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Does my hero need magic ?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by StrawhatOverlord, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    The WIP I'm currently focused on technically has 6 main characters, but this is about the more traditional fantasy hero one among them.

    For context, my setting has enough magic users that most armed groups travelling outside settlements have one, and often some non-mages with magical abilities too. And the many of the fauna & creatures (or hostile primitive civilizations) have at least some inherent magical abilities.

    Of the other 5 MCs, one is a scout/stealth guy who uses some enchanted trinkets to give himself extra abilities (kinda like how a sci-fi scoundrel sometimes has weird gadgets and such), another is a former holy knight (still don't have a name for them) who still has some divinely-granted abilities, a wizard specialized in wards and healing, a former arena/pit-fighter who's an ~8 foot, near 700 lbs pile of muscle who was created with sorcery and spirit-beings for the purpose of being essentially a circus freak. And an elven "druid", for lack of a better term.

    The "hero" is a half-dwarf, which makes her tougher and stronger than humans, but also less agile and dexterous, as in her nervous system and muscular structure are physically incapable of having the same level of equilibrium, fine motor control, etc as a human. And she has a sword with some properties that help against certain types of magical abilities, but is otherwise a kinda shitty sword for actual swordplay.
     
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  2. Mia.P.Fisher

    Mia.P.Fisher Minstrel

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    so what's your doubt exactly?
     
  3. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    Your story requires a well-rounded RPG party? Wouldn't the wizard character thus be the one with the magic abilities? Giving a different character magic would make the wizard redundant.
     
  4. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    Basically if just being lightly superhuman and having a mostly bad sword that sometimes helps is good enough to realistically compete with magical foes past a certain point. She wouldn't know magic from the start either way, I'm just pondering if eventually she should, because it seems like a lot of fantasy heroes do, and those who don't usually don't have strong magic opposing them.

    I'm leaning on no but figured it wouldn't hurt to ask a writing forum.
     
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  5. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    It's more that they all have magic except her. The ex arena fighter technically can't do any magic either, but has a magically infused body.
     
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  6. Mia.P.Fisher

    Mia.P.Fisher Minstrel

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    Can't she defeat them any other way? outsmart them, pit them against each other, out strength them... Do you have a classic dwarf stereotype (great with weapons, love precious stones etc) or are you trying to shake things up by reinventing them?
    i don't see someone half dwarf doing magic unless the other half is from a magical race which you didn't mention or you came up with your own version of what a dwarf is.
    i guess she could "level up" by getting tired her ass gets wooped and forging armor and weapons with mgic infused in them,
     
  7. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    My dwarves are more like woodsmen, not the usual underground cities type, I based them roughly off old french-canadian people. But the half-dwarf character wasn't raised in that culture.
    To the question about dwarves and magic, my version of them have magic, but it's a simple system that resembles vancian casting because they don't have the aptitude for complex abstract thought that learning the standard magic requires. A half-dwarf could, but probably have a harder time than a human would. Otoh, there are other ways to produce magic, so there's definitely legitimate ways I could give her magic if I decided to.
     
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  8. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Maaaaaaagic ~(o0o)~

    So, my philosophy on stuff like this is that, well, if it was a modern day setting you wouldn't have someone unable to use technology that incorporates electricity without a damn good reason. If magic is as common in a setting as electricity in modern day then yeah, they should be able to use magic.

    Now, I can't really say that magic seems to be on the level of electricity just from the explanation given, but since the rest of the party demonstrates a variety of magic forms then yeah, I say that there's nothing wrong with the protagonist having a connection to magic as well.

    Mmm, I would have the half-Dwarf learn further magic. The brute hits "magically enhanced physique" better, and if they're supposed to be the Batman to their Justice League then they really need to up their skill and experience. I get the sense that this is the sort of story where the hero starts out with humble beginnings and grows instead of starting the story as a veteran figure?

    If so then yeah, starting out with rather weak abilities makes sense, but you absolutely want to avoid having your hero wind up as only tagging along because of their designated hero status.
     
  9. Lynea

    Lynea Troubadour

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    So, you're thinking about having your half-dwarf use magic? I don't think she really needs it. She's probably not going to be your main dps. Dwarves in general are typically used for tanking and support, so you might have her rely on the other characters for dexterity and damage. She does sound like a pretty good tank to me from the description. A warding sword along with a couple of boosting abilities should be an effective build. If she does have magic, it's probably not to be a spellcaster, more like a support.
     
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  10. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    I respectfully suggest you are coming at it the wrong way. A writer's job is to tell a story, not to create a world.

    Don't come up with justifications for why a half-dwarf might have a bit of magic. Saying they have magic because that's the way it is on your world isn't a good reason. YOU decide what's what on your world, and the purpose of your world to provide a context for a good story. If something in your world makes it harder to tell a good story, then you need to change the world, not the story.

    Ask instead - why is the story BETTER because one more character has magical powers? What story does it allow you to tell, that you could not otherwise have told? If you cannot answer that question, then it's a mistake. And the same question applies to EVERYONE who has magical powers in your story.

