Spell Effects
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 134
Location: Emily's Shop

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have to agree that "Alteration" is starting to get rather big. We're also acquiring a lot of categories, here.

I think a slightly shorter list would be better. You could reduce it to four:

Kinetic (based on movement or forces, so levitation, telekinesis, flight, walking on water, perhaps shield, but probably not teleportation)
Elemental (energy-based, so fire, frost, lightning, etc.)
Alteration (matter-based, a change in the substance of something, so polymorph, intangibility, petrification, etc.)
Psychic (mind-based, so mind-control, mind-reading, etc.)

You could possibly add on a couple of others, although there's significant overlap:

Illusion (assuming that this isn't covered by one of the others, perhaps Psychic).
Transportation (distinct from Kinetic in that it involves moving things instantaneously from one place to another rather than via normal space, so teleportation, summoning of supernatural entities, etc.)
Divination (could also possibly be roled into Psychic, although it's more about "sense danger" or "sense magic" than about mind reading).

Orthogonal to that you could then have categories such as offensive, defensive, neutral, or counter spell; or Psionic, Magical or Invoked (depending on the power source for the spell - the caster's own body, an external mystical source manipulated by the caster, or an intelligent, supernatural outside agency). Similarly any one category could have sub-categories - elemental could be fire, frost, lightning, etc.

There's obviously no one definitively correct system. It may be that it would be useful to class spells as in my above list; or it may be that it would be better to make "offensive" and "defensive" top-level categories; or it may be that Psionics vs Magic vs Invocation is the most important distinction (or Psionicist vs Magic User vs Cleric, to put it another way). Or it may be that you need to focus more on casting mechanisms, so your top-level classifications become things like Psionic, Alchemical, Somatic, Verbal, etc.

What you end up using will, I think, depend quite strongly on the demands of the system around it. What practical significance does all this categorisation have? What is the impact on gameplay?
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Burr



Joined: 27 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:15 pm    Post subject: Communications Reply with quote

Depending on how detailed you want to get, it might also be useful to look at spells as manipulating any number of communications having a source, a message, a transmitter, a transmitted signal, a channel or medium, a receiver, a received signal, a destination, and/or the potential for noise throughout any number of those gateways.

For example, an invisibility spell could alter the source of a message (making it transparent or camoflauged), or the transmitted signal (changing the color of lightwaves), or the channel (using air as a lens), or the received signal (mind control), or the destination (blinding someone).
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Kelson



Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 71
Location: SC

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shasarak wrote:
I'd have to agree that "Alteration" is starting to get rather big. We're also acquiring a lot of categories, here.


I agree, which is why I'm trying to offload stuff from Alteration. There are, in any real model, going to be a finite number of attributes. That limits the number of things directly 'alterable'. This is especially true in a situation where physics are very poorly simulated, requiring most alterations to be simulated themselves as special cases. For example, a blind spell could be an alteration of the person's eyes lens size, but only if that is something the system tracks and uses. I might shrug off some of my Diku roots and improve the physics simulation to make fly, for example, a weight/mass alteration (unfortunately, most people imagine flying do not actually think out what that mechanism for flying entails - that a small breeze you push you around, for example).

shasarak wrote:
I think a slightly shorter list would be better. You could reduce it to four:


I don't really think the re-categorization would help too much. The problem is that it doesn't give any hint as to what all the possible spells within those categories would be; and there is significant overlap. The categories would be fine as in-game categories the mages use (I'm an elemental mage, you're a kinetic mage...), but as far as implementation...

shasarak wrote:
What practical significance does all this categorisation have? What is the impact on gameplay?


As I was getting at above, I'm trying to define all plausible spell effects. As in, any spell you could cast would consist of some subset of the above effects as a result.

My particular interest is for a spell creation system I'm discussing with KaVir via email until it is up to a post-able stage. All spells will be generated via an algorithm (there will be no spell list)...the spell effect set will be useful in deciding what spell any given input generates. I would like the system to be capable of generating every spell a normal spell list model has - and more if possible.

Burr wrote:
Depending on how detailed you want to get, it might also be useful to look at spells as manipulating any number of communications having a source, a message, a transmitter, a transmitted signal, a channel or medium, a receiver, a received signal, a destination, and/or the potential for noise throughout any number of those gateways.


How would you model a damage spell?

- Kelson
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Tyche



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 176
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your focus seems to be output or effects. Are you assuming that spells have the same input source? A constant rather than variable input?

Spell sources:
- External
* Mana nodes
* Ley lines
* Dieties
- Self
* Innate power
* Soul
* Psionics
- Other
* Components
* Catalysts
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Kelson



Joined: 18 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tyche wrote:
Your focus seems to be output or effects.


