old usenet post
This is a post from Usenet, which was I thought was interesting enough to save, and was able to dig up again, 18+ years later...
(I'm not the original poster)
From rmr@inferno (Robert Reimann) Sun Jul 9 22:00:23 1989
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Reimann)
Subject: Mage-to-Mage Magical Combat System (SDL) Update
Date: 8 Jul 89 19:25:04 GMT
Organization: Silicon Graphics, Inc., Mountain View, CA
Keywords: Revised, now includes illusions
Here is the latest draft of the Mage-to-Mage Magical Combat System,
the first (to my knowledge) system to make use of a comprehensive
magical language to tie together all aspects of magic in a gaming
environment. Since my last posting of the system, I have made minor
syntax changes, added an operator (thanx to Brad Knowles), added a
new class of mages, and integrated demonology and illusionism into
the system. Still coming are the much sought-after biological and
psychic set of effects.
If anyone has been using the system, I'd love any feedback you may
Presented here is the first draft of the Mage-to-Mage Magical Combat
System and Spell Description Language, that hopefully addresses the issues
raised in recent discussions of spell programming languages and mage-to-mage
combat, while remaining more general than previous offerings of this type.
Some spell construction systems attempt to provide all the functionality
of AD&D spells by enumerating hundreds of specialized primitives.
The high number of primitives present in the some systems
reflects AD&D's lack of a distinction between *effects*, the actual
physical, biological, or psychic manifestations of magical forces,
and *operators* which act to shape those forces into useful configurations.
Note that what most systems call "effects" are actually combinations
of effects and operators, as I've defined them above.
AD&D-style spells do not require much distinction between effects and
operators-- they seem to work better without it-- but an object-oriented,
constructive approach really needs to distinguish between objects (effects)
and predicates (operators) to be successful and at the same time remain simple.
The system presented here consists of 32 physical effects (an equal numbers
of biological and psychic effects are currently being developed) and 26
operators. The effects presented here are part of a rationale for magic
that is built into the world; you are welcome to change them to better
fit your needs, but they were chosen with consistency in mind. The operators
are the real heart of the system, you should modify them only with great care.
Too many non-general operators will spoil this system.
The Mage-to-Mage Spell Description Language (SDL) uses a straightforward
left-to-right, top-to-bottom, multi-line syntax. For the most part, each
line of spell description represents one spell (mana) point worth of
magical effect. Mage-to-Mage uses a spell point system to determine the
spell cost; there is no distinction of "spell levels"; spells may be designed
with arbitrary complexity, the limiting factor is the number of spell points a
mage has available to expend casting it. Spell points are assigned on the
basis of mage level, intelligence, and wisdom.
Mage-to-Mage also provides a painless and logical way of producing
magical items, while at the same time keeping their power limited
to reasonable levels. Demonology illusion, necromancy, alchemy, and magical
medicine/healing can all be implemented within the same framework
(some of these are still under development).
Lastly, Mage-to-Mage has been designed to work within any combat system
that makes use of melee rounds as units of combat action.
Enjoy, and feel free to write/post comments or suggestions.
MAGE-TO-MAGE Magical Combat System
and Spell Description Language
Copyright 1989 Robert M. Reimann
All rights reserved.
I. The Nature of Magic and Spellcasting
"Magic" itself is not an energy source in any true sense. It is rather an
ability of some entities to alter the fabric of reality in a way that
changes the "natural" balance of "elemental forces" in a localized area
and channel it in a useful fashion. This ability is inate to some
creatures, but others (humans among them) must be trained.
"Spell" is the name given to the psycho-physical manipulations a mage or
magical creature must perform to produce a magical effect. Spellcasting
can, therefore be thought of as a psionic skill, with an important exception.
Once a spell is cast, it's semi-physical nature gives it a certain "life
of it's own"; it does not *need* to be constantly maintained after it
has been cast, although it *may* be altered once it has been cast, by
the original caster, or by another mage of sufficient power.
The existence of any spell is, however, intimately bound to the existence
of the casting entity; if the caster is killed, the spell will cease
*unless* spell "ownership" has been transfered to another casting
entity before the original caster dies.
Spells themselves cannot be written down, but "recipes" for spells
may be recorded using the spell description language described below.
Spell descriptions have no magical power themselves, they must be
interpreted by a spell caster. Of course, true, active spells may
be bound to scraps of paper, thus filling the role of AD&D-style
As with any skill, magical ability improves with practice. As mages
gain spell casting experience, the number of spells a mage can cast
and/or the complexity of his spells will increase. Spell casting is an
exhaustive effort requiring intense powers of will. Spell points are
an arbitrary method of measuring a spell's complexity. A mage is, in
a sense, "rated for" a certain number of spell points per day, based on
his experience (level), and his mental prowess.
