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Carnivorous Duck

The concept of magic resistance

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Am I the only one who hates this? In very many fantasy RPGs (most of them, in fact), the magic system is balanced by the concept of "magic resistance". This has always seemed like an extremely lame solution to the problem of balancing the system, and makes the game considerably less fun or immersive for magic-using players. What I''m referring to is a system wherein a player can cast that fireball at the evil monster, but said evil monster can make a roll to avoid being damaged by the fireball - this is extremely illogical; does the fireball simply stop existing when it nears the monster? Is the monster not flammable? If the monster isn''t flammable, why is it that fireball A does nothing, but fireball B with a luckier roll does? Obviously, a fantasy RPG is a fictional world. But, as in all fictional worlds, it should conform to it''s own standards, whatever those standards may be. Saying that orcs are damaged when lit on fire, and wouldn''t survive if thrown in lava, but can cause magical fireballs to simply stop existing if they get a lucky roll contradicts the rules of the system. Does anyone else agree here? If so... this raises the question of a better solution. It makes sense that not all creatures are equally affected by all things - perhaps orcs are partially resistant to fire. This isn''t unreasonable, and a solution here would be to, say, decide that all fire damage done to orc monsters does only 30% of it''s base damage. If this solution is implemented, then, an orc that, for example, falls into a volcano should lose health 30% as fast as a creature with no fire resistance that does the same. What I''m saying is, no matter what rules are decided upon in a game system, those rules should always remain consistent throughout the game. Of course, that doesn''t just go for the concept of magic resistance - I''m specifically mentioning magic resistance because it seems to be a very common example of an inconsistent game system, and a mechanic that has permeated numerous games.

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I disagree, magic resistance, explained as you do seems stupid, but it can be seen differently.

Most magic resisting creatures are higly magic themselves, so you can consider that they can shape magic around them and modify it. However they cannot always do this, because they maybe concentrating on something...

So the basic being magic resistance is that the creature is magic, and so can protect/modify it around it.

This is very different from your explanation, and make it understandable that the creature can resist a Fireball spell, but cannot resist falling into lava.

Of course there''s the problem to know if the spell creates an explosion or if the magic is turned into an explosion.
In the first case it seems that magic resistance shouldn''t apply, while in the other it should.

I prefer to consider than magic can be changed to something rather than creates something, since most spell have duration, and permanent creation should only be available for greater beings like angels and gods.

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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Careful reading of rule-books for many RPGs with magic will reveal the following:

Magical fire is not ordinary fire. In many forms, magical fire cannot be used to set other things alight. There are even some forms of magic that rely entirely on suggestion: if you can make the creature believe it is engulfed in flame, it will hurt it. In that case, the creature will not be harmed if it does not believe it is on fire (or is too unintelligent to know what fire is).

Magic usually does not create any reality. It is a mistake to assume that a "fireball" spell actually causes a physically correct ball of fire to appear. Exacly what would be burning? There is no combustible involved.





People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.

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MadKeithV has the point: magic is energy! Fireball is not burning, nor the Magic Missle is an arrow actually, so on. So as Ingenu states, magic resistant means that the creature has some kind of immunity to that energy.
I do not agree though, to have so many magic resistant creatures without a reason.
If you use a low-magic world, then the creatures wouldn''t have the chance to get accustomed to the Magic Energy, so they won''t be resistant. Only very few of them, maybe 1% would happen to dwell near a "Magical Spot", where they could, over GENERATIONS, to get used to it, hense be less affexted by that kind of energy, or even develop some magical skill themselves.
In a high-magic world, most of the creatures (most of the Nature itself - flora, fauna, etc - to be correct) would have some kind of resistanse, but the "attacking" magic would be much much stronger, so it negates the immunity.

My 2 cents...


