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robert4818

Free-form Magic System

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robert4818    138
I started this idea in another thread as an example of how to have a customizable Magic System without breaking it down too much and making it too bland. I've come up with some ideas to expand it. Just one note...this idea does not in any way preclude putting in developer made spells, such as Infernal Death Magic of Lorgath the Wizard... But it does allow magic users to customize thier normal spells to a certain degree. As players level they gain Points to spread across items in three different categories. Elements, Targets, Effects. Inside each Category are different skills or abilities that the points actually go into. Elements - Basic to most games...I'll stick with the normal ones. (Earth Fire Ice Ligtning and of course there is an option of NO ELEMENT which is just pure magical energy...) Each element has strengths and weaknesses against different monsters...the basic idea of Ice Vs Fire, and Lit vs Earth...) Targets - This is where the general idea of where the spell hits is. General ideas are (Target, Self, Targeted AOE, Ground Target, Ground AOE, Point Blank AOE, Group, etc) Effect - What do you want the spell to do? In general the effects most games have for spells are (Direct Damage, Damage Over Time, Cure, Root, Buff, Debuff, Root, etc.) Now how does one cast a spell? Well first you can set up macro's that set the spell up ahead of time for standard one button casting. Basically you set the spell up, and you get the basic cookie cutter spell that the developers create. Give it your own nifty name. For those who like to cast on the fly it basically works like this. Step 1. Choose element. Learn what each element does what its strengths and weaknesses are etc. Generally a non-elemental spell will be weaker than an elemental one...but it could be useful at certain times. Step 2. Choose the target. Who do you want. Each target type adds a certain amount of MP to the cost, so choose wisely. Step 3. Finally what do you want the spell to do? You basically choose the effect of the spell. The interesting part here is this part of the spell casting process is filling up "Slots". What are slots? Slots are basically the number of effects you can place on a spell to make it more effective, or have more effects. You start off with one slot, meaning you can only choose one effect, and gain more as you progress. Once you have more than one slot you have the following options. If you choose the same effect multiple times, you get an increase in the effect. DD's hit harder, Dots last longer, Debuffs work better etc. Or you can choose to mix and match effects, naturally this weakens the overall potential of the spell, but you can get more out of the spell if you want. Lets take and make the DnD spell Fireball. The player has 3 slots Step 1. Choose Element: Fire Step 2. Choose Target: Targeted AOE Step 3. Choose Effect: Direct Damage x 3 This makes a potent area affect spell that hits a target and then explodes around them. Lets take a different idea though. Step 1. Choose element: Lightning Step 2. Choose Target: Enemy Group AOE Step 3. Choose Effect: DD + Root + Dot Now this isn't going to do as much damage as the fireball. But It does have the chance to stop the enemy for a short amount of time, and the dot will keep the damage going for just a little longer. Unfortunately none of those effects would be as potent as if it was used just by itself x 3. This is definately a free-form system, but not one that I think would be very difficult to balance. Of course it would be more difficult than one where the developers make all the spells.

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Nytehauq    328
Hmmm...

Good idea. It's alot better than the set in stone system games curently use. I'd suggest more variety, however. With a system like this, you'd end up with a gazzillion cookie-cutter spells. You should give the player the ability to customize the spells so that their spells fit their playstyle.

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robert4818    138
Quote:
You should give the player the ability to customize the spells so that their spells fit their playstyle.


How do you mean? The idea is to give the player more freedom in how they play a mage, without over-powering them.

Using Scripts would be a bad idea IMO. Realisticly though, these are the basic fundamentals of all spells out there in video games. The effects, targets, and elements listed above are the beginnings, not the end of the possibilites. Do you want to create a wall of flame that burns people as they run through? Then you need "Ground-line" target ability...

Spells are like quests... If you boil down all quests in books and or movies and video games they pretty much boil down to the following...


