Origin of Magic in your game world

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jonthefox, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    Does it come from reading scrolls/spellbooks?  Is it intuitively projected through one's mind?  Is it drawn from the environment or from some sort of ethereal energy?     

    How does magic occur in your game world, and how/why did you decide on this system?

    The reason I'm asking is, obviously this becomes an easy question to answer when it is tied to your game's plot, but if the game's plot has nothing to do with the existence of magic, it can become difficult to figure out how magic should be present in the world.  At least for me it is.  I kind of want a system whereby EVERYONE has the potential to use magic, just that only the most intelligent and most experienced users would be anything beyond inept when it came to practicing it.   Any feedback or advice appreciated.
     
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  2. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    In my game world, magic is present in everyone. There are rumors of those who cannot cast (magic nulls), and they are cast out by society, and even sometimes killed when found. The magic in a person sets in around the ages of 10 - 13 or so (rarely 9 or 14), and at that point in time they can cast, though their magic is uncontrolled and often results in weird results. Eventually, though, either through the help of their parents, a mentor, or trial and error they get it under control well enough to cast the most basic spell of their element.

    Being able to cast magic is seen as a sign as being old enough to marry too, as being able to cast means you can bear children. As such, sometimes those in predetermined marriages try to hide the fact that they can cast, but since being unable to cast after the age of 14 means people suspect you of being a magic null, usually they fess up or run away by then.

    To gain better control of their magic, there are schools of magic in the world. Anyone over the age of 14 can enter, where for 4 years they will learn basic reading, writing, history, math, etc. In short, the skills they need for the world (unless they wish to learn a trade where those are not needed). Also they learn about how to use magic wisely, and how it has been abused. Once they pass those first 4 years, then they can continue on for another 4 years dedicated to the art of using magic. However, if they would rather study something besides magic, they stop after the first 4 years are done. Some also come in already knowing all the stuff learned in the first 4 years, so they jump ahead into the 2nd 4 years. However, this happens to about 3 - 5% of those who enter such programs.

    The schools though are not the only places where people can learn. Some just find a mage that didn't want to work for the school of magic. Some take on an apprenticeship, and learn enough while doing that. And some just focus on other things, and are only ever able to cast the most basic spells of their element.

    Anyways, that's what I set up for mine. It took a few years to refine it to this system, so prepare for some trial and error, and even some false starts on the way. To get started, I'd say start by writing an idea down, and try to see where you can take it.
     
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  3. m4uesviecr

    m4uesviecr Veteran Veteran

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    @Bg:

    Really dig the twist of magic casting --> modern puberty. I like your overall concept a lot!

    ---

    In a game world I conjured up eons ago (that will probably never see the light of day):

    The world inhabited is kept alive from the recycling of life energy. The Gods give their power to the world, it fuels those that inhabit it, when people die, their positive energy is replenished and sent back to the Gods. So basically, people can use the life force that is within the Earth they reside on to manipulate elements. Only if they were born with the ability to do so. The Gods created 4 races of people that were derivatives of them. To increase diversity, they limited powers:

    Race 1: Unable to Use Magic. Keep to themselves and are highly technologically advanced to compensate for their lack of magic.

    Race 2: Born with the natural ability to use particular spells. Gain spells as they age/practice, but are restricted to learning new ones. Kind of like either you were born with the ability, or not. These genetic spell casters usually have more potent/powerful spells, albeit their knowledge of spells are limited.

    Race 3: These magic users can use an unlimited amount of spells. They have the ability to take the "life energy" channeled by the Gods and siphon it however they choose. They learn these through books. They can learn many spells, but their spells are not as powerful as those who... naturally acquire them (Race 2). Their knowledge of these spells is unlimited.

    Race 4: The earliest of the races, these guys are closest to the Gods in the sense that they can learn as many spells as they wish while also aging gracefully. (Still working on a downside to this race)

    There are schools made specifically for those in Race 3 (who see themselves as elitists), and these schools are specific to magic types. There are about 4 or 5, but a Mystician (as I call them) can go to college and earn an equivalency of a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate in magic. The higher you go, the more proficient you become in categories of magic or one magic in particular.
     
