I like the idea of starting the game with a number of books based on your INT. Makes for another good excuse to invest in the stat.
I've been reading alot of other posts about the magic system, and I don't have the impression that it is as broken as people think it is. Its just kind of... dull. It will get somewhat better with more spells. MoM had lots of spells spread across 6 schools, and that was plenty enough to insure lots of fun and mystery because the spells you got were randomly selected. So, you were not guaranteed from game to game to get your favorite spells. If Elemental does this, things could get quite exciting.
And... Elemental really needs to have a really good "I just got a spell!" animation. The little pop-up window we have now, while informative, is lame. I used to love the new spell animation in MoM. It was an exciting Eureka! moment. As it should be.
Also, what was fun was that you could cast most of the spells that you researched. Super-expensive spells merely took lots of time to cast... you weren't locked out of it for lack of skill. The biggest complaint about the magic system seems to be the fact that using essence for gameplay effects gimps your ability to cast.
It doesn't have to be this way. Implement a slider, like MoM, that allocates the spell points that you generate per turn to three things:
(1) Spell research.
(2) Mana point (casting) regeneration.
(3) Essence generation. 50 accumulated points (or something) gives you 1 essence point to start.
Say that you generate 4 spell points per turn. You could use 2 for spell research, 1 to pump your mana regeneration, and 1 as a long-term investment in your mana cap. When you don't need mana regeneration, re-allocate to the other two. But, if you face a series of battles, you might need the mana regeneration a lot. Hit the sliders for a short term boost.
Is a summoning or enchantment spell too expensive to cast by being above mana cap? Don't disallow the casting... just make it take more turns to cast based on your mana regeneration. If a spell costs 20 and your cap is 10 with a mana regen of 2, make it cost 6 turns to cast. This is what MoM would do. To cast faster, shift your sliders to mana regen for a quick boost to casting speed for those big spells. Finally, because you could buy essence with research, people will be a bit less reluctant to use it for map modification and imbueing.
I've been thinking about deep dungeons, 10 levels deep or more. Dungeons that go deep allow for lots of adventuring opportunities (level ups and rewards) without adding to map clutter. Also, such "world dungeons" would spawn monsters from time to time on the surface map from the deepest level that has been explored. These extra spawns would make the surface map more exciting, and make the need to clear them more urgent as tine goes on.
Anyway... enough musing for now... got to get ready for work...