Go find something (Indiana Jones)
Go Kill something(s) (Numerous fantasy games)
Go from Point A to point B. (LOTR)
Go destroy something (similar to go kill something, but its an object instead of a person/thing)

More complex quests are usually just combinations of the above 4 things...Go to dungeon a, kill monster b, take item dropped to area c, so that it destroys doom device D.

The Point of the system isn't to create a system where players have 100% full control over the spells, but to create a system where they feel they have freedom in thier spells.

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Nytehauq    328
Well...I'm not advocating changes that neccesarily change gameplay, but just suggesting that you maintain enough diversity in the spells. Just cosmetic things, if need be. Perhaps each player's fire spells burn with a slightly different color/pixel shader effect - even if two spells are configured in the same way. Maybe slight differences in the shape of the AOE spells - e.g. configure the shape of your 'fire wall' (given limiting parameters of course). Things that change the system so that each player can have a personal skill list, even if it doesn't neccesarily give them an overpowered advantage. Just a bit of diversity.

And as far as spells that fit their playstyle, it would be interesting to see a system in which players can customize their spells to match how they want to play - do they prefer waiting, aiming, and channeling to cast large, powerful spells? Or do they want to spam weaker ones at the enemy and hope that more hit? Both types can equate to the same overall damage. However, different players may like diffferent styles, and those differences would contribute to the cohesiveness and diversity of the game world.

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WeirdoFu    205
So, instead of the spell defining the attributes, we're talking about defining the spell with attributes. Its not a bad idea.

Just an opinion, maybe you don't need to limit the number of "slots" for a spell. So, in that sense, as long as you have a certain "attribute" that you're able to reasonably tag onto a spell, then you should be able to do it. So, the basic "single target" and "target AoE" probably shouldn't stack, but "target AoE" and "Damage x2" should be stackable. Then you have spell casting penalties, MP costs, and damage modifiers attached to each attribute. So it takes more MP and longer casting time for each stacked attribute.

So, say something like:

"Target Single" - Damage based on element and enemy resistance
- effect: 100%
- MP consumption based on base element

"Target AoE" - Damage to each target within area
- Effect: Inversly proportional to radius (larger radius, less effect per target hit)
- MP Consumption: exponentially proportional to radiua

"Damage x2" - Effect: doubles damage
- MP Consumption double of current stack
- Casting time increase by 1.5 of current stack
...etc...

So, technically, you can stack multiple "Damage x2" if you wanted, but it would increase casting time and exponentially double MP consumption.

This is kind of how I see your system in action, without the slot limits.

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If you play D&D, this would be a good resource to translate:http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=2699&

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robert4818    138
Quote:
So, instead of the spell defining the attributes, we're talking about defining the spell with attributes. Its not a bad idea.

Just an opinion, maybe you don't need to limit the number of "slots" for a spell. So, in that sense, as long as you have a certain "attribute" that you're able to reasonably tag onto a spell, then you should be able to do it. So, the basic "single target" and "target AoE" probably shouldn't stack, but "target AoE" and "Damage x2" should be stackable. Then you have spell casting penalties, MP costs, and damage modifiers attached to each attribute. So it takes more MP and longer casting time for each stacked attribute.


There is no way of stacking targets under the above system. Here's how the slot parts would work.

(Element)(Target) (Effect)
[_______][______][_______ ________ _______]

So what you explained below is exactly what you suggested. The slots are just away to limit the power of the spell so someone doesn't just juice up a spell that kills things in one hit...Sure it may take a while to cast and use most of the MP...but where's the danger if your casting before the creature aggro's?

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robert4818    138
Some more thoughts to add to this system.

First...I've never liked how magicians don't interact with the world as much as I think they should...so I've come up with the following ideas.

World-mana...All mana (MP) is generated by the world...whether pulled from the astral plane, or drawn from the planet itself, it is generated by the game world... What does this mean?