Boby Dimitrov
boby@azholding.com

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I guess my post was really two seperate rants-

RANT 1: Magic resistance is illogical
As has been pointed out, "magical fire" and "normal fire" can be two different things. This makes sense - the monster has some kind of innate ability to shape magic so that it can prevent magical fire, but not normal fire. However, if a fireball isn''t really an actual ball of fire, the way that magic is usually stereotyped into being element-based seems illogical. It seems a little odd that it would just happen to take the form of lightning bolts, fireballs, freezing cold, etc., without actually being composed of those things. Further, it''s odd that a monster could be very specifically able to resist magical fire but not magical electricity or magical cold.
Not inexcuseable, just odd - the supposed justification seems like a stretch, to me.

RANT 2: Magic resistance is overused
Especially in MMORPGs, EVERYTHING can resist magic. A giant rat can resist a powerful mage''s spell with luck. It''s usually rare, but it really shouldn''t happen at all. This is very irritating to the player - at least, it was irritating to me that it could happen. It''s an extremely artificial gameplay balance.



That said, this discussion brings up an interesting idea - perhaps there could be an RPG with a magic system such that all magic spells were split into categories based on "true creation" and "magic manipulation" or something along those lines.

Mages who used true creation spells would have to expend considerably more energy, but could actually generate a fireball or lightning bolt in mid-air that would be impossible to "resist" based on some magical property of the monster. It would still make sense that the monster could take less damage from fire if it was resistant to fire, but in this case it would also take less damage from lava. It would be impossible to just simply outright "resist" a true creation spell. Mages who used magic manipulation could cast spells for less mana and generate more power, but the spell would exist only as magical energy - there would be no REAL fireball, and therefore a monster could resist the spell based on some magic resistance statistic.

I think this would be a great system, it would add a lot of interest to playing a magic-user, and still remain balanced and logical. If there was a monster that was extremely resistant to magic, the mage would have to create an actual fireball to damage it. If the monster had little resistance, or the mage in question was so powerful as to override it, the mage could just use a magical fireball instead.
Perhaps true creation magic would be more volatile as well - having to expend all that extra energy could run a risk of backfiring.
And perhaps there could be additional categories of magic, like the mentioned "illusion" - there wouldn''t be any fireball at all, real or magical, but just the illusion of one - however it would take very little magical energy to use.

I''m babbling, but I think this would be a fun and interesting system, and I''d love to see it implemented in an RPG. It would prevent magic users from being utterly powerless against certain things, be very logically consistent, and still not unbalance the game.

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It can be an interesting system but it certainly would not be fun. It would be difficault and irritating to cast a manipulated spell only to find out that the enemy has resisted your spell and thus you need to use a true spell.

Firstly, not only would there be duplicate spells which would most likely be similar except for that last detail concerning resistance. This does not justify having two sets of the same spell.

Secondly, the player would have to fumble across so many sets of spells in order to fight groups of which some are magically resistant and some are not. Of course, on might argue that he might use the true spell in this occassion, but he''d hate it.

Magic resistance is actually most interesting but it''s just that it''s not represented correctly, or rather interestingly, in games. Most games have resistance come from items such as amulets and rings. Almost always, resistance increases with level. Though those may be nice ways to increase resistance there are other ways if we could think of them. The most simple example, the more you get damaged by a certain element the more resistance you get. Also, the more of a certain spell you cast, the more resistant you are to it. Though those aren''t very orignal or special I admit. Maybe others could come up with something.

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In our P&P RPG (AD&D) games we reinterpreted magic resistance slightly...

According to the rules, a creature with 50% MR takes either full damage from a spell, or no damage, depending on a roll.

According to our reinterpretation, a creature with 50% MR always takes half damage from a spell.

Spells which cannot have easily give fractional effects use the original system.

Edited by - Sandman on June 6, 2001 8:50:02 AM

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quote:
Original post by Darkor
It can be an interesting system but it certainly would not be fun. It would be difficault and irritating to cast a manipulated spell only to find out that the enemy has resisted your spell and thus you need to use a true spell.


It would beat the current system of "cast a difficult and irritating spell, only to find out that the enemy has resisted your spell and... cast the same spell again, hoping for a better roll." Plus, there could be information about which monsters are more magic resistant.

quote:
Original post by Darkor
Firstly, not only would there be duplicate spells which would most likely be similar except for that last detail concerning resistance. This does not justify having two sets of the same spell.


