Here I write about Gemstone Life, The Gemstone Universe, and Gemstone Everything!
- 1 Favorite Hunting Grounds
- 2 Miscellaneous Musings
- 2.1 All or Nothing: Capped Bandits
- 2.2 Empaths and Mentalism
- 2.3 The Armor Paradox: Channeling and Spell Hindrance
- 2.4 Various Gemstone Quirks You Might Not Know
- 3 Spell Update Wishlist
- 3.1 Minor Spiritual
- 3.2 Major Spiritual
- 3.3 Cleric Base
- 3.3.1 Prayer of Holding (301)
- 3.3.2 Smite/Bane (302) and Holy Bolt (306)
- 3.3.3 Bless (304)
- 3.3.4 Preservation (305) and Well of Life (308)
- 3.3.5 Benediction (307)
- 3.3.6 Neutralize Curse (309) and Remove Curse (315)
- 3.3.7 Fervent Reproach (312)
- 3.3.8 Raise Dead (318) and Miracle (350)
- 3.3.9 Holy Receptacle (325)
- 3.3.10 Prayer of Communion (330)
- 3.3.11 Symbol of the Proselyte (340)
- 3.4 Minor Elemental
- 3.5 Major Elemental
- 3.6 Wizard Base
- 3.7 Bard Base
- 3.8 Empath Base
- 3.9 Paladin Base
- 4 Thoughts on Alchemy
- 5 Thoughts on Bards
- 6 Thoughts on Cobbling
- 7 Thoughts on Empaths
- 8 Thoughts on Forging
- 9 Thoughts on Paladins
- 10 Thoughts on Warmages
- 11 Coming Later
Favorite Hunting Grounds
Some special mentions for several of my favorite hunting grounds, in honor of whichever GMs made them!
Level range: 3-9
What I like:
- Showcases Gemstone enemy variety very early with a living humanoid, living animal, non-corporeal undead, and corporeal undead all together
- Very swarmy and an excellent place to rush to 5 or even 15 ranks of Multi Opponent Combat
- Most of the time you get to feel like you're mowing down enemy after enemy...
- ...but it's not without risk since spider webbing is very dangerous...
- ...and yet being webbed isn't necessarily instant death in the way an open roll maneuver can be
Level range: 37-43
What I like:
- An all-undead area is where clerics and paladins love to play
- Very swarmy and an excellent place to have lots of ranks in First Aid or Survival for free and easy silvers from skinning
- Great favor farming spot for life without leaving a hub for roleplay
- With the wide variety of enemy abilities including AS boosts, TD boosts, disappearing, dispelling, ewaves, freezing, and gas clouds, Shadow Valley hunting never feels routine or predictable...
- ...and also doesn't feel overly dangerous nor overly safe
- Unique realm for purposes of realm flaring weapons
Level range: 48-55
What I like:
- An all-undead area is where clerics and paladins love to play
- Bonespear has an unusual, interesting juxtaposition of creatures: dybbuks are incredibly harmless and weak; waerns are mostly harmless but very good at dodging and can do one very dangerous thing, disarming; eidolons are like a colossus of an enemy that's near-untouchable and they're capable of several dangerous things
- It's swarmy, which goes well with the creature variety and keeps you on your toes and changing target priorities
Level range: 72-74
What I like:
- With the wide variety of enemy abilities including warding, bolts, disappearing, their unique tricks, fake loot, major ewave, bark shields, and dispelling, Ilvari hunting never feels routine or predictable...
- ...and also doesn't feel overly dangerous nor overly safe
- The script flips here, as professions like rangers and wizards that normally have more complex hunting take it easy with only two spells each (Sun Burst and Spike Thorn, Elemental Wave and Earthen Fury) while professions like clerics and empaths whose archetype builds normally have very straightforward hunting need to pull out unusual things to deal with the tricks (e.g. Fire Spirit to get rid of bark shields, Censure or Sympathy (even with only one invisible enemy) or Symbol of Sleep to pull out of hiding, potentially even Spirit Dispel if trying to uphunt enough or Spiritual Abolition to dispel and bypass their prepared spells)
Level range: 74-78
What I like:
Every character I take here has a very different experience of which enemies die quickly and which ones are threatening. (These aren't mutually exclusive things!) And what's key is that it's not only because of profession, but also build, as I'm guessing an empath or paladin with only 1x Physical Fitness wouldn't look on their time with minotaurs as fondly as I did with mine who both had 2x Physical Fitness. I'm sure a bolting wizard who stopped at 50 ranks of Wizard Base and had no ranks of Combat Maneuvers also wouldn't have a similar time to my warmage who was 1x in wizard base and had four ranks of Feint!
