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Author Topic: An interesting spell system  (Read 210 times)

PsyXypher

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An interesting spell system
« on: November 21, 2021, 04:36:21 PM »
Been meaning to post this for a while but I always got cold feet for whatever reason. Anyway, this is a magic system used in a Multi-User Dungeon game called "Armageddon MUD", based off of Dark Sun.

This being based on Dark Sun, there were two big categories of magic users: Elementalists and Sorcerers (the latter further being divided into Preservers and Defilers). A spell was an incantation made up of five magical words which would represent the Power, Reach, Element, Sphere and Mood of a spell. The actual spell was made up of the latter three, so the spell "Fireball" would have the incantation "Suk-Krath Divan Hekro". To my knowledge, Sphere roughly represented a "School" of magic while Mood didn't have any special meaning.

Power and Reach are where this gets interesting, however. Power was divided into seven levels. As a character's proficiency with a spell increased, your "Power" with the spell would grow. You could, in theory, cast a spell above your power level, but it'd cost a lot of Mana. The mana cost of each spell depended on the power level it was cast at in relation to your power level; I believe the default was 50. Every level under your power level would halve the cost, so at two levels lower you'd require only 12 points of mana. Most spells had a "Minimum Mana", usually 7.

Reach is less relevant, but basically they were the equivalent of metamagic. Most people would get two (later on in the game's life, three) different reaches: A 'normal' reach, a 'nil' reach which would grant the caster some experience but have no effect, and a dispel reach. There are other reaches that don't get handed out anymore to my knowledge are Potion(Fruit), Scroll, Staff, Silent, Wand and Room. Some of these were incredibly overpowered. It was possible for someone with the Room reach to cast the "Ethereal" spell, make everyone in the room Ethereal (which would cause you to drop all your stuff) and then have them go back to the material plane, take all their shit and then leave.

Yeah, this game was very unbalanced. Made RIFTs look well calibrated in some scenarios. This worked in some scenarios (you couldn't just play a Sorcerer or Psionicist out the gate; you needed to earn that trust. But this sadly opened up the road to RL corruption on the staffing team), but when it would do stuff like stunt your power by locking you at a certain stat total...yeah, things could be shit for people.

Anyway, as your skill in a spell is increased, you have the chance to "branch" spells. So if you improved your Flamestrike spell, you'd eventually branch Fireball. You'd eventually go on to branch Rain of Fire and Immolation from Fireball, which would have their own branches. The skill branching (and stat system) were both inspired by GURPS. Some spells required a material component ala Dungeons & Dragons. These were usually the super powerful stuff like Empower (enchant items to give stat boosts), Transference (a spell that switches your location with someone else). Some spells required a psionic link with the target.

Anyway, that little branching thing is the most difficult thing to stuff into a Tabletop RPG system, mainly because I think it'd be difficult to properly place a system for training spells in this fashion into a game. Doesn't really mesh with with a level system. Though I like how a lot of spells had different effects based on their level; the "Gate" and "Mount" spell would summon different creatures based on your Element and the spell's Power Level. All Elementalists also had a special weapon they could summon, which got stronger as time got on and had special effects. They also had it so the second highest spell level for these items would generally be stronger than the highest, while the highest would be permanent.

So it has a good surface look. I have no idea how one could implement the ability to learn magic from books; these were supposed to exist but I've never heard of someone getting these, ever, and the game is like, 30 years old. Mainly I wanted to post this because it seems the game's long overdue death is oncoming and I wanted to share this interesting little tidbit.

Hopefully you all have some nice stuff to input. If someone wants some more info on the system (magic words, the different types of mages, etc) just comment and I'll talk about it.
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GeekyBugle

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Re: An interesting spell system
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2021, 12:43:24 PM »
Been meaning to post this for a while but I always got cold feet for whatever reason. Anyway, this is a magic system used in a Multi-User Dungeon game called "Armageddon MUD", based off of Dark Sun.

