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

LAST UPDATE: 7 June 2019

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. I learned of Daggerfall Unity and see this as an opportunity to make an already great game even greater. I would like to use this topic to work on some ideas I have with regard to magic. Some of it will be quite divergent from Classic Daggerfall. I plan to build on Daggerfall mechanics and expand on them, where possible, but also study other TES games or even other universes and seek to suggest good ideas and work out the details sufficently that they can one day be implemented as a mod/mods to DFU. I observe the RP element in the game, immersion, lore-friendliness.

Discussed below are:
- The mystery part of magic
- More/updates wizarding quest lines
- Super strong NPCs
- (Magic) Skills and attributes above 100
- Contact with Daedra and the Daedric realm.
- Alchemy
- Enchantments
- Conjuration, necromancy
- A mechanic for controlling other beings or characters (Imperius for short)
- Possibility of Unlife
- Updated teleporting
- Plans forward
  • Plans forward
My original intention was only to publish some ideas. I was going to stick to minor changes and improvements. It seems it rapidly got out of hand by now:
- I have gathered here a collection of ideas
- most ideas would be difficult to implement (even) by themselves
- because the way one is done often affects how another or several others could be done properly, I think the best would be to implement them together.

There is a problem. Not a lot of feedback was given. This could be for various reasons. Perhaps members of the community simply don't like these ideas. Perhaps they are busy doing something else. Perhaps they are just waiting what comes out of it.
I wasn't even planning to consider starting implementation this year, so I'll stick with this plan. Most likely I wouldn't have had the time anyway. This will take as long as it takes, maybe even more than a year. In this time, I'll try to work out the details. This should be enough time for some valuable feedback to come, so maybe it will.

I'll try to suggest at least two different approaches to the individual ideas, one ideal and one minimalistic in case there will not be a lot of folks who'd help.
I'll try to work out not only how I would like something to work, but also to which systems need to be altered to achieve the desired results and an approximate idea of how much effort it might take.
I'll try to be methodical, work from the more basic things up to the thing built on top of them.

After the details have been worked out, I'll try to assess the possibilities of implementation. Questions like:
- are there already other mods which implement some of the ideas to a satisfactory degree (if so, why bother reinventing the wheel...)
- is there anybody who'd help with any of what remains to be implemented
- how much of it could I accomplish by myself
- which parts are worth my time and effort
- if any, how I would go about implementing it

I am not planning to do any implementation before DFU 1.0 is released. At any given time, I might say this is not worth my time anymore and stop. I will post most of the things I come up with here so please freely use it to advance your own projects if you like any of it.

As things currently stand
  • The mystery part of magic
The basic idea is to have a (larger) part of magic that cannot be systematically learned. A little more on this in the 2nd post here.
  • (More/updated) wizarding quest lines
New quest lines, additions to become an exceptionally formidable wizard. This idea could interact with several of the others to produce interesting results like super strong NPC quest givers, doing work for Daedra you summoned etc. (to be worked out later)
A little more on this in the 2nd post here.
  • Super strong NPCs - discussed in short in the 2nd post here.
  • Contact with Daedra and the Daedric realm. - discussed in short in the 2nd post here.
  • The Imperius effect - discussed in the 2nd post here.
  • Alchemy - summarized in the 5th post here.
  • Enchantments
The basic idea is to have a mechanic allowing the PC to perform his own enchanting. Some justification. If the game universe allows you to become a powerful wizard, one who can deal with ancient vampires, powerful undead spirits and Daedra, one would expect you to be able to do better enchantments than someone mediocre in comparison to you, if you really wanted. This is the part that I am missing in Classic DF.
  • Unlife
The basic idea is for the PC to be able to transform himself into an undead being.
One issue with regard to compatibility with lore: Can undead beings exist that are animated not by some external magical force but by their own willpower and a spell they cast on themselves some time ago that binds their soul to their undead body?
An expediency issue: does the game need to accomodate for the PC to transform himself into such a being.
At present, I am leaning toward an affirmative answer to the first question, but a negative answer to the second.
  • Updated teleporting - discussed in short in the 2nd post, and brought forward in this thread.

On 5 June 2019, I edited the text of the original topic starter post into the second post just below.
Last edited by meritamas on Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:59 am, edited 8 times in total.
At this point, I aim to improve DFU by formulating ideas and working out some details of how things could work better.

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Re: there could be more to magic

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

The following is the text of the original topic starter post originally written 29 April 2019. I copied it here 5 June 2019 so I could use the first post as a summary of how my thoughts on the topic currently are.

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.

26 May 2019 UPDATE: more detailed thoughts on Alchemy added in a separate post.

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.

1 June 2019 UPDATE:
As I see it now, we only have the Recall spell which functions to memorize the current location and also to teleport us back there.

