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Author Topic: Explain your magic systems  (Read 5687 times)

Offline Yora

Explain your magic systems
« on: September 18, 2015, 02:39:29 PM »
Having some rules for how magic works in a fantasy world, be they rough or very precise, is often a major part of the worldbuilding and can have a very big impact on the feel of the world and the development of the plot and characters.

What kinds of systems of how magic works, what it does, and who uses it have you created for your works? I'd really like to hear more about what other people here are doing in this regard. However brief or elaborate you think necessary to explain what you have.

Spoiler for Magic in the Ancient Lands:
The Source of Magic
The Ancient Lands consists of two world that exist side by side. The material world and the Spiritworld. They both look very similar and feel almost the same to touch, but the material world is the world of things while the Spiritworld is the world of energy. Almost everything exist in both worlds at the same time. While the body of a mountain rests in the material world, the essence or spirit of the mountain resides in the Spiritworld. The exception are animals and people whose body and essence are inseperable and always in the same world at any given time.
While things in the material world are changed through work by being moved, broken, bend, or burned, the energy that allows people to move objects or fire to burn things comes from the Spiritworld. While energy can take many different forms, it all is of the same essence and can change from any form to any other. The heat of the fire, the crushing power of water, the force of the wind, and the nourishment inside food is all the same energy, changing from one form to another. It is also the source of strength in animals and people. It is both life energy and the power of nature, and it also is the energy of magic.

The Mechanisms of Magic
Energy from the Spiritworld is at work in all things at all times. By breathing and eating does a person gain energy and by moving the body and other things the energy is released and given to other things. Normally the energy is innert and passive, not doing anything on its own initiative. Everything that is happening in the material world is set into motion by the will of a spirit. For plants and rocks and other inanimate things this spirit resides in the Spiritworld, while for people and animals it exists directly in the physical body. Most people and all animals only know how to use their energy for ordinary things that are necessary for their bodies to function and stay alive, usually without even thinking about it or even knowing that they do. But since all energy is of the same essence, there are almost no limits to how a spirit might use the energy currently contained in it. When the energy is used for things that the body of a person does not usually do, it is magic.
The greatest difficulty in learning the most fundamental basics of using magic is to overcome the natural instinct that ones spirit reaches only as far as ones own body. Being told to extend ones spirit beyond the body and reach out to other things is simple, but actually doing it is an entirely different thing. It's like trying to make your hand into a fist while keeping the third or fourth finger extended. The hand is easily capable of doing it, but it seems almost impossible to use muscles one never even knew existed. In theory everyone is capable of doing magic, and many believe that even the lowest animals have everything needed to do it. But only few people have a natural talent for overcoming their natural instincs and reach beyond the limits of their own bodies, and even then it takes many years of training to do even the most basic of magic. Once this step is done, a witch or shaman has to think of objects around them as part of themselves, like another arm or hand. If succesful, they gain control over it just like all people have control over their bodies.
One of the things that often seems very strange to most people is that magic is very inefficient. Even the best sorcerers expend a lot more energy by doing something with magic than if they would just use their hands or legs. Instead of using their own life energy, which would quickly be lethal, energy is taken from the air and the ground, as well as plants, animals, and even other people nearby, like taking a deep breath. This generally does't cause any harm as all living and nonliving things nearby lose only very small amounts of energy each, but watching several people using a lot of magic up close can be a bit tiring. The power of anyone using magic depends largely on their ability to keep drawing in energy without becoming exhausted. But like physical stamina, it can be improved by practice and training. (Stories of uncontroled young witches destroying villages or saving them from enemies by accident are therefor untrue. A newborn has the same muscles as the strongest man, but they lack the strength to lift an anvil or wrestle a boar. It's the very experienced but reckless sorcerers who cause the most trouble.)

What Magic can do
Potentially the possibilities of magic seem endless. But manipulating the physical world with magic does not only require the ability to take hold of a thing and exerting mental force on it, but also overcoming the resistance of the target to keep behaving in its usual ways. Everything that is not a person or an animal has a spirit in the Spiritworld. And like the minds of these spirits are constantly competing with each other over what shape things should have in the Spiritworld, they also don't give up control over their physical counterpart in the material world willingly. Magic is always easiest when one attempts to make things behave in ways that are very close to their ordinary behavior. Everything resists being manipulated in ways that go against their nature, but most plants and inanimate things submit easily to slight nudges that don't contradict what they would usually be doing. Diverting a river is much easier than making it flow uphill, trees are easier to bend than having them move to a different place. It's almost impossible to make fire burn stone, but almost trivial to make it spread in a specific direction. It would be spreading anyway with very little preference where to go first.
The same rules apply to people and animals. Taking control over their bodies is quite difficult, but magic can also be used to affect their minds. And they also resist much less when made to do things that match their nature rather than going against it. Magic that affects the mind is generally used to make people more willing to talk or not pay attention to something. An ordinary man being in a place he's not supposed to is easier to hide from the minds of guards than the same man in the same place dragging a corpse behind him.
As a result, people who use magic prefer to make it subtle, working with the natural inclination of their target instead of against it. While very extreme displays of magic are possible, they are very difficult, very exhausting, and often have a considerable chance of going wrong and either not working at all or other than intended.
Some things are believed to be outright impossible, except perhaps for the most powerful spirits with the powers of gods. Once the spirit of a person or an animal has left the body and dissolved into pure energy it is impossible to put it back together. Resoring a corpse is possible, and there are even ways to give it life again, but it would be a new creation and nothing like what it was before. It also is not possible to manipulate time or to have things disappear and reappear in a different place. All physical things have to be moved in physical ways, though it is possible to change their form to let them travel at great speeds or through spaces impossible for normal creatures to pass.

