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Brain Drain. I need your opinions on several aspects of design!

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Well, the title says it all except what aspects I need opinions on. Although this seems like an old question I would like some input on different ways of handeling magic in a fantasy setting. I am opening this from researching spells, casting them to balancing effects. As a note I have noticed that recent games display the mage as a warrior that uses a more mysterious sword. Perhaps you can think up some ways to make magic seem more like the true sense of the word. I am also looking for ideas on newer ways to deal with melee combat. EverQuest is just boring. Battle doesn''t seem too intense when all you do is hit buttons. (this doesnt appear to apply to action FPS games due to the required movement to stay alive) But this is for a massivly online setting. Keep in mind I already have many theories, I just would like to see new ones as well as compare my ideas to those that are out there. I''ll be posting a good share of my ideas once I see a few posts. This way nothing I say can change the information posted here. Thanks guys for your help.

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The concept of magic used by Larry Niven in his story "The Magic goes away" (or something like that), is one that I think would be interesting to use in a game.

Essentially, instead of wizards having their own mana supply, mana is present in the land itself. Spells draw this mana from the nearby surrondings and once the mana is used up, no spells can be cast in that area. There are only a few ways to "recharge" an area, ritualistic murder being one of them. Creatures whose metabolism is partly magical (dragons) cannot survive in a magically depleted area.

Niven came up with a devive known as the warlock''s wheel. It is a disk that is given a simple kinetic spell to cause it to spin faster and faster using up more mana the faster it gets. It has a powerful warding spell cast on it to hold the disk together at high speeds.

The disk rapidly uses up all mana in the area as it turns at astronomical speeds. Once the mana is depleted, the ward spell fails and the disk flies apart due to the extreme forces resulting from its spin.


Korvan

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I have toyed a few times with the depletion of mana, but in a massivly online setting it would come to be a hassle beyond belief. As more and more players join you would have to rethink how much mana was available in some places to make mages a viable class.. on top of that our terrain engine would have to track another layer of information. It''s a nice idea.. but a technical nightmare.

However, the idea of them not having their own source of mana is exactly where I am headed. Mana will be the very thing that hold reality together in this case and is inherent in all things. A casters ability to use, collect, and channel this mana is where thier power comes from. Also, I was thinking that certain stupidly high level spells would be able to break the laws of reality effectivly twisting the mana in a given arear until it "heals". This would affect spell casting.. and perhaps as you said magic oriented creatures.

Although.. that disk sounds oh so delicously evil and gorey that I might make something of it, lol.

Thanks for the input. I hope to see more.

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you could include some sort of mana "springs", so that mages can come visit and "recharge" from an [effectively] limitless supply. however, they cannot carry it away (other than whatever they personally absorb). perhaps some springs can have different types of mana (weak, strong, chaotic).
OT: i have one of those Warlock''s Wheels, but i can;t even get the damn thing to start spinning here in new jersey...

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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To me, the idea of a finite supply of mana in an area, or having to trek to a "mana spring" to refill, fails immediately at the basic "But would it be fun?" test.

You are restricting player options. Unless you add some kind of artificial limitation to control how they play, then mage players will just camp the areas around mana springs. They will either be too powerful while around a spring, since they have unlimited mana, or they will be far far too weak away from a spring. You could add some goofy rule like, "The SWIRLING CHAOTIC ENERGIES of the spring disrupt all spellcasting in the area to such a degree that spells only hit for half damage while cast within half a mile of a spring", but it would be better to just scrap the idea in the first place.

The exception to this would be something like an RTS where the players were on equal footing, and controlling the springs was a fundamental part of gameplay. Sacrifice did this - every player was a wizard, and every map had mana wells scattered around it. A wizard''s mana only regenerated while standing next to a well (or his own Altar), but they could summon structures called "Manaliths" that would claim the mana well so that only that player could use it. Additionally, they could summon creatures that would follow them around and channel a certain amount of mana to them from each of their manaliths, even when they were away from the manaliths themselves. This made controlling the manaliths a big part of gameplay, but would not work in an RPG, unless you were going for some sort of an RTS/RPG hybrid.

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I love the GURPS magic system (with a few tweaks)

Basically, it works this way... Magic is drained from your stamina (it tires you out) then from your health. So, basically, the more magic you use, the less "other" stuff you can do. Anyway, after that, you can also get mana stones with add to your mana pool and can be recharged. Mages can also contribute mana to a spell, so, if Mage 1 doesn't have enough to cast a spell, Mage 2 can contribute mana to Mage 1's spell (at a value equal to or less than Mage 1 puts into it, since he controls the spell).

Finally, the longer you concentrate before casting the spell, the more mana you could put into it. Just for argument sake, say that you gain 10% mana for every round past the first... if your mage chooses to wait until the third round until they cast the spell, and have put 50 points into it, they gain 10 more points (20% -- round one gets no bonus) to put towards the spell. This gives low-level mages ways to cast higher level spells. Keep in mind that every round is another chance for the spell to get interrupted.

So, you've got 5 inputs here:

Mana Stones. Deplete but can be recharged at special locations.

Stamina. Recharges naturally with some resting -- if stamina runs out, your PC passes out.

Colleagues. They must use their turn to contribute to your spell, and can only contribute a limited amount.

Health. Worst case. If health runs out, you know the rest. A character should never be able to suicide themselves with this method (they can never spend more than Hit Points - 1 points of health), though they could get killed by dropping themselves to 1 point and accidentally getting themselves caught in the blast zone of an offensive spell.

