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RFC: Neutral Charm Spells


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33 minutes ago, Salk said:

Bartimaeus's proposed change seems pretty much spot on to me as well.

To be honest, I've been re-thinking the numbers for SR, and though I still want the neutral vs. hostile mechanic for at least Charm Person and Charm Person or Animal (because that really just makes sense for the concept of charm IMO), I'm less sure of the exact numbers for all involved or indeed Dire Charm. I don't really like the P&P idea for Dire Charm because it feels like something that would be more of an annoyance than help (plus, a 30' AoE Confusion at a -2 saving throw is literally available the next spellcasting level, who in the right mind is going to ever use a single target Dire Charm when you have that?), but I'm still thinking about how best to differentiate Dire Charm from the non-Dire Charm charm spells. One other thing I can't help but think is that a domination, although it uses the same opcode (5, Charm Specific Creature) as a charm spell, it's conceptually supposed to be a very different (and much more complete/powerful) kind of effect and I really don't think it should be possible for domination effects to be overridden by charm effects, so I'm thinking sources of domination should protect against sources of charm...but not other sources of domination. It's my understanding that a dominated creature has basically lost all of its free will and is thus completely subservient to the dominator, so it really makes no sense for charm to basically dispel it. Hmm.

Edited by Bartimaeus
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Posted (edited)

So let me take stock of the situation (have not yet read Bartimeus' latest post, so will not take it into account here).

1. The charm line of spells should be changed to allow unlocking content (mostly, or all, in the BG1 portion of the saga). Several NPC's deliver special dialogue lines when charmed, so it is desirable to be able to charm the target while not turning them hostile at the end of the charm.

2. There is, or seems to be, agreement that Charm Person and Charm Person or Animal should implement this and that Mental Domination and Domination should not. The only contention seems to be with Dire Charm. Bartimeus favored treating Dire Charm like Charm Person on grounds of consistency; I favor the contrary but I find it difficult at the moment to articulate exactly why so I am deferring the decision until I have a clearer grasp of the issues.

3. The non-hostile charm should only work with targets that are non-hostile to begin with; to make the difference even clearer we can give a penalty to the saves for a non-hostile charm of a non-hostile target. The difference in saves, as proposed by Bartimeus is 4, so for example if the base save of the charm is at +2, trying to non-hostile charm a non-hostile target is at -2. The implementation is via Use Eff (to filter for allegiance) -> Cast Spell with the save put on the Use Eff. We will need two subspells, one with hostile charm and another with non-hostile.

Assuming the above is a fair assessment, maybe we can do even better. Everything with hostile targets remains the same, but for non-hostile we can introduce an hostile charm (with the stronger bonus to the saves) and a non-hostile charm, the "better charm", with a save bonus between the base save and the non-hostile charm. The implementation would then change from:

Use Eff (non-hostile, save at base - 4) -> Cast Spell (non-hostile charm)

to:

Use Eff (filter for non-hostile, no save) -> Cast Spell (subspell, no save)

Subspell:
Cast Spell (non-hostile charm, save at base - 2)
Use Eff (block next spell by giving protection to it, save at base - 2)
Cast Spell (hostile charm, save at base - 4)

The exact numbers on the saves are subject to revision, what matters most at the moment is whether the core idea and implementation are sound: this introduces a degree of uncertainty which I personally find good and would prevent douchebaggery as with 1-3 as they stand, trying to charm non-hostiles is essentially safe, the worst it happens is that you loose a spell slot. But what say you? If you do agree with my tentative idea, please also provide a good blurb for the spells to have an in-game as-accurate-as-possible description as I am not very good at writing this kind of stuff.

Edited by grodrigues
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I am having difficulty parsing exactly what it is you're suggesting doing with that particular change, but to be fair, I haven't slept in close to 30 hours right now, so maybe I'll understand it better after sleeping. For right this second, I would just like to note again that if you use the "neutral reaction" type of charm, it is less strictly "neutral" and more "status returns to whatever it was previously before being charmed" - i.e. if you use the neutral reaction charm type on a character that was an enemy, they will immediately return to being an enemy once the charm has ended (...unless this implementation has changed in the EEs, but I'm fairly though not absolutely certain that it has not). Therefore, there would seem to be no reason to ever use the non-neutral type of charm even when differentiating between it via allegiance-targeted .effs, since the neutral type covers both situations.

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1 hour ago, Bartimaeus said:

For right this second, I would just like to note again that if you use the "neutral reaction" type of charm, it is less strictly "neutral" and more "status returns to whatever it was previously before being charmed" - i.e. if you use the neutral reaction charm type on a character that was an enemy, they will immediately return to being an enemy once the charm has ended (...unless this implementation has changed in the EEs, but I'm fairly though not absolutely certain that it has not).

