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The true mage vs. Computer mage

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(Borrowed shamelessly from an article I read somewhere mostly pertaining to MMORPGs but nonetheless still pertaining...) If you take a look at any famous literary mage you wills see that they rarely use magic. Gandlaf used magic maybe 3 times, Saurman only twice maybe and that would be some sort of charm spell, Merlin, almost never, you can think of some more. anyways, a Computer mages is basically an archer with different kinds of arrows, more powerful arrows, but with worse melee than an archer. They are fireball machines. The literary mages(although there are some that spew fireballs) are subtle. You know they can level a continent if they want to, but they dont. They are generally plot devices, nothing else. They hold tons of wisdom and spend more time in dusty books than adventuring. Problem with playing one is, it''s boring. But I think that the current accepted mage system(Bring up spell window, see if you have the mana to cast spell, click on spell, point at enemy, see fireball, lightneing, etc) sucks. It brings a large focus on powerleveling, which I also hate. But how do you make a good magic system that is more akin to a true mage than a lightning rod? And for that matter, how do you balance out a magic system and make it more interesting if you do decide to implement the chain lightening mage? And a final question, how do you make mage research interesting. Not with a percentage complete bar and at the end a new spell. But how do you make it seems cool and random. I have some thoughts but I want to hears others'' thoughts first. If noone has any thoughts on it, then Ill post my thoughts to see if anyone has thoughts on my thoughts on it. DJM

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Had a design related to this a while ago, but I got lots of flak, because apparently people want magic to work for them, they don''t want to have to work for magic. Anyway, this is how it works.
Modular Spell-design, Dynamic Spellcasting

A spell is the ordered set of unions of elements and influences. A spellcaster who has a desired effect in mind must construct a spell out of known element-influence unions.

Elements - are collected from the world, a mage may meditate in any given place, and depending on his/her surroundings, a suitable element will be retrieved. The base effectiveness of any element is quite low, so it must be used before it can be really effective.

Influences - Come from linear combinations of the primary forces: Order, Expansion, Contraction, Motion, Negation, Entropy

So a spell may work as follows.


> Fire + [Motion-Contraction-Order]
! Fire + [Expansion-Entropy]

The right angle bracket is the initiation, the exclamation mark is an interupt. For a spellcaster to create this spell, he/she must get the fire element (meditate in front of a hearth), and adapt it to control with each of the Influences that are desired (research, hit the books!).

The combination of an Element and an Influence is called a Unit, and a spell is thusly made up of one or more Units.

When the time comes to cast a spell, the spell caster enters a trance. He/she then generates a Unit and infuses his/her aura with it. Once all of the desired Units have been generated and linked to their necessary triggers (initiation/interupt) the mage will discharge his/her aura in a desired direction. If someone touches the aura while it is infused with Units from an incomplete spell, they all discharge at random.
It is still a grossly under-developed system, but I never really took the time to make it interesting because people hated it so much.

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

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Here''s one I''ve been kicking around for a little while...

Basic Concept:
Reduce the taint of cookie cutter mages in a fantasy setting. Mages do not have direct power to cause any magical effects.

How they work instead is by being able to summon other creatures. To be able to do anything "magical" they have to first summon an appropriate creature, then convince it to do what they want.

Step 1: Attempt to summon a creature. Not always succesful, and botching it could result in calling something that wasn''t intended.
Step 2: Deal with the creature.
- Simple tasks will be relatively easy (for example, calling a fire elemental to set fire to a door that''s right in front of the mage). The creature will most likely do it because it''s quicker than arguing and once they do it, they can go home. Calling a particular creature or kind of creature repeatedly for menial tasks will cause either the creature (or a superior creature) to get irritated, causing trouble for the mage...
- More complex tasks or a mildly irritated creature might require some sort of sacrifice from the mage, varying based on the type of creature (gold, items, stats, some sort of favor, etc). (asking an air elemental to fill a ships sails for a faster journey).
- Really complex or dangerous tasks might require a really signifigant sacrifice or quest performed by the mage. Calling the same creature during a quest for that creature would be really frowned upon, and will likely call off the deal. Pretty good chance that the creature will just laugh at the mage in the first place. (Asking a fire elemental to take out an entire city)
Step 3: Mage makes any payment agreed upon.
Step 4: Mage hopes that the creature holds up their end of the bargain...

Instills a certain amount of mystery and danger into creating magical effects, and makes a mage really stop to think before they use their magic. They''re still powerful, but they''re not blasting every goblin in sight.

Priests could work in pretty much the same way, asking their diety to send an angel to fight on their side, etc. Big tasks like bringing someone back from the dead would probably require a quest or pilgrimage or something along the same lines. They''d be focused to one particular source of power, but would probably benefit from their patron being less likely to get irritated, as long as they''re acting in accordance with the dietys principles.

They''re coming for you!

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Good thread, and I agree completely. But as it has been said before, playing a Saruman-like wizard is not compatible with the average RPG.

Well, maybe RPGs are no good for the job. I believe a RTS is much more fit to create a complex Wizard than a RPG. (Actually Saruman did play a RTS in LotR - cut wood build army, etc.) If you remember Master of Magic - it''s wizards were perfect.

