Paroxysm Specialisation

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Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby 5trangeCase » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:50 pm

Wanted feedback on this, rattled it out for a wannabe "dark" mage with Blood Magic being a bit too illegal.

Paroxysm
Mage Specialisation

There is little doubt that the art of the Paroxysm is rooted in the Apostate mage, for this exploration of the dark avenues of Entropy is one that Circle would without doubt, find abhorrent. That said, Entropy magic is widely used among the Circle and, due to it sharing the same nature all other magic, despite its sinister character, has never been nearly considered taboo like Blood magic. For this reason, while a Circle Mage would struggle to find a tutor within the Circle who could teach her the ways of the Paroxysm, or indeed find a book that even mentioned the phenomenon, there is no good reason why a Circle Mage would be unable to take this path.

Despite that, upon finding an apostate that mastered this dark way, a Circle Mage would discover the reason it is rooted in the apostate, and perhaps find a wall they cannot surmount. In order to invoke this mastery of Entropy, the Paroxysm must know and wield a kind of suffering few can. Oppression, the mages of the Circle know, but being a pariah, to be hunted, to starve in paralysing fear as those you once loved pursued you seeking your death, this is the pain that one must understand in order to become the Paroxysm.

Some say that the reason the first Paroxysm mastered this school was to keep out the demons that would capitalise on the emotions that resonated within his soul; mastering them and wielding them like a weapon, rather than leaving them to ebb out uncontrollably, attracting unwanted visitors.

Paroxysm Talent
Class: Mage
Requirement: You must have Magic and Willpower 3 or higher, and Entropy Magic (Journeyman).

You can wield your darker emotions like a lash to smite your foes.

Novice: You gain one new Entropy spell. The use of Entropy magic leaves a lasting wake of chaotic energy on your psyche. You receive a +2 bonus to resist demonic possession, and those attempting to magically read your mind or emotions must succeed on a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test vs. your Spellpower or fail and suffer 1d6 penetrating damage.

Journeyman: Your spells, backed by dark emotions strike out and shock the minds of their victims. Targets that fail a test against one of your Entropy spells for the first time in an encounter may only make 1 Minor action on their next turn.

Master: You gain one new Entropy spell. Your magical power is enhanced by the vividness of your pain. You gain +2 Spellpower in the initial test a target makes to resist your Entropy spell.

I get that they wanted to stay away from school-specific specialisations, but what do you think? Too powerful?
Last edited by 5trangeCase on Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:15 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby ColdSteel1 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:39 pm

i like it. Maybe it can be tweaked to have the Paroxysm using mage to be weak in another school of magic like Creation or Spirit meaning that spells in such schools will be harder to cast.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby 5trangeCase » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:53 pm

Do you think its power warrants that, or do you think it'd just be nice flavour?
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby ColdSteel1 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:01 pm

5trangeCase wrote:Do you think its power warrants that, or do you think it'd just be nice flavour?


The answer for the first part of your question is no. I see nothing in the specialization that can be considered game breaking (then again this is my opinion) to even require a limit. So i'll go with flavor as to me such harnessed rage needs a sort of counterbalance.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby shonuff » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:25 pm

The one thing I would note is that typically when specializations grant abilties, they don't grant spells as well.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialization

Postby ColdSteel1 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:37 pm

shonuff wrote:The one thing I would note is that typically when specializations grant abilties, they don't grant spells as well.


You are right. I meant the difficulty of casting other spells of schools besides Entropy because of the Paroxysm specialization.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby 5trangeCase » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:18 am

shonuff wrote:The one thing I would note is that typically when specializations grant abilties, they don't grant spells as well.


I noticed that, which is why I was concerned about power. My justification would be that other specialisations that give you spells give you unique and often very powerful spells limited to the specialisation. This does not.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby shonuff » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:42 pm

I don't know.

1.) Novice cancels out Spirit Magic (Novice) and several spells and abilities; grants a bonus against demonic possession; and it gives 1 spell.

2.) Journeyman provides a stun and an additional spell.

3.) Master gives +2 spellpower to the specialization and a spell.

