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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by Zdrak View Post
    Hmm, you make a good point. However, I see no reason why even the formal wizardry education should necessary teach how to be an adventuring wizard. Especially given the fact that adventuring wizards usually advance in levels by adventuring and not by taking classes in an academy.

    So, I stand by my opinion that yes, this efficient combo of feats might happen, but there is no reason to assume it should happen as a norm.
    It is rather unlikely that most wizards, even adventuring wizards, will achieve maximally optimal builds. On the other hand, it's not implausible that a fair number (the successful ones, generally) will have relatively optimized builds, and a few may have extremely improbable and precisely tuned builds simply by the laws of probability.

    Natural selection is pretty brutal on adventuring wizards, but they are not limited to mutations in order to evolve new ways of doing things, so they're likely to adapt and improve much faster.
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Natural selection ....
    Please read my previous post. I have edited it with musings on natural selection. It works both ways.
    Last edited by Zdrak; 2012-11-02 at 04:35 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by LordBlades View Post
    That's somewhat of a corner case.



    It doesn't limit you that much. There's at least 3 schools most wizards wouldn't have much problem giving up:

    Evocation: Even leaving 'blasting is suboptimal' aside (which isn't that hard to conclude in character), it doesn't take a genius to realize 90% of what evocation does is replicated by other schools.

    Necromancy: If raising undead and 'dark magic' carries the usual stigma, I'd expect a lot of wizards would stay completely away from it.

    Enchantment: Mind controlling people is nice, but until high level very glitchy and situational (the average adventuring wizard would realize non-immune enemies are a subset of total enemies, and humanoids which most low-level charm/compulsions affect are an even smaller subset). I really don't see the average wizard getting much mileage out of Enchantment unless he's not an adventuring wizard, but rather spending a lot of time in human(oid) communities.

    So, in short, generalists can easily give up Evocation, and specialists can easily give up the 3 mentioned above. Focused specialists are faced with a choice, but claiming that a majority of wizards are focused specialists is actually reinforcing the point of view that most people make optimized choices.
    Oh, I don't disagree that people try to make optimized choices. The factors that contribute to what they consider "Optimized" though, that's the thing.
    For instance, most Illusionists are going to take a 4 dip in Master Specialist. After that, Shadowcrafter is a very enticing option. It's like majoring in Illusion and then going for your masters in [Illusion][Shadow]. If you can also be a Shadowcraft Mage, you're going for a doctorate.

    But none of that is the same as say, an enchanter's optimal choices, which usually include a 1 level dip in Dread Witch, and doesn't often include ANY Master Specialist levels (M. Spec Enchantment is pretty lame unless you're taking the whole 10 levels).

    Abjurers go Master Specialist into Initiate of the Sevenfold, or they Gish it up. Share some training with the Illusionists, but not for very long. It's like they attend the same college, but go to a different university.

    Basically, even within "Combat Mage", there's a lot of different ways TO optimize, and they'll let you do very different things. That's why so many mages don't end up as an Incantatrix. In-world, there's only a few, select, wizarding academies, along with perhaps a more general association of Mage Guilds.

    Plus, there's different motivations. Some folks would want what is effectively a desk job, like Divination. Many rulers, important officials, and major cities would have uses for a Diviner, and it carries much less of a stigma than other schools of magic. Diviners would be quite a bit like Electricians, really, in that they're always going to be needed. Large cities, you're going to need a few of them to deal with all the work. The difference is there is MUCH less risk, and you can make the clientelle come to you, where you do all your work in an office.

    If you're a Conjurer, a Transmuter, or a Necromancer, the work is going to still be THERE, yes, but it's all high-level stuff. You aren't going to walk out the door of your college and be able to work in your field. Conjurers are going to need access to Teleport to see much coin, and Necromancers will need the ability to create and command undead.

    That whole time, you're ging to be distrusted and feared by the common man, and if you're adventuring for your coin, good luck making it to level 5.

    Then remember that there's competition. I mean, Bardic Knowledge and the like will only get you information on people higher than lv 10. So, as a Wizard, before anyone non-local will seek you out, you have to clear the low and mid game hurdle, which is where wizards are weakest.

    The weak are culled, and only when you've made a name for yourself will you start rolling in dough.
    Heck, there's more call for Bards than wizards, and being a Bard is more fun.
    Why be a Civic engineer when you could be a rockstar?

    So yeah. There's Optimized Choices, then there's Practical Opimization, Theoretical Optimization, etc.
    Heck, that's not even counting things in-universe like tuition, accessability of education, class gaps (Social, not character) and the like that may prohibit you from becomming a Wizard.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    The best way I have seen polymorph handled was that the DM had a list of "common" forms that wizards could easily learned because of study in becoming a wizard to begin with. The next way was for the wizard to add to his list creatures he personally encountered. The final way, for rare forms, the wizard had to do a high DC check looking for specific information i.e. "What is the fastest flying humanoid creature in this plane?" After a certain research time the wizard will roll his check and if he succeeded he will learn enough to be able to polymorph into a very low HD of that form. But with that knowledge he could scry on that type of creature to get more familiarity and increase the HD or learn other powers of the form. But the ultimate way to "unlock" all the abilities of the form is to face it in battle or study it in its presence at the required HD. So if he wanted to be able to polymorph into a 5 HD Smackdown terror he needed to find a specimen of at least that HD or higher.

