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Chapter 4 - Magic System

4.1 Description

Two broad categories of magic exist in Crossfire: "wizardry" and "divine magic." The fundamental difference between the two comes down to the source that powers the magic of each.

In divine magic the practitioners, "priests," do not use their own power but rather channel power from divine entities ("gods.") They utilize various "prayers" to cast their magic and grace is the measure of how much magic the priest may channel. The higher the level of the priest and the better his wisdom and power, the more grace the priest will have in the eyes of his god. In the practice of wizardry a "wizard" calls upon his own life-force (or "mana") to power his arcane incantations. Mana is based on of the wizard's innate power but may be increased through his skill in wizardry.

The scope and sphere of these two magics are different. Through the use of divine magic the priest has access to powerful spells of protection, healing, and of slaying unholy creatures. (Note: A "spell" is a common name referring to both prayers and incantations.) If the multiple gods option is used (Note: this is the default), the god a priest worships will have other impacts on the priest's magic and abilities (see section multiple gods). In contrast, wizardry is more oriented towards the harnessing of elemental forces of creation, alteration and destruction. There are two minor variants of wizardry: alchemy and rune magic.

Each form of magic is orthogonal to the other. In some no magic areas, the wizard is blocked from accessing his store of mana, but the priest may operate his magic normally. Similarly, there are unholy areas in which the priest loses his contact with his god and cannot cast magic; in unholy areas the wizard is unhindered. Of course, no magic and unholy areas can sometimes coincide.

In addition, wizards have the handicap that if they are encumbered with 'stuff', they are less effective at incantations. Heavy weapons and heavy armour are the main cause of spell-failures. See the section on encumbrance for details.  Weapons and armour have no effect on the practice of divine magic but grace regenerates slower than mana, and the amount of grace that a priest possesses helps to determine the success of their prayers.

4.2 Learning Spells

Both types of spells may be learned by reading books (see section items). The overall chance of learning a spell uses the following formula:

% chance to learn = (base chance + (2 * level))/1.5

The base chance that a prayer/incantation will be learnt is based on WIS/INT respectively. Look at table primary stat effects to find your base chance in the learn% column. If you are attempting to learn a prayer, you would use your WIS stat to find the base chance. Likewise, the level used in the formula is related to the type of spell. If you are attempting to learn an incantation, the value of level to use is your wizardry experience (and you use the praying experience level for learning prayers.) Once your chance to learn a spell exceeds 100%, you always succeed in all attempts to learn spells.

4.3 Magic paths

Long ago a number of archmages discovered patterns in the web that spells weave in the aether. They found that some spells had structural similarities to others and some of the mages took to studying particular groups of spells. These mages found that by molding their thought patterns to match the patterns of the spells they could better utilize all the spells of the group. Because of their disciplined approach, the mages were described as following spell Paths. As they attuned themselves to particular spell Paths they found that they would become repelled from others, and in some cases found they were denied any access to some paths. The legacy of these mages remains in some of the magical items to be found around the world. Use of these "attuned" items will strongly effect the quality of the incantations and prayers cast by the magician. See section multiple gods to see how the worship of a god might effect the spell casting of the magician.

4.3.1 Technical details

The Paths themselves are given in table spellpaths.

A character (or NPC) that is attuned to a Path can cast incantations/prayers from that Path at 80% of the mana/grace cost and in addition receives duration/damage bonuses as if the caster were five levels higher. A person that is repelled from a Path casts incantations/prayers from that Path at 125% of the mana/grace cost and receives duration/damage bonuses as if the caster were five levels lower (minimum of first level). The casting time is also modified by 80% and 125% respectively. If a wizard or priest is denied access to a Path they cannot cast any spells from it.

Mind Creation Teleportation Information Transmutation
Protection Fire Frost Electricity Missiles
Self Summoning Abjuration Restoration Detonation
Transferrence Turning Wounding Death Light

Paths are quite powerful; they don't come cheaply. Most magical items with path_attuned attributes will have path_repelled and path_denied attributes as well, to balance them out.