He can't exceed this rating, not because he would do himself harm, but rather,
because it is simply beyond his current level of capability. As in AD&D,
an appropriate amount of rest will restore a mage's spell point "rating" to
Spells need not be written or memorized, they may be cast "on the fly".
In fact, this is quite common in magical combat. Spells are, in general,
non-permanent for reasons outlined above.
III. Elemental Forces, Matter, and Effects
The structure of all matter is created by the flow of elemental forces through
the material plane. Were there no flow of these energies, the material plane
would consist of formless chaos. The world in which magic exists is entirely
shaped by an intricate flow of elemental energies that yields land, oceans, air,
living things, etc. All living things possess the ability to alter the flow of
elemental forces to a certain degree by physically interacting with them.
Sentient beings further posess the ability to alter the flow of these forces,
and hence the world around them, purely by using their mind, i.e., by magic.
There are four primary elemental forces, each residing on a separate plane:
However, each of these planes overlaps, to a certain extent, the other three
planes, yielding a total of 16 subplanes.
Earthy Earth Airy Air Fiery Fire Watery Water
Airy Earth Earthy Air Earthy Fire Earthy Water
Fiery Earth Fiery Air Airy Fire Airy Water
Watery Earth Watery Air Watery Fire Fiery Water
Lastly, there are two states for each of these 16 forces, a high energy
state and a low energy state. These two states are called "Light" and
"Dark" respectively. Each of the 16 permuted forces above can be
manipulated in either the Light or Dark form, yielding a total of 32
different elemental flows. Each type of flow generates a unique set
There are three manifestations of an effect; physical, biological, and psychic.
Each manifestation is separate and independent of the other two. Physical
effects are primarily for combat. Biological effects can be used to
cure and cause illnesses, and to bestow qualities of living creatures
on inanimate objects. Psychic effects can be used to cure and cause
mental disorders, to bestow qualities of sentient creatures on
non-sentient things, and to deal with spirits, which have no physical
characteristics. Biological and psychic effects are more complex,
and may not be used until the mage has gained higher levels:
Level Manifestations Usable
5+ Physical, Biological
9+ Physical, Biological, Psychic
Currently, the system covers only physical effects; biological and psychic
effects will be added in future versions.
One final characteristic of some importance is that dissimilar effects
may not occupy the same physical space in the Material Plane. Thus,
when two different effect types come together, one must give way. This
quality can be used to a mage's defensive advantage. If he casts a barrier
of dissimilar effect in the path of another, oncoming force, and his force
is as potent or more so than the oncoming force, it will be blocked.
Note that this only works for effects that are manifested in the same way;
e.g., a physical effect will not block a psychic effect, for instance.
III. Magical Training and Aptitude
Unlike AD&D, this system offers mages the opportunity to specialize in
areas of expertise, giving them greater control over more limited resources.
Initial training of a mage lasts a maximum of 12 years. In that time, the
mage may divide his studies among one or more elemental forces, such as
Each force studied includes both Light and Dark effects, as well as all
three manifestations (physical, biological, psychic). When a mage learns
a force, he generally learns both the Light and Dark versions (exception:
Elemental Mages, below).
The following table shows how studies may be divided, how much time they
take, and what abilities each term of study confers on the mage.
Study Time Skill Class Potency Range Know/Use Resist
---------- ----------- ------- ----- -------- ------
12 years Elemental* d8/lev 80'+8'/lev 40%+4%/lev 20%+2%/lev
10 years Singular** d12/lev 120'+12'/lev 60%+6%/lev 30%+3%/lev
6 years Major d8/lev 80'+8'/lev 40%+4%/lev 20%+2%/lev
4 years Minor d6/lev 60'+6'/lev 30%+3%/lev 15%+2%/lev
2 years Minimal d4/lev 40'+4'/lev 20%+2%/lev 10%+1%/lev
* Elemental Mages learn all four Light or Dark effects (not both) of an element;
thus a Mage of Light Air would learn Light Airy Air, Light Watery Air,
Light Fiery Air, and Light Earthy Air.
** Singular Mages may not learn any other force beyond their singular
specialty; their minds are too "coloured" by their magic to permit
learning a new kind.
So, Medwyn the Mage could spend his 12 years of study becoming an
Elemental Mage of Light Water or a Singular Mage in Fiery Air, or
he could spend 6 getting a Major in Fiery Air, and 6 more getting
another Major in, say, Earthy Water.
