*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 01, 2014, 10:29:18 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Echelon A&A] Magic system and magic spells.  (Read 1356 times)
Richard
Member

Posts: 14


WWW
« on: September 22, 2011, 07:10:23 AM »

Hello chaps.

Not being a generally magically orientated person, I'm having a dash of a time thinking up of spells and names of said spells in my system.

Also, as it's directly related, I wish to solicit opinion on the system of magic that I'm (hopefully) to be using.

Magic System:

Said magic system is MP based, and uses 6 'elements' of magic arranged into 2 'schools'. The names of the schools are pretty arbitrary: mysticism and arcanism. The mysticism elements are nature, cold and darkness, and the arcanism elements are heat, light and arcane.

The idea behind schools is that you can learn stuff from one but not the other. Fluff wise this will be due to different casting methods and mana witchery of some sort - I've not got that part nailed down yet.

I've arranged the strengths and weakness of against other elements in a circular arrangement. Elements that oppose each other cancel out, so the non-magical manifestations are left: e.g. a fireball vs. an ice shield.

Here's the diagram of what is stronger than what:



Fluff wise, magic manifests different effects on the environment, rather than drawing directly 'from the power of darkness' or whatever. Darkness spells are named so because as a secondary effect of their use is the draining of luminescence in an area, 'Fire' because they are often accompanied by flames, etc.

I've also provisionally gone for these elements roles in magic:
- Heat will have the best attack spells and some token defensive spells
- Nature will have good healing and reasonable defence spells
- Light will have good healing and reasonable attack spells
- Ice will have good defensive spells and reasonable attack spells
- Arcane will have good attack spells and reasonable defensive spells
- Darkness will have good attack spells and reasonable healing spells

Although the nature element isn't attack orientated, it will have at least 1 basic bread and butter attack spell.

Spells and Spell Names

When it comes to simple things like the names of spells, I'm pretty useless. Any ideas for spells, names of spells and possible effects would be greatly appreciated.
Logged

Echelon: Adventure and Airships

irc://irc.irchighway.net/gamedesign :: Games Design IRC channel :: #gamedesign on irchighway
Marco M.
Member

Posts: 7


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2011, 08:38:52 AM »

The basic idea seems ok to me. Nothing special, but it's simple and fairly diverse. Darkness associated with healing seems a bit odd to me, but that doesn't matter much, as I don't have any context. Also, am I right that mysticism is more defensive than arcanism? If so, I'd like to know why! Defensive magic seems odd to me most of the time, because with offensive magic one can just eliminate the source of the problem. Moral codes, military tactics of the founding nation etc. can give a good explanation to this, anyway.

My problem with all of this: I don't know anything about the setting (meaning: technology level, history, races, type of goverment, landscape, size, ...) of your world and thereby don't have any clue what kind of name for spells would fit your world. Personally, I like spell names which either incorporate the inventors name or their origin (Blazing winds of Ceyrene - given that Ceyrene is either a coastal or mountainous region) or derive from powerfully beings or cultures (Dragons gaze - fear inducing spell. Hand of the Illumatar - ancient healing spell).

Also, you might want to link to an external document with your rules as of yet. It's a forum rule and Ron is rather strict in enforcing it ;)
Logged
Richard
Member

Posts: 14


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2011, 09:25:29 AM »

Ah! Certainly. Although I do make sure to read all of the stickies before posting, I missed that one.

The rules as they stand presently can be found at http://www.latech.co.uk/rpg/content/core-rules-magic.

Setting wise, there's not /too/ much written down as yet - but the general gist of it is low-fantasy low-magic slightly steampunk indiana-jones-meets-lara-croft-meets-dragons-and-airships in 1780 to 1800.

You can find some names of places at http://www.latech.co.uk/rpg/content/setting-nations - the maps themselves are:
http://www.latech.co.uk/rpg/sites/default/files/echelonnations.jpg
http://www.latech.co.uk/rpg/sites/default/files/echelonland.jpg
http://www.latech.co.uk/rpg/sites/default/files/echelonraces.jpg
http://www.latech.co.uk/rpg/sites/default/files/echelonlanguages.jpg

The difference between the two schools in offensive and defensive capability is based primarily in making the players give some serious thought over which they wish to pursue. As it stands, the 'one school or another' rule is the only one in the system that even the GM cannot override. Fluffwise, this would be explained by the same reasoning as being able to only choose one school.

