Author Topic: Stack Based Mana System  (Read 2449 times)

Offline Amechra

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Stack Based Mana System
« on: March 03, 2014, 11:57:01 AM »
Wow, I'm just full of this kind of thing lately...

Alright, here's the basic idea:

1) Every spellcaster has a Mana Capacity; this is the maximum size of their Stack.
2) The Stack in this case is literally a stack of cards. This will be important later.

3) Mana cards will have different types; think MtG. A spell's cost is paid by removing the indicated number of Mana Cards from the top of the Stack.
4) All spells will cost a variable amount of Mana; any spell can be cast with most kinds of Mana by default.
5) Some spells might have a list of opposed Mana types; those Mana types cannot be used to cast that spell, and can't be included in their casting.
6) Some spells might have a list of attuned Mana types; those Mana types give a boost to the spell in question.

7) A beginning spellcaster starts out with "blank" Mana cards up to their full capacity.
8) After each rest (variable depending on system), the Mana Stack is refilled to capacity with blank Mana, and then shuffled.
9) The place that you rest affects your Mana recovery; a location has either a minor aspect or a major aspect.
A) A location that has a minor Aspect replaces 1 of the Mana regained with Mana of that type; sleeping in a graveyard might give you 1 Death Mana, while sleeping in a forest that just burned down might give you 1 Fire Mana.
B) A location that has a major Aspect replaces all of the blank Mana with Mana of that type; sleeping in the Underworld would give you a mess of Death Mana.
C) A location can only have on major Aspect, but can have multiple minor Aspects, or a mix of one major Aspect and multiple minor Aspects.

10) Any spellcaster can spend an action to shuffle their Mana Stack. They can also spend an action to "burn off" the top card of their Stack.

11) There are two special Mana types: Null and Supernal; Null Mana is opposed to every spell, and Supernal Mana is attuned to every spell.



This system has some things that are, in my mind, an interesting way of affecting spellcasting behavior. Imagine a deathly realm that has a Major Death Aspect and a Minor Null Aspect; most spellcasters will want any adventure there to be a quick in-and-out, since it'll take caution to stop their Stack from being cluttered up with useless Null Mana.

They'll want to be out of a realm that just has a Major Null Aspect ASAP; unless they have a way to "bring magic with them", they'll run out sooner or later...

Oh, and mage-slayers will obviously have a way to clutter up an enemy spellcaster's Stack with Null Mana... which'll be less than effective against a dedicated Pyromancer, who might have an ability that puts one Fire Mana on top of their Stack whenever they "burn off" the top card of their Stack.



Thoughts be welcome.
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Online Raineh Daze

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2014, 12:02:45 PM »
Would the shuffling work randomly or would it be ordered manually?
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Offline Amechra

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2014, 12:13:24 PM »
Randomly. It isn't supposed to be something that you use all the time. And abilities would upgrade it.

For example, a healer might have an ability that removes a Life Mana from their Stack, shuffles it, then places the Life Mana back on top.

I mean, if casting a healing spell required 1 Mana, then ordering the Stack as an action would be the way to go; however, casting a healing spell can be done with any Mana (except Null and Death, for pretty obvious reasons), so random shuffling isn't really punitive.
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Offline linklord231

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2014, 05:13:38 PM »
Will every location have an Aspect?  Is it possible to change the Aspect of a location - for instance, burning down a forest to change it from Life to Fire or Death, or infusing a Null area with arcane energies to cancel out the Null aspect? 

Can a spellcaster look at the order of their mana stack, to make sure they have enough non-opposed mana on top to cast a certain spell?  If not, what happens when they try to cast something using opposed mana? 
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Offline Amechra

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2014, 08:00:23 PM »
First of all, yes, they can take a look. The Stack is face up. If they knew they had opposed Mana, and tried casting anyway, the spell would fail.

There are two possible results of this, and I don't know which I like better:

1) They lose all of the Mana above the Opposed Mana. In other words, they aren't refunded the energy they have already thrown into the spell.
2) They don't lose any Mana.

I kinda like 1 a bit more, but I think that's my dick DM side showing.

As for locations and aspects, the short answers are no and yes; the long answer is that only locations that would show an Aspect strongly have any Aspects.

A graveyard would have a minor Death Aspect because bodies have been buried there for ages.
The ocean would have a major Water Aspect because motherfucking ocean.

Other than that, they are placed where the DM feels is appropriate; keep in mind Major Aspects are kinda reserved for places that are comprised of a good degree of the given Aspect. The Underworld would have a Major Death Aspect, while the Sun would have a Major Fire Aspect.

As for changing Aspects around, that is very possible; I'm thinking of a system where Aspects are swapped out for others when a big-ass event happens; Major Aspects take a lot more effort to change (think cataclysmic events).

In other words, an old-growth forest that had a Minor Life Aspect would have that replaced by a Minor Fire Aspect after a forest fire (or a Minor Death Aspect; depends how deep into the soil the flames got.); a dead magic zone with a Major Null Aspect would take a crapton of magic being injected into the area before it gave up (though you could get a headway by giving it a Minor Aspect of whatever.)