Why would there need to be a duplicate list? Just have one list of spells, and say that any spell can be cast either "true" or "manipulated" at the user's discretion. When the player casts a true spell, multiply the cost by 2.0 or whatever and don't allow a resistance check.

quote:
Original post by Darkor
Secondly, the player would have to fumble across so many sets of spells in order to fight groups of which some are magically resistant and some are not. Of course, on might argue that he might use the true spell in this occassion, but he'd hate it.


Again, the list of spells wouldn't be any longer than a list of spells without this system. Why do you feel that the player would hate it?

I believe that the system would make it considerably less irritating to play as a magic-user. If they wanted to play the way that most RPGs do now, they could just stick with manipulated magic. If they encounter a monster that is hard to affect, instead of just being up a creek as they are in most RPGs now, they would have an option available, albeit an expensive one.

Edited by - Carnivorous Duck on June 6, 2001 9:47:46 AM

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Carnivorous Duck, about your RANT 1: you just don''t like the naming concept, is that true? You don''t really have to call it Fireball really, call it "A blast of magic energy, that causes heavy buring damage" for short.

About that idea of yours, what you need is called summoning. Like you can cause MAGIC FIRE damage by Fireball spell or REAL FIRE damage by Summon Fires spell, which sets the place on fire under the target.

Also. We really need to define magic, because this topic is getting slightly out of control due to misunderstandings.


Boby Dimitrov
boby@azholding.com

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quote:
cast the same spell again, hoping for a better roll.


Firstly, how are you going to present whether a creature is resistant or not? If it is too subtle, the player might be castintg the same spell wondering when the creature is going to die.

If you present in a book or in a help file then it would require the player to read before he plays. Not only that, he would have to remember which creature is resistant.

quote:
Why would there need to be a duplicate list?


Not all spells would have to have a true and manipulated version.
At least, most non-offensive spells need not have both versions. An example (though a silly one) when a player needs light, does he need to cast a true or manipulated one?

I grant you the fact that a duplicate list is not needed but how easy is it to switch from true to manipulated determines how successful this system will be.

quote:
...they could just stick with manipulated magic.


Well, imo, true magic requires immense effort and time and those of which are permanent should be left to powerful beings like Ingenu said. Unless you like to bend the rules a bit, true magic lies not in the hands of mere mortals...

Also, elemental resistance is also part of magic resistance. Take for example a fire elemtal. Throwing fireballs at such a creature probably will not kill it, true or no. Real fire wouldn't affect and it does not fear fire and thus manipulated magic has no effect.

quote:

If they encounter a monster that is hard to affect, instead of just being up a creek as they are in most RPGs now, they would have an option available, albeit an expensive one.



That is true but just because you have resistance does not mean you have immunity. After evading a fireball, one's resistance might wane and be damaged by the next that is cast.



Edited by - Darkor on June 6, 2001 10:20:58 AM

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One more thing (just read your last post).

Magic, the way I use in in my world, is energy.
# It's an energy on another plane of existance.

# There is a way to control that energy from our own reality.
That way is an ancient "language", that The Forefathers (some kind of creators of the world) used to drain energy for their needs.

# Casting is the skill to use the language: custom phrases, gestures, etc, so you can reach, give shape and control that energy.

# There are places in the world, where the Forefathers have set a "tranfer posts" of some kind, so they could easyly access the energy. Those posts were sealed long ago and around some of them the energy in leaking in very small amounts in our reality.
Beings, that dwell such places get used with the energy so they are resistant to it.

# When you cast a spell, what you do is command certain amount energy to a position in our world. The impact with anything that's in the way causes certain kind of effect. Depending on your Skill, you can control bigger amounts of energy, so you can get bigger effect.

# The effect could be anything, if you have the skill to model it. You can get damage, which could be ice, fire, water, etc. You could get healing by restoring one's living powers. You can get levitating objects. Anything.

# A set of gestures/phrases is called a Spell. It has proven to do this and that effect. Most Mages use "predefined", or known spells. That's because they want to live up to 20 years.
Experimenting with the Language can be catastrophic. So far you should know why.

