Are Mages Too Powerful?

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MPT
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Are Mages Too Powerful?

#1 Postby MPT » Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:32 am

I am currently running a 50F campaign and one of my players has made an argument that mages are too powerful. Here are some specifics:

a) To be a good mage only requires good Smarts, to be a good fighter requires good Agility and Strength.

b) The bolt spell can be upto 9 times quicker than firing a gun. Even if you only fire 1 bolt a round it is still 3 times quicker (as in 50F it takes 2 turns to reload a single shot weapon).

c) The bolt spell can never hit your own sides PCs in combat, whereas a gun can. (Since hitting your PCs only happens on a 1, but on a 1 the mage is Shaken instead so (we presume) the spell does not go off and so does not hit the PC).

d) It is easy for a Burst to wipe out large numbers of crew on the deck of an opposing ship (since crew have a toughness of 5 and the spell causes 2d10 damage ... and over a 50% chance of +1d6 for a raise). It is especially useful if you aim it somewhere around the helmsman as if he is killed the opposing ship is in trouble.

Whilst mages are limited in Power Points - in practice we have yet to have a situation where the mage uses up all their points since they get back one an hour. (Obviously, if the party is continually attacked the points would run out but because of the types of games we play this does not occur).

We are aware that being a mage uses up an Edge, but the advantages seem to outweigh this.

So, do people agree that this is a problem or are we just doing things wrong?

In 50F our Kraken mage is the best mage (because they have extra Power Points) third best fighter (because of the Edge that gives them a magic armour and sword) and best at Boating (because they had points they could put into it) which makes the other PCs a bit redundant.

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#2 Postby ValhallaGH » Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:02 am

A) False. The most devastating close combatant I've seen has a d4 Agility. Sure, that d12 Fighting was expensive, but the d12 strength and d10 vigor have proven unstoppable.
A good mage requires Smarts, Spirit, and Vigor. If he also wants to fight then he needs Strength and probably Agility. Many spell ranges and effects are based upon Smarts and Spirit, making them necessary far beyond the limits of a spellcasting skill.

B) True. And a bow and arrow are 3 times as fast as a gun. So what? I can carry 50 guns and shoot twice a round every round for 25 rounds. That's the equivalent of 50 power points, which is a lot more than any mage can ever have.

C) False. Blast and burst are area effects and can hit your allies. For bolt, you're only half correct.

D) And? There are other ways to kill as many foes. Given the short range of burst, it's as easy to leap aboard the other ship and Sweep through twelve enemy crew. With zero risk of turning the loot-able floating kindling (i.e. ship) into a blazing inferno that ignites your own ship.

I think you're running your opposition incorrectly (Shoot the Kracken because they are a) creepy, b) powerful magi, c) creepy, d) tricky, e) creepy, and f) international jerks), and should probably check out some of the "magic is strong" threads.
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Re: Are Mages Too Powerful?

#3 Postby ironfort » Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:18 am

MPT wrote:In 50F our Kraken mage is the best mage (because they have extra Power Points) third best fighter (because of the Edge that gives them a magic armour and sword) and best at Boating (because they had points they could put into it) which makes the other PCs a bit redundant.


Yes and no. I have a Kraken Mage with the Kraken Armour and yes for the initial part of the game he was the second best fighter and had bolts. Which made him as good or better that almost all the other characters. But now we are Heroic the pure fighter and musketeer are the same or better than him and with some of the magic items you can collect along the way in 50F even his three bolts are no long as over powering as they once where. I have seen one magic item that is specific useful to a mage so far and we have lots of other useful to other /classes/ stuff.

There is also the disadvantage that the Kraken will find some places and plots almost impossible to do. We now have a solution to that but it was a great problem before.

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Re: Are Mages Too Powerful?

#4 Postby Clint » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:16 am

MPT wrote:d) It is easy for a Burst to wipe out large numbers of crew on the deck of an opposing ship (since crew have a toughness of 5 and the spell causes 2d10 damage ... and over a 50% chance of +1d6 for a raise).


Um, what? Not even a caster with a d12 Spellcasting can have over a 50% chance of a raise with this power.

MPT wrote:It is especially useful if you aim it somewhere around the helmsman as if he is killed the opposing ship is in trouble.


I'm a bit wary of how the caster is getting into a position within 9" of another ship to use this power to begin with and then is also somehow not hitting his own ship nor firing in a position that would provide his targets cover, especially a helmsman who would likely be at a higher point on the other ship. :-?
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#5 Postby GranFalloon » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:40 am

One of the reasons I like the No Power Points rule is that it draws back on the Uber power of mages a bit. I don't think they're quite overpowered as written, but they are certainly powerful, and that simple Bolt spell is pretty awesome.

I also run games where the characters usually only get in one or two fights per day, so they very rarely run out of Power Points. Right now I'm running Deadlands, and the AB's all have their abilities pretty intricately tied to Power Points, so I'm hesitant to just throw them out. Of course, guns are more advance, and with a couple edges, you can fan the hammer for six attacks per round, so it's more balanced.

