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Yitzi
2011-06-10, 01:01 PM
Everyone knows that prepared casters are overpowered even compared to spontaneous casters.
The reason for this, essentially, is divination spells. Without knowing what you're up against, a wizard doesn't really have much more versatility than a sorcerer (in some ways, he has less because if he wants to be able to cast a spell twice he has to use two slots for it). In order to abuse a 5-page long spell list, he needs to know what he's up against, and that means divination abuse. So the first step in fixing casters is to fix divination.
In general, the less things are changed from the original rules the less likely it is to get in the way of legitimate uses, so here's my attempt at a minimalist approach to fixing divination. The changed parts are in bold, to make it easier to see.
This assumes Core spells only; I don't have the books for the rest. It looks to me like really only 3 core divination spells need fixing:

Contact Other Plane:

Divination
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Components: V
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: Concentration

You send your mind to another plane of existence (an Elemental Plane or some plane farther removed) in order to receive advice and information from powers there. (See the accompanying table for possible consequences and results of the attempt.) The powers reply in a language you understand, but they resent such contact and give only brief answers to your questions. (All questions are answered with “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “never,” “irrelevant,” or some other similar one-word answer.)

You must concentrate on maintaining the spell (a standard action) in order to ask questions at the rate of one per round. A question is answered by the power during the same round. For every two caster levels, you may ask one question.

Contact with minds far removed from your home plane increases the probability that you will incur a decrease to Intelligence and Charisma, but the chance of the power knowing the answer, as well as the probability of the entity answering correctly, are likewise increased by moving to distant planes.

Once the Outer Planes are reached, the power of the deity contacted determines the effects. (Random results obtained from the table are subject to the personalities of individual deities.)

On rare occasions, this divination may be blocked by an act of certain deities or forces.

For questions of normal difficulty, d% is rolled for the result shown on the table:
{the table can be found in the SRD}
For particularly difficult questions or particularly easy questions, a penalty or bonus may apply to the roll, but this penalty or bonus can only change the result between "True Answer" and "Don't Know" and between "Lie" and "Random Answer."

Legend Lore:

Divination
Level: Brd 4, Knowledge 7, Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V, S, M, F
Casting Time: See text
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: See text

Legend lore brings to your mind legends about an important person, place, or thing. If the person or thing is at hand, or if you are in the place in question, the casting time is only 1d4×10 minutes. If you have only detailed information on the person, place, or thing, the casting time is 1d10 days, and the resulting lore is less complete and specific (though it often provides enough information to help you find the person, place, or thing, thus allowing a better legend lore result next time). If you know only rumors, the casting time is 2d6 weeks, and the resulting lore is vague and incomplete (though it often directs you to more detailed information, thus allowing a better legend lore result next time).

During the casting, you cannot engage in other than routine activities: eating, sleeping, and so forth. When completed, the divination brings legends (if any) about the person, place, or things to your mind. These may be legends that are still current, legends that have been forgotten, or even information that has never been generally known, so long as it was once known by a substantial group of people. If the person, place, or thing is not of legendary importance, you gain no information. As a rule of thumb, characters who are 11th level and higher are “legendary,” as are the sorts of creatures they contend with, the major magic items they wield, and the places where they perform their key deeds.
Material Component

Incense worth at least 250 gp.
Focus

Four strips of ivory (worth 50 gp each) formed into a rectangle.


Divination:

Divination
Level: Clr 4, Knowledge 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: Instantaneous

Similar to augury but more powerful, a divination spell can provide you with a useful piece of advice in reply to a question concerning a specific goal, event, or activity that is to occur within one week. The advice can be as simple as a short phrase, or it might take the form of a cryptic rhyme or omen. More general questions will tend to provide more cryptic answers. If your party doesn’t act on the information, the conditions may change so that the information is no longer useful. The base chance for a correct divination is 70% + 1% per caster level, to a maximum of 90%. If the dice roll fails, you know the spell failed, unless specific magic yielding false information is at work.