When a player uses all of his MP, it regenerates like it does in regular games...however instead of it just coming out of nowhere this mana comes from a mana pool for the area that he's in. Now one magician is not able to drain away all the MP of an area..however, large amounts of magicians may deplete an area's magic supply...this of course will increase again over time back up to the max for the area. Certain areas will have more mana than others...and some will have little or no mana...so magicians may need to bring stored mana with them...a little planning goes along way.

Mana Shift...Mana is a fickle thing... As a player casts mana linked to a certain element the mana in the area gets charged with that element. The more the mana gets charged with a certain element the Better spells cast with that elemement get. Of course spells cast of an opposing element get weaker...but they also tend to bring the mana Charge back into neutral order.

Just some thoughts

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Kars    184
Quote:
Original post by robert4818

There is no way of stacking targets under the above system. Here's how the slot parts would work.

(Element)(Target) (Effect)
[_______][______][_______ ________ _______]

So what you explained below is exactly what you suggested. The slots are just away to limit the power of the spell so someone doesn't just juice up a spell that kills things in one hit...Sure it may take a while to cast and use most of the MP...but where's the danger if your casting before the creature aggro's?


What I would like to see in a system like this is a chance of failure for each part of the spell which could cause backfires or just useless spells. The more complex the spell, the more can go wrong with it and just seems to fit more with the over magic theme.

i.e.
Marvin the energy battle mage wants to throw a thunder bolt at a creature, but he wants it to be silent so he doesn't alert all the other monsters within 10 miles:
[Energy][one creature][damage 10points, silent]

the spell breaks down as follows:
Energy - 99% success
one creature - 80% success
Damage 95% success
silent - 50%

Marvin casts the spell and everything is successfully except for the silent modifier so it is just a normal lightning bolt. but say if failed on the target modifier and everything else is successful, will the monster notice the tree next to him exploding and then falling on him? Or does the silent and damage both fail causing a slight shock to the targeted creature (no real damage) and also alerting all the monsters in the area.

If everthing in the spell fails, you can go to some catastophe table that summons a deamon to kill the caster, or whatever.

This kind of system would keep lower powered mages from using high powered spells unless they have no other chance and should keep high powered magic users from casting uber spells all the time opting for lower powered spells that are more likely to go off.

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Thermodynamics    443
It would be interesting to have this be a skills based game instead of XP based. The spell component could be things that you pick up but have no idea what they do. The component would look like a gray box when you initially pick it up. As you cast it, the picture becomes clearer, slowly resolving into the proper image. The first time you cast it it, you are basically casting a random spell. There could probably be training areas to help with the initial spells.

Nice idea rob.

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robert4818    138
Ideally this is a system used with skill points, but its open and broad enough to be used with almost any type of system.

Of course a game that went through this much thought and work on the magic system should have as much thought and work go into the rest of the combat system as well. Thieves should play somewhat similar to MGS, while warriors have alot more action, styles, so on and so forth.

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Icefox    238
Quote:
Original post by robert4818
Some more thoughts to add to this system.

First...I've never liked how magicians don't interact with the world as much as I think they should...so I've come up with the following ideas...


Ooo, I like those ideas. It sorta reminds me of a feature in Chrono Cross, where as you cast magic of different elements, the environment sort of got "saturated" with that element. So if you cast a bunch of water-magic spells, then water magic in general is much more powerful, and fire magic less. I recall there were a few interesting ways to use this; beyond simply making it so your spells were more powerful, you could either use the system to try to overwhelm whatever element of magic the enemy was casting, or sort of cooperate with it so your own spells were more powerful. And also, what elements were in the environment in the first place depended on the location and type of terrain you were in.

It was a pretty basic mechanic, but definately original and interesting. It tried to, as you say, make magic depend on and affect the world around you.

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Telastyn    3777
I always hated elemental damage. It adds no gameplay, merely requires the player to memorize creature weaknesses.

