Author Topic: Revised Profession: Mystic  (Read 652 times)

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Offline Eladan

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Revised Profession: Mystic
« on: February 05, 2021, 11:42:33 AM »
I know Peter and others have commented on the mishmash that is the Mystic, and there seem to be two schools of though regarding fixing them: A mystic in the traditional sense or a new version of a mystical (magical) assassin. For my gaming vision, mysticism is already covered by my revamp of the Shaman and the still-under-development Astrologer. So the mystic assassin model seems like a more diverse and intriguing option.

While there are some merits to trashing all of the lists, I think that at least three fit this model, namely Hiding, Confusing Ways, and Mystical Change. While they need realigning, I think they fit the idea of the "Faceless Man"-assassination type quite well: Cause chaos, throw on a new face, dupe the guards, infiltrate. That leaves three lists to fill, since I agree that the Gas/Liquid/Solid Alteration lists don't fit this model and seem like they were thrown in as an "Oh this hybrid class is half Essence!" appeasement.

My interpretation of the possible 4th list is my new Mystical Blade list. It takes some of the mechanics from the old Nightblade's Adrenal Focus spell, and creates a list centered on the idea. In this list, the Mystic creates a Mystical Weapon that enables the spells on the list to augment attacks with it using mystical energies.

As always, I'd love your thoughts. Broken? Silly? Intriguing? It leaves two more lists to make (I'm thinking about a revamped and depowered version of Sonic Law — Assassins are masters of sound, right?) but for now I want to see if this new list has legs.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sbsIaxoI6u0cEGFW581xJOBszFmvJmTH/view?usp=sharing
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Offline jdale

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2021, 12:04:57 PM »
That's pretty interesting. I didn't like the mechanic of using directed spells for melee for the Nightblade because they were a semi, it made more sense for them to simply develop the weapon skills. Here it makes more sense. Mystic Focus will give an OB that lags Directed Spells (no professional bonus, no way to get a Prodigy talent or Knack bonus, only one stat bonus), and it costs your instantaneous action which is a significant limitation for a caster. That might be appropriate, though; it's not turning a hybrid caster into a semi, it's just allowing them to be effective when needed and especially by surprise. But is it better than, say, shock bolt with Ambush? An alternative approach would be a short-range elemental attack that simply uses Directed Spells (e.g. the Arc spells from Fire & Ice which attacked as bolts but with a range penalty of -5 per foot). You lose the option to parry in that case, but if you need to parry during a surprise attack, you're doing something wrong.
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Offline Eladan

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2021, 12:25:56 PM »
I never like the premise for semis either, but think it has some merit for pure casters. I was using the old Adrenal Focus text, so actually will edit that to have three stats... maybe SD/Pr/Em to reflect the hybrid nature? Also, I can rewrite it so that it is treated like a standard Dir Spells bonus and therefore receives the professional bonus. Does that balance it out somewhat? I agree about the use of the instantaneous action, but I see this as a situational use list (when you have them by surprise or a last ditch effort). If you wade into battle  trying to fight with your Mystic Blade, you are probably asking for trouble.

I'm also changing Ranged Strike to Ranged Focus so that it doesn't cost additional PPs to do an attack. It won't have the OB bonus that Mystic Focus has, but still gets the weapon OB, with standard directed spells don't.
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Offline Hurin

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2021, 01:04:30 PM »
This is a really cool idea, and I love the idea of revamping the Mystic. I haven't had a chance to read it in depth, but here are some initial impressions:

I like that you're changing the stats to SD/Pr/Em, which really fits the Hybrid.

My main problem with the Mystic was what to do after the surprise elemental bolt failed. That is to say, what if you don't kill your target, and find yourself in melee combat? It is going to happen sometime, and I can't imagine the Mystic is going to have a long career after it does. So I actually like the way you can use spells/mystical weapon or whatever to parry.

I might even prefer the idea of the Mystic sneaking up, attacking, and then sustaining the elemental bolt or blade (there's the Essence aspect of the class) and making it into a kind of weapon to parry with, to give him/her time to escape/get out of Dodge.

Just a thought: Might you change Mystic Focus to a spell cast after an elemental attack, that forms the weapon out of the residual elemental matter/energy, and then uses that as a weapon for a limited time? I don't think the Mystic needs to power up the initial elemental attack (which is usually going to be quite devastating) so much as he needs to have a Plan B on the uncommon occasion when the initial attack fails or fumbles.

