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Need help with designing a way that natives can use magic

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Tilberin, Dec 8, 2020.

  1. Tilberin

    Tilberin Dreamer

    What i currently have is a magic system dependent on magic cores and magic channels in every being. Every human is born with something resembling a nervous system made out of what i call "channels". The channels are responsible for sucking out mana out of the environment or for expelling it to create spells. As a infant and a young child humans are not able to consiously use these channels. At the age of 10 a "mana core" forms next to the heart that acts as a controller and a mana reservoir. Ive currently figured out two ways to use this mana core. First way is the traditional spell format. Through understanding of the world and expenditure of mana a human is able to enforce their vision. The second way to use it is by circulating the mana within the body like blood in order to temporarely strenghten it or perform feats that exceed the limitations of the human body.
    My question here is what should be the fundamentals of using magic, its limits and what other ways can it be used. What kind of magical laws should exist that limit the power level so that people cant just blast mountains away with a thought? Would a physical or mental strain apply when using magic? Ideas?
    TJPoldervaart and S.T. Ockenner like this.
  2. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

    Perhaps they will experience varying symptoms based on the amounts of energy they exert.
    Low: fatigue, may simply use multiple times a day
    Mid: vomiting, etc, very taxing
    High: paralysis, etc, almost never use-except for emergencies or very important things
    Very high: Death, etc. Godlike actions.
    TJPoldervaart and Tilberin like this.
  3. TJPoldervaart

    TJPoldervaart Minstrel

    Firstly, I definitely agree that this is a good idea. It makes using the magic risky and gives you the opportunity to have a character do a great feat at a great costs, giving us as readers a devastating blow at their pain while feeling they've earned it at the same time.

    Secondly, there are also other options you might explore. I came up with two down below.

    1 - The idea that mana is generated by consuming a specific type of food/substance, which puts an economic constraint on the magic and could lead to a class divide based on capital.

    2 - People have a very limited amount of mana themselves (just enough for small spells or a bit of enchancing), but by drawing upon the mana of the world around them, they can temporarily use mana. This brings the risk (and opportunity) of taking too much, damaging other people and the environment for your own goals, which could both be used for malevolant actions and heroic sacrifices.

    As for the system itself. The way you describe it makes it sound like you want a hard magic systems, with clear rules as to the use and limitations. If this is the case, I would start by working out what people can do with the mana and limiting the options a little. Too many options can make worldbuilding overwhelming. Enhancing the body is quite clear-cut, but spells are more difficult.

    Perhaps you could make it so that use of mana can transform one substance into another? Or make an object or person move/behave the way the mana-user wants? Or have people manipulate reality temporarily depending on the amount of mana used?
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  4. Tilberin

    Tilberin Dreamer

    Fundamentals: Channels that can expell and suck in mana.

    Mana core that can contain mana and controls the channels

    Two ways to use mana: spell format – by expelling mana a being can enforce their vision upon the world; circulation – by circulating mana through a beings channels the flesh can be strenghtened and previously impossible feats of strenght and endurance can be performed for a short duration.

    Using spells strains the channels and the core. Depleting 70% of the mana in the core leads to lightheadedness mild chest pain and nausea. Depleting 85% causes severe headache, chest pain, vomiting, sense of vertigo and moderate damage to the channels. Depleting 95% or more of the mana leads to shattering of the mana core, severe damage to the channels and usually death.

    Channeling too much mana at once can lead to channel strain and channel rupturing. Channel ruturing can lead to permament inability to channel mana and in some cases death.

    Circulating too much mana at once can lead to moderate channel damage and moderate muscle and skeletal damage but this can allow for extreme feats of strenght. Since circulating mana is extremly efficient it is possible to channel up to 95% of a persons mana. Though this will most certainly lead to death as the musles will exhibit strenght enough to break every bone in a human body and they will supsequently rupture from the enormous strain.
    This is what i came up for after reading of your ideas. Thanks for the advice.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

    You're welcome!
  6. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

    Hi Tilberin,

    Your magic system is similar to my own so I thought I would share some extrapolative thoughts for your consideration.

    Circulation (enhancement) - supercharging muscles to perform inhuman feats. Same conclusions in my story, except I have included a spell for durability. Imagine punching something with superhuman strength. Your hand will shatter. So, with extreme precision and focus, make the hand super hard (side effect is the hand becomes inflexible). This concept must also be applied to the connecting muscle tissues and skeleton to a degree to absorb the impact, unless you have another way of dispersing or absorbing and storing kinetic energy (like Marvel’s vibranium).
    There is also the increased strain on the organs (especially the heart) to consider.

    Spell format. Altering reality (or enforcing their vision on the world). In my story the corollary to this is the original source of mana. Mages can draw on this energy, transform it, create constructs, etc. Based on what you have written, I will assume (meaning I could be wrong) that you maybe want to simply alter reality with less constraints that what I have set for myself.
    That’s fine. Reality can be as malleable as you desire. I think that you have covered the physical and mental strain, so I would consider this: the fundamentals of using magic could have some basis in the world of physics. Examples; every action has an opposite and equal reaction; energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed; ‘cold’ is not energy, it is the absence of energy in a system.

    I worked from the point of what I wanted my mages to be able to do. Then I worked out how they could do it. Once I understood the mechanics of magic (or the laws of mana use), I could extrapolate what else was possible. Using these possibilities, I then worked out the roles that mages played in society.

    For example, in my world, mages are involved in a lot of industries that require manufacturing. Everything from hedge wizards (pots and pans) to Smith-mages (swords and armour) are part of everyday life. Long range, instantaneous communication is possible between mages, with the right setup, so they are common aides for noble, generals and merchants. They are no ‘elementals’ as such, so they aren’t seen is agriculture much, but they do mess with genetics, so...

    Hope you find this helpful,
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.

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