Sunday, May 23, 2010

Into the Spiral: Ice Magic Anomalies

One of Autumn Duskhunter's recent posts comes with amazing timing, as it provides the best--if not perfect--opening for this entry (which I decided to dust off after leaving it as a draft ever since Thursday, May 13).  I had not realized the nature of this contemplation until she, once again, indirectly enlightened me in her insightful fashion; I give my gratitude to the writer of Homework in a Graveyard.  Here is my "emptying of the cup," with a touch of her presentation style...

There is a thought that I would like to revive, which was formed and neglected in my early levels, while my enjoyment for Wizard101 grew.  I had extinguished a minor need to understand why a lot of the spells for the Ice school trail away from universal themes, in form and/or in concept.  What we are familiar with, when it comes to the term "ice," are not readily present or recognizable in the game's creatures/attacks and effects.  In fact, it takes quite an amount of gameplay before we can make solid connections from what we knew before Wizard101 to what we see on our screens.

The majority of the spells of Ice is questionable when we observe the summoned creatures or attacks, and consider their origins.

Beginning with the Frost Beetle, the closest relation I could find to my class's first attack is this.  However, to be fair to KingsIsle, the initial attacks for each class are symbolically unrelated to their school, with the exception of the Imp, so the lowest level spells are exempt from making my point.  Snow Serpent is probably a reference to something that began before I stepped foot into this world (and another meaning to the acronym CPA).  Evil Snowman is the first, solid connection players can make when casting an "Ice" spell and witness a common image of that school.  Continuing on, we hit another bump in the road with the Ice Wyvern, but it may be a small allusion to this.  The image of the Ice Colossus is present in quite a number of games, including Guild Wars and Runescape.  And last but not least, the incorporation of the Frost Giant presents an ambiguous reference: it represents a Norse god of ice (whose name is really Skadi, but she is a goddess skilled in archery) with the resemblance to Thor, another Norse god, who is actually the deity of thunder and wields a hammer.

Update:  Thanks to Kestrel Shadowthistle for making Frost Giant an actual connection!

But Mr. "Chill bee log guy", KingsIsle is just doing their "own thing."  It's a different game, so there are different creatures involved, and the Company doesn't have to relate the spells to existing symbols, icons, or legends/mythologies!

True, and good point, but I present to you the following cases:

  • In many Asian cultures, the term used for a life force, or our internal energy, is Qi, pronounced "chi" (of course, there are variations in the way those cultures say it).  The replenishment of Qi through meditative exercise is representative of the "positive half" of the cycle of nature: growth and recovery.  What generally comes to mind when "growth" and "nature" is considered?  Trees and plants.  In Wizard101, we see the Woodwalker/Nature's Wrath tree, the Dryad tree, Rebirth's Bartleby, and even the Imp (which I linked to an outside source; it explains the origin of the creature's name).

  • Death magic/abilities in countless games have the universal theme of conversion, whether it is:  trading life of a second party to replenish one's own; damaging one's self to be compensated with power or energy; or "recycling" a corpse to do some bidding.  The creatures and spirits from Ghoul (the "zombie") to Wraith (the "Grim Reaper") are unmistakably derived from lore involving the "negative half" of the cycle of nature. 

  • Fire is generally viewed as destruction in two ways:  its essence slowly consuming what it touches, or instantaneous neutralization, thus setting that school in both the Damage Over Time (DoT) and Nuker class (a category for damage dealers who use spells that cause a sharp drop in the health points of their targets).  The creatures of this school (Firebird, Phoenix, Dragon, Heckhound [sic]) are easily denoted, and a real life "phenomenon" is loosely mirrored by Immolate.

  • Storm school does seem to have an array of attacks that are as Wild as its Bolt connecting them to stories or documents outside the game, but the summons are tied to the elements of this class with a shocking attack: water and air.  For water, we have Storm Shark, Kraken ("humanoid squid," as Ronan Dawn puts it), and Triton; for air, we have Storm Bats and Storm Lord (whom I believe represents Zeus (Greek) or Jupiter (Roman adaptation of Zeus)).  Stormzilla is a direct parody of Godzilla, who also happens to breathe lightning.  Zing!

  • Both Myth and Balance Magic require some experience with the game before they are readily classifiable, given that these two schools are custom (if not original) creations of KingsIsle, but when the concepts of both magics are grasped, we can simply identify them to common themes, each.  Myth spells are in light of the school's name, displaying creatures of various mythology, such as the Minotaur, Orthrus, Cyclops, and Troll.  Balance magic seems to focus on sand affinities early on, like Scarab, Locust Swarm, and Sandstorm (of course!), while taking on more elemental-based attacks during late-game, such as Spectral Blast and Hydra. 