I do agree that there should be some limitations on this form of combat, since, if you allow the Mystic to use Directed Spell as both ranged and melee OB, that might be overpowered. There are various ways of limiting it though (some already mentioned or contained on the list): making it cost an instantaneous action (and a spell, and spell points) every round; making it benefit from only one stat; making it only give half OB or Parry DB, etc. So I think there will definitely be ways to balance it.
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline Eladan

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2021, 01:51:20 PM »
@Hurin - I agree that there is some room for unbalancing in this equation. I am specifically worried about allowing a directed spells bonus to be used for melee purposes, so that might bear some reflection. I think what works in terms of balancing is:
  • The fact that it costs PPs for every attack;
  • The fact that in many cases, the Mystic will have to close to melee range;
  • The loss of the instantaneous action (as you and Jdale mentioned)
I too see this as a first strike option.. Oh the Mystic Blade didn't kill? Drat! Elemental Bolt —> Long Door out of there, live to ambush another day.

Your suggestion about the Mystic Focus spell not empowering a physical weapon actually gives me an idea to fill the last few lists. I think the Mystic should have some form of Essence-inspired attack list. So maybe...
  • Move the the Parry spells to the 6th list Put a pin in that for now.
  • With those open slots on Mystic Blade, make some elemental binding spells that can take the residual elements from an elemental attack and bind them to the Mystic Weapon. Which leads me to...
  • The 5th list... I like the idea of Sonic manipulation. It seems to fit the class. I also like the Acid notion suggested by Hurin. Hmmm... maybe a "Dark Elements" list? Not some Warrior Mage mashup with every great spell, but a limited list that deals with acid, vibrations, darkness... things of that ilk?
  • 6th list... Movement list of some kind. Take those Parry spells from above and put them here; possibly make them Dodge-type spells. I see this list not as a rehash of the Mentalism movement list, but maybe something closer to the Magent's Escapes list. Or... that Astral Traveller concept that Hurin mentioned in the blog. The Mystic doesn't just Long Door away... he cuts through reality!
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Offline jdale

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2021, 01:52:39 PM »
I would probably just use Directed Spells for the sake of simplifying the mechanics. If you want it to be limiting, make it a separate specialization from bolts. It will share knack and professional bonuses, but take more DP and you could have a character who is great with this magical blade without being great at ranged attacks.

Bolts are considerably better than melee weapons when it comes to the tables, so while the idea of making a weapon out of energy is cool, be careful with the balance. If the weapon you form attacks on a weapon table with elemental crits, rather than on a bolt table, that's not an issue.

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Offline jdale

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2021, 01:54:24 PM »
For escaping, this is a great time for an area effect spell centered on the caster. Mass spin, distraction, confusion, blinding...  anything that could be a quick (maybe even instantaneous) effect on the people right around you during the getaway.
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Offline Eladan

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2021, 01:59:19 PM »
@Jdale - That's why I like the idea of binding elements to the weapon rather than making a weapon from the elements. Yeah, I think I'm just going to reword it that this needs to be developed as a separate directed skill, just like hurling, et al.
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Offline Hurin

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2021, 02:58:41 PM »
An idea for an escape spell with a Mystic flavor: maybe instead of just teleporting, the Mystic literally swaps places with someone in range of sight -- they literally switch bodies and minds. If the Mystic was switching places with another guard, say, s/he could pretend to be that guard afterwards, to help escape, so the mystics disguises would help there too. It goes together with the whole 'transformation/disguise/what is reality' theme.

Just a thought.
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline Eladan

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2021, 03:34:08 PM »
While I'm in design mode, do you guys have any preferences in terms of elements at the beck and call of the mystic? What are your concepts there? The dark elements concept may be fitting, but I don't want it to fall victim to the RoCoII sin of lumping everything cool under one list. I guess naming conventions here are half the battle. Darkness, acid, vibrations... they all speak to me of subtlety.

Hurin - Explain your body swap teleport to me more.. I'm intrigued. Just transfer consciousness? A Leaving spell but with and exchange of places?
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Offline Hurin

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2021, 04:24:38 PM »
While I'm in design mode, do you guys have any preferences in terms of elements at the beck and call of the mystic? What are your concepts there? The dark elements concept may be fitting, but I don't want it to fall victim to the RoCoII sin of lumping everything cool under one list. I guess naming conventions here are half the battle. Darkness, acid, vibrations... they all speak to me of subtlety.

