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Thread: The Astromancer

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    Default The Astromancer

    This is the feedback thread for The Astromancer ( http://blarmb.com/files/AstromancerFinishedRough.pdf ) an entry for the 2nd 5e base class contest. The current theme is "Light & Dark" with room for symbolic interpretation. I've chosen to go with "Day/Sun" & "Night/Moon" as my respective "Light" and "Dark" here.

    Criticism, commentary & review welcome. PEACH and all that. I am firm on using the Lunar/Solar energy mechanic, rather than putting this forward as a Day/Night themed conventional caster. Beyond that I'm not attached to anything in particular. This includes the name which I am really rather unhappy with.

    While mechanics are in place for all class features and I've done some basic sanity checks on them the Incantation list is woefully incomplete at this point, which is really the meat of what this class does. Generally speaking, they should be just a hair weaker than spells with the same level requirements. You can carry this assumption up all the way through the levels if you've got balance questions on a specific feature that interacts with them.

    I'm really looking to understand if there is anything super confusing or counter-intuitive in the system from a player/user standpoint. Even with the unconventional mechanics I'd like it to be pretty easy to give a quick read and then pilot at level 1.
    Last edited by Mr.Moron; 2015-12-26 at 05:59 AM.

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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    It seems like a solid start, if a bit unfinished which you acknowledge. The mechanics don't seem terribly confusing to me, and seems to lead to an interesting dichotomy where using offensive or direct abilities better enable you to use defensive or subtler abilities and vice versa. I like how the the level 1 abilities, Solar Lance (direct offense) and Lunar Shield (defense) act as an introduction to the general theme of the two types of abilities. Anything that helps explain new mechanics is good. My only real concern at this point is that some of the abilities are at least a little out of whack in terms of power. For instance, the ability to prevent a single target from speaking (not making noise mind you, just vocalising) isn't as generally useful as the Sleep spell. A bit of fine tuning might be needed for some of them.

    Also, regarding the name of the core ability, the only other thing I could think of that might fit is Caelumancy (or some other minor spelling change) for Sky Magic.
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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    Even though I can't help getting a feeling of the Astromancer being propably inspired by WoW Balance druid, it's not neccessarily a bad thing. What I keep wondering though, is that does the class really have practically unlimited pool of the Astral energy? Sure enough, it's got no spells. But is that balanced? I'm not sure. Though I suppose I'm the least qualified to say one way or another on that matter. It's just a feel. :)
    Last edited by Arkhios; 2015-12-18 at 10:48 AM.
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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    Quote Originally Posted by Arkhios View Post
    Even though I can't help getting a feeling of the Astromancer being propably inspired by WoW Balance druid, it's not neccessarily a bad thing. What I keep wondering though, is that does the class really have practically unlimited pool of the Astral energy? Sure enough, it's got no spells. But is that balanced? I'm not sure. Though I suppose I'm the least qualified to say one way or another on that matter. It's just a feel. :)
    Yes. The energy is effectively limitless. It never gets used it just shifts between two types. One important thing to note is that Incantations can only be used once per long rest in this way each Incantation is kind of like a spell slot. Imagine if a Sorcerer could cast every spell they know once per day and you'd get roughly what we got here. The "Incantations Known" progression roughly matches the acquisition of new spell slots.

    That is when you get to 5th level you learn 2 new incantations, the strongest of which at that point roughly match what a 3rd level spell does. These mirror the two new 3rd level spell slots a full caster picks up. This carries through with each time you gain a new incantation known you're getting the same number of "Top Level spell slots" as a full caster. Note that this actually means you get fewer low-level effects and that the sum "Incantations Known" (18) is lower than the total number of spell slots a full caster gets (22).

    This is where Retrograde comes in. Retrograde performs somewhat similarly to Arcane Recovery or conversion of spells into spell slots. It's effectively more incantations. However since it demands you use the same Incanation, it's demanding you use the same type of energy. This means you'll roughly be stuck to using Incantations about half the level of your current maximum and caps you out at 4 Energy Incantations (~5th level spells) at level 20. This means you could potentially cast 5 5th-level equivalent Incantations in a day, but you'd have to space them out since it takes converting your whole pool over 2 turns.


    From a balance standpoint, in general the behavior around Retrograde is how Solar/Lunar energy behaves as whole. It's a tempo limiter more so than a real "resource" in the sense of spell slots or on rest abilties. It forces you to switch between Lunar & Solar energies rather than acting as any real power cap.


    NOTE: I'm not particularly attached to Incantations universally being long rest spell level equivalents. At-will & short rest Incanations are probably viable. In fact just typing out this explanation has made me realize that should probably be the case. I can change the wording to "unless otherwise noted Incanations can't be used until you take a long rest" then call out the short rest/at-will ones as such in their entries since I see them as more being interesting side choices.

