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Is the study of magic a lost art?

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I will try to keep this post making as much sense as possible but unfortunately ideas kinda stream out of my head without much planning so bear with me a little. I play a lot of RPG games, and I always like to be a mage or some kind of derivative therin. I spend all my time levelling up and, in most games, 'purchasing' new spells or spell upgrades. Often when describing my character to someone else I find myself saying things like I'm a lvl 28 mage with FireBall spell 9. Without sounding amazingly picky and pedantic, in a way that kinda takes the mystery out of being a mage. Its just a little depressing that my character's knowledge of the arcane forces can be summed up with a name and a number. Often I think to myself this spell that throws lightning is very nice but what I really want is something that errupts from the skies to my enemies. No okay I know this is starting to seem pointless and vague and probably annoying too but, I was thinking the other day and came up with something that I'd like some opinion on. What if the player decided how his spells worked, how they damaged, the range, the power etc... Of course this needs to be regulated to save everyone having a spell that costs 1 mana and annihlates the entire universe. So how about this: Instead of leveling up and 'purchasing' a spell, you purchase a spell type for instance fire projectile or fire radial, lightning rain anything you can think of really and also a 'school of study' such as projectile speed. Then the character can create a new spell of whatever type (fire projectile for example) and call it whatever they like. Then the player can choose to start studying attributes of the spell like the speed of the projectile which might have the effect of stunning an enemy. if you set yourself to study this particular school then as you use the spell the speed of the projectile gradually increases, thus increasing the stun effect of the spell. However to keep the play balanced you give the school of study a side effect. e.g. as the projectile gets quicker it uses more mana. the player may study that for a while and get a stun effect on his spell of 3.9 seconds and then the player decides I want to increase the damage, so he starts to study projectile size. See now you can even use inter dependencies and say that as the size of the projectile gets bigger the speed gets slower (not too much though so the player can still customize exaclty how they want the spell even though it would take alot of time and much studying) and uses more mana. You could even have more schools of study such as mana consumption, impact explosion etc.... As you go through the game you may even learn how to study two schools on one spell at the same time. I understand that this would be an absolute nightmare to play balance. I have no intention of implementing it in any games I am currently involved in as I don't have the experience, and to be honest with my first few projects I am trying to start out small. But I would like the opinion of any one who has anything to say about this - good or bad (I won't even take offence if you flame me down) And finally thank you for reading through this drivel - A coherent writer I most seriously am not :)

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forgive my very short reply, but I am about to be kicked out.
May I suggest you look up a roleplaying game called Mage the Ascension, by White Wolf. They are going to release a new version soon, but if you look up the concept of Spheres, and how their magic system works, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
The difficult part is to translate the beauty of this system to a computer game. _Very_ tricky (because essentially, it all depends on what the player wants, so how do you prevent the player from abusing the system, eh?)

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Quote:
Original post by ahw
May I suggest you look up a roleplaying game called Mage the Ascension, by White Wolf. They are going to release a new version soon, but if you look up the concept of Spheres, and how their magic system works, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


Ars Magica is infinitely superior to Mage the Ascension. [razz] The 4th edition rulebook is available for free on rpgnow.com. The 5th edition came out last December. [wink]

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Geeks[lol] The only real magic is Magic: the Gathering[grin]. Ok back on topic now. Have you every played Diablo 2 1.10+? I never got around to it, but from playing 1.09, I know that they started to work on a quite complex magic system in which everything was related. You might wanna look into how they did that. Also take a look into Arcanum for more magic ideas. YOu can mix and match a lot of stuff. I have the game, but never really played it. Then there's Baulder's Gate. In that one you have to 'learn' the spells from scrolls and such.

Now on to the question of customizing your spells. I think you really need to look into the game Warzone 2100. It is a militaristic RTS game that has the most intresting unit system I have ever seen. You basically 'build' your army from plans that you recover. That and you must research all the upgrades. However, you get to mix and match to your liking. For example, if you have 2 types of tires and 2 types of turets, you can have 4 different vehicles. Now that is over simplified, but in the game there are thousands of possiblilities from mixing and matching.

The way they balance it is that you can make a uber powerful unit, but it takes a lot of resources and a lot of time to build. For your spells, you should be able to get them quite powerful, but the side effects is that the cool down time is really high and the mana costs are also high. You can even have other spells cast as side effects as well, such as 'slow' or 'health leech' that is proportional to how powerful the spell is. However, these effects are neglibible until a spell reaches a certain power level. So anyone just using it will not be at a disadvantage, but anyone who want's to really abuse the power, will have to suffer some.

I'm sure there are lots of possibilities for you to consider. Those are just a few ideas of mine. I would like to see a mgic system similar to FF7 as well, having the magic you could attach to your weapons. That is a great idea in limiting what you are doing as well and it something else you should look into.

- Drew

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A system of magic words/runes could be used to implement this idea.

What happens you take base words and add modifer words to them to create spells. Each school of magic would have a set of words and the more you study that school the more words you learn.


So you study elemental school with a fire displine and learn the first elemental fire word "FI" you also have level 1 in the forms of magic school so you know RA which is the throw magic. You also have level 1 in the school of augmentation so you can only have 1 modifer per word.

so you create your first spell by combing FI-RA and you get fire thow which lets you throw a fireball. Further study in augmention allows you to have two modifers per word and you also study life 1 which gives you growth "GR" so now you can creata a new spell

FI-RA-GR

which is creats a fireball that increase in size when you throw it.

you could also create
GR
|
FI-RA

which is fireball that becomes hotter when you throw it.


thow in some stats that determine and you have yourself a magic system.

