Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spell Matrix "nouns" & more on sentences

Right now, this is my tentative list of "Nouns" (Disciplines might be a good name for 'em) for a Verb + Noun system:

Quintessence (or Aether)
Necromancy (Entropy)
Natural (replacing scapulimancy) -- Maybe?

I think that nicely covers all of the biggies. Plus its easy to remember! Imagine it as a square (the four classical elements) with Aether above and Entropy below. Entropy is a non-classical addition, but I wanted something to reflect the dark powers of necromancy, diabolic pacts, and other such things. Entropy seems to embody "unmaking" and descent, which creates a nice duality opposed to Aether. A "natural" delineation would be in the center of the whole structure, representing a balanced mix of the other six elements in appropriate proportions.

In the Spell Matrix formulas (sentences?) it is important to specify some grammatical constructs:
  • The Verb. I.E., which art are you applying? From here I'm I'll call it "X." Replace that with Evoke/Summon/Know/Make/Unmake/whatever.
  • Noun: Ablative (i.e., "I do X by means of Fire.")
  • Noun: Accusative/Direct Object ("I do X to Fire.").
  • Adverb ("I do fiery X.") This is similar to the ablative.
  • Adjective -- possibly

Note the distinction here, especially with abjurations; in the ablative, you'd say, "I abjure by means of fire," so you would theoretically be conjuring up a fiery shield, likely good against Water attacks. In the accusative you'd be saying, "I abjure fire," which is to say, you are likely good against fire attacks. This is one of the issues with the Western Elements, in that they are opposed (as opposed to the more cyclical Eastern elements).

Another example to illustrate the point.
"I unmake by means of fire!" That would mean that I am destroying something with fire.
"I unmake fire!" That would mean that I quench fire itself, smothering flame.

The nouns or disciplines above are likely to be used in the ablative sense. This is an important distinction, as there is a strong inclination to use them as the accusative/direct object ("I do X to Fire") or nominative. Note the difference carefully. For example, there is a difference between, "I know by means of fire" and "I know fire." In the former, one might require a source of fire to conduct a divination; in the latter, the caster actually knows something about fire.

Honestly, I'm not sure which is best. For simplicity's sake, I'd like to specify always using one case or the other. However, it may be necessary to allow different cases in different situations.


The trick now is coming up with the right list of Verbs -- that's harder! Basically, we are inventing a simple language here. It is necessary to decide which words are allowed (vocabulary) and how they can be combined (grammar).

For example, for targeting, can one include "the creature?" as a target? What about a proper noun ("Regdar the Orc?")? Or just a hex (where a creature may happen to be?)?

Here's the most complete sentence I can think of, with as many variables as I can think of:

  • VERB: technique (evoke, summon, abjure, make, unmake, etc)
  • NOUN:
    ABLATIVE: by means of art (by means of fire, water, etc) or
    ACCUSATIVE direct object: art (fire, water, etc)
  • WITH: Additional factors...
    impact/magnitude (how much damage, etc)
Note that with my Dice Matrix pool system we can only determine three separate factors randomly. The others must be specified either arbitrarily or tied to one of our three factors (example, lumping "everything else" into Potency).

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