Choosing a conversation and a magic system

So I’ve finally gotten to implementing my WIP (at last), but I’ve got a few problems to solve:

  1. The game relies heavily on magic, and I need to find a magic system to use (preferably one that hasn’t been used a lot).
  2. I need to find a conversation system that fits my writing style (I’m considering either using hybrid ask/tell or menus).
    Any help with either (or both) of these problems is appreciated.

Almost any magic system you implement will need to be tweaked somehow, but there are extensions in the library that should get you started.

Similarly depending on the dialogue type you want, Ask/Tell with nodes/suggestions/defaults is covered well (search Eric Eve’s extensions), and the “choose a line of dialogue from a list” kind is represented as well. Definitely check out AW Freyr’s “Hybrid Choices” extension which gives you a menu system you can switch into at will. It was utilized very well in Steph Cherrywell’s IFComp “Brain Guzzlers…” … index.html

When you say you need to find a magic system - do you mean that you need to figure out how magic works in your world (the worldbuilding part) or do you mean that you need to figure out how to implement your existing magic system within a game (the mechanical part)?

Perhaps a little bit of both. The game takes place in a medieval, fantastical version of the middle east. When I started designing, I was considering using a system similar to Enchanter, but I figured that was probably over-used, and that it probably wouldn’t fit very well in the game world.
I’ve also considered using an object-based magic system (similar to the rods in Curses), but I’m not sure how to go about designing that system.
As for conversation, I’m considering using the hybrid ask/tell system, because I think it fits my writing style better. Also, there are implementations of this system in nearly every IF development language (ALAN, TADS 3, TADS 2, Etc.)

There is an IFDB poll about magic systems here that may be helpful:

This might also be food for thought: … gic-system

Graham nelson talks about magic systems in the Craft of adventure … enture.pdf

He mentions that every spell or item should be used at least twice.

What’s your objective for the magic?

Example answers, just so you know what I mean by this question:

  • PC can do supernatural things (and you have an idea for what some of those things are), and you want that to be used in physical environment puzzles, e.g. the PC can make fire and might use that to burn a wooden object that’s in the way.
  • The PC can supernaturally effect other NPCs, such as attacking monsters with magical abilities, or changing the emotions of NPCs so they react differently.
  • You’re not sure how you want magic to be used by the gameplay, but your story says the PC can use magic, so it’d be weird if magic couldn’t be used in gameplay and you’re trying to figure out how to work it in.

Coincidentally, I am also making a game with a magic system, for reasons similar to the first one you mentioned (and three, a bit).

I have a pretty good idea how I’m going to handle things, but what would you recommend?

Magic can be used to effect the environment and NPC’s, and I have a lot of ideas on how magic could be used to solve a lot of puzzles.
Magic isn’t as heavily used to solve puzzles as in Enchanter, for example. However, magic is an integral part of the game world, and it can be used to provide multiple solutions to different puzzles.

There are three ways magic tends to function in religion and mythology that Fantasy fiction very rarely emulates:

Sympathetic magic, that is, the idea that conceptually similar objects have a magical link and that manipulating one in a ritual way can affect the other. The archetypal example is prolly effigies and voodoo dolls: by harming a representation of a person you wishing harm on that person, but it shows up a lot in folk medicine as well.

Contagious magic, that is, the idea that objects that come in contact with one another influence each other in magical ways that linger even after they are separated. Using a lock of someones hair to cast a curse upon them or an object owned by someone in a seance is example. A non-mystical example of that would be the importance people place on objects owned by celebrities.

and third… imma call this divine magic, even though that’s only part of what im talking about. Basically it’s when you ask a god or supernatural being for help. The genie in the lamp would be an archetypal example, but it’s worth mentioning that in the original fairy tales, that’s only one of many ways Djinns could be captured and made to perform a specific task for you.

The common thread in folk magic is that it tends to be based on… well, on magical thinking. On the sort of things that intuitively FEEL logical before you think rationally about it: “Need a cure for impotency? Try horn powder, horns are stiff and rigid, surely they must contain some ‘horny’ quality that you could extract somehow.,” “I don’t wanna wear that shirt, its been worn by a murderer! Yeah, its just a store-brought shirt, but what if there’s evil all over it?”, “In order to do something you need a doer, so if I want to do something I can’t, I need to call forth a being who can.”

If you are gonna design your own magic system, I think the key is to create similar alternative paths of “logic.” Cartoon physics could be seen as a form of magic: by knowing how the world operates, a skilled practitioner can use it to their advantage. I cast “summon anvil”

An example from my own work is what I jokingly call “the postal system” (Oneiromancy in the actual text), which is based on opening letters. Its content and how far the letter has traveled determine its effect (Chainmail protects the user, “Dear Johns” hurt a target and so on). Feel free to steal that concept if you wish, I’m not too protective of it.

For an amazing example of both sympathetic and contagious magic, try Savoir-Faire by Emily Short which uses the two as the main game mechanic. The PC has the power to “link” two things (causing one to affect the other sympathetically: open the snuffbox and the teapot opens too), or “reverse-link” them (causing the qualities each to contaminate the other: a sponge reverse-linked to a rock becomes stiff and hard, while the rock becomes less brittle).

Owior, I’m a bit curious how the postal system ties into oneiromancy. Are dreams or memories able to be transmitted through mail in this universe?

Dang, I’m still making my way through Counterfeit Monkey, looks like Imma have to try that one next.

Yes, more or less. :slight_smile: In this universe, the “Dreaming”, basically the collective unconscious, exist “on top of” the physical world, and objects can have a parallel existence in both worlds. So, for example, an envelope can transport a letter in the physical world, and the thoughts and emotions contained in the letter through the Dreaming.

Really, my reason for involving dreams is so that I have a license to whimsy. It’s hard to say that ISN’T how the dream world would operate, dreams be tripping. Yet there’s still SOME sort of logic to how the subconscious operates…

This would be a TERRIBLE magic system to implement as a mechanic as it’d basically boil every puzzle down to “guess what I’m thinking?” This is mostly just a fancy explanation for something that manifests like a pretty traditional magic system, with discrete effects that has to be learned and spell components that gets used up.

Sounds interesting.

Well, for those who were looking forward to playing this game, my machine crashed. Unfortunately, my game design documents and 99% of the source code was lost. So, of course, this is no longer a problem. (There’s an up side to everything! :smiley:)