This being based on Dark Sun, there were two big categories of magic users: Elementalists and Sorcerers (the latter further being divided into Preservers and Defilers). A spell was an incantation made up of five magical words which would represent the Power, Reach, Element, Sphere and Mood of a spell. The actual spell was made up of the latter three, so the spell "Fireball" would have the incantation "Suk-Krath Divan Hekro". To my knowledge, Sphere roughly represented a "School" of magic while Mood didn't have any special meaning.

Power and Reach are where this gets interesting, however. Power was divided into seven levels. As a character's proficiency with a spell increased, your "Power" with the spell would grow. You could, in theory, cast a spell above your power level, but it'd cost a lot of Mana. The mana cost of each spell depended on the power level it was cast at in relation to your power level; I believe the default was 50. Every level under your power level would halve the cost, so at two levels lower you'd require only 12 points of mana. Most spells had a "Minimum Mana", usually 7.

Reach is less relevant, but basically they were the equivalent of metamagic. Most people would get two (later on in the game's life, three) different reaches: A 'normal' reach, a 'nil' reach which would grant the caster some experience but have no effect, and a dispel reach. There are other reaches that don't get handed out anymore to my knowledge are Potion(Fruit), Scroll, Staff, Silent, Wand and Room. Some of these were incredibly overpowered. It was possible for someone with the Room reach to cast the "Ethereal" spell, make everyone in the room Ethereal (which would cause you to drop all your stuff) and then have them go back to the material plane, take all their shit and then leave.

Yeah, this game was very unbalanced. Made RIFTs look well calibrated in some scenarios. This worked in some scenarios (you couldn't just play a Sorcerer or Psionicist out the gate; you needed to earn that trust. But this sadly opened up the road to RL corruption on the staffing team), but when it would do stuff like stunt your power by locking you at a certain stat total...yeah, things could be shit for people.

Anyway, as your skill in a spell is increased, you have the chance to "branch" spells. So if you improved your Flamestrike spell, you'd eventually branch Fireball. You'd eventually go on to branch Rain of Fire and Immolation from Fireball, which would have their own branches. The skill branching (and stat system) were both inspired by GURPS. Some spells required a material component ala Dungeons & Dragons. These were usually the super powerful stuff like Empower (enchant items to give stat boosts), Transference (a spell that switches your location with someone else). Some spells required a psionic link with the target.

Anyway, that little branching thing is the most difficult thing to stuff into a Tabletop RPG system, mainly because I think it'd be difficult to properly place a system for training spells in this fashion into a game. Doesn't really mesh with with a level system. Though I like how a lot of spells had different effects based on their level; the "Gate" and "Mount" spell would summon different creatures based on your Element and the spell's Power Level. All Elementalists also had a special weapon they could summon, which got stronger as time got on and had special effects. They also had it so the second highest spell level for these items would generally be stronger than the highest, while the highest would be permanent.

So it has a good surface look. I have no idea how one could implement the ability to learn magic from books; these were supposed to exist but I've never heard of someone getting these, ever, and the game is like, 30 years old. Mainly I wanted to post this because it seems the game's long overdue death is oncoming and I wanted to share this interesting little tidbit.

Hopefully you all have some nice stuff to input. If someone wants some more info on the system (magic words, the different types of mages, etc) just comment and I'll talk about it.

This looks like my magic system, Although I have foregone the notion of spellbooks, the MU knows the spells, period (still working on what spells will make it into the list). You can cast whatever spell you can power, you can even use youyr life force (HP) to help power the spell (but the HP are consumed first, so if doing so would kill you you're dead and didn't finish the spell).

Also found out that Dungeons & Delvers' magic system is pretty much the same (Own the books, friends with the writer, haven't finished reading it).

You might want to get it. https://daegames.blogspot.com/2021/01/dungeons-delvers-red-book-release.html
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bat

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Re: An interesting spell system
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2021, 01:01:15 PM »
I have played that game since it was Archmage in the 90s and have pilfered from that magic system for decades now. I use a very similar system for my BoL games.
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