Or he could get two Minors and and two Minimals, etc.
Spending more time learning a particular force allows the mage to use
it more effectively; a singular mage gets d12 per level damage from his
effects, twice the damage of a mage with a similar Minor. Similarly, his
casting range is larger, his ability to recognize (Know) magic of his
specialty and make use of it (Use) is better as well. Finally, he is
also able to better Resist magic of the type in which he received the
Spell points are assigned to Mages according to the following formula:
Spell Points = (INT+WILL)*level/4
This is the same for all mages regardless of training. All fractional
points should be rounded up.
As a mage casts spells, his spell points are depleted. They are regained
with sleep; 1/10 of a mage's total points are replenished per hour of rest.
There is one important exception to this rule: if a spell is still operating,
the spell points used to create it *cannot* be replenished until the spell
has been stopped. Once it has stopped, the points may be replenished as
described above. This effectively limits the number of semi-permanent spells
that a mage is able to cast.
IV. Physical Effects
The following is a complete list of physical effect.
LEE: Crystal/Glass DEE: Stone
LAE: Sand DAE: Dust
LWE: Loam DWE: Mud/Quicksand
LFE: Lava DFE: Metal
LWW: Water DWW: Ice
LAW: Foam DAW: Erosion
LEW: Glue DEW: Liquid [Poison]
LFW: Steam DFW: Oil
LFF: Fire DFF: Shadow Fire [Cold]
LAF: Plasma DAF: Ash
LEF: Heat DEF: Alkali
LWF: Electricity DWF: Acid
LAA: Air/Wind DFF: Shadow/Darkness
LWA: Ambient Light DWA: Fog/Cloud/Mist
LEA: Illusion DEA: Gas [Poison]
LFA: Radiant Light DFA: Smoke
Operators are the core of the Mage-to-Mage SDL, providing the syntax
for spell description and execution. This section gives a summary of all
SDL operators. followed by complete descriptions of the syntax and semantics
of each operator. Examples are included.
V.1 Operator Summary
Basic (Effect) Operators
create create a new effect
destroy destroy a previously created effect
move move an effect to a new location
rotate rotate an effect around any axis
scale resize a previously created effect
shape form an effect into a desired shape
Path (Shape) Operators
fill fill a closed polygonal (2D) area
lineto extrude an effect along a given line
surface mold an effect along a given surface
volume form an effect to fit a specified volume
halt stop a spell
if...then...else conditional determined by input events
repeat...until loop until event
wait until pause spell until event
or | boolean operators for combining events
interrupted signals a spell has been interrupted
general format for events
bind bind a spell's range relative to a given object
interrupt alter a given spell
makeowner reassign ownership of given spell to a new mage
power change a spell's power
range change a spell's range
resume resume an interrupted spell
: assign a spell a name
V.2 Operator Details
This section describes the operators summarized above in detail.
In the descriptions below, variables are in angle brackets, and
optional arguments are in straight brackets. Each operator is listed
followed by a paragraph describing what it does, followed in
turn by an example of usage.
V.2.1 Basic Operators
Create a point source of the given effect on the tip of the
caster's index finger (right or left). This is an initialization
operator, creating the link to another plane. For physical effects,
the effect must be scaled or otherwise shaped to a physical dimension
before any force is actually released (see scale, shape). The effect
may optionally be given a name by which other operators may refer to it.
create Wind mywind
All three of the above perform the same function. The first
specifies the physical effect Light Airy Air. The second
uses the more colloquial description of Wind. The third gives
the effect a name, making it easier to refer to it later in the
spell. This is useful if you are using multiple effects that
are doing different things.
Removes the last created effect, or the one corresponding to
if it is given. When a spell terminates, all effects
are automatically destroyed. Any effect which goes outside
the spellcaster's range is also destroyed.
move  to pointdir
move  to lookat
move  to x y z
Move the last created effect a specific distance in a direction
indicated by a pointing gesture, to a named object specified by
looking at the object, or a specific position in space relative
to the last position. If the object has been specified in an event,
or has been identified previously in the spell, lookat is not necessary.
If an effect name is given, that effect is moved rather
than the last created effect. An effect may be moved anywhere within
the spellcaster's range, unless somehow obstructed.
move mywind to lookat orc
move mywind to 10' pointdir
move mywind to 5'x 10'y 15'z
The first example moves the Wind ball used in an earlier example
in a straight line to the surface of an object specified by lookat,
in this case, an orc. The second example moves the ball
in a straight line 10 feet in the direction the caster points.