I think it kind of depends on whether you intend to maintain the Alteration concept of the class. I agree that the implementation of Gas/Liquid/Solid Alteration is not great, but the alteration concept still has merit I think. Are there any elements that fit especially with that? Maybe water (which can freeze into a solid easily and also evaporate into gas).

If it helps at all, one of the more interesting takes on Mystic spells come from the Elder Scrolls games. Mystics have spells of transportation and detection, but also absorption and reflection. So they might be good candidates for a kind of Counterspell or Absorb spell. That too fits with the alteration theme.

I'm just brainstorming very vaguely here!

Quote
Hurin - Explain your body swap teleport to me more.. I'm intrigued. Just transfer consciousness? A Leaving spell but with and exchange of places?

Sorry, I explained that poorly. I am thinking of essentially a teleport, but with alteration flavor: mechanically speaking, you teleport yourself into someone else's space, and teleport them into your space simultaneously. So you're just switching places. That's a bit more Mystical though, I think, than just teleporting, especially if the mystic can take on the appearance of someone else.

I did like your idea of cutting through reality as an alternative to teleporting, so that's a cool option too; so this kind of combines those two. It just alters reality so that two characters swap places, but without the loud 'poof' of the vacuum imploding you get with teleportation. More mystical!
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline jdale

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2021, 05:45:06 PM »
Even if there's no disguise involved, swapping places so the guard is standing over the dead body of the king is still pretty effective...
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Offline Hurin

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2021, 07:03:22 PM »
Oh, I like the way you think JDale...
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline markc

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2021, 07:45:53 PM »
In general.
a) Hybrids are viewed as more powerful as they have access to 2 realms.
b) If the profession has a weapon based spell list they are generally a semi, the one I can think of is Druid Staff for the Animist as IMHO that profession needs it.
Note: I could be wrong as it has been a long time since I looked through all of the RM2 professions.
c) As #2, I cannot think of any core pure, hybrid or pure arcane profession that has a weapon based spell list that is like a semi arms profession.
Note: RM2 Arch Mage you get to pick spell lists so that is one possible profession in which you get a weapon based spell list and a Pure Spell user or Hybrid spells users DP cost for weapons and combat skills.
d) Generally I think if you have a weapon base spell list their is a tie in to the DP cost of combat skills.

Thoughts in General:
1) If you are going to open up Hybrid and Pure Spell users to having base weapon spell lists the list should not be as good as semi spell users.
2) I think Pure and Hybrid spell users having a weapon based spell list is an interesting idea for professions but there are a lot of other things that go into balancing the various things in a profession as well as other rules in your game, so until you look at all of that it is tough to see what the impact is.
3) In general does every realm semi need an magic assassin profession? Or should it be only a couple of the realms or one realm?
4) What ever you decide testing is important IMHO to see how it would change the various balance vs other professions and to prevent power creep.

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Offline Hurin

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2021, 11:36:42 AM »
Ok, I've had a chance to read the first few spells a bit more carefully and I think I understand it a bit better now. I do share some of the concerns already expressed about balance, but let me first lay out all the ways the Mystic can buff this attack, and how he does it:

--First he spends PP to cast a spell to create the Mystic Weapon.
--Then he casts Spell Strike to add a force spell to the weapon.
--Then he casts Mystic Focus I to add his Directed Spell OB to the weapon attack.

The next attack he makes is a full OB (Directed Spell) weapon attack, plus the additional Force spell imbued into it by the Spell Strike spell, with the target taking a -30 to the RR of the spell if the attack does at least hit point damage?

If so, that is going to be a pretty devastating attack (considering that the Mystic can also make himself invisible and attack probably from stealth).

My main comment would be that while I like the idea of getting away from the simple 'attack with an elemental bolt' concept, I don't think the Mystic really needs help pumping up that initial attack. An elemental bolt from an invisible, stealthed attacker from behind is absolutely devastating. What the Mystic needs more, IMHO, is something to do when that attack fails, or he finds himself surrounded by the other guards he didn't kill.

