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The Great Mage Mod Hunt


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#1 Shadriss

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 09:06 PM

OK, so as Tech and myself briefly discussed in another thread, Magery suck vanilla. I know STEP's mandate is as close to vanilla as possible (with some caveats), but the simple truth is that magic, especially combat (Destruction) spells simply don't cut it. Simple example:

 

Helgen Underground. I walk into a room with five foes, three melee and two archers. My options are:

 

A) Break out Sword/Axe/Bludgeoning Instrument and do that voodoo that you do so well. Foes are dead. Game progresses.

 

B) Break out Flames. Magika runs out. All foes are still alive. Resort to A.

 

C) Same as B, but refuse to resort to A. Die. Reload. Resort to A.

 

No self-respecting mage would break out a weapon on the order of a sword, etc. Spellswords are kind of an exception to this, but even there, they are primary mages with a backup plan. The spellcasting is thier primary focus, not a sword slinger with a few useful casting buffs.

 

I'd LOVE to be able to be the BA Mage that the College of Winterhold deserves AND needs... but I can't with vanilla - not without resorting to methods that just aren't... right for the mage. So, to the end, I'm looking for something to address this issue without straying TOO far from vanilla. I've not done an exhaustive search, but I have found a few potentials. If you have used them and can speak to their effectiveness, please do so. If you see one that's missing, speak up as well.

 

1 - Balanced Magic. This one changes a lot of things, but seems to be on the track of what I'm talking about above.I've never been able to get to higher levels of casting (my Restoration skill, for example, just passed 20 for the first time in the six years I've been playing this game. Yes, you read that right, that's how underwhelmed I've been by the magic), so I can't really evaluate a lot of the changes it makes, so any insight here would be helpful.

 

2 - Mighty Magick Skyrim. This is kind of my 'outer limits' mod, as it makes many huge changes and additions to the system. What I can't get a feel for is how will it performs in actual combat, and again, I can't really evaluate the statements since I've never been able to get my skills up that high.

 

3 - Better Magic.  Seems to be a watered down version of Balanced Magic, but again, my ability to make evaluations here is somewhat lacking.

 

I also ran across Conjuration and Summoning Fixes, and I am curious if anyone knows if these issues were corrected by the USLEEP or not. If not, it may be something to throw over for bugfix mod consideration in the main guide as well, but that's another thing for later.

 

Thoughts, comments, or recommendations? Bring'em on.


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#2 Kelmych

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 03:37 AM

My views, which I updated since magic is being discussed in some recent threads, are in the magic pack ideas referenced in my signature. My main magic mods are Mighty Magick Skyrim, Apocalypse, Midas Magic, and the Revenge of Colette. Using a hotkey mod primarily to simplify the regular casting of buff spells is important. This also helps the spell casting levels to increase at a rate that allows magic to be be useful after a while. Of course, there is still a lot of melee and/or ranged arrow/bolt combat and a fair amount of potion use in major battles to maintain magicka. Crowds are still a problem; the strong area spells cost a lot of magicka. I also frequently use spells that increase running speed to allow retreating.



#3 remlnx

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 04:33 AM

Apocalypse, Forgotten Magic are must in any pack focused on a magic character

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#4 Shadriss

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 11:01 AM

My views, which I updated since magic is being discussed in some recent threads, are in the magic pack ideas referenced in my signature. My main magic mods are Mighty Magick Skyrim, Apocalypse, Midas Magic, and the Revenge of Colette. Using a hotkey mod primarily to simplify the regular casting of buff spells is important. This also helps the spell casting levels to increase at a rate that allows magic to be be useful after a while. Of course, there is still a lot of melee and/or ranged arrow/bolt combat and a fair amount of potion use in major battles to maintain magicka. Crowds are still a problem; the strong area spells cost a lot of magicka. I also frequently use spells that increase running speed to allow retreating.

Lots of discussion in your linked thread, Kel... I like a lot of the thoughts there. I'd add in a mod that adds in spells that you missed, "Elemental Destruction Magic" (69474) that adds in spells similar to what is already in the game, only in Air and Earth elements.

 

Anyhow, while there was a lot of discussion, you stop short of actual recommendations and solutions, which I think is where we really need to go with this. You've mentioned in your reply what you are using, but I notice that only covers part of the solutions you discuss in your Pack Ideas. I take it you are still working on this?


