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Magic: MP vs Castings system

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devaloki
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I've been contemplating which type of magic system to use in my game and how to balance it.
My game is a dark fantasy game where the players acquire gear and new spells. Spells are conceptualized story-wise as being cast based upon emotion rather than intelligence. The players each control an individual character and you venture forth throughout the board which represents the world in the game. Characters have different stats which represents how good they are different things.
What I'm trying to work out though is how spells should be handled in the game.
Most games have magic based upon a MP system where you have magic points based upon a stat and then you spend the points to cast spells, so magic is a finite resource.
I was thinking instead though to perhaps have it so that spells have a set # of times you can cast them, you'd keep track of it by counters placed upon the card. You'd be able to recharge the counters by going back to the safe central area on the board or alternatively by having a meditation action you can do.
What i'm concerned about though is if a castings system is implemented, then you if recharge casts some casts may be more valuable than others. For example, you could have one card that gives you 5 castings with a regular magic missile spell, but the more powerful heavy magic missile spells may only have 2 castings (perhaps also # of castings could be dependent upon one of the character's stats even...but I would like to avoid that because I want all characters to be able to use magic in the game, for thematic reasons).
Does anyone have any ideas on how to implement a castings based system? Or maybe a hybrid of MP and castings system instead?
Thanks

schattentanz
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There are ways...

There are many ways to implement magic.

Magic Points are just one of them.

I've created a skirmish system where basically anyone can have access to skills and - among those: magical skills a.k.a. spells.
One special school of magic is Voodoo, since it does not require you to be adapt at magic. You can perform a Voodoo skill simply by performing a skill check. If you succeed, you generate a very basic effect. The Voodoo skill "Maman Brigitte" sets an opponent on fire. (Maman Brigitte is a Voodoo Spirit of death and she is associated with fire in Haitian mythology). However, if you fuel that skill with magic, Maman Brigitte sets everyone on fire within a certain reach of the target PLUS the range for performing that skill increases.

So you could use this example to create your skills likewise:
Without magic, players may only generate some Basic effects, while players adept in magic may generate bigger effects or enjoy other benefits.

Different thought:

You are worried about castings being more valuable than others. Soooo??
What's the issue? A more powerful spell is more difficult to learn and thus can only be momorized less often.
Where is the problem? That's an issue mages in many systems have to cope with. D&D being the first one or at least among the first ones to introduce this kind of system.

Yet another different though:

Talisman has got a mechanic that allows some characters to cast spells. The spells they know are drawn from a deck of spell cards. If a spell gets cast, the according card is discarded if your character does not have a special rule allowing him to keep the card.

Hope that helped :)

Kind regards,
Kai

devaloki
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"So you could use this

"So you could use this example to create your skills likewise:
Without magic, players may only generate some Basic effects, while players adept in magic may generate bigger effects or enjoy other benefits"
Good idea, I think I'll keep with that.

"You are worried about castings being more valuable than others. Soooo??
What's the issue? "
The issue is what if they use something like a magic potion. In a MP based system magic potions restore a certain amount of MP. But if it's castings based instead of mp, then gaining back 1 casting of a 2d6 damage spell is worth more than 1 casting back of a 1d6 damage spell.
But I came up with a solution to this earlier...I'll have the spells have levels, say for e.g. level 1 spells, level 2, level 3. A magic potion could restore 3 casts for level 1 spell, 2 for level 2, or 1 cast for level 3...

"A more powerful spell is more difficult to learn and thus can only be momorized less often."
Well, I could do that alternatively with having spells require certain stats to use...but instead what I'm doing is having it so that players gain spells like cards in Mage Knight (advanced action cards in that game i mean). So if a player find a spell card at random in the gameworld, they could always use the spell. But I do get what you're saying.

schattentanz
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Finding spells at random

Something that has troubled me in Talisman as well:

Suddenly - BING - enlightment! "Oooooh - I've learnt a spell by searching an area".

Seriously, WTF?

