EXERCISE Create a Magic System in 6 Simple Steps

Discussion in 'BUILDING WORLDS' started by Jorick, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Creating a working magic system may look hard, but it's extremely easy when you cut it down to its individual parts. All you need to do is answer 6 questions and you'll have a solid foundation for a magic system. Note that the suggestions provided are just there to provide examples, and that they are by no means a comprehensive list of all possible answers.

    Power Source - Where does magical power come from? Perhaps magic users draw the energy from within themselves, their life energy or spirit or chi or so forth. Perhaps magic is a force that just exists in nature in the same way that air is just kind of everywhere. Perhaps there's some physical object that gives magic power to people after being eaten. Pick something specific to be the power source for your magic system.

    Gathering Method - How do magic users gather the magical power? Perhaps they have to meditate and focus to muster up their inner power. Perhaps they have to get in tune with nature to let the natural power flow through them. Perhaps they have to be in a certain emotional state to establish a link to the power source. Pick the specific things that need to be done to gather the magical energy for use.

    Directing Method - How do magic users turn gathered energy into a spell? Perhaps they say a magic word and wave their wand in a special way. Perhaps they draw a circle of runes to direct the magical energy into an actual form. Perhaps they just have to think really hard about what they want to do. Pick the specific things that need to be done to unleash the gathered energy in the form of a magic spell.

    Possibilities - What exactly can magic do? Perhaps it can manipulate the elements. Perhaps it can transmute materials of one kind into a totally different material. Perhaps it can create fantastical illusions of all kinds. Pick specific things that magic is capable of doing.

    Impossibilities - What exactly can magic not do? Perhaps it cannot return the dead to life. Perhaps it cannot manipulate time in any way. Perhaps it cannot be used to read or alter someone's mind. Pick specific things that magic cannot ever do.

    Weaknesses - What are the negative points of magic that keep it from being unfairly powerful? Perhaps there is a direct drawback to magic usage, like fire manipulation burning the caster. Perhaps there are objects or spells that can be used to totally cut other magic users off from their powers. Perhaps there are devastating negative effects for someone failing to properly cast a spell. Pick specific weaknesses for your magic system.

    The Template
    Power Source:
    Gathering Method:
    Directing Method:
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  2. May I do multiples of this? If not, then here is my choice.

    Power Source: Gems that are infused with nature's essence's aspects. Aspects of nature are made by finding a corresponding item of said aspect and the magic gem. Sending both to the alter, the item sent with the gem will be burned into the gem, as such infusing it into the gem.

    Gathering Method: Mining magic gems, then infusing them with nature's essence.

    Directing Method: Pointing the shard or piece of gem at the target with intent to fire the spell.

    Possibilities: Healing, Burning, Decaying, Summoning a natural object, growing things, basically stuff that is done in nature.

    Impossibilities: Anything that is impossible to be done naturally that is known, by this I mean you cannot transmute lead to gold or the such.

    Weaknesses: The gem can only hold so many charges, based on what aspect of Nature's essence is being held within it, and the size of the gem in question. Gems are infused at infusion alter's, as such, if the alter would be destroyed, no more gems could be fashioned, or recharged of that aspect of nature. The item that is infused with the gem also plays a part in how strong it is, so if I wanted a Growth gem for plants, I would want a seed as an infusion item. Each time you run out of charges, the gem will shatter, leaving uncharged shards which can be infused, but will require infusion items again.

    Let me know if I was overly specific with this one, or if you have questions.
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  3. Maybe I can finally sort out Naming magic!

    Power Source: The soul/chi/energy

    Gathering Method: Energy can be accessed by knowing the true name of the owner of the energy source; speaking the name correctly gathers the magic. Writing names has no effect

    Directing Method: Magic is formed by mentality and directed by words. The caster draws magic by naming its host, and once drawn out of the host, holds and forms it with their own mental powers; concentration, a clear mind, and spiritual intuition. The more hosts you are drawing from, the more difficult directing the mixed energy becomes

    Possibilities: Magic can become whatever the mind of the host desires, limited only by the quantity and strength of the energy being used, and the skills of the caster. The larger, more powerful, and more complex a spell is, the harder it is to cast.