The bonus spells, IMO, make this overpowered. You also might want to consider having a cap on how many times characters can be stunned by the Journeyman ability in a given encounter. As is, Affliction Hex will neuter any encounter, because even if they make the save, a large amount of enemies will lose half of their actions. As soon as PCs keep figure out that they just need to fall back while repeating that spell, there will be a lot of flawless victories.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby 5trangeCase » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:05 am

I think that the anti-possession and mental invasion thing is obscure enough to be balanced, but I see what you mean about Journeyman. I thought it would be balanced because it still allowed foes to attack, cast spells etc, but if your PCs are ones to carefully think in terms of majors and minors, then it can be abused. What about...

Journeyman: Your spells, backed by dark emotions strike out and shock the minds of their victims. The first time a target fails a test against one of your Entropy spells per encounter, during their next turn they can only make 1 Major or 1 Minor action.

So the specialisation overall only gives you two spells, and requires you to get to Master in order to get the 2nd spell.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby shonuff » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:23 pm

5trangeCase wrote: I think that the anti-possession and mental invasion thing is obscure enough to be balanced...


IMO, I am not too keen on the mental invasion because, as written, there is no chance for success. Even then, a Perception (Empathy) test is just someone observing the character without any mental intrusion. The same failure could be extrapolated to other skills, too, such as Barter.

5trangeCase wrote: Journeyman: Your spells, backed by dark emotions strike out and shock the minds of their victims. The first time a target fails a test against one of your Entropy spells per encounter, during their next turn they can only make 1 Major or 1 Minor action.


I would limit it to 1 Minor action just for simplicity's sake.

5trangeCase wrote:So the specialisation overall only gives you two spells, and requires you to get to Master in order to get the 2nd spell.


I would get rid of the Master level spell, as well. A character who takes this specialization is probably going to have the Entropy talent, getting two bonus spells already. Additionally, you might want to limit the Master spellpower bonus, because at level 11, an entropy specialist would probably have the double focus, this Master specialization talent, and maybe 6 Magic... giving him/her a bonus of +11 to Entropy spells. The TN for Horror would be 21, which IMO would be a real nasty piece of work (as in too nasty, IMO).
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby 5trangeCase » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:01 am

Hmmm, I was uncertain about the Empathy thing. Ultimately, the balancing element was that Empathy and other emotional reading effects are extremely insignificant. They have no effect on combat, and whatever effect they have on roleplaying encounters is limited; it isn't exactly going to make the roleplaying encounters "unbalanced". I think I'll change it so Perception (Empathy) tests automatically fail due to the difficulty in reading anything emotional about someone whose emotions are so chaotic. And I'd keep the other effect as it is; you have to bear in mind two things:

1) It is a test vs. their Spellpower. An extremely powerful and high-level mage is going to have 7 Magic. Because the Spellpower is unmodified by any focus, at that level, the test is TN17. That test is difficult, but not impossible.

2) This effect is only occurs in the wake of casting an Entropy spell. If someone gets up in the morning and goes to a roleplaying encounter, they will not have this effect. Entropy spells are all targeted and have nasty effects, even if you were to metagame to get this effect, you'd have to find a volunteer to be on the receiving end of suffering or corner an innocent just to get a minor effect. The effect also will only last for 3 and a half hours for a high-level mage, meaning the journey from a fight to a nearby town could disperse that.

Yes, they will most likely take the Entropy talent, they already have to have Journeyman, a difficulty that could be said to balance it; but personally I included that so if the character wanted to get it at Level 6 she would have to focus all her energies into mastering Entropy magic (the talent at Level 3 and 5) in order to master it. Regardless, taking the Entropy talent cannot be used to say this is unbalanced based on the fact that they still have to expend one of their talents.

And Journeyman, weren't you just saying it was overpowered, now you're saying it should be much more powerful? :P

Hmmm, you may have a point about the Spellpower...Although I don't think a Level 11 character would necessarily have 6 Magic. Maybe if they rolled a 4 and neglected Cunning and Will a bit. I think I'll change that, so now the specialisation is:

Novice: You gain one new Entropy spell. The expulsion of an Entropy spell leaves a lasting wake of chaotic energy on your psyche. If you have cast an Entropy spell within the last Magic x 30 minutes you receive a +2 bonus against demonic possession, Perception (Empathy) tests automatically fail against you and any magical attempt to read your mind or emotions, must succeed on a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test vs. your Spellpower or suffer 1d6 penetrating damage and their attempt fails.

