MD vs Mi Aptitude Juggling

Mountain Dwarves (MD) have returned to trunk, replacing the Hill orc (HO) species. The revamped MD have a couple of new abilities - their spellcasting is less affected by armour encumbrance and they can use enchant scrolls on artefacts. Otherwise, MD is basically a renaming of HO, since MD has inherited their aptitudes from HO.

There are two issues I see with the current state, which are (1) the old HO aptitudes don’t make as much sense thematically for MD, and (2) MD and Minotaur (Mi) fill a very similar niche. The second point is nothing new, as MD, Mi, and HO have long been seen as occupying the same design space, which helped to get MD cut originally.

My idea is to tweak and juggle around some of the aptitudes between Mi and MD to make MD more appropriate for its theme, while at the same time helping to strengthen some design differences between the two species.

The roles I envision each species filling are:

Mountain Dwarf: Specialized as heavily armored melee fighters or magical hybrids, which are also excellent at evocations.

Minotaur: General bruisers who are strong with all non-magical skills including melee, ranged combat, and shapeshifting. They are strong with invocations owing to their mythological origin.

The apt changes I suggest are:

Invocations: MD: 3 → -1, Mi: 0 → 3
Basically give Mi the +3 invo apt that used to belong to HO. I don’t generally think of dwarves a religious species, while the minotaur originates from Greek mythology.

Evocations: MD: 1 → 3, Mi: -1 → -1 (unchanged)
Buffing MD’s evo apt would help to compensate for its loss of the +3 invo apt, and it makes more sense thematically in my opinion.

Shapeshifting: MD: -2 → -3, Mi: -3 → -1
From a design perspective, MD should be incentivized to use weapons and armor over talismans. Mi could be better at shapeshifting since they are a chimera.

Armour: MD: 0 → 2, Mi: 2 → 1

Shields: MD 1 → 2, Mi: 2 → 1

Some miscellaneous tweaks:

MD: Polearms: 0 → 1, Staves: 1 → 2, Unarmed: 0 → -1, Fire Magic: 2 → 1, Earth Magic: 1 → 2, Necromancy: 1 → 0
Swapping Fire and Earth magic would be solely for theme. Other magic school apts could be tweaked but that I don’t think that is as consequential.

Mi: Earth Magic: -2 → -3

Due to diminishing returns in skill training, small aptitude tweaks like these generally don’t have a huge long-term effect on gameplay. This brainstorming is more to help differentiate MD vs Mi and to better sell the theme to players.

Any thoughts?

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Invocations: MD: 3 → -1, Mi: 0 → 3
Basically give Mi the +3 invo apt that used to belong to HO. I don’t generally think of dwarves a religious species, while the minotaur originates from Greek mythology.

The Æsir started to fear that they would not be able to bind Fenrir, and so Odin sent Freyr’s messenger Skírnir down into the land of Svartálfaheimr to “some dwarfs” and had them make a fetter called Gleipnir. The dwarves constructed Gleipnir from six mythical ingredients. After an exchange between Gangleri and High, High continues that the fetter was smooth and soft as a silken ribbon, yet strong and firm. The messenger brought the ribbon to the Æsir, and they thanked him heartily for completing the task.

In Norse mythology, the Sons of Ivaldi (Norse: Ívaldasynir) are a group of dwarfs who fashion Skíðblaðnir, the flying ship of Freyr, Gungnir, the spear belonging to Odin, as well as the golden hair for Sif to replace the hair that Loki had cut off. According to Skáldskaparmál, after these objects were created Loki made a bet with a dwarf, Brokkr, that his brother Eitri (or Sindri) would not be able to craft items to match the quality of those displayed by the sons of Ivaldi. This contest resulted in the creation of the boar of Freyr (Gullinbursti), the ring of Odin (Draupnir) and the hammer of Thor (Mjolnir), which were judged by the gods to be even more wondrous than the others. Thus, Brokkr had won the bet.

After ascending the throne of the island of Crete, Minos competed with his brothers as ruler. Minos prayed to the sea god Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull as a sign of the god’s favour. Minos was to sacrifice the bull to honor Poseidon, but owing to the bull’s beauty he decided instead to keep him. Minos believed that the god would accept a substitute sacrifice. To punish Minos, Poseidon made Minos’s wife Pasiphaë fall in love with the bull. Pasiphaë had the craftsman Daedalus fashion a hollow wooden cow, which she climbed into to mate with the bull. She then bore Asterius, the Minotaur.

