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Magic- Energy Consumed

Discussion in 'World Building' started by trentonian7, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. trentonian7

    trentonian7 Troubadour

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    Generally, magic systems require wizards to expend energy in order to accomplish magic- however, can a wizard really give enough energy to accomplish typical magical spells? For example, I've read stories where a Mage causes a tree to grow or a hedge of thorns to spring up very quickly. How much energy would, say, a tree require to grow? Could a single person possibly have that much energy on hand without killing themselves? Another example would be fire- would very much energy be required to create it? Do you limit wizards to equal transactions of energy or do you find ways around this?
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    It's magic. Normal physics need not apply.
     
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    My wizards are magical wimps compared to most fantasy mages. Levitate themselves for a few seconds? Sure, though they'll be dang tired afterward. Levitate a group of people....not likely.
     
  4. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Ha! That's the perfect response to this thread.

    In my (current) setting generally only Mages with their mana have to worry about running out of gas or those who make extensive use of magical items which use special magical crystals as ammo.

    There's plenty of other magic that doesn't have such clear cut energy requirements. A fighter's abilities might be based off their emotions, particularly rage while a monk might need to set up certain combos to achieve supernatural effects (think like in a fighting game.) You could still exhaust yourself by doing that just like normal fighting, but the supernatural aspect of the abilities doesn't cost any more energy than normal.
     
  5. arboriad

    arboriad Scribe

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    :D Another take on this is to read what Brandon Sanderson has done with his 'Way of Kings' series; use of magic is directly tied to power sources - kinda like batteries - that they can replenish during light storms. I enjoyed that a lot, because it helped ground the use of magic for me. I have a hard time truly believing a story where any mage has basically ultimate power at no cost. Anyone seen the 'Merlin' series?

    One of my favorites, but I don't understand the magic system in it; a great example of no seeming cost. So why doesn't he magic everything clean all the time? :)
     
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I expect you could actually calculate the answer to your bolded questions and then figure out the rest. But it would take an awful lot of work for not much reward.

    If you do chose to undertake those calculations I would love to see the results.
     
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  7. Lvl20wizard

    Lvl20wizard Sage

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    I think it depends on the logic of your world. Sure, if your world is very realistic it might make sense to take a quasi-science approach to magic. Equal exchange, and what not.

    If you are going for the "hard" version of magic, then I think my main concerns would be this:

    1) is the source of magic an internal or external thing? Or both?
    2) How do you practically access this source?

    External and internal here means whether it comes from a source within the magic user, or if he/she rather harnesses it from something outside of him/her.

    For me, it does not need to be more extensive than that.

    In Faerun, for example, some magic comes from the Weave. I don't need to know specifics about how the Weave might use parallel dimension logic to take energy from somewhere else to the actual world. Just as long as I know there is this universal source, I can easily imagine a lot of implications to magic from that.

    Me, I took the easy solution. Mages in my WIP steal the power of magic beings (external of them) and bind it to magical items. I don't go into how magic actually work in these beings, because people in that world do not know - they simply know how to bind them.
     
  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    I use a parallel dimension. Mages are born with a connection to it, and can pull energy into or out of that dimension. Stretching that connection too far causes it to snap, killing the mage in question. Healing a wound or making a tree rapidly grow requires a lot of precision, making them more difficult than starting a fire, for example. These limits sometimes push mages to experiment with dangerous practices such as blood magic or spirit binding to increase their power.

    The connection can also be temporarily blocked through the powers available to the Order of the Watchers and other people trained in their style. They get their powers from spirits native to the parallel dimension.
     
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  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I like the D&L Eddings magic power. The magician draws in a little bit of power from everything around them as well as from within themselves so they are more like a lens than anything else. If they try to do something beyond them, then they can die in the attempt but any magic has it's physical price.
    Personally I see the magic I write about as accessing a daemon dimension and using the strengths and powers of the things that live there. You need the skill and the knowledge and the confidence to wield the right incantation or spell and most of the time things work well enough but sometimes the magician can get [un]lucky and contact something they don't expec. If that happens all that is left is usually a greasy smudge.
     
  10. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Many threads ago I did this calculation for what it would take to have a superpower.


     
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  11. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Exactly! And well done.
     
  12. trentonian7

    trentonian7 Troubadour

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    Thank you very much, I appreciate your calculations. If I want magic to have the potency that I'm going for, I won't be able to use an equal transaction of energy and your post was the most concrete example of that. I have wizards in my world that are able to draw energy from surrounding plants and even animals, leaving those things dead, however, this was never intended as a primary draw for most mages. I suppose I'll have to try out some other ideas I was throwing around.
     
  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    The idea of drawing energy from another dimension/reality, mentioned already, is a decent workaround if you need an explanation.