With all the pop culture references across different generations in the game, I'm surprised the Company did not implement an attack for Thaumaturges to send out arctic, flightless birds wielding blunt objects to parody another game; heck, that site was even recognized by J. Todd Coleman as one of the solid games currently "in the market."  How about some polar bears, or the Woolly Mammoth?   (UPDATE:  Through Zafaria, the Woolly Mammoth has been added as an Ice Spell! [11/6/11])

In addition to imagery in Wizard101, Ice (and Storm, to be fair) is lacking its universal concept and gameplay mechanics.  Ice (commonly represented as "winter" or "snow" throughout various cultures) is the symbol of preservation, delay, immobilization, (re)birth, and "hate."  (5 points to the first person to reference the last symbol)

In the game, the ability to take copious amounts of damage and carry an abundance of damage reduction (Ice Armor) and universal resistance (Tower Shield) cards illustrates (self)-"preservation."  Bingo, one down.

There aren't any true spells that "delay" an opponent; by this, I mean "slowing," rather than "stunning."  However, it's not a big deal, considering that this is a turn-based game, and I would imagine it difficult to apply such a concept; yet, I did a little "theorycrafting" (ooh, Autumn-esque again) at the end of Study Hall on Ravenwood Radio Episode 14.

Here's the meat of the oddity, for both Ice and Storm:  in general, "ice" and "storm (focused on lightning)" have universally recognized characteristics that eliminate motion on victims.  For the former, low temperature conditions constrict those under its effect; for the latter, paralysis.  In Wizard101, Ice is given the spell "Freeze" and "Frost Giant" to stun opponents (individually and in a group, respectively); Storm is given "Storm Lord." 

Hah!  Leaving Freeze to the side (for now), notice how it requires 7 pips for either school to produce an effect (stun) that is usually an innate effect or proc to these elements.  Now look over at each school's natural counter (Fire for Ice, Myth for Storm) and check out what Choke and Blinding Light does and for how many pips.

Gadzooks!  Area Of Effect (AoE) stun for only two pips??  It's somewhat ironic that Fire and Myth are the feared chain-stunners, rather than Ice and/or Storm, isn't it?  :)  In other words, Fire and Myth may cast their immobilization spells more frequently than their counter schools can!

Now, let's add in Freeze, for more "wow" factor.  Check out the accuracy on that; it's only 70%.  Choke and Blinding Light are 80%.  Apply Keen Eyes (+10% accuracy) to the spells, and wear full Commander Arena Gear (16% accuracy boost).  That means Choke and Blinding Light, the most inexpensive AOE stuns, have 106% (or perfect) chance of landing on opponents.  For Freeze, however, there is still a 4% chance of missing a single target with said spell.  I suppose that's the way Wizard101 rolls ;)

Keep in mind, these are merely observations...I'll still be happy if changes aren't made or planned.   /shrug.  What are your thoughts?

Thanks for your time!


  1. About the frost giant - I read a book about Norse mythology in which they were always warning you not to lie down in the snow, or the frost giants would get you. At one point, they actually mentioned that the frost giants "stun you with their icy breath". Maybe KI read that book...

  2. @ Kestrel: Thank you!! Do you happen to have the title of that book, or perhaps the Norse names for these giants? I knew that there was something familiar about "Santa" in relation to mythology, but I only kept my eyes on "ice gods." Thanks again for clarifying :)

  3. I know they talked about it in a Christmas book called "Kringle" by Tony Abbott. (Idk if this is the same book or not.) Great book btw. It's around the beginning of the story. I can find a quote for you if you need it.


  4. At my school library it is all sorts of books of types of mythology: Norse, Greek/Roman, Egyptian I forgot the names but as Autumn would say: "Do your HOMEWORK!"

    (That was directed to you Kevin btw lol...)

  5. I have to agree with you on many counts, but to be perfectly honest, It never bothered me that the ice school never used arctic animals. Those are living creatures, and in a way are representative of defying the icy grip of the arctic. Besides, I also thought that ice was all about turning the weather itself, making monsters out of ice.

    My real question is, if you examine the four classical elements(air, earth, fire, water) who gets water? Fire gets fire, either myth or balance gets earth, storm gets air, but does storm or ice get water? Ice is actually more pure than storm water, but the Tritons were said to rule the sea, so...

    I dunno, it just kinda bothers me.

  6. @ Blaze: Sure, send me one when you can!

    @ MWS: Yep, that's why it's on my post's comments.

    @ Wolf: Great followup question! I would say that it's exclusively symbolic to Ice and Storm, the way that the structure of Water parallels each class's fragility. So to answer your question, Water belongs to both schools, in my interpretation. Storm focuses on Water's liquid form and damage by erosion*, while Ice focuses on frigidity and damage by (low) temperature.

    *This idea was explored by The Friendly Necromancer in his answer to why Myth and Storm are opposites. You can check this out at the link below:


Let that thought out here: