Monday, 21 May 2012

Remaking Magic: Balance

Heroes Against Darkness employs a number of techniques to keep magi relatively balanced against the martial classes.

First, the combination of the total pool of anima that magi have (5 + Magic Bonus) plus the speed with which they can spend their anima (Level + 1 anima per turn) limits the speed with which they can deal damage and their total potential amount of spell damage.

Rule:  Maximum anima points is 5 + Wisdom bonus.
Rule:  Magi spend anima points to cast spells.
Rule:  All spells have an anima points cost.
Rule:  Variable anima cost spells must have at least 1 anima spent on the variable X component.
Rule:  Magi cannot spend more than Level + 1 anima points in a single turn.

Second, not all magi are focused on dealing direct damage.  The warlock, which is the primary damage-dealing magi class, can deal 1d8 damage per anima.  Necromancers also deal 1d8 damage per anima, but they have less flexibility in the range of damage dealing spells.  Canonates' divine magic only deals 1d6 damage per anima against normal enemies, but this increases to 1d10 against undead.  Furthermore, each time that a spell has some additional component (such as range, targeting non-Armor Defenses, effect area, miss damage, duration) then these components are specifically included in the cost of the spell.  Let's take a look at some examples of magi's direct damage spells.

The Burning Touch spell allows a brave warlock to deal the highest possible damage:

Burning Touch (X Anima)
Cost 1 anima per dice of damage.
Target Single target
Attack Magic vs.  AD
Damage Xd8 + Magic Bonus
Range Touch

The added range component of Burning Ray means that the warlock has to spend 1 anima to not get whacked in the head with a sword:

Burning Ray
(1 Anima + X Anima)

Cost 1 anima + 1 anima per dice of damage.
Target Single target
Attack Magic vs.  AD
Damage Xd8 + Magic Bonus
Range 10'+10' per level

The electrical nature of Shocking Ray means that it is cast against the target's Evasion defense, rather than their Armor defense, with +1 anima for the non-Armor defense and another +1 anima for the ranged attack:

Shocking Ray
(2 Anima + X Anima)

Cost 2 anima + 1 anima per dice of damage.
Target Single target
Attack Magic vs.  ED
Damage Xd8 + Magic Bonus
Range 10'+10' per level

Finally, martial characters are not limited to a single weapon damage increment, rather their weapon damage increases as they gain levels.

Melee Attack
Condition Target in melee range.
Attack Melee vs.  AD
Level 4:
Level 8:
Level 12:
Weapon + Melee
2d Weapon + Melee
3d Weapon + Melee
4d Weapon + Melee

All of these factors interact in complicated ways, but the general result is that magi can deal damage faster than martial classes in the short term, but in doing so they deplete their anima and soon have to Rally or use blood anima.  Martial classes can deal a slightly lower amount of damage with each hit but over an extended duration, making them the backbone of any party in longer fights. Ultimately this means that magi can have a big impact early in a balanced encounter, but they can't win it single-handedly.

Check out Heroes Against Darkness over at the downloads page: Heroes Against Darkness - Game Rules.

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