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  4. Column

    Column Veteran Veteran

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    My current project is based off the Shadow Hearts series. It's set it modern day real world, but deals with lots of super natural stuff like the occults, vampires, ghosts, etc.. each of the 8 playable character has their own set of unique skills that differ from character to character. The main character can channel the power of an archaic angel bound to his soul, so some of his skills are naturally "magical" in nature. Another character's primary weapon is a grimiore, giving her access to a wide variety of spell like attacks. But aside from personal skills, they party runs across a "ring spirit" that sees that they're on a quest to save the world and such, and gives them access to a yet unnamed type of magic stones of something, haven't quite decided yet, and give them access to the default "spells". So that way everyone has access to spells in one form.
     
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  5. BloodletterQ

    BloodletterQ Chaotic Neutral Assassin Veteran

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    Hope it's not morbid, but it comes from drinking dragon's blood so in a way, everyone who can use magic is a Dovahkiin. There are people who are dragons in human form as well, including mixed blood who may naturally learn magic like Terra and Celes.
     
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  6. Reavenator

    Reavenator Member Veteran

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    In the setting I made up, magic comes from the sun. Sunlight has a magical component to it that when absorbed gives spellcasters their power.

    Kinda like Kryptonians, except that the sun's color doesn't matter.

    However, that magical component is also harmful to the physical body to some degree, so when humans absorb too much of it, their bodies start to fail, which means they have to rely on spells to keep them alive.

    Normal exposure to the sun can't do that, though.

    Now I have an amusing image in my head of some wizards sunbathing  :p
     
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  7. Hoppy

    Hoppy Veteran Veteran

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    An eldrich abomination similar to lovecraftian beings like Cthulhu.
     
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  8. Rinobi

    Rinobi Veteran Veteran

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    Within my universe 'magic' comes from the metaphysical universe in parallel with the physical universe. At the center of each person's being exist a 'Crux Kernel' which acts as a valve allowing energy from the metaphysical universe to flow into one's body. In it's natural form, this energy manifests itself as 'quantum virtus' which quickly loses stability and divides into 'posive' and 'negate' virtus. These two types of virtus become incompatible and oppose one another like the positive sides of magnets once split. The type of virtus that fills a person's body is usually depended on the carrying mother's virtus. Posive, or white virtus enhances or builds its environment while Negate, or black virtus corrupts and destroys its environment. This is only noticeable in extremely high concentrations. A person with too much white virtus could develop a type of cancer while a person with too much black virtus would develop a type of degenerative disease. Those born with black or white virtus are 'ascendant humans' while those born with quantum virtus are known as 'transcendent beings'... but that's a little off topic.

    Each virtus type can be further broken down into more familiar types of energy such as mana, chi, and chakra, and less familar energies such as namaka... Each type of 'sub energy' has its advantages and disadvantages...
     
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  9. Chrispy

    Chrispy Veteran Veteran

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    In one game universe I was building, Magic was a material in the universe from creation that existed alongside physical matter and energy. Magic violated the laws of physics in that, it was able to create and destroy matter and energy, and also change matter into energy and energy into matter. Doing so also destroys the magic used though. New magic can only be created through the cataclysmic collision between anti-matter and regular matter in this universe. While Magic was considered to be a type of energy, in great enough concentrations, it existed in the form of white crystals, almost indistinguishable from diamonds in its most concentrated form.

    Magic existed on Earth at its creation, like it did everywhere in the universe. It sometimes caused some extraordinary creatures like dragons to evolve. When humans evolved, they were able to naturally channel the magic through their bodies. No words needed to be spoken. No focus needed to be used. None of that. They just gave a thought, and whatever they wanted was done. When humans died, the ambient magic they gathered was enough to continue their consciousness into the afterlife. Some were able to gather enough magic to become literal gods.

    Some great and terrible things were done with magic. Continents were raised and sunken, entire civilizations of people rose and fell, parts of the world were terraformed from lush jungles into barren deserts and the opposite is true. There was one last cataclysm that caused most of the magic to disappear from the world as well as every one of the great civilizations of the time.

    Magic is a finite resource, and as time went on, it became more difficult to just naturally channel magic. As Language developed again across the world, some civilizations figured out way to channel the magic that remained, using chants, casting actual spells, combining various magical ingredients, using runes, etc. But as time went on, even this became impossible to do. As ambient magic was remove from the world, so too did magical creatures and plants go extinct. While a magic crystal was occasionally found, often people kept them to themselves to their death.

