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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. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I've got too many different magic systems to really answer the question. But I would add one thing to the discussion - be consistent.

    The reason I say this is that I've just been watching the Shanarra Chronicles season two, and this is one of the things that has bothered me. (It's been a very long time since I read the books so maybe they do have an answer in them that I can't remember.) But remember the dire warnings in the show - Magic always has a price? It just keeps striking me that not only are the prices always different, but not everyone pays them. In the show - the bad guys never seem to worry about the price. It's only the heroes that have to pay it. That bugs me.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  2. Magic is not something that most people have in my new series, even though it's part of the lifeforce of the land itself. There's wizards, who tend to study it, and the odd assortment of supernatural beings, but the characters who have the most intense magic usually warp reality by using it, albeit often unintentionally.
     
  3. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

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    Me, in my present WIP I am going with magic can only come from unseen beings men call gods. Gods can't / don't like striking mortals directly. They chose a mortal as their servant, someone who had better be devoted to that god's desires "a man/woman after the god's own heart", and THEN can start working supernatural effects.... OR the god can just make a warrior stronger / tireless/ invulnerable under certain conditions.... There is no HP Lovecraft style "price"... IF you are in tune with what the god wants. If you just use your powers to get rich etc / glorify yourself / pursue private vendettas... then you will be stripped of them. HOWEVER, experienced magicians can pull stunts that novice chosen servants can't. Also depends if the god is working though many servants or focusing everything on just one.
    I wonder if this makes them more like DnD clerics than wizards...
    The "price" is that you must OBEY and give up your own desires. If you are in tune with your god's desire, there isn't really any price at all....
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  4. Vicki27

    Vicki27 Minstrel

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    Magic is part of the natural world in Twin Kingdoms, however, it is very addictive and insidious. To channel the magic, the wielder has to open themselves up, and use their body as a conduit. If too much is drawn in at any one time, the spontaneously combust. If the wielder becomes addicted to the magic, the magic becomes the master and the wielder loses their humanity.
     
    elemtilas likes this.
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Well oddly enough, this thread returns just as I'm neck deep in the middle of a new book in which magic does have a price - pain and possibly death. In my work those who have magic - at least among the humans - go to a Temple called the Heartfire - sit on one of the thrones and then have to endure agony as the magic from the Heartfire (A volcano) fills them. The pain is so bad that they scream down the entire temple and occasionally one of the worshippers (it is a temple after all) dies in screaming agony as he receives his blessing. And they have to endure this every six months! Naturally humans with the gift are very tough people!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  6. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    The only real consequence of magic in my main fantasy world is getting tired and hungry. It's hard work! (both mentally and physically) However, in a side project I've been developing, Newtonian laws apply to magic, as it is a natural force of the universe. I.e. for every action there is a reaction, so it's a good idea to know what reaction might knock you down after casting a spell!
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  7. Azaraiha

    Azaraiha Dreamer

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    In my world magic exists in two forms: Runecraft and Casting. Anybody who puts enough time and practice can learn RuneCrafting. Casters, or Arcanists are rare but are more common among elves. Because the Aether (magical energy) is literally the life essence of a dead God, Arcanists channel the emotions the dead God felt at the moment of death. This may sometimes overwhelm the caster and those that lose control are destroyed from the inside out almost instantly.
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  8. Sunny dewbae

    Sunny dewbae Dreamer

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    One of the consequences that I have been thinking about is in regards to mages that use summons. In Naruto the ninjas have to draw blood in order to summon creatures. So I thought it would be interesting to push it further. When a mage summons a creatures they must give up not only blood but flesh. this general means a body part of some kind. For a small mouse size familiar it would be like a toe or part of a finger. For something larger and more powerful they have to give up a limb. In a desperate situation a mage can sacrifice their entire body and bring a powerful creature into are plane. This would end the mage's life.
     
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  9. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    One thing that I highly recommend is to take a look at the "soft" prices for magic.

    To use Harry Potter as an example;

    Magic does not seem to cost:
    >mana or an equivalent.

    >stamina beyond that required for the wand movements.

    >sacrifices.

    Magic does cost:

    >the time investment to learn the individual spell.

    >the time investment of going to school to learn to be a wizard in general.

    >Any time or effort required to ensure that you're in a state where you can cast the spell when you need it.
    -Do you have your wand?
    -Are your limbs free enough to go through the specific motions required for the spell?
    -Are you mentally composed enough to properly pronounce the incantation?
    (Notice how all of those can be targeted in a fight.)

    >Various societal costs that come with being a wizard.
    -Dealing with all that blood purity stuff and death eaters.
    -Dealing with house rivalries.
    -Dealing with heavy pressure against interacting with muggles/their culture/their tech.
    -Dealing with limited options should you want to leave all that behind and live as a muggle. (After all, good luck getting a good job without a degree and graduating from some place called Hogwarts.)

