Brainstorming an alternate magic cost system

Masmanus

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I'm currently brainstorming an alternate cost system for spellcaster characters (i.e. something aside from MP) and am curious what the RPGM hive mind thinks.

I've previously had success using a TP only magic system i.e. certain basic "spells" generate TP, big spells cost TP. That system made for some fun build crafting in conjunction with limited skill slots.

For my current project I'd like to codify spellcasting as "dangerous and unpredictable" via game mechanics. My current outline is to re-label TP as something like "Chaos" which is gained when casting spells (bigger spells = more Chaos), and then have a chance of random bad things happening at the end of turn at higher Chaos levels (i.e. being stunned for a turn, stat debuffs, etc). This all seems doable using a combination of in-battle events, and Yanfly's Base Troop Events/TP Manager scripts.

Thoughts on this mechanic?
 

alice_gristle

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My current outline is to re-label TP as something like "Chaos" which is gained when casting spells (bigger spells = more Chaos), and then have a chance of random bad things happening at the end of turn at higher Chaos levels (i.e. being stunned for a turn, stat debuffs, etc).
Sounds cool, sweetie! 'Cept I don't like it if I'm bein' punished for casting my super sexy spells. :kaocry:Makes me wanna skip spells altogether and spam attack instead! 'Course, if you mean that the random bad things can happen to enemies too, then I'm like, maybe I'll cast a spell?

Like, I remember playin' Fallout 2 as a kid and actually liking "Jinx", one of the traits you could get for yo dude... but it was only fun 'cuz "Jinx" made it so random bad things happened to everybody, your own dude and enemy dudes.
 

Darkscape

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Sounds like a Unique & Fun idea. A similar feature that brings back memories was a Unique Battle system with "Magic Cards" in an Old RPG from 2000s called "Septerracore".

I'm not sure how many People have even heard of it, But it was a Great RPG for its time. In it, You get to cast cards of "Powerful Magic Spells", Besides regular attacks and abilities. These Cards all had a certain "Initial Turn Count" after which, they glowed and activated to be useful in Battle, Along with requiring a Rare Item that you find occasionally in every Map (Found only once during playthrough and never again).

So this "Card System" was based not just around Mana but those Rare Items you consumed before casting them. Their Animation was extremely lengthy and most of them were AOE Abilities or Team Buffs, This naturally made it counter-productive to be used against regular enemies in regular battles.

They were clearly meant to be used as an Opening Move or Finishing Move against Tough enemies or Boss Battles. So yea, What you mention reminded me of that system. I am not a fan of multiple Mana Bars, So I wonder how you represent your "Chaos meter" or whatever you call it. Have you considerd these factors too - Enemy Type, Battle Background and Spell Type ? These might add more Interesting Status Conditions to your Chaos mechanic.
 
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Masmanus

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Balancing the risk-vs-reward so that it feels fun is definitely going to be a tightrope walk. I'm intending the balancing factor to be the general potency of magic versus non-magical attacks. Spells hit harder but might backfire - classic risk-vs-reward.

Applying the same limitation to enemies as well doubles down on the "dangerous magic" flavor and might seem more fare... but also might not, since generally the less predictable an enemy is the less fair they seem to fight (IMHO). I'm def. gonna try to model that and see how it feels in play.
Sounds cool, sweetie! 'Cept I don't like it if I'm bein' punished for casting my super sexy spells. :kaocry:Makes me wanna skip spells altogether and spam attack instead! 'Course, if you mean that the random bad things can happen to enemies too, then I'm like, maybe I'll cast a spell?

Like, I remember playin' Fallout 2 as a kid and actually liking "Jinx", one of the traits you could get for yo dude... but it was only fun 'cuz "Jinx" made it so random bad things happened to everybody, your own dude and enemy dudes.
 

Masmanus

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Sounds like a Unique & Fun idea. A similar feature that brings back memories was a Unique Battle system with "Magic Cards" in an Old RPG from 2000s called "Septerracore".

I'm not sure how many People have even heard of it, But it was a Great RPG for its time. In it, You get to cast cards of "Powerful Magic Spells", Besides regular attacks and abilities. These Cards all had a certain "Initial Turn Count" after which, they glowed and activated to be useful in Battle, Along with requiring a Rare Item that you find occasionally in every Map (Found only once during playthrough and never again).

So this "Card System" was based not just around Mana but those Rare Items you consumed before casting them. Their Animation was extremely lengthy and most of them were AOE Abilities or Team Buffs, This naturally made it counter-productive to be used against regular enemies in regular battles.

They were clearly meant to be used as an Opening Move or Finishing Move against Tough enemies or Boss Battles. So yea, What you mention reminded me of that system. I am not a fan of multiple Mana Bars, So I wonder how you represent your "Chaos meter" or whatever you call it. Have you considerd these factors too - Enemy Type, Battle Background and Spell Type ? These might add more Interesting Status Conditions to your Chaos mechanic.

How are you imagining Enemy/Spell Type/Background playing into the system. Something like different types of spells having different penalties (i.e. fire spells cause burning)? That is a very interesting idea if so, though I worry it might overcomplicate the design...

As for spell bars, I'd probably just be using the TP bar as a "Chaos Meter" entirely in lieu of MP, so the UI could remine nice and clean.
 

Franz_Pantalon

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A thing I was thinking about, though I have currently no clue on how to realise it, would be to introduce casting time, like in good old pen&paper... This puts an "extra cost" on spells an allow you to design them more powerful... Magic in not yet another attack, but really a mighty unusual talent. However, the character is more vulnerable while casting.

Would give a great low fantasy flair to a game I think.
 

Shaz

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I've moved this thread to Game Mechanics Design. Thank you.



When you get to the stage of "how do I implement this?" please go ahead and start a new thread in the relevant support or plugin request forum.
 
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Sounds cool. You might want to consider including a chance of good things happening as well (even if it's only a small chance) to give the player a shot at hitting the jackpot. Like how high stress occasionally makes a character virtuous instead of insane in Darkest Dungeon.

It's also worth thinking about how other parts of your game can interact with this chaos meter. Maybe the INT stat makes it fill up slower, or the LUCK stat increases the chance of a good random outcome? Maybe certain moves can deplete your chaos bar, or even spend it as a resource! ('Law' magic?)
 

Sethorion

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I've previously had success using a TP only magic system i.e. certain basic "spells" generate TP, big spells cost TP. That system made for some fun build crafting in conjunction with limited skill slots.
That is super solid.

to re-label TP as something like "Chaos" which is gained when casting spells (bigger spells = more Chaos), and then have a chance of random bad things happening at the end of turn
It sounds really cool. A week ago, I would have thought this was too unpredictable, but then played "CLANK!" (boardgame) where certain actions create 'noise/clank.' Your 'clank' gets thrown into a bag and pulled out at random when the dragon shows up. For each of your clank drawn randomly from the bag, you take 1 damage (statistically dealing damage to players who made more clank/noise). All by itself, however, this isn't enough to make the game interesting, so CLANK! is also a rogue-like deck-builder. This gives the player real control over their personal risk ratio. (I've been thinking about doing a barebones deck-builder plugin for MV, partly due to this boardgame).

Other cool ideas I've seen are:
1. Spend stats other than MP. HP, character age (this one is actually super cool), exp, and so-on are wonderful condidates. You can also add MP back in as a rare and high-demand resource, but when you run out of MP you start spending important stats.
2. Stances that affect cooldowns. When you use an ability, you start in one stance and end in another stance. If you end in 'wind stance' then some abilities will have -1s cooldown because they start with the stance you are already in.
3. Like your TP idea, having your spells affect EACH OTHER. You can have a variety of cost types this way and will get higher benefits from combining abilities that are potentially almost useless alone. ((EDIT: time is a valid magic cost, but usually thrown into games as an afterthought, and usually represented by cooldowns.))

PLEASE correct me if any of these assertions are wrong, but it seems like;
1. Costs have to HURT before strategy and skill can matter.
2. There have to be multiple VIABLE long-term strategies.
3. The system needs to be SIMPLE enough to understand, but complex enough to reward cleverness.
4. Starting will a good story premise makes all of the above easier, and more interesting.
 
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This is probably too kooky but a while back I was thinking about making a plugin that would allow for the following. Basically spells would literally have to be spelled, so you'd have a bag of runestones or whatever with the letters of the alphabet. Magic spells would then deplete the letters from your bag. Thus spells with shorter names more common letters might be preferable. Figured you could do some interesting stuff with that, but it might be too weird.
 

Sethorion

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Almost sounds like "Mavis Beacon Teaches Magic." XD Could epic. Only concern I would have regards to the runestones themselves, since there isn't inherent strategy related stocking up on the most common runes. The skill cap for typing quickly can potentially be very high though, which is cool. And it is super simple, and typos can have funny mechanics.
 
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Almost sounds like "Mavis Beacon Teaches Magic." XD Could epic. Only concern I would have regards to the runestones themselves, since there isn't inherent strategy related stocking up on the most common runes. The skill cap for typing quickly can potentially be very high though, which is cool. And it is super simple, and typos can have funny mechanics.
I was going back and forth between typing out the letters and just having it be automatic, so it would be more about resource management than dexterity in typing. Maybe let the player have a choice, although I do kind of like the idea of games that teach a real life skill -- another thought was to have an option to spell it out in Morse code as a way of learning. But that's beyond the scope of the OP...

Hadn't even thought of typos having funny mechanics though -- that's great!
 

Conflictx3

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Maybe have one skill seal another for a number of turns?

it would force the player to put alot more thought into their actions for example maybe water skills seal all fire skills for 2 turns, all lightning skills seal all earth skills, etc. and make sure each enemy has elemental weaknesses that you can either figure out through scanning or good ol' process of elimination. but if your fighting evil beast #3 and he looks like he's weak against fire but your wrong, and now you realize he must be weak against water, you have to hold out for 2 turns until that skill is available.

another skill idea i've wanted to try inspired by pokemon and yugioh are fields, as in if you use a big fire attack the battlefield is now fire based and enemies AND players suffer from burn. or if someone uses a big water attack it causes rain which lowers EVERYBODIES accuracy etc.

really i think the best magic systems have some sort of drawback that you have to learn to either power through or be prepared to compensate for.
 

Htlaets

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As far as skill cost systems, I can think of:
Basic Mp, obviously
TP
Item cost: This one's obvious, but there's a... less obvious implementation of it.

There's a game on the vita (yeah, wasn't actually skeevy, mind) called Soul Sacrifice (kinda a more action-y monster hunter like focused on sorcerers) which used items for its spells. These items were upgradable, craftable and you were able to do combos between them.
Now, the thing is, in combat, these items could only be used a limited amount of times before they'd break for the rest of the mission. You could probably implement something similar in RPG Maker if you set your mind to it.

There were also ultimate spells where you'd sacrifice a part of yourself, which would have debuffs like making you unable to dodge/run, making your camera turn into tunnel vision, etc. as a cost.

Cooldown/AP: I'm think like divinity Original Sin where you have ~4 AP (action points) to use each turn (Unused would carry to next turn) and each skill has a cooldown and AP cost, but no other cost. So, you couldn't use the same skills multiple times in a row, and more powerful skills would use up more AP, limiting your actions.

There was also a very limited resource called Source which you could use for... let's say ultimates, but it was very difficult/impossible depending on build/equipment to replenish source in the middle of combat.

Health: A decent amount of games have health used in place of mana for some/all skills.
 

Masmanus

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A thing I was thinking about, though I have currently no clue on how to realise it, would be to introduce casting time, like in good old pen&paper... This puts an "extra cost" on spells an allow you to design them more powerful... Magic in not yet another attack, but really a mighty unusual talent. However, the character is more vulnerable while casting.

Would give a great low fantasy flair to a game I think.
I'm immediately reminded of the classic ATB system that Final Fantasy IV-IX used (and FFX sort-of-used). IIRC, Yanfly's got plugins that cover both of those battle systems - so "bigger spells take longer" is imminently doable.

There were also scripts floating around tin the VX Ace days for skill wind-ups and cool-downs, so that's most likely possible in MV as well (forgive my laziness at not doing a search myself). Balancing a game entirely around skill windups could prove interesting...
 

