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Bad Fixes: Marked for Death and Windshear

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I would like to say ahead of time that I have nothing but respect for the modmakers of this patch and obviously I have no control over what you guys decide to do with your mod. I also realize it is obvious that your mod has hours of blood sweat and tears poured into it. With that said, there are two "bug fixes" that I would have to assume were the result of bad judgement calls where a bug fixer was up late and convinced themselves that their balance fix was truly a bug fix.

Alright, enough sucking up and on to the Marked for death shout. The USSEP patch notes info for this shout are extremely misleading "The Marked for Death shout will no longer stack with itself." It mentions nothing of doing 60 times less than the original shout in armor reduction. Now, I can imagine the reason no one put the full description is because someone was up late and "fixed" marked for death shout when they finally found the boolean flag that allowed the shout to not stack and simply overlooked the impact of the change. They then might've convinced themselves that a shorter description was better or didn't notice the 60x decrease. Regardless, this brief description hides the real impact of the change. This fix broke the shout. No really, on novice or legendary, it doesn't matter. This shout does literally nothing, even to rats. It is impossible to notice -25 armor(+3% physical damage) unless you bring out the console and observe the marginal increase in damage you do per strike. This bug fix has made it so that the shout no longer does what it says it does in its description, and is completely useless. The moderators have stated they want evidence to revert a change or fix a bug, so as evidence I present the following:

First we have the plain text, in game description of the shout: (see edit)

1 word:
Drain health 1 pt/sec
Damage Armor 25 pt/sec

2 words:
Drain health 2 pt/sec
Damage Armor 50 pt/sec

3 Words:
Drain health 3 pt/sec
Damage Armor 75 pt/sec

There's no room for argument here about what the developer was intending for this shout. It's clearly written there in the description: Damage Armor 25 pt/sec not -25 armor flat.
Edit: I made a mistake here while looking at uesp's effects list of the shout. Opening up the game and looking for myself, Marked for Death's in game description for players  is actually:
"Speak and let your voice herald doom as an enemies armor and life force are weakened." Like all shouts, it doesn't give specific effect descriptions to the player. (the effects listed are still the vanilla effects)


Finally we have the name of the shout. It's called Marked for Death. The developer clearly wanted this to be a fearsome shout that marks a target for death, rewarding the player for surviving the 60 second long engagement required by this shout to become useful. In legendary, mages can stagger lock and summon familiars to tank for them. Why can't physical damage non magic players/non-follower users have a viable legendary option as well? The maxed shout as it currently stands under the broken bug fix does a flat 75 minus armor (a measly 9% physical damage increase) this makes it completely pointless to use on enemies. Under no circumstances would a physical damage player ever benefit from using this shout over elemental fury or soul tear.

Do you need this shout to play through high level content on legendary? No, you could just use followers, or destruction magic stagger lock with the impact perk, or vegetable soup, or stealth archery. But on a pure warrior (non familiar/follower, non-magic, non-crafting), legendary playthrough this shout is quite possibly the only way to get through high level content on legendary without crafting or grinding from wolf to wolf while avoiding bandit camps (yes, you would have to avoid bandit camps without save scumming. Why? Generally speaking, Anyone with a two handed weapon [especially hammers] can lock you into a kill move animation if they even get one hit of chip damage, until you have 400hp+); And i personally believe the developers did this for a reason. A tank that runs around stacking debuffs while staying alive is a pretty historical playstyle, and I'm sure that's what they intended this shout to play as, and it is certainly a fun and rewarding playstyle that feels far less gimmicky than summoning a familiar or using a follower to tank for you while you sit back eat a sandwich and use your endless supply of conjuration arrows on the enemy.

The other balance fix that was written as a bug fix was removing Windshear's stagger enchantment. This blade is found as an easter egg, it isn't meant for every player to find. Additionally, to explain why it staggers on normal hits I would point to the fact that the destruction school of magic "impact" perk can be picked up at level 40 and allows stagger locking on command from a distance. This perk isn't even an easter egg, it's a main feature that is plain text for even the least interested of players to see if they want to pick it up. Given that this blade is an easter-egg, at the VERY END of the Dark Brotherhood questline, and requires you to be in melee range to stagger lock I find it extremely likely that the unlisted enchantment was 100% intentional. 

