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Magic systems that are fun - Suggestions?

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Magic systems that are fun After playing a lot of different RPGs I'm starting to get tired of all the boring magic systems. It seems that most magic users are only considered multi purpose assault rifles with different buttons for different effects - now where's the creativity and magic in that? In games like Diablo and Neverwinter Nights you get armour and weapons with different random effects which make content creation easier and it also makes it more fun to play since you don't end up getting the same items over and over again. But this is not the case when using magic. I'm currently on the second chapter of Neverwinter Nights and I'm getting bored with the magic - so I started to wonder how much more work it would be to just add a bit more fun into the magic system? You could add a couple of variables that the magic user can change during battle to adjust strength, mana drain and effects. Another simple way to do it would be to create random spells just like any other random item or you could go hog wild and create an immersive magic system that makes it all seem a bit more like magic. This post is really a two-part question: Have you played a CRPG with an innovative magic system? -Please describe the system Do you have any suggestions for a more creative and versatile magic system? -Just adding another way to fire a preset spell (for instance gesture based spell casting) isn’t really good enough unless it adds something else to the mix. I'd like to hear suggestions on interface, implementation and story concepts. When evaluating/commenting a system try to think about the following:
  • Replayability
  • Creative freedom
  • Ease of use
  • Feeling of magic

Resume

This is a short resume of some of the information in this thread. It should give you and overview of some of the topics, but read the whole thread for more in depth discussions. I expect to write a more complete text regarding this thread when I get the time. In the meantime feel free to comment this resume if there's anything you want added, removed or changed. Links from the post David Allen's magic system BIG spells in mmorpg's Fire, Ice, Earth and Lightning

Spell Creation

Fixed spells Every magic user has a set of spells he finds, can choose from or receives when levelling up. The spells are all predefined by the game designers. This is the most basic type of spell system one can have and is perhaps also the most used. Random spells Every magic user has a set of spells he finds, can choose from or receives when levelling up. These spells are generated randomly by the game system using a set of rules. It's basically the same type of system that many RPGs use for generation of random items, but used for spells instead. Grammar skeleton The spell caster has basically a set of sentences where he fills in the blanks (for example by clicking at the sources/targets in turn or by dragging the elements which will fill the blanks onto their position in the sentence). This is a similar system to how actions are performed in many point-and-click adventure games. Grammar A spell is built up using a simple language with strict semantics. This is a similar system to how early adventure games with a text based interface handled actions though it might be implemented as a sequence of button clicks in stead of a text interface. The simplest type of this system has a fixed set of words which each control an aspect of the spell. It can on the other hand be as complex as a complete programming language. Accumulative Spells are built up by different pieces each adding or removing effects from the total effect pool. Adjustable Spells are usually represented as fixed types but might be adjusted with respect to duration, targets, type etc.

Limiting spell count and power

When designing a spell system one must consider ways to limit the amount and power of spells usable by a single person. In some systems magic users need some place to draw their energy from - either an internal or an external source in others they're limited by the number of spells they're able to cast. Counter Each spell has a cost and the spell caster has a counter which represents how much spell power he has. The counter is usually represented by one of these things:
  • Mana - An abstract energy that usually only magic users posses.
  • Stamina - The spell caster is being worn out by using magic (even though this solution is normally just another way of saying "mana" since the stamina isn’t really used for much else).
  • Hitpoints - The spell caster literally drains his life force to be able to use magic.
  • Soulpower - The spell caster gains souls/spiritual power by killing enemies which he can use as power for magic casting.
Preparing The spell caster has to prepare/memorize spells and decide which spells he’s going to use the night before he’s actually using it. Limited number The spell caster can only cast a limited amount of spells per day – this count is usually related to spell level. Binding A spell must be bound to a character or an item to be usable. Draining The spell caster must drain either their spell power or spells from other items or creatures.

