Wizardry V: The New Spells

OK, let’s take a good hard look at the new spell names and see what they tell us about the implied magical language. We’ve got fully 29 new spells — nearly half of the list of 63, mostly for Mages rather than Priests. A couple of them — LADALTO, LABADI — are just an obvious extension of what was already there, adding the prefix LA-, as previously seen in LAHALITO, to other existing spells. (LA- just means “the effect is even stronger than you get with the prefix MA-“.) Similarly, MAMOGREF is immediately recognizable as the common intensifying prefix MA- applied to the existing protection spell MOGREF, and this is borne out by its effect.

A few of the new names just confuse me. DESTO opens locks, but previously -TO only ended attack spells. Maybe it’s conceived as attacking the lock? I guess in a way it’s overcoming defenses? LITOFEIT is obviously connected to the previously-existing LOKTOFEIT, but LOKTOFEIT is the “teleport out of the dungeon” spell, whereas LITOFEIT is levitation. I suppose the common factor is rising up, Wizardry III notwithstanding. I’d feel a lot more comfortable about this if LOK- or LIT- appeared anywhere else. MOLITO, which does group electrical damage, seems to have been replaced with a weaker, lower-level version called MELITO. This is a pattern not seen elsewhere, and it frankly seems a little grammatically implausible to me.

We know there’s a prefix LO- from the existence of MILWA (temporary light) and LOMILWA (permanent light). We now have a spell LOKARA that looks like it has the same prefix, but although KARA looks reasonable, it isn’t on the list. What’s more, what LOKARA does is attempt to make the earth swallow up foes (an instant-death effect to which flying creatures are immune). What would KARA do, make the earth swallow them up for a little while?

Both Mages and Priests get a spell that conjures elementals: SOCORDI and BAMORDI, respectively. I note the root DI (life) in there, which seems fitting. -ORDI could mean elemental, in a sense like “brought to life” or “artificial life” or something, the remainder of the word indicating two different ways of going about it. And the BAM in the Priest version could shed light on BAMATU. I had wondered about that — it made it look like BAMATU should mean “opposite of MATU” when in fact it’s a stronger version of it. What if the prefix is actually BAM? We see -ATU in a couple of other new spells: BOLATU (petrify one creature) and KATU (charm NPC). This does not convince me it’s a morpheme.

CORTU and BACORTU are an interesting pair. CORTU creates a “screen” that blocks any enemy spells cast at the party. BACORTU creates a “fizzle field” that prevents a single enemy group from casting spells, offensive or otherwise. These are both new concepts, and they’re distinct things, mechanically. But they’re hardly opposites. Maybe I’ve got entirely the wrong handle on BA-. Maybe instead of “opposite”, it means something like “counterpart”, or even “enemy”: just as DIOS is a spell you cast on your friends (to heal them) and BADIOS is a presumably similar spell you cast on your enemies (to hurt them), so too is CORTU a protective effect on your friends and BACOPRTU a limiting effect on your enemies.

Mainly, though, I’m probably trying too hard to make sense of things. The new spells, for all that they try to harmonize with the legacy ones, are the product of a different designer’s mind. Who knows how much of the intent behind the names was communicated to him and how much he made up?

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