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Spell Penetration: maybe a cleric feat?

Discussion in 'Icewind Dale 2' started by coineineagh, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored Veteran

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    Early on I took this wisdom as a given:kneel:, and never looked twice at this feat. But nowaday's I'm starting to wonder what it can be useful for.
    Arcane casters and druids have too many offensive spells, and Mike Marshall would be right in thinking that this is an unwise feat to take. But what about clerics? The best cleric spells that affect enemies are benign to the party. And if a cleric does have a handful of offensive AoE spells, it's not difficult to refrain from using them until you can set up an ambush (meaning your party isn't in the blast radius).
    Cleric spells I'm thinking of are Recitation and Holy Word especially - since they can't be saved against, the only way to avoid being affected by this, is to have SR. Mike says that most enemies have either very high or no SR, but I'm not entirely sure about that. Other guides write that your own SR protects you roughly 50% of the time throughout the game as you progress, so it seems likely that enemies will have similar SR. :book:Let me illustrate:
    So unless enemies have much higher SR than their level allows (OK, maybe opponents don't have to abide by the monk/drow/DG rules for SR=11+level), then opponents should have SR value that can be overcome by (nearly) single class casters. :borg:And they can't be more than a few levels higher than my party, since I've never got more than several thousand XP points for a kill. So, as a result, this feat should alter the outcome of most SR-rolls by 9% per feat slot.

    :2c:So, any opinions? Isn't this a useful cleric feat? Perhaps it's an idea for bards, if they could spare the feats...
     
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  2. Silvery

    Silvery I won't pretend to be your friend coz I'm just not ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran

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    Definately take spell penetration. Take it for all your casters! I always have it and it has never harmed my own party. It's great for your power words, Wail of the Banshee (my favourite), Shout, Dismiss, Dominate, Disintegrate, and your cleric inflict spells. I could go on with the list but then this would be a REALLY long post
     
  3. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG] :confused:I don't believe that Spell Resistance checks are displayed in the info screen, even with advanced info enabled. And even if they were, it would be impossible to keep track of whether the SR penalty to your party member's resistance has altered the outcome. By the way, some spells bypass SR, like Tremor and Wail o/t Banshee.
    I'm still inclined to agree with Mike Marshall, that Spell Penetration (I can't use SP abbreviation:lol:) is unwise for arcane casters.

    The main disadvantage of Spell Penetration feats, when comparing to Spell Focus feats, is that they are inconsequential when casting against non-spell resistant enemies. On the other hand, many powerful enemies have SR, and this makes it all the more important that spells get through to them. And it's always 'break-resistance-or-no-effect', whereas Spell Focus more often involves 'fail-save-or-a-lesser-effect'.
     
  4. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    If you've never felt the need for it don't take it. My 2 GP, non SR enemies are the ones who are inconsequential. Still I'd probably take GSF before just to boost my Sorcerer's FoD or Disintegration.
     
  5. kmonster Gems: 24/31
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    If you use the powergaming tactic of sending a party member with SR into the enemy masses (like a deep gnome monk) and bombarding him with area effect spells, spell penetration does more bad than good.

    If you don't target your party members there's no downside, but the benefits are very small. There are very few enemies with spell SR and a +2 bonus in a d20 world will only make difference once in ten checks at most. But since most other feats don't help much either taking it won't weaken the character. I consider dodge, improved critical (you attack and are attacked more often than you force enemies to make SR checks) and rapid shot (an extra attack per round does make a difference) superior for a cleric, but you get more than 3 feats during the game.
     
  6. Kirethorn Gems: 2/31
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    Another option is sending an invisible spellcaster, loaded with protection spells (mirror image, stoneskin and a fireshield work well for this), into the centre of them, then casting sunfire. While you're casting they all close in on you, which is exactly what you want. Once you are surrounded you can sunfire, electric loop and malavon's rage to your heart's content. Meanwhile you can have your party thin their ranks with ranged attacks.

