1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Magic in my fantasy world

Discussion in 'World Building' started by SamYellek, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. SamYellek

    SamYellek Dreamer

    I've been working on a system of magic in my fantasy world. It isn't fully hammered out quite yet, but this is what I have so far. I would love some thoughts and opinions on this.

    Magic is being able to use the power of ones soul to affect the world. The magic user, called a caster, can pull power from their soul through their body and out of their hands. The power is released​ from the body as magic, and can be manifested in a number of ways depending on the purpose the caster has in mind. Drawing too much power from the soul will weaken the caster's physical body, and they could collapse if they aren't careful.

    When the magic is released directly out of the hands, it tends to be erratic and widespread. But casters can use staffs made of a rare wood that the power travels through before being released, making it easier to control.

    Especially skilled casters are able to channel magic from them into an object, and that object takes on the desired magical effect until the magic is drained from it.

    As I've said above, that's as much as I have for now. This is all subject to change, but I'd love some opinions.
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    Just a few questions...
    Are there things the magic cannot ever do?
    Can your Casters drain magic back from an object to refresh or supercharge themselves?
    Only ones they've filled or from any source?
    How long does it take them to recover their lost soul?
    Is it like regaining your breath [and only take a few minutes] or more like recovering from trauma [and may take weeks if not longer]?
    Are the effects of getting too low in Soul cumulative?
    Is it a like a muscle that can be strengthened or more like a Well that slowly refills?
    It sort of reminds me of "the Will and the Word" that D&L Eddings construct their magic. In their system, it is all to do with magic user's will power. If you go too far with it, it will drain you and kill you.
  3. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    I find my questions fall along the lines of how much of a supply of this soul power is there? Once spent, is it lost forever? Or does the soul somehow kind of ebb back into the caster? Could I absorb another's soul energy and use it against them?

    I think I might have to question along the lines of, it would seem to me that all souls ought to be equal, and so no one individual person ought to have more soul to spend than another. And having spent it, I would think there would be some kind of permanent weakness that would start to apply. But since this is a soul, maybe a permanent type of depravity.

    Anyway, my questions are immediately along the lines of how much of a supply of soul can one person have, and what happens to it when it is used?
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017
  4. Seira

    Seira Minstrel

    I think the most interesting thing about magical powers it what the magic can't do. It's limitations, it's flaws and above all the price the castor must pay for the spells they use.

    Magic systems seem to be very popular at the moment so you need to create a very unique one. I know you're in the early stages of creation but try to think outside the box more. At the moment it's not that different from others. But that is my opinion. I hope you do well with this x
  5. SamYellek

    SamYellek Dreamer

    Thank you for the replies. I was rushed toward the end of my post and didn't get to add more details of my magic system. To start, it isn't the actual soul of the caster that is being used, but the power of the soul. The soul inside the caster is generating the power that the caster taps into to release as magic. But the soul can only create so much power at a time. The soul restores power to be used again if the caster gives their soul time to rest. If and when a caster drains all of the power from their soul, then the soul starts being the power and the soul starts to be used up. Once the soul is used up completely the caster will die.
    Magic that is channeled into an object can be drained back, but only by the caster that filled it. Casters can also channel and share soul power with other casters to supercharge the magic. However casters can't steal soul power from another person and use for themselves. Power from the soul can be given but not taken.
    The souls of all casters produce the same amount of power, however when a caster becomes efficient using the same spell, the drain of power becomes less.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  6. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

    I think you have a pretty interesting premise here! (That of one's soul generating a power source that can be channeled for external use.)

    Some questions I'd ask are what are the basic rules magic operates under? In other words, is this power source something of the world and therefore governed by Natural Laws, or is it a manifestation of an external power and thus perhaps not governed by the laws applicable to the world?

    I also agree with Seira: what is interesting about magic is what it can not do. Or at least what becomes prohibitively costly to attempt.

    For example, magic in The World is basically a natural force that is generated by movements of cosmic objects in space, and can thus be used by certain creatures to create external effects. The boiled-down most basic way to describe magic is the "focus of thaumic energies upon matter that cause movement of said matter". So, I guess theoretically one could devise a 'spell' whereby a fireball is thrown at an enemy in good old D&D fashion. What really happens is that the magic user is taking some object as a reagent, applying thaumic energy to its matter with the result that its constituent molocules are made to vibrate very rapidly (thus producing heat and visible flame). This is then thrown at the enemy with a little thaumic push that causes the flaming matter to rush at perhaps nearly supersonic velocity. The result is a spectacular ball of superheated flaming substance whizzing noisily towards an enemy at inescapable speeds, all with a nice sonic boom to top it off. Basically, a thaumic rail gun.

    But where things get interesting is in what this magic can not do, and this is where the various Natural Laws that govern things like electricity and gravity and dwimmery (magic) come into play. You might think, well, if a magic user can set a block of wood on fire and send it hurtling explosively towards an enemy, why not just set their castle on fire with all their soldiers in it and have done with the war?

    Sure, that might be kind of neat, but you can't do that! Any use of dwimmery (or any form of energy, for that matter) comes at a cost. There's a 'balance of trade' if you will. A small work of magic requires only a small price be paid. After a day of casting fireballs, a human wizard might end up with a blistering headache and be in need of some days of recuperation. Also, as the constant taxing of her mental faculties goes on during the day, she'll become tired and weary. Her fire balls will perhaps lose potency or accuracy. If she becomes too fatigued, she might forget to direct the heat energy away from her own hand and end up with a nasty burn. Magic as a mental activity is thus governed by regulations like those that govern other concentration heavy activities. A body just can't keep it up, and sooner or later will collapse with fatigue.