I enjoy Shadow Valley much more than the Hidden Plateau, but with all of my characters Shadow Valley feels like basically the same thing, whereas minotaurs feel rewarding to very specific builds in different ways.
Other than that... I love how minotaur magi save each other and how warriors guard each other. Would love to see more of that interaction among enemies!
All or Nothing: Capped Bandits
I usually see two ways that capped people approach hunting: either basically never going for bandit patrols or basically never going for anything except bandit patrols. It's an interesting divide!
I'm in the camp of all-bandits-all-the-time for several reasons:
- Bandits aren't out of the way. I'm not about to go live on Teras Isle or in the Elven Nations (populated, but not the hub that the West is), and even running out to the Rift or Sanctum can feel isolated with amunet communication to nearby towns cut off.
- Saving time. There's no chance I'm waiting around for 27 fallen crusaders or some other "capped" creature in the level 95-99 range to spawn, and there are a lot of those with no way to avoid those bounties.
- Social hunting. If I'm in a group hunting the Sanctum, say, or even Reim, then I'm not saying a word to anybody the whole time we're there. Bandits are a lot more relaxed and we can take the time to banter and talk and interact, which is the core of the game in my opinion. And I can even drag friends out to capped bandits whatever level they are--70, 50, 20, it doesn't matter, they're still be able to hit them.
- Free-form hunting. My favorite type of hunting is when I need to use a dozen different actions to succeed, but if I can't have that, my second favorite type is when I can use a dozen different actions and still succeed. One day of bandit hunting might see Leafiara cast Fire Spirit, Spirit Strike, Web, Searing Light, Bind, Mass Interference, Spirit Slayer, Holy Bolt (yes, really), Fervent Reproach, Censure, Divine Fury, Divine Wrath, and Symbol of the Proselyte (yes, I mean refreshing in the field), and on top all that also use Symbol of Renewal and attack and mstrike. I wouldn't even do half that many things in the Elemental Confluence or Sanctum--maybe in the Rift, but only barely half--because most of them would be useless. Bandits aren't as challenging as any of these areas, but at least I have the opportunity to make use of all my spells and abilities--all these things that I specifically trained to learn to do--instead of only using a couple repetitive actions.
- Either being a cleric main isn't well-suited to other capped hunting or I'm trained wrong for it. (Or I don't know what I'm doing. One of those three.) On one hand, capped hunting grounds with slower spawning bore me, which is where clerics excel. On the other hand, I don't like swarmy capped hunting grounds either as a cleric. It's one thing to enjoy a swarmy area like Shadow Valley in a level range where it's expected that every profession will be picking off enemies one by one. But in capped areas, the swarms seem designed around the idea that you can obliterate seven enemies in four seconds or two commands, probably because a lot of professions really can do that--with Song of Sonic Disruption, Nature's Fury, Empathic Link, Core Tap, the upcoming 1650, berserk. But I can't, because Spirit Slayer is made for single-target hunting while Divine Wrath just isn't very good. It kinda kills the joy of it all.
Empaths and Mentalism
Years ago there was a plan, now abandoned, to have empaths learn the Minor Mental circle instead of Major Spiritual. I wouldn't want this to happen for a lot of reasons, the biggest one probably being how important Manna bread is to characters like Cruxophim and Maylan.
...still, sometimes it's fun to think about anyway. For the type of hunting I enjoy, having Empathic Link and Provoke on the same profession would actually be really cool! I also think there would be a lot more room to make improvements to Major Spiritual if it only needed to be balanced for one profession, so in a roundabout way it might end up helping my cleric. It might even improve various other professions making use of scrolls and magic items.