    The Spell penetration feat is great for solo casters that need to be able to injure anything. I personally take it after I have a point in evocation, and the element specialisation of your choice (e.g. spirit of flame) if you find yourself hard pressed to defeat enemies resistant to an element that you favour. These feats help you ensure your spells will be damaging to pretty much everyone. The spell penetration feat is really for elite killing. Bosses and other difficult opponents will often have spell resistance especially further on in the game. But, in my opinion, they aren't common enough to warrant taking it until you have improved your spell and element specialisation feats to your satisfaction.
     
  7. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG] In powergaming terms, less is more, and a solo sorcerer will definitely have an easy time after the first chapter. So Spell Penetration is definitely useful.

    Besides the risk of harming eachother, and being lower level throughout the game, a large party also has to deal with awkward pathfinding, making them move backwards at the worst times, or run into view while preparing an ambush:doh:. In such cases, I find reloading totally justified, because it's not a flaw in your tactics that made the error.

    It's not very powergaming of me to say this, but I still favour a 6 member party, because it's more challenging and fun.

    I think that tactics involving a Deep Gnome monk won't be affected by Spell Penetration, since it gets double Spell Resistance: At level 13 a monk starts to get SR of 10+level=23, and also has innate DG SR of 11+level=24, for a total of 47 SR:cool:. Three levels later, SR is maxed at 50. At level 13, party members will be at most caster level 16, and their penetration check rolls a maximum of 36 (16+20). Now I believe rolling a 1 or 20 will always be resisted/not be resisted, respectively. But besides rolling a 20, it is otherwise impossible for your own party members to damage the DG monk with spells. Taking the Spell Penetration feats after level 13 will only increase the maximum dice roll to 40, still not enough to exceed SR. So it doesn't matter to DG/drow monks... In fact, enemy levels go up to 30, so it would be almost impossible for them to affect a level 16 DG monk. But if they had 2 Spell Penetration feats, their odds would go up from 5% (rolling a 20) to 18+5=23%.
    There are a few spells that bypass SR, and I'd love to see a full list of them, the only 2 i know of are Wail o/t Banshee and Tremor. There are also a few spells the party could cast, which are harmful but won't be resisted, like Emotion: Despair I think. This could still affect a DG monk.
     
  8. countduckula Banned

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    That all sounds good. The problem is that magic resistance is already pretty rare, and anything with magic resistance has oodles of it. So you're better of just whacking it with your mace than hoping that your meager +2 to beat spell resistance checks is going to carry the day.

    Spell penetration is certainly better than a hole in the head, but I can think of more practical feats (eg. Combat Casting).
     
  9. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG]
    As I explained in my first post, I think that most enemies will have MR similar to your party: Since you never get more than a few thousand XP for kills, enemies can't be more than a couple levels above you. And by the 11+lvl MR rules, you will have a roughly 50% chance of affecting opponents, and two Spell Penetration feats increase these odds to 68%. This does go by the assumption that opponents have similar rules about MR as player characters, so if someone can conclusively tell me that this isn't so, then let me know. But I doubt that every powerful enemy is highly magic resistant beyond its level.
    The big exception would be Isair and Madae, who are level 30 when you encounter them, while your 6 member party is as low as level 16. But you don't get conventional XP for killing them either.;)
    I think it's more of a mentality thing: If you observe that an enemy resisted one of your spells, then you immediately turn to other options, mostly reverting to melee.
     
  10. countduckula Banned

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    Yes. Is that assumption correct? How would you test such a thing?

    Maybe there is an Infinity Explorer for 3E? Or perhaps you can use a cheat to get NPCs to join your party and then look at their stat sheet? Those methods would have worked in BG2, I'm not sure about IWDII.

    No, it's a common sense thing. If your direct damage spells are being resisted, you're going to find other means of dealing damage.
     
