1. Leleluv

    Leleluv Member

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    What would be a Rational Magic System?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Leleluv, Jul 19, 2020.

    I'm trying to create a realistic magic system that is both powerful and limited. Brandon Sanderson claims that the best magic systems are ones with consequences and limits, and I wholefully agree. I love realism and logic applied to magic. So far, however, I cannot come up with a balanced system. The only one of interest has been elemental, but I think that's cliche and has lots of loopholes. I need a system that's not too simple or too broad, and one that can be combated by normal humans with the ability to negate magical powers but by no real magic of their own. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Lazaares

    Lazaares Contributor Contributor

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    For a writing project, I think you should approach the magic system from a setting/plot perspective. You first must determine whether magic is clandestine or openly practiced After that, decide whether it is banned, tolerated or encouraged in your various societies. Based on that you can determine how well spread it is. You don't really need any inner workings, functions or resources defined to answer these questions. You'll have an easier time choosing them afterwards.

    Hard magic systems accommodate well-spread magic more. Soft is better for clandestine magic.
     
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  3. Leleluv

    Leleluv Member

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    In my story, people who inherit magic are forced to live in separate societies because magic is perceived to have only offensive uses. Magic is only banned outside these societies. The endgame is equal integration, as well as changing the perception of magic by applying it to medicine and technology. I definitely want a hard magic system, I just get caught up on details.
     
  4. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    What do you want to do, specifically, as far as uses for medicine and technology? Make a system that can accomplish that, then work backwards from there. Alternately, go with a system you like and think outside the box - how can someone do the things you want with the magic at their disposal? Is it possible? If not, you might have to rethink the system.
     
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  5. Leleluv

    Leleluv Member

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    That actually helps a lot. I have a bad habit of getting ahead of myself. So far I've only been working from the ground up, and there have been so many avenues of thought to tackle. I think I'll start it that way and try to simplify my ideas as much as possible.
     
  6. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    I wrote a story for October's short story contest, it didn' win but I think it has the magic system that you're looking for. It was called the quantum mask. It wasn't really about magic but science that could be used as magic. Quantum physics. What a rush!
     
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  7. Leleluv

    Leleluv Member

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    That sounds like something I have to check out. It would be great if I could have magic parallel to science in my world, which is probably what I will end up doing, but it's been forever since I was in a chemistry class. I wasn't very good with it either. I'm going to have to do some heavy researching.
     
  8. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    Really, there's no point in research. I doubt you would find two Quantum physicist to agree on exactly what it is.
     
  9. Leleluv

    Leleluv Member

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    Eh, I wouldn't do much. I would probably just scratch down from a level like 'ice and heat make steam'.
     
  10. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    My last post was a bit short, so I wanted to expand on it a bit.

    I'm using an elemental magic system. Mages can draw energy from the source of magic - the Flow - but they can only infuse it into things. It's not like Wheel of Time channeling, it's more like Avatar bending, where they can manipulate matter. I came up with the system first, then I started building the world; it started out as pure fantasy, but I finally realized that I wanted to do a magitek/steampunk-type setting instead, so I had to tweak the system to fit the world.

    In other words, I had to figure out how magic could be used in place of, or to supplement, technology (which is around 1890s level). This was about the point I came up with infusing energy - the "manipulate matter" thing was always there, but I came up with the idea that infusing energy into certain materials could change their properties: for example, infusing Fire into brass makes it radiate heat; infusing Water into silver turns it liquid (like mercury). I also have various other innovations, like magic crystals (crystallized energy), items that can store energy, etc.

    So like I said before, it might be easier to figure out how you want to integrate magic into your society, and work backwards to create the system from there. What's the tech level, what does magic do, and how can magic be used to improve or replace things people already do? Those are the questions you should ask when you're doing this.

    Also, don't knock elemental magic. It's all in how you present it - there are as many variants as there are writers who use it. The trick is to make it unique and interesting.
     
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  11. Leleluv

    Leleluv Member

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    A very good set of questions that is already giving me ideas. Your magic system is also similar to mine in that magic is, at its core, the manipulation of matter. In my opinion, that's basically all of what magic is. You're manipulating something to generate a result. I know what I want magic to accomplish, so I suppose I'll branch off from that point there. Also, I love elemental magic, and Avatar is one of my all-time favorite shows, but I feel it is stunting my creativity a bit that I can't think of any other system that has the same set amount of limitations and capabilities.
     
  12. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    You don't need a balanced system. You only need one that works for your plot.

    The thing about writing is that the entire world is under your control. What is it that you need your characters to do with magic? Turn back time? OK, then you make it do that. You don't want them to be able to do it regularly? Then they can't. The why is whatever fits in best with your story. Maybe it ages them 10 years every time they do it, and that's why the character appears to be 105 years old. Maybe it requires the Pogo-Stick of Wunderkind that's been lost, and they have to go on a quest to find it. Maybe it makes one of your big toes drop off each time you use it so it can only be used twice in a lifetime, and it's already been used once.

    The magic system doesn't drive your story. The story drives the magic system.

    Personally, I never bother to try and define the precise limits and consequences of my magic systems. I have one fundamental rule in my primary fantasy world - no time travel ("that which is done cannot be undone"). And guess which chapter that gets broken in.
     
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  13. Stephen1974

    Stephen1974 Active Member

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    Spoiler alert if you've not read the Pillars of Reality Series.

    Two interesting systems of magic I have read.

    The first is from the Dragonlance series and the magic there is pretty standard, spell components and incantations, with limits built in by sapping strength and spells fading from memory but what I found a really nice twist was that, at one point in history, dwarves were immune to magic. Why? because they didn't believe in it. Simple as that. They stubbonly refused to believe it and therefore magic didnt effect them.







    The second is from the Pillars of Reality series and in some ways its similar but there was an interesting linking factor. Two factions, mages and engineers. Engineers couldnt do magic because they didnt believe in it. Mages could use technology because they couldnt understand it. The Magic came from the Mage simply thinking about what they wanted to happen, and an engineer later suggested that had to do with quantum mechanics and the theory that the state of something has to be determined by an outside obsever, so if you truly believe something is on fire, then its on fire. The limitiations on what they could do came from their 'masters' deliberatley telling them they couldnt do something.

    So two magic systems very much based around belief, either for or against.
     
  14. Joe_Hall

    Joe_Hall I drink Scotch and I write things

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    I love creating magic systems...it's one of the world-building things I love the most about writing fantasy. In my current work, my magic users are physically limited in the spells they can cast. The number and power of their spells is physically draining; advanced magic users build a tolerance to the drain which allow them to cast either a high number of spells or a more powerful spell but an apprentice might actually pass out a time or two during training just trying to make sparks. An apprentice who tries to cast a very high level spell would probably both fail the casting and die from exertion. I also have blood mages (considered apostates by the main magic community) who cut their wrists and use their blood as fuel for their spells but again, once you are out of blood you die so, while I have it as very powerful magic, it is highly limited.

    Countering magic is really up to you as an author. I think the easiest device is "kryptonite". You introduce a crystal or metal or potion or whatever you invent that makes people either partially or fully immune to magic. Personally I usually go for partial because otherwise your all-powerful wizards just wrecked by everyone with no real consequences. But partial immunity means someone might get hurt in a battle but still can put a sword through a caster's neck.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
  15. w. bogart

    w. bogart Contributor Contributor Blogerator

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    This really helped me in creating a magic system. https://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/04/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions-magic-and-magicians/ the whole world building section has questions that get you thinking.
    Hope this helps.
     

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