[Gameplay] Gazz' magic concept. Mana, mechanics, spells, and how to integrate them.

By on September 23, 2010 11:55:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Join Date 03/2004

A very common complaint is that EWoM magic is drab and unimaginative.

So how should it be? What spells and effects should be there?
What other area of the game should be affected by magic and how?
Just writing it should be "better" or "more varied" is a complete waste of bandwith.

For many spell effects that would differentiate the elemental schools (and their summoned elementals) I used the Proc functionality or the new Resistance system (see below).
Sorry, but it's simply not possible to create stylish effects while only being able to create bang-you-die spells.


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September 23, 2010 11:56:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

New magic / spell mechanics

Channeling spells:   Useable for very powerful spells with a duration.  (Example: the Earth elemental I outlined below)
These spells cost mana "upkeep" every turn and only last as long as the caster keeps casting them.  During that time he can do nothing but walk slowly.  That locks the caster into doing nothing else so it better be worth it.

Tactical casting time:
You can easily cast that Fireball in your turn but for big juju like Chain Lightning you would require more than 1 turn.
So when the opponent starts chanting (some light effect sparklies to give you a general idea of which element), you know that something nasty is going to happen. And you have a chance to react to it.
A fast casting stun to interrupt the cast, lots and lots of arrows...  there could be magical duels instead of instant annihilation before ever getting to move.

There would be an interrupt prevention / channeling / concentration skill or spell to keep casting through such interruption attempts.
The lvl 1 caster would easily be interrupted so would probably stick to smaller scale spells but the mighty wizard might still open with Chain Lightning, gambling on just toughing it out.

This would not only benefit "caster duels". Troops would have a chance to spread out when the enemy starts with the big area juju.
Right now the cards are all stacked for the magic users. See a troop concentration? Cast instant KABOOM.

In fact, you could have more "fun" with this if AE spells had to be targeted at casting time. When the spell finishes, the targets may no longer be there. 

This mechanic could also be used for slow loading weapons like catapults or crossbows, only letting them fire ever 2nd round.
Crossbows would be a good weapon to pierce metal armor (high attack) but obviously slow to fire.
This would extend ranged weapons into the late game  (crossbows, heavy crossbows) and not stop the ranged weapon research tree dead after the first entry.

More Area of Effect shapes:    Square (1x1, 2x2, 3x3, etc), Radius (3x3, clip corners to make round effects), Cone (generally triangular, expands wide in two directions), Line (2x4, 1x6, etc).  This would greatly increase the versatility for different spells to be put into the game, Fireball (round) Cone of Fire (5 square cone), Burning Hand (2 square cone) Polar Ray (1x6 line)...you get the idea.
Point Blank AE (PBAE) that cast an AE spell radiating from the caster, so excluding him from the effect.
Spells with multiple and random effects:
You should be able to assign a "multiple choice" construct of spell effects, so there would be a chance of 10% for this effect and 90% of the other.
This allows for instance spells with a small chance to backfire.
In addition to that, more than one spell effect could be added, with a % chance of occurrence.  If they are not part of the multiple choice construct, all of them can fire on the same cast.

These effects need to be able to have different targets.  Some may fire at an area, others backfire on the caster himself or do yet another thing like cast a global tactical enchantment or change the ground under the caster's feet.

The ability to add (sometimes unwanted) side effects to spells would allow for far greater freedom in designing powerful spells.
Right now, if you design a powerful spell, it's just powerful. No reason for not using it...

Beneficial Immunity:
Some units (like the Magma Elemental) would become unreasonably powerful if their intentionally designed weaknesses could be circumvented by buffs, such as increasing movement speed or health.
There should be a flag with the unit, making it immune to any and all beneficial spells like buffs, regen, teleport, and heals.
This allows the design of fun and overpowered units... with irremovable weaknesses.
In rare cases such as the Magma Elemental, it could still be "healed" with strategic fire attacks because of a negative Vulnerability.Fire.  This would be a very inefficient and costly method of healing but creates the option of combining spells to greater effect.
Duration spells with variable or incremental effects:
For some books such as Death, instant nukes are a lame substitute for the whole sapping life force / fast ageing theme.
Some "1000 cuts" spell could be doing 3 damage on the first round, 4 on the next, then 5...
Alternatively:  1, 2, 4, 8, 16...
Additional twist:  Save vs.  Vulnerability.Death  every turn to avoid the increase.

Such spells (especially with a 1,2,4,8...  progression) would remain useful throughout the game even if unit HP rise from a mere 10 to 1200 or more.
Compare that with the Fireball as of 1.08:      11-14 damage + INT/10 + Shards*3
You would need   94 fire shards and 50 INT  to even do a quarter damage to such a 1200 HP unit.  Some fireball that is.
This mechanic does not necessarily need to be limited to plain damage. A debuff could sap 10% of a unit's current strength every turn. That would be most effective on very strong units but have dimnishing returns the weaker a unit gets.  Again, that spell would be equally useful at every stage of the game.
Partial effects / resists:
Debuffs that have a constant effect such as "-1 combat speed for the duration" are okay but bland.
Some spells (especially debuffs) should be unresistable but their effects can be resisted.
Such as the "100 cuts" spell I mentioned above.  As long as the unit keeps resisting every turn, the spell will never do more than 1 damage / turn. Pretty inconsequential.
But with a high vulnerability to that magic or plain old bad luck, it can get ugly, doing more damage every turn.
Same with debuffs.  A "weak knees" spell should reduce the movement of a unit by 1.0 ... or 1.5 if it fails the saving throw for this round.
The all-or-nothing system is bland. Magic should work in fantastic ways, not like in a simple spreadsheet.
Irresistible spells with partial effect resists reduce micromanagement.  There is no "bad cast" forcing you to recast it until you get full effect or any at all.
Yet the magic vulnerability of a unit always  matters.  You can have your cake and eat it, too!

