1. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Magic for Everyone?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by adamant, Jun 24, 2007.

    I was wondering, which do you think is better: a story where the main characters are the only ones with magic, or ones where the entire (or at least most of the...) populous has access to the arts?

    I've found it hard to introduce magic to just a few people... trying to avoid cliches along the way.


    BTW... Yoo Gis ah Grammie!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Read Piers Anthony's books. The Xanth series is a mostly humorous look at a magical parallel earth, and his Split Infinity series deals with a world that lies on a junction between technological and magical universes. On the magic side, the ability to perform magic varies greatly from one individual to another, with only a few capable of powerful magic.
     
  3. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    It really depends. I think that a great book could be written with both of the scenarios.
     
  4. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that there can be stories that work very well on both sides, I was just seeing if there was any kind of preference.

    I believe I've heard of that series, Xanth, as well as its author. Though I'm not certain how he deals with his magic system in Split Infinity -- I'm trying to avoid making someone capable of greatness merely due to genetic ties, prophecies, and things that humans have no control over. What makes one mage more powerful than another in that series?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In the Split Infinity series, magical aptitude in the magical realm was closely tied to skill at the Games in the technological realm. It was clearly aligned with resourcefulness
     
  6. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, then that sounds like my kind of magic. I never really liked the deus ex machina type, seemed to kill characterization. I've started to analyze some aspects of the series on Wikipedia, but just arrived at 'the Game', so I'll understand in a little bit.

    Any other sources of good magic that you could provide me with good sir?
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, not off the top of my head. I favor sf more than fantasy, but the Split Infinity series was particularly good. And the Xanth series appealed to my twisted sense of humor and love of puns
     
  8. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why is it that most humans can only perform minor magic skills? Surely there can't be that many people that aren't that resourceful

    Okay, I'm going to try and make sense of this: most people just aren't that resourceful, or at least not to the point where it would make them a champion in the Game on the other side. However, the Citizens aren't necessarily smart, just wealthy -- perhaps inherited, which would actually work against the stereotypes in other books. Adepts would be those that could become Citizens by winning the Game on the other side, but could possibly be a serf that could work their way up to being a Citizen?

    So... is there some type of training for the potential Adepts? Do they go on a pilgrimage to become omnipotent?

    Anyway... I think this could greatly aid me in my own journey-quest-thing to finally start my story. Perhaps most of the population knowing minor, guardians/high individuals with powerful magic, but still the use of technology... I need airships! :love: F22 Raptor
     
  9. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Something you could do is just have it require a lot of effort.
    Everyone on Earth can be a scientist or engineer, creating technological wonders, but only a small percentage put in the effort.
    Have it the same with magic. Would most people be willing to spend years of their lives learning magic, and going through all the rigorous exercises to keep it going?
    If the answer is no, problem solved. No genetics, no deus ex machina just a lot of sweat, labour and blood.
     
  10. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hm... I wanted to have some younger characters that could perform some of the magic, which I thought would kill that avenue. Though I guess I could just make one hell of a steep learning curve when it comes to powerful magic. Maybe just limiting it to weaker forms would work.

    Eh... I'm way too meticulous, I think it's going to be 'hard science-fantasy' or something crazy like that when I'm all done. Damn, I thought I already had all of this planned out.
     
  11. Lord Paradise
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    Lord Paradise New Member

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    It also partly depends upon the amount on which you want to flesh out the setting of your book. If you're in a world where everybody has access to powerful magic, and you try to give a semi-complete worldview in your books, then you're faced with the problems of why issues with poverty, hunger, and transportation can't be solved with a flick of a wand. Because of this, your narration would be limited. For example, if someone wanted to take JK Rowling's books and make them into something more on the scale of Lord of the Rings, rather than largely confining it to the Hogwarts environment, they'd have to answer the question of why somebody couldn't transfigure grass into Galleons. However, if only a small portion of the population has magical powers, then it would be assumed that the rest of the peoples' lives would still suck, giving you an entirely different perspective on the setting.
     
  12. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was never trying to give everyone powerful magic simply due to the fact that it seems that it'd be a lot of work to try and restrict them, alter social hierarchy, or come up with ways to challenge a certain character. While I realize it's very possible, I know I would spend way too much time trying to figure everything out, this is only my first novel. In giving the entire population magic, it would be something simple like being able to direct energy to jump higher, carry more, perform light telekinesis, et cetera. Something that would help them, but not provide something that would seemingly make everyone able to get whatever they wanted in theory.

    Though everyone creating money would cause some monstrous inflation...
     
  13. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    A story that uses absolutely no magic--only truth.
     
  14. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not exactly your everyday, D&D type magic. And what did you even mean by that anyway...?
     
  15. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    I mean Character.

    A person with a twisted, eccentric character will be hellovalot more palpable (and readable) than a character with every kind of magic thrown at them.

    Wait a sec--you write fantasy, nvm, forget what I said.
     
  16. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    No reason you can't have good characterization and magic as well. The magic I'm developing is basically just a tool, it allows the characters to show their creativity.
     
  17. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Adamants right. Magical characters can have extremely well developed characterization. As long as the magic's not used as the be all and end all.

    You could still have young people doing hard magic, just make sure it's understood that they are prodigies. I've heard of a group of teenagers making a small nuclear reactor out of mail order parts, completely on their own initiative (threw the FBI for a loop when they told their teachers about it). Just make sure to avoid the obvious Mary Sue possibilities and it could work nicely.
     