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Quote:
Original post by Fruny
Ars Magica is infinitely superior to Mage the Ascension.

Agreed ;¬) The spontaneous magic system is superior to any other game I've played - the way it's structured makes it easy to grasp, but it's open ended enough to allow real creativity. Shame it's a bit too open ended for a computer game, at least on the spontaneous side. The formulaic spells grouped by art and dependant on scores in arts could work though.

TechnoGoth: I wrote a system similar to what you describe for a live roleplay game. In that context, such a system works really well because it's easy for any player to know the basis phrases, but the mage characters can still be creative in designing (maybe even on the spot) spells that are combinations of those phrases. I also had the phrases build up into the spell vocals (erm, in LRPs people shout vocals to let people kow they are casting, in case that's not obvious) - so the vocal for a touch healing spell is "HeTo" (for heal-touch) or the vocal for a protection from fire spell could be "FirProDur" - protect-fire-duration.

It struck me while writing it that you could add conditional statements, and make spellcasting almost like programming ;¬)

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LMAO :-D
Well, if we are gonna play geeks, I must admit that I am still very passionate about the magic system in a little game called Simulacres. Basically, each and every spell was a skill, just like any other skill, which had to be learnt on its own, practised, and improved. This made each spell a very personal thing, and also a big investment, but this also made each magician much more unique, IMO.
drew_benton : n00b [razz] How can you even call MtG a magic system...
it's like calling Diablo a roleplaying game. Oh the heresy! Burn the witch [flaming]

;-)

But seriously, it seems to me that the more interesting/free/powerful the magic system in a PnP RPG, the more impossible it becomes to convert to a computer version...
when I hear they couldn't even put all the Disciplines for Vampire Bloodines, for fear of breaking the game, I can only wonder at the scale of the challenge of implementing something like Mage the Ascension.

And yes I know of Ars Magica... I just never got around playing it, so I wouldn't dare to compare it to Mage. Especially given how much praise I have heard about it over the years. Shame on me, I know :-P

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as for that magic words/runes combination system: it's been done, and it rocks.

Look up Ultima Underworld, Ultima Underworld 2 and its great but unrecognized brother Arx Fatalis (the system in Arx Fatalis is particularly inspiring, and retains the spirit of the originals)

And yes, you gotta find the runes. You wind up treasuring each one you find, and you wind up testing all kinds of stuff with it. The Create rune is particularly useful =)

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Don't forget the other Ultima's, and their spoken rune/Reagent casting systems. Some games also use Deities or Spirits, which they invoke and use their powers (Final Fantasy's Materia, Secret Of Mana, etc). The only things that annoyed me about the Morrowind casting system was that you always had to buy any custom spells you made, you couldn't make them yourself. They were also never as good as the standard ones you purchased from vendors, not to mention organizing them was a pain in the ass. :p

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Guest Anonymous Poster
As someone mentionned Ars Magica, I rose from my chair and cried in joy. This was the key (in my opinioni) to a game system which would create a good gameplay, even if it forced the players to actually play...

The Numeric Pad!!!!

Since we are talking Magic, imagine that the "7", "8" and "9" on the pad represent "create-", "attack-" and "defend-" type spells. Now, the "4", "5" and "6" represent "negative-", "neutral-" and "positive-" modifiers applied on the elements or spell bases represented by "1", "2" and "3" as "heat", "movement" and "matter".

throwing a basic fireball at an opponent would require the caster to type 8(attack) 61 (with heat) 62 (in movement), or 86162 in sequence. This simple sequence can also be made into a macro set in shortcut bar, and used any time for simpler use. And from simple sequences, you can evolve to more complex sequences including different negative or positive values, represented by 8666162 (which would be a fireball which would burn thrice as much, thus modifying either the distance to which it is thrown, and/or the damage taken, in opposing scales.)
Casting a 751 would create a neutral heat, or rather, throw some dim light. making it a 755551 would make it a flashlight, or something.
The summoning of a dirt wall can happen through the typing of 7963, and that of a hole through 7943. Enlarge walls and holes by adding "4"s and "6"s at your leisure.
And finaly, the summoning of animals or familiars can be made through the typing of "789" prefixes, the player choosing the attributes the familiar is bound to have.
making it a "789789" cast would make it a double creation of pet, or rather, the creation of a pet with twice as much life, making it of a higher level. It should require more mana to cast. But the same applies for any other casting, and making it a 8886162 would make all the base values of your basic firebal multiplied by a set number (let's assume that putting three "8" in a row makes it worth three separate "8" and the fireball is thrice as powerfull on the average.)

The limit to the number of numbers you could put in a sequence would be your Intelligence, or something in regard to it.

Now, the chocolate topping. The Numeric Pad could also be used for the non-magic users!

I've been working on this system for a long time for Pen-&-Paper games, and it works, although it is a little heavy to handle, it is very intuitive too.
The numeric pad has nine keys, eight which would represent slashes at different quadrants of space, and the ninth, "5" to be named, would represent thrust. By a combination of sidesteps (by using the arrows) and of RightCtrl, one could even manage to code parry (Ctrl+ a key), and dodge.
The basis of this system is this. You give a basic attack timing for your sword (or any other weapon) to move from static guard (position "5" or other if preset)to your first move end position, represented by one of the numeric keys. At the end of the move, your timing is perfect to push a second key which will represent the end position of your second move, the beginning position of it being the end position of previous. Welcome to slash land, you keep on hitting keys on timing in order to create combos. Combos can be stopped by a successful parry and/or a successful dodge, and the next one to successfully strike is beginning a new combo.
The introduction of a thrust in the middle of a combo is likely to have a certain appeal since if it hits, it will certainly put an end to the confrontation, but keep in mind that you will have to hit "5" a second time in order for your blade to go back to static guard position and be able to start a new combo, thus allowing your opponent to try and begin one himself, if he finds time for it.

