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Lich immunity to L1-5 spells


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To be fair, Jarno was making a claim about liches in the vanilla game (originally the claim was that liches don't use self-buffing spells of 5th level or below because they are immune to them, which is demonstrably false, but I lost track of just what it mutated into. Possibly the claim that they don't use Improved Invisibility specifically, which might be true, though many have it memorised and theoretically it shows up in-game if you Control them. They use Shadow Door (L5) instead.

On 8/14/2020 at 12:51 PM, InKal said:

also I have general observation. I observed, a long ago actually, that there is a tendency or whats the word? that if there is something wrong with their game, peeps will kinda automatically blame SCS. Dunno why or how but it kinda works like that: bam! crash or whatever = SCS!! fault!! I know it is, coz my feelings telling me, itz all about my feelz....

I have noticed that too...

[EDIT 8/17/2020: split this discussion off from the 'Jarno Confusions' thread.

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22 hours ago, DavidW said:

which is demonstrably false

Then do it ! Show me ALL the self buff spells they(the Lich'es) use on themselves that are level 5 or below in vanilla game. And then only allow the SCS version to use the same ones. And no, they can't just have the spell, they need to have the scripting to utilize it. You soon see that you have to drop a lot of spells***.

On Improved Invisibility, they don't use it... they use the Shadow Door, which is faster, but a 5th level spell compared to the 4th level one*. The impact of this is also that if they were to use it, they could use it in a Contingency spell, but they don't in the vanilla game ... but instead need to utilize the Shadow Door as their current get out harm card spell that takes that turns spell away, from damage and the encounter difficulty, as there's no trump card to get ALL their defences up, instantaniously via a Contingency. Which is what InKal just refered into in SCS.

Now, you can argue that you need to use the Improved Invisibility to get a harder encounters, and that's VALID argument, but not a valid response to the fact that it's an in-build feature of your mod, that's not in the vanilla game. Or one could just say that the Lich'es cheat. A minor cheat, yes, but still a cheat.

There's also other ways to do this, and I am sure you might have though of them. Like making a custom spell for Lich'es to use to defend themselves. Similar like the Contingency idea. "Raise Nominal Magical Defenses" Set the spells level high enough, and allow the player use it too. It's spell description could just say that it casts the Improved Invisibility, Protection from Magical Weapons, and ... say Globe of Invulnerability, as ... say 7 or 8 spell level in one go. But, I think I remember you to have said you won't add custom spells for such purpose.

*this comes to the usage of the True Sight, which is the only good counter to the spell, and thus requires higher party levels to do the encounter to it's complition. Or a different party compilation.

And yes, I understand that the vanilla games scripting won't be optimal to make encounters harder, which is why I said it to be a valid argument. So you have some sympathies for it. ***So I won't actually insist on the dropping of all the low level buff spells. But ...

Edited by Jarno Mikkola
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I'm not going to bother with this at length, but in brief:

  • Your original argument was that liches can't and don't use L1-5 self-buffing spells because they are immune to L1-5 spells. 
  • That argument can be refuted by giving examples of L1-5 self-buffing spells that vanilla liches use. If they use some L1-5 self-buffing spells, it's false that they can't and don't use L1-5 self-buffing spells.
  • There are lots of examples of such spells. The vanilla lich01.cre is scripted to use Vocalize (L2), Stoneskin (L4) and Shadow Door (L5).The lich in the Crooked Crane uses Mirror Image, Stoneskin (L4), Protection from Fire (L3), Fire Shield (L4), and Vocalize (L2). Vongoethe uses Shadow Door (L5), Mirror Image (L2), Blur (L2), and Stoneskin (L4). Azamantes uses Stoneskin (L4), Mirror Image (L2), Protection from Fire (L3), Vocalize (L2), Protection from Evil (L1). And so on. (Note that Vongoethe and Azamantes have bespoke scripts, so in those cases someone has intentionally scripted a lich, specifically, to use those spells.)
  • Therefore liches can buff fine with L1-5 spells. 

There is no residual argument as to why any particular L1-5 spells that liches don't use, they can't use.

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50 minutes ago, DavidW said:

Vongoethe uses ...Blur (L2) ...