My solution would be to revert back to the original shout before a truly viable change is found. The current solution is akin to simply removing the shout entirely which doesn't really fix the problem, it essentially just removes content from the game altogether.
Additionally, Windshear as i stated wasn't broken to begin with. More likely, someone was confusing the term broken (in the balance sense) with broken (in the functional sense) when clearly it's intended use was the stagger mechanic to begin with.

Honestly I hope you, the mod developers, find this message in good taste. In some places it can certainly read as disrespectful but I tried to make it as honest as possible without being rude. Regardless of whether you take my suggestions to heart I still find this mod amazing in the amount of effort it took to generate and shear volume of fixes it contains.

1. Originally a 1.03x-2.8x / 1.06x-4.6x / 1.09x-6.4x physical damage amp, the marked for death shout was patched by USSEP to do 1.03x / 1.06x / 1.09x  Turning a previously useful shout into an approximately 1x modifier (aka nothing) with a glorified 1/2/3 damage over time for 60 seconds. If the seemingly right way to fix a glitch ends up breaking the feature it was meant to fix then it should be reverted until a workable fix is found.
2. Windshear is a unique, easter egg weapon with a one of a kind stagger enchantment. If it's unique perk isn't listed in the effects description then it is likely that the effects description wasn't updated rather than the unique perk.

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Good evening, I am your friendly patch representative here to address your issue.

Firstly - let me make a simple point: We do not need any "sucking up" and we do not appreciate posts peppered with even censored F-Bombs and ALL CAPS. If you have an issue with a change we have made it is quite adequate to simply say "I do not understand why you did x because y".

Now - on to your issue:

First, I suggest you read the UESP page on how armour is calculated in Skyrim as it underpins what I am about to say.

Link: https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Armor

Note that it says there 1 point of armour is worth 0.12% damage reduction and also that the correlation between Armour Rating and Damage Resistance is not static. Each point of armour is worth more with a shield and you need more points of "armour" to reach max DR if you are using spells etc.

It seems there's a general misconception that Marked For Death attacks the character's base armour rating when in fact, and I had someone double check this, it attacks the character's Damage Resistance. Marked for Death with all three words reduces DR from a maximum of 80% to a maximum of 5%, for anyone with 74% DR or less it puts the figure negative, actually increasing damage above base. All we did was set the "recover" flag on the Shout which means that once the 60 seconds of the shout duration has elapsed the effects are removed and cannot be stacked. We do not otherwise alter how the shout works.

If the shout attacked base armour rating at 75 points per second it would reduce it by 4500 points in 60 seconds, which is the equivalent of 540% DR, which is frankly ludicrous, as opposed to 75% of DR which will strip the armour from any character, regardless of how many actual point of armour they have. Think about that for a second on normal difficulty - if you applied -540% DR to a character with 0 DR then damage then a standard steel sword doing only base damage goes 8 to 43.2, and that's after the NPS gets hit by 90 points of health damage, which will kill most citizens of Skyrim outright.

You mentioned you're playing on Legendary and I suspect this is the route cause of your problems because on that setting all of the players' attacks are reduced by 75%, so that a 75% reduction in DR from Marked for Death becomes 18.75%, reducing a character with 80% to a still-respectable 61.25%, or more likely 61% assuming the damage is rounded to the nearest whole number. So you would need to stack the shout four times to strip a character's armour.

The change was made because previously you could stack this effect and the effect was permanent - which meant that a character hit by the shout was permanently and irrevocably crippled, leading to companions suffering massive defence penalties that made them useless in combat.

Finally, I'd like to point out that the second word of this shout is locked behind the Dark Brotherhood questline, so I don't think it's meant to be a crutch for player playing on legendary, and it's more than powerful enough for the base difficulty - bearing in mind it can simply kill many characters outright and strips everyone of their armour.


As regards your second complaint, my understanding is the team took the view the perk was added in error. In both cases you're more than welcome to release your own esp reverting our fixes, though in the case of Marked for Death I really wouldn't recommend it if you plan on using the shout regularly around friendlies.

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Sorry for the all caps and censored cuss word. I'll gladly edit them out. My intention was to highlight an important point and I thought that stating my good intentions ahead of time would give me some leniency with tone. I suppose I took a risk by doing that and I can just as easily bold important sections to highlight the proper points. Again, sorry. I also meant sucking up as a half joke. I'll be more plain so there's no room for interpretation this time.

