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Is magic always "Fireball Throwing"?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Hans, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. Hans

    Hans Sage

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    Reading through the magic threads I take it, a lot of writers here are influenced by role playing games where a mage is walking artillery.
    In some older works magic is more subtle. It is more about getting the spirits to do your things. While the fingerclapping magic does exist it is often more like "wow, something unexplainable just happened without witness".
    Personally I like the older approach better, but that's just my personal opinion. So, which way do you take for your world and stories?
     
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  2. Sparkie

    Sparkie Auror

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    Funny you should bring this up. In my WIP magic is much like the "older approach." Getting spirits to take a side is of primary significance, with what might be termed 'battle magic' taking a backseat to good ol' fashioned melee and raged combat.

    I find the RPG style of magic a little stale when it's used in books. James Barclay's Raven stories come to mind. I think he's a decent writer, but the overt, video gamish style of magic he uses seems a little corny to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
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  3. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

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    both it depends on many factors of the story
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I prefer a bit of both. I think the tenor I've set up in my story requires a bit of both. It's unfortunate, though, because I'm having a bit of a struggle figuring out what a "wizard" is really capable of. The subtler aspects seem easier for me.

    In my other story, a mythological piece, there's a completely different tact. Magic is so real, and comes in so many very-well-defined varieties that it's almost in your face without the fireball mages you're referring to. But the dozen-or-so magical varieties are clear and even intuitive, with set limitations and abilities, so it would be hard to call anyone a piece of artillery.
     
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  5. AeliusBlythe

    AeliusBlythe New Member

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    I prefer if it's not, actually. Not a fan of the fireball-throwing. I don't find very obvious magic to be particularly believable. It has to be something I could see happening in the real world for it to really have any effect on me. Same reason I find serial killers scary and zombies funny.

    But then again, I do like Harry Potter. But I didn't exactly read Harry Potter for the magic. The characters and plotlines were strong enough to take center stage. That is not true for all books.
     
  6. Terra Arkay

    Terra Arkay Minstrel

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    My magic is mystery, spirit and pizazz rather than fire or deep-freeze. The magic in my story shall have something to do with the soul, a planet (yet to be named) and fireflies... Though fire-ball throwing and what not shall be included in my world, the main focus for magic is the mystery of it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
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  7. The magic in my WIP is more of the fireball-throwing variety, although it's (sort of) grounded scientifically so that it works in a very precise way. However the characters who can wield it 1) are the first people in the world who have these abilities, and 2) have not had it for very long. There's a mage-battle in the book that is basically the first of its kind, and none of the characters have ever done that before, so they're sort of making it up as they go along.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
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  8. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    Interesting subject.
    My magic has aspects of both as well. There are very subtle elements (well, most elements can be used in subtle and less subtle way but you know what I mean ;)) and very impressive ones. Subtle aspects of magic are fascinating but I like more impressive displays of power from time to time as well. I don't have any problems with realism there, I don't require magic to be such and means of causing great destruction are realistic after all.
    Having never played games, they can't have influenced me, but movies have done so I believe.

    My "problem" is the fact that I tend to sympathize with the people hit by the fireball (or whatever) way too much. Therefore, I often have moral issues with just enjoying myself with scenes of powerful battle magic.
    This might also be after effects of being told that playing war is wrong by my parents as a child. ;) When I was about six or seven I used to play Lego with a boy from the neighborhood and they were quite shocked, when we started equipping our Lego boats with weapons. I've never done that again but in fantasy, sometimes there's no way past war. ;)
     
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  9. Codey Amprim

    Codey Amprim Staff Article Team

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    Fireballs!? Talkin' about Fireballs!? I think the two categories discussed here are just the basic templates for magical systems. It is rather hard to create a new system all in its own, but I think I'm satisfied with the Fireball Method.

    In my WIP, the Fireball Method fits and works well, but it also isn't the only "power" in the Realm, either. I just find the whole thing fun and exciting, as it's meant to be. In my eyes, the other method of the seclusive, subtle magics seem feeble and, quite frankly, boring to me. Sure I can get into it after reading page after page and try to go along with it, but my heart lies with the powerful magics.

    And they don't have to be so bland either! Or destructive!

    It kind of seems to me that from this thread the Fireball Method seems to be the run-of-the-mill, idiotic stereotype, whilist the subtle seems more sophisticated. Honestly, I think it's how they are used within the world and all of its factors working together.

    But, then again, I'm a bit of a pyromaniac x)
     
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  10. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    :D
    Maybe fire doesn't always have to come in balls. I especially like the multi-coloured flames created by throwing salts into a hot flame. Really inspiring for magical stuff.
     
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  11. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

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    I have devised a magic that has more in common with telekeness and other related psychic powers, as well as alterations to the physical.

    For example, one character is a giant, with impervious skin, another shuts down neural functions. I have others that influence emotional response, but only one that has what may be considered a fireball magic, but requires energy to come from somewhere.
     
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  12. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

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    Haha you did not just go Allen Iverson/Jim Mora Sr. all over these forums...

    As for me, in my current work, the magic will be much more subtle as magic users aren't exactly in a good position at the moment. However, fireballs certainly exist, but are not common at this stage in the history of my world.
     
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  13. Solomon Tan

    Solomon Tan Minstrel

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    I think if your magic is "throwing fireballs" and your mages are basically walking canons, then you need to restrict them with rules so that they are not overly powerful.. For myself, I do not enjoy reading a wizard that can solve everything with overly destructive magic.

