1. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    Developing a magic system- any thoughts?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Nidhogg, Aug 24, 2016.

    Much like a child that only comes home to see their parents when they need their laundry done, I am back because I would like to request some help developing an idea.

    Recently a friend of mine introduced me to the Japanese mythological magic of Jodoku, an art involving forcing insects to consume one another and using the survivor's venom as a form of cursing others. The myth really intrigued me, as it reminded me of similar myths from China, Europe, the Phillipines, and Scandanavia. I decided to try and refine the few ideas I had into a magic system and present them to another forum for feedback, and the results were... well, nonexistent. However, this forum and its community has proven to be a great community for feedback and development, so hopefully this system interests some of you enough to help me develop it further!

    In general I'd like to know if the overall concept interests you, what information you would want to know more about, and how you feel the concept could be developed to make it interesting and usable in a story.

    The basic outline is in the spoiler below- thank you for reading!
    I'm gonna go ahead and use terms from the original inspiring mythologies for this, mainly because I can't think of names.
    Kodoku- the magic system/process
    Familiar- the product of a kodoku
    Wug- the components of a kodoku

    Aim: the aim of kodoku is to produce familiars; creatures with magical essence fermenting within them as the result of consuming other creatures, which can be used by sorcerers to affect the world around them.

    Process: the sorcerer first collects wug- animals that are typically venomous, disease-ridden, and overall unpleasant. Typically these are insects, arachnids, myriapods, and worms, though more elaborate creatures have been chosen in the past. These animals are forced into a confined space, and left until one is left, the rest having been consumed. The remaining wug contains all the essences of the consumed wug, absorbing their power, as well as resulting in increased intelligence and the formation of a personality. This personality is different from the creature's initial personality. This wug is known as a familiar.

    Application: the familiar and the sorcerer then enter a relationship/partnership, which is primarily controlled by the sorcerer but places more power with the familiar. The sorcerer can order the familiar to use its consumed essence to affect specific things, as long as the effect has a consequence (e.g. You could curse someone with a disease at the expense of their health, or give yourself wealth at the expense of those around you being driven to poverty). In return, the sorcerer must keep the familiar alive, and feed it wug to maintain its essence and intelligence. If the sorcerer neglects the familiar, the familiar will be driven to kill and consume the sorcerer, before dying itself soon afterwards. Familiars may ask for more from their masters if they are powerful enough to form their own motivations and desires. Essentially the relationship is work in return for food.

    The familiar is stronger than a typical creature of its species, and is more intelligent, able to follow orders and communicate with its owner telepathically. This communication is a one way system, meaning the sorcerer must verbally speak to the familiar, whilst the familiar can use body language or psychic communication. Once a wug becomes a familiar, any creature with traces of venom/toxins can be considered a wug, and can therefore provide more essence.

    Typically kodoku are used to cause disease, misfortune, manipulate others, and to provide luck to the owner.
     
  2. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    What's the cost to the sorcerer? It seems to me that this is basically something for relatively nothing, which, yeah, is kind of what magic is all about, but I'm more partial to magic systems that require some sort of balancing. Feeding Hiroshi the Super-Spider mealworms in return for being able to cast curses or enrich yourself at the expense of your friends and neighbors sounds very one-sided to me. Perhaps if the kodoku needed to consume some part (physical or psychic) of the sorcerer? Dunno, just my 2 yen.
     
  3. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    The main consequence I was working with was the fact that the sorcerer now has to raise and satiate their familiar and its desires, otherwise said familiar will kill them. If this isn't enough of a flaw to make it work, then I'll try and think of something else.

    Thank you for the feedback!
     
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  4. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Balance is an essential element of any system. As already stated, the costs and potential consequences are extremely minimal. If all of the negative effects are directed towards others, a sorceror with a limited conscious would have no reason to not abuse their power.

    They get said familiar and enrich themselves. They then simply BUY as many venomous specimens as needed. Broadening the variety of feeding material is a mistake. In the beginning there was the threat of a limited supply becoming an issue. This would potentially restrict the overuse of said magic. I would omit this from your system.

    What if the familiar nested inside the users body?

    There are more options available if so. You could have the familiar poison the user, with each curse, based off usage. Failure to commit to proper payment could result in the familiar devouring the used from the inside.

    I would think more on how to enforce limitations on your sorcerer. Even Superman has his kryptonite.