    Notably magic that avoid those prices such as Wandless magic is portrayed as difficult enough that you need to spend more time and effort becoming a good enough wizard to start learning it. Similarly, while potions is something learned by first years it has its own price in the physical ingredients, precision needed to brew and time it takes to brew.

    ~~~

    Now, on the topic of hard costs.

    The manga Chainsawman involves devils. Three different groups can use the "magic" of the setting. Humans, fiends who are humans that have had their heart replaced with a devil's and can use the devil's power as a result, and humans who have made contracts with devils.

    Focusing on the last one, it should be unsurprising that some of those contracts involve payment to use the devils power. This ranges from losing an arm to get a ghost hand, sacrificing your life and the lives of innocent children to drag a building to hell and all the way up to sacrificing a year off the life of every citizen of the USA to try to take down your enemy.

    This is grim, yeah, and it fits the tone.

    ~~~~

    In retrospect none of that is about magic in my actual setting, but I need more time to get that down in order. Posting just this for now.
     
  10. Akira444

    Akira444 Scribe

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    In my world, magic draws upon mana, life energy present within nature and living beings. Overexerting one's magical capabilities can cause severe exhaustion, fatigue and, in extreme cases, even death. Second, magic requires preparation; spellcasting is a precise art that must be done right or one of two things will happen: the spell with not work at all or the spell will backfire on the caster. The more powerful the spell the more energy and requirements it needs.
     
  11. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Well Chy's coming along well now and I just finished another few chapters. And I added to the cost of magic. But I also added to the value of paying that cost. Other spell-casters who learn their magic through other means, eg academies etc, don't pay the same price in terms of agony as they go to the Temple and receive their gift. But they also don't learn the same lesson of will and endurance. Those who use the Temple of the Heartfire have wills of iron and the determination to do practically anything. Which leads to the obvious question - what's the price of not paying the price to learn magic?

    Just a thought!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  12. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    In my story setting, it is a matter of what you do with the magic that has legal ramifications while mishandling magic can have personal consequences, such as when a spell goes haywire. Magic is something anyone can potentially learn to do at a very basic level, with Cantrips being usable by almost the entire population (though most people don’t have the TIME necessarily to learn them, since technology is only at about a late 18th / early 19th century level.). Many Mages have jobs that are rather “blue collar” in nature, doing road maintenance and helping with construction or utility jobs. It’s only when magic is used criminally that there’s an issue. So, it’s basically like how using technology is viewed in the real world. It’s not so much that you use it as much as HOW you use it.
     
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    This thread is making me take a harder look at the costs of magic. I see three kinds of costs identified here.

    1. Cost of learning. This could be anything from literal cost of buying a spellbook to time spent at Worthogs school to selling one's soul.
    2. Cost of operation. I think this is where the OP was. The cost of casting a particular spell. Fatigue, injury (physical or spiritual), etc.
    3. Social cost. Per Patrick-Leigh, casting a fireball on the battlefield in service of the king is one thing. Quite another when cast during a bank robbery. IOW, there might be criminal cost but also just social approbation--a particular magic might be legal but still be unrespectable.

    All three open up interesting possibilities. 'Sfunny. When I wrote that, I realized that for authors "possibilities" usually means constraints. Ours is a curious trade.
     
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  14. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    The point about how some magic may be legal but not respectable got me thinking about some less criminal ways someone could use magic in a way that could get him in trouble. If you're using magic to do things that are disruptive, inconsiderate, rude, or just downright obnoxious, then people are going to hold that against you. If you've ever been on a bus or in a restaurant and had to put up with someone blaring music on their phone, you know what I'm getting at, here. Let's consider a few good idea / bad idea scenarios.

    Good Idea: Using an illusion spell to make children laugh.
    Bad Idea: Using an illusion spell to frighten children so they cry.

    Good Idea: Using telekinesis to push in someone's chair while they're sitting down.
    Bad Idea: Using telekinesis to pull out someone's chair while they're sitting down.


    Good Idea: Using transmutation to reheat someone's food if it has gotten cold.
    Bad Idea: Using transmutation magic to make someone's food do this...


    I think you get the point. You don't have to use magic in an evil way in order to make people upset with you. All that's necessary is that you employ magic in a way that is disruptive and inconsiderate. A mage who acts like a jerk with his magic is going to get on people's nerves and cause them to lose their patience. The more disruptive the use of magic, the faster that is going to happen.