How magic is used
Most people who use magic fall into two groups. Witches and shamans. The ways in which they are using magic is mostly the same, the main difference between them is their role in society and what they are using it for. Shamans are priests whose role is one of being mediators between their mortal kin and the spirits of the Spiritworld. Even without the use of magic, spirits are not willing to tollerate anything done by farmers and woodsmen on their land. The duty of the shamans is to commune with the spirits of valeys, forests, rivers, and lakes to negotiate where their people are allowed to go and what to take from the land and in which ways they can repay the spirits for these previleges. They always have a very high social status and in many places the head shaman is also the local chief or king. In addition to using magic to communicate with the spirit whose minds and thoughts are too strange for ordinary people to understand, shamans also generally become skilled with using magic in other ways that relate to maintaining the order and safety of the village, such as healing people and animals and giving strength and courage to the warriors in battle.
Most people who use magic but are not shamans are considered witches. They are a much more diverse group with a wide range of interest. When people turn to witches for help, it is usually for personal services instead for help with matters that concern the community. They enchant charms and talismans and perform divinations on questions which the shamans would not approve of, as well as providing magical help for all other kinds of problems that people would rather keep secret. While shamans are almost always highly respected and revered, the reputation of witches is often much lower. While many people have need of their services, they know many dangerous things and could bring trouble as much as help. They are all dangerous, but whether they are considered a threat depends on their relationship to the people they live close to.
Magic is rarely used for battle, even between people who both know how to use it. Some have learned to hurl fire or cause paralyzing pain with a touch, but most have very little experience with combat and know how quickly magic could potentially kill when used by someone who knows what he is doing. But even then magic can not protect against a dagger in the back or an arrow in the eye if it is not seen coming, and so most people who know magic either avoid getting close to fights entirely or do it the old fashioned way with armor and blades. While magic can be used in construction to move very heavy loads, it quickly becomes exhausting and most of the times it's much easier to simply get a hundred workers to do it the regular way than having a mage attempting it. Magic that replicates results that could be achieved by manual work is used most efficently when there is a relatively small amount of work that needs to be done very quickly, such as sealing the wounds of a man who's bleeding out or blasting open a gate for soldiers to rush through. If it can wait for a while, it's usually easier to the it the normal way.

Silver
Silver is a metal with special properties when it comes to magic. It has a unique relationship with the Spiritworld and resists magic manipulation more than anything else. Not only is it useful in wards that protect against magic and spirits, silver shackles even disrupt the ability of people or magical creatures to effectively use magic at all. Even more so, silver plated blades cut any spirit in just the same way as bronze and iron cut living creatures.

Sorcery
While magic generally works best when used to nudge things into behaving in ways that don't contradict their nature, some people have discovered a source of primordial chaotic energies from a realm outside of creation. This energy can completely ignore the natural laws and instincts inherent to all things and could potentially do anything imaginable. While the potentials of sorcery are endless, most people see the infinite potential for distruction more than anything else and sorcerers are considered very dangerous at best or complete madmen with unlimited power at worst. While great things could be accomplished with sorcery, every use of it also comes with a kind of magical polution that corrupt the life energy in all living things nearby and makes them weak and sickly. Highly corrupted creatures or objects can even spread it to others and it takes centuries for the lairs of sorcerers to return to normal after they ended their work in these places.

Blood Magic
Usually people draw energy from the environment around them to cast spells, but this has very little effect on plants, animals, and people as the amount is miniscule compared to the entire energy within living things. Very early on witches have discovered that all life energy is also magic energy and that people die very quickly when losing a lot of blood. The connection was made that it is blood that carries the life energy through the body and the amounts of energy within the blood of a living person or even animal are enormous. Blood magic is the skill of not drawing in energy from the outside world but directly from the blood to make the magic much more powerful. Most witches and shamans never attempt to learn this skill as the process is incredibly painful and often horrifying to watch.

Offline ArhiX

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2015, 01:51:27 AM »
When I saw discussion on FB group, and another similiar tread at forums by you, I knew this tread will show up. :D
But there is surprisingly low amount of contributors (beside OP). I think that people might be too scared to show their magic systems, in fear it will get stolen by someone :P especially when it's Work In Progress - like mine, or to be laughed off by someone.

Funny thing is - my system works very similiar to yours. It is based on actual scentific theories and some philosophical ones with a big dose of imagination. It was inspired by "virtual particles", "shadow particles" and "string theory" but also Platon's "slaves in a cave theory". But to a relief it has it's own "flavors".

Some of my WIP magic system and propably spoilers to "However it will be called if actualy ever realeased series of shattered (I like this world - just how it sounds) something":

Spoiler for Hiden:

The Source of Magic.

Reality consists of 3 "breaches" or "tears". One is inhabited by normal creatures, another by souls and gods. The third one is a horrific world filled with will-fibers and essence. Doing things in one of them, means doing something in all of them - as every of these worlds is just an interpretation.

Soul is what makes every living thing "tick". Every plant, every creature and every man. Souls are immortal and they can reincarnate in many beings, collecting strength. No soul means no live (there are exceptions), but also it means no magic. Soul is able to use it's energy to affect normal world by manipulating it's own dimension.

