The Spell-Maker is a powerful tool for magic-using Daggerfall characters. Use of the Spell-Maker is the first benefit gained when a character joins the Mages Guild or at the Temple of Kynareth for a member of at least rank 6. With the Spell-Maker, characters can create customized spells with a wide variety of effects. For purposes of some quests, custom spells cannot substitute for Circinate ("canned") spells.
Using the Spell-Maker, custom spells with up to three effects can be created. Depending upon the chosen effects of the spell, many parameters of these spells can be adjusted to a large degree. Besides the effects, the purchase cost and the casting cost are the most important considerations when creating custom spells.
Different icons, in various colors, can also be chosen for each spell. These are unimportant for spells which are instantaneous (such as attack spells, teleports, etc.), but it can be useful to color-code different types of spells with lasting durations, since these icons start to blink when a spell is about to expire. It can help to know at a glance that the spell that is about to expire is the levitation spell keeping the character from falling from a great height rather than a regeneration spell, for instance.
The purchase cost is how much gold the character must spend to buy the custom spell. This is simply a function of the spell's power. The more power a spell packs, the more it costs to buy. There is no negotiation process for this price; the game simply calculates the cost of a spell as it is created.
The casting cost in Spell-Points is calculated for each spell according to several separate elements:
- Skill level in the applicable school(s) of magic of the character, and
- The relevant attribute governing the skill in question, and
- The power of the spell.
Skill levels vary widely from character to character, and throughout a character's lifetime; so no hard-and-fast advice can cover every contingency. Some general advice follows nevertheless.
- Having two spells with identical effects, but with differing parameters, can be helpful: the short-duration levitation spell one uses to circumnavigate typical dungeon obstacles may need a longer-duration counterpart in the Mantella Crux, for example.
- Spells based entirely on the Destruction skill can easily be practiced for free, thereby resulting in a rapid rise in that skill. This can alter the casting cost of such a spell greatly in short amount of time.
The spell effects available in the spell-maker duplicate all of the effects of the circinate spells with a large degree of flexibility in several ways. Chance of effect, Duration and Magnitude of effect can all be manipulated, although not all effects can be manipulated in all three ways.
- When creating spells, variable costs can be manipulated in one specific way to increase spell power in a subtle, yet powerful, way. A variable of 1-1 has the same casting cost as a variable of 1-2. A variable of 3-3 has the same casting cost as 3-4. This pattern continues with each increase of pairs of integers, as long as the first integer is an odd number. At mid- to higher levels, these small increments can become significant.
- While any three effects can be combined in a given spell, it is easier to combine complementary effects in most cases. Having their durations set the same can also simplify matters. Examples include:
- Water Breathing and Water Walking are usually needed in conjunction with one another.
- Invisibility (True), Fly and Silence creates a near approximation of a ghostly form.
- Damage in the Area Around Caster can solve the problem of creatures being "underfoot" when jumping, swimming or levitating down.
- Spell Reflection, Shield and Regeneration provide an easily scalable basic defense package.
- Chance of effect should not be neglected with attack spells. Even the most powerful paralyze spell will be of little help if powerful targets routinely make their save throws against them.
- Some spell effects; notably paralysis and soul trap, are all-or-nothing. Chance for these spells should have precedence over duration in most cases.
- For Destruction-based Damage Health effect one can choose an appropriate elemental sphere: not only the default Magicka, but also Fire, Frost, Shock and Poison are available. Take the sphere into consideration to make a Destruction spell that corresponds well to certain enemies' elemental weaknesses and resistances.
- Most of the game's spells of schools other than Destruction (including offensive, defensive and utility spells) have Magicka as their base sphere. This creates a lot of confusion because sometimes the Magicka sphere is called simply 'Magic'. It is important to distinguish between Spell resistance which is an effect of resisting ANY offensive spell aimed at you - no matter what sphere it is bound to, and which is basically at work when you make a saving throw against enemy magic thanks to your Willpower (the game calls its modifier 'Magical resistance') or spell effect called 'Spell Resistance', and Elemental Magicka resistance which is an effect of resisting a Magicka-based offensive spell by nullifying or halving its damage. This second effect can be gained by creating and casting a custom protective spell with the eponymous effect or by choosing Magic Resistance/Immunity advantage during character generation. This is why this advantage won't really save you against your first imp's Wizard's Fire or Toxic Cloud attack. Only your willpower and/or corresponding elemental resistance/immunity will (probably) protect you from these fire and poison based spells! However, it should be of use against enemy spells like Silence, since those are pure Magicka-based. So don't bother trying to 'exploit' the system by taking Magic Immunity and then picking up Fire/Frost/Shock weaknesses for that difficulty dagger. Once again, this immunity is for separate sphere only, and will not override these weaknesses. Magic immunity/resistance/weakness/criticall weakness even don't have a kind of influence on your difficulty dagger that would differ from the one the corresponding advantages/disadvantages related to the fire, shock, frost or poison have, which hints at this effect's non-universal impact. However, Magic Immunity is still a very good choice, because, as it was mentioned earlier, many offensive (mostly non-Destruction) spells are indeed Magicka-based. Further research is needed on the relations between Paralysis effect and Magicka sphere in terms of resistance/immunity - does the supposed override work in this case?
- The game normally does not allow you to specify the sphere of your spell if it does not contain Damage Health effect, always forcing you to create a Magicka-based spell. However, this can be overcome (mostly for an aesthetic effect of changing the casting animation) by adding Damage Health effect after your main spell effect(s), setting the desired sphere and then deleting the Damage effect. The sphere will remain as long as you don't add any other effects after this procedure. You can safely set the direction 'on yourself' and create something like a Fire-based Light spell, it will look like you conjure the flames to light a magical candle before you... Unfortunately, while this trick works for the spells with single and double effects, it won't work with the spells with a triple effect - there's simply no place to 'put and delete' the sphere-changing Damage Health effect in this case.
Useful Custom Spells
- Create Item spell: This creates items that are salable, but are usually of limited utility to your character in game.
- Shield spells: These spells absorb physical damage. Custom versions are very easy to scale according to character level/attributes/skills.
- Combination spells that provide complimentary effects can be highly desirable. A spell with the shield effect, which defends against physical attacks, and either spell-reflection or spell-absorption is one good example. Factors such as duration and magnitude have a great effect on the spell cost and, more importantly, the casting cost. What works for one character may have too high a cost for another, and those types of equations vary over the course of individual character's development as well.
- Identify is an effect that lends itself to customization in particular. A high chance of success usually carries a high casting cost. A low chance of success has limited utility outside of mysticism practice. Having two spells with this effect, one high- and the other low-chance offers flexibility. If a spell with this effect is cast inside the Mages' Guild, the character will still be charged as if the Guild is identifying it.
- Any spell with the open effect will open any exterior door in any town, city or village, no matter how low the chance is set. This is very useful for completing in-town quests, and it makes for a wonderful training spell for mysticism.
- Invisible (True) effects allow one to battle multiple opponents singly, while continuously gaining surprise against individual opponents in large groups. Some opponents, especially undead, are rarely fooled by any invisibility effect.