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Old June 4, 2015, 14:49   #1
Nick
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Angband Philosophy II: Magic

Over in the plans thread I promised some thoughts on classes - here is a part of what I'm thinking.

I'll start with spellcasting realms. Currently Angband has two, which I'll call for now Arcane and Holy (mage and priest). Variants have more realms; in particular I'm most familiar with Oangband's Necromancy and Nature magic.

It turns out that these have very strong representation in Middle Earth. Gandalf - representing the will of the Valar - was the enemy of Sauron, the Necromancer. In a similar way, the Ents represented Nature in its purest form in Middle Earth, and were opposed to Saruman, with his "mind full of wheels". So there's a spiritual spectrum from Holy to Necromancy, and a physical spectrum from Arcane (technology) to Nature.

And there's more. Tolkien wrote every explicitly about the elves (especially, but also other sentient beings) having two parts a hra (body) and a fa (spirit). On destruction of the hra (that is, death) the fa would normally return to Valinor, but could refuse to do so, or be persuaded not to - this persuasion was necromancy. I could keep quoting this stuff forever, but I'll stop now.

So how does all this apply to the game of Angband? Well, we already have two schools of magic representing the major themes of Middle Earth - adding Nature and Necromancy would in some sense be just completing those. But there's probably also deeper implications. If you look at the monster list, many of the monsters can be better understood under this scheme - vortices and elementals are purely Arcane creatures, for example. What seems to be emerging is an understanding of much of the game in terms of an "alignment" system a bit like D&Ds Good-Evil and Lawful-Chaotic (but in my opinion more coherent).

As far as classes go, we have lots of choice. What I've outlined is really a framework in which to do stuff, rather than the stuff itself. One thing I do think is that we should not throw away good things that we have, and we should not feel obliged to put in a class because we need to fill in a box in a grid.

So here are a bunch of questions we could consider:
  • Does all this make any sense?
  • This doesn't consider different combat style (eg ranged vs melee) at all - how should that figure in classes?
  • One strong related theme in Middle Earth, which is not dealt with here or in Angband (although it is in Sil) is song - is that something we should be considering, and if so, how?
  • How about classes that could cast from more than one realm? How would this affect spellcasting stats and mana?

It's late here and I'm maybe not at my most coherent, so I'll really stop now and ask for opinions.
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