1. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    Keeping Magic Consistent And Non-Story Breaking...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Lorddread, Apr 11, 2011.

    Okay I've got an idea for a magic system, and I want it to be logical and avoid Dues Ex Machina, but still seem "magical". Here's some stuff I've got.

    1. In order to use magic you either have to have been born a witch or warlock. Witches and warlocks force their will onto the world, molding reality to suit their whims. Witchcraft is passed down parent to child, certain bloodlines having special traits like unusaully good skill in controling a certain element, or like some special power that they don't need to be taught.

    2. If you have magic you must use it. If a witch doesen't use their gifts frequently the magic will turn it's wrath inwards, causing person in question to say, go insane, physically mutate, or simply have their body consumed by raw power. Also magic becomes more powerful, but harder to control as the individual grows older.

    3. Imagination is the foundation of magic. In theroy, the traditional gestures and incantations aren't needed for magic, in fact for a small thing like lifting objects most magic users just make it happen without fanfare. But you see the gestures and magic words serve to divorce magic making from mundane thought; this helps the warlock not light things on fire whenever he thinks of the concept. Plus the foci of magic helps the witch or warlock keep their concentration, the mind wandering during a casting can spell (heh) disaster.

    4. Magic is affected by onlookers. For example if a avowed skeptic is watching magic being preformed the quality of it may be affected, a person who believes in that sorta thing can increase it's potency.

    5. Living things are harder to affect with magic than non living things. Animals are easier than humans.

    6. Magic can bring back the dead, but they'll always be a bit different from their former selves plus it's hard. The alterations may be physical or psychological.
    So could people ask me questions so I can develop it more?
     
  2. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Doesn't this imply that everybody has some magic powers? The skeptic would be using his (unconsciously) to stop the spell, and the believer would be using it (unconsciously, also) to enhance it. That means, that as soon as people realize they can influence magic themselves, they will try to train their ability and use it deliberately.
     
  3. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    All human beings have some latent power, only witches posses the right genes to make meaningful use of it. There are methods that allow witches to make use of a normal human's dormant magic, but since they are fatal to the human party the magical community has made it illeagal.
     
  4. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it sounds like you have a solid foundation.

    Do witches and warlocks need special training to realise their magic potential, or does it come naturally?

    How does someone's personality affect their use of magic - can someone who is dedicated or highly intelligent make better use of it, or is it just about having the right genes?

    Is learning magic about learning the right protocols and procedures, or about intuition and insight?

    Is there a limit to the types of magic feats? You've already mentioned telekinesis, pyrokinesis, transformation and resurrection - does the list go on indefinitely, or do all magic abilities belong to a limited number of these categories?

    Is there any explanation for the existence of magic in your world? Is it divine, mystical or paranormal, or does nobody know?

    Does magic exist independently in the world (for example, as a force of nature), or is it merely an innate ability in some sentient beings?

    Does magic follow any rules, besides molding to the magic-user's will and spilling over if it's not used up? Does it ever have a will of its own? Are there any consequences or karma resulting from magic use?

    Are magic effects persistent? For example, what happens if someone is levitating a table, and their concentration is broken/they're rendered inconscious/they die? What happens if they transform something? Will the transformation revert by itself? What effects last after the magic-user stops thinking about them?

    How important is magic in your world? Does it determine the outcome of wars, or is it a novelty?

    How common is magic in your world? Does everyone go to their local witch/warlock to mend their pots, or can only the richest and most powerful afford the services of a magic-user?
     
  5. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    Accidental double post.
     
  6. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    To a certain extent magic comes naturally but in order to not tear yourself apart as you grow up training is needed. Personality and intelligance affects magic, a truely stupid witch will be pretty easy to defeat, an intelligant witch will be a much more dangerous opponent. And demanor and attitude affects what kind of magic your good at. Teaching magic is mainly about mindset, how to interperet feelings and instincts, self control ect. There is no end to the list of things magic can be used for. Nobody know's where magic comes from. Magic exists both as an ability and as an independent force with a limited conciousness, not an especially smart one, more like a cat than that of a human. Magic has many rules, including the fact that the more impossible through conventional means an act of magic is the harder it is. And magical acts are reversed upon the caster being rendered incapable, unless they set it up beforehand to last beyond them. Magic is thought mythical and only fodder for fairy tales by most people. Magic effects the world in signifigant ways, but most people don't realize it's involved.
     