  18. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't really want to go with the prodigy route either. Everything seems to do that, I wanted to use someone that wouldn't really be expected to have it -- I guess that's a good way of putting it. They can be intelligent and resourceful, but I wanted to feel as though it didn't take a genius to work it. (I kind of get around that by having people with constant access to the internet -- think of Ghost in the Shell if you've ever seen that).

    As of now, I believe that I'll have everything available to anyone who wants to figure out how to use it -- but at the same time, no one really knows how to do the uber, universe-shaping magic. Well... perhaps I shouldn't say that no one knows.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Harry Potter series and the Split Infinity series I mentioned earlier have some common elements:

    Magic is widespread, but the ability to perform it depends on both individual aptitude and individual effort/initiative.

    The use of magic is strictly regulated by a few who have the greatest magical power.

    In addition, both the Split Infinity series and some short stories by Larry Niven base magic on a non-renewable resource, often refered to as "mana". In fact, Niven's character, whose name escapes me at the moment, devised a simple magical defense of last resort - A magically spinning disc, with additional magic to keep it intact, that spins ever faster to deplete the local mana.

    Many magical story settings assume that magic itself is widespread, but requires intense study to learn it. The Split Infinity series takes a different tack, that any given spell only works once, so the mage must be able to think quickly on his or her feet. Also, the modality of every mage differs; the hero in this series calls up his magic through music, whereas other adepts construct dolls, or draw pictures, etc.

    I hope this gives you some ideas to shape the rules of your universe.
     
  20. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    To Cogito (Ergo Sum):

    As I've said, my magic is basically just a tool. If you've ever seen Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward' alchemy is somewhat like what I'm trying to achieve.. To create fire, one could: focus on something and let instinct take it away (usually not as powerful); use internal body heat and an ignitable substance; dissect combustible elements from the atmosphere, et cetera.

    I was reading up on an RPG entitled 'Mage: the Ascension' and became aware of paradigm shifts. In my story, this will be utilized as magi having different ways to connect to their magic (like in Split Infinity) however, it will differentiate between things like arcane, alchemy, art-focused, divine, and a host of different things. Also, magic will be dependent on a resource as well.

    From what I had seen, there never really seemed to be a lot of focus on the magic systems in the media... so I felt I should go all-out. :)
     
  21. ap Oweyn
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    ap Oweyn Member

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    Personally, I'm a fan of the RE Howard approach to magic. Though it sounds like you want magic a little more common and a little more... magic than that. (Howard has scenes in his stories where a wizard works magic that we, the reader, recognize as simple gunpowder coupled with flint and steel. But to those characters, it's magic. There's also plenty that would fall under a narrower definition of magic though.)

    My preference is for magic to be a real trial. Finding the knowledge in the first place is hard. Learning it and gather the components is time consuming and difficult. And actually using it may even have a twisting effect on a person in time.

    As for young characters using magic to do some simple things, I can think of two rationales for that. 1) Simpler spells are just easier to get access to, as are the components that make them work. And 2) they're teenagers. They don't listen when anyone else says "magic can warp you over time." It's like smoking or excessive drinking. We all know it's not good for us. But young people do it anyway, because it's part of working out your parameters.


    Stuart
     
  22. WhispWillow
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    WhispWillow Contributing Member

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    May I ask.. who is the target audience?
     
  23. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Teenagers often have things they excel at that the average adult can't do as well, things that only really take a little effort: there's the crazy people who make bombs, there're teens who learn to cook, there are dudes good at baseball and basketball, hacking and programing. And of course, some people can make a bomb, or know a recipe, or know a program, or can make a basket. And I mean, I'm pretty sure not many teens would mind learning to shoot fireballs or electrocute people.

    Then again, there is of course the magical legislation method. I have a branch of Thaumaturgy (magic is done three different was and only the third is called magic) called Alchemy, it's mostly based on the Chinese martial arts. It only takes a little bit of training and concentration to do stuff like boil water or cook an egg in your hand (a trick used in one chapter to illustrate alchemy), but if your a forty year old man who's trained his whole life, you could really tear it up: send electricity through your body, burn the grass, turn your skin to stone. In the world the alchemy is actually taught in classes that anyone can go to, like any extra curricular activity (of course, that's mostly the gateway boiling water and sealing up cuts stuff. but it gives people enough to know how to do other things.). and of course, just like most people don't go around building bombs, most alchemists don't ever care to learn to melt things with a touch. Even the people with the Deus Ex Machina born with mana in their veins (though even the non-mana veined can do this magic with only a little help) don't often care to learn the Final Fantasy style black magic. And of course, using that kind of magic is often against the law except for defense.

    Hope that insanely long thing helps. (then again, no one's answered in a week, so I wonder if my help is really needed? Oh well, more posts)
     
  24. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hadn't answered because I didn't see that there were any more responses to this thread.

    For my target audience, I suppose young adults are my primary concern as readers. However, I really just want to make something that I'm proud of and entertains me.

    I've heard of others that like magic to slowly maim the user, but I felt that I wanted people to embrace magic like an art. Thusly, I believe that I shall rely on a learning curve, education, and laws to prevent a world full of people that could destroy a city block at any second - or at least stop them from doing so. Just as a gun is a tool to defend or attack, my magic will be the same: it's solely dependent on the user, and controlling it isn't going to take decades -- though mastering it can.

    One of my main problems was figuring out just what should be harder. (And working in a sword somehow, haha) Though I suppose that can come partly through trial and error.

    My magic system isn't set in stone, so who knows what it will be later on...
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What about magic performed incorrectly cumulatively damages the user? That way, if someone is dedicated enough to make sure he or she understands each spell thoroughly before attempting it, the will become proficient; but most people will shy away from it as too risky for the benefits.
     

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