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Old 05-02-2008, 06:04 PM   #1
Mabus
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Spell Components System

Warning, rambling and random thoughts!

Just fishing around for ideas and thoughts as I begin to redesign our spell system.

I had used base raw materials as components on the system, and had them held during casting, but that is a bit rough with an auto-bundling system we are using (get 1 from whatever bundle, hold whatever, etc). Removing auto-bundling causes the total item count on the game to start to get a little out of hand (cannot count on players to bundle raw materials, and a bundle counts as one item to the system, where as 1,000 pieces of iron ore is 1,000 items...), so scrapping that, reinstituting auto-bundling, and starting over again with spell components.

(You live, you learn!)

What are (any) thoughts on creating spell components? Alchemical? Spell cast at them to "set" them as components? Combinations? Other ideas?

Will likely start drawing this up over this next week, and begin coding it as soon as I have a set design.

Any and all ideas appreciated.
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Old 05-02-2008, 07:26 PM   #2
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Re: Spell Components System

Just out of curiosity, why make people hold them? Could you not just include a check in the spell to see if they have the right components in their inventory, then put in some form of emote in the spell to describe them pulling out the relevant items and doing whatever with them?
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Old 05-02-2008, 07:42 PM   #3
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Re: Spell Components System

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Originally Posted by Xerihae View Post
Just out of curiosity, why make people hold them? Could you not just include a check in the spell to see if they have the right components in their inventory, then put in some form of emote in the spell to describe them pulling out the relevant items and doing whatever with them?
Assuming the game has a sensible 'hands' system, it would mean that while casting, characters would give up the use of two-handed weapons (quarterstaffs, etc.), shields, or other "off hand" items. This is a game balance decision-- if needed you can always make spells a bit better to compensate for this requirement. (As you would have to do to begin with, because merely requiring a material component is a drawback.)

It would also complicate syntax, which is only a good idea if it achieves a desirable goal elsewhere. Otherwise, in any PvP scenario the best casters will tend to be the ones who are good at configuring their clients to rapidly execute all the needed 'swapping' commands.

Personally, I'd tend towards a system with optional but desirable components-- you may not want players to have to constantly gather/craft items just to do anything with magic, but it makes sense that prior preparation could be used for 'peak' moments. Another implementation might be having some spells require components, and some spells not.
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Old 05-02-2008, 07:53 PM   #4
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Re: Spell Components System

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Originally Posted by Xerihae View Post
Just out of curiosity, why make people hold them? Could you not just include a check in the spell to see if they have the right components in their inventory, then put in some form of emote in the spell to describe them pulling out the relevant items and doing whatever with them?
The "hold component" is one idea, and only one. It does have a good side, in that the code only needs to check the hands, rather then cycle a for/next through total inventory.

There are several other ways to limit this, and one is a type of "spell component container" (spell bag, juju pouch, whatever). Limit the items held in it and you could also limit the needed loop to search for the component.

But I am completely open to pondering all ideas as to how to handle components.
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:11 PM   #5
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Re: Spell Components System

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Originally Posted by Valg View Post
Personally, I'd tend towards a system with optional but desirable components--
I have a few spells coded already that provide more effect (modified armor based on component), modified effect or character choice rather then randomized (choosing elemental types rather then a system random choice, but allowing for either, for instance).
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you may not want players to have to constantly gather/craft items just to do anything with magic, but it makes sense that prior preparation could be used for 'peak' moments.
Crafting and gathering are a large part of this game. I would not be adverse to a system that required characters to seek out others of other professions for needed components.

Preparation is part of what I am aiming for. Choosing what you will need before heading out, as well as a method to limit the number of times a very powerful spell can be cast during a single outting (without heading into a memorization system).
Quote:
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Another implementation might be having some spells require components, and some spells not.
That is what I want.

Spells will carry a boolean of whether a component is needed. If it is the string for the component (and components will carry their own interface for instanceof usage) will be listed in the individual spell's code. My main Spell code (which is extended by the individual spells) will handle the component check and usage if the boolean is true.

If a spell does not require a component, but a component can be used (enhancing, modification, choice, etc.), the boolean will be false, and all "component extra" code will be handled within the individual spell's code.
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:21 PM   #6
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Re: Spell Components System

Random thoughts: (I have no clue how your mud supports some of these, so they may be utterly impractical, and the choice would be utterly dependent on the spell itself).

Spells on scrolls, made from the raw components or treated with them (powdered frog poop or whatever), written in ink made from differing ingredients, written with specific pen/quill types. That way, scroll-casting has two elements. Creation (a crafting skill) and usage, which could be a lot more deftly handled if you need to keep one hand free.

Spells cast on the components themselves, which become enhanced melee or ranged weapons. Cast X spell on a foraged fireseed, and it becomes a flash-bomb if hurled accurately, or a certain form of dust/powder flung about in the AoE of the spell.

A flag on bundles used exclusively for casting components, wherein the bundle has been arranged in such a way that it doesn't require two hands to separate a component from the bundle, but just a snatch-n-grab technique. If the container for the bundle is open, the caster just reaches in and snatches a petal from the flower, a chip of the bark.

Re-usable components, that have X number of uses before consumption. Instead of a bundle of X, you only need one specimen of it, but it can be re-used, or only partly consumed per cast. Like a container that holds liquid, your item count is still 2, container and liquid, no matter how many drinks you take from it, until it's gone.

A spell to aid the process, such as 'Dungheap's Watchful Apprentice', which is cast in advance, and allows the caster to select X number of components beforehand, which then float nearby until used. This does nothing for item count issues, but it might make the juggling more user-friendly.

Atopical, a 'drop' command, for both hands simultaneously, in case the wrong component gets parsed, and the caster doesn't want to take that life-stealing extra moment to glance at what he's holding. I think this has a lot of uses beyond casting, but since casters are typically somewhat weaker in PvP at point-blank/melee range, time-savers equate to lifesavers.

A series of 'catch-all' components, which work for more than one spell. Variety is nice, but with item-count issues, you might find it desirable to trade off variety with economy. Some spell components might have multiple applications. Perhaps to offset their universal usefulness, you could make them proportionately harder to obtain or correctly manufacture.

Ingestible components. Something eaten beforehand, which has a lasting effect until X spell is cast. Again, a timesaver, and an item-count reducer. Whatever beneficial effect is had from, say, rubbing salamander mucus on your hands is no longer item-based, but just a character profile component until expiration.

Mega-spells that require X number of bundled components, so the bundle itself need not be broken up, being only several items while assembling/gathering it. Perhaps to at least make it somewhat challenging, the bundles must be comprised of 6 components, if the max is 10 for a bundle. Or perhaps the spell's efficacy is based on how close to max 10 the bundle is, if the components themselves are rare, expensive or otherwise hard to acquire.

Wand spells, which is essentially the same as the scroll spells idea, but perhaps the wand would be treated or composed of specific things, and not only would it be capable of containing single-spell charges, but capable of casting a range of spells, depending on the component held in the off-hand. The component is the catalytic selector and the wand is the 'revolver' waiting to see which round is advanced to the firing chamber, so to speak.

That's all I've got for now. Hope it helps.
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:30 PM   #7
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Re: Spell Components System

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Originally Posted by Disillusionist View Post
That's all I've got for now. Hope it helps.
It has sparked an idea, and brought up an old idea. So, "Thank you!".

Like I said, all ideas are appreciated.
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:18 PM   #8
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Re: Spell Components System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mabus View Post
I had used base raw materials as components on the system, and had them held during casting, but that is a bit rough with an auto-bundling system we are using (get 1 from whatever bundle, hold whatever, etc). Removing auto-bundling causes the total item count on the game to start to get a little out of hand (cannot count on players to bundle raw materials, and a bundle counts as one item to the system, where as 1,000 pieces of iron ore is 1,000 items...), so scrapping that, reinstituting auto-bundling, and starting over again with spell components.
I think that this design will have to heavily depend on your playerbase. Are they okay with going through lots of hoops to do something as necessary as spellcasting? Will they be into the realism, or will they just feel numbed by the 3 steps (at least) it takes to cast a spell? And ultimately, is it balanced with the rest of your game?

For me, I wouldn't be interested in having to unbundle, hold the component (unwielding or removing whatever I was carrying), and then start the casting process no matter how "real" it might seem. I'd feel that the system was somewhat cumbersome, but that's also viewing it from the systems that I enjoy.

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Originally Posted by Mabus View Post
What are (any) thoughts on creating spell components? Alchemical? Spell cast at them to "set" them as components? Combinations? Other ideas?
We have a system where spell components are conjured as well as found throughout the world. Those that use spell components gather them and them put them in their component pouch. Various spells use different components, but we don't force them to take it out of their pouch, handle it, and then cast it. Our component system was created for a very specific reason, though, so adding too many extra steps would have unbalanced the game rather than balancing it.

Now, what I prefer is if you have a crafting system, the resources are created or found throughout the world rather than simply conjured. Then those components are "stored" in some way that can be easily accessed by my character. What I would love to see is a "power" component as well. You would basically have certain components (preferably crafted) that would charge up the spell and make it a bigger nuke. That would make components not only interesting to me but really fun.
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Old 05-03-2008, 12:49 AM   #9
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Re: Spell Components System

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What I would love to see is a "power" component as well. You would basically have certain components (preferably crafted) that would charge up the spell and make it a bigger nuke. That would make components not only interesting to me but really fun.
Armageddon's system is something like this. All spells can be cast at seven different power levels. Each one has progressively more powerful effects. Components also play into this. I had a long explanation typed up, but just pasting the help file would probably be easier.

