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Alechmy by the numbers.

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Serin_Marst

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« Reply #15 on: (23:58:26/09-16-19) »
Hence the quotes.

I meant that to represent "command trigger that didn't require the alchemist to activate it".  "Potions" seemed like a reasonable shorthand.  You're not wrong, but I was just trying to come up with a balanced distinction between traps and one-off buffs.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #16 on: (03:14:44/09-17-19) »
It's not so much a penalty as diminishing returns.

As it stands, the more you invest, the less you gain.  The ratio of base dice pool to final result is not constant.  I don't entirely agree with SK's assessment, but i do agree this doesn't pass the smell test.  The current idea on preparations is that you trade raw power and flexibility for drain mitigation and utility(cheaper action economy and self-sustaining(?, 6e isn't clear and it's built into manipulation spells)). 

I'm noodling on an idea that the final potency should be a fixed penalty based on trigger.
Something like alchemy(focus) - trigger penalty.
Probably tweak the trigger penalties to something like:
Touch: -1
Timed: -2
Command: -3
"Potion": -4
Ah that does sound nice, I think that kind of penalty would work well with the lengthy creation process. Would need to math it out later.
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Finstersang

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« Reply #17 on: (08:41:02/09-17-19) »
The current idea on preparations is that you trade raw power and flexibility for drain mitigation and utility(cheaper action economy and self-sustaining(?, 6e isn't clear and it's built into manipulation spells)). 

And apart from the current RAW totally failing to convey this, maybe we should have a look at the whole premise as well. The dwindling few that still try to defend 6th Editionīs Alchemy (usually as some kind of devilīs advocate - seriously, who actually thinks that Alchemy/Enchanting is even remotely playable right now?), you often hear this "tradoff" rationalisation.

So, compared to Spellcasting, itīs supposed to be a tradeoff between
  • Raw power (which is a nice way of saying "Your spells have piss-poor dicepools")
  • Flexibility (which is a nice way of saying "You only have a handfull of spells to throw around compared to a spellcaster, who can do so at will unless he/she passes out. Which he wonīt, because Focused Concentration and Incease Attribute über alles  ;D)
And
  • Drain Mitigation (You basically suffer the drain in you downtime and sleep it off. Itīs more like a kind of workerīs fatigue.)
  • Utility (With Errata, weīll probably get at least the Auto-Sustain back, and the contact trigger and timer trigger theoratically allow for some shenanigans like traps, portable spells for mundane team members and timed spell bombs.)

The fact that there are two buzzwords/bullet-points on each scale might imply that there is some kind of balance here. On a closer look, this idea falls apart very quick:

  • The loss in "raw power" means that many spells will likely not be able to work at all or only have a very small effect.
  • Flexibility and Utility are correlated, because being able to cast spells whenever you want without prep time is a huge utility factor. This doesnīt scale well against the the options to build contact trigger traps, trinkets and time bombs, which are also quite prone to unexpected events and complications.
    • In fact, "Raw power" and "Utility" is correlated as well. A spell that doesnīt hit has no utility  ::)
    • The self-sustain (which isnīt even RAW yet...) is easily outclassed by Focused Concentration and Sustaining Foci.
    • A lot of spells donīt even make sense as alchemical preparations, unless you take the Command trigger (a.k.a. the "I just cast it like a regular spellcaster, but with less dice"-trigger): Levitation, Fling, Mind Control...
    • And letīs not forget the elephant in the room: Edge! True, Alchemist can use Edge when making the preparation (I mean... I suppose they can ? ???), but that Edge falls victim to the nested dice pools and offers a diminishing return compared to the Edge a spellcaster uses to enhance the dice pool directly. When the preparation goes off, you canīt earn or use edge on that roll. The opposition can, though! (Fun fact: The word "Edge" is completely absent from the Alchemy section. Itīs as if this was written/compiled by someone who was completely out of the loop  :P)
  • Drain Mitigation could be somewhat of a selling point if it werenīt for the fact that spellcasters need only one spell and focused Concentration 2 to make drain almost nonexistent. Hell, Alchemists might be the only type of magic user that sometimes may actually risk physical drain if they are not carefull, due to the increased Drain from the triggers.

Itīs an understatement that this doesnīt scale at all. Apart from few "gimmicky" options, which are also gutted at every oppurtunity ("Health Potions?! Not on my watch!"  >:(), alchemy is strictly worse than spellcasting in every single regard, and its hardly functional on its own, even without that comparison. So, what to do (assuming that you fine and able people havenīt given up already)?

