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I need rules to limit my magic system.

The prominent magic system in my WIP, is called Willing.

It is quite simple; you use your Will to manipulate Tuatha De Dannon, the life force that's inside every living thing. With this, you can use magic, so far, however, I've having trouble imposing rules and limits on the system.

I know what happens if you Will to much; you go Brain-Dead; basically you have no control over your body and your mind blacks out, and if you Will to much, you could go into a coma or die.

the problem lies in figuring out what can and cant be done. I've limited and rules out some things, by making different races of humans have different styles of Willing, I.E the plain dwelling Arrack have their "Wind Dancers" Who can fly, but not much else.

Your average Willer can unleash Will in a blast, or shape t into little lances (or big ones) to shoot at people. they can also weave lightness or darkness about them, to break up their figures and make them harder to be seen, as well as increasing their vision.

Some Willers, usually ones who experience trauma, also show an ability to manipulate an element, like fire or lightning.

What I need is a reasonable reason as to why they cant Will more. Or any ideas to add to the system would be most welcome.

KC Trae Becker

If Willing too much can put you in a coma, even a little Willing would have to tire you out wouldn't it? Maybe it consumes huge amounts of energy, like running a marathon. Then characters might need to train, build their Will "muscles" and possibly injury themselves doing unusual things that they haven't been trained to do.

Just some ideas. I hope some are helpful.
I try to think of magic as having to fill a vessel, which of course can only contain so much. A cup can only hold so much water. Yet creatures are flexible, and can teach their bodies to absorb/store more and more. So while some can only contain so much others would be able over time to train their bodies to deal with more stress of containing said energy. As with any type of physical conditioning one must practice constantly, and time spent slacking can mean the body reverts to a more natural state.
You could try something like this to limit the use of massive quantities of power before the body becomes sick and poisoned by too much.



Scarcity, Difficulty and Cost. Those are the three cores for making a magic, the beginning at least. Scarcity, how rare or common is the gift? How difficult is it to use the magic? You already have the cost, brain dead and all that.

Then there's the Source of the magic. I can't tell if the source is their Will or the Tuatha all around them. Every different source, in every known cutlure, has fundamentally the same magic but it's used different based on two things. Principles and tools. the principles are the rules, sort of like an oath the wizard takes before he starts using magic. Like before you join the armed forces or such a career. The tools, oh geez there's a lot of tools; ritual tools, wands, scepters, crystals, charms, amulets, potions oh boy!

I had the same problem with my magic system, but once I got all of that laid out; source, tool oath etc, everything became clear. So if the good magic follows these principles and use these tools, then what does the evil magic use?
The problem with systems that could do anything is deciding what they actually learn to do. The Will can allow you to do anything imaginable, but what do your characters actually learn?

What keeps you alive? --What utility spells are just too basic for someone to skip?

What keeps you employed? --Think of organizations that train Willers to do Specific Jobs, and then those characters only learn spells relevant to their career advancement.

Its the wealthy, do-nothings, or the outcast loners who have enough free time to design new spells that aren't likely to turn a profit.

(my magic users make contracts, so they double as Real Lawyers when there is nothing magical left to do)


Magic should be limited by Damashi, the power of the spirit and should stem from confidence, like the Green Lanterns. The more confidant the users, the greater the power, but pride has it's own downfalls. Someone who's too prideful could be consumed by his own magic or fall to the 'dark side' or something.


The first thing I have to say is reconsider the name Tuatha De Dannon. Just Tuatha maybe but I'm Irish and the use of that title feels false. Obviously, this is pure opinion and you can do whatever.

Every action has a reaction. Perhaps if a Willer performs some amazing feat, an equal and opposite reaction occurs. You choose the specifics but it could be as simple as turning milk sour or as bad as making every pregnant woman within two miles have a miscarriage. That adds the moral choice aspect while limiting your magic. It also makes bad Willers inherently stronger since they'll lack remorse.
Hey, thanks for all the replies, some cool stuff here, definitely going to be useful.

To answer a few questions that people have asked here, and to help with your understanding of the system, Willing is relatively common. The most common form of magic is by Blood Magic, used by Blood Mages. most villages have one, usually weak , who heals wounds, helps with childbirth ect. The more powerful ones are in the cities, running their own practices, and the most powerful ones get driven crazy by the Lifeforce.

Willing is quite common, which is why I need limits as to what a Willer can Will to happen or into existence. Without these caps stopping them from WIlling things the possibilities are endless, and I'm not clever enough to deal with that.

Willing is controlled, all Willers are required to have the Carrall tattooed on their cheek and their details written down and shared. This lets Carrall Willers share knowledge, get respect jobs in courts and armies, but means that they are monitored. Obviously some people don't get the Carrall, and if found out they'll be killed.

And Trick, I did draw the name from Irish influences; I love the old Celtic mythology of Britain and Ireland, and get a lot of influences form there. I didn't think it would be so obvious, so I'll probably change it. And seeing as you're Irish, can you tell me what you think of me using the Sidhe in my novel; I have families of them plotting to take over the world, and one family of them who are dragon shape shifters who really cant be asked.
Maybe a hard rule can be: Can't make living objects. Inanimate / inorganic substance only.

So a willer can't make a monkey, but he could make a money statue... and use a second spell the animate it. This would make it imposible for willers to make infinite armies of created humans.

Maybe another rule can be: The can only control an amount of created mass equal to or less than themselves. Meaning a willer is more likely to summon small objects rather than oceans of water to attack.
Balancing magic "system" is hard, I've come up with a few limitations and it still doesn't fell balanced enough!

