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Help with possible problems or questions about my magic system

Discussion in 'World Building' started by cak85, May 30, 2020.

  1. cak85

    cak85 Dreamer

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    I am calling one of the groups of magic users in my society Spirit Walkers and they are all part of a group called the Order of the Most Sacred Spirit Bridge. I intentionally am trying to think of a pretentious sounding name because I want them to come across as very pretentious.

    They have a very rudimentary understanding of how magic works in my world but they use "smoke and mirrors" to make them seem more powerful than they are. I kind of imagine them like the Wizard of Oz, accept with actual magic powers. They leverage the misunderstanding of the average person so that they can have a more important role in society.

    One of the characters in my story comes from this society of Spirit Walkers. As the story unfolds, and she witness real power from a different race of humanoids who can fully access the power and use it. So she begins to question what she was led to believe. She also has a desire to be able to use this power.

    I am little stuck about what questions I should be asking myself to flesh this out or make it more interesting.
    Any ideas?
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  2. Nirak

    Nirak Minstrel

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    I think it's hard to answer this without understanding more about what you already know about the system, and what exactly you're asking for help with. I don't think you spelled out your system enough to find a problem with it. It sounds like a good general setup for conflict. Personally I think the name "Spirit Walkers" sounds more earthy than pretentious, but maybe paired with the abilities of your system it makes sense. If you haven't already mapped out the basics, that's a good place to start - even if it isn't spelled out in your book, even if the characters don't actually know, you as the author should know how the magic works. Where does it come from? How is it channeled? What are the limits? What are the costs and drawbacks? Setting limits is really important, without that your reader won't know what the stakes and dangers are to your characters. It also creates a place to advance from. For example, if magic doesn't allow for healing anything more than a paper cut, then when your character is faced with physical harm the reader knows to be worried for them. And then if your mage discovers how to heal serious wounds, the reader understands it's a major accomplishment. Also what can your magic do? If it's, say, elemental magic, then it makes sense to throw fire and lightning, but maybe not as much sense to stop time. Although of course you can do anything you want! Then you would set up how much your 2 factions each can do, and if they have different methods or abilities. Example being, maybe your pretentious faction knows how to do more illusion magic because they focus so much on fooling people. Also, if your magic system is "soft" you don't have to lay out a lot of rules. But maybe once you've set up the parameters, it can inform your story and plot choices. You may have already figured all this out, but maybe this gives you something to think about!
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  3. cak85

    cak85 Dreamer

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    Really appreciate your response! The more I think about - I realize my question is not really about my magic system but more about the general theme of my story. I am writing a fantasy first encounter type of story and want to avoid common pitfalls of this type of story.

    I am referring to magic as the Flow, which basically is the transfer of energy from one object to another. So for example if you want to start a fire, you need some totem/symbol to represent fire, a catalyst to create the fire, which leads to the result of fire. A few of the limitations relate to how big the symbol is, how much power the mage has, how much 'material' the mage has at his her own disposal.

    The Daroqi (mentioned in my 1st post) are very much like humans. Their symbol for accessing the Flow is a bridge, which just serves as a means to an end. They understand the Flow as 1+1=2. I am trying to think of a good word to call their mages though. Some of their abilities comes from the Flow and some just comes from knowledge of healing properties of plants and various minerals. They call themselves the Order of the Most Sacred Spirit Bridge. I am trying to think of a pretentious sounding title. So I may change it up as the story evolves but I want to keep the words -sacred and bridge. I was thinking it would be interesting if they use their knowledge to pretend they have more power than they really do. They

    The Karuvians are more primal. I imagine them looking a lot like Sabertooth from X-Men or the Barghast if you are familiar with Steven Erikson's Malazan Books of the Fallen. They are non-violent and mostly vegetarian. They seldom eat meat and only during special ceremonies. They have full access to the Flow and why it works. Their symbol for accessing the Flow is a spiral. This is because they view energy flowing in circles as it slowly increases power. They are very long lived and view everything in terms of the spiral. They view time as a spiral and count their age based on how many spirals they have survived. So if one of them says they are 17 spirals they could be around 1000 years old in our context.

