Design proposal for religious powers

 
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:41 am    Post subject: Design proposal for religious powers Reply with quote

Last night I got back from a 10-day visit to Japan, which involved over 50 hours of travelling. Much of that travelling was spent sleeping or talking, but I did manage to work my way through a book - The Briar King, by Greg Keyes.

An interesting aspect of the book is the way it handles priests. They believe in a number of Saints, and are able to gain various supernatural gifts by walking "faneways" - a journey between a specific number of "fanes" (places of power left by each of the different aspects of the same Saint) which must be walked in a prescribed order.

Each of these faneways provides a different power to each person, but all are thematically tied to the Saint who originally walked that path. For example one of the main characters in the novel walks the faneway of Saint Decmanus (who embodies the power of the written word), by walking between the fanes of each of Saint Decmanus's incarnations in the correct order. Upon completing this journey (which requires meditative and spiritual challenges as well as physical travelling) the character gains enhanced senses and a photographic memory.

More powerful priests who had walked multiple faneways gained numerous other abilities, both physical and mental - but many of these benefits also have a price. For example, those who walk the faneway of Saint Mamres are forbidden to use bows.

The novel also has a sisterhood who live like nuns and have similar types of powers, and there is mention of a "Warlock War" in the past, between warlocks who drew upon dark powers in much the same way as the priests - so it's rather questionable as to whether or not these powers really come from Saints. However the concept itself is an interesting one, and might provide inspiration for an alternative way of handling magical powers, including the sort of weapon restrictions that are often associated with religious characters such as clerics.


From a game perspective, I'd imagine it working a bit like a quest system, perhaps requiring the player to meditate and/or complete a challenge at specific locations within the mud. Performing them out of order would reset your 'faneway' queue, and perhaps also have some sort of negative effect. Players could earn the ability to locate fanes, and perhaps even to identify which Saint they belong to, but that would be all - they'd have to work out the correct order themselves, or learn from another player (presumably by joining the priesthood).

Completing a faneway could then give the player a special power or ability, along with some associated restriction - break the restriction and you lose the power. Thus you might complete a faneway which gave you superhuman toughness but prevented you from wearing armour - if you then wore armour, you'd lose the power (either permanently, or while wearing the armour, or perhaps for a period of time after the armour was removed).

Your religious rank could then be determined based upon how many faneways you'd walked - you wouldn't need to walk them all (and indeed some might block others, perhaps due to conflicting restrictions). Certain faneways might also require early faneways to be completed first, to provide a foundation upon which the stronger powers could be built.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, this is probably the most comprehensive and capable "research" system I have seen detailed to date. I describe it as a research system because that's really what you're doing, performing a series of tasks in order to achieve a new "power" rather than just heading down to the local trainer and "buying" it.

I like the system as it's described and I wonder if similar systems could be made for magic-using characters such as mages, who must travel to the Library of Fistandantalus to read his black magic book about Corpse Reanimation in order to get their new Necromancy spell or some such and then you throw in the meditation and a little trial and error and maybe, you've got something.

Maybe it's a little much, but then again, maybe existing muds are a little bit too little when it comes to getting powers. If reaching, especially the highest and most powerful, skills is a matter of combat and legwork and a little skill rather than a measure of how many bunnies you've slain, maybe you'll see greater character customization as characters choose specifically what powers/skills/spells they want to go after.

Just some quickly organized, incoherent thoughts,

Vopisk
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Kelson



Joined: 18 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vopisk wrote:
You know, this is probably the most comprehensive and capable "research" system I have seen detailed to date. I describe it as a research system because that's really what you're doing, performing a series of tasks in order to achieve a new "power" rather than just heading down to the local trainer and "buying" it.


This isn't an actual research system, it is just a skill-gaining/levelling mechanic. I make the distinction since, in a real research system, the players themselves have to toy with the available tools to come up with anything interesting (for example: fire + lizard tail gives fireball). My mages (will) gain additional power overcomining challenges in specific planes of existance, but that isn't an aspect of their research.

I think it an interesting way to provide alternative levelling. My plan with the mages is similar; they have the normal levelling process by which their powers grow stronger, then they have the challenge aspects by which their powers grow broader. I hadn't thought of adding in restrictions, but it could certainly be part of the challenge.