Since your magic is powered by life force the most logical reason for power not just uses as much as they want, is imply exhausting their own life force and dying. Exceptions to that rule could be stealing life-force from the unwilling or by allowed to tat the life-force of the willing. There is also feeding on the ambient life-force around you and the catch for doing that is leaving an area effectively dead until it recovers.

As for restraining magic to keep it's users from being able to do everything! I offer the solution that worked for me. People just have certain natural attunements for a phenomena or two that shapes how magic can manifest.
How about can't make something from nothing? They can change an object's shape or dimensions, but can't just create it from thin air. To borrow another post's example You could turn a log into a monkey carving, then turn that monkey carving into granite, then make it 12 feet tall, then animate it. You'll probably be near collapse from exhaustion by then, but....

In my WIP all magic exacts a cost, even if it's just fatigue. Your broom, and dustpan may be enchanted to clean with a word, but you still feel just as tired when they're done. My magic also cannot create genuine emotions in people, create life, or create information or something from nothing. Also one magic user cannot undo the magic of another. Limits will force you to be MORE creative with the magic.


You could also go the pragmatic rout.
Decide, which kind of magic you want in your story, what you want the characters to be able to do. Then think about situations where magic might be helpful but its absense creates interesting challenges and situations where it would get in the way of a plausible plot if it could achieve whatever needs to be achieved in this situation. If the characters need to travel from A to B on horseback, you need a reason why they can't teleport there for example. And it needs to be a good one, if teleportation is usually possible but not in this one instance for a reason that is only mentioned in this situation, some readers will be annoyed.
Then decide on rules which make this work and make it believable in a larger context.


Like physical force, magic has its upper limits. For example, no matter how much someone watches his diet, works out, even pumps himself full of steroids, there is an upper limit to his strength that just isn't going to be exceeded, no matter what he does. Special Ops soldiers are pretty bad ass, operating at about the upper limits of human performance, but they can't catch bullets with their teeth or bounce them off their biceps. Olympic caliber swimmers can tire and drown just like everybody else. Despite their high levels of training and performance, these people are still limited to human levels of performance. I use these comparisons when trying to decide on the limits of my magic systems. One of my characters is as talented at magic as Mozart was in composing music. The obvious danger is making her too powerful, so some of the limits I've come up with (which may or may not be adaptable to your story. Just throwing them out there):

magic is a force in the cosmos, like heat, electricity, kinetic energy, etc., but it's not evenly distributed. Some places are so thick with it anyone trying to tap into it would be instantly destroyed. Other places have none. The magic woven through the universe can be though of as harp strings, each with its own frequency and power levels, and a wizard must be able to attune himself to the strings. If he gets really good, he can make the strings attune to him, but those strings still have ingerent limits, sort of like the voltage you can get from a generator.

The human body isn't an efficient storage vessel for magical energy, so anyone who wants to carry a power source and not be reliant on finding a good string of magic would need to store power in some sort of talisman, and this could be virtually anything.

Working with magic requires a certain physical make-up. Someone without that physical make-up trying to work magic would be harmed or killed. Some people have what could be termed an allergic reaction to magic, so healing magic wouldn't help them.

Magic is, at its core, an act of will, so it can to some degree be countered by will, even from a person with no magical ability at all.

I'm toying with the idea of anti-magic, something that reacts violently with and destroys magic. Naturally, this would be a particular threat to wizards and magical weapons.

Again, just some ideas I've had tossed out for your consideration.
Kekkaishi had a class of magic user with this ability:

I can make a sword. I can make hundreds of small swords, or one big one. But the sword is always the same shape, just bigger, smaller, or more numerous.

This is more powerful than you want, but the idea is there. They are limited to making one Shape.

As well as a simple lack of life force, I'd also suggest using self belief as a means of limiting magical ability. I.e. you can't do more than you believe you can, which is largely based on the understanding of the world you had as a child. So if as a child the willer could pick up a ball and throw it, he can do that through his magic as well. But if he couldn't pick up and toss an anvil because he simply can't believe that he could. He has felt the weight physically and "knows" it's too much.

To go beyond that limit in any way requires retraining of the soul, but some can do it making them incredibly powerful. For example they could handle fire when most willers couldn't because they know that fire burns them. And because they "know" it burns when they try to will fire it feels like burning.

Cheers, Greg.


And Trick, I did draw the name from Irish influences; I love the old Celtic mythology of Britain and Ireland, and get a lot of influences form there. I didn't think it would be so obvious, so I'll probably change it. And seeing as you're Irish, can you tell me what you think of me using the Sidhe in my novel; I have families of them plotting to take over the world, and one family of them who are dragon shape shifters who really cant be asked.

Using the Sidhe seems more remote. Of course, the Sidhe are basically the Tuatha De Danann. Or the mounds where they live are the Sidhe, depending on your source. You might spell it Shee for publication in America since the dh sounding like y blows most peoples minds. That's just pure opinion though. My wife and I wanted to name our first daughter Sinead (ended up having a second boy but we don't find out so we planned ahead) but we decided against it because even though there is the famous Sinead, everyone we spelled it for pronounced it Sin-eed. Sad to lose a beautiful name and I just can't bring myself to change the spelling for a real name. For a character, sure, but not for a real person.

Done rambling, Sidhe have been characterized along with all magical creatures at this point so you can get pretty creative with them and that's cool.