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#5 Kelmych

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 03:26 PM

The magic pack guide has been updated a bit based on these comments. Elemental Destruction Magic seems like a good addition, and I have always found Apocalypse very useful. I can't recommend Forgotten Magic since it completely removes any staggering from the Impact perk and while vanilla staggering is too powerful removing it entirely is a bad idea IMO especially since some other mods like Mighty Magic have an approach that changes but does not eliminate it.



#6 baronaatista

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 04:45 PM

I honestly question the original premise here. I agree that magic is not particularly interesting in vanilla, but severely underpowered? I have played multiple straight mage characters in vanilla without any problem dealing with multiple or powerful foes. A couple enchantments, maybe bringing along a couple potions/staff... Even without the extras, the worst problem with magic is simply spell scaling and the fact that on higher levels you have to spam spells to whittle down enemies.

In my opinion the problem is more to do with flexibility and diversity of tactics, and that's a problem that affects just about all skills.

To me, Ordinator + Apocalypse is the answer here. Played with both for quite a while and love them, specifically for that - the amount of diversity added to character builds and potential tactics offered. Toss in a good combat mod - Vigor or Wildcat, and maybe some additional weapon/armor mods and you're good to go.
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#7 Kessno

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 08:21 PM

I honestly question the original premise here. I agree that magic is not particularly interesting in vanilla, but severely underpowered? I have played multiple straight mage characters in vanilla without any problem dealing with multiple or powerful foes. A couple enchantments, maybe bringing along a couple potions/staff... Even without the extras, the worst problem with magic is simply spell scaling and the fact that on higher levels you have to spam spells to whittle down enemies.

In my opinion the problem is more to do with flexibility and diversity of tactics, and that's a problem that affects just about all skills.

To me, Ordinator + Apocalypse is the answer here. Played with both for quite a while and love them, specifically for that - the amount of diversity added to character builds and potential tactics offered. Toss in a good combat mod - Vigor or Wildcat, and maybe some additional weapon/armor mods and you're good to go.

Perhaps not severely underpowered as you progress throughout the game, but it does feel that way at the start of it. As you're fighting your way through Helgen you don't have access to any enchanted items yet, or a lot of potions/staffs. As Shadriss stated, early on if you rely on destruction spells alone, you can't even defeat a single foe before your magika runs out.

 

In vanilla, are you supposed to rely on using swords/axes or bows, using destruction spells only sparingly, until you level your magika and perks later on?


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#8 Shadriss

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 08:22 PM

I think you miss part of my point, but that's fine - the discussion is the important thing here. So, let me rephrase a little and perhaps address your comments here.

I honestly question the original premise here. I agree that magic is not particularly interesting in vanilla, but severely underpowered? I have played multiple straight mage characters in vanilla without any problem dealing with multiple or powerful foes. A couple enchantments, maybe bringing along a couple potions/staff... Even without the extras, the worst problem with magic is simply spell scaling and the fact that on higher levels you have to spam spells to whittle down enemies.

Interesting is only part of it. Though, on that track, sticking to vanilla here, let's look at this. Going to Helgen again, because this is likely the first time one will try magic of any sort in the game, my original statement stands. Using only magic, Flames in particular, you basically have to end up kiting every single foe and drain your pool several times over. From the standpoint of being interesting, certainly it isn't. It's more annoying and frustrating. This kills interest, and in many cases will almost force players to choose a more blade and bow oriented build in a simple bid to survive.

 

I can accept needing to use potions to restore the pool in extended combat. I can accept use of enchantments (once you get that far in the game, which currently would be a chore as a pure mage) as a valid way to make yourself more into the BA of Magery I envision. I cannot accept that in a one on one battle, or even two on two, that I cannot shoot flames from my hands and burn one of them to a crisp in fairly short order. I recently was tasked by the Companions to take down a wanted criminal. To test my magery build, I decided to use nothing but. As a reference, I was character level 11 with Destruction 27 using only flames. I had a mana pool of 190, and all available Destruction perks. I drained this completely while backpedaling from this criminal, and he was only just a hair more than halfway down on his HP. Were it not for a potion that sped up my mana recovery and the burn damage he sustained while I waited to refill and unload again, I would certainly have been killed. By contrast, as a archer (which is typical for me), I could have one-shot him from stealth, at range, and never been in any danger at all. Even 1- or 2-handed weaponeers would have never been in as much danger in such a confrontation.

