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Sneak Peek: Loonyland: Titan Tunnels09:35 PM -- Mon April 16, 2007

I'm showing another set of spells! Thought that would be nice, since it is the only new thing there is to show these days. About 95% of what I'm doing is straight-up design at this point. So I said I'd talk Charms and Curses, but let's get this shot out of the way first. Here are some highlights:

You know the first four spells. Then Possession summons a ghost that immediately seeks out an enemy to possess. It stays in him (making him your ally) until it runs out of time, or the host gets killed. If that happens, it finds a new host to occupy. So it's like mind control for a fixed duration, of assorted different enemies. It can't possess bosses.

Curse Of Doom deals with the aforementioned Curses, surprisingly enough. It makes a big hex on the ground that removes all Charms from any enemies that are on it (keep reading to learn about Charms), and also curses them all with Weakness, making them do 50% damage for a while. That can be quite handy!

Deathberry Pie is a very new concept. I've thought since the beginning that it would be fun to have a spell that replaces your fire button with some sort of fireball shooting (so while it's active, you do that instead of throwing/swinging axes). So here it is! You throw evil Deathberry Pies as long as you have this spell on. It's the only spell in the game you can turn on and off at will, be casting it. It costs no magic, but you are charged a small amount of magic for each pie you throw. The last fun thing about the pies is that they increase in damage as you beat guys with them, resetting to normal damage if you take too long between kills. So they encourage a very intense playstyle, trying to keep beating on guys so you don't lose your power level. They are the only thing besides swing attacks that can get critical hits as well (the Critical skill has been updated to indicate this). I did that because I wanted to have more ways to boost the power of your pies, since it is just one isolated skill. But of course the usual Spell Synergy also applies to them, so points in any Death Magic skills help too.

Soul Swallow is an Army Of Darkness reference. Note the description - now that the spells are broken into whole sets, I don't need to use the last line to tell you what kind of magic it is! So I was able to mark off Grab Spells there. This is also a unique skill, the only one in the game that affects your max stats. Got that idea from Guild Wars. It lasts a long time (10 seconds per level), which is good, because otherwise it would be hard to benefit. It doesn't heal you or anything, just raises the limits, so you have to fill up to those limits by other means. As an added bonus, it has a Soula Cola type effect! Not mentioned due to lack of room (and since you'll notice it when it happens) is that the enemy whose soul you borrow becomes "Soulless" (a Curse, see below) permanently. What does that mean? Permanently stunned. Poor guy.

Resurrection is a really simple passive skill - it grants a random chance that each enemy you kill might come back as a Bonehead. It costs some magic when that happens, but it's a lot cheaper than summoning them directly. You need points in the Bonehead skill, or this does nothing at all.

Inner Power is also passive. It gives you the ability to cast spells when you don't have enough Magic. The only minor caveat is that it costs you Life instead. Raising the skill increases how much Magic you can squeeze out of each point of Life.

So there's the Death spells. Enjoy! Now about Curses and Charms. Each creature (player included) can have up to 3 Charms and 3 Curses on them at a time. If you get another one, it replaces the one with the least time remaining. Other than being in separate lists, there is no functional difference between a Curse and a Charm. They are both time-limited effects that do something to you for a while. Of course, as the names imply, all the Curses are bad things, and all the Charms are good.

Weakness as mentioned above is an example of a curse. It makes you do 50% damage for a while. I'm going to convert a lot of the existing spells into Curses or Charms too. For example, Ignite is now a Curse. The only way that affects the game is that when you see an enemy's life meter, you'll see which Curses and Charms he has via little icons (I'm also going to add the monster's level, I think it's nice to see that), and of course the feature that if you try to put a 4th curse on the same monster, one of them will go away. Plague is also a Curse, which is interesting, since it's cursing yourself! That can have a nice effect, if you are fighting a nasty group of cursing enemies. You can remove one of their curses by casting it. Of course, they could also take your Plague away by dumping curses on you. Other curses include Persuasion (and Possession - the same curse, in fact), the blindness caused by a Blinding Trap, and Lightning Rod.

Examples of Charms include Heat Shield, the Extra Soul charm that Soul Swallow grants, and the invincibility that Restoration gives. Speaking of Restoration, it now heals for less than it used to, but it cures you of all Curses. There are a fair number of different ways to heal now, so Restoration is meant to be focused more on cleansing.

Poison, freezing, and stun are not curses. If I had to name them, I'd call them "conditions" (another bit of theft from Guild Wars, there). They are functionally identical to curses, in that they have a negative effect on you for a time, but they don't go in the curse list, so it is possible to be poisoned, frozen, stunned, and cursed in 3 different ways, all at the same time.

As you can guess, all this stuff means that enemies and traps will be dishing out vile curses left and right. Well, maybe not, but they will be cursing you in various ways at various times. Some will be able to Charm their allies in various ways to annoy you. You'll also meet special Charmed enemies. They have 2 Charms on them from birth - one random one (like extra strength or armor or something), and another called Charmed. Both are permanent (unless you strip them via Curse Of Doom! "Charmed" is not removable, however, which you will be glad for). "Charmed" doesn't do anything except make the monster worth double XP. That's my equivalent to the "Champion" monsters in Diablo 2. Just a little twist to make things more exciting.

Disclaimer: I should point out that everything you read here is entirely probably not going to be in the game in the end. I want it to be, but unlike you, I've seen the inside of my design process before. Many many times. So I know that I dream big, and it doesn't all get in. So take it all with a grain of salt. I hope to have all this stuff, but don't count on anything. This painful knowledge is the price you pay for getting to see the game all through design and development.
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