But because souls are beings on their own - they are not going to do everything what magicians want to. Sometimes - to cast more powerfull "spell" - mage has to ask his soul for it. And by ask, I mean they need to make incantation and gestures - to let their souls know what they actually want - similiar to how you are using commands and gestures to make your dog sit. So when mage is bored of his little fire balls - he just sings a song, and summons GIANT METAL MELTING BONE BREAKING @55 WHOOPING PRESSURE WAVE OF DOOM STORM. He also then dies - because his soul was just strong enough to create a storm, but too weak to do anything more after it - life support goes off.

This is why mages are usually only able to use little portions of soul's energy at once without proper incantation. When soul runs low on energy - it begins to feed on caster's life force. And beause exchange rate isn't very fair, person quickly becomes exhausted and can eventually fall in coma to prevent further usage and death (or even worse fate).

What magic can do

Magic is about making things move. Even living is a form of magic. Mage can try and lift someone to throw them around, but it won't usually work, because his target's soul will prevent it. Levitating a rock at someone will be more effective, but mage could just throw it with his hands. Instead of this - magic users can create pressure and heat waves - more or less concetrated. They can make air(or water) in certain area around to vibrate, to create shield against such attacks, as well as physical ones.

Magic users can also train to use magic in melee combat - to make their body move faster and to hit harder than they actually could without the use of magic. This method isn't very common, as it is hard not to reap your muscles apart. REALLY skilled mages can burn their own body to fuel their souls - just as we burn fat during heavy exercises, or even muscles during starvation. This is why many mages are accused gluttony.

Sometimes soul can unlock all of it's potential to magic user during dangerous situations. Because of this - cornered mages are to be feared and some stories about little girls burning a village or slaugtering attacking army heppens to be true, as it only comes to one's soul strength to do so -and this strength varries. It is also true that most of such new-born talents dies right after it, because usage of soul's power simply killed them.

Also: no fast healing in my world.

How magic is used

To hurt other people really. There are some artisans who live simple life, using their talents to craft i.e. jewelery, but most of best trained and most powerfull magic users fight in wars. Some are trying to use it to break the locks, but many better secure systems are magic-enchanted, so they just end up heatening yesterday's soup with their bare hands. Helpfull when you want to eat something hot - but when in no position to start a campfire.

The Essence

Soul isn't the only source of power. There are people who are using their own will to use Essence. The Essence resembles simple matter, but it changes, according to Essence user's demand. It can be used to enhance one's body(it actually allows for fast healing - even other people) or to create weapons. However Essence users are not able to use normal magic, as Essence "taints" their souls. Sometimes Essence can corrupt creatures with very weak willpower and turn them in horrible monsters. Because of this, using the Essence is considered a blasphemy and Essence users are killed on sight, even if they were trying to use it for humble reasons (it's the only way of fast healing - but such treatment can actually turn patient into a demonic monster - which is unfortunate if it happens).


Weavers

It's a group of beings, who are not using their souls or will to do magic. Instead, they can i.e change matter's properties with their own mind (i.e. make metal harder and more durable). Such people are very rare and only specialised in just one thing. Also - it's all genetics. And yes - I'm using this to break my own rules. How wonderfull isn't it?
 Deaus ex texente inc.
Well - I made it, because I wanted to have some abilities, that are more "magical" and "unexplained" than simple soul-magic.

The hollow
There are creatures that can live without souls, clinging to life with their powerfull Will. Some of them are Weavers - so they can still use some kind of magic, but most of them are Essence users. Such creatures are usually very hard to kill, because they are already dead. It doesn't matter how much their body is going to be destroyed. As long as there is Will, for that long it will remain dangerous.

The Stagnation and Moths
If magician or essence user overuse their powers, they fall in coma or die. But it's not how it always was. There were times, were planet was traversed by creatures who could make an "energetic debt" with their souls, and even gods feared them. But the more "debted" they were, the more their soul was hurt. In the end, soul could go stagnant - and this is fate worse than death. Soul will swallow your will and mind into an eternal nightmare. Stagnated creatures - The Moths - start to feed on surrounding's energy, but they can never "pay the debt" this way, as they immidiately burn the energy. To pay their energy debt, they must swallow giant ammounts of energy at once. Because of that, Moths are walking around the world, pursuing places where they sense energy. They cannot be stopped. If Moth is coming to a city - it is doomed. To prevent further stagnation of souls, gods changed their creations to not to stagnate so easily.

@Edit
I updated and ended my post because I was doing it very late, and english isn't my native language so it's devastating for me (time wise) to write huge chunks of text.

So as you can see - it's rather medium-core magic system. At least for now as whole world is WIP. There are some rules, and exceptions to them. Some total breaking of them just to have things I want to (I really need to fill that hole made by Weavers).

@Yora At first, when I started to read your system, I was little terrified how similiar my system is, though there are some differences, like new-born talents. It's funny how different the results of our approaches are, but still how well explained and... hmmm... "magically realistic"?
« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 01:46:13 PM by ArhiX »
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Offline JMack

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Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2015, 02:04:29 AM »
I'll post something to this thread, but am working on something else right now.
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2015, 07:16:23 AM »
Definitely going to jump on this tomorrow -- er, today. Soon. :)
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2015, 07:56:09 PM »
copy-pasted from my personal, tales of rainn wiki.

so, *spoiler alert* for my writing group -- if you want to be surprised about the 'magic' over the course of the book, you probably don't want to read this.

however, there aren't really any plot spoilers here.  other than a possible "oh...  that's kind of how thred and eluan fit into things!"  tho, i suppose it also might raise more questions than answers.

shrug

whatevs!

Spoiler for Hiden:
Will
Will, at its core, is the ability to focus your willpower to affect energy in the world.  Primarily either the finer, subtle energy in people, or the wilder, stronger energy in the physical world.  It is a very, very rare individual who can become Willful.  Once the ability is discovered, it must be trained.