    Remember, the more magic in the story, the more explaining you have to do. The easier it gets to make a mistake in your world-building that makes readers see your world as fake. What it can do, what it can't do, why it isn't used to do EVERYTHING. IF your world has magical healers, then why would anyone waste time mixing medicine/being a doctor? If food can be created magically, then no-one will be a farmer. If magical messages can be recorded and played back, why write books on paper? IF people / monsters can fly, why have castles with walls - bunkers underground would be better, etc etc

    The more magic, the easier it is for readers to get bored while you are explaining. The easier it is for readers to get annoyed, saying "but why didn't he just fix the problem with the same spell he used back on p150?" EG, if Fireballs kill the enemy, why don't you just always fight with Fireballs? "No, we need a swordfight to make the story interesting now, 200 pages in" - that is the problem right there. If you say, "Ha, but THIS villain has the ring of immunity to fire," you are stuck with yet more explaining. Exposition can be added cleverly, but the more you do, the higher the risk of readers falling asleep.

    The more magic there is, the less "magical" it becomes. IF you have a story where everyone is beautiful, or rich, or immortal, or extremely strong, the less any of it means to the reader. Inflation sets in.

    I never heard of a story being boring because there wasn't magic, and problems had to be fixed with hard work or cleverness. I've seen a LOT of stories ruined by lots of magic, which becomes repetitive OR inconsistent. Think carefully before deciding it is everywhere.

    If you NEED magic to tell an INTERESTING story you cannot tell otherwise, add it in! No-one is saying that you CAN'T have everyone with magical powers, Harry Potter did that, and lots of people liked it. But the question is, is the story a good one? And that means - do people want to read it? And the only way to find THAT out is to write a few pages and slap it up and ask people what they think - would they want more? Hence the critique section.....
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2020
  11. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    QueshireQueshire : Well she does start with fighting experience, but only from defending her homestead from creatures, no real skill in swordplay one would use against actually trained people. So yes, humble beginnings and all.
    It's a good point that the pit-fighter would at least partially overshadow the hero if both have brute physicality as their main thing.
    The 2nd half of your last sentence is mainly why I was pondering the question. If the party was only going to be a band of mercenaries or knight-errants she'd probably be fine, but as the hero of a story who has to defeat bigger things, less certain.

    LyneaLynea : I appreciate the clarity of RPG terms but this isn't for a game :) . That said yeah, she's obviously never going full wizard. To clarify about the sword, it doesn't have overt powers or anything, it's just made of a material that's virtually inert to just about all energy transfer, magic or mundane. It's not attracted/repelled by magnetic fields, it doesn't heat up if put in a fire, doesn't corrode, can't be telekinetically moved, etc. It's also indestructible and "kills" magic it pierces. Otoh, just because it can't lose its edge doesn't mean the edge is any better than normal, it can't flex or bend so it doesn't absorb any shock from impacts, and it weighs 9 pounds. It's really good for whacking monsters but pretty shitty for swordplay.

    S J LeeS J Lee : Oh I'm not, there's already kinds of magic it'd be possible for her to get or learn to a practical degree for other reasons, I wouldn't be adding anything just to give her powers. My issue is that I want characters to overcome obstacles only if they realistically should be able to in-universe, and thinking that it might be a bit too much of a stretch eventually.
    My magic definitely isn't a fix-all. Like for example mundane healers are needed because there's not enough healer-wizards to post them everywhere, and divine healing requires the favor of a god, and he only gives to people who already cure others.
    Actually I should clarify in general, there aren't that many magic users, it's about the same proportion as there are college/university students and professors in intellectual fields irl. They're just disproportionately represented in mercenary companies and the like that a band of errants like the main characters would encounter.
     
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  12. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    Then show us a sample!
     
  13. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    Ha ! I might once I have one. I lean a bit more towards the Architect side so I'm still building and laying plans atm.
     
  14. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    Fair enough, but what I am getting at is that the world/magic must serve the story. Just write a few pages and slap it up, even if it is crap and raw. We won't hold it against you. Give your band of heroes a dilemma and show us who they are by how they fix it. It can be a dragon attacking, or an innkeeper refusing to let the arena fighter stay the night... or a full-dwarf snooty at a half-dwarf. Before the issue is fully resolved, be sowing the seeds of the next little dilemma, and reveal a few secrets about them in passing as we go. As Glen Cook says, "Don't tell me about what you plan to write. Just write. If you have any talent at all, it will show. Your first effort will be crap, but who cares?"

    Once we see what a story with your MC looks like, THEN we will be able to answer your Q about whether the MC "should" have magic powers. Just my two cents.
     
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  15. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    I don't really see this as a worldbuilding or plot issue, it's an eventual power-level/believability issue to me, since whether or not she acquires magic wouldn't require changes to the magic system, wouldn't change the general plot and not even really change her character arc. She wants to be a hero like those in the stories, without any real specifics, so I feel like it would fit either way.

    Plus having slept on it now I'm thinking either enchanted or blessed items later on, or spirit/god assistance here and there, but not directly learning spells, that doesn't feel right for the character.
    I still really appreciate the constructive advice.
     
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  16. Lynea

    Lynea Troubadour

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    Yes, I can see it's not a game you're doing, it just seems like you're drawing a lot of elements from role-playing to help build your characters. After reading the other posts, I think it might serve you well to have an anti-magic character. It sounds like you want to have a way to cancel out magic rather than battle magic with more magic, if that makes any sense.
     
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  17. StrawhatOverlord

    StrawhatOverlord Scribe

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    I draw elements from many things I like, including RPGs yes, though it's also partly for practical logic reasons in-universe. Anti-magic is a good suggestion, and it ~sort-of exists in my system, but not direct "spell cancel", so that would also be balanced.
     
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  18. Lynea

    Lynea Troubadour

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    I think it's great that you have a taste for logical RPG things in your system :) It'll make for a stronger sense of world-building in your writing altogether. Good luck with everything! Let us know how it goes.
     
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