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Creating a Magic Systems

Discussion in 'World Building' started by TheSecretAsianMan, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. TheSecretAsianMan

    TheSecretAsianMan Acolyte

    For as long as I can remember I've always been fascinated with magic in fantasy settings. Recently I've developed a magic system for a story that I'm writing and I wanted to get some opinions on how I can improve it. But, before I go into the mechanics I'll give a brief summary on the origin of magic in my fictional setting.

    In the beginning there was a god who created angelic beings called the Primordias. One Primordia wanted to create her own little place in the universe and thus created the World by singing. After some time the first war took place, and decimated entire countries. It was during this war that the knowledge of magic was given to a select group of individuals who would eventually end the war.

    To perform magic an individual must have knowledge of the language before attempting any spellcasting.
    By thinking, speaking, or writing the language a mage can command reality to their will. In addition, a mage must understand how the target of their influence is structured. Furthurmore, the nessaary elements must be available in order to cast a spell because magic cannot create something out of nothing. Magic requires a lot of stamina to perform, as casting a spell requires life energy in exhange depending on how much work is needed to perform an action. For example, if someone wanted to produce lightning, they must understand the how positive and negative charges of protons and electrons interact and how to create a situation to make all the variables needed to create. Magic also strains the body, because sacrificing parts of one's soul isn't in particularly healthy. But with lots of training a mage can alleviate some of the negative aspects to the point casting magic won't have long lasting effects.

    I don't want magic to be something that can solve all of my characters problems but still be a unique tool to use in certain situations.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

    Hello, TheSecretAsianMan, I think an issue you might run into with your magic system is that you mention it allows the learners to exact their will upon reality. This can be very vague, and create plot-holes in a story if not managed correctly. But it isn't necessarily a bad thing, you ought to be careful though.

    I like the idea of having to understand the forces at play when you're invoking magic, as it adds an almost scientific feel to the magic, without getting rid of the mysticism. But the first question you ought to ask yourself if you wish to improve your system would be the following:

    What is the limit to the actions I can perform with the magic of this world?

    This question creates the difference between an overpowered magic system and one that is fun to read. So I'd reccomend finding an answer to it. What's the limit to the things a caster can understand before he can go any further in his magicks?

    Sent from my SM-G386T using Tapatalk
  3. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

    I might not be much help with this matter, as I myself am working on my own magic system at the moment, and it's not to my liking yet.

    A question that pops into mind is why did the war start? What were the factors that got it going? What were the sides of the conflict? A rebellion, an empire.

    Another question, why was the magic given to those select beings?

    Your mechanics sound okay. Mine are still in the making, and are taking a lot of work. Will over time, using magic kill the mage? You said it drains life force, so it would be logical that by old age mages would have problems with life force, even if their still around by then.

    Hopes this helps.
  4. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    First off, I quite like the idea's core, specifically the language-based system. I'd also like to see a difference in effects when the words are thought, and when they're spoken, and when they're written down. Otherwise, why would anyone bother to do anything but think them?

    On to some specifics.

    The language? I.e. a specific spellcasting language? Or just any language? If a specific spellcasting language, I assume that the original magic bearers have passed along the knowledge to those they see fit? If so, they might end up with a nobility system. I.e. the ones who ended the war choose a select few people to command the magic, and so they keep the populace in order.

    In addition, you might find that it's very rare for someone to be able to cast the magic. But, it does bring up some interesting blackmarket magic things, so that's good.

    Like Netardapope mentioned, you might run into some Deus Ex Magic issues if you have a magic where literally anything is possible. Or maybe just a Mary Sue kind of situation, where the magic guys are so incredibly powerful that no one can do anything against them. Of course, this is a lot more acceptable if the magic guys are the bad guys.

    How would they find out about the minute details of the universe? What technology level are we talking here? And if they do know the details, how much do they need to understand before they can do something? E.g. if the mage wants to set something on fire, do they need to understand how atoms work, since heat is basically movement of the atoms? Etc. etc.

    Also, related to both quotes above: What prevents a mage from simply saying (in the magic language): "I know all the words in the magic language." and "I understand exactly how atoms work." and then immediately circumventing the limitations? Does this fall under the "can't make something out of nothing" clause? If so, why? Because, technically, it's just electrical signals in the brain, which is just movement of charge in electrons or something. Ergo, nothing new is created.

    How is it unhealthy? I.e. what kind of symptoms would a mage get if he uses magic too often?

    What kind of training would the mage need, and what exactly would she do, to alleviate the effects? Also, when this happens, you'll have an all-powerful being with no drawbacks to casting magic. I.e. He can spam cast as much as he likes. Can you believably work someone like that into your story?

    I think you might want to add some limits to what your magic can do. It's one of Sanderson's laws: limitations are more interesting than powers. It forces some ingenuity on the part of the casters when situations come up. As it stands, your mages have essential god-powers, which would make them solve all the problems either instantaneously or not at all. There's no struggle. You either know the science and the language to fix problem A or you don't. Also, having all-power makes them solve all the problems in the most predictable way possible, since that's the most efficient way. This detracts from the interestingness of the story.
  5. Azora

    Azora Acolyte

    I thought it was pretty good. The only questions I have is how does the language manipulate reality? Also, what happens if you cast too many spells and end up draining to much life from your body? Is there anybody who cannot learn magic?
  6. R.H. Smith

    R.H. Smith Minstrel

    Hey there TheSecretAsianMan,

    I am very intune to what you're trying to create as my magic system is quite similar to yours. Especially in the sense that language plays a very important part of the process. In my version, each race (human, elves, dragons, etc.) have different manipulations of magic. What I mean by that is that, even if whispered, the magic needs the verbiage in order to be "released", but this is dependent on knowing the language that is being used to channel the magic. If a human tries to, say, use magic to burn something in the Elvish language, he has to be very conscious of tone and inflection. If he says something wrong, then he can inadvertently burn only organic material. Just my 2 cents. Hope this helps and can maybe help you to fine tune your mechanics. Cheers!
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.

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