There are two primary factions of Willful -- The Hellborn and The Illuminate.  These factions are very secretive and seek out and recruit Willful to their opposing causes at a young age.  Each faction is viewed with deep suspicion and generally held in contempt by the population at large.  Historically, belief in Will itself has been ridiculed and seen as children's fantasy.

Each Willful has a primary ability, or "trait." In rare cases, some have secondary (or even tertiary, though there is only one individual throughout history known to have three Will traits) they are weaker in.

Will Bands
Willful are grouped together by their primary trait into what is called a Will Band.
  • Voyeurs - These people can read and communicate simply with thought.
  • Pushers - They cannot read minds, but can read and compel motives and emotions.
  • Illusionists - Imprint illusions into other minds made up of scenes, images, smells and sounds. Depth, quality, and number of minds affected depends on their strength of Will.
  • Telekons - Can move objects with the strength of their mind alone.
  • Furies - Can control or create fire or lightning.
  • Forgers - These have the rare talent of making a Will Focus. The stronger the Forger, the more amplification you can get from their Focus.
The Rare Secondary Trait
Voyeurs and Pushers most often share secondary traits as they deal in smaller amounts of energy with a very fine concept of control. With their large capacity, but course control, Telekons and Furies most often share their secondary traits. Finally, Forgers and Illusionists most often overlap due to the breadth and creativity required.

However, it is not unheard of, only rare, for a Willful to have a non-standard secondary trait.

Typically, Forgers have a secondary trait, albeit only usually just a minimal strength in it.  Aside from Forgers, only 1 in 50 Willfuls have a secondary trait. Which works out just fine as only 1 in 100 Willfuls are forgers.

Will Focus
The Will ability requires the use of a Will Focus. A Willful is very nearly an ordinary person without one. This contributes to their secrecy as Focuses are only given to discovered and trained Willful.  There are no teens manifesting fire and electricity, blowing up the neighborhood uncontrollably.

In order to use the Focus, the Willful must be touching it. Because of this, rings, necklaces and other jewelery make for popular Will focuses.

The Cost of Will
Will is not free -- It consumes energy from the Willful in order to affect foreign energy. Thus, the more Will you expend, the more calories your body burns. A Willful will get tired. A Willful will get hungry.  Because of this, Willful are usually eating all the time and are typically thin, or in extreme cases, skeletal.

A Willful MUST be able to see what they are Willing.  They must see (mostly on a subconscious level) how their target is able to be affected by energy in the world.

p.s.  that scene where eluan is holding up his scarred hand, looking at it in the lamplight, i totally and accidentally edited out the ruby ring on his finger -- oops.

Offline Francis Knight

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2015, 12:15:18 AM »
I have used lots of different magic systems

But my fave is accretion magic. When a mage is born, crystals start to form on their skin. Using magic (and exposure to water) depletes the crystals. A really powerful mage cannot move for the crystals built up. So they use their magic to enslave other people to do their stuff for them

Other than that, they can use up crystals to do a lot of stuff (almost whatever they can think of) provided they have enough stored to do it. The more they use it, the more depleted their magic becomes, and it doesn't grow very fast soooo...

My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


Duellists Trilogy (as Julia Knight) coming soon from Orbit!

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Offline m3mnoch

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2015, 05:03:27 PM »
I have used lots of different magic systems

But my fave is accretion magic. When a mage is born, crystals start to form on their skin. Using magic (and exposure to water) depletes the crystals. A really powerful mage cannot move for the crystals built up. So they use their magic to enslave other people to do their stuff for them

Other than that, they can use up crystals to do a lot of stuff (almost whatever they can think of) provided they have enough stored to do it. The more they use it, the more depleted their magic becomes, and it doesn't grow very fast soooo...

that's awesome.  in my head, i am picturing a world where those guys all look like "crystal the hut" -- slothing around all day, bellowing giant belly laughs, and feeding their enemies to large, toothy monsters.

Offline Bardo Thompson

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2015, 08:17:50 PM »
working on a work that has multiple systems in place.
most of my ideas are based on cursory readings of chaos and sigil magic type stuff.

But first and foremost, anyone can conceivably  do magic, there are simply high barriers of entry for most.
Doing magic is manipulating an aspect of reality that is both connected to and a separate thing from the universe. It transcends physical planes.
Doing magic is like a mixture of programming and cryptography. To manipulate the force, you need to construct a language that only the caster can figure out, and have his magic based around constructing commands through this language. This is because magic is by it's very nature impossible to codify and standardize, and if any were to attempt to do such, the "magic" (uniqueness) would be lost.

For that same reason, if anyone were to figure out another person's magical language, as in deciphers it, that magic-user would be unable to produce spells until they either perfrom it differently, or to be sure, reconstruct their entire magical language.

Also, even with magic, one of the laws of thermodynamics are in place.
Specifically, you can't get more out of a spell than what you put in. Spells need to be charged or tap into sources of eldritch energy to go off.

put it to you this way, think and mentally prepare your fire spell for a few seconds, you get a candle light or a spray of a dozen sparks. spend a day charging, you get a searing arrow of fire. 3 days, full on fireball. A week, call down a think actual ballistic missile worth of fire. you spend a year, 24/7, no breaks, on a spell, tweaking it to handle the output at the same time, biblical raining of sulfur.

more or less, that is how magic works in what I'm working on, and good magic-users spend most of their waking days finding shortcuts and ways to cut corners. some do it by pacts with spirits or "gods", others find artifacts, others use portal magic to make wormholes to various sources.
The world is a weird place, lets keep it that way.