Spellcasters engineering places to be more to their liking is encouraged; likewise, I think every spellcaster should have the ability to instinctively know the Aspects of the area they're in (the 'flavor' of magic is different).
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Offline Wrex

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2014, 02:45:06 AM »
How much mana would need to be expended for an effect?

Offline Amechra

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2014, 03:32:23 AM »
Depends on the system; conceptually, this would work as well with costs in the dozens of Mana as well as it would with a cost of 1 or 2 for everything. Personally, I'd prefer going with very small costs (say 2 or 3 points maximum.)
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Offline linklord231

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2014, 11:52:37 AM »
Depends on the system; conceptually, this would work as well with costs in the dozens of Mana as well as it would with a cost of 1 or 2 for everything. Personally, I'd prefer going with very small costs (say 2 or 3 points maximum.)


I think about 1 per spell level seems appropriate. That would mean high level mages would have a full stack of around 200 - but you'd have to have that many cards of each element, for when you have to swap out almost your entire deck because you visited a Major Aspect  area. That's a lot of cards to keep track of.

So maybe your idea of 3 or so mana tops would be better, but instead of adding more mana for high level spells, they start caring more about the types of Mana? First through third level spells need 1 blank mana per spell level, 4th level spells need one specific mana and one blank, 5th level needs one specific + two blank, 6th level only needs one mana but it has to be of a certain type, 7th level needs 2 specific and one blank, 8th needs 2 specific and no blanks, 9th needs 3 specific and no blanks.
This method is a little counterintuitive because higher level spells sometimes require less mana than lower level spells, but are still actually harder to cast because of the way the stack works.
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Offline Leviathan

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2014, 05:25:48 PM »
There's a reason that decks in MtG are usually 60 cards: that's a good size for people to handle (plus, it's easy to get deck holders sized for 60 card decks, largely due to the popularity of MtG). So I don't recommend that you make a typical stack much bigger than that.

With a physical representation of mana (as opposed to just a number on a sheet of paper), it's much easier to implement systems where you regain mana over time instead of all at once. In your place, I would take this opportunity to get rid of Vancian magic; you might be more attached to that system than I am, and obviously this is your game that you're designing. Give people a way to regain mana during the day, and it becomes a per-encounter resource. Additionally, the more often you can regain mana, the less total mana you need, and so the smaller your stack has to be. This makes it easier to handle, play with, and shuffle, and makes it more predictable, but abilities that put unwanted mana into your stack are more effective.

I'm not very clear on the rules for regaining mana in places with aspects. If my maximum stack size is 60, and my stack contains 40 blank mana when I go to sleep in the underworld, do I just get 20 death mana (enough to fill my stack), or is all of my blank mana replaced with death, so that my stack now contains 60 death mana?
What happens in places with multiple aspects (two or more minor, a major and a minor, or a major and two or more minor)? The kindest thing you could do would be to let the player choose what kind of mana they get: up to one for each minor aspect, and the rest comes from the major aspect (or blank mana if there is no major aspect).

Offline Amechra

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2014, 04:37:48 PM »
My actual plan is for not having mana stacks be much larger than 3-4 cards, with the extreme maybe getting to 10.

That's true about regaining it over time... I might take a look at that (slow seep in?)

In your example, you would receive 20 Death Mana, which would be shuffled into your deck.

Hmm... Now that I think about it, your way is a lot more rational than my way (though it does mean that a Null minor aspect is kinda pointless, because no-one will grab any Mana of that Aspect unless forced to. Actually, Minor Aspects opposed to the one you use for the majority of your spells would be disregarded. Not sure of how I feel about that...), which was "you get 1 Mana from each of the Minor aspects, and then the rest from the Major", which leads to edge cases.
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Offline Leviathan

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2014, 01:44:26 AM »
If a stack is only 3-4 cards, how many spells do you expect people to cast before resting?

Here's an idea: When the players rest in a place, make a stack with a bunch of mana from that place's major aspect (or a bunch of blank mana if there is no major aspect), and a few mana from each minor aspect. Shuffle the place's stack, then deal to each spellcaster enough mana to fill their own stack.

Offline Amechra

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2014, 02:47:42 AM »
I rather like that; consider it yoinked!

Admittedly, with a smaller pool, the idea is that magic would be be an occasional thing, rather than something that's your primary combat strategy. Also, with a smaller pool, everything would cost 1 Mana. If the pool was 20+ cards, then there would be more varied costs.
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Offline kazethefox

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Re: Stack Based Mana System
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2015, 05:11:02 AM »
You could run with it- have each caster draw a hand of cards at the start of battle, and give them the ability to 'refocus' (discard all and draw up to their hand limit).  This also lets you have different types of casters different hand sizes or more/less special mana in their decks.  (I'd make deck size static though)

Null aspects could be gained by being injured/enemy spells/ etc., and you could even give the different mana types abilities taken from deck building games.  Air aspect could let you peek at the top card of your stack and either discard or put it back, playing 2 fire aspects lets you draw a card immediately, or death aspects let you discard one of any card to draw another (good for getting rid of nulls). 

Heck you could even make magic items change the decks too- a staff of the forest changes 2 of your mana into forest type, or a vest of mana protection that prevents one non-null type of mana from being put into your deck.  It seems to be a very flexible way to run magic.