Fate of Io
ADML: Makin' a language
2002/11/13 21:20:45 PST by Dev [manager]
Edited by Fang Xianfu at 2003/06/09 08:42:49 PDT
[Dev's avatar]

I think it's about time we started working on the particulars of the Antarean Dynamic Magic Language. I have three out of four of the pyramid faces done (which I will upload here when I get a chance), with the fourth on its way. For those of you who'd like to go reread the original FoI Forum thread, it's (broken). For everyone else who just wants a recap of the intro, here it is as I had written it prior:


So, we've supposedly got the Antareans which know all this cool magic controlling language, right? And we have the Proteans which guard the magic empowering ore, right? So where do the two interact, and how so? Here's a proposal (a proposal, mind you) on how magic is implemented.

Casting a spell draws upon three different semantic clauses that the user will have to specify: source, action, and target. The Antarean language is built to facilitate this need with keywords that are often used to reference those needed three clauses. Some important notes on each three of those...


The source of magic can be found in specific ore. Before a user can cast magic, they must call upon a specific source of magic energy. The simplest way to do that is to have the source physically at your disposal. For example, the source clause might be "The ore in my hand," or "The ore sitting two wingslengths in front of me." (Why not? Antareans might measure things in wingslengths...)

It's often not very handy to be carrying around a whole bunch of ore, of course. However, a user can cast a concatenate spell over any amount of ore, and they must also provide a reference name at concatenation. The reference name alone then becomes a substitute for calling upon the source. Thus if you named a large pile of ore "bagel," your source clause could simply be "bagel." Only the user who concatenated the source is allowed to use it remotely in this fashion (however, a source can be re-concatenated to effectively add another person to the source's "user list"?this would be what Brooke has to do as her rite journey thing).


Now that we've summoned the energy, what are we going to do with it? This clause might be "cause tornado," or "launch ball of fire," or whatever. Note that each clause has an inherent element implied. Tornado is essentially a "violent column of air." I already mentioned a "ball of fire." You could also have a "pool of water," or a "wall of earth." What about, say, a "storm of ice?" I think ice would actually fall between water and earth. Think about our elements and the four corresponding states of matter: earth-solid, water-liquid, air-gas, fire-plasma. The action clause basically creates any combination of those concepts and does something with it.


Where is my magic going? This functions similarly to the source clause. You basically need to identify your target, such as "the ogre I'm touching," or "ten wingslengths directly in front of me." I suppose there also would be some little-known way of targeting a person or thing from a remote location.

Levels of Spells/The Ore

Some of what I've gone over (especially the action clause) is specific to elemental spells. While these are the simplest to cast, they aren't the only ones. There are other categories as well, and the higher the level, the more ore you need to draw from.

Ore isn't so much a resource like, say, gasoline fuel. Rather, it's a base of energy that has a certain capacity, kind of like RAM. Certain spells, even within the same level, need more ore to be effective. For instance, I'd say it's easiest to cast spells that manipulate elements of fluid consistency (water and air), while it's more difficult to control more extreme elements (earth and fire).

Above the simple elemental spells would be more advanced spells that affect all the elements at once, and then some. This would include things such as healing, psi abilities, and the Proteans' morph ability.

Above the advanced spells is a class of omnipotent magic. You need a heckuvalotta ore to cast these (thus Kydran's desire to mine it). The rez spell, and a de-exist spell (if we use it) would fall under this category.

To use the Protean morph spell as an example:

The source clause would be the reference name each Protean used when they went to the Labyrinth Grove to initiate their magic powers at age 16 (which has become a cultural ritual). The action clause contains something to the effect of "bestow physical characteristics of [some living thing]" where the Protean user must study [some living thing] to be able to employ a meaningful reference name in the action clause. Finally, Proteans only know one target clause: "The living thing that I'm touching."

Thus, Brooke's spell in Part II might look like: "From the labyrinth grove ore, bestow physical characteristics of a skunk upon the living thing that I'm touching." You might find that a bit wordy, but Antarean language has specific words for each clause, so that the spell ends up being only 3-5 words. Also note that Brooke must first study what "a skunk" is before she can use it as a meaningful reference name in the action clause.

