June 18, 2019, 04:08:16 AM

Author Topic: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?  (Read 20807 times)

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6898
  • Total likes: 4701
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #60 on: February 12, 2015, 05:26:21 PM »
It's rare for there to be a magic system with that much detail from what I can tell, and if you manage it well enough then there's a ridiculous amount that you could do with it :)
chuckles
http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Edition-Dungeons-Compendium-Accessory/dp/0786964480
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #61 on: February 12, 2015, 09:17:41 PM »
It's rare for there to be a magic system with that much detail from what I can tell, and if you manage it well enough then there's a ridiculous amount that you could do with it :)
chuckles
http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Edition-Dungeons-Compendium-Accessory/dp/0786964480
Haha yeah, you know I mean in terms of original ones in books specifically  ;D
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Yora

Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #62 on: February 12, 2015, 09:48:46 PM »
Speaking of which: That one is clearly my least favorite system of magic in fantasy.
Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

There is nothing to read!

Offline Ryan Mueller

  • Needs a Cheesy Quest Fantasy baa-aadly
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1069
  • Total likes: 259
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Ryan W. Mueller
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #63 on: February 13, 2015, 01:50:43 AM »
Oh, if we're talking a system more like allomancy, where abilities are mostly just named after the elements (albeit with some links), then that could work. I was thinking more literal control over the elements, like with traditional elemental magic. It could be interesting to see how certain elements/abilities react with each other like chemicals do (although you'd still have to do a fuckton of research and, considering how many elements are out there, it would be incredibly complex).
Yeah exactly, I think it could be really worth it though. It's rare for there to be a magic system with that much detail from what I can tell, and if you manage it well enough then there's a ridiculous amount that you could do with it :)

I worry that that level of detail might be too much. That's where I like Sanderson's Third Law. Start simple with your magic system, then expand on it. An entire periodic table of magical abilities would be way too much (at least in my opinion).

Offline Rukaio_Alter

  • Writing Contest Regular and Ineffectual Comic Relief
  • Writing Group
  • Ambient Mage
  • ****
  • Posts: 412
  • Total likes: 431
    • View Profile
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #64 on: February 13, 2015, 02:08:38 AM »
I worry that that level of detail might be too much. That's where I like Sanderson's Third Law. Start simple with your magic system, then expand on it. An entire periodic table of magical abilities would be way too much (at least in my opinion).
But, to be fair, it's unlikely that all the periodic table would be used if a book was made with that kind of magic system. I suspect a large number of less important elements/abilities would go unused and you certainly wouldn't/shouldn't introduce all the important ones at once.

Honestly, at its heart, it is actually a pretty simple system. Each element has an ability corresponding to it. Some elements may react to/be similar to others. Simple as. The complexities come from how elements react to/are similar to each other and, if you keep the number of shown elements relatively low to begin with, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
5 Times Winner of the Forum Writing Contest who Totally Hasn't Let it All go to his Head.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Also, <Insert GOD EMPEROR OF THE WRITING CONTEST joke here>

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #65 on: February 13, 2015, 03:26:04 AM »
It depends on how far you want to go with the periodic table.
If the magic users could only control certain elements, then you would really have to think about what objects contain what, what does this element do, etc. After that, you would have to get the reader to somehow juggle this in his head.
Or, you could just completely come up with brand new stuff that is unrelated to the control of the elements, and pull a Mistbourne but on a larger scale.
Either way, it would be tough and, in my opinion, not worth the time. I love science, but not that much.

Offline Peat

Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #66 on: December 03, 2016, 03:04:40 PM »
I think one of my least favorite tropes in Fantasy is the magic savant.  We've all seen them, even in some very very good books.  Our hero (hmmm, call him Harry) has incredible magical powers, even at an early age.  He amazes his teachers.  When faced with danger, his powers unaccountably manifest themselves to save the day.

Many writers address this in terms of showing progress and training (hmmm, call our heroine, Vin), but the concept is still there that this one has more innate power than any other (the Force is strong in this one).

A comparison to elite athletes might be useful.  If magic is a physical trait, then some will have better genes than others.  But there is still a massive amount of training required.  Tiger Woods was a prodigy, but also an obsessive with an obsessed teacher and at least ten years of work before he could compete with elite adults.  Vin trains for two years in Mistborn, and achieves feats that a lifetime of training never produced in others.  (Yes, I know, maybe she was chosen by Preservation, but  that's part of the trope, too, right?  And I do love me some Vin.)