    On to the Present day, Magic doesn't exist in great enough levels anymore to do anything with it. Sure, you might hear about a poltergeist or someone who can make objects float, but that's it. Unless you stumble across a magic crystal or you manage to build an anti-matter generator, there is no more magic on earth....but what about Mars? What about other star systems?

    I was writing this as an explanation for a half-fantasy half-science fiction kind of story that takes place in the future where magic exists. I abandoned the idea quite awhile ago though...
     
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  10. Espon

    Espon Lazy Creator Veteran

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    Mana is just everywhere, it's the building blocks of life and the land.  Anyone and everything is capable of using magic to some extent because of this, although some creatures and races are more adept at using magic than others.

    There are limits to what can be used based on the user and how powerful the magic is.  Bringing back the dead usually isn't possible for most races (characters typically get knocked unconscious in terms of game mechanics when HP hits 0), although it is possible to create undead through necromancy.  Undead can also come about from strong mana lingering in the air, possessing the corpse after a long period of time.
     
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  11. trouble time

    trouble time Victorious Veteran

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    In my story "magic" is both an energy and the name for the specific form ,unique to each user, that around 60% of the population can use, though this doesn't acount for the fact animals, items, and even locations can have magical abilites. Most magic comes from energy within the user called the Inner Fire, which is a limited but regenrating energy that can be used to preform ones own magic or can be used to send energy through magical pathways (magic itself can't interact with physical matter, think of it as punching a wall and breaking a bottle on the other side.) Magic strengthens the users body giving them faster reflexes, greater phyisical strength and speed, and sometimes other mutations (like blue skin or purple hair, or more extreme like having a body made completely of organic glass).

    Magic users tend to get all their education out of the way by age 8, this is because they can process information much faster than a regular human (Though retention of said information is another thing, generally they forget as easily as any old joe). Besides the expected maths, liturature, and sciences, most schools will also teach some basic combat skills. At this stage the can opt to join the military, go into the work force, or get further education. The military, particularly that of the Empire has a further divide, training would generally end at arounnd 18, but one can go through the program faster, and one can attempt the Knight certification at any time, though it's a particularly grueling excercise consisting of rigorous physical and mental testing. Afterward one is further training to help them conform to the image of a knight

    Magical abilites vary widely in what they do, one of the main characters has the ability to manipulate the extrinsic properties of anything including manipulating those properties relative to other properties (making line AB lead to point C somehow), another girl's magic ability makes her good at math (well it actually gathers numerical data, she does the math on her own). The most powerful magical abilites tend to be the most straight forward, and they also tend to have short range (though some of the most powerful abilites are powerful because they have universal or in one case multiversal range) There's also only one case of a single individual with two magical abilites, and both abilites are non-combat abilites.

    There are also Mystery Gods in the settings, they also have Inner Fire based magic as well as magic based on an alternate realm called the Outer Inferno, a chaotic parralel dimension. called Mysteries. Most people can't survive in the Outer Inferno without special protection, but the Mystery Gods each have a realm within the Inferno called an Otherworld where they have extreme reality warping powers though they can't directly affect anyone with powerful magic resistance. They can also create pacts with anyone who will accept to create Daemons, the Keepers of Secrets. This is done by having a magic user drink the blood of a Mystery God they've sworn loyalty too. Unlike humans, Mystery Gods have an infinite amount of magic energy, and their are seperated into hierarchies based on how much power they can use at once (trying to use too much at once will just outright kill them).  There is also one being much more powerful than any of the Mystery Gods by an ufatomable degree, and her power comes from different source than the Inner Fire or Outer Inferno and she can nullify any magic without effort.

    Also of note is that magic is used  generate electricity as well, and nearly everything uses mithril (which is an organic, and occassionally semi-sentient metalloid natrually found in crystals then pounded into a more metallic form through magical processes.)
     
