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I would appreciate feedback on my Magic System

BlufftonSWK

New Member
Hello! I used to use these forums years ago, though I lost my original username and the email associated with it.

I recently got back into writing, and I'm going back to a story I've worked with on and off for a few years. I'm working on the magic system for my story, and I was hoping I could get some input from others. The way I have envisioned this, there is one source of magic, however, there are different "systems" that access magic in different ways, though most people lump it together as "magic". My idea is that there is a natural access to magic, and artificially created access to magic. This is what have so far.

Magic exists as a force that permeates throughout the world. In the way that there are universal laws, such as gravity, magic is also bound to a set of universal laws, though the comprehension of these laws is beyond the understanding of most beings, and is viewed as a mystery. However, this has not stopped individuals from devoting their lives to the study of magic, and all things magically related. Though it exists in the physical world, some cultures see magic as being strongly linked with the Other World, a realm that exists parallel and alongside of, yet at times within, the physical world. However, magic is not sourced within the Other World.

Natural Magic: Natural magic describes when an individual has the ability conjure and cast magic themselves, and act as conduits for magic. Unlike some forms of magic, this form cannot be learned, and is instead an innate ability that develops while in utero. Additionally, there are no genetic components to natural magic, and thus it cannot be passed down through bloodlines. Powers tend to manifest in individuals between the ages of nine and ten years old, though some individuals have been known to have their powers manifest at very young ages. The magic that can be manifested is associated with the elements, hence one of the names being Elemental Magic. Individuals born with natural magic can conjure and manipulate the following forms: fire, water, air, earth, ice, lightening, sound, telepathy, shadows, and light. However, individuals will only manifest one of these forms, and cannot learn or conjure other forms. Even magic users within the same family can manifest different powers.Within these forms, with enough skill and mastery, an individual can wield a wide array of abilities, from ice wielders creating blizzards, to fire wielders being able to propel themselves into the air, light wielders bending light to become invisible, or sound wielders disrupting communication.

As wielders of natural magic act as conduits for magic, these individuals spend many years training their minds and bodies in how to properly channel this magic, though there is no one specific way this can be achieved. How wielders conjure magic can vary between individuals. While some can simply hold out a hand to cast magic, others incorporate movement, such as martial arts or dances, while others utilize staffs and wands to direct the flow of magic. The use of magic can also vary widely between individuals, based on factors such as stamina, emotional regulation, experience, duration of magic being used, and style. As an example, an individual who is more acrobatic may be able to cast magic more rapidly than one who is not moving much, however they may tire more quickly. As a result, the use of natural magic is very individualistic, though some similarities are present.

Spellcraft: Also known as bookcraft, spellcraft is not a naturally occurring form of magic. Instead of magic being conjured by an individual who has a natural connection, spellcraft utilizes materials that are known to, or are believed to have magical properties. In using these materials, typically paper or parchment, an artificial link to magic is bound through writing, and is released when certain words are spoken. While the exact origin of when or how spellcraft was first discovered is unknown, it is generally seen as a way for magic to be utilized by everyone, particularly those who were not born with the ability to conjure magic themselves. In practice, however, spellcraft is viewed as the magic of the well-off and upper class. The reason for this is due to many factors that limit access and use of the magic, such as financial limitations, and means to access.

Certain materials must be collected to create the inks with which spells are written, and the materials that these spells are written on. Many will use creatures typically viewed as having magical properties, with their skins being harvested to create a special type of parchment, while certain plants and minerals will be collected to create inks. At times, the liquids found in the bodies of magical creatures is also used for inks. It is believed that there is a hierarchy regarding what is seen as the best materials used in the creation of each item, and that certain combinations can have varying effects. This eventually gave rise to guilds surrounding the procurement and production of these items. These guilds are very protective in regard to the secrets of how these items are obtained, in addition to regulating the price of each item, and to try and keep competition fair. As some materials are viewed as being rarer, and more potent than others, in conjunction with the difficulty of obtaining said materials, the cost of each item varies. Additionally, due to the cost of transportation, and to make a profit themselves, merchants of these items will increase the price the further away from the source an item is. Thus, certain items are often viewed as being reserved only for the very wealthy.

