Creatures

Creatures are what gives Magic and Mayhem's one of its most intrinsic elements. They are what give the game a lot of its charm and appeal, and they are also carefully designed in order to counteract one another and balance the game play. When enough mana has charged, a wizard can summon a creature from their chosen talisman, there the creature is under the wizard's control and can be moved anywhere around the map. Each creature has its own unique qualities, along with its advantages and disadvantages.

Information about the creatures is learned through the Grimoire, an aged book pertaining all the knowledge you have learned so far in the game's world. In the entries you are able to discover a little more into their stories, their quirks and learn about their lives in the Arcane Realms, and you notice that not all creatures are natural fighters or even particularly friendly with wizards.

The creatures within the game mostly have an appearance of classic, familiar mythical creatures with some added flair, as well as introducing some of its own unique ones. Another thing that made the creatures so appealing in this game was method in which the sprites and designs were made. Each creature and character sprite in the game was in fact a clay model figurine. They were placed against a blank screen and each of their movements photographed in stop motion style. The miniature models were then placed into the games as sprites, which resulted in a very 3-dimensional look that was lifelike and appealing, although rather clunky and awkward to control at times.

All creatures of a particular type had the same design in Magic and Mayhem, which was perfectly fine considering the methods taken to make them and the technological limitations of the time. I am toying with the idea of having slight differences and unique features in mine though. As seen in the drawing I've done on the left, fauns for example could have different types of horns. Multiple models for a creature could be made with slight variations in colour and design.



 

 

 I do not know exactly who or what these guys are supposed to be but they're welcome my sketchbook. Fauns maybe?

I do not know exactly who or what these guys are supposed to be but they're welcome my sketchbook. Fauns maybe?

As seen in the Grimoire below,creatures each have their individual stats, the most important and relevant to the player being Mana Cost, Health, Combat and Speed. The effect of the others is not explicitly explained or particularly noticeable in the game, nor were they implemented into the main campaign much in puzzles, and I think there is a lot of potential there. Resist Magic - and it is also hinted that Intelligence - are what determines a creature's ability to resist the effects of certain spells such as Judgement and Subversion. In the case of a creature's Weight, the heavier it is the more damage it will be dealt if is to fall from a great height, such as from the effects of the Tornado or Levitation spell, there are also a few small challenges in the main game related to Weight through buttons and bridges.

 The Grimoire showing the Faun. The artwork used is taken from the clay figurines used as the animated sprites in-game.

The Grimoire showing the Faun. The artwork used is taken from the clay figurines used as the animated sprites in-game.

Creatures in Magic and Mayhem

It is not easy to come across a wide variety of different types of images from Magic and Mayhem online other than some screencaps of the gameplay. There is especially not  particularly anything in-depth about creatures or their appearances. Because of that, rather than taking screenshots or collecting images I decided to draw some of them myself and practice my sketching and conceptual work at the same time.

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Brownie
Law | Mandrake

One of the first creature's you'll encounter in-game, the Brownie is a shy though friendly creature. They are rarely seen, and co-exist peacefully alongside humans, serving as anonymous housekeepers and farmers.  They are keen at finding objects though weak in battle, and prefer to retreat to a safe distance and lob stones.

Elf
Law | Holly

Intelligent, shrewd and mistrusting of humans, Elves do not like anyone trespassing in their forests. They are hunters, outfitted in green woodland attire and equipped with a bow. The elves are keen archers, preferring to hold back and attack from a distance. If forced into hand-to-hand combat, they will use a small hunting dagger.

Unicorn
Law | Clover

Beautiful and pure, Unicorns are one of the strongest forces of Law. They are able to swiftly and easily take down armies of the undead.

Phoenix
Law | Alectorius

A beautiful though ferocious bird that bursts into flame once it is killed. Immune to fire.


Centaur

Law | Galactides
One of the most civilised creatures in the game, centaurs can be found in and around populated cities. Half man and half horse, they have a steady but tense relationship with wizards.

Griffin
Law | Bloodstone

A large and majestic beast with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion.  It can cause a great deal of damage with its enormous talons.



Champion of Law
Law | Diamond
Tall, slender and alien-like, the Champion of Law stands out as one of the most uniquely different creatures in the game. It can freeze enemies in place, and then shatter them with a mighty blow.
 

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Giant Bat
Neutral | Mandrake

Large for a bat, but the smallest of creatures and despite its large fangs and claws, still rather cute. It is the fastest of all the creatures, able to scout out the map effectively with ease. A single bat on its own is very weak, but a swarm is formidable.

Faun
Neutral | Holly

A Faun truly is the definition of neutral in that as long there is plenty of drinking and fighting, they don't seem to care what it is for.

Basilisk
Neutral | Clover

With the body of a cockerel and the tail of a snake, the Basilisk is a bizarre beast with with a very mismatched appearance.Although small and weak, it has a poisonous bite.