Certainly, it was. I was of the mind that all energy sources would be more or less the same, but that was a silly assumption. Thanks for pointing it out. I would like to maintain the same view of the system however, categorizing inputs based on the requirements? I prefer to abstract the actual source (since, to me, mana from a mana crystal is the same as mana from the mage...however they get it). It will probably take me a bit to think of a good input system; early on it could consist of

Code:
Spell Input
    One Time Price         (Caster is instantly drained of X energy)
    One Time Variable      (Caster is instantly draiend of some non-constantly decided energy)
    Constant Price         (Caster is constantly drained of X energy/time)
    Variable Rate          (Caster is constantly drained of dynamic energy/time)


Of course, this could be managed with a backlash effect on the caster that removed mana, either one time and ended or over time. It might prove beneficial to view it in this light however (since the other way is more of a hack than useful, IMO).

Tyche wrote:
Spell sources: External, Self, Other


How are these all markedly different? Aren't they all providing energy? I could understand if psionic power was of a different type than soul power, but allowing both in a spell...it would probably make the system overly complex. On the other hand, if I'm casting a spell that drains the land of energy (ala Dark Sun) to create my spell, then it would Alter(Attribute(EarthEnergy)) of the land, I suppose (such an attribute would be necessary in such a system...or another affect "Energy Depleted" or "Energy Decreased" that is taken into consideration next time it is tried).

The system I am designing will have a form of component, using spell patterns within objects rather than shaping them yourself. Catalysts are an interesting idea that I'll have to ponder a bit more though. They're certainly possible, I just need to flesh out their actual effects (...effects on an unfinished system...). That being said, I don't think they would fall within the scope of the spell system itself; they would rather be spells themselves that alter the following spell.

- Kelson
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Tyche



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 176
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sources are very dependent on whatever theory of magic you are using. In our current homerules campaign we have five different types of magic with different sources.

You could have a generic energy source that flows through the world that exists concentrated in static nodes or more unstable nodes that move and flow not unlike radiation. Or in conjunction with that or separately lines of force or ley lines that operate similar to magnetism. The force of magic can be weaker, non-existent or stronger depending on geography. In both cases the wizard or magician act like a tap and their skill is how much or how effectively they can manipulate this energy. It's an external energy they access.

The energy need not be generic. It could have identity along dualistic lines like good/evil, light/dark, yin/yang, male/female. The dualism might be such that the energy cannot be combined because it cancels the other out and only be manipulated separately. One could have more than a dualistic system, good/neutral/evil energy sources where good and evil cancel each other out while the neutral energy can be combined with either. There's the old earth/water/fire/air model where the opposites cancel each other out but adjacent energies can be combined. Obviously a spell system could be constructed where the spells are dependent on a particular source or combination of sources. Wheel of time has an interesting system with separate male/female sources.

Another source of magic is life source. Star Wars appears to rely on some sort of life source, the "Force". Druidic magic might rely on the concentration of life or magical creatures in a grove or forest that voluntarily provide part of their aura or energy for the druid to tap. Conversely witchcraft or demonism rely on that life force tapped or taken involuntarily through sacrifice.

Another source is divine magic. Where the caster relies on channeling a power source lent to them. Such energy source might be quite conditional and usuable only for particular spells and unusable for certain other spells. The god of the dead is not likely to grant energy for fertility spells, or the god of war is more likely to grant battle spells.

All of the above are external sources. In any case the amount of energy available might affect the range, duration, and force of the spell. Too much energy might harm the caster. Too little might spoil the spell.

Yet another source is psionics (or superpowers in some games). Oddly since the source is a power of the character themselves it most closely resembles the use of mana and recharging one's mana in a Diku-style system. The caster is drained by the use of the psionics or superpower.

Also often associated with channeling, magic, or psionics is that channelers can join their energies together to cast spells. Some spells might require an amount of energy that no single caster can tap or channel, so that a witch's circle or council of priests or wizards is required to join together to effect the spell.

Another source is artifacts and sci-fantasy sources. One can see this source used various forms in steampunk, wierd west or post-modern games. The flux capacitor of Back to the Future is a psuedo-scientific artifact that is a source of "magic". So are the dilithium crystals on the Enterprise a source of "magic".

In any case, our group prefers magic systems that have spells that require material components or catylysts in addition or in preference to any energy. The paradigm is the witches of Macbeth with their "Eye of newt, toe of bat, finger of birth-strangle babe". The components may be purely random and grotesque like the witch's spell or sometimes related to the spell. Voodoo curses might require a fingernail or hair of the victim, or a doll. Or perhaps certain ingredients are common in a series of related spells. Witchhazel and mandrake root might be ingredients of a number of spells.

Either the component(s) are consumed in the spell, or they are catalysts. Catalysts are never consumed of course. They might merely accelerate or enhance the spell or their presence may be required to even cast it. The philosopher's stone might be viewed as a catalyst. One cannot transmute lead to gold without it's presence.

Just some thoughts.
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