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Topics - Stratovarius

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General Discussion / I'm Alive
« on: July 26, 2018, 08:28:10 PM »
I'm alive, although I've not touched the PRC in ~9 years at this point. I do occasionally see what's going on with it, but little more. Got different projects to keep me busy now, and to be honest I'm a lot older. I was a sophomore in college when I founded the PrCC (as it was then called), and it's 15 years later. Things change.

But I'm sure I can still remember a few bits and pieces if people need help...

General Discussion / So... Material Components
« on: August 14, 2009, 10:54:13 AM »
It's been discussed a lot on and off around the PRC, I know. Well, after a long talk with fluffyamoeba and dsabrae last night, I'm happy to say there is actually a system for material components in the PRC. It's 2da based, and will ship in 3.3G. Right now, we're letting dsabrae's PW test the system and fill out the 2da and create the items, and then we'll turn it round and ship it out to everyone. It's very simple to tweak, just editing values in a 2da and no need to alter the scripting at all.

Surprisingly, coding it only took about an hour, although I had figured it would be a lot more difficult to create. Just had to have the right idea about how to do it, I guess.

Below is the comment above the switch.
Code: [Select]
/** Material Components
 * Set switch to 1 to activate this
 * This allows material components in NWN through the materialcomp.2da
 * Just put the SpellID and UTC resref in, MINUS the .utc on the end.
 * This also requires the names of the items, formatted like so ("" included): "Object Name"
 * Set switch to 2 to activate this
 * Deducts gold instead of requiring material components
 * Put the gold value in the Cost column
 * Set switch to 3 to activate both at the same time
 * WARNING: This will slow spellcasting down due to 2da reads and inventory loops

Other Games / Sword of the Stars and Demigod
« on: August 12, 2009, 02:04:16 PM »
Several of the PRC members (mostly myself and Tenjac) play these games fairly regularly, including MP. Are there others around here who do as well?

We've got a few new toys for you today, starting with a new 3.3G Release Candidate. This has a few more fixes in it, including one for the pesky two two-handed weapons issue. It also has all the debug text turned off, as it's the last release before we push 3.3G out the door, and we'd like a few places to give it a go before we do.

We've also released an updated PRC Merge Hak, which is current up to the 3.3G RC3 release that we've pushed out, and can be used with that version of the PRC.

Finally, we've updated the Downloads page to include all of the links to our content on the vault. We sort of forgot to do that before now, which is a bit silly, but they are all there for NWN1.

Enjoy the new content,

General Discussion / Builders Chat Feedback
« on: July 27, 2009, 04:41:54 PM »
So, I know we weren't able to get to every question, but what'd you guys think of the chat yesterday?

See the book.

Defensive Passive
[ulist=disc]Each of the 4 grants +5% Physical Resistance, +3% Mental Resistance[/ulist]
Offensive Strikes
[ulist=disc]High Damage Strike vs single target
AoE Damage Strike vs 3-5 targets.
High Damage Strike against Blight creatures.
High Damage AoE Strike against 3-5 targets[/ulist]
Defensive Strikes
[ulist=disc]Stun Foe
Knockdown Foe
AoE Stun/Knockdown
Mass Pushback - Knock all foes away[/ulist]
[ulist=disc]Bonus to Attack, Damage, Defense, Physical Resist when under 25% life
Bonus to Attack, Damage, Defense, Physical Resist when fighting with other Legionaires. Lesser bonuses when fighting with other dwarves.
Bonus to Attack, Damage, Defense, Physical Resist when under 50% life
Last Man Standing - Massive bonuses to everything.[/ulist]

Class and Feature Design / Demonologist (Wizard Specialization)
« on: July 22, 2009, 08:56:42 PM »
The demonologist is a wizard who has embedded within himself demons, letting them possess his form for short times in order to learn of their strengths, their weaknesses, how to use their abilities and how to combat them.