This would create an immersive simulation for sword-fighting, and could even be tweaked enough to allow a differentiation in fighting styles, according what kind of weapons you're using (axes, halberds, fencing swords, pikes), due to modifications done by your characteristics. Agility or Speed would allow for shorter attack average time, Force would lower time for heavier weapons and make it higher for lighter ones, while according some nice aditional damages. Intelligence could also lower to a certain extent the attack average time rate, and could also be used to trigger the use of "special attacks" of a sort, like a back-thrust with an axe in mid-slash would disarm the opponent by grabbing his blade, or by allowing a backslash when encountering a successful parry, that sort of thing.

So now is the time to flame me down (7878786161616161616161)!!

Yours faithfully,
Nicolas FOURNIALS

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Nicolas,
that's an excellent concept you have there. I can see one flaw, though, or see it as a possible improvement.
Instead of limiting yourself to 7,8,9 then 4,5,6 etc.
you could use the whole keypad for each "step" in your casting.
Think of it as using the circle menu in Neverwinter Nights, for example.
possibly you could use the 5 to come back one level.
I am only suggesting that you can have a much larger number of combinations, if you think your idea through.

The original concept itself is great :) Although you are only really describing a User Interface, rather than a magic system. This sounds just like a runic system with some oomph :)
I love the idea, myself, especially for combat. For someone who has played fighting games before, this makes so much sense, doesn't it? The problem is that people are getting more and more used to playing with the mouse. And in this case the keypad is usually not used all that much... (well, since I switched to WASD I haven't used it, personally)

One I was thinking about: you could, instead of having to repeatedly type a key, simply hold it for more or less a long time (with some power bar filling up as a visual aid, maybe). This would add an element of, say, elasticity to spellcasting. Something that is very much lacking, IMO.
We would get closer to the gameplay of a fighting game, where timing, not just remembering a set of keys, is essential to success :)

Imagine translating a fighting game into a duel of magicians... aaaaah, the possibilities :) [rolleyes]

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Nicolas, I really like your concept... in fact, I was thinking of sth similiar last summer :-) sth about multiplayer game for 2-8 players who are playing mages, wizards, necromancers, druids etc. (each profession fights using magic), and in the simplest version, they fight with each other (or team vs team, or CTF, or domination, or ... etc.).

You could imagine that as Quake deathmatch, but with camera above heads (like in Crimsonland), and without normall weapons - instead, you cast spells... BUT, unlike other games - you won't press left mouse button to summon Big Ass Demon ;-) For simplicity, let's say we're going to cast fireball. In order to do it, you can do sth like this:

1. Summon fire in place X - it will stay there for a while. Of course, you can summon as much fire as you like - from small torch to BIG camp-fire - it all depends on how much mana you spend and how much time you devoted to casting it.
2. Now, let's say you summon wind - let it blow through fire, direction: enemy. Obviously, fire should turn to regular fireball if wind was strong, or flamethrower - if wind was rather weak.
Of course, you can cancel flamethrower version at any moment, and make wind much stronger - fireball would fly, but it won't as powerfull, as it would be at the beginning.
3. You can also use telecinesis to "punch" fire, which would make it fly somewhere. Punch fire in the center, to make it fly in all directions - Nova spell anyone?
4. You can use wind to throw enemy on already summoned fire - probably harder, but certainly possible.
5. If enemy mage has summoned fire and thinks that he will use it for casting fireball (target: you), don't worry, use your wind or telecinesis for self defence - just cast one of those spells on that fire, as you would do with your own...

Of course, using this system to cast spells in realtime fight would be hard even for experienced fpp players... so, there's another concept: frozen spells. You cast spell normally, but it won't activate untill ie. 5 seconds (or any number you want).
So you can have some time to summon three relatively big fires (sorry for this sentence, I don't know english grammar very well :-/) near each other, and to cast hurricane (enchanced wind spell) at them, which (in theory) should create sth like fire wall. Or, use telecinesis to pull out standing nearby tree, throw it at fires - tree will start burning - and then... throw it at enemy :-] effectively hurting him by fire and tree's weight and momentum.

OTOH, watch out, cause he can use tornado to re-throw that tree at you... or he will simply use more mana for telecinesis, grab tree from your "hand", suppress flames with summoned ice (or normal wind, but little colder) and animate tree - which would turn into might ent... which would go and kick your ass! :-))


See where I'm going with it? :-) Possiblities are endless, you are limited only by your imagination and magic powers... and mana level... well, uhmmm, sadly - also by programmer's skills and abilities - it would be VERY hard to create a system, in which you could be as free, as I explained in my post. Obviosly, having good physics system would help a lot :-)

I think it would be very cool game, if such system was properly implemented... anyone heard of similiar, already existing game?

[Edited by - Koshmaar on March 9, 2005 3:35:14 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Yeah!! I like your idea better than mine! Let's have a timing for the types of spells, like the swings of swords! It will increase the impression of indeed having something to do, while you're behind your keyboard. The more you keep your finger on the button, the more you build momentum for your spell, while the basic animation could remain the same, the level of sound for chanting could get higher, making it more immersive.

