Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Art of Celestial Damage

I thought I would do a public service announcement to all celestial casters on how they can be more effective. I've played several celestial casters over the years, so I know what works and what doesn't. Here are some hints to keep in mind.

Get Yourself a Secondary Function

To be a proper celestial mage, you will not be casting celestial magic all the time. You've got to save it for key moments in battle. As is, you'll want to get yourself something else to do in your down time.

This might mean picking up a weapon (ideally a longer-range one), taking some healing skills, or even keeping notes. Find something to pass the time.

Embrace the Damage

I know you want to be a utility mage. And maybe you can be in chapters with cast on the fly. But in cases where it's memorization, take damage. Protectives, blade spells, and bindomancy can all be put in scrolls for when you need it. But the fact is, your damage is probably going to get returned or miss more often than other spells. On the other hand, shield magics should not be resisted/returned (unless something terrible is happening).

Sacking the Quarterback

One of the major functions of a celestial mage is to sack the quarterback. Sometimes the bad guy need to go down fast, in a bad, bad way. In those situations, celestial shines. While fighters might be able to put out more damage over time, celestial mages don't have to worry about things like blocking. And if it is a monster with resists/returns, they still have to call resists/returns. Those are precious seconds that they can't be doing other things.

Turning the Tide

I used to think the only use of the celestial caster was sacking the quarterback. But what is possibly more important than that is turning the tides of battle. You don't cast spells when everything is going well. You don't even do it when you're at a stand still. But feel free to unload when things start going poorly!

If you see a line start to falter, start dropping bombs until your team can stabilize. One celestial caster can quickly eliminate 3-4 lower end creatures without much trouble, and your team will appreciate it.

Battlefield Command

So often, battlefield command is given to fighters. Truth is, fighters make terrible commanders, because they're always trying to get in the shit. As a celestial caster, you should already be looking for swings in the battlefield. In addition, you've got down time.

That makes you an ideal Battlefield commander. It's yours for the taking.

Know what You're Getting Into

Now that you have read these tips, you should have a better understanding of what it means to be a celestial caster. You need to constantly monitor combat. You can't go full bore in all fights. You need to rely on your team. If that's not for you, then don't play a celestial caster.

With the exception of master wizards who hack (Merlin, Elminster), mages tend to be fragile in many ways but very powerful in others. The NERO celestial caster is more like Raistlin. Wise and powerful in short doses. If that's what you want, give celestial a try.


  1. Mark Henry ~MariusAugust 3, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I would suggest know you enemy, whether that means doing your own research (C.Os) or relying on other's knowledge.

    If you know a monster may have several resists/returns start at the ice bolt/flame bolt range to get him using returns/resists or at least thinking about it. Once those are out move up your tree to dragon's breaths.

    Cantrip damange has also put cel mages back into the fight a bit more.

  2. "But the fact is, your damage is probably going to get returned"
    Unless you go to some of the places (Nero Cincinnati/Indiana) where "I call forth" spells can't be resisted or returned.

  3. Mark Henry ~MariusAugust 3, 2011 at 11:05 AM


    The playtest is an interesting approach to making cel casters more useful. Unfortunately we are no longer comparing apples to apples anymore.

    My chapter has a base 10 playtest (in attempt to accomplish same thing), so making those not resistible or returnable could get hairy.

    To me personally the usefulness of cel casters vs a monster comes down to statting/scaling the monster appropriately. Limit the return/resists and add some more take double dmg from X element type.

    From what I gathered (cause i took a long break) people were just adding resists and returns like crazy so bosses lasted longer without thinking of the ramifications. I could be off here but that was the vibe I got.

  4. @Mark

    We considered base10, but reasoned that gave too much power to respawning NPCs. We wanted to give the power to the players who are cel casters.

    I've a ton of positive feedback on it.

    When you look at it, it's really not a playtest, but a statement to our players how we stat our monsters so they know ahead of time.

  5. I really like Eric's take on this. I think that the, "Don't use returns vs damage," and, "Almost every single monster has at least 1 Celestial vulnerability," fixes from the backstage side do a lot to help celestial casters. The vulnerabilities can be metaphorical, abstract or practically arbitrary. "Orcs have battle rage, rage is like fire, so Orcs take double from Ice." It can be as simple as that.

    I know this isn't what your post is about, but I can not express how much I despise both memorization and base-10 celestial. My earth spells felt utterly worthless at the WAR event I went to.

  6. Somewhat amusingly, the primary thing I got out of this post was "Holy mackerel, there are people out there still using memorization?!" o_O

  7. Yeah, it was a blast from the past... in a bad way. They say that it's to curb cheating, but it can't possibly be worth the hardship it brings to caster gameplay.

  8. @Eric and Mark

    In Hindsight, I should have switched the order for today and tomorrow's post. But I wanted to highlight the fact that even though celestial magic is currently gimped, it doesn't mean you can't still be effective with it.

    Please hold off on playtest/rules/ideas for cel magic until tomorrow's post.

  9. @Noah

    I don't see how celestial casters being more powerful makes you feel less powerful. I could understand it if there was a massive amount of celestial casters, but there just isn't. I feel like your base-10 hate is unjustified.

    But I can see the dislike of memorization. It creates a different feel to the game and increases the value of spell-like production skills, but it does limit a caster's ability which can be a problem when they already seem behind in game balance.

  10. The celestial casters' status effects have the same effect as mine, but all their numeric effects are double BEFORE any vulnerabilities are applied. I don't think the less-powerfulness is a feeling, that's a mathematical fact. Also consider the following:

    They already effect a higher portion of NPCs than earth spells - roughly two thirds of all Nero NPCs are immune to all earth effects, while there are exactly zero that are immune to all celestial effects. Similarly, I think a total of four standard creatures take double damage from necromancy, while half-or-so of all NPCs have at least one celestial vulnerability. Also, their production item is throwable and doesn't require a minimum three seconds to use, which is a significant advantage. Furthermore, it's easier for a celestial caster to use potions than it is for an earth caster to use scrolls. If your potions are labeled by color, you don't need any game skill to use them, whereas you need at least Read Magic to use scrolls and 4th level celestial spells to use the highest level of them. Finally, there are simply more celestial damage spells than there are earth damage spells.

    To add double base damage on top of all those other advantages is unfair, in my opinion. The fact the necromancy bypasses armor is nowhere near the equivalent of double damage.