Demonic Anger (These are monster abilities from the toolset)
[ulist=disc]Aura of Fear - Demon Aura
Lift - Demon Lift
Scatter - Demon Scatter
Corruption Blast - Archdemon Corruption Blast[/ulist]
Demonic Strength (Demon area of effect buffs)
[ulist=disc]Aura of Weakness
Aura of Healing
Aura of Fire
Aura of Corruption[/ulist]
Demonic Defense (defensive passives. These would be tweaked to ensure the PC is balanced)
[ulist=disc]Shield of Hunger - Demon Properties
Armour of Sloth - Demon Resistance
Helm of Pride - Pride Demon Properties
Mask of Rage - Archdemon Properties[/ulist]
Might add more as the need calls for.

General Discussion / Stratovarius in Edmonton
« on: July 21, 2009, 10:57:03 PM »
This piece is going to be a more general overview of my Edmonton trip. With luck, I'll have another one on scripting for DA sometime before the end of the week.

I arrived at our hotel rather late that first night, courtesy of a one and a half hour delay in Heathrow due to drizzle. You'd think the English would have figured out how to deal with that, but apparently, not quite yet. Arrived, checked in, and rushed off to dinner, just in time to meet everyone else and catch a main meal. Not, perhaps, the most auspicious start to the trip, but exciting, nonetheless.

Next up was the first day playing around with the DA toolset, and we had a series of lectures on the subject, starting with, of course, a quest to kill a dangerous rat, and get an item from a chest it was guarding. Despite nearly dying to the rat several times with my mage, I managed to progress through the day, which was a module builder's introduction to the toolset, covering how to place monsters, build quests, create dialogue, build plots, and use the scene tool to create cutscenes. This particular tool may well be the best change to come in Dragon Age versus all of its predecessors, as it allows reusable cutscenes, quick building of basic VO, lip sync, gestures and movements for the actors within, and generally speeds the process of creating good looking moments within a module. It is also relatively simple to be come proficient with, at least as it relates to conversations. Actual cutscenes are a little harder to manage, but still not all that difficult.

That more or less ended the first day. The second day began with a tutorial on level building, which is more involved than NWN1 certainly, and possibly than NWN2, although I don't speak from a great deal of experience there. Not being entirely interested in the level editor discussion I followed along, but soon turned my mind and thoughts to scripting, playing around with the module load script to take a look at each of the base classes and some of the specializations. There are fifteen primary playable classes at the moment, three base classes, and four specialization classes for each of those bases. Each base class possesses between 48 and 68 abilities, while the specializations vary between 12 to 20. I'll not spoil them too much, other than to say that I was rather impressed with the array of choices, especially for the mage, and am looking forward to playing one. Especially one that goes into Blood Mage.

Just after lunch on that second day, Adriana came forward and told us all that we were being split into four teams, and that we would have a day and a half to build a ten minute module with one hundred words of dialogue, and at least some combat. At the same time as we were attempting to build the modules, there were still seminars and little side sessions going on, including a particularly popular one from David Gaider that took up most of the rest of the time that day.

The third and final day of the trip there began with more frantic coding, and continued that way for much of the day, as, within our group, we were attempting to use custom areas, and go through all of the necessary steps to getting them in the game, despite not actually realizing what some of those steps were. We also spent a good deal of time using and testing the new Bioware social site, which, while powerful, had a few quirks at that time. Not too surprising, given it had been finished the night that we arrived.

Sunjammer, myself, and Markus, after a few minutes of rather hurried discussion, decided that we would work on a Little Red Riding Hood module, only that the little scamp had scarpered off, and in her place the heroine, who was a young female elf mage, would have to deliver the food, drink, and flowers to grandma. It started with a cutscene to give the quest, then the gathering of the three necessary items. A trip through the scenery to show off Markus's areas followed, until we met 'grandma' . We had a nice little chat with 'grandma'. "But Grandmother!  What big ears you have" "The better to hear you with, my dear" "But Grandmother!  What big eyes you have" "The better to see you with, my dear" "But Grandmother!  What big teeth... Oh bugger this!" Combat was then begun with a rather scary and large werewolf. That was as far as we got during the time we had allotted, as all of us working on the module were pulled away by one demand or another. Thankfully, GameSpy published a few images from our module, and you can see them on this page.