On the other hand, I have to fully take the blame, I DO describe a User Interface, rather than a Magic System. I made the mistake to believe that one could be explained alongside the other, merging both concepts, but I honestly can't think of anything to add to what I previously said. Tell me what lacks, and I'll gladly post it. Or try to think about it, at least.
To save my butt from ass-kicking, I would say that with your system of timing, it would require a lot of strategy to actually manage a magic fight without getting done for it. I honestly don't think many players are ready for that. But how fun it would be if they would accept to give it a try...

As for the use of full keyboard, I thought it would be too much of a strain to use correctly. The number pad is big enough as well as cramped enough to give you cramps on your right hand until retirement. I can't see any valid reason for typing the full magic word you want to use, for it would require an incredible skill to be able to type both fast and correctly words longer than the average sentence. I don't even want to imagine beta-testers coming back to any dev shouting and crying "I can't type correctly, and you want me to type something like "supercalifragilistic expialidocious" in less than two seconds in order to toast that level 5 spider? are you nuts? I'm going back to hack'n slash!" And I wouldn't blame them. You would end up seeing a simulation of swordplay, not a simulation of magic. Not that it would bother me that much, but, it would NOT be the purpose of the game. I think if I had to design it, I would keep my idea of numberpad. Of course you could add refinement by using the side keys, like "/", "*", "-", "+", "0" and ".", but mainly, I think, it would be limited to the nine central keys. Now if you have any suggestion that might use these keys, just let me know...

Yours faithfully,
Nicolas FOURNIALS

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Making the magic system logical and easy to control is nice, but does not put the mystery back in to the magic; almost on the contrary. Also, the original poster was interested on how to make learning magic more concrete. Here's a couple of thoughts on how to do that.

Now, I'll assume you have some sort of ritual magic, i.e. you utter all sort of syllables and wave your hands or whatever (sacrificing stuff, chanting, praying, playing musical instruments, speaking in tongues, hopping about, taking all sort of wierd stances, whatever). Now, each spell is basically a sequence of these actions. At the beginning of each game you generate a sequence for each spell. The lenght of the sequence should be proportional on the power of the spell, e.g. a simple healing spell is very fast to cast and a mass genocide spell is very lengthy. Because spells are randomly generated, you actually have to learn the spells either by trying them out or by studying spellbooks, being taught by other mages etc. There can be very rare spells that you can only learn from spellbooks that you'll have to find from exotic places. Casting these spells is done by actually performing (rather, making the character perform) these actions.

Of course you'll think now that the system is poorly balanced as even a starting mage can easily cast the Nuclear Holocaust spell if he knows the spell. This is where character skills start to play an important role. A starting mage is not good at, say, chanting. Now, certain spells might require that there is a chant component that requires a certain amount of skill or otherwise the spell will fail. Also, if you need a material component (e.g. some blood of a certain creature), the quality of the material will affect the result. When a spell fails, nothing happens, or if you are unlucky, some other spell (usually disastrous to the caster) is cast instead. The power of the spell is proportional to the success of the character and the quality of the material component (if any); if the required components of the ritual are prepared well (e.g. you chant very well), the spell becomes more powerful. The most powerful spells could have components that are nearly impossible to find or at least very expensive, or just very hard to succeed in if a skill is required.

There could be several rituals to represent the same spell. The shorter versions of the spells can be more difficult to cast (requiring more skill), which means that when you gain skills, older spells become easier to cast and more powerful. All the parts of a spell take game time, so shorter spells can increase the caster's life expectancy.

Now, the spells can be as described in the post by Koshmaar; each spell is actually a part of a bigger spell. In order to cast a fireball you need to create fire and then make it move, but in addition to that you'll first have to learn how to do those things. Of course this makes spellcasting take a lot more time, but magic is supposed to be hard anyway. The Diabloesque style of casting 100 fireballs a minute is overkill and makes magic too mundane to be mystical.

As for using this system, you could configure the keys (numpad keys or otherwise) to represent the different syllables or whatever you use for the rituals. Now, since spells can become rather lengthy, you could also make them into macros that you can assign to keys. Of course you can argue that that would again make casting too easy, but RPGs should be more tactical and less reflex-based games anyway. You'd still have to learn the spells.

Does this sound plausible at all?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
We-ell, it sounds to me like you brought nothing really new. You simply tweaked the previously proposed systems. In a definitively good way, that is. You took the numeric Pad keys from my UI, Koshmaar's verbal and somatic parts of a spell, molded them in a different wording, and voilà! you've got a system. the only really new thing you brought, which I personally is a good thing but hard to implement the way you describe it, is the random generation of spells. You say that each spell is different for everybody, but you can learn them from someone else? could be tricky. If it is only a randomization of the numpad keys functions, then, it has close to no interest. If it is a complete randomization of ALL the components of a spell, then i am unable to understand how one can learn from someone else a different combination. It would invariably result in a different outcome, wouldn't it?
Honestly, instead of haphazard spells, using different numpad keys, why not let the magic be purely instinctive, and let the learning be part of a strategic use of your fingers? Set spells tend to make for set archetypes a la Diablo, with people being able to cast hundreds of fireballs in a row and devastate the landscape without even seeing the mobs. Having affinites with different elements is a very good thing, and could be implemented with synergies a la Diablo 1.10.
If you are a natural summoner, say, you'll have a natural multiplier bonus on each stroke of a "7" key. If you are from an island, or a lake or river region, you'll have multiplier bonuses when you use neutral matter, which is water for you, by typing "53". These bonuses could even have backsides which would give maluses for opposite elements, and/or lower bonuses for allied elements. Being good with water would make it easier to use spells related to ice, or negative heat, but harder to use those related to fire, or positive heat. It could also give bonuses/maluses to damages and/or defense.
Now it is true it would become trickier with movement. If a positive movement is giving something a push, what would be negative or neutral movements? A negative movement could be something about stopping, or stasis, adding something to defense, and a neutral movement could be about gravity? This opens avenues for interesting effects. Calling for 75262 could be a super jump (creation of a gravitational push) whereas a 78552 would be a "root" spell, which would slow down your opponent, as being an attack by creation of added gravity.