Anyways, normally the sort of thing you're looking for is considered meta-magic in most game systems. DnD 3rd edition just started with some, and GURPS has had a fine grouping of meta-magic skills for some time.

I doodled something up for a Pen and Paper system a while back, which was about 25 abilities which could be mixed together to form effects. One was the ability to channel energy, a few were the ability to shape the energy [into mass, into heat, into light, into logic, into spirit...], and the rest were manipulation abilities such as triggers, delays, targetting, combination and the such.

Probably wouldn't translate to cRPG's well though.

I'd suggest using this idea as more of a spell-crafting idea rather than a spell-customizing idea. It's easier on the player [and easier to balance!] if the player has a limited subset of spells available, but is available to craft those spells [at level up? when finding components? when meeting a trainer?] to their liking.

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robert4818    138
Quote:
I'd suggest using this idea as more of a spell-crafting idea rather than a spell-customizing idea. It's easier on the player [and easier to balance!] if the player has a limited subset of spells available, but is available to craft those spells [at level up? when finding components? when meeting a trainer?] to their liking.


I do not agree that making a spell crafting system along these lines would be any easier to balance than putting it in combat as is... the designers still have no more control this way...

As for easier on the player, maybe, but then again that is why I said at the beginning that this system is abled to be macro'd. The player can then set up what spells they want ahead of time. But the point is of course that the system is set up that a player can cast free-form spells on a whim.

Balance will have to focus on individual parts of spells instead of each spell individually... I.E. How do you balance the AOE effect vice the DD effect...

This system also does not prevent the developers from creating thier own spells to place into the game. So you might still have to quest for certain spells or even to gain access to different elements/effects/target abilities.

Quote:
Ooo, I like those ideas. It sorta reminds me of a feature in Chrono Cross, where as you cast magic of different elements, the environment sort of got "saturated" with that element.


Actually that is where I got the basis of the idea. I picture wizards carrying around items such as mana lanterns that provide pure mana, or even colored mana for them to use...of course these items must be found, and then filled...so they won't be cheap or easy to come by...and will last at best a few spells.

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Genjix    100
Quote:
Original post by robert4818
Some more thoughts to add to this system.

First...I've never liked how magicians don't interact with the world as much as I think they should...so I've come up with the following ideas.

World-mana...All mana (MP) is generated by the world...whether pulled from the astral plane, or drawn from the planet itself, it is generated by the game world... What does this mean?

When a player uses all of his MP, it regenerates like it does in regular games...however instead of it just coming out of nowhere this mana comes from a mana pool for the area that he's in. Now one magician is not able to drain away all the MP of an area..however, large amounts of magicians may deplete an area's magic supply...this of course will increase again over time back up to the max for the area. Certain areas will have more mana than others...and some will have little or no mana...so magicians may need to bring stored mana with them...a little planning goes along way.

Mana Shift...Mana is a fickle thing... As a player casts mana linked to a certain element the mana in the area gets charged with that element. The more the mana gets charged with a certain element the Better spells cast with that elemement get. Of course spells cast of an opposing element get weaker...but they also tend to bring the mana Charge back into neutral order.

Just some thoughts


awesome idea... I'm going to use it

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Telastyn    3777
It is not that simple. Look at past games with similar sort of setups like ships and races in space 4x games. The trick isn't balancing AoE vs DD, it's Balancing AoE Fire vs DD silence. It's always been comboes which break down customizing systems until you end up with a few "good" things and a bunch of "less than optimal". The customization is no longer a gameplay decision since most of the spells are obviously better than others. By limiting the spells available you at least present a decision to the player about which spell to "pick".

*shrug*

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Ysaneya    1383
Hum, wasn't there an old, very old isometric, room-based game (i think it was called "Legend") with an awesome spell system ?