Overall, I can say I had a wonderful time there, and the extra day that we had, three rather than the two of the prior trip, certainly helped make things even better, as we were able to have almost a whole day hands on with the toolset, talking to all of the developers who worked on and built Dragon Age over the last several years. I also met a rather interesting cast of characters among those who came new this time, including one of my PRC co-workers, Tenjac. It figures that we'd fly to another country to meet, rather than taking the much closer route using the car.

I'd like to extend another thank-you to Bioware for having us all there, and two thumbs up to Dragon Age and the toolset both. With luck, I'll get even more out of this than I did from Neverwinter.

This is the first in a short series about my trip to Bioware, and the various tools that they showed us there.

As one of the builders who went to Edmonton this past week to take a look at the Dragon Age toolset, I had a chance to play with and poke at the VFX editor on the last day of the event. The timing was a bit rushed, as we were all engaged in creating the modules that Bioware had tasked us with, but in between the last minute business, I was able to have a little seminar from the lead VFX artist for Dragon Age, and I came away just a little impressed with what they had to offer.

Making a decent looking VFX is very easy. I was able to make ones that I could have used in game and been happy with in about five minutes, perhaps less. Everything is controlled out of the object inspector palette, and you can pick a whole series of libraries and options. Here is where the difficulties come in: there are a ton of libraries, and they aren't always labeled in such a manner as to make things easy. The Dragon Age wiki will likely clear things up, once it appears.

This being a professional level toolset, unlike the NWN1 toolset, there are rather a large number of options you can tweak to control the creation of the GFX. Whether it bends towards a target, spins as it is born, accelerates away from the spawn location, changes colour from birth to death, and so on. If you can think of something to do with a VFX, it's probably possible in the VFX Editor.

I'm hardly a expert at the system, so, I'll leave the actual work of describing all of the features to someone else, but I can try and answer as many questions about the VFX Editor as come up, so on that score, fire away.

Linked from the bottom of the post is my example of a "Five Minute" VFX. It's animated, so that the individual puffs of flame swirl around, as does the entire structure, while at the same time being pulled slightly towards an emitter target. I, unfortunately, do not have an animated copy of the image. Fireball-ish VFX.

Class and Feature Design / Fade (Wizard Specialization)
« on: July 16, 2009, 01:41:31 PM »
The fade is a wizard who has embedded himself within the dreamworld, drawing it into himself to such a degree that he always walks the land with one foot stepped beyond the normal waking world into that strange world of spirits and flitting dreams, a place where things are far different than the living realm. Cold and strange, the fade often gives up the societal comforts for his experiences in the other realm, for adventuring there has left him unable to function amongst the living.

His power is focused around the spirit world, and drawing and creating creatures from there to serve him here in the living realm. Note that his summons are expected to start fairly weak, as he cannot truly bring them from the spirit world to here until he greatly expands his powers.

Dream's Reality
[ulist=disc]A Wavering Vision - Increases strength of summons by 20%.
A Shimmering Wall - Increases strength of summons by 40%
Hazy and Hale - Increases strength of summons by 60%
Reality Anchor - Increases strength of summons by 80%.[/ulist]

Number Unlimited
[ulist=disc]Minions and Followers - The fade summons two creatures of the chosen type. (These will scale based on strength of creature summoned)
Army of the Mind - The fade summons three creatures of the chosen type.
The Growing Horde - The fade summons four creatures of the chosen type.
The Ravening Tide - The fade summons five creatures of the chosen type.[/ulist]

Friends and Companions
[ulist=disc]The Pack Hunts - Summon a Spirit Hound
Death's Many Legs - Summon a Mind Spider
Whispering Shadows - Summon a Shade
Dream's Drake - Summon a Dragon Figment (Drake)[/ulist]

Vision Walker
[ulist=disc]Grasp of the Mind - Shunt a creature into the dream world for a moment of time.
Nonexistent Army - Toss three creatures into the dream realm.
Missing Minds - Force five creatures minds into the dream world, leaving their body intact.
Forgotten - Throw a creature into the Fade with such violence that it expires.[/ulist]

Class and Feature Design / Dragon Age Class Style
« on: July 16, 2009, 01:17:06 PM »
Here is a brief overview of what is needed to design a Dragon Age class. I'll add more as we find out more.