The Armor Paradox: Channeling and Spell Hindrance
Most clerics, empaths, and wizards pick their armor based on having no spell hindrance--respectively double leathers, double leathers, and full leathers. In my opinion, the best case I've heard for why to do this is that not having spell hindrance makes disablers more reliable, which is ultimately a better defense than heavier armor could be. (Annoyance with failed casts is a great personal reason to not have hindrance, but not a case to persuade others.) The second best case is that it lets them have armor support instead of armored fluidity, since less encumbrance means a better chance at surviving maneuvers.
Meanwhile, I like heavier armor because it gives me more leeway to stay in offensive stance; I don't fear taking hits as a cleric or empath in chain mail or a wizard in leather breastplate. And I want to be in offensive because my cleric and empath channel, giving them an effective +20 CS over someone who doesn't channel at all or +15 CS over someone who channels in guarded, which to me is more than enough of a power increase to outweigh 3% or 4% of spells failing (assuming rank 5 armored fluidity).
Many people wear "weaker" armor because of defensive benefits while I'm wearing stronger armor because of offensive benefits.
Strange, isn't it?
Various Gemstone Quirks You Might Not Know
Speaking of nodes, these spells turn any area into one, which is great for activities like forging or foraging that would normally cut into your leveling. You can even use them on escort bounties between experience pulses!
This spellsong reduces the RT for charging Fervent Reproach (312). It can't reduce it to 0, but if your cleric hunts with a level 73 or higher bard, you can use the 4 second version of the charge in only 1 second!
Many chrism holders, like the ones given out at Delirium Manor, are holy symbols that can be used with this spell--no need to travel all the way to Zul Logoth and make the lengthy climb. As a cleric (or paladin) you can APPRAISE to identify which Arkati or spirit it is.
Spell Update Wishlist
Overall a mediocre spell circle. It's doesn't have highs that come anywhere near Minor Elemental spells like Elemental Targeting or Elemental Wave, not to mention it has some very low lows. Its passive buffs are alright, but overall it's not a thrilling spell circle to me. If anything I'd love to see a ground-up redesign, but since that's unlikely, here are some quicker proposals...
I'd just like if this spell actually did what its name says. It's not very good at its job!
After GMs replaced empaths' old Cry for Help (1116), I'd like its effect to be folded into Locate Person as an EVOKE option--even if only for empaths, since it did feel like an appropriate mental spell and shouldn't necessarily be for the other seven professions.
I'd double the second chance rate for clerics. Nobody can convince me that clerics are the masters of spiritual magic when mechanically empaths are either equal or better with every single spell in Minor or Major Spiritual, and here's one of many possible places to start. (Empaths can be better because of no need to split into Religion lore.)
Switch this with some other slot--maybe even flip this and Dispel Invisibility--since it's very tough to justify 19 mana for dispelling.
Overall I think this is a weird mess of a spell circle. The eight professions who can't learn Major Spiritual probably think it's fantastic because all they ever see is Bravery, Heroism, and Spirit Slayer, and they're probably using those first two without knowing the circle, but the rest of it is a mishmash of incredibly niche things. It's also strange that two of its best spells are about raising AS even though clerics and empaths aren't expected to swing weapons nor bolt. (I say this as someone whose cleric and empath both swing and bolt.)
I'd be even more interested in seeing this circle redone than even Minor Spiritual, since spells like Light (205), Tend Lore (206), Living Spell (208), and others strike me as too narrow. But, like Minor Spiritual, I know it's not likely. Here are smaller proposals...
I'd like any of the following to make this spell less narrow: possible to cast while webbed, works against bandit nets, works against bandit traps.
Just merge them and have Interference be EVOKEd for multiple targets.
Add TD pushdown for native casters. Right now a wizard with 2x Magic Item Use can be better at Binding than any cleric or empath short of a far post-cap one will be--I know because I've done it--and that's just strange.
Another reason for the TD pushdown is how unfavorable Bind comes out in a comparison to Web (118). Even though some enemies can be bound but not webbed, most enemies who can be affected by one can be affected by the other--and I think that if an enemy can be affected by both a Minor Spiritual and Major Spiritual spell, the latter should usually be preferable... which isn't true at all right now. Web is cheaper, has TD pushdown, and is equally effective.
