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robert4818

Free-form Magic System

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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