[ulist=circle]Abilities always come in packs of 4, with each being required in turn. Need 1 to get 2, and so on. Usually, they come in packs of 16 under a common heading, like Primal for elemental spells, but certain 4-sets that are generic to the base class don't fall under a grouped heading.[/ulist]

[ulist=circle]Origin Story (if you want to try and use it in the original campaign)
Allowed Races (Dwarves can't cast spells, for instance)
Abilities (These vary from about 48 to 68 for the three existing base classes). [/ulist]

[ulist=circle]Entry Requirements (Not entirely certain on these yet)
Stat Boosts (Each specialization grants two bonuses to certain statistics)
Abilities (These vary from 12 to 20)[/ulist]

General Discussion / Dragon Age Builder Chat Questions
« on: July 15, 2009, 12:15:06 PM »
This thread is for any questions  people would like to see answered during the DA Builder's chat, so it's not just me, but everyone who attends who gets a stab at it.

General Discussion / Dragon Age Builder Chat Attendee List
« on: July 15, 2009, 12:11:40 PM »
The complete group of Bioware and Builders who are coming to speak at our IRC Chat on July 26th. I will update this as the days go on and I get more confirmed responses.



Base Classes / Warlock - My Thoughts
« on: June 17, 2009, 11:14:21 AM »
PRC 3.2 saw the debut of the invocation-using warlock.

As I have greatly enjoyed the warlock class as presented in NWN2, I was definitely looking forward to trying out the PRC's version of the class. To that end, I pulled out an old series of modules by Q: The Mines of Twin Summit (MTS) series. I used a character building mod to bring a fresh warlock up to 17th level (the recommended level for single players in MTS1), and just like that, I was on my way.

Overall, the NWN warlock is a joy to play. Chief among my reasons for enjoying the warlock is his access to invocations; while he does admittedly have fewer such powers available to him, compared to his other arcane (wizard, sorcerer, bard) and divine (cleric, druid) brothers, he does enjoy unlimited casting with the powers he does have at his disposal. As I've already noted in my invocations thread, this results in his needing far fewer resting periods compared to other spellcasters. That can be a huge advantage in certain modules (including the MTS series, which features a rather expensive bedroll and rations system).

As I've already mused over my experiences with the invocations in the above referenced thread, I won't repeat my invocation choices here. I will say that between my various choices of eldritch blast shapes, eldritch essences, and regular invocations, I rarely encountered a situation in MTS that couldn't be handled by my various invocations and/or eldritch blast. Yet I did run into more than one encounter for which my choices of invocations alone were not the best solution (e. g., many foes had a high AC which made it difficult to hit them- even as a touch attack- with eldritch blasts, spears or chains, and with Improved or regular Evasion would often avoid damage from eldritch lines or doom). At times like this, I found it was advisable- or, in somes cases, even mandatory- to take advantage of the warlock's more martial abilities.

I have always preferred beefing up my arcane characters (I primarily play wizards) with at least one level of a more martial class (typically fighter or ranger, though I'll try paladin as well- I went through SoU and HotU with a ranger/paladin/wizard). While this has always worked for me (granting him extra HP, access to all armor, simple and martial weapons and shields), I'll concede that doing so can curb the power of the wizard's spellcasting. (The warrior level doesn't really help the wizard's BAB that much, either.) By contrast, the warlock starts with higher hit dice (d6, to the wizard's d4), medium BAB, and access to simple weapons and light armor. Even better, the light armor worn by the warlock does not trigger arcane spell failure, so the warlock still has access to his invocations while wearing it. This makes gaining a level for my warlock in a martial class less necessary, in my mind (which is fortunate, as the warlock seems to work best taking only warlock levels); it also makes occasional hand-to-hand forays a plausible option for him. While it certainly wouldn't be the ideal solution in every combat, I like the fact that the warlock can fall back on his more martial talents from time to time- and do so effectively.

