Skill Description Edit
Light radius: 3 (+1 per mutation level)
Laser range: 9
Laser damage: 1d3 (increases with mutation level)
Laser penetration bonus: 4 (+1 per two mutation level)
Light Manipulation grants you passive, ambient light up to a certain radius, which can be toggled on and off. More importantly, it gives you a decently damaging laser attack with a good penetration value, which can be used repeatedly in a short time. Instead of having a fixed cooldown, Light Manipulation consumes one tile's worth of its light radius as "ammo" each time you use the laser; reducing its radius to 0 toggles the ambient light effect off and prevents you from using the laser until your light radius regenerates to 1 or higher.
Light Manipulation's radius regenerates by 1 tile every 15 rounds, regardless of mutation level. Willpower has no effect at all on its regeneration rate.
Additionally, this mutation grants a passive chance to reflect light-based attacks such as lasers.
Can be used repeatedly in a short time, making this a great general-purpose attack mutation for espers who would otherwise be forced to rely on melee, guns, or pets while their most powerful abilities were on cooldown.
Laser damage and penetration scale moderately well with level, again reinforcing Light Manipulation's value as a reliable backup attack for characters with high Ego, who will also enjoy the increased light radius at higher levels.
The laser does not appear to be capable of missing - it will always unerringly hit the first target in its path.
Synergizes very well with Temporal Fugue. Summoning one's clones while the ambient light radius is high will allow every clone to use the laser ability multiple times, rapidly shredding most opponents in a massive hail of laser beams. Strangely, Temporal Fugue clones appear to be capable of missing with this mutation, despite the fact that it is seemingly unable to miss.
The passive laser reflection ability can be quite nice in the late game - from Bethesda Susa onward, some enemies can be expected to carry laser weaponry, which can pose a fairly significant threat at range due to its respectable damage and armour penetration.
Relying on this mutation as a primary form of attack and a primary light source at the same time is difficult - using the laser several times can leave the character with little to no light in the middle of a battle. This is especially annoying when one cannot see an enemy to shoot lasers at it, because shooting lasers at it reduced one's light radius until it could no longer be seen. A glowsphere or a few "emergency torches" should be carried until a hands-free light source is acquired.
The laser's offensive power remains reasonable at higher levels on characters with very high Ego, but it often lacks the raw killing power needed to consistently defeat strong enemies without consuming every charge in a sustained barrage on a single target. It is more reliable as a kind of "sidearm" for picking off chaff monsters or finishing off weakened threats, or for softening an enemy up while more powerful mutations finish cooling down.
The light-based attack reflection can have unfortunate effects in combination with Temporal Fugue or Evil Twin. Accidentally striking a Fugue clone with the laser can result in lasering oneself in the face, and an Evil Twin with Light Manipulation sometimes appears to produce a strange, buggy "recursive laser" situation that instantly kills the player when a laser reflects between the two of them multiple times and then inflicts massive amounts of damage at once.