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2015, 01:05:01 AM »
Day late and a dollar short but whatever. Little technical because that's how I roll. (Also probably not the entire system and ripe with holes, but it was the entire bit I was willing to write at the moment.)

Spoiler for Magic in Por Voalis:
A Brief History of Magic

Common wisdom affirms that mankind will always try to transcend its obstacles. We have always wanted to better ourselves; whether that meant for good or evil is always left up to interpretation. Innovation had to start somewhere. Indeed, the Book of Days opens with, “A seed fell.” However, as stated, there has been much interpretation put into that one line.

Does it signify the greatest discovery in human history, the fire? Does it point to man’s Original Sin? Or is it something sinister, like the first murder or the greatest destruction the world has ever seen?

Many conservative denominations in the Faith would point to when civilization first fell and this great cycle began. And of course, mythology tells us that this came about because the Wanderer harnessed the power of the Sun and destroyed the Moon to show his power.

That was the day the Almighty turned His back on us.

Or so the story goes. Yes, magic, while controversial in many political, societal, and religious spheres, can be pinpointed to its genesis here: Where Man tried to transcend this plane and break the wheel from its rut.

The Void

There are two major religions in Por Voalis, and because of this, two major interpretations for the Spirit Realm. For the Faithful, the Void is where spirits wander while they wait for Judgment. For the Keepers of the Seed (or the Clansmen, if you are so inclined), the Unformed or Unmolded Mounds are where we visit after death so as to move among worlds, all on our path to Enlightenment.

However, they agree on one certainty: Here lies the great veins of magic, where we craft our gift into tangible form. Yes, magic is derived from our unconsciousness, for all people are connected to the Void, thus all are connected to magic.

What is Magic?

Put simply, magic is the alteration of matter. This can take many forms, but for scientific purposes, you can split them into two distinct categories: Physical changes and chemical changes.

The former is more elemental or mechanical, dealing with state changes (freezing water particles in the air) or bending materials (moving boulders or steel beams). As for the latter, separating (stripping hydrogen from oxygen) or adding (then burning hydrogen or oxygen) requires a lot more energy but is still doable.  As you can see, the possibilities are endless.

Though there have been debates on whether you can break the law of conservation of mass, in that magic can create its own substances. Some older texts cite dark matter, that invisible matter coursing through everything, as the reason we can fashion sand castles in the middle of the tundra, or that there are indeed sand molecules buried deep within the permafrost.

But because only one nation in Por Voalis has allowed magic to flow freely and without consequence, arcane knowledge is very limited. The examples, experiments, and evidence are few and far between.

Magic is also the interaction between here and the Spirit Realm. Because everyone is connected to the Void through their unconscious, many mages excel in memory alteration, changing motivations, and creating illusions that only the mind can comprehend.

One scholar said that mages “bend reality,” and that is closest to a definition you will ever find.

Essences

Magic requires an energy source. While there are three necessary steps to performing magic, the first is the most obvious. Magic needs a catalyst.

  • Pain: 1 out of every 1,000,000 people are a pain mage, or a magician. While magic is genetic, there is a certain trait linked to pain mages that allows them to draw upon this specific energy source. Because of this (and many more reasons), pain mages are hunted down and systematically killed so as to destroy their lineages.

    See, magicians draw upon both the abstract and the tangible source of pain. They feed off of emotions brought about by tragedy, or perhaps the strong waves of pain brought about by a wound or broken bone.

    There is a certain electrical spark that is conducted when pain is experienced, and this is our connection to the Spiritual Plane. From this they can contact the magical veins, for what else makes us mortal but not the ability to hurt?
  • Spirits/Demons: Whereas magic is our defining characteristic of mortality, there are other, much stronger ways to contact the Spirit Realm. Say, by conversing with a demon itself. Yes, stripped of all but the agony knowing you will wander for eternity, these echoes in the machine can be brought to this world and subjected to our will.
    With them comes oodles of Void substance, and from that they can be funneled into a spell or thought.

    Demonic magic is much harder to harness than the other two essences. It usually requires one or the other to grab a spirit or demon, but when that is accomplished, hoo boy. There is much more potential and much more power inherent in this source, seeing as it has been in direct contact with the Void.

    Unfortunately, spirits have their own will, too. Sorcerers are the rarest of all breeds. They live the shortest, are known the most, and risk everything.

    But if they succeed? Why, we only need to point to the Fall of Empires less than a millennia ago.
  • Blood: While some may say that pain is what makes us mortal, from a scientific aspect, what really does? Our lifeblood.

    Some scholars argue that blood is not a real source, though. They say that it is merely the by-product of pain, that the number of magicians is actually higher and that the magical education is worse because of this ignorance and perceived inability for a witch to push the boundaries.

    However, others point out that this is wrong. If we drink the blood of a fallen man or woman, is not the pain absent? And then is not the magic that we create our own? Warlocks claim that blood magic is the purest of the three, in that it holds the most consequences (you run the risk of potentially killing yourself or others when performing) and holds us farthest away from the Void.

    Blood magic shows us that we are truly mortal, and that it is mortality that drives magic, not spirits or a feeling of pain.

Focus

Two of the three sources of magic are extremely weak. How much power can you derive from a drop of blood or a bad memory? Not enough it seems. Because of this, magicians, witches, and sorcerers need an item to bind, or pool, energy into.

While unfocused magic is generally harmless (or as harmless as a prick of ice in an eyeball can be), most magicians aren’t harmful to society until they establish a focus. Most focuses require a physical touch, much as an essence does. Thus, most focuses are favorite articles of clothing, pieces of jewelry, or in some cases, unimportant organs such as the tongue.