Especially with debuffs you often get very little bang for the buck since making one unit fight a little worse is usually far less useful than buffing one own unit to fight a little better by the same amount.
The enemy unit is typically debuffed for one "encounter" in a battle while the buffed own unit (typically a strong unit to begin with) gets the benefit for multiple encounters.
There is also no possibility for the own unit to resist the effect.
Just like in many MMOs, the utility of debuffs is limited to fighting few but strong units. Something that hardly ever happens in Elemental...
Either debuffs have to be dirt cheap so they can be tossed around liberally (which needlessly increases micromanagement) or they must be irresistible / partial resist / AE debuffs,  like some that I suggested for the Death Book.

What about focus items?
They can be researched / equipped like weapons / armor and alter the efficiency of a spellcaster. Less cost, more oomph... whatever.

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September 23, 2010 11:56:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Buff / debuff stacking rules.

Right now there are all sorts of conflicts or imbalanced spells because they can be stacked infinitely or interact with debuffs modifying the same gamestat.
Every game with buffs and debuffs needs stacking rules.

  • A buff can only replace an existing buff that modifies the same gamestat if it's of equal or greater strength.
    Replacing means to remove the original buff, then apply the new one. Usually that translates into a refresh of the same spell.
  • The same applies to debuffs.
  • A buff can not be applied if a debuff currently modifies the same gamestat.
    If you could eliminate or even overwrite slow with haste, it would make debuffs rather pointless.
  • A debuff can be applied if a buff currently modifies the same gamestat.
    It will coexist, not automatically removing the buff.  Auto-removal would make debuffs doubly powerful.
  • A debuff can only be dispelled.
  • Another approach would be to assign every buff / debuff to one or more "lines" and give it a power rating.
    A buff on the AttackBuff line with a rating of 10 would overwrite the lesser buff rated at 5.
    This system requires more maintainance and setup but can often produce more logical results than letting the game "figure out" what should happen.
    For instance:  An earth elemental's innate ability should not be overwritten by another (whatever) buff because it's an integral part of the unit design.
    The innate buff would get a rating of 5000 and the issue would be avoided.


This is based on the Everquest stacking system. It has been refined for over a decade and it works beautifully with hundreds of spells of all kinds.


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September 23, 2010 11:56:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic resistance system

Note that this would not require a code change. It only means adding a few hidden unit stats and altering
the Spell.xml to make the spells take special vulnerabilities into account - simply by using the hidden stats.

The magic in Elemental is somewhat lacking the "elements" bit.
Right now the shards (well, once that system is fixed/implemented) are only a damage multiplier for generic, physical damage.

That's so terribly wrong because it does not matter if you hit that fire giant with a 20 damage club or a 20 damage ice spell.
Even the manual says that there are multiple resistances. (Bet ya didn't expect anyone to look there!)

 And it could be done, even now. All units need hidden stats for their Damage Vulnerability. And the spell damage needs to use them.
Simply a damage modifier to the existing magic resistance.
(based on the mythical 1.1 patch where a thing like Magic Resistance is rumored to exist)

Such as a fire giant having
Vulnerability.Fire = 0,4
Vulnerability.Water = 2,0

A normal soldier would have
Vulnerability.Fire = 1,0
Vulnerability.Water = 1,0

These can be used for the damage calculation (or debuff / stun duration) for elemental spells so a fire spell is always multiplied by the target unit's Vulnerability.Fire.
I intentionally avoided terms like "Fire Resistance" because these come with all sorts of baggage from MMOs and RPGs. You'd get +10 Fire resistance on some hidden scale with dimnishing returns... and it would become a hugely complicated system.
"Vulnerability" is largely untainted that way and equally easy to get a gut feel for.

Of course the same system can be used to create "resist gear", like a really thick and fluffy cloak to protect from ice spells...

See? That would be even better and more variable than the old MoM system! Choke on that, MoM fans! =P

I'm not convinced that further differenciation of the physical damage types (blunt/pierce/slash) would really add much to the game beyond needless complexity and micromanagement.
However, if the powers that be decide that this would be a good idea, it would work the same way only that instead of one melee attack skill there would be three.

The magic vulnerabilities could and should stay "behind the scenes" values for the player to figure out.
Some are obvious classics, like extinguishing fire giants with water spells, but enemy units should absolutely not pop up windows like
      "Hi, I am a giant spider! My vulnerability to ice spells is 170% !  Please hit me with ice spells ! "
Ugh. That would be so... unmagical.

Displaying generic macic resistance is okay. Some creatures are "obviously" more magical than others.
While I really love statistics, they are not always optimal for "magical" issues. Reducing magic to a spreadsheet would be doing it a disservice.
Researching an Adventure tech to give you a coarse (and rarely even wrong = ) idea on the target's vulnerabilities like "high" or "low" would be an option. Just not the plain numbers...