1. Damage resistance is armor rating is physical damage resistance.
When you type "getav damageresist" in console the resulting number does not show the hidden armor rating every character gets from each armor piece equipped (+25 hidden AR for each piece).I tested this in game and created a google docs spreadsheet so you can better see the resulting numbers and impact of armor rating in game and reference for this topic. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KW8RTPl4zhMATYmshjU0oaewYPGlDEEhF0pi2IHrkJ4/edit?usp=sharing. Again, I double checked and tested these values in game, feel free to do the same.
From here on out when I say "AR"  I am referring to the sum of visible AR and hidden AR. I will refer to the resulting damage coefficient of AR as the "modifier" (the number your damage is multiplied by to become it's actual damage). For example, 125 AR results in a .85 modifier (125*.12=15  1-.15=.85). Likewise, The cap of 80% physical damage resistance results in a .2 modifier when attacking that enemy. When you play on adept your 8 damage steel sword does 8 damage, when you play on legendary the display damage is still 8 but is multiplied by .25, I will refer to this modified displayed damage as "difficulty damage".

2. Difficulty setting does not affect the in game impact of AR. 
As you can see from the spreadsheet, if the enemy's AR decreases your damage by half in adept, it will decrease your damage by half in legendary.

3. Roughly 90%-95% of the enemies you encounter in skyrim have 0 armor. This means, using all 3 words, USSEP Marked for Death grants a 1.09x modifier while Vanilla goes from 1.09x-6.4x (over the course of a long 60 second engagement time) 
The highest you will see before lvl 28 (Ignoring rare random encounter NPCS titled "argonion", "imperial", etc.) is around 130 displayed AR+125 hidden AR from maxed gear bandits (If you make it to level 28 than the max AR you will ever see is 180 displayed + 125 hidden). If you take a look at the google docs sheet you can confirm that going from 0 AR to -25 AR/-50 AR/-75 AR results in 1.03x/1.06x/1.09x damage modifiers. This means that the USSEP marked for death does very little no matter what difficulty you are playing on. It is quite possible that you can one hit citizens while using this shout in USSEP but I would argue that if you could one hit them after using this shout, you could just as easily one hit them before as well. Not to mention you have to shout/aggro them before hitting them as opposed to making use of the sneak perk tree's much higher damage modifiers that can be done while being hidden.

4. You have to reveal your position in order to use the shout, meaning you opt out of sneak perks with substantially higher and instant physical damage modifiers 

5. 4500 seems like a crazy huge number in the context of most skyrim stats. However, When you do the math you find out this translates to 6.4x damage the vast majority of the time which isn't ludicrous at all.

6. Yes, followers and familiars are incompatible with this shout. That is a decision you will have to make when you decide to use this shout. Making this decision is better than not having the choice in the first place.



You mentioned you're playing on Legendary and I suspect this is the route cause of your problems because on that setting all of the players' attacks are reduced by 75%, so that a 75% reduction in DR from Marked for Death becomes 18.75%, reducing a character with 80% to a still-respectable 61.25%, or more likely 61% assuming the damage is rounded to the nearest whole number. So you would need to stack the shout four times to strip a character's armour.

I think you either misunderstood how AR works or misunderstood how Marked for Death works. USSEP Marked for death does not take an enemy from 80% damage negation to 61.25% damage negation. While it is true that the higher an enemy's AR the more useful AR reduction becomes, -75 AR still does barely anything to a hypothetical enemy with 80% damage negation. (Realistically the max you will see is ~30% physical damage negation from bandit chiefs)
Under USSEP, The shout doesn't do -75% AR(aka DR) in legendary or novice as stated in the quote, it does -75 AR on all difficulties. Regardless, taking the example given, If an enemy had 80% physical damage negation (the cap) they would require a sum total of 667 AR and the -75 AR from USSEP marked for death would bring that down to 592 (71% physical damage negation). This means you would go from doing .2 times your difficulty damage to .3 times your difficulty damage. In this extreme hypothetical scenario, the USSEP marked for death shout is at it's maximum effectiveness because it acts as a 1.5x damage modifier (Which is still subpar given skyrim's plethora of extremely better damage modifiers from the sneak  perk tree that you are choosing to not use if you use this shout.)  Unfortunately absolutely no enemies have anywhere near this AR in game and the majority have 0. You will find that the highest AR from non random-encounter  enemies in game comes from bandit chiefs who max out roughly around 130+(125 hidden) AR. This would result in 30.6% physical damage negation, or in other words, a .694x modifier. In this realistic and uncommon best case scenario for USSEP Marked for Death the  -75 AR takes it from 255 AR to 180 AR. In other words you go from doing .694 to .784 times your difficulty damage, which means the shout itself acts as a 1.13x modifier. So the best you can realistically hope for in rare scenarios from USSEP is 1.13x modifier max. If you choose to use the USSEP version of this shout for it's armor reduction in place of using a follower, sneak, or elemental fury you are making a mistake.

