1. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Magical Settings

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Megalith, Feb 17, 2015.

    I don’t know if the following works in a story for a setting. It is a culmination of fantastical ideas, combined into one magical system that is a bit complex. <.<; I have been having trouble trying to figure out how to explain it quickly, without confusing the reader, or to figure out how little I can explain without confusing the reader.

    Remnants are the catalyst needed for spell casting. Anything can be a Remnant. And anyone can use a Remnant. Simple enough so far… Remnants are witnesses of natural forces and powerful experiences that absorb that power into themselves. The closer or longer the Remnant is to the experience/force the more power it absorbs from that experience. To use a Remnant you have to have detailed knowledge of the events involved with the forces/experiences to know the fundamental power of the Remnant. A Remnant can be used to cast different spells depending on the caster’s creativity. This is because every Remnant has different abilities unique to the experiences/forces it absorbed. Remnants can also be accompanied by certain materials for additional effects.(Different materials for different Remnants) Depending on the type and power of the spell you are using the Remnant for, will drain a certain amount of your stamina, and you can keep casting until you lose it all and die, even after losing consciousness.

    The key to that last rule is the spell’s effect is determined by the caster’s will with a certain intention. So until that will/intent receives some sort of satisfaction, it will continue to drain the caster’s stamina until they die, whichever comes first. So it’s a special type of experience/force that gives a Remnant its power. Remnants can only absorb and be built from unsatisfied power that is seeking satisfaction.(making them much more rare. a valuable commodity) The caster must empathize and evoke the emotions in themselves that reside within the Remnant to tap into it’s power. Keeping those emotions inside yourself, form your intent, and that will’s the spell.

    I kept saying absorbed power, but that isn’t exactly right. What I just explained is the exteent of the knowledge this fantastical world has on the subject of magic. The MC is a bio-chemist who is accidentally teleported to this wonky universe. Trapped, and a a total loss, he takes solace in studying this strange force that bends to our conscious wills, hoping to find a way home. In the process he begins to advance this other world with his discoveries, and make a name for himself within it.

    I wanted to step away from elves, orcs, dwarves, and dragons. But I wanted to be reminiscent of them. Like the wizard that brings the MC has a staff that is a swirl of blacks. off-whites, browns and clay reds. It is a lot of remnants fused into a single item that he can hold for easy spell variety.

    Because of the subjective nature of this force it also applies to symbols and even widely used gestures. So drawing specific symbols and making specific gestures can give you certain effects to cast spells. Since anyone can do this, a Remnant is really only as useful as your knowledge of it. There are chanters who use the very string of words and their pronunciations as a Remnant.

    Obviously that is a lot, and the problem I’m running into is having to explain this fundamental idea of a Remnant. There is a lot to them, but beside what I mentioned here the Remnants have a stories behind them, which the reader has to know if they want to know what a Remnant is going to do beforehand. And before they even begin to hear Remnant stories they have to know enough about how a Remnant works. And the cleverness is born form within this created world so if they don’t have a good understanding of the way it works, then it will come across as meh. I would appreciate any ideas for the setting which still has much to be desired. I’ve got a decent set of character, working on their depth, and I’ve written a few prototype chapters but the setting is what is majorly lacking. So this story needs to provide this information quickly or efficiently enough to get my plot moving at a good pace. And no setting I've come up with has been satisfactory enough at solving this puzzle.

    MCs that are trapped in a different world are almost always motivated to find a way back home. He actually accomplishes this rather quickly and the story evolves into a much larger plot. I’m thinking that maybe, rather than try an explain what a Remnant is near the beginning, I should start with some arch that slowly reveals this information in a blunder of an adventure when MC first arrives, at the beginning of the story. (sounds a little basic, but what do you guys think?) This approach effects my pacing so I need something interesting and captivating since this is the intro. Either way I need a good setting for this, any ideas, thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The MC who gets trapped in a different world will, initially, need to understand this strange new world and its new and different Laws of Physics. But, unless he bumps into Stephen Hawking, he won't have somebody on hand to just explain them (and, even if he did, he probably wouldn't understand him!). So, he's going to have to try to figure these laws out, based upon his observations, and the occasional "clue" that a local adept lets drop.

