View Full Version : Original System Stack Based Mana System [PEACH, Thoughts?]

2014-03-03, 12:19 PM
Wow, I'm just full of this kind of thing lately...

Alright, here's the basic idea:

1) Every spellcaster has a Mana Capacity; this is the maximum size of their Stack.
2) The Stack in this case is literally a stack of cards. This will be important later.

3) Mana cards will have different types; think MtG. A spell's cost is paid by removing the indicated number of Mana Cards from the top of the Stack.
4) All spells will cost a variable amount of Mana; any spell can be cast with most kinds of Mana by default.
5) Some spells might have a list of opposed Mana types; those Mana types cannot be used to cast that spell, and can't be included in their casting.
6) Some spells might have a list of attuned Mana types; those Mana types give a boost to the spell in question.

7) A beginning spellcaster starts out with "blank" Mana cards up to their full capacity.
8) After each rest (variable depending on system), the Mana Stack is refilled to capacity with blank Mana, and then shuffled.
9) The place that you rest affects your Mana recovery; a location has either a minor aspect or a major aspect.

A) A location that has a minor Aspect replaces 1 of the Mana regained with Mana of that type; sleeping in a graveyard might give you 1 Death Mana, while sleeping in a forest that just burned down might give you 1 Fire Mana.
B) A location that has a major Aspect replaces all of the blank Mana with Mana of that type; sleeping in the Underworld would give you a mess of Death Mana.
C) A location can only have on major Aspect, but can have multiple minor Aspects, or a mix of one major Aspect and multiple minor Aspects.
10) Any spellcaster can spend an action to shuffle their Mana Stack. They can also spend an action to "burn off" the top card of their Stack.

11) There are two special Mana types: Null and Supernal; Null Mana is opposed to every spell, and Supernal Mana is attuned to every spell.


This system has some things that are, in my mind, an interesting way of affecting spellcasting behavior. Imagine a deathly realm that has a Major Death Aspect and a Minor Null Aspect; most spellcasters will want any adventure there to be a quick in-and-out, since it'll take caution to stop their Stack from being cluttered up with useless Null Mana.

They'll want to be out of a realm that just has a Major Null Aspect ASAP; unless they have a way to "bring magic with them", they'll run out sooner or later...

Oh, and mage-slayers will obviously have a way to clutter up an enemy spellcaster's Stack with Null Mana... which'll be less than effective against a dedicated Pyromancer, who might have an ability that puts one Fire Mana on top of their Stack whenever they "burn off" the top card of their Stack.


Thoughts be welcome.

2014-03-03, 10:00 PM
This does seem to have some interesting potential. I ran a game which used a system similar to this but only had four types of mana. It ended up being cluttered, because I made the different types have their own pools, but this could be an interesting way to solve that issue.

The major problem comes into uses for different mana. Can you use other mana at cost to power spells? IE, if it normally takes two fire mana to shoot off your fireball spell, but you only have water and death mana, could you siphon four death mana into the mix to power the fire spell? Otherwise I could see specialists having great issues, unless they could generate their own mana.

Of course, generating your own mana, or having other creatures generating mana, could be very intriguing. I'm imagining a somewhat simple elemental creature which carries the side effect of generating mana relating to its element when in the vicinity. It would explain some of the uses of familiars if they could be used in that way.

In all, I would be highly intrigued at seeing a system set up like this, where more nit-picky aspects could be reviewed.

2014-03-03, 10:07 PM
I like it. How many different types were you thinking of having? What sort of mechanic were you thinking of using for the rest of the system? How does one learn spells or specialize/gain special abilities?

2014-03-03, 11:44 PM
Domriso- To clarify:

You can cast a Fireball with two Death Mana, say; however, the spell will be more effective if Fire Mana is included, and it can't be cast with Water Mana at all.

In general, this is a conceptual thing; I currently don't have the time to make it into a fleshed-out system.

