1. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    Cost of magic

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by rodney adams, May 17, 2013.

    I'm toying with the idea of having the magic in my world draw heat from your body. I have a few ideas of how it would work, but I would like fresh minds to brainstorm about it to help me think of any possibilities I might have overlooked. Any response is much appreciated!
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would be handy in the Antarctic... what do you want exactly? Maybe you should get the ball rolling, throw in your ideas and then see what others think...
     
  3. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    I mean that the use of magic takes heat from your body. That way I can put some danger in using intense spells by having the person's body go so cold that they die instantly. Also, in order to use magic in my world, a mage needs a staff or wand through which to propagate said spell. I was also thinking about the realistic ramifications. Obviously since the magic uses body heat as a catalyst, I can't have it use too much of the overall body's heat, so what if I make it so that the mage can control which part of his or her body the heat is drawn from? thoughts?
     
  4. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    You could do it but it wouldn't be realistic. If you say drain heat from your hands, the cold hands will absorb heat from the hotter shoulders and it would result in a cycle. But for body heat to be the cost for magic it is very interesting, you should try it.
     
  5. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    I realize that the cold body part would then absorb heat from the surrounding body parts, but I was already planning on putting that in. I don't quite understand what you mean by a "cycle," though.
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think Xatron means by cycle, that the hands take heat from the elbows, elbows from shoulders. shoulders from neck, neck from chest till there's none left. How does the body re-animate? Is it actual heat that controls magic or energy? Can the energy be restored via a certain food group? How much magic uses how much energy/heat?
     
  7. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    People with fast metabolism would be in advantage here - they would be able to quickly restore their energy and therefore use more magic.
     
  8. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    I was planning on most spells taking a miniscule amount of heat, but the big ones taking a huge amount. Most of the time when someone uses a spell, they won't feel a thing. After a few minutes of prolonged spell use, they would start to feel chilly, and after that if they still used spells, they would eventually black out from hypothermia and die. Also, If the character used a relatively large spell, the cold that the character felt would be much greater. In answer to your re-animation question, the body doesn't get cold enough for cells to die when casting the spells, just as if you're outside on a rainy day; unless, again, you use a big spell. It's actual heat from the body that controls the magic, not energy. Heat is restored to the body through consumption of food, as per the norm for humans.
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    In one of my books I had a fire mage draw heat from his surroundings to cast fire spells. So he cast a fire ring I think and the entire area around him turned to winter. Drawing heat from one's own body is dangerous and it places limits, quite big ones, on the magic you can use. Only a few degrees of core temperature drop and you'll be hypothermic. So what can you do with the energy from seventy kilo's of flesh raised say four degrees Celsius. Obviously bigger mages will be stronger, so fat wizards? Faster metabolism won't really help that much as it might help your mage recover a little quicker but it will also burn up his body's store of energy (fat) faster, so your mage would be skinny. Skinny equals less powerful?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    It amazes me how deep people look into these things.

    Bare with me, I'm not having a pop, just amazed at a whole new audience...
     
  11. b3av3r
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    b3av3r Member

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    What about being able to draw on heat from other people? Say they need to cast an extremely large spell they could have a group of people and draw a little heat from each person or is that getting too far away from what you wanted to do with this idea?
     
  12. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    This is a very interesting idea. My muse and I have actually been toying for a with a magic system that interconnects with heat and thus body heat. We broke it down into chemistry and tried to figure out how chemicals and basic energies interacted. Fascinating stuff. I'm not sure you're going that deep with this, though, or at least haven't gotten there yet. Regardless, I'll throw out some of my ideas on this.

    This approach to magic is very dangerous. The human body is very fragile, especially when it comes to temperatures (you might want to message GingerCoffee; she's an experienced nurse with a great head on her shoulders so far as I've seen). A few degrees up and we can cook our own brains. A few degrees down and our entire system can shut down. Frostbite can set in in the fingers, toes, nose, ears, and other extremities. This could result in anything from just cold fingers, to damaged/dead tissue, to amputation. Psychosis, to a degree, can set in with hypothermia where we think we're hot when we're not and will try to strip down to cool ourselves down (thus exacerbating the issue and likely spelling our doom). Also, I think our bodies are unable, of their own volition, to recover from its core temperature dropping just a few degrees. However, I believe it's a valid medical procedure to drop a person's core temperature to help preserve tissue and minimize damage when the heart's stopped (intentionally or otherwise). So there are a lot of dangers involved with this and mages who dabble in the stronger magic could be pretty jacked up. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that lowered body temperature lowers our immune system, which is why people think/though that being out in the cold too long can cause a cold (it doesn't impart the virus but it makes us more susceptible).

    On the up side, though, I am HUGE of drawbacks and I absolutely adore how harsh this magic would be on mages. Anyone willing to cast the big stuff has to be willing to go through some bad stuff to do so. It's a great way to balance power.
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are options.

    1. Entropy/ enthalpy argument could work if the magic is touch based (I think the enchanter and enchanted object would have to be considered part of the same system).
    2. The atmosphere contains a quantifiable substance known as the ether, which can permeate all or some (up to you) space and matter. If energized, a portion of the ether can transform its environment via the will of the caster.
    3. There is a higher, metaphysical realm (think theory of forms) which our world manifests physically. The caster can project his/ her soul into the metaphysical realm and alter things there, simultaneously altering the manifestations in the physical world. Even if nearly instaneous, for the short duration in which the caster is projecting, metabolism is halted entirely (think of some sort of meta death).
    4. Similiar to three in terms of instantaneous body transformation, but in this case, the entire body as an object is cooled to absolute zero, in which case the brain might be able to establish some sort of quantum coherence...with something. This idea would take a LOT of hashing out.
     