Levelling up is fairly painless for warlocks, as I noted in the invocation thread. The conversations for gaining invocations (via level or the Extra Invocation feats) worked flawlessly. One thing I did notice, though, was that at every fourth level, when a stat increase was granted, the default stat for the warlock was strength, rather than the preferred charisma. (I don't know if this can be changed for custom base classes; if it can, though, I'd love to see it updated in a future fix for PRC 3.3, if it hasn't been already.)

Distributing skills points as a warlock is likewise a refreshing change for me. I'm pretty much used to the Concentration/Lore/Spellcraft combination for wizards, with other possibilities only available as cross-class skills. As a warlock, while I was certain to keep these three skills max out, I also found myself exposed to more intriguing possibilities. Warlocks have two of the three social skills as class skills (Bluff and Intimidate), making them fairly effective at any social interactions a module might require. (With the beguiling influence invocation, he can even excel at the Persuade skill, assuming he spends a fair amount of skill points on Persuade and/or finds a magic item to boost that skill.) Unfortunately, the MTS series only uses one of the social skills in a couple of places, so the skill points I spent on the social skills were largely wasted. Warlocks do, however, also gain access to Use Magic Device. This granted me access to a fair number of class- and alignment-restricted items that otherwise would have been of no use to me (except as a source of cash). UMD also casts my warlock as an enchanter extraordinare, courtesy of the Imbue Item class feat. (At least, it should have. More on that a bit later...)

Choosing feats in my early levels has always been something of a headache for me, with or without the PRC installed. It always takes me a while to wade through all the various feats, to determine which ones would be most useful to my character. As such, I really appreciate the relative ease I experienced in choosing feats for my warlock. I had the typical quandary with the feats from my first and third levels. (I finally opted for Toughness- a feat I almost always choose for my characters at some point; Combat Casting- getting off my eldritch blasts and other invocations with enemies in my face was difficult enough without throwing in the -4 penalty to Concentration for not having this feat; and at third level, Weapon proficiency (scythe)- my favorite weapon, due to the potential for damage from criticals- though in retrospect I could have picked up something else, as I found I didn't use my scythes very often- and in any case, I found a way to get access to all exotic weapons later in the game.) Subsequent levels were much easier, as by then, I had access to a proper implementation of the Extra Invocation feat. (While NWN2 hackers have provided a version of the feat in which each possible invocation is tied to its own feat- myself included- I greatly enjoy seeing the PRC's version, which grants the new invocation after level-up, as it should be. Furthermore, it allows the various shape and essence invocations to be chosen here as well- something not possible in any of the NWN2 versions floating around, to the best of my knowledge.)

As warlocks are known as the ultimate enchanters- thanks to their Imbue Item ability- it was certainly tempting to sneak in some crafting feats during my non-epic levels to give the feat a try; as it happened, I proceeded with the feats noted above, delaying acquisition of crafting feats until my warlock reached epic levels. It's just as well that I handled things in this manner, as I discovered (to my great disappointment) that the Imbue Item feat did not appear to be working correctly. While its use did bring up a conversation to choose an arcane or divine spell, I would always receive a "UMD check failed" message, even though the actual check given in the conversation indicated differently. (I did get far enough to see that the Imbue Item system is tied to the sorcerer and favored soul spellbooks- an inspired idea, to be sure.) Fortunately, I see that the Imbue Item system has been fixed in PRC 3.3b.

