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Interesting "magic schools" ideas you've seen

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Electric Bone Flute, Jan 7, 2022.

  1. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

    When I see magic schools with different flavors, it usually comes down to what specialty the school does, (destroying things, healing things, making things), or an element (four greek classical, light, dark, maybe electricity and technology if it's spicy) with a utility shoehorned (healing will be its own school or it will be water or light). A rare third contender is good powers and evil powers, the most popular of which is Star Wars.

    The most recent magic/psionics system I concerned myself with had one for flesh (healing, shapeshifting), one for electricity/machines, and another for kinetics (classic telekinesis et al), but wanted a fourth one, and when I was pressing myself to think of one, I thought that meta powers, that deal with other powers (random power, strengthen next power, bestow temporary power, force a psionics user to have an offensive power blow up in their face), would be a good fourth. It's not that special but it's not something I see often for magic schools, a whole school for buffs, debuffs, and counterspells.

    Anyway, what are some rarer magic school divisions you've seen, either by how their classified, or just one classification from among them?
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

    Why not have a school for people to study magic, academically, but don't/can't do magic? My college had a HUGE Deaf/hard-of-hearing population, for example, so they were in regular classes/majors, but there was also degrees for people who weren't Deaf/hoh, like ASL (like as a language), ASL interpretation, secondary education for students who are Deaf/hoh etc. In a world where magic is A Thing, it's going to affect people, even if they can't use it. You know what they say, those who can, do, and those who can't, teach (and those who can't teach, teach gym class).

    So your students can be studying the "science"/mechanics of, say, electricity/machines (physics/materials), and maybe they can design the machines(engineering), or be the people who manually work or build the machines (applied engineering). Or maybe they're using the machines to do...whatever (ultrasound/radiograph technician). They can be learning how to work government jobs that manage magic people or running their own magic schools (cause you don't need to be a good wizard to know how to do management).

    This also means you can have some Antagonism between the Cans and Can'ts. Your MC got a full-ride scholarship to this really fancy school, and they're from this really cool, powerful family, but they can't do magic for whatever reason and people hassle them about it, how it's a waste of the school's money. Or maybe they're the only human at an elf school because "diversity" or student-exchange program and they can't do the casual magic everyone else takes for granted. What about people who CAN use magic but they just choose not to? Are there people who enter these programs to help the poor, helpless non-magic users because the world is so MEAN to them and they NEED saving? (there were QUITE a few people like that in the ASL interpretation program and hoooo boy the Deaf students did NOT like them lol)
  3. Miles Fidelman

    Miles Fidelman New Member

    I kind of think of MIT (my alma mater), as a school for technomages.

    As Arthur Clarke put it, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Or... advanced technology is magic that actually works - sometimes as advertised.
  4. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

    By school I meant type of magic (cf "school of thought."), where magic isn't just a monolithic thing but divided into different types, like fire/water/lightning magic, or abjuration/conjuration/destruction.
  5. Cool-Beans

    Cool-Beans Dreamer

    It’s funny how you say with the star wars franchise that the good teaching versus the evil teaching is the more of the rare variety. Is this actually true?
    I feel like good versus evil is a must for any fantasy format. The way it’s structured in Star Wars is probably more literal in the sense that you can be taught the dark ways of the force. Although I would have thought this theme is a lot more common..

    Maybe because it is such a grandiose vision, the whole good versus evil thing it makes it harder to interpret and make into a good story.
  6. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Ooooooh... that type of magic schools and not a Hogwarts type of magic school.

    They play a large part in my current work.

    The first and weakest type of magic in it is what's known as Crafts Magic. Different types of craft magic are distinguished from each other by how they access magic, but they're basically just a grab bag of magical tricks. One person might whisper a quick prayer to the spirits, another might sketch a quick rune while a third commands the mana around them through sheer force of will. This is the type of magic someone uses for just day to day life or as part of their job without carrying about any deeper magical mysteries. What sort of Craft Magic an individual uses can be used as a sign for what nation or family situation someone comes from. (The name in this case comes from a Craftsman using it as part of their job. Say, a town guard making sure the runes inscribed in their arms & armor are in good shape, a chef lighting up their stove with a snap of their fingers or a tailor slowly enchanting a shirt as they stitch it in order to make sure it fits as comfortably on a halfling as a half giant.)

    Craft magic is inspired from how magic in Harry Potter seems to be mostly a grab bag of tricks used in their everyday life.

    A step up from Craft Magic is Foundation Magic which is where the different schools of magic come up. There's a lot of them and they can be rather specific. For each one I try for some combination of thematic for the school of magic, principle behind it, philosophy to it, goal in studying it and often various elements/aspects.

