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Should magic-users buy and/or equip their spells?

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

I have not seen this in a lot of video game RPG except Final Fantasy 1. In that game, magic users need to buy their spells to learn them and they can only learn 3 out of 4 spells giving them different spell configurations.

Non-Magic users generally have to spend a lot of money on weapons, armors, expandables and other stuff. On the other hand, Magic Users have limited equipment they can buy, so the spendings of magic using character is generally lower than other classes.

So to even things out, paying to learn spells could be a way to make sure magic users requires as much money than non-magic using classes. This seems essential if each character has a separate pool of money. If the gold is pooled for the party, there will be less reasons to even the spendings of different classes.

Another interesting feature in Final Fantasy 1 is preventing the player to buy all spells for his character. So he must make a choose which spell to acquire. The problem is that you could get a spell that ends up beign less useful than you though, than means you are now stuck with it. An alternative could be that you equip spells, when there there is spells that you don't like, you can unequip them and replace them with other spells.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
FF1 Stuff

I have a couple points to add. I remember playing many, many hours of FF1 and I have some observations. I think I even beat the game with a party of just magic-users back in the day(two Black, one White, one Red). So there's a lot to consider.

  • While typical magic-users on other fantasy games would adorn themselves with protective jewelry like amulets and rings instead of armour, inventory slots were limited. To represent this in FF1, they forced magic users to also invest in armour, up to a point.
  • In FF1, any character could be attacked by any opponent and any character could target any opponent, regardless of their position. Position wasn't factored in beyond abstract terms, except that those last in player order had less of a chance to be attacked. An interesting side-effect of this is that there were technically no ranged weapons in FF1...
  • There seemed to be a lot more area-effect attacks in FF1, so even lightly-armoured/rear-rank characters would suffer a lot of damage. This also forced players to have to heal everyone in the party more frequently, not just the typical front-line fighters. You'd be spending that extra cash on healing potions.

Other games have introduced limiting factors on magic-users as glass cannons. You bring up a couple such as limited spellbooks, spell slots, pooling money, etc. I still remember these additional options from my AD&D days. There are countless ways to suck up extra cash and/or make life itself a costly endeavor for any magic-user:

  • Implementing positioning allows magic-users to be targeted, and makes the restrictions of area-of-effect spells (Fireball, Cone of Cold, Melf's Minute Meteors, etc.) much more significant. Their "killer" spell doesn't always rope-in everyone within range.
  • Structure combat encounters to keep magic users in danger: area attacks, missile attacks, ambushes, anti-magic zones (if you must), etc. This is "DM 101."
  • Implement magic resistance to certain types of spells.
  • Implement an abstracted cost for spell reagents and components, particularly for higher-level spells. If you feel like stockpiling of cash is a problem, this can solve the issue decisively - but it needs to be balanced. Fortunately, you can manipulate the availability/scarcity/costs for components in-game just like any other variable.
  • Implement a chance to fail at casting a spell, with ways to mitigate this chance: expensive costuming/jewelry/amulets, a staff, wand or totem that needs to be on-hand at all times, expensive stays at the magic college or remote locations, etc.
  • Implement a magic focus object. It's an object (like a staff, wand, crystal, etc.) that contains magical power, and the magic user has been trained to channel it outward. The more powerful - and expensive - the item, the more spell power (and higher level spells) it contains. Of course, the magic user can spend money to recharge this item if its natural recharge rate is too slow. The really expensive magic focus objects also reduce chance to fail at casting...

Hopefully this is useful! Thinking about this stuff always takes me back and it's nice to stroll down memory lane every once in a while. :)

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
What I find interesting

I have seen that some games have a character. Learn new spells with an increasing cost rate.
Older spells can be increased in efficiency and power at the same increasing cost rate.
Of course, you also need mana to cast the spell.

But the same spells can be bought at as a limited use for a fixed cost. And the spell+mana was mostly embedded inside the scroll.

A character could learn a spell for 1 point, then the next one for 2 points. etc. And while the spellbook would cost a fixed amount. The material in order to learn the spell would increase due to your knowledge as magician.

And a limited spell would cost like if you are spending 3 points. So while having "free" spells increase in costs. The limited spells remain constant. Eventually, you need to choose to grind or to simply accumulate a lot of limited spells. A player could go for the scrolls as if they are ammunition. But one of the spells would be increased in a lot of effectivness. And it would be a personal thing.

Some spells might gain overkill. And thus it is more strategical to have a second spell that you grind on. Maybe even a third. Then again, if you go for all types of spells at the lowest tier. The scrolls are simply relatively cheaper.

Let's say a triant is bad against fire.
Then the player could have a tier 1 spell on fire and a scroll of fire. A bigger triant needs more fire. So either grind the fire spell to a higher rank. Or start using more fire scrolls.
In the meantime, a firebug might be defeated with a water spell. The player can now choose to have a tier 1 water spell instead of a tier 2 fire spell.
A bigger firebug and triant, would both cost only 1 scroll now. Unless there is a way to get cheaper scrolls of a kind. Then the player might choose to do that.

There are many possibilities in this.

Warcraft 3 also kinda works like this. But not the same.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote: Position wasn't

Position wasn't factored in beyond abstract terms, except that those last in player order had less of a chance to be attacked.

Incorrect, the higher in rank the character, the greater to odds to get attacked. This is why your fighter in front line always get most of the hits.

Implement a chance to fail at casting a spell

Currently, I made spells works like attacks and having a chance to fail (Like in DnD4th ed), but there are much less defenses available. But the problem is that you pay MP to cast a spell, you do not pay anything for regular attacks. Since you pay for it, I though that having a spell that could fail makes the cost too high. There needs to be something else to compensate, like more powerful outcome than a simple attack. Or maybe less natural defense than regular attacks.

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