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Magic System Review ACT 3: Minor Concerns and Questions

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by OberonLordofSylva, Apr 20, 2020.

  1. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

    Even though nobody reacted to ACT 2 of this I have a few minor issues I'd like to hash out with you guys concerning the two Magic Systems I use. To summarize both of these systems, which are properly covered in the previous threads: Symbolic Magic, the more prominent system in the Younger Universe, is focused around giving ideas substance through the power of Symbolic Energy which is classified into the following Elements: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Data, Light, Darkness, Plant, Law, Sound and Electricity. There are many advanced techniques developed by Magicians to make themselves more powerful and unlock different Spells but this a summary so we won't be going over those. Curses, the more prominent system in the Elder Universe, are specific supernatural abilities borrowed from metaphysical beings called Divine Spirits. The below questions aren't the only ones I need answers to, I'll put more down as I think of them.

    1: Would Nuclear be a good Element? What about Time?

    2: I use a four-step ranking system for Spells. Is this necessary? Is gauging power levels, or even power scaling, necessary at all for Fantasy? If I should go deeper and use a Stat System how should I go about that? How do you guys go about this sort of thing?

    3: I'm worried that I don't have a good enough distinction between Spells and Curses. Should I go deeper?

    4: What are some powers that aren't seen much in Fiction, like erasing time or exorcism? What are some ways to make common powers interesting?(I know I should set limits but what kind of limits?)

    5: What kind of powers would go well with the Zodiac? I've already got Capricorn and Virgo, extreme durability and mind control respectively.
  2. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    Define good. If you mean good in the 'good vs evil' sense then I have no idea. Both can be good and bad. If you mean good in the sense of 'is it good to use as an element?' Then the answer is for me "depends on what the story requires." One thing I do feel is that 'less is more' definitely applies to magic systems. I think Brandon Sanderson summed it up nicely in his third 'law':

    The author should expand on what is already a part of the magic system before something entirely new is added, as this may otherwise entirely change how the magic systems fits into the fictional world.​

    Why do you need more elements than you already have? I personally feel that with 11 you already have to many and should start looking at how they tie together and what is actually behind them. You could add two more, but what does that add? It gets to the point where pretty much everything you can think of counts as a magical element. Which may be the case, but if you're not careful it might also feel very random and like the author is just pulling elements out of his hat as he needs them. For me as a reader I usually find it more satisfying if an author uses a limited set of principles and does something very cool and unexpected with them. It gives the character an aha! moment where he can learn something which follows from the story to defeat his enemy, instead of the author just making something up because it's convenient.

    I think Sanderson's first law of magic applies here:

    An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic​

    If you want to use magic to "solve" your book, then there needs to be some understanding of the power level of what the character can do with magic. If for the whole book the character only uses fire magic to light some campfires or warm his tea, then having that character throw an army engulfing fireball in the finale is not a good idea. Having a four step system can be an option. It can also be that you have the system for yourself but you never explain it to the reader. One thing to watch out for is that if as a reader I learn very early on that there is a 4 step system, with the highest step being 'impossible for mortals' kind of spells that wreck everything, then I already know and expect that the protagonist will use a highest level spell at some point to win the day, after overcoming whatever it is that is blocking him from doing so. That may or may not be what you want.

    Deeper is always good. You could just start writing first though and figure it out as you go along. It might very well be that there is no difference in the magic system, but that there is a difference for the characters. I wouldn't really know what the difference between them would be, other than that curses are a subset of spells.

    It's all been done before. Don't worry about originality too much. You're correct that limitations are usually the best way to make something more interesting. You should / could set limits on what magic can affect, how powerful it is and / or where the caster gets his power from. And make sure those limits matter to the story.
  3. The Finxi

    The Finxi Dreamer

    Hi I'm a new user here. Can't say I can help much but for #3, it has struck me because I have made similar magic system. The first one I made, like the Curses, borrows from imaginary myths, while, the second one is from more explainable ones like metaphors, symbols, and thoughts. How I made them different is that there's a looming scenery around each one of them. The first one, my version of the Curses, has an atmospheric tale and mysticism, manifested along with its existence. The second one, like the symbolism of elements, is captured in a sci-fi background. I could go on on why such things happen, but first off I would like to say that my setting isn't really set in lands and rocks, it's more abstract so maybe that's where we differ. But to explain briefly, to my experience, Sci-Fi are much like physical manifestations of metaphors, while fantasy are manifestations of imagination.

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