In the meantime, I was able to simulate the Imbue Item feat as well as I could, using the PRC's impressive arbitrary crafting system. I ended up "majoring" in [Craft] Epic Wondrous Items- meaning the sky was the limit for such items [in particular, I ended up adding the various weapon group, armor and shield feats to a favorite bracer]- with a "minor" in Arms and Armor [used mainly to add reduced arcane spell failure and reduced weight to promising suits of armor]. While I would have preferred gaining access to such crafting via Imbue Item, arbitrary crafting proved a more than satisfactory venue for the expenditure of all the XP and gold one gains throughout the MTS series.

Meanwhile, my experience and interest in the warlock's pre-epic abilities are varied. Since I ensured that I would start MTS with a regeneration item (forged in the character building module I use to build characters and provide them with level-appropriate cash and loot), I never used fiendish resilience- though in a different module, I can see this getting a much greater workout. Similarly, I'm not aware of having used Deceive Item consciously (or unconsciously, for that matter). Probably the most interesting pre-epic ability for me was his resistance to two elements of his choosing. Admittedly, my resistances were pretty quickly eclipsed not too far into my MTS run (as I gained items providing complete immunity to certain energies); however, I believe I managed to get some use out of my chosen resistances early in MTS1 (my picks: fire and electricity), and I would consider them to be an invaluable ability in the right module. (Besides, they're part of the package...)

I found myself positively drooling, though, once my warlock hit epic levels; reaching 21st level potentially grants the warlock access to some of the best feats in the game for him. Even better, many of these feats have enforced invocation requirements, courtesy of the PRC's invocation system (which appears to be feat- rather than spell-based). I greatly appreciate the PnP authenticity of the feat requirements- something I have yet to see in any NWN2 hackpaks. By the same token, trying to organize your invocation picks to obtain as many of these invocation-required epic feats as possible can be more than a little maddening; it takes quite a bit of foresight (not the magical kind!) to ensure that you will be able to gain access to your favorite warlock epic feats when you want them.

I ended up taking four of the invocations-required feats, as well as Epic Extra Invocation several times and Epic Eldritch Blast once. Overall, I found that some of my epic feats were far more useful to me than some of my other choices. (In one case, I found my feat pick was actually far more powerful than intended.) Furthermore, I've found myself reflecting on all of the epic feats keyed just to the warlock, and which ones seem to have greater benefits for him compared to its requirements. Here, I'll explore both the epic feats I chose (noted in bold and italics) and the ones I didn't take (in italics only):

