I decided to do some studies of the creatures as they appear in-game (with a little bit of my own interpretation thrown in) as I realise I haven’t actually sat and drawn them properly since I was about 6 years old.
Creatures are one of the most intrinsic and important elements of Magic and Mayhem. They are what give the game a lot of its most memorable and unique qualities 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. A lot of what gave the creature’s their charm was the method in which they were designed and then made by one of the artist’s on the team, Alan Friswell, a sculptor who has also worked with Ray Harryhausen. Each creature and character sprite in the game was in fact made from 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Law | Alectorius
A beautiful though ferocious bird that bursts into flame once it is killed. Immune to fire.
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.
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.
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.
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. Equipped with a spiked mace, they enjoy taunting and teasing other creatures in battle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Neutral | Diamond
The largest creature in the game, and magnificent in appearance. They are true neutrals, uninvolved with the squabbling of Law and Chaos.
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.
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.
Chaos | Clover
A basic undead fighter, easy to summon and equipped with a sword and a shield. Weak and brittle alone, but deadly in a group.
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. Upon death, the corpse will explode, causing damage to nearby creatures.
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.
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.
Chaos | Sardonyx
Among the most powerful of undead creatures, the Vampire has the ability to transform into a large bat at will, giving it a tactical advantage. By draining the blood of its victims, it is amble to replenish a small amount of its own life.
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.
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 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
Neutral: Spying Eye
Law: Scythian Bow
Neutral: Chain Lightning
Chaos: Gooey Blob
Neutral: Magic Mist
Law: Fountain of Life
Chaos: Lucifer's Farewell
Neutral: Meteor Shower
Chaos: Tangling Vine
Chaos: Totem of Fear
Law: Iron Skin
Neutral: Magic Missile
Chaos: Gorgon Stare
Law: Champion of Law
Chaos: Champion of Chaos
From left to right: Hemlock, Clover, Phosphorous, Belladonna and Holly
Ingredients added in The Art of Magic
Chaos: Dragon’s Breath
Law: Totem of Pacifism
Law: Iron Skin
Chaos: Gorgon Stare
Law: Scythian Bow
Neutral: Giant Spider
Chaos: Gooey Blob
Law: Magic Eye
Neutral: Totem of Remote Casting
Chaos: Fire Elemental
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.
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.