Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

2 September, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Magic systems
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:25 AM

As discussed in a previous post, alternate magic systems can give your game an original angle. Instead of using the same old systems that have been in use since the ancient days of computer RPGs, let’s focus on creating a new magic system.

Your goal is to design some new element of a magic system that differs from the normal stuff seen in current games. Some thoughts below the break.

Try to come up with a very specific change and focus on that. For bonus points, explain why your system is better than what is currently found in most games, and what design goals you are trying to accomplish. Extra bonus points for creating a whole new system and posting it or linking it from here.

Have fun!


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6 Comments »

  1. All the spell systems I know start with the basic assumption that the character is the source of the magic power. This system changes that basic assumption. Assume that the environment is the source of magic power.

    Concepts:
    Wizard: Attack mage. Taps available Pools for the energy needed to power spells. Cannot cast spells when the Pools are empty. They have a limit to the maximum power they can draw and the rate at which they can draw power (both of these grow with experience).

    Finder: Scout. Explores the environments discovering, cataloging and linking Pools to Wizards. When a Finder discovers a new Pool they have to set the tap that allows magic users to utilize this new Pool. This tap also allows them to monitor who is using the Pool and when. In addition, they also link a Pool to a Wizard. Linking a Pool to a Wizard gives them sole access to the Pool. The maximum number of taps that they have in place grows as they get more experienced.

    Traveller: Teleporter. Can use the Pools as a teleportation system. Has to go to the Pools to get the unique “signature” of each Pool, but once there can create a station into the area.

    Pools: Pools of raw magical energy available for use by anyone once they have been tapped. Pools are quite common. They have a maximum and minimum depth of a specific type of power. They also have a restoration rate. Once the power level goes below the minimum depth, the Pool is no longer available for use until the level rises back to the minimum depth. They only supply power to spells of the specific type of power that they contain.

    Power Type: Each Pool only contains one type of Power. Each of the archtypes above has skills relating to each type of Power.
    For a Wizard, this relationship is defined by “spells”. Each spell has a power source, an efficiency rating, and a series of effects. It does not, however, have a maximum power rating. That is determined by the Pool that is supplying the power. For example: Bob the Wizard is within range of a fire Pool. The Pool has a maximum power level of 50 feet and a minimum of 10 feet. Its current level is 50 feet. Bob knows a fireball spell that has a good efficiency at low power levels, but becomes frighteningly inefficient (but frighteningly powerful) at higher power levels. He can choose to cast it once using all 40 feet of available power (if he is skilled enough) or cast it 40 times using 1 foot of power. Of course, these numbers only work if Bob’s opponent isnt also using the fire Pool causing its level to drop.

    For a Finder, this relationship is defined by “taps”. A tap gives bonuses (or penalties) to the maximum power level, minimum power level and the restoration rate. A tap can also be a general purpose tap or linked to a specific Wizard. The linking to a Wizard is very easy, but there are rules around linking that will be mentioned later.

    For a Traveller, this relationship is defined by “routes”. A route is simply a list of Pools that Travellers go through to get to a specific Pool. Each route has 2 end points called “stations” where the Traveller gets into the route and exits the route. Each Traveller can take a specific number of people and/or cargo that they can take on a route. The travelling on routes between Pools also takes a little energy from each Pool as the Traveller goes by. This means that to get through a specific route, the Pool needs to have enough power (in essence you could create a blockade by draining a Pool and keeping it drained). The Traveller can install stations wherever they want, but the stations are destructable.

    Linking to Pools: Each tap can be set to link directly to a specific Wizard. Since the radius of usage of all Pools is constant the link is useless if the Wizard is out of range of the Pool, but within range the Link is powerful. A Wizard who is linked to the Pool gets bonuses whenever they use this Pool. The link starts weak, but grows stronger the longer the Wizard is linked to it. So the Wizard who links to a Pool, builds their tower over that Pool and lives there for x years will be almost unbeatable when defending their tower. However, once they go exploring, they will be “mortal” again. Of course, the longer a Wizard is linked to a Pool, the longer it takes for a Finder to unlink the Wizard from the Pool. Any Pool anywhere can be linked to a Wizard.

    Why this is better than the “standard” magic system?

    In a “standard” magic system there is really only one game: character building. Once the player has built the character, the character has the same power everywhere, everytime. If you cannot beat player a or monster x, you cannot beat them in the desert, the artic, the city, or the sewer (unless you get lucky and the dice roll your way)

    In this magic system, there is a character building game, but also a strategic element to combat. If you fight the right opponent in the wrong environment, you will be defeated. Or not, if you do a better job of managing the magic resources.

    Comment by Neumann — 2 September, 2006 @ 8:17 AM

  2. Magic Systems…

    [...] Tomorrow is Monday… but it’s a holiday here in the states. So, technically I still have through tomorrow to compose a response to Brian’s weekend challenge over at Psychochild (link). Since I’ve been meaning to post about my magic system anyway, and such a post would fit the bill of his challenge this weekend, I figured there was no time like the present. Sadly, the immediate present isn’t exactly available for in depth posting, so we’ll all just have to wait a day. [...]

    Pingback by Man Bytes Blog — 3 September, 2006 @ 4:38 AM

  3. While I’m not going for a “magic” system per se, I’ve created an alternate way of healing: psychically-powered rewinds of injured teammates.

    Comment by Ratchet — 3 September, 2006 @ 7:37 AM

  4. Ooo, Ooo, It’s Magic!

    [...] Psychochild’s current weekend challenge (current to those of us in our third day of an extended weekend, that is) was to describe a non-traditional magic system (link). Since I’ve been meaning to write about the Drachurae Cycle magic system anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any. [...]

    Pingback by Man Bytes Blog — 4 September, 2006 @ 3:36 AM

  5. [...] Psychochild’s got his new weekend design challenge up, but I’m still working on responding to last week’s: creating a new magic system. [...]

    Pingback by Tattered Page — 10 September, 2006 @ 2:11 PM

  6. [...] I started this as an answer to Psychochild’s “weekend design challenge” now a few weeks late. Since then, it’s taken on a life on its own. While a little long for a blog, I promise not to make a habit of this… after my novella on class vs skill…. honest. [...]

    Pingback by Tattered Page — 11 September, 2006 @ 10:25 PM

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