As with augury, multiple divinations about the same topic by the same caster use the same dice result as the first divination spell and yield the same answer each time.
Material Component

Incense and a sacrificial offering appropriate to your religion, together worth at least 25 gp.


Explanation of the changes:

As written, COP allows for complex questions that can give large amounts of information with a single word (such as "what spell should I prepare today"). By restricting the answer to vague answers similar to "yes" or "no", getting complex information becomes nearly impossible.
Furthermore, even otherplanar beings are nowhere near omniscient; adding a modifier for difficult (and easy) questions reflects this and keeps COP from being a substitute for actual investigation.

Legend Lore, as written, should (with sufficient castings) allow people to find that long-lost artifact that the campaign is centered around, which creates a bit of a plot hole as to why it was lost. With the new version, it's far easier to justify such things.

Divination already allows for a counter to abuse (just make the answer impossibly cryptic); the addition indicates that this is normal when general questions are asked.


Thoughts?

DracoDei
2011-06-10, 01:33 PM
You may have left a small loop hole in Legend Lore. Facts can change, even when the subject of them doesn't.

Let us say that there is a 3 foot diameter sphere of solid gold which is a major artifact that allows the owner to cause clear, sunny and warm conditions at any point with LOS to it, plus at will 100 foot diameter Sunrays that deal 30d6 damage with a range of 20 miles.

So far, so good.

This artifact was placed at the top of a 1000 foot tall magical tower forming the central keep of the capital of a kingdom, allowing what was once swampland (note I said the tower was MAGICAL) to become arable farmland and crispy-frying any army stupid enough to get within sight. The existence and location of the artifact were not only public knowledge, but the cities claim to fame for several centuries.

The roots for problems are laid...

Later the artifact was stolen by a single epic level wizard/thief in the wake of an Evil king rising to power and the city being razed by a team-up of a radiant dragon and a wing dragon.

So by your RAW, the question "Where is the Orb of the Radiant Sun-King?" is a perfectly acceptable point to expect to be covered in the knowledge gained when casting Legend Lore if the caster already knows a lot about the orb's history and powers, since at one point that was only a DC 20 Knowledge (Geography) check for anyone on the same continent, and was a DC 3 Knowledge(Local) check for anyone living in that city.

Don't know if this violates reasonable interpretations, or even your RAI, but it seemed worth mentioning.

Yitzi
2011-06-10, 02:52 PM
In your case, the past location of the Orb would be legends and valid for the spell, but the current location would not, since it has never been known by enough individuals to be a "legend". (Now, if it had once been known where the epic wizard/thief had taken it, and was since forgotten, that'd be a different matter). Which is really how it should be, for game-balance and story purposes.
Note that it is the fact that is the legend, not the object.

137ben
2011-06-10, 03:53 PM
I like the minimalist approach given. However, you might want to elaborate a bit more on the changes to COP, which you have written in a rather vague way. Perhaps you could give a sample of how hard a "normal" question is.

Yitzi
2011-06-10, 04:02 PM
I like the minimalist approach given. However, you might want to elaborate a bit more on the changes to COP, which you have written in a rather vague way. Perhaps you could give a sample of how hard a "normal" question is.

A normal question might be "Is the wizard in the ruins", assuming said wizard isn't trying all that hard to hide. Something that beings that take an interest in the Material Plane would be reasonably likely to know.
An easy question might be something that could be known with a level-appropriate Knowledge check.
A hard question might be something about the future, or information about someone who's doing a very good job of keeping it secret.

It is meant to be somewhat vague, as it's very situation-dependent and therefore necessarily up to the DM's judgment.

Godskook
2011-06-10, 11:08 PM
Everyone knows that prepared casters are overpowered even compared to spontaneous casters.
The reason for this, essentially, is divination spells. Without knowing what you're up against, a wizard doesn't really have much more versatility than a sorcerer (in some ways, he has less because if he wants to be able to cast a spell twice he has to use two slots for it). In order to abuse a 5-page long spell list, he needs to know what he's up against, and that means divination abuse. So the first step in fixing casters is to fix divination.

