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Lame Mages

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wombat929
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Okay, I'm just giving in to a 10 minute brainstorm in public here. Soulfinger mentioned getting hit accidentally with a spell in another forum, and it got me to thinking about Mickey in FANTASIA, playing with magic he can't understand. So, here's an idea. Add to it, augment it, let's see where it goes.

LAME MAGES
The game of apprentice wizards playing with powers they can't possibly understand.

Gameplay - wizards have a series of spell cards with a variety of components and symbols on them. The components could be tokens or cards they need to get from the store room (set collecting) and the symbols would be indicators of what the spells do.

The trick here is that the actual spells are separate cards from the casting of them. So players assemble the ingredients and try the spells without knowing what they do.

The symbols on the spell cards could mean things like "aggressive toward the target" or "helpful to the caster" and so on. Here's how I'd imagine this would work. These would be dealt onto the board face down, so each game the effects are different.

Wizard uses some set collecting mechanism to get the ingredients to cast spell A, which has four symbols on it (!@#$). Then the wizard selects two of the symbols to activate in casting the spell (@$). When the spell is cast, the wizard would choose which symbols to activate, peek at the cards (without revealing them to everyone else), and resolve the spells.

Winning mechanism?
Other ideas for effects?

Is this too close to all those gosh darn alchemy games that are on the market right now?

What if it were re-themed slightly into a battlefield situation, where the main wizard for the army has been killed, and his very green apprentice must cast the support spells for the army? The spells could help or hinder the troops on the field, and the win condition could be the army winning?

wombat929
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The more I think on it, the

The more I think on it, the more I like the notion of the battlefield wizard incompetent. The scenario could be thus -- as the battle gets underway, the wizard is in the zone, casting spells and doing battle from his tent or caravan near the back of the field. The apprentice bumps him or spills something, and while his concentration is broken, an arrow comes through the window and kills him. Now the apprentice must try to protect the army by casting spells from the wizard's spellbook, without really knowing what they do.

Progress or failure could be tracked in:
- Damage to the enemy forces
- Damage / health of own forces
- Protection of the leader
- Damage to the wizard's caravan.

wombat929
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Also just realized why the

Also just realized why the name "lame mage" came to me so quickly -- it's the production company founded by BEN ROBBINS, the amazing designer behind MICROSCOPE and KINGDOM.

So, added to the brainstorm list, a new name.

chris_mancini
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I love the notion of an

I love the notion of an alchemy game rooted in humor...the wizards you play, the ingredients you use...lots of room for weird, gross and outrageous stuff! I guess the only thing in this thematic area would be Epic Spell Wars, which does what it sets out to do in a pretty awesome way.

The game Cauldron Quest also has a neat mechanic where you're moving ingredients closer to the pot, but you don't know what they are unless revealed through certain abilities. The notion of manipulating ingredients without knowing what they are in hopes that they'll work out in everyone's favor delivers a bit of that "apprentice" theme you're looking at. I also like the idea of a "master wizard" watching over the players who can help or hinder based on player actions.

The trick would come in making the players feel accomplished, whether it be in success or spectacular failure. I like the idea of "a a bit of this, a bit of that" to see what your result is; kind of "alchemy with idiots" where the players are just tossing a bunch of things into a pot to see what they do. How that is regulated or given any strategy, IDK. You'd want only so much luck, and if the players can go from feeling completely inept at the beginning of the game, to feeling like a powerful warlock at the end...there's a great arc there.

"Nitwitch - The Game Of Idiotic Incantations!"

wombat929
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Great title! Regarding

Great title!

Regarding alchemy, the pot overfloweth this year -- The Alchemists, Alchemy, Apothecaria (or something like that). There are at least three or four prominent potion-making games either just released or in development right now.

That's why I think the battlefield story would make it a bit different. I also love the title Nitwitch.

Midnight_Carnival
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I'm aware that it can be very

I'm aware that it can be very irritating when people are looking for insight/feedback and all somebody has to say is "your [game/story/painting/etc] is awsome! you rock man!" so I'm avoiding this and saying that I'd really like to play your game once its done.

As for wining conditions, I don't think the victory should only be decided by battle, although this could work as a victory condition. I was thinking of several possible ways of achieving victory in the game. Here are just some possilbities I'm randomly chucking out there which you can use, improve on or reject as you see fit:

-combat
-a very high-level (and complcated spell requiring) result a player could achieve at any point in the game (eg: morph yourelf into a dragon)
-a hidden "cluedo" spell which nobody sees and mages can test for (somehow).
-collecting a total of however many points for accidentally not in their spell casting/fumbling.
-last man standing (many of the spell combiations could have deadly results even if not applied to other mages).