    Notice how George Martin gives us the idea of the "White Walkers" early on in Game of Thrones, but we're up to the end of series III and he still hasn't put them centre-stage.

    OK, you probably don't want to drag it out this long, but it won't hurt to foreshadow the MC's realisation/discovery of the laws of magic long before you explain them.
     
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  3. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    That would be a nice ideal. Yeah, maybe it's an intro plot I need, something for the MC to do, that gives him a chance to make some discoveries, enough to get the ball rolling.... Will have to ponder on this some more still... Maybe I should just go all out and see what I can really throw at this idea. Might be better as a lengthier novel.
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    A magic system that complete would justify the extra words.

    I have to say, I was thinking Magic:The Gathering as I read it.
     
  5. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lol! Maybe I was subtly influenced by it after having played so much
     
  6. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wish I read some of those books. I have heard some pretty good things about some of them. Maybe that would be a good place to start for fantasy stories to help me develop a style. I did come up with some things for the setting though. I'm working through a few opening plots now, but haven't got anything solid yet, I think.

    The follow is a general construction of my setting:

    This world is shattered. Many ‘Power Races’ are segregated from each other. Each city is governed by one of these races. They do anything possible to make sure no other power race enters or leaves. Trading happens between middlemen of minor races who make sparse earnings for their trouble. There is a constant power struggle between most of the power-races; each of them believing they have authority over all the land for their own reasons. It’s a silent war fought behind veils of treaties and espionage. Minor races are no more than glorified slaves, kept under the thumb of the power race’s knowledge of magic. Each race is trying to steal each other’s secrets, hoping to get the edge they need to overtake another race. In between this confounded mess of priorities and problems, is a natural world which is filled to the brim and thriving with life.

    Though life is plentiful, it is also very deadly. Minor races have no chance staying alive if they stray from the protected paths. Even a proud member of a power race would think twice before wandering off the trail for any length of time. Nature is riddled with mystery and chaos. Monster of all sizes and shapes inhabit the multiplicity of ecosystems. Scattered within are ruins of insurmountable scale, their purpose and locations lost to time. Societies have been reduced to a stale and rigid world, born within a thriving one. And no matter which side you find yourself in, survival will always be on the back of the mind.

    Any thoughts? Suggestions? Does anybody think this setting is missing something?
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    While it sounds really cool and reminds me of fantasy RPG games (it's a good thing, at least in my opinion!), my question is: how does this setting fit into your story? It sounds like there're many potential stories you could write from this setting, given the power struggle and the unknown dangers of the unmarked trails. If you do nothing with any of this in the story, it might end up feeling like lost potential, or unrealistic. Basically, weave your setting in with your plot. What exists should essentially help your plot make sense.

    So where do the minor races live?

    And if no one seems to travel - since the unbeaten path is deadly and other cities aren't an option if you're of a different race - then how's the population controlled? Sooner or later you're going to overpopulate your city, after all, so where do people go?

    You may want to research into history - say, China or England before they each became a unified country. Cus before the country was unified, England and China both existed as multiple kingdoms - certainly in England it did. Might give you an entire as to how the politics of your world might work. Or think of the model of the United States.
     
  8. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes! Thank you. I was keeping that in mind. So in this information war, can you imagine how the bio-chemist’s(MC) research and advances overshadows this cold war? It kind of destroys the precarious balance that has been persisting for millennia. The powers at be are against this chaos and make MC a target. The worst part is, this happens without MC realizing the effects he is having in the world; his new colleagues are spreading this knowledge behind his back.(for there own reasons, of which MC was against)

    The minor races are like the power races glue. They live in the cities with the power races, but are either house servants our live in very worn down parts of the city. The difference in status between them is so great that they do not mind minor races that reside in other power races’ cities to come visit them. They believe them to be so incapable and unreliable that they don’t think of them to be any danger to their security.(And they also use them to trade between conflicting cities.)

