Training Magic in 3.1

Thank you for continuing to read my journal. I understand many people are confused and/or frustrated by the changes to magic mechanics and experience gains in 3.1.This will be focused on magic training as an academic endeavor and not so much efficacy or ideal utilization of magic.

First, you’ll want to understand why the changes were made. Second, you’ll want to understand a few basic fundamental changes they’ve made to the way spells operate. And third, you’ll want to experiment with your own spells and find the practical and useful limits for your spells and mana amounts.

*** Why the Change? ***

The biggest set of changes to magic have been geared with the intent to make experience gained from spell casting increase as difficulty of the task increases – effectively, the harder spell you cast, the more experience you’ll gain. Spells you can cast without any effort will not yield any training. Casting difficult spells either because they naturally challenge you or through forcefully increasing their difficulty and spending time performing magical research are two most effective to train.

*** Cyclics ***

The first thing you may have noticed is that cyclics do not provide the continuous boon of experience many magic users have grown accustomed to. Cyclic spells that challenge the caster will teach to a finite skill level (see below), and even then will only teach for a few minutes before experience gains taper off and stop completely. Combined with regular spellcasting, cyclics can still provide a great source of training if managed properly. In order to keep learning via cyclics, you must remember to regularly release and re-cast the same or other cyclic spells.

The best way to learn, however, is once again repeatedly casting challenging spells at challenging mana for training purposes. For those of you who played prior to the release of Magic 3.0, it probably will feel like those days. For those who grew up in the 3.0 cyclic world, I apologize, but things will get more complicated. Read on to see how to learn in this new 3.1 landscape.

*** Discern ***

You’ve probably used DISCERN and dismissed it outright as not particularly useful nor accurate. It is more accurate than you might think (though I can produce several examples that are completely off base). But anyway, take this example:

R>discern halo
Much as the Divine Radiance and Shield of Light spells solidify lucent energy into solid matter, the Halo spell forms a powerful wall of light that echoes away from the caster.  If successful, this force will push foes at close range back, and may even knock them into a daze or send them sprawling.  The Undead are especially susceptible to these magics, often suffering wounds at the brunt of the holy energy crashing into them.

The Halo pattern will lie dormant until you are within pole or melee range of an opponent, at which time it will activate.  If woven into an Osrel Meraud orb, however, the power held within will not be unleashed until such a time as you are in serious peril, such as being severely wounded or incapacitated.

Alternately, you may infuse mana into the spell pattern and immediately invoke the halo yourself.

This is a battle spell, intended to be prepared quickly and cast on a single target while in battle.  When used on opponents, this spell pits your magic against your enemy’s reflex.  It can be cast without a target.  It requires a minimum of thirty mana streams, and can expand to a maximum of one hundred mana streams woven into it.  To begin to be able to cast this spell, you will need to reach the rank of a 50th degree adept.  By the time you have mastered this spell, you will be ranked as a guru in your abilities as a caster.  It requires the Warding and Debilitation skills to cast effectively.  Before you can learn this spell, you must know Divine Radiance and Major Physical Protection, and be circle 20.  It will also cost four spell slots.

You think you could weave at most 43 mana streams into this spell.
Roundtime: 10 sec.

This information is telling me what Halo is – a wall of light that will repel enemies at pole or melee range and do physical damage to undead. It also informs me of how the spell works – it will activate when enemies are within a certain range, can be infused to activate, or will infuse when I’m in peril if I’ve woven the spell into my Osrel Meraud orb.

Finally, the last full paragraph tells about the mechanics of the spell –  short preparation battle spell, it uses a ‘Save vs. Reflex’ against enemies, it’s cast between 30-100 mana, it requires a 50th degree adept (250 ranks of relevant skill to cast), will teach up to guru level (1249 ranks), uses warding and debilitation skills, the prerequisites to learn the spell, and the number of spell slots it uses.

Most importantly to the conversation of learning magic, assuming basic and unbuffed mental stats, no mastery-feats learned, no magic skill buffs, no cleric alignment bonuses or penalties, and no other modifications to your casting, you won’t be able to cast the spell until you’ve reached 250 ranks in primary magic, utility, and warding. It will continue teaching up until 1249 ranks, where, like monsters in combat training, it will stop teaching.

Modifications to spellcasting abilities like masteries, buffs, and abnormally high mental stats will allow you to cast the spell sooner and at more mana than DISCERN suggests while experience rewards are still based on the raw-skill check. That means that one could likely cast this spell prior to reaching 250 ranks and cast it with capped-mana well before reaching 1249 ranks, but it will still teach in those ranges.

Halo is an esoteric level spell, and as such, has a very high casting skill range. Introductory, basic, and advanced spells have significantly different ranges. Take these examples:

Centering: To begin to be able to cast this spell, you will need to reach the rank of a lowly novice.  By the time you have mastered this spell, you will be ranked as a professional in your abilities as a caster.