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Symphonic, you are proposing a pretty complicated and time consuming spell system. Now it may be interesting, but the real challenge with using this system is that the entire rest of the game must change. You cannot play a wizard like that in the average RPG. Find a Orc behind the corner, he''ll eat your character alive before it finishes the trance.

pwd, that can work. Notice that you add strategy elements to the game - controlling units etc. I wonder if the two genres could be combined - Wizards playing a RTS from the height and immunity of their tower, the lesser classes playing a MMORPG in the same game world?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I had a system in mind somewhat like symphonics. In my system the only thing you used was elemental effects and and with an increase in level of your spell caster you unlock different effects. For example if your spell caster has air and fire ability then he/she can use them individually (at a low level it would go air = smite, fire = spark) or combine them into a flame strike type spell. At a higher level air could be used for levitation and flight then cool stuff like twisters and tornados later on. The main thing I would like to see is magic that can alter the landscape ie burndown buildings or forest or put ruptures in the earth or flatten building or moutains. Eventually even allowing highest level mages to construct new areas of the map, in effect creating their own magical domains and planes.

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cut wood build army !!!!
Obvoisly Jackson played warcraft 2 too much !!!!
There was a similar thread a month or two ago, and I started work on a concept for a spell language.


Essentially, the Espello lanuge is made up of three types;
#variable# = varies
#connector# = sigals change-of-operand
#operator# = does something with a #variable#

Being a spell language, you have to get everything correct, because if you dont, you get a backlash from the elements that you have called.
You are given the capability for more power with each spell you do; the bigger sizes; the more capability.
Of course, the more powerful you are, a incorectly done spell will backlash stronger(more force goes into it)


#element1#( e #element2#) la #size#(e la #size#) (del #object#(le #objectpart#)) eso #action# muso #intensity> (y #element#( e #element#))...

4 elements.

fuego = fire
terre = earth
hydra = water
aeres = air

These form 4 points of a diamond. Opposing points do not work with each other.

Fire - - Water

e is a connector for element to element.
It operates element1 on element2.

la is a connector, indicating the power value.
first element power and next element power.

8 powers
uno = 1
dos = 2
thrais = 3
quatro = 4
quinto = 5
secto = 6
seiape = 7
octo = 8

del is a connector. It is the object on which the spell happens.
If omitted you will need a element2 and it will happen on the element2.

le is a connector. It says what object of the object gets operated on.

Objects can be anything, but certain things are defined...
phyce = your mind
physo = your body
manipe = your hands
pedico = your feet

eso is a connector, showing that the action will be next.
negoto = negate this much.
aco = do this much.
cour = call, but do not work it. Given a number, later, you can do aco

y is a next-spell connector.

Sample spells.

aeres la dos del physo le pedico eso aco muso uno

Air, size 2, your-body, your-feet, act, low-intensity.

You can now float a bit. It only size two and pretty weak, so you wont be able to do alot,
but it will last awhile.

Its pretty rough, but you can see the elemtnts there.
What you would do is start out with, say...level 1 power, and a few words. As you go around doing stuff, you can go say to...the
White City, persuade the Archiver to let you into the library and wander around the shelves. You see a book and read it. You may find a new word, and be able to apply it. Also, you may learn new grammar structures. Like 'e' You can add elemts with e.

Thats something you could learn.

Now, because having the character auto-remember is really really
lame, what you do is the play writes down the hard-opy word.

Naturally, if you had a MMORPG, people would be reluctant to
share words of power, because that would militate against

The more spells you do, the more levels you get. However, you must do certain things to be able to gain power- like a quest. As you continue on the quest, your power increases with each spell.
Its kind of rough, but I think that it could be a viable spell/magic system.


Edited by - Vlion on February 21, 2002 11:11:55 PM

Edited by - Vlion on February 21, 2002 11:14:36 PM
-the parsing system is really crappy, btw

Edited by - Vlion on February 21, 2002 11:16:03 PM

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Isn''t part of the problem the nature of the challenges the mage faces?

If he''s pitted against hordes, his spell casting becomes necessarily repetitive as the machine-gun archer. I''d think part of the answer would lie in smarter, more powerful enemies who are more infrequent.

Another problem would be the number of people who wanted to play a mage. In the great myths/stories people admire, there''s only one Gandalf, or Merlin. Merlin clones dilutes Merlin''s uniqueness.

A thought on balance: If mages are powerful enough to raze cities or entire lands, other mages could very simply serve to balance against them. Sort of a "Mutually Assured Magical Destruction."

Just waiting for the mothership...

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Magical force as a Black & White creature

Another weird thought on this... What if the mage''s force was an invisible extension to the player''s avatar that had to be trained?

One problem I have with cRPG magic is that the interface and process for initiating magic is too mechanical. It would be interesting if the player''s force (represented maybe by a blur where it covers the screen) learned to work for the player in a context sensitive fashion. For instance, sending their power against a mountain pass might cause the force to "look for" an avalanche that it could cause (as in LOTR) if there were enemies, but create an ice bridge if there were allies there.

Part of the fun of being a mage, then, would be in literally taming one''s magick.

Just waiting for the mothership...

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I''d love a spell based system like that but I think it''s too
unfair against non-italians(?) No but really it should be
something not so real world... I always liked the syntax of
spells like they had in Ultima, like Corp Por, or In an flam
(That was about the only thing I DID like but...thats another
Being able to create your own spells from words should be allowed
but its just too complicated to be done well yet IMHO.


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