Honestly, i don't see a need for randomization of spells. It would only make it trickier to learn something. And if most spells are to be attack spells, then, trying them out without succeeding is bound to get you killed, since you won't succeed everytime, notwithstanding the fact that you could create self-inflicted wounds through misspelling.
As for your criticism of Magic not being about reflexes, well, that is true. Mostly, anyway. I will willingly admit that most of what you see in Harry Potter is not what one would have refered to as being magic beofre Harry Potter came to Grand Public's awareness, but now that it has, most people will readily think that a magic duel is something that can happen between two rival mages, and that it happens in very much the same way J.K. Rowlings described it. Now Magic IS about reflexes, and being able to cast the right offensive or defensive spell in exactly the right moment. What you end up with is a need for a system that allows a player to decide, as malachantrio said, "how his spells worked, how they damaged, the range, the power etc... "
Unfortunately, I think the game mechanisms he describes are neither exactly practical nor workable, for, in order for the game to be fun, you would need to have a lot of actual spells, and the different blends one could make with each spells would have to be previously coded as being a particular spell. With the kind of mechanism I proposed, I don't think the coders would have to think of each different possibility, but only of the possible effects of combinations. The players would determine in their own casting what would be the range, the area of effect, the target, the type of damage, the kind of association he wants... so the actual coding of different outcomes only register the different families of spells, not the complete range of the spells of all the families. It would make it a lot easier to keep track of what happens.
As for the shorter spells being more powerful as you become more powerful yourself, I think this could be worked out through multipliers. Imagine that, like it has been described in the system I proposed, your Inteligence Stat is what limits the number of numbers you can put in a spell sequence. Now imagine that all the numbers that you don't use become multipliers of say a 1.1 value. Imagine now that you want to cast your basic 86162 fireball. If you have only 5 in intelliugence, then you are working at the top of your art. If you have 20 then you are working at barely a fraction of your art, but your knowledge and power are sufficient to make this simple fireball batter than your basic mage's one because al those unused numbers multiply the outcome spell's characteristics by 1.1, making it a 1.1^15 multiplier, that is a 4.17 factor. Merely because you are a better mage, casting a fast fireball makes the fireball 4.17 times better than the basic one, with 5 in Intelligence. To balance that, you would have to make a fireball which would require more typing, like a 886162, or 88661662 more attractive in terms of damage, but less in terms of time to cast. Not very difficult in terms of number tweaking. But the player would have to make choices as to how much damage he wants to deal, and how long he wants the fight to take, how much damage he can withstand or shrug off before having to scamper. Well, would a mage even be able to take damage AND be able to cast at the same time, or would you consider that casting a spell is a little like making a combo in sword-fighting, and taking a hit stops your combo? that would favour short casting spells, but would lower the damage, but would a longer spell be able to defeat a more formidable opponent if someone could hold him for just a little longer?

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That's some great ideas you got there man :)

I was thinking also, that to compensate the problem of timing,
that is, the fact that most spells have to be typed on the fly, you could introduce some more elements.
First, dissociate the typing from the actual casting.
Make each elements that have to be typed associated with a visual cue, say a gesture, or some chanting, or whatever else you can think of.
As you gain level, those elements take less and less time.
When an enemy starts casting a spell, you can see them doing it, and because it takes time, you could interpret on the fly what they are about to cast, giving you time to start casting a counter spell.
Say, a message could pop up over the enemy if your magician has enough knowledge, or is familiar with that perticular form of magic, telling what element is being "spelled out" shall i say. Say, in a runic system, if your character knew it, the name of the runes would appear over the enemy player as he casts.

This also has a very nice side effect, which is to tie the in game skills of the character, with the actual skills of the player.
This reduce the typing frenzy, slowing the game to a manageable level, and more importantly, to a network friendly level.

Then add some funky things like the magic feats you can acquire in DnD 3.5 (silent casting, still casting, fast casting, etc).
Then add the possibility of storing your cast spells for later use (at some calculated cost), in the form of scrolls or whatnot...

I think this could really go somewhere. And if you think that it's a too complicated system, I think you shouldn't underestimate your players. After all, every likes to be able to take pride in the skills required to do what they do.
But then again, that's my personal opinion that it's more interesting and rewarding to drag the player upwards rather than try to level the field at the bottom, where the lowest common denominator resides. It's all down to your target audience I suppose.

Oh, and it's perfectly OK to discuss UI design, you know. I wasn't giving out or anything. Just pointing out something I thought was interesting.
Because let's face it, the design of the interface is as important as the magic system itself. If you have a great background idea for your magic, but your interface is crusty, or just too simplistic, what's the point, eh?

PS: you know, it's free to register, not to be a zealot or anything [wink]

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Just for a little perspective, there's a little spell that comes from either Candomble or another afro-Brazilian religion that might serve as an example of how magic "works" in the real world...

The spell is for finding a new lover. You need a brand new pen, a clean piece of paper and new bottle of a sweet, fruit soda. Basically, you're supposed to drink half of the soda, then write your name and a few words about who you want to meet on a piece of paper. Then, you go to a market square or a park or other busy place and leave the paper under the bottle. Finally you muster up some joy into your heart and you say a prayer to the Iwuji or some orixa (deity) offering praise and asking for a new lover.