4.4 Multiple gods

Gods in Crossfire are not omnipotent beings. Each is thought of possessing a certain sphere of influence, indeed, some philosophers have thought that the gods might spring from the same mystical patterns that form the spell Paths. Certainly it appears that each of the gods embodies one or more of these Paths (but not all of them!!). Because the gods are not omnipotent, we often speak of their religions as being 'cults'.

Under the multigod option, priests are allowed to select from an array of different gods. Worship of each god is unique, and brings differing capabilities to the priest. See Appendix C for a listing of the gods and some of the attributes/effects of worshiping of these cults.

4.4.1 Joining a cult

Praying at aligned altar (Altar of Devourers,Altar of Gaea,Altar of Gnarg,Altar of Gorokh,Altar of Ixalovh,Altar of Lythander,Altar of Mostrai,Altar of Ruggilli,Altar of Sorig,Altar of Valriel) is the usual way in which a priest interacts with their god/cult. Aligned altars are identified by their name (e.g. altar of <god's name>) and may be found in various maps all over the world of Crossfire . When a player prays over an aligned altar, one of three things may happen based on the players currently worshiped god:

  1. "Unaligned" player prays over an altar - results in that player becoming a worshiper of the god the altar is dedicated to.

  2. Player prays over their god's altar - results in faster grace regeneration. In addition, player may pray to gain up to twice their normal amount of grace. Also, from time to time your god might give you information, blessings, or something really good; it depends on your WIS, POW and priest experience.

  3. Player prays over alien god's altar - results in punishment of the player (generally they lose some of their priest experience). This action can result in the defection of the player to the alien god's cult.

Note that once a player has joined a cult, it is impossible to go back to being "unaligned" to any god.

Summary of benefits/penalties for joining

The following things happen when a worshiper joins a god's cult:

  • the worshiper gains access to the special flavor of magic belonging to the cult (see table priests' prayers).
  • the ability to cast magic is altered to reflect the powers of the worshiper's god. Some spells will be easier to cast; others will be more difficult, and some spell Paths will be forbidden. It is impossible to regain forbidden spells by any means except leaving the cult.
  • the worshiper becomes protected and/or vulnerable to certain attacks.

Note that a player can belong to only one cult at any one time.

Prayer Description
Bless Enhances the recipients combat ability and confers some of the gods special sphere of protection.
Banishment An AT_DEATH¹ attack is made versus enemies of the caster's god.
Call holy servant Weaker version of an avatar is summoned.
Cause wounds These prayers use the attacktype of "godpower." This means they will effect magic immune creatures AND each prayer has the special attacktype(s) of the priest's god.
Consecrate Dedicates an altar to the caster's god.
Curse Decreases the recipients combat ability and confers some vulnerabilities particular to the caster's god.
Holy orb Its like a fireball, but has the same effect as holy word². This prayer is most effective against single creatures.
Holy word² This prayer shoots forth a cone of power that will damage only enemies of the caster's god.
Holy wrath Currently the most powerful "holy word"² prayer available.
Summon avatar Summons a "golem" that is tailored to the powers of the worshiped god. This prayer is more powerful (in general) than a summoned elemental and is one of the priest's most potent attack spells.
Summon cult monsters Summons creatures friendly to the priest's god. Depending on the god this can be a powerful or wimpy prayer.

¹ The target and caster's levels are compared. If the caster's level is higher, then the creature will probably be destroyed.
² "holy word" also defines a class of prayers. These spells are all designed to slay only the enemies of the priest's god.

4.4.2 Example god

Lets create an example god - the "god of the undead." If you worship the god of the undead, don't expect to be able to gain priest experience (Note: i.e. experience for the wisdom experience category) for killing the undead! But you might gain, as a priest of the undead, greater powers of commanding undead, and experience for killing certain (living) creatures that serve an enemy god. Each priest takes on a portion of the "aura" of their god; this means that our priest will probably become protected to life-damaging magic like draining and death, while conversely becoming more vulnerable to fire. Such a priest, because their god's domain does not include the living, probably won't be capable of healing either.