 

I would imagine (and please, correct me if I'm wrong...) that your vanilla play-through that you mention involved a great deal of either hit-and-run magery or a great deal of resorting to blade and bow. Neither of these, in my mind, is the essence of being a mage. To see a mage take the field should be to fear for your own life without a means to counter them. They command the very elements, and bind reality to their will. They shoot flames from their hands. AI prevents this from happening, as no actual person would likely charge straight at what is, for all intents and purposes, a human flamethrower. They do. This is a problem, because in terms of pure damage output and armor, the Mage simply cannot compete with the more brawny builds.

 

 

In my opinion the problem is more to do with flexibility and diversity of tactics, and that's a problem that affects just about all skills.

Truth, and no argument, so far as it goes. Any more blade and bow oriented build has a great deal of flexibility. Mages do not, not to the same degree that the others do.

 

An archer has range on his side - Mages do not. Though spells like Ice Spike can, in theory, be used from great range, the simple fact that spells cannot be used from stealth like arrows kills this advantage. Stealth breaks instantly on cast, unlike an archer's arrow shot, where you may be able to get two or three shots off without revealing your location.

 

A blade user has armor on his side - Mages do not. Even with enchantments and Alteration spells to buff armor, they cannot trade close-range blows with enemies. They shouldn't have to from the arch-type standpoint anyhow. In sufficient numbers, no mage can stand up to infantry without significant preparations and AOE type spells (which are also lacking in the Mage's repertoire.)

 

So long range is out... short range is out... where exactly does the Mage shine, then?

 

I agree with your statement that scaling is a big part of the problem. What I find interesting is that your own statements would seem, to me, to only support my original premise - that mages in a vanilla game cannot stand on their own without resorting to other means that are not, thematically speaking, options for a mage.

 

Stepping away from all of that for a moment to wrap up... in any fantasy game, Mages are huge battle-space multipliers. Their power is out of scale with anything else on the field. There are ways to work against them - usually through stealth (archers and assassins?) or ambushes (the blade users?), but in any situation in which a Mage knows their foe is there and is even remotely prepared for combat, it is extremely one-sided, and not on the side of the blade and bow crowd. Now, I'm not saying I want a god-caster... that would be even less fun that what is here. What I am saying is that they should at least be able to stand against those groups and be a bit more feared than they currently are... and that's PC or NPC both.

 

To me, Ordinator + Apocalypse is the answer here. Played with both for quite a while and love them, specifically for that - the amount of diversity added to character builds and potential tactics offered. Toss in a good combat mod - Vigor or Wildcat, and maybe some additional weapon/armor mods and you're good to go.

Mod suggestions are always good, though I'll have to look at Ordinator before I could say anything about this combination, as though I've heard of it, I've never looked it up. So on this portion of your comments, I won't comment myself.

 

Glad you seem to not have problems with the vanilla setup for mages... or at least minimal ones... but a large portion of the rest of the community would seem to disagree for a multitude of reasons, only some of which I have listed here and in my original post.


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#9 baronaatista

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 10:53 PM

I totally get the arguments, and am certainly not saying that magic is 'fine' in Skyrim.

 

I've put 3000+ hours into vanilla Skyrim back in the day on Xbox360 and played pretty much every build the vanilla game allows for to 'completion' (ie. the build fully fleshed out, usually around level 50-60).  The most 3 most overpowered builds I ever made were

 

1) Sword and Board Warrior.  No question, if you get good magic resistance you are basically an unstoppable killing machine.  Really the same goes for two handed.  The key points are just weapon skill + block + heavy armor (even light armor works but doesn't quite function the same until the end... thank you mechanic breaking perks! (not)).  

 

2) Destruction / Conjuration Mage.  Two high level elementals, and it's pretty easy to make at least one school of magic cost absolutely nothing to cast - either go with Destruction for unlimited flame spam, or Alteration / Restoration for defense.  Even scarier, a necromancer - you can have two undead conjurers, who can themselves each summon an undead.

