Tuesday, March 4, 2014

World Building in 30 Days – Magic – Overview

The last post was too long. I have decided to post more often but in smaller digestible sections.

Magic in Fantasy comes in a wide variety of types, uses and configurations. If you boil it down to its most simplistic forms it looks something like this.

Unlock the source>Use/Trigger the Power>Shape the Results>Replenish/Recover the Power

I have wracked my brain reviewing every movie, book and game I have come into contact with and can’t find anything that doesn’t fit that process. Hopefully, someone can find an exception that proves my rule.

This seems easy enough so why do writers/DMs have such a hard time with Magic? It’s because step 3 is so rife with potential for misuse. Write yourself into a corner, poof the magic user fixes it. In order for you not to take the easy way out, you have to a solid idea of what you will allow to happen via magic. Future articles are going to lay out how I built up magic in my world, the Pros and Cons of those choices, and bore you with more detail then you probably want to know.

Based on my high level process flow, here is some examples and questions one might ask themselves during the process of creating a magic system.

1. Unlock/Gain Access to a source

a. What is the Source?

i. Internal?

ii. External?

iii. Limited Source? Power as fuell

iv. Can access be cut-off/reduced?

b. When or How do you gain access?

i. Inherent - Birth/Blood/Milestone in Life

ii. Pact – Granted/Borrowed/Stolen/Prayer/Meditation

iii. Knowledge - Study/Learning

iv. Experimentation/Tests/Accident

v. Initiation/Communing/Crafting

c. Who controls the source?

i. Other Mages

ii. Powerful Beings/Ancestors/Spirits/Divine/Nature/Force

iii. No one

d. Who or what polices the source?

i. Rules/Guidelines

ii. Nature/Inexperience

iii. Price/Consequences/Risks

2. Utilize the source

a. What triggers a source?

i. Ritual/Casting/Releasing

ii. Somatic/Verbal

iii. Items/Wands/Staves/Amulets

iv. Material Components

v. Belief/Imagination/Will/Thoughts/Emotions

vi. Spell Forms/Web/Symbols

vii. Music/Art

b. What blocks access to the source?

i. Armor/Metal/Weapons

ii. Devices/Collars

iii. Lack of Confidence/Illusion

iv. Others Disbelief

v. Anti-magic Fields

3. Results

a. What is possible?

i. Changing minds

ii. Effecting ones environment

iii. Creating/Summoning

iv. Destroying – Ie utter removal not breaking into smaller bits

v. Wish – changing the laws of the universe itself

vi. D&D school of magic

b. What is impossible?

c. What is risked during casting?

d. What traces are left after casting?

4. Replenishment of power

a. How does one recover after a spell?

i. Recover a spent spell

ii. Recover the fuel

iii. Recover from the damage/trauma/fatigue

b. What price must be paid for the casting?

i. Strength


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