  • A spell like a debuff that doesn't do any damage can save directly against the Vulnerability if you assign it a "chance" in the spell setup.
    Let's say I create a Life stun with a 50% chance.   Some zombie with Vulnerability.Life of 1.45 would get hit with a chance of 72.5%.
    Non-damage spells like stun or charm could directly check against a unit's apropriate vulnerability without something like charm being affected by plate armor.
  • You can have magic immunity or resist buffs/debuffs by having an enchantment that alters Vulnerability.Water *0.8 or * 1.5.
    A resist buff would help but wouldn't make a fire elemental instantly impervious to an ice blast because a relative vulnerability would remain.
  • You can have "magical creatures" that are very resistant to magic but weak physically. Beholders?  Just give them low magical vulnerabilities all across the board.
    Our magic-immune Roland the Paladin would have Vulnerability.whatever = 0,01except for physical.
  • You want zombies that are easy to dispatch/control with magic but hard to hack down? Give them high defense but high vulnerability to magical damage....
  • Undead that disease you with melee attacks and make you more susceptible to death magic...
  • There could be unit buffs to give them flamig swords and let them do fire damage instead or in addition to physical.
  • Earth could be different because it would be the most "physical" magic book and very good for otherwise "magic immune" critters.
    A big rock incoming at high speed is not very "magical". It just squashes the enemy flat.
    Vulnerability.Earth would almost always stay 1,0 except maybe for brittle things that are prone to... shattering. Crystal golems or Water elementals in frozen state come to mind...
  • Global strategic and tactical effects can be modeled if you allow like a tactical "Darkness" spell. It increases Vulnerability.Death and lowers
    Vulnerability.Life, of all units on the battlefield helping your undead hordes. The default value, which all elemental spells would be multiplied in the spell.XML, would be 1,0.
    So spells operate normally... until altered.
  • In some game systems, "healing" undead with life magic hurts or destroys them. So a positive buff/heal, hurts the counter element.
    That's needless complexity to code but what can be done easily is...
    For rare and "extremely attuned" cases like a fire elemental, they could have a negative Vulnerability.Fire, say -0,1.
    A fire elemental hit by a fireball or standing in a wall of fire would take negative damage, effectively healing it. That would make for an interesting
    "all fire" strategy where your frontline troops were elementals who would love nothing more than your (or their own) fiery AOE spells in their ahh... workspace.

Chromatic resist:
  typically themed to Life / light / rainbow.   Uses the target's worst elemental resistance.

Other resists:
  Just because there is a "magic resistance" stat that doesn't mean that every spell has to use it.
With a Throw Rock spell the projectile itself could be entirely unmagical and the whole spell could "resist" on the unit's dodge and defense stats.
Illusions might take the target's INT into account. Blood magic spells the total HP...

Resist modifiers for certain spells or from items / buffs / debuffs.
True damage is a lame hack when you could have a spell that uses "half resistance" or somesuch.

Healing Efficiency

All units should also have such a stat, that regulates how quickly they heal and how effective magical heals are for them.
This way "real" healing can be modified or disabled for a unit, letting it resort to special means that are unique to that unit.
Also, a very tough creature like an iron golem might be tough but also very hard to repair.
(That assumes that heal spells play nice and observe that stat instead of just adding fixed HP regardless = )

Effectively it's only the reversal of vulnerabilities but magical and mundane healing / regeneration are such a key feature to persistent and XP-gaining units that it deserves special consideration. Altering Vulnerability.Life as a workaround would just get messy because non-standard values would mostly show up on units that are not classic living creatures. That would be a system that only breaks when you need it. =P

Beneficial Immunity:
  See above.

Also see:

Attack and Defense, Damage and Resistance  by Winnihym
Elemental Beta 2: Player Input #1s  by Frogboy
[Suggestion/Discussion] Damage Types and Resistances  By Malsqueek

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September 23, 2010 11:56:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Procs (events, processes) for creatures, items, other.

Melee champions are dreadfully boring and so are magical items.   Right now a "magical" sword just means it has 9 attack instead of 6. Yay. Woo.
I want to see magic.

Procs are a staple of MMOs and some strategy games with heroes.
MoM had them on enchanted weapons although the system was very basic.   "Axe of stoning, save at -1 or be stone dead"

The most basic proc is a spell effect such as Firebolt.  Every time your champ swings the Flaming Sword (regardless of hit or miss), there is a chance of 5-15 % that a mana-free Firebolt is cast at the target.

Whenever a proc is assigned to an item (or creature) the proc chance is assigned. That way a Greater Elemental could do "the thing" more often than a Lesser Elemental.

More than one kind of event should be able to generate procs:

  • ProcsOnMelee
  • ProcsOnRanged      Typical melee procs often don't fit the style of bows.
  • ProcsOnSpellCast    Usually a cast buff or item effect.  For instance, a chance to cast any spell for free or just regain 1 mana.
  • ProcsOnGetHit        Armor of Vines that actually strikes back, Flintstone Mail that procs a small AE spell everytime it gets hit...
  • ProcsBeforeDeath   some second chance effect, healing the champ instead of dieing but destroying the item in the process
  • ProcsAfterDeath     an exploding fire elemental
  • ProcsOnMovement   Important for creating units that are immune to speed altering spells. On every movement, movement remaining is set to zero.
               The magma elemental would auto-cast a turn-to-magma spell on each terrain tile it steps on.
               The Air elemental's With the Wind ability could sometimes randomly move the unit.
               Some fascinating effects can be done with that.
  • ProcsOnWearOff     For buffs. Effect is triggered when the buff wears off by timeout but not when dispelled.
  • ProcsOnEnter        Trap spell that fires when a unit enters the effect range. (single square or AOE)
  • ProcsStartOfTurn   An aura spell that could buff / heal friendlies or debuff hostiles.
  • ProcsEndOfTurn

Linking generic spells to items as procs or (usually) inventing new ones.

The Blade of the Demonspawn should have a 15% chance to summon a minor demon when attacking.
The Barrier of the Sun shield would have a 20% chance to surround you with a fiery shield that would make attackers take serious damage on the next attack.
Now that would be magical.   Not another 3 points of attack.


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September 23, 2010 11:56:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magical / spell research

Right now magical research is worse then tech research.