Suggestion: Instead of finding spells at random, players could find spell teachers at random offering a random selection of spells and choose a number of those spells offered depending on factors such as magic attribute, money or whatever.
That way the random element is kept but it would feel more thematic.

Just a thought.

Kind regards,
Kai

larienna
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I had an idea once to have a

I had an idea once to have a deck building spell casting game.

I assume that each card included the mana necessary to cast itself. But if you wanted to pump other spells, you could discard additional cards to spend addition mana. Similar to san juan.

Anything that gave you more mana in the game simply gave you more cards. So at the same time, you would get a bigger choice of spells.

DifferentName
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Get Creative

I love when magic is done in a new and interesting way. A lot of the old final fantasy games had new ways of learning magic each time, like espers, magicite, or job points. In Diablo 3, each character has a different resource for their abilities, which all work in slightly different ways. Some increase as you hit enemies, others increase at faster or slower rates, changing the feel of that class.

With MP and limited numbers of casting, players may be somewhat discouraged from casting spells, knowing that if they do, they'll run out and won't be able to cast spells again if something tougher comes up. Alternatively, there's resources like land in magic the gathering, so instead of depleting your resources and running out, it replenishes every turn, and gets more powerful over the course of the game.

For a board/card game, I think magic is really an opportunity to play around with the mechanics of the game, adding odd/interesting things to mess with cards or resources in a new way. I recommend getting creative, and considering how you want magic to feel in the game, then you can find or create the mechanic that fits that feeling.

@larienna: That sounds fun! :)

devaloki
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haha, yeah I hear ya on that

haha, yeah I hear ya on that one!
And yeah, actually what I had in mind was to have it so players can gain spells at random from defeating enemies as well as learning them from teachers (i plan on having npcs that you have to find by exploring locations, once you unlock them they have an Offer of items and/or things you can learn and purchase).
With the random ones, it's explained thematically in my game...but I don't want to spoil exactly how just yet. But one thing I was thinking of doing concerning when a player acquires one is that they can sometimes influence what exactly they get.
So say for instance you explore an area and you find a level 1 spell. You draw the top card from spells deck and take it. But characters also have an intelligence stat in the game. For each 2 levels (rounded up, i.e. you only get bonuses at int. 2, 4, 6, etc.) you draw one additional card from the top and you get to choose out of those drawn which one you keep. Or occasionally too you will get to mill cards from the deck until you get a particular TYPE of spell belonging to the Alignment that you are most strongly aligned with.

schattentanz wrote:
Something that has troubled me in Talisman as well:

Suddenly - BING - enlightment! "Oooooh - I've learnt a spell by searching an area".

Seriously, WTF?

Suggestion: Instead of finding spells at random, players could find spell teachers at random offering a random selection of spells and choose a number of those spells offered depending on factors such as magic attribute, money or whatever.
That way the random element is kept but it would feel more thematic.

Just a thought.

Kind regards,
Kai

devaloki
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larienna wrote:I had an idea

larienna wrote:
I had an idea once to have a deck building spell casting game.

I assume that each card included the mana necessary to cast itself. But if you wanted to pump other spells, you could discard additional cards to spend addition mana. Similar to san juan.

Anything that gave you more mana in the game simply gave you more cards. So at the same time, you would get a bigger choice of spells.

There's a deck building game out on IOS that does what you were saying, it's called "Destiny Quest" check it out, it's fun but very very tough. It has interesting mechanics

devaloki
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"With MP and limited numbers

"With MP and limited numbers of casting, players may be somewhat discouraged from casting spells, knowing that if they do, they'll run out and won't be able to cast spells again if something tougher comes up. "
THIS is what I'm trying to aim for though in my game!
The basic idea of the game is there are 5 different regions in the game, at the end of each region is a boss you must beat, you travel into the regions through starting in the center safe spot on the board and venture out into the regions from there. Getting to the boss is supposed to be tough and arduous journey. Kind of like ascending a mountain...
Things like spells and health are a resource you need to carefully manage and choose when is the correct time to use it.
All characters can (and will want to) use magic in the game, it's not limited to wizard builds.
Limited number of castings seems like the logical way to handle it for my game, I'm just not sure how to implement it. What I do like about at MP system for magic is how you give different spells very specific and varied casting costs. What I don't like about MP systems is how you have the versatility of choosing which spells to utilize whenever you want. I'd like the player in my game to run into things like "should I use this fireball spell now? or should i save it for the boss?"
Perhaps castings could recharge based upon event cards? Or you could also recharge them by meditating in certain spaces that allow you to do so?
Any ideas would be appreciated...