Though the last has only been documented once, and that poor sap’s life ended, well, quickly. Seems complex materials aren’t the greatest to hold chaotic forces.

Medium

Magic needs an energy source. Magic needs a place to store said energy source. But magic also needs to reach matter to perform its duty. What is the easiest way to reach an object without physically touching it?

Whistle.

Yes, sound is the greatest employed medium for magic. A quick snap or piece on the piano can venture your spell as far as the wave can reach. Deaf people can still be affected, yes.

Physical touch still works, but the magician needs to be in contact with the object of desire or else the spell won’t work. Because of this, while it is theoretically possible to stand on one border, shout, and light a cigarette on the other side of the border, it is extremely impractical and requires more energy than most can create in a lifetime. Yes, the sound wave might eventually reach the other side, but it is highly improbable and best not to put your hopes on it even if you have the patience and the power to store enough pain or gallons of blood.

The Costs of Magic

They’re quite simple: Aside from the physical challenges inherent with maiming yourself or others, what does tormenting yourself to persistent pain do to the psyche? It drives you bonkers.

If a pain mage doesn’t commit suicide during their training, they will easily establish some sort of depression or even psychosis. Magicians going insane are seen as normal.

But again, this is few and far between. Most are killed off if their powers are found out. Most might even kill themselves as stated earlier. But the few that survive long enough to see their powers come to fruition either cut cold turkey for fear of what might come, or delve into madness searching for a cure or a fight against the norm.

As for deals with the Devil? Demons don’t play nice. You can fill in the blanks here.

Magic also uses up some of the user’s energy, depending on their mental will, discipline, determination, and practice. Thus, a fledgling apprentice might become exhausted merely tapping into their veins or essences, while a master who repeats the spell day in and day out can perform it without much strain.

However, as stated, determination, will, and discipline can come into play. For instance, a mage that is willing to push himself to the brink of exhaustion can perform longer (psychologically) than one who is afraid to cast multiple spells.

The effects of exhaustion may be overlooked by adrenaline or other factors, but for the sake of the moment, they can perform longer.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 01:12:56 AM by Doctor_Chill »
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline MeanMachine

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2015, 06:09:30 PM »
I guess I’ll go and give this a shot.
Magic System for Chronicles of Gaea (Working Title)

Magic in Gaea is extremely common, both in the form of the various spells people use, and in the form of magic-powered technologies, referred to as Manatech, which make skyships soar, light crystals shine, and much, much more.  Both of these use the energy that is omnipresent in the world and that the people call Mana, (don’t cringe too hard, I’m not betting on originality here, and I think it goes well with the story’s tone and setting anyway), which is light blue in color when in high enough concentration and which is generated from the planet's core and seeps to the surface.  While the Mana used for spells is drawn from the surrounding environment into the caster’s body, virtually all Manatech use Manacite, mana’s crystallized form which is mined out of the ground.

The actual “spellcasting” could be considered an hybrid between magic in video games like FinalFantasy 12, and Fullmetal Alchemist’s transmutation. The key to do any spells is basically magic circles accompanied by various runes and symbols, with which the caster has to make contact for the spell to work. The circle can be just a circle dug in the earth with any old stick, or drawn with pretty much anything on virtually any surface, but there are methods and tools that make spellcasting much more efficient in reguards to the mana and time consumed for a spell, like special inks infused with manacite, which are commonly used for the readymade spell circles found in mage’s grimoires. One’s blood can also be used and is almost just as effective as magical inks, but only if the blood is the spellcaster’s.
Another tool widely used by a great numbers of adventurers are Spellgems, which are basically spell circles set in a mana-sensitive jewel-like stone, which are often set in bracelets or necklaces, sometimes in armor and weapons. While relatively expensive, Spellgems allow for near instantaneous spellcasting and are reusable virtually without limit, and any sane adventurer has at least one healing Spellgem on hand if he’s got the money for it.

Rune-weapons are another way to use Mana. These are weapons forged with Manacite imbued alloys, and set with runes (as their name inplies) which allow the weapon’s wielder to channel Mana trough it to create this or that desired effect, for example making your blade surround itself with flames, which has been a popular choice ever since the first runeblade was forged, it seems.

Who CAN do magic? Virtually everyone. Who can do magic VERY well? Almost anyone who puts enough practice into it, as repeat uses increases one’s “Mana pool”, as well as how much Mana one can channel at one time. Who DOES magic? On a professional level, a whole lot of people, mostly adventurers and people in armies, with healers and alchemists making up the majority of what’s left. Basic magic, such as for providing light and lighting fire, are taught to most children.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2015, 11:57:25 AM by MeanMachine »

Offline Nora

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Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2015, 11:26:25 PM »
I guess I’ll go and give this a shot.
Magic System for Chronicles of Gaea (Working Title)

