Official Codex Discord Server

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

Editorial The Art of Spellcasting

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by VentilatorOfDoom, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. VentilatorOfDoom RPG Codex Staff

    VentilatorOfDoom
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Messages:
    8,298
    Location:
    Deutschland
    Tags: Vault Dweller

    Vault Dweller and Gareth Fouche <a href="http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,1431.0.html">put up their thoughts on spellcasting</a> in CRPGs.
    <br>
    <br>
    <p style="margin-left:50px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;border-top-color:#ffffff;padding:5px;border-right-color:#bbbbbb;border-left-color:#ffffff;border-bottom-color:#bbbbbb;">We can see from these examples that the computer has great potential for immersing the player in spellcasting beyond simple casting bars and mana pools. Interesting interfaces and systems which encourage the player to experiment with magical forces, rather than simply buying spells from a list, result in players becoming more invested in the process of spellcasting and help to truly differentiate the mage player from the fighter or stealthy player. These exploratory systems, combined with an interesting 'mage path' through the game, a path that sees the player negotiating with spirits, learning dangerous and forgotten secrets and interacting with the environment and other characters in unique and interesting ways, have the potential to create a truly memorable mage experience.
    <br>
    </p>
    <br>
    <br>
    They mentioned some good examples.
    <br>
    <br>
    Spotted at: <A HREF="http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,1431.0.html">ITS</A>
     
    ^ Top  
  2. Malakal Arcane

    Malakal
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    Messages:
    8,017
    Location:
    Poland
    MEH, the best thing about spellcasting is having UNIQUE and USEFUL spells, many of those not directly damaging.

    Red damage ray, blue damage ray and white damage ray do not work for me as well as glyph of warding or time stop or stoneskin. The exact manner in which the mage casts those spells is secondary. Yes, it can be cool and imaginative, but when you can choose from 30 spells it is just wasted. Bring back my 300 bg spells! (yes not all were unique but still offered huge versatility)
     
    ^ Top  
  3. Vaarna_Aarne Notorious Internet Vandal Patron

    Vaarna_Aarne
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    33,033
    Location:
    Cell S-004
    MCA Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    Personally, I'd say Morrowind's greatest asset was its spellcasting system. Or more precisely, the spellmaking system. It adds a whole new flair to a mage when you can create your own spells, though it is true that this does limit the possible effects of spells.

    Another thing to consider is the setting. Or, "why Fireball shouldn't be a standard spell." One of the particular things that I like about CthulhuTech is that there isn't a single direct damage spell. The closest thing to an immediate offensive spell are orbs a mage can craft. Another thing is that magic is very much composed of rituals, meaning that a mage players could indeed spend hours or days on their spells.
     
    ^ Top  
  4. KalosKagathos Prestigious Gentleman Learned

    KalosKagathos
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,988
    Location:
    Russia
    [​IMG]

    Trannies and gentlemen, meet Dr. Facilier, a magician done right:

    1. Clearly defined source of power and conditions on which said power was given.
    2. Clearly defined rules by which said power operates.
    3. Only one ability (shadow manipulation) that can be used in a variety of different ways, instead of a disjointed set of spells that have nothing in common. No shooting lightning out of his ass just because he's a mage.
     
    ^ Top  
  5. Clockwork Knight Arcane

    Clockwork Knight
    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,868,575
    Location:
    Castelo da tia Vânia
    Gameworld altering spells would be heavan. After playing Red Faction Guerrila and Fracture, I was thinking that nothing would make playing a mage more satisfying than blasting your way through a mountain instead of walking around it. Or making holes on the ground to trap some creature. Or taking a tree down with a gust of wind. Or drowning enemies in actual water instead of "casts Drown -> Goblin fails save against death".

    Just have unique, fixed spells along the ones the player can make. A novice mage would stick to the formulas that work, eventually using more of his own spells when he gets powerful enough. He'd still have to use the unique ones because he's not been refining them through the years (which would be a reasonable explanation for why he has limited options when creating them).
     
