Magic Systems

Forums Fiction Research and Worldbuilding Magic Systems

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #44698
    Sam Kowal

    😀 Hello everyone, Sam here wondering how to do magic?

    For any of you who write fantasy and include magic systems, I thought I’d see if you have any advice for creating original magic systems. Recently, I’ve created about five new magic systems for my fantasy WIP, and have been toying with the pros and cons of each of them, but I don’t love any of them. (I’m working on hard magic systems.)

    One of my problems is that I can’t get past some of the magics I’ve already read about; my favorite magic systems are the ones based on using energy from the world the story takes place in to use magic (Inheritance Cycle, Stormlight Archive), where the magic is almost an extension of the natural forces in the world. Have any of you had problems getting past that? How did you overcome it?

    Sanderson’s three laws of magic- hard magic vs. soft magic, limitations vs. powers, and deeper vs. wider, have been very useful to me, but I’m wondering what some of you have come up with for your WIPs.

    I’m not necessarily looking for straight answers, just wondering what other people have done and worked on (unless that’s top secret until your book comes out) ;P

    @daeus-lamb @hope-ann @josiah @supermonkey42

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Sam Kowal.

    *nom, nom, nom* *eats donuts*
    Oh, are you hungry? *begins weeping*
    I would have saved you one!


    @sam-kowal Here’s a article written by my friend @princessfoo wrote about magic systems. *brandishes link*  http://kingdompen.org/how-to-enrich-your-story-with-magic/ I don’t really have any advice myself, and I gotta go feed Reggie dinner, so farewell!


    P.S. Don’t worry about the donuts. I got my own. 🙂

    *shameless self promotion* https://weridasusual.home.blog/

    Sam Kowal

    @ncstokes 😀 thankee much

    P.S. Ones as good as mine though? Really?

    *nom, nom, nom* *eats donuts*
    Oh, are you hungry? *begins weeping*
    I would have saved you one!

    Taylor Clogston

    @sam-kowal Having trouble getting past what’s familiar is really tough. One of the best ways to mitigate this is exposing yourself to more magic, though =P Are you familiar with Vancian magic? What about the Warrens from Malazan Book of the Fallen, or as purely rational as you can get Sympathy from Kingkiller (which I guess Inheritance uses too, in a less grounded way), or even just studying how magic works in Middle Earth and Narnia?

    On the one hand I really like rational magic systems, but on the other hand they aren’t the solution for everything and can get samey really quickly. Someone using a Stormlight-like or Allomancy-like system in a WIP is one of the fastest ways to get me to lose interest.

    In Black Librarian (first one already out), magic is expressed through three forms (Librarians “archive” the past to gain intuitive power, Contractors give tasty gifts to spirits to obtain specific powers or boons in the present, and Mystics channel bodily mana into templated beads for future easy use) but ultimately comes from the primal forces of virtue like Justice and Duty. And I swear I wrote this all before reading Stormlight =P

    In Heart’s Iron (the one I’ll probably never release because I’m terrified of writing it poorly) magic comes from what’s basically lucid dreaming or from literal demons (though this is veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery bad and it never comes without a tragic end).

    In Gauss Girl (not even sure if I’m gonna continue this one) it’s just anime martial arts qi.

    And I want to write a story with more mystical and mythical magic, but re-reading some C.S. Lewis to decide how well he actually does it.

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    Daeus Lamb

    @sam-kowal I actually created a magic system based on music.

    How it works is that everything in the world has its own song only certain people can tune into. Each song had a key obviously. By harmonizing with that song, these people (Bards) can “unlock” that object. Objects of the same key can be “connected”. When they are connected, properties can be exchanged between them. This process requires physical energy from the bard and once their energy has run out, they cannot limitlessly repeat the process. (i.e. If they took away from a mountain to make a person larger, they could not limitlessly do that till the mountain disappeared and the person was as big as the mountain.)