Additional

Random ideas that don't fit into any other categories are presented here. Misfire Magic is considered by many as chaotic by nature and might therefore misfire or backfire resulting in anything from the wizard's wand turning into a bouquet of flowers to the end of the world by sudden implosion. Accumulation Each spell thrown within a certain period of time will empower the same or similar spells. Winds of magic Each spell is associated with a certain wind of magic or alignment (hereby referred to as wind). Each spell cast of a certain wind will empower further spells of the same wind but at the same time decrease the power of spells of the opposite wind. Summoning The magic user is basically a summoner and his spells are channeled through a summoned creature. [Edited by - e-u-l-o-g-y on September 13, 2006 1:55:32 AM]

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i dont know exactly but here's what i think. D&D pretty much made magic in fantasy settings. Now in one of their books they talk about contingencies for when magic messes up. I say write some (and by this i mean quite extensive) contingencies for when the spell goes awry. i.e. you cast magic missiles or whatever and instead of the desired affect a patch of grass 10'x 10' appears. Or your hat changes or the color of your armor. The only way to be effective as "magical" is to really sit down with some people and toss out some ideas, but you need at least 100 effects to really be "magical"

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Yvanhoe
I'll check out the link.

tldalton1622
That would add something to the mix though just a little. There are still a limited amount of spells designed by the game designers.

What I'm thinking about is another way of thinking about magic systems (or at least a way to make them a bit better). In Mage (by Whitewolf) you can do pretty much everything you're able to imagine, but in DND the only thing you're really able to do is push a button (and that means the pen-and-paper RPG as well). There's nothing magical about "I cast a magic missile". Missfire effects might make it a bit more interesting but it's still the same simple system.

Edit:
I didn't mean to sound negative.. It's a good idea to add some misfire into the mix since magic should/could be chaotic by nature.

[Edited by - e-u-l-o-g-y on September 7, 2006 4:20:13 AM]

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Some time ago I was ranting in this forum about an element-based magic system. The caster would have access to a box of grammar skeletons, such as "Transform X into Y", "Create X", "Destroy X", "Make X transform Y into Z", "Transform X into Y at Z"...

Then, the player would collect symbols from its environment to cast the spell. Water nearby would generate water symbols, earth to earth, air to air, fire to fire (with a waiting time that corresponds to the rarity). Other elements (death, ghost, fury, fear, ...) would also exist.

For exemple, fighting a werewolf, you would have access to air/earth (from the environment), moon/fury/blood (from the werewolf) and fire (from your amulet of fire). Then, you could cast Transform [Fury] into [Fire] at [Blood], because fire/fury are fairly close together the casting would be efficient. If you had chosen to ignite a squid instead, neither water nor slime would provide an efficient transformation into Fire, so you'd have reduced efficiency.

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ToohrVyk
Sounds interesting.. I've also thought about adding the elements from the environment as components for spells. Would you use mana as well as trigger-energy or how would you limit the power of and amount of spells one is able to cast? Do you have any suggestions to interface (I guess this is a simple point and click for the different elements) and would the items be used up/drained?

One thing I was thinking about was to create an alchemist class for this exact purpose. A magic user that might combine, split and in general use the materials around him to perform magic. There would be a mana cost as a sort of triggering mechanism (to kick off the magical reaction) and the components would be used up.

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Yvanhoe
I haven't played loom. In which way did it affect the environment? Was it an additional effect? random? I guess it was still just a matter of pushing a button to cast the spells?

The Fire, Ice, Earth and Lightning thread had some interesting information. I especially liked Fournicolas talk about lines of energy.

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I have played quite a few games with excelent magic skills.

I think it was called "Legends" (in the amiga 500 way long time ago). in this game you learned magic by collecting runes. Then you would activate your spell screen and create spells.

so if you add rune A (lets say heals), rune B (lets say flies forward), rune C (does fire damage) you would get a spell that heals you then launches a small fire ball.
It was even nicer because to create a spell you had to mix runes with ingredients. I really liked it. Adding 10 runes of healing would strengthen healing and etc.
I was planning to use this on my own game so telling you is making me feel jealous already... but whatever, One must learn to share. By the way if you do implement it let me take a peek, please.

Also I played some game recently (forgot the name) where you casted spells by drawing them with the mouse... so twirl with dash would create some fire magic spell. That was also quite nice.