Right.

As far as parsing my proposal, start with what I actually want to achieve:

3 hours ago, grodrigues said:

what matters most at the moment is whether the core idea and implementation are sound: this introduces a degree of uncertainty which I personally find good and would prevent douchebaggery as with 1-3 as they stand, trying to charm non-hostiles is essentially safe, the worst it happens is that you loose a spell slot. 

I imagine there are several ways to go about it, but making the "best charm" = non-hostile have only a middling save, and save the best save (pun intended) for the not-so good charm = "hostile at the end" was a good compromise. In this way, there is something of a risk in the casting the spell, which I think is a Good Thing (tm). But maybe I am looking at things the wrong way and it is just better to have to unlock content safely.

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4 hours ago, grodrigues said:

what say you?

I like it; if I was a DM it’s probably what I would do. But is it worth it? If a player wants to burn time and spell slots charming neutral folks... why not? I feel like adding a bad-luck hostile reaction will just lead to save-scumming. 

It’s essentially saying that if the attempt fails (target succeeds on a save), the spell fails; but if it fails by too much (target succeeds on a save by too much) then there’s a backlash and things turn against you. 

I like that! It reminds me of the 2E psionics rules, among other things. It would be cool to see that kind of thing in all sorts of spells - let magic be a bit unpredictable and dangerous, in addition to powerful! But, that sort of thing does not really exist in this game. It would make Charm a bit of an odd duck in that regard. 

Possible implementation, if people like the odd duck: apply this to Charm, but have no chance of hostile reaction from neutrals for Dire Charm. There’s your differentiation (in addition to the saving throw difference).

Edited by subtledoctor
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Yes: I would rather have no charm at all than to have a hostile-type charm on a previously neutral character. There is no way to deal with a previously neutral character going to hostile outside of butchering them or just ignoring their hostility the entire rest of the game - it's not like you can try to re-charm them to set them back to neutral, there's simply no game mechanic to allow a player to fix that situation. It's not a bad idea from a P&P/roleplaying perspective, but it would indeed just make it so I either reload or don't use Charm Person on neutrals to begin with.

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That is settled then, and by this I mean: implement neutral charm with different saves for hostiles and non-hostiles (numbers as laid out by Bartimeus). I am still undecided on Dire Charm; it is just the oddball. One thing I would like to ask is some kind of blurb, hopefully lore-friendly, to stick in the spell descriptions for this behavior as I intensely dislike opaque (to the user) mechanics.

@subtledoctornot tied to this RFC, but currently there is a small issue blocking the merge of your nwn spell deflection patch. Could you please fix it? I could do it myself, but it is better to do it at the source.

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20 hours ago, grodrigues said:

That is settled then, and by this I mean: implement neutral charm with different saves for hostiles and non-hostiles (numbers as laid out by Bartimeus). I am still undecided on Dire Charm; it is just the oddball. One thing I would like to ask is some kind of blurb, hopefully lore-friendly, to stick in the spell descriptions for this behavior as I intensely dislike opaque (to the user) mechanics.

@subtledoctornot tied to this RFC, but currently there is a small issue blocking the merge of your nwn spell deflection patch. Could you please fix it? I could do it myself, but it is better to do it at the source.

I'm not sure that my numbers are actually the best idea, but I haven't come up with an alternative that I like more other than possibly just letting the current bonuses stick (i.e. +0 for neutral/+2 for hostile for Charm Person). But here is how I'm going to write it in SRR...

Charm Person:

Quote

This spell affects any single person that it is cast upon. The term "person" includes any bipedal human, demihuman, or humanoid of man-size or smaller, such as dwarves, elves, gnolls, gnomes, half-elves, halflings, half-orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, and others. If the target fails their save vs. spell, they regard the caster as a trusted friend and ally to be heeded and protected for the duration of the spell. The caster may give them orders, and the charmed creature will carry them out as quickly as possible.

Creatures that are currently neutral to the caster are more amenable to helping them and make their saving throw with no bonus, while those that are hostile are significantly more difficult to influence and instead gain a +4 bonus to making their saving throw. If the caster attempts to harm the charmed creature, the spell is broken and the affected creature will immediately become hostile to the caster. If two or more charm effects simultaneously affect a creature, the most recent charm takes precedence. After the duration of the spell or if a dispel magic is successfully cast upon them, the affected creature resumes their previous behavior prior to being charmed.

