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Worldbuilding 102: Makin' Magic

I was mulling over what to write about for my next blog, but then an idea sprang into my mind which pretty much governs the laws of how most rpg-skills work: Skills and Magic. Where does magic come from? Where does it originate? How do developers fit their game lore into their character's skillset? Or is it the other way around?

First off, LoTL is rapidly approaching the 5-hour mark. Bear in mind that I'm only on Chapter Two of a proposed ten chapters, so this going to be a very long game indeed, though hopefully I won't bore the player at any point. I think I know enough about game dev by now to know when the player starts losing interest. I've learnt a lot from Enelysion's rather sluggish 'first 2 hours' phase and LoTL is a game where the plot moves at a constant rate.

So let's talk magic.
Who can use it in-game? Only Ianna and Dante.



Ianna the Cutie and Dante the Muscle Mage. Both of them are descended from powerful magis who went on to form one of Liguria's many Duchies: Dubhan went on to establish the royal House of Genoa, whereas Laeveii, Dante's ancestor, went on to establish the mage House of Connaught.

Ianna doesn't start off by learning magic naturally the way Dante does, but rather casts spells from equipable tomes that can be swapped during battle and can wield magical blades. She gradually learns single target spells but doesn't learn AoE spells until much later on. Ianna's only AoE spells are limited to her heritage, aka Light spells.

But I can tell you now she's probably the most powerful unit in the game, and not only from a gameplay perspective. I suppose I could sum it up like this without spoiling anything: Ianna basically creates her own legend over the course of LoTL's
ten lengthy chapters.

So why is magic so interesting here when it's so common in most JRPGs?

The Kingdom of Liguria is rather on the low-mag side of things, simply because it's setting is a bit more realistic than the average JRPG setting, where mages are treated as just another set of long-range units, rather than having every Tom, Dick and Harry (Potter) flinging Firagas all over the place.

Another point to note is that in LoTL, where war is one the most prevalent themes of the game (and indeed, its catalyst), any side with access to powerful magic would be able to win the war easily and just obliterate their opposition's legions of armour knights, infantry and longbowmen. So not only does magic form an important plot point later down the line, but it does give me, as a developer, the ability to create more interesting and diverse magical foes. Which leads me to make more powerful equips, items, accessories etc, which leads to a richer game play experience.


Sure they look imposing, but the Gatekeepers don't present much of a challenge if you've got a buffed Ianna on your team. ;)


But still incredibly dangerous... But like all Armours, they're weak against Thunder. Since they you know, get electrocuted.

As for the other characters, their prowess in battle stems simply from whether they've been trained from a young age as a military cadet, or whether they're just another ordinary soldier on the front lines. This also helps diversify skill sets of my characters. i.o.w, Lance will never be as powerful as Tristian, and Darcy will never be as strong as Striker. I just go by rule-of-thumb. If the game's pliot dictates that your are awesome, then your character's base stats and skill-set will reflect this.

Comparison sake: Taking Tristian and Lance at the same level (10).

Tristian: Level 10 General

LP/HP: 49
MP: 21
Str: 24
Mag: 18
Def: 21
Spd: 26

Lance: Level 10 Soldier

LP/HP: 35
MP: 12
Str: 16
Mag: 8
Def: 16
Spd: 13

That's before altering their stats through the AP ( Ability Point system ) of course.

I've never really been a fan of settings where magic is widespread, because all of it would have to fit into your game's lore and you'd have to establish certain rules like:
Who can use it?
Is magic genetic or is a learned skill?
Is there an established pantheon of deities your characters worship?
Is magic restricted in certain parts of your game world, and if so, how do player characters react to it? Are there strict rules in place?
Can magic only be used in dire circumstances, or is it an everyday thing? If it is, how is it incorporated into daily life?


And so on. I could write an article about this, but that's for another day.

Indeed, you'd need to build some kind of genesis explaining the creation of magic to make it mesh with what you are creating. And shoe-horning things later on never work. Making magic scarce and self-contained makes it a veritable force of nature where it can turn the tide of battle in an instant.

That's all fine and well, but where's the yuri?

Oh, it's still here alright. Just... very subtle. I'm not too fond of the 'in-your-face-romance or flirts' type of romance. I like to keep players guessing. But no yuri for today's update.

And a few new faces:



Viceroy Dorner is under increasing pressure to deal with the rebel group known quite simply as The Mountain, led by Darcy, who are causing havoc with their pseudo rebellions. Then again, Darcy has every reason to be rebelling against Dorner and his goons. He's used to people poking fun of his hairstyle.


A twin he is, but will he be as interesting as Tristian? Only time will tell.

Fun fact: I spend anything from 30 mins - 2 hours composing and formatting my blogs. It's also not unusual for me to get up at 5:30am to get some work on the game done before going to work. =)


And that's it for my bi-monthly update. See you the end of April for another. =)



Posts

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@HikiNeet: Disma and co don't even feature anymore. The storyline has been changed completely. The plot was just way too cliched back in late 2013.

@macblo: No, I was just using a general FF example. But I do have Meteor as a multi-hitting, AoE spell that serves as one of Dante's overdrives.

Those magic users you were listing off. Did any of them have the ability to cast Firaga?
Hmm, wondering if Disma's cultists are gonna summon some evil demon dragon lord. Actually, just wondering if there are any other sentient races in this game besides humans.

The 'r' and 'n' in the Viceroy's name are close enough where you could mistake them for an 'm'.
Funny, I was thinking of the late Alan Rickman when trying to give a voice to the Viceroy. So I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that. =)
Oooooh yeah, looking for spare time for developing your game? I know a thing or two of that. "orz

And it shows, your blogs are always pretty.

By the way, the viceroy reminds me of Spock, but for some reason it also reminds me of Snape.
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