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Elemental Dice

8 replies [Last post]
Joined: 08/04/2018

The primary casting cost source comes from dice with a different element in each face. You earn more dice over the course of the game and casting costs are met in a press your luck fashion. Lore-wise, the idea is, as a magic user, you find these elements around you and channel them into your spells.

At this point the four basic elements are fire, earth, air and water. The basic dice are either 4 sided or 6 sided (with a colorless side and a wild side). 8 sided dice are upgraded from basic dice and contain a randomized assortment of non-basic (acid, lightning, etc.) and basic elements.

But now I'm second guessing my choice of elements. Just seems too vanilla and cliche. Sticking to the current mechanics, what are some other elemental type systems I could use? Thanks! :)

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Reminds me of an old early

Reminds me of an old early design I made at least 15 years ago.

Anyway, the nb of elements will affect randomness. the more elements you have, the less likely you'll have a card matching the rolls unless the dices only has a subset of elements.

4 Elements could be too much or really limit. Else I think 5+ elements will be too much.

But still, if there is a banking features like one of Yugioh dice-miniature game where unused faces could be stored for future turns, then it could be not as bad to have 5 or 6 elements. It will simply delay your card play for later, but eventually you are going to get it.

Else having the possibility to trade 2:1, 3:1 or 4:1 of a single element to any other element could be a good idea to prevent lock downs. Take a look at star trek print and play dice game. There is such mechanism.


For 5 elements, you can use chinese and japanese element wheel.

6 Elements are also possible, normally the 4 basic elements + Light/Dark, Life/Death or Spirit/Body for example.

I have also seen * elements in the video game "Lords of magic"

Else if you make your own elements, you could try to define what elements represent. Is it an abstract representation of what it can do. Or is it really what you see. For example, fire is just fire. Or is it also the representation of fury, speed, destruction, etc.

Jay103's picture
Joined: 01/23/2018
I have a press-your-luck

I have a press-your-luck style card game on the back burner that's similar, except using regular dice.

I think there's something to be said for the classics. No good reason to make up new mana elements when earth/air/fire/water work so well and also are already anchored in the minds of your audience.

The E/A/F/W/blank/wild sounds pretty solid to me.. that's what I would probably use myself.

From a manufacturing standpoint, I'm pretty sure it's a lot easier to make custom D6 than D4 and D8, just fyi.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote:The E/A/F/W/blank/wild

The E/A/F/W/blank/wild sounds pretty solid to me.. that's what I would probably use myself.

Hmm interesting!

Maybe instead of blank, you could have convert another die to a face of your choice.

Wild could be, transform itself into a face you already rolled. That makes it less powerful than simple wild.

Joined: 08/04/2018
I've actually been tossing

I've actually been tossing around the idea that higher order elements are compositions of lower ones. So rolling a water and a fire could combine to make steam or, conversely, a steam on a larger die could provide water, fire or both.

There are also ways to gain/store/manipulate elemental charges, so you would not be entirely at the mercy of your dice rolls.

Joined: 12/22/2015
go abstract and then back to theme

Forget about elements for a bit - use "factions" or "colors" or whatever - and get the mechanics down.

When the mechanics are good, then let the theme come back in.

If you want elements the Western tradition would be Fire, Water, Air, Earth and is modified by adding Spirit.

Eastern is Fire, Water, Wind, Wood, Metal.

I would recommend thinking of "resultant" or "complex" rather than "higher order".

Water and Earth can give both Clay (which can be shaped) and Mud. Fire and Water can also give Acid. One opposite of Earth is Sand.

A cup and a sponge are both "elemental weapons" of Water.

Jay103's picture
Joined: 01/23/2018
gxnpt wrote:If you want

gxnpt wrote:

If you want elements the Western tradition would be Fire, Water, Air, Earth and is modified by adding Spirit.

I had a video game design once that used E/A/F/W and then Holy. The elements basically were melee defense (with melee offense in there as well) (earth), melee offense (particularly ranged) (air), magic defense (water), magic offense (fire). And then Holy was separate from that system and included all the healing stuff. Things were generally a blend of elements. Never had a chance to finish the design or game, though.

Game classes were part of the blend:

Tank: Earth
Warrior: Earth + Air
Ranger: Air (the bow kind, not the magic kind)
Wizard: Fire
Shaman: Water
Cleric: Holy
Druid: Water + Holy
Paladin: Earth + Holy
etc (you can then make non-traditional classes part of the system as well, like Earth+Fire is a part-strength wizard who can wear armor, like the magic end of a D&D Ranger)

Sigh, I miss that.

I like the idea of having advanced elements, if you want advanced elements, that are combinations.

Let's see..
earth+air = dust
earth+fire = glass/crystal/gem
earth+water = mud/clay/soil (the latter leading toward growth or healing?)
fire+air = smoke/plasma/lightning/energy
fire+water = steam/acid
air+water = mist/fog

I'm fine with designing the elemental system first, before the other stuff, because (a) some people, like me, find that fun, and (b) you can get emergent mechanics from it. Or (c) you can discover that you can't really shoehorn it into the game you want to make, and then it forces you to step back and re-evaluate.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Some things to look at.

If you are looking for more element systems. You might like to take a look at certain anime/cartoons.

Avatar (the last air bender / Katara)
Has 4 basic elements. And each element has an advanced element without combinations. However, I remember that in one of the episodes. A water bender and air bender work together to move clouds, which are combinations of air and water.

Has 5 basic elements. And starts combining 2 elements. Then 3, etc. All the way up to 5 elements combined.

I don't know what they are doing. But so far, each "element" is going solo. However, some sound as combinations. And you actually might get some new idea's when seeing how the "element" is called or the attacks that these pokemon do.

Magic the Gathering
5 elements. Also combinations in various ratio's. Perhaps you can combine water with earth, but also 2 times water with 1 earth or the other way around.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Another way of doing it...

Instead of worrying about "combinations" of the various elements like "Fire + Water = Steam"... You could make it about THE RESULT of element evolution.

What do I mean?

Well it's pretty simple: "Fire + Earth" = Summon Fire Elemental, "Fire + Wind" = Flame Storm, "Fire + Water" = Burning Hands, etc.

It might be EASIER to picture "the result" of elements or "SPELLS" because all you need is to think of how those elements work together and not worry about the combination just a more powerful result...

This might be EASIER and make more SENSE. Cheers!

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