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Old November 9, 2009, 13:11   #1
Nick
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Maiar and spirits: the interview

I am intending in a future version of FAangband to have Maiar (very different to the current player race) and spirits as playable races. How will this work? Let's ask them:

N: Give us a little background about your origins.
M: I am a "lesser god", one of the creations of Eru Iluvatar's thought from before Middle-Earth was made. I have chosen to be bound to Arda (the world), but am free to choose what shape I take.
S: I am the spirit of one of the Children of Iluvatar (elves, humans). My body has been destroyed. Although summoned to the Halls of Mandos, I have chosen to ignore the summons and stay in Middle-Earth.

N: What is your physical form?
M: Any basic form from among the creatures of Middle-Earth. The stronger I become, the stronger the forms I choose will become.
S: I have no physical form. I can, however, inhabit the form of another creature. The weaker they are, the easier it is for me to take control of their body.

N: Do you grow stronger over the course of your life?
M: Yes, I do.
S: No, I am as I am. I can only have the appearance of being stronger by possessing ever stronger creatures.

N: Can you die?
M: It is not known. Some say that the "death" of our body merely stuns and dispossesses us; some say that we are also weakened; and some say that we die indeed and leave the circles of the world.
S: No, I am already "dead". If the body I inhabit is destroyed, then I revert to spirit form, and must start again by possessing weaklings.

Well, I don't know how many questions that answered. The plan is to introduce Posband-like monster races, with Maiar shapechanging into them and spirits possessing them. Whether monster races will be playable as such is another question.

Thoughts, opinions, abuse etc welcome.
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Old November 9, 2009, 15:22   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
I am intending in a future version of FAangband to have Maiar (very different to the current player race) and spirits as playable races. How will this work? Let's ask them:
Interesting - it might be worth asking any ToME experts if Mimics and Possessors have any unduly unbalancing qualities if you're planning to copy any of their class attributes. (e.g. bizarre equipment options for both, if you adopt a non-humanoid body, for example).

Right, back to canonical Tolkien pedantry :

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N: Can you die?
M: It is not known. Some say that the "death" of our body merely stuns and dispossesses us; some say that we are also weakened; and some say that we die indeed and leave the circles of the world.
S: No, I am already "dead". If the body I inhabit is destroyed, then I revert to spirit form, and must start again by possessing weaklings.
Precedent might suggest that Maiar separated from their bodies would be quickly dissipated (e.g. Saruman - although that would be two ages later than FAA, of course) or drawn back to Valinor for re-embodiment, as for the Elves. I don't recall the likes of Balrogs being able to regenerate a new body, either. While Sauron clearly could, that was after investing a lot of his power in the One Ring (again, a lot later). Maybe get Maiar who want the chance to return to put a lot of their power into a self-forged item (that's taking things a loooong way from V, though).

As for spirits, there are rather fewer precedents - (I can't think of any examples of spirits possessing living beings, for example, although mimics such as the Phantom of Eilienel existed). That probably gives you a free pass to turn them into whatever you fancy...
One question (again, based on ToME gameplay) - can spirits posess living creatures or would they have to kill the creature and then posess the corpse?
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Old November 9, 2009, 16:04   #3
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How tough would a bodyless spirit be?
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Old November 9, 2009, 17:01   #4
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Not very, but potentially quite difficult to hit (esp as a spell-caster if you could sit in the wall, like Gs do)...
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Old November 9, 2009, 22:05   #5
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Originally Posted by Seany C View Post
Interesting - it might be worth asking any ToME experts if Mimics and Possessors have any unduly unbalancing qualities if you're planning to copy any of their class attributes. (e.g. bizarre equipment options for both, if you adopt a non-humanoid body, for example).
I'm looking at the Posband model for monster races; I'm not sure how similar to ToME that is.

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Precedent might suggest that Maiar separated from their bodies would be quickly dissipated (e.g. Saruman - although that would be two ages later than FAA, of course) or drawn back to Valinor for re-embodiment, as for the Elves. I don't recall the likes of Balrogs being able to regenerate a new body, either. While Sauron clearly could, that was after investing a lot of his power in the One Ring (again, a lot later). Maybe get Maiar who want the chance to return to put a lot of their power into a self-forged item (that's taking things a loooong way from V, though).
The models I was thinking of were Saruman, Gandalf, the balrogs and Sauron - and I think there's enough variability there to just do what works best gameplay-wise. I just haven't decided what that is yet.

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As for spirits, there are rather fewer precedents - (I can't think of any examples of spirits possessing living beings, for example, although mimics such as the Phantom of Eilienel existed). That probably gives you a free pass to turn them into whatever you fancy...
My source for spirits is an essay principally dealing with Miriel, Finwe's wife (who voluntarily gave up her body and went to Mandos) which appears in "Morgoth's Ring". The idea is that houseless spirits could wander through Middle-Earth, and it was dangerous for other beings to communicate with them in case they tried to take control of their body. The other thing there is that Sauron and necromancers used to imprison spirits in various forms (wolves, dragons, etc) - so potentially necromancers could be very dangerous to spirits.