    Edit: Of course I meant to type extra ELY Mr. Autocorrect. You're fired, bring in Siri.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
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  5. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    Thank you for the suggestion! I went ahead and compiled a short list of potential limitations that appealed to me; do any of these seem like they'd work well?

    - Familiar personalities are typically non-compatible to their owners, meaning that what the familiars demand in return for their services could come into conflict with the ideals and goals of the sorcerer. What's more, the familiars themselves could prove to me more risky to maintain depending on what creature ends up surviving the ritual.

    - Not keeping a familiar fed will make it more aggressive over time as well as less intelligent, meaning that creating a familiar without prior forethought could prove to be a death sentence.

    - Each act of the familiar could harm the sorcerer as well, shortening their lifespan over time.

    - The familiar could require part of the sorcerer's body/blood/essence to form, meaning that the creation requires more input or that (if the life essence is held onto) then harm to the familiar would also be detrimental to the owner.

    - The initial wugs used in the ritual must be pretty toxic for the ritual to work- this means that simply pouring maggots into a jar won't cut it. The toxicity of future food could also affect essence levels, resulting in greater gained essence from more risky animals.

    - The wug pit/container may not always produce a familiar. For example, all individuals may die, disease could spread etc.
     
  6. Bolu Kai
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    Bolu Kai Member

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    My Thoughts & Questions:

    - The sorcerer must feed the familiar wug in order to maintain its essence and intelligence. Based on this, and your most recent list of potential limitations, maybe a familiar desires a higher volume a wug with each use or action. I'm looking at it from the point of view of building tolerance. A familiar builds a tolerance to wug and requires more to be satisfied.

    - I like the whole "familiar gone feral" aspect. The familiar is driven to kill the sorcerer if not fed/taken care of.

    - What is death for a familiar? Is death physical? Or is a familiar's death different from any other? Moreover, does a familiar's body continue to live but when it "dies" it ceases to be a familiar; the familiar loses its essence and intelligence.

    Potential Kodoku Drawback:

    - Based on what I have read, my understanding that wug are anything that are poisonous/venomous/toxic to others. This means anything that is not poisonous or diseased is not a wug. How easy is it to find or collect wug? A potential drawback could be this lack of abundance or difficulty to locate. If wug are hard to gather, or too expensive to purchase (i.e. because kodoku require them/ they are a hot commodity) then the wug is at a higher risk of becoming "feral" and/or dying. In addition, how often must familiars eat wug, do they only eat wug?

    I hope this helps :)
    P.S. I really enjoy this idea, keep at it!
     
  7. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Well, I don't see availability being an issue if your world is in anyway similar to reality. Ridiculous amount of poisonous organisms out there.

    What about this?

    Wug are insect-like creatures with a variety of appearances. Wugs differ in feeding, affinities, intelligence, behavior, mating, and effect.

    Each wug would require specific care. This may mean a beetle-like wug only eats poisonous plants while a spider-like wug only eats other smaller wug. The mating of the wugs could differ as well. Perhaps some are asexual reproducers, some lay eggs in living/dead bodies, some offspring devour the parent (possibly acquiring the power & experience of said parent), etc.

    Some may be more aggressive, others dangerous and hard to contain, others demanding in care, etc. All differ in behavior.

    For a consequence I don't believe it should be singular. Each should have its own demand and cost. For instance a certain "spell" might demand a mature X wug, which means you'd have to successfully care for it until then. Other wug may be more intelligent and require a price for more powerful spells (find proper vessel for reproduction -- eggs in living body).

    Certain wug allow usage of their power through "marks" which is a venomous injection into the user's body. If the contract is not properly fulfilled the user dies.

    For instance there is a wasp-like wug that can asexually produce offspring at will. Similar to a queen bee, it can control said offspring. They have a venom that raises aggression levels to extreme levels. Their stinger remains in the victim and continues to produce the poison. Upon losing their stinger the offspring die. The cost is having a living or freshly killed body to place the eggs in. There is a 24hr period before hatching and the wasps eat their way out of the body. The stronger of the brood are kept as party of the wug's hive while the runts are granted as use to the magic caster.

    Edit: This would be useful in invading a larger, more secure force. There's no need to breach a castle if you turn the people already inside into mindless aggression and have them fight among themselves. The very least you displaced their organized defense into a little chaos.

    For the misfortune on others curse what if a wug burrows into their body? Or climbs into their ear, flies into the mouth, etc. Would explain distance... though magic is magic. Tends to be a dismissive wave towards the face of reason.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016
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