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The last piece of the puzzle-Execution of spells

Discussion in 'World Building' started by TopHat, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

    To me, worldbuilding is half the fun of writing. There is no better feeling of satisfaction then when you've made a living, breathing world with all of the kingdoms, guilds, species, climates, religions, magicsystems etc seem to fit together like a jigsaw-puzzle.

    And now there is only one piece left of my magicsystem, then I hope it will finally work! Let me break in down to you;

    In this system the wizards draw their strenght from a inborn power. Emotion and intention are vital to be able to make an effective spell. For example, a wizard who faces his mortal enemy who he hates more than anything, will have an easier time casting a lethel spell. If he however should be forced to cast a protective spell on his mortal enemy it would'nt work very well.

    This means that people who are born with this magic, but haven't recieved training, are quite dangerous because everytime they experience very strong emotions like spiteful hate or great love for example can cast magic by mistake with unpredictable results. Through training wizards can learn to block out this power and only use it when they choose to.

    The cost of using magic is their inborn power and if they try to use to much magic at once they risk of burning out their power. This can be solved by using wands, rings or amulets to increase their power. Sort of like a sparebattery.

    There is more to this system but this is the basic concept. Here's my problem;

    Because magic is "activated" through strong emotions and intentions its plausible to think that its a will-based system. The most skillful wizards can cast spells using only their will. However, what about the average wizard? How do you use more delicate spells like magically picking a lock or lighting a candle without having the candle explode in a firestorm? How do you direct it?

    I really dont want to rip of something or use overused cliches, but I've comed to realise that most things have already been done so I should'nt think too much about it.

    No matter the method, it is only to serve as a focus point for the wizard will and isn't necessary for the success of the spell.
    First I was thinking of wizards learning to associate a particular effect with a specific word. But that feels to much like Eragon or Ursula K. Le Guins work. How about specific handgesture? However there are a limited number of gestures that a hand can make. Maybe both? Or carrying a book of symbols who serve as a focus points?

    (Writing this far also makes me realize that what I'm looking for sounds an awful like The Dresden Files as well.)

    Does anyone have any ideas of how to solve this without ripping of something that's already out there?

    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  2. Hainted

    Hainted Sage

    If it's activated through strong emotions, I hope your wizards are celibate.
    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  3. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

    Celibacy does not negate emotionalism, the opposite could be the result. :wink:
  4. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

    I have several magic systems in my world, three of which involve some sort of emotion or will.

    First off is my Sorcerous magic. This is an inborn power that directly attunes the Sorcerer/Sorceress to the Weaves of magic, allowing them to wield extreme power through a a concentrated effort to build their magical essence (will) and then in their minds mold the image of what they want to happen, and then will it to do so. It is quite devastating.

    Second belongs to my Glassians. Their own personal magic, Glass magic is extremely volatile and extremely dangerous. It is all based off of controlled emotions. Glassians have an immense range of emotion that can flip on a whim, and the magic itself is given to them by their god, the god of time. However, it is not given to the women of the race, for certain reasons I'm sure people would laugh at, but it is that way. It is through emotion, and making it flow into desired effect, i.e. gestures and a handful of component... sand they are able to shape the magic. It has more destructive quality than defensive, but has a full range of effects.

    The final of the three of these types, (there is still regular magic which most people with long years of study can tap into) is what I call Chromatic Power. It is an internal energy found in rare people. It is akin to chi and flows out from the body usually in the form of pure energy. It has no defensive qualities, and explodes violently when it impacts it's destination. (Think of DBZ). However, the draw back of using this power, especially if you are not trained to withstand it's effects is that it literally destroys the body it comes from. Internal organs implode, and a bunch of not so good things for your health, as the power basically rips out of the body through the pores in the skin. With slow and methodical training it can be harnessed without much damage to the wielder, but it takes many, many years of intense training to do so. It also has the effect of not really being magic in nature, and thus it can bypass or simply pass through magically created defenses, making them excellent magic user killers.
  5. Hainted

    Hainted Sage

    Not to be vulgar, but I'm talking about during the act, and it's very emotional conclusion. Nobody likes a girl with a talking tramp stamp or a pigeon head where her ring finger was......
    The Blue Lotus likes this.
  6. Aspasia

    Aspasia Sage

    I like the idea of hand gestures, personally. As for how many gestures the hand can make, look at Sign Language! Even the voice has a limited number of sounds, but both are extensive enough for language and should be extensive enough for a magic system. Speaking in the Ancient Tongue to cast spells is a little overused, IMO.