    Thanks for posing this, it really got my creative gears turning.


    EDIT (AGAIN): Even though I can't help getting a feeling of the Astromancer being propably inspired by WoW Balance druid, it's not neccessarily a bad thing.
    I can't say that's where my mind was. I can't say there was no chance I was unconsciously influenced in some capacity. I mostly played Paladins back in my WoW days though.
    Last edited by Mr.Moron; 2015-12-18 at 11:10 AM.

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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    This class has been updated. With the Incantation list is now fully fleshed out, though it is a relative rough draft. This means that while their are a full compliment Incantations available I haven't really looked at them much from an editing or balance perspective.

    Big Change: Instead of the retrograde system this now has feature called "Quick Recovery" whereby Incantations go from long rest to short rest resources as you level. So for a 1st level Astromancer they only recover 1st level Incantations on long rest. Starting at 5th level, they recover them on a short rest.

    Smaller Change: Incantations now have levels. This does nothing to them from a functional standpoint as level prerequisites were just lining up with spell levels anyway. So while it demands a bit more space on the table I guess, it really is strictly cosmetic/style change. Call a spade a spade I figure.

    It also makes the wording on the Quick Recovery mechanic easier and hopefully puts them in perspective with spells a bit easier. It also somewhat shortens the entries.
    Last edited by Mr.Moron; 2015-12-26 at 06:19 AM.

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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    Everything up to the incantations looks pretty good overall. I'd make a bunch of minor tweaks, but the basic concept is quite solid and it's generally well-designed. It does require a lot of bookkeeping, and so some of my suggestions are attempts to simplify that. It's a lot to absorb in one sitting, though--to understand how the class features interact with everything you also need some knowledge of the incantations. Regardless, kudos for attempting to do something new and unique.

    Having said that, the incantations are out of whack at higher levels. I made comments on a bunch before concluding, though.

    I wonder if Intelligence-based fluff might have worked--in this case, it's an obscure type of spellcasting kept alive by a handful of sects. Wisdom is fine, though.

    For the general features:

    • I would reduce the damage dice size on Solar Lance to a d8, given that it's radiant damage.
    • I think for Lunar Shield I'd reword it a bit to be more like the Abjuration school Arcane Ward. Essentially, I wouldn't call them temporary hit points, because although you make it clear how they function, temporary hit points are already defined in game terms and I don't like the idea of redefining game concepts for one specific class. While this would make it a bit more powerful (because it could now stack with temporary hit points, though you can make it where the ward's HP is lost first), I think this would be a better approach.
    • Celestial Aura is a nice and useful feature, but it seems odd that you get it so early and it only improves quite late. Might there be a way to smooth out the progression somehow? Maybe move it to 7th, put Equinox at 3rd, and push Solstice back? Equinox would be fine to give early.
    • Relatedly, Solstice seems pretty strong, enough that I think I'd push it back, even though I know it's capped by the low Celestial Energy pool. Perhaps making it another Wisdom modifier uses per long rest would be best, though it adds to the things you have to track.
    • Also connected, but could the Celestial Energy pool scale up to 10 points? It would make it simpler / easier to remember (you can have it at 1/2 your level). Still prevents "Quickening" anything higher than 5th-level incantations with Solstice, too.
    • Quick Recovery might come a bit too early as well--it's 1st-level incantations when you gain 3rd-level ones. Perhaps make it usable only once per long rest to make it more like Arcane Recovery.



    For the Path features:

    • I don't think it lends itself well to additional Path options, which is to me a design concern but isn't necessarily relevant.
    • Rising Moon / Sun are a nice way to manage the points.
    • Dusk Shield seems pretty strong if I understand how it works correctly. I do think it needs a bit of clarification--is there a range limit? If you don't do anything else, you should make this also cost a bonus action so that nothing else can be done that round other than movement. This might also work better as a later feature.
    • Focused Lance, on the other hand, doesn't seem all that good (make it Wisdom modifier number of times per long rest, maybe?). Also needs mechanical clarification--the damage is doubled after rolling? Might it be better to just make it auto-crit if it hits?
    • Relatedly, why are Focused Shield / Moon's Grace at different levels than their sun-based counterparts?
    • The 14th-level Dawn ability is missing, which may account for some of the strangeness here. Actually, I guess there's supposed to be something similar to Dusk Shield missing for Dawn.
    • Are Eternal Dusk and Eternal Dawn correct? I would think the incantations recovered would be different.