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BloodWarrior
It seems like an interesting system. Adding alot of different runes would give you the possibility of many different combinations. Perhaps the runes could have multiple different effects and were created using a method similar to item creation in diablo. Lets take your example, but by adding spell failure possibility on one of the runes, and perhaps "cannot be combined with X" on another you'd get the same versatility but with a bit more strategy when deciding which runes to use.

I'll let you know if I use this idea ;)

[Edited by - e-u-l-o-g-y on September 7, 2006 7:57:11 AM]

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I remember dungeonmaster had an interesting system where you would combine different symbols and experiment with different combinations of them. I'd like a magic system to make you experiment to find different spells. One problem though is the internet. Once one person has found a spell it's posted all over the internet so other people don't have to experiment in the same way. This might or might not be a problem for the game experience. I know that I'd check the net in these kind of situations (not at first but after a while) because I wouldn't want to miss any spells - which sort of works against the whole "research spells" idea. A possible solution to this would be to add a random seed that's stored with the character data which makes all spells unique for a specific character. That way a certain combination would be a "heal 2 hp" for one character while "destroy universe" for another ;)

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Quote:
Original post by e-u-l-o-g-y
ToohrVyk
Sounds interesting.. I've also thought about adding the elements from the environment as components for spells. Would you use mana as well as trigger-energy or how would you limit the power of and amount of spells one is able to cast? Do you have any suggestions to interface (I guess this is a simple point and click for the different elements) and would the items be used up/drained?


My idea was to use environment components. The key here is that these components are not permanent: they appear and disappear, and the frequency with which they appear depends on the quantity of the element. Thus, a little amount of fire would generate the fire-symbol rarely, while a building on fire or a large funeral pyre would create it very frequently. The same goes with the power of magic items. Also note that you can "see" symbols before you see the generating creature (for instance, if I see a moon symbol appearing, I can assume a werewolf might be around).

Power is also described in terms of conversion efficiency. First, there is the absolute conversion efficiency (for instance ice into fire creates large losses of energy, while wood into fire or water into ice is done much more efficiently). Because of this, certain powerful effects, like fire, are completely useless in certain areas. Second, there is the personal conversion efficiency: whenever you use a symbol, its maximal throughput depends on your skill, as a wizard, of manipulating this symbol. A very powerful death mage would have near-infinite throughput when using death symbols (and would be at home in a graveyard, crypt or near undead), while a fire mage would have a near-zero throughput when using water symbols.

Another power-affecting detail is distance: you can create effects at a distance, but this reduces the personal conversion factors (since you're further away). Thus, you have to choose between casting "fury to fire at blood" and reducing your fury/fire throughput based on your blood-symbol throughput, or "fury to fire at air", casting a fireball at high fury/fire throughput but which can miss. The best option is, of course, to cast "fury to fire at blood" in melee range, but that's also more dangerous. Note that drawing energy from a remote source (as opposed to creating an effect there) does not cause such problems. You may use a moon symbol from the sky to hit something on the ground without any loss as long as the effect is created next to you.

As for the interface, a circle appears in the direction of the symbol. Move the view to center it on the symbol, and click to use it (the symbol disappears, and is placed in the current magic sentence).

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ToohrVyk
Now that's something I'd like to see! Seems like a great magic system which might be lots of fun. Is this system supposed to be realtime or would it be possible to pause like in NWN and some other CRPGs? I would suspect that it might be irritating trying to cast magic if some of the components are "flickering". You could make it possible to "bookmark" different combinations and adding a button or hotkey for this. That way it would be easy to cast spells even though the components are rare - and you wouldnt have to recreate the same button clicks over and over again if you're for instance throwing alot of fireballs.

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I went to a 1 day seminar about magic in writeing. One of the things that they covered was that magic is not seen as magic nowdays. We tend to view magic as a technology.

So even by using runes and materials to create a large array of posible combinations, players will sort through these and then post on the internet the best posible combinations (or even jsut share them with their friends who also play the game). This then brings the problem back to the same as D&D. There are a set of "Spells" that you just select the one you need from. The runes and material system will just mean that it is more difficult to make the game do what you want (they end up fighting the interface instead of the monsters).

