Balancing Martial and Magic

Hello everyone, and welcome to TotA Dev Blog #2! Last week I mentioned that everyone in the setting of Tales of the Arcanimus has access to magic. One of our earliest goals was a classless system where you could mix and match your options in whichever way you wanted.

This has proved not to be an easy task. In most games, we see one of two common outcomes: the first is overpowered magic. We see this a lot in the tabletop genre. They may start off comparable, but by the time fighters are capable of leveling fortifications, wizards hopping between dimensions and manipulating physics. On the other end of the spectrum, you have magic nerfed to the point where it is plain ineffective.

Of course, neither of these approaches fits our goal here. In order to make a free system work, both martial and magical options have to be equally viable. At the same time, they have to play differently enough that they're not merely reskinned versions of one another. They have to be asymmetrically balanced.

In Tales of the Arcanimus, everyone has magic; it is heavily ingrained into daily life. The use of it ingame reflects this, in the way that it is tied into the skill system. Almost every action in TotA, including attacks, is some form of skill check. Each player has a number of atomized representation of mana points (like hearts are to hit points.) To use magic, simply spend one of these points when you make a skill check related to the kind of spell you wish to cast. Want to turn invisible? Roll Stealth. Want to jump 30 feet into the air? Roll Athletics. Want to punch through a magic barrier? Roll Melee. There are skills for the "traditional" magic users, but any character may spend their magic regardless of their skillsets and playstyles.

Those who rely on Melee or Marksmanship focus on using weapons to deal damage to foes, occasionally augmenting their basic attacks with magic for various effects. Sorcery users, on the other hand, spend their magic more frequently to cast effective and versatile spells, without the need for equipped weapons. Sorcery weapons like wands do exist for when they run low on actual spells, but they are less versatile than their martial counterparts.

It's certainly been an interesting dynamic to design, and I hope that all of you find it as intriguing as I do. As always, you can find our Facebook page here. Join me next week as I talk about the history of the setting, and how this magic impacts it!