In addition to the material cost to utilize obtain these magical items, the individuals who wish to use spellcraft must also be able to read and write. Spellcraft is spoken in an ancient language that is thousands of years old and is considered a dead-language. However, the languages in current use do not produce the desired results when utilized, and often ending in disaster. It is unknown why this ancient language is the catalyst for spellcraft, and can be a source of intense academic study and experimentation. Thus, most people are unable to learn this language, let alone speak and write with proficiency, resulting in only a few in the upper classes being able to learn it. Once an individual who is able to speak, read, and write in this language procures the needed materials, which are typically bound in a book, the caster will proceed to write the spell for their desired effect. When they wish to cast the spell, the caster will then read and recite the spell aloud, while performing a gesture with their free hand. This results in the ink, followed by the item the spell was written on, to erode and transform into a magical aura before it is unleashed. Thus, the material is destroyed in the process of casting, which is another limitation regarding this magic.

However, as spellcraft creates an artificial link to magic as opposed to a natural link, this can lead to magic acting in unpredictable ways. As a result, the caster must be very specific in what they write, to achieve the desired effect without causing harm to themselves or other undesired effects. For an example, if a caster wanted to conjure a blast of fire from their hand, they must include safeguards within the spell to ensure that the fire does not cause them harm, is directed in a specific way, and what the specific effects are. Thus, even spells which could be described as “simple,” are in reality very complex. While these spells could theoretically be used destroy an entire army, or eradicate a city, this is typically discouraged due to a number of factors, such as the complexity and length of writing, the amount of material used, and reading and speaking all of the words of a spell. However, this fact is not commonly known to most people, which results in some individuals suggesting that they have this ability, and use it as a threat towards others.

Additionally, there are a number of things that can result in the spell backfiring, which often occur in one of three ways. The first is related to the words themselves as they are spoken. As the words must be spoken aloud, they must also be uninterrupted, and spoken precisely. If a speaker is unable to pronounce a word correctly, or they are cut off in some way, this will result in a loss of control of the magic. The second way is for the spell to be blocked before it is unleased. An example is if an ice magic user were to encapsulate the open hand in ice, or create an ice barrier around the caster, then the spell has nowhere to go. The third is if the spell book itself is destroyed, particularly through magical means, then the magic of the spells contained in the book is unleashed all at once.

I'm still working out some other things, such as how different societies view and utilize magic, such as most users of natural magic working in different jobs such as agriculture for earth magic or with blacksmiths for fire magic, and that most are not trained to use magic for combat. I have ideas of how magic would be used in combat, how armies would target/defend their magic users, or how a system called Potioncraft is an offshoot of Spellcraft that also utilizes medicine. I'm also thinking of magic systems that are more mysterious, the "demon magic" or "dark magic" of my story.

I apologize for the length of this post, but as I said at the beginning, I'm getting back into writing, and would appreciate any feedback you all have, positive and constructive.

Thank you.
 

Queshire

Auror
The main thing that sticks out to me is that there's not a lot of definitive statements about book magic there. It's a lot of "believed" and "typically viewed as." Unless you're going to have all that turn out to be mistaken beliefs in your story you're not doing yourself any favors there.
 

BlufftonSWK

New Member
The main thing that sticks out to me is that there's not a lot of definitive statements about book magic there. It's a lot of "believed" and "typically viewed as." Unless you're going to have all that turn out to be mistaken beliefs in your story you're not doing yourself any favors there.

I can see that. This is what I threw together when I had breaks between sessions at work, so it's a bit of a work in progress, but I do appreciate your comment. I'm working on having a list of things that do have magical properties, and the specific rules for spellcraft, though I want to keep it hidden from the MC, since their culture sees spellcraft as unnatural, and that in conjunction with guilds/the wealthy keeping things secret, his knowledge about it is limited. I do want to have the idea that most people don't know much about the specifics about magic overall, especially if it does not have any effect on their daily lives, and that some people in authority use that to push around others. However, now that I have re-read what I was writing, I do like the idea of things going wrong for some people who use spellcraft, but do not fully understand book magic. I had this idea in my head for the inciting incident, where another character was randomly transported hundreds of miles to the MC's country, because someone who tried to kill that character messed up a spell, and randomly ended up having their body ripped apart and turned into a portal, though the spell book and the hand that was holding it was also thrown through the portal.
 

pmmg

Istar
It would seem to me that the ones who use natural magic would have blood that is a good source of ink for those with Spell craft magic.

I must assume your WIP requires such definition, but I dont think I personally do. That some or naturals and some need tools to enhance would seem in the realm of suspending disbelief.

