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Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:47 pm

I stumbled into Castles and Crusades a few months ago and I've really enjoyed reading it. I have since purchased all the core books. I say that so that you know my question below is not a criticism of the system. It is a genuine question to those who may have much more experience in actually playing the game than I do.

When reading a review of C&C somewhere, one of the reviews had the following criticism of the system. He complained that in 1st and 2nd Edition the Wizard and Cleric's powers were held in check (at least somewhat) by the fact that Saving Throws became very easy to make at higher levels and they weren't affected by the level of the caster or the level of the spell in question. So even though a Wizard might have Finger of Death and other nastiness, the equivalent level Fighter would likely have an 80% - 90% chance to save. C&C doesn't do this. Saving Throws are affected by the level of the character but they are also affected by the level of the caster. So that Finger of Death is very likely to be much more effective. The reviewer's criticism is that the casters' power level far outstrips the non-caster at high levels.

For those with some experience in actual play, how does this play out? Is it a real issue or is it a criticism by someone who hasn't played the game? If it is a legitimate concern, how have people dealt with the problem?

Thanks!

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:55 pm

The person who wrote the review does not understand the system. Saving throws have a "Challenge Level" (CL) in addition to the base number. When saving against a spell cast by a spellcaster, the default CL of the spellcaster's level should be used by GM, in addition to any other challenges that might affect the outcome. Also, the character making the saving throw adds his level to the roll. So, saving throws tend to scale up equally among equal level encounters.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:24 pm

mmbutter is correct. The extra challenge of the saving throw is equal to the level of the spellcaster. This is the default core mechanic to the C&C game.

While in earlier versions of the D&D game (1E, 2E) a fighter's save vs. spells was a defined number -- example every fighter of the same level needs a 13 (or whatever) to save vs. spells, C&C does this differently making the challenge scale up against higher level spellcasters. Of course in C&C as a fighter increases in levels of experience, they add their experience level number to all saving throws. So fighters have a easier chance to save vs. spells against lower level spellcasters in C&C, and a more difficult time saving against spellcasters of higher levels. If the fighter and spellcaster are of the same level, the Challenge Level (CL) is effectively negated by the figher's bonus to saves which is equal to the fighter's experience level.

This is where prime attribute and secondary attributes come in as not all saving throws are made against the same type of attribute (12 base vs. 18 base).

I have found in my play experience for many years now that tough saving throws versus spells are very important aspect of the C&C game. In C&C, since the saving throw challenge level scales, and makes saving throws generally tougher versus opponents of the same level (then earlier versions of the D&D game), this makes clerics and wizards very dangerous opponents. In the old days of D&D, every high-level fighter could easily save against most spells from enemy spellcasters because the target number to roll was relatively low (a static 2, 3, 4, etc depending on the level of the fighter) -- not so in C&C. Because of this wizards are feared again. Clerics of power are holy beacons of might and can be the most difficult of foes. This is a strong feature of the C&C game.

~O

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:35 pm

mmbutter wrote:The person who wrote the review does not understand the system. Saving throws have a "Challenge Level" (CL) in addition to the base number. When saving against a spell cast by a spellcaster, the default CL of the spellcaster's level should be used by GM, in addition to any other challenges that might affect the outcome. Also, the character making the saving throw adds his level to the roll. So, saving throws tend to scale up equally among equal level encounters.


Isn't that the point though? The fighter never gets better at saves. In fact, it's even worse because they are unlikely to ever get an attribute boost.

Saving against a 13th level wizard's Finger of Death when you are a level 13 fighter (or any class):

Charisma non-prime, no bonus: 15%
Charisma prime, +3 bonus: 60%

Now, agreed, this is the same as a 1st level somebody saving vs. charm person cast by a 1st level wizard. It doesn't get harder, or easier. And doesn't matter what level the spell cast is, so it's just as hard to save against Charm Person as it is to save against Finger of Death.

But it's certainly DIFFERENT from AD&D. I think most of us tend to embrace that. But also, I don't play (or see) many C&C games going much past level 12.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:31 pm

I think having magic stay so potent makes all those potions, scrolls and spells that offer protection, better saves', immunity to being held, etc... remain very important, and make attaining magic items that confer similar benefits a worthy goal.

Besides, people who make such complaints always forget the biggest "balance" of all. However many spell casters are in their own party.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:29 pm

No issue here. Imagine working your spell caster up to high level and finding your spells are ineffective because your opponent has a save of 2. The C&C approach keeps things potent and dangerous.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:29 pm

Treebore wrote:Besides, people who make such complaints always forget the biggest "balance" of all. However many spell casters are in their own party.


Always a point worth making when examining a particular class on its own. Adventurers are meant to be part of a balanced, nutritious breakfast.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:33 am

Aergraith wrote:
Treebore wrote:Besides, people who make such complaints always forget the biggest "balance" of all. However many spell casters are in their own party.


Always a point worth making when examining a particular class on its own. Adventurers are meant to be part of a balanced, nutritious breakfast.


Yep. 4 to 6 parts are the usual nutritional recommendation.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:40 am

The saves did get easier against spells that had saves, most were about 50% and that's at the higher level range (10th to 12th level), around the time most would quit the campaign anyway.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:32 am

This is the most common critique of C&C I see on the web, but I personally like the idea of a high level spellslinger being dangerous to an entire party. Very unfun for everyone when the sorcerer witch-king's most potent attacks continually fizzle!