 

3) Illusion/Sneak/Marksman Assassin.  Yeah sneak around in the shadows, cause your enemies to attack each other and then rain death on them while they're confused.  This is probably the most deadly of them all, but doesn't manage well in direct confrontations.  Thankfully, it's nearly impossible to get in such a confrontation you didn't plan with this build.

 

I feel like the example you gave was really just an example of the 'hump'.  I feel like on any of these builds - and any other I've played, there is almost always, a 'hump'.  Early game is stupid easy.  As long as you don't go wandering dangerous places, and take a little care about confrontations and your gear, it should be a cakewalk.  Right around level 10 though, until around 25/30ish, the game can be quite challenging, even on vanilla.  

I find this really is true regardless of build - mages tend to have a problem with groups and higher level warriors, where warriors tend to have a problem dealing with mages.  Stealth is generally the least prone to this 'hump', but can also be tricky as while they are deadly to both warriors and mages, that only applies as long as you are able to sneak or stay at range (in which case both are deadly to you), and there are many situations where that is difficult/impossible.  

I find what makes the difference in these moments is preparation, planning, etc. and that's actually a pretty good balance if you ask me.  And no, I don't resort to out-of-character behavior to get past these moments - if I'm playing a mage, I'm not carrying a sword around, and I'm not about to pick one up and use it (unless in some dire, hopeless situation).

 

I do agree that magic is a little under-powered compared to Marksman & One/Two Handed.  But honestly that's as far as I'd go.  Even a pure destruction mage (which yes I have played)... I mean, by not too far in - say level 30 if you're really pushing for it, you can have almost cost-free (or alternatively just incredibly quickly regenerating magicka) casting of area-of-effect fire, ice and lightning spells.  Plus that horrible stun-lock mechanic.

 

None of this is to suggest Skyrim magic is awesome though.  Just that it's not as terrible as people tend to claim it to be (in my opinion).

 

My point is more that the same problems that exist in the magic system are present in all the skills (ie. lack of diversity/strategy, mechanic/gameplay-breaking elements, redundancy, etc.), and it's a comprehensive overhaul that's truly needed to deal with the situation as a whole.

thus, Ordinator.  The most comprehensive perk overhaul that isn't a compatibility nightmare.  It makes each skill feel more distinct and has many more potential paths to advance, and does away with most of the redundancy of vanilla - all without ruining balance.

 

Add in Apocalypse for even more variety + tactics in spellcasting, and honestly I don't think you can get a much better experience out of Skyrim without rebuilding it from scratch.

 

I've played with TTRSO, SPO, SSR, and Better Magic (Only modules of TTRSO) as my overhaul in the past, though not enough to give worthwhile commentary about it other than I was underwhelmed and certain aspects turned me off.  The consistent and expansive vision of Enai Siaion is the strength of Ordinator, and the weakness of any cobbled-together set of mods to overhaul skills.


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#10 Shadriss

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 10:58 PM

What I am about to say merits attention. Listen closely - I don't say this often.

 

I've seriously screwed up here.

 

As it happens, I know Kessno in RL as well, and we've been talking tonight about this subject, and I've come to realize that I've been making a serious mistake in my approach to magic. I've been grandstanding about how powerless they appear to be in the early game in particular, and have only now realized that I've made at least two mistakes in my approach, both driven by how long I've played other builds. Specifically:

 

A) Not using mage equipment. I keep using Helgen as my reference point, and keep forgetting that there is a robe and hood in the torture chamber that specifically are there to help the starting mage... and never once have I actually ever used them. Why? Mostly because I've played as a archer for so long that it never even occurred to me. I became of victim of my own experiences, and didn't even question it.

 

B) Again, without even thinking about it, I slowed down my growth as a mage by NOT choosing the Mage Stone after Helgen... by default, I always take the Thief Stone because that is what I have always done in the past.

 

So, those two things said, a lot of my problems with being a Mage were born out of the fact that I wasn't even correctly set up in the first place. SO - while it's  obvious from other posts that there are some things to work on here, I'm going to retract a lot of my statements until I actually know what I'm talking about... which I don't, apparently. So yeah... oops? Imma go hide in the corner now for a while.


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#11 baronaatista

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 01:05 AM

No reason to hide man... these games are so big it's pretty easy to overlook significant parts of them, and easy to get stuck in familiar patterns.

