Magic Systems Think Tank


So I’m currently developing a hack, and I want to retool how magic works in terms of design, but I want to stir some ideas around and see what people think.

For my game, I have specific ideas and limitations; no magic triangles and skill system (so no gaiden HP cost or 3H per unit magic), are the important 2. Even if an idea you have doesn’t fit those limits, feel free to discuss it here.

I’ll reply with a few Ideas I’ve toyed around with


Split Magic

There are a few ways different kinds of magic have been split in FE, but none of them really click with me. Magic Triangles are interesting on paper, but making multiple classes of each type turns out to be pretty tricky. Just splitting between offensive and healing magic has been the most successful, but this usually forces units into the role of dedicated healer. That isn’t bad, but it leaves very little wiggle room, and because there’s only one class/weapon type that can heal, those who can heal are almost never given incentive not to.

A solution to this would be that magic is split two ways, very similar to Faith and Reason in 3H. The major difference is that both sides have access to healing magic, just different kinds. Both sides can do a basic heal, but one side focuses on close recovery with Mend and Recover, while the other uses limited use ranged healing like Physic and Fortify. But this can also split up the ability to use other types of utility staves and specialized tomes. Siege tomes can be split from Nosferatu, while Berserk and Hammerne effects can be split off from Sleep and Silence, and Warp and Rescue can be split. Combined with a Sage class that can use both magic types, this could make a really cool and deep system.


All Magic has Effectiveness

An idea ripped pretty cleanly from Radiant Dawn, but I want to focus on the implementation from Order of the Crimson Arm, a different hack. In that game, all anima magic dealt effective damage to a specific movement type; Fire to Cavalry, Thunder to Armor, and Wind to Fliers. Honestly, I could see this be expanded on. Giving Light Magic default effectiveness against Monsters would be pretty simple, and maybe changing Dark Magic to be effective against other magic users would work well. Then have Fimbulvetr hit dragons and it seems like things work pretty cleanly.

The big things to discuss with this are the balance ramifications, because to put it bluntly, it could mages pretty busted combat units. That and how to make different magic using classes distinct when they all posses similar abilities and offense becomes more based on weapon type.


The way I’m doing it is for Anima users…
Fire Magic: 1-2range, medium damage/hit/no crit.
Thunder Magic: 1range, high damage, low hit, decent crit
Wind Magic: 2-3range, low damage, high hit, 0 crit

Light Magic: 1-2range, little lower then fire damage, little less then wind hit, same thunder crit
Dark Magic: 1-2range, highest damage, same or slightly higher hit, 0 crit.

I’ve also got rid of traditional Troubadours, Clerics, Monks.
Now the prepromote is Priest and Priestess (uses Bishops animations)
And the promote is Bishop (using another animation)

Where the Priest and Priestess class can use Light AND Staves. So they aren’t useless as only staff units as most FE’s and so light magic users are well… better? I mean it’s light magic why can’t they also heal? It’s very similar so I combined the two.

Final Stat Examples:
Arc Fire: 11dmg, 75hit, 8wt, 0crit :1-2range
Arc Thunder: 13dmg, 70hit, 7wt, 10crit :1range
Arc Wind: 9dmg, 85hit, 6wt, 0crit :2-3range
Arc Light: 10dmg, 80hit, 7wt, 10crit :1-2range
Arc Flux: 13dmg, 70hit, 10wt, 0crit :1-2range

so thunder is really strong because it’s only close range, has less weight to help with that.
Wind is really weak because you can attack outside most peoples ranges including archers.
Fire is middle ground as the most common magic.
Light is little more specific middle ground as only Bishops can use
Dark is like thunder but heavier because it can hit from 2spaces.


Other systems:

Go full Pokemon with a physical/special split.
you’d have attack and defense and special attack and special defense, with the only notable difference being which classes are more competent with which. (like in pokemon) This would be a really cool system, because rather than looking at a weapon triangle to take down the enemy’s units you’d look at the units defenses and hit him with the one he’s weaker in.