Oh yes, and your game sounds awsome, you rock man, etc.

let-off studios
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Possible Scenario

Each player is an apprentice to a powerful mage of an exclusive clan or tribe. There's a mystical vault out there somewhere in the wilderness, and "when the stars are right" all the mages came out to the vault in an attempt to open it. However, since so many mages showed up and were slinging spells all over the place, the vault defenses slew all the mages who were casting spells, leaving only their apprentices (and perhaps a few foot soldiers) alive and aware.

Worse yet, the vault wasn't just the repository for magical treasures and arcane knowledge, but a containment unit for all sorts of nasty, magical beasts that are now escaping thanks to the compromised state of the vault. There is also some knowledge surfacing that hints to an immensely-powerful enchanted monster dwelling deep within the vault, locked in there ages ago to protect the world from their machinations...

The players must find ways to acquire as much magical knowledge as they can, or send in magically-augmented solders to reclaim as many magical treasures as possible from the vault. However, leave the vault open for too long, and no one survives the escaping magical monsters. Coupling that with the fact that these are apprentices who know very little, AND the fact that this is a desperate, time-sensitive situation...It makes for some dramatic scenarios.

The player's objective is at least two-fold:
- seal the vault before too many monsters escape/the breaches of the magical vault become large/numerous enough to let some "big baddie" escape
- collect treasures and knowledge/spells so that when/if the vault is sealed they will be recognized as the most powerful mage in the known world.

larndt
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Set collecting game?

The concept is great for a board game, but I couldn't see it getting a following as a set collecting game. Expansions with more diverse cards would work fine, but I think this game would really shine as a deck building board game that doesn't require set collecting.

markgrafn
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I had a thought

in the same vein as a inept mage. The game would use specific words that combine to make a three part incantation. Then you would need to look up the three word incantation in a "spellbook" to determine the effect of that incantation. For example "VAJO SHAGOL TERIMUS" would have a different effect than "TERIMUS VAJO SHAGOL" and so on. Just an idea....

Tbone
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Training

You could go as simple with the theme as the master mage leaving for an important quest and leaves the mages (players) to look after the castle/lair/dungeon etc. Of course, when curious little mages are left alone with bottles of funky smelling potions, you'd expect an interesting turn out.

You could call it "Curious Little Mages", "Little Mages". I could see a silly art theme attached real good to this type of game, but still make it look mature.

I like the idea of just chucking a whole slew of potions to see what happens. That could even be a winning condition: The most spells casted. I love having multiple ways of winning too, it makes the game VERY interesting. So you could give point values to different winning conditions...

Cast the most spells: 2 points
Cause the least amount of damage to your surroundings: 2 points
Reach lvl 4 mage or higher: 3 points
Defeat the mega dungeon monster: 5 points (I can even see this as a cooperative type winning condition where the mage who deals the most damage gains more points but its easier to take down with more mages? Idk, it might not work but just a thought)

Etc. Etc.

-Spells-

Spells will obviously have a cost but as seen above it could have a potential to do something bad (blow up, create something you can't control, etc.) This fits with the "I'm a silly little mage and have no idea what I'm doing" -insert science dog meme-. You could have dice as the determining factor and as you level up you get better and the odds are lower for making an "oopsie!!".

-End Game-

You could easily bring in a round type system for how long the Master is out on his quest. The game woukd obviously end when he gets back and sees the mess you've made!

Just some ideas.

Sounds cool so far!

wombat929
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Midnight_Carnival - Thanks!

Midnight_Carnival - Thanks! These all sound like great ideas. And I hope I never get tired of people saying things like "great idea!"

let off studios - that's a cool twist that requires some collaboration among players as well. Consider that idea tossed "into the pot." Thanks!

larndt - I guess I saw the set collecting aspect as part of how the wizards learn to cast the spells.

markgrfn - cool idea. I like the notion of vocalizing as part of the game. Theme always develops better with this kind of thing.

tbone - that sounds cool, and more cute. I'd worry that it feels awfully close to the other alchemy games out right now.

chris_mancini
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I too really like the idea of

I too really like the idea of having to vocalize as part of casting a spell...perhaps it's a "magical phrase" which players each have to memorize at the beginning, but do not speak it for a few rounds, giving them time to forget it. Players cannot check the phrase again...if they forget any portion of it, their spell goes completely awry.

It made me think of the "Klatu...Verata...Nichhhhaah*cough*" scene from Army Of Darkness!

Midnight_Carnival
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I don't know these Alchemy

I don't know these Alchemy games so I can't comment on how close this game is to them.

I think that while the game might work as a card game, there is far more potential for it as a board game (perhaps with cards). The goard could be quite creative, a representation of the wizard's tower, perhaps a sort of circit or perhaps a sort of maze, there would be places where you can get resources/elements and a perhaps places you can cast spells from?
I think this would "open up" the game, adding the elements of sabotaging the other aprentices rather than waging direct war on them (although it would be nice if that was retained as an option), some spells might be cast on a certain square, they might have effects which hinder players or they could provide a bonus, they might last however long.

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