  7. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    What are the limitations of magic? #1 only explains who can use magic. Why isn't magic the cure for all problems in your world? Why is there still hunger, disease, poverty, envy, and greed in your world?

    Why don't mages get rid of all rats by transmuting them into sheep? Why is it harder to transmute living things than nonliving things? Why doesn't one evil crazy mage make the rain poisonous?

    Why bring the dead back to life? Do the dead even get a say so in the decision?

    You need to figure out the balance for magic in your world.

    For example, in my fantasy world magic can be used to heal injuries. To balance things, magic doesn't just magically heal the wound. It actually dramatically speeds up the healing process. This can be a huge shock to a person's system because of the amount of energy it burns up in a short period of time.

    So if a person gets cleaved from groin to shoulder by a sword, magic can heal their injury, but at the same time, it could very well kill them. Therefore, letting wounds naturally heal is the prefered method except in dire circumstances.
     
  8. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    In order to change a living thing you have to overcome their self image. And does magic being harder the more natural laws it breaks count as a limit? You can't bring back the dead unless they want to be bought back; oddly most dead people apparantly are happy being dead. And magic takes a physical toll, if you pace yourself you'll be fine but doing something huge like making rain poisonous by yourself will just kill you. And the thing about healing magic is you need to have a very good knowledge of human anatomy, like medical school level knowledge for anything worse than a broken bone or the flu.
     
  9. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    Hey, I see you've used most of my ideas very well. Good going. I see how asking a million & one questions helps :p But now you need to move ahead. If you just focus on the system, you'll lose the thread of your story. And the story, of course, should be your main focus. If you come across any glitches with the magical system along the way, we can always help you work that out. Be it's time to start writing that story, mate!
     
  10. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    A male practitioner of magic is a wizard; a female one, a witch. A warlock is someone who breaks an oath. A person can be a warlock without being a witch. A person can be a wizard without being a warlock.
     
  11. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    So what kind of "price" could magic have?
     
  12. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I think it was Diane Duane who had her wizards (both male and female had the title) draw magic out of items. Not everything was magical, but I think one of the charms was an old hood ornament. It shattered due to running out of magic, and so she started fueling her shield with herself. It bothers me that she said, "every hit takes a year off my life" and the other wizard complained about how she might be scheduled to die soon; actually drawing her fate closer instead of just speeding up the entropy of her body.



    Read enough books where they deal with magic in a "rules" manner and you'll eventually come up with something that doesn't resemble your inspiration. Especially true if you disagree with the rules the inspiration uses.
     
  13. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    Any major flaws in this system so far?
     
  14. Daggers
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    Daggers Member

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    I think you need to specify some kind of limitation to the use of magic by the practitioners.

    If it is something inside them, will it physically drain them the more they use it? Will they need to rest and recouperate after expending a significant amount of magical energy?
     
  15. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    Magic tires out witches, how much depending on how "big" the act of magic is.
     
  16. Daggers
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    Daggers Member

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    Could it be that the act of using up too much magic at one time is dangerous? Even fatal?
     
  17. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    That's a good one, and what might the spell casting process be like?
     
  18. Patrick94
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    Patrick94 Active Member

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    For the 'must use magic' part it could be a bit like once you hit puberty, magic starts to grow inside you, never stopping, and you have to use it to deplenish (is that a word?) your store of it.

    Also, does the magic come from within or do you channel the magic from around you?

    Number 4, the onlooker one, doesn't seem right.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Since the OP is writing about a completely made up world, he can use those designations however he sees fit.
     
  20. Patrick94
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    Patrick94 Active Member

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    Time travel plot (don't worry, it's easy to follow!!)

