[MUD-Dev] Usability and interface

Jon Leonard jleonard at divcom.umop-ap.com
Tue Oct 14 16:32:36 CEST 1997

J C Lawrence wrote:
> On 09/10/97 at 09:15 AM, Broly <gunther at online1.magnus1.com> said:

[snip -- how ovbious should spellcasters/spellcasting be?]

> >Actually, for most spells in my system (there are a few exceptions, where
> >I plan on letting the caster keep the casting of spells secret unless
> >they are closely observed, because the verbal and somatic components are
> >easily hidden.), everyone capable of observing the caster will know that
> >something is going on. Whether its the caster jabbering in a strange
> >tongue or flailing about wildly, most people (PC & NPC) will recognize
> >that a spell is being cast (except for the terminally stupid, who will
> >just think the caster is singing/dancing).
> Ahh.  My preference has idealised magic making being almost entirely
> silent and stationary.  The main requirements are great concentration and
> will power, with the physical aspects coming in as minor supporting roles
> as aids to the first two.  The intent is for a truly expert mages to be
> able to cast any magic without visibly moving a muscle.  More minor mages
> will require greater assistance to their concentration via physical
> motions, words, and other patterning forms.  Thus the neophyte may dance
> and scream and wave his arms to achieve the proper conceptration and form
> for a particular magic, a more expert mage may merely stagger a few
> similar steps, mutter to himself, and gesture with his hands, and the
> trhue expert may do nothing at all to cast the same spell but blink, if
> that.

I prefer somewhat of a hybrid system:

Magic spells are made up of a variety of components.  For example, if I want
to cast a fireball at someone, I need some fire, a bit of targetting, and
possibly some other stuff.  (No, I haven't implemented this yet.)

To get the magical essence of fire, I can use a real fire, or I can imagine
a fire, or crumple a bit of paper and pretend it sounds like fire, or any
number of other things.  Some are much more amenable to casting quickly
than others, and there are similar tradeoffs in terms of obviousness,
difficulty, magical effort required, etc.  I may know how to do some but
not others.

> >I guess a band of mages could be compared to UN forces.  If the UN looted
> >the town, then the next wave of peacekeepers is going to be dragged out
> >into the street and shot, but if they come into the town to help out
> >disaster victims, they'll have a parade if they returned when things got
> >back to normal.
> Should a mage be visibly a mage?

I view this one as fairly obvious.  If someone does a lot of magic, then
they'll probably be carrying stuff that helps in that pursuit.  Much like
someone wearing armor and carrying a sword is probably capable of fighing.

That is, of course mages are visibly mages, unless then've taken steps to
disguise that fact.  (Or are unprepared.)

> Should mages be something distinct from other character types?

Not in a skill-based system.  Depends on the game/world, really.

> Note: I'm taking a number of large risks here, among which are going for a
> high magic world.  High magic changes almost all the rules.

That it does.

Jon Leonard (The other Jon L)

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