-Eldritch sculptor[/i]: In my mind, there is absolutely no reason for a warlock not to take this feat as soon as he can. Gaining a second eldritch blast every round is an absolute boon for him, as is the doubling of his range/AoE radius for his eldritch shapes. (I wouldn't have thought the +2 to ranged touch attacks would be that useful to him- but as I did run into some enemies who were impossible to hit even with that bonus, I'll take all the help I can get...) Signing up for this feat shouldn't be a burden, either, as the resulting shape invocations you receive allow you to tailor attacks to a variety of situations: hideous blow (combat face-to-face), eldricth spear (combat at a distance), eldritch chain (ranged combat against multiple easy targets), eldritch line/cone (handy for dealing with non-Reflex save crowds), eldritch doom (crowd control, up close and personal)- and the list goes on and on.
-Lord of all essences[/i]: Because I greatly enjoy the various eldritch essences I chose, qualifying for this feat posed no problem whatsoever for me. As with eldritch sculptor, it's one of the better feats available for the warlock. The ability to add two essences to each eldritch blast is invaluable. (Stunning fire blast? Blinding acid? Sickening cold? The possibilities are endless.) While certain ultra-powerful enemies would often resist the secondary effects of some of my blasts- or were completely immune to them- I can nevertheless appreciate the DC bonus applied to my blasts received when you take this feat. (Again, all the help I can get...)
[Sometimes, I must admit, I found that the lord of all essences feat, in combination with eldritch sculptor, appeared to behave in ways I wasn't expecting- and in some respects proved to be more powerful than intended. I discovered that when an energy essence, i. e., hellrime blast (cold) was paired with a non-energy essence (such as binding blast, which on its own does magical damage, as with the vanilla eldritch blast), all damage from from the blast was of the energy type only (in my example, cold). Based on the description of the feat, I was expecting half of the damage to be magical. Is this correct? Further, when vitriolic blast is used as the secondary essence for this feat and a different energy essence is placed first, damage is half of each energy type as normal; however, if the vitriolic blast is in the primary slot, the damage delivered is entirely acid-based. Finally, I found that when an eldritch chain delivered as part vitriolic blast and part non-energy blast (i. e., binding blast)- or with vitriolic blast as the primary essence paired with an energy blast (i. e., brimstone blast), if I have at least two targets, each target seems to be hit by far more than two eldritch blasts per attempt. I hope to look closely at all of these items- and the ones noted elsewhere in this post- once I have the chance to install PRC 3.3b...]
-Master of the elements[/i]: Probably the most useful of the epic feats not centered on the warlock's eldritch blast. I didn't find meeting the prerequisites to be especially painful; while I personally didn't use stony grasp very often, the other invocations required for this feat are quite useful, to varying degrees. The primary ability, though- to summon any one of four elemental champions- is an invaluable survival ability. (I didn't use this as much as I could have, since I was trying to maximize the XP my warlock gained; however, I did find myself using this in certain encounters where trying to muddle through on my own was not the best option.) I was less impressed with the dominate elemental ability; I tried using this several times against various opponent elementals (including summoned ones), but quit using it since none of my attempts were ever successful. Finally, I enjoyed the increased resistance to the five main elements (fire, cold, electricity, acid and sonic) provided by this feat. Again, this gain was largely outshined later in my MTS run (with various items that provide greater resistance- or even complete immunity), but I appreciated the fact that I wasn't completely defenseless with respect to energy.
-Shadowcaster[/i]: I found that while trying to qualify for three invocations-required feats isn't terribly difficult (thanks to the regular and epic Extra Invocation feats in concert with your own regular invocation picks), working on four or more such feats may really be pushing your limits (of sanity, if nothing else). As such, you really need to decide whether or not the benefits gained from a particular feat outweigh the invocation "gymnastics" you need to go through in obtaining it. While Shadowcaster[/i] isn't that bad in some respects- I came to appreciate having access to darkness and beshadowing blast, and I love dark discorporation[/i] now that I understand how it should work- I generally don't use enervating shadow, providing sufficent reason to reconsider going after this feat. Once I had taken the feat, I did enjoy having access to unlimited, 24-hour displacement (this being one of the few effects not readily available on an item in MTS). However, I found that if you already have retributive invisibility, you really don't have much use for the shadowcaster's displacement effect (since the end of the retributive invisibility effect also cancels the displacement effect as well- NWN not being able to distinguish between the two sources of displacement.) Finally, I must admit that I'm not sure how useful the shades effect might have been to my warlock, since he can perform many of its effects equally- or better- with other powers (i. e., wall of perilous flame beats a shades wall of fire). He might have had some use for the shades stoneskin, though. [As it happens, I was never able to determine this, as the option for shades effects did not appear anywhere on my radial.]
-Morpheme savant: While I could have pursued this feat late in my warlock's career, I opted not to do so. The prerequisites are only part of the problem; as I said in my invocations thread, I think word of changing would be a total gas to try out, and I did like using beguiling influence in the few places where such boosts were useful in MTS- but based on the description, I doubt I would ever use baleful utterance. More to the point, I find myself less impressed with the feat's primary ability (unlimited castings of power word stun and power word kill). Both powers require a maximum current hit point total, and most enemies in MTS would need to be "near death" to be anywhere near that total; I'm not inclined to pursue a feat ability that requires that much guesswork (especially when one of my eldritch essences- binding blast- duplicates one of these abilities without the HP requirement). Admittedly, the boost you gain to your beguiling influence invocation (adding double your Cha modifier to Bluff, Intimidate and Persuade checks if not less than +6) might be useful, in the right module. (Again, though, such checks were rarely used in MTS.)
-Paragon visionary: I was nowhere close to qualifying for this feat during my MTS run- and, truth be told, I can't really see myself going out of my way to try obtaining it. First, it seems to me that once you get all four invocations required for this feat, you effective have true seeing, the feat's primary ability. (Doesn't see the unseen plus voidsense pretty bring you up to that level of sensing?) Second, while I can appreciate the usefulness of some of the required invocations (especially see the unseen- great for pinning down arcane types- and dark foresight, essential in dealing with all those sneak attacking rogue-types), I'm less enthused by devil's sight (whose effects would seem to be eclipsed by voidsense). Finally- and most importantly- true seeing was a common item effect throughout the MTS series (and, I suspect, in many other adventures as well), which really negates the need to pursue the ability via this feat. Paragon visionary does offer an increase to Listen, Spot and Sense Motive checks based on your warlock's Wisdom score; however, it would really take some massive stat pumping (or magic item bonuses) in order to get any real benefit from this boost- and warlocks normally prefer to boost charisma, rather than wisdom. (Note that few modules will actually use the Sense Motive skill.)
-Epic extra invocation
: Because having only three invocations of each grade is nowhere near enough for me, I greatly appreciate this feat. Even better, as long as your warlock has kept up his Spellcraft skill (and he should, since many of the epic feats require it), you can start picking up extra dark (or lower grade) invocations the minute you hit epic levels.
-Epic eldritch blast
: Definitely worth investing in at least once. My warlock took this once; this brought his eldritch blast damage dice up to 20d6 (the equivalent of many 9th level wizard's spells) upon reaching 40th level. While far less flashy than some of the other feats within his reach, epic eldritch blast is no less useful because of that. Indeed, I can see an epic warlock investing all of his epic feats here (perhaps stopping only for eldritch sculptor- for double the [damage] fun!- and possibly lord of all essences- double the essence fun). Doing so would turn his eldritch blast into a true force to be reckoned with. (Unless, of course, you run into an enemy resistant to all of the energy essences at your command. Which has happened to me. Good thing I had my god-killing katana on me, eh?)

