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What are the Consequences of using Magic in your World?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Viorp, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. Viorp

    Viorp Minstrel

    How are the magic users in your world punished for using magic?

    In my new project they either die or devolve into monsters. Mages that are powerful enough can continue living, but their magic is weak.
    You can also use certain types of magic if you have a "patron" which basically are gods of various faiths.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    They aren't punished for using magic except some people might be intimidated and find them unapproachable, but OTOH magic is also not a "game breaker" in most of my worlds and top tier melee fighters are usually on par with or better than top tier mages.
  3. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    Magic is commonplace in my WIP, as natural to the world as gravity. There's no punishment for being a magic user.
  4. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

    Magic is part of the fabric of Eld. It's embedded in the very nature of the world. There is no real punishment for using it, and though it comes less naturally to humans then it does the other races, they still have it. There is punishment, however, for certain types of magic users. Mostly for being on the wrong side of a war or being the likes of a curse casting witch that meets a sad end at the point of a sword or a more powerful magic users.

    There is an exception however. Undead are basically parasitic magic users and take it from the world and it doesn't cycle back in because they need to use it to simply get by. The punishment is, obviously, being killed again. Liches are worse syphons of the magic. In a way, they've wrecked the magic cycle of the world. It's recovering though.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    In Altearth there is no direct cost, but magic is chancy. It's not like saying a spell and getting a predictable result, or even casting a fireball and knowing that's going to drain your power for six turns. ;)

    That's because no one knows what makes magic work. Or, rather, there are dozens of theories, each of them right and each of them wrong in various ways. For some, you get results by praying to god or gods. For some, it's using magical artifacts. For others, it's more like herblore while for still others it's numerology and astrology. The trouble with the theories is that they are right just often enough that there is always someone who believes in them.

    It's a thousand years and more before the people of Altearth begin to understand the science of magic.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

    In The World, the consequences for using magic can be dire indeed.

    It is true that magical forces are commonplace. Part of the fabric of nature. That doesn't make magic simple to use or easy to control. Even those folks for whom magic "comes naturally", it can still go awry. And there is great temptation as well for those whose abilities are naturally great.

    As with any natural force, a slight miscalculation or lack of respect for the power you're trying to control can spell disaster. Even when well controlled, the positive effects of a work of magic will usually bring about less than desirable side effects as well.

    Case in point. There was once a powerful wizard who became in time rather proud of his subtleties and abilities in the Craft. In time, he thought himself quite invincible. One time he was challenged to a duel with another powerful wizard. His rage at being unable to defeat the seemingly simple tricks of his opponent caused him to lose balance. He lost sight of the basic laws of physics and, when at the pinnacle of rage he sought to throw down his opponent's Tower, in stead he ended up thrusting his own body nearly half a mile into the earth! He forgot that thaumic levers are no good without first bracing oneself for the task!

    The stench of burnt flesh emanating from the rough bore of the hot stony tunnel lingered for a while, but no one ever dared trying to find out if anything was left of the poor sod. Can still see the bore hole as well as the ruins of the two towers along the southern coasts of Pelagia, a ways north of Auntimoany, though it's now filled with water.
    S.T. Ockenner and Laurence like this.
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I have different systems, but I don't think any of them have a real "cost." I have one that comes close, a straight up Viking ragnarok setting, where different kinds of Disir can be summoned by blood. Valkyrie appear to celebrate bloodshed, while a more spellcasting type can appear at a sacrifice, and another appears when somebody dies from your cowardice. But it's more of a theme than a cost, and there are other types of magic in the setting.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  8. Tom

    Tom Istar

    The magic system in my high fantasy project has pretty severe consequences for using it. The cost is both physical and mental. Mages can only handle so much magic, as their bodies are literally physical conduits for it. Most have to stop using magic when they start to feel drained, while others push themselves until complete exhaustion sets in.

    Physical exhaustion involves tiredness and aching joints, and maybe a nosebleed. If the mage keeps using magic it progresses to vertigo, nausea, and more extreme and potentially permanent symptoms such as anemia and bone/muscle degradation. Mental exhaustion consists of clouded thoughts, disorientation, sensory overstimulation, and heightened emotions (often rage or irritability). It can progress to insanity, seizures, and even unconsciousness.

    Magic also has devastating effects when left uncontrolled. It can leave physical scars that manifest as vitiligo-like patches of depigmented skin, and causes nerve damage, leading to numbness or chronic pain. Its psychological effects manifest as PTSD-like symptoms, with hallucinations and night terrors being the most common. Over time, and depending on how often it's used, it can also change people, shaping their bodies and minds into something no longer completely human.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  9. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    Loss of energy, ranging from barely noticeable to on the ground gasping. To kill yourself performing magic, the desperate magic user would have to choose to give their all for this spell even their life. That's if it's done right. If it's done wrong and mistakes are made, say ...in an incantation or ritual, then the spell will fail and a fantasy demon might appear.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  10. Horus

    Horus Scribe

    In Ynol, magic flows into the plane naturally from too many places to count. Native people absorb mana naturally as they live, and everyone has life energy (qi/prana/Aru). There is no real punishment for using magic casually, but intense study of certain forces does have a "look into the Abyss long enough, and it will look back" effect.

