[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 2:13:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Glad to see that Robert's attempt is getting some action.  I'm updating my document (linked at the top). 

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September 23, 2010 3:08:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quite the list, gonna have to set aside some time to read it all.

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September 23, 2010 3:11:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wonder if acquiring spells could be made similar to a formula like Magic: the Gathering.  Finding a spell book through dungeoneering, or buying it at a magic shop, would be like buying a booster back, with several common spells like lighting strike or fireball, and then one or two of the rarer spells.  "Cards" could be traded with other factions through diplomacy.  It means spells would have to be balanced according to rarity so it is not an automatic win for the first guy that gets infernal or summon frost giant.  Similar level spells would need to be equally potent yet perhaps used in different ways or situations to get maximal benefit.  You would also need to be at a certain magic level to cast the more powerful spells that you find, however if you happen upon a very good spell in the early game you could get to work increasing your magic level ASAP.

The D&D style that exists now is fine when leveling up an RPG wizard, but creates a "samey-ness" of magic spells from game to game of Elemental.  Buffing up the lesser used spell might fix some of this, as well as offering greater benefits from crystals.  If you don't have fire crystals, infernal should be pretty weak, and only be the nuke it is if you have two fire crystals or more.


Also, I think there has been too much of a focus on earth spells with mud, boulders, and ground shaking.  Earth magic feels too "dirty."  Maybe broaden earth magic out to include life magic--like healing, or conversely, toxic effects that nerf certain attributes.  Earth type spells could entrap with roots, and have beneficial effects on the fertility of the land.

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September 23, 2010 3:16:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't mind including more (or better = ) ideas but like with  nikmesh's  death spells, I will add a link with a brief synopsis rather than copying mighty walls of text into the "main document".

Besides, that way he can still edit and refine the spells if he comes up with more details or better ways...   for instance I could imagine this special damage being a debuff that lasts X turns and reduces the unit's MaxHP stat by 3.  When the buff wears off or is dispelled, the MaxHP would pop back to what they were before.


On Earth:

Yah, but gotta draw a line between Earth and Life somewhere.  Earth is rather the element itself.  All rock and sturdiness.
Earth doesn't need vines to entrap, for instance. Sinking into solid rock that hardens right afterward would do a number on your movement speed.
I think it's actually good style that earth is bland and boring. It's earth. =P

Doesn't mean it has to be limited to a handful of effects.  How about a Clear the Way spell that gives you movement speed near/like on a road because the ground flattens before you as you go?
Use your imagination! =P


Questing for spells would be interesting.  There could be some "rare" spells that you cannot just research automatically.

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September 23, 2010 4:37:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

^^RE: Earth & Life: that's fine, if there is both.  But there are only four types of crystals, so all magic is going to have to get shoehorned under those four, and according to the fluff in the intro movie, crystals should be pretty prominent in regards to spell casting.  Maybe keep earth and life/nature separate but have them both powered by the same crystal, or have life magic powered by, I dunno, a combination of crystals?  I'm seeing precious little healing or druid-like spells.

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September 23, 2010 5:07:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, see the sections about the Life/Death books.

It's not an element so why should it need an elemental shard?   No shoehornering needed when you can simply invent another (more fitting!) progression and turn Life/Death into "real" schools of magic instead of just being the catch-all generic book.


Still plenty of holes in my list. Noone else got anything useful? = )

For water I'm thinking along the lines of evasion (dodge), surrounding, suffocating, but also freezing.
Water elementals would have the Freeze ability, turning them from water into ice. They hit harder but are also more vulnerable to weapons because they can now be shattered. Better Fire resistance, too. In waterform they could do far more evasive and suffocaty things. It would flow around units and hit them in the back, possibly flowing through enemy ranks and flanking / surrounding units.
A simple play on the water/ice angle. Sounds like a cool ability and it's so... natural. So obvious.

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September 23, 2010 6:15:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Earth and water should be very defensive and buff focused when it comes to strategic spells. Makes a kind of logical sense, the earth and water is what is responsable for life so why shouldn't it be the two of the more powerful strategic buff schools?

I was also thinking along the lines of moats, rivers, cliffs and the mountain walls; they have always been natural defenses, so why not for spell schools as well? With that kind of logic earth & water cross school spells could grant some form of 'ultimate physical defense,' at least on the strategic map.

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September 23, 2010 7:49:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow. This surely deserves a karma point...


Nice collection of ideas, keep up the good work! I hope someone at SD is reading all those info!