The third moves the ball 5' to the caster's right, 10' up, and
fifteen feet forward, away from wherever it was, with respect to
rotate  x y z [origin pointdir]
rotate  x y z [origin lookat ]
rotate  x y z [origin x y z]
Rotate an effect around any axis (x,y,z), relative to the center
point of the effect (default) or a named point.
rotate firewall 90y origin lookat orc
This fragment rotates a wall of fire (previously shaped)
ninety degrees around the y (up-down) axis with the body of a
given orc as the center of rotation. Note that the point of
rotation does not need to be a point inside the effect itself.
scale  x y z
Scale the last created effect to the given size. If the effect
was not previously shaped, the scaled object will be a spheroid.
Scaling is always performed using the center of the effect as
an origin (see create, shape). If a name is given, that effect
is scaled rather than the last created effect. An effect may
be scaled up to the limit of the spellcaster's range.
scale mywind 2'x 2'y 2'z
This example takes the Wind created in the create example
and enlarges it to a 2' diameter sphere.
Shape the last created effect using a path described by a "subspell"
consisting of valid Path Operators. If a name is given, that effect is
shaped rather than the last created effect. When an effect is shaped,
any previous scaling or shaping is forgotten; the newly formed effect
will have the same shape and size as the object it was modeled after.
Position of the effect is maintained. An effect may be shaped from
anything fitting within the mage's spellcasting range.
shape mywind surface 1'thick lookat box
shape mywind volume lookat donut
shape mywind lineto 2"thick lookat corner1
lineto 2"thick lookat corner2
lineto 2"thick lookat corner3
lineto 2"thick lookat closeit
The first example shapes the wind into a hollow box (i.e., the wind only
blows in the planes that form the sides). The second example forms a
solid torus of wind. The third example shapes the effect into a 4-sided
filled polygon (like a wall) of uniform two-inch thickness. (See Path
V.2.2 Path Operators
Fills any closed polygon defined by a list of
lineto operators within a shape operator.
The fill operator must directly follow the
list of lineto operators. The fill operator
will use the line thicknesses of each lineto
to fill with, interpolating if necessary.
The lines must form a closed polygon, or the
fill will fail. See SHAPE for example.
lineto thick pointdir [smooth]
lineto thick [lookat] [smooth]
lineto thick x y z [smooth]
lineto thick trace
Used only in conjunction with the shape operator. Adds a line
of thickness to the shape of the effect. The current postion
of the effect (or the endpoint of the last line drawn, if there is
been no use of the move operator since the last line was drawn) forms
the beginning point of the line, the endpoint may be specified with
a distance from the beginning point and a pointing gesture for
direction, or by looking at a named endpoint. For the latter,
the endpoint must be a physical object. If the object has been
previously identified in the spell, lookat is not necessary.
If smooth is specified, the endpoint will be smoothed to a curve
if another line is drawn from it.
The third form of lineto allows the mage to specify precise coordinates
in space to draw the line to, relative to the current position of the
effect or the endpoint od the last line drawn.
The fourth form of lineto allows the mage to trace a path with
the tip of his finger. This may only be done with newly created
(i.e., unmoved, unscaled, previously unshaped effects).
See SHAPE for examples.
surface thick [lookat]
Shapes an effect to match the size and contours
of the selected object. The object is selected
by looking at it; it must be within spellcasting
range, and must fit entirely with the spellcasting
range. The surface thickness is determined by .
See SHAPE for example.
Like the surface path operator, but fills
the entire volume with the effect. (See above).
See SHAPE for example.
V.2.3 Flow Operators
Halts a spell. A halt is not necessary at the end of
a non-looping spell, as it is implied.
if (nonhuman and intelligent) 10'
This spell fragment halts the spell if an intelligent nonhuman
comes within 10' of the caster, or wherever the caster may have
bound the spell.
Conditional that determines spell flow based on the truth
value of the event operators (see Event Operators).
bind to touch box
repeat if (orc or kobold) 30'
then if orc 30'
then create bolt Fire
move to orc
scale 1'x 1'y 1'z
else create bolt Electricity
move to kobold
scale 1'x 1'y 1'z
wait 2 sec
until me "off"
This spell creates a 5 foot radius bolt lasting 2 seconds
when either an orc or a kobold comes within 30 feet of a
box the mage touched when he cast the spell. If it is an
orc, the bolt is of fire, if it is a kobold, the bolt is
Repeats part of a spell for a set number of times, or until
a specified event becomes true. A loop variable may be used
for spell effects that want to keep track of iteration (see
bind to touch endofstick
scale 1"x 1"y 1"z
repeat move to endofstick
until me "off"
This spell creates a torchlight at the end of a staff which will stay
lit until the mage says "off" (and is within range).