With tech research you "naturally" advance through the tech tree with some randomness thrown in.
You don't have to research an artificial "Level 3" before you can research better housing or bows.

But with magic you do research "lvl 3" and then you get immediate research access to the spells of all your books.   Madness.

This whole "I research level 3" is so... stupid and artificial. Spell levels are great but the research system does not need to show it like that.
It's such a spreadsheety and unmagical system.
In fact, something like "you know level 3 of magic" should not be shown anywhere.  This is strictly an internal and very artificial value.

First, all spell schools should have their own levels.  Not just "level 3 of all magic" but  Earth 3, Fire 2, and Air 5.

Akin to tech research, a random selection of spells would "unlock" whenever you finish researching one. When finishing research on a lvl 3 spell there would be a 15-20 % chance of a level 4 spell being unlocked, a 50 % chance for another lvl 3 spell, and one lower level spell guaranteed.
Of course, there would have to be a minimum of 1 spell unlocked so research does not stall.
This % system is still too vague and needs to be fleshed out.  Ideally any research should be able to unlock a spell of (higher than current) level but with a low chance for that to happen with much lower level spells.
Advancing to a higher spell level should be an awesome event, not a guaranteed click of a button.

In fact, "researching book levels" should be dropped entirely.  You would research spells.  Period.
Increase the overall cost of the spells to make up for that but dump the silly "research the spell level" system.


If you had multiple books, you would have to research more spells, automatically advancing through the levels.
It's the price you pay for more magical power.

Cross school spells would just be harder to research "intentionally" since you couldn't just skip to them.

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September 23, 2010 11:57:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elemental shards.

Shard effects on their surroundings, positive and negative,   wild and neutral shards.


Neutral shards:

Shards would not necessarily have to spawn as an Earth Shard or Fire Shard.
What if they would spawn as an "Elemental Shard"?   Depending on what building you put on it, it channels the element you can use and have spell books for.
Maybe you need to perform some magical mumbo jumbo, like a spell to attune the shard to a certain element. In fact, then the usual 1 tile, 1 building system could remain unchanged, which would be a bonus.

Of course, once "set" to an element, it would stay set. No way back. It would revert to an unbuilt Fire Shard if the building was destroyed, not to an Elemental Shard.


Simple.  Because it sucks having Earth and Fire books but only finding water shards. They are rare as is, so making them rare and useless to the finder only adds insult to injury.

And by setting the shards to a certain element, you would be making a long-term choice. That better be what you want for the rest of the game.
Choices are good.

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September 23, 2010 11:57:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Mana supply and spell reagents - the logistics of magic.

by shards, improvements, buffs. 

Clarity buff that costs essence but increases mana regen indefinitely.
Another Clarity buff that costs 1 crystal and increases mana regen by 1 for 20 turns.
Mana regen is a very dangerous mechanism with a tendency to slip into being game breaking.

Summoning spells that use up 1 or more crystal per creature, depending on power / kind. 

An iron golem might only require iron but you can't create something from nothing.  Diablo 2 had a fun system for creating iron golems they were created from a metal item and inherited the magical properties of the magical item you used.The WOM system doesn't really work for that but you could have maybe 3-5 different golems for different tiers of item quality.


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September 23, 2010 11:57:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Enchanting items.

Some way to attach magical effects to items or create magical items from recipes.
Right now there is absolutely no way to do that in game - beyond simply buying everything in the shop.

Of course, there are the cliché candidates like Life for healing/regenerating, Earth for more armor, and Air for speed, flight, arow protection.


The max power of Life/Death enchantments could be tied to the number of apropriate temples you built.  Kinda like shards but tied to level 3+ cities.

The max power of a water enchantment would obviously be limited by the number of your water shards.
(add Dodge to your water effects = )

The power could also be fixed at the time of creation. That would be easier anyway and give you a reason to forge more and better items once you have more xyz shards.


Multi-element enchantments   would be... interesting... but have the same intrinsic problems as multi-element spells.
For starters, which element do they use for the resistance check?

Even if someone found a soluton for that, working out a solid system that makes sense would be a lot of work because there's a minimum of 30 combinations with only 2 elements.  120 with 3.

Still... that would add a lot of tinker value to the magic system which I generally like.  Alas, so far noone had even the beginning of a useful concept.


but instead of having to go to a merchant this would be items you could make (materials could be Crystals - AND shards in your possesion! if you dont have the fire shard you cant access the fire templates for your crafting. then make the items cost essence depending on how strong you make them - whilst life and death wuld just require you researched the spell book sufficiently.



Items / abilities with several charges, total and per battle.  An alchemist getting to throw 2 fire bomb potions per battle.

Linking generic spells to items as procs or inventing new ones.

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September 23, 2010 11:57:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Starting conditions, spells, traits, books.

starting conditions.  Selecting starting spells, sovereign traits, mutually exclusive spell books (fire/water, life/death), spell book pick cost

-New caster traits at soverign creation. Traits to decrease spell cost, decrease casting time, improve power, double displing power, enhance summons, boosted magic resisted and many more. Your soverigns should be extermely customisable when it comes to magic; this is supposed to be war of magic remember?

-Enhanced spellbook select at soverign creation. The cost of a spellbook should be increased greatly or a physical limit placed on how many can be owned in a single game. Either way there should be a limit of 2-3 books. The magic system should be complete enough that each book (or combination of books) should give a unique playstyle to the game.


new idea - Similar to galactic civilizations 2 starting tech selection, allow players to select their starting spells.

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September 23, 2010 11:57:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How to help the AI to evaluate and generally figure out magic.


Since items (especially with procs) will be extremely hard for the AI to attach a value to, allow defining the value of the item for the AI. Like:
It would be silly for the AI to buy a champion item with a melee proc when the champ is using a bow.
Some way for the AI to make halfway reasonable decisions.