    Very sensible and made perfect sense to me.

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by Zdrak View Post
    Additionally, the 'efficient' wizard who was taught that he should take Quicken Spell on level 1 and [some metamagic reducer] on level 3, is spending levels 1-5 of his career with two dead feats that do absolutely nothing for now. Meanwhile, he has to adventure, he has to fight level-appropriate enemies, he has to survive to level 6, before finally his 6th level feat ties up his build in a neat bundle. Meanwhile, he's at a clear disadvantage vs. the Wizard who took Toughness x2.
    And if the wizard survives to level 6, at which point he becomes more effective then the double toughness wizard by a huge margin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zdrak View Post
    You and Rejakor claimed it's a natural selection thing, and characters with inefficient builds 'get eaten by Umber Hulks'. I say natural selection works both ways. Unlike the engineer who can afford to spend all of year 1 studying math, and only later study the things he needs math for, the wizard has to go adventuring now. The one who took Toughness or even Dodge or Lightning Reflexes as his first level feat is much more likely to make it to level 2 than the one who took Quicken Spell.
    And the one who took Quicken Spell is a lot likelier to survive past level 6 than the one who took two Toughness feats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zdrak View Post
    This type of natural selection could, who knows, maybe even give a bad rap to Quicken Spell. Maybe everyone hears stories of low-level wizards who studied Quicken Spell and died horribly in their first expedition, while those who lifted weights in their spare time (Toughness) survived to tell their tales. In fact, typical adventuring parties may view the Quicken Spell level 1 wizard as a liability and refuse to employ him, instead proactively seeking level 1 wizards who took Toughness or Lighting Reflexes.
    Or maybe everyone hears stories of the Quicken Spell level 1 wizard who overcame the challenging low levels and gained the power to defeat his enemies before they could even blink, while those who lifted weights in their spare time were left behind. Adventuring parties would then seek out wizards with Quicken Spell instead of Toughness or Lighting Reflexes, knowing that the early difficulties would pay off.
    Last edited by Augmental; 2012-11-02 at 05:43 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by Zdrak View Post
    You and Rejakor claimed it's a natural selection thing, and characters with inefficient builds 'get eaten by Umber Hulks'. I say natural selection works both ways. Unlike the engineer who can afford to spend all of year 1 studying math, and only later study the things he needs math for, the wizard has to go adventuring now. The one who took Toughness or even Dodge or Lightning Reflexes as his first level feat is much more likely to make it to level 2 than the one who took Quicken Spell.

    This type of natural selection could, who knows, maybe even give a bad rap to Quicken Spell. Maybe everyone hears stories of low-level wizards who studied Quicken Spell and died horribly in their first expedition, while those who lifted weights in their spare time (Toughness) survived to tell their tales. In fact, typical adventuring parties may view the Quicken Spell level 1 wizard as a liability and refuse to employ him, instead proactively seeking level 1 wizards who took Toughness or Lighting Reflexes.
    This has been brought up before in this thread, and reasonably countered by noting that higher-level selection pressures are far more severe. (Also, taking the view that XP can only be gained by adventuring is, in my opinion, very short-sighted; NPCs have to have some way to gain levels, and a "pre-PC" could use the same general mechanism, despite it having no fleshed-out rules.)

    To that I'd add that the concept of a short-term dip in fitness as a necessary prelude to achieving higher long-term fitness than is otherwise possible is an important one in evolutionary theories; it's a difficult obstacle to get past with high selection pressure, blind natural selection, and random mutation, but by no means as difficult with directed changes and reasoning, not to mention the possibility of bypassing the dip by simply powerleveling through it.

    So yes, it's a problem to consider, and one that probably does reduce the number of highly-optimal wizards to some extent, but it's not insurmountable by any means.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost in books View Post
    The best way I have seen polymorph handled was that the DM had a list of "common" forms that wizards could easily learned because of study in becoming a wizard to begin with.
    [...]
    This actually ties in with the question of whether academies teach adventurer-useful spells and spell usages; it's not especially difficult to imagine a couple centuries of arcane research producing a remarkably effective list of common forms, and wizard colleges going to some lengths to secure specimens for the students to study. Certainly, some of the more niche usages won't show up in this, but the ones that are best for brute-force fighting, or everyday scouting, or the other common uses? Yeah, they'll be pretty thoroughly optimized.