    Anyone can travel to any other city without leaving the interconnected and protected paths.(considering you can travel through the city to get to the next path) Each power race has multiple cities so power races are free to travel between cities controlled by their races. They are set up so each race can travel between all their cities without traveling through an enemy city.

    You might be right about that. I even gave them long lifespan’s adding to this population issue. I was thinking… How about, when the cities population rises to a certain point, they venture into the wild to try and establish a new city? ninety percent of the time the venture ends in failure, but the attempt acts as population control if unsuccessful.

    Yeah that could work. The newest cities wouldn’t have protected paths for a long time.(50-100 years) To speed up the process they would probably constantly send minor races along the path to enforce the Remnant… A dark place indeed.

    That is a really good idea. I think I can gain a lot of perspective on how to make this setting as realistic and grim as possible. This is already a little too much like the US(or modern society in general), I need to be more reminiscent of real fantasy.

    You gave my setting a huge detail boost already and gave me some direction for even more! Thanks @Mckk !
     
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  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Re the minor races - I don't find it particularly realistic that everyone from every single power race would regard everyone from every minor race to be completely incapable and non-threatening. See how many absolutes there were in that sentence? Few things in life are so black and white. You say the power races are trying to take over the rest of the land and steal other power races' secrets - since minor races are so unsuspecting and can infiltrate into any city they like, wouldn't they make the perfect spy? Unsuspecting individuals and allowed into houses of important people as servants - there's huge potential to exploit lol.

    And why hasn't anyone from the minor races tried to steal these secrets to try and overthrow the power races? People generally don't stay oppressed forever without some kind of riot/protest/revolution/war.

    Re those who'd venture out to establish a new city - who would do such a thing, how large would the group be, and how are these individuals chosen? If you could get this in place, then it could work. For example, maybe everyone over a certain age automatically gets kicked out of the cities, or maybe everyone who disobeys the birth control rule - say, think of China's one child policy - then the whole family gets kicked out, or maybe the oldest child gets kicked out (unless you're rich and powerful). But there needs to be some criteria that governs who gets kicked out. And if people are venturing out to establish new cities, are they simply sent out or do the city that sent them out support them with weapons and materials to build with?

    Anyway glad I could be of help!
     
  10. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes I’m overgeneralizing a lot. That’s because each of these races can have there own reasons for why things are the way they are.(Not all of them are slavers or are looking for ultimate control; And most of them are one or the other but, usually both.) Think how many people Egypt enslaved and how long it was going on for. Societies are generally known for falling after extending themselves beyond reason. Expansion and war were common back in the day, as well as slavery. The mindset of the society and its ‘ethical’ or ‘religious’ reasons are the deciding factor. The things that will make each power race unique. (including looks— Which I will try and inspire from those reasons.)

    The minor races have tried revolution a few times in the past, but they ended up off worse for it. The system in place keeps the minor races from even getting close to magic knowledge.(Information like that is too valuable to even store in a book. And you don’t reveal that kind of thing when casting a spell— At least until MC came along.)

    I agree that letting these minor races go wherever they want sounds a little farfetched in this system, now that you mention it.(Even with the powerlessness and submissiveness of their kind.) I’m thinking of making a minor race for nearly each individual power race. Up the ante with more segregation. :) Racism Inception! (Working out the finer details still, but I think it works, in a twisted-symbiotic kind of way.)

    Nice ideas. I think that each race will have different ideas about how to do this. And that will decide which races are the most expansive and have the most influence. Well talk about a heck of a lot of world building. But it will help expand my plot and flesh everything out.

    Oh please the pleasure is mine. Any qualms, perceptions, ideas, will help a lot towards refining my setting, I'm glad we were able to accomplish so much. :)
     
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