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September 23, 2010 11:58:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic book:   Life.

Magic resist:   Life.


Your typical MMO priest / cleric magic.   Absolutely reliable and mostly indirect magic.   Healing, protection, strengthening, endurance, morale.

Life nukes could be twofold.
One is rather weak and on the Life resist but would be very effective against Death and generally evil creatures. (they would have an exceptional vulnerability)
What with Life paladins having rainbows shine outta their butts, the higher tier Life nukes would be Chromatic, using the target's worst elemental resistance.

The power of Life enchantments could be (like with shards) tied to the number of apropriate Temples of Life you have built, tieing the power of life to... population!


  • All Life heals need to base part of the healed amount on the unit's HP.max.  Otherwise they are an utter joke with late game units.
    There should also be increasingly effective heals during the spell levels. Like every second level.
    Lesser Healing  for  (HP.Max * 0.10) + 5,   Greater Healing  (HP.Max * 0.15) + 15,  Superiour Healing... you get the idea.
  • Banish Summoned  -  tac:  Does damage based on the mana upkeep of a creature and it's Vulnerability.Life
  • Regeneration  -  strat / tac:  Unit heals 1 point per tac turn and heals fully every strat turn.
  • Holy Ground  -  tac: one tile becomes holy ground, greatly decreasing Vulnerability.Death and slightly decreasing all other magical vuln.
  • Feat of Strength  -  tac:  Buff/Debuff.  Target increases moves/attack by 50% for one turn but has them reduced by 25% for the following 2 turns.
  • Grow Thorns  -  strat / tac:  A forest tile turns into a very thorny forest tile doing light damage and possibly ending a unit's turn when it moves there.
  • Sense Life  -  strat / tac:  Caster can see where hidden units are within a certain range (some light effect?) but can not directly see them or get the unit info popup.
  • Heroic Resolution  -  tac:  Buff.  Unit gains temporary hit points.
  • Divine Intervention  -  strat / tac:  Adaptive heal spell.   The more a unit is hurt, the more it is healed.
  • Pacify  -  tac:   Debuff.  Unit can not initiate an attack, only counterattack.  Every turn after the first, target gets increasingly higher chance to break out of it.
  • Baffling Shield  -  tac:  Buff.  ProcOnGetHit.  Attacker must save vs. Vuln.Life of lose the remainder of his turn.
  • Promised Remedy  -  tac:  Buff  ProcOnGetHit.  The first time the unit takes damage while the buff lasts, the heal effect triggers.
  • Swarm of Bees  -  tac:  summons a swarm of bees that moves around, attacking random units that are not bees, making them lose their next turn.
  • Guardian Hive  -  tac:  summons a bee hive that spawns Swarm of Bees every turn until destroyed
  • Fireants  -  tac:  summons fireants that move around, attacking random units that are not fireants, doing light damage and lowering str/dex for 2 turns.
  • Guardian Anthill  -  tac:  summons an ant hill that spawns Fireants every turn until destroyed
  • Entangling Vines  -  tac:  A forest square gains the ability to "attack" adjacent units, entrapping them.
  • Righteous Zeal  -  tac:  Buff.  (several?) Unit's morale can not be lowered below 50 % but can increase through spells and combat events.
  • Defender of the People - strat. Buffs a city defender based on the city's population but the pop can suffer if the Defender is hurt severly.

The Healing System:

Currently (1.08), units heal for fixed amounts when in friendly territory or cities.
That works fine in the early stages of the game when all units have low HP.
When unit HP are measured in the 1000 range, it stops working.

All means of healing need to be changed to healing (at least partially) a % value of the unit's HP.max. Such as:
     Unit in friendly territory or Fortified as per unit ability:                          5 % per turn
     ...garrisoned in a city / outpost:                                                                 10 % per turn
     Additional healing building(s) in a city, such as Temple of Healing:    +15 % per turn

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September 23, 2010 11:58:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic book:   Death

Magic resist:   Death.


Is there anything ambiguous about death?  Magic for death, disease, weakening, death, stealing life, death...

The power of Death spells could be tied to the number of Sacrificial Pits you have built, again, tieing the power of death to... population. Or rather the dieing thereof but that's details.


  • Black Wounds  -  strat / tac:   Special damage that unlike normal wounds is very hard to heal
  • Plague  -  strat / tac:   Cast on a unit to infect them with a spreading plague
  • Death  -  tac:   Summon the man himself.  While he somewhat prefers enemy units, he's not overly picky.
  • Cold death  -  tac:   This spell cause damage - and if the unit dies from this damage awakens as a zombie unit instantly
  • Unholy aura  -  strat / tac:   Unit causes massive morale penalties around it - things that attack get penalized increasingly. Possibly a proc OnGetHit?
  • Corpse Explosion  -  tac:  Buff (!).  Everytime a figure in the unit falls, a small AOE damages all units around - including the unit itself. Peasant armies have never been more useful.
  • Ghost Town  -  strat:  City appears to be a spooky ghost town when seen from the outside. Halves prestige but neutral units do not enter it. (early game defense)
  • Dread Bond  -  tac:  Short range debuff.  Every turn, a few HP are transferred from the target to the caster. Can be cast on friendly and enemy units.
  • Ward of Malos  -  tac:  Creates an attackable, immobile, weak unit adjacent to the caster that lowers the magical resistances of everything within 2 squares.
  • Sapping Blight  -  tac:  2x2 AE debuff.  Unit must save vs Vuln.Death every turn to halve the effect. Any attacker will steal 10 % of the unit's strength and add it to it's own, 5 % if the unit "saves" for this turn.
  • Bravery through Fear  -  tac:  Executes one own random panicked unit. All other own units are restored to 50 % morale.
  • Cursed Lands  -  tac:  Tile enchantment. Unit must save vs Vuln.Death or lose 10 % morale instead of 5 % when entering / remaining on the tile.
  • Path of the Defiler  -  tac:  A death / demon ability that automatically casts Cursed Lands on every square the demon steps on.
  • Blood Boil  -  tac:  Irresistible DoT.  Slowly heats up a unit's blood, slowly increasing in damage
  • Decay  -  tac:  Debuff.  Every turn, ATK and DEF are reduced by 10 %
  • Intensify Death  -  tac:  Irresistable AOE Debuff.  The effect of all DoT / Debuffs on the target is increased by 30%,  15% if the targets saves vs. Vuln.Death each turn
  • Walking Dead  -  tac:  Debuff.  ProcOnMove.  Every step there is a chance that a zombie or skeleton will claw it's way out of the ground on an adjacent square and start attacking random units.
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September 23, 2010 11:58:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic book:   Air