Wait for a specified length of time, or until a specified series
of events (see Event Operators, below).
wait 10 min.
wait until event: human "bang" 10'
In the first example, the next spell action will be delayed by
10 minutes. In the second, it will be delayed until the word
"bang" is uttered by a human within 10' of the spell's position.
A spell's position is either the place it was cast, or the position
of an object to which it is currently bound (if any).
V.2 4 Event Operators
Event operators take the following general form:
Objects in events can be any physical object, entity, or effect
that the mage can visualize clearly in his mind. Actions can consist
of any physical action the mage can visualize happening. Proximity must
be a distance within the mage's casting range. The action of spreaking
a phrase can be abbreviated by placing the phrase in quotes.
The following is a special action:
interrupted [by ]
"Interrupted" means that the spell has been tampered with by a mage
using the interrupt operator (see below). Interrupted is a trap
that prevents a spell from being tampered with. Interrupted is also
an action, and can be treated as such. If no objects are given
with an action, anything performing the action will trigger the
event; if no proximity is given, the maximum casting range of the
spellcaster is assumed.
Objects, actions, and proximity can all be modified using the
following boolean operators:
and or not
Parentheses can be used for clarity of logical groupings.
if (man with tatoo and pegleg) (spit and "howdy") 5'
then create Fire
The first example triggers the if...then operator if a man
with a tatoo and a pegleg spits and says "howdy" within
five feet of the spell. The second example halts the spell
if it is interrupted. (A good trap if the spell was, say,
holding up the ceiling!)
V.2.5 Special Operators
bind  to touch
Binds the named spell in to a named object, which is
selected by touching the object. Once a spell is bound to an
object, any effects the spell may generate will operate within
the max spellcasting range of the mage, but *relative to the object
to which it is bound*, not the mage himself. Bind may be used
multiple times in a spell to switch bindings of other spells, or
even the spell in which the binds occur (good for cursed items!).
If you are binding the spell in which the bind occurs, you do
not need to specify the spellname.
Note: binding a spell to an object has no effect
on the postion of effects. Movement of effects must be done
explicitly within the spell.
bind to touch rod
This binds the spell in which the bind operator occurs to a rod.
interrupt at "" [revert]
Allows a mage to interrupt a working spell at a stated
point, and replace that line with a series of new lines.
If revert is used, and the spell was interrupted inside
a loop, the new spell fragment will execute only once,
otherwise the changes are permanent (for as long as the
spell lasts). If a halt operator is used in the interruption,
the interrupted spell will stop, even if it was in a loop.
The breakpoint specified must be a single line from the spell.
A mage automatically knows breakpoints for his own spells.
If he is trying to interrupt another mage's spell, he must
roll his Know/Use percentage to figure out the spell. The
other mage must then roll his Resist roll to prevent the
interruption. Know/Use and Resist rolls must be made for
all spells, even bound ones where the caster is not in the
Note: interrupt spells do not have names, and cannot be
interrupted themselves. Spells that have been
interrupted may, however, may be reinterrupted any
number of times with new changes.
Take a variation of the torch spell described earlier:
bind to touch endofstick
repeat scale 1"x 1"y 1"z
move to endofstick
until me "off"
Suppose Medwyn is holding his lit staff, and an orc
comes around the corner. Medwyn casts:
interrupt torch at "move to endofstick" revert
move to lookat orc
scale 10'x 10'y 10'z
wait 10 sec
What happens is that the torchlight is turned into a fireball,
and then reverts back to a torch! It's important to interrupt
a spell in an active part; if Medwyn had changed anything before
the repeat loop, nothing would have changed, because that part
of the spell was already done.
Transfers ownership of the named spell to another spellcaster.
The new owner must have enough spell points to have cast the spell
but need not have the appropriate training in the effects the
spell uses. The new owner loses the number of spell points
equal to the cost of the spell, for as long as the spell is active.
The old owner regains the points he had lost while he owned the spell.
If the new owner understands the spell, he may interrupt it at will.
makeowner torch touch Medwyn
This changes the owner of a spell called torch to Medwyn.
torch is a 5 point spell, so Medwyn loses 5 spell points for
the duration of the spell (or until he stops it himself).
All spells have a default power and range, determined by the
caster's training and skill level. This power and range can
be increased at great cost. Two amplify a spell's range or
power by The caster must expend mult^2 the usual number
of spell points spent for the *entire remainder of spell*.
