Spellheart Mechanics

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by ☆Luna☆, May 1, 2015.

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  1. So basically, this is a little experiment with mechanics I made for an RP a long time ago. It didn't work out, primarily because it was too complex for the players to enjoy, it requires the GM to do maths, and there hasn't been enough play-testing to know what a balanced character looks like. As a last note before you dive in, reading the topics from left to right and top to bottom will probably make the most sense.

    *A tutorial will exist to teach characters how to cast spells in game*

    • Spellheart is a system designed to allow players to experience the frustrations and challenges involved with learning to control unstable magic. As a mage, you will cast spells by creating magic circles, and then pouring your energy into those circles. Once enough energy has been put in, these circles release powerful spells to aid you. However beware, for one will quickly learn that while casting spells is simple, mastering combat is a nightmare.

    • Magic circles are what organize your SP into actual spells, and hold onto your SP until you have enough to cast the spell. They usually take the form of an icon which follows your character around. A mage may create any number of magic circles, but they won't go away unless they are destroyed by a spell, or the player stores enough SP to make the magic circle cast its spell (this is called the circle's limit). The troublesome thing about these magic circles is that they will cast the spell they hold immediately as soon as you reach the circle's limit. This will occur even if the mage does not want to use the spell at this time, so do your best to make sure you don't reach the spell's limit until you are sure that is the right time to cast it.
    • Mages, in addition to having unique spell libraries, have 3 major traits which affect a their ability to use magic circles.

      1. SP Pool: The total SP that they have to spend. If you run out of SP, you won't be able to assign any points to magic circles. Mages with large SP pools can outlast their competition.
      2. SP Flow: This is the amount of SP they have available for distribution each turn. Having more SP readily available for your magic circles means it takes less turns for your spells to cast. Mages with high SP flow can overwhelm their competition.
      3. SP Control: This affects the amount of SP which your character has the ability to assign to a specific magic circle. Any SP which your character does not specifically assign is distributed among your magic circles at random. With less points placed at random, a mage can exert more control over when a spell will be cast even if they have multiple circles in play. Mages with high SP control outwit their competition.
    • Mages can only create magic circles from a list of spells they already know. This collection of known spells is called the mage's Spell Library. Spells listed in the Library have the following attributes.

      1. SP Cost: This is the range of SP that a spell can be cast for. Any magic circle that holds this spell needs to have a limit that falls within the SP cost, and the larger the SP cost, the more potent the spell.
      2. Effect: Your spell does something, hopefully. Describe that something.
      3. Category: In order to organize an otherwise massive range of effects, spells are tagged as offensive, defensive, or utility. Offensive spells are spells that are meant for attacking or otherwise debilitating a mage, defensive spells are especially good at warding off offensive spells, and utility spells are for spells that grant tactical effects.
    • Spellheart turns coincide with RP posts, and exist within a typical post to play environment. Mages must disclose the name, limit, and category of any magic circle they create, but may keep the number of SP they have assigned to any given spell a secret between themselves and the GM. A typical format for declaring magic circles would be Spell Name(Limit, Category). As a result, mages know what spells an opposing mage could cast, but are unable to detect how close any circle is to reaching its limit and unleashing a spell. In addition, mages need to prepare and commit to the spell they need at least one turn in advance of casting it.

      Mages distribute their SP in their combat sheet just before their post, and if any magic circles reach their limit, then they must use those spells at some point during their post. From this point, just RP like you would in a typical RP setting.
    • Because there is a need to keep track of how SP is distributed, I've created a handy dandy combat sheet to help players and GMs manage their SP distribution with a minimal math burden on the player (but at the expense of the GM). At the beginning of each turn, the player assigns an amount of SP equal to their SP control to the active magic circles in the SP column.
      Then the GM Does A Lot of Math (open)
      Then, the GM randomly assigns the rest of the SP flow to the remaining magic circles and subtracts the total of the SP column from the player's SP remaining. After that, the GM adds the SP column to the SP stored column, and compares the SP stored to the limit. If the SP stored is greater than the limit, the surplus is randomly redistributed to the other circles (if none exist, refund the SP).
      Lastly, the player looks at the sheet, and checks which spells must be cast this turn.
    • The Spellheart system may look complex, but the parts you have to deal with as a player are actually very unobtrusive and have minimal math involved. The only thing you need to know is that if you want to cast a spell, make its magic circle, and give it a few points if you want to cast it sooner. And if you really don't want to deal with distributing any points, play a berserker type by having a character with 0 SP control.

      The biggest thing you will have to adjust to with this system is that you can't cast a spell right away. You won't be able to distribute any SP to a magic circle you created on the turn of its creation. The second biggest thing is that you need to check that combat sheet every time before you post to distribute your SP and see what spells you are allowed to use for your post.

