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No Magic System?

mersted

New Member
I have this idea of instead of having humanity have magic or such, I would instead have them use tools left behind by the gods, and scattered knowledge accidentally shared to them by other mythological creatures which allows them to do things somewhat magical but not beyond human scope. I'm just a bit worried that it would be considered too 'loose,' though. What do you guys think?
 

Stevie

Minstrel
Sounds like a strong idea to me. It gives plenty of scope for weird and wonderful things to happens, power falling into the wrong hands very quickly, accidental mishaps on a sliding scale of minor irritation to global catastrophe, searches for legendary relics, figuring out what the hell this does before we get eaten/roasted/ trapped forever situations. And you don't have to spend time explaining how all this works, it's just 'god-stuff'.

The thing to be cafeful of, and steer clear of, is to hand your heroes a selection of useful plot devices, a kind of Swiss Army knife of the Gods. "Ah-ha! A combined smiter and staff of knowing when someone is fibbing." "Pity it doesn't have the walking through walls attachment." "Hand on a minute, I might have one of them in my backpack." ;)
 
It's fine. Not all magic systems have to be Hard, sciency magic systems like Brandon Sanderson writes.

If you take a step back and look at your idea it's actually not all that different from Harry Potter (especially the early books). In Harry Potter they basically learn 2 or 3 spells, which are then used to solve the variety of problems. Yes, there's also a lot of other magic floating around, but when you look at what the plot actually does then they basically have a few magic devises which they use over and over again. We're never fully explained why it works. It's just wave a piece of wood around, say a word and something happens. You have a limited number of words which do something, so that's what you use.

The same applies to your idea. You have an item left behind by the gods which does something. That something is what the characters have to work with and it's all they get.

Stevie pointed out the biggest danger (though it's a plot danger in general). Make sure the reader knows what your device does before it becomes relevant to solve the plot issues. It will feel like a deus ex machina if at the climax your device is suddenly capable of something never before mentioned whihc then fixes all problems.
 

Chasejxyz

Inkling
The term magic system is so....weird and loaded now. It kinda implies some big, built-out thing, that it has to be complex, it has to be all-encompassing. All you need is consistent internal logic, the things that are exceptions need to feel rare, valuable and/or dangerous. This is the case with sci-fi/tech, too. If someone gives you crap because the system is "too lose" or "not a real magic system" then they're being a pedantic idiot who's looking to argue for the sake of arguing.

A """"""""magic"""""" """""system"""" is whatever you need for your story. You don't need to explain how it works, YOU don't even need to know how it works. Do whatever you want, man.
 

K.S. Crooks

Maester
I like the idea. It allows for very individual abilities for the characters to wield. You will have fun thinking of the objects, what they do and their weaknesses. Their could still be a cost to those who use the objects or even have the time be limited and then the object is drained for a time or leaves on its own.
 
It's a fine idea! For me, as a reader, the key would be to avoid using it for convenience. I'd want to establish what a character knows/can do before they do it. To have an example of a character discovering something unexpected would be fine AND fun in the right situation! But to have such discovery be the sole reason they escape a potentially deadly situation would leave the reader me feeling cheated, especially in the climax.

Perhaps there are levels of price paid to a user. An object that allows a thief to open a lock would impart a minimal effect on the user, but if that same magic/item were used to open a large sealed tomb? Perhaps it extracts a lot more. I'd expect there to be a cost to those who call upon those powers or who wield them unwisely as well.
 
Even Sanderson says that the more defined the rules of a magic system are, the more one can use it to solve plot problems. The corollary is that if one doesn't intend to solve plot problems with magic there is little benefit to having a hard magic system. Importantly hard vs soft magic represents a tradeoff between the ability of a hard magic system to solve problems vs the sense of wonder that not defining how magic works brings to the setting.
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
in a sense...

'magic,' and much on my worlds that is regarded as 'magic,' comes from the 'ancient aliens' who populated said worlds with members of other races snatched from elsewhere. The ancient aliens were naturally psychic, and much of their technology required psionic ability to operate. Towards the end of their dominion, they decided to farm out certain technical tasks. So, they tweaked selected humans and a few folks of other races, making them psychic enough to operate their devices. Then their realm collapsed in a 'Lovecraftian incident,' scattering these psionically endowed folks, who became the first 'wizards.' While the aliens are mostly gone, plenty of their devices remain, ranging from 'defunct' to 'sort of functional.'
 
To my thinking such a world should be a world where magic is soft, at least as far as the reader and characters know. Even if there are fully detailed rules, unless the characters are say paranormal researchers from Area 51 or some special commando team trained by those folks, they shouldn't have any idea how it works, IMO. The focus should be on mystery and wonder, rather than detailed problem solving.

That said, when messing with stuff beyond ones' ability to understand, I do like consequences. Maybe the alien tech is effectively a win button, but using it corrupts the body and/or mind of the character who uses it. Do they find another way to win without using the tech too much? Or does they sacrifice themselves to defeat evil? And if they sacrifice themselves to defeat evil, what do they become?
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
To my thinking such a world should be a world where magic is soft, at least as far as the reader and characters know. Even if there are fully detailed rules, unless the characters are say paranormal researchers from Area 51 or some special commando team trained by those folks, they shouldn't have any idea how it works, IMO. The focus should be on mystery and wonder, rather than detailed problem solving.

That said, when messing with stuff beyond ones' ability to understand, I do like consequences. Maybe the alien tech is effectively a win button, but using it corrupts the body and/or mind of the character who uses it. Do they find another way to win without using the tech too much? Or does they sacrifice themselves to defeat evil? And if they sacrifice themselves to defeat evil, what do they become?

not sure if you were referring to the OP or my response. That said...

...the original psychic's created by the aliens did receive quite a bit of training in how to use their power, strengths, and limitations - a necessity because they were supposed to be 'technicians' of a sort. Much of this knowledge lingered in somewhat mangled form after the collapse of the ancient aliens civilization.
 
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