Guide to Making a Mage
First Revision, written by Hroefn

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Making a competitive-level magic-wielding character is potentially one of the most complicated things that can be done, in Alternate DBZ. If you're considering one as your first character, close this guide, and go apply for a human ki wielder -- that's my first bit of advice. They're far more straightforward, and will let you learn the system with much more support and understanding than starting with a mage will.

Now that we're left only with people whom already grasp the basic rules and systems of Alt DBZ, and how to create techniques, let's start. First, you must come up with a theme for your mage, in my opinion. While the rules of Alt DBZ permit for nonthemed mages, it is far easier to create a mage with a theme of powers of some sort. My own mages have themes such as Order, Chaos, or the Divine (Alothin, Jocelyn, and the Padre, respectively) and this helps me to keep them properly focused, and to write new techniques for them effectively. If you're lacking ideas, I recommend going with a four-elements mage -- fire, earth, water, and air. Most people who have been gaming for a while understand these concepts, and they'll also serve as starting points for techniques for you to write.

Once you have all that down, the exact way that your character will start depends on whether or not they're a pure mage. If they have a significant level of ki, for instance, that should be taken into account with their starting techniques, as some things will be more important than others, for starting spells. For example, a significant ki level provides for an equally significant constant durability -- making defensive spells less of an immediate concern, and allowing your mage to focus on other things. For the purposes of this guide, however, I am going to focus on a pure mage, and ignore those details, as this is for the first-time mage maker.

Before we delve more deeply into the initial techniques of your mage, let me clear up one thing. Your starting mage is going to get whomped. Repeatedly, and thoroughly. A starting mage does not typically have the spell capacity or capabilities to really keep up with other power wielders. Do not expect to be starting with a paragon of power. However, with time, effort, and some appropriate technique work, your mage can become powerful.

Now, as to starting techniques. I usually recommend starting with four techniques. No more, and no less. It's important, with a starting mage, to maintain a certain range of Power Level. If this dips too low, it becomes difficult to find people to interact with on a combative level, so that your mage can proceed upwards in power level, and you'll find that you have to invest your passive training points in power level development, anyway, to get back up to a decent level. This will make you fall behind, comparatively, to if you'd started with slightly weaker or less numerous techniques, kept sufficient power, and invested your passive training in new techniques. As to starting with less, it is possible to be combat-worthy with only three techniques, but a fourth is usually the valuable edge that a new character needs, for uniqueness sake, if nothing else. I usually recommend starting with a power level of approximately 1,000. Less than this, and even the best techniques become ineffective, more, and you've probably not got the techniques to use it effectively. Also, at that level of power, you'll get sufficient gain per fight that you'll advance sufficiently quickly to have fun with most of the room, if combat's your thing.

I recommend that a mage's first technique be a defensive spell. If you lack this, then your mage is no stronger than a mortal, and will die by a pinky finger flick from a ki wielder. Most defensive spells are modeled off the CTech 'Barrier', number 32. It is a sufficient base spell, with the standard durability of 200%. However, it has two weaknesses, in my eyes. It is less effective than a ki wielder's durability, which is also 200%, but takes no stamina or time to use. Also, it is a projected sphere -- it does not actually toughen the mage's body, or defend throughout the volume of the sphere. This means that attacks that can phase can possibly bypass the sphere, and directly strike your mage's unprotected body.

For resolving that, there are a few options. One is to combine techniques. This can be rather expensive for a starting character, however, and may be best left to later on. One example is to combine a durability effect with, say, flight or bodily movement speed enhancement. This partially resolves the issue of it taking an action to invoke, as it then makes up for multiple deficiencies at the same time. Another is to produce a technique for stamina reduction, typically across multiple spells. This is a critical technique for mages, as their spells tend to be highly draining to stamina. They must cast certain spells just to be survivable in combat, and they have no larger stamina pool than any other fighter, by default. However, it is also a rather expensive technique and again, may be best left for later than start.

