Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

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The Undying
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Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

Post by The Undying » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:13 am

A lot of people have talked about how they wish there was a [sanctioned] ability to lower Mystic Defense (MD) in ED4 like there was in earlier editions. I see pluses and minuses to the idea, one big problem being that a number of redesigned Talents, spells, and abilities are likely very much costed and effect-bound based on the idea that this function does not exist in the ED4 system. That being said, I think there's a good argument for the function, if access is appropriately limited.

It seems like the goals for this function vary wildly across tables. Much of the previous discussion has focused around the idea of in-combat capacity, which is a bit repugnant to me. As such, I seriously doubt that we, as a community, would every be able to come up with a general recommendation that would be acceptable to most - and really, if people aren't going to reuse it, is there value in trying to codify a capability (unless you're trying to codify YOUR TABLE's ability and are seeking input)?

Anyways, here's how I'm going to address this function in the future. I'd like to share it, in case others find it useful. Feel free to post your own take on things here as well. If you're generally against the idea of this optional rule, I'd also like to hear your input here.

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Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense
A character can meditate in order to temporarily lower their mystic defense in order to receive greater benefit from Talents, spells, and other effects. Meditiation is required because Mystic Defense is a measure of the pattern and mind's strength to resist outside influence, and reasonable focus and effort is required in order to lower these automatic responses. Meditation requires one continuous minute of relative quiet and relaxation during which the character cannot perform Actions (including combat), cannot be engaged in strenuous activity, and cannot perform any activities requiring focus or detail attention (including being aware of their surroundings to avoid attack). However, the meditating character can engage in friendly conversation. After the minute, the character's Mystic Defense becomes 6 for ALL effects, from all sources, regardless of hostile or friendly intent or results. The character can maintain this state for as long as they desire, so long as they continue to meet the conditions. A character that wants to use a Talent, spell, or effect on themself has a limited opportunity. Once the character ends the meditiation, the have one minute (ten turns) within which they can perform Actions and still receive the lower Mystic Defense. However, during this time, the lower Mystic Defense is still in effect for ALL effects, as previously noted.
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Why meditation?

- It makes sense. Mystic Defense comes from four primary places: inherent (Willpower, Discipline), Thread Items, shield, and effects (Talents, spells, etc). The latter three can be removed or suspended to lower a Mystic Defense temporarily. Even in the case of Thread Items, once the item is no longer in general contact with the character, the effects are suspended. The only penalty on all these is time - time to remove and re-equip, time to re-perform Talents and spells, etc. It's that first one that really needs a mechnism, and as an inherent defense of the character, meditation makes the most sense as a real world analogy.

- We have a real world construct for it, so we can naturally relate to it. It takes time to get into the relaxed state, and other than forms of zen (like tai chi, etc), the general picture is a person sitting peacefully and trying to push away all the clutter in their minds. There's also reasonable latitude: some people do some light crafting while they relax, some people perform some motions, etc. The catch here, though, is it isn't really doable during over-land travel (unless the character is being transported a la caravan): too much expectation that characters are aware of their surroundings, including terrain and hazards, to really relax.

- It avoids what I feel is the most outlandish desire for lowered mystic defense: combat. The idea that anyone has the presence of mind in combat to determine where the source of an effect is coming from and determine whether it is hostile or not while also fighting and paying attention to the chaos around them makes no sense to me. Further, the idea that they could relax all of the mental defenses to allow the effect to land more effectively, while still engaging in the rigors of combat feels ludicrous. Last, the idea that someone could do that for a single effect in a turn, rather than doing it for an entire turn (a la combat option) is completely outside credibility to me.

- It takes time. This slightly feeds into the combat thing, but moreso, ED4 seems to have built in more time elements as a cost factor. Many more things take meaningful amounts of time where they didn't before, or they take noticably longer. Summoning is a great example. One minute is simple and not overly punitive. Realistically, this isn't enough time to achieve a peaceful mind state, but who cares - it's enough for the short effect we want.

Lastly, why lower Mystic Defense for all effects, not just a target effect? Again, this just makes sense. The character is lower their defenses, which means they are lowered, period, full stop. Especially in the case of effects not of an Adept's Discipline, it's also hard to justify that an Adept could tell how any particular effect feels as it resolves in order to selectively lower defense for that. Furthermore, if your defenses are lowered, and a hostile effect DOES come in, raising the defenses is far from instantaneous.