4.5 Crafts

As well as developing skills for killing things it is possible to become skilled in a few crafts to make your adventuring easier. A craft usually involves a workplace, into which you put some ingredients and make the desired item of your choice by using the appropriate skill.

For example for alchemy you use a cauldron, and for smithery you use a forge. You use alchemy to make potions, and smithery to make weapons and armour. Forges, tannery benches, jeweler's workbenches and similar workplaces can all be found in specially built buildings, where for a fee the owner will let you use their equipment.

4.5.1 Alchemy

The most widespread craft is alchemy. If you are new to crafts you are best off learning to use this skill before mastering any of the others. Alchemy can be used to make many different potions, dusts, and balms, both harmful and useful. You can use the harmful potions you make to throw at your enemies, and useful for drinking yourself. Everything you make can also be sold, so you can also earn some money :) . Once you get comfortable with alchemy you should find other craft skills easier to become proficient at as they work in a similar way.

To develop alchemy you first need to know the alchemy skill. Some players start off knowing it, so to find out if you have it or not type 'skills, and see if alchemy is listed as one of the skills. If you fail to find it you will have to learn if before you can proceed. The skill can be learnt like any other skill, from a skill scroll. A skill scroll can be bought in most alchemy shops, and learnt by applying it.

Now that you have the alchemy skill you can become experienced at it. You may think yourself a superhero, but as far as alchemy is concerned you are a complete novice. Should you attempt to make anything at this point you will most probably fail with the most disturbing effects.

Before you make things you need to become familiar with ingredients. That is done by identifying unidentified items that can be used in alchemy formulae using the alchemy skill. For example if you have an item that you think may be useful type "'use_skill alchemy" and see if it gets identified. If you are lucky you will have learnt your first alchemy experience! However you are still a long way off from making anything useful. It may be a good idea to bind "use_skill alchemy" to a key at this point so you don't have to keep typing it repeatedly.

Carry on identifying items until you reach level 10 in alchemy. It may take a long time, so it may be best to develop alchemy as a secondary skill as you are training one-handed or sorcery. Alternatively ingredients can be bought unidentified in bulk from most alchemy shops. This approach is very expensive, so unless you have good financial backing you are unlikely to get far.

As you identify the ingredients you may want to keep them, as they can come in useful as ingredients later on!

If you are now level 10 in the alchemy skill you can attempt to make some simple things. Before you get too enthusiastic I'll tell you right away that nothing you can make now will be of any use to you in the immediate future (except for maybe money?). To make something you will need to find a recipe. Recipes appear randomly in shops named "recipe:...", "cookbook:...", "lab book:..." or something similar. Recipes that appear in books like that are special, but more about that later.

Now that you have a recipe for something you can collect the ingredients. The easy formulae are those that only contain one ingredient. It can most likely be bought in an alchemy shop, so you should not need to venture far. Now you have everything you need to make an item. What you need next is access to a cauldron. If you are an alchemist you will already own one. Otherwise you can use one in a lab. Labs can be found attached to an alchemy shop, or otherwise.

Warning: If you choose to use your own caldron note that it may not last long, as alchemy failures happen to most starting alchemists, and some of them happen to be very destructive. You are also well advised to not attempt alchemy at home. It may seem like a good idea initially, as it is somewhere away from prying eyes and outside interference. Alchemy failures at home can potentially render your home unusable. You can consider yourself to have gotten away lightly if you do alchemy at home and all your belongings get burnt up, as if you are unfortunate enough to summon some monsters that are far more powerful than you, you will have a hard time exorcising them.

It is best to practice alchemy in a specially designated lab, be it in a guild, a shop, or another place where you can take precautions.

To make an item you should place the cauldron on the ground beneath you, and open it. Then drop the ingredients into the cauldron. Be careful to make sure that the ingredients that have count of more than one stack up together properly. For example stale mineral oil will not stack up with newly bought mineral oil, and so the alchemy will be doomed to failure before you start.

Then use the alchemy skill as you are standing above the cauldron. If you have done everything correctly and are lucky you will be left with your alchemy target in the cauldron. If you are left with slag or your ingredients simply disappear either you have done something wrong or you are simply unlucky. The more experienced you are the more likely you are to succeed in alchemy.