What we could do is use another system altogether. What if you had to get ytour magic from the environment. What if the componets of the spell were in the area, not items like runes or other components.

Example:
A mage wishes to cast a fire spell. To do so they will need some source of fire or heat. They could light a fire (torch or such) or even stand in the sunlight. The bigger the fire the more powerful the effect. By standing on rocks they could cast spells with the earth element (and the bigger the rock - or even the type of rock - the more powerful the spell).

You could then have the casting of the spell "use up" the manna in the area (eg a fire spell will extinguish the source fire, etc) and eventually the mage would have to switch to another spell or use another source.

Another aproach (or could even be used in conjunction with the above system) is to have certain items that the mage can enchant with magic. These iteam can be used to create the spells (eg ratteling a bone neklace could be some sort of damage/curse spell). The item could also be used to store the energy of a "source" if you were to use the above system.

As these items are jsut vessles for the power of the mage, they are a bit more than just the runes (if you use D&D as a comparison, then they work more like a potion or scroll).

So to store a spell that requiers both earth and fire elemental powers, you might need to craft a vessle with those aspects to it (say the ash from a fire in a clay pot). The quality and materials the vessles are made from would give the maximum levels of power it could hold.

This would also expand any crafting system you have in your game as createing these vessles and their trade would become a major part of the economy (much like the trade in religious amultes and relics in the middle ages).

Mages might need to perform rituals (simple spells) in which to gather the energies of the componentes and stor them in the vessles. World of Warcraft touched on this idea slightly with the Necromancer and the spell that would create a "Soul Stone" if you were casting a certain spell when a creature died.

Lastly we could use spirit charming. Instead of the mage casting the spells, they would use spirit familiars to do it. The mage would have to summon and convince the spirit to serve them (bribes, charm, threats, exchange of services, bindings, etc). Each spirit would be unique in its abilities and spells it could cast (could be randomly generated from a set of available abilities, or another way) and the mage might have several of them at any one time.

The mage must actively maintain the spirit familiars (through sacrifices, rituals, etc) in a simialr manner to how they employed them in the first place.

You could also use the vessle idea from the above system. The spirit might have to be bound to an item for the mage to use the spells. The more powerful the spirit the better the materials and construction of the vessle (this would be a bit like the Genie in the Lamp).

If the player has to construc vessles (items) to hold the power or spirit, then these could be group rituals. In an MMOG this would give mages reason to work together (and relates to another thread about massive/ritual spells in RPGs).

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Edtharan
A couple of your points sounds like what both ToohrVyk and I were talking about earlier, but good points anyway. I couldn't agree more when you say that the magic is gone from magic systems - and that's really the reason for this post. Like I wrote earlier, todays systems take away much of the experimentation and creativity in spell making. And like you said - the systems that tries to remedy this usually just end up making you fight the systems rather than the opponents. So what would be a good, creative system?

I liked both the systems ToohrVyk and you suggested but they also have the same problems as other systems when it comes to experimenting and being able to just look stuff up on the net. Any suggestions on how to prevent this? One way would be like I said to attach a random number to the character which randomizes the spell creation in some way. I don't see this as a good solution for the system ToohrVyk suggested but it could work for other systems. But then there's the problem of explaining these differences ingame. It could be each persons "soul" in combination with the chaotic powers of magic or something like that but it would need an explanation.

Edit:
It's not only a problem with looking things up on the net, but it's also a problem with replayability. It's not a "new" experience if you remember/have written down all the spells from the previous time you played the game.

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RE: Edtharan post and e-u-l-o-g-y's reply

You arent going to get away from sharing spells. Whatever solution you come up with will have to be implemented on the computer and that means it will have to be fixed.
Even if you say you need a burning building to cast that mega spell everyone will soon learn how to do it (even though they need to do x random things before it comes to life) because it still is the same spell.

Clicking on moon, fire and blood would indeed be nice because it means you can only use that spell in certain conditions but it would still be the same spell.