Quote:
There are many powerful magicks which exist on Zalanthas which are impossible to create using elementalism or lifeforce alone. To use these powerful spells, one must employ what are called components. These are typically odd items that have somehow come to hold magickal properties-- ordinary items of the same type will not suffice. There are two kinds of possible component: psionic and physical.
Psionic components require that the caster of a spell maintain a psionic link (see help contact") with the victim, recipient, or target of the spell.
Physical components come in many forms and vaguely correspond to a spell's sphere of influence (see help sphere"). Known forms of components are listed below.
In order to properly use a spell component, one must have it in his/her inventory. The component must be of the proper type for the spell and must contain at least as much power as the spell to be cast. Using a component powered at "wek" for a spell cast at "mon" will be exactly the same as not having the component at all.
Here is a listing of known possible component manifestations:
Divan Salts and vile-smelling liquids.
Dreth Similar to wilith.
Iluth Perfectly formed geometric objects.
Locror A pouch of dust or a partially finished creation.
Morz Cocoons or rotted animal and vegetable matter.
Mutur Something burned, a skull, or a lock of hair.
Nathro Impure water.
Pret A feather, a globe, or a woman's scarf.
Psiak An unhilted, single-edged blade.
Threl Complicated puzzles or knots.
Viqrol Snakeskins, very sharp knives, or snake's venom.
Wilith A prism or a double-edged blade.
So, you have a general idea of the properties of the items you need for a spell. You then have to go about finding them through experimentation. Some components are foraged raw material or available items that can be bought in stores or are readily available. Others must be crafted from foraged raw materials. Casting at the higher power levels requires rare components. Since there is a general anti-magick stigma in the world of Armageddon and very little literacy, components are usually shrouded in secrecy and passed down via word of mouth from one PC to another.

Items only have to be in your inventory; holding is not necessary. There are definite weaknesses and limitations to the system. For example, why does this blue feather work as a pret component, but this red feather doesn't? The system is still pretty interesting, though. It also provides a limiting factor for the sheer devastation that magick can wreak on Armageddon. The main problem with the system, as with much of Armageddon, is that there is no way to erase the knowledge of the player from one of that player's PC to the next. So, the player may very well use the knowledge gained with a prior PC for their next one. Of course, discoveries are supposed to happen ingame and in character, but it's hard for players to not carry prior knowledge with them to their current PC. That being said, it's also one of the cool things about playing Armageddon (and probably any game for that matter, as I know I discovered quite a bit of ingame lore about Threshold as Magnus that wasn't available to newer players), as you finally unravel the mysteries of the game. Then you become staff, and all the mystery is ruined.
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Old 05-03-2008, 01:24 AM   #10
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Re: Spell Components System

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Originally Posted by Bakha View Post
Armageddon's system is something like this. All spells can be cast at seven different power levels. Each one has progressively more powerful effects. Components also play into this. I had a long explanation typed up, but just pasting the help file would probably be easier.
Yeah, that's very similar to something that I would enjoy minus the guessing parts. While I like exploration a ton, I don't really like guessing at what my character can do, but ultimately, I think that has a lot to do with preference and game setting. Maybe if magic wasn't well-developed or well-studied, everyone would be guessing and experimenting. If it was a powerful force that was extremely structured, though, I wouldn't like the guessing game.
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Old 05-03-2008, 12:28 PM   #11
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Re: Spell Components System

Thank you both for the posts.

A builder on our game is coming up with a school/planet/level system, with various parts of a component "recipe" being used to craft the components. I will wait till his thoughts are finished before I say we are going with it, but it seems interesting.

Always willing to hear other's thoughts on component systems before we get to designing.
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Old 05-03-2008, 04:05 PM   #12
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Re: Spell Components System

Ah good, because that seems to cover an idea I'd forgotten, Environmental components.
It's day or night, and that's a spell component, or modifier.
It's moon-based (the two games I've played recently both have three moons), or planet based.
Or they can only be cast in rooms tagged 'exterior' like Ranger or Druid spells, or need to be done in the presence of plant/organic items growing naturally, or near a body of water, etc.

One of the games is very item-intensive, which made no end of problems, what with inventory caps and an incredibly buggy command queue, so I -strongly- suggest that a lot of the juggling be abstracted.
For instance, 'prep spell' auto-picks the component, deletes it from inventory and emotes the proper manipulations abstractly. A flag added to be sure the character has one free hand (and that the component container is open) might simulate the juggling effectively, and the time-lapse can be emulated in RT or pause when >prep is engaged.

Assuming that 'schools' means the same thing as 'circles', 'spheres', 'elements' etc, some component ideas would naturally flow from the world's uniqueness. If one school is fire, perhaps just open flame nearby of any sort could be a component, for instance.

Not knowing how quickly combat, especially PvP, is accomplished in your game, I'm hesitant to post other ideas. Perhaps a short overview of round-to-round time-lapse, an idea of the ranging system if any, or the Gygaxian model of 'too much nearby metal foils magic' would make suggestions for your particular game more on-target.
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