I didn't read your adjustments, but here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3y3QoFnqZc) what I think about your premise.

Basically, the primary reason boils down to the fact that wizards, druids, clerics and archivists have *FULL* access to their lists, while sorcerers and favored souls don't. Yes, this mattters, and no, divination isn't why. Any form of information gathering will aid in making prepared casters more powerful, and the only way to really nerf this is to remove tactical prep-work from your D&D altogether, which involves removing the Gather Information and Knowledge skills.

Secondary reasons are more class specific, but for wizards, its that specialists get as many spell slots and more spells known than a sorcerer when comparing casters of equal level on only their highest level of spells, or the wizard simply has a higher spell level altogether. Clerics get domains while FSs get late class features that replicate things a cleric could've done already if he wanted to. Archivists are just plain abusable with their ability to poach even form just the cleric/druid lists(some spells aren't meant to be available from the same caster, like Barkskin+Shield of Faith). Spirit Shamans are actually probably really close to tier 1, but I'm not sure how potent the druid spell list is without things like wildshape and "counting as a druid", so I'm not sure.

Yitzi
2011-06-11, 09:26 PM
Basically, the primary reason boils down to the fact that wizards, druids, clerics and archivists have *FULL* access to their lists, while sorcerers and favored souls don't. Yes, this mattters, and no, divination isn't why. Any form of information gathering will aid in making prepared casters more powerful, and the only way to really nerf this is to remove tactical prep-work from your D&D altogether, which involves removing the Gather Information and Knowledge skills.

Any form of information gathering will help somewhat, but Gather Info and Knowledge will generally give only limited information, at best, regarding what's coming up a day in advance (which is the level of foreknowledge needed to get a major advantage from spell preparation), so how will that make prepared casters so incredibly powerful? They'll still have to focus on the reliables, with at most a focus on the most common types of enemy.


Secondary reasons are more class specific, but for wizards, its that specialists get as many spell slots and more spells known than a sorcerer when comparing casters of equal level on only their highest level of spells, or the wizard simply has a higher spell level altogether.

Not quite as many, but close...the sorcerer really could use a boost as compared to a wizard, but that's a separate issue.

Godskook
2011-06-11, 11:43 PM
Any form of information gathering will help somewhat, but Gather Info and Knowledge will generally give only limited information, at best, regarding what's coming up a day in advance (which is the level of foreknowledge needed to get a major advantage from spell preparation), so how will that make prepared casters so incredibly powerful? They'll still have to focus on the reliables, with at most a focus on the most common types of enemy.

1.At the level divinations become an issue, 'running away' starts becoming feasible too.

2.Most of the truly serious fights have tons of forewarning to them. If you're going to slay a dragon, you're going to prepare ray of x(the dex one), and no amount of divination was needed, nor was it ever a great pick for the party sorcerer(although he might've picked it with plans to change it later).

3.You're also ignoring the fact that most spells are game-changers almost regardless of what you're fighting. Benign Transposition, Dimension Step, Polymorph, Cloudkill, etc, etc. Most spells are great in 75%+ situations, and you just gotta make sure that you're not casting glitterdust on [mind-affecting] immune critters, and you're fine.

4.And then there's the "not my two highest spell levels" issue that is another area prepared casters just shine in by default without ever worrying about trying compared to spontaneous casters.

5.And then there's nova potential. A sorcerer can only drop 1-2 spells of his highest level before he has to resort to lower-level spells or redundancy. A wizard can drop a minimum of 2-4, and a maximum equal to his spell slots, which for specialists is the same as the sorcerer's at even levels before 18.


Not quite as many, but close...the sorcerer really could use a boost as compared to a wizard, but that's a separate issue.