2014-03-04, 12:23 AM
Alright, I see that I missed a couple of bullet points. Probably shouldn't have been playing Minecraft while reading it. ^^;

That said, this does seem very interesting. Reminds me a bit of the Magna Carta video game combat system.

2014-03-04, 12:36 AM
I love it. I also thought of Magna Carta, as well as Chrono Cross.

I have a suggestion. I would consider nixing the rule for "burning off" the top Mana. The reason is that it seems redundant.

For example, let's say you have a Stack of 12 mana and you need 3 mana to cast Fireball. Okay, so you draw the top 3 cards to cast it... but one is Water mana! Now, if you want to succeed at your Fireball spell, you need to draw a fourth card, essentially throwing away the Water one. In effect, you have a 1 mana penalty to the spell.

I wouldn't add an action-based penalty on top of that; the higher Mana cost already does the job. I'd just say "You want to cast a 3-card spell, keep drawing cards till you get the three you need." If you end up wasting cards, that's penalty enough.

(It makes sense to me that a caster who's charged with the wrong kind of mana would have to use more of it to cast his spell; it doesn't seem as intuitive that the spell would actually take longer to cast.)

Depending on how big a typical Stack is, I'd also consider having a Minor aspect be variable (like 1d4 Death mana, rather than just 1 Death mana every time). Seems a little more fun.

2014-03-04, 01:12 AM
Domriso- To clarify:

You can cast a Fireball with two Death Mana, say; however, the spell will be more effective if Fire Mana is included, and it can't be cast with Water Mana at all.

In general, this is a conceptual thing; I currently don't have the time to make it into a fleshed-out system.

We can help! Unless you'd prefer to work on it yourself in which case we are happy to provide feedback.

2014-03-04, 02:23 PM
Fire/Water themed mana works fine for evocation, but has no impact on enchantment or illusion spells. Consider having mana attuned to the different spell schools instead. Specialized wizards would then always get a certain percentage of their mana as that type.
Alternatively, having mana attuned to the different spell descriptors might work better, though you'll have like, 30 mana decks.

This is probably one of the fastest and easiest ways to keep track of spell points. If we wanted to work on a system, something like this might help.

Mana capacity would be (SLx2)-1 per spell plus (casting modifier), so 1 for 1st level spells, 3 for 2nd, 5 for 3rd, etc. Spells would cost mana equal to SLx2. This creates a deficit at higher levels, helping curb some of the caster's power and versatility.
Now, assuming that we're using mana tied to spell schools, you fill your mana to capacity with "universal" cards. If you are a specialist wizard, X amount of this universal mana is replaced by the mana of your specialty, where X is 1+1/4. [Ratios: 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 2/4, 2/5, 2/6, 2/7, 3/8, 3/9, etc.]
When casting a spell, reveal cards from the top of your deck equal to the spell's cost (2x SL). Each non-opposed mana card counts as 1 successful mana toward the casting of the spell. Each opposed mana counts as 0. Mana cards whose type matches the spell being cast count as 1 and increase your effective caster level for that spell by 1. If your initial draw does not yield enough successful mana, you may choose to manually fail the spell (it has no effect) or to draw additional mana cards. Each mana card after the initial draw is taken individually, and you may look at it before deciding whether to draw another card.
The caster level bonus is capped at an amount equal to your casting modifier (so a level 5, 18 Int wizard drawing 6 evocation mana for his fireball spell would have an effective CL of 9). Furthermore, if at least half of the successful mana you draw is of the same type as the spell, you increase that spell's DC by +1. If at any point half of the total mana drawn for a spell is opposed to the spell's school, then the spell immediately fails.

When preparing spells, after filling his deck to capacity (if needed), the caster may search the deck for a number of cards equal to his casting modifier and place them on the top or bottom of the deck. He may perform this activity only once per hour, regardless of how frequently he may prepare a spell or spells.