 

I'm guilty of the opposite a little bit, and learning that it's just as grievous an error - I was a bit of an over-planner and a mechanic-abuser.  Not to cheat-y extents, but to the point where most of my playthrough was about getting the build fleshed out.  I wouldn't stop to smell the roses, which is my favorite way to play now.

 

ie.  If you ask me, the single best standing stone in the game is the Lord stone.  25% magic resistance and 50 armor rating.  For the magic resistance alone... it's relatively easy, even early on to get a piece or two of +10% magic resistance gear - you now have 45% magic resistance just resting.  If you're a Breton, that's 70%.  Do the Mara quests in Riften and that's an extra +10% passive magic resistance.  55/80%.  

If you're a mage grab the Alteration mage armor (and wear mage clothing!) and magic resistance perks, and you will be sitting at threshold for magic resistance even without being a Breton, and have decent armor rating as you level, and threshold at the highest.  You then have most of your available enchant slots to put towards either eliminating spell cost from a school, buffing your magicka or magicka regen, or some mix of all of them.  Nothing can touch you and you have basically unlimited magicka to just blast fools away with either crazy AOE spells or pick them off with projectiles.

You will literally walk through everything in the game after level 40 with this setup, and it works for pretty much anything other than a stealth based build.

 

Just cause I'm having fun thinking of them right now - other builds I've played in vanilla to level 50-70;

 


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#12 Tobi

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 01:27 AM

Do you think any of the three mods you recommended are watered down enough to be considered for Extended?


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#13 Shadriss

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 10:14 AM

I dunno that I 'recommend' any of them - they were my initial looks into ways to 'fix' magery in Skyrim. But as to the actual question, doubtful. STEPs mandate centers around two core things (though there are other considerations).

 

First, it has to be as close to vanilla as possible while being an improvement. None of these really are, and many of them make changes to the skill trees themselves. A huge hit against inclusion in STEP, but not the end of the process.

 

Second, if it IS going to depart from vanilla, it has to be considered something of a bugfix situation - one where a mechanic is broken, probably not what Bethesda really had in mind, and can be fixed or partially repaired with such mod. That one is more debatable, but after this discussion, I'm more inclined to say that they aren't in this group either. As Baron points out, it's possible (through planning, my arch-nemesis) to have a very competitive Mage build in vanilla, so the system isn't broken per-se, though it may have some balance issues.

 

Both of those said, just because they won't likely ever be in STEP doesn't mean that you shouldn't use them if you like them. I have a great MANY mods that are not STEP (Campfire, Frostfall, iNeed, ETaC, to name a few), and while it may take a little work to get them all to play along nicely, it's possible to do so, and I can only encourage you to try it out and see how it feels. STEP, as Tech points out to many, is a Guide... a starting point, if you will, for getting into Skyrim modding. Most of us have mods that aren't in the guide that we'll swear by... but if it doesn't meet the mandate, it doesn't make it into the guide.

 

@Baron - thanks for the semi-reprieve, but I still feel somewhat the fool. I have always hated people getting up on soapboxes with no real knowledge of the subject they are talking about, and I just turned into one of them for a few days. Fortunately, I'm not someone who gets to enmeshed in my own perfection to admit they were wrong. I don't think I'm entirely wrong still, but a good many of my statements were based on information that was, to say the least, seriously flawed in execution.

 

So... when I get more of a chance, it's time to try it the RIGHT way.


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#14 Shadriss

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 11:45 AM

@Kelmych - as an FYI, Midas Magic is now hidden on the Nexus - no longer an option. Additionally, Revenge of Collette has been abandoned by it's author in favor of developing Shouts Unlimited, which I will be trying. I will not be using RoC, partially due to abandonment, partially due to not really understanding the system it put into place.


Edited by Shadriss, 30 May 2017 - 12:07 PM.

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#15 Shadriss

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 08:42 PM

The difference is... astounding.

 

I basically set up as Kel suggested in his linked guide, and all I can is... UN-LIMITED POWAH! THIS is what I was looking for... hopefully it stays in this vein as I continue on to the College and into Mastery, but so far it's been exactly what I was looking for.

 

Apart from the part where I accidentally un-enchanted my robe and hood and walked around Whiterun naked for about 10 minutes. Oops.


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