    For the incantations:

    • I generally like these. I didn't see the pre-simplified version, but this looks clean.
    • Does Deflection Shield cost an action to use? I assume it does, and then it requires a reaction. Does the field move with you? If people move out of it after you activate can they still use it (I assume not)? Just some clarity needed.
    • Radiant Dash should probably require a reaction. Given that it says nothing about not provoking AoOs, I assume that this movement still does? That makes it more limited, but 120 feet is a lot of space.
    • Guiding Light is just kind of fun. But does it require an attack roll? I assume not, which means it can't critically hit, but I think that's fine. It should *probably* have some kind of time limit so you can't just pre-buff people with it.
    • When does Moonveil end? Shouldn't it be ended by the creature attacking / being aggressive? You also kept the "as an action" language in it, and there's an unnecessary "has" in the description. (I didn't make all of the proofreading comments; there were a few other things that needed correction.)
    • White Glint should cost a reaction and probably grant just one single attack. "Reflective material" is an odd condition to impose and just makes it more complicated.
    • Maybe make Flash just affect the creatures within the light increased.
    • Midnight Foretelling needs a bit of explanation. "Number of threats" = "individual creatures"? General nature is type, or does it include subtype, or what?
    • Mote is 2nd-level but only costs 1 energy? Also seems a little long for what it does and probably needs instructions on how it's suppressed / countered.
    • Maybe Magic Tide suppresses all magic (beneficial and negative) to make it a bit more fair. It does a lot of stuff for a PC, considering if you can suppress a target's buffs it'll probably be dead in 1 minute.
    • Night Eyes should probably only last 1 hour. Higher "spell" slot, but affects more creatures than the Darkvision spell and lasts only half as long.
    • Suppression seems odd--does a saving throw made not on a creature's turn count as the first or last thing it would do? It's pretty strong, arguably stronger than Bestow Curse due to not requiring Concentration and being ranged.
    • After looking through these, I realize that not all incantations are intended to cost their level in energy. I'd probably just make that the case for all of them to simplify things.
    • Night Shade might work better as just an AoE slow field--creatures in the effect must make a saving throw to avoid being affected by the slow spell, as well as any creatures that move through it in the next minute. Currently missing language about duration, but as it is it's a guaranteed slow on whatever you can get within that area.
    • Shadow Bind likely needs a limitation on creatures, though I do understand what you're going for.
    • Radiant Charge is *strong.* Also duplicated and has no language about duration (I guess it only lasts for that virtual "turn" they get?).
    • Umbral Lock and Intensify both get incredibly good because they're selective. Compared with something like Cloudkill they only affect your enemies and make it where the battlefield is just murderous for your enemies.
    • I was going to keep going through incantation by incantation, but instead I'll close with this. In general, the incantation list started off really well, but as it moves into higher-level incantations they become just flat better versions of spells of a comparable level. Solar Beam is a way better version of Flame Strike (I know it's 1 level lower, but still), Lunar Cloak is probably a better version of Invisibility, Nova Blast is a better Delayed Fireball, Stasis Bomb is a better version of Imprisonment (as far as combat applications go). On the other hand, Solar Arc is pretty weak unless you can chain a bunch of kills together. You've created what is basically a spellcaster, and so go back and look at the spell lists for comparable effects and try to bring the incantations in line with those.

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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    Well, this is really interesting, I've been working on an "Astromage" character class for years (TOP Secret :P ).

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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivellius View Post
    Everything up to the incantations looks pretty good overall. I'd make a bunch of minor tweaks, but the basic concept is quite solid and it's generally well-designed. It does require a lot of bookkeeping, and so some of my suggestions are attempts to simplify that. It's a lot to absorb in one sitting, though--to understand how the class features interact with everything you also need some knowledge of the incantations. Regardless, kudos for attempting to do something new and unique.
    [/LIST]
    Thanks for the feedback here. There is a lot to get to and the contest is basically already over, so I'll save the fiddlier stuff for a later date. Seems like a lot of things are editing errors, or typos. Missing duration, undefined actions and so on. Which is fair I've done zero editing passes of any kind.

    Some very general thoughts:

    Not sure how I'm re-writing how tempHP works? It literally just grants them with a short duration, this does do anything to rewrite the temporary hit point rules? Could you be a bit more specific?

    In general I did balance spells by reading spells. In fact for just about every incantation I found a spell in the book, it was done with the PHB open using existing material as reference point and trying to tune a hair under that. That said I may have missed the mark in some places, it does need a balance pass. Thanks for calling out some specific entries that may need attention.