      Also, don't forget that even during rounds in which you aren't using any spells, your character is not helpless. They can still take all sorts of different actions. Likewise, just because you are casting a spell this post doesn't mean you can only cast that spell. Those spells are intended to be incorporated into a post. Thinking about Spellheart like an menu based RpG takes a lot of the fun of a post-to-play system, so don't forget to play your character.

      Lastly, try not to let the rules stifle your creativity when you are trying to think of your character's traits, spell library, and tactics. When deciding on what your character's traits look like, ask yourself what type of mage your character is. SP Pool reflects endurance, SP flow reflects aggression, and SP control reflects calculation. Let your distribution reflect how much of each measure your character possesses in combat. For your character's spells, think about developing a theme with a variety of options rather than re-texturing the same spell. If you are having trouble creating your SP costs, just think about how long it would take your character to cast that spell. Also, don't be afraid to make spells that interact with the Spellheart mechanics. There is no reason you can't make a spell for transferring SP, boosting/lowering someone's SP flow, looking at SP distributions, and any other zany thing you can think of. Point being, there is still much room for creativity.
    • If you don't know how to randomly distribute points, this is the easiest way I know to do so. First, generate a number of random numbers equal to the number of active magic circles. Next, take the sum of those numbers. Divide each random number by this sum, and they will be transformed into numbers that sum up to 1. With each of these numbers representing a group, multiply the SP flow remaining by the transformed random number, and then round to a nice whole number to get roughly the SP distributed to that group. (I say roughly, because rounding might add or subtract from the amount of SP you were supposed to distribute) Use a spreadsheet and random number generator unless you happen to be a human calculator.

      While the traits of a character were originally designed with character growth in mind, the end result has no guide for how a character should scale. I have no idea what proportions of SP pool, SP flow, and SP control are fair in a static context, much less a dynamic one. In addition, I have no guide for determining how potent a spell is in comparison to the SP you spent on it aside from more = better. Lastly, I did intend for defensive spells to have an advantage against offensive spells, but I failed to produce exactly how much of an advantage. I merely know that you have to give defensive spells an advantage, or else it results in them being less useful than other types of spells. Beware, much uncharted territory.

      Spellheart is, as you are likely now aware, a bit more complex than a regular magic system. I recommend giving players some time to get comfortable with declaring their magic circles and distributing SP before diving into something where the characters are in actual danger unless you want them to die miserably.

    I really hope that this post was useful to someone. If there are any questions, comments, feedback, people willing to play-test these mechanics, or if you'd like to see an RP that uses these mechanics, please let me know below.
    #1 ☆Luna☆, May 1, 2015
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  2. This is an interesting idea and I would love to participate in a RP using this system or a slightly modified version of it! I will keep watch over the thread in hope of a OOC announcement.
  3. A no control—high flow berserker sound entertaining. Who doesn't like blindfiring a large amount of high-powered spells?
    That, or a tank with both low control and flow, but obscenely vast SP pool and a large reservoir of defensive skills. Outlast everyone!
    Or maybe someone with massive control over their SP. Have a myriad of low-cost spells that synergize exceptionally well together.
    These all sound so very fun~

    Plus, this system is open to some very creative ideas:
    Linking two Circles to perform a single, strong effect (teleporting between circles, anyone?). How about a Circle that amplifies the power of other spells based on how filled with SP it currently is? Or an extremely high-cost super-Circle that, once filled, just fires off all other circles in a limited range around it. Or even a Circle that doesn't do anything too useful when filled but drains the SP of other circles around it. Maybe we could fill up a Circle and have it perform an "effect over time" ability by slowly draining it's SP reservoir. Who says the SP in your Circle had to be fired off all at once? Top it off to keep its effect going, or let it fizzle out when it has performed its duty. So many possibilities!

    As for the Defensive spells advantages over Offensive spells, since we're doing math anyway (well, technically, mostly just the GM) why not just have the Defensive spells be more SP-effecient when compared to Offensive spells? For example, let's say that Offensive spells can be blocked by Defensive spells that are only 3/5 of the Offensive spell's SP: A Defensive Circle that costs 30 SP can block most attack spells that cost 50 SP or less. You can easily change the fraction. Maybe defensive spells are so superior, anything less that twice it's cost is rendered useless. Or maybe it's only a small advantage of 3/4. Either way, making the Defensive spells more SP-efficient seems like a good advantage over offensive abilities without hindering the creativity one can do with the Spellheart system, but that's just a spectator's opinion.
  4. These are some lovely thoughts, and I want to personally thank you for spending your time to reply to my concerns.