    Similarly, magic cannot be too weak or worthless, or else what's the point of mastering magic using years and years of your life, where a warrior can easily hack you to piece with an axe.

    My magic system in my world have both the throw fireball, and the more subtle magic. Using rune system and activating it.. So, the wizard need to draw the rune first, and then activating it, so the certain magic will 'appear'.
     
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  14. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Magic can be anything–that's the beauty (and appeal) of it.

    Having said that… I tend to avoid the more direct, showier manifestations–for much the same reason I rarely write about firearms: too easy. I like subtler approaches, often combined with outright misdirection and psychological warfare. It's far less intimidating, from my point of view, to be defeated by someone bombarding you with magical artillery than it is to be defeated by someone you know used magic to do it, but you aren't quite sure how. That kind of magician can strike at you in ways you can never fully anticipate or prepare for–and, as a result, often doesn't have to strike at you at all, as he's already won the mental battle.

    Also, that kind of magician can often accomplish similar effects with far less power investment. An example from Glen Cook's Black Company: combine a small invisibility spell, a utilitarian ward against insects, a hornet's nest… and an enclosed area. Instant grenade–and a selective one, at that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
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  15. Hans

    Hans Sage

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    Or you give them a problem they can't solve with pure destructive power. What is he doing in a mystery? Tearing down the town knowing the guilty are among the dead?

    I think mind reading and healing are bigger cheats than destruction. "Legolas, Boromir is dying. Quick, toss the healing potion."

    Maybe for the same reasons a real world shaman devotes his live to an art that has no (provable) effect at all.
     
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  16. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    I never noticed it before, but magic that affects perception and the mind seem to be my focus. Illusions, mesmerizing, runes that give a limited control over a person's actions, spirit possession are all different ones for different stories. I have story with a system for summoning demons, which seems pretty normal.

    In my main project, you could throw fireballs, but it's very complicated and you'd need extraordinary powers of concentration and decent knowledge of explosive materials. You couldn't do it for long or from far away. It has limited application (military, demolition...instant barbeques?), it's unsafe because of the instability, and there are simply better methods for getting things done without risking your eyebrows.

    I don't have much of "mage as artillery" in AG. Magic requires a couple of years to learn, and I couldn't replace magicians fast enough to make up for casualties if I did it that way. With spells done on the fly in stressful situations, friendly fire would be a strong possibility. Magic falls somewhere between a trade and a profession in that world, and it's meant to supplement technology, medicine, and weapons, not to completely replace them.

    I don't mind either type of magic as long as there are limits and/or mystery. Knowing magic is unrestricted, easy to access, and works 100% of the time isn't interesting. If the story is good, I'll probably get over it. The only type of magic I dislike is the hereditary kind. Magic users were just born special, dontcha know.
     
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  17. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    The common Wizard battle is fireballs or energy beams.

    I create magic based on energy, the more powerful, the more energy it uses. The wizard gets more efficient and can build some energy stores then the beginner, but there is always a finite energy to draw from. Wizard linking(one cannon, one battery) is possible but not common.

    The easiest magic is the mentalist, all magic is from within, mental attacks, mind over body magic, mind energy healing the body type.

    For a funeral I did have wizard fireworks, "prismatic sprays" of mostly harmless lights, also fireballs bursting in the air, high on flash, small on damage.

    I dislike earth altering magic, summoning giant demons to wade through the enemies armies without fear, Summoning anything is a slow process unless the summoned is alright with being pulled away, then its basically a teleport with a message.
    a massive wave of energy destroying thousands of people can not happen in my world except maybe in a unique circumstance.
    One case I can think of, is a community of people joining around an alter to share their energy(like in Avatar) to provide vast energy for a mage to use. But I have not used this idea yet.
     
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  18. Solomon Tan

    Solomon Tan Minstrel

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    Yeah, friendly fire.. That can be a good restriction.. A powerful wizard throwing a massive fireball and ended up burning the main character, and the monsters... Wonderful end to the fantasy story. haha

    I agreed with Hans too on healing spells.. Thus my world that I'm making, had no healing spells.. There will be healing potions but it's more to tonic like stuffs.. Like it helps in healing of open wounds or stop bleeding, but it doesn't make a critically injured person jumped up from his bed and started fighting as if nothing had happened before...

    A thinker for everyone.. Anyone considered the psychological effects of this kind of healing spell or a resurrection spell? You get hacked with an axe across the chest that shattered your breast plate by a orc, bleeding to death, and your ally jump in and cast a powerful healing magic, and you can jump back into the battle, only to be hacked again, and healed and hacked and heal...

    Man, I'll rather be the healer than the fighter.. you experienced death like many times a day.....
     
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  19. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Magick for sale

    An ever bigger question to ask is the morality behind a mage's actions, especially a powerful one. What if there were an exceptionally powerful wizard offering his services to anyone, no questions asked? "You want the King turned into a pile of ash? No problem. That'll be 20,000 Gold Talents, please." Of course, this is the great thing about writing fantasy fiction...anything is possible.
     
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  20. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    The beauty of Magic is that it can be anything, that's why it's mysterious and fascinating and in my stories magic is a mystical, totally supernatural power that has no relation at all with things like science or nature... I really dislike magic systems about "magic is science" or when magic is something taken from nature, that just does not make sense to me!!

    Subtle and mysterious magic has something fascinating about it (like the magic in Lord of the Rings) and I like it, but I like even more the kind of devastating and awful magic that appears in my stories =)
     
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