Journeyman: Your spells, backed by dark emotions strike out and shock the minds of their victims. The first time a target fails a test against one of your Entropy spells, during their next turn they can only make 1 Minor action (per encounter).

Master: You gain one new Entropy spell. Your magical power is enhanced by the vividness of your pain. You gain a +2 to Spellpower on the first test an enemy makes against one of your Entropy spells (per spell).

Can you help me with wording Journeyman and Master correctly? What I'm trying to communicate is that in Journeyman, if say an NPC fails a test against your Weakness, they can only make 1 minor action in their next turn, but if they later fail a test vs. your Horror, no additional effect is added. But, if they survive and you encounter them again and they fail a test against any one of your Entropy spells, they once again can only make 1 minor action in their next turn.

With Master, I'm trying to say that if you cast Horror on an enemy, on the initial test your Spellpower increases by 2, but if they fail and they take the test again at the beginning of their next turn, you don't have the Spellpower increase. But, unlike Journeyman, if you later cast even Horror again on the same enemy in the same encounter, your Spellpower once again increases for the first test, but does not for any subsequent tests.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby shonuff » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:02 am

5trangeCase wrote: Hmmm, I was uncertain about the Empathy thing. Ultimately, the balancing element was that Empathy and other emotional reading effects are extremely insignificant. They have no effect on combat, and whatever effect they have on roleplaying encounters is limited; it isn't exactly going to make the roleplaying encounters "unbalanced". I think I'll change it so Perception (Empathy) tests automatically fail due to the difficulty in reading anything emotional about someone whose emotions are so chaotic. And I'd keep the other effect as it is; you have to bear in mind two things:


I don't know. A person who has devoted a lot into reading people would still be able to decipher emotional content, IMO.

5trangeCase wrote:1) It is a test vs. their Spellpower. An extremely powerful and high-level mage is going to have 7 Magic. Because the Spellpower is unmodified by any focus, at that level, the test is TN17. That test is difficult, but not impossible.


Aha. I misread the initial ability as being a save vs. damage, not an opposed roll to determine success or failure and damage. My bad.

5trangeCase wrote:2) This effect is only occurs in the wake of casting an Entropy spell. If someone gets up in the morning and goes to a roleplaying encounter, they will not have this effect. Entropy spells are all targeted and have nasty effects, even if you were to metagame to get this effect, you'd have to find a volunteer to be on the receiving end of suffering or corner an innocent just to get a minor effect. The effect also will only last for 3 and a half hours for a high-level mage, meaning the journey from a fight to a nearby town could disperse that.


My issue with the empathy is two-fold. 1) It is much more complex than it really needs to be. How long does it last vs. when a spell is cast. Either it requires much more interaction about duration or it will be ignored. Neither, IMO, makes it worth the effort. 2) If a group likes to keep secrets from each other, and the Paroxyist is your only mage, it can become very unbalancing towards that player. Especially if the mage is part of your plot -- secret birth, Chantry spy, etc. Your mileage may vary on this, though, and if your group is just "Hey wanna kill a dragon" it might not even come into play.

5trangeCase wrote:Yes, they will most likely take the Entropy talent, they already have to have Journeyman, a difficulty that could be said to balance it; but personally I included that so if the character wanted to get it at Level 6 she would have to focus all her energies into mastering Entropy magic (the talent at Level 3 and 5) in order to master it. Regardless, taking the Entropy talent cannot be used to say this is unbalanced based on the fact that they still have to expend one of their talents.


I can see your point, but I also still see this mage getting loads of extra spells. :) Because most of the other specializations don't give extra spells, and if they do they typically don't give anything else at that Specialization level, I would suggest giving a decent enough ability and no spell.

