1. Ale

    Ale Member

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    Is adding magic a little too much?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Ale, May 2, 2017.

    My WIP involves reencarnations, Atlantis, and the idea that aliens helped Atlantis develop technologically. The scifi elements are pretty subdued (technology is pretty advanced for 600BC, but not futuristic, and alien existence is only implied), but the story's setting still has a lot of weird stuff going on that the reader needs to digest. I wanted to include some lowkey magical/superhuman abilities, but I'm worried that adding magic to a world that already has sci-fi and paranormal/spiritual elements is excesive. I've thought about the possibility of giving these abilities a scifi origin (yay aliens) to make it more coherent, but I still have the same worries.
     
  2. Millyme11

    Millyme11 Member

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    You could try writing a trial piece of your WIP including an aspect of the magic you wish to add, and see if it works. You could read it back to yourself and think 'no way'. But then again, you could look at it and think 'why didn't I include this sooner?'. Write what best suits you and what you feel is best for your novel.

    All the best :)
     
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  3. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

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    do you feel that magic will add something to the story beyond giving the reader something shiny to look at? will it present new challenges and issues that the characters will have to work around, or is it only there to offer easy solutions to sticky situations?

    if you include magic, use a gentle touch to limit the risk of sounding like a fanboy/girl who's ping-ponging through all their favorite superhuman sub-genres. i think having a sci-fi origin is smart because it gives everything the same foundational origin. there's a reason why JK Rowling didn't insert aliens in to Harry Potter; if it doesn't tie together in a plausible way it'll come across as scattered and poorly thought out.

    you seem to have the right idea with "low-key" though, so i doubt you're trying to make one of your characters in to a god for no reason or something. i say go for it!
     
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  4. Pharthan

    Pharthan Active Member

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    It very much depends on what you make the magic out to be. Is it magic for the sake of magic? Does it make sense/fit with the rest of the universe? If you've got reincarnation and spiritual aspects, and you can make it fit in with that, sure. If you're talking about shooting fireballs and lightning? That feels off based of what you have presented. If you're talking about things which are more subtle - perhaps.
     
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  5. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Definitely a hominid

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    "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

    The remaining question is only, why you have "better than 600 B.C. but still not futuristic" technology alongside "sufficiently advanced technology".

    My suggested solution is that the sufficiently advanced technology is part of what the aliens actually gave to the humans. That they gave them something like a foundation or core to work from. Could be some spiritual principle or a powerful artifact or a kind of library.

    And the "better than 600 B.C." tech is what the humans came up with by making good use of what the aliens gave them.
     
  6. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    H.P. Lovecraft entire universe centered around alien beings who abilities so surpassed us that they not only seemed magical about they appeared godlike.
    I could not say it better.
    Godspeed!
     
  7. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    All I have to say is: Warhammer 40K
    Plenty of both Sci-Fi and magic in it
    to kill a pony.

    The Orks tech alone works because of Waaagh energy,
    which is basically if enough Orks believe it will work
    then it will.
     
  8. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    For me magic has to have strict rules and guidelines it adheres to. Without that is strays into deus ex machina very swiftly (but I would say the same is true for science in sci-fi).
     
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  9. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    There's really nothing wrong with scifi and magic mixing, especially if this is from early earth history. Also works in futuristic settings as well, but it's a bit different in how it needs to be done.

    I'd also like to remind you of the Mass Effect universe. Biotics is not necessarily magic, but pretty much works the same in a lot of respects. Also, psi-ops is a good example of something that has magic-like qualities, but of the more "mental power" aspect. It depends on how it's done though, and especially if you make it more mystical and not pronounced as a common and "normal" thing, it will work.
     
  10. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    But Mass Effect is first and foremost a game, not a consistent set of rules serving a story (yes it once had a story ten years ago). Psi-ops is fine if it has very strict rules. I don't know why I am saying this to you, because I am sure I am preaching to the converted. Oh well, there it is.
     