    That being said, a lot of your ideas were already discussed in my beta version of Spellheart, and I'd like to share these insights with you.

    Creating magic circles that have special effects like being linked, having trade-off effects, and otherwise having special attributes was a thing in the original version. The reason these were cut from the final version was because it opened up exploits and created unfavorable situations. People would often take advantage of a perceived negative effect, or overpowered their character's spells because of an obsolete negative effect. One person created 5000 spell circles just to receive the benefits of having a trade-off that increased his physical power at the cost of requiring more SP to function. Spells are supposed to be the reason mages create spell circles, and giving the circles any form of power on their own distracts from their purpose. Instead I encourage you to make utility spells that grant the ability to use linked spells, grant spell drain, and any other neat affect like this.

    *will continue this post later, but has to head out ftm*
  5. Got it. Circles are just the doorway to Spells. They don't, and won't, do anything themselves (besides bringing a spell into existence, of course). Thank you for the compliments, and you don't need to thank me for being interested in something that is quite obviously interesting.

    I understand your concerns, especially since you witnessed the system's abuse firsthand. Its still highly customizable regardless, which I greatly admire, and many of the examples I listed can still be achieved as Utility Spells (or a strange Defensive/Offensive Boon/Debuff Spell/Curse). My mind is filled with thoughts of how to use the archaic, standard magic tropes with this system. Illusions, curses, healing, polymorphing, maybe even some form of summoning and necromancy! Heh, maybe not, but still a fun thought to think~
  6. Well, I'm glad to see that you are so excited about this idea and hope that I'm able to make it a reality.
  7. *invades the thread because OP told me about it*

    I always have a thing for roleplays with mechanical structure (yay tabletops!) so I would love to see how this comes along. If nothing happens with it, I still find the structure pretty interesting, and everyone loves berserker characters!
  8. Interested!
  9. I'm just gonna post here so I don't lose it after I fall asleep.
  10. So, good news. With this many people, I think I have enough interest to attempt an RP. That being said, we kinda worked in reverse since I gave the system we are using instead of the story we will be a part of. So, in an attempt to find a consensus, I have ten questions/statements to guide the conversation. I will use everyone's answers to build a story.

    1. How much combat do you want? We can do everything from only fighting with only transitions from one fight to the next, to only fighting on the rare occasion, and everything in-between.
    2. Who/what do you want to fight? While Spellheart was designed to be able to handle PvP, it also has a capacity for PvE, and noncombat.
    3. What genre are you interested in playing? Clearly magic has to exist if we are using Spellheart, but there is still some flexibility in the details of how we create magic circles and what motivates our characters to use magic. This lets us play in many very different environments.
    4. How developed would you like the character to start out? We can play capable mages who have the capacity to play with advanced tactics, or easier to understand beginners who have trouble with the very basics.
    5. If there is a story, would you rather it be largely player-driven, or would you rather have me railroad a story-line? While I am quite fond of when players are able to contribute their own ideas and direction to a story, I'm simultaneously aware that not everyone likes the responsibility of creating their own events.
    6. What level of posting frequency are you expecting?
    7. Would you like to use a round based system of posting? A round based system gives everyone a chance to post before anyone is allowed to post again. If we use this, the amount of time everyone has to post will be based on the expected posting frequency.
    8. Would you like an experience that is fun, challenging, or terrifying? Whenever there is combat in an RP, there is obviously a risk to losing, but that risk can be as minor as acknowledging defeat to as major as death or worse. Adjusting this risk will greatly affect the tone of the RP.
    9. Would you like our character's to grow in their ability to use magic over the course of the RP? Spellheart does allow for character growth in that they can raise their stats and learn new spells. It would be a little crazy since there isn't a real guide for how quickly mages should grow in each area, but I'm willing to try an experimental approach if this is something people want to try out.
    10. Is there any other considerations you would like to add?
    @Shadow @gamer5 @Mite @Infinity @Heyitsjiwon
    1. I've been craving a combat RP for a very, very long time, if that helps.
    2. Anything that is willing and able to fight back. Sparring matches against other casters would be fun, along with matches set up against NPC's, be they other casters or creatures.
    3. I would be immensely amused if we somehow turned this into Libertine. That being said, I'm good with pretty much anything, I guess.
    4. I think it would be best to start out simple, guiding us into the game so we can play around and figure it out, and advance over time, possibly in some level system, which I guess I could help you out with pretty easily if need be. It doesn't really have to be experience based.
    5. A mix of both.
    6. I pray that it's not overwhelming, but I'm good with posting anywhere between daily to multiple times a day. I usually start on a response as soon as I see that there's something to respond to, but I'm not at my computer as often as I used to be.
    7. Yes.
    8. Challenging, and fun is kind of a given when you're into it.
    9. Yes.
    10. I still haven't slept, and I'll speak with you if I come up with something.
  11. So... It seems like a very interesting concept and if you are willing to get more people to join this RP, then I would definitely be in. If not, I will wait. And maybe cry a little bit... *Sniffle*
  12. I'd love to have you. Go ahead and answer the questions :)
  13. 1. I, for one, am not that into mindless violence. So, quite a bit of story/plot development is appreciated.