    Particularly necromancy, Demonology, and faith magic will begin to effect the person. Making deals with denizens of the Abyss will see you start to become more like them; cold, emotionless, and ultimately detached from what most mortals consider to be defining aspects of who they are. Necromancy eventually starts to kill the very body of the person that will practice it. Faith magic slowly turns the person into a tool of their patron, be it for good or ill. The ultimate price is becoming a Seraph, who is essentially a geassed puppet of their deity. Even Saints (people born chosen by their deity) are eventually fated for this.

    Sorcery and Alchemy are more like science, so there is no real consequence. Everything is a formula to be quantified. The only major difference between the two is that Sorcery "cheats" because it subverts the laws of physics completely by using magical energy in greater supplies. Alchemy is more efficient, using less magical energy, instead opting to use magic to create naturally occurring phenomena. If you study sorcery the biggest danger comes from venturing into forbidden territory. Generally, don't mess with Time, don't mess with dimensional boundaries, and don't explore the nature of fate/existence too deeply. Break any of those, and you might go mad, age yourself to dust, shatter your own essence into trillions of pieces, or attract the attention of creatures you don't want to associate with. Those three mysteries are strictly for the Eternals (gods, spirits, demons).
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Punishment, no, but “channeling” too much power through your body can do a variety of things to the caster, including burning out their ability to use magic at all, uncontrollable twitching, blind/deafen, insanity, death, or in the case of Unlife, becoming a form of undead. Much depends on what one is doing at the time. Too much fire and you could be like a drummer for Spinal Tap.
    S.T. Ockenner and Chekaman like this.
  12. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    Severe memory loss. The world was forged from the memories of two gods, so a person can alter the world by appending to it with their own memories. Every memory, even forgotten ones, plays a role in determining personality. Careless use of your own memories can slowly turn a person into a depressed, confused, emotionless husk.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  13. Chekaman

    Chekaman Scribe

    It depends what you use it for. Many spells are legal, at least unless misused. Punishments for magical misuse range (from lowest to highest)
    -A simple warning not to do that again.
    -A fine
    -A big fine
    -A flogging
    -Imprisonment for a certain amount of time
    -Being renamed, relocated and having your gender changed
    -Stripping of magical power permanently
    -The Death Penalty
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  14. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    There are no real consequences. Magic is an accepted part of life. What matters is how you use it. If you hurt others and break laws there are punishments.
  15. Vvashjr

    Vvashjr Minstrel

    In my world of Eessirie, magic is divided into Mage(which subdivides into elements, Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Light, Dark and Blood), and Divine(channelled from the gods), and generally the non magic populace favours Divine over Mage, which results in the outlaw or frowned upon mages by the priests. And if you count psychics as magic, on my world, both priests and mages distrust psychics.
  16. SithLord

    SithLord Dreamer

    In my WIP, magick is latent in certain, talented individuals. These individuals, over time, have developed their own council and embody an "ecclesiastical" ruling body where instead of ruling like kings, they are more or less a moral guide to lead the normal humans. Think of them as the Catholic Church had existed, condoning wars or ending wars and overseeing treaties, etc. As such, their own rules and guidelines dictate their magick is only for those who are able to use the gift, or channel their "aztmudin" which is the energy force that they can harness on a metaphysical level. As a Magi uses their gifts, he or she must recharge by connecting to their temple either in the physical building or by exposing themselves to the root of their power such as fire, water, light, etc. Should a Magi abuse their gift or violate the codes and laws of their order, they can be subjected to excommunication which is near fatal as without connecting to their temple every so often, their gift can be lost. For the utmost extreme consequences, deemed by vote with majority sway of the Supreme Elder, the Magi can be sent to The Spire - a remote distant island where their tongues are removed (rendering their capability to use magick moot), and then placed in a cage which is then hoisted on a pulley system to lift nearly 100 ft in the air where they are left to suffer and perish. To assure the Magi do not go "rogue" at any time, the Magi have trained an order of Knights to protect their Temples. These Knights are a physical and magick barrier between the Magi and secular man whereas should the Magi go rogue or betray Man, it is up to the Knights to dispel the one or few who are acting of their own ego. As well, should the secular humans and kingdoms decide to attack the Magi, it is the Knight's duty to protect their rightful temples as assigned. These are my protagonist magick users and those my main heroes have learned about during their youth as fables and legends and like RL atheists, there are a few characters who disbelieve.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  17. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

    In my fantasy world magic is gifted to a lucky few (around 1 in 200 people) on their 16th birthday. Because it manifests itself in the form of a spark or lightening bolt it is called the Spark. While a person who receives the Spark will have the raw skill it takes training at a mages college to learn how to use it effectively and to control it. Upon entering a mages college the person with the Spark is called a mage.