To increase the likely hood of a recipe not failing you should try to increase your luck, and alchemy level, and decrease the difficulty level of the recipe you are attempting. If the spell has failed you will experience failures of varying degrees, that depend on your Int, number of ingredients in the cauldron, length of ingredients in the cauldron, and enchantment on the cauldron. Quoting from the source code, "Using a bad device is *majorly* stupid". Therefore you are encouraged to find items that give luck bonus, become attuned to alchemy, and find yourself a Cauldron +5.

As you carry on making simple alchemy stuff you will level up in the skill a few times. By the time you reach level 30-50 you can try some of the medium level formulae. You will know them when you see them, as they are rare to find, and generally require an item or two that are hard to find. Most alchemists never progress beyond this stage, as it is hard and takes a long time. However, if you push on you will be rewarded. I'll give you a hint: a level 100 alchemist is able to produce potions that are rare and powerful. The recipes cannot be bought, but the books that contain them have to be found.

Alchemy can make you rich, alchemy can give you powerful items, and most importantly alchemy is fun! As I said earlier the recipes found in the books are special. Let me elaborate. There is a very large number of recipes that can produce items. The items that can be produced with alchemy have to be alchemy targets for some special formula. However, items used as ingredients can be anything you can lift and fit into a cauldron. Therefore you are welcome to experiment and find your own formulae. Before you busy yourself experimenting let me tell you that it can be dangerous, and you can never make money-using non-special formulae, as the universe would get out of balance and destroy your soul...

4.5.2 Transmutation

Finally I'd like to explain transmutation. It is not used in alchemy, but many recipes for other crafts use transmutations to generate the desired result. In a transmutation you have an item, add some more ingredients to it, and when you use the craft skill the extra items disappear, and the original item gains some properties. Therefore all non-special recipes you find still have to have the base item that will be transmuted.

4.6 Rune magic

Runes are another special form of wizardry; essentially runes are magical inscriptions on the dungeon floor which cast a spell (or "detonate") when something steps on them. Flying objects don't detonate runes. Beware! Runes are invisible most of the time!

There are several runes which are specialized; these can be set as your range spell. Some of these are:

Rune of Fire

rune-fire_111 Fire damage when it detonates
Rune of Frost rune-frost_111 Cold damage when it detonates
Rune of Blasting rune-blast_111 Physical damage when it detonates
Rune of Shocking rune-shock_111(1) Electrical damage when it detonates
Rune of Death rune-death_111 Atacks with attacktype "death" at caster level

The spell 'disarm' may be used to try and destroy a rune you've discovered. In addition, there are some special runes which may only be called with the 'invoke' command:

Magic Rune generic-rune_111 You may store any incantation in this rune that you know and have the mana to cast
Marking Rune rune-mark_111(1) This is basically a sign. You may store any words you like in this rune, and people may apply it to read it. Maybe useful for mazes! This rune will not detonate, nor is it ordinarily invisible.

Partial Visibility of Runes

Your runes will be partially invisible. That is, they'll be visible only part of the time. They have a 1/(your level/2) chance of being visible in any given round, so the higher your level, the better hidden the runes you make are.

Examples of usage

Here are several examples of how you can use the runes.

'invoke magic rune heal
will place a magic rune of healing one square ahead of you, whichever way you're facing.

'invoke magic rune transfer
as above, except the rune will contain the spell of transference

'invoke magic rune large fireball
as above, except the spell large fireball will be cast when someone steps on the rune. The fireball will fly in the direction the caster was facing when he created the rune.

'cast rune of fire
prepares the rune of fire as the range spell. Use the direction keys to use up your mana and place a rune.

'invoke marking rune fubar
places a rune of marking, which says "fubar" when someone applies it.

'invoke marking rune touch my stuff and I will hunt you down!
places the marking rune warning would-be thieves of their danger.

Restrictions on runes:

You may not place runes underneath monsters or other players. You may not place a new rune on a square which already has a rune. Any attempt to do the latter strengthens the pre-existing rune.

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