This also works if the mult is a fraction (for reduced power
and range spells). Even so, the minimum any spell can cost
is 1/4 its base cost, no matter how weak it is. Spell costs
are always rounded up to the nearest integer.
Range and power operators should come at the
beginning of the spell, right after the spellname.
power iceball 2
range iceball 2
scale 6"x 6"y 6"z
moveto lookat target
This example creates a simple ball of ice and hurls it at
an opponent. It does double usual damage and can be hurled
for double the mage's usual range, but cost *8 times* the
normal spell points (24 instead of 3).
resume  at ""
The resume operator is useful in conjunction with the
interrupted event. You can write a spell which checks
for an interrupt cast on it, and which then performs
a special task to counteract the intrusion (such as
blasting the person who attemtped the interrupt).
After this is done, you may want to resume the spell
at a convenient place. This is what the resume operator
bind to touch endofstick
repeat scale 1"x 1"y 1"z
until me "off"
# check for interrupt #
if interrupted by me
then move to lookat target
scale 10'x 10'y 10'z
wait 10 seconds
resume at "repeat scale 1"x 1"y 1"z"
else if (interrupted by being) and (being is not me)
then move to being
scale 10'x 10'y 10'z
wait 10 sec
resume at "repeat scale 1"x 1"y 1"z"
This version of the torch spell will actively fireball
anyone except the casting mage who tries to interrupt
You must begin every spell with a spell name.
This does not add any cost to the spell.
move to lookat orc
scale 5'x 5'y 5'z
wait 5 sec
VI. Spell Cost and Duration
Spells cost 1 point per line of spell description, with the following
exceptions: spellname, power, and range operators, which have no cost
(although the power and range operators do change the *overall* cost of
the spell as described in the last section).
Because spells can loop, they have a potential duration limited only
by the life of the owner of the spell (i.e., the original caster, or
a new owner assigned using the makeowner operator). However, since
the spell points used to maintain a spell cannot be recovered until
the spell has ceased (or been terminated), it is in the interest of
a mage not to leave too many semi-permanent spells lying around.
VII. Mage-to-Mage Combat
Unlike most systems, Mage-to-Mage allows mages to directly counter
spells cast by other mages under certain conditions. Of particular
importance, then, is the way in which mages can determine what other
mages are casting. This is called "reading".
Reading a spell being cast within range is like a sixth sense,
it requires no more time or energy than watching a fighter draw a sword.
If a spell is not understood by a mage, it is like watching a fighter draw an
unfamiliar weapon. Mages cannot "read" precast spells in the same fashion;
it is the act of casting that allows them to be read. Reading precast spells
is a skill that requires several minutes of concentration. A spell being
cast by another mage may be read successfully by another mage only if
the following conditions are met:
1. The reading mage must be within his spell casting range of the enemy.
2. The spell may only contain effects with which the reader has been trained.
3. The reader must make his Know/Use roll successfully.
Another crucial element of magical combat is its timing and scheduling.
Instead of trying to gauge specific casting times for spells, a more
general rule is used for the scheduling of magical combat; one that
will hopefully make it easier to integrate Mage-to-Mage into existing
In Mage-to-Mage, all normal offensive and defensive spells
take 1 melee round to cast. Spells cast in one melee
round start to take effect (execute) in the following round.
Execution of a spell is automatic, a mage does not need to
maintain the spell once he has cast it.
There is a 3rd variety of spell beyond offensive and
defensive (which can be auto-flash or normal shields).
This is the interrupt spell, a spell which alters another
spell. Since this is a modification to an existing
spell, it is relatively instantaneous in its casting
and its execution. An interruption to a spell effectively
delays the final outcome to the beginning of the next round,
at which time it can be once again altered by an interruption.
Only one mage may interrupt a given spell in a round; if more
than one tries, the outcome is decided by an initiative roll.
A mage can always interrupt his own spells (unless he fails
an interruption initiative roll in a given round), but to
interrupt another mage's spell, The interruptor must beat the
enemy's Resist percentage, as well as having been successful
at reading the enemy's spell as it was cast.
Interrupt spells themselves cannot be interrupted.
A mage may perform one of the following options in any given melee round:
1. He can try to interrupt (change) an incoming spell
2. He can cast an offensive spell (which will execute on the following
2. He can cast a defensive spell (which will execute on the following
4. He can interrupt (change) his own offensive or defensive spell.
Precast offensive and defensive spells are, of course, safe
from enemy interruptions. If a precast offensive spell is
triggered by an event, it executes immediately; the only
defense against a precast offensive spell that has just been
triggered is a precast defensive spell.