Magic is exclusively long range.
Cavaliers, sword fighters, and axe fighters all provide close quarters combat (1,1-2 range), archers provide close ranged support (2,2-3 range) and magic is reserved for long range artillery (5-7, or 7-10 range). Instead of having high power low accuracy magic like bolting (which would be pretty broken) you could have magic take a more auxiliary role chipping away small pieces of health from range every turn (dependent on the defender’s res) until they’re taken out by an opposing mage, ballista, or pegasus knight.

Character specific tomes.
You wouldn’t have any regular “mages”, instead you’d have all your normal physical units and then each character/class would have a specific tome/staff (or perhaps two) which would act almost like the spells in gaiden. they wouldn’t break, they probably wouldn’t have a weight penalty, but they’d effectively give each character an auxiliary ability that stays with them regardless of if they use an iron or steel sword. Think like character abilities in every game ever, except without a cool down. You could have character abilities which absorb life, inflict status penalties (like -4 skill), deal mag dmg but have a good chance to crit, or whatever other crazy ideas you come up with (effective against classes with the letter “a”). All of this is completely possible without the skill system (not to mention quite easy, you’d just need to organize your weapon locks in a notepad file.). This could also be used to give more personality to your characters (Ex: Hendrick, an alcoholic ex-bartender who swings axes and gives barrier status to his allies)

Just don’t do “Thunder Fire Wind Light Dark” or “I’m gonna triple the number of spells but leave the total number of magic users at just under 5%” because those have been done before and I haven’t seen them be terribly enjoyable. cough Tellius cough.


The biggest thing to do is to diversify what all of the spells actually do.

Per type of magic, you only get a handful of options, whereas Swords, for example, have far more options. In the case of Swords, it’s perfectly fine to have your Iron/Steel/Silver/Blades simple changes to stats, because you also have your Armorslayers, Longswords, Brave Swords, etc. But, outside of Dark magic in Vanilla, nothing really has effects - they’re just piles of stat changes.

Therefore, especially since you’re dealing with magic, make the spells more broad in what they can do - change around what weapon rank slots use which animation, have a Wind/Anima siege tome that uses Aircalibur’s animation and is both effective against fliers and has 3-15 range like an Iron Ballista but is weaker than Bolting was, have tomes specialize in roles/ideas much like regular weapons can do instead of (or in addition to) just giving them blanket effectivenesses, etc. Turn Eclipse into a 1-3 range spell instead of 3-10, turn Thunder into a 2 range spell but give it 20 Crit, turn Shine into a Brave-effect tome, etc.

Lots of things you can do, just have to think about them instead of doing the bog standard way FE has dealt with most types of magic.


each character/class would have a specific tome/staff (or perhaps two) which would act almost like the spells in gaiden… they’d effectively give each character an auxiliary ability that stays with them regardless of if they use an iron or steel sword.

This is an idea I really like. I’m not sure how well weapon locks work with staves, because staves are treated as items and are the most annoying things to work with, but if it works properly that sounds really fun

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A new magic system? Interesting. A few things to note. A traditional triangle would be fire --> earth --> water loops. With the current system it’s dark corrupts soul, soul (or wordly being ieHeaven Hell) guides light, and light vanquishes darkness. It’s a cute little tie. You can break it back down to the traditional and include, double triangle effects in that grouping. Balance shift dark units > light so light picks up weak heals. We have little or no ice earth or what not. You can reinstitute hp cost as a dark magic subset, blood magic, for spell potency trade off. All units with a variation skill reflecting soul? For other class. Wheras the corresponding dark skill would increase the benefit of the trade off. I’d keep magic low range with but a few exceptions. Anima has highest crit. Dark best offense. Light best speed heal? Sage uses non heal staves or specialized ones. Also corpse raise upon kill as an NPC. For the older engine anyways. All kinds of systems exist otherwise.