8. The 60 damage over 60 seconds DOT ability of this shout is worse than the 2 worst vanilla damage shouts in the game. 
The DOT is a secondary feature that has no bearing on whether or not you should decide to use it. To illustrate this let's examine 60 damage over the course of 60 seconds. The two worst shouts in the game that you are choosing not to use in place of casting this shout, fire breath and frost breath, both provide more damage per second of cooldown (aka dps) and provide their damage instantly as opposed taking an entire minute to deal damage. (frost breath is a 5 seconds DOT, but for the purposes of comparison to 60 seconds a 5 seconds DOT is being considered instant damage). Not that you should never use fire or frost breath over elemental fury or soul tear which are both better for dps than either previous shouts. If by some far fetched means this 60 second DOT is enough to kill the enemy you are fighting, then the target could've been killed by just hitting with your sword 5 times (or a different shout) and would've taken far less time.
edit: I'm completely wrong here because I thought Marked for death did 1/1/1 DOT when it does 1/2/3 DOT. The 3 word version of this shout approaches the highest magical damage dps of all the shouts in the game. (Soul Tear being next best with 3.33 dps when used off cool down) Marked for Death's 1/2/3 DOT for 60 seconds with a 20/30/40 cooldown means the following: Using this shout will start at 1/2/3 dps and approach 3/4/4.5 dps when used off cooldown. Keep in mind however, that your dps will start at 1/2/3 and won't even begin to approach 3/4/4.5 until 20/30/40 seconds. For example, stacking the 3 word version of marked for death every time it's off cool down technically approaches 4.5 dps but takes an entire 67 seconds to surpass Soul Tear's 3.33 dps and takes a full 80 seconds to deal the same 300 damage soul tear provides instantly upon casting.

9. Stacking is possibly a bug.
Not much to say here. Completely subjective if you think this is a bug or not. Funnily enough, USSEP doesn't actual get rid of this mechanic even though it say it does in patch notes info for this shout. It's just no longer permanent and doesn't build up in AR.
10. Armor reduction effects maintaining after death and respawn is obviously a bug.
11. Permanent Armor reduction is possibly a bug.

The game designer who worked on Marked for death went out of their way to check the "no recover" flag. No recover = permanent, so all the evidence we currently have points to this being an intended feature and not a bug.
12. Marked for death affecting followers is possibly an oversight.
Assuming the game designer wanted the effects to be permanent when he checked the no recover flag, I find it likely they weren't thinking about how this would affect your followers if you accidentally hit them. From a developer's perspective followers are seen as replaceable. The game encourages this by leveling followers to the player's level permanently when they are discovered, meaning any new follower can only be the same level or higher as your previous one.
On a separate note, Regardless of how imbalanced you think vanilla Marked for Death is, followers allow you to clear high level enemies with 0 risk of death when done properly. Followers get tankier on higher level difficulties (all npcs take .25x damage on legendary meaning your follower takes .25x damage from enemies). Getting to choose to use marked for death and avoid the use of followers is moderately strong but is far weaker than breaking the game in half with an immortal follower that gets tankier with higher level difficulties.
13. The Armor reduction build up over time was never a bug and belongs in the game.
14. If fixing the aforementioned bugs for some reason results in the main mechanic of the shout being removed (armor reduction over time) than the "fix" essentially removes the shout from the game instead of just giving players the option to avoid using it.

15. If you claim this -4500 AR (6.4x modifier) is overpowered you would have to also say that all the damage modifier sneak perks are overpowered
16. Marked for Death's -4500 AR over 60 seconds mechanic isn't a glitch just because it seems op to people who don't play legendary/use followers/don't use sneak. There are plenty of mechanics that are far more op and just as legitimate.

(Yes, you can one shot a citizen on adept with this shout if you aggro them and wait an entire minute while the guards rip you apart. Consider that you can also one shot a citizen with pretty much any of the sneak attack perks while not aggroing the entire city.)

