Lately there have been a number of posts talking about essence. A lot of things have been uncertain, like how certain things will work, and basic mechanics have proven that they need to be tweaked. I figured it's probably time to kick off the discussion again,
so in order to avoid going over the old ideas, I'm going to put up a big list of things people want to do with essence already.
UPDATED!!: At this point Stardock may not be willing to make massive changes to the essence system. This thread contains ideas that are small tweaks in addition to big ideas. As time goes on, this thread will be more useful to Modders who want to tweak magic and would like some interesting ideas.
What players want to do with essence
- Imbuing land: increase the fertility of the land or quality of the mine
- Infusing magical artifacts with power (like Daggerfall handled it, item creator in game)
- Infusing people with magical power
- Creature creation: infusing captive creatures to give them special abilities, higher stats
- Build "Wizard Towers" that let them cast magic on the battlefield from their home cities, or just extend the range they can cast from
- Massive spells: destructive one time spells, global spells, global spell that is continually destructive, essence upkeep: "the dead rise" with ongoing effect
- Redo the spells that require essence, make them "rituals" and drive home the fact that they are different and special and not just another spell
- Land deformation : )
- Increase the sovereign's base stats
- Be able to spend a part of our essence to also make champions live longer (turning them into core units throughout the game)
- Essence is used to create Wonders: permanent nonmobile structures that have ongoing benefits until destroyed
- Essence is required to "Unlock" shards for use, or at least to increase the amount of mana they provide.
- Channelers can use essence to radically enhance mana-based spells (increase damage, remove upkeep etc)
- Imbue land a la D&D's "Sanctum" magic: spells cost less, go further, and do more damage. Fog of war removed
- Be able to cast spells after running out of mana by drawing on your internal reservces of essence (spell is free but risk/get essence loss)
- Win the game: a victory condition could be control of all world shards by one Sovereign ends the game.
Ways players want to get essence
- Destroying a magic artifact of extreme value for the essence
- killing a unique Legendary Monster and absorbing its essence
- killing a Champion/Sovereign and absorbing their essence
- completing a quest and getting some essence-based reward
- end game building ultra-expensive building produces a one time gain of 5 essence
- Super Rare Ancient Artifacts one time gain of x essence
- Certain magic technologies increase essence by a certain amount: "Discovered Advanced Meditation? +4 essence!
- Gain x essence every turn as a renewable resource?
- Kingdoms gain essence for restoring the land to life.
- Empires channel the power of death and destruction. They gain power as they twist land and through violent acts.
- Both sides channel the power of the crystals. All types of crystals provide both mana and augment essence.
Things players have wanted changed about essence (some of these ideas are in conflict)
- Redesign the level system with a focus on essence: "essence is the points," and essence is spent on better strength, intelligence, etc, moving your sovereign beyond mortal power. Maybe even special abilities?
- Remove essence from the buyable list: quest only gain
- Redesign the level system so you don't have to risk your sov in combat for level gain and essence gain
- Get rid of the mana = essence * 10 cap and replace it with something else
- Spell power: spell cast * (1 + Essence/20). Every five points of essence could increase damage by 25%
- Spend Essence to increase Mana Channeling ability (increase cap + regen rates)
- Number of Shards controlled should allow for a higher Max Mana than your essence would normally allow. +2 mana a shard?
- Link shards to mana caps and regeneration.
- Delink Essence from the mana pool
- Delink Essence from all stats
New System Ideas (new category!)
#1001 "Essence should work as a temporary investment of your magical tasking ability."
- If you imbue your retainer with your essence so that (s)he is a conduit of your power, you must continue to maintain that spell.
- Your overall potential (essence) would be reduced--how can you cast a really complex spell when you're also busy maintaining five minor spells at the same time? Either get a bigger essence or cancel some of those spells that are eating up your essence.
- That means there would need to be a screen in the magic menu where you could see what is eating up your essence and have the open to cancel.
#1002 "An empire strategy for gaining essences should be like Vlaakith of the Githyanki"
- Lets say you give one of your essence to your champion, bob. He gains a few levels. You raise his essence up.
- He has maybe 5 now.
- Now you kill bob and consume his soul/essence in some kind of ritual.
#1003 "Shards generate Essence and provide the unique "potential" of a given element."
- Elemental Shards (Fire, Ice, etc.) are unique STRATEGIC locales, potential resources of the utmost importance,
- They are the ONLY locations that generate Essence; they also generate the Shard's unique potential (e.g. "fire.").
- Possession of a shard provides that shard's Essence source and that shard's unique potential.
- If you lose the shard, you lose the essence.
- Rare and infrequent events provide an essence bonus directly to you, which can't be taken away.