Darkness' healing spells I imagine to be of the 'anti-light' and leeching variety.
Logged

Echelon: Adventure and Airships

irc://irc.irchighway.net/gamedesign :: Games Design IRC channel :: #gamedesign on irchighway
Rubbermancer
Member

Posts: 51


« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2011, 10:23:58 AM »

I don't know what kind of audience you're targeting, but this seems quite complex.  Or, perhaps not complex, but narrow in that it's too well-established.  Especially considering you're going for a low-magic setting, I don't think the players should feel like they're at Hogwarts, with tons of documented information and resources available, either in the setting or on the gametable.  They should have that atmosphere of burrowing into horrific arcane secrets, untested things, wild and unpredictable occultism hidden away in the sickly catacombs of ancient lore; the same way that our own world's spine-curdling folk mythologies were based on whispers, fearful superstitions, etc.

Certain statements in your Magic rules restrict the style of the spells available right from the start, and this could be choking your creative flow.  Ex:  "The same defensive spell cannot 'stacked' whilst another is still active."  Why can't they be stacked?  More intriguingly, what would happen if the players tried?  Let's say your party's sorceror starts piling on Shields of Frost on your party's fighter.  What would happen?  Frostbite?  Trapped in ice?  Or something more subtle, like the target's natural bodily resonances overwhelmed by Cold magic's harmonies, causing insidious disturbances and imbalances?  If my players want to try something that isn't covered in the rules, and seems like powergaming, it's nice to have a certain thematic background to the magic being attempted.  What you call "fluff", I call "all-purpose contingency and plot generator".  In your case, the "universal magic resonance" thing could be expounded upon to suit this purpose.

Clarification for my rambling:  Instead of saying "Those are the rules, magic just works that way," you can strip down the rules, and say "Your mentor back in the day never said anything about this kind of thing working...  You really want to try?  OK, Mr. Reckless Sorceror Toying With Unquantified Arcane Power.  You cast another Shield of Frost on Poor Unwitting Fighter.  (roll some secret GM dice.)  At first, nothing seems to happen.  Then, his face goes red, and one of his eyes veins out like a window cracking.  He appears to be in great pain.  You remember, too late, the words of your old master:  "Everything resonates with magic.  Tip the scales just a little, and things happen.  Watch the ripples carefully, and get wet at your own risk.  Take the human body, for example.  The heart is a gorgeous, ingenious blend of Light and Fire resonances, and is deeply open and sensitive to the resonances of friends and loved ones..."

That's just off the top of my head.  If you've got the fluff all sorted out, the numbers are either unnecessary, or come naturally of themselves.  It makes the GM's job easier, and it also gives players the option of creating/researching their own magical paths within an established and immersive framework, instead of being tied down to rote magic.

I love the resonance thing:  Take that, run with it.  Have Victorian-style anatomical diagrams of the human body, covered in Gothic chicken-scratches pointing out different resonance points, details, etc.  Have roleplaying props, like a mad researcher's hastily scrawled notes on geological resonances and the effects of different nature magics at different latitudes available.  Don't give your players the whole kit'n'kaboodle; tantalize them with anecdotal evidence of long-dead occultists, whispers of tragic and mysterious deaths, a necromantic grimoire that they have to have translated from Aramaic.  Perhaps even have it as a premise that magic is unconquerable, at least in this dimension; nobody knows it all, and the more you know, the more you want to know.  It's an elusive and terrifying element, and the science of it is at once utterly absorbing, and mystifying.  Give players the chance to draw their own conclusions about what will work and what won't, and allow them to research from their character's point of view, instead of drawing from a handy sourcebook and saying "ooh, I can't wait until lv. 9, when I can start learning such and such a spell".

I'm going to stop ranting now, I hope this helped.
Logged
Rubbermancer
Member

Posts: 51


« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2011, 10:34:12 AM »

I realize, belatedly, that I perhaps offered criticism on an aspect of the game for which you weren't seeking criticism.  I apologize.  But giving my last post a spin, you could still use that sort of "mysterious, low-magic" fluff to inspire spell names.  Think about what kind of people came up with these spells in the first place.  Make them historical figures within the setting, and think about their research process.  Perhaps a blend of magic research and seismology or sonics would be appropriate, if you're using the resonance thing; great copper-and-clockwork instruments for picking up resonances that would otherwise be invisible, and quantifying them.  Thinking about the background of magic and occult science in this way will probably inspire some pretty cool spell ideas, and also give you a good picture of the drawbacks inherent in different magical methods.
Logged
Richard
Member

Posts: 14


WWW
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2011, 04:27:20 AM »

I don't know what kind of audience you're targeting, but this seems quite complex.  Or, perhaps not complex, but narrow in that it's too well-established.  Especially considering you're going for a low-magic setting, I don't think the players should feel like they're at Hogwarts, with tons of documented information and resources available, either in the setting or on the gametable.  They should have that atmosphere of burrowing into horrific arcane secrets, untested things, wild and unpredictable occultism hidden away in the sickly catacombs of ancient lore; the same way that our own world's spine-curdling folk mythologies were based on whispers, fearful superstitions, etc.