  • IMO, the very first thing that should get dropped from that scale is that "loss of raw power". Seriously, this should have happened back in 5th Edition already, and Iīm shocked that the devs stuck with that in 6th Edition. Weak dice pools will always be a deal-breaker.
  • Second: Reagents. These should be a key part of the work of an alchemists, and could prove a good tool to help balance a general increase of Power for Alchemists. Consider additional uses of Reagents that increase the dice pools of Preparation to spellcaster-level (and  even beyond!)
  • More creative triggers! These bring the utility thatīs supposed to makes up for all that prep time. Right now, they often just add more hoops to jump through to make the magic happen when itīs supposed to happen. How about Contact Triggers that are primed to a specific person? Triggers that go off when coming in contact with blood, or fire, or an Astral being? And ffs, add actual Potions!

Something Iīd be hesitant about, though: Going back to minutes in prep time. Itīs tempting to just "undo the nerf" from 5th to 6th Edition and call it a day. But that would mean that Alchemists will once again spend their downtime with annoying solo dice pool battles (Make Preparation, Soak Drain, Sleep, rinse and repeat) to cook up their dozen of shitty preparations. Iīd rather keep the longer prep time, but with vastly better results.
« Last Edit: (08:42:52/09-17-19) by Finstersang »

Tecumseh

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« Reply #18 on: (13:36:00/09-17-19) »
seriously, who actually thinks that Alchemy/Enchanting is even remotely playable right now?

I would limit this specifically to Alchemy. Enchanting includes Artificing, which I think is playable right now, and maybe even on the generous side. But that's a separate topic.

("Health Potions?! Not on my watch!"  >:()

This is my position, yes, but first let's clarify our definitions. For me, a "potion" is a basically a Touch-triggered preparation of a Health spell, which is to say that it isn't a Command trigger that requires the caster to be present. My position is still that this would alter the nature of the game too radically. That said, Finstersang, you say intelligent things so I'm interested in your thoughts on the matter. Do you want potions just to make Alchemy more useful/interesting, or do you think that the game world needs them to fulfill a specific role?

Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #19 on: (13:48:29/09-17-19) »
Ok, I'm utterly confused.

Where in the rules is this penalty that gets bigger the better you are?

Reading the PDF (but I don't see any errata in the errata document, so it should be the same as the book) on p150 I see that a preparation is created by rolling Enchanting + Magic vs Drain Value, Potency is the net hits on this roll.
The Drain Value is: spell Drain Value + effects + trigger Drain Value - reagents used
The time taken to create is: Drain Value hours (hey look reagents do reduce the time taken?)

Am I missing something?

It’s a math based scaling loss of dice. Since effectively 1 in 3 dice creates 1/2 your pool you lose a scaling 2 dice per your pool size.

If I roll 12 dice I get 4 hits+my magic of 6 for a die pool of 10-hits receive from drain die pool probably 2 so 8 I total. My die pool is effectively my pool-4. Now if I rolled 18 dice because specialization, mentor spirit etc I get 6 hits+6-2 total 10 dice or now a 8 die drop from my pool.

Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #20 on: (14:05:47/09-17-19) »
I don’t mind a small hit in power. But I think the loss of flexibly of going to hours makes them useless no matter how powerful they are in far too many runs and campaigns. Basically they won’t get past any security check point and you can’t adapt unless you are given large amounts of time to prep. So they’d work in a planned raid or on the random times you happen to have the right thing for the job when someone jumps you. But that’s about it.

I actually think the test to make them should largely be dropped. It’s downtime. I assume you made it. Drain tests is all I’d do which even in a hits long test I assume you have to deal with. If there is a test make it a easy threshold that can be bought with hits unless you amp it up.

Personally I’d limit how far they can be amped more than spell casting probably will be after errata because I do think it should be a bit weaker.

For touch and time delay I think the main change should be they are a two stage trigger, command to activate the next trigger touch or time. That way they can you know actually be functional. You make  it. It’s then basically inert. You send the command and the countdown begins or the next person to touch it triggers it. I mean seriously even when it was minutes was a touch trigger or time trigger ever used pre magic gloves etc. With hours the few hypothetical options of touch with setting a trap or something go out the window except in the most manufactured of scenarios.

I’m okay with health spells only going through command triggers if healing potions are too big of a swing from the setting. Though I think UMT was a far bigger swing from the setting.