Now if only I had priests...
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Lazarus



Joined: 03 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have priests in my game and I have come up with a 'dual mana' system for them. I call them Faith and Favor points. Essentially, Faith points are earned by using Favor points to do the regular priestly stuff. Healing, blessings, ressurections... Faith points are permanent until used on the more powerful miracles a priest can do. The number of Faith points determines how many maximum Favor points and how fast they regenerate.

What this does is gives an incentive for priests to actually behave like priests. Instead of being the guy that CAN heal people, he becomes the guy who WANTS to go out and heal people, because their is potential for self improvement in the process. However, to keep priests from becoming insanely powerful through pure accumilation of Faith points, the more impressive skills they have access to require the use Faith points, which do not regenerate. Things like the shapeshift for one faith, or the shadow slayer for another. These skills require a minimum number of Faith points, or a percentage of their total Faith points; whichever is higher.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kelson wrote:
Vopisk wrote:
You know, this is probably the most comprehensive and capable "research" system I have seen detailed to date. I describe it as a research system because that's really what you're doing, performing a series of tasks in order to achieve a new "power" rather than just heading down to the local trainer and "buying" it.


This isn't an actual research system, it is just a skill-gaining/levelling mechanic. I make the distinction since, in a real research system, the players themselves have to toy with the available tools to come up with anything interesting (for example: fire + lizard tail gives fireball). My mages (will) gain additional power overcomining challenges in specific planes of existance, but that isn't an aspect of their research.


You say potato, I say pota-to Smile While I respect the efforts that those such as yourself and KaVir and others have put into the idea of making research "real" in the terms of the game, there's really precious little to such systems. What I mean is that either you have static "properties" of ingredients a la Morrowind, or you have random, per-player properties of ingredients. The first will lead quickly to older, more advanced players telling everyone the perfect combination of ingredients to create the ultimate fireball, while the latter entirely eliminates any sort of continuity within game terms, as mages are explicitly disallowed from sharing information by the fact that it will almost always be wrong. I don't like playing devil's advocate, but the fact that a new video game can't be released without a "Player's Guide how to Win the Game in Less than Three Hours" suggests that at least some section of the population out there has no interest in exploring the game that you've created and instead are simply interested in beating the game, or if you will, becoming the most powerful character they can.

The term we often use for this sort of gameplay is Powerlevelling and other nifty catch-phrases that all really represent the same thing, abuse of the system.

So, in short, or long as the actual case may be, I believe that the way that research should be viewed is either as a fixed, off-line idle time function, or in some way like KaVir's proposal. I've seen a MUD do this, not sure which one off the top of my head, but they allowed mage's to script their own spells, however, the only time you researched spells was while you were offline and must log off from a library and have X amount of gold on your character in order to progress Y along the path of discovering your new spell.

I thought this was a pretty neat system, and it also gave some incentive for taking a break, which was nice, also, since the scripting language was the same, you were only limited in what you could research by your magic levels, your gold on hand and your mana, it would be entirely possible to research a spell that you weren't going to be able to cast for another fifty levels, but that was your problem.

Similarly, you could use a series of quests, something like what KaVir has described, in order to unlock powers and abilities for the character. The benefit that these provide is that even while keeping the overall structure in place, the quest itself can change to dissuade cheating (information sharing). Bob might tell Todd that he needs to take the Path of the Dragon and find the Key of Azura, but that key might be in a different location, or in the possession of a different MOB or whatever.

If you also, per KaVir, makes these unlocked skills and spells and abilities block other skills, spells and abilities, it becomes more important which tasks you set out upon, as you can never really be sure what you might be denied down the road. Either way, you're talking about a game mechanic that ends up with the player having a new ability. I just think that this one has much more interactivity involved.

Vopisk
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vopisk wrote:
While I respect the efforts that those such as yourself and KaVir and others have put into the idea of making research "real" in the terms of the game, there's really precious little to such systems. What I mean is that either you have static "properties" of ingredients a la Morrowind, or you have random, per-player properties of ingredients. The first will lead quickly to older, more advanced players telling everyone the perfect combination of ingredients to create the ultimate fireball, while the latter entirely eliminates any sort of continuity within game terms, as mages are explicitly disallowed from sharing information by the fact that it will almost always be wrong.