As a second technique, most mages like to be able to hit things harder than a mortal's fist does, so I recommend a ranged attack spell. A mage's basic attack spell deals 60% damage, moves at 50% speed, and drains 60% stamina. It also charges at 20% per round of charging, draining an extra 20% stamina per charge, and caps out at 140%. Essentially, it's doubled from a ki fighter's gimme blast, with the exception of speed. (Lest someone become confused, these are the baseline stats for attack spells -- there is no gimme magic blast. You must still get it as a tech. But you knew that, right?) CTech examples of these are numbers 34 through 36: Icebolt, Firebolt, and Litbolt. Each of these attacks also adds a special elemental boost, whether it be a slowing effect, extra damage, or a stun effect.

That said, a little bit of an extra kick on your attack spell can really throw people for a loop. It's not cheap, but a boost to the speed of the attack, to say, 100%, can make a vast difference in combat efficiency. Also, a mage doesn't have to have a whole lot of attack spells. A single, highly efficient attack spell is far better than six mediocre attack spells. You can only use one per round, after all, normally. As a starting mage, in the interests of maintaining a sufficient power level, you may want to only boost the attack speed to, say, 75%, and write in an upgrade that you can later complete, for another 25%. This also gives you the advantage of having something on-hand immediately to invest tech days into, without having to wait for further approval by staff.

The third and fourth techniques are where the real fun comes in. You've already got the basics to make your mage combat-worthy -- defense and offense. Here is where you get to spice things up a little. A technique I commonly suggest, and highly approve of, is some sort of flight capability. Mobility can't be overrated, even if it's not fast enough to let you dodge a lot of stuff. The ability to get around (and get out, if necessary) is critical to a combat-effective character of any sort. As always, your mage lacks the natural ability of ki wielders and psions to fly, and must expend stamina to just get this started, of course. I usually balance this out by making the mage fly faster than the base 50%. This is another good place to write in upgrades that you can later do, to improve the speed of your character's movement, which can be highly effective in combat. Just don't count on always being faster than your opponent. You never know what upgrades they might have just completed -- or worse; they might possibly have a way to slow you down. Speed isn't everything, although it certainly is something. An alternate ability for the third, or possibly the fourth, technique slot is a supernatural sense. Mages only have a basic sense of magic, as a gimme, and giving your mage the ability to perceive ki, psi, and magic at a competitive level can give a significant edge over just plain visual eyesight, in some cases. That said, most of those cases belong to more advanced characters, so this can easily wait.

If you've gone with a durability spell, an attack spell, and flight, so far, then you've got a pretty good basic set by now. You could quite possibly enter play with just those, and do reasonably well. However, that's pretty cookie cutter, and unless you've invested a lot of time into considering just how the techniques manifest, it's going to look pretty plain. That's one reason why I suggest a fourth technique. The fourth technique is something that should be your character's surprising twist. That said, it can also be your character's most expensive technique, if it's not carefully written. One thing to keep in mind, is to keep it linked to your power level, unless you want it costing triple. Of course, sometimes that triple-cost is worth it, for certain effects. I can't offer any common techs for a fourth spell -- there's none available on the website, yet. Some ideas often revolve around teleportation, physical and signature cloaking, and strange effects on others attacks, like reflection or absorption. This is the place to really shine, on your mage's techniques, and it can make or break your starting mage.

That said, unlike an online game, if you invest a lot of resources into a bad technique, that's okay. Some of my mages have techniques that I have never used -- sometimes, the most expensive techniques that I have. That said, if I ever have to use them, I'll be glad I have them. However, if it's just plain bad, and a waste of time, that's okay. The crucial thing is to look at the technique, find out what's wrong with it, and learn from that. No one becomes a genius at making characters instantly. It takes time, and trial-and-error, to really write superb techniques.

(Disclaimer: The above essay is the work of Hroefn, and not to be construed as the opinions, policies, or thoughts of Empirical Industries or its subsidiaries, Alternate DBZ or its staff, or anyone else. Not even Hroefn, really, given how that nut's mind works. Wacko.)

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Modified: 30 Dec 2004
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