If I was rich enough, would I need to buy scrolls and materials? or could I just buy a wizard.\\

I suppose I am drawn to the question of improvement. If it cannot be learned, that would imply something like metachlorians in play. Can I then not obtain those, infuse myself and gain some ability. And if I have ability, can I improve it through learning? If so, I would think the field would be open for this to be learnable.
 

BlufftonSWK

New Member
It would seem to me that the ones who use natural magic would have blood that is a good source of ink for those with Spell craft magic.

You know, I was already giving my villain a thing where he creates this army of wraiths/monsters by ripping people's souls from their bodies, but this is a good idea too. I may borrow that.

I must assume your WIP requires such definition, but I dont think I personally do. That some or naturals and some need tools to enhance would seem in the realm of suspending disbelief.

For most people in the story, magic is just magic and they don't see a difference since it does not have a big impact on their daily lives. However, if magic has a larger impact on your life, then you know the differences. For example, my MC is a natural magic user, and ice mage, but his father is a sword maker, who employs a fire mage, since they would able to constantly maintain fires instead of constantly reading out spells. There's also a cultural component that I'm devising.

If I was rich enough, would I need to buy scrolls and materials? or could I just buy a wizard.

"Could I just buy a wizard," made me laugh really hard. If I ever get back into D&D, I'm going to work that into my character. So one of the things I'm still working on is what to call certain magic users. Most magic users are called mages. I see wizards as a title for scholars, both those who have natural magic and those who don't, who study magic in my WIP. I see them being under the employ of the wealthy, and that the most wealthy, like kings, would have a large group of wizards. They are the ones who create spells, experiment with materials and how spells are constructed, and teaching others how the process works. However, most wizards rarely are able to purchase the items themselves, which is why they sell their services to nobles. I can envision a patronage system, like one noble will provide supplies to a wizard to create spells for them, and that other nobles may try to sway popular wizards to work for them instead. But this also leads into how this magic is used in combat, which is a work in progress.

I suppose I am drawn to the question of improvement. If it cannot be learned, that would imply something like metachlorians in play. Can I then not obtain those, infuse myself and gain some ability. And if I have ability, can I improve it through learning? If so, I would think the field would be open for this to be learnable.

For my WIP, I don't see magic as having something related to midichlorians, though this is also being developed. I guess I should add a bit here. There is a type of spiritual component to natural magic. There are some places such as mountains, forests, or rivers, and certain times of the year, like solstices and equinoxes, where magic is able to manifest the strongest. This extends to certain beings as well, such as some animals that live in these areas, or some species of dragons being magical in nature. People who can use natural magic are described by my MC's culture as having a foot between two worlds.

In regard to your question of learning magic, one of the things about spellcraft is that it is something that does not naturally occur, and is basically people trying to control a force of nature. The way I see it, people have tried to do this, but what most fail to realize is that natural magic users do not hold the magic within them, but as I have mentioned, act as paths for magic to manifest. When people have attempted to infuse themselves with magic, they are trying to contain magic within themselves, however they are not magical, and their bodies cannot contain the magic itself, hence why items must be magical to begin with in order to be used. What results in this is a type of magical backup, often with horrific consequences. However, this does not stop people from discovering a way to do such things.

But thank you for your feedback, you got my brain churning with ideas.
 

Uncle Jamie

New Member
I had a couple of thoughts to share.

So, the natural channelers just have "the knack", some rare and random trait. I see this as like having a powerful singing voice, or exquisite balance; luck of the draw. While the scholars need absolute concentration and focus, not to mention confidence. The tiniest hesitation or nervous twitch is potentially deadly.
They're both performances. One is improvising jazzy riffs. The other is reciting otherworldly Shakespeare. One is letting go of their sense of self, allowing themselves to become a conduit. Celebrating. The other is rigidly clenched, imposing their will on reality. Demanding.
The channeler is "dancing like nobody's watching", embracing this unexpected gift. The scholar is making a sales pitch, exerting dominance, refusing to back down. So you have this dichotomy between outlooks, or worldviews - ecstasy or arrogance. One has faith and surrenders to the moment. One refuses to show weakness (you said he was raised upper-class, right?).
And certain locations or other beings can enhance the magical effect, so I presume there's circumstances that provoke the opposite. Once again using the performance metaphor; to the channeler it's a tight rhythm section, everyone's in the groove, the spellcaster is thinking "Whoa, tough crowd!"
Your concept is really evocative. Hope my input helps.
 
In my opinion, the type of magic should be governed by the theme of the story or the high concept or the characteristics of the characters or a mix.
 
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