    Any two (or more) objects can exchange these physical properties: heat, color, momentum, weight, size, smell, and density.

    Between humans and/or animals, three emotions can also be exchanged. Determination, trust, and one more emotion I have yet to settle on.

    There is also a sacrificial category. When Bards connect themselves with other people or animals they can sacrificially give energy or health to that person/animal.

    What I like most about this magic system is it’s slightly awkward so it requires creative thinking to use.

    Hope that sparks some ideas.

    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    Anne of Lothlorien


    I actually have never created a magic system myself, so I’m just going to say two things based off of what I like to see in other books.

    1. MAKE RULES AND STICK TO THEM!!!! Magic where you can conjure/call up/do basically whatever you need whenever is slightly annoying. It’s too magic of a magic, if that even makes sense.

    2. Consider having consequences. If magic was true, I doubt using it would be easy-peasy. In a book series, a character had the ability to ‘blink’ – teleport over great distances, I think by going faster than the speed of light or something. But he was limited. Each time he used that power is used his strength. So maybe you want something that doesn’t work limitless-ly and whenever.

    Oh, and well, I did come up with this thing once when I was, like, maybe ten?… basically certain objects could transport certain things. Seashells carried messages. You spoke into it, sent it to a person, and they held it up to their ear and listened.  Flowers carried emotions. Somehow, though I didn’t know how, you put an emotion into a flower, then it closed up and went to the person you wanted it to, and when they touched it it blossomed and gave them the emotion. So that was just my ten year old brain…


    I'm short, I like words, and I love people.
    No, I didn't draw my profile pic.

    Sarah Inkdragon


    First off, I like to base my magic on a simple idea. For example, in the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, there are four nations, each with their own type of “magic”. Firebending, Waterbending, Earthbending, and Airbending. Bending is controlled mostly by skill and chi. The more training the person has, the better his ability to bend, despite bloodlines or size. The more chi/chakra a person has, the stronger a person’s bending is also. The less chi, the less energy. A chi depleted person cannot bend.

    The magic in my WIP is more of an extension of the natural world than “actual” magic that anyone can learn. In my WIP, one must be born with the inherent ability to use magic, so only people with certain bloodlines can use it. However, it’s not limited to one race. Both elves and men can use magic, though each race has their own specific areas of magic. Also, there are unwanted side effects. Without rest, food, and water, one cannot use magic. It uses to much energy. Also, one cannot use magic for long periods of time without a lot of training to build up strength. You can actually kill yourself if you use magic for to long without rest.

    Consider whether your magic is a natural talent(like mine) or a learned ability. Are all people/races able to use all magic? Or is it specific per race?

    Think about consequences. In my WIP, my main character is a Firemaster. Basically, he can control fire, but he can’t create it. If he controls it to long, he becomes feverish and overheated, basically like a bad heatstroke. He also can’t put it out, so he has to be very careful on how he uses it and where.

    Another character in my WIP can control shadows, and disguise people using shadows by hiding their face or, in a dark room, manipulating the shadows to make someone appear differently. The shadows can take a “physical” form, but it takes an insane amount of energy and can result in “Cold Fever,” a sickness that takes hold and chills a person so badly it’s like hypothermia. Without healing, you die.

    So there’s some things to think about while writing magic. Have fun!

    "A hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head."

    - C. S. Lewis

    Josiah DeGraaf

    @sam-kowal You may find our worldbuilding questionnaire in the resource library helpful for this purpose. 🙂 Most of my advice and thoughts about how to make a world actually unique is in there.

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com


    @sam-kowal Mine are raspberry flavored, so I’m going to hazard a guess that they’re some of the best around. Would you like to try one? *offers donut*

    *shameless self promotion* https://weridasusual.home.blog/

    Ben P

    @sam-kowal Well, it looks like I’m late. And everything good has already been said. Oh well. 🙂

    Btw, I will likely be kicked off the guild for inactivity, so… yeah. See ya around.

    The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think on

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Pin It on Pinterest