[MUD-Dev] DGN: Chemistry based magic systems

Bryan Bryan
Wed Dec 5 00:19:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

This is my first attempt at contributing to the list.  I apologize
if I break any of the group's etiquette with this post.  Please
privately let me know if I do so I can correct it in future
postings.  Anyway, down to business. . .

I was thinking today about various magic systems being used in MUDs
today and how they work.  One idea that came to mind (I am not sure
if this has ever been considered or implemented before) was a magic
system based on the laws of chemistry.

First, here is a quick refresher of how chemical bonds work:

  All the nonmetals on the periodic table of elements have a charge
  ranging from +1 to +8.  An atom is stable when it has 8 electrons
  in its outermost electron level.  Thus, a +8 element (also known
  as noble gasses) is as stable as elements get.  For the sake of
  simplicity, a +7 element can be written as a -1 element, a +6 can
  be written as a -2, +5 as -3, and +4 is interchangeable with -4.

  When two elements combine, if the total number of electrons in the
  outer energy shells is eight, they form a stable compound.  For
  example, +1 elements combine with -1 elements to form stable
  compounds. A +2 compound will combine with -2 compounds easily,

If this explanation was off please let me know.  I am taking
chemistry now and it would at least help me pass my next text. :)

I think a good magic system can be formed by using a chemistry
simulation.  We are all familiar with different systems that involve
combining substances to get magical effects (for example potions).
What if every magical item in our game (these correspond to
elements) has a "charge".  Note that this could be applied with
potions, or spell scrolls, or magic rings etc.

Now when a player combines two magical whatevers, say a fire attack
and a earth attack, the MUD adds up the charges to see how close it
is to being "stable".  If the fire had a charge of +3 and the earth
had a charge of +5 then a stable spell would be formed because it
totals +8.  A stable spell would theoretically be effective while a
very unstable spell would not work right.  Unstable spells could
have negative consequences as determined by the designer, or just be
more unpredictable.

Another cool idea related to this would be +8 elements that act as
modifiers.  A +8 element of bigness could be combined with any
existing spell to increase its area of effect.  Since the +8 is
already stable, as long as you combine it with elements that are
stable normally it does not alter the stability of a "compound" at

Limits on spells can be achieved by limiting the number of +8 parts
in an element.  This requires some explanation.  Say we are
combining our fire, earth, and "bigness" from previous examples:

   fire +3  earth +5  bigness +8 = +16

Since 16 is evenly divisible by 8, the element is stable.  This
element has two +8 parts because it forms a total of +16.  A low
level wizard may be limited to only have one stable part.  This
would prevent him from using bigness to improve that spell until he

A final thought that I just had is if you are using a system where
the player learns different elements, you could have an elements
effect increase the more the character uses that element.  For
example, a player who uses primarily fire magic would have the same
fire elements as others, but his may be more powerful because he
uses them often.

Question, comments, ideas, and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Bryan "Cyngon" Helmkamp
News Editor, PlanetTribes.com
cyngon at planettribes.com

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