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that's more of a ritual, but that's a cool example in any case :)
rituals are generally not cast "on the fly". They take more time to prepare but that's because their results are generally also much more profound, definitive, etc.
Essentially, the more you invest into a spell (time, efforts, components), the more you get out of it.

Oh yes, you might wanna check this out, too (a book on "real" magic; sadly haven't managed to get my hands on it yet)

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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
We-ell, it sounds to me like you brought nothing really new. You simply tweaked the previously proposed systems. In a definitively good way, that is. You took the numeric Pad keys from my UI, Koshmaar's verbal and somatic parts of a spell, molded them in a different wording, and voilà! you've got a system. the only really new thing you brought, which I personally is a good thing but hard to implement the way you describe it, is the random generation of spells. You say that each spell is different for everybody, but you can learn them from someone else? could be tricky. If it is only a randomization of the numpad keys functions, then, it has close to no interest. If it is a complete randomization of ALL the components of a spell, then i am unable to understand how one can learn from someone else a different combination. It would invariably result in a different outcome, wouldn't it?


Actually I didn't mean that the spells were randomized for each character, but for each game world/session/whatever. Every time you play the spells are different, but for all the characters in one single game session the spells are the same. The point being, of course, that they are random so that you can't learn the spells in one game and then know everything beforehand in the next game. After all, the thread title regards the study of magic, which is what the character should do, not the player. If the spells are the same every time you play, there is no studying for the character, but rather for the player.

And rituals can add more restrictions to spells; you might need prepared components (heart of a wolf sacrificed at the shrine of obsessive-compulsive behaviour), a certain location (the temple of malice), a certain time of day, or a combination of similar restrictions (in order to cast Mass Genocide you need to travel to the town of Zorankahas and insult the spirit of the moon thrice).

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Honestly, instead of haphazard spells, using different numpad keys, why not let the magic be purely instinctive, and let the learning be part of a strategic use of your fingers? [...] Honestly, i don't see a need for randomization of spells. It would only make it trickier to learn something. And if most spells are to be attack spells, then, trying them out without succeeding is bound to get you killed, since you won't succeed everytime, notwithstanding the fact that you could create self-inflicted wounds through misspelling.


I already commented the reason for the randomization (learning spells is basically a character action), but as for trying out different spells and getting killed, well, that's just to make it less appealing trying to find that spell of mass genocide in the beginning of the game. Still, if you were really desperate (say, you were in a cell in an orcish prison and you were to be executed anyway the next morning) or had learned that some of the components are safe to try (e.g. you learn from a fortune cookie that sacrificing rats will never cause you harm), you could still try out the spells. The moral is that there is not really many reasons why you shouldn't be able to cast the spells by trying, so there needs to be something to discourage you from doing so too early in your magical studies... And you could learn partial rituals and trying to find the last part is not as dangerous as having to ad-lib a whole ritual from scratch.

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As for your criticism of Magic not being about reflexes, well, that is true. Mostly, anyway. I will willingly admit that most of what you see in Harry Potter is not what one would have refered to as being magic beofre Harry Potter came to Grand Public's awareness, but now that it has, most people will readily think that a magic duel is something that can happen between two rival mages, and that it happens in very much the same way J.K. Rowlings described it. Now Magic IS about reflexes, and being able to cast the right offensive or defensive spell in exactly the right moment.


Actually I criticized RPGs, or rather, Diabloesque games requiring too much reflexes, as one of the basic ideas is that it is the character who actually does all the fighting, spell casting, etc. Character skill and reflexes, in that sense, are what matter. The player brings in the tactical thinking.

Still, if for philosophical discussion alone, the way I've been thinking of implementing magic is actually twofold (note that this is not what I described above, but rather a more complex system that I simplified earlier); you have inherent magic, which is about using your willpower to alter the universe (all you need to do is to think; "use the force", so to speak) and then ritual magic (or spirit magic), where the whole point is to humor/honor/amuse/whatever the spirits enough by doing things and then the spirits use their inherent magic skills to do the bidding of the performer.

Basically inherent magic would be very hard and could require some form of energy (e.g. mana), but you would have complete control. This kind of magic is about mental powers and has nothing to do with reflexes per se.

Then again, ritual magic would be relatively easy, since it is not you who is doing the magic. No special energy is required (unless you need to climb a mountain as a part of the ritual or something like that), as all you need to do is to perform the ritual. In this type of magic you have practically no control. The spirits do as they will, and might ignore you even if you performed the ritual correctly. This kind of magic is about reflexes etc. as you actually need to move about and do things.

I could tell you about the other issues in the magic system that I've been trying to design (e.g. if your character dies and is strong enough spiritually, you could actually become a spirit, being able to possess mortals and use your inherent magic while not being able to interact with the world physically; that's the way to deal with character death, not respawning... [grin]), but I fear it would soon be far beyond the limits of the thread title... Still, this example shows that there is no one interpretation on what magic really is. Whether it requires reflexes or not, should be a matter related to the character, not the player (IMHO).

One other thing about magic is that the system that has been described here is very straightforward and causal. Then again, why not have magic be a little chaotic? That is, you can't always be sure of what happens.

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As for the shorter spells being more powerful as you become more powerful yourself, [...]. Well, would a mage even be able to take damage AND be able to cast at the same time, or would you consider that casting a spell is a little like making a combo in sword-fighting, and taking a hit stops your combo? that would favour short casting spells, but would lower the damage, but would a longer spell be able to defeat a more formidable opponent if someone could hold him for just a little longer?


