I've been struggling to develop a 'magic' system for the current world I'm writing in, and would appreciate any suggestions.
First, about the world. Basically, I'm setting this in modern times. I'm aware of the difficulties in doing this, and I've always leaned away from this. I don't want to change the entire world, so I've been thinking of how to 'lessen' the magic available, so that technology can basically beat it in the long run- still allowing for cars, computers, etc. I want some magic to be more powerful than 'real' magic as itís practiced today, but still not capable of powering a city, or really have any long term energy use. I plan on alluding to magic- historical, unexplained events that people know about and such, but the typical person isn't aware of its existence.
Because I'm basing it in the real world, I think itís very important to define the rules, how it works, etc, before I get farther into the story. In a straight fantasy setting this is easier done- magic seems natural in a land that has active gods, monsters, etc.
I have a basic outline of the way magic works, which I'm still working on, but I figure posting it here would be overly long, and perhaps, boring.
Any thoughts on this, references or such?
Thanks in advance for any help.
February 13th, 2003, 11:42 AM
I developed a universe starting with a similar premise. The first story was based in the modern day world, but had a little bit more involved than magic.
My magical system worked in this way:
First, magic exists all around us and is liek any other force of energy, it can be tapped, but never created or destroyed.
Second, it takes practice to learn how to do it at all and then effectively and efficiently. To cast a spell requires 3 things. First, there is a somatic (spoken) portion that sort of unlocks the magic, then there is a movement that shapes it and then there is a mental portion that directs it. How one perceives the world affects the types of spells one can cast and generally, a person can't cast opposites - i.e. both an offensive and a defensive spell.
Third, it requires ENERGY to cast a spell from the caster. The more complex the spell, the more novel the spell (i.e. it doesn't take as much energy to cast a common spell than an exotic one) or the more exhausted, stressed, etc, the caster, the more energy it takes. Also, the more the magic has to stretch or break the laws of physics, the more energy it takes.
Thus, it'd be nearly impossible to use magic as a 100% efficient source of energy because the universe simply DOES NOT WORK that way. Maybe for a little little while, but certainly not for any extended period of time.
That was pretty much it.
As for lessening magic, I would do something along the lines of energy requirements being more than a person could have or simple impossibilities. If a person can't conceive of a way for something to happen (such as teleportation), then there's no way that a person could cast a spell to do that.
Hope that helps
February 13th, 2003, 05:04 PM
Maybe if you're setting it in the modern-day world, you should use the systems actual modern-day societies who believe they use magic. For example,
Wiccans believe they can alter the strings of fate through rituals and potions.
Druids in Britain believe that everything in nature is governed by a seperate god, and that by appeasing these gods with prayers and songs they can control certain aspects of nature.
Most Taoist monks believe that through meditaion they can acquire gi, which allows them to heal wounds and see through time and space.
Other things include voodoo dolls and sweat lodges (used to see the future and speak to gods).
Maybe you could combine all them into one system...
February 13th, 2003, 10:02 PM
Maybe technology is needed to use the magic ie. mechanical devices/machines/objects.
February 14th, 2003, 12:50 AM
Taoist do not believe that meditating will result in them gathering Qi. Qi to the Chinese is the permeating energy that exist in all things, but in living things, it is particularly concentrated and acts as something like blood in that it connects the various meridial points. You already have Qi, as you already have blood. Qi Gong merely teaches a person the way to work with the flow of energy.
Seeing through time and space to most Chinese involves understanding the will of Heaven and Earth and the flow of the Tao as well as the effect of Karma. It does not involve Qi.
You can easily copy the magic system of the Wiccans and other Neopagans. Trying to copy the Taoist system is also good except you are going to find that your basic premise, which is the Tao, is essentially unknowable. However, living in time with the Tao can make you divine through understanding and appreciation of reality( ie:- the mountain sages who stopped avalanches during the Shang dynasty ). Or you can try the Confucian and Christian system of magic( OK, this is a very bad term for controlled miracles ), where magic is essentially prayers answered by the Deities and Sages or among the Christians the Saints or God( ie:- in the Christian context, parting the Red Sea ). Or you can try the Hindu belief where manipulation can be done through selling one's karma( ie:- when the wife of Rama made a curse against the enemy ), or the Buddhist system where "reality manipulation" can be done through assertion of Truth, as in the questions of Milinda where a whore reversed the current of the Ganges temporarily ( which surprisingly if you think about it was recorded at exactly the same time in scattered records throughout the Ganges from that period!! ) by defending one truth!!
Or you can try a more scientific approach to magic. Magic can be viewed as something like the magnetic field of Earth, where the power, though not strong, can be manipulated to some effect. Or it can be seen as something like the hypothetical Kirlian forces which exist in living things and can influence things. Or you can go for the more subspacial approach where magic is the interference of various static subspace bent by the gravitational field of Earth. This way, magic will not be an all powerful force but just one of the many natural forces.
February 14th, 2003, 01:35 AM
Yeah, listen to Aik Haw.
Check out the religion or new age sections in the book stores and you can easily get the details of any magic system. Or try a book on non-mathmatical physics or various other sciences to get some ideas about energy and other forces of nature.
I've always been disappointed in the magic systems in fantasy novels...so good luck.
I'm currently working on my own that involves elements of chemistry, alchemy, physics, energy, philoophy, spirituality, shamanism, rune magic, and more. I just take what I think is most probable and logical, what is interesting, and make sure it can be explained in "great detail" to an apprentice (or to the reader). I also like magic to have a purpose in terms of the theme of the novel and as far as explaining human nature.
February 14th, 2003, 07:51 AM
Thanks for the tips, all.
Actually, I have been reading up on modern magic systems - particularly chaos magic(k). The only thing I see lacking from this- for my purposes- are elements of direct, physical effect- most of these things are thought to effect consequence and luck, such as a spell to help you get a job, a lover, etc. Although I don't want my wizards throwing around fireballs, I would like them to have a small amount of force projection.
As far as chi goes, that is also something I'm taking into consideration. I've done some chi gung training, as well as tai chi, so I'm fairly well acquainted with the theories, practices and such, and I've always found it intriguing. That, and having watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon perhaps one too many times!
February 14th, 2003, 07:55 AM
Originally posted by Pluvious
I've always been disappointed in the magic systems in fantasy novels...so good luck.
How so, Pluvious?
February 14th, 2003, 08:40 AM
I really like that idea, it sounds like you put a lot of thought into it Chlestron. Makes me think I should review some of my own ideas about magic.
Thanks for making me think about it.:D
February 14th, 2003, 02:59 PM
First off, let me say that I utterly DETEST magic and fantasy. That being said, the last time I wrote about magic, I altered it so that it was very much an alternate form of technology. Instead of the old "think about it, say some silly words and it happens", I gave it very specific rules and formulae and made magic conform to reality. It worked out very well, I think.