[Minor correction: This optional rule does not also depend on the character stripping off all their MD equipment and letting MD effects expire. Meditation accounts for all four of the sources of MD I described earlier and brings the total current MD down to the lowered value. This rule would be fairly painful if it ALSO required the character to take 1-2 minutes to strip down following by the same to re-equip.]
Last edited by The Undying on Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The Undying
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Re: Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

Post by The Undying » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:13 am

In the remainder of this post, I'm going to maintain a list of any potential hazards such an optional rule could create. This is important as any GM weighing the addition of this optional rule should know where it could cause problems so they can make an informed decision.

- Summoning (Aid Summoner).

Current system is CHA+SR vs TMD (which is likely 10-15 for a magician). Honestly, this ability is kinda bad right now. No guaranteed success, and given the MD of the summoner, we're usually talking a SR 5 spirit before there's even a REASONABLE chance you get A SINGLE bump, let along multiple bumps. This also provides +1/success while most other Talents in this framework provide +2/success. Granted, this +1 can be applied to ANY Talent, making it more versatile and that should affect the power level. HOWEVER, all the other Talents are at-the-ready available as Simple or Free Actions; this ability requires a 30 minute ritual on the front end and only lasts for an hour, maybe two. That time penalty ought to equally weigh into this cost/benefit analysis. As such, I'm okay with the impact lowered MD can have here - the conditions under which a summoner actual has access to this is fairly limited, it should be good rather than hoe-hum. Plus, Enhance Summoner still significantly outshines it, so no harm there.

Scherme
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Re: Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

Post by Scherme » Fri May 24, 2019 6:52 pm

I am not sure what was RAW or house rules anymore.

The way I always played it was that during combat (and outside combat) you were able to lower your MD to a minimum of 2. During combat this would last for the entire round.

Lowering your MD during combat for the purpose of accepting a beneficial spell was fine but there needed to be someone calling out, basically telling you they were planning to cast the spell on you, and then you would need to respond. Free actions.

Where this becomes tricky was the possibility of intelligent enemy spellslingers hearing members of the opposing party calling out that they were lowering their MD and then attacking the lowered MD. We came up with a password. The caster would ask the person a nonsense question (determined before hand) and either receive a yes or no in reply.

If this was agreed upon before hand, anytime I would hear my parties spellcaster (with a history of buffing the party) ask me a nonsense question, I would know he/she was planning on casting a buff on me and would lower my MD if I felt safe to do so.

In 4E extra successes would be so much easier with the ability to lower ones MD to 2, so maybe an alternate minimum is required if the rule is planned to be used.

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Re: Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

Post by Mataxes » Sat May 25, 2019 12:26 am

Just to note, an official rule was added in the ED4 Companion covering this. Rather than deal with the potentially bizarre and annoying timing issues that might arise, what we decided was that a helpful spell cast by an ally (Air Armor, Flame Weapon, etc) automatically succeeds, even if the Spellcasting test result is lower than the target's Mystic Defense.

Extra successes (for extended duration, or effect, or whatever) are calculated based on the target's Mystic Defense. So the spell will always succeed, but might not reliably provide those enhanced effects.
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Slimcreeper
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Re: Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

Post by Slimcreeper » Sat May 25, 2019 11:11 pm

To me, the major points with the original RAW where two–fold: 1) it harder for intelligent and magically adept characters to benefit from spells and 2) sometimes the risk of failure doesn’t advance the story. I like the optional fix.

Scherme
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Re: Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

Post by Scherme » Wed May 29, 2019 1:28 pm

I am going to wait til I have ED4 in hand before I dig up anymore old threads lol.

ED4 seems to have it all covered.

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Re: Optional Rule: Lowering Mystic Defense

Post by lanir » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:16 pm

Mataxes wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 12:26 am
Extra successes (for extended duration, or effect, or whatever) are calculated based on the target's Mystic Defense. So the spell will always succeed, but might not reliably provide those enhanced effects.
I asked my players and they were all for using this as printed. I did warn them that this system has no cost (sorry didn't read the whole thread but I think lowering mystic defense used to cost strain) so it could make their opponents more effective too with no downsides. Ultimately this does skew cooperative magic in the player's favor because they always have it whereas not every encounter has such magic (and frankly NPCs paying strain "costs" less than a PC doing the same: the NPC probably isn't there for the next encounter while the PC hopefully is!). But I wanted some buy-in from them before I had a minion buff a boss. :)

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