That said, I've never liked 'insta-death' spells/traps in any game system, and tend to modify effects so that a pc may be out of the fight/heavily penalized, but not entirely gone.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:08 pm

I've not played high level much but wizards are still weak at low levels and if they become feared later.. great seems fitting. The game is different, so go with it. I've heard of using the level of the spell x2 as the wizard's CL not the level of the wizard. Should not the straight STR, DEX, CON fighter has a weakness.. yep. Just like the INT no armor wizard has a weakness.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:25 am

I haven't played crazy-high levels (most of mine have topped out around 10th), but up to that point i haven't had an issue with how saves work. I don't have a problem with wizardly magic being scary at high levels. It's just a matter of what you're used to and what you want to accept. I'd say that so long as everyone in party can contribute regardless of class, then there isn't an issue.

-Fizz

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:12 am

Its simple power envy. Spell casters are on their way to becoming demi gods, and Clerics are conduits for gods. Plus, the big draw back to being a spell caster, is your everyone's primary target. Which is why they need the fighter types to stay alive. Plus, the fighter types keep them alive when they have drained themselves of all their power and need their MASSIVE amount of time to fully recharge. So the real problem is, no one does what it takes to make spellcasters burn up their resources. So no one see's them while they are weak. Which makes spell casters happy. At least Clerics and Druids have decent fighting ability when they are drained. Wizards and Illusionists are pretty much screwed.

Again, what I mentioned above, how many spell casters does the PC party have?

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:50 am

One factor that helps keep the spell casters in check, is one that I always see people wanting to ignore... Material Components. I get that it takes some book keeping to do this, but, it is actually an important thing to do to keep their power in check, and drain gold from the characters. Abstracting the system doesn't do as good a job as either. For example, saying that a character must spend 100gp/spell level/adventure doesn't allow 1st level characters to cast that first adventure unless you give them a one time exemption, which will feel unfair to other players. But it also doesn't properly account for the cost of some spells components, nor does the rarity of certain components become evident. There are other considerations, not the least of which is encumbrance. The weight and bulk of the components will limit other items they can carry. And what of some that are fresh or alive? Worse, what of those that smell and could attract or alert monsters?

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:47 pm

The Maul of the Titans is a great weapon.. that takes two hands and weighs a ton and has huge EV.. if you ignore the limits, everyone would want/use one. I agree on the components. I always force the spell caster to "state the range and area of effect (before) as you cast". Then Make the right V, S, and M casting obvious.. say something if required, move your hands if required and do what is required with the material components.. oh and where did you keep that spell book again when we all fell in the river of mud and slime?

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:42 pm

Want spell components to matter much more? My suggestion is having some specialized spell components that actually boost the power of the spells. For example, the material components of a fireball could be specially obtained from a rare or dangerous source to make the casting of the spell act as if it was one level higher, or an additional +2 CL to save against (as in one particular case I have used, when cast with special material components the spell offered no save at all against it's effects) or whatever else the mind of the CK can come up with. While I don't usually like to keep that level of detail as CK, I've had one player who was playing a wizard who wanted to keep lists of components for his spells.

In addition, we use rules to have spell components contained within specialty wands, rings, amulets, and staffs so that the wizard can perform a ritual to put those components into these vessels. I recently have even taken this to another extreme where based on the type of wizard vessel the spell components are "stored" in, the special item (ex: wand) commits X% more into. For example, if the specialty wand, which is not easy to get, has certain spell components stored in it the amount the wizard stores in the wand is actually 20% more than the character actually committed.

Even though I don't usually like this level of minutiae, I've had great fun coming up with things like this to make the wizards (and clerics) feel special with their more "mundane" gear.

~O

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:22 pm

The problem only comes when you keep the enemies the same level as the party which is not expected or assumed. Facing down a level 18 opponent should be something you pause and consider before engaging. Likewise, the party getting to that point should be something of amazing luck, skill, and bravery.... you're never quite sure in C&C what kind of save you're going to make, need, or fail and that keeps the players on edge. Or it does when I run it.

It also puts a huge emphasis on magic items which, arguably, can be a bad thing.

There are pros and cons to both approaches: C&C and AD&D. Predictability can be boring but it also allows 'effortless heroism' (oh, gee, I survived that disintegrate because I can roll above a 6 on my d20) which is not awful -- you know what the PC will survive -- but C&C goes the other way and when you do roll and make that save, the effect is more "YAY! I f'n made that!"

Of course both things can happen in either... just one encourages it more often because less is certain.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:48 pm

Thanks, guys. I appreciate the responses. I'll mark this down as a criticism of someone who hasn't actually played the game then and not worry about it much.

Re: Wizards, Fighters, and Balance

Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:02 pm

SooperGenius wrote:Thanks, guys. I appreciate the responses. I'll mark this down as a criticism of someone who hasn't actually played the game then and not worry about it much.

There is a good chance that whomever it is, has played. There are a few people who want it to play exactly like 1e and don't like how Saves scale. Which, I don't have a problem with that preference; I have a problem with them going around to different places saying that the system is broken because of it. I've been playing since 04. I've played a bunch of 1e mods and ran a bunch of 1e mods. The fact that saves remain deadly at higher levels, is a feature as far as I'm concerned. I love that I can scare the poops out of my players when I whip out a fireball or a magically trapped door. They don't know how difficult it will be to save against. It keeps the game exciting.

R-
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