Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Scott McFarland » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:37 pm

We've seen a number of discussions in the maths of whether you're better off with a high defence or a high armour rating, but is it therefore better as a Mage to take Rock Armour and get your Magic score as armour? Or Arcane Shield, giving you 10+Magic+Spirit focus (if you have it) as your defence score? Remember that Arcane Shield requires you to have the Arcane Bolt spell as a prerequisite.

Rock Armour is looking mighty attractive right now...?
Scott McFarland
Aficionado
Aficionado
 
Posts: 518
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:25 am

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Woodclaw » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:02 pm

I think that it depends on how high your Magic is compared to your Dexterity. If the difference is relativly small and/or you don't have the Spirit focus, Rock Armor is superior since it fill a niche in your defense. Otherwise Shield is probably a little better. even with the armor active every hit can be problematic, so better not to be it at all.

The prerequisite what makes me wonder, Arcane Bolt isn't a bad spell, but I think it's a bit redundant having Arcane Lance as a no cost blast effect.
"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?"
[i]'Gentleman' John Marcone[/i]
User avatar
Woodclaw
Bystander
Bystander
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:28 am
Location: Como, Italy

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Admiral Yacob » Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:13 am

I have a player who walks around wearing light leather as the penalty to casting is so minor and casts either Arcane Armor or Fade Shield (Arcane Armor +2). He has a 5 magic with the focus so a defense of up to 19 with a 3 Armor is pretty gosh darn impressive. Even a warrior with focus and a 5 strength can only get a 7 attack modifier, I always estimate 8 with circumstance bonuses, giving him a well over 50% chance to dodge.
Admiral Yacob
Booster
Booster
 
Posts: 330
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:25 am
Location: California

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Scion of Haven » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:27 am

Part of the equation is the type of mage you want to play. Working on a more character-driven level, is your character more careful, or does he prefer to gird himself briefly and then unleash hell? For the first, defense boosts are more appropriate because they offer more absolute protection, but at the same time, often require more elaborate and expensive maintenance. Armor boosting requires only a small devotion of mana, and only a single casting of a spell, but also doesn't fully block the damage. Alternatively, these can be reversed, since Rock Armor takes much longer to cast, and therefore requires some forethought, while most of the defense spells can (and must, due to their cost) be cast on the fly.

From a more technical, meta standpoint, think of your specialization or foci. A blood mage is going to want to avoid getting hit at all, but has more power to throw around due to his extra "mana" pool. So boosting defense to avoid taking damage at all is better. On the other hand, a spirit healer focuses mostly on restoring health, and needs to be able to stand in a drawn out battle, so the long-lasting and reliable boost of rock armor suits them better, not to mention they can heal up the minor damage they take. Arcane warriors are naturally inclined to boost defense, due to their fade shield, and due to the reduced cost of mundane armor, are probably better off focusing on defense-boosting spells. As for the specializations found in Set 3, I don't know yet.
User avatar
Scion of Haven
Dabbler
Dabbler
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:20 am

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Zapp » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:33 am

Even in a game with a flat probability "curve" (such as a game using a d20) there really are a lot of variables, making it next to impossible to say with any authority whether a +1 defense or a +1 damage reduction is best.

In AGE, using 3d6, the simple 5% probability per step leading to an uniform number is replaced by a curve, meaning you'd need integrals for an exact answer. In layman's terms: if the enemy has an easy job of hitting you (or already finds it difficult) then better Defense is most certainly not worth the effort, since each point in either direction corresponds to such a small percentage.

If, say, the enemy hits you on 6+ and you upgrade your Defense, now the enemy hits you on 7+. But the reduced success rate is marginal compared to the case where the enemy starts out hitting you on a 10+. (The difference between 10+ and 11+ is significantly larger than the difference between 6+ and 7+ since 3d6 creates a bell shaped probability curve).

This means that unless the enemy lives in the in-between-extremes lands of "easily hitting" and "rarely hitting" you are better off with an armor increase (compared to a d20 game).

Since most Dragon Age foes start out with a great attack value they're always going to have an easy time hitting you, unless you max out your Dexterity.

Meaning that unless your Dexterity is stratospheric, giving you a Defense that's actually decent against the foes you expect to face, you shouldn't waste your resources adding to it. Put bluntly, a Defense of 15 is hardly better than a Defense of 12 if the foes sport attack bonuses of +9 or thereabouts.

Only if your Defense is already 20 or so is it worthwhile adding more points to it, since Defense 21 is such a significant improvement over 20 (assuming that the enemy used to have to roll 11+ and now needs to roll 12+).

Another problem with defense (compared to armor) is that those hard-to-get increases lose their worth again when you face weaker foes. If you have Defense 20 and you face a monster having a +5 attack bonus, he already needs to roll 15 on the dice, meaning he will almost always miss. Increasing your Defense further (to 21) will not meaningfully change this fact: yes, the hit chance will be further reduced, but only by a few percentage points.

Meaning that Defense increases is only really worthwhile in a small band of opposing attack values. But when it does shine, it shines brightly: in the best case, a one-point Defense increase lowers the attacker's hit probability by 13%, which, given an average damage of 15 points, means almost two points of damage.

Of course, increasing your armor rating by 2 points does the same job, and much more deterministically. Of course, that won't help you against penetrating damage...