Crocodile
Neutral | Alectorius

Curiously, the only non-mythical creature in the game, the crocodile is a ferociously tough and deadly fighter.
Can survive and move easily in deep bodies of water.

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Spying Eye
Law | Galactides

The Spying Eye is a bizarre sight, it is one of the smallest creatures and is essentially comprised of a large floating eyeball on a stalk. It cannot attack or move from where it was cast, but it has a wide range of vision and can see invisible creatures.







Troll
Neutral | Bloodstone

Tremendously ugly, stupid and wielding a large spiked club, Trolls live in their simple settlements inside caverns and under mountains. They are able to replenish their health by eating rotting carcasses.


Dragon
Neutral | Diamond
The largest creature in the game, and magnificent in appearance. They are true neutrals, uninvolved with the squabbling of Law and Chaos.

 

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Redcap
Chaos | Mandrake

Gnarled little creatures with sharp claws and gargoyle-like features, Redcaps are filled with wickedness and spite. Like the Brownie, they also (and more aggressively) lob stones at their enemies from a distance. They are able to replenish their health by dipping their red cap in the blood of their enemies.

Zombie
Chaos | Holly

I always found it rather odd that it seemed perfectly acceptable that wizards would just wander around with a zombie companion, but there is a sense that everybody in these games, even student wizards, have had to come to terms with necromancy. Being undead, zombies are effective fighters and have an advantage above the living.

Skeleton
Chaos | Clover

A basic undead fighter, equipped with a sword and a shield. Weak and brittle alone, but deadly in a group.

Hellhound
Chaos | Alectorius

A large, shadowy black dog with an intimidating presence. It possesses a hypnotic stare, able to freeze enemies in place for a few moments with its gaze.

Wraith
Chaos | Alectorius

An eerie, faceless spirit, floating silently through the air. No legs or arms appear from beneath its ragged cloak. It is invisible and can only be seen when it is right up beside you, allowing it to easily sneak from behind and attack with its scythe.


Manticore
Chaos | Bloodstone
Shockingly bright red, covered in spines and a mouthful of sharp teeth, the Manticore is a terrifying sight. If its lion-like front end weren't bad enough, it also has a scorpion tail back end which can fire quills.


Champion of Chaos
Chaos | Diamond
The incarnation of all that is hellish. The Champion of Chaos can best be described as a bug-like creature, it looms forward with pincers like a mantis and legs like a fly. It is able to spit its plague and infect enemies around it.

The Portmanteau

As I begin making my journal I start by what a game would require in order to be a spiritual successor. Which elements are to be kept, which ones are required in order to make sure the game has the same "feel" as before are all very important, and complicated to get right. A good place to start is the basic mechanics and workings of the game and build from there.

Because Magic and Mayhem was not that popular a game, I would not be able to rely heavily on the appeal of nostalgia to the wider audience. However that does not mean there cannot be many references to the older game as well as the sheer nostalgia that would come from influence from this era of PC gaming. Some of the most memorable aspects of the game were the creatures and the portmanteau system. Throughout the game, you would acquire magical ingredients for Cornelius, the protagonist wizard, to place in his portmanteau, a box that contained talismans, each correlating to the three alignments. By placing a magical ingredient into one of the talismans of each alignment -Law, Neutrality and Chaos - you were able to create different creatures and spell combinations. As the game progressed, each next ingredient would make for more powerful spells.

The magical ingredients and their individual appearances have always been one of my favorite features of the game . there is something very charming and mysterious about the design of these objects - crystals, potions, phials and plants - all of which you would expect to find at the bottom of a sorcerer's bag and each hinting at what they may have in common with the effects they create. For example, you begin the game with a simple Mandrake, a rather muddy, ugly root that summons commoner garden fairy folk such as the Brownie and Bats. Later in the game, you acquire more refined and valuable objects, such as the Bloodstone, which summons the likes of the impressive Griffin.

 

 

  The Portmanteau

The Portmanteau

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The ingredients within Magic and Mayhem were each very unique, but I feel that this could be pushed further. The Art of Magic introduced new types of objects such as mushrooms with Fly Agaric and Psilocybin. Alongside new gemstones and potions, I am intrigued by the idea of maybe using objects such as eggs, teeth, skulls, and even specimens such as butterflies. I am inspired by the idea of there maybe being a new, magical apothecary in this game or places in which you can buy potions and artifacts, maybe even enhancements for your spells?