I suspect that the only way to truly make magic magical is to allow everyone to build their own spells.

My idea (which I never intended to share with you) was to get the runes from Ultima VII. They are basic things and hardly copyrighted. Each rune has a type of effect (for example the spell ignite in Ultima 7 was In Flam, rune In and rune Flam translating to ignite, usually a candle). By mixing the runes you can create your own spells, just like the alphabet.

Ignite (in flam) is useful only for lighting a candle but IN FLAM FLAM FLAM might cause fire damage. Someone will immediatly say in flam * infinity but you limit that by
A- each time you memorise a spell you consume all reagents (including runes).
B- Limit number of memorised spells
C- make duplicating effects more expensive (to create first FLAM 1 fire symbol, second Flam 2, third FLAM 4 etc).

You could then use the previous idea to generate the reagents that enable you to enchant runes.

Finally you go DnD by forcing mages to be in a safe place (camp, tavern) to memorise spells.

Because you have a huge alphabet of spells you are going to have loads of combinations and even though some will be extremelly popular there will be quite often some that are a lot more useful

Heal yourself throw firebal
throw firebal
throw firebal and lightning
throw firebal throw firebal (fires a firebal that once it hits the target it fires again in the same direction)
throw multiply explode (throws spell, once it hits it multiplies in several small range directions and then each of those explodes)
heal explode heal (heals you, explodes dealing dmg all around and at you, heals you again)
fire shield, fire explosion (protects you and then throws a fire explosion around you)
speed throw slow (enhances your speed and then fires a slow spell)
multiply heal (fires a short range multidirectional heal spell)


the combinations are ENDLESS!!!
Mind you I am blatanly copying "Legends" spell system with the exception that im adding some dnd effects (memorising spells mostly)

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Quote:
Original post by e-u-l-o-g-y
ToohrVyk
Now that's something I'd like to see! Seems like a great magic system which might be lots of fun. Is this system supposed to be realtime or would it be possible to pause like in NWN and some other CRPGs? I would suspect that it might be irritating trying to cast magic if some of the components are "flickering". You could make it possible to "bookmark" different combinations and adding a button or hotkey for this. That way it would be easy to cast spells even though the components are rare - and you wouldnt have to recreate the same button clicks over and over again if you're for instance throwing alot of fireballs.


I realize my explanation was not perfect. I meant that the component disappears when you use it in a spell, not simply by itself. This means that you can easily deplete the fire from a candle (because it is infrequently generated) but that from a brazier would pop back on seconds after you've used it.

Secondly, the point is that resources are limited, but spells are powerful. The key here is that people should not be throwing a lot of fireballs at everything, for two reasons: first, this would unbalance the game world (a flick of the wrist and the city's archmage can launch a nuke-like fireball on an enemy city? feh), ans secondly it breaks the highly-flexible aspect of magic. Unless you're next to large amounts of an element, you have to find alternate ways to deal damage or protect yourself. After a fireball, you're going to wait for at least half a minute, in most cases, for another fire symbol to appear in the same place (quite the reason why torches aren't used inside buildings anymore, and replaced by cold light) unless you're already in the middle of some fiery destruction. So, in the mean time, you will have to perform some other tricks, like maybe turning earth to water under the enemy, or using a symbol of Wild Magic that randomly appeared out of thin air, or maybe start your casting with a "Create fire" spell on nearby wood.

Even then, your average-level spell is not something like a measly fireball. We're talking about transmuting blood into fire, or maybe water into blades when it's raining, or even transmuting anything to death. The difficulty of finding the symbols and casting the spell is offset by some awe-inspiring destruction. So finding yourself out of fire now and then isn't that big a problem...

Finally, the personal conversion factors are IMO a good key to replayability. Play a Water/Iron Mage and live in a rainy area. Play a Death/Moon Mage and scour graveyards at night to raise undead. Play a Fury/Flesh Mage and turn yourself into an invulnerable berserker. Play a Mind/Air Mage and become a nigh-invisible stealthy assassin or thief. Even if you read this up on the net, finding an efficient, portable item that generates symbols of Death, Iron and Fire with regularity and also managing to get your throughput high enough to allow for the spell to succeed will slow you down for a bit until you are finally able to create a Forgecorpse (steel-boned burning skeleton).