In the end, I'd say it boils down to a couple of fairly generic points:
* if your games master throws a lot of weak and/or hard opponents at you (but few in-between ones), go for armor
* if your games master takes time attempting to balance encounters so that combatants need to roll 9-12 on the dice to hit, go for defense (this is not the default case, I'd say - you normally find it much more easy than this to hit or be hit)
* if your games master throws generic foes at you, whose attacks aren't "special", go for armor
* if your games master tries to outsmart your minmaxing ;-) by adding foes with penetrating damage or "save or die" attacks (such as poison or paralyzing magic (that still needs to hit you physically) or other stuff that sidestep Health and armor), go for defense
* if all your foes use magic against you, ignore both Defense and armor, and focus on stuff like Constitution and Willpower instead :-)

But also, what has already been said,
* if your Dexterity sucks, you are probably better off by ignoring Defense completely
* if your Dexterity rocks, you are probably better off by continously finding new ways to boost Defense further (up to a certain point, after which you should still maintain a decent armor rating)
User avatar
Zapp
Super Poster
Super Poster
 
Posts: 865
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 5:11 am

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Hellebore » Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:27 am

Zapp is correct in that it's really dependent on your character. Generally speaking though your Magic should be higher than your Dex.

there are 3 mages in our party at level 7 and they are all Mag5-6 so with that spell we'd either be Def 17 or 18. Add a shield for another +1. You start to get hard to hit by then. My arcane warrior doeesn't have that spell but has naturally high dex and a magical shield and cloak which means he has def 17-8 naturally anyway. Which is good because he doesn't have much health and likes to wade into melee...

But you can quickly make a nasty combat mage by taking both spells. Basically there is a spell available to allow a mage to substitute a stat for their magic one.

IMO arcane/fade shield are too good as they make mages harder to hit than rogues. Rock armour is also better than real armour and doesn't encourage a mage to actually wear real armour, making the 'mana strain' pretty pointless.

Hellebore
User avatar
Hellebore
Super Poster
Super Poster
 
Posts: 707
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:51 am
Location: Australia

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby shonuff » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:48 am

Hellebore wrote: Add a shield for another +1. You start to get hard to hit by then.

Hellebore


Personally, and I'd have to reread the rules, but I don't know if I'd allow mages to cast with shields. Definitely not if the mage is using a staff as the focal point. Or maybe I'd change the strain rules to encompass shields -- IIRC, they're not included. That wouldn't apply to Arcane Warriors, of course.
shonuff
Earth's Mightiest
Earth's Mightiest
 
Posts: 2946
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:53 pm

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Tiger's Heart » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:15 pm

shonuff wrote:Personally, and I'd have to reread the rules, but I don't know if I'd allow mages to cast with shields. Definitely not if the mage is using a staff as the focal point. Or maybe I'd change the strain rules to encompass shields -- IIRC, they're not included. That wouldn't apply to Arcane Warriors, of course.

Hellebore's Arcane Warrior spent considerable time making a sword that was part of a quest reward into his focus. This allowed him to cast without needing his staff, and the melee nature of his character made the use of a shield logical - especially as he is an apostate who grew up not knowing he was a mage (and he has spent the time since he found out he was one trying to pretend he isn't... mostly). :wink:
IIRC in the CRPG if you give Morrigan the Arcane Warrior specialisation and Spellweaver (sword) and a shield she charges in to combat and casts quite well although she sheaths sword and casts with bare hands. I am not saying that the RPG works the same way, but they are based from the same IP.
In reality if a shield is strapped to the forearm, the hand can be mostly free for casting can't it? Besides, does it take one arm or two to cast? Or does it vary from spell to spell, mage to mage? Would a one-armed mage be unable to cast?

Tiger's Heart
Beware what lies beneath, The Tiger's Heart in the Woman's Hide; The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove.

Completed Esoterica from Thedas Volumes 1 to 3
User avatar
Tiger's Heart
Cohort
Cohort
 
Posts: 177
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 4:23 pm
Location: Down-under, when not in Ferelden

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby Scott McFarland » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:09 pm

Hang on a sec, Arcane Shield doesn't give you a bonus to defence to which you then add your Dex. It says that 'your defence becomes equal to your spellpower', 10+Magic+Focus...
Scott McFarland
Aficionado
Aficionado
 
Posts: 518
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:25 am

Re: Rock Armour or Arcane Shield?

Postby shonuff » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:46 pm

Tiger's Heart wrote:
shonuff wrote:Personally, and I'd have to reread the rules, but I don't know if I'd allow mages to cast with shields. Definitely not if the mage is using a staff as the focal point. Or maybe I'd change the strain rules to encompass shields -- IIRC, they're not included. That wouldn't apply to Arcane Warriors, of course.

Hellebore's Arcane Warrior spent considerable time making a sword that was part of a quest reward into his focus. This allowed him to cast without needing his staff, and the melee nature of his character made the use of a shield logical - especially as he is an apostate who grew up not knowing he was a mage (and he has spent the time since he found out he was one trying to pretend he isn't... mostly). :wink:
IIRC in the CRPG if you give Morrigan the Arcane Warrior specialisation and Spellweaver (sword) and a shield she charges in to combat and casts quite well although she sheaths sword and casts with bare hands. I am not saying that the RPG works the same way, but they are based from the same IP.
In reality if a shield is strapped to the forearm, the hand can be mostly free for casting can't it? Besides, does it take one arm or two to cast? Or does it vary from spell to spell, mage to mage? Would a one-armed mage be unable to cast?

Tiger's Heart


I might have been unclear, but if I were to create a shield houserule, it would not apply to arcane warriors. Personally, I would rule that an arcane warrior's martial training would enable them to use a shield with no penalty.

Probably what I would do in this circumstance (not completely sure because I haven't had shield-wielding mages) is increase the strain. You're right that strapping a shield to your arm wouldn't cause that much more difficulty, but neither would wearing a suit of armor, especially a tailored set of plate or leathers.
shonuff
Earth's Mightiest
Earth's Mightiest
 
Posts: 2946
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:53 pm


Return to Dragon Age RPG

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests