The Value of Caster Weapons

Frostorm

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I wanted to hear everyone's thoughts/ideas regarding caster weapons (staves, wands, tomes, etc...) and what you guys have done to make them interesting (hopefully besides just slapping on x INT/MAT).
 
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I've always thought that mage weapons should generally be used for special effects that the weapons apply to their spells, like amplifying certain elements or adding an additional effect to them. That, or the weapons outright provide them with completely new abilities

In general I prefer when weapons offer more than just raw stat boosts, but for mages in particular it's always felt like a more fitting approach

Maybe you could do something like Tomes provide a handful of spells (a spell of each element, a healing + a buff + a debuff spell, a single + multitarget spell, etc), wands increase the effectiveness of single-target spells, crystal balls
 

Willibab

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Im only on the planning stage but this is what i intend to do. Most of my classes are caster/melee hybrids with different elements so items can supplement their style or add elements they wouldn't normally have access to.

Staffs: Each staff has a different command that replaces ''attack'' as well as having mage stats ofc.

Some of the commands are just weaker versions of spells you can learn but have a higher chance to inflict status effects which your other spells can benefit from. (like certain fire spells do more damage if target if burned etc.)

Oak Staff: Focus: Increases magical damage done by 50% for 3 turns.
Ice Staff: Freeze: Deals weak ice damage and attempts to freeze the target (25%)
Fire Staff: Ignite: Deals weak fire damage and attempts to burn the target (25%)
Dark Staff: Drain: Siphons x life from an enemy.
Monk Staff: Serpent Stance: Increases counterattack chance by 50% for 3 turns.
Divine Staff: Deals 3x wisdom (healing stat) damage. 6x wisdom if target is a demon.

(just made these up on the spot, gonna make more interesting ones too ofc)

Off-hand: Many classes have access to off-hands so there are many different sub categories. The ones relevant to mages are.

Orbs: Grants magic attack type of effects
Wands: Grants healing and recovery types of effects
Spellshield: Grants defensive magic type of effects
Spellbook: Grants access to a spell while equipped (certain classes are limited in how many spells they can equip in battle so this is more useful to those.)

Some of these have replacements for 'guard'' command and are usually defensive.
 

Frostorm

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Yea, having only raw stats on a weapon is rather boring. In my game, I made it so that if you have ANY caster weapon equipped, your "Defend" command becomes a skill named "Borg" (from Magi the anime/manga). It's basically a bubble that reduces dmg (but not as much as "Block" if a shield is equipped) and the remaining dmg is dealt to MP instead of HP. This is really just a baseline tho, I want to add more effects/mechanics unique to each weapon type. Some of the ideas you guys listed are pretty cool!

Also, do you guys like/dislike giving caster weapons elemental types?

I too have several offhand caster items as well:
  • Tomes: Reduces MP costs and grants +4 skill slots
  • Orbs: Increases Mana pool (a rare bonus in my game)
  • Wands* (can be main-hand, off-hand, or dual wielded)
I definitely like the idea of giving caster weapons certain skills/spells too.
 
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Willibab

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Yea, having only raw stats on a weapon is rather boring. In my game, I made it so that if you have ANY caster weapon equipped, your "Defend" command becomes a skill named "Borg" (from Magi the anime/manga). It's basically a bubble that reduces dmg (but not as much as "Block" if a shield is equipped) and the remaining dmg is dealt to MP instead of HP.
I would rename it xD I cant hear ''borg'' and not think star trek, even if i have seen magi too :p

I also plan on having barrier type of commands on some of my defensive Spellshields.
 

Frostorm

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I would rename it xD I cant hear ''borg'' and not think star trek, even if i have seen magi too :p

I also plan on having barrier type of commands on some of my defensive Spellshields.
Haha yea, I feel ya on that especially since I just went thru a Star Trek binge. It was something I had implemented a long time ago, much earlier in development. Can't think of a good name yet, but Borg is definitely not making it to final release lol.

I like the spellshield idea btw, I hadn't considered that at all!

I'm considering doing elemental staffs, but I don't want to just give it +x% to all Fire/Frost/Lightning/etc dmg...
 

Black Pagan

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In my Game, I use these 3 Magic Weapon : Grimoire, Staff and Magic Pearl. These don't have any passive abilities but they grant Stat Bonuses and are meant to be complimented with Gear with complimentary stats.

Staff : An Area Effect weapon which passively attacks all Enemies
Main Stat : Bonus Attack
Abilities : Elemental Summons and Multi Target Abilities
Gameplay Style : Staff users wear Mage Robes, They end up dealing a 1 Shot Kill on most enemies, dealing with whatever few enemies that remain. They are not concerned about taking damage because they kill fast or die fast.