    I had a magic system where spells had to be written down to use them -- so at the actual moment when the magic-user wanted to cast a spell, they had to sit down and write it out then and there. Mage battles would have been quite strange, sadly I never wrote it into a story.

    Perhaps have your magic-users practice meditation or other self-control methods to calm and focus themselves until the moment of critical release, and then trace a particular symbol in the air? Perhaps the symbol doesn't need to be specific to the spell, but rather a general-use signal that tells the wizard : release the magic (to this degree). They have focused their intention already so the symbol itself doesn't need to direct the magic.

    Typically my magic-users tend to be mysterious and secretive with their methods of controlling magic. Perhaps they speak a strange word occassionally, or the POV char sees them mumble things to themselves. Perhaps they make a sudden, strange gesture too fast to follow. Maybe they just close their eyes for some time and concentrate intensely, making expressions of pain or worry. Saves me the difficulty of figuring out a precise method to control the magic, and makes the mages more impressive :D. I don't generally have magic as a central aspect to my plot or world, my mages are pretty standard stuff when I have them.

    Will-based systems have been around for quite some time, finding a new way to express them is hard. I think it depends a lot on how important this is to your story. Will the Evil Guy tie up MC and bind their hands so they can't use their magic in a controlled way, forcing them to take the risk of not using a focus? Will the MC meet with a wise old magic-user whose tongue was cut out, thus forcing him to learn extrensive self-control and become incredibly powerful? Maybe someone steals MC's amulet, making him/her chase them all around the land to get it back before a critical battle.
  7. nightbug08

    nightbug08 Dreamer

    Playing off of something Aspasia said, Perhaps they use hand gestures not to focus their intent, but to limit their power? A small finger flick and thinking 'fire' may light a candle, but a swooping clap while thinking 'fire' might make a large fireball shoot out at your enemies. The gestures manipulate the shape and power rather that what actually 'fills' the spell.
  8. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

    Meditation is all about focus of energy in the direction needed to get the results you seek. (At least in my novels)
    I use this to help focus the energy needed to preform the magic.
    I have trained and untrained casters. The untrained ones tend to burn stuff down without meaning to, or something equally bad.
    The trained ones - (the best of the best) Can collect the ambient humidity in the air and will it into becomeing a wall of water that races across the area wiping out their foes.
    The less trained, or weaker of casters might manage nothing more than a driving rain however.
    It is a talent that is highly subject to gradation in my world.
    Perhaps something along those lines would help you in some way.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
  9. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

    I don't know that could be fun to write! :p
  10. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

    Thanks guys for all your tips!
    The most difficult thing when writing stuff like this is to make it original, to make your own twists of it. Every time it feels like its to similar to some already existing and then i usually just dump it. But with time I've come to realize that everything has already been done to some extent and so the differences will probably be very small.

    With that in mind I think i'm gonna go with a symbol-system. That the wizards use the symbols as a focus and to make it easier to cast magic, even though they are not necessary to make the magic work. A novice will probably have to have the symbols written in front of him to be able to focus properly. A adept can memorize some of the symbols and only need to focus through his memory instead from a written paper. And he who has mastered magic don't need any symbols at all to focus his intention, he uses only his will. The way to "advance" is through experience and mental training used to strengthen the will.
    It sounds a bit unoriginal and I know The Dresden files have done something similar. Do you guys think this would be considered "ripping off"?

    Yes, some wizards may chose celibacy but some won't. And yes, it is a common problem during "the act" and similar situations X) Most wizards have received enough mental training to be able to block out the magic from their minds and other uses magical enchantments to cut off the magic completely.

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