there could be more to magic

Talk about the mods or features you'd like to see in Daggerfall Unity. Give mod creators some ideas!
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there could be more to magic

Post by meritamas » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:55 pm

Before I continue, I'd like it to be known that my understanding of Daggerfall is limited. I am originally an Oblivion player who then switched for a short while to Morrowind because of its higher level of sophistication and is now considering playing Daggerfall instead because it seems even more complex and realistic. Then, I learned about Daggerfall Unity. I think that what the community has accomplished so far is great and I very much appreciate it, but that does not prevent me from posting ideas that could make it even better... for me at least :)

I am a big fan of magic and I think there should be more to magic than currently is in Daggerfall (and other TES games I have information about).

I think of magic as some arcane art, not something you can systematically learn. The same could and perhaps should also be said about physical combat skills, but because I am not into those, but magic, I will leave physical combat to someone else and only concern myself with magic for now. To make my point more precisely, magic should have a part of it that can be learned systematically (like buying knowledge of spell effects for money and practicing them). This part of magic is already incorporated into the game nicely. What I am missing is that there should still be some knowledge out there that can be gained, but only through exposing yourself to great danger to get that knowledge. It is this second part that I am missing.
Like in Harry Potter, it is one thing they teach you a lot about a lot of things at Hogwarts, but not about some of the most potent stuff, like the unforgivable curses or horcruxes etc. - it is simply not taugh in the conventional process. In that universe, you need to either study countless tomes and books and ancient sites for decades to gain the knowledge or to have a powerful wizard who already has that great knowledge (Dumbledore, Voldemort, Snape etc) teach you or at least give hints of the secrets still out there. Of course, these would only do so for their own, sometimes benevolent, sometimes selfish or plainly mysterious ends.
The implication about this 'inaccessible' part of magic can also be illustrated by TES examples. In Oblivion, at the end of the Mages Guild quest line, before you go and destroy Mannimarco, Traven does seem to posess some secrets, the way he sacrifices his own life to somehow enchant that great black soul gem to enable you to resist Mannimarco's spell and effectively fight him (the King of Worms had the power to 'ensnare' you and that would likely be a spell or an effect similar to that one I discussed in this topic - in this post I'll call it the Imperius spell/effect/mechanic to make it simple)...or Martin Septim conjuring up a portal into Oblivion (but if it is possible, why can't the player)... or books on lore about a wizard who successfully entered the daedric realm... or Divayth Fyr in Morrowind...
all this clearly implies that the game designers also wanted to hint that there is much more to magic than the PC can master in the game. I would like at least parts of this potential to be added.

I have been thinking for some time about how to go about doing this in a way that is most consistent with the Daggerfall or TES universe and wouldn't break other things. It seems there is no need to throw out what we have but instead I am considering proposing some minor and some major additions and modifications I hope could greatly enhance the game with relatively little difficulty of implementation (still a lot of effort needed I imagine, but at least not completely out of reach). The problem with this is that for most part I can only guess how difficult it would be to implement one idea or another. Thus, I would greatly appreciate some feedback in this regard.

So now, my thoughts so far.
1. One part could be attributes and skills above 100, like I proposed it here. E.g. I could imagine spells you can only learn if you have an intelligence of 130 or higher and only cast if you have a willpower of X or higher and perhaps some skill at a given level. Perhaps some currently present spells could be made less readily available, too.

18 May 2019 UPDATE: I have given a more detailed suggestion on how the upper limits to attributes and skills could be set up in the thread linked above.

2. A spell or an effect similar to that one I discussed in this topic - in this post I'll call it the Imperius spell/effect/mechanic to make it simple. This would make conjuration/necromancy available as an option. The imperius effect should be one you cannot completely shield yourself from using conventional means like absorption, reflection, resistance - these would need to be altered in such a way as not to enable 100% defence - this would be good for other reasons, too, e.g. I think a level 1 character able to absorb any spell thrown at it, the only condition being for it to have enough room in its magicka pool, is not realistic. I plan to write in a little more detail on this topic in another thread soon). For now, I would imagine this effect to be such that you could have a powerful artifact that can specifically shield you from it or a potion greatly increasing your willpower (so non-magic characters could combat foes with this power, too) and the other choice would be to have a sufficiently high willpower to resist the caster. Otherwise, if the effect hits, you would practically be doomed.
If you conjure up a strong spirit, it could also act as a quest-giver.