Magic resist:   Air.


Traveling, speed, farseeing, but also lightning, storms, and hurricanes. Bad weather can ruin harvests.

Lightning nukes should stun and disorient, possibly be amplified by metal armor.


  • Lesser Elemental  -  tac summon:   Invulnerable to ranged and earth attacks
  • Elemental  -  strat summon:   Invulnerable to ranged and earth attacks,  Ability: With the Wind
  • Greater Elemental  -  strat summon:   Invulnerable to ranged and earth attacks,  Ability: With the Wind,  Spell:  Flash of Light
  • With the Wind  -  tactical ability:   Air elementals get this innate ability. While gone with the wind, the elemental get 2x the movement
    speed but with every square moved there is a chance to move 1 square (rarely 2) in a random direction.
  • Teleport  -  completely new concepts to balance a potentially overpowering spell
  • Northern Gale  -  strat:   3x3 water area turns to ice for 1 turn  (Water has more powerful freeze spells)
  • Whispers of Dissent  -  strat:  Zephyrs flow through the towns streets and into the ears of the populace whispering disquieting rumours about the soverign's reign.  Reduces target city's prestige until dispelled.
  • Zephires  -  tac:   Not a strong or harmful wind but erratic and with a high chance to cause all bow attacks to miss.
  • Flash of Light  -  tac: target unit is blinded for x turns, reduces melee chance to hit and makes ranged combat impossible.
  • Phantom Menace  -  strat:  An army appears to have all trained units at a strength of 12 (or whatever is the max in game) by raising a massive could of dust when they travel.
  • Eagle Eye  -  strat / tac:   Increases unit's chance to hit with ranged attacks and increases attack range by .
  • Shallow Breath  -  tac:  Trained (living? breathing?) unit finds it hard to breathe,  losing 1-2 HP per turn and reducing it's movement speed.
  • Bird's Eyes  -  strat:  Global enchantment.  Every turn you can see through the eyes of a random bird somewhere on the world, always over or adjacent to land, possibly clearing a 3x3 area of FoW.
  • Dust Storm  -  strat:  tile enchantment, maybe 70 turns. Enemy units stepping onto that tile will be blinded, reducing their visibility to 0 for 2 turns and ending their turn.
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September 23, 2010 11:59:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic book:   Earth

Magic resist:   Earth but effectively Physical
There is a "Vulnerability Earth" but it would almost always be identical to the physical resistance.
Only beings especially vulnerable to shattering forces (crystal golem?) would be especially vulnerable to Earth spell attacks.


Boring and down to well... earth.
Generally slower (casting time) or more effort (mana) to get moving but moving mountains have right of way.
Raising / lowering land (obviously) but also growing walls and whole fortesses from solid rock to protect, obstruct, or trap.

Earth nukes (really really big rocks...) should have a chance to knock back the recipient by one or more square.


  • Lesser Elemental  -  tac summon:   Invulnerable to Air attacks
  • Elemental  -  strat summon:   Invulnerable to Air attacks,  Ability: Lesser Juggernaut
  • Greater Elemental  -  strat summon:   Invulnerable to Air attacks,  Ability: Lesser Juggernaut,  Ability: Meld with the Earth
  • Juggernaut / Avalance (needs better name) -  tac:  a buff spell (or in a lesser version innate ability) for earth elementals to grow until they eventually crumble under their own weight
  • Meld with the Earth  -  tac:   Earth elemental ability.  When used, the elemental becomes immobile for 4 turns (cannot cancel) but increases defense by 30%
  • Volcano  -  strat:   a volcano erupts in the target square, creating a magma flow that you can control
  • Boon of Earth  -  strat:   city buff.  Increases mining production.
  • Treacherous Ground  -  tac:  Everytime an enemy unit moves, there is a chance it steps on hollow ground, breaking in, taking falling damage, and ending it's turn.
  • Treacherous Ground  -  strat:  tile enchantment, maybe 50 turns duration. Everytime an enemy unit moves onto the tile, there is a chance it steps on hollow ground, breaking in, taking heavy falling damage, and ending it's turn.
  • Crystal Nucleus  -  tac:  Grows a crystal "unit" belonging to caster on the target square.  Every turn there is a 25 % chance that more crystals grow on adjacent squares... and so on.  They cannot move or attack but must be destroyed before enemies can pass.
  • Heroes Breakfast  -  strat:  City enchantment.  Through magically enriched soil the local food becomes exceptionally healthy. All friendly units that end their turn in this city's ZOC, gain +1 atk/def for 5 turns.
  • Earth magic can raise / lower land and switch cliff/beach but not create submerged terrain.
  • Thundering Hooves  -  tac:  Buff  ProcOnMove.  Cavalry units only.  Unit causes small termors all around, weaker version of the earthe elemental Tremor.
  • Sharpen Rock  -  tac:   Buff.  Increases the ATK of a catapult unit. (and slingers?)
  • Engulfing Mound  -  tac:   Tile enchantment.   A mound of earth rises from the ground swallowing any unit that might stand on it.
  • Vague ideas:   Earthquakes cracking the battlefield open, diamond spikes shooting from the ground to build a palisade...
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September 23, 2010 11:59:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic book:   Fire.