Is not in it's spell lists. (not in Known/Memorized)

50 minutes ago, DavidW said:

Azamantes uses Stoneskin (L4), Mirror Image (L2), Protection from Fire (L3) ... Protection from Evil (L1)

Are not in it's spell lists. (not in Known/Memorized). Some of those are used via:

IF
	See(NearestEnemyOf(Myself))
	Global("Prep","LOCALS",0)
	!StateCheck(Myself,STATE_REALLY_DEAD)
THEN
	RESPONSE #100
		ApplySpell(Myself,WIZARD_STONE_SKIN) // SPWI408.SPL (Stoneskin)
		ApplySpell(Myself,WIZARD_IMPROVED_MANTLE) // SPWI808.SPL (Improved Mantle)
		ApplySpell(Myself,WIZARD_MIRROR_IMAGE) // SPWI212.SPL (Mirror Image)
		SetGlobal("Prep","LOCALS",1)
END

IF
	See(NearestEnemyOf(Myself))
	!StateCheck(Myself,STATE_REALLY_DEAD)
	CheckStatLT(Myself,1,STONESKINS)
THEN
	RESPONSE #100
		ApplySpell(Myself,WIZARD_STONE_SKIN) // SPWI408.SPL (Stoneskin)
		Continue()
END

The IESDP doesn't refer to them being Forced-ly casted, aka they wouldn't need to be memorized... so are they ? Like the Protection from Evil is in the Spell Trigger. So is the total outcome just Mantle spell being applied ? Cause it seems like it.

Edited by Jarno Mikkola
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Vongoethe's Blur is in a Minor Sequencer. (The relevant level for your theory is presumably the level of the spell, not of the sequencer, but even if not: Minor Sequencer is fourth level.) The various ApplySpells are just how vanilla BG2 does prebuffing. And some late-game enemies (Vongoethe, for instance) do most of their vanilla-scripted casting through ForceCast as a (somewhat cheap) way to make the battles more challenging, so their spell list isn't informative of their actual spells.

Even if those don't count (and there's no reason they shouldn't count) there are plenty of examples of conventionally-memorized, conventionally-cast L1-5 spells on the list I gave you: most uses of Vocalize and Shadow Door, for instance.

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28 minutes ago, DavidW said:

Vongoethe's Blur is in a Minor Sequencer. (The relevant level for your theory is presumably the level of the spell, not of the sequencer, but even if not: Minor Sequencer is fourth level.) The various ApplySpells are just how vanilla BG2 does prebuffing. And some late-game enemies (Vongoethe, for instance) do most of their vanilla-scripted casting through ForceCast as a (somewhat cheap) way to make the battles more challenging, so their spell list isn't informative of their actual spells.

Even if those don't count (and there's no reason they shouldn't count) there are plenty of examples of conventionally-memorized, conventionally-cast L1-5 spells on the list I gave you: most uses of Vocalize and Shadow Door, for instance.

But does the vanilla prebuffing(ApplySpell....) need the spell to be memorized ? Cause if so, the Stone Skin and Mirror Image would not be in the vanilla, effectively.

And I have already spoken about the Vocalize(and protection from Evil) spell having to be allowed because of the spell casting failure rate it prevents(and the stupid psuedo invisibility against the demons the protection spells apply )... you are free to use that when you see it fit. Even via freee cantrip that doesn't take a 2nd level spell slot, but takes the casting time of 2, like the vanilla one. But that's not a buff spell. The Shadow Door is permitted by the vanilla, so... as is the Breach. In my mind, there's nothing to argue about them being or not being permitted, they are in the vanilla, so sure they can be in SCS. But I would argue about the Improved Invisibility for it's cheap spell level.

And yes, I do appreciate you for taking time to talk about such things with me.

Edited by Jarno Mikkola
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Prebuffing: no, ApplySpell() doesn't require the spell to be memorized. But the idea of prebuffing is to simulate spells cast before battle. SCS actually checks if they're memorised and deletes them before prebuffing, but the vanilla game doesn't.

On the broader point: we have different starting points. Yours (I think) is something like: of course liches must be immune to L1-5 self-buffing, because they're immune to L1-5 offensive spells. OK, there might be specific exceptions, but we have to justify them on their merits. Use of a L1-5 prebuff in a vanilla script is, at most, evidence that that particular spell is allowed.