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Original post by ToohrVyk
Finally, the personal conversion factors are IMO a good key to replayability. Play a Water/Iron Mage and live in a rainy area. Play a Death/Moon Mage and scour graveyards at night to raise undead. Play a Fury/Flesh Mage and turn yourself into an invulnerable berserker. Play a Mind/Air Mage and become a nigh-invisible stealthy assassin or thief. Even if you read this up on the net, finding an efficient, portable item that generates symbols of Death, Iron and Fire with regularity and also managing to get your throughput high enough to allow for the spell to succeed will slow you down for a bit until you are finally able to create a Forgecorpse (steel-boned burning skeleton).


yeah... but it still means you are bogged down by your initial choice of character. Even though its really hard to get a few spells there still are a limited number of them... so you are back to DnD with everyone having the same spells or wanting to have them.

However if you say that the spells depend on the combination of reagents then it becomes different. Please note that I dont mean Fireball needs X and Y but if you mix X with Y you get a firebal: the type and ammount of reagents creates the spell and any combination is valid.

I really think the only way is to increase the number of spells so that almost any type of magic can be created.

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Quote:
Original post by BloodWarrior
However if you say that the spells depend on the combination of reagents then it becomes different. Please note that I dont mean Fireball needs X and Y but if you mix X with Y you get a firebal: the type and ammount of reagents creates the spell and any combination is valid.


I'm pretty sure I said that. Note that spells depend on the choice of symbols, on your current throughput for said symbols, and on the grammar skeleton you're using for your spell.

Quote:
I really think the only way is to increase the number of spells so that almost any type of magic can be created.


Is that really desireable? This would result in a magic system with a large amount of different effects, but not necessarily a fun magic system. In fact, this is usually more prone to ending up in a large amount of useless spells and an ever larger amount of unbalanced spells, which generally stops being fun after a short while.

A game will generally be funnier with hand-designed individual spells, because more work was put in the spells and more quirks and unbalances were removed, and replay value can (as I said earlier) be handled by creating career paths: you can't try out a game as a warrior and a mage and a thief and a priest at the same time.

My system promotes magic research and diversity in two ways:

  • By making effects clear through the use of a grammar skeleton and simple elements (instead of complicated sentences), anyone can invent a spell in any situation.
  • By reducing spellcasting to selection of quantified symbols from the environment (instead of choosing the precise amounts of each element) spells can be made up on the spot, encouraging flexibility instead of "invent spell, bind to key, mash keyboard".


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Original post by ToohrVyk
By reducing spellcasting to selection of quantified symbols from the environment (instead of choosing the precise amounts of each element) spells can be made up on the spot, encouraging flexibility instead of "invent spell, bind to key, mash keyboard".

I've always liked the idea of a magic "vocabulary". Your system of contextual magic requires a little extra attention from the player, which I find engaging. Unfortunately, some people hate that. If you don't put in a key-bind-and-mash function, a lot of people will whine about it.

I think what is more important is figuring out other ways to use magic. In Japanese RPGs, magic is either a)highly damaging, b)highly healing, or c)completely useless status effect spells that don't help at all.

In my turn-based mage game, I'm modeling spell effects after magic: the gathering cards. I'm putting special effort into creating nonviolent spells like "control magic", "bind creature", "precognition" and so on. I think more useful magic would help RPGs more than a new magic interface would.