3. Super strong enemies (I gave some thought about them in this topic) could likewise have a really high willpower and could potentially ensnare you (take control over your character using imperius and make you do stuff like disarm yourself and approach them) if you engage them too early. These super strong vampires/daedra/necromancers/liches/wizards could be hard to come by and perhaps governed by a different kind of AI and could sometimes most likely not attack you without provocation, because they simply could not be bothered by killing a weakling like you who does not pose any real threat to them. Then again, sometimes they would just crush you on sight, when they are in such a mood, so it would not be a good idea for weaker characters to seek their company. This could be random chance. Some quests could also unfold by you talking to such characters.

One of the things that could make these so strong could be a very high natural resistance to magic (perhaps as a natural consequence of a very high - above 100 - willpower) and also to physical damage. A way could be divised to break these defences, e.g. a very strong spell to lower the magic resistance (like a 'break will' spell that you could only cast above 130 willpower but that could also be cast upon you so beware)... then you can use further magic to deactivate the physical resistance... - perhaps with high enough willpower and/or luck you could use the Imperius spell to control the creature and compel it to lower its own defenses... if for some reason a warrior character chooses to take on these quests, we could consider adding scrolls of these spells so even such a character wouldn't be totally disenfranchized or perhaps with the help of potent potions (discussed below)...

4. Unlife. There could be a spell effect that enabled you to turn yourself into an undead being. Of course it would not be taught in school or conveyed by merchants, but instead possibly learned from a super strong enemy or an NPC as part of a special quest line. Unlike vampirism which can be cured, this would be a permanent state. You could get decisive benefits but potent weaknesses as well. I can think of some like (a) you take damage from the sun, (b) from holy places, (c) only have very limited magic abilities in these situations, but (d) would have increased attributes, (e) no need for sleep, (f) magicka regenerating constantly as if you were resting and (g) most NPCs will sense or know - depending on their knowledge of these things - that something is not right with you and would dread you and be very hostile to you if this hostility is not overcome by their even greater dread or an Imperius spell - so you would have trouble interacting with the civilized world, be very powerful but also an outcast.

5. The more potent part of magic could be learned as part of special quest-lines. I don't think it would be good to do this as part of the mages guild. That is not to say we couldn't add some high-end quests there, too, or some quests that lead you to these mentioned special quest-givers, but I essentially think exceptionally powerful and knowledgeable wizards wouldn't like to share their secrets and would therefore conduct their activities independently from the guild.
I can think of a couple of narratives like: (1) there is a very powerful daedric artifact in the world but the daedra lord would like it back. because of the 'limitations' on daedra activities as per Oblivion lore (the Dragonfires preventing daedric invasion), he cannot just go and take it back, but would ask you to do it - even the character who has the artifact could be a counter-quest giver but ultimately your foe but one that is very strong partly because of the artifact in question... then in turn, you would need to enter some part in the daedric realm (or someplace halfway there), would require very powerful spells to enter and give the daedra the artifact there... you could even try to keep the artifact, but then, the daedra lord in question would keep sending stronger and stronger foes to get you (2) there could be like 4 powerful wizards, 3 of whom could be good and 1 evil - perhaps a very strong undead vampire... the evil one is getting stronger and stronger but the good ones are old and nearing death but choose to let go rather then to enter unlife themselves - there could be some reason for which the good ones won't directly assault the evil one, but it clearly needs doing and if you have already had substantial magical powers, they notice this but also that you are still very weak for the job, they give you tasks that enable you to gain spell effects, attributes, skills that are needed to confront the evil one. You could even choose to side with the evil one and become undead yourself and kill the good ones and then, the evil one, too... (3) there could be some chance if you conjure up a high level daedra that it would give you quests (4) some hard-to-find Godly quests could also help along the way ...