Mine is: there's no obvious reason to think liches are immune to self-buffing spells of L1-5 in the first place. Yes, they're immune to L1-5 attack spells, but there's lots of precedent in the game for protection from hostile spells that doesn't extend to friendly spells of the same type: think Globe of Invulnerability; think Spell Immunity. The L1-5 immunity isn't traceable to anything about liches in AD&D core rules, so there's no origin to find there, and the opcode is quite specifically set up to apply only to spell protections. I guess, though, maybe that's what the designers had in mind - if so, they'll refrain from using self-buffing L1-5 spells in lich scripts. Let's check...oh look, they don't. OK, the original idea looks right: liches can use L1-5 buffing spells just fine.

 

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Rather, the Lich'es should be immune to all L1-5 spells, but out of the most serious drawbacks, we can readdress individual ones. So no Invisibility, no Shield, no Luck, no Haste, ... no Spell Immunity. Also most of the L1-L4 priests spells should be here.

Note: 204 ja 206.

So what that leaves some that can clearly be justified for use, such are Vocalize, Protection from Evil/Good/Lawful/Chaotic..../Petrification, Farsight, Stoneskin, Oracle, Shadow Door, Protection from Fire/Cold/Electricity/Acid. Mirror Images could be justified, but that's about it.

Edited by Jarno Mikkola
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Sure... but that's from your starting point. From my starting point, I don't see any reason why liches should be immune to L1-L5 buffing spells, and no in-game evidence that the designers thought they should either. So - absent any good argument to the contrary - I'm going to carry on using them in SCS.

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1 hour ago, Jarno Mikkola said:

So what that leaves some that can clearly be justified for use, such are Vocalize, Protection from Evil/Good/Lawful/Chaotic..../Petrification, Farsight, Stoneskin, Oracle, Shadow Door, Protection from Fire/Cold/Electricity/Acid. Mirror Images could be justified, but that's about it.

what does the lich think about this? "wow, there really are some incredibly useful lesser arcane spells out there! indeed, some of them i can cast, but some others i can't... meh, i'll just leave it at that and not bother relearning the rest. after all, why would a lich like me want to round out his spellcasting arsenal and attain the highest degree of arcane tactical prowess, when he has the comforting memory of his former living self being able to cast pretty much all of these fundamental spells. it's not like i'm going to get into actual trouble where i'd have to use them."

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3 hours ago, DavidW said:

It thinks, "hell, I have a phylactery, and none of these BG2 dumbasses know it. Let's live a little!" :)

Hmm, this thing is kinda hard to hide, ouh never mind, *casts invisibility onto the phylactery*, ah there we go. Now, I am invincible, after all, I only need to hide it rather than use that crappy spell onto this instrument of destruction that is my body.

Edited by Jarno Mikkola
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On 8/15/2020 at 5:07 PM, DavidW said:

The L1-5 immunity isn't traceable to anything about liches in AD&D core rules

Whaaaaat

I never realized that. Now, this is hypothetical because talking about how things "should" be does not mean anything should or could change in the actual game code.. but, given that consistency is preferable to inconsistency:

I have to say, Jarno does (sort of) raise a good point here. If you are immune to x kind of magic, there’s a strong argument that you should be immune to x kind of magic, period, end of story. Obviously Bioware didn’t apply this in that way, so Jarno is specifically wrong. But consider other applications of magical immunity:

- If you have MR, does it only block spells when doing so is tactically advantageous? In BG1, no; in BG2, yes.

- If you are immune to spells of level x, does it block all spells or only when doing so is tactically advantageous? (Try casting Mirror Image when you have a Globe of Invulnerability up... now try casting Barkskin on a wizard who has a GoI up.)

- If you are immune to spells of school x, does it block all spells or only when doing so is tactically advantageous? (Try casting Vocalize when you have SI:Alteration up... now try casting Barkskin on a wizard who has SI:Alteration up.)

The game is coded such that you can target yourself with spells that others cannot necessarily target you with. (So, a lich or rakshasa can cast Sunfire, or low-level summoning spells.) AFAIK this has nothing to do with actual D&D rules; it’s just a quirk of the engine.

But we cannot get around that quirk of the engine. So it seems to me some obvious choices for a player who places high value on consistency and/or PnP rules are: 1) remove liches’ spell level immunities - this might okay since their magical power is so overwhelming they should still be able to protect themselves... more than any other spellcaster, liches should have a bevy of contingencies and sequencers etc. prepared.  But this is a major change that among other things, would likely mess up SCS scripts.

