Taking some feedback on board such as people not wanting to draw spell symbols, or do silly hand gestures. And knowing the devs don’t want to go with a conventional method of mana, here’s what I’m suggesting:
1-No spellbook or drawing. Instead. POTIONS. Brew your spells in the form of potions at an alchemy table. Chop, dice, grind your ingredients and plop them in the pot to make magical potions. Ingredients include such items as: Bones. Feathers. Wyrm scales. Ores. Crystals. Apple cores. Schmeechees (sorry). And all other normal food ingredients. Some items have potent magical essence within, and some have weak/mundane essence, but all have some use and this also gives a purpose to current “trash” items. But obviously, must contain SOME specifically magical catalyst ingredients, or it’d just be soup!
2-Same as in soup cooking. A brewed potion in a cauldron contains 3 “servings” to fill your bottle/other containers from. Potion bottles stack as high as any other item, so if you want to be a well-armed and well-prepared mage, then go for it!
3-Potions are strange concoctions. Probably best not to just down one without a way to release or contain the twisting energies within, or you might feel very sick. (Some visual blurring plus a bit of artificial sway and movement to induce VR nausea)
4-…So HOW do you use the potions, I hear you cry. Well first, find yourself a couple of magical crystal chunks and bash them together like you would with flints to light a fire. Blue sparks? hmm! …and a blue flame too! THIS is your “mana pool”
5-Dip your “off”-hand (personal preference) into the flames of the mana-pool. Watch as the flames dance through your fingers and seem to reach toward you. oooo mesmerising and spooky 5 seconds should be enough, and the flames will move completely from the fire to your hand.
6-Give it a moment or two, and the flames will be absorbed into your body, and a nice little glowy circle of runes will appear around your wrist. Now you have a mana source within you. Time to think about casting some spells, eh?
7-Filled with magical energies, you can now stomach a potion! Take your pick, and down the hatch with it!
8-Each potion drunk gives 5 - 15 spell charges, (Simple potions have more charges, while more unstable and powerful potions give fewer) and these manifest as orbs around your wrist, on your lil runic band thingy. Press “grab” to take one with your other hand, or hold “grab” to collect up to 5 at once in a BIG ol’ orb of potential
9-Now. if you’ve got two empty hands, of course you can pass spell orbs from hand to hand. You can throw the spells around. Bigger handfuls of magic creating bigger AoE, greater single-target damage/heal/etc, longer-lasting DoT, or whatever else. Spell-dependant. Offensive or defensive, or whatever you’ve concocted.
10-If you’ve got a melee weapon, why not scoop up a big handful of magical something and apply it to your weapon (same method as dropping wood into a lantern) and go crazy with it Example - A full handful of 5 charges would let you discharge 5 “on-hit” magical affects. Fire, ice, electric, heal, buff, de-buff, whatever.
11-If you’ve got a ranged weapon, same deal! Apply your chosen magical charge into the body of the bow and pick a target! The charge passes from the bow to the arrow when the arrowhead touches the belly of the bow (full draw).
12-If you want to be a more classic magic user, you’re catered for too! Build yourself a staff or wand Maybe bigger is beefier, smaller is faster … or maybe they both function exactly the same and it’s just down to what you think looks nicer! Now, with a melee weapon you’ll also do your normal melee damage as well the added spell, and likewise with a bow, so what’s the point of using a boring old stick? Well, a staff or wand can be built with added optional magical items (see drawing for very basic example) which increase spell potency by a tiny bit each (add a whole bunch = decent % bonus!) but ALSO, any staff or wand gives the caster gaze-based aiming. Giving you FAR greater accuracy and as much range as the most powerful bow!
-Various people have wanted magic to be fast and accessible - I think my new method allows this. But magic should not be EASY to get into or to just have naturally right from the start! If you want a good melee weapon it takes a long time to forge. If you want to be an archer you need to spend a long time collecting items and crafting every individual arrow. So to become a mage in the first instance should take equal or MORE preparation. Once you have all the required gear, then you can cast spells as fast and freely as your own hands allow!
-XP for magic doesn’t come easily. About as arduous as archery, at least. Slight boost to XP if using empty hands or a wand/staff, to offset the amount of XP that a “Spell-sword” or “Magic-archer” would be getting from their regular attacks at the same time.
-Your mana/spell band on your wrist lasts 1 in-game day. So you can get yourself “fired-up” and keep casting as long as your potion supply allows. - Spells are limited. Mana is not, but you must take the time to create and absorb it.
–Mana/spell band WILL dissipate early (before 1 day has elapsed) if no spell is cast for certain amount of time, but ONLY if you have no spell charges left within you. So keep yourself topped-up, or leave 1 “in the chamber” if you want to be ready to go at a moments’ notice.
TL:DR - Just look at the picture and interpret what you can Love and appreciation to anyone who reads the whole thing!