Different types of Magic This thread outlines, explains, and gives examples of different kinds of magic systems. Furthermore, this thread attempts as much as possible to emphasize the huge variety in each kind of magic, and encourages the reader to put his or her own spin and unique style into it, should they choose to create a system based on any of these styles. If you know of a magical system that is not covered or touched on in this post, feel free to tack on your additions in the comment; I'll edit them into this post as quickly as I can. Spoken/Sound magic This is magic that requires some kind of sound to pull off. Like all magic types, there are many variations on what kind of sound is required, such as: Chanting Single words Poems Songs Spoken commands Music Most variations are verbal, but there are variations on how the spell should be spoken. Some kinds of spoken magic give it its own language, which is only used to cast spells and not for conversation or other communication means; some magical languages don't even have a written form. Other variations cast spells in the same language used for regular talking. Some other questions to consider are: is magic only useable in one language? How does translation work if you can cast the spell in multiple languages? There are also variations on how important tone, enunciation, and inflection are to successfully cast a spell. How long a spell takes to say/”charge”, and what happens if it is repeated should also be considered. Written/Drawn magic This is magic which uses an inscription of one kind or another in order to carry out its effects. Alchemy circles, paper charms, rune stones, and magical scrolls are all examples of written magic. What has to/can be written on is as varied as what should be written. Here are some of the more common examples: Wishes for good luck written on small charms Symbols representing the desired affect Written poems Written commands Collections of symbols/icons Single words Pictures Pictures of Faces How these things are inscribed is totally up to the designer; some spells have things 'drawn' in the air with a finger, or wand/other tool, these drawings may remain, obtain solid form, or disappear when the spell is complete. Things written on solid items may disappear after the spell is complete or a certain amount of time has elapsed, or they may 'keep running' until erased or sufficiently distorted. Another physical element is contact with the caster; does the caster need to touch the writing to activate or use it? And can spent spells be used again without rewriting them? What materials are used to write, and what materials are written on should also be taken into account. Some forms of written magic require an activation of some kind once the spell is written, which may be any form of magic from spoken to mental. Component/Item magic This is magic that you need to have certain tools, components, ingredients, or items on hand in order to perform. Magical potions, crystals, and wands/staffs are all examples of component/item magic. It is not to be confused with Enchanting, which is an action (not, to my mind, a category of magic) in which one imparts a spell via any magic system and empowers a normal object with it. The object's only role in Enchanting is as the recipient, whereas Component/Item magic uses it as part of the spell's casting process. This particular type of magic can be further sub-categorized into Ingredient magic and Tools magic. Ingredient magic This kind of magic is the subcategory which requires the combination or singular use of ordinary items in combination with magic power to cast spells. It may make use of: Earth/minerals Plants and/or their fruit/blossoms Bones/body parts Animals (living or dead) Man-made items How these ingredients are put to use is only limited by the designer's imagination. Some common forms are to create an edible/drinkable form from them (potion/brewing) and ingest it, thus taking on the powers of the spell, others involve propelling the item(s) at the object of the spell, requiring contact for the spell to take effect. Some use a variation where some items have natural magic contained within them, and the caster uses them as a source for magical energy, possibly combining their effects to create different spells. Tool Magic Tool magic is when an item is required to cast a spell, but does not (usually) require any alteration from the caster. They differ from Enchanted items in that the tool is not the recipient of the spell, but the item used to direct/power/channel it. Wands Staffs Crystals Stones Keys Tools are most commonly used as a means to channel the caster's own magic, which may be generated from any source the designer likes. They lend focus, direction, and definition to a spell. Some tools are 'locked' to a particular spell or type of spell, whereas others can carry out any spell the user is capable of. Considerations for this kind of magic include condition of the item (does it still work if it is broken, roughly damaged, scuffed?) What happens if the item is broken, whether or not repairs are feasible, and the effects of using two or more tools in conjunction with one another. Elemental Magic This is magic that draws its power from, or uses elements of the natural environment. The most common elements are Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water, but elements such as light, darkness, spirit, lightning, and almost any other part of nature can also be used. The most common ways of using this magic are either The elements as the source of magical power The caster as the source of magical power In the first, the caster taps in to the element's natural power, and uses it to their will. In the second, the caster must force their on power on the normal elements, and manipulate them in this way. The results are similar, but the method varies. A common theme in elemental magic is for the elements to have a sort of personality and require sympathy from the caster to be used to their full potential. An additional variation to the version where elements are the source of power is for various things from a given element to have different effects; a certain flower may lend power useable for one kind of spell, and a certain berry a totally different kind. How the elements are controlled has varieties too numerous to list; common examples include the user directing them with their mind via telekinesis, others the use of Tool Magic or Written magic to tap into the Elemental magic. Mental/Spiritual This is magic that requires nothing more than the user's own power. In this case, the source of magic is almost always the user themselves, and could be described as their soul, their spirit, their chi, or any other variation on these terms. What a person could conceivably do with their mental/spiritual magic is limited only by the designer. A common theme with this kind of magic is for the kinds of spells which reflect the caster's personality. The actual method of casting is also widely varied, and usually crosses over with or simply utilizes one of the other methods in this list. Some versions require physical gestures or movements to channel one's personal magic into a spell, others can be used while standing still. Summon Magic This is magic which allows the user to call a thing or being to them from another place, or to create it out of nothing but their own magical power. Beings that are summoned can be either independent or completely controlled by the caster, and may be from the same plane/world as the caster, or a completely different one. Things that could be summoned include: Spirits Fantasy creatures (fairies, etc) Normal animals People Ghosts Tools Benign items (i.e: food) This kind of magic is often used in combination with written magic, allowing the caster to summon things they have made some sort of mark or enchantment on. How the summoning takes place is hugely varied, but the most common forms seem to be spoken, written, and mental/spiritual magic. It is also vaguely related to Teleporting, where a caster can essentially summon themselves to a different location using magic.