In general, a mage-to-mage combat may go as follows:
Mage 1 casts offensive spell
Mage 2 casts defensive (shielding) spell
Mage 2 interrupts and changes Mage 1's spell (or fails and is zapped)
Mage 1 casts defensive spell
Mage 1 interrupts and changes Mage 2's defensive spell ...
And so on, until somebody slips up. There are, of course,
many other possible strategies, some of the most useful
involving precast defesive spells which the enemy cannot
VIII. Other Combat
Combat against a non-mage follows the same rules outlined above.
A spell takes one round to cast, and only one spell may be cast
by a mage in a given round. The spell begins to take effect at
the beginning of the next melee round.
A mage may cast an offensive spell, a defensive spell (again,
the distnction between the two is blurred), or may interrupt
one of his own precast spells. As with standard spells, the
effects of an interrupt begin at the start of the next melee
IX. Level Advancement
Mage level advancement is directly determined by the amount of magic
the mage uses "in the line of duty". A mage gets one experience point
for every line of spell description he casts in melee or other non-casual
situations. Advancement of levels becomes harder with each level advanced.
Going from first to second level requires 100 xp. From second to third
requires 200 *more* xp. Third to fourth requires an additional 300 xp.,
and so on.
X. Saving Throws and Extended Duration Effects
There is one standard saving throw for all types of magic, corresponding
to a "Save vs. Magic" in AD&D. Since all magic items in the Mage-to-Mage
system are essentially spells bound to objects, there is no need for a
separate saving throw for wands, staves, etc.
Making a saving throw has one of two results. If the save is versus an
area of effect, it means the victim takes half damage in that round
*and any succeeding round* in which he is still immersed in the effect.
If the save is versus an effect of which the victim is the sole target,
making the saving throw negates (destroys) the effect.
For effects lasting more than one melee round, damage is taken by those
in range of the effect in *each succeeding round*. However, for each
round that a victim must take damage, he is entitled to a new saving throw,
until he is successful.
Thus, an orc that is caught in a sheet of flame for 3 rounds would take
full damage from the flame each round, unless he made his saving throw.
If he doesn't make it the first round, he can roll again in the second
round, and so on. If the orc were to make the saving throw in his second
round, he would only receive half damage in the second and third rounds.
Now let's suppose that the orc is the victim of a spell that puts darkness
over his face and keeps it there for three rounds, hence blinding him.
This is a target-victim spell, not an area of effect, so if the orc were
to save on the second round, the darkness would be negated.
XI. Demons and Elementals
Unlike living creatures of the material plane, which consist of complex
matrices composed of varying amounts of all the elemental forces, demons
and elementals are composed of only a single force.
Each demon or elemental lives in the subplane to which it is attuned.
Thus one would expect to see wind demons, ice demons, fog demons, etc.
Demons and elementals are very similar; the key difference is that demons
are sentient, whereas elementals are only of animal intelligence (if that).
Demons and elementals may be summoned from a pure flow of any
appropriate elemental force that is large enough to pass them through
to the material plane (pentagrams for demons, trigrams for elementals).
Elementals may be summoned relatively easily, while demons usually appear
only if their True Name is uttered by the mage during the summoning
ritual. A demon will almost always attempt a contest of wills before obeying
a mage; usually in the form of magical combat. If the mage loses, he
is liable to be consumed, or worse if the demon is particularly vengeful.
If the mage wins, the Demon is bound to obey a single command as issued
by the mage. The most common command is to enter an object of power
and maintain its magic (in other words, take ownership of any spells
bound to the object), remaining there until the object or its magic
is destroyed. This allows the creation of permanent magical items,
since demons are immortal.
Demons are always Singular Mages in the force to which they are attuned,
at a level (and with spell points) commensurate with their hit dice.
There is a small chance that ordinary use of magic may cause an elemental,
or even in rare cases a demon, to be summoned inadvertantly.
Spirits are the disembodied minds of once-living sentient beings that
for some reason were not extinguished when the being died. They too
can be summoned by name, using a circle of Darkness.
Summoning a spirit involves much the same dangers as summoning a demon; spirits
are often waiting for the chance to inhabit a living body again, and will
attempt to do so by turning a mage's power against him, and then invading the
freshly-dead body. Most forms of what are commonly called "the undead" are the
result of spirits gaining control over physical objects (corpses, skeletons,
Spirits who were mages when they were alive have all the magical ability they
had at that time. Spirits who were not mages are not useful for creating
permanent magic items, because they cannot use make use of spell points.
They may, however, be useful for questioning and as servants.