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September 23, 2010 9:24:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

{Enchant items}

I would still like my enchatment of items idea to be used -

It would make the weapons alot more interesting when you suddenly find a Death/fire sword in a dungeon and it apart from doing massive damage and causing health to transfer also would have koool glowy grafics on the character (oh yes bring the glow)


Life :
Shining light : this spell targets any summoned creature and stuns it for (stats+others that makes sense) number of rounds (if the creature happens to be of the death tree (demons imps etc ) they are stunned and hurt by the light (stats + others that make sense) damage

Life force : Imbues the target with increased health and regeneration

Transference : target caster gains  (essence - ) (non permanently - a spell that allows for essence to be traded between casters (though some loss might be like if you caster the spell you loose 5 essence and the other target gains 4)

Chosen of (insert map name here) : This target becomes one with the world (ONLY ONE TARGET AT ALL TIMES ALLOWED) - gaining massive essence bonus - and mana regen - for each shard owned it boosts increasingly (ULTRA END GAME SPELL)

Death :

Cold death : This spell cause damage - and if the unit dies from this damage awakens as a zombie unit instantly (would require zombie creatures - though adding a dark aura to the same unit and transfering it to the casters control for the rest of the battle could work.

Unholy aura : The unit affected causing massive morale penalties around it - things that attack get penalized increasingly

Steal essence : The caster picks a enemy target and saps him of his essence - transfering it to him self - (this spell can be cast in combat and OFF map - targeting friendly units is possible

Death incarnate : The target of this spell becomes death itself (ONLY ONE TARGET AT ALL TIMES ALLOWED) - gaining massive essence bonus - and life stealing / for each shard controll the unit when killing other units gains a massive boost to its essence pool.(melee only)

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September 24, 2010 4:05:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Item enchantment would be closely related to the Proc topic but I have no idea which particular  "items idea"  you are referring to.


All essence transfer spells will possibly become pointless once mana becomes a global resource so I wouldn't waste too much time on that.

The game Sacrifice had an interesting Death spell.  You would summon Death (the man himself, scythe and all) who would decimate your enemy in short order. Just make sure he doesn't run out of targets too quickly. Because once he does, he'll start killing all units. Run.
Using Chosen/Incarnate to turn one unit into Superman with no drawbacks is terribly hard to balance. The only way I can imagine balancing Superman is to forbid all means of healing/regen/lifesteal for that unit so it has limited use and always costs you a unit. Also tag it with a DoT so that it loses a few HP every turn. Eventually it will burn out because "no mortal can handle such power for long".
MoM's Invulnerability and Heroism spells were way off scale. No reason to repeat mistakes in exactly the same way, eh?  = )

There's nothing wrong with having "ultra endgame spells" but one such spell must never guarantee that you win the game. Designing any powerful spell / unit / system without built-in weaknesses is always, always a terrible idea.

Banishment spells are a classic of Life magic.  Could also be a nuke that does damage based on how much mana upkeep the target unit costs. Easy way to spot magically summoned units because it doesn't make much sense to "banish" a bear.
A small life nuke could do serious damage to high level elementals because it finds more "magical link" to attack.
That Death units are favourite targets of life spell is already a side effect of the resistance system.  Once the vulnerability system is used, the stun duration of a life spell could be multiplied by the vulnerability so death creatures would be stunned far longer than say an earth creature.

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September 24, 2010 5:57:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Juggernaut / Avalance (still looking for a decent name for it.  Something earthly, implying increase or momentum)

Earth Elemental... effect 

This is a powerful ability so it would only work with strategically summoned "greater elementals".
Being able to tactically chain-summon throwaway elementals just as a vessel for the superbuff could be too nasty.

This is a spell - not an ability of the elemental - that must be channeled.
After the spell is cast, the channeler must maintain it, fueling mana into it every turn and being unable to attack/cast otherwise.  Only moving at half speed is allowed.
A lesser version could be an innate ability of all earth elementals, including lesser elementals you could summon in tac battles.

This is "only" a stat buff for the elemental. Except that it gets stronger every turn, increasing attack and defense but not HP or speed.
The elemental "grows", picking up momentum like an avalance.  If your enemy does that it would be a good idea to kill it before it becomes an unstoppable juggernaut.

When the spell wears off, the elemental crumbles, turning that tile into "broken ground".

Drawbacks of the spell:  Costs 1 greater elemental, which means strategic casting time (and reagents?) and possibly having to transport it to the front if you could only summon major creatures at Summoning Circles.
Takes one channeler out of the battle while the elemental is growing in power.  It would also do that early in the battle because obviously you want the elemental to have grown some before it hits the enemy lines.
If the channeler is interrupted/stunned, the spell "wears off". Well, there goes your elemental.
The list of restrictions is pretty harsh but I can really only guess what will work out best and how all the rules work out at the end.
Better have the functionality for these in place than having to nerf the spell... and not having a way to do so.
Besides, making spells better doesn't get the kids crying like over the Teleport nerf.

