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Describe your magic system

Discussion in 'World Building' started by thedarknessrising, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. I prefer to keep magic in my fantasy universes mysterious and distant. If someone were reading my works, I would want them to feel awed at the mysterious, even frightening powers of sorcerers and witches. Basically, it's my goal for them not to understand magic, and thus I don't have a real system to how it works.

    The closest thing I have to a system is that, generally, those who practice magic give up parts of themselves for their power. A person who uses magic for selfless purposes, such as a healer, gives up physical things- their looks, their money, their positions in society. A 'good' witch is often living in poverty and always appears older, scarred, and fragile. 'Bad' witches give up spiritual things- their empathy, their ability to love, and their very soul. These people are living with the riches and power they crave, and are vain, beautiful, and extraordinarily powerful.

    'Bad' witches trade their souls for power with dark entities through formal ritual whereas 'good' witches simply live in the light of Divinity and giving up their physical possessions is just part of that. I imagine 'good' witches would be reminiscent of an enlightened holy person- always living with an attitude of devotion for their fellow man as well as God(s).
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2015
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  2. Akira444

    Akira444 Dreamer

    In my story, magic is the art of using energy to manipulate aspects of reality. It's a very versatile practice that anyone can learn, but only a few can properly use on a practical level through study and training. All magic in the world draws power from mana, life energy present in all living organisms that can also be used to strengthen the human body (similarly to how chi is portrayed in martial arts fiction).

    The main limitations of magic is that magic is bound by the reality that it controls. You can manipulate natural forces, but you can't break natural law. That means no resurrecting the dead, because they'll get you in a lot of trouble. No time travel or time communication, because that flouts the laws of the universe. More complicated spells require more preparation and certain requirements, and one misstep can cause the spell to either not work or backfire terribly.
  3. anotherwriter2019

    anotherwriter2019 Acolyte

    To quickly summarize, the magic in my story comes from a select group of people who have acquired certain powers from an ancient bloodline that was passed down from the archangel Gabriel to his two sons who are half-mortal/half-angel. These people are called the Shields and they protect humans from the Watchers. The Watchers are "fallen angels", and they also have powers.
  4. Aldarion

    Aldarion Troubadour


    Magic is rare in the world, but can have major impact.

    Types of magic

    Elemental magic

    Elemental magic is based on four primary elements: fire, water, air and earth. Fire is opposed to water, and air to earth. Secondary elements are ice (water + air, moist) in opposition to lava/metal (fire + earth, dry), and life (air + fire, warm) in opposition to death (water + earth, cold). Lava covers vulcanic activity and its products, such as obsidian.

    Fifth element is aether, or immaterium. It is a realm of spiritual, and does not usually interact with material world.

    Warm elements point upwards, ascending towards the spiritual realm, and are masculine, associated with light, warmth and activity (life). Cold elements point downwards, descending towards the material realm, and are feminine, associated with darkness, cold and passivity (death). Elements can also be moist and dry.

    Air is moist like water and warm like fire, but has nothing in common with earth. Air and earth are thus opposites, as are water and fire. Likewise, ice and lava are in direct opposition and destroy each other.

    Elements are hierarchical, going from earth to heaven. Earth is the lowest of elements, most material of them and associated with death. Spirit is the highest element, followed hierarchically by fire, air, water and earth.

    Elements are represented by the pentagram. Point-up pentagram symbolizes spirit ruling over other four elements, and is thus associated with life and God. Point-down pentagram symbolizes dominance of the material, and is thus associated with death and Devil.

    Geographically, North is associated with earth, new moon, winter and midnight. South is associated with fire, full moon, summer and noon. West is associated with water, waning moon, autumn and sunset. East is associated with air, waxing moon, spring and sunrise.

    Fire is element of fullness and life, and is associated with Sun. Earth corresponds with midnight, winter and new moon; thus with potential and transformation, introduction of the new. Air is the element of new beginnings, youth, increase and creativity; it is associated with spring, waxing moon and sunrise. Water is the element of emotion and wisdom, and represents the time past the peak of livelihood.

