Author Topic: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games  (Read 6577 times)

Offline veekie

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Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« on: November 13, 2011, 02:12:45 PM »
Been thinking, what magic systems(more formal than 'Its Magic!') do you know of?

What can they do?
What are the limitations?
What is the cost to use it?
What do you need to use it?
How do they do it?
How do you get it?

I'd open up with a few here. Some spoilers involved of course.
Source: Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
Magic: Channeling
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Source: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Magic: Allomancy
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Source: Exalted by White Wolf
Magic: Charms
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Source: To Aru Majutsu Index manga/anime/light novel
Magic: Magic
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Just curious what else is out there.

Quote from: SneeR
Does it need to be a fictional source?

Throughout history in many cultures across the world, necromancy, communing with the dead in order to tell the future, has been practiced.

One method is throwing the bones of ancestors into fires. The way the bones cracked told you a story, much like tarot.


Also, I can't paint myself very familiar with it, but voodoo curses seem to require only hatred for someone, a focus like a doll or shrunken head, and material components in the form of herbs with spiritual significance. That would let you pass unluck to the person, as well as directly cause injury.
Mythical ones apply as well(see thread title), but I don't fancy myself being familiar enough with most of those to deal with them until I'm sure nobody better's going to show up. :)

Theres western Hermetic magic, witchcraft, ley lines, feng shui, norse rune magic, dozens of ways to divine the future and/or get laid(these were a major priority for magicians in the past), etc.
Quote from: Prime32
Theres western Hermetic magic, witchcraft, ley lines, feng shui, norse rune magic, dozens of ways to divine the future and/or get laid(these were a major priority for magicians in the past), etc.
Well modern magic rituals seem to be primarily DIY psychotherapy based on willing suspension of disbelief. Plenty of older systems seem to follow the same lines.
I'm thinking more along the lines of what sources can be used as inspiration for a game mechanic, inflated or not. Hermetic and Taoist alchemy both work similarly for example(though some of the Taoist myths have some claims of discovering immortality while working with the ingredients of gunpowder and 'bodily ascended to heaven'), with a lot of early chemistry, poisons, psychoactive substances and explosives.

Got any good ones from your area?
Quote from: Prime32
Source: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Magic: Bending
(click to show/hide)


I'm thinking more along the lines of what sources can be used as inspiration for a game mechanic, inflated or not.
Well, this stuff can still be used as inspiration. All the wands, rituals, hexagrams, etc. generally have no actual power in themselves, they just help the user get in the mood.
So you could have a form of magic where placing self-imposed restrictions on your casting ability ("I am a fire mage, I cannot cast water spells") makes your spells stronger due to your faith in your system.

Got any good ones from your area?
Only the druids. By which I mean the modern-day guys who travel to Newgrange twice a year, because no one knows what the original druids were like.
Quote from: Ikeren
David Farland: The Runelords
Magic: Runes
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Magic_%28Runelords%29
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Anne Bishop: The Black Jewels
Magic: Gemstone magic

(click to show/hide)

Gemstone magic is done a lot; RA Salvatore does it in...a spinoff series with a name I forget.
Oh yes, gemstones are inherently shiny and magic-like.

Source: The Way of Kings from the Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson
Magic: Soulcasting
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Can think of a couple of mythical systems that uses gems(or at least crystal) as well.
Quote from: Prime32
Source: Full Metal Alchemist
Magic: Alchemy
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The details of alchemy vary between the anime and manga (the latter being divided into Western alchemy and Eastern alkahestry), so only the common aspects are listed.

Source: Slayers (http://kanzaka.wikia.com/wiki/Magic)
Magic: Black, Holy, Shamanistic and White Magic
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^^
Alchemy there obeys Conservation of Mass for the transmuted substance, the price should be the energy difference. Also the source of the energy is
(click to show/hide)
Quote from: Prime32
^^
Alchemy there obeys Conservation of Mass for the transmuted substance, the price should be the energy difference. