[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Matt Chatterley matt at eldoops.co.uk
Wed Jun 5 12:46:15 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

On Tue, 4 Jun 2002, Robin Cloutman wrote:

> I'll only reply to a little bit, as I'm designing a mud codebase,
> and it's the bit that i've thought on most... Fun Magic Systems
> ;-)

That works for me. This is a game system that I *love* to discuss. :)

> Matt Chatterley <matt at eldoops.co.uk> wrote:

>> A magic system based on material components, syllable-stringing
>> and gestures (or any of these) might require real brain power
>> behind it, quick thinking and creativity from a player (I'm
>> certainly planning some sort of free form magical interaction
>> along these lines), but to gain this new style of play, will it
>> take too long for the average player to pick up and use? Instead
>> of typing 'fireball <target>', they find that they have to
>> acquire the spell, its ingredients, and then perform the right
>> sequence to use it .. would this put them off?

> I was thinking about how magic systems could be made more
> skillfull - having it so you just "cast fireball target" is all
> well and good, but once you know the spell there's nothing new to
> it, no matter what you want to do...

> Then someone on one of the NG asked "how about an utter command"
> where you cast the spell, but people can see what it is you are
> using, and that got me thinking...

One of my personal favourite spellcasting 'games' is Bartle's Waving
Hands (although the only version which seems to be available
electronically is the X11 one -- spellcast? Perhaps I should
undertake a Windows port!). By linking series of hand gestures, you
cast spells at your opponent. You can preempt the other persons
spells and try to interfere with them, or confuse him, and so forth.

> As an idea, instead of having named spells (fireball, heal, etc)
> how about creating the spells from what someone utters - perform
> some magic on the string the player enters, and create the spell
> from that.

This is one approach which I'm considering. The basic things which I
have listed as being potential parts of my magic implementation are:
Syllable-stringing (or some other manner of constructing a spoken
spell), hand gestures (as above), and material components.

> Splitting the string into syllables seems the first step, and
> giving rules of syntax looks good too. I thought for a while about
> having a list of syllables, but eventually decided that it might
> be better to play with the actual values of the characters
> themselves, maybe compress a 3 char syllable to 2-bytes, then use
> that on a fixed size array to lookup a final value. Have the final
> value have a Power, a Focus, and a Type (earth, air, fire, water,
> good, bad, etc).

This sounds quite interesting. :) The idea which I toyed with most
recently along the lines of 'spoken magic' was based around a simple
construction (almost a programming language), where the player could
(based on his wizards in-game skills) scribe onto a 'test scroll' a
series of syllables or words, with various constructs in order to
create a spell.  Thus a simple effect might be fairly basic, but
more complex spells might be longer and more involved.

These spells might then be combined -- once you have completed a
construction on a scroll which will perform the function of healing
a living creature by 1d6, you might choose to create two different
spells from it -- heal self and heal other. The targetting and
effectiveness of spells would determine (to some extent) the cost,
time and initiative involved in casting (and also failure rates,

> If this is done for each syllable in turn, then perform some magic
> on the line as a whole (maybe sorting out higher/lower power &
> focus by the order etc), then you end up with single Power and
> Focus values, and aarray of syllable types (maybe as a string for
> simplicity) - then lookup spell commands of that order, and pass
> the Power and Focus values to it - hence a spell of "Fire" could
> have low Power and high Focus - and create a spark to light a
> torch, or low Focus and high Power, and create a fireball, with
> anything in between...

Interesting. This would also give 'run-time flexibility' of sorts,
perhaps? You could bend and tailor each spell to your current
situation -- if you needed a big bang at any cost, you could funnel
all of your remaining power into a hi-power fireball, or reduce the
power to make a little flash to scare off an animal.


> Another idea that came about chatting to a friend - once a spell
> can be cast then the player should be able to write it into a
> spellbook and give it an easier name to remember...

Yeah, along the lines of aliasing/macroing to reduce typing in more
muds, sort of. I'm definitely planning to use the spellbook as an
essential object for each mage -- and of course, the copying of
spells into and out of it (so that mages can trade spells, make
gifts of them, even steal, buy and sell them).

Of course, this links into one of the other challenges I intend to
tackle.. making money actually valuable, and making all characters
need it (thus giving me a form of motivation to use against all

> And I've got to admit, part of this idea came from wanting
> different races to have the same spells looking totally different
> (hey, if i can workout the syllable lokoup to work right then I'll
> make that evil spells *look* evil ;-)

> Don't think I've left anything out... managed to cover about 30
> sheets of paper with doodles doing this ;-)

Really cool ideas. I'd be very interested to hear how it pans
out. :)


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