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I remember an Older game (I forget the name...sorry), but when I'm saying old..I am talking DOS based. The game's magic system (at the time) was rather cool imo. Each spell consisted of 3 syllables and the 3 sets of syllables were unique. For example, the first set of syllables might contain:

la, rue, full, blah, (etc)

the 2nd

fum, toe, boosh, (etc)

the 3rd

makk, douf, pal, (etc)

To create spells the player had to combine them to create the varous spells in the game. You initally learned some basic spells, and as you progressed you learned that the various syllables had english equivalents. For example, one syllable might mean, "minor", another "cure" and another "self". then you can combine and mix and match the syllables to create more powerful spells. To offset the chance of a level 1 user having the MOST powerful spell in the game, I believe (don't quote me on this) it was based on your INT score which gave you a percentage of a chance to actually cast the spell (or for it to go off). So more powerful spells required higher INTs and therefore lower level players couldn't cast them all the time (some spells could be as low as 5%...maybe lower). As you leveled of course your INT increased, and so did your chance of casting the spells. This might help to offest the chance of everyone learning spells right off the bat via the internet.

While this game was turn based, it made casting the spells easy, as the user had plenty of time to cast them in combat. Out of combat you could toy around with the syllables, and try learning new spells. You only gained the syllables by getting scrolls which contained new spells throughout the course of the game. All the syllables were assigned to invdividual letters (the first letter they started with) so that the user did not have to type each letter of each syllable.

Just some food for thought,


tHom

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Quote:
Original post by tHomahwk
I remember an Older game (I forget the name...sorry), but when I'm saying old..I am talking DOS based. The game's magic system (at the time) was rather cool imo. Each spell consisted of 3 syllables and the 3 sets of syllables were unique. For example, the first set of syllables might contain:

la, rue, full, blah, (etc)

the 2nd

fum, toe, boosh, (etc)

the 3rd

makk, douf, pal, (etc)

To create spells the player had to combine them to create the varous spells in the game. You initally learned some basic spells, and as you progressed you learned that the various syllables had english equivalents. For example, one syllable might mean, "minor", another "cure" and another "self". then you can combine and mix and match the syllables to create more powerful spells. To offset the chance of a level 1 user having the MOST powerful spell in the game, I believe (don't quote me on this) it was based on your INT score which gave you a percentage of a chance to actually cast the spell (or for it to go off). So more powerful spells required higher INTs and therefore lower level players couldn't cast them all the time (some spells could be as low as 5%...maybe lower). As you leveled of course your INT increased, and so did your chance of casting the spells. This might help to offest the chance of everyone learning spells right off the bat via the internet.

While this game was turn based, it made casting the spells easy, as the user had plenty of time to cast them in combat. Out of combat you could toy around with the syllables, and try learning new spells. You only gained the syllables by getting scrolls which contained new spells throughout the course of the game. All the syllables were assigned to invdividual letters (the first letter they started with) so that the user did not have to type each letter of each syllable.

Just some food for thought,


tHom


Interesting idea. I don't remember that game.

I remember a game called I think "Darklands" (very cool game) that I played in the 80's dos days as well. The only magic in the game was making potions. You had to go around to different cities and find different ingredients to attempt to mix a potion.

At the time I really enjoyed searching the different herbs and minerals and mixing the potions. You could certainly do that with spells as well to make them seem more unique and exotic.

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Quote:
Original post by BloodWarrior
You arent going to get away from sharing spells. Whatever solution you come up with will have to be implemented on the computer and that means it will have to be fixed.
That’s not entirely true – it’s like saying that you can’t create dynamic content that’s more or less unique to each player. Have a look at Spore – and imagine the same thing but with spells. It is possible, it just hasn’t been implemented yet (at least to my knowledge). Creating procedural content that’s artist tweakable is complicated if you want good quality results but it’s still possible. You could attach a random number to the player, like I said earlier. This number will be used as the seed for random spell generation. Spell effects (visuals) and sounds can be generated procedurally and having a good definition of the things that a player can do in the world (probably through a scripting interface) will make it possible to create effects procedurally to some extent.

The problem with your system is that it can’t really create “truly” dynamic content. It would be sufficient for a Diablo-style game (actually it would be alot better than the current solutions) but it’s still a bit simple for a magic centric game. I guess it will work a bit like socketed items in Diablo where you insert gems or runes and get added effects. A system like this will add some customizability to the spells but it won’t really let you define your own spells.