Your premise is that divination needs fixing because it is how prepared casters are winning compared to spontaneous casters. However, I only know of 3 spontaneous casters. Of which:
-Favored Soul's primary issue is class feature based
-Spirit Shaman's primary issue is probably class feature based
and then there's the sorcerer. Since sorcerer is the the biggest spell based issue, I'd say that he's 90% of the issue you're seeing. And most of his problem is that wizards actually get better casting from a mechanical perspective, rather than anything to do with divination spells.

-------------

To sum up, if your original problem was divination regardless of caster, than change your premise to match, cause your premise is flawed. If you started this because you really thought divination was the Problem(tm), then you're not going to fix the issue, cause that isn't it.

Yitzi
2011-06-12, 05:15 AM
1.At the level divinations become an issue, 'running away' starts becoming feasible too.

True, but that won't really help if the baddies are between them and where they want to get, or it's a defensive mission. In the former case, they could go and run away as a form of scouting...but doing that for every fight means a very slow progress rate which has its own problems anyway.


2.Most of the truly serious fights have tons of forewarning to them. If you're going to slay a dragon, you're going to prepare ray of x(the dex one), and no amount of divination was needed, nor was it ever a great pick for the party sorcerer(although he might've picked it with plans to change it later).

That spell is broken anyway. And the sorcerer has enough spells known that he should be able to pick up a ray spell once every few spell levels anyway (since it is one of the 4 main attack types.)

Also, if you are going non-core and the dragon has scintillating scales (which would not have easy forewarning), suddenly it's the wizard who's wasted a spell slot (or more than one if he prepared more than one), while the sorcerer has other spells he can cast with the same slot.


3.You're also ignoring the fact that most spells are game-changers almost regardless of what you're fighting.

I'm not ignoring that; that's a separate issue which I plan to address in other posts.


4.And then there's the "not my two highest spell levels" issue that is another area prepared casters just shine in by default without ever worrying about trying compared to spontaneous casters.

The sorcerer can always take the occasional good-at-higher-levels-too spell, either at start (generally for the last one, which he gets when it's no longer his highest anyway) or switching for it. Sorcerer classics tend to be somewhat of that sort anyway (the save-for-partial ones more than the save-for-negate ones).
Dispel is also a great one for sorcerers.


5.And then there's nova potential. A sorcerer can only drop 1-2 spells of his highest level before he has to resort to lower-level spells or redundancy.

Or nonredundant spells like blasting or dispel. Or retry that spell that the monster saved (they do that, you know. :smallsmile:)
It's true that you can't play a sorcerer like a wizard...but on the flip side, you can't play a wizard like a sorcerer (dispelling, blasting to take out large groups even faster than a fighter with great cleave, and spamming save-or-dies until one sticks).


which for specialists is the same as the sorcerer's at even levels before 18.

It's the same for the top level, but one less for most levels.


Since sorcerer is the the biggest spell based issue, I'd say that he's 90% of the issue you're seeing.

Indeed.


And most of his problem is that wizards actually get better casting from a mechanical perspective.

Only if wizard-type spells (utility and those subject to redundancy) are superior to sorcerer-type spells (those that can be used multiple times for minimal decrease in effect) or going nova is frequently a viable strategy. Both of which would be problems in their own right anyway. The former can be countered by high saves (so the first casting has a good chance of not doing it anyway), protection buffs (most save-or-lose effects are subject to such), dispelling (to remove the rest), and maybe some Spell Immunity (for the few that fall between the cracks). The sorcerer, of course, doesn't care about such things, as even if everything else fails he'll just keep demolishing the minion armies with fireballs and summoning his own minions (he won't take every level of summoning, but probably will have a few). He can also get spells from any school, which helps.

The sorcerer could use a bit of a boost, but that's another topic...and wizards' noted power is still due in large part to the fact that they don't have to be prepared for anything.

Gamer Girl
2011-06-13, 12:45 PM
Your divination changes are Ok, but don't seem to do much.