DifferentName wrote:
I love when magic is done in a new and interesting way. A lot of the old final fantasy games had new ways of learning magic each time, like espers, magicite, or job points. In Diablo 3, each character has a different resource for their abilities, which all work in slightly different ways. Some increase as you hit enemies, others increase at faster or slower rates, changing the feel of that class.

With MP and limited numbers of casting, players may be somewhat discouraged from casting spells, knowing that if they do, they'll run out and won't be able to cast spells again if something tougher comes up. Alternatively, there's resources like land in magic the gathering, so instead of depleting your resources and running out, it replenishes every turn, and gets more powerful over the course of the game.

For a board/card game, I think magic is really an opportunity to play around with the mechanics of the game, adding odd/interesting things to mess with cards or resources in a new way. I recommend getting creative, and considering how you want magic to feel in the game, then you can find or create the mechanic that fits that feeling.

@larienna: That sounds fun! :)

larienna
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Quote:There's a deck building

Quote:
There's a deck building game out on IOS that does what you were saying, it's called "Destiny Quest" check it out, it's fun but very very tough. It has interesting mechanics

@larienna: That sounds fun! :)

I currently have a neat spellbook deck building mechanism that I would have loved to use for a master of magic style game. Other features includes using cards to purchase new spells. Each card would give a research value of a certain color, allowing you research otehr spells of the same color. You can also cast ritual spell, stronger spells that takes more turn. If you buy multiple copies of the same spell, and remove some copies from your deck to power up the other cards of the same name in your deck.

So as you can see, very cool mechanics ... but, spells are only cool if they can affect something which is my problem. In all board game attempts I have made of Master of Magic, there is never enought elements or details that can be affected by a spell because a board game is much more limited than a video game for the amount of information it could manage.

I might try to make some sort of solo/2 player solo game where players fight against events. Maybe a more thematic game. The civilization building aspect of the game might not be managed by the player, it could be automatic with an AI, or it could be only a "defend the empire" type of game instead of 4X. The player having little control on empire management will be forced to use his spells wisely to win. Else all other MOM board game idea, civ management takes more space than spell casting.

It's still an idea in progress.

devaloki
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So do any of you have any

So do any of you have any ideas or tips on, if i use a castings based system, how to have spells regenerate castings and how to keep track of number of casts left? The set up of the board would have it so there is a safe central spot and you venture forth from the safe spot into 5 different regions that connect to it, each with their own unique challenges. Also, all characters are able to use magic in the game, since it's pivotal to the story.
I had an odd idea too that perhaps each spell could add a certain # to your mp total if i use a mp system instead...

schattentanz
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Cards and Cubes

Since you are using cards for spells anyway, you could simply have the players put cubes on the cards, one for each casting.
You could "punish" players for wanting to replenish the more powerful spells e.g. by having them to wait longer for a replenishment or by having them to pay more (if that goes along with your system).

kos
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Double use spells

Have you considered double use spells? So each spell card has a weak version and a strong version (e.g. lightning bolt and chain lightning).

You can cast the weak version an unlimited number of times, but if you use the strong version you must flip it over that it can no longer be used (even the weak version) until you return to the safe zone to recharge.

A system like this may create some interesting choices about when to use the strong spells, and some interesting choices of which spells to take.

Just some ideas,
kos

devaloki
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schattentanz wrote:Since you

schattentanz wrote:
Since you are using cards for spells anyway, you could simply have the players put cubes on the cards, one for each casting.
You could "punish" players for wanting to replenish the more powerful spells e.g. by having them to wait longer for a replenishment or by having them to pay more (if that goes along with your system).