    One thing I think writers should take into consideration with magic in their story settings is if there are laws against using it in an obnoxious matter specifically or if it simply falls under "disrupting the peace." If there are specific laws against such things, consider what the penalties will be. Perhaps one offense only gets a fine, but repeated offenses might cost you your license to use magic within city limits. I think having some idea of what will and won't get your magic users into legal trouble vs what will and won't get them in social trouble is both necessary and a lot of fun to sort out as a writer.
     
  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I was also thinking of disreputable trades. We don't have much of this in modern society, but pre-modern did. In German they were called the unehrliche Leute. For example, the town executioner. Rag pickers. Prostitutes. In some places, it was just about anyone who was outside the guild structure, so peddlars, fishmongers, day laborers, all were unehrliche Leute.

    So, I was thinking, even if these people could do magic, it would stil be socially tainted. By extension, there might be certain kinds of magic that were unehrlich. The obvious candidate would be necromancy. It wouldn't matter who you were, what station of life, if you're raising up dead bodies, you're not accepted in decent society, even if the act itself was not illegal.

    This could be extended. If dwarves do one sort of magic and elves another sort, it could be disgusting for an elf to utilize dwarf magic, or even an item enchanted by dwarf magic. But that same magic would be perfectly acceptable among dwarves (obviously). The interesting part would be looking at how humans would regard it.

    The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that magic would not be without social consequences, and that those consequences wouldn't necessarily be consistent across cultures or across time and place.
     
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  16. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    Very true. A mage who clears out septic tanks, blocked up sewerage pipelines, and repairs them probably won’t be as respected as the ones who conjure up beautiful sculptures or slay dragons... unless your society values sanitation and frowns on using magic for “frivolous” or violent purposes.
     
  17. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Skip,

    Actually that got me thinking. In New Zealand a lot of those trades got lumped together as offensive trades under the Health Act and there's loads of regulations relating to them. They include everything from fellmongery, tanning and septic waste disposal. Not prostitution though. But it struck me that even if the trades are offensive because of smell or what have you, and the people who carry them out considered lesser in some way - what if you could use magic to do them? I mean think of a night soil man - not that they exist any more. But what if you had a wizard who could load up the cart with waste and truck it through town with no odour, and no one noticing the horse and cart etc. Would he still be a social pariah?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  18. Akira444

    Akira444 Scribe

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    I love magic that people can learn instead of the common "magic gene" that authors use. I like toying with the idea that magic can be commonly learned but still takes time and effort to properly harness and is easy to abuse if you're not careful.
     
  19. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    For me, I realized that, with the way I was setting things up, it didn't make sense for people not to be able to learn at least Cantrips with the right amount of training and practice. In my setting, people's bodies store up a certain amount of magical energy for innate magical defenses that kick in under the right circumstances. Certain organs (the heart, brain, spine, and reproductive organs, in particular) can all generate low-level barriers around themselves when the person is targeted by magic. This is why getting hit with a lightning spell doesn't usually cause fibrillation or brain damage unless the spell is above a certain level, though other kinds of damage, particularly burns, can still be suffered. Additionally, while pregnant, a woman's uterus will generate a low-level ward around itself most of the time. (This is why many women discover their magical aptitudes during pregnancy.)

    I realized that, if everybody had some weak, innate magical defenses (that they can't really control) and these required the body to have a certain amount of magic energy in it to work, then it didn't make sense for basic spells, Cantrips, to be unavailable to anyone who wasn't a Mage. On further consideration, I realized that Mages probably would only learn Cantrips as training spells, then abandon them because, well, let's face it, nobody's going to hire them to do Cantrips. Mages get hired to handle stronger, more complicated spells, and those require a lot more time and effort to learn. Thus, I've concluded that Cantrips are "layman's magic," something mostly utilized by Non-Mages. A majority of people don't learn that many of them, but most know at least one or two, usually Ignition, which generates a small spark that can be used to light a fire or kindling (always good if you don't have the much more efficient flint and steel on you) and Bead of Light, which creates a tiny, glowing bead at your finger tip that generates as much light as a candle. There are plenty of other Cantrips people can learn, but the vast majority of people simply do not have the time or access to the knowledge or training to do so.

    But if they do have some extra time to learn more Cantrips and have access to the knowledge or training, a layman or housewife can actually become pretty adept at the most fundamental forms of magic. Mages often look down on Cantrips, forgetting that some of their spells are only different from them in terms of potency, not complexity. A spell that makes an orange levitate is, in terms of parameters, no different from the one that makes a boulder levitate. The difference is simply the magnitude of the spell. It's only complex spells that laymen and housewives are unable to learn (without becoming Mages themselves.)
     
  20. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    Depends on the type of magic. Some doesn't have consequences, some results in losing soul to the devil.
     
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