The Frustrations of Training Inscription
It feels almost to me as if Inscription is designed to be an obnoxious skill to raise. Let me start with an overview of why I think some of the factors are set up in the manner the way they are. Basically the scribe is infusing his magic into a scroll for another player's benefit, a player who may have no magic of his own, or insufficient to cast a given spell. The most common example is probably a player who cannot use either Recall or Sacred Journey, so is dependent on a scribe's pre-charged recall scrolls. This infusion has consequences:
- Lower Reagent Cost (LRC) of the scribe is irrelevant. The player using the scroll may have no LRC and the scroll magic must have its physical requirements met.
- Lower Mana Cost (LMC) of the scribe is irrelevant. The player using the scroll may have very low mana, and the scribe must provide it himself.
- Once a scribe begins training with scrolls of the 7th (40 mana) and 8th (50 mana) circles, his need to regenerate mana becomes the primary brake in training the skill. Meditation, Focus, and Mana Regeneration (MR) are the only factors the scribe trainee has to mitigate the time sink caused by mana loss.
My scribe, Paper, has just completed a training session where he gained 1.1 skill and is now at 93.1. He was scribing 8th circle Magery scrolls the whole session. (One strong positive: the EC inscription gump can be set to its "Last Ten" tab, and clicking the 8th item allows the scribe to easily rotate through all 8 spells of a circle. The 8th item goes to the top of the list, and what had been the 7th is now the 8th. This helps balance out reagent use.) Other factors affecting him are has base of 163 mana, Meditation of 100, Focus of 84.1 (set to go down because it's his last non-final skill, and an MR of 21. His irrelevant factors are max LRC and LMC.
Note that Paper doesn't bother with active Meditation any more. It is the heart of what makes training inscription feel as if it is designed to be obnoxious. First of all, with 21 MR, there is little difference in mana gain rate between passive and active Meditation. As I understand how it all works, every 10 points of Meditation is effectively 1 MR in addition to the MR property. Similarly, every 20 points of Focus is another 1 MR. So his total MR is normally 21 + 10 + 4, or 35. Turning on active Meditation doubles its effect, raising the sum to 45. So instead of the effective rate being doubled, it only increases by 10/35, or a little less than 29%. I would not call that useless, except that turning on active meditation after scribing has a long wait period with no visual indication of when you can actually use it. If you try to activate it too quickly, yet another delay is added on top of your original delay. Until I stopped bothering with active Meditation, I was doing a slow count to 15 ("one one hundred, two one hundred" etc) before activating it. Sometimes even that wasn't enough (I guess I counted too fast), and the 2nd delay was activated. The whole process was too obnoxious for words, and within those 15 seconds he would have over 50 mana anyway and was ready to attempt scribing the next scroll. His current success rate on 8th circle scrolls is 38.2%, so he fails a lot.
- Fix active meditation. Usually the EC does a very good job of indicating when a skill becomes available. You have made the rules for activating Meditation so ponderous that providing such visual indication is probably too much work. That's a clear sign this needs to be simplified. How about, when peaceful, 6 seconds since last activity besides walking and the like, but 12 seconds if engaged in battle. Don't double down on the delay if a player attempts to activate it prematurely. Yes, a player should be calm before commencing meditation, but not at the cost of adding new aggravation.
- Have the scroll end user provide up to 10 mana, or 50% of the spell's mana cost, whichever is lower. I think INT has a lower bound of 10, so every character should be capable of this. Using a recall scroll, such as in a runebook charge, would cost 5.5 mana (normally 11 to cast, 0 currently as a scroll). The end-user's LMC property would lower this cost proportionately. This future mana would be deducted from the mana cost of inscribing a scroll, assuming the end user has no LMC. The scribe's LMC property would still be non-functional, however. The cost of making an 8th circle scroll would go down from 50 to 40, a 7th circle down from 40 to 30, etc.
- Keep ignoring the scribe's LRC property and have him use the full ingredients. Perhaps an inscription failure would only use reagents 80% of the time. These sorts of failures could be ascribed to reagent mismanagement, such as looking for them in the wrong spot, or misgrabbing the wrong ones.
Rock (formerly Imperterritus VXt, Baja)