There are probably many more things that I could get into, but first, let me know what you think. Is there something that escaped you completely? Something that's a little fuzzy? Something you would change?

2002/11/13 21:52:05 PST by Aetrus [0/15]
Awards: 1 from Dev

hmm don't mind me, but we are still aproaching this from a scientific view. This leads to this leads to that. It sounds like your writing a script for a web page.

here's an example. (it's a brief summary of a story I've been kicking around as well.)

In my world (I'm going with Alaera since I thought it up!) There are 4 archangel types (yet to be determined) who govern the elements. If a person wants to manipulate the elements that person has to request it from the specific archangel(s). So you're not going to specify target => source(s)=> magnitude=> RESULT. Nope. It's eloquent, and almost poetic since you are requesting permission from a living entity to use it's particular element. The enemies in my world find ways around this, and it tears at the fabric between the physical plane and the upper plane. In my world there is a war being fought on both planes simultaneously. Aetrus leads the army of the physical plane while getting some help from warriors from the other plane. At the end of the final battle Aetrus wins, but the connection to the upper plane has been severed, leaving the physical plane without the use most magics other than basic stuff. In his last gasp the evil guy unleashes an apocolypse force that completes the cut between planes and rearranges the planet. Making a Gaia world more like our own. A large step downward. This is all Aetrus' fault since his arogance prevented him from dealing the deathblow when he had the chance. He knows this and the cost and goes into exile to be heard from 2500 years later when a remnant of the enemy returns.

The point? A true fantasy will not have scientific elements to its magic system. It will have deeper connection where the words, not the result of the words are what do the actual work. In my case calling on the archangels for their power.

This is my point of view. Keep in mind that I grew up reading Tolkien and the like so I'm definately from the old school on this one. We have a pretty well developed magic system with the ADML so I'll not complain too much. It does fit with the cultural psyche of the Antareans. I mean they seem to be the type who would develop as system like that. Cold and efficient. I think it fits well for this world we are creating. Just not a true fantasy as I envision it. Hey I called FF7 a sci0fi peice and not fanstasy. Sci-fi is very different from fantasy for me. I take at it from a different perspective. Sci-fi could happen some day while fantasy has already happened, if only in the minds of the writer, and the reader.

My thoughts. Don't let this take away from the topic. Save discussion of fantasy perspectives for the general forum for example. Here is where we discuss the magic system of Fate of Io.

2002/11/14 04:09:02 PST by Alex [0/0]
Edited by Fang Xianfu at 2003/06/08 12:27:06 PDT

All the images from the Snitz forum 404 out. I only have three pyramids for some reason:

(Click on the thumbnail to get the full picture.)

EDIT: Pic links removed, broken

2002/11/14 20:40:08 PST by Black Squall [0/5]
Edited at 2002/11/14 20:42:32 PST

Everything looks good and seems to be all there so far.

One question though are there going to be magic levels? From what I gathered it sounds like there aren't and the magic users, provided they have enough ore, or chant the right words, can just go ahead and cast whatever they want.

When the old forums closed we had a thread to develope some kind of a system for leveling and I may have missed a final word in that so I was just making sure.

I think we should at least have some skill system level, for the magic so players don't run around casting the most pwoerful magic in the game whenever they feel like it. I think that would really reduce the gameplay giving access to the strongest magic early on in the game.

2002/11/14 22:22:03 PST by Temporal [manager]
[Temporal's avatar]

You can't cast the strongest magic early on because the characters do not know the words. As a matter of fact, the main characters do not actually ever learn the language itself. They just memorize individual spells... and possibly figure out little tricks to produce different spells, but only if it's part of the story. The player can't just type the stuff in, though... the characters have to learn spells legitemately.

2002/11/14 23:16:29 PST by mystik3eb [0/43]
[mystik3eb's avatar]

Hmm...another idea: I remember thinking that ore could only be used (by most, at least) through TW-Machines...and maybe Rheya can eventually learn how to better develop the machines (or find parts to update them throughout the game) to be more compatable with larger quantities of ore along-side the characters learning bits and pieces of the language...know what I'm saying? I mean some of the characters (Dell...or at least I thought) won't need the TW equipment but...I'm not too sure.