I'd like a couple examples of 'divination abuse, if you could, so I can understand what your talking about.

What 'questions' are being asked that are so much of a problem? Are some DM's giving out too much information?

Yitzi
2011-06-13, 07:05 PM
The way I understand it (based on some questions asked on BrilliantGameologists) is that some powergamers ask questions like "what is the first word of the name of the spell that would be most useful for me to prepare today?" That is a one-word answer (and so under RAW can be given under COP) and will give the wizard a huge advantage as he'll always have the most appropriate spell prepared.

Basically, I'm trying to negate one of the key components of what's mentioned in this (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5601880&postcount=4) post.

Gamer Girl
2011-06-13, 09:15 PM
I think that what your talking about is just a play style choice by the DM. Some DM's just like to be the character's 'best buddy' and 'give' stuff away to make the game more fun for everyone.

A question like ''What is the best spell I should use today?" is so open ended as to be useless. What is the 'best' anyway? And who decides what is 'best'?

I guess there might be games like: ''To fight the lich in the next room what spell should I use?" and the Dm would answer ''disintegrate'' as he knows the lich is protected from all elemental attacks.

But that type of game does not need a fix for their version of divination(and it's not like they would use it).

Yitzi
2011-06-14, 01:26 AM
I think that what your talking about is just a play style choice by the DM.

Except that it's not the DM pushing it, but the powergamer "Batman wizard". The result is that it becomes less fun for everyone but the powergamer.


A question like ''What is the best spell I should use today?" is so open ended as to be useless.

Not really; there might be some ambiguity, but there are certain niche spells that are clearly best in certain circumstances.

SPoD
2011-06-14, 01:55 AM
The answer would be wish, every single day. That is the best spell they could prepare, ever; the deity being contacted doesn't give a crap about the XP cost to them.

Also, if a player bugs a deity enough with questions on what spells to prepare every single day, eventually the answer is going to be maximized self-immolation.

Yitzi
2011-06-15, 01:28 AM
The answer would be wish, every single day. That is the best spell they could prepare, ever; the deity being contacted doesn't give a crap about the XP cost to them.

Also, if a player bugs a deity enough with questions on what spells to prepare every single day, eventually the answer is going to be maximized self-immolation.

Problem is that as written, COP is determined purely by a table, with no adjustment for such things. Easier to block abuse ahead of time.

NichG
2011-06-15, 02:59 AM
I think the simplest fix is to say 'All divinations are answered by a particular set of very powerful beings. The caster may ask a specific one by name (discovered similar to truename research), otherwise the one that answers is random'. If you then have a list of personas, they'll all respond to a given question with their own idiosyncracies.

If someone asks 'What spell should I prepare today?', they're more likely to run into a blind-spot in the being's knowledge. Grammatox the Sun-eater knows about all the sources of power on the planet, and knows what will happen over the next 100 years, but he doesn't know your spell list or for that matter whether or not you're going to negotiate with the guy in the next room or immediately try to kill him.

Yitzi
2011-06-15, 09:03 AM
I think the simplest fix is to say 'All divinations are answered by a particular set of very powerful beings. The caster may ask a specific one by name (discovered similar to truename research), otherwise the one that answers is random'. If you then have a list of personas, they'll all respond to a given question with their own idiosyncracies.

If someone asks 'What spell should I prepare today?', they're more likely to run into a blind-spot in the being's knowledge. Grammatox the Sun-eater knows about all the sources of power on the planet, and knows what will happen over the next 100 years, but he doesn't know your spell list or for that matter whether or not you're going to negotiate with the guy in the next room or immediately try to kill him.

That definitely could work (for COP; for Divination it presumably comes from your own deity); that really requires a lot more work on the DM's part and is a far larger change than my idea, though (and I'm trying to minimize the changes.)

Roderick_BR
2011-06-16, 03:09 PM
Do people even use divination?

