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Default Scars of War - Mage Gameplay

April 2nd, 2008, 11:11
Over at regular forum poster Naked Ninja's Scars of War game blog, is an excellent explanation of how to build Mage gameplay into an RPG, rather than simply playing a Mage character. Here's a slice from the introduction:
There is a difference, between playing as a mage and there being “mage gameplay” in a game. It’s similar and perhaps easier to illustrate with thieves/rogues. Almost every rpg lets you play as a thief. But few actually have any gameplay built around “thiefy” activities. You don’t generally sneak around buildings at night, case out targets or bribe guards. The gameplay is almost always focused around combat. In other words : “fighter gameplay". Playing a thief or a wizard is pretty much playing much like playing a warrior, but with different tools to kill enemies with.
If he is able to produce all he's planning within the game, then this little Indie could set some new and desperately needed higher standards for playing a Mage. You'll find the entire article right here.
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April 2nd, 2008, 11:11
Don't really know. That sounds cool, but also looks like playing mage this way is going to be a real nuisance due to abundant micromanagement. I hardly used any magic in Ultima 7 because I didn't want to bother collecting the reagents, and all the rituals and combining runes makes everything even more complex. I never liked playing mages in RPGs at all though, thief is my favorite archetype. So maybe what's described in the article is really what mage-lovers want to play.

The main point of the article is beyond argument though. RPGs do lack mage-style gameplay. However I'd choose another solution - the multiplity of choice, like emphasized in AoD development. Best RPGs do offer ways of solving problems for sneaky and persuasive thief types, but the knowledgeable mage does really sometimes feel that his knowledge is not of much use in the game world. So there's vast space for improvement.

Well - let's see what Scars of War is going to be! I'm definitely excited.
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April 2nd, 2008, 12:16
I'd hate to have to spend 10 minutes casting a spell in the middle of combat; one of the things which made Arx Fatalis challenging to play as a caster, but if he can balance all the factors, it should make playing a mage more fun. Perhaps he might then do the same thing for rogues!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 2nd, 2008, 13:38
The quotation reminds me of my own concept of "fighting for something vs. fighting against something".

It's actually just a matter of the point of view.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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April 2nd, 2008, 17:27
As someone who always (if possible) plays a spellcaster, this approach is extremely good news—I don't see any tedium in the processes described, but rather a very substantial opportunity to really role-play a mage. A lot does depend on how intuitive the actual mechanics are, but as a concept, this is really attractive. It looks like a lot of work, though, especially since many players don't choose to go that route. Still, as an example, look at the success in sales Assassin's Creed had basing their game on 'thiefly' activities.

Also, that blog site has come a long way since the last time I looked at it—very nice.

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April 2nd, 2008, 20:38
Has anyone considered that this "Mage Gameplay" would consist of a mage who never actually fights himself but e.g. hires other people?
Why only fighting is considered for a different mage gameplay?
Or is it that RPGs are inherently action-RPGs?

For me, a mage is someone with enough intelligence to avoid fights at all casts, unless it's absolutely necessary.
I guess this "fighting mage" is some kind of a D&D concept… (I'd never played that shit in PnP.)
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April 3rd, 2008, 00:47
As a person who also only plays casters where possible, I agree that avoiding conflict is frequently my chief aim. I think I played most of Morrowind using only summoning spells so I could avoid most of the combat personally and let my summons take all the hits!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 3rd, 2008, 03:55
I agree with his point about mages not being done properly in games. However, his way seems overly complex, not unlike Ultima 8 with its differents kind of magic (at least in U7 there was only one style).

Still, it's better than simply hurling fireballs endlessly, which really isn't all that different from swinging a sword endlessy but with MP usage. It's pretty much why I prefer playing a fighter character.

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April 3rd, 2008, 03:58
Instead of making the differences be in combat make them outside of combat where you have different ways to solve quests and puzzles and even have things to do that are specific to the class. An example would be the Quest for Glory series where depending on your class you would solve quests and puzzles differently and even had things to do specifically for your class.
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April 3rd, 2008, 05:33
I suspect that's what he's planning; perhaps he'll tell us!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 3rd, 2008, 10:25
I love that blog entry!

I think the combat focus in RPGs is the main reason why there's often relatively little depth to character archetypes. Thieves, Warriors and Mages can all fight with different means, but usually it's not much different. Like in guenthar's suggestion, if there were more non-fighting possibilities to explore, it could really help flesh out the classes.

On the topic of mages and slightly off-topic, one of my pet peeves in most fantasy based RPGs is indeed that there's no real depth behind the magic (system). Spells are plastic spells. They have a name, a function, but nothing behind it. Where's the lore to make the magic more (in-)tangible? My favorite magic descriptions were in Raymond Feist's Magician and Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. Mostly, there weren't any "magic missiles" or somesuch, magic needed to be bent and formed and experimented with to harness it's power.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
Last edited by Arhu; April 3rd, 2008 at 10:41.
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