Magic resist:   Fire.


Brutal, offensive, volatile. Quick to summon, hard to control. Liable to hurt you as much as the target.
Fast and cheap to cast.   Control should be the overarching issue here.
Depending on caster experience level, a spell might go off in a completely different direction or directly backfire on the caster. Fire creatures might occasionally act on their own, using up their turn's actions on... usually attacking something they don't like. Or something that's close. Woops. Keep fire elementals on a looong leash.

Fire nukes should always have a chance to ignite the target (based on vulnerability fire) and then cast a small DoT doing maybe 5 % of the nuke damage for 2 turns.

Fire should have a chance to hurt the benefactor of a fire buff in addition to the beneficial effect. I mean, it's elemental fire, not just light effects.


  • Lesser Elemental  -  tac summon:   Invulnerable to Air and ranged attacks,  Ability:  Shield of Fire
  • Elemental  -  strat summon:   Invulnerable to Air and ranged attacks,  Ability:  Shield of Fire,  Ability: Meltdown
  • Greater Elemental  -  strat summon:   Invulnerable to Air and ranged attacks,  Ability:  Shield of Fire,  Ability: Meltdown
  • Meltdown  -  tac ability:   Fire Elemental innate.  The elemental self destructs, resulting in a massive fireball.
  • Shield of Fire  -  tac ability:  Fire Elemental innate.  Melee attacker takes [XP level of the elemental] true damage.
  • Guardian Ember  -  strat:  tile enchantment, maybe 50 turns.  When enemy units step on the tile it bursts into flame, starting a fire that burns multiple turns and can spread to adjacent tiles
  • Path of Inferno  -  tac:  Buff.  Unit creates a path of fire wherever it walks.  Possibly a debuff to do the same on an enemy unit...
  • Funeral Pyre  -  tac:  AOE spell that is always centered on an own unit, not excluding it from damage.
  • Lure of Flame  -  tac:  a firebolt that also increases Vulnerability.Fire by 20% for one turn, 10% if the target saves against that.
  • Wildfire Guardian  -  tac:  summons a unit that shoots a Fireball at a random nearby unit (range 5-6) every turn


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September 23, 2010 11:59:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic book:   Water.

Magic resist:   Water.


A dualistic element, being equally able to flow / evade / surround / suffocate as to freeze and put the icey hammer down.

The water elemental does low damage but has an immense dodge stat. (every try to hurt water?) It could possibly flow through enemy ranks to flank / surround units.
If it uses it's Freeze ability it would turn solid, doing far more damage but also becoming more vulnerable - especially to physical / earth. Ice can be shattered.
Higher Fire resist, though.

Water/Ice nukes should always have a chance to freeze/slow the target for maybe 2 turns.


  • Lesser Elemental  -  tac summon:   30% dodge chance,  Ability:  Freeze
  • Elemental  -  strat summon:   33% dodge chance,  Ability:  Freeze,  Ability: Fog (2x2)
  • Greater Elemental  -  strat summon:   36% dodge chance,  Ability:  Freeze,  Ability: Fog (3x3),  Ability: Find the Gap, 3 turns, 1x per battle
  • Freeze  -  strat / tac ability:   Water elemental innate.   A frozen WE evades far less but does a lot more damage and is more resistant to fire attacks.
    If a frozen WE steps on a water square it temporarily turns to ice. This should let armies pass water but would probably clash with the movement restrictions of normal units.
  • Dissolve  -  tac:  Possible Water Elemental innate.  On death the elemental dissolves, turning the tile into water... and letting the water mage do... other things with that.
  • Fog  -  tac:  fills a 3x3 area with dense fog, making ranged attacks into and out of it impossible. 10% chance per turn for each individual tile to clear
  • Greater Fog  -  tac:  visibility on the battlefield is reduced to one square.  10% chance per turn for each individual tile to clear.
  • Strangling Moat  -  strat:  place a muddy moat all around an enemy city's walls, preventing expansion (cant build there) and slowing units
  • Flowing Defense  -  strat / tac:  Unit buff that decreases Vulnerability to (last attack type) by 1 %, up to a max of 15 % of normal.  Increases all other Vuln so the average stays the same
  • Find the Gap  -  strat / tac:  Buff. 30% chance that only half of the defender's defense counts for the attack.
  • Irrigate  -  strat:  city enchantment.  Increases food production by a multiplier.
  • Condense Mana  -  strat:  Expend 20 mana to create a 10 mana potion that can be used in tac battles
  • Ice Surprice  -  strat:  tile enchantment, maybe 70 turns. Enemy units stepping onto that tile will be surprised by a sudden layer of ice, ending their turn.
  • Frozen Path  -  tac:  Buff.  Every tile the unit steps on will freeze over for 5 turns.  Units who fail to save vs Vulnerability.Water will slip and end their turn.
  • Brittle Armor / Brittle Weapons  -  strat / tac:  Buff / Debuff that reduces the efficiency of weapons / armor by making them brittle.
  • Scrying Pool  -  strat / tac:  One (several?) tile of water on the map provides a sight range of 1 around it.
  • Healing Waters  -  strat / tac:  One tile of water becomes magical, healing everything around it for 5% per turn.
  • spells to create moats / mud for defense
  • alter the coastline. Switch between Cliffs / beach at will.  Create submerged terrain.  Create / modify rivers.  Can only lower land and only if water is adjacent (erode the coastline).
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September 23, 2010 12:00:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Magic books:   Other.