And I know just the sound effect for this spell. =P

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September 24, 2010 8:45:34 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Earth Spell:  Volcano  -  strategical

Volcano erupts in the target square.
It also creates a special Magma Elemental that automatically turns every square it "walks" on into magma. So at 1 square per turn you get to steer the magma flow into... whatever your enemy does not want you to steer it into.

Got to prevent movement buffs and regular heal spells affecting this unit - possibly make it immune to all beneficial buffs and spells.

Stepping onto magma squares would be very lethal to just about every unit and the Elemental itself would be invulnerable to fire. In fact, fire would heal it, so a negative vulnerability.
The Elemental would automatically lose HP when stepping on a new square... cooling down.
Strategical non-fire spells would be the obvious way to fight it and stop the magma flow.
Walking into water it would cool down fast but also create a bridge of basalt for as far as it gets.

You could blast your own elemental with strategic fire spells to heal it and extend it's lifetime...

Mountains would stop it. Hills? Not sure.

After x turns, all the magma squares cool into basalt. A bloody useless terrain type except it forms a nice good road.

Of course I could have invented a bland "raise volcano" spell earlier but what's the point if there is no interesting gameplay attached to it...?
That the terrain tile would look different? Yay.    "Because it's a volcano" is not a reason.

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September 24, 2010 9:34:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

i would write under the various spells and sections

Air resists EARTH

Earth resists AIR

WATEr resist fire

fire resist Water! -

it would play out the elements against each other more - so when you a water mage run across your fire nemesis you go "yooou damnation!"


also - that new schools of magic might be interesting - i would rather see combo spells due to shards in your posseion.

Earth / water would give you access to (forest type spells - etc)

this would again inforce this is ELEMENTS game -

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September 24, 2010 9:50:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's a matter of wording. With the current "resist" I mean how the element would be resisted. What you mean is what the element is vulnerable to.

Multi-School spells or other books might be interesting but again, that needs a proper design, not just the opinion that it would be cool.
For starters, what resist does a forest or steam spell check against?

Quoting Redwind85,
it would play out the elements against each other more - so when you a water mage run across your fire nemesis you go "yooou damnation!"

This is kinda... assumed. I updated the Resistance section with the thread I had previously just linked...

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September 26, 2010 9:19:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Lots of updated spells, mechanics, and uhh... stuff.
Spell:   Path of Inferno  -  tac:
    Unit buff, most likely an innate to a powerful fire elemental.
    Could also be very "interesting" as a debuff on something that is not immune to fire...

    Every tile the infernal unit steps on will be set on fire for 5 turns or so, doing damage comparable to a Fireball.
    That unit should ideally have a negative  Vulnerability.Fire  so it creates it's own healing device as it moves.
    Probably fitting for a very powerful elemental. Setting adjacent tiles on fire could be it's sole means of attack.

Spell:   Brittle Armor  -  strat / tac:  Proc Buff
    reduces the efficiency of the target's armor by 10%,  5% if it saves against  Vulnerability.Water.
    Armor hit by the "cold weapon" is more brittle and liable to break.

Spell:   Brittle Weapons  -  strat / tac:  Buff (OnHitProc)
    reduces the efficiency of the attacker's weapons by 10%,  5% if it saves against  Vulnerability.Water.
    Blades dull/break more easily and clubs could splinter.

Spell:   Blood Boil  -  tac:  Irresistible Debuff / DoT.
    Slowly heats up a unit's blood, starting with 1 damage / turn. 
    Every turn, the unit gets to save vs Vuln.Death.  If it fails, the damage doubles and stays at this higher level.
    Since the spell damage doubles, it can reach regions where it is still effective against the 1200+ HP units in the late game - unlike
    "regular" nukes that do hurt such a unit for maybe 3-5 %.
    The starting damage could also be related to the unit's max HP instead of being 1.

Spell:  Heroic Resolution:  tac:  Buff.
    On cast, the unit gains +15% max HP and +15% current HP.  Every turn afterwards, the max HP are reduced by 3 %.
    A hurt unit like at  78 / 100  would be at  89 / 115,  not at 93 / 115.  That should limit the use as a plain heal spell.

Spell:  Divine Intervention:   strat / tac:  Adaptive heal spell.    Should have considerable casting time.
    This spell heals   (( HP.Max - HP.Cur ) * 0.6 )
    A unit at 90/100 heals to 96/100  but one at  10/100 heals to 64/100.