The latter only prevents mages from sharing information outside of the game - there's no reason why you couldn't have an in-game teaching system, with costs and restrictions in place to discourage advanced players from teaching all their tricks to everyone else (eg perhaps a mage's status and reputation are based on how few other people know the same spells as him).
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
The latter only prevents mages from sharing information outside of the game - there's no reason why you couldn't have an in-game teaching system, with costs and restrictions in place to discourage advanced players from teaching all their tricks to everyone else (eg perhaps a mage's status and reputation are based on how few other people know the same spells as him).


That is an amazing insight. What are the ramifications?

1. Mages A, B, and C research a spell with the same effect, say invisibility, discovering the components, gestures, and words necessary to cast the spell. However, each aspect is slightly or very different from another mage's aspect -- if A needs 10 grams of liverwort, maybe B needs 1 gram, and C needs none.

2. Mage A then has the opportunity to teach B and C 'their' version of invisibility. B and C will forget their version of the spell.

3. If A teaches the spell to B and C, all the 'mysterium' or whatever of these mages decreases. Also their reputation. Reputation influences the ability to buy new ingredients, coerce other npcs into doing what you want, etc. Mysterium influences the mage's power with certain spells (summoning, enchanting) -- mages with more of it get better effects, more control over summoned creatures, etc.

However, the benefits of A, B, and C all knowing the same spell -- B and C obviously didn't have to spend the time to learn the spell at all, they could do other things. And then maybe they can form a guild and concentrate on the harvesting of liverwort, or whatever components they need for their book of spells.


What else?
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a good suggestion that I'll admit I hadn't thought of as a solution. So ingredients would still function on a per-mage basis, being unique for all, although the same X number of characters might know the same "spell", such as ide suggested.

The question is, in such a research system, also like ide said, Mages B and C could have researched an invisibility spell on their own, making it "unique" you might say, even though the parameters might be the same as far as effect, and all would have an equally enlarged "reputation" because of this spell?

I guess you might say that a certain "standard book of spells" might be developed over time by players in the game, that is, basic stuff like fireballs, invisibility and other "generic" spells would be freely shared with new-come mages to the guild while individual mages would greedily horde their most powerful ( and unique ) spells as this is the source of their true devastating nature and godly world reputation.

To re-use my Morrowind example, I guess it would be similar to the spellmaking system there, whereby a player could create a spell that is the same as everyone else's fireball although they might give it a different name, and at the same time they can make it more powerful, perhaps by casting a fire shield about themselves and throw in weakness to fire on the enemy to boot. The more powerful the spell, not only the longer the "research" time and funding required, but also the higher level and amount of magic necessary to cast said spell.

This would also prevent lower-level players who have just started playing the game from quickly amassing the most powerful spells in the game, even if a mage is willing to teach them, they simply don't have the knowledge to comprehend the magics involved.

Thanks for spurring my thoughts forward as usual, will need to put more thought into this later.

Vopisk
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In fact, if I teach you fireball and the spell that you cast is then known as "Kjartan's Fireball", then one might argue that my reputation is actually increased by that, while yours is not. (I think decreasing it might be a little harsh - surely casting someone else's fireballs around is more reputation-building than not casting any fireball at all.)
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kjartan wrote:
In fact, if I teach you fireball and the spell that you cast is then known as "Kjartan's Fireball", then one might argue that my reputation is actually increased by that, while yours is not. (I think decreasing it might be a little harsh - surely casting someone else's fireballs around is more reputation-building than not casting any fireball at all.)


A valid point, but I was really trying to give an example of how you could discourage people from teaching everyone and their dogs all the spells they know. Call it "mystique" instead of "reputation" if you prefer.

You could also make the advantage more straightforward - perhaps you get a bonus when attempting to counter, resist or bypass any spell you know. Thus it would obviously be in a mage's best interest to keep a few secret offensive and defensive spells in their arsenal. They might teach apprentices their old spells, but they'd likely want to keep back their best ones.
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