    The only ways I can think of to avoid this involve DM fiat, if only to say "despite all appearances and the ability to enlist replacement PCs whenever one of you dies, adventurers are remarkably rare and never have formal job-specific training. Also, real wizards never fight."
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    The problem begins, and ends, with Zthrak's initial unchallenged suggestion that HIGH INT WIZARDS WITH ACCESS TO DIVINATION SPELLS would never be able to work out what produces the most powerful magic for them.

    How would they learn, Zthrak? Simple. BY MAKING A KN: ARCANA CHECK.

    Game, set, and match.

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    This has been brought up before in this thread, and reasonably countered by noting that higher-level selection pressures are far more severe.
    Now you're opening a whole new can of worms. I'd say that at low level, the selection pressures are far more severe because the margin of error is so small. For a typical level 1 wizard, the margin of error is exactly one random hit from a goblin arrow. Unless of course he took Toughness, in which case the margin of error is 2 random goblin arrows.

    So yes, it's a problem to consider, and one that probably does reduce the number of highly-optimal wizards to some extent, but it's not insurmountable by any means.
    It was never my claim that highly-optimal wizards don't exist, or there is an "insurmountable problem" in way of their existance.

    Only that in-character convergence on the One True Build does not happen naturally for all wizards. Not even most wizards.

  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by Zdrak View Post
    Now you're opening a whole new can of worms. I'd say that at low level, the selection pressures are far more severe because the margin of error is so small. For a typical level 1 wizard, the margin of error is exactly one random hit from a goblin arrow. Unless of course he took Toughness, in which case the margin of error is 2 random goblin arrows.
    Or he's a Conjurer specialist with Abrupt Jaunt, in which case it's 4+Int goblin arrows.

    Only that in-character convergence on the One True Build does not happen naturally for all wizards. Not even most wizards.
    Well, if it helps, I certainly don't believe there's a single One True Build to begin with; there will tend to be some highly-optimal builds (some of them dead), a number of moderately-optimal builds (many of them dead), and quite a lot of sub-optimal builds (most of them dead).

    Of course, factoring in resurrections complicates this, but tends to soften the selection pressures to some extent: as long as somebody retrieves you and spends a lot of cash, your learning is not wholly lost.
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    "Common sense" and "RAW" are not exactly on speaking terms
    Projects: Homebrew, Gentlemen's Agreement, DMPCs, Forbidden Knowledge safety, and Top Ten Worst. Also, Quotes and RACSD are good.

    Anyone knows blue is for sarcas'ing in "Take 10 SAN damage from Dark Orchid" Use of gray may indicate nitpicking Green is sincerity

  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Also, most wizards do not exist in a vacuum.

    A wizard who takes Toughness and Magic Missile at first level is much more likely to end up in a TPK than a wizard who takes Extend Spell and Colour Spray. Being able to shut down 15 goblins at once tends to mean even if you catch an arrow and go down, someone will stabilize you, because, y'know, THEY are still alive.

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    The problem being described here is what's known, in the world of optimisation, as the local maxima problem. (Note: I am talking about IRL optimisation, not [just] Char OP.)

    Basically Toughness may be an optimal choice for a Wizard at 1st level, but it is a dead end in that it precludes more optimal choices which only become relevant later. But these are of no value to a dead wizard, and a 1st level character is unlikely to be raised.

    1st level wizards who choose Magic Missile over, say, Colour Spray are a whole other story. These are not even trying to find the local maxima. MM is quite a useful 1st level spell to have available at middle levels, but not at 1st.
    π = 4
    Consider a 5' radius blast: this affects 4 squares which have a circumference of 40' Actually it's worse than that.


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  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    As far as I can tell, though, most DMs pull the punches a lot more at the mid and high levels - going solely by CR, if you have wasted feats on toughness and whatnot, you are much much less likely to survive against some of the more hardcore stuff in the MM1, much less the other MMs. Especially if the encounters are more than 'one big monster', or include enemies with class levels.

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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Quote Originally Posted by Rejakor View Post
    As far as I can tell, though, most DMs pull the punches a lot more at the mid and high levels - going solely by CR, if you have wasted feats on toughness and whatnot, you are much much less likely to survive against some of the more hardcore stuff in the MM1, much less the other MMs. Especially if the encounters are more than 'one big monster', or include enemies with class levels.
    I don't know about most DM's, I can only speak for myself.

    I have seen parties though where one character suddenly comes together, with lots of synergies arriving, and appear noticeably stronger than the others. They then frequently hit a plateau and the others catch up and even overtake them. These sweet spots are just local maxima which the build has achieved.
    π = 4
    Consider a 5' radius blast: this affects 4 squares which have a circumference of 40' Actually it's worse than that.


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  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Default Re: Regarding Wraithstrike

    Sheriff of Moddingham: Thread locked. After review, it can stay that way. There's altogether too much hostility here.
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2012-11-04 at 04:34 PM.
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