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In TTS I wanted to develop a really complex magic system. Because magic is so powerful I wanted to make it deep, difficult, dependent.
As one of my test prototype systems I am creating a classification based system. This system underlies both magic and objects in the world. It starts with several declared primal elements, several declared ancillary elements, and some declared tertiary elements. There are perhaps 100 "elements" in the system.
The system remains based in the initial system described in some previous threads. But its one specific implementation I am working with. I have a few other options as well.
Elements basically have base properties. Each magical effect possible in the world is a result of combining these properties, and they interact with the properties present in objects in the game world. This is somewhat similar to the object property system in Ultima Online.
For instance object wood may possess properties:
water, earth, life, light, temporal, death, wood, pollen
That means that it can be affected by anything which would affect any of those properties. For instance a rot spell could cause it to die and decompose.
Rot is a tertiary property with components:
temporal, death, life, decay
It affects living things, it causes time to pass, it results in their death and decay.
Similarly you could have iron with properties:
earth, water, pressure, fire, metal, temporal
And it could be affected by rust with which has properties:
metal, water, air, temporal, decay
It affects metals, it is based in water and air, it causes time to pass, it creates decay.
However rot and rust are just names for an effect. You don't necessarily start with a rot spell. You have to figure out how to make one. Similarly you can combine any group of properties to create an effect.
Ancillary properties are really just a combination of primal properties, but the way the overall magic system is structured, you can find the necessary words of power for an ancillary spell.
You could even theortetically find the words and even an explanation of the spell to animate a golem or something.
There are also more abstract properties like numbers. So you could animate one golem or two or three depending on which word you had. You could also just cast a single effect spell over and over but that is not efficient.
Now you could go through life just making simple elemental damage spells or something, but you might find some more interesting things if you try to master the system. Of course unless you are in a guild or something you may not have access to all the required words of power for say, animating a golem or levitating a city. And also even if you knew how to levitate you couldn't necessarily levitate a huge item without some other things.