5trangeCase wrote:And Journeyman, weren't you just saying it was overpowered, now you're saying it should be much more powerful? :P


Yeah, but you got rid of the spell, and this (while it makes the ability more powerful) cleans up the wording a bit. I like realism and balance, but I also like simplicity. :)

5trangeCase wrote:Novice: You gain one new Entropy spell. The expulsion of an Entropy spell leaves a lasting wake of chaotic energy on your psyche. If you have cast an Entropy spell within the last Magic x 30 minutes you receive a +2 bonus against demonic possession, Perception (Empathy) tests automatically fail against you and any magical attempt to read your mind or emotions, must succeed on a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test vs. your Spellpower or suffer 1d6 penetrating damage and their attempt fails.


Although discussed earlier, I'm going to recap: I would drop the duration and the restriction on Per (Empathy). I would keep the possession and the mental intrusion spell defense.

5trangeCase wrote:Journeyman: Your spells, backed by dark emotions strike out and shock the minds of their victims. The first time a target fails a test against one of your Entropy spells, during their next turn they can only make 1 Minor action (per encounter).


I think it's clear and balanced. How would Affliction Hex be affected by this ability?

5trangeCase wrote:Master: You gain one new Entropy spell. Your magical power is enhanced by the vividness of your pain. You gain a +2 to Spellpower on the first test an enemy makes against one of your Entropy spells (per spell).


I would still drop the extra spell. I think the +2 spellpower is worth it. I don't get why you put "(per spell)" at the end, but that also might be because you explained it... it seems clear to me. I thought about suggesting instead of +2 spellpower allowing the caster to buff 2-3 spells, but that would be too complicated, IMO.

I like that the +2 is only for the initial test vs. a spell -- that gives a bonus without making Horror stupid-strong.

Personally, I would definitely use this in a campaign (albeit with the tweaks I mentioned). I think it provides a good alternative to the problem of choosing blood mage, spirit healer, or shape shifter when you don't want to be any of them.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby 5trangeCase » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:49 am

I'm pleased to hear that you'd consider for use in your own campaign. Our campaign is not "let's go kill a dragon", but neither is it all about the characters being enemies of one another (we've done that to death); there will be one unsavoury character, but he's not a mage.

Ok, I'll take some of your suggestions on board...finally:

Novice: You gain one new Entropy spell. The expulsion of an Entropy spell leaves a lasting wake of chaotic energy on your psyche. You gain a +2 bonus to resisting demonic possession and any magical attempts at reading your mind or emotions must succeed on on a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test vs. your Spellpower or fail and suffer 1d6 penetrating damage.

Journeyman: Your spells, backed by dark emotions strike out and shock the minds of their victims. The first time a target fails a test against one of your Entropy spells, during their next turn they can only make 1 Minor action (per encounter).

Master: You gain one new Entropy spell. Your magical power is enhanced by the vividness of your pain. You gain a +2 to Spellpower on the first test an enemy makes against one of your Entropy spells (per spell).

The reason I put (per spell) at the end is because "the first test" can be read as "the very first test", as in only the first time an enemy ever makes a test against one of your Entropy spells. Yes, it's preposterous, but grammatically correct. I still think that the second spell is balanced, so I'm keeping that for now.

With Affliction Hex, because the Journeyman talent works on a target basis, and not a spell basis, each individual one of them that fails the test will only be able to take 1 Minor action in their next turn.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby Loswaith » Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:28 pm

Some tips on the wording
For journeyman you could use: "The first time (per encounter) a target fails to resist one of..."

While for master something like: "The target suffers a -2 penality to initially resist your entropy spells, while any subsequent attempts to resist the spell do not suffer the -2 penality."

Hope that helps.
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Re: Paroxysm Specialisation

Postby 5trangeCase » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:33 am

Thanks for the second one, but the first one seems to suggest that the effect only works once per encounter, and not once per target per encounter. Hmmm, but the second one has some problems of it's own. Yes it would be simpler for it to just manifest as a penalty, but ultimately, it is supposed to be a Spellpower boost, and if there were spells/talents/items that negate penalties in circumstances like this, then it doesn't work as intended.

Thanks for the advice though, I think I've got it nice and clear now, edited in the first post.
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