So far I saw Shadow and NatureForest.

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September 23, 2010 12:00:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cross-school mechanics and spells.

Sounds cool and has been suggested planty of times but how do they workWhich resist do they check against?

The easiest solution:   get the average of all included resists.
Such combo spells would be very reliable since few critters have exceptional resists to everything... and very boring.

Lots of posts about how cool cross-school spells would be but none that say how they think it could work.
Could work for summons (Steam elemental) that do not directly rely on one resist but for spells...?

Notes:  Air+Fire = fanning the flames, earth+water = tsunami (earthquake under an ocean)


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September 23, 2010 12:48:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Buildings that modify magic / spellcasting.

Summoning Circle:    Level 1 city improvement.    Not expensive but 1 per faction.
   Decrease summoning cost when summoning in this city, no matter if the summon actually required the circle?
   May be required to summon powerful creatures. Giants? Greater Elementals?
   This way there would be no "instant army" with 4 channelers traveling fast towards
   the enemy, then summoning 4 earth and fire giants on the spot and being ready to rock.
   Summoning big stuff should require some serious pomp and ritual.

Temple of Life / Sacrificial Pit.   Level 3 city improvement.   Each produces the perishable resource  Life Power (need better term) or Sacrifices.
   These resources would be the power multipliers for the  Life / Death books, tieing the power of life/death to... your population. (ain't that cool? = )
   Effectively these would be Life / Death Shards.

Temple of Life:   costs upkeep but increases population growth / harvest or have other apropriate positive side effect(s).

Sacrificial Pit:   reduces population.   To harness the power of Death, one has to make sacrifices.  Quite literally.
   That sounds terribly imbalanced but since the sacrifice harvests all the life force of the victims, the force multiplier for death spells is massively
   greater than the comparable multiplier for life spells.  (For a Life nuke  LifePower * 2  while for a Death nuke it's  Sacrifices * 3 or more)
   It could have positive effects like reducing crime rate (hehe), or generating gold - the former possessions of your sacrifices.


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September 23, 2010 12:59:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Development of channelers / champions.

At level 3 a channeler can pick a book specialisation,  reducing mana cost of those spells by 10% and increasing the target's vulnerability to those spells by 10 %.
At level 5 the channeler can pick a secondary specialisation with 5% / 5%.
Alternative:  (and actually more natural...)
Everytime a channeler casts a fire spell there is a 1 % chance that he will gain 5 % Specialisation Fire (same as above), up to a maximum of 10%.

With the proposed extra spell effect and randomly triggered effects, this could simply be coded into the spells themselves.

Hidden skills / traits / abilities:
I don't think that you should see all that a champion can bring to the table before you hire her.

A champ could be created with one or several hidden traits with conditions for when and how they become visible and active.

Imbueing a robe-wearing and wizardly looking champion might immediately uncover a mana-saving ability.

After winning 10 battles with your warrior champ, he might have a 5% chance per won battle to uncover a small but permanent morale boost for the army.

Some very minor traits could very rarely be added to a champion based on certain events, regardless of having been waiting in hiding on the champion.
Conquering a city could be a 0.01 % chance to add a "Rob the Treasury" trait to the champion, giving a gold bonus when conqering a city.
When everyone can have such a skill, they must be rare and cannot be very powerful. Power should be reserved for the hidden skills.

That would help creating unique champions and prevent the automatic discarding of all "crap champions" because you couldn't be sure if she might acquire a powerful ability later on.
Even pregenerated champs should have a list of potential abilities so you couldn't know the exact ability of a champion from template 2.
Or maybe the champ could have a small chance for having 2 abilities. More uncertainty, please. =P

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September 23, 2010 1:02:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yes, yes and YES! please!

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September 23, 2010 1:09:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

yay my ideas are here - i like alot of this stuff here

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September 23, 2010 1:21:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh, a lot of ideas will be there.  I have quite a few on my own but plan to steal any idea that isn't nailed down.

It's still frightfully messy because I unceremoneously dumped things in their folders...

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September 23, 2010 1:22:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This thread is automatic win. All hail Robert!

Edit: I have two contributions towards spells for the death spellbook.

Black Wounds - strategic/tactical: Special damage that unlike normal wounds is very hard to heal. Lets say a 20 HP unit is caused 10 black wounds damage. Those hit points lost could take almost forever to heal on there own. Normal magical healing/potions will have no effect, only special/specific healing spells could remove or heal those lost hp. Magical and natural regeneration will not restore the hit points lost, however other normal damage is healed (just not the HP cause by this effect). This kind of spell could come in 2 forms: 1) a high level, high mp cost magic missile 2) an enchanted weapon for champions/sov with a chance to inflict such wounds on each attack.

Plague - Stratigic/Tactical: Caste on a unit to infect them with a plague. Any units in the same army have a chance to catch the plague for every turn they spend with that unit. Infected units have a chance to spread the infection to cities for every turn they spend in a city. Infected units will suffer negative modifers and have a chance of dieing until the spell has worn off or is cured. Infected cities will lose population for every turn they are affected and suffer negative modifiers. There could be two versions of this spell: 1) that only gives negative modifers 2) gives negative modifers + chance of death (Or maybe 100% chance of death?). This spell could not effect champions/sov/fantastic/summons.

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September 23, 2010 1:57:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good work Robert... hope to see some of these ideas come to life

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