[MUD-Dev] DGN: Chemistry based magic systems

Nathan F. Yospe yospe at kanga.nu
Thu Dec 6 01:37:01 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

"Bryan "Cyngon" Helmkamp" <cyngon at planettribes.com> said:

> 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. . .

Welcome.  Planettribes?  Gaming news site, right?

> 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:


Pretty good review of basic ionic bonding and orbital ("electron
shell") filling theory...  

<EdNote: Large chunk deletia (for off-list)>

> 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).

Mostly preset.  Yeah, we've all seen them.  The question here is,
how is the effect of mixing two magical elements determined?

> 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.

As long as it's designer determined, you're really just creating a
guide for designers.  A cooler idea would be to build a system for
magic which actually modeled the effects of combined magical
elements, based on some series of factors.  Perhaps chemistry would
make a better starting point than, say, random dice.  I'd prefer it.
I certainly used as complex and combinational a model last time I
designed a magic system, though one of the consequences was the
absense of "traditional" spells.  But what does the magical
equivalent of, say, crystal structure translate to?  That is one of
the things that you can predict from purely ionic chemistry, with a
little training.  I'd think that you would get things like
transforms, transfers, illusions, energies, knowledge, creation, and
destruction, or some such set, as "chemical properties" of a
spell... and remember, even knowing the chemical formula doesn't
tell you everything about an object of whatever material.  Graphite,
fullerene, or diamond?  Powder or large crystal?  Perhaps something
equivalent to structure, when there's varied solutions to the
question, what is it?

> 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
> all.

Now, this is nice, but...

It doesn't work like that in chemistry.  Actually, you *could* get a
bit of +1 -3 +2, but it's rare...  What you propose is a great start
to neat features, and the source of inspiration is obvious, but
there's nothing, really, that says it has to *stay* chemistry.

> 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 levels.

> 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.

Keep at it.  And if you want to talk chemistry, feel free to email
me at the address you see here...


Nathan F. Yospe - Physicist, Artist, Programmer, Writer, JOAT with a SAK

MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list