Finstersang

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« Reply #21 on: (18:34:59/09-17-19) »
seriously, who actually thinks that Alchemy/Enchanting is even remotely playable right now?

I would limit this specifically to Alchemy. Enchanting includes Artificing, which I think is playable right now, and maybe even on the generous side. But that's a separate topic.


True that, although Iīm really baffled on why they even put the Artificing part into the core rules in the first place. For me, thatīs obviously advanced stuff that should have been explained in detail in a supplement, just like the shitty 4 pages wasted on the ritual spellcasting copypasta...

("Health Potions?! Not on my watch!"  >:()

This is my position, yes, but first let's clarify our definitions. For me, a "potion" is a basically a Touch-triggered preparation of a Health spell, which is to say that it isn't a Command trigger that requires the caster to be present. My position is still that this would alter the nature of the game too radically. That said, Finstersang, you say intelligent things so I'm interested in your thoughts on the matter. Do you want potions just to make Alchemy more useful/interesting, or do you think that the game world needs them to fulfill a specific role?

For me, itīs a little more concrete than that. Itīs a liquid that has to be actually ingested by a living being to trigger the magical effect. Possibly not right away, but at the end of the combat round, similar to a poison or drug. No cheesy workarounds like "Yeah, itīs actually the bottle thatīs enchanted and not the liquid, because you canīt enchant liquids", no special gloves or pockets needed to handle it without accidentaly setting it off, no "just splash it in your face, it works just the same as if you drink it", no rule-lawyering discussions on how big "the next living material" (p.150) has to be to trigger the preparation.

Why should these be a thing? First and foremost: Flavour. Itīs one of the first things that players expect when they hear that thereīs an alchemy option as an alternative to regular spellcasting. Iīve encountered quite a flew players who were interested in picking up an alchemist, and some of them already lost their appetite - without having any further look at the flawed numbers - just because this is not an option. The workarounds mentioned above are just not as satisfying as making a "real" potion that you have to drink to trigger the effect. And health spells - the most obvious choice for potions - are even explicitly forbidden for contact triggers. Because, unlike spirit armies with hardened Armor and Drain Soak pools of 20 right out of chargen, this would be just too much Magicrun ::)

Second: It adds another layer of utility. Itīs not the same as a contact trigger, since itīs safer to handle and more reliable to employ on yourself. It takes some trickery to use it on an unwilling target, tho. Which can also be part of the fun. Spiking drinks with Laes or Chloral Hydrate is sooo mundane...

In the same vein (no pun intended), Iīd also suggest a trigger that goes off when coming into contact with blood. Mechanically, this allows for the spell to be "delivered" like an injection vector toxin, but you could also use it for some kind of theatralic black-magic-ritual-style appliances. And fluff-wise, you could add a little pinch of "Whaitaminit that sounds like B-b-b-blood magic?" discussions to spice it up :P
« Last Edit: (10:59:57/09-18-19) by Finstersang »

PatrolDeer

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« Reply #22 on: (10:01:21/09-18-19) »
Enchanting includes Artificing, which I think is playable right now, and maybe even on the generous side. But that's a separate topic.

1.I would like to ask if you agree with the rule on Artificing, which says that if you roll a critical glitch, you loose a point of Essence (p.152)  :o , cuz Artificing is not for weak characters. I understand that with strong large dice pool (expected of an advanced and skilled Alchemyst) the chance to roll a critical glitch is low, but isn't that a little bit too much of a punishment for bad luck ? Wouldn't loosing a point of Magic be enough?

2.Most of utility (non-combat) spells have a drain value of 3 or 4, spending reagents with Contact trigger gets the player to 2 (3) hour prep time and 2 (3) drain, essentially reducing the initial drain value, thus reducing the number of opposed dice for Potency test, which is very good in my opinion. Manipulate plastic is 2 drain, you can pretty much do this on the spot and tear down a roof made out of composite material, if you use edge and get a good number of net hits - 3 cubic meters is a lot.  Yes you can do this anyway with casting the spell, but Aspected magicans focusing solely on Enchanting or Mystic Adepts/Enchanters are just cool to play 8)

3.I am curious though, about the action economy. Using a preparation SR6, page 203 says that a preparation is almost the same as casting a spell. In that case, do I need to spend the Cast spell action in the moment when the preparation is triggered? What happens if I planted a trap to cover my back in combat, or to start chaos at a banquette and someone triggers it via Contact or the Time trigger goes off. Will I be than "taxed" a major action to start the encounter with? Pick up/put down object is a Major action. I have a Contact preparation in my pocket, do I have to spend 2 Major actions  - one to touch the preparation, second to Cast spell?