    2. NPCs and skills checks? Yes please.

    3. Low Fantasy? Maybe Near Future?

    4. My heart goes to the underdog.

    5. 50/50

    6. About once every 2-3 days at the least.

    7. To keep things fair, yes.

    8. All of the above.

    9. Yes.

    10. Hmm, nothing comes to mind right now.
  14. Sweetness!

    1. I'd like a good amount of combat, but not all combat. I think having a bit of story/plot development is better in my opinion than a bunch of endless violence. Though, that's just me.

    2. I think a good balance of both PvP and PvE would be a good idea. It gives our characters practice when they spar against other characters (And adds a little bit of a relationship between characters) and then battling the environment would also give them practice.

    3. I feel like any kind of environment would suit me. I can adjust to anything that you throw at me. I don't have a specific preference.

    4. People who feel like they are capable to understanding more advanced characters, let them play them. I think it would be good to have a gap in skill level. It creates an air where there are teaching opportunities for characters and it allows them to come closer. (If we decide that they teach each other)

    5. A mix, definitely. I don't think everyone wants to create ideas, but to those who want to, let 'em.

    6. About one every 3-5 days. If people are expecting differently, I can try to fit my schedule around it.

    7. Absolutely!

    8. I'd like elements of terror, challenge, and fun. Though, making it too challenging wouldn't make it fun. A big challenge never killed anyone... yet.

    9. Of course! What fun is it if you can't play with new things a bit?

    10. Nope. Nothing of concern here. Just looking forward to this AWESOME IDEA!
  15. Being able to chose if we want of fight some battles would be nice - like having certain battles that we can't evade fighting but most of the battles begin left for our character to chose if they want to fight or not. Otherwise I would not like if the RP would focus solely on fighting. A medium amount of fights would be nice if our characters couldn't chose when to fight and when not to.
    I would prefer a mix of PvP and PvE fights. This way if there is no conflict that leads to PvP we can always go and mop up some NPCs.
    I feel that a pure Fantasy would suit the system best, preferably set before the Industrial Revolution. Trough I can see it working in a Modern Fantasy and Science Fantasy in certain settings.
    I am no sure ... both look nice to me? Maybe have out character start just a bit developed (AKA single digit levels) so our spells already have a certain combat style formed but still inside what would be basic level spells?
    Maybe combine a main plot line with side plots created by you or/and the players?
    You could put up a vote near the end of each chapter/arc for what should we do next - progress the main plot, do one of the side plots (a few picked out) or free roam/time to build character connections, train or learn new spells?
    Few per day to one each two-three days ... I not to fast not to slow, depending on how much time each of us can allocate to RPing.
    This would be fair as long as people would stick to the posting frequency. I see no problems with playing it this way.
    The risk should depend on what type of fight we are fighting. For example in a spar it could be only acknowledging defeat. In a minor NPC fight you would be able to escape in some way. In a boss fight it would be ether that you are forced to change sides (if the other side is also made out of PCs) or killed if you lose, naturally if fighting in a team the team might be able to organize a escape from a boss fight too.
    Yes I would like for my character to be able to grow. As for limiting growth maybe you could implement a maximal growth of say 1-3 spells in a chapter/arc and certain amount "total" sum of how much one's capacity, flow and control can grow depending on what happens and how long said chapter/arc lasts in RP time?
    Uh ... want a hand with all the maths and things? I can't promise that I can spare much time but some I could... also did you try to google up some tools that might help you with running this RP? Google docs spreadsheets are okay but I think you could also find helpful tools with a helping hand from Google.
  16. I'm always open to these kinds of recommendations. If you have a better tool, I'd love to take a look at it.

    Additionally, I don't mind accepting your help in the case that you aren't a battle participate. It is important that the person running the numbers is not one of the combatants.
  17. I may or may not be interested, but then again, I may or may not have a few interesting ideas floating around in my head for this.
  18. Hm. I could recommend that you use the Random Number Generator on Random.org when doing stuff with Random Numbers. It outputs sufficiently random random numbers. As for else ... I never tried searching for tools that do the background work in RPGs so I wouldn't know what to say... but I can suggest that you find a spare hour or two to Google around for possible tools that you might use to decrease the amount of math you have to do...
  19. She has spreadsheets set up in Google Docs to help her.
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