The bottom line: A couple of things, actually. First, while I greatly enjoyed reliving the madness in the MTS series (even with the heartbreaking bugs I found in MTS3, which forced me to abandon some quests which weren't necessary- but would have made my life easier and, I suspect, the ending a bit more satisfying), I must admit that I think I missed part of the warlock experience by playing a module with such a high starting level. While I don't think I'll abandon the MTS series altogether (it's a wonderful place to test a character's mettle), I do think I'll try taking future characters through a lower-level campaign before subjecting him to this one.

As for warlocks: A total gas to play, even with some of the issues I faced. The warlock definitely joins the wizard, shifter (PnP or Bioware) and psion as one of my favorite NWN classes ever. I'm definitely looking forward to trying out a new warlock at some point in the future, to check out some of the features that have been fixed in PRC 3.3b- as well as some of the invocations I missed on my first time out. (Welcome to the club, guy, and pull up a devil's brew. Oh, sorry- that's probably a touchy subject, isn't it?)

Class and Feature Design / Ritual Magic
« on: June 14, 2009, 11:19:44 AM »
Below is a description of the three classes. These were originally written for DnD, but I am planning on adapting them to Dragon Age, especially with some tweaking. I'll have the books up once I find a decent hosting place.

The Martyr
An effectively exalted ritual class, that focuses on assisting others through sacrificing his own hitpoints. He can also power his abilities by sacrificing magical items. The class has whole chains of abilities designed to help multiple allies at the cost to himself.

The Ritual Warrior
Pure melee. The Ritual Warrior gets the effects of his rituals through two ways: the normal, length ritual performance, or by killing people in melee combat. He is built around penalty causing melee attacks as he frightens or wounds his foes.

The Ritualist
The original caster of the Ritual book, the Ritualist is most effective when pulling abilities and body types from the creatures he has sacrificed in his rituals. In some ways close to a shapeshifter because of what he does via stealing from the lifeblood, he also has the most powerful and most spectacular high end effects, with powers rivaling epic spells.

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