Magical Ingredients in Magic and Mayhem
 

Mandrake
Law: Brownie
Neutral: Bat
Chaos: Redcap

Clover
Law: Unicorn
Neutral: Basilisk
Chaos: Skeleton

Galactides
Law: Centaur
Neutral: Spying Eye
Chaos: Wraith
 

Mistletoe
Law: Scythian Bow
Neutral: Chain Lightning
Chaos: Gooey Blob
 

Iron
Law: Bury
Neutral: Magic Mist
Chaos: Fear

Holly
Law: Elf
Neutral: Faun
Chaos: Zombie


Hemlock
Law: Fountain of Life
Neutral: Lightning
Chaos: Pestilence

Phosphorous
Law: Subversion
Neutral: Haste
Chaos: Lucifer's Farewell



Bloodstone
Law: Griffin
Neutral: Troll
Chaos: Manticore



Sardonyx
Law: Knight
Neutral: Unsummon
Chaos: Vampire

Brimstone
Law: Cure
Neutral: Fireball
Chaos: Raisedead

Laurel
Law: Excalibur
Neutral: Meteor Shower
Chaos: Tangling Vine


Valerian
Law: Lure
Neutral: Earthbind
Chaos: Bloodlust



Caldronius
Law: Loreli
Neutral: Guardian
Chaos: Totem of Fear



Silver
Law: Judgement
Neutral: Teleport
Chaos: Apocalypse
 

Tincal
Law: Iron Skin
Neutral: Magic Missile
Chaos: Gorgon Stare

Alectorius
Law: Phoenix
Neutral: Crocodile
Chaos: Hellhound


Belladonna
Law: Sloth
Neutral: Levitation
Chaos: Tornado



Salamander's Feather
Law: Orthinopiter
Neutral: Lightning
Chaos: Inferno



Diamond
Law: Champion of Law
Neutral: Dragon
Chaos: Champion of Chaos

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From left to right: Hemlock, Clover, Phosphorous, Belladonna and Holly

Ingredients added in The Art of Magic

Moonstone
Law: Excalibur
Neutral: Dryad
Chaos: Dragon’s Breath

Lapis Lazuli
Law: Totem of Pacifism
Neutral: Minotaur
Chaos: Fear

Mercury
Law: Elf
Neutral: Haste
Chaos: Lure

Iron Pyrite
Law: Iron Skin
Neutral: Goblin
Chaos: Pestilence

Fly Agaric
Law: Centaur
Neutral: Morph
Chaos: Harpy

Obsidian
Law: Knight
Neutral: Disenchant
Chaos: Gorgon Stare

Spindletree
Law: Scythian Bow
Neutral: Giant Spider
Chaos: Gooey Blob

Psilocybin
Law: Faerie
Neutral: Eagle
Chaos: Zombie

Tourmaline
Law: Magic Eye
Neutral: Invisibility
Chaos: Wraith

Sapphire
Law: Judgement
Neutral: Totem of Remote Casting
Chaos: Fire Elemental

Night Shade
Law: Bury
Neutral: Fireball
Chaos: Skeleton

In my notes, I have selected an array of spells I would consider keeping as some of them help to make Magic and Mayhem what it is, and give the right feel of the game. Others because of their effectiveness and the crucial role they play in any RPG, such as Cure and Haste. In Magic and Mayhem, there was a very even split between ingredients that produced spells and those that produced creatures. With the exception of Sardonyx, all ingredients produced either three spells or three creatures when placed in any talisman. They were often rigid in their themes, such as Cauldronius producing three totems and Belladonna producing three spells that focus on air. 

In The Art of Magic, that completely changed where spells and creatures were mixed in with one another in the same ingredient. It feels a unbalanced in some ways because there are some vastly different choices that are both unique and valuable in game, such as Mercury having both Haste and Elf. There is also the particular issue of never having the choice to share a certain spell technique with certain creatures, such as Spindletree sharing both Scythian Bow and Spider. However, a some one who has played the first game many more times than the second, this opens up some interesting and more difficult new choices, as you aren't necessarily guaranteed to get something with that theme when you pick the spell, I think a combination of the two would be very interesting.

The Journey Begins

Hello! I am Alice, or Goatshrine as you might know me, a 24 year old artist living in the UK specializing in illustration.

And I have an exciting announcement to make: I’m going to try and make a game. It sounds so crazy when you say it out loud, this has been a pipe dream that has been swirling around in my head for about the past decade or so and it always seemed too big, too ridiculous to become any sort of reality. The idea of making a revamp or a remake of sorts, a spiritual successor to my favorite game. But it started to seem like it could become possible in more recent years – retro games resurfacing due to a huge community of passionate fans, spiritual successor type games, such as War for the Overworld being made because people wanted more from their old, beloved games so badly.

My old beloved game at the center of all this, is Magic and Mayhem (aka Duel: The Mage Wars). An RPG game developed in 1998 by Mythos Games that, despite its many charming qualities and unique elements, never saw success or popularity. While it received positive reviews and enjoyed by those who played it, it was ultimately a game that was largely forgotten. It received a lackluster sequel in 2001, The Art of Magic in the hands of a different studio, Bethesda Software, that is slightly more well remembered.

While I know that creating games takes an enormous amount work and skills in areas I simply do not have, what I do have to offer is my ideas, my in-depth understanding of the original game and conceptual artwork, all of which I plan to share on this blog, in hopes that one day, if I am able to get this project off the ground, there will be this collection of work to show potential collaborators.

Expect to see artwork, excerpts from my journal and world building as I try to revive and reshape the story of this underappreciated game!

-Alice May B.

 

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