[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 7 16:07:00 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Friday, June 07, 2002, 5:18:09 AM, Matt Chatterley wrote:

Some random notes scattered throughout...

> 'Mana' flow: Although 'mana' will probably not be the final name
> for magical power, the base concept is that the energies permeate
> the whole world, and flow from it. Magic-users are characters
> whose bodies are slightly different to others (the little jumper
> which enables them to harness this power is enabled, whereas by
> default it is not) -- they are able to channel and shape this
> power. Hence, in some areas, where more power has accumulated
> (think of magic in this theme like groundwater in a way; theres
> more in some places, and its possible for it to collect into
> 'puddles') magic is more powerful. There are also some (relatively
> rare) dead-zones where there is little or no power (in some, no
> magic will work, in others, it is very weak).

As JB mentioned before, you can also have a system where the mana in
an area is limited, and can run out.

Several paper RPGs have "flavored" mana -- an area might give a
bonus to some types of spells, but not to others.  This is
especially popular with clerical magic -- in a temple of an evil
god, his/her own priests might have strongly enhanced powers, while
those of an opposing god are weakened.

The "Celtic Magic" system in the FUDGE supplement _A Magical Medley_
has both flavored mana and limited mana in areas -- so if you cast
too many spells of one type, you may run out of mana for those, but
still be able to cast other types of spells.

Magical energy might also be collectable.  In an old game world of
mine, I had a magic system with the four classical elements, plus
"life" and "death".  Mana was flavored in those six types.  A "node"
was an area where mana "welled up" -- it supplied a certain number
of mana points per turn.  Characters could store mana in "nodules",
which were items of appropriate magical symbolism.

Most of the time, magicians had to rely on the nodules they had with
them.  They also needed to periodically find or return to nodes in
order to refill their nodules.  Since nodules were items, you could
strip a magician of much of his/her power by taking their nodules
away from them -- however, a magician could use his/her own body as
a nodule for one type of mana at a time.

> 'Radiation theory': As magic is channeled from the world, through
> a mage and used in an area, that area can be 'changed'. If a lot
> of magic is used, some strange things might start to occur. The
> power which is used for magic is a natural force, and unbalancing
> nature too much can be very dangerous -- don't try any great works
> of magic in graveyards. The leakage could have disastrous side
> effects (unless you're also a good runner!). As well as
> predetermined side effects on some things, there will be general
> side effects on all materials near the spellcasting.

The "unlimited mana" rules for GURPS have a setup where use of magic
creates a "charge" on the magician.  There's a certain amount the
magician can take before things start to happen -- go over that, and
random strange things start to happen to/around the magician.

> Mm. I'm envisioning a whole chain of magic, really -- at the
> lowest level you have cheap conjuring tricks (but using 'real'
> magic -- genuine tricks, essentially cantrips -- things like low
> power light spells, basic levitation of objects, etc). These are
> likely to be very simple, low power spells with little battlefield
> application (although the ingenious mage with a strong selection
> of these might be very handy while adventuring).

> As you go up in terms of spell power you go through more
> traditional spells (fireballs, magic missiles, magical locks,
> teleportation, create-air, ursula's magical umbrella, etc). The
> more power, the more 'raw' the effect -- the very highest power
> spells would involve the use of raw magical energy to affect
> changes in the environment, or simply blasts of 'raw power'.

An old Dragon magazine had "paths" for magicians.  These are lists
of spells which one learns in sequence.  Instead of being able to
use any spell, or being able to add any spell you come across to
your book, magicians had to learn their spells off the paths.  GURPS
has a similar thing with spell prerequisites, and Rolemaster has
spell "lists" which are also somewhat similar.  The upshot of all of
them is that magicians, especially higher level ones, don't all know
the same spells.

--
Travis Casey
efindel at earthlink.net

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