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  12. SpacemanFive

    SpacemanFive Meteor Mage Veteran

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    In a setting I'm working on, magic exists in a form where it is bound by similar laws to matter and energy, but can do some things that can or can seem to defy various laws of the universe. (Such as localized gravity alteration, or turning people into newts.) However, the law of conservation of matter and energy (and magic) still holds; if you try to create something from nothing, the material will come from somewhere. Also, if there isn't enough power or magical energy backing something that "generates" material, it can quickly dissipate into its constituent particles after use.

    Magic probably came into existence in the setting when the universe did, alongside matter and energy.

    As magic exists in various forms throughout the entire universe like matter and energy, any living being can potentially have the ability to use it. However, to use it, they have to rely on mana reserves, which can become depleted. Normally, living beings have an unconscious reflex to not draw past a certain limit of their reserves, which can harm or even kill them. Like with some reflexes, however, people can train themselves out of this, which can be both beneficial and extremely dangerous to their health, as living beings require a certain amount of mana to survive.

    To replenish a living being's mana reserves, all it really needs to do is eat and drink, as amounts will most likely be contained in almost anything. However, this can take time, so if someone is using a lot of magic, they may need to resort to using things like more concentrated potions.

    I'm thinking that mana, the substance behind magic in this setting, may actually be a little in between matter and energy as it's normally used in an incorporeal form, but can condense into solid form, like liquid and crystals. However, I'm still not sure exactly HOW it operates, yet. I guess I could say that it's... magical, then? Heh.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2015
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  13. Seacliff

    Seacliff RPG Maker Mastermind Veteran

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    Personally, I like the Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright route:

    After spending so much time on the rights and wrongs of learning magic, it turns out that magic never existed in the first place. It's all staged.
    It may not be in the game I'm currently working on, but I would love to use that as a plot twist.
     
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  14. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    In the game universe I'm using for several of my games, the ability to use magic is a rare, innate trait (one in several hundred people), and usually manifests in the ability to control a single element (like fire, flora, or time).  The body's cells naturally create mana of a certain type, and that mana flows in the mage's body until expended.  This tends to color one's physical and personality traits, as well - wind mages are more often than not fast of foot and flighty of heart, flora mages healthy and inexorably drawn to nature, time mages seemingly disconnected from the world around them.

    "Spells" are simply patterns you might use - in theory a chronomancer could manipulate time (or any related phenomenon) in any way they could imagine, as long as they have enough understanding and magical power to do so. 

    A mage can strengthen and refine their abilities by gaining in-depth understanding of the element they have power over, as well as through repeated use of their magic.  However, some choose not to strengthen their magical powers at all, since a strong magical aura makes it more obvious that someone is a mage, and in a world where magic makes you "different" and "powerful", there are a lot of people that will see you as threatening.  This can make it hard to find success or friends in mundane society, and in some places it's not unheard of for scared, angry mobs to gather and try to kill a suspected mage.

    ===

    Anyhow, that's how magic works in my universe.  You mentioned you were looking for ways to make it so that everyone could theoretically use magic, but in practice few are good at it.

    One route you could go is that certain character traits (purity of heart, creativity, determination, or true faith) are what unlock one's magical potential - I think Star Wars uses such a mythos with "the force", and MAR definitely alludes to these character traits empowering Ginta as well.  Several religions use similar ideas (sometimes substituting salvation for magic), and while I don't want to act as if important religious teachings were just the things of fairy tales, I do think there's room to be inspired by religious beliefs when crafting a story!

    Another way you could go with it is that magic is not perfectly understood and therefore, even if powers are present in everybody, only people with a talent and affinity for it (and even then, only people that work hard at it) can perform significant magical feats.  A Certain Scientific Railgun does a really good job crafting such a world, and I mostly get this vibe from Harry Potter too, if you only look at the magical community and ignore the muggles.

    One final route you could go is to make magic something that most people can do if they train for years.  The Naruto universe seems to imply that anyone can become a (fairly) skilled ninja if they learn the art for several years (and survive long enough to do so).  Some are naturally predisposed to be better than others, especially if they have bloodline powers, but most ninja arts are things that can be learned.  Of course, since society needs a lot more than just ninja to function, 99% of people have pursued other, more mundane activities.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2015
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  15. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    I think I've decided to take the easy way out (doh), where magic comes from an actual substance (similar to materia system).  However, it still takes talent / intelligence / experience to harness it effectively, so this accomplishes my goal of "everyone can use it, but few are good with it."