  11. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    Game, movie, tv, book, doesn't matter, all of them are stories. No, there wasn't a specific set of rules applied to ME's biotics, but simply laying out a set of rules is akin to info dumping. Best to show how something works, rather than tell, and I think we all agree on that. :) I also believe that the OP wanted it to be mysterious and not too "in-your-face" magic, so it really doesn't need to be too specific, right?
     
  12. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I think we are agreeing and I really don't have the time or patience for a debate, so I hope we are. So my point was basically: Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit lonely, And you're never coming round, Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit tired, Of listening to the sound of my tears, Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit nervous, That the best of all the years have gone by, Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit terrified, And then I see the look in your eyes, Turnaround bright eyes, but every now and then I fall apart, Turnaround bright eyes, every now and then I fall apart. I assume you agree?
     
  13. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    Oh, I wasn't debating, just discussing. I will say I'm confused by this though, not sure what you're referring to, maybe something I'm not aware of? A poem, maybe?
     
  14. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    A poem? A poem? You call yourself Welsh? (Are you Welsh?). It is Bonnie Tyler. My God, you'll never be allowed into Wales again (are you Welsh?)
     
  15. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    Ummm...no, I'm not Welsh...I do know of Bonnie Tyler though. Never been a huge fan, not like I hate the music, but I'd also not recognize the lyrics right away... Not exactly sure about the connection between that song and magic systems in sci-fi though. o_O
     
  16. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    See, I knew you were West Country.
     
  17. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    I'm starting to hear Rick Astley playing in the background though...lol
     
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  18. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Genuinely, that fellah has a good voice.
     
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  19. Minty Talons

    Minty Talons Member

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    Yeah adding actual magic sounds abit excessive to me.
    Frankly it also sounds redundant if you've already got discarded alien technology. If your character is an ordinary 600BC human then to him magic and science are indistinguishable from each other anyways. If I were you i'd just have him notice bits of shiny metal when some one uses "magic". That way you can let the reader know it's alien science but let all the characters think it's magic.
     
  20. Ale

    Ale Member

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    Oh, I think I didn't explain myself very well. The setting is supposed to be around 600 BC so, for example, having electricity would be reaally technological advanced for the time period, but not futuristic as in the 'flying cars' sense of the word. I hope I've understood your question correctly!
     
  21. Ale

    Ale Member

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    Thanks for the great answers guys!
     
  22. Minty Talons

    Minty Talons Member

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    ohhhhh I see, modern technology from an ancient perspective. Sounds interesting.
    Well in that case objection withdrawn.
    Besides a guy from 600BC would grow up immersed in superstition so if anything he'd find magic easier to accept than technology.
     
  23. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Definitely a hominid

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    Yes, now it makes sense.
    Just like Minty Talons obviously did, I thought the setting would be nowadays but that maybe some characters would find the remnants of Antlantis and weird things happen.

    And I agree with Minty, if you make the premise of the story "modern technology from an ancient perspective" ... wow that would be a super awesome idea!
    Particularly for me personally, because I'm a fan of ancient technology. That means, I'm interested in stone age tool making, cord making, old architecture and so on. It always amazes me how skillful and resourceful the ancient civilizations were.
    Merge their unsual "tech" with "super-high tech" from their perspective and I'm sold!

    But IMHO I would not include "real" magic. Only "magical" things that can be explained by the modern reader as science, but maybe is used in an unusual way. And is not noticed as technology first but only if you think about it a bit. I think that would give a special appeal to the story, because it would be fridge brilliance.
     
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  24. JCC

    JCC New Member

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    You seem to have very good instincts regarding your hesitancy on adding magic to this story idea. I agree completely with QueenOfPlants.
     
  25. Ulquiorra9000

    Ulquiorra9000 Member

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    I wouldn't use Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter style magic in that setting, since I agree that it's one thing too many. Too flashy. What about more passive, invisible magic, such as allowing immortality, or the like? I've used magic like this before, such as land masses hovering in the sky like clouds. It's so integrated and passive that it just feels like another natural feature, even though it is super-natural. I like "force of nature" magic to help explain some things in stories.
     
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