Magic in Gaea is extremely common, both in the form of the various spells people use, and in the form of magic-powered technologies, referred to as Manatech, which make skyships soar, light crystals shine, and much, much more.  Both of these use the energy that is omnipresent in the world and that the people call Mana (don’t cringe too hard, I’m not betting on originality here, and I think it goes well with the story’s tone and setting anyway). While the Mana used for spells is drawn from the surrounding environment into the caster’s body, virtually all Manatech use Manacite, mana’s crystallized form which is mined out of the ground.
The actual “spellcasting” could be considered an hybrid between magic in video games like FinalFantasy 12, and Fullmetal Alchemist’s transmutation. The key to do any spells is basically magic circles accompanied by various runes and symbols, with which the caster has to make contact for the spell to work. The circle can be just a circle dug in the earth with any old stick, or drawn with pretty much anything on virtually any surface, but there are methods and tools that make spellcasting much more efficient in reguards to the mana and time consumed for a spell, like special inks infused with manacite, which are commonly used for the readymade spell circles found in mage’s grimoires. One’s blood can also be used and is almost just as effective as magical inks, but only if the blood is the spellcaster’s.
Another tool widely used by a great numbers of adventurers are Spellgems, which are basically spell circles set in a manacite-sensitive jewel-like stone, which are often set in bracelets or necklaces, sometimes in armor and weapons. While relatively expensive, Spellgems allow for near instantaneous spellcasting and are reusable virtually without limit, and any sane adventurer has at least one healing Spellgem on hand if he’s got the money for it.
Rune-weapons are another way to use Mana. These are weapons forged with Manacite imbued alloys, and set with runes (as their name inplies) which allow the weapon’s wielder to channel Mana trough it to create this or that desired effect, for example making your blade surround itself with flames, which has been a popular choice ever since the first runeblade was forged, it seems.

Who CAN do magic? Virtually everyone. Who can do magic VERY well? Almost anyone who puts enough practice into it, as repeat uses increases one’s “Mana pool”, as well as how much Mana one can channel at one time. Who DOES magic? On a professional level, a whole lot of people, mostly adventurers and people in armies, with healers and alchemists making up the majority of what’s left. Basic magic, such as for providing light and lighting fire, are taught to most children.

Pretty solid and consistent system. I'd say the only thing that seems to miss (in my opinion), is a backlash to abuse/wrong/messed up magic. You quoted Full Metal Alchemist, that's a good example.
It'd be nice if the use of serious magic circles came at a risk, or a mana based weapon could explode in a soldier's arms if the runes got damaged or hexed, ect.

What say you? :p
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

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Offline MeanMachine

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2015, 10:32:28 AM »
I guess I’ll go and give this a shot.
Magic System for Chronicles of Gaea (Working Title)

Magic in Gaea is extremely common, both in the form of the various spells people use, and in the form of magic-powered technologies, referred to as Manatech, which make skyships soar, light crystals shine, and much, much more.  Both of these use the energy that is omnipresent in the world and that the people call Mana (don’t cringe too hard, I’m not betting on originality here, and I think it goes well with the story’s tone and setting anyway). While the Mana used for spells is drawn from the surrounding environment into the caster’s body, virtually all Manatech use Manacite, mana’s crystallized form which is mined out of the ground.
The actual “spellcasting” could be considered an hybrid between magic in video games like FinalFantasy 12, and Fullmetal Alchemist’s transmutation. The key to do any spells is basically magic circles accompanied by various runes and symbols, with which the caster has to make contact for the spell to work. The circle can be just a circle dug in the earth with any old stick, or drawn with pretty much anything on virtually any surface, but there are methods and tools that make spellcasting much more efficient in reguards to the mana and time consumed for a spell, like special inks infused with manacite, which are commonly used for the readymade spell circles found in mage’s grimoires. One’s blood can also be used and is almost just as effective as magical inks, but only if the blood is the spellcaster’s.
Another tool widely used by a great numbers of adventurers are Spellgems, which are basically spell circles set in a manacite-sensitive jewel-like stone, which are often set in bracelets or necklaces, sometimes in armor and weapons. While relatively expensive, Spellgems allow for near instantaneous spellcasting and are reusable virtually without limit, and any sane adventurer has at least one healing Spellgem on hand if he’s got the money for it.
Rune-weapons are another way to use Mana. These are weapons forged with Manacite imbued alloys, and set with runes (as their name inplies) which allow the weapon’s wielder to channel Mana trough it to create this or that desired effect, for example making your blade surround itself with flames, which has been a popular choice ever since the first runeblade was forged, it seems.

Who CAN do magic? Virtually everyone. Who can do magic VERY well? Almost anyone who puts enough practice into it, as repeat uses increases one’s “Mana pool”, as well as how much Mana one can channel at one time. Who DOES magic? On a professional level, a whole lot of people, mostly adventurers and people in armies, with healers and alchemists making up the majority of what’s left. Basic magic, such as for providing light and lighting fire, are taught to most children.

Pretty solid and consistent system. I'd say the only thing that seems to miss (in my opinion), is a backlash to abuse/wrong/messed up magic. You quoted Full Metal Alchemist, that's a good example.
It'd be nice if the use of serious magic circles came at a risk, or a mana based weapon could explode in a soldier's arms if the runes got damaged or hexed, ect.

What say you? :p

I have been considering this angle, actually. For rune weapons, if the runes are damaged, not only will it not work no matter how much Mana you channel through it, but you run the risk of "overcharging" the weapon, as the energy has nowhere to go, and like you described, this would end up in the weapon exploding. Same if the structural integrity of the blade is severely compromised,  meaning your weapon gets a crack that reaches it's core, although most of the times the runes will still work, but not for long if you use it repeatedly in a short period of time. Some particularly swashbuckling individuals actually consider overcharging a damaged runeblade a valid (if risky, not to mention expansive if the blade is YOURS) strategy, as you basically end up with a very powerful grenade.

Still tinkering with what, if anything, to do with the spells in term of backlash, etc...

While this isn't exactly a backlash effect, high concentration of Mana in an environment can cause 'mutations' in fauna and flora that live in it. Humanoids are generally immune to this, as the body actively absorb a certain amount of Mana, and basically "ignores" any Mana over that amount. I do say generally, as it has been tried to "force" more Mana into people's bodies than they could accept, and can indeed induce mutations, but generally the "subject" will die from shock before they show any physical changes, and invariably, the final result is always terminal for the subject. Or at least, that the public perception on the subject...