Like how Song of Sonic Disruption (1030) can be cast at one target for only 15 mana, make this castable at a single target for 8 mana and upgrade the 16 mana version to hit multiple targets--maybe with a bit less pushdown for that version. The effect is interesting and worth keeping, but simply isn't worth 16 mana.
Like Spirit Strike, I'd love to see this do something more for clerics. Ideally something combat-oriented, since empaths have Empathic Link to do better against swarms than clerics while also having more leeway to get a superior Spirit Slayer by pushing Summoning lore without sacrificing as much.
See Frenzy. Make it hit multiple targets, even if the dispel effect is less significant, and have a cheaper single-target version with the current effect. (Obviously this would apply to Elemental Disjunction too.
Because of a single capped hunting ground, I wish the effect of this spell looked and worked exactly like immobilization except it was impossible to shake off with a high enough warding margin. I'm perfectly happy with a narrow spell in a pure profession's circle that can only be cast against the undead, but then it should at least work against all the undead--and right now booth undead creatures in the Sanctum of Scales just shake it off, which is crazy to me.
I'd like if a high number of spell ranks or the right lore training could enable these spells to do the same damage against the opposite alignment. (Smite and Bane would keep the doubled mana cost.) Or if not, then for Holy Bolt at very least I'd like to see the acid effect be much faster (like the extra CS-based damage from Empathic Assault that's almost instant) and/or based on a percentage of the enemy's max health.
At some threshold of Blessings lore--or any other lore, or spell ranks, etc.--I'd like if this could be cast on a flaring weapon to increase its flare rate for a number of swings. (That wouldn't make it hit the undead. It's just a reason to get all weapons blessed when people visit their local clerics.)
If it were me I'd create a new open spell slot by merging these two, using CAST to preserve and CHANNEL to link or restore spirit. Lots of spell circles have redundancy, so that's not my problem with the current spells, but in cases like, say, System Repair and System Scar Repair], at least both spell slots actually do something for the caster. The current Preservation is exclusively for helping others and can't benefit the casting cleric in any way. Well of Life doesn't do that either unless you're doing something like restoring a CoL character's mana so they can send back to you, charge an item, or something like that.
Uncap the bonus of the self-cast only effect on melee AS to be the same as its effect on bolt AS--an increase of 36. We'd still be 19 AS behind warpaths anyway, not to mention lacking the thing that actually makes them so destructive in Empathic Link, but at least we could compete with high-end sorcerers, who right now can easily beat out high-end clerics' AS since they have access to Bravery, Heroism, and the base +5 of Benediction while clerics can't get any of their AS from Elemental Targeting.
(To be fair, Censure drops enemy DS more than Elemental Wave or Grasp of the Grave, but that's assuming enemies aren't immune to Censure or able to shake it off, like I just mentioned about Prayer of Holding with the Sanctum.)
Another pair of redundant spells that could stand to be merged so a new and better idea can be created.
I'd like if the charge time applied to X casts of Fervent Reproach. For example, just to throw a number out there... level/20. I don't see many people charging this spell unless they're using it with a bard in the group keeping up at least a 2-second Song of Tonis, so making a capped cleric's charge apply to five casts instead of one wouldn't change much. It's the 6-second version I'm mostly concerned about.
Another idea would be to make a different EVOKE version of Fervent Reproach that requires the full 6-second charge and costs extra mana, but can hit multiple enemies--with no RT reduction possible for this version.
Yes, I'm saying it: I'd merge Miracle in as a thing you can do once you're level 50 and have 50 ranks of Cleric Base, but without actually being the capstone spell. When you compare how often clerics cast their 50th level spell to how often rangers, wizards, or paladins can cast their 50th level spells, it comes across as very rarely used. To be fair, empaths' Regeneration isn't cast very often either compared to something like Core Tap, but still more than Miracle.