6. I think completing such quest-lines could make the PC very strong and able to complete other quests where magic abilities can help, with great ease. But it should be a very long, difficult and treacherous path comparable in difficulty or even more difficult than the main quest line.
What I would not like to see, though, is that you don't have any worthy enemies left to fight. That is exactly why I envision the very strong foes as described above. It should be challenging to combat them even after you have accomplished all there is to accomplish in the field of magic. So if there is a 'break will' or imperius you can use on them, these options should also be available to them to use on you.

7. In Oblivion, you can use sigil stones to create you own powerful artifacts. In our case, it could be one of the above mentioned wizards that can assist you with that - in exchange for a few services, a few 'small errands' you could perform for him in return.

8. It would also be nice to enter Oblivion somehow. I am thinking of the Shivering Isles mod to Oblivion.

9. In alchemy, I imagine you could get a lot of different ingredients, some very hard to come by (perhaps only obtainable through quests), but then you could make potent potions. Not so strong ones as the 'superpotions' of Morrowind but still very strong and an effective help in accomplishing certain tasks. This - along with the artifacts as per point 7 could also be a counterbalance - a way warrior characters could get very high willpower and a lot of benefits the mage characters could get by completing the quests mentioned in above in point 5.

10. I would also like a mechanic that would allow you to teleport to anywhere you have already been. Perhaps astral projection + teleportation. This is really not quite well thought through yet, but I imagine an all-powerful mage should be able to go where he wants to go, instantaneously.

Finally, I would like to point out several (rather obvious and some less obvious) things.
A. I know implementing such changes takes a lot of effort and it is not a one-person task. I don't expect anybody to do it for me. I am perfectly aware that if there is nobody except me who likes these ideas enough to help implement them, they will not be done.
B. I tried as much as I could to separate the ideas from each other so maybe some of them (perhaps the easier ones or the more attractive ones, who can tell) might be implemented.
C. I am not in a rush. Have plenty of time to wait. (At least I hope so :) )
D. This year I am almost fully committed to other things, so the maximum I could help with these would be to think, plan, design formulas etc. But in later years, I might be able to code some of the parts, too.
E. There are some ideas here that are rather divergent from classic Daggerfall, I imagine. They could not be a part of the core game but implemented as a mod or as several mods.

At this point, I am putting this out here so you could read it and decide if you like any of it.
Last edited by meritamas on Sat May 18, 2019 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: there could be more to magic

Post by meritamas » Thu May 16, 2019 10:00 am

ADDITION (16 May 2019)
I just noticed spell-casting seems to be governed by character level.
There is a discussion about an unleveled world here:

All in all, I think it would be better if the probability of success, duration and magnitude of the spells had nothing to do with character level. I think I'll read about some alternative ways of doing this, think about them and then make a suggestion.

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Re: there could be more to magic

Post by pango » Thu May 16, 2019 5:48 pm

Both could be interesting, but I don't see how
  • enemies not scaling with character level and
  • spells not scaling with character level
are related....
When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.
-- Charles Goodhart

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Re: there could be more to magic

Post by meritamas » Fri May 17, 2019 11:20 am

pango wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 5:48 pm
Both could be interesting, but I don't see how
  • enemies not scaling with character level and
  • spells not scaling with character level
are related....
I think they are related because both are things not scaling with character level.

I deliberately posted the thought in this thread because it has everything to do with magic and in the other one also because it could be thought of as a part of an 'unleveled world' mod, too.

This 16 May 2019 addition of mine also seems to contradict one of my previous statements
meritamas wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:55 pm
It seems there is no need to throw out what we have but instead I am considering proposing some minor and some major additions [...]
I find a contradiction in that making the spells unleveled could have a domino effect on other parts of the magic system, too, and that pursuing this path could easily lead to a radical redesign of the magic system, not sure whether worth the effort...

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