If making Mjolnir for Thor alongside six other artefacts, a flavour emphasized in their description already, isn’t a religious enough angle to support positive invocations apt, then I don’t know what is. Minotaurs, meanwhile, were explicitly made by a punishment from Poseidon for not following his orders. Flipping their aptitudes is comically backwards in mythological precedent. Most of Crawl’s species do have mythological origins, which fits the entirely-incidentally-arranged +1 invocations apt default- 0 for Minotaurs is honestly generous in such a context, but reasonably compares to Jinn being outside of the angel-shaitan duality in Islamic faith and armadillotaurs + parasitic plant nearly-zombies both being OC material.

Shapeshifting: MD: -2 → -3, Mi: -3 → -1
From a design perspective, MD should be incentivized to use weapons and armor over talismans. Mi could be better at shapeshifting since they are a chimera.

In Norse mythology, Andvari (12th c. Old Norse: [ˈɑndˌwɑre]; “careful one”[1]) is a dwarf who lives underneath a waterfall and has the power to change himself into a pike (gedda) at will. Andvari had a magical ring Andvaranaut, which helped him become wealthy. Using a net provided by Ran, Loki catches him as a pike and forces him to give up his gold and Andvaranaut.

Fáfnir is a worm or dragon slain by a member of the Völsung family, typically Sigurð. In Nordic mythology, he is the son of Hreiðmarr, and brother of Regin and Ótr and is attested throughout the Völsung Cycle, where, Fáfnir slays his father out of greed, taking the ring and hoard of the dwarf Andvari and becoming a worm or dragon. […] Before taking the form of a dragon, Fáfnir’s appearance is not explicitly described. It has been noted though that his brother, Regin, is described as being a dwarf in Norna-Gests þáttr and resembling a dwarf[.]

If one of the earliest dragon hoards being from a dwarf that became a dragon isn’t enough for -2 Shapeshifting (which is also the default apt for all species), I don’t know what is. While mechanically they lose their unique species benefits in doing so, the default is already somewhat rough for species to particularly focus upon while talismans have minimal consistency in dropping throughout the game, and we eventually want for a magic-focusing talisman much earlier than Death Form that could work with mountain dwarves in whatever eventual capacity anyway.

MD: Polearms: 0 → 1, Staves: 1 → 2, Unarmed: 0 → -1, Fire Magic: 2 → 1, Earth Magic: 1 → 2, Necromancy: 1 → 0
Swapping Fire and Earth magic would be solely for theme. Other magic school apts could be tweaked but that I don’t think that is as consequential.

Mountain Dwarf Fire Magic apts is higher than their Earth Magic apt because 1: we don’t have any species with a Fire Magic specialty and 2: we’ve already got Gargoyle, Formicid, and Ghoul for species that have higher Earth apt than most of the rest of their elements. (They also originally had +2 Fire Magic, and only got a nerf to Earth Magic as part of giving them multiple benefits compared to Hill Orcs.) Necromancy was specifically heightened to help magical hybrids builds as you’ve noticed but haven’t focused on, because Necromancy’s difficulty in directly killing enemies but not relying much on spellpower to do so directly works with learning just about enough to pick up Animate Dead or Death Channel and then swinging around an axe in heavy armour. (It also roughly reflects them sharing homes with dark elves in Svartálfheim.)

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I would argue against flavourful apt suggestions, and instead propose flat magic attributes: 0 (or perhaps +1, if we want a stronger race) for all magic aptitutes.

This opens up more intresting strategic choices – the only point of the race is the armored spellcasting feature, so we should push that and allow it to be more varied. I think that removing air elementalists as a reasonable choice is just bad design that results in weaker gameplay, and the flavour is very thin. We can argue such flavours either ways, and we can deviate from high fantasy stereotypes.

Instead of pushing earth and fire and penalizing air and water I would rather remove “mountain” from the name if it is such a big issue.

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Giving MD differentiation from Mi is good but I would recommend against beefing up Minotaur apts, and especially invo. :slight_smile:

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