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If you could limit the hard-coded thieves' "Detect Illusions" ability... how would you?


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Question pretty much speaks for itself.  I just became aware of a way to change what this spell does... we could make it dispel Mirror Images and Simulacra, but not Blur or Invisibility.  We could make it expose invisibility, but not any other illusions.  We could possibly make it destroy illusionary creatures, or weaken them, or something like that.

Right now this ability works better and more consistently than True Seeing, which always struck me as crazy.  Would you limit it in any way?  If so, in what way?  I'm going to adjust it in a mod, but first I want to hear from people who play the game more than me.

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Spontaneously, if that was within the range of possibilities, probably remove it or reduce its efficiency for multi- and dualclassed thieves, while keeping it as is for singleclassed thieves; the pure class most of all.

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On the thief class side of things, the only way to achieve such a thing would be to limit how many points certain kits or multiclasses could put into it.  Limit multiclasses and most kits to ~50-60 points, while allowing the trueclass thief and maybe certain detection-focused kits to go higher.

I don't think such limits are possible  though, even in the new EE engines that let us mod thief skills in all sorts of ways.  I think we can only prevent certain kits from using cetain skills at all.  E.g. I have a 'Halfling Whistler' kit that gets bard songs, but it cannot use stealth. (They whistle all the time, they are simply not stealthy.)  Which is cool, but setting limits for allocating points to thief skills would be cooler.

What I can do here, is decide which spells are affected by the Detect Illusions ability.  It only affects spells with a certain secondary type (ILLUSIONARYPROTECTIONS), so we can control which spells do and don't have that sectype.  Getting a bit more exotic, we can do something like: apply a repeating effect to all illusionary creatures which weakens or destroys them; they would have protection against this effect, but the protection would have the 'Illusionary Protections' sectype, so the thief skill could remove the protection, and a few seconds later the creature would be weakened or destroyed.  I could probably think of some other applications. 

The primary question, then, is:

  • Should the ability be geared toward revealing hidden/invisible creatures?  (Something like a 3E Spot/Listen check.) 
  • Or should it be geared toward seeing through illusions like Mirror Images? 
  • Or both?  (I think currently it is geared for both, which is why it is OP.)

The secondary question is what else, if anything, to do with it. You want to  go crazy, you could call it "Find Weakness" and have it do some sort of harm to enemies - penalize their AC or thac0, or something.

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1 hour ago, subtledoctor said:

What I can do here, is decide which spells are affected by the Detect Illusions ability.  It only affects spells with a certain secondary type (ILLUSIONARYPROTECTIONS), so we can control which spells do and don't have that sectype.

I think there was some confusion with what I said in the SR thread Detect Illusions uses Opcode #220, which is the full spell-school dispel. The secondary type isn't used, if a spell has Illusionist as its primary type it'll get dispelled. (The secondary-type dispel opcode is #221, I probably should have clarified which one I was talking about)

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Apologize everyone, but the temptation is too much...

Bubb, nice to meet you in g3. I ve got a question: any chance you could be porting the op codes for scales of balance "saving throw component" on tobex? It s the only thing I miss on bgt

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The thing to do is not to limit the ability as it exists but find new uses for it, and then old uses would not be so important even if they all remained. Introduce real illusions - illusionary creatures, and use them in a variety of ways. Invisible minions, for example, could substitute for some static illusions - possibly walls and so on. It's not easy to make these work well with the way sight works in these games, but possible. Detect Illusions applies an EFF, DETILL or something like that, the same one applied by True Seeing, I believe, which eliminates all ILLUSIONARY creatures (including minions-bearers of effects, if they were assigned that type). This is potentially a very powerful application and one that makes sense: the character has figured out the illusion and it is as good as gone, but in the absence of such creatures, not counting two werewolves in a tent in BG2, this proper use of the ability is impossible. Instead it does things like tear enemies out of invisibility and dispel Mirror Image, which is just ridiculous. As far as invisibility is concerned I made a simple change in my game: switched all spells and effects of this type to the GENERALIST school. Their scrolls still have the checks in place forbidding learning by necromancers, the only difference is in spell learning probability - illusionists don't get their learning bonus any more, but that's minor.