2002/11/15 10:14:36 PST by Aetrus [0/15]

hmm yeah perhaps she could be the primary healer type. I mean we have REZ devices why not ones that simply heal? It's the same type of magic isn't it? So then Rheya could build better TW machines as the game progresses and one of those would be a modified REZ device or something like that to be used for healing. It gets stronger naturally when there is more ore around, but maybe Rheya could learn to amplify the effects as the game goes along. (build a better mousetrap) That would save us from having to find which elements healing would come from.

2002/11/15 15:42:14 PST by Siemova [0/24]
Awards: 2 from Dev
[Siemova's avatar]

Hahaha, I don't do this very often, but... it's time to play the devil's advocate. :-p

Technically, fire is not an element, and I'm not sure why so many games/books/etc. use it as such. Heat (fire) is basically a molecular excitement, if you will, of the elements. Thus, I was just thinking... perhaps "fire" spells should actually be included on the earth and air faces, along the edge between them. This is doubly appropriate because fire depends on both earth and air for its existence anyway. And, of course, there wouldn't be any fire spells on the water face. Or, then again, technically ice is made by sucking heat out of water, so it could be considered a "fire" spell of sorts.

This is sounding disjointed, lol, so I'm gonna try to approach it from another angle:

earth = solid
water = liquid
air = gas

Notice, these "elements" are actually the three forms of matter. Fire has no equivalent form of matter; it's simply a manipulation of the temperature of the other three. Therefore:

fire = heat

Thus, it makes more sense to me that "fire" spells should simply be manipulations of the three elemental states, not having their own face of the pyramid, but instead being incorporated into the others. For instance:

air + heat = lightning
earth + heat = magma
water - heat = ice

And so on, with more specific variations:

air + earth + heat = fire
air + water - heat = hail

Down (or up, actually) to the final culmination:

air + water + earth + heat = life

And maybe, by extension:

air + water + earth - heat = death

I know this would require redesigning the pyramid, but it makes more sense, actually simplifies things, and might ultimately be worth it. It'd certainly set us apart from other games as well.

So, whaddaya think? :)

2002/11/15 15:48:53 PST by Siemova [0/24]
[Siemova's avatar]

P.s. -

Do we really need 80-some-odd spells anyway? ;)

2002/11/15 16:09:20 PST by mystik3eb [0/43]
Edited at 2002/11/15 17:07:55 PST
[mystik3eb's avatar]

Uhm...that's very good technical thinking Siemova but...I don't think that'd be a go for this game, since we're not following the scientific elements. We're following the typical fantasy elements which all happen to be physical (air is physical, trust me. Course, it's better to say "wind" than "air" in that case).

I think you get my point though: all these "elements" are physical, and are the basics for other magics that develop off them, just like in other fantasy's and RPGs. See what I mean? Is my opinion agreeable? Maybe? =)

Also, not to bang on Dev or anything, but this particular discussion should probably be in gameplay. I think the only time we'd wanna talk about ADML and magic stuff in story would be when we want to figure out when to implement the languages being discovered in the storyline and such. Right now it just seems we're talking about how the magic works and how it's learned and used...right?

EDIT: *sigh* True. My bad.

2002/11/15 16:24:33 PST by Temporal [manager]
Edited at 2002/11/15 16:28:09 PST
[Temporal's avatar]

Fantasy settings use fire as an element because, way back in the dark ages, it was thought to be an element. As I understand it, the element of fire wasn't heat per say, but rather the property of combustability. When you burned something, you were actually releasing the fire which was already held within it. Melting, which also involves heat, had nothing to do with fire... it had more to do with earth (hardness) and water (liquid)... perhaps they thought of it as converting the earth in metal into water... and boiling would be converting water into air... freezing is converting water back into earth... something like that.

So, heat, in fact, is a completely separate concept... I guess... Well, again, since it's all fantasy, we can interpret it however we want.

Anyway, the point is, it's not supposed to be realistic. If we were being realistic, there would be no magic. The four elements are traditional for fantasy settings, and I think they work very well.

