address some of their other flaws.

In the case of defensive stance, fighters now have the ability to reduce injury from target-style direct damage spells (such as beam of fire or firebolt). This should make them significantly tougher against many PK and PvE challenges. Meanwhile, it also grants them some damage reduction against physical damage types used in melee. Note though that AoE spells, in-round melee attacks (e.g. hew), and other abilities continue to afflict them as always. In conjunction, Kalysian cunning allows them to bypass parry and weapon of warding once per combat round automatically while it is active. This should allow them to make more use of the low number of attacks per round they receive compared to other burst-style melee classes. I feel like this should allow them to more consistently tank their way through encounters successfully, without becoming too slow, and without being too fragile to characters with magic.
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Re: Update 6 May 2018

Post by ninjadyne » Sun May 06, 2018 10:57 am

Scholars have some general changes and specific ones. To begin broadly, scholars have long suffered from essentially being tethered to a staff. While this makes sense in the classical fantasy vision, it has some notable limitations when dealing with the way our game is actually designed. It, in effect, means that characters must choose between being defenseless or at the very least more fragile should they wish to activate magical items (such as wands or staves). In addition, it makes other weapon options for these classes essentially a sucker's choice, as they all come with substantial defensive drawbacks. In light of the changes made to druid and fire scholar, I have removed parry from all scholars and replaced it with a new skill, weapon of warding.

Now, before anyone gets too excited about this, let me explain what weapon of warding is. It is essentially magical parry, in that it requires a weapon to use and has roughly the same rate of success as parrying with a staff. However, it can be used with whatever weapon a scholar chooses, if he is proficient with it or not. Essentially holding the item in his hand is enough to channel arcane energy through it for defensive purposes. This retains the classical penalties of scholardom, in that scholars are still subject to disarm, and so on. But it means that for the vast majority of them, they can now choose to use weapons which suit their character or whim, rather than always being forced to use a staff for its defensive properties. I think this should make magical devices much more viable as supplements to what a scholar does, as well as held items.

But, some of you might be thinking, what about staff? Why would you ever use one now? Instead of a defensive bonus, staff now offers an offensive one instead. While holding a staff, a scholar is precluded from using a magical device or held item, and in exchange, they gain a bonus to his effective caster level which scales with the level of the staff he is using (i.e. powerful staff = more CL gain, weaker staff = less CL gain). This bonus stacks with other bonuses they may receive, such as from skills like adamantine invocation or fell purpose. For the optimum spell power, a scholar will want to use a staff, but if they wish the stats or flexibility of weapon + held, they can now do so without ruining their already flimsy defenses. I think this should make for a more interesting trade-off between power and flexibility for scholar characters, and I'm interested to see how people make use of it moving forward.

Beyond scholars in general, mixed sphere scholars have been reworked for the spheres which have already been completed. This includes Fire/Water, Fire/Void, Water/Fire, and Void/Fire. This includes new split sphere abilities, releveled minor spells, and new titles. In all cases, the intention has been to first smooth out the minors to be more useful to the classes that receive them, and second to meaningfully compensate for flaws in the major by way of the minor. Many of these mixes required significant changes, as a number of their old abilities were either shuffled around, or removed and replaced. I'm confident that these new splits should bring much more interesting playstyles to the table than their predecessors. For more information on them
individually, please consult the changes and read the relevant help entries.

Flameheart scholars, and to a lesser extent, fire scholar in general, got a bit of attention with this update. Most of what I have been attempting to do is smooth rough edges and improve skill synergy in general; but in the case of Flameheart, it has moved beyond that into making them more functional and effective as melee combatants. We will be watching to see if this makes them as effective as they are intended to be. If they still fall short, further changes will be upcoming to that end.
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Re: Update 6 May 2018

Post by ninjadyne » Sun May 06, 2018 10:57 am

Another major goal of this update is to deal with Enirra and the religion surrounding Her. In some ways, Enirra has been a difficult deity for some to approach, because of some of its past characters and artifice. I've spent a significant amount of time during this update cycle rewriting the primary Enirra overview, revising its history and reframing many of its explanations and factions. The purpose of doing this is to drill down to the core of the Enirran mindset, and to establish firmly what place the religion has in the deific canon. I am really excited about the adjustments, because I think it should offer a lot of fertile new territory for players to explore, as well as maintain continuity with as much prior content as is possible. Looking back at the original Temple of Enaerai in Earendam was illuminating, as some details of the religion from that era were lost by the time the Fortress of the Eye was added to the game.

