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Restrictions on Magic

Discussion in 'World Building' started by speculativejester, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. Hello all! It's been awhile since I've been active. The Navy decided to pull me away with training, but now I'm back for awhile. :^)

    Anywho, I've been working on constructing a magic system. I really like the basis I have for it, but I'm having difficulty restricting how magic is used in the world. I don't like vague things when it comes to my world's fundamental physical laws, and I want to at least get a common rule set on what things can and cannot be done with magic. Here is the basis I have for magic in the world thus far:

    Every human has a soul. The living body acts as a barrier between the soul and the afterlife. When a person dies, their soul moves on to the Eien, the Land of Eternity.

    If a person loses all of their soul, their body also dies.

    The Eien is the collective sum of humanity's spirit. When a person is born, a small portion of the Eien is extracted from the realm and placed in the human vessel.

    As the person experiences a mortal life, their soul absorbs the information around them like a sponge as the mind interprets it.

    As the person experiences emotion, their soul grows. Intense emotions can cause the soul to grow rapidly.
    If a soul grows or shrinks too fast, it is possible that the soul will “fracture.” A fractured soul leaves the person able to use very little (if any) of their soul to channel their magic (the rest is still there, though it is cordoned off in a sense), and also leaves them with severe mental damage. Any event that causes them to remember the emotion they felt during the fracture could cause them to unintentionally release some amount of magic dependent on the size of the actual fracture.

    When a person dies, their soul is sent back to the Eien larger than it was before (most cases), enhancing the power of the realm.

    The soul may be used as a source of magic. Magic in this world is the projection of one's soul into the world around them. Projecting a soul usually requires a physical medium of some sort as a way to channel the power of their spirit so it is not a sudden release of energy. Most magi who attempt to use magic without a conduit end with disastrous results, such as using all of their soul at once or not being able to control the direction/formation of what soul they release. The vast majority of magi can only use one type of conduit (gemstone) in their channeling tool of choice. There are a very uncommon few that can use something other than a gemstone, and even fewer that barely require a conduit at all. Those few magi who can use any conduit they find are called Pure, because nothing about their soul is ever rejected. The Pure are usually the strongest of the magi, and at any given time only a handful of them exist across the world (even fewer realize their magical potential).

    The strongest of the magi have found ways to tap directly into the Eien for limited amounts of time. These magi can perform extraordinary feats (making fireballs the size of houses, conjuring lightning storms, teleportation, flight). However, the massive toll on their body as being used as a filter prevents them from using any of these abilities for an extended period of time.

    So, how do I decide what kind of magic a mage can cast, or how powerful they are without using some vague term like "years of endless training?"
  2. The projection of all magic generates from the conduit and is oriented in a direction chosen by the user. Restricting the flow of magic in a certain direction is harder than letting it radiate from the conduit- therefore, many conduits come with a reflecting material of sort as to alleviate the burden of the user. The exact type of project is dependent on the user's mental state. Attempting to project spirit when the mind is not focused results in a dull hum of energy around the conduit that emits a small amount of light and heat. Generating an emotion and then focusing the mind around that allows for more powerful abilities to emerge- for example, a furious state of mind can project their soul into flames, while a soul focused on a chilling revenge may generate rays of cold that frost over their enemies. A powerful mage is one that has utter control over not only the emotions they are feeling, but also the intensity of the emotion as well.

    Gemstones that have been used for long periods of time capture small pieces of soul due to their filtering capabilities. Over time, this can result in an amplification ability of the gemstone. Also, the use of soulgems in forging results in enchantment of the new item. (A small sect of artificers melts down soulgems and forge them together to make an extremely rare, volatile conduit known as a godstone).

    Here's what I came up with after some brainstorming.
  3. DeathtoTrite

    DeathtoTrite Troubadour


    quick disclaimer- I tend to prefer random, various magic systems without one over-arching mythology. That said...

    Perhaps different spells are kind of like playing different instruments- some are gifted enough to be able to master a spell with little help, while others need specific training. In all cases, practice is needed to hone your skills.
  4. Addison

    Addison Auror

    Wow. That is one impressive magic system.

    So, just to clarify, you're having trouble figuring out what magis can and can't do in terms of the society. Correct?

    Then maybe they have different jobs based on their skills. Like some magi are healers, others are soldiers. They're the police, fire fighters etc. If a magi uses their magic in a dis-respective way then there are repercussions.

    Brainstorm on a contract or an oath. Like how every cop, doctor, FBI agent and such swear an oath before they're official. Perhaps the Magi have a similar thing. Really look at the world they're living in. Is it modern? Medieval? Victorian? Old West? The setting could greatly impact the rules.

    Hope this helps. Happy writing! :)
  5. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

    I might look up Patricia Wrede's world building questionnaire. It's on the SFWA site under their how to/education section as well. She asks some good general questions about magic systems that may lead you to more of the specifics as well. And the sections on society and culture are invaluable tools for figuring out where your magi fit into your world.
  6. I appreciate the input, guys!

    @Addison, I was moreso looking for a way to restrict the talents of magi in a logical way. What determines how much fire you can spew, or how much soul you can have? Just small limits that actually places a reasonable scale among the wizards of the 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. One choice could be to have their magic connected to their consciousness, meaning the more power they use the more mentally tired they become. Using too much power can cause a magi to go to sleep or enter a comma. More training increases their magic stamina.
    Perhaps the Gemstones you mentioned could be the thing that loses power. One could go from being green to grey or black to show the energy has been used. When enough time has passed the colour returns and the magic can be used again. Training will cause the gemstone to become denser and a darker shade of the colour meaning it has a greater magic reserve.
    Another option is that the more power that is used increases the amount of time a magi can reuse that same power. If they light a stick on fire they may need to wait a minute to reuse that power, if they light an entire village it may take them 3 months to make another fire spell. With more experience and training their power reserve grows. Hope this helps.
  8. Addison

    Addison Auror

    Well from your description the amount of fire or ice or whatever element depends on the power/intensity of the emotion they bring up. On a related note, people and souls tend to grow by what they face and how they overcome it. So, maybe -taking your fire example- if they use a clear crystal with a fiery emotion the flames could be more of a big cloud or plume. If they use a red crystal and the same emotion the fire will be a more concentrated stream.
  9. Noldona

    Noldona Scribe

    It sounds like your magic system is basically, for lack of a better term, magic muscle. The more you train it, the better you get at it. So the magi who just go around doing very little magically can only perform minor tasks while magi who train and push themselves can accomplish greater feats similar to the difference between a novice and an experienced power lifter and the amount of weight they can lift. Either way using the magic will tire you out, but the better trained you are the more stamina you have and thus the longer and more magic you can do. If you need something for one character to know the strength of another, as magic is tied to the soul, you could give everyone the ability to sense the strength of the soul similar to how we can look at a person and judge how strong they are by the bulk of their muscles.

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