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463 members have voted

  1. 1. Magic System

    • Vancian (Memorization)
      190
    • Mana Pool
      143
    • Other
      130
  2. 2. Spell Progression

    • Individual Spells (MM->Acid Arrow->Fire Ball ->Skull Trap)
      292
    • Spells get upgraded (MM LVL 1-> MM LVL 2)
      94
    • Other
      77
  3. 3. Should there be separate Arcane & Divine sides to magic?

    • Yes (D&D)
      268
    • No (DA:O)
      102
    • Other
      93


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As mentioned before, "memorisation" was a poor word for it. You were effectively, using meditation, building a specific lattice of magical power in your mind, which, at the moment of casting was released. To cast the same spell again, the lattice needed to be rebuilt.

 

In earlier editions, the amount of time required to "memorise" spells was really quite onerous, plus the spellbooks from which the spells were "memorised" were massive. As such, a mage typically had to choose, before even embarking on his adventure, which spells he would have in his travelling spellbook (as his main spellbook was too large to transport), thus limiting his strategic options each day.

 

It was a much deeper system than CRPG translations made it appear.

 

Oh, I played it. And hated it.

 

We immediately did away with spell components as unnecessarily fun-killing. I've never played a role-playing game, in fact, where I've need spell components - unless you talk about the ones where you own a "components pouch" and it counts as what you need.

 

Explanations or no of what happens, they are just explanations for a codified game mechanic - they needed to balance magic spells against other classes, and they needed to give advancing wizards something to look forward to. Instead of just gaining new spells, you gained the ability to cast spells more often.

 

I'm about to commit heresy here, but I greatly preferred 4E's magic system.

 

That's not heresy at all if you ask me. 4E gets way more flak than it deserves.

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It might be interesting to use a Vancian system, but to be able to re-memorize your spells in some other way in addition to resting.

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I think the system depends on the class you use. For example I thought a system for a class that uses a black type of magic, and goes like this:

 

The system is event based: For example with lunar cycles or mood peaks. Also some of the most powerful abilities would be need certain materials like blood, corpses. I think a system like this fits better for black magic classes / races.

 

 

Another system that could fit for druidic or naturalistic classes / races could be one like this:

 

The system is Vancian and the player would need some extra aid to cast some of the spells (maybe a pet / little companion)

 

 

I think there is not one only system that fits best all the possibilities. This is one of those things I think RPG's have in common, we could use one system for all, but it won't be the best one for each one of the possibilities.

 

 

Edit: spelling.

Edited by HarTstaRx

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Perhaps there could be a compromise between vancian and non vancian casting. One possibility is predominantly vancian, but with a few weak at will spells. There could also be separation of arcane and divine, or even just based on class, with one class or type of caster having vancian, while other classes have a spell point/mana system, or something completely original.

 

How would this solve the problem of more specialised spells never being used in your first play through?

 

When you actually know what's coming then the Vancian system is amazing since you can be prepared. When you have no clue what you're about to encounter? You just have to load up on generic damage/status effect spells and it becomes dull and boring.

 

When I play Baldur's Gate I only enjoy magic users now because I can prepare them well. I couldn't even imagine how much I'd have disliked playing one on my first play.

 

Now, I love the idea of individual spells instead of certain levels of spells. I also want spells to not be rendered useless as you level up. I also like finding a scroll that has a spell on it and then adding that spell to my repetoire rather than just automatically learning new spells as I level up. Just please, no Vancian system, I just hate when quirky fun spells that are only useful in certain circumstances never get used on a first play through.

I also dislike vancian, but a lot of posters here seem to like it, so to satisfy those who would prefer vancian, you could have one class that can memorize, or prepare (seems a bit less preposterous than "Whee magic missile! Wait, what did I just do? *checks spellbook*"), and that class could also have at will abilities that aren't as powerful as those that were prepared, but can be used constantly so a caster can feel like a caster most of the time, while still having that sense that the REALLY powerful magic can only be used sparingly, and a spellpoint based class in addition to vancian would help cater to still more players who don't like vancian at all and don't want to bother with it.

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Since this is going to be a single player game, a mana pool is just as good as any other. The problem I see with spell points and mana pools in ttrpgs is they upset the balance between the classes. Being able to cast multiple versions of your highest level and most powerful spells tends to cause friction at the table, but in a squad based single player system this isn't the main concern. The idea that your spell casters are going to be more valuable is an issue though and some might feel the same friction in their squad as others do at the table.

 

If there is going to be a multiplayer component such as co-op play this balance issue will raise it's ugly head once more. The caster being head and shoulders above the non casters.