Most of the broken builds doesn't abuse divination, they just have a little bit to deal with everything, no matter the surprise. It's like this: if you have 4 different situations, a caster may have 4 spells, each one able to deal with 2 or 3 different situations, so he's always covered and always have a backup plan.

Most divinations used are ones that allow the caster to teleport/block/gain initiative at a momment's notice, not the ones to know in the morning what kind of monster he'll find after lunch.

Spells that find the secret location are an issue, but so it teleport, and any cheap effect that renders divination null and void (from undetectable alignment to invisibility to mind blank).

bloodtide
2011-06-16, 03:24 PM
Except that it's not the DM pushing it, but the powergamer "Batman wizard". The result is that it becomes less fun for everyone but the powergamer.

Not really; there might be some ambiguity, but there are certain niche spells that are clearly best in certain circumstances.

How does this Batman wizard work? How can a divination give you that much help?

Say the wizard is planing to enter a bad guys tower that day. So they ask what would be the best spell and get the answer of 'shield'. Not much help. Even if they ask 'what spell would best kill Lord Got?' they get the answer of 'polar ray'. Not exactly news.

So unless the DM is in on the cheating and powergaming, how do divinations give up too much information?

Yitzi
2011-06-17, 09:59 AM
Do people even use divination?

Most of the broken builds doesn't abuse divination, they just have a little bit to deal with everything, no matter the surprise.

And if there is no surprise, just a standard monster?


It's like this: if you have 4 different situations, a caster may have 4 spells, each one able to deal with 2 or 3 different situations, so he's always covered and always have a backup plan.

And then what would he do if a situation calling for spell A shows up twice?


How does this Batman wizard work? How can a divination give you that much help?

Say the wizard is planing to enter a bad guys tower that day. So they ask what would be the best spell and get the answer of 'shield'. Not much help. Even if they ask 'what spell would best kill Lord Got?' they get the answer of 'polar ray'. Not exactly news.

Those aren't really the sorts of things that the overpowered wizards focus on, though, so far as I can tell. The concern is more one of knowing that they need Wind Wall or Dimensional Anchor or some other less commonly used (but extremely powerful in its element) spell.

So unless I'm misunderstanding the whole idea being used here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=104002)...posts like the second one here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-163601.html), though, imply that I am not, at least for some types of Batman wizard (battlefield control types are less disruptive to the game balance).

bloodtide
2011-06-17, 11:03 AM
The posts mention use of divination, but don't say how it's done. Worse they give no examples.

So a wizard can contact and other plane and get say 10 questions...and they can get 10 one word answers. So if they asked ''what is the best spell to attack with'' you will just get ''fireball'' or whatever your highest level attack spell is or such. The information you get is vague.

Unless some DM's allow questions like ''what is the AC of the dragon?'' or ''How many HP's does Lord Doom have?''

Even the 20 questions does not give that much help:

Q-"Does Lord Doom have the spell fire immunity cast on him?''
A-"No''(true he does not have it cast and active right now, but he could have it ready to use or have a magic item)

Q-''Does Lord Doom cast stoneskin before every fight?''
A-"Maybe'' or ''sometimes'' (unless he casts it before every fight it will always be maybe or such)



The trick really is with the words. If the Dm is just nice and tells the player everything or if the DM role plays a 'being' that only wants to help 'a little'.

Take Q-"Does lord Doom's castle have a secret entrance?" The DM has to decide if the entrance is 'secret' or not. An easy DM would just say ''yes'', but others might think 'is the way secret just as the characters don't know about it?' or 'if 15 people know about it, is it really a secret' and answer ''No'' or at least ''Maybe''.

The idea that ten or so questions can allow a spellcaster to rule the world is silly.

Yitzi
2011-06-18, 09:51 PM
The idea that ten or so questions can allow a spellcaster to rule the world is silly.

And yet some optimizers seem to think it'll be a major help...better IMO just to close off the potential.