  14. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    This was my first thought. I think it's about 4 degrees lower and we die. I watched a video some time ago where a man lowered his body temperature, it was a big deal, they had to raise it again slowly.

    X covered it somewhat, but, the way our bodies moderate temperature is to keep our vital organs warm. That is why on a cold day, your hands and feet feel it first. Your body is drawing warmth from them to maintain your organs. On a cold day, wear thick gloves, thermal socks and boots, but a thin sweater. You'll find it won't take long before your hands and feet are cold.

    I like your idea tough and there are ways that a mage could increase their power. If it's a contemporary setting, they could wear electronically heated jackets, pants and shoes. If it's medieval, they could carry braziers.

    Areas they would focus on keeping warm (consider that even in an ancient setting, if magic was dependant on warmth they would work this out pretty quickly):
    • wrists
    • neck
    • ankles
    • chest

    I can imagine a battle mage preparing the field for a fight, setting up several braziers around himself and wearing thick furs, on a scorching hot day. Sweat's dripping from his forehead as he waits for his prey.

    The system is good in that it would make magic use very risky, so instead of having a select few who are gifted (boring!), everyone could use it but deaths are regular, so people fear it.

    Hope this adds a wee bit to your ideas.
     
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  15. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Just be aware that "fast metabolism" is somewhat of a misnomer, as the metabolic speed difference in the average human is negligible.


    Edit: Also, remember that work generates heat, which is why running makes you sweat (your body is cooling itself) and an engine can overheat, and why your computer needs fans.
    You will have to think of a reason that magic cools you instead of making you hotter. I suppose if magic is fueled by heat in some way, thus drawing the heat from your body, it would work.
    Anyway, I think it is a novel and fascinating idea.
     
  16. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Not necessarily, the very essence of the term magic is that it is unexplainable. Going into a great depth of detail regarding magic will inevitably result in holes, because magic isn't real.

    I dunno if you've ever played WoW, or Diablo, or... well most RPG's, but think of the body-heat as the character's mana bar. As you said, the heat could be its fuel.
     
  17. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I was thinking you should do some research on hypothermia. If the end goal is to put a cap on what they can achieve before dying of cold it would make sense to research hypothermia. Your body routes whatever heat it can to your core to protect your vital organs and as far as the body is concerned your limbs are collateral. Alcohol does not warm you up either just in case you wanted to know. It only encourages your body to reintroduce heat back into your limbs which would lower your core temperature so while it could potentially save your limbs it's counter productive to survival. So you feel like you're warming up but you're not really. Hypothermia is also dangerous because of the way it affects your thinking and judgement. At some point you feel warm despite your core temperature dropping dangerously low and people have been known to disrobe when they hit a certain point. I think this would work well for what you're wanting and it's something in the real world so there's easy access to research about it. :)
     
  18. Cogito
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    It could be turned into a saving twist. A character subjected to killing heat could be saved by expending spell energy that would ordinarily be fatal.
     
  19. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    I do have a question though. Assuming all the spells consume is body heat, wouldn't one have potentially unlimited resources if he simply casts a simple heat/fire spell on/near himself?
     
  20. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    Thank you all for your insight! Every post has been extremely helpful! Please feel free to keep posting as I'm still fleshing the system out:)

    I was thinking about that myself, but I have a way around it now:)
     
  21. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    If you want to do this, I suggest you convey to the reader how much heat is loss by each magic either by calories,joules, or some form of heat energy.
     
  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, dear. Magic draining heat from the magician's body has actually been done in two books of fantasy I just finished reading. Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, and the followup The Wise Man's Fear.

    At one point, the main character Kvothe nearly dies from hypothermia because he's had to use so much magic. It's always a hazard for him, even after he's learned to control it better.

    I suppose there is nothing new under the sun, and I don't see any reason why you can't use this device, but make sure it's used very differently from the way Rothfuss uses it. (Those two books are excellent, by the way ...provided the slightly draggy start doesn't put you off. It really does pick up, and the writing is beautifully done.)
     
  23. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    I did some reading on the wiki for The Name of the Wind, and saw that his magic system was based on thermodynamics. Mine isn't. In his, the mage gets hot or cold depending on what he's doing. In mine, the heat from the mage's body is the energy source, magnified by the wand or staff they use. As a result, the mage gets cold no matter what. In Rothfuss's book, if the mage heats something, the environment (and mage) gets colder due to thermodynamics. If he cools something, the magic draws heat away from the object, thus heating the mage and his environment.

    His is a lot deeper into the science of it. Mine is using the body heat as a sort of energy source.
     
  24. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    read The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, a similar idea is used in that, and i may be worth you looking at how he does it and figure out something from there
     
  25. PyrZern
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    I think this is a nice approach of implementing 'Mana Bar' into a novel. (or if you wanna call it MP, or SP, or w/e ) xD
    I suggest you make it clear that it's not just feeling colder that you can just stand in front of a fireplace or campfire to counteract it. But maybe more like the coldness is from the inside, because your body loses so much heat so fast. (think of peeing, rofl.) Also think of side effect from losing too much Magic. Uncontrollable Shaking like having strokes, or heart attack. Loss of consciousness. Like being dipped into frozen pool ?

    Then you can have a villain who is very powerful because he either breaks this Rules of Magic Consumption or cheats it somehow, resulting in maybe he uses his enemies's body heat instead or something.

    In some fictions, over using Magic or casting very powerful magic are described as straining your body to the point of it breaking or shattering. Or like your soul is being ripped off of your body.
     

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