Grimoire : A Weapon with a very low cool down to spam Skills every Turn, Single Target Focused
Main Stat : Agility
Abilities : Darkness Spells, Stealth and Disruption Abilities
Gameplay Style : Imagine Ninjas who are swift and deliver quick stabs and return back to shadows, Now Imagine if these Ninjas were Mages and carried Grimoires and cast spells instead of stabs, This is how I build my Grimoire mages. They even use Evasive Gear and Stealth abilities related to Shadow element.

Magic Pearl : A Defensive Magic Weapon meant to be equipped by Sailors, Attacks 2 Random Enemies
Main Stat : Hybrid Regeneration (Mana + Health Regen)
Abilities : Lightning and Wind Elemental along with Mana based Abilities
Gameplay Style : Magic Pearl users wear Heavy Armor. What they lack Offensively, They make up for it defensively. They use Mana based abilities like Mana Shield to absorbs damage while striking Foes with Lightning and making use of Wind Barriers to support the Team. Crazy amounts of Health Regen makes it hard to take them down easily.
 
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Tiamat-86

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staffs = highest MAT. basic jrpg stuff
tomes = while equipped adds extra spells might not have learned yet or cant normally learn
yanfly weapon unleash
gloves = replace attack command with MAT vs DEF basic attack.
orbs = replace attack command with weak MAT vs MDF skill that hits all enemies.
crystals = replaces attack command with weak multi hit skill (magic missile).
limited use skills
wands = similar to tomes but free cast skills with limited charges/rest.
weapon unleash + instant cast skills
familiars = replace attack with 1/turn <instant> skill but gives character no stat bonus (skill pending)

staff/glove type weapons can generally be found early on while others cant find till later
 
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gstv87

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sword: slash and pierce damage, all-around weapon.
mace: bludgeoning damage, bonus against undead.
staff: bludgeoning damage, magic attack bonus.

I have classes that are mixed warrior/mage types, so they use swords and occasionally maces.
shamans and summoners tend to use maces, and sometimes staves.
clerics and wizards almost always use staves and rarely swords.

I've been considering the possibility of adding a grading system to the balance I already have, for items with extra abilities, or a few points up or down in damage.
but that's still on the drawing board.
 

Tai_MT

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Eh... I'll bite.

Wand - Does no or very low damage. Instead, it is used as an "elemental debuff" weapon. It adds weaknesses to enemies so your elemental spells do more damage. So, you could use a Fire Wand on your turn, it hits, inflicts "Weakness to Fire", which grants 200% bonus damage to fire skills for 3 turns. Then, on your next turn, you can cast "Fire" to increase damage output. It can add more than one weakness, and sometimes that weakness is not limited to just "Elements". 1 Handed.

Staff - MP Reservoir type weapons. They give a fairly massive buff to Max MP while you use them. Pretty decent buff to "Magic Attack" as well. 2 Handed.

Orb - Lands elemental hits without using MP at a much weaker rate than casting actual spells (and can land multiple elements at once). Also has a small chance to reflect magic spells. 2 Handed.

Book - Shield type item. Gives zero stats. However, these books make the user "Immune" to specific elements. That is, absolute 100% immunity. Some also add immunity to states, but the primary reason to use a Book is for nullifying damage. Requires 1 handed weapon to even equip.
 

Frostorm

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Orb - Lands elemental hits without using MP at a much weaker rate than casting actual spells (and can land multiple elements at once). Also has a small chance to reflect magic spells. 2 Handed.
The Orbs in your game must be the size of Nemekian Dragonballs if they are 2-handed haha. :p

Anyways, I really like how each weapon type is vastly different in playstyle, as it ought to be. Gj!
 

Tai_MT

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@staf00

They are two handed because it requires both hands on them to pull the power out of them. It also makes them easier to balance with the other caster equipment. You're unable to get blanket immunities AND magic reflect at the same time.
 

Finnuval

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Well in an older project of mine i went about it this way :

Unlike other weapons those wielded by mages and alike are less weapon and more tool.
a swordwielder with no sword cannot cut but a mnage without a staff can still cast spells - just less powerful or more chaotic.

Staves, staffs, wands, crystals (or more exotic skulls for necromancers, demon hearts for summoners, etc) serve to amplify and focus the magic inherent to the character.

So a staff might turn a single target fireball into a area of effect spell, it might reduce MP cost, it might duplicate a spell with a giving percentile chance, it might randomly add status-effect., it might let a summon last longer, etc.
It amplifies the power already possesed by the character.

Tomes, books, grimoires, etc. are a font of knowledge. they are used to give access to new spells but only to those within their school...
so a Greater fire tome might give a fire mage access to a higher level spell then they currently are, that sort of thing, but will do nothing for a water mage.

Finally there are scrolls : one use items that cast a certain low-level spell usable even by those with no magical abbility.

