All right. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I think I’ve got my god powers nailed down.
Basically I wanted god powers to be split into different schools which the player would then improve over time. I rejected the “classic four” of earth, fire, air and water since they are beyond cliché at this point; anyone who uses them deserves a quick nun-style whack on the knuckles.
Magic: The Gathering’s five schools of magic are extraordinarily well done, but I didn’t want to rip them off directly. Plus I wanted at least three powers in each school, which would have meant fifteen powers. That would have been hard to do while keeping to my second rule – that each power be distinct.
Populous 2 had six schools, but several of them are weak and all the “good” powers could be easily consolidated down to four schools.
So that’s what I did. There are four schools of magic in Planitia:
Yellow – Earth effects
Red – Fire effects
Blue – Sky effects
Green – Plant/growth effects
Now, let’s get back to the second rule. I wanted each god power to be distinct and have its own role. So I made a list of what god powers can effectively do in Planitia:
Damage or kill units
Throw units around (important because units take additional damage from falling and can be knocked int water or off the map, plus looks cool)
Uneven terrain (requires the opposing god to smooth it out before it can be used again)
Ruin terrain (requires the opposing god to improve it before it can be used again)
With that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking:
Yellow School (Earth Effects):
Flatten – Flattens terrain, fixes earthquakes, allows villages to grow
Earthquake – Land unevener, unit thrower
Red (Fire Effects):
Flame Column – Moves around randomly, ruins land, burns building and instakills units – Powerful but uncontrollable
Green (Growth Effects):
Bless – 3×3 cell area – Fixes ruined land, allows villages to grow faster (the bless wears off, but the ruin fix is permanent)
Swamp – Any unit walking into it dies, lasts 1 minute or until it sucks up three people – Area denial
Blue (Sky Effects):
Lightning – Single unit instakiller
Lightning Storm – Area denial – hangs over an area and zaps anyone (FRIEND OR FOE) who comes into it, lasts 1 minute or so
Now we come to the BIG effects, the ones that can end a game quickly. In order to get a major effect, you must max out two neighboring schools of magic.
Yellow + Red = Volcano. Creates a mountain of ruined land, damaging anyone in the affected area over time. The volcano will spew fireballs which create Flame Columns when they hit the ground for one minute, then the volcano will go inactive. The volcano cannot be fixed until it goes inactive. Since an army can quickly run away from it, it’s better used on villages than armies.
Red + Blue = Meteor. A meteor descends from the sky on the targeted area, badly damaging every unit it directly hits and throwing any units nearby a long way. Does not ruin land and does not affect buildings, so it’s better used on armies than villages.
Blue + Green = Healing Rain. Creates a cloud of healing rain that hangs in the air for one minute. Any friendly unit that comes into the affected area is instantly fully healed. Can really take the edge off a meteor or volcano.
Green + Yellow = Golem. A massive earth golem is created that immediately heads for the nearest enemy unit and attacks it by kicking it. When that unit is dead it heads for the next one, etc. One golem can take on an entire army and villagers are pretty much defenseless against it, but once you create it you cannot control it. (It won’t attack your units, though.)
Max All Schools = Armageddon. Clicking this button turns every unit on every side into a Barbarian and causes them to seek out and attack the nearest enemy unit. When the fighting is done the side that still has units is declared the winner of the game. Enemy players can still use god powers, but since army units do not regenerate mana once they run out they won’t get any more. Do NOT cast unless you’re damn sure you not only outnumber the enemy, but that he doesn’t have a Meteor or Golem up his sleeve.
CURRENT PROBLEMS WITH THIS SYSTEM: I’ve only got one fire effect. (Honestly, how many different ways can you burn things?) The two Blue effects are too similar. “Bless” and “Flatten” are absolute necessities so it seems kind of mean to force users to waste their experience points buying them.
Well, you could have a “scorched earth” land ruiner to add to red powers. I believe that Stone Rain (which kills a land) was a red spell in Magic: The Gathering.
I’ve been fond of using the Taoist elements, of which there are five. But, maybe it helps to think of these things as typical classifications of deities. Sky/Celestial gods, Cthonic or earth gods (which includes power over death usually), Fire gods which are usually angry gods of war, and Fertility gods.
It might be interesting to see your classification as a god change as you add new powers. If you have all fire, you’re Thavros, God of Fire. But fire and sky stuff might make you Thavros, Sun god. Or finally Thavros, the Allfather, King of the Gods.
I agree that lightning and lightning storm seem too similar. What about rain or snow? Hole in the o-zone? Vacuum of air? Fog? Tornado?
Tornadoes could be cool.
Tornadoes WOULD be cool, but what would be even cooler would be a killing patch of sunlight.
Melt, little people!
I’d say prototype a bunch of powers in-game, keep the ones that turn out to be fun, ditch the ones that turn out to be lame, and THEN worry about how best to organize them 😉
for Fire, what about some type of a circular wave of fire, similar to a Flame AoE?
Maybe the more you’re educated in the “Growth” school, the larger area the Fire Wave can cover?
“I’d say prototype a bunch of powers in-game, keep the ones that turn out to be fun, ditch the ones that turn out to be lame, and THEN worry about how best to organize them”
I second that; it might end up taking more time to make the game, but you’ll end up with a much better game that way.
You may also find that some powers are so essential that they aren’t really in any simply want them to be “basic tools”, not part of any school.
“I second that; it might end up taking more time to make the game, but you’ll end up with a much better game that way.”
Oh, god! God, no! I want it over! I want it done! I want to move on to 3D RPG That Really Needs A Name!
Ah, well. Curse my desire to publish something that’s actually _good_.
“I rejected the “classic four” of earth, fire, air and water”
I’m not so sure you did: (Earth Effects) (Fire Effects) and Sky/Air are pretty close…
Hmmm…”Flash Fire” as a straight land ruiner in a radius might be a good starting Fire effect.
And yes, I think I’m going to give everyone Bless and Flatten for free when they start. I like the fact that they are in non-aligned schools too, so it doesn’t feel like I’m giving players half an Ultimate to begin with.
And I think I’m going to keep the Blues the way they are, because while the powers may look similar, they do different things – Lightning kills a single unit that needs killin’ RIGHT NOW and Lightning Storm does area denial.
Totally different powers, just with a similar name. Not a lot to do with things that are “lightning.” I mean, if this were the 20th century, you could call them Tesla something or others. Might as well call the area denial one “Tempest” or something, if it’s just a name issue.
I agree with Ryan up there, though that you should try out a bunch of powers and then flavor them with the proper category and corresponding effect (fire, lighting, earthiness).
You might think about the categories as being a kind of “paper-rocks-scissors” game like Magic the Gathering, where blue opposes red or whatever.