    I really like that idea of cells producing types of mana, though.
     
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  16. CrazyCrab

    CrazyCrab Veteran Veteran

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    In my current universe, magic is a side effect of countless nukes that broke space and time, meaning that it's essentially chaos in it's purest form. There is no 'good' magic, or healing magic. Magic always destroys, destabilizes and goes against life. Using magic is essentially 'gaming the system', or noticing the cracks left behind by the bombs and then increasing them in size or gathering some wandering heat in one spot, causing an explosion. 

    Few beings can use magic, and those that can are usually mad or on their way there from the exposure. The only ones that can use it safely are pureblood humans, those that were present at the time when all the bombs went off. Most other mages are 1st generation mutants, and anything younger than that is very unlikely to be ever able to harness magic.
     
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  17. Zurea

    Zurea Alchemist in Training Veteran

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    In my current game 'Magic' is more complex as it breaks into multiple areas, There are 3 types of 'Magic' They're based on who/what uses them. Essence is used by living creatures like animals, humanoids and so on, it itself is a living creature that resides between the worlds and grants people in a world its power. Monsters in the world use an emotion based 'magic' called Malice as they're artificial life-forms they don't have access to the world's essence. The 3rd is natural, in rare occasions the planet defends itself and uses a natural type of essence that is natural to that world. Essence and Malice tends to pool in areas and creates shards of elemental memories which can be equipped by most people to learn spells they normally couldn't learn called 'shards'(not getting into that part yet.). As stated Essence and Malice is all elemental, both following the rules of elements as they carry a charge for one of the 12 elements. Each element falls within a category of  'White' or 'Black'. 


    For example Fire essence and Ice essence are enemies even though they're both essence, Ice element falls into the 'White' category and Fire into the 'Black'. This doesn't mean 'White' is support and 'Black' damages, it just means where the element's focus tends to land. Fire tends to be destructive and there for is 'Black' though it does have healing spells too. Where as Ice usually builds up and makes massive structures, it can also be a force of destruction, because its slow moving and tends to need to be thought through it falls into the 'White' category. The base to the story uses this system as Essence is the enemy of Malice and seeks to drive it from the world while Malice is like a parasite, corrupting and twisting the world.


    I know its not a very simple understanding, but its not supposed to be. The main thing to remember is that 'magic' is divided and is a living creature of its own. One decides who wields it while the other controls and corrupts things to its will.
     
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  18. Jeysonmcfly

    Jeysonmcfly Just a random Joe Schmoe Veteran

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    In my game, magic is yet to really be discovered unless through rituals and incantations, including curses. As such, there is only dark magic. However, the main villain seeks to bring magic to the world to aid in his goal of starting a world war that will bring so-called world peace. Now, since there is no inherent magic in anyone, science is this world's magic. As such, it would only be fair to have an alchemy system in my game, as as such, there is. So with that, this first chapter of my game series, I shall recap that there is no natural magic, and that science reigns supreme, at least for now.
     
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  19. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    The game I am currently working on is firmly set in celtic mythology. There are two conditions to magic. First off, it is drawn from the environment, from a naturally occuring energy I call aether. Secondly, magic (or glamour, in my universe) is an aptitude of the fae. It is generally unusable by humans. There are three ways for a human to become a magic-user: 1) having some amount of fae blood, have a fae parent somewhere in your genealogy, 2) having been turned by having passed some time in a particularly aether-rich environment (generally Arcadia, or the underworld, the fae's world) or 3) having been touched by a fae, i.e. a dying fae decided to merge its spirit with your soul in order to survive in a way. Since magic is something of the fae and they are organised in courts, one has a stronger affinity with a certain type of glamour.


    Anyway, I could say more but this should give you a rough idea :)
     
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  20. Chrispy

    Chrispy Veteran Veteran

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    @LaFlibuste That's similar to an idea of mine that is pretty similar in many ways. Humans were able to use magic naturally by drawing mana from the environment around them. An event happened in the recent past that prevented humans from using magic unless they were descended from or blessed by a fairy. One other way to gain the ability to use magic again in my idea is a little dark, and it involves consuming the flesh of a magic user. Magical creatures are hunted pretty much to extinction, and there are groups out there that capture and sacrifice more, intelligent species.
     
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