    Mage ranks are: Beginner (they have no training), Novice (they're learning basic spells), Advanced Novice (they're competent in the basic spells and learning advanced spells), Apprentice (they've mastered basic spells, competent in advanced spells and learning specialist spells), Advanced Apprentice (they've mastered advanced spells and competent in specialist spells), Adept (they have mastered at least one specialist field of spells such as combat, healing or spiritual), Expert (they have mastered more than one specialist field of spells) and Master (they have mastered all the specialist fields). Only those ranked Adept or higher can practice magic without the supervision of an instructor or mentor. An Unranked mage is deemed to be too stupid, dangerous or gifted to be trained by a mages college instructor and will be given a tutor instead.

    Arch Mage, Grand Master and Supreme Exquisite are strictly administrative titles.

    A Conjurer is a person who can perform certain types of magic (what we on Earth would call magic tricks) or spells who do not have the gift of the Spark or a renegade mage.

    Some of the consequences:
    1. The mage loses any hereditary titles.
    2. The mage's eyes turn yellow.
    3. The mage gains a unique four symbol mage mark that only they and other mages can see. Once every so often the mage will have their mage mark physically branded on them by the gods (and are seen as "touched by the gods"). If they tattoo or provide any physical representation of their mage mark - except when signing documents or presenting proof of their mage status - they're jailed in many countries.
    4. They become sterile.
    5. Because of reason 4 they are banned from marrying or any other form of marriage like relationship.
    6. They must attend mages college.
    7. If they do not maintain a certain standard of fitness and health they lose the ability to use the Spark effectively. That's because the Spark relies upon the body's energy levels to generate the spell in much the same way as a professional athlete uses their body's energy levels to run a marathon or 100 metre sprint.
    S.T. Ockenner and elemtilas like this.
  18. Yora

    Yora Maester

    I have magic mostly in the form of premonition and telepathy. People who make use of it tend to become weird, in every sense of the word. Using magic changes the perception and persective and leads to acting according to a logic based on things that most people aren't aware of. And delving too deep into the true depths of the universe can also actually make people become unhinged.
    And additional thing that magic can do is summoning spirits to get advice from them directly or request services. To the spirits this is a trade so it will cost something, though this depends entirely on what the summoner is willing to offer. The biggest drawback is that is that it makes spirits take notice of you. Usually they simply don't care about mortals and ignore them, but summoners can gain their attention. Even when they are not hostile, this is almost never a benefit to anyone.

    A special case is sorcery, a rare form of magic that pulls out the big guns and can actually rewrite reality. Doing it is very hard, and the results are always messy. Sorcery can create many wondrous marbles, but it always cracks and warps reality where it is applied. Everything exposed to sorcery becomes sickly and fragile, and over time mutated and decays. And anything or anyone affected by this corruption spreads it around to anything nearby. Sorcery can be a marvelous tool to deal with certain problems, but it is so environmentally unfriendly and unhealthy that it's not a viable method of progress. Sorcerers can become very powerful, but they also become feared and dispised.
    S.T. Ockenner and elemtilas like this.
  19. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    Given the nature of magic in my world, the user gives life force to “power” the engraving, it is completely commonplace for an engraver to burn out or even die. Burning out is sometimes a temporary condition or sometimes it is a permanent inability to engrave. (Sure, a burned out engraver can still mark the medium, but can no longer activate the runes)
    elemtilas likes this.
  20. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    This is an interesting thread, even though we have seen similar discussions and comparisons before.

    Something that defines Magic in all of my Fantasy worlds is that it's a truly supernatural power. I mean that Magic is the stuff that just kicks reality out of the way and does what it does, no matter what. Instead of being explained as something that works according to established rules of nature, my Magic is something like the ultimate cheater.

    Imagine that you play Chess against somebody that plays twelve turns for every one of yours, moves all pieces like Queens, places any captured piece back on the board and then proceeds to beat up anyone that even tries to protest. You cannot do anything about it... Well, that would be natural laws and physics compared to the kind of Magic that I describe in my stories.

    Also, my magical characters are Magic themselves instead of just people that happen to use Magic.

    This means that there is no punishment for them as a consequence of being what they are. Just like you open your eyes in the morning and inhale air and nothing weird happens to you because of that, my Mages are free to be themselves.

    Sure they can get tired as a consequence of heavy combat or large scale magical feats, that happens sometimes.

    The other consequence of being a Mage in my Fantasy stories is that other Mages are going to be your rivals for who knows what reasons, and that's what creates conflict and dangers for them. Also, sometimes the stuff that they do can have accidental consequences for the world in general... things like setting the world on fire, or even reducing the universe to nothing.

    Magical catastrophes of that scale are very rare, though.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.

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