I plan to restrict the amount of magic that the players can use quite severely actually.

All of the background information on the magic page at the moment is 'fluff free' really. It's in a draft state that provides the barest of basics so that magic can be used to a limited degree in playtests.

I do agree with you though with regards to the 'science' of magic - it will be a field that is beyond the common populace, and will require a small fortune in investment to get good at. In terms of the level of knowledge required to begin to understand the concepts presented, I am using an out-of-10 exponential scale for all fluff-related things - magic will start probably at about 5 or 6.

Quote
Certain statements in your Magic rules restrict the style of the spells available right from the start, and this could be choking your creative flow.  Ex:  "The same defensive spell cannot 'stacked' whilst another is still active."  Why can't they be stacked? 

At the moment - they can't be stacked purely to prevent players from buffing their characters up to 20d10 damage mitigation in magical force fields.

Quote
More intriguingly, what would happen if the players tried?  Let's say your party's sorceror starts piling on Shields of Frost on your party's fighter.  What would happen?  Frostbite?  Trapped in ice?  Or something more subtle, like the target's natural bodily resonances overwhelmed by Cold magic's harmonies, causing insidious disturbances and imbalances?  If my players want to try something that isn't covered in the rules, and seems like powergaming, it's nice to have a certain thematic background to the magic being attempted.  What you call "fluff", I call "all-purpose contingency and plot generator".  In your case, the "universal magic resonance" thing could be expounded upon to suit this purpose.

They would, presently, just waste mana. Although I do like the idea of overloading people with too much of the stuff. Too much cold magic? Frostbite starts, etc.

Quote
Clarification for my rambling:  Instead of saying "Those are the rules, magic just works that way," you can strip down the rules, and say "Your mentor back in the day never said anything about this kind of thing working...  You really want to try?  OK, Mr. Reckless Sorceror Toying With Unquantified Arcane Power.  You cast another Shield of Frost on Poor Unwitting Fighter.  (roll some secret GM dice.)  At first, nothing seems to happen.  Then, his face goes red, and one of his eyes veins out like a window cracking.  He appears to be in great pain.  You remember, too late, the words of your old master:  "Everything resonates with magic.  Tip the scales just a little, and things happen.  Watch the ripples carefully, and get wet at your own risk.  Take the human body, for example.  The heart is a gorgeous, ingenious blend of Light and Fire resonances, and is deeply open and sensitive to the resonances of friends and loved ones..."

That's just off the top of my head.  If you've got the fluff all sorted out, the numbers are either unnecessary, or come naturally of themselves.  It makes the GM's job easier, and it also gives players the option of creating/researching their own magical paths within an established and immersive framework, instead of being tied down to rote magic.

I would LOVE to run a 'spell-list-less' magic system. Presently, I'm keeping it simple as not to break the rather fragile arrangement of rules that's happening presently.

For damage, healing and defensive spells, I can't see too much of an issue with spell-list-less implementation - want more power or more range? That's more mana and more power dice and more... etc. from their finite resources.

For utility spells though, I feel that there must be a defined list of what can and cannot be done. For example, I know for a fact that I am not going to have scrying in this setting, and teleportation will be very short ranged and rather risky, and so on. Leaving this particular field totally open to players may break the low-magic-ness I'm after, although I'd be quite accepting of novel uses of particular spells.

Quote
I love the resonance thing:  Take that, run with it.  Have Victorian-style anatomical diagrams of the human body, covered in Gothic chicken-scratches pointing out different resonance points, details, etc.  Have roleplaying props, like a mad researcher's hastily scrawled notes on geological resonances and the effects of different nature magics at different latitudes available.  Don't give your players the whole kit'n'kaboodle; tantalize them with anecdotal evidence of long-dead occultists, whispers of tragic and mysterious deaths, a necromantic grimoire that they have to have translated from Aramaic.  Perhaps even have it as a premise that magic is unconquerable, at least in this dimension; nobody knows it all, and the more you know, the more you want to know.  It's an elusive and terrifying element, and the science of it is at once utterly absorbing, and mystifying.  Give players the chance to draw their own conclusions about what will work and what won't, and allow them to research from their character's point of view, instead of drawing from a handy sourcebook and saying "ooh, I can't wait until lv. 9, when I can start learning such and such a spell".