I would suggest trying the No Power Points rule for 50 Fathoms. Those Bursts and Blasts get a little harder to cast, and firing three Bolts at once stands a good chance of Shaking even a d12 caster (as any failure causes the caster to be Shaken). Its still often worth it to let loose with all those bolts, as you can still hit with the two successes.

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Re: Are Mages Too Powerful?

#6 Postby Vonether » Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:15 pm

Clint wrote:
MPT wrote:It is especially useful if you aim it somewhere around the helmsman as if he is killed the opposing ship is in trouble.


I'm a bit wary of how the caster is getting into a position within 9" of another ship to use this power to begin with and then is also somehow not hitting his own ship nor firing in a position that would provide his targets cover, especially a helmsman who would likely be at a higher point on the other ship. :-?


There is also -2 for Unstable Platform, right?

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#7 Postby Takeda » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:27 pm

I disagree. Our Fighter using a halberd with Improved Sweep, Improved Frenzy & No Mercy nukes way more baddies than any one of the spell casters.
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#8 Postby 77IM » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:46 pm

It's not that mages are too powerful, it's just easier to min-max them. That is, warriors can definitely be as powerful as (or more powerful than) mages, it just takes a little more effort from the player during character creation. It's because making a good fighter requires you to pick the right combination of traits and edges and gear, while making a good mage just requires Spellcasting and Power Points and gets an attack spell or two.

If you find this a problem for your group, my best advice is to steer seed treasure hordes with magic items that make way more sense for other members of the party to give them a slight lead in the magic item department. I'd go so far as to ask for "magic item wish lists" so when the item pops up it becomes clear who it is meant for.

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Re: Are Mages Too Powerful?

#9 Postby MPT » Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:22 am

A mix of agreements and disagreements.

The group I play with does not like large numbers of magic items and so balancing things using those is not an option in my case.

Clint wrote:
MPT wrote:d) It is easy for a Burst to wipe out large numbers of crew on the deck of an opposing ship (since crew have a toughness of 5 and the spell causes 2d10 damage ... and over a 50% chance of +1d6 for a raise).


Um, what? Not even a caster with a d12 Spellcasting can have over a 50% chance of a raise with this power.


Yes, you are right it is not 50% (for d10 it is 30% and for d12 it is 41% ... my brain was not working when I wrote that).

Clint wrote:
MPT wrote:It is especially useful if you aim it somewhere around the helmsman as if he is killed the opposing ship is in trouble.


I'm a bit wary of how the caster is getting into a position within 9" of another ship to use this power to begin with and then is also somehow not hitting his own ship nor firing in a position that would provide his targets cover, especially a helmsman who would likely be at a higher point on the other ship. :-?


In this particular case the ships had been bought next to each other. The mage was firing from his ship and the helmsman was on the other. I do admit that I had forgotten that the helmsman would be higher as I am not an expert on ship deck layouts.

Vonether wrote:There is also -2 for Unstable Platform, right?


Since the ships were next to each other and were the same type of ship (a Brig) I did not think that that was relevent. I did use it up to the point that they went together.

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#10 Postby ValhallaGH » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:14 am

Clint is almost always correct, at least on these forums. :mrgreen:

I suspect that is one of the reasons that he's the Core Rules Brand Manager. I also suspect that it is one of the reasons he is slow to jump into a discussion - a reputation like his can be destroyed by a few casual posts, and that would be counter-productive.
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Re: Are Mages Too Powerful?

#11 Postby GranFalloon » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:53 pm

MPT wrote:
Vonether wrote:There is also -2 for Unstable Platform, right?


Since the ships were next to each other and were the same type of ship (a Brig) I did not think that that was relevent. I did use it up to the point that they went together.


That's good for any speed differences (which I would probably ignore for a sailing ship anyway), the Unstable Platform rule is supposed to apply for pretty much any moving object. Sailboats on the open sea are tilting from side to side, the decks are wet and slippery, and one is often moving up while the other is moving down. Watch "The Adventures of Tintin" for an insanely over-the-top example of this (seriously, it's an awesome movie, just be sure to suspend your disbelief with plenty of duct tape and a ball gag. Maybe set a doberman on watch).

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#12 Postby Mylon » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:11 pm

Mages definitely are too powerful.

Bolt in it's lowest level isn't a big deal. 2d6 per round at one target is like shooting a bow. They get some advantages like having a staff in one hand so they don't count as an unarmed defender, but they make up for it with the risk of being shaken from spellcasting and limited ammo. However, add in the alternate methods behind bolt like the extra 1d6 damage or getting to fire 3 bolts and it becomes a very powerful option!