Spell:  Engulfing Mound  -  tac:   Tile enchantment. A mound of earth rises from the ground swallowing any unit that might stand on it.
    An enemy unit can resist that and be moved to a random adjacent tile on success.
    Once a unit is swallowed, it is out of the fight. It can only attack the mound form the inside, eventually reducing it's HP to zero and destroying it.
    Units on the outside cannot attack the swallowed unit so friendly units can be protected with that.
    Hostiles would have to hack through the mound from the outside to uncover the hidden unit again.

Spell:  Entangling Vines  -  tac:  A forest square gains the ability to "attack" adjacent units, entrapping them.
    This is a Life spell attack, that the target unit can resist completely.   On failure it is trapped.
    It can not move or attack anything but the adjacent forest square (an invisible unit perhaps?), freeing itself once the "vines" are destroyed.
    As a result, this "forest" can usually only attack one unit. If it is not destroyed quickly, it could entrap more
    than one (weak) adjacent unit,  one per turn.


As you see, even the boring Life or Earth books can have some interesting effects.

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September 26, 2010 1:18:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

very nice indeed. i hope all this work doesn't go to waste(stardock i am looking at you!).

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November 6, 2010 4:14:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just bumping this back to the top for a revisit as it brings up a huge amount of great ideas.

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November 12, 2010 7:06:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've been musing about abilities (like of a fire elemental) and I think their availability should be level based for the "good stuff".

That way even summoned creatures would have some growth potential and lose that "off the shelf throwaway unit" feeling.
More hit points are nice but they aren't cool abilities.
Most of the time I just summon Stone Giants for the automatically included AOE goodness. Their actual fighting power is largely irrelevant.

The Fire Elemental's Meltdown, for instance, could be a level 3 ability.
That would mean you couldn't just summon an elemental for the sole purpose of 'sploding it with that ability. It would have to level up first.
That also means that the ability can be more powerful because you are losing a valuable unit that cannot be re-summoned near instantly.

It also opens up more possibilities in general.
If there is a "Summoner" sovereign trait, it could include that all summoned units are summoned at level 2 and / or a certain percentage of the summoner's level.

Right now, only trained units have serious growth potential because they can have better weapons or items with special stats / effects.
I would like to see a comparable growth with summoned creatures so your stone giant could progress through abilities like tossing a small rock through growing a wall of stone from the ground to large scale AOE goodness at the high levels.
That would allow for much better scaling of summoned versus trained units.

It would work the same way for creature traits.
A level 5 fire elemental could gain arrows immunity... or an increasing ranged dodge / defense value that (starting at lvl 5) scales with level beyond the normal "defense" rating.

Creature abilities could also have certain techs as a requirement.
That would truly integrate the summoned with the trained units because a lvl 3 spell creature could later on "learn" it's high level ability when you research the matching technology / spell from the lvl 8 spell book.  (or equivalent)
This would prevent "rush tactics" with summoned units because their best abilities would be withheld until a certain research level is reached.

It would also prevent low (spell) level units from becoming completely obsolete once a higher level summon is available.
The level 3 summon combined with the lvl 10 research tech might give you a relatively weak unit... but with a unique and nasty special ability.
Another hard choice and "content" is not eliminated from the game just because the next tier of creatures is available.
A situation where a whole tier of content is completely replaced by "better content" is to be avoided because it results in a drab game without many choices.
Why would you want to create interesting creatures, just to make them useless...?

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November 18, 2010 11:21:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Life spell:

Defender of the People - strat.
In some ways this is related to the Guardian Ward unit from the 1.1 patch. Only less of a blunt "fix".

A unit in a city can be enchanted to become a DotP. (I bravely resisted the temptation to call it Defender of the Commoners or DotCom)
Could be limited to 1 / city.

It negates the unit's ability to leave the city.
The spell can be turned off anytime but the unit will still not be able to leave the city (or be disbanded) for like 15 turns afterwards.

The spell ties the life force of the unit to that of the entire city, making the unit very sturdy... but at the risk of feedback through that magical link.
The unit gains attack/defense/resist based on the population count of the city. Since population levels can cross several decimals, most of the spell's power needs to come from it's base values and/or the population-based share needs to be SQR(population) to keep the range within scale.

So why would anyone not make all units Defenders?
When a DotP takes damage, so does the population. That added power has to come from somewhere.
At a HP level of 100 - 75% the feedback is minimal but gets more severe the more the Defender's HP drop.
It should not de-populate the entire city but the loss should hurt.

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