An option 2) could be very simple: retcon the spell level immunity as a “Greater Globe of Invulnerability” which cannot be dispelled because it originates from the lich’s phylactery, not their body. Or whatever. Inside this Globe of Invulnerability, like inside any other, self-originated magic works fine. But any low-level magic originating outside the Globe cannot penetrate it. I’d almost even give them the GoI visual effect just to make this clear.

Off-topic: what’s weird is that rakshasas’ immunity to 8th-level spells does stem from PnP rules... even though it has nothing to do with their source myth. They quite reasonably lost this immunity after 2nd Edition. However, I did just notice that 2E rakshasa are only supposed to be able to cast up to 3rd-level arcane spells and 1st-level divine spells. In combat they relied primarily on melee, and using illusions/mental manipulation to gain unfair advantages - not outright spellcasting. So this “three rakshasa in tight quarters all cast Cloudkill, and then follow up with six castings of Vitriolic Sphere” nonsense is actually not legit per the PnP source.

EDIT - which is not a knock on SCS... this is about Bioware’s adaptation. SCS generally seems to just take monsters as it finds them, meaning Bioware’s adaptations, and work with what it finds. And that's as it should be. (Though if an enterprising modder wanted to adjust rakshasa to more closely match PnP by removing some of their spells, I idly wonder whether SCS would work with such changes, or overwrite them.)

(edited for clarity)

Edited by subtledoctor
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1 hour ago, subtledoctor said:

The game is coded such that you can target yourself with spells that others cannot necessarily target you with. (So, a lich or rakshasa can cast Sunfire, or low-level summoning spells.) AFAIK this has nothing to do with actual game rules; it’s just a quirk of the engine.

I'm not sure I see the distinction between "actual game rules" and "a quirk of the engine". The game has lots of creatures and powers which have, or grant, immunity to spells of certain levels, but excluding self-applied spells.  They have an opcode specifically designed for doing it!

You could, sure, ask whether it's a bug that the opcode works that way. It seems pretty unlikely: the opcode is used in Globe of Invulnerability, and so playtesting would surely have shown it up. But even more persuasively: various creatures, notably liches and rakshasas, are scripted to use self-buffing spells at levels that they are immune to. So it is intentional that the opcode works that way, and that creatures are protected in that way.

2 hours ago, subtledoctor said:

So it seems to me the obvious choices are: 1) remove liches’ spell level immunities - this seems okay since their magical power is so overwhelming they should still be able to protect themselves... more than any other spellcaster, liches should have a bevy of contingencies and sequencers etc. prepared - but this would likely  mess up SCS scripts.

So option 2) is very simple: retcon the spell level immunity as a “Greater Globe of Invulnerability” which cannot be dispelled because it originates from the lich’s phylactery, not their body.

I like option (3): just recognize that liches in Baldur's gate have a special ability similar to, but not identical to, Globe of Invulnerability that protects them from externally-applied spells of level 5 or below, and call it a day.

2 hours ago, subtledoctor said:

So this “three rakshasa in tight quarters all cast Cloudkill, and then follow up with six castings of Vitriolic Sphere” nonsense is actually not legit. 

EDIT - which is not a knock on SCS... the point is Bioware’s adaptation is not legit.

I don't see what makes it "not legit". It wouldn't be legit in an AD&D campaign with no house rules, but BG2 isn't that. To quote a modder whose work I think you know well: "BG is a single-player computer game. If tweaking a rule makes this specific game more fun, then it's a good tweak, PnP be damned."

2 hours ago, subtledoctor said:

Though if an enterprising modder wanted to adjust rakshasa to more closely match PnP by removing some of their spells, I wonder whether SCS would work with such changes, or overwrite them.

If you mean 'what would happen if someone wrote that mod and then installed SCS v33 on top of it', it depends how it's coded. SCS handcrafts most Rakshasa levels, iirc, so a reduction in their spellcasting would probably be overridden. (Unless they replaced the default Rakshasa scripts with their own scripts, in which case SCS would ignore Rakshasas entirely.) If you mean 'would I actively support it by adjusting SCS', it depends on the details. Maybe, if I liked the implementation; probably not, as it would be quite a lot of work for a fairly edge-case situation.

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3 hours ago, subtledoctor said:

 

Magic Resistance: In P&P, a character can disable their magic resistance. It is not a free action/automatically done, though - it's a decision that takes up a turn to disable and re-enable. Additionally, one's own spells are never subject to magic resistance while targeting yourself.

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