 

As for a fatigue system I worry that this would cause serious survival issues if the word "fatigue" means what it I think of as fatigue i.e. sapping ones strength to the point where they can no longer function. Sort of like a body builder's work out which leaves them so drained that they couldn't protect themselves or fight effectively. Otherwise it's just another word for mana, magicka, or spell points.

Edited by Tlantl

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May I direct y'all to RuneQuest, my favourite PnP system.

 

There you had 'Battle Magic' and 'Rune Magic.'

 

Battle magic was lower-level buffs: healing, weapon buffs, enemy screw-ups (*fumble* was a favourite, it made your enemy clumsy).

 

Rune Magic was for higher level priests or 'sorcerers' (it was tied to the religious system in the game, long story).

 

Both were fuelled by a prime statistic (called POWER) which dropped as you used magic, a la a mana system.... but characters could boost / store Power in different items like ammo.

 

An iteration of this would work well in what Obz are proposing: soul magic versus 'X' 'Y' or 'Z' magic perhaps?


sonsofgygax.JPG

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Since this is going to be a single player game, a manna pool is just as good as any other. The problem I see with spell points and mana pools in ttrpgs is they upset the balance between the classes. Being able to cast multiple versions of your highest level and most powerful spells tends to cause friction at the table, but in a squad based single player system this isn't the main concern. The idea that your spell casters are going to be more valuable is an issue though and some might feel the same friction in their squad as others do at the table.

 

If there is going to be a multiplayer component such as co-op play this balance issue will raise it's ugly head once more. The caster being head and shoulders above the non casters.

 

As for a fatigue system I worry that this would cause serious survival issues if the word "fatigue" means what it I think of as fatigue i.e. sapping ones strength to the point where they can no longer function. Sort of like a body builder's work out which leaves them so drained that they couldn't protect themselves or fight effectively. Otherwise it's just another word for mana, magicka, or spell points.

 

Eh, that's easily remedied by not giving a ton of mp to casters. Still limit how many spells per day they can cast, hell even limit how many spells of certain "levels" they can cast like you see in a Vancian system. Just don't limit them to which spells specifically they have to memorise every day. Give them full access to their entire repetoire at all times as long as they have the spell points to support it.

 

Look at the original Final Fantasy. In that game your casters had full access to all their spells at all times. What limited them was they could only cast x spells from a certain spell level each day.

 

This mimics what you're talking about the Vancian system doing but while giving casters their full range of options for whatever situation they find themselves in.

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To my mind Vancian system makes much better sense from the gamplay perspective than mana one, at least in PnP or computer games that are not hack & slash click-fests,

 

Why? Because it stresses the need for strategic preparation and resource management - something that contemporary MMORPGs and new cRPGs lack. The peak of resource management we have now is buying loads of mana potions and downing them like there was no tomorrow, or like you don't need that liver of yours for anything at all. In Vancian system you'd have to have necessary components with you, spellscrolls and wands for magic that you rarely use but which can save your sorry arse at any given moment (glitterdust, levitation, web, fly. dimension door etc), potions just in case, magic items that could offset you character's lack of offensive spellpower (e.g. bottles of holy water for undead, alchemical fire for AoE damage) etc. With mana system things like that seem redundant most of the time when you can invoke every possible spell at you whim.

 

Cooldowns are not real solution here since again you can 'buff up' (hate that term) at any given time, and then in combat use your best spells in set pattern waiting for the most powerful ones to recover. For obvious reasons you can't have anything like that in classic D&D.

 

Thus, it can be said that if anything, Vancian system adds to gameplay by introducing variety and shoving the responsibility of choosing appropriate spells and items on the player. Whether Vancian system has been utilised well enough in gaming history is a different question altogether.

 

Second, the Vancian system does make logical sense. It is simply that I think you should cease to see spells as just utilities (which they doubtlessly are! After all you cast a spell, you get a concrete effect which you can then utilise) for a moment. It is easy to justify so called 'spell slots' (which is a metagaming term) by simply approaching magic from the perspective of lore (after all, that's what it is for - to support game-design). You can say that all spells are 'semi-living' entities. The moment you memorise a spell you invite this 'entity' to your mind. You do so while sleeping/meditating. However, for the process to be successful you must have all necessary rituals prepared in your brain - that would be a psychic eqivalent of drawing a summoning circle. As arcane energies enter your (sub-)consciousness to fit themselves into a fixed spell-pattern you know well (having learned it years ago) they render that pattern a semi-living being who is just waiting for a moment of laxity to fry your brain. Only the most talented can master techniques which can prevent the spells from doing so without needing to concentrate. Hence, even first level wizard is a truly experienced magic practicioner as he can cast up to 3 1st level spells (sleep, charm and shield are indeed very powerful) per day without sacrificing his sanity or blowing his head off.