    A few questions I have right now:
    1. I was thinking of calling Daroqi mages, architects or builders. But I am not sure if that is too modern sounding?
    2. What are common pitfalls of a first encounter type story?
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  4. Angry Briar Rabbit

    Angry Briar Rabbit Dreamer

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    You can review some older French titles, both for people and for awards and such as inspiration.

    Create a word list. For each of your keywords, generate a list of similar words.

    Highest, Royal, Enlightened
    Order, Society, Magistrate, Council, Court
    Most, Complete, Authoritative
    Sacred, Hidden, Obscure
    Spirit, Aether, Mystical
    Bridge, Gate

    From this list, randomly (or sequentially) generate a list of potential names.
    Using a quite program that I wrote, I get over 800 possible permutations:

    1 : The Highest Most Order of the Sacred Spirit Bridge
    2 : The Highest Most Order of the Sacred Spirit Gate
    3 : The Highest Most Order of the Sacred Aether Bridge
    4 : The Highest Most Order of the Sacred Aether Gate
    5 : The Highest Most Order of the Sacred Mystical Bridge
    6 : The Highest Most Order of the Sacred Mystical Gate
    7 : The Highest Most Order of the Hidden Spirit Bridge
    8 : The Highest Most Order of the Hidden Spirit Gate
    9 : The Highest Most Order of the Hidden Aether Bridge
    10 : The Highest Most Order of the Hidden Aether Gate
    (...)
    801 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Hidden Aether Bridge
    802 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Hidden Aether Gate
    803 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Hidden Mystical Bridge
    804 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Hidden Mystical Gate
    805 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Obscure Spirit Bridge
    806 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Obscure Spirit Gate
    807 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Obscure Aether Bridge
    808 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Obscure Aether Gate
    809 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Obscure Mystical Bridge
    810 : The Enlightened Authoritative Court of the Obscure Mystical Gate

    Code:
    import random
    
    #- Lists
    list1 = ['Highest', 'Royal', 'Enlightened'];
    list2 = ['Most', 'Complete', 'Authoritative'];
    list3 = ['Order', 'Society', 'Magistrate', 'Council', 'Court'];
    list4 = ['Sacred', 'Hidden', 'Obscure'];
    list5 = ['Spirit', 'Aether', 'Mystical'];
    list6 = ['Bridge', 'Gate'];
    
    
    #- MAIN
    line_counter = 1
    
    for item1 in list1:
        for item2 in list2:
            for item3 in list3:
                for item4 in list4:
                    for item5 in list5:
                        for item6 in list6:
                            print ( line_counter, ":", "The", item1, item2, item3, "of the", item4, item5, item6 )
                            line_counter += 1
    
    Enjoy! ABR
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  5. cak85

    cak85 Dreamer

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    Thats super helpful! I love the idea of using French inspired titles.
     
  6. Nirak

    Nirak Minstrel

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    I think that one common pitfall in stories about 2 cultures coming together is basing them on real-world examples that are stereotyped or prejudiced. If you do use identifiable real-world inspiration, it's probably a good idea to do some research and talk to people from that culture to make sure you avoid issues - then have a diversity reader check it. Another one would be making 1 side "good" and one side "bad", and your character from the "good" culture saves the bad one. Societies are complex, as are the people in them (although of course if you're writing a good vs. evil story there is a place for things like trollocs and goblins!)
     
  7. cak85

    cak85 Dreamer

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    Good points. My goal is to balance out both cultures so it doesn't feel like the 'native getting trampled on by the dominant force' kind of narrative. I am really trying to avoid a Disney Pochantas type of feel. So I am really looking at how to balance out the two cultures.

    I also want to use this as a means to explore how values and judgements are based on culture.Thats why I decided to have them both use the source of magic except they view/access it differently. One culture views magic as the Bridge - a means to an end. Their magic is mostly action - reaction based.

    The other culture views the magic as a Spiral. This type of magic is more mysterious and relies on the interconnectedness of everything. This culture also reveres the spiral, which can be found in many places throughout the lives. They only use magic on special occasions and even then, there is certain care and ritual that goes into it.
     
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