I think we could improve on this system in the following way:
1. There should be two (2) separate effects. One to memorize the current location and another to teleport the PC to one of the memorized locations.
2. More locations should be memorizeable at any given time. The number of places a character can 'keep in memory' at any one given time could be contingent on e.g. his Mysticism skill.
3. There should also be a UI to manage the 'memorized places'. This would allow you to delete ('forget') a previously memorized place and choose, which one of these your destination should be on the next teleport. (Any change could cost the PC a set amount of magicka.)
4. The teleport effect would take the character to the place selected as indicated above.
End of 1 June 2019 UPDATE

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.

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.
Last edited by meritamas on Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
At this point, I aim to improve DFU by formulating ideas and working out some details of how things could work better.

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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...
At this point, I aim to improve DFU by formulating ideas and working out some details of how things could work better.

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Re: there could be more to magic

Post by meritamas » Sun May 26, 2019 11:28 am

Alchemy - I have been reading through how Alchemy works in the various TES games.

Although I have never played Skyrim, I like several elements of its Alchemy system, like
- There are lots of ingredients.
- The types of ingredients are also well thought through. You could: harvest from plants/mushrooms etc., collect from killed creatures, buy them from a merchant, find some already collected samples (e.g. in dwellings, dungeons) and one I specifically like: catching a 'passive' creature like an insect, peaceful fish etc.
- You need to 'discover' the effects of ingredients, from eating ingredients, recipes or created potions.
- You can conduct alchemy at a specific place (alchemy lab) - it is a similar limitation as the need to contact a Potion Maker, but there is a clear difference that makes me accept one and reject the other: you can set up an Alchemy lab in your home and do the alchemy yourself.
- Ingredients that have the same effect can have that given effect stronger or weaker.

A strong argument against an alchemy system like in MW or Oblivion is that it is simply not realistic to have the PC stop by a road or in a puddle, get out his alchemy gear, put in the ingredients, do the alchemy and collect the potion - all in no time at all (it is instantaneous).

We could create an ideal alchemy system for DFU by combining some elements of that of Skyrim with some elements of that of MW/Oblivion and some elements of that of Classic Daggerfall.
1. I would keep everything present in Classic Daggerfall that I have no good reason to change, like all or at least most of the Ingredients already present in DF. Adding further ingredients+recipes based on inspiration from Skyrim or other TES games would make it better (it doesn't matter if the given plant does not grow in the Illiac Bay - the ingredient could have been imported and bought from merchants or found somewhere.)
2. To have ingredients with multiple effects would problably be preferable (like in MW or Oblivion or Skyrim) - but a lot of ingredients could only have one or two effets. Having ingredients that are stronger and ones that are weaker in a given effect seems like a good idea. Like there could be like 20 ingredients that have a 'resore health' effect but it is perfectly believable to have 2-3 that excel from the bunch.
3. I would keep the Potion Maker service available (not everyone is a skilled alchemist...), but would add that alchemy could also be performed at an alchemy lab. This, you might need to set up in your home from the individual pieces of equipment. Another option would be to have a few laboratories available for use e.g. in related guilds. The efficiency of a laboratory could be contingent on the equipment that was included when it was set up (cheap equipment, lower quality potions). The concrete pieces of equipment could be 'borrowed' from MW or Oblivion (Mortar and Pestle, Calc., Retort, Alembic).
4. The potions/poisons you can create should also depend on an alchemy skill.
5. Having to 'discover' the effects of ingredients in-game is also an interesting thought. Either that, or something like MW: certain levels of skill reveal the effects.
6. Poisons could be added to weapons to enhance the weapon (like a certain number of arrows or for melee weapons, for a certain number of hits).
7. Conducting alchemy should take time and should only be able to be done when no enemies are nearby.

Finally, I add two ideas of my own.
- It could be possible to have a few spells that can 'improve' an ingredient that could also have an effect on the potion that is created from it.
- We could have strengthener ingredients. These would not do anything by themselves, but included in a potion/poison, they would amplify the effect it would otherwise have.
At this point, I aim to improve DFU by formulating ideas and working out some details of how things could work better.

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Re: there could be more to magic

Post by meritamas » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:16 pm

In the past weeks I have been thinking about the enchantment and alchemy systems and how to go ahead with working out some improvements. I came to the conclusion that before doing this, it would be reasonable to think about spell effects.

I am now planning to compare the spell effects available in DF, MW, Oblivion and Skyrim. My initial impression is that DF has a wide range of spell effects, and most likely I will find only a few in other TES games that I would consider adding, but still, even one or two could improve the game. Does anybody know of a similar effort being made in the past?
At this point, I aim to improve DFU by formulating ideas and working out some details of how things could work better.

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