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Well yeah - you can still do things here.  You could add a new primary type and move all illusion spells to it, and have all functions that implicate the illusion primary type interact with the new one instead.  And then do anything you want with the old illusion primary type and the thief skill.  BUT there are a nontrivial amount of hard-coded engine mechanics that rely on the original eight primary types, and I just don't feel like going down the rabbit hole of dealing with that and waiting to see what I failed to anticipate.

100% agree that illusions are criminally underused in these games.  IWDification adds illusionary summon spells (shadow monsters/shades) and my mod turns invisible stalkers into illusionary creatures; on my to-do list is create a really interesting and engaging way to use them (summon a dragon, and if it is disbelieved then reduce it to the size of a faerie dragon, etc.)  I don't have the tools or time or expertise to mess with areas, so environmental stuff is sadly beyond my capabilities.  But yeah it's an obvious implementation that has been sadly neglected.

Messing with secondary types is a lot easier and conflict-free; if that was how the thief skill worked, I would play around with it.  But given it uses primary type, it just dropped like a rock down my list of priorities.

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4 hours ago, subtledoctor said:

On the thief class side of things, the only way to achieve such a thing would be to limit how many points certain kits or multiclasses could put into it.  Limit multiclasses and most kits to ~50-60 points, while allowing the trueclass thief and maybe certain detection-focused kits to go higher.

I don't think such limits are possible  though, even in the new EE engines that let us mod thief skills in all sorts of ways. 

Can't you do it via the UI?

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When in doubt how things should work, I find it best to consult the source books and my inner DM, and apply some common sense on top.

If I was a DM and a player in my party said "my skill thief dispels all illusions, 100%, no protections", how'd I handle it?

I'd probably say: "ok, maybe your character can see through illusion, but it doesn't mean that all other characters in party do".

And then it depends on how do you treat the ability. If it's a standard action (I think it is, but it's just a feeling), then the skill boils down to applying "see invisible" opcode to the rogue, because a character can't attact of cast or whatever during an action. Maybe add protection from illusionary creatures on top. The result is that the rogue can show the wizard where to throw fireballs, but not much more.

If you treat it like a passive, then it means that the rogue can attack, cast and stuff, but illusionary penalties do not apply to the thief. I.e. he always hits the target, not its mirror image, no penalty for attacking imp.invised creatures, etc. This option would likely be very hard to implement on IE, if at all possible.

Either way, it's a pretty serious nerf, especially so with SCS, and I doubt many people would use it. Athough I think that's how it's "supposed" to work, more or less.

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2 minutes ago, qwerty1234567 said:

I'd probably say: "ok, maybe your character can see through illusion, but it doesn't mean that all other characters in party do".

That's how it should work, but unfortunately Bioware made it ridiculous - True Seeing on steroids, without heed to Nondetection or SI:Divination etc.

I could replicate the quoted text in my invisibility  mod... by removing the thief skill altogether and instead giving them a personal 'See Invisible' ability.  Could be an HLA, or a feat or something like that.  Or it could be an at-will ability, but with a % chance of success in any given round.  But this would be a major change that a lot of people playing thieves might not like.  Not sure it's worth the effort.  And given the information above, modifying the actually thief skill is not really feasible.

51 minutes ago, DavidW said:

Can't you do it [limit the ability to invest skill points in DI] via the UI?

Maybe... maybe not.  I'm  not sure if the current value is exposed to the UI when you're in the level-up screen.  @Bubb or @lefreut might know.  It's certainly outside my wheelhouse though.

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1 hour ago, subtledoctor said:

but unfortunately Bioware made it ridiculous - True Seeing on steroids, without heed to Nondetection or SI:Divination etc.

Sorry, but what's so overpowered from "That's false, the invisible ich is there." is so overpowered ? While the original True Sight also does the same ? It's like you have no undestanding that the characters can talk between themselves in the 5 minutes it takes a round(6 seconds in 30 FPS).

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Is it actually that unreasonable? (I've not really played with it). You need to take along a thief (probably a slightly underpowered class tactically speaking), to invest in the skills to use it effectively, and then don't you have to sit around for a couple of seconds waiting for it to trigger? (Correct me if I'm wrong; like I say, not much experience). And then you've taken down mages' illusion defenses, which isn't nothing, but isn't the most critical part of their defensive layering.

On the purely technical side, opcode 276 modifies Detect Illusion. If you want things like SI:Abjuration or Nondetection to interact with thief DI, you could probably do it aura-style with a bit of thought.

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