# A Magic Item is a special item that encapsulates some of The Energy. It Energy load is not infinite. It comes to an end at some point. If you are Skilled enough, you can SAFELY "reload" your item.
# If you're not, well, you can destroy your item, or cause damage to youself, or even set your house on fire, or the whole village, or turn every living being in the kingdom in a sheep, or have an Armagedon next door.

# Magic is not for mass use. It is rare, but it's powerfull. It requires certain Skills (once again), otherwise don't get involved.

That's what magic is in my world, described in few words.


Boby Dimitrov
boby@azholding.com

Edited by - BobyDimitrov on June 6, 2001 10:22:43 AM

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More about my world's magic system (provoked by Darkor):

Magic resistance is not such a dymanic feature, like Diablo's stamina. If a creature has resistance to Fire (fire damage done by the Energy, see above post), hitting it with fireballs won't lower that resistance. I'm more willing to go even for RAISING it. After all "what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger". It is normal to expect that a Drake that resisted 150 fireballs w/o much trouble will receive an increase in his resistance. Like in boxing - the more they hit you, the more you get tough (over the years, that is, i'm not talking about instant effects).


Boby Dimitrov
boby@azholding.com

Edited by - BobyDimitrov on June 6, 2001 10:31:14 AM

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Even more...

Maybe we should discuss vodoo and some shamanism stuff, coming to that physical/energy Magic... Although I consider physical only the EFFECT, not the SPELL itself. Here''s what I mean:
If you cast a spell that focuses energy from the Meta-univeree in some point of our space, so you could invoke fire damage, it''s the ENERGY that causes the damage, but you wont get ANY FLAMES, whatsoever.
If you cast a spell that focuses energy from the Meta-univeree in some point of our space, so you could set something on FIRE (real fire), then it''s the REAL FIRE that causes the damage, not he Energy.

So a Salamander is immune (totally) to real fire damage (heat, burning), but not to magical fire damage.


Boby Dimitrov
boby@azholding.com

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One way of balancing this is to introduce polarity to magic. So strong resistance to one type of magic (fire) is balanced by low resistance to the opposite (cold). So while your salamander is completely unaffected by magical fire, one cold spell could kill it in a blink...

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Polarity as a rule is a quick and dirty solution IMO.

Creatures are what they are, with strength and weakness because they are evolving in a given environnement since generations.
You can introduce some dynamic in the system by allowing slight resistance increase at given places.
Most of the time the polarity rule is true, because a creature acustomed to fire will be probably have higher internal temperature... which make it sensible to cold.

But you can create an environnement such as the creature that evolves in it is resistant to manythings, or don''t have weaknesses.

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You guys raise some interesting points. I like the idea that a magic user can resist regular magic. It just makes sense that a wizard should be somewhat resistant to magic itself. I also agree that the same wizard should not be resistant to "true" fire, ice, wind, or any other real physical force. At least not without casting some kindof protective spell on himself. Just because the guy can cast a fire spell doesn''t mean that if he stuck his hand in "true" fire he shouldn''t get burned.

I also think that a rat or other non-magic user should have no chance of resisting a magic spell. Obviously there should be exceptions to certain spells (mesmerize, charm, fear, things of that nature) but if I cast a lightning bolt spell at a non-magic user I think they should get zapped. However, I think that those creatures could be more resistant to "true" magic based on their nature. Ex. a snow beast shouldn''t take as much damage from a "true" ice spell.

I don''t think it would be too difficult to design the menu with the regular/true magic option. You could set it up so that this option only applies to offensive spells.

I also like the concept of the illusion magic. I agree that it should cost very little mana/energy/mp to cast. Perhaps make it''s resisability based on the creatures IQ. I think that a dog isn''t smart enough to rationalize that it isn''t on fire if it has the smell of smoke in it''s nose, sees the flame, and even feels pain (makes sense that the spell would cause some pain to make the illusion more believable). The downside would be that a smarter creature that has been exposed to this type of magic would recognize it as only an illusion.

I''m sure that there would be many happy fans of magic users in RPG''s that would welcome a change. It is very frustrating when your only form of attack is completely ineffective against certain monsters.

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