Disclaimer: I loved all the stories I'm using here as examples, which is evidence that this trope can work pretty darn well.  But it always bothers me, and any author who uses it has, for me, set a real hill to climb.  Maybe a perfect treatment?  Wizard of Earthsea.

Bump because I think you got this one wrong -

Harry isn't that great. He does two things only to a savant level himself. One is flying, where he is presented as having a one in a million gift (but its actually mostly irrelevant to the books). The other is magical combat and even then, he doesn't just roll up and stuff everyone head first into a barrel. He gets a large amount of practical experience very quickly (Harry Potter as a normalisation of child soldiers - discuss) and I think that's a fair explanation. He's briefly a potion making savant, but that's only because he's working off of Snape's private notes.

The real savant of the HP series is Hermione and she's shown working very hard and obsessively.

I do agree about Wizard of Earthsea though. That's one of my favourites. That and the witchcraft shown in Discworld.
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6898
  • Total likes: 4701
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #67 on: December 04, 2016, 01:38:06 PM »
So, Harry: less the savant, more the Chosen One?
The two gripes do get twisted together a lot.

Child soldier. Wow. Lack of brain power for discussion. Others?

Meanwhile, Vin. I continue (completely off topic) to decry the scene where she kills 100 soldiers because hey we're in her way, and nothing is ever made of it (that I recall). Morality of killing NPCs blocking the hero from her ends? Discuss.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #68 on: December 04, 2016, 03:00:58 PM »
Well, to talk about Vin, you have to go spoiler crazy. So I'm hesitant to do so. But basically... Most of her tropes she's not responsible for, and that scene is a key example of something she was pushed to do...

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6898
  • Total likes: 4701
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #69 on: December 04, 2016, 03:02:33 PM »
And that removes moral responsibility? (Yes, I know it's a fantasy story; I'm just exploring here.)
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #70 on: December 04, 2016, 03:16:28 PM »
I understand. That's an interesting question. I think it's a really grey area. It wasn't a Killgrave situation, so there's still free will. On the other hand, you could blame severe psychological stress and outside influence. It kind of goes back to Shakespeare. Who deserves more blame? Iago or Othello? Is Othello more responsible for his actions? Yes, and no. The way he treated his wife was awful, but considering that he may have already had a mental disability to begin with, and Iago's manipulation, he was pushed really hard that way. In that case, I think they both share a portion of the responsibility. So I guess it would be the same for Vin. She's not completely responsible, but she's not immune to blame either.

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6898
  • Total likes: 4701
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #71 on: December 04, 2016, 04:57:10 PM »
I agree pretty much. I think (and I may be wrong here) that Sanderson basically ignores the whole question. It's enough that Vin suffers from her own mental state. It's apparently irrelevant that she causes untold (literally) suffering for others.

And, of course, Othello dies.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Peat

Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #72 on: December 04, 2016, 06:48:16 PM »
So, Harry: less the savant, more the Chosen One?
The two gripes do get twisted together a lot.

Child soldier. Wow. Lack of brain power for discussion. Others?

Meanwhile, Vin. I continue (completely off topic) to decry the scene where she kills 100 soldiers because hey we're in her way, and nothing is ever made of it (that I recall). Morality of killing NPCs blocking the hero from her ends? Discuss.

He's definitely a Chosen One - and the way JK Rowling handles the whole Chosen One thing is one of the things that makes me super impressed with her (even when cringing at some of the stupid). And I'd agree there's very few incompetent or experienced Chosen Ones, so savant goes with the territory.

As for Vin - would those killings be considered an act of war? (Not read the books).
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6898
  • Total likes: 4701
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #73 on: December 04, 2016, 07:04:53 PM »
Keeping things un-spoilery, I think that would be the defense of the actions. Wrong-headed in the end, really, but permissible morally given what Vin believed at the time.

And I'll leave this little thread detour there. Or maybe start another to focus on the question. Which has, of course, plagued us humans since we began to think about ethics and violence.  ;)
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Peat

Re: What was your favorite (and least favorite) use of magic in fantasy?
« Reply #74 on: December 04, 2016, 07:14:33 PM »
Keeping things un-spoilery, I think that would be the defense of the actions. Wrong-headed in the end, really, but permissible morally given what Vin believed at the time.

And I'll leave this little thread detour there. Or maybe start another to focus on the question. Which has, of course, plagued us humans since we began to think about ethics and violence.  ;)

Maybe a new thread?
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/