    Fire is associated with strength, activity, blood and life-force. It is highly purifying and protective, consuming impurities and driving back the darkness. It is most rarified and spiritual of elements, lacks physical existence, produces light and has transformative power. It is warm and dry, masculine (active). Its elemental is salamander, direction South, color red, magical tools are sword, athame and dagger, planets Sun and Mars, season Summer and time Noon.

    Air is the element of intelligence, creativity and beginnings. Intangible and without permanent form, it is an active, masculine element, superior to material elements of water and earth. It is warm and moist, masculine (active). Its elementals are sylphs (invisible beings), direction East, color yellow, magical tools are wand, sword, dagger and athame, planet Jupiter, season Spring and time Sunrise.

    Water is the element of emotion and unconscious, opposed to conscious intellectuallism of air. It is less material, and thus superior, to earth, and one of two elements that can interact with all physical senses. It is cold and moist, feminine (passive). Its elementals are undines (water-based nymphs), direction West, color blue, magical tool cup, planets Moon and Venus, season Fall and time Sunset.

    Earth is the element of stability, groundedness, fertility, materiality, potential and stillness. It is also an element of beginnings and endings, death and rebirth. It is cold and dry, feminine (passive). Its elementals are gnomes, direction North, color green, magical tool Pentacle, planets Saturn, season Winter and time of day Midnight.

    Spirit has no classical associations. It is a bridge between the physical and spiritual, between body and the soul.

    Strenghtening magic

    Strenghtening magic is used to protect objects against physical damage, be it earthquakes or weapons impacts. In modified form it is also used to nullify enemy protection magic, upon which both weapon and defense act as if there is no magical enhancement upon them (merely enhancing both would result in both bouncing off without damage). However, it places significant limitations – crossbows and other missile and projectile weapons have to be specially treated with magic for them to work, and gunpowder weapons, relying on chemical reaction rather than mechanical system, cannot be treated at all. A hoard of gunpowder under the wall will generally blow a tunnel rather than blow up the wall. And since offensive application merely nullifies enemy magical treatment, it still does not allow swords to cut through armour. While it can protect hull of a ship against ramming and impacts, it does nothing against fire.

    Protection magic

    Protection magic is used to protect an area against magical invasion. Generally, this protects against teleportation, summoning, and entrance of undead creatures, demons and other beings which rely on magic to enter or remain within the circles of the world. Similarly, religious symbols can protect person or home from harrassment by the demons. Pure iron – not steel – has protective characteristic; iron horseshoe in particular can protect against unnatural diseases.

    Teleportation magic

    Teleportation magic is used to quickly get from one point to another. It is generally used by demons, as it leads straight through Hell – humans using it run a high risk of corruption. Only humans who are members of various Satanic cults dare to use teleportation magic.



    Empire of Ardea is associated with West and Water. From its association to emotion and unconscious also stems its association to magic – water magic in particular. Ardean water mages are capable of purifying water, thus allowing army to use water that would normally not be fit for drinking.


    Undead creatures – zombies, wights – are associated with corruption of the element of Earth. They can thus be killed by swords and by fire.

    Red King and White Queen

    Red King and White Queen represent uniting the opposites to create a greater whole. Red King represents masculine elements – fire and air, and sun – marrying feminine ones – earth and water, and moon. They also represent sulfur (active, violatile, fiery) and mercury (material, passive, fixed). Salt, mercury and sulfur also equate to body, spirit and soul, with spirit being a medium of transference and connection between body and soul, and soul and God.
  5. Jun Peng

    Jun Peng Dreamer

    Lol -- A preface to this is that my son pulled the charge cable to my laptop without me realizing it and it died on me while typing out my response.

    I based my magic style from the world of Dark Souls. I thought it's take on magic was very original and I really loved the flavor behind the conception. With that said my magic is as follows:

    There are two types of magic if my world, magic from the Legacy of the Old Gods and magic from the World of Mortals. Each type has several branches and types within it, but their origins and limitations are founded in their creations.