What I meant is that the shorter spells are more difficult to cast, and as you (the character) gain skills, the success rate for the shorter spells increase and thus it becomes more feasible to use those spells. Short spells are inherently more powerful exactly for the reason you provided — you don't always have the time or the ability to concentrate long enough in order to succeed in those longer spells. All spells would still gain power as you progress in skills.

And I do like the idea of having the maximum spell length proportional to the stat related to spellcraft even though I snipped it from the quote.

Quote:
Original post by ahw
I was thinking also, that to compensate the problem of timing,
that is, the fact that most spells have to be typed on the fly, you could introduce some more elements.
First, dissociate the typing from the actual casting.
Make each elements that have to be typed associated with a visual cue, say a gesture, or some chanting, or whatever else you can think of.
As you gain level, those elements take less and less time.


I'd say typing shouldn't be necessary for casting spells as such. After all, I wouldn't like to make my RPG a reincarnation of Typing of the Dead, but still you should be able to use the different components separately for trying out different combinations or for rarely used spells you don't want to bind to a key separately. You should be able to bind spells to the desired keys so that when you press the key for Mass Genocide, the character performs the ritual as if you had typed it component by component.

I don't know if gaining levels should shorten the time the casting takes (the timing of the spell could be crucial), at least not necessarily a lot — that was the idea of having shorter rituals. But what I would like to see (and hear) is that as you gain levels, the performance actually gets better, e.g. if you have a very low chanting skill, chanting sounds really horrible and falsetto... [lol]

Quote:
When an enemy starts casting a spell, you can see them doing it, and because it takes time, you could interpret on the fly what they are about to cast, giving you time to start casting a counter spell.
Say, a message could pop up over the enemy if your magician has enough knowledge, or is familiar with that perticular form of magic, telling what element is being "spelled out" shall i say. Say, in a runic system, if your character knew it, the name of the runes would appear over the enemy player as he casts.


Actually learning spells from seeing someone perform them was one thing I was thinking about earlier but forgot to mention it. If you have enough skill in spellcraft and high perception, you should certainly learn at least parts of rituals. Using this for counterspells I had not considered, great idea!

For simplicity, the UI could have a separate list "Book of Rituals" in which you have all the rituals you know (or partial rituals, if you only know parts of them) and you could have an UI for arranging the desired rituals onto the desired keys on the keyboard.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Once again, I have to apologize for NOT being registered, but it seems that something went wrong when I tried, and I am now stuck with my e-mail adress being known of the server as used, but the server being unable to locate my login and password. (probably too messy in there...)

I have a feeling that the UI Grim is describing would make things even longer and difficult for the player, although more exciting and interesting in the field of practical magic studies 101. You would end up with something like a catalogue of known possibilities listed in your spellbook, or something similar. The most practical way I can think of to mix those elements is a visual way, through click-and-drag icons representing the different parts of the spells you know or have learned through watching them performed. It is indeed very interesting to see what happens if you perform the ritual for increased strength with a liver of a babboon instead of a heart of a tiger, but is the player in desperate need of an instant "buff" (I hate both the word and its meanings and implications, but we are actually talking about players, so...) going to be willing to try some research before being eaten alive by this spidery thing?

I have to admit that for ritual magic, this has a lot of appeal. I simply had not investigated the "ritualistic" side of magic in my proposed UI because I did not think it made much sense in combat situation, because it is something that must happen a long time beforehand. But on the other hand, I would love to see ingame mages and priest taking some time before a fight for preparing their spells, and rearranging their belt of components. This would make up for the fighters and their habit of sharpening their swords, or verifying the straps on their shoulderpads.
In fact, the ritualistic magic could be made into a buffing magic, happening before the action, even if it has to happen in the form I described earlier. It would be inovative and fun. I see it a little as Alchemy in Morrowind. You brew up to four different components with four different instruments, and possibly get something. Or not. Research could be a little boring, though. I still think I would like it.
And to some extent, the same processes could be used with the fighters interface, with having them prepare their combos before the fight by placing their moves on approximately the same "spellbook" in order to get prepared for the fight, and create their very own combos, placed in shortcuts, although this would definitely not be as amusing as ritualistic spellcasting. I can't imagine having a different interface for magic users and non-magic users. We should have to give it a use for non-magic users, then.

Yours faithfully,
Nicolas FOURNIALS

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well, u'd be surprised to know there _was_ a game entirely based around the concept of "Magic Research"... SpellCraft
One of those games I wish were updated to todays technology and graphics :)

Oh, and you should try and email a staff or something. Simply look up their email in their profile.

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you know the keypad system sounds pretty nifty, and runes in Underworld and Arx got tiresome to click or draw (tho drawing was still nifty, after a while you just wanna get em done. You could buffer them for this reason).

BUT (there's always a butt) how would you cast, say, a Create Food spell? in Underworld there was a food rune, and a create rune.
So, as a modification to the keypad scheme, i propose this:

have each stage of the phrase use the entire keypad.
This is what the AP who really needs to register ;) described:

create attack defend 7 8 9
negative neutral positive 4 5 6
heat movement matter 1 2 3

So in elements, besides heat, movement and matter, you could have:

heat movement electricity
food metal rock
air water dirt


and in actions you would have besides create, attack, defend:
transform bridge... can't think of anymore.
(attack should be project)

Neutral/positive/negative could be placed along more adjectives, like in Underworld: Great, Minuscle, Poisonous, weak, etc etc.

So a spell would consist of 3 keystrokes, for example:
Project Great Food (throws tomato!) =)

Project Poisonous Air would... well its pretty self descriptive.