Minor Physical Protection: To begin to be able to cast this spell, you will need to reach the rank of a lowly novice.  By the time you have mastered this spell, you will be ranked as an authority in your abilities as a caster.

Malediction: To begin to be able to cast this spell, you will need to reach the rank of a beginning practitioner.  By the time you have mastered this spell, you will be ranked as a master in your abilities as a caster.

Based on this page, you can see what skill rank corresponds to the in-game RP terms. This should give you an idea of which spells teach to what skill caps if you take the time to DISCERN the spells you use frequently.

*** Symbioses ***

In order to keep learning beyond the skill cap of a particular spell, you’ll need to increase its difficulty. This can be done with the new Symbiosis meta-spell system via Research. Click either of those words to get a guide to those mechanisms.

Symbioses will allow you to add extra spell power (except in the case of the Chaos Symbiosis) onto an existing spell with the side effect of increasing the base spell’s difficulty to where even an introductory spell becomes difficult for high-level mages and will continue to teach.

You must first build a Symbiosis pattern by RESEARCHing a SYMBIOSIS. This symbiosis will stay memorized until you die or release it intentionally. Lapsing GAF or other research endeavors will not harm or interfere with your stored symbiosis.

Once you have researched a Symbiosis to completion, you can then prepare (via PREPARE SYMBIOSIS) it at any time during the spell casting process – either prior to preparing your spell or while preparing it. Symobioses will only activate when you successfully cast a non-battle spell (again, refer to DISCERN to see if a spell is a battle spell if you’re lost on this). Backfires or released preparations or counterspell effects will not affect the symbiosis; it will affect the next spell you cast instead.

From what I can roughly tell, adding a symbiosis will approximately double a spell’s difficulty, meaning an introductory spell that caps at Professional level (499 ranks) will stop teaching even with a symbiosis around 1000 ranks. Esoteric spells should then teach all the way up to (and beyond) the game’s hard skill limit of 2000 ranks.

*** Research ***

Researching is a way to dedicate your time and focus towards magical research. A project takes over ten minutes to complete but will provide you with a predictable and useful experience reward at completion. You can read my whole write-up here: Research 3.1.

This ability is recommended if you’re wanting to learn magic where it is rude or impractical to repeatedly cast spells to train. It’s also useful if you don’t have spells of a particular skill-type over a level at which you surpass the skill-cap. For example, Empaths are particularly low on warding spells and have none that teach beyond advanced skill. If it’s preferred to not have to use a symbiosis, an empath wouldn’t be able to learn warding above a certain amount, and even with a symbiosis, would eventually reach a point where the skill is completely unlearnable through casting. In these instances, the Research option is useful.

*** TM/Debil ***

If you’ve read these guides and not skipped parts, you’ll know that battle spells are not compatible with symbioses and if you’ve read your RESEARCH LIST, you’ll see that there is no Targeted Magic or Debilitation research options.

To learn these spells, it will work to how it did in 3.0: you’ll need to use these skills in the fray and against enemies that give you a proper skill check against your ability in these skills. You can check how an enemy will teach you by APPRAISING it. You may need to appraise something carefully to get the necessary information. See the example below:

>app drake careful
You are certain that the lava drake is healthy.
You are certain that the lava drake has an incredible spirit that is healthy.
You are certain that it is somewhat stronger than you are.
You are certain that it is a little more agile than you are.
You are certain that it is about as disciplined as you are.
You are certain that it is apparently as quick to react as you are.
You are certain that it is somewhat more conditioned than you are.
Taking stock of its offensive abilities, and defending with a brass-trimmed targe embossed with a screeching falcon and a battle monk’s parry stick branded with interlocking holy symbols, you are certain that the lava drake is a challenging opponent.
Taking stock of its defensive abilities, and attacking with your fists, you are certain that the lava drake is a very difficult opponent.
If you brawled with the enemy, you are certain that it would train exceptionally well, but you probably won’t be landing many blows.
If you defended by parrying attacks, you are certain that the enemy would train very well.
If you defended by evading attacks, you are certain that the enemy would train exceptionally well.
If you defended by blocking attacks, you are certain that the enemy would train exceptionally well.
If you attempted to beguile the enemy with tactics, you are certain that it would train exceptionally well, but you probably won’t be affecting it..
If you targeted and cast a spell at the enemy, you are certain that it would train very well, provided you can land a spell.
If you attempted to debilitate the enemy, you are certain that it would train very well, provided you can affect it..
The drake appears immune to fire.

In this example, you can see that my debilitation and targeted magic would teach well, tough I may have difficulty landing a spell. Like DISCERN, this information appears to disregard buffs, masteries, and bonuses. The drake will teach in a particular range, even if casting at it imposes minor difficulties.

Good luck to all you magic users. Feel free to comment with corrections, suggestions, questions, or comments. Thank you for reading.

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