I just think there has to be room for something much more awesome than what we have, more on par with those other professions. Honestly, I believe there's an argument to be made for both sides about whether even Time Stop is better than Miracle. On one hand, Miracle can fix instant deaths to things like nasty maneuvers or maneuver-based spells that Time Stop couldn't do anything about. On the other, in cases where Time Stop can save you, stopping your death from happening in the first place is arguably better than fixing it after the fact--and is being able to resurrect yourself even all that big when easy access to death's sting salve basically makes departing penalty-free? In addition, at cap many hunting grounds will dispel sanctuaries, making it unsafe to cast Miracle and be stuck in RT.
Brimstones as they are now might be the coolest useless thing ever. I wish we could crack them like chrisms over sanctified weapons to give them holy fire flares. (Including runestaves.)
Make it an innate ability and give us something new.
Make each charge of this spell apply to the next two casts when used by a cleric. I actually really like this spell already as it is, but that's because I'm a bandit hunter. I see so many clerics ignore or forget about 340 and I think it's a shame that any profession would do that for one of its 40th level spells--but, well, I can't blame them when the effect doesn't make much of a case for itself.
A typical capped cleric trained for full chrisms gets six casts of extra CS and a Truehand effect.
If we were empaths or rangers or paladins that would be fine, but clerics would end up using that either for a non-damaging spell (Censure) or for a single-target spell, making it very tough to justify ever casting this again out in the field because of the steep cost of 40 mana and 2 spirit. Spirit Slayer blows this out of the water in my opinion.
In my proposal, that same cleric trained for full chrisms would get twelve boosted casts, which is a lot more formidable and might justify recasting in the field more often. Right now the dilemma is:
- Clerics in the Council of Light are reluctant to use the spirit for something other than mana.
- Clerics in the Order of Voln have all the spirit they could want because of Symbol of Renewal, but don't have the mana to repeatedly cast recharge their symbol in the field unless they're willing to burn deeds on it.
- Clerics in the Guardians of Sunfist... Well, they basically don't exist from what I've seen, but if they're out there then I'm guessing they're a little better on mana but worse on spirit than the Voln clerics.
So who is Symbol of the Proselyte meant to be cast by in the field? If the answer is super-capped Voln clerics who have 3x Harness Power and 2x or more Spiritual Mana Control, or CoL clerics with 13 spirit and a set of spirit regen enhancives, then to me the spell is overly narrow.
Or is it not meant to be cast in the field--or used only in very limited circumstances like hitting a grizzled creature? I'd hope that isn't true either, because either way it would again be a narrow spell.
This is why people never bother buying a holy symbol chrism holder, or they'll buy one but then forget to ever charge it.
Having Mass Elemental Defense (419) come only five levels after Elemental Defense III (414) is very weird to me--you might as well just have the mass version become available at level 19. Otherwise, though, I think this is a well thought out circle!
For the same reason I don't like Spirit Dispel other than for a couple of enemies in the entire game, I'd like to say Elemental Dispel (417) could be swapped with another spell slot to make it cheaper, but Minor Elemental is so tightly designed with everything in the right spot to be considerate to multiple professions that making any changes could throw off too many things.
Coming eventually... Maybe.
Coming eventually... Maybe.
See my thoughts on bards. I think that, for the most pure of the semis, it's much too difficult to get past enemies' warding early on in bards' lives. For the songs themselves, though, I like everything. Absolutely all of it. ...oh, except one thing:
See my thoughts on Frenzy.
A spell circle where a lot of redundancy is made up for by the few buff spells it does have being gigantic and all-encompassing. Works for me! I wouldn't make any changes.
I think this is a very robust and well-designed spell circle with absolutely no wasted slots. It's kinda exactly what I'd expect from the most modern non-minor spell circle! I wouldn't make any changes to it.
Thoughts on Alchemy
Alchemy is a great idea. For execution, though... Other than the pre-tempering potions and fancy new titles, is anything from alchemy worth it?
Look at a greater wisdom potion, for example... It's +10 Wisdom for two sips of 30 minutes each. That sounds great, but you have to throw tens of millions of silvers into mastering potions and then still have to give up like 50k of materials to make one.
Compare that with forging, which can improve every attack for the rest of your life forever and is less time consuming to master and only costs one or two million silver to master! Or even compare it to recharging enhancives.
The payoff to alchemy is just really lacking.