That's what I did anyway, maybe it gives you ideas - maybe it doesnt xD
 

Kes

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A rod that only one character can use.

Increases MAT by 2 for every 10 individual enemies that the actor KO's, by whatever means.
Decreases MAT by 1 each time the actor herself is KO'd

I may tweak the actual numbers once I have done the full game arc and can see how it plays out.
 

ave36

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I went the Final Fantasy IX way and made my books and staves teach skills to their users. So, Krible needs that shiny Golden Staff to learn the sweet, sweet Mortelectro (Thunder 3), and Melle can't get her Exelixi (Cure 3) without the Book of Lore.
 

Wavelength

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Something I've done recently (and I really like how it plays in practice) is to simply give all characters a single stat for offensive power (PWR), which combines the traditional roles of STR and MAT. This solves a lot of issues (such as making it clearer why a skill is doing high or low damage), but most of all it avoids creating dump stats (such as STR for mages). PWR is used in every damage formula, so if you make the choice to invest in PWR for a character, you are trying to make them a powerful damage-dealer, whether they're a warrior or a mage.

It may sound like this makes melee characters and spellcasters too similar, but I tend to differentiate them in a couple of ways. A warrior-type character is more likely to have a high natural PWR stat, whereas a mage-type character will have lower natural PWR numbers but the multipliers on their skills will be considerably higher - so the Warrior can consistently put out damage with basic attacks and skills, whereas the mage is more about higher spikes with skills but a lower baseline. In one game I also give spellcasters a different battle flow - they start out each battle with lots of stored mana to use spells, but in order to get more they need to spend turns converting TP into mana, whereas melee characters use TP for their skills (starting out with only a little TP but quickly regenerating it throughout the battle). The stats are simple and uniformly useful, so caster weapons can be very similar to melee weapons - but the mechanics for spellcasters feel satisfyingly different.

One other thing I've seen done with caster weapons that I like a lot can be seen in mid-generation and recent Tales Of games. In these Action Battle System games, spellcasters' weapons tend to give similar amounts of STR to melee/ranger characters' weapons (in addition to giving a small boost to MAT), and spellcasters can even have some pretty respectable natural STR stats. The difference is that melee characters tend to have very quick, smooth attack/skill combos, whereas spellcasters' attacks are slower, clunkier, and don't combo into skills as well. This means that if a spellcaster tries to run up to enemies and whack them with their staff, they're probably going to get beat up in the process, making it more of a feasible last resort when being attacked (or when out of MP). They can still put out some good damage with their spellcaster weapons, but the degree of difficulty in doing so is high and they're left open to being mercilessly counterattacked by the enemy (as opposed to when they're far from the action, safely casting spells while the melee characters soak the hits). So while you ideally don't want casters using melee moves too often, their weapons' STR boosts are appealing in that you do get significantly more damage when you do have to use those melee moves. I especially like this system because it means that different characters have unique and appreciably different playstyles, while again avoiding the dreaded dump stats.
 

Frostorm

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This is exactly how Pillars of Eternity handled their stats as well. I just watched a GDC video on it recently. They basically made it so every stat is useful in one way or another, with different stats affecting various aspects of a skill/spell.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvyrEhAMUPo
 

HumanNinjaToo

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One thing I've been doing a lot of is utilizing the Yanfly Weapon Unleash plugin in my game. Having magical based weapons like rods/staves/wands/tomes actually perform a magical spell/skill when the attack option is chosen is very satisfying.
 

Basileus

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I like the way Dragon Quest has handled mage weapons. Each game is a bit different in terms of class system, but the modern DQ games generally have some type of skill tree for each weapon type that gives bonuses or new abilities when wielding that weapon. Mage weapons like wands/staves get the ability to recover MP on attacking, giving basic attacks a useful trait other than damage. Somewhere around DQ9 staves and wands were given an MP Absorption stat that converts a percent of damage dealt into MP and the skill system gave bonuses to enhance this - like DQ11 having skills to also recover MP after battle as long as a staff is equipped, and the ability to dual-wield wands.

Spellcasters also tend to have other options, whether it is a class system that lets them combine abilities from other classes, or giving characters multiple weapon choices. Clerics/Priests have been able to wield spears since DQ3 so their basic attacks can do solid damage when no one needs healing. Mages have usually been given daggers or whips so they can apply status effects on attack without worrying about their low damage too much. Weapon choice is always important in Dragon Quest since it determines what abilities (and passive bonuses) a character can have so there is a lot more than just the damage of basic attacks to consider.
 

Wavelength

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This is exactly how Pillars of Eternity handled their stats as well. I just watched a GDC video on it recently. They basically made it so every stat is useful in one way or another, with different stats affecting various aspects of a skill/spell.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvyrEhAMUPo
That's a very good presentation! I like the discussion on viable vs. optimal builds and how a game can cater well to both.
 

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