    EDIT: Some stuff that requires less time to respond to:


    I don't think it lends itself well to additional Path options, which is to me a design concern but isn't necessarily relevant.
    Rising Moon / Sun are a nice way to manage the points.
    I can see some themes for paths

    Eclipse (makes lunar behave more like solar, solar more like lunar)
    Midnight Sun/Daytime Moon (much more focused on using energy to enhance the opposite side)
    The Stars (energy agnostic path, maybe adds a 3rd energy type kind of an advanced option)


    Dusk Shield seems pretty strong if I understand how it works correctly. I do think it needs a bit of clarification--is there a range limit? If you don't do anything else, you should make this also cost a bonus action so that nothing else can be done that round other than movement. This might also work better as a later feature.
    Dusk Shield: This is a modifier on Lunar Shield. The range and other properties don't change so you can.

    Declare an action to use Lunar Shield.
    Declare you are spending a 4th-level Incantation that costs solar energy say radiant charge (cost 4)
    Half of 4 is 2.
    This use of lunar shield you now select 3 total targets (+2 from 1), that are otherwise legal targets (you or an ally within 120 feet) and gain the normal number of temporary hit points until the start of your next turn.


    Focused Lance, on the other hand, doesn't seem all that good (make it Wisdom modifier number of times per long rest, maybe?). Also needs mechanical clarification--the damage is doubled after rolling? Might it be better to just make it auto-crit if it hits?
    Relatedly, why are Focused Shield / Moon's Grace at different levels than their sun-based counterparts?
    Editing error. The archetype abilities when through a lot of different versions (10+) and a lot of copy paste. It's just a plain old boring editing error, sadly.
    The 14th-level Dawn ability is missing, which may account for some of the strangeness here. Actually, I guess there's supposed to be something similar to Dusk Shield missing for Dawn.
    Are Eternal Dusk and Eternal Dawn correct? I would think the incantations recovered would be different.
    Yeah, that's odd. It seems something got lost in the copy/paste processes at some point. The abilities for the two archetype should be

    Rising Moon/Rising Sun - 2nd level - Energy Managment
    Dusk Shield/Dawn Lance - 6th level - Spend Incanations of opposite type to enhance basic ability.
    Moon's Grace/Sun's Intensity - 10th level - add your wisdom Mod to the effect of a basic ability + plus a passive effect.
    Focused Shield/Focused Lance - 14th level - Double what your basic ability does once per short rest
    Eternal Dawn/Eternal Dusk - 18th level. - Never run out of particular kind of low level incantation.

    Like I said this went through a lot of iterations, more than any other part of the class. Stuff just got dropped and shuffled around.


    Yes. Eternal Dusk & Eternal Dawn are correct:

    Eternal Dusk: Dusk is when the sun is going down. For the sun to "going down" you need to be spending solar energy, pushing it towards lunar energy. Using solar Incantations is you "Dusk"-ing your celestial energy making it move from Solar->Lunar. So to make you able to eternally able to be "Dusk"ing you need to always have Solar Incanations to use, hence it makes you not run out of your low level ones. It also works with say, Lunar Shield. Meaning it always targets at least (2) things now.

    Eternal Dawn: Much the same but in reverse. "Dawn" is when the sun is coming up and the moon down. To do that to your energy you need Lunar Incantations (Lunar->Solar) so those are the ones you don't run out of.

    I think your confusion might be a failure more of the rest of the archetype powers than the Eternals. Right now dawn/dusk are bit too much "This is the Sun Path" and "This is the Moon Path" when the class as a whole is supposed to be more about balance and interplay. Honestly this whole section could use a redesign,.
    Last edited by Mr.Moron; 2015-12-31 at 01:31 PM.

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    Default Re: The Astromancer

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Moron View Post
    Some very general thoughts:

    Not sure how I'm re-writing how tempHP works? It literally just grants them with a short duration, this does do anything to rewrite the temporary hit point rules? Could you be a bit more specific?

    In general I did balance spells by reading spells. In fact for just about every incantation I found a spell in the book, it was done with the PHB open using existing material as reference point and trying to tune a hair under that. That said I may have missed the mark in some places, it does need a balance pass. Thanks for calling out some specific entries that may need attention.
    To clarify on the matter of Lunar Shield (and now that I went back and reread the temp. HP rules): To be honest, I was wrong in thinking that this actively contradicted the temp. HP rules, because it does specify that some effects may establish a more limited duration for them. (I thought the general rule for them was a universal, not simply a guideline.) However, most temporary hit points have a much longer duration. I think given the brevity of this particular effect, I might still rewrite it to be more like Arcane Ward so that it can stack with other sources of temp. HP, but I don't know. It has a long range and does scale some.

    The first few incantations feel pretty good on being "like a spell," but as I went through the list (starting with at least Moonveil and White Glint as written) the incantations quickly outpaced comparable spells. I've given specifics for many of them, but in general they're quite a bit better, some of which is due to the looseness of the language involved.
    Last edited by Ivellius; 2015-12-31 at 01:56 PM.

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