And Defend Negative Movement should protect you aganist projectile weapons!

So anyways. thats all. Oh, adjectives could be contextual to Elements, but if so, the order should be: Action, Element, Adjective.
If not, the standard Action, Adjective, Element should do.

About the OT, learning.... you could still have to enable each of these 'keys' via a rune or a studied papyrus or something =)

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An almost exact example of your numberpad system was used in a little game called Amulets & Armor. The player finds Runes and then combines them quickly using the keypad, so you may want to have a look at that. ;D

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Original post by Anonymous Poster (Nicolas FOURNIALS)
I have a feeling that the UI Grim is describing would make things even longer and difficult for the player, although more exciting and interesting in the field of practical magic studies 101. You would end up with something like a catalogue of known possibilities listed in your spellbook, or something similar. The most practical way I can think of to mix those elements is a visual way, through click-and-drag icons representing the different parts of the spells you know or have learned through watching them performed.


From the point of view of the UI, it would make things longer in a sense as you'd need to organize the spells from the spellbook to the actual keybindings. However, you could still have one spell per key (or even a sequence of spells) if you wanted to, as long as you had studied the spells. Thus, it could even make it easier to cast the spells in real situations (i.e. if you have prepared yourself well enough, you'll have the right spells binded straight into the right keys in an actual combat situation). From the point of view of making the game slower because of having to learn or find the spells, it's just an alternative to the infamous Grind. If you want spells, you need to find them instead of reaching level 7893873. And personally I'd rather journey around the country trying to find the spells than gaining them by killing a thousand orcs and levelling up. It's much more in-game. I mean, why would you gain the Bless spell from slaying a thousand orcs with the Agonizing Death spell (or worse yet, by backstabbing them during the night)?

Quote:
It is indeed very interesting to see what happens if you perform the ritual for increased strength with a liver of a babboon instead of a heart of a tiger, but is the player in desperate need of an instant "buff" (I hate both the word and its meanings and implications, but we are actually talking about players, so...) going to be willing to try some research before being eaten alive by this spidery thing?


As far as material components are concerned, the rituals don't need to be exact. You could have some sort of measure (say, spell potency) regarding how well you performed the ritual and using the wrong ingredient just makes the spell potency smaller. As long as most of the ritual is going along nicely you can still get enough of spell potency in order to get some of the effect; the spell would only fail if the spell potency was under some treshold (in the latter model I described this would even be plausible in the sense that the ritual is a way of communicating with the spirits (or entertaining the spirits, if you have a cynical attitude), and just using one wrong component doesn't necessarily mean that the rest of the message is turned into gibberish). In the example you could still get something like a lesser increased strength even if you used the wrong ingredient (as long as the rest of the ritual succeeds well enough). And if the character doesn't have the materials at hand and gets eaten by the spidery thing, well, he had it coming. He shouldn't have gone into that cave unprepared. Not a very epic point of view, but it's like a fighter going to a fight without putting his chainmail on. It's not really about research in this case, but rather being prepared.

Quote:
I have to admit that for ritual magic, this has a lot of appeal. I simply had not investigated the "ritualistic" side of magic in my proposed UI because I did not think it made much sense in combat situation, because it is something that must happen a long time beforehand. But on the other hand, I would love to see ingame mages and priest taking some time before a fight for preparing their spells, and rearranging their belt of components. This would make up for the fighters and their habit of sharpening their swords, or verifying the straps on their shoulderpads.
In fact, the ritualistic magic could be made into a buffing magic, happening before the action, even if it has to happen in the form I described earlier. It would be inovative and fun. I see it a little as Alchemy in Morrowind. You brew up to four different components with four different instruments, and possibly get something. Or not. Research could be a little boring, though. I still think I would like it.


All rituals don't need to be long, tiring rituals that take hours to complete.
For an examplary ritual: utter "um zoh graa" while sticking a runic dagger into the brain of a bat. Takes a couple of seconds. I'd say that's suitable for combat. Of course you need an assortment of bats and a runic dagger if you plan to use the spell in combat several times, but how is that different from using a bow for battle? With a bow you'd need enough arrows. You'd only need rituals that take a long time for something really powerful, like enchanting your robe with the Regenerate Life property or casting Mass Genocide or something. You could argue that you'd want spells that take no time to cast, but then we'd get an Diabloesque action game where the player's reflexes are more important than tactics (and we wouldn't be talking about ritual magic anyway, as rituals take time).

Quote:
And to some extent, the same processes could be used with the fighters interface, with having them prepare their combos before the fight by placing their moves on approximately the same "spellbook" in order to get prepared for the fight, and create their very own combos, placed in shortcuts, although this would definitely not be as amusing as ritualistic spellcasting. I can't imagine having a different interface for magic users and non-magic users. We should have to give it a use for non-magic users, then.


Actually I'd make it so that you can bind any sequence of actions to any key you want to — if you wanted to mix priestly chanting in the middle of a fighter action sequence, there is no reason why you couldn't (if you chant badly enough, it could aggravate the enemy and he would fight less efficiently... Think about Cacofonix in the Asterix comic [grin]). Still, a similar system of organizing skills in a book can be used for any skill set (e.g. if you have item crafting, you could have item schematics stored in such books etc.). You could even make the books real game objects. For something you memorize you could have a mental game object (say, a recollection of spells) stored in the "memory" part of the inventory... Then you could lose these mental items just like any other items ("The psionic warrior stabs at you with a mind blade. Your recollection of alteration spells is lost!") and you could have other mental objects as well and could interact with them if you had enough willpower ("You drop an obsessive-compulsive behaviour. You feel saner.").

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