    ^ Top  
  6. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

    Volourn
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2003
    Messages:
    21,316
    *shrug*
     
    ^ Top  
  7. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,623
    Location:
    Neverwhere
    An alternative would be allowing the mage to do more or less what he wants... BUT, with the danger that at any moment his eldritch energies could go wrong and suffer an horrible fate, like the Psyker's rules for the tabletop Dark Heresy. I'll explain:
    You can "cast" some powers by rolling one or more 1d10 dices, hoping to meet a certain number the power demands to be activated, but every time you roll a 9 you must record it and roll in the Psychic Phenomena table (that are "side-effects", some harmless like all nearby food and water being spoiler to temporally reversing gravity to your power exploding on your face for full damage or even daemonic possesion), and thus as more dices you roll the more chances there are of screwing up everything. That could work perfectly on a "harsh" crpg.
     
    ^ Top  
  8. someone else Arcane Patron

    someone else
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    4,918
    Location:
    In the window
    Wow, nice to see Ultima Underworld rune magic mentioned. Even nicer to see the screenshots from my LP in the article.
     
    ^ Top  
  9. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Messages:
    27,394
    I'm a big fan of your work.
     
    ^ Top  
  10. Hamster Arcane Patron

    Hamster
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,483
    Location:
    Moscow
    Codex 2012 Grab the Codex by the pussy Codex USB, 2014
    Magic feeling mundane and boring is indeed the worst thing that can happen to a magic system. But i disagree on the causes of that, for me the main reasons are lack of interesting spells (like Malakal said) and mages turning into a kind of archers that shoot sparkly shit every 10 seconds or some kind of fantasy rocket launchers. Needless to say, i don't like mana and cool-down based systems very much. I prefer D&D's system, even with its flaws.
     
    ^ Top  
  11. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Messages:
    8,084
    Location:
    Flowery Land
    D&D splat, despite how much further it breaks the game, provides quite a lot of unique "utility" spells that work well with creative players (temporarily turn the ground into cursed sand that rapidly drains peoples energy, then makes the remains a permanent example of such sand if it kills them, then stuff the now permanent black sand remains into the flesh of your undead minions to give them a regeneration effect>>>Magic Missile).


    As for the casting method, MegaTen has a decent method (Most games make magic a demon only thing, and getting a demon with a good variety of spells requires fusing multiple demons in 1) though the spells are standard damage/heal/buff/debuff stuff.
     
    ^ Top  
  12. GarfunkeL Racism Expert

    GarfunkeL
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2008
    Messages:
    15,298
    Location:
    Insert clever insult here
    As VD himself pointed out in the article, the biggest weakness of DnD magic actually comes from the fucking padded combat that all crpg's are filled with. Take away the hack-slash combat encounters and add puzzles, meaningful (scripted if nothing else) big battles and various ways to complete quests and vóila, you have a good RPG.

    Instead we get the "save our diplomat from the orcs" quest, which is a too-long tunnel filled with too easy orcs. And few meaningless traps. Woo-hoo. :(
     
    ^ Top  
  13. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane In My Safe Space

    Awor Szurkrarz
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2009
    Messages:
    21,905
    Codex 2012
    I like the AD&D magic system. Too bad they never implement the cool stuff like components, spellbooks, writing spells for hours to learn them, components for magical items, etc.
     
    ^ Top  
  14. Zeus Cipher

    Zeus
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,523
    I used to exploit the spellmaker in Arena. I found out that if you dialed Distance way down, you could ramp up Damage to insane amounts, while still paying very little for the spell.

    I made a spell called One Inch Punch, which could kill an enemy in one hit, provided I got within snuggling distance. :D
     
    ^ Top  
  15. Vaarna_Aarne Notorious Internet Vandal Patron

    Vaarna_Aarne
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    33,033
    Location:
    Cell S-004
    MCA Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    +1

    Though I would add that subtle rituals, like peering to a different plane with the aid of a circle of mages, do work in all contexts. But even then, that's because it's a magic ritual that isn't exactly a demonstration of the mage's power, but his knowledge and resources.

    Kept the pic because such nice animation art deserves to be seen twice.

    EDIT: I seem to recall that in one of his magic-themed comics, Moore said that magic was all about working within a set of rules, and in another that sorcerers are nothing but vessels.

    EDIT2: People also need to stop using Mage, Wizard, etc, everywhere. It has a bad habit of sticking. Magician is indeed the best word, and the most proper.
     
    ^ Top  
  16. Malakal Arcane

    Malakal
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    Messages:
    8,017
    Location:
    Poland
    No it isn't. Word magician wasnt used anywhere.

    In medieval times we used witch and sorcerer, also alchemist. Later we got astrologers and other prophets. Tolkien has wizards, U. K. LeGuin has Mages. Magician is relatively new.
     
    ^ Top  
  17. Jora Arcane

    Jora
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Messages:
    1,115
    Location:
    Finland
  18. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Messages:
    27,394
    Yep. Wizards, mages, magi, magicians are very old words. Merlin, for example, was a wizard:

    wizard
    c.1440, "philosopher, sage," from M.E. wys "wise" (see wise (adj.)) + -ard. Cf. Lith. zynyste "magic," zynys "sorcerer," zyne "witch," all from zinoti "to know." The ground sense is perhaps "to know the future." The meaning "one with magical power" did not emerge distinctly until c.1550

    magician
    late 14c., from Fr. magicien, from L. magica

    mage
    c.1400, Anglicized form of magus. An archaic word revived by fantasy games.
     
    ^ Top  
  19. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Messages:
    2,405
    Don't have anything to add, just wondering there that great pic is from.
     
    ^ Top  
  20. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Messages:
    27,394
    The Princess and the Frog.
     
    ^ Top  
  21. MisterStone Arcane

    MisterStone
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2006
    Messages:
    9,422
    I'd like to see a game where magic is divided into at least two or three skills, which combine to create multiple forms of spellcasting...

    For instance:

    1) A skill that determines the source of power: does the magic user cultivate it inside his own body, channel it from "the force", receive it from a god, create it with spell components or from objects, etc?

    2) Focus: does the user control the magical power through sheer concentration (psychic!), incantations and hand gestures (wizard), singing (bard!), some other process... Some types of focus would be good for a short but powerful blast (for instance, DnD magic users maybe), while others would be good for less power at once, but sustained longer over time (again the mentalist type, who could for instance wield a weapon with his TK mind power for as long as he is able to stay awake and focused, or a bard for as long as he can make music), and so on.

    3) Articulation: skills that determine whether the desired outcome of the magic happens or not. This one is tough for me to formulate because I don't know exactly how to separate it from #2, or if it should be. For instance, the skill that determines how skillfully a mentalist can hypnotize people or use their TK mental appendage; the skill that determines if a wizard type can get all of his incantations right and not have his summoned demon rip his head off, etc.

    Mix these different things together like this and you get different kinds of magic! Also, on top of all of this, "lore" skills that are used similar to the way that "science" is used in fallout, in skill checks related to dialogues or quest goals.

    Are there any PnP games that have a classless magic system which works like this?
     
    ^ Top  
  22. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    1,867,412
    Location:
    Searching for my kidnapped sister
    The most suspension of disbelief thing about magic is its lack of effect on environment, society and people. And its lack of explaination to that lack of effect.

    If it's easy to use, why didnt people apply it more in life, combat, and generalities.

    If it's hard to use, it's not kewl and epic and shit.
     
    ^ Top  
  23. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    23,876
    Location:
    Secret Lab of the Warrior-Magus of Esoteric RPGism
    I'd love a game where magic is hard to learn and playing a wizard makes you incredibly powerful but common society has many prejudices against you.

    Also, Magocracies. It's retarded that in most settings magic is über-powerful, but most empires are ruled by normal non-magical kings and queens and there are no ruling wizards and witches. Why? If magic is so powerful, at least some magic-users should be the rulers of a country. Heck, if I was a powerful 100-year-old wizard who can destroy armies by waving my hands and muttering incantations, the first thing I'd do would be a coup d'etat.
     
    ^ Top  
  24. Clockwork Knight Arcane

    Clockwork Knight
    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,868,575
    Location:
    Castelo da tia Vânia
    You'd probably be kept in check by the other 100 year old wizards.
     
    ^ Top  
  25. Gragt Arcane Patron

    Gragt
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    Messages:
    1,864,860
    Location:
    Dans Ton Cul
    Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin
    But what about enslaving nations with necromancy?
     
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above buttons helps us pay the hosting bills, thanks!)