EDIT: Mystik: I disagree. This topic belongs here in the story. We aren't discussing the actual gameplay mechanics of magic. We are discussing how magic works in this world. We are building the setting, which is part of the story. When we start talking about how the player uses magic in battle, it should be under gameplay.

2002/11/15 17:07:28 PST by Siemova [0/24]
[Siemova's avatar]

Magic, even in most fantasy settings, is not its own force, per se, but rather a manipulation of nature. To be honest, I don't really mind the "four elements", but this seems both more accurate and more original. Even if we don't adopt it, I'm interested to see what Dev thinks... :)

2002/11/15 22:32:04 PST by Aetrus [0/15]
Awards: 1 from Dev

As you can see by reading my ideas regarding the elements and their sources not all fantasy magic is derived from direct manipulation of nature. (the archangel types I mentioned actually are the elements, not simple living symbols of them. So they are the world in the physical sense. Let me put it this way: The upper plane in my fantasy world is the source of the physical plane. The physical plane is merely a reflection of the upper plane so in the upper plane there are the actual elements and the physical merely a shadow of those elements. So to manipulate those elements one must call on the upper plane and not a force that is inherent in the physical. See what I mean? These archangel types are literally the building blocks of the physical universe. What makes it reflect as it does, the mirror, is the Good, or the actual being of Good, not simply the symbol for it? Get what I mean here? It's all based on Greek philosophy and some of my own.)

There is no science in fantasy. That is what bothered me about FF7 and the technology based ones. It doesn't fit the pattern. Fantasy relies on the above type of ideas not a set of physical, observable laws. So Seimova's concept of fire not being an element is flawed because it relies on the scientific pattern.

We can make magic be whatever we want it to be. Tolkien didn't explain where magic came from (directly), yet his wizards, the some lines of the three races, and the Dark Lord and his minions use it. (The source: Ultimately the Valar who created the world under guidance. [their power came from the guide. A god figure whose name I can't remember.] Melkor was one of these, and he was the original enemy "of whom Sauron was but a servant". Melkor became corrupt and was called Morgoth. He created the Balrogs and the original Orcs, and such as bastardized elves and so on...)

So our idea of the four elements coming from direct manipulation of a magic language and ore is a valid one. ( so is my idea of living archangel types as the real elements) We don't need to be limited by science here. There is none. Even TW is technology based on magic. Like the Magitech of FF6. Not really science. More alchemy that chemistry.

2002/11/15 23:43:44 PST by Siemova [0/24]
Awards: 1 from Dev
[Siemova's avatar]

Yeah, I'm familiar with magical theory in fantasy. After all, that comprises about 95% of my reading material. :-p And sure, I agree, it doesn't have to be pure science, and probably shouldn't be. Magic is a supernatural thing. Yet it still has to interact with nature. So whatever system we use, my real point is that it ultimately has to be consistent with the nature of the world.

If fire is an actual element, then that has to be taken to the full extent of its logical repercussions. We cannot simply say that fire is an element, and then treat it just like fire in our world. For instance, if fire is an element, then things must burn differently than they do for us. And if water quenches fire, it can't do so for the same scientific reasons it does in our world. Nor can we say "it just does, because they're opposite". Opposite how? Why? How does that work? There are many questions and many interactions to develop if we're creating a new nature for this world. But if, on the other hand, we are dealing with a world that has a nature like ours, and then creating a magical system which can manipulate that nature, then the system of magic we develop must conform with nature. My idea is based on this scenario. However, if we'd rather create our own version of nature for this world, then we'd better make it all work and fit together perfectly, and we'll have to incorporate it into the story/plot. So keep that in mind.

By the way, his name was Illuvatar. :)

2002/11/16 09:05:00 PST by Aetrus [0/15]

Ah yes! Illuvatar! That's the one lol.

One thing struck me about whay you said, Seimova.


Magic is a supernatural thing. Yet it still has to interact with nature. So whatever system we use, my real point is that it ultimately has to be consistent with the nature of the world.

If magic is supernatural then can supercede natural laws. That is in the definition of super-natural. (literally above nature) So then it really doesn't have to mesh with nature. Think of any other supernatural event. The descriptions of them defy nature and logic.

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