1. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Guide to Writing Magic

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Pythonforger, Aug 6, 2011.

    I see Magic coming in so many different forms and methods that I decided to write a guide to it...

    ~xoxOxox~
    1)Define "Magic"
    Is magic some sort of obscure arcane energy projection? Or just harnessing the power of the elements? Perhaps you're summoning a God's power to do the actual work.

    2)Who can use magic?
    Everyone? Only magicians, who're trained in the art? Who can be trained in the art anyway? Maybe you have to be descended from the almighty Alchemist, who invented magic. What about magic items?

    3)How powerful is magic?
    Does it grant omnipotence, or allow you to do basically everything, like the Greater Path in Magician? Maybe it only gives you control over certain things, like the witches in Secret circle. The power of magic is also determined by its price. If you can only cast fireballs, but can cast a legion of them with a single thought, you're obviously more powerful than the guy who has omnipotence but must chop off his own limb to use one spell. Take note, too, of whatever energy source magic comes from. Sometimes it comes from the mind(you might have to take special notice of insane people), so you must have great willpower. Perhaps it simply comes from a finite source that you personally have, and must not waste lest your magic run out. Or you have an unlimited amount, but again, only over certain things. Or you might have to spill blood, or something.

    4)How are magic users, in general, treated?
    If your answer to question 2) is "Everyone", you can ignore this. Anyway, how are magicians treated in general? In Magician, wizards were badly treated, as shown in the line "Not so long ago, Kulgan would have been stoned from Crydee as often as not". But then, when the main character, Pug, visits the dimension of Tsurannui, because the magic users are so much more powerful there, they get great power. To put it simply, they don't have to follow any laws and any command of theirs must be respected. If they tell you to give them all your money and commit suicide, you do it.

    5)Who knows about magic users?
    In the book Skulduggery Pleasant, nobody except the magic users know about magic users. They even have two people to go around and modify the memories of non-mages who'd seen magic. In the game Kingdom Hearts, everyone knows about magic(the magicians are usually hermits, but that's a different matter), and respects it to a degree, whether the magic is the shadowy powers of Organisation XIII or the pure offensive strikes of Donald Duck.

    6)How many branches of magic are there?
    In Artemis Fowl, there's only one branch of magic, referred to as Fairy Magic. But in Skulduggery Pleasant, mages could be either an Elemental, who control the four elements, or Adept, which means they specialize in a certain thing, like Tesseract's bone breaking power or Tanith Low's walking on ceiling power. It also breaks off into several sub-branches, including Sanomancers like Professor Grouse, who have the power to heal, or Necromancers like High Priest Tenebrae. You might also want to reconsider the above questions for each branch and sub branch. Or maybe all the sub branches in a branch follow that branch's general rules, and have rules of their own. Like all Elementals live in areas that are both remote and magical, and the Fire sub branch may decide to live only in volcanoes or the sort of cave which releases a very flammable gas.

    7)Is the magic, overall, reasonable?
    Remember the aim here is not to create magic for the sake of it; it's used as a major tool in your storycrafting and wordsmithing. In the complex magical hiearchy structure you've created, it might make sense for the Necromancers to be able to summon an unlimited amount of deadly skeletons and auto-ressurect themselves when they die. In that case, they should be able to take over the world, so unless they have, give a reason why. Maybe the Water specialists keep a close eye on the Necromancers, keeping in mind that skeletons disintegrate in water. Or they're just hermits and peaceable. In that case, don't go writing about mass Necromancer rampages. One or two are okay, but not every Necromancer. As you can see, magic is a tricky thing to juggle. Maybe you want to have John slay the Fire Elemental with his sword, but readers are already informed that those can only come when summoned by a Fire Mage, which were made extinct by a giant meteor so they would not raze the planet to the ground. So you decide to forgo that scene, but that scene was essential! The sword needs to kill something every week, or its owner will die! And John is your main character; you don't want him to die. Aww man, now I have to rewrite the whole thing! Well, you might not have to, but it's troublesome all the same, and your solutions WILL come back to haunt you. Still, the best fantasy stories include magic.
     
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  2. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    8) What are the limits to the magic? What can it NOT do? And, most importnatly, how can it be beaten?
     
  3. Mikeyface
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    Mikeyface Member

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    All this talk of magic and no mention of "the boy who lived?"

    All kidding aside, the Harry Potter series did a fantastic job explaining the rules, and even most of the spells at their disposal, as we grew in that universe.

    Of course they lived at a flippin' school, so it made all of that far easier.
     
  4. Mr Mr
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    Mr Mr Active Member

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    I think you missed people gaining magic from an object.
     
  5. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    cool idea :)

    i dont think theres any ruless everything goess. its up to the personnn and what they decide to use as there form of magic and the rules behind it for them and therye story.
     
  6. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    My Magic system is very little in my fantasy world, Terra. Hardly the only people who have magic in Terra is the creators themselves and the ones who discovered a few relics. Other then that, Magic is pretty much at a minimum, but im still going to write rules to things that apply such as this topic.
     
  7. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Very true. The way the Potterverse explained magic made it both fascinating and easy to understand, and loveable too. :D
     
  8. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    And it was neither overpowered nor underpowered. I like that. It's becoming a rarity nowadays.

    @TobiasJames-That's covered under the "How Powerful?" section.

    @MrMr-That's covered under the "Who can use magic?" section.
     
  9. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I like that too. The magic in HP just jumps off the screen and page and makes you wish it was real.
     
  10. YoungCreature
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    YoungCreature Member

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    I always liked Piers Anthony's magic system in the Xanth series. I thought it was jiiive.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There were a few times when it kind of fell apart though. Where you said to yourself "Why not just use [insert spell name here]." And when, conveniently, a spell that would have been useful just doesn't work for whatever reason (i.e. because it was important to the plot that it not work just then).
     
  12. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    I've always wondered if Gemino would work like Polyjuice potion... also, what would happen if you Polyjuiced yourself as a giant? Would you get added strength?

    No magic system is perfect. I've always wondered how come, in Magician, why Pug could use the "pain" spell twice. It's fobbed off as "he was much more powerful than the others since he knew the greater path", but we all know that spell was Lesser Path!

    Also, I think that the Ringwraiths would have felt a magical attraction, or vice versa, to Frodo's One Ring, but it doesn't show it.
     
  13. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    It bordered on overpowering with Lord Voldemort. People could not kill him.
    But that was explained, horcrux. All powerful but can be defeated by finding and destroying the horcrux.

    It's not in the script! hand smacks imaginary script as talking.

    I said this about the "enemy" in a military exercise, when they wouldn't die.

    One important thing to remember is the spells.
    "If you use one here, why not here?"
    "I forgot about that one."
    Write it down, review your spell book, the mc would have it memorized as they have practiced it hundreds of times.

    Human nature says if something works one time, they will use it again next time. Boring to write about the same magic over and over, but there needs to be a reason why they use flaming missles spell against orcs but not against the mummys.
     
  14. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    It's not boring to write about the same magic over and over. Virtually the only spell Voldemort uses is Avada Kedavra.

    And he "bordered on overpowering", remember?
     
  15. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    does magic imply immortality?
     
  16. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Why would it?
     
  17. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    where is the magic in that?
    if they were mortals then thy cannot be magic I say. this is my magic formula?
    I always link magic to immortality. No idea why but that's me.
     
  18. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    Very interesting topic!
    I think my favourite magic system would be the one found in the Dresden Files universe.
    I like the merger of classic fae/demon stories with how a mortal being in the modern world would use and interact with it, and its effect on him.
     

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