I believe the shout is broken in USSEP due to misinformation. Too many people see -1500/-3000/-4500 AR and think it's op because they think they know the math behind AR and how this shout fits in the context of damage amplification from other skills. If you have taken the information presented and still believe the shout isn't broken under USSEP with it's frankly useless -75 AR on a maxed shout so be it.

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As a basic point anything that creates a bug that is permanently baked into a save will be addressed over any resulting wonkiness a fix might introduce. So if the fix reduces the power of the shout but prevents permanently gimping characters we're going to have that fix until a better one comes along - that's just a basic matter of policy here. If a bug is so severe it persists across saves and game restarts it's getting squashed.

That is simply not going to change, because bugs that get baked into saves are not something we are going to tolerate.

If fixing the bug caused the armour reduction effect to go from once per second to once per shout that's an engine bug. I frankly find it a bit dubious that it works like that because that would mean the target it not immediately very vulnerable in the first second, which defeats the whole "Marked for Death" premise.

All that the patch did was set the "recover" flag. We didn't alter the magnitude or duration of any of the effects - you seem to be suggesting that we also altered the magnitude of the health drain from 3pts per second at level three to 1pt per second, we didn't. As regards the armour debuff - as I said, I had someone double check this and it targets the DR of a character and not the AR. DR and AR are not the same thing - DR is capped at 80% and supposedly cannot go below 0%, though I haven't personally tested this.

If you want us to change this you will need to demonstrate two things:

1. A fix that does not persist across saves, gamestates etc. like the original bug.

2. Prove that this particular should is reducing AR and not DR.

You've set your Google Doc to private so I can't view it. If you want us to reconsider I suggest you start by establishing a test scenario where we can test, with numbers, whether the shout attacks AR or DR.


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woops, here's the shareable link https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KW8RTPl4zhMATYmshjU0oaewYPGlDEEhF0pi2IHrkJ4/edit?usp=sharing (edited in the original post as well).
I call DamageResistance and armor rating the same thing because skyrim's in game UI presents the DamageResist variable to the player as "Armor Rating" (for reference: https://en.uesp.net/wiki/Tes5Mod:Actor_Value_Indices). However, "damage reduction" is simply a concept that results from positive DamageResist/AR points (damage reduction doesn't actually exist as a named variable in skyrim). Conversely, negative AR would be properly called damage amplification. So, technically speaking damage reduction can't go negative because at that point it's called damage amplification. The only way to target the concept of damage reduction (not an actual variable in game) is to reduce armor rating/DamageResist.

You can cause damage amp (negative DamageResist/AR) even with the USSEP marked for death, 0 armor targets will get -25/-50/-75 AR. The best way to view USSEP Marked for Death producing negative AR is to spawn an enemy with no hidden armor bonuses (no occupied armor slots giving them hidden +25 AR per slot) and then casting the shout on them. In adept difficulty this will result in doing more damage than the displayed damage of your weapon. It will be hard to see  with USSEP's version of the shout because the DOT produces too much damage noise to tell given how small the bonus is (see google docs sheet of -25/-50/-75 AR). but if you use the vanilla shout, wait a while, and use getav health and getav damageresist between hits it is easily noticeable. (Alternatively you can manually set the damageresist(aka AR) of an npc with the console command "forceav damageresist x" where x is the number you set it to).

I had a suspicion that the flag change is what caused it to not build up in -AR as opposed to being changed intentionally. 

I'm in no way suggesting nor do I think USSEP changed the DOT effect of the shout. My point was that the DOT affect was never intended to be the main feature of the shout (Hence why it doesn't scale up when you get more words) In USSEP it is the main feature of the shout. 
edit: Corrected my post which was under the false assumption marked for death acted as a 1/1/1 DOT instead of 1/2/3 DOT

With regards to AR's caps it is indeed capped at 80% effectiveness (aka 667 true AR with all hidden AR factored in is the maximum effective DamageResist/AR value). However, as previously stated, 0 and below isn't capped, and is easy to prove in game.

Below is a screenshot demonstrating -AR with USSEP's marked for death on an enemy with 0 armor and 0 armor pieces equipped.




So if the fix reduces the power of the shout but prevents permanently gimping characters we're going to have that fix until a better one comes along

Alright. Obviously I don't personally agree with it, but that's absolutely fair and I respect that.

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