In an effort to be constructive rather than just critical, I’m dreaming up some alternatives to the standard “list of spells (gained by level up or purchase) that you can cast with MP” magic system that forms the standard for RPGs. If you want to read the prior system, check out part 1 (I’ll maybe post a link here someday). Okay, time for another magic system.
System 2: Style or Rating Powered Magic
One of the more fun features of action and fighting games is receiving ratings for your performance. Well, it’s fun in theory, but due to being based on senseless criteria that tends to be opaque, it’s a fun feature to talk about, but not to experience. That being said, you could make an RPG where the magic is powered by your style (or ratings) rather than simple magic points.
First, you would need a clean and transparent rating system. Something that generates points would likely be best, and (unfortunately for those that like things slow paced) an action oriented system would work extremely well. You could have every character attack animate as multiple strikes, and reward points for pressing buttons in time with the strikes (better timing means more points). You could allow the player to strike or target actively after choosing a basic attack, rewarding points for the area hit. Or, you could go a route similar to SMT4 – have several types of basic attack (slash, blunt, stab) and reward points if the player chooses the correct type for the enemy (rather than rewarding additional actions).
So, what do these points do? Let you pick magic from a list, of course. Rather than simply spend MP to cast spells, you have to generate energy on the fly (all while performing useful battle actions). It would transform each fight into a race to unlock the most useful spell, rather than make spells something to be hoarded until they are needed (resulting in them often never being used at all).