September 23, 2019, 12:12:34 AM

Author Topic: Let’s talk about low magic  (Read 545 times)

Online Lanko

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Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2019, 09:40:35 PM »
What I dislike about high magic settings is how often, at least in recent memory, I come across books whose battles seem to have been inspired by Japanese anime or hack'n'slash video games.

Stuff like people moving at "blurring speed", withstanding ridiculous injuries, finding some hidden, absurd strength to beat the villain after he/she injuries/kills someone they love, and the worst one, becoming a one (wo)man army very fast and destroying groups or whole armies with relatively ease, even when initially the magic is portrayed as being strategic and of sparse use.
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Offline Bender

Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2019, 10:04:46 PM »
I don't think it has anything to do with magic, video games or Anime, Lanko.

It's just a textbook definition of a hero (as against a protagonist). You can see McClane saving a city himself, Rambo destroying army divisions on his own etc and without magic. Or Bond suave-ing his way with drinks and wine while saving the world. Even the Long Price Quartet which had a unique poet based fantasy system still had the poet able to wreck kingdoms even though it had no flashy battles.

Magicians are variations of superheros. They should be able to something spectacular, awe inspiring.

The same formula is used across multiple streams in books, TV and Movies.
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2019, 10:44:40 PM »
What I dislike about high magic settings is how often, at least in recent memory, I come across books whose battles seem to have been inspired by Japanese anime or hack'n'slash video games.

and the worst one, becoming a one (wo)man army very fast and destroying groups or whole armies with relatively ease, even when initially the magic is portrayed as being strategic and of sparse use.

I immediately thought of the chronicles of the Black Gate I really liked the first one but each book after became poorer I eventually DNF the series on book four . Character far too overpowered and it became boring.

Years ago I think the same happened with the forgotten realm  drizzt books  I liked the first seven novels and then got bored At a thousand orcs as didn’t feel any tension , I’m a bit scared to reread them now through. Just googled and his now at 29 books in the series.

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Offline Matthew

Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2019, 11:17:25 PM »
I'd probably say the difference comes down to scale and I suppose flair.

Gandalf smashing a bridge to pieces with a bloody great balrog charging him is high magic. A giant flaming eye on top of a magic would qualify as well. Same with Sanderson's Reckoners series, super-not-heroes turning cities to steel and stuff.

For low magic I'd think of something like Felix Castor series where there's ghosts and demons but it's all more grounded.

While it doesn't have to be linked, there does seem a correlation between high-low and hard-soft as well. The epic magics seem to be harder to quantify, where the low can be more easily understood in terms of 1+2=3.

Online Lanko

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Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2019, 05:56:11 PM »
I don't think it has anything to do with magic, video games or Anime, Lanko.

It's just a textbook definition of a hero (as against a protagonist). You can see McClane saving a city himself, Rambo destroying army divisions on his own etc and without magic. Or Bond suave-ing his way with drinks and wine while saving the world. Even the Long Price Quartet which had a unique poet based fantasy system still had the poet able to wreck kingdoms even though it had no flashy battles.

Magicians are variations of superheros. They should be able to something spectacular, awe inspiring.

The same formula is used across multiple streams in books, TV and Movies.

For me it felt quite clearly inspired by anime/video games. Sure, not saying it can't be, but it doesn't feel... how can I say, natural, specially when it begins by suggesting otherwise.

Rambo, a veteran experienced soldier destroying army divisions with gatling guns, rocket launchers and etc is fine.
It wouldn't be fine if Rambo was a 16 year old skinny, shy and untrained boy who never swatted a mosquito, who in the middle of a war, is trained in how to shoot, discovers he is special, and by the end of the book is decimating divisions of the most powerful army on Earth.

That's the impression I got from those books I've read.

What I dislike about high magic settings is how often, at least in recent memory, I come across books whose battles seem to have been inspired by Japanese anime or hack'n'slash video games.

and the worst one, becoming a one (wo)man army very fast and destroying groups or whole armies with relatively ease, even when initially the magic is portrayed as being strategic and of sparse use.

I immediately thought of the chronicles of the Black Gate I really liked the first one but each book after became poorer I eventually DNF the series on book four . Character far too overpowered and it became boring.

Years ago I think the same happened with the forgotten realm  drizzt books  I liked the first seven novels and then got bored At a thousand orcs as didn’t feel any tension , I’m a bit scared to reread them now through. Just googled and his now at 29 books in the series.



Chronicles of the Black Gate got me the same impression and perhaps was the biggest "offender" in recent years on this.
Book opens with very detailed cavalry charges, magic being very strategic (and costly) in its use and so on.

Suddenly later none of it matters, as the heroes just become "Goku with swords" and decimate entire armies of magical demons, monsters and etc by themselves.
Even worse was when the use of the magic was said over and over to have grave consequences, yet one of the heroes pushes harder and harder, and aside from fainting here and there, nothing actually happens.

Even Sanderson doesn't really escapes this, for all the rules in his magic, at least in his early iterations.

Mistborn starts with the protagonists training, and explaining each of the abilities involving metals, the battles are very strategic, hard fought and close, and they have to find creative uses of their powers.
By book 2 the heroine (and later the hero) is already crushing whole armies of giant monsters by herself and looks like the most powerful "metalmancer" (whatever it was) in History.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 06:07:12 PM by Lanko »
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Offline Matthew

Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2019, 08:16:14 PM »
@Lanko That sounds more like power creep than the difference between any sort of high vs low. It is definitely a staple of video games and such though. Couldn't agree more about the too rapid progression of the protagonist as well (Mistborn 1 is my favourite of the series for that very reason - and I hated the hero guy in later ones).

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2019, 12:43:26 AM »
I can't stand overpowered heroes, regardless of how much magic or technological power is available in the setting. Especially if they haven't had that much training. I don't mind having a character who can fight an army alone, but only if they are an antagonist.

I don't mind playing an overpowered hero in a video game though. Although lately I've become more interested in RPGs where you play as part of a group. I usually have characters in my own stories fighting larger monsters or powerful enemies in a group as well. It feels a little more believable that way.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 12:46:23 AM by Neveesandeh »

Online Lanko

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Re: Let’s talk about low magic
« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2019, 03:21:39 AM »
@Lanko That sounds more like power creep than the difference between any sort of high vs low. It is definitely a staple of video games and such though. Couldn't agree more about the too rapid progression of the protagonist as well (Mistborn 1 is my favourite of the series for that very reason - and I hated the hero guy in later ones).

True, powercreep may be the correct definition.

Though power creep will usually happen in a high magic setting due to the heavy usage making it quite common and sometimes even banal, while in a lower one it would be hard for rare/strategic usage of magic to suddenly make someone go solo on whole armies for various volumes.

For good overpowered characters, I recommend watching Overlord or One Punch Man. The main characters are ridiculously overpowered but they have other things/flaws going for them that makes them amusing and entertaining.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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