    As for setting the whole castle on fire, think of it like lifting a ship: you can easily pick up a toy boat, carry it to the pond and put it in the water. This might be akin to creating and using a phosphor (a class ii magical object that lights without the use of a lucifer and is activated / deactivated with an appropriate word of power). Picking up a kayak and carrying that around requires more strength and energy. You can carry one some distance, but will eventually tire. This is akin to the fireballs above. Picking up a dugout canoe is something a strong person might be able to do, but if he's not careful, he might end up with a hernia or a strained back! This might be akin to creating a thaumic bomb (basically an oversized fireball). Can be done, but is very taxing and the wizard risks serious injury and possible debility. Lastly, lifting the Queen Mary is simply something one can not do. She's too heavy and you're nowhere close to strong enough. That would be akin to setting the whole castle on fire. You can try, but will not be able to accomplish anything; and in the end, the wizard would just wear herself out.

    Other regulations that govern the use of magic range from the obvious like the balance of action and reaction and Dharwen's First Law. We all know action & reaction: if you apply little force to an object, you don't move it very far; if you apply much force, you get more resulting motion. Dharwen's Laws in general address the effects of the use of magic on the magic user. Law I states "first time powerful magic; last time magic user" and relates to the inevitable idiocy of working difficult magic without appropriate study of the causes, effects, upsides and downsides.

    There was once a student at a well known wizarding university, Harmand by name, who decided to take on Jhodham's Challenge, a long standing test of dwimcraft. This challenge involved shifting a huge lead-filled bronze statue of Master Jhodham from one mighty stone pedestal to another. This one student was egged into the Herklenian task and, having trained up on smaller statues, decided he was ready. All the students gathered in the courtyard on the appointed day, cheering and jeering as students will. When the moment finally came, Harmand strode out into the courtyard and stepped up to the scowling countenance of Jhodham. He aimed his wand right up the Master's nose and gave it the old college try.

    Well, it took a good fortnight of shifting pavement stones and digging a well around the hole he'd shoved himself into. I believe they found his wand jammed into the bedrock below the city, but no remains of Harmand were ever discovered other than bits of reddish goo here and there along the way down. Lesson learned. Or not, as the case may be. Harmand failed to take into account actions and reactions as pertains to the use of magic. The statue, being much more massive than himself, resisted his thaumic blast, and he just ended up rocketing himself down into the earth below. He also failed to examine the nature of the Challenge itself, and was thus granted a posthumous Dharwen Award for the academic term.

    The creation of thaumic effects can require mental cost and serve up physical demands as we've seen. Its use can also command high spiritual price and demand considerable moral consequence. Although Men are not able to wield such deep dwimmery, there are folk in The World who can do things like resurrect a (very) recently dead person or grant a woman a pregnancy. The cost and consequences are often terribly high. Usually at the expense of a life. There are stories of Daine thaumic healers who have been able to revive a dead person, but such magic requires an exchange (that 'balance of trade') in which the end result was that the one seeking the resurrection had to sacrifice himself as the price and the moral consequence was similarly great. The end result was that his own soul and consciousness became merged with the formerly dead person's, with eventual catastrophic result.

    Dwimmery is an extremely perilous force to mess around with. Much like electricity or atomic energy! Like gravity, it is amoral and does not care about what happens to you if you step off the proverbial cliff. Its use has sure rewards, but also sure drawbacks. And the thaumological revolution ongoing in modern times in The World attests to both the upside and downside of the use of dwimmery.

    Those are some questions you might consider asking and answering as regards how magic works in your own world!
  7. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    For any type of special abilities, whether you call it magic, super powers or something else, it is important for the author to know which characters can obtain the powers, how they get them, can the powers be taken away, what are the limitations of the magic/powers and what can other characters do to defeat the people with these abilities.

    Know what you want your characters to be able to do and their goals. Consider the obstacles you want them to face. The more powerful you make the magic/powers the more important the ways to counter them. It is all about being able to defeat people with powers. Whether they are being used for good or evil, otherwise the person with them always wins, which means a boring story.
  8. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    For me the concept doesn't ring true as anything pariticularly unique or different from typical magic in most fantasy. Your rods are basically wands / staffs. And a soul is mana etc. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Most readers want to read a story and the mechanics of the magical system are often secondary to the plot. Where it becomes more important is where the mechanics of the magic link to the plot.

    In my current work I made magic a sort of bunch of seven magic metals which people picked up off the ground etc, and they absorbed into their skin, giving them a particular spell and a marking. The marking immediately led to their being identified as "afflicted" - the idea in their society being that magic was a sort of disease. While the fact that it was just a lump of metal in the ground with a particular spell meant that anyone who picked up a fragment would have no idea what spell they might get. And most spells are useless - eg who wants to make ducks purple?! That tied into the plot because if you're fighting a horrendous evil and the only way you can do it is by having warspells and you have no idea what spell any lump of magic metal might have, you get a situation where loads of afflicted, who don't want to be "more afflicted" are having to absorb loads of spells simply to get one useful warspell. That gave me loads of conflict / struggle / inner angst to work with.

    Now I'm not saying you should do this obviously. You have your own system of magic. But if you want to make it important to your story, you have to give it some features / aspects that make it tie into the plot. So how about if your wizards use too much magic they don't necessarily die, they age. Suddenly they find themselves in this situation where they need their magic, but if they use it, it'll cost them.

    Hope that helps,

    Cheers, Greg.

Share This Page