Masmanus

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Sounds cool. You might want to consider including a chance of good things happening as well (even if it's only a small chance) to give the player a shot at hitting the jackpot. Like how high stress occasionally makes a character virtuous instead of insane in Darkest Dungeon.

It's also worth thinking about how other parts of your game can interact with this chaos meter. Maybe the INT stat makes it fill up slower, or the LUCK stat increases the chance of a good random outcome? Maybe certain moves can deplete your chaos bar, or even spend it as a resource! ('Law' magic?)

These are all very cool ideas! Spinning magic backlash into positive effects strikes me as an interesting class ability rather than a universal effect (though there's no reason it couldn't be the latter).

As for certain spells spending chaos - totally on board with that. I've got two classes already that can incur some negative effect to reduce chaos (one damages itself, one debuffs the party's Luck), the idea being that those classes can incur lesser/more predictable penalties in order to cast spells more often. Something like a big "chaos magic" finisher that costs a big chunk of the meter would be fun if exceedingly risky to cast.
 

Masmanus

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PLEASE correct me if any of these assertions are wrong, but it seems like;
1. Costs have to HURT before strategy and skill can matter.
2. There have to be multiple VIABLE long-term strategies.
3. The system needs to be SIMPLE enough to understand, but complex enough to reward cleverness.
4. Starting will a good story premise makes all of the above easier, and more interesting.

This is super solid advice for subsystem design in general.
 

Franz_Pantalon

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Other limitations associated with magic I recall from pen and paper.... It's not a suggestion list, but more of a source of inspiration:

  • Consumables might be requested for spells. However I think this mechanism is difficult to transpose to video game, unless maybe for some "ultimates" like it was suggested in another answer.

  • Casting in heavy armor is a big no: equipment that restrict movement lowers chances to cast a spell.

  • Casting is a work of precision, and a failed spell might have dire consequences.... For the caster, but also sometimes for his party. On the other hand, a succeeding spell is very mighty, so that it is worth the risk.(like other said, there has to be a reward for succeeding)... Casting a spell might be like playing roulette :)

  • Enchanting stuff, casting permanent effects on character or reviving party members costs xp.

  • In horror games, there might be an effect on the character's mental health associated with the use of magic...

  • Potions / consumables to regen MP are a rare and expensive thing (automatically increases the pressure of using those)
 
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RCXDan

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PLEASE correct me if any of these assertions are wrong, but it seems like;
1. Costs have to HURT before strategy and skill can matter.
2. There have to be multiple VIABLE long-term strategies.
3. The system needs to be SIMPLE enough to understand, but complex enough to reward cleverness.
4. Starting will a good story premise makes all of the above easier, and more interesting.

Yup, that sounds about right! Especially point 4 if you're the kind that focuses on blending story and gameplay together.

Point 2 is deceptively difficult though because you also have to balance things from getting too powerful in the moment but still allow them to be useful later. I've found establishing patterns in enemies allow the player to prepare for them in advance, like [X] series of enemies are weak to Sleep. That kind of thing.

Also, my stance on alternate magic cost systems:

I like em a lot, actually. Every character of mine regardless of class or origin has regenerating MP and Skills have percentage-based MP costs.

TP, on the other hand, is arranged like a super bar in a fighting game - it has a cap of 400 and every action in battle increases it by 5 no matter what unless you die. Limit skills are exhausted in intervals of 100, with the super OP ultimate moves often eating up the entire bar. It sounds like it would take a while to build up, but I put it into practice and wound up with a healthy surplus of TP for big fights. :kaoback:

This is also compiled with a cooldown system that gives moves you would otherwise spam turn costs along with all the other established costs. Like healing spells and super strong spells get hit by this the most - said ultimate attack on top of costing 400 TP would take 1 or 2 turns to be usable again so you can't use the TP restoring item to immediately nuke the battlefield again.

It might be a little unnecessary but I like to make the player rely on different tools from time to time.

This same system also allows me to have spells that use items as their cost, like a gun skill that needs a special bullet alongside MP. I have a lot of ideas, you see... :kaoluv:
 
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