    You could even change that to the idea of drawing matter from another reality, which the magic user converts to energy somehow. Fact is, even a small grain of sand has a great amount of energy; its mass, if converted to energy, could light an entire city for a year.* And any given world has a lot of sand—so no need for extra dimensions.

    I guess in light of that ^ I might have to disagree with other calculations given so far! But at some level, using magic allows imagining processes that don't yet exist for individuals.


    *Edit: Actually, probably not for an entire year, unless it's an extremely energy-efficient lighting system. But, meh, point remains the same.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
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  14. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

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    Thank you for that! I knew my pyrokinetics would require a lot of food, good to know their 9000 calories a day may suffice. :p
     
  15. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Not an expert, but from the way I'm seeing things, what's you're talking about is either Fission or Fusion, splitting or combining atoms to release energy. Think about all the machinery and the specific type of nuclear fuel that it takes and shrinking that that into the hands of an individual.

    If it's a fission reaction, there is going to be radioactive waste. So every spell is going to generate radioactivity, not exactly going green. Also not every spell is going to require exactly every ounce of energy generated in a fission or fusion reaction, so what happens to that extra energy? If it gets released into the environment as waste heat, wouldn't that be like magical global warming? Hmmm... I might actually use this in a story ;)

    I also believe, based on my memories of first year sciences, the reason only specific elements/isotopes are used in nuclear reactors is because there needs to be a net gain in energy. I believe you can create a fission reaction in any element/isotope, but if it's not the right element/isotope, then it will require more energy as input than what it gets out.

    If fusion is involved, it requires high temperatures like that within a star, and if a magic user can create those temparatures, why do they even need fusion at all?

    So, from what I can tell, which I may be out to lunch on, there's going to be a need for some hand waving along the magical realm to get this grain of sand thing to work.
     
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  16. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I'm just trying to digest the use of "hand waving" and "magical" in the same sentence.

    Even if a person ate food totaling 10,000 calories; or, 50,000 calories; or, 100,000 calories; then transmuting that into actual flames coming out of his fingers will require handwavium. Or magic.

    So considering the silliness of magic through one scientific lens while ignoring another....I'm not sure the point of your comment. Calculating the calorie equivalence between food and gasoline is surely not the extent to which science has considered the issue of energy production.

    As for radioactive waste (something I've heard of before, I think) and other considerations relating to fission and fusion: yes, I agree those considerations can be made. But those hurdles aren't insurmountable in a world which has magic of some form or another. I suspect that the mere introduction of an ability to create tiny wormholes within our own universe would solve many of those problems–if conceived correctly. Or between universes.

    I hope you weren't under the impression that I was trying to create a non-magical magic called science.
     
  17. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Uggg... somebody hand me a crowbar so I can get this foot out of my mouth, a very large crowbar. Sorry, I totally misread your post. I thought you were saying there wouldn't be a need for handwavium/magic, which I'm using to mean the same thing.
     
  18. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I don't know enough science to exterminate handwavium from the magic. I do, however, wonder about the possibilities. I'm also a fan of Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd law.

    The whole subject's rather weird–scientific basis for magic–but I like many weird things. I have a somewhat pseudo-scientific basis for the magic in my current WIP, but I think such considerations can only serve as a useful guide for various aspects of one's magic system and not as a justification of magic.
     
  19. Creed

    Creed Sage

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    Based on what's been said above, it might be a tab bit unrealistic to rigourously work with energy in magic as a quantitative force. And to put the onus of supplying that energy onto the magic-user. Though it most certainly is interesting!

    Nonetheless I believe considering the role of energy in your magic system is definitely important.

    In my universe the two main forms of mortal magic are all about borrowing energy. One draws it from the world around the magic user, and the other draws it from a metaphysical, emotion-aspected pseudo-parasite that is connected to the magi-user. The catch is that while that in most cases the energy isn't their own (that's a last resort), they still have to channel it through their bodies, and energy in my universe is a malleable form of Chaos. So there are dangers to channeling energy.

    The cost is important. It affects the characters, the plot, and the world at large. For mages using the "pseudo-parasite," the more attuned the mage and the parasite are in terms of emotional state (leading to full-blown Harmonization), the more energy the mage can channel safely, at the cost of self-awareness and self-control.
     
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  20. arboriad

    arboriad Scribe

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    In my WIP, the magic system is split between the user and a channeler. They have to work together as a pair. This opens up potential for great character moments.

    The magic has two sources, good magic comes from the gods who give of their power and allow the transmutation of laws from different 'dimensions'. General evil magic draws life force/power from the immediate environment. The betting that evil doesn't add to the world, but destroys.

    The twist is that a body can only hold so much power before it explodes, so armor suits were devised by the good to be the storehousing and conduits for the users. Evil is rabid for these suits, but invariably ends up destroying them through misuse.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using Tapatalk
     
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