Meanwhile, it's not been lost on me that Enirran characters have struggled with meaningful support in-game. One of the primary advantages to the religion was, well, the Fortress of the Eye; it was a very powerful place to hide or idle, given the difficulty of entering it when not a member of the "house". The liberalization of the Knight charter, in my opinion, deprecated Enirra Herself, as it made it more and more likely that characters would choose other neutral religions while still gaining the advantages of being a Knight. A big part of what was originally intended to balance the Fortress itself was the vast number of enemies Knights were expected to have. As the allowance of what it meant to be a Knight expanded, the amount of conflict they faced declined, which created a place for what many people deemed to be "evil-lite" characters to handwave away their actions and avoid staff scrutiny.

With its removal, though, the Knights themselves faced a real struggle in that they had essentially no advantages. While other religions, such as Rystaia or Iandir, had shrines, and other houses were associated with deities like Jolinn or Serachel, Enirrans languished. What I have done to address this is to add various locations to the game which are sympathetic to Enirrans, offering them special perks and bonuses to aid them in their quest to maintain the balance. I have also expanded the use of the Servants of Balance faction, letting characters gain standing with it to unlock the aforementioned perks and bonuses for their character, even before obtaining an Enirra sigil. I feel like this should allow characters who choose Enirra to be rewarded for playing their role, as well as establish a clear line of action for staff to see that they are building toward a sigil.

One final thing is that now Gahret Mieldoon, as the head of the Enirran religion in diaspora, has an Enirra sigil and has the power to seal away Stones of Power exactly as a player Knight would. This should allow Knights or Knight-sympathetic characters to meaningfully impact the balance of power within the Great Houses without simply handing Stones to whoever seems the least threatening at the moment. In conjunction with Enirran players, this should help resolve one of the most important issues since the inception of Enaerai-- that they never need to directly ally themselves with Houses for the purposes of giving them Stones unless they choose to.
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Re: Update 6 May 2018

Post by neongrey » Sun May 06, 2018 12:45 pm

We have some other very exciting changes in this update, beyond the class design aspects.

Let's start with smoking.

Several years ago, when the sewers were remade into their mostly-current form, some staff member added a box of cigars, with a neat little prog on them that let you get better at smoking. It was a fun little bit to add to your characters, and I know I and a lot of people really enjoyed them.

When I came on staff, I built on this-- I added a shop to Earendam that let you buy some different cigars, a couple pipes, a package of cigarettes. It was Fun, or at least I thought so-- I've always liked the smoking aesthetic, despite being a lifelong nonsmoker. It made for a nice way to get that look. The fad sort of ballooned out from there-- someone else put a smoke shop in Var Bandor, I put a hookah in a player-built shop, et cetera.

But honestly, this sort of thing was fiddly to expand, made for pretty samey items, and was hard to actually work with. So, we converted the system over to a proper, real, actual skill, with a new item type here. Right now we've just converted over the existing items but we have some big plans for our frameworks-- this could legitimately have a serious mechanical impact on the game, not just a cool flavour thing we've added in. But right now you can absolutely smoke all you want and have it be a real-ass skill.

Next, let's talk the calendarical system!

This is visually quite small, but is going to have a huge impact for the sorts of things we're going to be able to do with creating narrative. You'll notice that the time command, for the first time in the game's history, actually includes a year.

We're using an Earendamian calendar, dating to the founding of the Patrician system, and the dissolution of the republic. Now we can finally go back and apply relative times to when they occurred, we can actually tell when things happened--basically this is really exciting if you're the sort to nerd out over this crap.

This has some weird implications for mob lifespans but honestly the current state of things is incredibly firmly where we want them-- there's no good system for succession that really works in Avendar, since primogeniture is not all that common and that would be the easiest way to automate it. Furthermore, when it comes to named mobs, a lot of them are made with the notion of having a specific role or personality-- we'd rather have access to that as needed rather than attempting to deal with whole different characters when we need them.

There's a couple more things I want to go over but right now I've been up for like 22 hours and this is the important stuff-- more later!
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Re: Update 6 May 2018

Post by Tritone » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:14 pm

Interesting changes to fighters!