I think a spell was cast by assembling some runes and interpreting the runes as an algorithm - basically like a virtual machine -. Each rune had a cost and an effect. It was even possible, to some extent, to create spells that nobody (even the developers) knew of. For example, you'd make a fireball spell by combining the "fire + air + throw" runes; but by adding the "split on hit" runes, you'd actually create a fireball that splits into two halves when it hits a wall, etc.. Very powerfull and interesting system.

Y.

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robert4818    138
Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
It is not that simple. Look at past games with similar sort of setups like ships and races in space 4x games. The trick isn't balancing AoE vs DD, it's Balancing AoE Fire vs DD silence. It's always been comboes which break down customizing systems until you end up with a few "good" things and a bunch of "less than optimal". The customization is no longer a gameplay decision since most of the spells are obviously better than others. By limiting the spells available you at least present a decision to the player about which spell to "pick".

*shrug*



Of course the idea at the moment is pretty basic. For the inclusion of multiple spell classes then the trick is to offer different classes different versions of the original effects. I.E. to create a nuker class, give them more powerful DD nukes, and decrease the effectiveness of thier other spell effects. But the idea is to still leave in the customizablilty.

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Jotaf    280
Telastyn raises a valid point, a system like this is nearly impossible to balance. But this is because a spell's power is static, and players are smart, so given some time, they'll eventually find out which ones of all the possible spell combinations are the best, and share that information. I've seen a simple solution to this suggested elsewhere: a spell component, or a spell combo, loses power with every use, for every player in the world. So if you find a powerful spell and share it, or use it too often, it loses its power. This power should come back after some time, and the system re-balances itself. I can imagine someone waiting for a spell to reach full power before unleashing it for some important purpose.

Ysaneya that game is surely very interesting, can you provide more information? I'd like to have a look at it and I know that anyone interested in this topic would like to see it too.

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Guimo    463
Quote:
Original post by robert4818
Some more thoughts to add to this system.

First...I've never liked how magicians don't interact with the world as much as I think they should...so I've come up with the following ideas.

World-mana...All mana (MP) is generated by the world...whether pulled from the astral plane, or drawn from the planet itself, it is generated by the game world... What does this mean?

When a player uses all of his MP, it regenerates like it does in regular games...however instead of it just coming out of nowhere this mana comes from a mana pool for the area that he's in. Now one magician is not able to drain away all the MP of an area..however, large amounts of magicians may deplete an area's magic supply...this of course will increase again over time back up to the max for the area. Certain areas will have more mana than others...and some will have little or no mana...so magicians may need to bring stored mana with them...a little planning goes along way.

Mana Shift...Mana is a fickle thing... As a player casts mana linked to a certain element the mana in the area gets charged with that element. The more the mana gets charged with a certain element the Better spells cast with that elemement get. Of course spells cast of an opposing element get weaker...but they also tend to bring the mana Charge back into neutral order.

Just some thoughts



The idea is interestng but I would make it work on inverse way. Mana is balanced for the elements in a locations. Like you have 'Fire Mana', 'Water Mana' etc. If you cast Fire spells, fire mana is used, so other types of elements take priority on that area take its place (it starts to rain or earthquakes destroys the land, or wind increase). If you cast water/ice spells, heat waves come.

So in order to dedicate your studies to a single element, you must search places where that kind of element is stronger (place your tower near a volcano or partially submerged in water or underground or on the top of a mountain) so the type of mana you use is replenished quicker.

I think that should add some flavor to the game. When casting powerful spells, disbalanced elements spring around you (so creating that scenes where ground rumbles and wind sweep you beard). But that also means you are using earth energies, and temporally hurt the mother Earth in the process. People living in the area where a wizard casts spells may find a little annoying that their environment changes when one of those wizards start casting things. So wizards may be feared or maybe hated and hunted.

Luck!
Guimo



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robert4818    138
The inverse idea is pretty cool, I hadn't thought of it that much, but it makes sense. But again that just gives wizards a reason to carry around some extra mana lanterns huh? On the whole the World MP is meant for an MMO setting where it will take a large amount of wizards in an area to have any true effect on the mana. Sort of like draining a pond with buckets....