Suggested changes: 3d6 bolt, 2x bolt, and 3x bolt cost 3 PP, 3 PP, and 5 PP respectively. This severely limits a mage's ability to blast their way through encounters. After a couple of purchases of extra PP, it's still entirely worth using the other bolt options.

Bolt is relatively tame compared to some other powers. Consider Summon Ally. At novice level you get a toughness 10 ally that grants +1 to hit for any adjacent allies and itself, attacks at +2 (in addition to gangup) and hits for 2d8+2 damage. At seasoned you can summon 2 for +2 in gangup and 2d8+2 x2 in damage. All for 1 PP more!

Suggested changes: Summoned allies can't wild attack. Removal of the ability to summon multiples of lower level allies. Still very powerful and if they take a hit, that's one hit your team isn't eating.

Quickness is another great power. Target gets to take 2 turns. If you thought your Improved Frenzy Improved Trademark weapon fighter was good before, now he gets to make 4 attacks per turn! Or the mage casts it on himself and now gets to drop 6 bolts per turn! Without the above increased costs this can quickly get absurd. I haven't investigated it, but according to the rules you ought to be able to wild attack on turn 1 and then normal attack on turn 2 for no penalty (unless someone is holding their action). Any reasonable GM would slap a player for trying this though.

Suggested changes: Increased cost to 5 PP (possibly more). Quickness only allows 1 extra action per turn without incurring MAP, including the same action. Thus no double movement unless they use the extra action to run. Also prevents someone from attempting 4 actions over two turns, such as taunt + attack then agility trick + attack.

In general, 3 powers and 10pp seems a lot to gain for a single edge. Seems like a very easy thing to splash into for any character!

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#13 Postby Clint » Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:54 pm

MPT wrote:
Clint wrote:
MPT wrote:d) It is easy for a Burst to wipe out large numbers of crew on the deck of an opposing ship (since crew have a toughness of 5 and the spell causes 2d10 damage ... and over a 50% chance of +1d6 for a raise).


Um, what? Not even a caster with a d12 Spellcasting can have over a 50% chance of a raise with this power.


Yes, you are right it is not 50% (for d10 it is 30% and for d12 it is 41% ... my brain was not working when I wrote that).


Against TN:4 that would be correct (actually slightly higher odds for a Wild Card), but Burst is opposed by Agility, so there's no guarantee that the number will be 4. Looking at 50 Fathoms specifically, typical pirates have a d6 Agility, so they have a 50% chance it will be 4 or higher and veteran pirates have a d8 Agility, so their odds are even better.

And even if they are hit, it's an AE attack, so they would get any Cover bonuses added as Armor. That's why positioning is important since it directly adds armor to the targets.

Another important aspect of positioning is that Burst extends directly from the caster, so the caster would have to be right at the edge of their own ship (or actually board the target ship), making themselves a very open target, in order to use the power without hitting and damaging their own ship with the Heavy Weapon. Burst affects everything that the template touches.

Oh, and even if he does cast from the edge and only affect the other ship, keep in mind that he will affect the other ship and everything under the template with a Heavy Weapon. His own shipmates may request he stop using the power that destroys any chance of salvage at all.

If it still seems too powerful, put two mages on the opposing ship casting Burst at the players and see how they handle it. That will give you the tactic that the opposition will be using from then on. ;)

Mylon wrote:Bolt in it's lowest level isn't a big deal. 2d6 per round at one target is like shooting a bow. They get some advantages like having a staff in one hand so they don't count as an unarmed defender, but they make up for it with the risk of being shaken from spellcasting and limited ammo. However, add in the alternate methods behind bolt like the extra 1d6 damage or getting to fire 3 bolts and it becomes a very powerful option!


The risk of being Shaken is mentioned but not the increased risk of being Shaken nor the chance of actually suffering wounds from casting multiple bolts.

Even with a maxed out d12 Spellcasting, there's a 23% chance of Backlash when casting three bolts. Barring a GM who hands out Bennies like candy at Halloween, those odds should give anyone pause.
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#14 Postby Mylon » Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:02 pm

Clint wrote:Even with a maxed out d12 Spellcasting, there's a 23% chance of Backlash when casting three bolts. Barring a GM who hands out Bennies like candy at Halloween, those odds should give anyone pause.


I'm running an online game at the moment. It's unfortunately but we only have about 4 hours and the players are still fairly new. Thus far we might get one combat (or other series of important roles involving everyone) in a session so 3 bennies seems like plenty. Except for the one guy that's happy to blow all 3 bennies on a single roll. (PS: He's the only player to have lost a character. And he would have lost a second if I didn't take pity and give him a benny to reroll the vigor check).

Other GM's I've played with seem to like the idea of a fixed benny pool that lasts the duration of a scene, no matter how many sessions it takes. And they very rarely hand out bennies. I've been sticking with the refresh at start of session.

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#15 Postby MPT » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:02 am

Clint wrote:Against TN:4 that would be correct...


Thanks for taking the time to clarify things. You have given me something to think about.


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