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Difficulties with Magicbuilding

Discussion in 'World Building' started by C. R. Rowenson, May 6, 2019.

  1. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

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    I love magic systems so much I have a blog dedicated to building them. I always like knowing people's struggles so I can make my content more relevant and helpful.
    So. What is hardest for you when it comes to building your magic systems?
     
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  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    Finding boundaries, ways to put limits on power. Just making magic 'work' is not so hard but making it not work can be tricky!
     
  3. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    Probably how the magic system fits into and alters society.
     
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  4. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Sage

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    Same as Insolent lad and Futhark. It's hard to find a limitation that's not cliche.
     
  5. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Vala

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    I don't mind cliches, if they work. They've become cliches for a reason. It's when you can almost hear the dice roll in the story that I get bored [and a little annoyed].
    My stories tend to run to small magics so there may be a charm to create a single flame or to show the way if lost but no Battle Mages tearing apart Armies with a single fireball... In a story I'm thinking about, I've got a Sea Captain that is one of the few people that can make the show the way if lost charm work on the high seas. I'm not explaining why it doesn't work for most, just that sort of works for him.
     
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  6. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

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    Well, I'm new to writing Fantasy so never done such extreme world-building. I agree that putting limitations of magic and fitting it into a world is hard. But it's hard to give a feeling of a place that doesn't exist. Especially if the society does something we don't do. But I tend to put more thought into character and plot. I haven't quite gotten to my settings yet.
     
  7. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

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    What are some of the cliches you're sick of seeing?
     
  8. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Sage

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    I'm a fairly tolerant reader and will read good execution of a cliche, I prefer a slight twist on cliches.
     
  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Decades ago, I used to spend inordinate amounts of time playing with the magic systems of AD&D and War Hammer Fantasy Role Play, trying to determine which spells were suitable, pondering divine verses innate magic, and more. At the same time, I was reading a huge amount on real world paranormal research and supernatural occurrences. I finally largely abandoned the former for the latter: with a few oddball exceptions (like illusions and some summoning spells), its psi, mostly variants of ESP and Telekinesis. Compared to most other systems, my mages are wimps.
     
  10. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

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    Fair enough. But what are some of the cliches you're thinking of? Are you talking the standard "getting tired" or are there other specific ones?
     
  11. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Sage

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    exhaustion
     
  12. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    Another difficulty I have is the naming of spells. In my world there are a set number of runes, which can be combined in different ways to create different results. Do I go to the trouble of working out the name of each rune, the combinations and results, or just do enough for the story? Can I get away with not doing it at all by saying ‘he spoke the runes to create the wards’, or ‘they chanted the runes to enchant the blade as they toiled in the forge’?
     
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  13. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Sage

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    The problem with just "runes" is it's not concrete, it's abstract. I don't know that names are necessary, unless you feel they are, but what about these runes will give them a concrete image?

    Brandon Sanderson has a YouTube video about the Pyramid of Abstraction. Using his example, think "dog". That's abstract. Every reader will picture a different type of dog. But if I say "bedraggled poodle," suddenly my entire readership pictures the same thing.
     
  14. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    The base set of runes were used to seal the first immortal, to contain and channel his energy. Recreating those runes is an art, and they must have the exact mystical resonance to draw on the energy. They resemble our real world Elder Futhark (hence my name), so it’s kind of like an alphabet. In my mind, the most adept practitioners wield it like Fullmetal Alchemist, but most have to physically create the rune by writing it with chalk, charcoal, ink or blood, and then speak them as they were originally spoken.

    So I’m thinking of, say, 7, 9, or 12 base runes, and using the simplest combination of just 3 runes, then there are 210, 504, or 1320 basic spells.
     
  15. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

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    Runes are really just words, so you might try focusing on effects. Each rune is tied to a base effect (fire, force, bind, animal, self, area, etc) and the combination of the effects makes the spell. This, plus the limitation of 3 runes/spell, could give you a broad system that is incredibly soft (simply because you can't give all combinations) but still rational at the same time.
    For your specific system, I would look at the phonetic pronunciation of older languages. The "name" of the spell can then be as simple as phonetically saying each of the runes... alot like the shouts from Skyrim, now that I think of it.
     
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  16. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    C. R. RowensonC. R. Rowenson yeah that’s pretty much what I’m doing. I’ve been looking at Sanskrit and so far I’ve decided on:
    • Aluma - fire
    • Aloka - vision
    • Pragrath - connect
    • Yoktraya - bind
    • Bheda - change
    • Sahitra - endurance
    • Dyumna -strength
    • Vyapoh - heal
    • Lavaka - reap
    Constructing runic spells require 3 or more runes to create a stable spell. So a wizard can use just fire, but they must maintain it themselves. To create a more permanent spell that will fuel itself, they might link fire, vision, connect, and bind to make an alarm ward. To enchant a sword that requires the user to power it they could use strength, endurance and reap.

    Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud (text?). Still working on the details.
     
  17. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

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    I like what you've got so far. Personally, i'm loving the idea of a hard limit of 3 runes per spell
     
  18. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    Nah. I need pentagrams, hexagrams, etc. They need to be able to be chained together. The prison is an intricate infinity loop with formulas that have never been recorded anywhere else. It’s important for the big picture. But trigram runic spells are the common, ‘everyday wizard’, standard.
     
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  19. MrNybble

    MrNybble Minstrel

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    Trying to make a magic system that has set rules with near endless creative uses. Kind of like how electricity has base rules, and we have seen what creative things people can do with that. Treating magic like a technology makes it somewhat easier when it comes to how it can be used. Does leave a broad spectrum of ways it can be used to help define it across time and cultures.

    The biggest problem is for magic is finding a way for it to be regulated so you don't get questioned by the reader for having over powered situations. Such as with healing magic and the world still has diseases, death, and illness. Finding and defining the limits so it applies across the board is a daunting task.
     
  20. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    My biggest challenge so far (it's a more or less constant background endeavor) has been tying magic systems to peoples. I wanted elf magic to be different from dwarf magic, and in ways that made sense. I have much of that sorted, but I've left humans for last. As we are in other respects, humans are good at many things but masters of few. It's really only among humankind that I'm allowing the full traditional range of magics--divination, elemental, and so on. Only humans have things like schools and lone wizards in towers, etc. So far, my view of human magic is a bit like looking out from a mountain across a vast landscape. The details are obscure.

    That said, when it comes to writing a particular story, I don't have to worry about any of that. I only have to be concerned with the geography of the immediate vicinity. When I finish a novel, it usually turns out to have repercussions on the larger systems. That's a major reason why I haven't worked through any of the systems rigorously. And maybe that's why I can't say as I've faced any very big problems with designing. I'm building the ship as I sail it.
     
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