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A (possibly) fairly original magic idea. . .


Think of magic- QUICK!
What comes to mind?
If you didn't answer "Fireballs!", you clearly haven't read high fantasy in the last thirty years.

All joking aside, magic in most books is pretty similar. They may have different mechanics and different invocations, but the results are typically the same: there are lots of fireballs, and lots of healing spells, and lots of funny words. This type of magic, I'll term "loud magic." I call it this because the affects are physical and outward, and also because the magic is usually vocally summoned.

But what if magic had a very different basis? What if, instead of affecting the physical world, it was limited to the mental one?

This is the type of magic I plan on writing, which I've termed "subtle magic". It has no spoken invocation, and relies solely on the mental will of the caster. It affects only the mind- though, as your mind controls your body and your "self", or "soul", it can be very powerful.

So far, my abilities include:

The power to cause physical sensations without actual harm (pain, pleasure, weakness, illness, strength, etc.)
The power to influence emotions with fear, lust, love, anger, joy, or anything else you can think of.
The ability to hijack the mind of a corpse, provided the corpse can be sufficiently repaired to allow it to function. (Wouldn't want it to just drop dead again immediately, would we?)
The ability to hijack the mind of a living person for a while, and make them do anything you want.
The ability to break into a mind to share, see, add or even steal (and thus remove) memories.
Immortality, of a sort- assuming you can find a new body to inhabit whenever yours grows old and verges on death. And, of course, assuming you can strangle the existing mind into submission for years on end.
The power to force random or carefully planned illusions and hallucinations into the minds of people.
The ability to manipulate perception of time- thus seemingly speeding up or slowing time down for your target(s).
The ability to simply turn off some of an opponent's (or ally's) senses.

The ability to alter a mind so that it can no longer function- and the victim becomes a sobbing, insane mess for the rest of his or her life. This can be done by removing a large amount of memories, right down to those about basic motor control, by overloading a person with emotion, crippling them with horrible hallucinations, by greatly altering their perception of time, by dropping them in to a pleasant, realistic dream world of which they have no desire or means to escape, or by just generally lingering in their mind to confuse them and cloud their thoughts severely.

So, what do you think? Is this good? Stupid? Has it been done before?
The effects you're talking about are all various kinds of mind control. Could be good, could be stupid, depends on how it's used. (It's kind of like asking whether or not a book would be good or stupid if it had adjectives in it. "It depends...")

But yes, all of this has been done before. Which is not really a problem; there really hasn't been a potential manifestation of magic-like effects that nobody's ever conceived of before. The important thing is the story and the characters you create in this world.


Fiery Keeper of the Hat
So, what do you think? Is this good? Stupid? Has it been done before?

As Ben said, they've all been done before. The original thing will be how your magic system interacts with other elements of your story. By itself, I don't really think there's much to comment on, unless you need help getting the details right.


Think of magic- QUICK!
What comes to mind?


As for the idea, I think it's brillaint. Makes me think of Darren Brown, how he uses perfectly natural psycology to influence people and make them do things. Think how much more frightening someone who can change what you think through magic would be than someone who can merely burn you to a crisp. People hate not being in control. I really think you've hit on something here.


The first several mind magic abilities remind me of the force, but it all depends on how you tell a story about it, instead of how many times this kind of magic has been used in previous fantasy stories. However, I'm thinking about the residual effect of such delicate magic, in this case, mind-control magic. A human's mind is such a complicated science, and to think that even we cannot control our minds sometimes, to be able to control others' minds is actually very insane, don't you think? What if you can't handle the things you find in others' minds? That could be an interesting plot all to itself. :D


I agree with what the others say, it all depends on how you describe it in the book. It's very difficult to come up with an original concept for magic as most things have been done already but that does not mean you can't use them, there's a reason why writers rehash the same concepts - because they work. I just finished reading Terry Goodkinds first book and I found it to be full of cliche's but I still loved it because of the way it was written, if he had not included those "cliches" I feel the book would not have been the same.

I have a character in my fantasy WIP that has a telepathic form of magic and I don't claim it to be original but I try to put my own spin on it which I believe I have succeeded in doing.

I think you sound enthusiastic about it and that's always a good sign, a bit of advice is to try not to get caught up so much in the planning and just write it.

For some inexplicable reason, I find myself unable to resist posting what an excellent idea this is....

It's as if my mind were... being controlled...

In any case, once this book comes out I will buy 10000 copies. I don't know why, I just... feel the need...



For some reason, I thought levitation first. It isn't even my favorite type of magic.

Funny you should call it "subtle magic" and mention fireballs, Aegrus. Have you seen this thread?

So far, my abilities include:

[list of powers]

So, what do you think? Is this good? Stupid? Has it been done before?

I've seen every single one of those powers before. I can't say I've seen this exact combination before because of the thing with corpses, but tampering with the minds isn't exactly a new idea. A few of them are a little redundant to me. The power to cause physical sensations and the ability to turn off sense seem like they should be under the same umbrella. Immortality seems like a consequence of brain-jacking and not a separate power. Manipulating perception seems like it should cover hallucinations and illusions.

Have you read this page on TV Tropes? It discusses relevant scenarios.

I don't think there's anything good or stupid about your idea on its own. It completely depends on what you do with it. I have an outline for a story about people who take over the bodies of others, but it's just an idea until it affects my characters directly and influences the mood of my setting.

With this sort of thing, you've got to look at psychological aftermath. Making this magic very common could desensitize some folks, but I think even then it would be horrific for individuals experiencing it. No wimping out with this sort of material. It takes away from the gravity. Your characters might float away...

This topic reminds me of those mind-hopping villains. The MC stops someone from killing the current host (usually an ally or total stranger) and says something like, "No, don't kill him! He's innocent. We have to get Evil Mindhopper out before we destroy it because killing friends or innocent people is bad!" Pffft. Just kill the guy!