 

Seems quite logical to me. Yes you can say it's LARPing but again - this is what lore is for - to justify the systems that is immensely fun, rich and has infinite potential.

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I like Vancian casting. All the IE games used it, after all. And it feels much less "action-y"" than the mana-based spell-spamming systems in most RPGs today, which are basically "here's the blue bar.... the stamina for mages bar, and here's your per-second blast attacks. You can call them spells if you want, but really, they're just like the weapons that all the other classes get, just more colorful. Oh and here's a cooldown mechanic for your spells to remind you of WoW and Dragon age. PS: If your mana bar gets low from spamming, just Drink some more mana potions and you can be an energy-blasting machine, er, I mean mage, all over again.

 

<gag> No thanks.

 

That all said, magic will be tied to our souls, apparently, which to me suggests a system more like how Sorcerers are in 2nd and 3rd edition D&D. I loved playing Sorcerers in those games.

Edited by Stun
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Mrowaksu, how would you feel about a system like I described? Has the limited spell uses of the Vancian system while still giving you access to all your spells without having to guess what you'll need in the next day?

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how about giving casters both a mana pool and a spell pool per day. upon resting you refill a non-regenerating pool of mana, but you also prepare a limited list of spells, that you might want to cast that day, for which that mana will be used (basicly - you get to chose what kind of sorcerer are you gonna be untill next camp site).

 

you still get to have to make your homework, so you know what kind of dangers you'll be facing, but you can still toss in a few experimental spells, that would otherwise go completely unused.

Edited by sesobebo

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The thing I always found appealing about D&D-type magic is how oddly specific it was. "Burning hands" has a specific range, intensity, duration, casting time, and material/verbal/somatic components, and there is no other spell in the book that simulates this effect with any variation of these factors. It's the short-range fire spell at level 1, and there is no level 2-9 short-range fire spell that parellels it.

 

I like that because it conveys the sense that magic is not truly understood in any kind of systematic way. Wizards have this one recipe that they know creates short-range magical fire, but they're at a loss as to why it does so and which things in that recipe to change in order to alter the properties of that fire. Magic being something that is fundamentally mysterious (and possibly unknowable to mere mortals) is rather appealing. You don't get that same kind of sense with a system that has gradiated levels of the same effect.

 

As to whether these effects are powered by memorization or some mana pool, I have no strong preference.

Edited by Enoch
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I like mana system with cooldown for spells. And upgradeable magic.

I never liked vancian system. I always felt like your team sucks until you have a mage at lvl X so you can memorize spell Y and use it in encounter. And then you just roll through your opponents because it was super easy.

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how about giving casters both a mana pool and a spell pool per day. upon resting you refill a non-regenerating pool of mana, but you also prepare a limited list of spells that you might want to cast that day for which that mana will be used (basicly - you get to chose what kind of sorcerer are you gonna be untill next camp site).

 

you still get to have to make your homework, so you know what kind of dangers you'll be facing, but you can still toss in a few experimental spells, that would otherwise go completely unused.

 

See, this still requires you to either look up spoilers in a FAQ or rely on 2nd play throughs. After all, there could well be a number of quirky seldom needed spells. Why force the player to guess at what they'll need? More often than not the player will guess wrong if they aren't cheating and thus seldom used spell once again goes without being used.

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I like mana system with cooldown for spells. And upgradeable magic.

I never liked vancian system. I always felt like your team sucks until you have a mage at lvl X so you can memorize spell Y and use it in encounter. And then you just roll through your opponents because it was super easy.

 

^that's a balance issue. it can easily rear its ugly head in any non-vancian system, and often does.

Edited by Stun

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While I guess we all want an interesting and tactical experience, my view is that there are superior alternatives to memorization type magic systems for PC games.

 

The lack of a "memorization" mechanic also means they can do without a degenerate "rest every 3 minutes" mechanic, because you don't need to be switching your spells in and out or recovering them all the time.

 

I'm not that fond of the Dragon Age system because you instantly recover at the end of combat, so there's no attrition involved. I like the way DDO does it to an extent--you can pick your list of spells but you cast them out of a spell points pool. Wizards/clerics get a broader selection but fewer spell points than sorcerers/favored souls. You can recover sp one of two ways: resting at special shrines, which are placed intermittently (and there's limits on how many times you can use a given shrine), or by using rare and potions (which cannot be bought in-game, only found) or super-mega-rare and difficult-to-acquire items.

 

I'd kind of like to see something like a system where you have lots of little spells with short cooldowns and casting times that you can freely spam over and over, some medium spells with longer cooldowns and casting times, leading up to a few big whammies with massive cooldowns and long casting times. I think resting should be a time to recover fatigue penalties, heal injury penalties, and possibly also a time to reset your ability loadout. I also think it would work well to have resting restricted to specific zones and specific numbers of uses (or, times per day anyway). Or, have resting spawn more random mobs in wilderness/dungeon areas. Granted, this could also lead to a degenerate situation where people rest in order to kill mobs, get XP, and level. But this could be solved (if, that is, you considered it to be a *problem* and not a *feature*) by having mobs grant less xp as you level, or have individual types of mobs grant less xp every time you kill an identical one. So you can only level up so far killing the respawning wolves and kobolds, and it gets a lot slower the longer you spend on it because it takes more XP to level AND you get less for your repetitive killing.

 

There are always a lot more than 2 or 3 options.


Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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Why is everyone taking "memorization" so literally and using that to claim the system is silly/stupid?

First, it's an abstraction of a system. I don't know why you confuse it with the verisimilitude of the story or whatever. This way you could just say that hit-points and many other abstractions are stupid as well.

Second, if it was called "preparing" then it wouldn't have been stupid?

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I'd kind of like to see something like a system where you have lots of little spells with short cooldowns and casting times that you can freely spam over and over,

That's what wands are for.

Edited by Stun

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[

I'd kind of like to see something like a system where you have lots of little spells with short cooldowns and casting times that you can freely spam over and over,

That what wands are for.

 

While yes that is indeed what wands are for I must say that in Baldur's Gate wands cost a bit too much.

 

Anyways, you as a fan of the Vancian system. What are your thoughts of what I suggested on page 3?

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how about giving casters both a mana pool and a spell pool per day. upon resting you refill a non-regenerating pool of mana, but you also prepare a limited list of spells that you might want to cast that day for which that mana will be used (basicly - you get to chose what kind of sorcerer are you gonna be untill next camp site).

 

you still get to have to make your homework, so you know what kind of dangers you'll be facing, but you can still toss in a few experimental spells, that would otherwise go completely unused.

 

See, this still requires you to either look up spoilers in a FAQ or rely on 2nd play throughs. After all, there could well be a number of quirky seldom needed spells. Why force the player to guess at what they'll need? More often than not the player will guess wrong if they aren't cheating and thus seldom used spell once again goes without being used.

 

but isn't this the point where other parts of game design come into play? encounters that fit into enviroment, so you are not too surprised by those trolls under the bridge, sensibly written npcs that might have warned you about the oncoming blizzard, if only you'd lisened...

Edited by sesobebo

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Personally I'd prefer them to not try to re-invent DnD and make something of their own, so no spell-memorization or arcane/divine magic for me. I'd be fine with other ways of differentiating different kinds of magic and magic users though. The only thing I'd really hate to see is mana-potion chugging.

Edited by limaxophobiacq

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I'll just add this in -

 

if you can swing a sword forever without ever needing to sleep, or fire a bow endless without ever needing to rest your arm, or climb trees and swim and all the other physical activies that games almost never track long-term fatigue for...

 

then you should be able to cast spells about as effortlessly.

 

"One problem doesn't get fixed by adding another!"

 

True!

 

Which is why the short rest and encounter spells made so much sense in 4E. (not to mention some of the martial attacks that were encounters to)

 

It's not a perfect system, but a way to track "exhaustion" (mental or physical) is to only let you use certain abilities so many times in a given fight. You can put only so much OOMPH before you need to take a breather, whether that be the will to cast a spell or the muscle to cleave with an axe.

 

As for attrition and resource management, there were the daily powers (spells or exhausting attack routines.)

 

Again, not perfect, but as viable as studying spell books - and it at least addressed that if spell casting needing balancing as you shouldn't be able to drop the most powerful spells endlessly, you also shouldn't be able to pull off the most exhausting physical attacks endlessly, either. :)

 

Long post short - there should be a system in place (fatique, preferrably mental and physical) that gets used up in a given fight that you can recover after the fight is over. That's tactics in a fight. Long term strategy, at least daily stragegy, could also be represented by needing to get real rest to build up a reserve of energy to pull off bigger stunts - maybe a different pool or stat to track big spells and attacks.

 

Regardless... whether you like vancian or not, mana pools or not, they are equal answer to the question of combat balance and resource management. Both have their pluses and minuses - and I think both could be replaced by something at least as good if not better.

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I'd kind of like to see something like a system where you have lots of little spells with short cooldowns and casting times that you can freely spam over and over, some medium spells with longer cooldowns and casting times, leading up to a few big whammies with massive cooldowns and long casting times.

 

Screw cooldowns. Unless it's a spell so powerful it's insane to cast it more than once a day, or only on friday because witches and black cats, or only when moon moves into position, they don't make magic in game more believable than so hated by some memorising. Cooldowns are synthetic mechanic grown from developer's need to calculate DPS in MMO's.

Edited by Shadenuat

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