Spirits which are not mages may be subdued fairly easily by use of Radiant
Light. All spirits have the innate ability to manipulate Darkness like a
Singular Mage at a level of ability commensurate with their hit dice.
However, this ability cannot be harnessed for use with a magic item by
the summoning mage.
In darkness, spirits also have the ability to life-drain at a touch. Summoners
of spirits must be very careful not to allow themselves to be surrounded by
darkness, lest he be trapped by the spirit. Once the spirit has been subdued
in contest, it will remain so until it has completed the task commanded of it.
XIII. Summoning Rituals
All discorporeal entities (demons, elementals, and spirits) require special
summoning rituals to call them to the mage's service. There are four parts
to any summoning ritual, which must be executed in order:
The summoner must create (via spell) a gate of appropriate elemental
force, and of the appropriate configuration. The configurations are:
These may be created on any flat, solid surface (stone floors or
walls are the most common places). The Gate for summoning a
demon or elemental is composed of the elemental force to which
the being to be summoned is attuned; the Gate for summoning a
spirit is always composed of Darkness.
Once the Gate has been created, the mage must call upon the being
by name. In the case of demons and spirits, the True Name of the
being must be uttered three times. in the case of elementals, which
have no specific names, the general name of the kind of elemental
desired must be uttered instead. The naming is generally accompanied
by a rhythmic chant (sometimes accompanied by drums) which helps
guide the being to the entrance of the Gate. The Naming may take
from several minutes for a minor elemental, to hours or even days
for a very great demon. The naming is complete when a "presence"
is felt near the Gate, usually accompanied by a drop in temperature
in the vicinty of the ritual. This means that something (hopefully
the summoned being) is on the threshold of the Gate.
The chance of of a being hearing the call is equal to the suumoner's
Know/Use percentage -5% for every level above the summoner that the
being is, +3% for every level below the summoner the being is.
All summoned creatures require a sacrifice to bring them across the
threshold of the Gate. Elementals require only freshly slaughtered
animals; demons generally require a living, sentient sacrifice to
Spirits are different; their sacrifice must be an object that was
important to the spirit while it was alive. Images of loved ones,
or symbols of glory are the two most often used objects, but others
may be more appropriate to given instances.
Sacrifices are delivered to the center of the Gate, usually via a
rope or cart, or some other mechanism. Naught but that which is
to be sacrificed should enter the Gate at this time, any person
who does so is in great peril.
At this point, the being will either accept the sacrifice and enter
through the Gate to take it and meet the summoner, or will reject it
If the being accepts the sacrifice, the summoner must immediately
be on his guard, for the being will almost certainly attempt a
Contest of Will. In the case of an elemental, it will attack unless
shown an immediate demonstration of force. After this is done,
the elemental will obey a single command before returning to its
plane of origin. Demons and spirits wiil engage in a full magical
battle with the mage. If the demon or spirit surrenders, it will
obey a single command as well. Commands can be phrased so as to
allow a mage to permanently contain a demon or spirit within a magic
item. Elementals do not serve in this purpose because they have
no magical ability (being non-sentient); their attacks are purely
physical (since they are composed of pure force).
If the mage loses the battle (which must be fought one-on-one for
the victory conditions to hold), the demon or spirit may take
possession of the mage's body and/or soul, unless it is stopped by
companions of the mage.
Mages specializing in Light Earthy Air learn the ability to cast
illusions; spells which create images and other stimuli that fool
the senses. The physical manifestation of LEA allows the mage to
create only images and sounds; tactile and olfactory illusions
must be effected using the biological manifestation of LEA, and the
more complicated illusions which adjust to creatures' perceptions
are possible only using the psychic manifestation of LEA.
The shape of visual illusions is determined by the shape of the
effect; the actual image is arbitrary. Auditory, tactile, and
olfactory illusions are active within the volume defined for the effect
by the mage. It may sometimes be useful to divide illusions into
separate effects, some of which overlap (i.e., the sound of an
illusory breaking glass should be heard beyond the volume defined
by the glass itself).
XIV.1 Illusion Complexity by Level of Caster
The complexity of cast illusions rises with the level of the
caster. This is in part due to the fact that the more complicated
biological and psychic manifestations of the LEA force are accessible
only at higher levels, and in part due to the fact that truely refined
illusions are possible only with great experience and practice.
The following table lists the type of illusions allowed at each level.
In general each level builds on the previous one.
1st level: Auditory effects only.
2nd level: Separate auditory and non-animated visual effects.
3rd level: Mixed auditory and non-animated visual effects.
4th level: Mixed auditory and animated visual effects.
5th level: Like above plus separate olfactory e