A Study of Mana Disruption
by Gahread Tempestas
Editor's Note: This is an out-of-character study of the actual game mechanics of the spell Mana Disruption. If numbers and out-of-character discussions of in-game mechanics bothers you, it would probably be best to move on now.
Many sorcerers know that mana disruption has undergone some dramatic changes lately. Probably as many have registered their discontent with those changes with the powers that be. However, while casting at several targets, I noticed that they were dying when I'd done barely enough damage to kill a kobold. There is a 'hidden' component of mana disruption, and long has been. Now we get to actually see this part and measure the full effectiveness of our spell. Over several weeks, I tested mana disruption with various willing empaths. I have my suspicious that the silvers I was paying had more to do with their willingness than a desire to stand there and be mana disrupted for hours on end, but that's beside the point.
From this testing, I learned to associate the following messages with the following amounts of 'hidden' damage.
A weak blow 0-4 A light strike 5-9 A nice hit 10-14 A strong strike 15-20 A painful blow 20-24 Target staggered by strong strike 25-29 A powerful hit 30-34 A very painful blow 35-39 Target staggers in pain 40-44 A masterful strike 45-49 A most painful blow 50-54 Target reels from brutal strike 55-59 A devastating hit 60-64 Massive internal disruption 65+
In addition, visible damage ranged from:
0 hand, guarded: 1-25 1 hand, guarded: 3-35 1 hand, neutral: 5-50 1 hand, offensive: 10-50 2 hand, offensive: 10-60
The above is a guide, although I am very confident in its accuracy. Outside the ranges shown above, the given result can still occur. Exceptionally crit-damaging blows may see their ranks stepped by up to 6 ranks. In one case, a 31 hidden damage cast that snapped the neck of the target and killed them returned the 'a devastating hit' message. Those extreme jumps will be very obvious, while the typical variance is no more than 1 rank.
Notes on damage:
No consistent pattern was found among individual casts, beyond higher success margins will yield generally more powerful hits. After examining the averages of the casts, a number of conclusions can be drawn:
Casting in offensive with both hands free can increase the total damage done by roughly 50% over guarded with both hands occupied. For the fighters out there, this is similar to going from a short sword to a falchion. Moving to offensive with a shield out at all times gives a respectable 25% bonus on average.
When the visible damage was looked at separately, the increase from weapon and shield in guarded to nothing in offensive was 70% or greater. This is where the critical hits, along with stuns, knockdowns and instant death by critical hits comes from. Even going from guarded with a weapon to guarded or neutral without one produced a 30% gain in visible damage. Going all the way up to offensive did produce further gains, but much smaller in proportion to the gains from putting away your weapon in the first place.
Unless you have the defenses to move into offensive stance anyway, doing so for the purpose of increasing mana disruption effectiveness is outweighed by the increased risk.
Against 1-2 creatures, it is possible to move to offensive and create a script to prepare 702, wear your shield, cast it and remove your shield. Doing so gives the hunter minimal risk time while dramatically increasing the effectiveness of the spell. If done against a small number of creatures, a sorcerer can more or less become as effective an attacker as they were pre-growing pains! Care must be take though, for the sorcerer's defenses will be extremely low.
At the lower end of the scale, below a 120 enroll, and at the higher end, above 160, the differences are most pronounced. Hunting in aggressive stances with one hand free will let the caster average 50 damage or more per hit, even at below 120 endrolls. At more conservative stances or with both hands full, the caster can expect to average 30 damage at low endrolls. Similarly, an aggressive caster can break 100 damage on 150 or 170 endrolls. In a more defensive posture, a 190 or 210 endroll might be required.
Again, mana disrupt seems to be extremely random, varying by 50 total damage on similar strikes under the same conditions. Perhaps with the aid of this research, the life of a sorcerer may seem a bit easier and less incomprehensible for other practitioners of the Art.
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