    Impossibilities: Though not strictly impossible; attempting to cast magic with a clouded, tumultuous, or undisciplined mind is very dangerous and difficult; the energy could backfire on the caster, misdirect, or take an unintended shape.

    Weaknesses: Mispronunciation, aliases, speech impediments, and distraction are all things that can impair or negate the possibility of performing naming magic

    ...How'd I do?
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    • Power Source: Ibleem; wandering desert spirits. Demonic in nature, they are magic incarnate and given the resources; they regenerate over time just like a salamander does. They bind parts of their bodies to individuals, objects or areas for the magic to take effect.
    • Gathering Method: For a wizard to obtain magic power, they must make a trade with an ibleem. They have to feed them, sacrificing a part of their own body as nourishment proportionate to the spell they want to cast. Women are typically most used as magic-users for more powerful spells, as an unborn child will count as a sacrifice from their body.
    • Directing Method: Through command. After gaining the magic resources, one needs to vocally invoke the spell they desire to cast.
    • Possibilities: Curses. This is a dark magic that excels in long-term, if not permanent effects. It can curse an individual with poor luck for a finger, or even go full-on Cassandra on them so that nobody believes a single word rolling from their tongue in exchange for yours. Curses can also be inflicted on objects or environments. Maybe you want your stairs to be the never-ending Mario 64 kind, maybe you want anyone who drinks from the cup with your name on it to feel whatever beverage to burn their tongue, maybe you want to banish rain from the neighbouring village or make their crops attract locust swarms from miles away. The possibilities are many.
    • Impossibilities: Curses can change the properties and can twist reality, but don't take form on their own and make take some time to work. Because of that, convenient or instant spells like a Firaga are impossible. Curses also tend to work on their own; making further manipulation impossible once cast. The effects on the morality scale are neutral at best, so trying to cast healing or happiness magic is a waste of a limb.
    • Weaknesses: Permanent sacrifice of flesh. Baptism is by fire makes first-timers susceptible to panic/failure/etc. and if you don't pack plenty bandages, chances are you'll bleed to death. The Ibleem can't cast curses indefinitely without given time to regenerate (a process that can take up to weeks). Dependence on actually finding or luring an Ibleem roaming about is a pretty big one too (the ability to see one determines your ability as a magic-user). Interpretation, quite obviously, because casting is a one-time thing and effects are difficult to reverse. Hell. Undoing spells requires finding the responsible Ibleem and either about double the sacrifice from another magic-user or the corpse of the caster. Lastly, it is quite heavy on the mind as it is a wicked magic.
    #4 Kestrel, Jan 4, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
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  4. As far as I'm concerned, you can do as many as you'd like. The level of details you use is also totally up to you. The exercise is here to be used, so have at it in whatever way you feel most comfortable.

    Nice system, by the way. Charging physical objects to do magic is a fun concept, and with those weaknesses it would be very easy to keep it balanced with pretty much any technology level by tweaking how easy it is to get gems.

    Looks pretty good to me. I haven't seen very many magic systems that allow magic users to draw energy from other people, much less requiring it as yours seems to do, and mixing in the true name concept (which I like a lot) is intriguing.

    I've got three questions though, which ought to help you flesh it out a bit more if you don't already have answers to them. What, if any, are the negative effects on the person the energy is taken from? Can a caster name himself/herself by true name and draw on their own soul/chi/whatever? Are there any limits on when a caster can pull power from someone with a true name, such as proximity or the host needing to hear their true name spoken by the caster, or can the energy be gathered from anywhere at any time so long as the true name is spoken?
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  5. What, if any, are the negative effects on the person the energy is taken from?
    General exhaustion/fatigue, and a limited capacity to use their own magic after (the magic source of a soul is huge, but not limitless)

    Can a caster name himself/herself by true name and draw on their own soul/chi/whatever?
    Yes, this is the most common and civil way of practicing magic, using another person's soul requires their express permission, often in writing

    Are there any limits on when a caster can pull power from someone with a true name, such as proximity or the host needing to hear their true name spoken by the caster, or can the energy be gathered from anywhere at any time so long as the true name is spoken?
    Ohh, tough one. in order to use another person's soul for energy, they must be in view of the caster. Standing behind a chair, tree, or other partially concealing object will not work in preventing this for the same reason clothes don't; the caster still knows president where you are and can see you. It's been rumoured that with extreme discipline, you can use someone's name even if you can't see them, so long as you can perfectly picture them in their present location using your minds eye whilst casting (harder than it sounds; casting itself takes lots of concentration!)

