View Full Version : Idea outline: "Programmer" wizard

2014-08-13, 02:54 AM
I was thinking about arcane magic again. I know, what a shocker.

In theory, Vancian magic, which I like very much, should limit the caster as compared to a more spontaneous one, such as a sorcerer. They have to prepare their spells ahead of time, so they have to know their opposition and prepare the right magics.

As we know, it does not work that way. There are many problems with this. Spells are too versatile and wizards just have too many of them. I have previously fixed the wizard by restricting the number of spells they could know and nixing the most versatile spells. But then, I had a different idea.

What if spells were a bit more open, but had to be prepared in very, very specific ways? What if a wizard had to prepare not only a general spell effect and then apply it but actually choose a list of variables ahead of time? Write out a finished spell, as they would cast it, while preparing?

In effect, something like this.
A current wizard prepares fireball. It is defined as a sphere of fire that deals a certain amount of damage in a certain radius. But the wizard, when casting, can choose the direction and distance he throws it at.
In this system, the wizard would not prepare fireball. He would prepare a combination of the variables "effect: fire damage" "delivery method: spherical burst" "radius: 20 feet" "point of origin: fifty feet away from me" "direction: due north".
As such, the wizard can only cast the spell at a distance exactly fifty feet away from himself to the North. Perhaps a bit too restricting, so my idea was that when casting, the wizard could change variables during battle, at the cost of some time.

Another example.
Current wizard: finger of death.
Programmer wizard: "Effect: death" "Delivery method: touch attack, single target" "Target type: evil outsider"

So, some quite specific variables like that.

How does that idea sound? Far too complicated? Impractical? Not fun at all?

2014-08-13, 04:34 AM
As long as it is not too restrictive, I would love to play something like this. Although it should probably be possible to make statements in relation to yourself, to make it usable. Something like "thirty feet into the direction I am facing".

Anyway, for people who like logic puzzles, this could be a far more interesting wizard than the normal one.

Although it would make Divination even more important... then again, Divination is one of the schools that feels most wizardy to me.

2014-08-13, 04:47 AM
Divination would be a bit problematic. Especially the famous 20 question spells.

"Hey, Boccob? Will I face any flamable enemies today? Cool. How far away from myself will they be? Uhuh. Ambient temperature at that time? Tsk. Underground? Right."

That wouldn't work. At all.

2014-08-13, 07:36 AM
Pathfinder has Words of Power (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/ultimateMagic/ultimateMagicWordsOfPower.html), which seem fairly similar, even if tangentially, to what you're talking about.

2014-08-13, 07:41 AM
Ooh, nice. If nothing else, one might take an effect list from that.

Target is the one I'd fiddle most with. Those should be quite specific.

2014-08-13, 08:03 AM
Spells are just too varied and erratic in behavior, and there's absolutely no kind of symmetry between the different spell schools.
I don't believe you'll manage to fully formulate something that at the same time will be both playable and balanced in a humanly feasible time frame.
There will always be edge-cases that won't fit your formula, and you'll find yourself in a constant state of patching.

I went for the approach where some of the spells are permanently memorized with the mage having a spell-level pool to put into temporarily memorized spells, and also gave the option of casting from an open spellbook (take the machanic from my Mage class (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?352036#14) or use it as something to work with if you feel like it).

2014-08-13, 04:18 PM
I actually really like this idea. I had a similar one a while ago, but I stopped because I ran out of motivation.

But anyway, one of the big sticking points about the system I was thinking about, is that it would make casting more changeable by making it more MAD.

For example, you might learn more possible variable values* with Int, but have a faster casting speed with Wis.

Then also, changing the different spell "variables" could change the spell's base casting speed and stuff.

So a high-Int wizard might be a long-cooldown, high-power blaster, while a Wis-focused one could be a mid-range spell machine gun.

*Such as Effect (fire), Effect (ice), Delivery Method (short ranged), etc.