I like the concept of the Mystic as focusing on alteration, and mixing Essence/elemental magic with mind power. So that's why I was spitballing the concept of a Mystic who channeled the latent elemental magic/energy into a weapon.
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline Eladan

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2021, 08:37:40 PM »
@markc / @Hurin - Looking over the list a day later, I agree with everything you are saying in terms of power creep. I like the mechanic but think, as you point out, that it has the potential to be too overpowered. My rationale in all these decisions was that
  • The Mystic Focus strikes on the weapon table and is weaker than a bolt
  • It still requires a pure caster to engage in melee
  • The Mystic has to develop a new Directed Spells specialization that is tied to a specific weapon
  • This class has a very specific niche. Once the PPs are gone, the attack form is useless, whereas semis and Arms users still have their physical attack to fall back on.
However, I've built in some obvious unbalancing elements there that need smoothing. Perhaps dropping Spell Strike is a start. What else can be done?

@markc - Your point about another assassin profession is actually something I'm struggling with right now. Personally, I see this as too close to the Nightblade/Magent class and think there's too much overlap. My goal is to try to bring all the professions from RM2 into RMU but I'm running into some creative obstacles. Part of the reason is that the Mystic is such a hodgepodge class. I think giving it this focus is workable, but I'm not sure if it invades on other professions.

@Hurin - I like the idea of Alteration and am struggling with my original concept of "Dark/Subtle Elements" becoming o too much like a Swiss Army knife list. Maybe some sort of psionic element could be used here, mixing Essence and the mind? But again, does that steal the Mentalist's thunder?
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Offline jdale

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2021, 10:03:21 PM »
Is the concern about hodgepodge that it makes the mystic overpowered, or just unthemed? They have a big bag of useful tricks, I certainly don't see it as disadvantageous. The first real limitation I see is that their attacks are largely 1 target (other than Vacuum with its small 5'R), but there's a ton of battlefield control spells which will work well if they are with a party facing multiple foes. And secondly that Mystical Change actually requires them to do things themself instead of playing a safer support role, but that's one list out the ten or so they will likely have.
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Offline Eladan

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2021, 07:46:20 AM »
@Jdale - The hodgepodge concern is really tied to the three Alterations lists basically not feeling centrally themed to the Mystic's other lists which focus on misdirection and, frankly, spy work. My concern with combining the Alteration spells into one list is the "Warrior Mage" syndrome. However, a night of sleep has me thinking this going forward:
  • 1-3) Go with the three Changing lists - Theme: Stealth / Misdirection
  • 4) Mystic Blade - Not intended for brawling, and some downward tweaks in power becomes more balanced. Theme: Stealthy Attacks
  • 5) Elemental Alterations - I am going to blend the three lists but keep the offensive spells to a minimum and situational. I do like the notion of fog, clouds, darkness, and even the elemental attacks coming from sources in the area (great concept from the Beta). I agree that causing battlefield chaos should be the primary role of a mystic in a traditional battle.
  • 6) Escaping Movements - Again, concerns here about overlap with the Nightblade/Magent, but first things first...
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Offline Hurin

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2021, 09:27:32 AM »
@Hurin - I like the idea of Alteration and am struggling with my original concept of "Dark/Subtle Elements" becoming o too much like a Swiss Army knife list. Maybe some sort of psionic element could be used here, mixing Essence and the mind? But again, does that steal the Mentalist's thunder?

I don't think spells will steal the Mentalist's thunder if they have an Essence element. Say for example a spell for the Mystic that caused the target to burst into flame or suddenly get ice cold. There you've got the mental element (pyrokinesis being one of the classic mental powers) but also an Essence/elemental element.

Also, if you dropped spell strike, then you could have a spell like the one I suggested, where the Mystic can use his/her mind to shape the residual Essence/elemental energy into a weapon temporarily in order to parry or fight in melee, or gather it into his/her Mystic weapon. Just a thought though.
'Last of all, Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed'. --J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline markc

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Re: Revised Profession: Mystic
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2021, 05:10:49 PM »
In general:
1) In most games the ability to use Dir Spell-Weap is a very powerful ability as it gives pure and hybrid casters weapon skills at a very cheep cost.
a) If it fits the power level in your game ... then it works.
b) But if it gives an advantage, ie a profession that uses Dir Spell-Weap early in the leveling of the PC then it can become a huge advantage later in the game.

You said you are trying to add all of the RM2 professions to RMU, in general... professions from the RoCo's were made by fans and some not even testing in play. So you may not want or need to add all of them and you may not be able to balance all of them vs each other.
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