Yeah definitely with the cubes idea, that had crossed my mind already with regard to it. Or alternatively I could also have it so there is a track on the card, and you move a single cube on it to keep track of how many casts are left.

"You could "punish" players for wanting to replenish the more powerful spells e.g. by having them to wait longer for a replenishment"
True.
Or instead of simply waiting, perhaps the character can meditate at the central area to restore spells casts, and you do so by rolling d6s to restore casts. higher level spells need higher results. So for example, each 4+ you roll when trying to restore a level 1 spell's casts restores 1 cast each (up to max of course), whilst level 3 spells require 6s to restore casts.

"by having them to pay more (if that goes along with your system)."
Pay more of what though?
Two ideas i could think of (if I use that type of method, though I most likely will keep with the meditation idea instead) would be either
1. Pay "essence" to restore casts (in my game, there will only be one main currency which will be used not only to buy things but also to level up and other such things)
or
2. If there is a MP system in the game (unlikely, considering that I want ALL characters to have access to magic, or at least the main type of magic in the game, due to the story of the game...magic is cast , in short, due to power of will, through chanting words of power, not from intelligence like how magic is commonly conceptualized in fantasy), then I could have it so you "attune" MP as casts to spells when doing a meditate action...MP itself would restore naturally over time due to event cards mainly as well as some locations on board restoring it. So in that type of system, for example, I could have it so say a character has 10 MP currently. They have a level 1 lighting bolt spell, can have up to 6 castings, each casting costs 2 MP to attune. Whilst a level 2 Lightning Storm spell costs 5 MP for each casting, up to 3 castings...

I'll have to test each out and see which I like best, but thanks for the food for thought as always schattentanz :]

devaloki
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kos wrote:Have you considered

kos wrote:
Have you considered double use spells? So each spell card has a weak version and a strong version (e.g. lightning bolt and chain lightning).

You can cast the weak version an unlimited number of times, but if you use the strong version you must flip it over that it can no longer be used (even the weak version) until you return to the safe zone to recharge.

A system like this may create some interesting choices about when to use the strong spells, and some interesting choices of which spells to take.

Just some ideas,
kos

I do like your idea a lot of basic effect of some spells having infinite castings.
I actually already though have a concept for basic and strong effect of spells, but it works a bit differently.
In my game, as part of the story, there are 5 Alignments a character can gain experience in. This represents them gaining mastery over cosmic forces that shape the universe (which correspond to emotions within humans) either by them aligning themselves with a certain worldview within the game or simply by gaining knowledge of how that Alignment operates, it's esoteric secrets and words of power.
From a gameplay perspective, it works like this:
Each Alignment has a scale of 1 to 6, you have 5 tokens and you place each token at beginning of game on the 1 space of each Alignment at the start. As you do quests or certain actions, your Alignment can rise.
Spells have a basic effect that anyone can use. The enhanced effect comes into play when you reach a certain level in the corresponding Alignment.
So, for example, if you have a Blinding Flash attack spell, its basic damage could be 1d6, but if you have 3+ in the Law Alignment then it becomes the enhanced version of 1d6+2.

I suppose though I could also incorporate your idea into it, so that spells have basic effect, enhanced effect (from Alignment), and optional strong version (that has more limited number of castings, or turns the card face down when used and doesn't turn face back up for awhile).

devaloki
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Thinking of it, I think I'll

Thinking of it, I think I'll definitely be keeping with this idea and modifying it some more, so things are solved, thanks yall! The central safe area would give you more d6s when meditating than instead of when doing it outside the safe area
"Or instead of simply waiting, perhaps the character can meditate at the central area to restore spells casts, and you do so by rolling d6s to restore casts. higher level spells need higher results. So for example, each 4+ you roll when trying to restore a level 1 spell's casts restores 1 cast each (up to max of course), whilst level 3 spells require 6s to restore casts.
"

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