    The grandfather paradox (problem) - go back in time and kill your grandfather before you were born, but then you could not have been born, ergo your grandfather does not die as you don't exist. But if your grandfather doesn't die, you must exist! This is why some scientists believe that time travel is not possible (and why some people hate science). Others argue that it could be possible, however once you're born, if you go back in time you cannot kill your grandfather.

    Now put that in this context. The protagonist (Kieth) sees the world implode before his eyes, fallen at the hands of an evil man (Tommy). But Kieth has once last chance to save humanity; time travel back in time (duh) and kill one of Tommy's biological parents/grandparents etc. Two problems. 1) The above forestated theory. 2) Keith is the perpetual good guy - how can he possibly bring himself to kill someone?


    Could the people of this forum please help me to make a story out of this?
     
  21. slyfox
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    The maginc system sounds great, I think you've got the makings of an interesting world here. I'm interested in the main character and the plot line. keep us updated.
     
  22. Lorddread
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    Lorddread Contributing Member

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    Well the magic system has mutated into this.

    Magic is limited to the ability to manipulate

    Fire

    Water

    Wind

    Earth

    Wood

    Metal

    Lightning

    Soul (Which is you otherworldly spiritual magic)

    Most witches can only use one. Edelyn and Marvok each have four of the above, Marvok wind, water, wood and soul, Edelyn metal, lightning, earth, and fire. This is why their grandmother kidnapped them and killed their parents.
     
  23. astrostu
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    Short-time lurker, first-time poster, but thought I'd lend some advice. In 2007 I started writing a lengthy novel that involved magic. I STARTED before ever writing plot by writing a 25-page outline of how magic works in my universe. How it's used, who can use it, what it is, etc. As I wrote the story, I fleshed that out more, revised some things, and added spells, plants, magical items, etc. My framework document itself is now 80 pages long. My background mythology document describing how the universe is set up and the very basic driver is 12 pages.

    I did this because I wanted it to make sense and not run into consistency issues (which it seems like you're trying to do, as well). I'm also a tad OCD and a scientist, so I tried to approach it from a biological/physical system. I have people passively accumulating "magic energy" at a rate dependent upon their skill and inherent level, and this level also gives them an inherent "shield" effect so that someone has to use more energy / cast a bigger spell to affect them. For example, hit a powerful [creature] with something that would kill a fly and that creature wouldn't notice.

    I chose a VERY detailed mathematical model for this that I don't suggest anyone duplicate, but I mention this more to give you an idea of what you may want to do for this. To be consistent and to make sense to the reader, you do have to have rules that are internally consistent and plan your framework to be adaptable to whatever plot you end up having.

    Do I break my rules? Yes. I have someone able to manifest blue glowing orbs that he can scatter about a room to light it up while keeping some around himself and companions so they can see where they are. I haven't figured out how to explain that within my framework. It's just, well, magic. But casting that is still draining his reserves and he'll have to dispel it before they're depleted.

    In your latest post, the ability to manipulate apparently 8 "elements," I would ask how they can do that. It's relevant because you can then get them into a situation where that how is blocked/disrupted/whatever, but you would need to establish in a logical way beforehand that that's what happens, otherwise it'll look like an "author needed them to be helpless, therefore this is introduced now so they're helpless" situation.

    Hope that helps.
     
  24. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I agree with previous posters that you haven't clearly defined the boundaries of your magic. Magic absolutely has to have a price, and you've definitely gone at least part of the way towards that, but I don't think you've set up the limitations clearly enough yet. These limitations are generally what keeps magic from turning into a Deus ex Machina plot device. In fact, it would be good for your readers to have some idea of the limitations, because, otherwise, even if something is perfectly reasonable within your magic system, if you suddenly introduce it late in the game, it will look like you just made it up to fit with the plot.

    I attended a SpecFic convention this past weekend, and, in the talks about fantasy, I learned that it's very common for authors to write up a "black book" on the exact rules and limitations of their magic systems, more or less a textbook about their world. This isn't absolutely necessary, but at least as much description as you need to cover the basic abilities, prices, limitations, and methods of magic would be very useful to you to keep this all straight in your head.
     
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