    For example, I have this little druidic salamander guy whose foundation magic is the Wood's Heart Flame. The goal to it is to study how every piece of wood contains the potential for flame within it. It utilizes the growth aspect of wood element and the destruction aspect of the fire element. The philosophy is to embody the peace & joy of the woods most of the time, but to burst out with destructive rage of a forest fire when called for. The principle to it is to build up mana over time (and with large quantities of food and sleep for this little salamander guy) which is then burned through when necessary. Of course, with all this it has a thematic of forest fires, burning trees, wickermen being lit on fire and grasping vines binding a foe before igniting.

    Now, my setting benefits from having all of that, but I don't recommend that for everybody. I do prefer schools of magic having something unifying them or exploring something beyond just the effects. For example, maybe a school of magic that calls on the natural magic of the world around the caster to unleash elemental magic or gather up magical energy to be used with another school or instead of just fire magic have a school of magic that explores the differences between fire as something destructive, the sort of fire used in a forge or the flames of a campfire that wards away the beasts lurking out in the darkness.
    Electric Bone Flute likes this.
  7. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

    Star Wars has the more rarely used system of "there is one power source, but you get these powers from that source if you're good, and those powers if you're bad." Jedi can't use force lightning (they get the dollar store version), Sith can't become force ghosts, and it's okay if a Jedi uses a mind trick but causing insanity is a no-no. Not to mention that Sith can completely control someone's mind, but can't do anything to a mindless plant like a Jedi can. That sort of deal.
  8. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

    A school teaching various "hobby magics" would be interesting.

    For instance, magic that...

    • RPG gamers can learn
    • knitters, cross stitchers, crocheters can learn
    • model builders can learn
    • coin and stamp collectors can learn (or all such collectors)
    • Tiktok creators can learn (or all media creators)
    • book readers can learn
    • comic readers can learn
    • gardeners can learn
    • athletes can learn

    Heck, the list could go on and on. To make it manageable for a story, perhaps there'd be different houses, with sets of hobbies in each, so The Collectors, The Builders, The Creators, The Athletes, The Gamers and so forth.


    I probably should have just used this one myself.

    Edit: OOPS, missed the part of the question asking for schools I've seen. Well, I guess I've seen this one in my head, hah, although I do seem to remember running across a "knitters, cross stitchers, etc." kind of magic system once.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2022
  9. Cool-Beans

    Cool-Beans Dreamer

    I like to think of that as ‘method’ or about as close to that as I can come, and it applies to all on your list and more.

    I work as a dishwasher and I think, what would it be like if my dishwashing was an epic movie?

    - there is nothing the dishwasher cannot wash (representing death / cleansing)
    - various foods come to be cleaned. Oily (annoying characters that you think have disappeared but are really still there) greasy characters, similar to oily characters but often containing burned up bits which might be nice to eat but after that nice bit you realise you have all this crap to deal with
    - waiters, they all have their own backstories and burdens dealing day in and out in the mouth of the dragon, which makes them lousy as they serve the hand of death the plates which are slowly killing those who praise death, out in the dragons mouth.

    so on and so forth.

    you could also do the same thing with all topics you proposed. Knitting, some back and forth things, tik tok.

    I think about it when I go to work wondering if I’ll ever get some ground breaking ideas lol
  10. KestrelDC

    KestrelDC Acolyte

    I have a character that uses a magical heart thing as sort of a dark secret and shame/guilt detector. Like she keeps it in a pouch most of the time and if it senses someone's dark secret or shame or guilt, whether it be some evil thing they themselves did out of malice or just some really morbid history of theirs that eats them up and they don't share much, it'll like beat to tell her it's got something. It then tells her about whatever it picked up. She can then confront someone about it or just keep it in mind or whatever else she wants to do with this information. It's roughly inspired by The Telltale Heart. Essentially, it's a very literal telltale heart lol. Don't have a specific name for this.
    Also have a character based on the Grootslang that does that whole thing with putting someone into their idealized world but it slowly destroys and kills them, which is a classic.
    Considering doing a character with "modes" signified by different color schemes, sorta like the Young Justice version of Halo I guess. The colors I'm thinking are red, blue, and green. So PPG colors, pretty much. Not sure what the modes will be yet, but one thought is sorta RPG roles. Like red being the aggressive and tanky role, blue being power and buffs mode, green healer and debuff/condition remover mode. Or something like that.
    Also working on design for a character with elemental magic, but not the classic elemental sorta deal. More the Periodic kind of elements, like Metamorpho or something.

    I've gotten a lot of my ideas from random entities in various folklores, mythologies, and cryptids, so that could be a good place to look. I spend a lot of time on Yokai.Com just hitting "Random Yokai" and seeing what it gives me lol.

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