That being said – it’s not so much about sharing spells as giving a feeling of “true magic”, the possibilities which it presents and the replayability of a game. If you’re generating truly dynamic spells which are more or less different each time you play the game it’s going to be a different experience. It’s not going to be completely different but hopefully enough to make it a bit more fun than the current “these are the 30 spells that exist in the entire world”-system.

ToohrVyk
I see. Would the cooldown time be based on spell or spell component? Would you be able to throw a fire arrow soon after throwing a fire ball (if there are enough spell components in the area) or would you have to wait for a while since you just used the fire component? I guess its based on components and that you have some sort of “proficiency” stat in each component – so that a blood mage would have really fast cooldown time on blood components.

Quote:
ToohrVyk
Is that really desireable? This would result in a magic system with a large amount of different effects, but not necessarily a fun magic system. In fact, this is usually more prone to ending up in a large amount of useless spells and an ever larger amount of unbalanced spells, which generally stops being fun after a short while.
That’s one of the problems I see with truly dynamic magic systems. It will be one hell of an operation to balance them. I wouldn’t really consider “useless” spells as a bad thing. Useless stuff usually add realism and fun to games. Some games makes it possible to get drunk, brake windows or get laid – it could be considered useless in the game but it still adds to the feeling of freedom. I’m a bit more concerned about balancing out powerful spells. You could set roofs on for instance spell damage and healing etc. but it’s difficult to balance all possible combinations and you might end up with “vampiric regeneration 100% when hit by opponent”. I wonder how the spore crew has balanced their different aliens.

Quote:
ToohrVyk
By reducing spellcasting to selection of quantified symbols from the environment (instead of choosing the precise amounts of each element) spells can be made up on the spot, encouraging flexibility instead of "invent spell, bind to key, mash keyboard".
I would still consider adding the possibility to bind spells to hotkeys. There’s bound to be combinations you use more often than other and having to retype those all the time will surely irritate players. Like said earlier – I’m currently playing NwN and I cast 14 different spells each time I have slept. Most of these spells need me to target the character which means a lot of mouse clicks and mouse movement. You should check out this article http://gamasutra.com/features/20060823/goetz_01.shtml - it got me thinking more about how much redundant interface interaction you find in games.

Quote:
Original post by tHomahwk
I remember an Older game (I forget the name...sorry), but when I'm saying old..I am talking DOS based. The game's magic system (at the time) was rather cool imo. Each spell consisted of 3 syllables and the 3 sets of syllables were unique.
It sounds similar to the magic system in dungeonmaster. You would press a symbol which had a textual representation like the system you told about. Pressing one of these symbols would present you with a row of other possible symbols. Pressing each of these symbols would drain your mana so you would either have to wait till you’d recharged your mana to continue the spell casting or cancel it if you didn’t have enough.

[Edited by - e-u-l-o-g-y on September 8, 2006 3:02:20 AM]

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what about using a type of alphabet things and tied it in with your stamina? The lower level and the higher the spell the more stamina would be taken. That way they can cast spells to help out party members in battle and maybe pop off a few fireballs. Also make it so that they cant replenish stamina too quickly, that way its more "real" in the sense of not sending your most powerful spell and then taking 2 seconds to have full stamina. The game would be a little more balanced in the sense that a mage could use a team to level just like an archer would.

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you could also offer 2 types of magic. controlled and raw magic. controlled being the standard DnD type magic which mages have researched over the many years and have learned will work with all mages. The downside is that it is not as powerful as raw magic can be.

The twist comes in that each player has a unique hidden number attached to them that affects the balance to how magic works for them. So say a fireball is created when using X and Y together, for player #2, they have to use X - 3, and Y + 1. (the -3 / +1 indicates whatever player #1 had to use, player #2 uses a little less X and a little more Y). It might be that player #3 has to introduce a whole new ingredient. But this is all to get the same effect. But if they all just used X and Y, each spell would be slightly different from the next, either in strength, range, area effect, duration etc.

I'd love to see a magic system that introduced accidents though. An unstable spell, a powerspell that would go haywire if the caster was interrupted, spells that needed to be researched but could produce weird things if done incorrectly.

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