I'm going to stop ranting now, I hope this helped.

Indeed - It has spurned my thoughts on the field of magic. I have a reasonable idea now of how I can go about making at least a semi-listless system.

I realize, belatedly, that I perhaps offered criticism on an aspect of the game for which you weren't seeking criticism.  I apologize.  But giving my last post a spin, you could still use that sort of "mysterious, low-magic" fluff to inspire spell names.  Think about what kind of people came up with these spells in the first place.  Make them historical figures within the setting, and think about their research process.  Perhaps a blend of magic research and seismology or sonics would be appropriate, if you're using the resonance thing; great copper-and-clockwork instruments for picking up resonances that would otherwise be invisible, and quantifying them.  Thinking about the background of magic and occult science in this way will probably inspire some pretty cool spell ideas, and also give you a good picture of the drawbacks inherent in different magical methods.

I don't mind critique at all - that /is/ why I come here ;)

The issue I have is that I have no inspiration on spell names at all, let alone themed to anything =[
Logged

Echelon: Adventure and Airships

irc://irc.irchighway.net/gamedesign :: Games Design IRC channel :: #gamedesign on irchighway
Rubbermancer
Member

Posts: 51


« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2011, 06:07:51 AM »

Quote
For utility spells though, I feel that there must be a defined list of what can and cannot be done. For example, I know for a fact that I am not going to have scrying in this setting, and teleportation will be very short ranged and rather risky, and so on.  Leaving this particular field totally open to players may break the low-magic-ness I'm after, although I'd be quite accepting of novel uses of particular spells.

I understand that making concrete limiting details seems like the most surefire way to keep a system as low-magic as possible, but it has the drawback of ruining the mystery that should be inherent in a setting where magic is rare.  An equally effective and more flavourful approach would be to limit a character's access to knowledge bases, as I outlined before.  And if they really want to teleport, well, they're going to have to put a hell of a lot of effort into researching things that might be related, getting really acquainted with the fluff in the process, and they might end up with something thematically similar to teleportation, but still compatible with your system.  Or, they might find out early on that it's just not going to work.  But the important thing is, it won't work for a reason.  Whatever direction it goes in, it will be more rewarding for the player, and the results could pleasantly surprise both GM and player.

D&D wizards are fun to play for this reason, as they can actually create their own spells, in cooperation with (and subject to restrictions by) the GM.  The world is very deep and rich in fluff, and at the same time, the first-time player has a large spell compendium to call on.  This might be the middle ground you're looking for, if you're going for a semi-listless thing.  Have some rare spellbooks made available to your characters through certain shady middlemen, and the players can use those as a starting point.

As far as spell names go, I'm hesitant to impose upon you ideas tainted with my own creative flavour, at least without having a feel for your style, if you know what I mean.  I really feel that the fluff should be sorted out thoroughly before creating spells.  It will make the whole thing more cohesive and engaging.  If you really poke me about it though, I could help you cook up some cool-sounding concepts :P  I'm a bit of a concept maven, although I do have difficulty following through and completing things.
Logged
Thriff
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2011, 11:24:33 PM »

Hey Richard,

I see you’ve done a lot of work on this, I respect that.

I agree with Rmancer’s comment that Echelon is “narrow in that it’s too well-established”. I worry when I see all the details you’ve written, it reminds me of my early stages of design. Ideas ideas ideas and me so steeped in them that I lose track of what I am doing and how I am going to communicate it.

A friend helped me: “Do less better”. I am not commenting on the quality of what you have, I am just saying that focusing on your priorities will be, well, more efficient.

The nod to yin was not obvious. I think that’s a clever way to split the schools, but it’s not obvious, state it explicitly and explain it a little.
 
Polar axis- you say “mostly cancel out”, why mostly?

I like the types of spells, makes sense.

I am interested in reading more about your setting. Anything you want me to look for/consider as I read it?

I like Rmancer’s idea of having a thematic explanation for the magic rules. Design-System-Setting, blend them as best you can!

You don’t want lists. I don’t like lists. ASH v1.00 (my game http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=32007.0) has a magic system that uses a single table to determine the cost of a spell. Hopefully checking that out will help you see a way to operate on a listless basis. Check out Ars Arcanum too! That’s where I got the inspiration for my magic system.

Perhaps relinquish some control here. I think Rmancer’s right in that your magic is very… rigid. I don’t like rigid magic (as a player) and low fantasy settings require non-rigid magic.

Hope this helps,

T
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!