- Having one shard of an elemental type allows you to cast spells of that type. You gain the "potential."
- This idea combines well with #1001.
#1004 "Essence is the Points."
- You have a set amount of essence. Essence totals have nothing to do with stats.
- When you create your character or when you level, you are Spending Essence on increasing your points beyond what normal humans can do. You can do this for special abillities or just outright stat increases.
- This means you spend essence to make yourself a better fighter (str) or a better wizard (int)
- Whatever is left over is your "essence," that can be used for Mega-spells, or invested as in #1001.
#1005 "Shards generate mana and require essence to unlock."
- The only source of mana is from shards. You regenerate mana based on gaining control of shards, and channel a certain amount based on wisdom/essence/other bonuses to your mana pool each turn.
- In order to begin channeling from a shard you must take control of it and "unlock it" using your unique powers as a channeler: essence.
- In order for a champion to be able to receive mana, you must imbue him with essence.
- Certain other global enchantments, such as ones that affect the flow of mana, ones that give life, and domain powers, require an investment of essence as in #1001.
- Unlocking fire shards unlocks fire spells, etc.
- The idea is that Essence is the power to manipulate Magic Itself, and what sets you apart from mere magicians, who can only use what they are given.
Some selected comments about how players feel about essence:
"It seems to me that essence should be the stuff that makes a channeler so powerful--whether wizard or warrior." - CHiZZoPs
"A stat like essence is more fun when the game lets you spend it and where the decision is on what cool things you want to do, not on if you dare spend it and gimp your spellcasting by doing so. That encourages hoarding, and hoarding isn't fun." - Tridus
OLD COMMENTS (FOR POSTERITY)
"I want lots of options for how I use my limited supply of essence. Lots of options for how I use my one and only channeller. I want having a powerful combatant, or even a combatant at all, to be an option, but one of many. I want it to be offset by the other options, so there is a legitimate choice for channeller use, essence expenditure, and exactly what kind of kingdom you want to have." - lwarmonger
My only 'good reason' for seriously wanting ways for channelers to gain essence is that I think it would be more fun. It could add variety to quests, diplomacy, evil spell design, and more. And it's also great fun to be able to recover in mid-game from what you only belatedly understood was a bad mistake in the early game." - GW Swicord
"Small empires need to be as viable as large ones. I understand that sort of balance isn't easy and may take time to perfect, but it's important." - Nick-Danger
"Limited essence makes essence more valuable and the decisions of when to spend it critical. If you are worries about running out, then I have no problem with being able to "level up" your channeler to get more essence. But I would hate for it to recharge your "essence battery" rather you could access inner reserves that you didn't know you had. It may seem a slim distinction, but it is a significant one. The "trickle/recharge" means that you can just hole up and hide and wait for a recharge - again this trivializes it imho." - Denryu
"I still feel a player should be able to take the Sauron approach: horde all their Essence and grow their personal power to the point where they could individually lay waste to a thousand soldiers. The only way it's reasonable to do this is if they paid a big price for having this kind of power (economically or otherwise)." - TCores
"I see that, unless I want to risk my soverign and an instant game over, I can never get more essence. And as a turn based game, games tend to last a long time. So what's my initial instinct? To hoard all of the essence, and never ever spend any of it. Which, of course, means that some cool spells I'd never actually get to use except in the first five minutes when I'm assured to win." - NullAshton
"The level leads me to wish for all sovereigns to slowly gain essence over time, like +1 essence every 5 turns. Everyone slowly gains essence over time, at a fixed rate, with no way to change this ... and the difference is only in how you spend said essence." - Tasunke
"Personally, I think essence should be used in a completely different fashion. Imbuing heroes and such is a great idea, but instead of essence being used to directly improve land, I think it should be used to create unique city improvements that would not otherwise be buildable without essence (with expendable mana being used to restore land). For instance: Well of Life: Use 5 essence and commit your sovereign for five turns, double growth rates in that city. Your sovereign reaches out to an untouched source of water from the cataclysm and purifies it for the people to drink." - Demiansky
"The current system is not that bad, but it should be tweaked. IE. If the only way to gain essence won't be changed [IE. gain essence @ lvl up], the XP system should be tweaked. Give XP for completing quests. Add some special sites or buildings like Arenas. The Sovereigns can participate in arena battles / turn in order to get XP. You got the picture.
"I don't like the 'get X number of XP / turn while the Sov is sitting in his tower and doing nothing' idea." - Tormy-
"I do agree that essence should not be trivialized but I also think if Elemental did implement some kind of limited and slow regeneration of essence it wouldn’t cause it to be irrelevant. The key balance as I see it in this discussion is making essence vital and strategic without it becoming a quagmire that ruins the fun factor of long games." - Darkodinplus