  11. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG]
    Well, I use Near Infinity to explore savegame data, and just generally look around at the coding, especially when I'm having a difficult time. I was having difficulty with White Dragons in chapter 3, and noticed that it resisted my spells, so I decided to sneak a peek at its data, DRAWY.CRE i believe. It's a level 18 warrior, with immunity codes, probably involved with freedom of movement, because my Entangles, Hold Monster, Chromatic Orb, Web, etc. all fail to hold it. +18fortitude, +6reflex, +6will, and a Spell Resistance of 20 (SR was difficult to find, but it's in there). A level 18 fighter PC would have 28 or 29 SR, so this dragon's SR was actually lower than the rules allow.
    So, I proceeded to cast fireballs behind it, and it did indeed get damaged. More often than not.
    I guess that this dragon was designed to be a challenge for roughly level 10 parties, which was about right for me. Since the game makes a check (1d20 + caster level), each mix-in level taken, would reduce the caster's effectiveness to break through SR by 5%
    I still think it's a mentality thing: It's not nice if nearly half of your spells go to waste on opponents with SR, but it doesn't mean that offensive spells can't be an effective way of defeating them.
     
  12. countduckula Banned

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    That's quite interesting. How many enemies in the non-HoF game have magic resistance?
     
  13. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG] I don't think that SR is cranked up (much) in HoF. If anything, they'd get +10 to their existing SR, because all enemies ar 10 levels higher.
    I know that there are highly Spell Resistant enemies, like Chahopek(32SR), will-o'-wisps(100SR and 100 resistance to all elements), certain Lost Followers(30SR), and Isair & Madae(40SR), but these are few indeed. The will-o'-wisps are best defeated by keeping your party mobile, and firing arrows as soon as they are visible. Actually that's the only thing that works against them, I believe. For Isair and Madae, and perhaps the other ones mentioned, using Lower Resistance might be worthwhile.
     
  14. countduckula Banned

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    It's worth noting that some of the most difficult fights involve magic resistant enemies (the Guardian, monks test, final boss fight). If your calculations are correct, and your chance of breaking through magic resistance with improved spell penetration is 18%, then it might be worth investing in. Whether you are a mage or a cleric.

    On the other hand, would I prioritise it above spell focus feats?
     
  15. coineineagh

    coineineagh I wish for a horde to overrun my enemies Resourceful Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG]
    My instinct would be to say NO.:nolike: Spell Resistant enemies may be the most important ones for your spells to get through to, but they are still few. And tackling them with spells that bypass SR somehow (buffing yourself, using (magic) weapons, and stuff like Tremor and Wo/tBanshee) is always an option if your penetration proves ineffective or inefficient. Spells bypassing the SR might actually be the best way to go, maybe penetration feats will just serve to distract you from buffing options, which are better.:o All I can say for sure, is that Spell Focus feats will help out more often.
     
  16. gunman Gems: 2/31
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    [Warning: thread necromancy :)]

    For wizards/sorcerers I would definitely take focus before penetration, but for clerics I don't think it really matters what you prioritize. In the beginning (on normal difficulty at least) the enemies are pretty weak and low level cleric spells are also underwhelming, so you don't get to use a lot of them. My cleric spends most of the first part of the game with ranged attacks and occasional healing. By the time the cleric spells starts to matter is also when the first SR bosses appear IIRC, around the ice temple. By then I think it's nice to have greater spell penetration ready.
     
  17. Sir Rechet

    Sir Rechet I speak maths and logic, not stupid Veteran

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    The complete list of spells that can be resisted by Spell Resistance (or Evasion for that matter) are listed in the JUPP guide. In short, many Enchantment and Necromancy spells seem to punch right through SR like it never existed.

    There are seriously few mobs in the entire game where the spell penetration feat has any effect whatsoever. I've only seen partial resists (as in, only few mobs in a pack get saved by a SR roll) in Chapter Six with all the demons and such.
     
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