Also related to this, humanoids are universaly cremated after death on Gaea, because if not, after a months or so (or days and even sometimes hours in Mana rich environments, such as a mine) of laying dead, one's body will rise up as a zombie.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2015, 12:21:02 PM by MeanMachine »

Offline shadowkat678

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2016, 02:34:49 PM »
Bump.  ::)

I use multiple magic systems for mine. Nature magic. Rune magic. Ritual magic. Alchemy. Conjuration. Illusion. Why limit yourself? There's more than one type of science, why not more than one branch of magic? And they all work in different ways.

There's also, of course, enchantments. Get a good friend and he might be able to put some security on your shop...but nothing OP. I hate when people make this super powerful magic without drawbacks. Why aren't you using it all the time to get through your journey?

All have drawbacks or limits. For example, a teleport spell takes half a day to prepare, and you can't save it for later either. Wanna send a big fireball? Get ready to take a long nap after, unless you have a group working together to make it for, say, a big battle. Dark magic? Negative impact on the psychi. After a while the person goes bonkers. Runes? Make sure you don't run out of chalk, the specific powder for the type you're placing, or are in a area where you can't concentrate. Otherwise it might blow you up instead of who you're setting your trap for.

Magical objects are nice, but they're expensive, as well as potion ingredients if you can't go find them yourself.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 03:50:56 PM by shadowkat678 »
Be not a writer, but a Storyweaver. For that, my friend, is how you'll truly leave your mark.

Offline Phoenix

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2016, 02:33:27 PM »
It just took me like an hour and a half but here you go.

Source of Magic-
Most magic comes straight from an individuals own energy or even their soul, but some comes from The Fringe(ie. Spirit Realm), which is like a...parallel dimension, though every being on every world has the potential to access it and possibly even transverse it. A very experienced being can even feed upon their surroundings energy. To get the energy to fuel your magic, you have 3 main options.
  • Connecting to The Fringe
  • Draw upon your own reserves
  • Feed upon the surrounding energy
There's also a 4th option, which is making "deals" with higher beings(like gods, demons or other immortals). But only the bravest(or stupidest) do this, because in exchange for power they must give something in return, which is usually their soul.

What it can do
Magic is only limited by 3 things- ones access to energy, their imagination, and lastly ones  own knowledge of magic itself. Anything is possible IF you have the energy to make it happen. The more powerful magic users can even create more energy(hypothetically, if they have a strong enough will then they'll have access to a literally infinite amount of energy). The process to create more energy is very complex, mentally taxing, and dangerous because if you you mess up the process, then the influx of energy could literally consume your material body.

Divisions of Magic-
  • Mental-Psychic powers(ie. telekinesis, telepathy, astral projection etc.)
  • Evocation-Manipulation of energy, creating things, and protection magic(like forcefields)
  • Destruction-Can drain energy, negate powers, and raise the dead
  • Arcane/Mythic-Can learn secrets predict the future, scrying, telling truth from lie, and creating illusions
  • Elemental- Summon and manipulate the elements(elementalists have special tattoos that directly corresponds with their ability)
  • Weaving-Everything has a distinct "song" to it, and beings who can "sing"(aka weaving), can manipulate this "music" and even alter reality
  • Fusion/Binding- Alter somethings(or someones) properties, combine objects and powers( can also merge souls), and enhancing ones own physical capabilities(by binding the elements to ones body)
    -Earth: durability and superstrength
    -Fire: increased stamina and endurance
    -Lightning: superspeed(binding lightning to your body is like an adrenaline shot or bingeing on energy drinks)
    -Water: increase flexibility


Affects/Cost of Magic-

All magic in their own way is physically taxing, using it is like burning off calories really fast(that's why you don't normally see many fat magicians). If one gains their power through a deal with a higher being(like a demon) and doesn't "pay up" then the magic will corrupt them and strip them of their soul. Thus turing them into horrific creatures called The Forsaken, which are feared on every world, are also known as Nightwalkers and are the worst of the damned. In short, they are nightmare in a corporeal form, it's really a fate worse then death and pretty much 10 times as worse as Hell.

History of Magic-
There's a legend that goes around amongst the heroes and magic-users that every few millennium a hero is born, one unlike any other. It is said that they have the power to balance out the Light and Dark(aka Order and Chaos), and are capable of killing any being(even immortals) who is throwing the universe out of balance. If necessary then they are able to destroy everything(ie "wipe the slate clean") and start anew. The last known being who was capable of this was Eteru, the Ancient of Hope, who existed nearly 7 centuries ago. The first being to ever have this power was Caelus, the Primordial of Energy(he's the 3rd oldest being in existence next to Vacivus(Primordial of the Void) and Genesis(Primordial of Creation)). A very defining moment in magic history was around 367 AC(after creation), which was the Warlock Wars(also known as the War of the Damned. It was when magic-users officially started making deals with demons. The war was between Gehenna's army(which consisted of Forsaken, Warlocks, and monsters from Hell) and Pelous's(god of light) army(which consisted of Angels, Nephilim, and the ancient race-the Primals).
« Last Edit: April 14, 2016, 03:28:11 PM by Dragonbane »
"My death shall spark a war, and from the ashes of the battlefield I shall be reborn"

Offline shadowkat678

Re: Explain your magic systems
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2016, 02:44:16 PM »
Be not a writer, but a Storyweaver. For that, my friend, is how you'll truly leave your mark.