Magic Systems: Likes and Dislikes

Jorick

Magnificent Bastard
Original poster
Invitation Status
Posting Speed
One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige, Douche, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female
Genres
Fantasy is my #1; I will give almost anything a chance if it has strong fantasy elements. Post apocalyptic, superhero, alternate history, science fantasy, some supernatural, romance, and a few fandoms (especially Game of Thrones) are also likely to catch my eye.
There are many archetypes of magic systems out there, and tons of variation to be found within each one if you look hard enough. To keep it broad, I have two simple questions: what do you like in a magic system, and what do you dislike in a magic system? Feel free to get specific with certain systems you like, or keep it general with specific elements like blood sacrifice or wand usage or whatever.


Personally, I enjoy magic systems that operate more like a science than like, well, magic. I'm talking about the kinds that have very strict rules and guiding principles that cannot be violated. They tend to be pretty awesome because instead of magic battles being a power level game, in science-y systems they favor whoever is more creative and adaptive within the bounds of the system. A great example of strict rules magic systems that I love can be found in the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson.

One thing I have grown to dislike immensely is the use of Latin or other real world languages being used as magical words for fantasy magic systems. This is especially annoying when the world doesn't even have a culture in present or historical times that could be a reasonable stand in for the real world country of origin. They could have come up with any mish-mash of cool sounding syllables to have an Elvish or whatever word for fire to use when throwing a fireball, but instead everyone seems to go for the ole standby of Latin. It gets really old seeing it used in so many places.
 

Minibit

Returned from the Void
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
No Preferences
Genres
Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Quest, Sci-Fi, Time Travel and World Hopping, Steampunk, Action/Adventure, Modern Drama, Mystery, Slice of Life, Romance, and many more.
I like magic systems that leave me lots of room for creativity, but still have enough definition to give them identity. The best example I can think of to describe what I mean would be the Death Note franchise. The Death Note arrives with some very basic rules, but throughout the series, the protagonist manages to work within these rules to still use the Note very creatively! This is the kind of freedom I like with a magic system.

What I dislike are systems that have so many rules that there's no room for creativity at all; like ones where the creator has come up with a list of things that can be done with their magic system and I have to stay within that list in the use of it; sadface! Let me get creative!

I also have a mild thing against element-based magic systems; in general they're just too trite for my taste. Come outside the box, people, it's fun.
 

The Mood is Write

Mom-de-Plume
SITE SUPPORT
DONATING MEMBER
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, One post per day, Multiple posts per week, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female, Primarily Prefer Female, No Preferences
Genres
I'm open to a wide range of genres. Obscenely wide. It's harder for me to list all I do like than all I don't like. My absolute favorite is mixed and multiverse, but I'm not limited to those.

• Mixed Genre
• Multiverse
• High Fantasy
• Hard Fantasy
• Low Fantasy
• OP Fantasy
• Science Fantasy
• Modern Fantasy
• Soft Scifi
• Science Fantasy
• Low Scifi
• OP Science Fantasy
• Modern Realistic (Strict)
• Modern Realistic (Loose)
• Urban Fantasy
• Alternate History (Fantasy Preference)
• Post-Apocalyptic Mixed
• Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
• Post-Apocalyptic Scifi
• Post-Apocalyptic Modern
• Dystopia
• Displacement
• Military
• Dying Earth
• Supernatural
• Drama
• Mystery
• Horror
• Religious
• LBGT
• Crime/Detective
• Parody
• Comedy
• Tragedy
• Romance (Must Include Others)
• Erotic (Must Include Others)
One thing I have grown to dislike immensely is the use of Latin or other real world languages being used as magical words for fantasy magic systems. This is especially annoying when the world doesn't even have a culture in present or historical times that could be a reasonable stand in for the real world country of origin. They could have come up with any mish-mash of cool sounding syllables to have an Elvish or whatever word for fire to use when throwing a fireball, but instead everyone seems to go for the ole standby of Latin. It gets really old seeing it used in so many places.
THIS. So much THIS.

Ahem. I mean...

What I DO like is a magic system with inherent limits, be they the sort of spell you can cast, or how magic must be used, or better: both. Limitations make magic more interesting, in my eyes, and then, if you have a world where magic is inherently limited in what it can do, when you throw a curveball, it has MUCH more impact! The kingdom doesn't expect the bad person to summon an asteroid because magic involves equal blood sacrifice or a chant as large as the thing done? What happens when the asteroid hits? Suddenly you have a new plot to follow! How the heck did the big bad manage to do that?

What I don't like is magic used to make life easier for main characters. "I have endless healing!" and "Fireballs forever!" just don't get me riled like they used to. :x
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jorick

E.T.

Arms dealer of Ilium
Preferred Character Gender
Genres
Fantasy, Scifi, Future, Past/Medeival, Realistic role plays not centered around romance.
Personally I like magic systems that are very open and allow the players to come up with very creative uses for their abilities. The that being said I strongly dislike when players take complete advantage of that and make a completely over powered character that blasts their way out of every situation. So I would suppose that means I like it when there are definite limitations to the powers. For example lighting a campfire might be a piece of cake, but oh you want to rain fire and death down upon an enemy army, well that is going to cost a pint of your own blood, five minutes to build the power, and maybe your sanity if you mess up.
To me magic is another form of energy, and like electricity a small current might just tickle a bit, but if you try and channel a bolt of lightning through your body it is not going to be pleasant.