[MUD-Dev] Scripting Languages and Magic

Steven Metke grymor at rsnsoft.com
Fri Oct 10 13:30:50 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Hello, I've been reading with great interest the messages on this
subject, a few have come close to a system I am working on the
design for as a hobby.

In this design (at in this form at least), spells are composed of
hexagonal runes. Energy flows out of a rune through it's output
edges and into adjacent runes through their input edges where it
either changes the behavior of the rune or is changed by the rune,
additionally, all runes consume some portion of their incoming
energies to maintain their own activation. Some runes have a 7th
edge that either takes input from or output too the location of the
spell (or in the special case of the primary source rune, input from
the person activating the spell). Runes can either be free-cast, in
which case the unravel as soon as there is insufficient incoming
energy to maintain them, or affixed to an object in which case they
just deactivate.

Each spell is effectively a mesh computer built up of runes. Many
runes exist, roughly divided into ones that are sources of energy
(such as one that allows direct, willing, input from it's welders
mana pool or ones that siphon off some portion of the background
magic energy present in a location or ones that siphon off fire
energy from their location), transformers of energy (ex. a rune that
converts magic energy into fire energy), ones that add descriptors
(ex. a rune that takes one magic energy input and one variable
energy input, consumes the magic input and emits what came in
through the variable input with an added explosion descriptor),
emitters (ex. a rune that launches it's input energy as a bolt at
whatever it's wielder is pointing at/targeting), and controls (ex. a
capacitor that accumulates energy from one input and emits it at a
specific rate; a switch rune that has a main input, a primary
output, a secondary output and a control input that chooses, based
on a threshold of energy, which output is active).

For free-cast spells, the costs will be in time to construct the
spells and extra mana needed to keep the entire spell activated
(someone can store these free-cast spells so that they don't need to
manually input them, but it will still take about as long as it
would take the player to input the spell by hand each time if they
knew what they wanted). For fixed spells, casting will be simply a
matter of choosing how much mana to give to each of the 'caster
source' runes and how long to keep supplying it (or more likely,
when to stop maintaining it), again, bind-able. On the other hand,
creating fixed spells will have significant time and resource

The runes available (as well as their quality) to a particular
wizard doing free-casting will depend on what magical skills they
have been researching and practicing, and the name and appearance
(and for that matter some of the minor aspects of functioning) of
the runes will be randomized for each wizard. Two main skills will
govern the use of this rune knowledge, 'stone running' and 'air
running' (the creation of fixed and free spells respectively).

There are other details that help to balance things, most notably
that mana expended from the environment actually decreases the
amount available there and that the re-charge rate of a mana pool is
dependent on the concentration of background magical energy.

Some of the goals include: A) making it less useful to have a pure
mule item builder. B) allowing people who don't want to have to deal
with the underlying magic system avoid it (you should be able to get
along well with a set of spells purchased from other players and
NPCs, you may even be more combat effective than the free-caster,
but you won't have the versatility) C) allow people who want more
than a list of spells to have it in an interesting way that can't be
entirely encoded into a walk-through of optimal spells (assuming you
figure out how to roughly translate between two different casters
rune-sets, it should still be the case that, due to the
randomization of rune idiosyncrasies, the optimal fireball spell for
caster A won't be the optimal fireball spell for caster B, even if
they have trained exactly the same skills and are otherwise

I could say more, but I think this is long enough for my first post
to Mud-. If you use this, please credit 'Steven E Metke' and 'The
Wizards of Armageddon' and give me an email. If you have ideas for
it, post them or email me. If you have criticisms, flames or gripes,
well, I like those too, just be ready for an argument 8)

Steven E. Metke - Reality's just a bunch of bits
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