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Does my magic system need to be more complex?

Hi everyone! I just had a quick question about my magic system, and would be grateful for any advice.
So I'll summarize my story very broadly for context, I just don't want to tell too much since it's not copywritten (is that a word?) yet.
So there is a world that exists that was hidden from earth for years. It was discovered by a sorceress in our Earth's Middle Ages, and she managed to use her magic to transport herself and several others to the other world. The future rulers of that world all inherited her magic, but some were not able to channel it. The other world was already previously inhabited by magical beings like elves.
So my magic is gestural and usually spoken through incantation. The main thing that limits those who posses it is the inability to use it for extensive amounts of time without the need to rest.
One of my characters get's healed in the story by an elf, who transfers energy into her in order to wake her. This action then transmits magic to her.
So are there any gaps in this system? What can I do to make it better?


Article Team
Sounds fine to me. You can add more details about the specifics, but it's not necessarily required.

If I understand it correctly, it works something like this: non magical human gets healed by magical elf, and as a byproduct of the healing, the human becomes able to wield magic?

You can add more if you want, but it depends on if the story/world needs it or not - and if you want to.

One thing to consider is if this happens every time an elf heals a human, or if it only happens under certain circumstances.


Myth Weaver
A magic system can be as complex or simple as you like, but it’s up to you to make it work. I have multiple systems on top of a base system, but do readers understand that? Probably not. But it works, even if some are making incorrect assumptions, LOL.

It also depends on TA. MG, YA, NA, Adult... as well as tone. A fairy tale doesn’t need a complex system, whereas a dense epic where a system of magic is critical, readers might expect more.


There are some abilities that people can pass on for small amounts of time. The magic you describe sounds like it has potential to have short-term side effects. Personally, that sounds like a cool magic mechanic that you can do a lot with in your story.
Lynea, could you explain what you mean by 'short term side effects'? It sounds intriguing and I would love to explore that :)


You know how in X-men, Rogue can borrow another mutant's power for about ten minutes? I think that if a mage were to use their power on a human, the human could possess power for about ten minutes or so before it fades. This in turn could be a useful way to have humans do magic, even if it's not permanent.


What everyone else said, but one thing you may want to think about is how powerful the magic is or can be. For example Harry Potter is a similar system - gestures and words - and they can do just about anything including cheat death. Setting up limits early on helps in world building and establishing stakes. Like, if healing is easy and it's common to do amazing feats, then that's a different feel to your world than if healing is common and you can bring people back from the dead. That changes stakes for your characters, so it's good to set up what limits your magic has. The idea of transferral magic is really cool btw!!
Thanks Nirak! I'm excited to try out all these ideas and see how they play out in my story:) That's a really good point about the commonness of healing etc which I hadn't thought about, but I should. Thank you!


I like the idea of magic power transfer as well. I am interested about some of the consequences for the elf, for example, is their magic permanently depleted, or can they sense their patient, or something else like that. I would also look at the impact on the patient as here is a person who, I assume, has had no experience wielding magic before. Are they overwhelmed, can their body handle the power; that sort of thing.
oooo I really like those ideas- I'm going to explore what you mentioned about the elf sensing the human, and also the energy it takes for the human to use the magic. Thanks for the great advice!
I don’t feel magic needs to be any more complex or simple than you require to tell your story. There just needs to be consistency, first and foremost. That’s my opinion anyways.

Your human gains magic from being healed by magic, but does it happen to every human who is healed this way? Does it have to be healing or simply magical exposure? What exactly kept a human from using magic to begin with? Why does the Elf naturally have magic? What allows a creature to wield magic?

The system isn’t quite as important as the questions your system will bring. We all know what magic is at it’s core. It’s the ability to ignore natural law, more or less. The important part is what your system requires in order to ignore the rules reality has set in your universe.
The actions of the magic upon the world and its characters need to be communicated simply to the audience. Elf heals human. Human goes ?)*(* happened?! Nice and simple. Internally you might have some hit dice or magic levels adjusted for the characters. For example, the elf has 8 points of magic. Five of them go into the human to heal her. The elf now has limited options for magic use. This is the byproduct of healing that silly human.

Secondary issue, as mentioned in prior posts, what is the ramifications of now being "part of this world"? Is the human bound to this new world because of the transfer? Is all magic "tainted"? Can the human now "infect" others by healing them? Does the magic wear off over time?

This internal process is for you, the author, as the effects will be displayed in the world. For example, after she gets healed, a plant might face the human character and open it's flower as a 'Hello, magical being'.

Just a few thoughts, nothing else. ABR