    I didn't mean to imply that Naming magic is used exclusively on people, either, though looking back I guess I did. Plants, animals, Minerals, all have true secret names and energy sources. Guessing the True Names of animals is difficult, and the energy of nonliving entities is limited. Also humans have the largest and most powerful magic sources
    #6 Minibit, Jan 5, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
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  6. Power Source: There are two: Shards and Crests. A Shard is a special crystal stone devised for those who can't afford a Crest, a tattoo made with dust of shards and blood of a "Rank B+" magical beast.

    Gathering Method: Shards are mined in determined places, those very mines have strange and unpredicable, to most, "seasons" that modify the source element of the magic. Not only that but people too have their own elements, decided in the moment of conception as an elemental spirit watches and "brands" the future child with their power. A huge number of factors can alter this outcome, but only a handful of researches know it.

    Directing Method: Spells have special command words and motifs that every user must study before casting, through their Shards or hands in case of Crest-bearers. A few prodigy children can cast spells without imagining the motifs, something that the society hates. Without the Shard or Crest, they are unable of casting any spell.

    Possibilities: "Blast magic" is the most basic kind taught for any magic user; Heal spells are special to some Orders or Organizations and not widely spread; and Creation and Transmutation allowed only to researchers as those take a very long casting time to work effectively. Illusion isn't a kind of magic, only street magicians have any hold of it. Necromancy is so rare that only gods, demons and witches are capable of thinkering with it.

    Impossibilities: Mind Affecting magic doesn't exists, only some monsters are capable of altering memories and personal imprints with very invasive methods. Revive the dead is a possibility only to the gods, as they choose which mortal can pass on or go back to life; through strong and numerous prayers some individuals have been ressurected by this way, others were only been "forbbiden" to ascend when died in heroic ways, for bad or for good reasons.

    Weaknesses: Techonology is taking over the world, being easier to manipulate than magic. If someone wants light, they just have to plug the lamp on an energy source. If someone wants to travel from A to B, they just have to use their metallic charriots. Some magic academies have already been demolished for the creation of parking lots, something that makes the oldest magic users retire in exile to far away settlements to avoid being in contact with this "corruption".
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  7. I mostly use this as the backbone for most of my original characters.