With a successful spellcraft check, casters may perform the following actions. Reconsider: As a move action, DC 10, the caster may shuffle his mana deck.
Invoke: As a full-round action, DC 25, the caster adds one card to his mana deck, as though he were drawing only one card to fill his deck to capacity. The DC increases by +10 with each consecutive use, and this increase in difficulty expires when you next prepare spells.
Pondering: As a swift action, DC 15, the caster can look at the top card of his mana deck. He may look at one additional card for every 5 by which he beats the DC, to a maximum of his casting modifier (2: DC 20, 3: DC 25, 4: DC 30, etc.).
Sorting: As a move action, DC 15, the caster may choose whether or not to offset the top card from his mana deck. He may choose whether or not to offset one additional card for every 5 by which he beat the DC, to a maximum of his casting modifier (2: DC 20, 3: DC 25, 4: DC 30, etc.). He does not get to look at these cards while doing so, though with successful uses of Pondering, he may gain some insight as to which cards are where. After choosing all cards to be offset, he may place those cards on the top or bottom of the deck. At the end of his turn, any cards which are still offset are returned to the top of his deck. The DC increases by +10 with each consecutive use, and this increase in difficulty expires when you next prepare spells.
Purging: As a standard action, DC 15, the caster may choose to discard one card from his deck. He may discard the top card, the bottom card, or one card he has offset via Sorting. For every 5 by which he beats the DC, he may discard another card from any location. The DC increases by +10 with each consecutive use, and this increase in difficulty expires when you next prepare spells.

That's a start at least.

2014-03-04, 10:15 PM
Eh, I don't think basing the mana on the magical schools of D&D is a poor choice. Those schools are already esoteric and vague, and basing them on the classical elements can have more easily applied benefits. Or, alternatively, jumping away from the classical elements, they could also go in a different manner entirely, perhaps making their own system.

In general, however, I think that the D&D schools would be a very poor choice.

Just to Browse
2014-03-04, 11:46 PM
It would be more evocative to assign classical elements to conditions than use vague spell schools. Fire can be speed buffs, rage. Death gets fear, nausea. Water gets slows and mind control. Whatever.

2014-03-05, 06:41 PM
My contention for mana would involve the four classical elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water) as well as Death (because everyone loves Death), Mind (because it offers a unique reflection of Death) and Spirit (because it covers what Mind doesn't).

Air would cover things involving weather, illusions, change, and the like.
Death would cover things involving decay, souls, undeath, and the like.
Earth would cover things involving matter, stability, protection, and the like.
Fire would cover things involving energy, destruction, consumption, and the like.
Mind would cover things involving perception, understanding, knowledge, and the like.
Spirit would cover things such as summoning, transformation, transportation, and the like.
Water would cover things involving healing, invigoration, divination, and the like.

This would mean most abjuration spells would be covered under Earth, conjuration would be covered under Spirit, divination spells would be covered under Water, enchantment spells would be covered under Mind, many evocation spells would be Fire, most illusion spells would be Air based, necromancy effects would be covered by Death, while transmutation effects would involve either Air or Spirit.

This offers up the usefulness of the Air-Earth-Fire-Water standard, while also offering up the Body-Mind-Soul triumvirate often seen in Western fantasy. Plus, it is easy to see where certain mana could be used to enhance other spells.

2014-03-05, 10:16 PM
This is only partially relevant, but I'd been thinking of a system fairly similar to this, in which a class is generally very weak and has no special features, but uses a deck of cards with bonuses or abilities.

I don't know if it will be helpful, but if anyone is interested:
The player has a hand of cards and can play any card in their hand. I'm unsure whether the player should draw 1 card per turn (to max hand size), making bombing with several cards penalize the player with an empty hand, or make the player draw to max hand size every turn to encourage them to maximize the use of their cards every turn, while trying to get full potential of every card before the deck runs dry.

The discard pile is returned to the draw pile at the end of each encounter, or by removing yourself and taking several successive full round actions.

Cards can also be "burned" which puts them in a separate discard pile that is only recovered after 8 hours rest.