// 5 rounds, 0 saving throw base

Charm Person or Animal:

Quote

This spell affects any single person or animal that it is cast upon. The term "person" includes any bipedal human, demihuman, or humanoid of man-size or smaller, such as dwarves, elves, gnolls, gnomes, half-elves, halflings, half-orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, and others. If the target fails their save vs. spell, they regard the caster as a trusted friend and ally to be heeded and protected for the duration of the spell. The caster may give them orders, and the charmed creature will carry them out as quickly as possible.

Creatures that are currently neutral to the caster are more amenable to helping them and make their saving throw with no bonus, while those that are hostile are significantly more difficult to influence and instead gain a +4 bonus to making their saving throw. If the caster attempts to harm the charmed creature, the spell is broken and the affected creature will immediately become hostile to the caster. If two or more charm effects simultaneously affect a creature, the most recent charm takes precedence. After the duration of the spell or if a dispel magic is successfully cast upon them, the affected creature resumes their previous behavior prior to being charmed.

// 1 turn, 0 saving throw base (at first, I leaned towards the better saving throw for Charm Person or Animal, but I personally think I'm going to go with the longer duration instead while reserving the more powerful saving throw for Dire Charm, what should be the most powerful of the charms)

Dire Charm:

Quote

This spell works in the exact same manner as Charm Person, with two differences: the saving throw is more difficult to make, and the enchantment has a longer duration. This spell affects any single person that it is cast upon. The term "person" includes any bipedal human, demihuman, or humanoid of man-size or smaller, such as dwarves, elves, gnolls, gnomes, half-elves, halflings, half-orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, and others. If the target fails their save vs. spell, they regard the caster as a trusted friend and ally to be heeded and protected for the duration of the spell. The caster may give them orders, and the charmed creature will carry them out as quickly as possible.

Creatures that are currently neutral to the caster are more amenable to helping them and make their saving throw with a -2 penalty, while those that are hostile are significantly more difficult to influence and instead gain a +2 bonus to making their saving throw. If the caster attempts to harm the charmed creature, the spell is broken and the affected creature will immediately become hostile to the caster. If two or more charm effects simultaneously affect a creature, the most recent charm takes precedence. After the duration of the spell or if a dispel magic is successfully cast upon them, the affected creature resumes their previous behavior prior to being charmed.

// 1 turn, -2 saving throw base (note that the description specifically compares itself to Charm Person, not Charm Person or Animal, therefore it is okay and consistent enough for Charm Person or Animal to either have a better saving throw penalty OR a better duration, either which you prefer)

 

Edited by Bartimaeus
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Finally getting around to implement this, but need some help. We need to filter for hostile and non-hostile (= neutral and ally) via Use Eff to account for the different save on the charm according to whether the creature is hostile or not. The relevant filtering is via ea.ids. My question is: are GOODCUTOFF (30) and EVILCUTOFF (200) enough?

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2 hours ago, grodrigues said:

Finally getting around to implement this, but need some help. We need to filter for hostile and non-hostile (= neutral and ally) via Use Eff to account for the different save on the charm according to whether the creature is hostile or not. The relevant filtering is via ea.ids. My question is: are GOODCUTOFF (30) and EVILCUTOFF (200) enough?

Yes, I believe so. It's my understanding that EVILCUTOFF is all of the hostile allegiances, while GOODCUTOFF is all of the non-hostile allegiances.

Edited by Bartimaeus
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Remember, Bondari Reloads is based on developer-observed player/playtester behavior.  The point of spells is to make them interesting and viable to use.  To quote Avengers: Infinity War, "Let him have his fun."  Removing reloads from neutral charmed units makes things more convenient, more consistent, and less of a hassle.  It makes the Charm spells worth using on non-hostile targets.

I'd prefer to avoid needing to reload just from casting Charm & Dire Charm causing hostile reactions, especially if there's a delayed hostility for which I wasn't prepared.  I respectfully disagree with subtledoctor's assessment that Charm spells in BG should have wild/unpredictable effects, but agree with his assessment that including these effects would make them oddly specific.  (I prefer magic to be easily quantified or/and able to be used for a broad range of effects specified in the spell, like shadow conjuration or wish, but that's a separate matter.  I know that Wild Mages exist and have played some and with some to... varied effects.)

Back on point, consider why people want to use Charm spells:
-Make NPCs say interesting things that they normally wouldn't.

-Get a short-term ally, especially for combat & dangerous situations.

Thus, because Dire Charm is a higher level than Charm Person, make it more difficult to resist and increase its duration.  It's like charm monster from 3.x. - not total mental control, but it can affect more creature types for a longer duration than 3.x's Charm Person.

Thankee!

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