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One question (again, based on ToME gameplay) - can spirits posess living creatures or would they have to kill the creature and then posess the corpse?
I'd prefer not to introduce corpses - so I'm thinking of spirits having to weaken other creatures before possessing them.
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Old November 10, 2009, 00:03   #6
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My source for spirits is an essay principally dealing with Miriel, Finwe's wife (who voluntarily gave up her body and went to Mandos) which appears in "Morgoth's Ring". The idea is that houseless spirits could wander through Middle-Earth, and it was dangerous for other beings to communicate with them in case they tried to take control of their body. The other thing there is that Sauron and necromancers used to imprison spirits in various forms (wolves, dragons, etc) - so potentially necromancers could be very dangerous to spirits.
There's also the quote from the Return of the King where the Witch-King of Angmar says to Eowyn:

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Come not between the Nazgūl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.
Which supports your view. In fact, one downside I could imagine is that spirits could (maybe) be torn or ejected from their bodies by certain powerful magics.
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Old November 10, 2009, 00:18   #7
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In fact, one downside I could imagine is that spirits could (maybe) be torn or ejected from their bodies by certain powerful magics.
Exactly. I am also envisaging that while they are indestructible, they could be "bound", which is game-equivalent to death.
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Old November 10, 2009, 01:45   #8
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Interesting ideas, I love the idea of Maia actually being able to take on other forms the way Sauron does in the silmarillion, and the idea that Maia could create their own boddies after existing as spirits themselves if they had enough power, ---- Sauron, and Gandalf (though I'm not sure if he created his or was granted it) has interesting mechanics features, ---- perhaps the possibility to literally create a body at higher levels (though at a significant cost).

When I first read "spirits" in your initial message I thought you were referencing the sprites, gnomes and essentially neutral beings which were said to be spirits of earth and water which appeared in one of the earlier draughts of the creation of Arda (you can read it in the unfinished tales, ---- which actually has ssome really interesting concepts).

While I got the idea from the books that spirits of elves and other creatures could exist independent of a body, only implicitely evil spirits, ---- and those created of quite another order such as the Barrow wights would actually possess other creatures or corpses.

I find it sort of difficult to imagine the spirit of Arwen, Morwen, Haurin or any of the other people who apparently lost their spirits in some way or other floating arround and essentially possessing other creatures.

Rather than making spirits elves or men to begin with, ---- would it be perhaps more probably to make them more of the earth spirit neutral type mentioned in The Lost tales, ---- earth spirits who have for some reason decided to interfere in the affairs of middle Earth.

Of course it's your game, this is just essentially my thought.
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Old November 10, 2009, 11:05   #9
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Sounds good to me - of course, I should have remembered the story of Miriel (esp given that one of my stronger chars was named after her) - it was that chapter about 'fea' and 'hroa', I think...

I'll be interested to try both classes, anyway - a lot of new coding required or is it pretty straightforward?
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Old November 10, 2009, 12:15   #10
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Sounds good to me - of course, I should have remembered the story of Miriel (esp given that one of my stronger chars was named after her) - it was that chapter about 'fea' and 'hroa', I think...
Correct. There's quite a lot of stuff in there about how the fea works.

Quote:
I'll be interested to try both classes, anyway - a lot of new coding required or is it pretty straightforward?
A lot. Even if I just do the monster race playability it's a lot. If, as I'm probably intending, I modify the AI so that if you incarnate as an orc other orcs don't attack you, etc, it will be a lot more. Currently I'm going to try to get some preliminary smarter AI done for the next version (along with ID-by-use and optional no selling), and then do the full-blown spirit/maiar/monster race thing after that. But we'll have to see how it goes.

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While I got the idea from the books that spirits of elves and other creatures could exist independent of a body, only implicitely evil spirits, ---- and those created of quite another order such as the Barrow wights would actually possess other creatures or corpses.

I find it sort of difficult to imagine the spirit of Arwen, Morwen, Haurin or any of the other people who apparently lost their spirits in some way or other floating arround and essentially possessing other creatures.
This is a good point. Spirits which have already refused the summons are 'tainted' already - why would one of these go to all the trouble of possessing ever stronger bodies to try and defeat Morgoth?

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Rather than making spirits elves or men to begin with, ---- would it be perhaps more probably to make them more of the earth spirit neutral type mentioned in The Lost tales, ---- earth spirits who have for some reason decided to interfere in the affairs of middle Earth.
I guess you mean the various 'fays'? My feeling is that over the progress of the mythology they become the Maiar.

On the whole, I think having disembodied spirits works as well as anything. While their motives are questionable, the same can be said for the Necromancer class - and I'm never removing them because their spells are too cool
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