Saturday, 10 January 2015

Semantic Spell Casting in Video Games.

Shorty C over at Noobist Magazine brought this cool video game idea to my attention

Runes: The Forgotten Path is a kickstarter project with a unique semantic spellcasting mode.

Clockwise from 12 - FIRE, AIR, WATER, EARTH
+ 10 ARCHETYPE RUNES from the video  
Essentially the game is designed to use either wiimote style nunchucks, or the analogue sticks of your joypad to "air write" semantic gestures in order to cast spells.  Each Rune begins with an orthogonal movement of each joystick from the center resting position and continues with a circular gesture.  These shapes drawn with left and right hand are combined to create a rune. 

There are 4 basic element runes, 6 combination runes and 10 archetypal runes offering at least a  hundred potential combinations and apparently options to create your own.

Semantic spell components have been around for a long time in tabletop games, I checked... they're in my AD&D PHB published back in 1980.  And it's one of the things I've recommended that my players do for ages (along with creating a physical spell book prop) to add depth and drama to their spell casting characters and increase their level of immersion.

In addition to the added dramatic element, as a DM I can use the characters physical situation to challenge them.

For example a mage is crossing a rope bridge, when it snaps.  Do they resist the urge to grab the bridge and cast a feather fall spell in mid air as they plummet to their death, or do they grap the remains of the rope bridge and wait for the rest of the party to save them?

Similarly what happens if a mage gets injured (or is restrained) and they can't cast because they don't have full use of their hands/arms.  How does the party cope?

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