    Magic from the Legacy of the Old Gods is considered profane and ancient. It takes mortals decades before they may master only a few spells. This type of magic is learned from ancient manuscripts and texts, most of which are closely guarded by the clergy of this era. There are a few moldy scrolls that exist outside of the Church, but these are far and few between.

    Magic from the World of Mortals is considered blasphemous and heretical. These are often spells and tombs that have been passed down from family to family, some dating as far back as the Legacy of the Old Gods. This type of magic varies greatly, but most believe it was founded by other primal forces at the beginning of creation. Practitioners often closely guard their knowledge. In most parts of the world, these practitioners are usually considered as 'evil' or 'witches'.
  6. Yora

    Yora Sage

    One really cool thing about the Miracles in Dark Souls is that they are recitations of ancient tales of the gods. Hearing the stories and understanding their meanings allows priests to replicate the abilities of the gods. The more complete and accurate versions of the stories are more powerful than hazily recollected fragments.
  7. Jun Peng

    Jun Peng Dreamer

    Yes! I always loved that Miracles, in Darksouls, were recollections of the Gods. What a unique spin on 'holy' magic. The more I found out about it, the more it made me really try to get creative with the magic in my own world.
  8. MauEvig

    MauEvig Scribe

    Depends on which world because I have several. Magicordia, magic is energy and I use the concept of mana as the name of it's power. Of course, technically almost anyone can learn how to use and harness it, but it takes a great deal of discipline to do so.
    In Sky Kingdom, the world of Ark'eth magic is known of, but once again it's a great deal of discipline. Cats have got around this by implementing technology in the form of "Magic Seals" which are tiny disks, about the size of an SD card for perspective, with small rotating gears inside of it. They can be equipped or affixed to weapons or armor to give them an elemental edge, or have specific healing abilities.
    On Lumikios, which is the world of my OC and co-created by myself and my boyfriend the primary way to use magic is usually by finding a phoenix gem of a specific element, although magic can once again be learned as a strict discipline. While this particular project isn't a novel, story writing is still an important aspect of this world. This particular world we plan to make into an RPG game. Fela-flies are also found in this world as well.
  9. Yora

    Yora Sage

    I am currently favoring a very simple system in which the only magical ability of mortals is telepathic, gained through meditation and mental training. This can mostly be used to mess with other people's senses, but also to some degree to change memories and implant ideas.
    Everything more fancy than that is done through the summoning of spirits and using the telepathic ability for communication, to negotiate for a service or compel them to obedience.

    There's also a good amount of what could basically be called alchemy. Some of it is supernatural chemistry, but the main application is to use substances and objects that affect spirits in ways that helps with getting them to cooperate. Very often such objects take the form of masks or lanterns, which are the most common form of magic items.
  10. D. Gray Warrior

    D. Gray Warrior Troubadour

    My world doesn't really have a magic system, but has more of an anti-magic system, instead. The magic of the known world is sentient, wild, and unpredictable, with very little actually being known about it. It is regarded as a force of nature capable of magic storms and other such catastrophic events, and can even change entire landscapes seemingly at random. Attempting to control such magic is very dangerous and only the foolish and insane even attempt it. There was a civilization that was wiped out after attempting to control the magic.

    Some individuals possess anti-magic, which allows them to be immune or at least resistant to some of the effects of magic. The anti-magic is random, something you have to be born with, and such people are a tiny minority of the population. They become even more resistant to magic when it groups, the larger the group, the stronger their anti-magic, or the weaker the magic. The blood of an anti-magic individual is highly valued, with some being hunted and killed and their blood being sold on the black market, while others are more fortunate and enjoy great social priveleges due to their importance in resisting magic. Some donate their own blood or have jobs as "reverse enchanters" where they infuse an item with anti-magic to make it resistant to magic or giving it other anti-magic abilities.

    They are often adventurers since they can go into areas with a heavy magical presence and not be as affected as the others.
  11. MauEvig

    MauEvig Scribe

    All of y'alls magic systems sound interesting!
    An anti magic system sounds unique. The idea of having magic being an untamable force is something I find interesting. It's just something that exists, and only a select few people are immune to it or have any control over it at all.

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