- Decrease difficulty (e.g. lighting cauldrons)
- Decrease RTs
- Make the stat-boosting potions last longer, maybe even having Magic Item Use add duration on top of the basic thirty minutes
Note: I'd call improving alchemy by far one of the lower priorities of changes I'd like to see, but I definitely won't object if some GM takes it up as a pet project!
Thoughts on Bards
First the bad news: level 0 to 34 as a bard was probably the most bored I've been playing a profession. Even at level 35 I think I would have been bored for a while longer if not for my wizard supplying near-endless mana for Song of Tonis the moment she learned it. Either that or I'd have to burn deeds on Symbol of Mana. (To be fair, that's one of the better reasons to burn deeds!)
But after bards get going they're really a blast! They have a wide, fun variety of tools like Vibration Chant, Lullabye, Stunning Shout, Feint, and Trip or Hamstring (depending on weapon type), among other things.
Very high level pure bards can more or less spam Song of Sonic Disruption, which definitely isn't my style and won't be what I do when I get there, but I'm sure power hunters love it.
Also, I consider bards a must for any multi-accounter, and I'm not even saying that because of their group buffs--after all, some professions and builds won't even care about Song of Luck or Kai's Triumph Song and a few might not even care about Song of Tonis. But everyone cares about silvers and loot and that's where bards pay off huge because of Purification Song and loresinging.
Since those early levels are so rough and bards are supposed to be the purest of the semis, maybe bards could get something like empaths have with Bone Shatter where they get TD pushdown early on. It can be crazily frustrating trying to hit with bard base against TDs that seem like they're defending against, I dunno, maybe wizards' Elemental Strike. Either that or I just didn't know what I was doing. Totally possible!
Thoughts on Cobbling
One of my favorite ideas in Gemstone and I absolutely love GM Elidi's dedication to it! Making custom shoes for everyone you know, with your own hallmark and design, is just one of the greatest things.
- A new cobbling punch that lets me wiggle my toes while wearing sandals and everyone else will see! [Note: apparently, as Airisu has told Leafiara in-game, sandals will be getting some love this year at Caligos Isle!
- A way to make cobbled shoes UAC compatible, possibly even with a bonus to MM
- Decrease RTs
Thoughts on Empaths
Easily the profession I'd recommend soonest to anyone, empaths are masters of all trades and jacks of none.
They're amazing at warding, amazing at bolting, amazing at swinging, amazing at utility, amazing at skinning, amazing at foraging, amazing at leveling (because they don't even need to leave town), amazing against creatures one on one, amazing against swarms with Empathic Link, amazing at rescuing, amazing in Guardians of Sunfist, amazing in the Order of Voln, amazing in the Council of Light...
They're amazing at being someone's only account since they never need to track down healing. They're amazing at multi-accounting since other than maybe wizard spells there's nothing more valuable to more professions than healing on demand.
And despite jokes about fat empaths, they're even amazing at not being encumbered since they don't have to carry 15+ pounds of herbs.
Nothing. I'd never intentionally suggest nerfs for anyone and I also can't suggest buffs to a profession I already think is the best in the game. I mean, I'm so enamored with empaths that whenever I think about what I'd like developed for clerics, I usually have to ignore the Major Spiritual circle because anything in it would also have to be balanced around empaths and it's too much of a hurdle for me to have to consider.
Thoughts on Forging
Other than maybe fletching, which I've never tried, this is the least tedious artisan skill and has the biggest payoff. Perfect forged weapons are awesome for upgrading with certificates from the Duskruin high end scrip shop. Also, even though it might seem like such a small thing, having your own crafting mark on your own weapon is hugely important to many characters RP-wise!
Something like a cobbling punch except it adds scripts to toothpicks.
Thoughts on Paladins
Paladins are the overkill profession that's great fun for quite a while, and maybe even forever if your main enjoyment is just feeling like a powerhouse. In everything they do, paladins either have sky high numbers or at least look like they have sky high numbers--sure, paladin CS isn't exactly sorcerer CS, but it can sure feel like it when you compare enemy TDs against paladin base to their TDs against sorcerer base!
Still, eventually they got dull to me when it became apparent that Aura of the Arkati followed by attacks or mstrikes is basically all they need to do. Or maybe that's a consequence of my paladin and empath being a hunting duo throughout their lives, as my warpath did a wider variety of things in almost every level range, which is more fun to me.
They're also a pretty weirdly non-social profession. They do have group spells, sure, but for sharing buffs without joining the hunt, they only have a single not-that-great spell in Mantle of Faith. I personally love armored fluidity too since I have a quartet of mutant pures wearing chain mail or leather breastplate, plus a Tonis bard who doesn't like losing mana, but most people prefer armor support by far.
Mostly I just wish paladins could unlock a superpowered version of Divine Strike with lores or a really high number of ranks in paladin base. Right now it's silly to me that I'm playing a profession that can take 202 spell ranks and I have no desire to go past 70 or at absolute most 90 (if I decide I still want Wall of Force after getting 202 Dodging).
Training more spells means giving up redux, which is a very big part of being a paladin to me, so I'd need a huge payoff. But, as far as I know, a 162/40 paladin won't come even close to the magical power of 125/77 bards. And it's not like bards even sacrifice physical ability to get that magical power since they're perfectly on par with paladins thanks to Song of Tonis. Bards do admittedly have worse TD and DS.
Still, to be honest, in a way paladins don't even feel like semis to me. Yes, they have to cast Aura of the Arkati or Judgment as setup spells, but many rogues cast Elemental Wave and nobody says they feel like semis.
Despite people who hear about me asking for buffs to war clerics and say I should have made a paladin (not knowing I have a paladin), I do think my cleric is slightly better at hunting with a weapon than my paladin is at hunting with magic. (It's not saying much!) And it's more enjoyable to me to be able to hunt and switch between the two than go with one or the other, so for a cleric I ask for buffs to melee and for a paladin I ask for buffs to magic.
(Weirdly enough, everyone who's ever heard me talking about war clerics and wanted to dispute it has always brought up paladins--no one's ever said I should have made an empath, wizard, bard, or ranger. If they did, I don't think I'd have any argument to push back with except an RP-based one.)
Thoughts on Warmages
Warmages are a lot like bards that get rolling at level 6 with Celerity instead of level 35+, and of all my characters, this is the one I most enjoyed from 0 to cap. Clerics have a great run from 11-55 and empaths come into their own once they have enough mana to cast Empathic Link regularly, but for a profession that was exciting top to bottom, this has been it for me!
Elemental Wave, Tremors, Call Wind, Major Elemental Wave, and Feint are all fun setups. For the low cost of 0/3 MTPs per level and 10,000 bloodscrip, I also made heavy use of a 20x/day Bind item from Duskruin, which with the way Magic Item Use calculates CS was better than what a cleric or empath with 3x spells would have been casting Bind with.
After any of these setups, simple 1 second attacks or Earthen Fury demolish enemies while basically ignoring the RNG because your sheer number of attacks turns probability in your favor. I never ran into much of anything I couldn't handle, as even things like shan that were major annoyances for all of my other characters got steamrolled by my wizard.
The only thing even kinda troublesome about playing a warmage, and it really isn't, is low AS and that's 100% fixable. In full disclosure, I did have my paladin and cleric give my wizard Zealot and full-fledged Benediction for +51 AS (actually 56, but she's an aelotoi with -5 Strength bonus), but anyone could basically do the same without multi-accounting. Bravery is available all the time from pure potions, Heroism isn't difficult to get access to because of Duskruin or Ebon Gate, and clerics can put the base benefits of Benediction into orbs. That's 45 AS, and my wizard also was only using a 4x weapon until around level 83 when she finished her 7x maul.
In combat I'm perfectly happy with my warmage and there's nothing more I could ask for.
For enchanting, I wish the weekly mana pool cap was the full 35,000. Yes, I'm sure there would be super capped wizards who would really push Water lore and rack up 95% temper time reduction every week (plus a little extra). I'd be one of them eventually! But would that actually be a bad thing? And I mean that even from Simutronics' perspective--wouldn't it encourage buying more fancy flares from Duskruin or having more accounts or characters to enchant more gear? Not to mention the time and money put in to have those super capped wizards in the first place?
It's an open question.