Another thought for this system. This one will take some explaining.

First I'll introduce what I'll call manavision. Or astral sight whatever you want to call it. Players who are not magic users don't see anything when a wizard casts a spell until the end effect happens (i.e. the fireball flies across the screen) Magic users however see all of these neeto keen partical effects as a spell is being cast.

This brings us to....COUNTER SPELLS (useful for PVP or certain PVE encounters) This part of the game relies very heavily on PLAYER SKILL and not character skill. As players put together unique spells, they get a particle effect that starts swirling around them that a trained player should be able to look at and figure out what type of spell thier opponent is casting. The element will give the spell its color, the effect will give it a certain set of particles (skulls, XX's, Eyes, Chains, etc) and the pattern of movement will tell its target type. A skilled player can then Match those parameters, and cast off a quick spell to counter the one the opponent is casting before they are able to finish up the spell. (For mult-slot spells the effect in the first slot will be the one used for the counterspell) How the counterspell affects the opponent i'll leave up to individual developers, though it could range from merely stopping the opponents spell, causing a loss of mana, or having the spell affect them....

Next we'll use mana vision to disect the astral space around wizards.

Ley-lines A grid work of very heavy, concentrated mana. Spells cast while in a ley-line are vastly more powerful...though there could be some side effects...sort of like plugging your hair dryer into a 220v socket... These are visible to Wizareds as bright lines across the landscape some are so powerful they are visible to regular players as well.

Nexus Points If you though Ley-lines were mean...wait till you stand in a point where those things cross.....YOWSERS.

WEIRD MANA... Sometimes mana just isn't right...Casting in an area of WEIRD mana causes all sorts of oddities to happen. Wrong Elements come out of your spells, Weaker spells for more mana, stronger spells for less, Gain or lose a slot, Faster or slower casting times... Definately a way to keep players on thier toes.

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Guimo    463
I like the idea of the mana particles. You can see them with time so CounterSpells can me thrownor you have advantages on casting a protection.

The LeyLines and Nexus makes me remind when I payes Rifts RPG. And that idea of the mana vision is great! Recalled The Force from starwars where 'invisible' energy flows between living beings.

I imagined an order of blind sorcerers. They may have no eyes, but that doesn't mean they are really blind. They still can see the energy flowing. Something like when Neo gets blind in Matrix Revolutions. And the higher your level the more detail you can see.

That would also explain Elven Nightvision. They not really see the colors in the night but they have a natural manavision so they can see the thins in the woods.

Of course that means that life is mana, so barren lands have low levels of mana (or one kind of mana is prevalent) and active strong live places are powerful mana sources.

Maybe you should find a new word for Mana/Chi/Force. ManaVision sounds like a bad TV commercial.

Also, maybe you like the posts abour learning skills I made on this thread.

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=324090&whichpage=1�

Luck!
Guimo

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kam1su2    122
To many long post to read... did anyone mention poison... are there are ways to make poison spells... or death type spells for like necros and what of life for clerics and druids or even monks if need be... (monks on some games are "wis" casters)

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robert4818    138
The idea here...is to create a system where there are enough variables, that you can work out strategies, without creating "must haves" though that is always easier said than done.

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I like Kars' idea of spell failure. Maybe novice mages will only have a real chance of success if they only use one simple effect in one slot, so they can give all their attention to making sure it takes the form it should and hits the intended target. More advanced components and more factors would serve to make the spell harder and harder to maintain. The unpredictable consequences of failure are another great wrinkle.

Out of curiosity, will these spells be composed and stored for quick use, or will they be formed on-the-fly? In the latter case, maybe some kind of timing mini-game could contribute to a spell's success or failure. For pre-made spells, a simpler challenge could have a lesser effect. You might not want that kind of twitch aspect, though.

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