I don't hate on the rules, nor on the developers, I am just curious of your opinions.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #23 on: (10:32:43/09-18-19) »
12 dice gives you a rounded chance of 0.011% chance at a critical glitch, that's about 1/9000. And that's excluding the ability to use Edge to compensate.

As for contact/time, they simply go off. You don't need to actually cast it, the preparation 'casts' the spell.

And I'd allow a touch as a minor, since you're not manipulating the object, just touching it.
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Finstersang

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« Reply #24 on: (11:12:31/09-18-19) »
The trick with contact triggers is to control who touches them where and when. They are best to be used as charms for your teammates (put them into some kind of wrapper or in a little bag so they donīt go off prematurely) and to build traps by enchanting things that are likely to be touched. Itīs a bit risky, though: Nosy civilians and even pets might trigger them as well.

Speaking of pets: RAW, the best workaround to build a remotely triggered "alchemical bomb" involves a Touch trigger, a little bit of workshoping to build a special cage with a wirelessly triggered trapdoor and a trip to the local zoo store. Which is a bit silly, but so damn funny that Iīd definitely allow it  ;D

(I recommend mice or rats, pet hamsters are quite fragile)
« Last Edit: (11:14:55/09-18-19) by Finstersang »

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #25 on: (11:19:36/09-18-19) »
I just had a flashback to the 5e thread about whether Watchers could set off contact triggers.  Hrm.  I'm bored... sounds like something to go look at in the new CRB...
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Serin_Marst

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« Reply #26 on: (14:57:27/09-18-19) »
.I am curious though, about the action economy. Using a preparation SR6, page 203 says that a preparation is almost the same as casting a spell. In that case, do I need to spend the Cast spell action in the moment when the preparation is triggered?

Per command trigger, p150. Triggering a command preparation is a minor action.  As, MC said, the other two types are incidental to other actions. 

Some interesting thoughts all around

PatrolDeer

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« Reply #27 on: (15:35:22/09-18-19) »
12 dice gives you a rounded chance of 0.011% chance at a critical glitch, that's about 1/9000. And that's excluding the ability to use Edge to compensate.

As for contact/time, they simply go off. You don't need to actually cast it, the preparation 'casts' the spell.

And I'd allow a touch as a minor, since you're not manipulating the object, just touching it.

Thanks for the answer Michael, I really appreciate it :)
I am new to the system and I am asking question to get things right, as I will be running the game with friends which are also completely new to the setting. I know it might seem like an obvious reasoning that it doesn't cost an action (or it costs a minor one), but rather safe than sorry.

I do have a correction though, the section Craft the focus page 152 specifically says that you can't spend an Edge on that test. That's why I was a bit surprised with the Essence loss threat.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #28 on: (16:20:49/09-18-19) »
Right! Forgot about that. You definitely want to have an even dicepool for less glitch chances, but the odds aren't bad.

It's annoying to calculate btw. I had to multiply the chance of no hits with the chance at 7+ '4' on 12 d4s (12d{0:3, 1:1} on anydice.com). Still not as bad as combining summoning and drain which requires emulation software.
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Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #29 on: (22:25:43/09-18-19) »
The trick with contact triggers is to control who touches them where and when. They are best to be used as charms for your teammates (put them into some kind of wrapper or in a little bag so they donīt go off prematurely) and to build traps by enchanting things that are likely to be touched. Itīs a bit risky, though: Nosy civilians and even pets might trigger them as well.

Speaking of pets: RAW, the best workaround to build a remotely triggered "alchemical bomb" involves a Touch trigger, a little bit of workshoping to build a special cage with a wirelessly triggered trapdoor and a trip to the local zoo store. Which is a bit silly, but so damn funny that Iīd definitely allow it  ;D

(I recommend mice or rats, pet hamsters are quite fragile)

That’s sort of why I think raw needs to change. If you have to jump through bizarre hoops to get it to work maybe the rule should change to get the hoops to go away. Touch and time need to actually be triggers that function. That’s why they made those stupid gloves in supplement x. Because touch just didn’t work.

By RAW a flexible enough GM can work things like you suggest. Though touch is finicky based on how far it will extend and activate by auras. So yeah boxes that suspend the item so no matter where you pick up the box it’s a inch or two away is kind of needed. Wrapping it up in parchment paper probably wont cut it. Even if you are Enki the butcher.