    Power Source: "Ether;" essentially a force synonymous with such concepts as chi/prana etc. 'Ether' is the energy comprising the foundation of all life, bearing heavy links to such forces electromagnetic energies, the likes of which are evident in holding together the material world. It exists both within and around every body of matter. It is, however, most commonly displayed in practice by living organisms, namely humans and human-like beings.
    Gathering Method: Ether exists as an incorporated force with all matter. For those that are capable of consciously (or unconsciously) directing its power, there is no gathering necessary, as it exists naturally within them, and in some cases already gathered around them by way of attraction. Only those who have fiercely trained their minds, bodies and spirits can actually siphon external ether.
    Directing Method: Willpower is the first step in any direction of Ether. One needs to have the drive to push themselves, often beyond their limits, in order to direct Ether. Just about anyone can direct Ether in some way: The runner making the final push down the home stretch to outstrip the competition to the finish, or the weight lifter finding that last repetition despite the wear on their muscles, or even the flustered academic pulling the all-nighter to finish their thesis. These sorts of directions happen without the conscious awareness of the individual though, and they are therefore limited in just how much can be done. If the willpower exists to make something happen, then the mind and body can be trained to fully harness Ether's power. Those with the proper training can direct Ether flows through their bodies more effectively and channel the power from themselves.
    Possibilities: The possibilities of Ether are entirely dependent on what road the individual takes towards mastery. Some people follow a more physical doctrine, and thus use Ether as a means of enhancing their body's performance, and utilizing exertions of Ether such as kinetic force and even blasts of raw energy. Others follow a more mental approach, and have trained themselves to project their Ether externally as psychic powers, such as telekinesis, which can branch out into control over natural forces. Hybrids can exist, though their power is usually minimized in the effort to cover both bases, save for a handful of prodigious or experienced people who are either naturally gifted with both or have simply had years to fully hone both sides to great effect; the former of the two, however, tend to be one in every hundred of millions.
    Impossibilities: Ether appears to be capable of only effecting the material universe. Despite theoretical speculations, it is yet to prove capable of such extreme acts as bending space-time to any extent.
    Weaknesses: Beyond that applications are limited harshly by the capacity of the practitioner, the use of Ether is something difficult to fully master and incredibly taxing to the body and mind, especially for those just in training or freshly trained. Overuse of Ether can easily lead to great fatigue both physically and mentally, often leaving users to paralysis, blackouts and even death in more than one occasion. The only cases where this doesn't seem to prove true is when Ether is used for menial tasks, such as psychically flipping a light switch. Ether is also a somewhat limited source. Because Ether comes from within a person, it must be exerted in order to apply, making it to diminish rather quickly when caught in difficult situations as combat. Even those who utilize Ether to manipulate matter must draw from their own reserves to entice the effects they desire. Though almost every case of Ether depletion is remedied by rest and 'recharge,' it can take days after an intensive use for the user to recharge enough to use Ether to any fruitful ends.
  8. The gems are intended to be of a rare variety, being composed of rare elements which are not able to be replicated easily. As such, most users are using shards of the gems. The only known way to achieve a gem, is to mine it, as such those that are in power would most likely have taken the liberty of taking that over. Thank you for your comment on the system, I cannot claim 100% of the credit on this one, as I have used this system before in a role play group i knew in real life. It was balanced, until people started synthesizing the gems with hyper advanced technology that was reverse engineered by aliens. Anyway, Thank you for reading this, have a nice day.
  9. I'm been keen on magics and spell casters for a long time. Its been a long time since I ponder about this, taking examples of peoples ideas from here and there. Still figuring things out thought.

    Power Source - The first thought of magic that I had was that my spell casters would collect magic from the air surrounding them. They collect or suck up the spiritual energy or the mana floating around them. I thought of mana as oxygen where you could condense into liquid form or solidify them. You could bottle it up and drink it to replenish your body's mana. Then I thought of mana pool where people mine like petroleum. Settlements are build on top of these mana pool to power their homes and businesses.

    Gathering Method - A more powerful spell would require more mana therefore more time is needed to ready the spell. There is a limit to how much mana a person could hold in his body. The more the person use magic, the more mana he or she can hold. Just like our muscles, the more you use it, to bigger and stronger it becomes. Other than serving the purpose of decorations, gems could serve as batteries. People who couldn't hold large amount of mana could store mana in gems or jewels. Because of this, gems are expensive, valued by the beauty as well as their capacity to hold mana. But then I saw Atmo's post about shards made into tattoos. Gems could be crushed and made into tattoos. Therefore, magicians could store mana in their tattoo. That would add more reason for crazy tattoo of the fantasy world.

    Directing Method - Spells are casted by speaking or thinking of ancient forgotten language with intent. A more complex spell would require more words. A person's intent would determine the spells direction. Distance also matters. The longer the distance, the more mana is needed. Words need to be learned and understood. Therefore, people who simply imitate the words with their lips would not cast the spell.

    Possibilities - At first, I just thought of controlling the four main elements such as the air, fire, water, and earth. I could class gravity to earth magic and electricity to air or fire. The magics are just like Avatar: The Last Air Bender. But then, I couldn't think of what element necromancy was. The same goes for healing magic.

    Impossibilities - Of course, bringing people back from the dead would be impossible. Although necromancy exist, necromancers can only revive dead bodies and use them like a mannequin. The dead people do not have their memories which makes them who they were. In roleplaying, I would also deny instant healing because it kills the excitements of mortal wounds to a character. Effecting a person directly with ancient words should also be impossible because if it is possible, one would simply light a person on fire or simply tells the person to die. For that to work, a person's real name must be known. That is what I think.

    Weaknesses - Perhaps the overuse of mana in ones body would over tire a person and kill him or her. Intelligence is needed to understand and learn the ancient words. Since not all ancient words are known, known spells are also limited. Insufficient concentration while casting a spell would cause a spell to backfire. Mostly the rich are in possessions of power for only they are wealthy enough to possess expensive gems.
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