Time: Limited only by the amount of time the character is willing to put into casting, and the risk they are willing to take that the spell won't get interrupted.

You can further limit this in two ways:

1) Player can only use 1 mana stone for a spell. So, with 20-point and 10-point mana stones, you can only use one, so you have a max of 20 points, NOT 30.

2) Have "mana areas".... Rather than draw energy from an area as you were thinking, use this to limit the effectiveness of magic in parts of the world. The magic that people have decribes how well it will work in a "normal mana" area. Low Mana areas lower the effectiveness, High Mana Areas increase effectiveness. No mana areas are pretty self-explanatory. The changes in effectiveness affect the likelyhood of spell success and failure and how much the spell costs to execute.

Finally, somewhat stolen (and changed) from Wizardry 8, have no such thing as learning a level 1 fireball and then learning a more powerful fireball. Instead, once you learn the spell, the strength of the spell can be determined based on how much mana you put into it. However, the more you put into it, the more fickle it is, and the more likely you'll fail unless you're a really high level mage.

-Chris

Edited by - crouilla on February 26, 2002 8:09:10 PM

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And now for something completely different...
How about, rather than requiring a resource like mana to cast a spell, make spells infinitly accessible. Cast as many as you like, as often as you like, but with a catch. The character has a "control" or "concentration" stat, which is depleted whenever a spell is cast, and regenerates over time. The lower this stat, the less control the character has over the spells he casts, ie, a fireball might be less focused, and therefore do less damage, or it might not fly straight, etc. And really badly out-of-control spells could actually start harming members of the character''s own party. The regeneration rate and maximum value of this stat would increase as the character gains experience. The great thing is, this also provides for ways to naturally increase the power of spells as you gain experience, because a rookie character starts with very little control.
It would take some creativity to design spells which can get progressivly more/less controlable, but I think that this would be a great system to play under.

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quote:
Original post by Plasmadog
And now for something completely different...
How about, rather than requiring a resource like mana to cast a spell, make spells infinitly accessible. Cast as many as you like, as often as you like, but with a catch. The character has a "control" or "concentration" stat, which is depleted whenever a spell is cast, and regenerates over time. The lower this stat, the less control the character has over the spells he casts, ie, a fireball might be less focused, and therefore do less damage, or it might not fly straight, etc. And really badly out-of-control spells could actually start harming members of the character''s own party. The regeneration rate and maximum value of this stat would increase as the character gains experience. The great thing is, this also provides for ways to naturally increase the power of spells as you gain experience, because a rookie character starts with very little control.
It would take some creativity to design spells which can get progressivly more/less controlable, but I think that this would be a great system to play under.


I like that idea... the only problems it could have are:

1) A high-level mage would be virtually indestructable -- he could just cast the "Mega Destruction" spell as many times as he wanted. If the "concentration" stat can run out, then you may as well just have a Magic Point meter, because you end up with the same effect.

2) Assuming the rolling of the spell is simply made more difficult instead of impossible, then you can simply have the "roll and reload" effect, where a low-level mage learns a high-level spell, then gets in a large-level battle and just keeps casting the spell and reloading until it "catches".

However, I like the idea. Perhaps use the Stamina stat in my idea as your "concentration" meter. So, the more tired your character gets, the less effective they are at casting spells. This would make them want to keep many mana stones handy so that they don''t need to draw from their stamina and possibly screw themselves.

-Chris

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No, I think you misunderstood my suggestion. If the concentration runs out, you can still cast the spell, but there would be a good chance that the spell backfires and does more harm than good. It''s not a matter of the spell simply failing to work; it will always work but it can get dangerously unpredictable without sufficient concentration. So, yes you could just keep doing the "Mega destruct" spell, but at an increasing risk to yourself and your party.

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Korvan, that is absolutly bloody brilliant. I never thought to have magic effec the land (I mean Ive read about it, MtG books), but that would be a terific limitation for mages. Bad mages wouldnt care, theyd leave the area a smoking ruin, but good mages would want to save the world. Just walking down, a mage will instictivly take some energy, so you could hire mage trackers, or maybe set a hound on the trail, or ave some creature tha roams the souil looking for absences of mana and attack the sources, that is excellent.

A thought of mine:
Mana is in the multiverse, all the planes except ethereal. When a spell is cast, the mana conglogulates (whatever) in the ehtereal and is zapped down, either through the proper pathways that are used to access the multiverse, or across the layers themselves, rending the fabric that holds them together. A mage would set up a lab somewhere and draw the energy in either way. But the weavers (yes, from Loom) would come and fine him if he took it directly, but give him a check if the magic was routed correctly. Something like that.

For combat in an RPG, something that was more tactics based. SAy maybe you have 10 NPC''s wth you. you tell Mr. and Mr. Archer to stay back behind the bush and pop out to cover. Tell Mr. Pike, MR. Sheild 1 and Mr. Shield 2 to stay together in a formation with Mr. Pike in the back. Tell Mr. Mrs. and Ms. Swordsmen to stay back and charge where the enemy comes in, Tell
Mr. Horseman with the Flail to ride around and flank While you sit back and watch it unfold and lob roacks at the heads of your enemies. (That shield/pike trick was actual tactics during the med ages, as well as the use of the swordsmen, ie use realistic tactics...A guy with a pike would kick a guy with an axe''s arse no matter how huge the head of the axe was)..That is another thing, implement reach of weapons, and perhaps damage types. In reality, mace did much more against chain than plate, a sword coultn cut main but sould thrust through it....

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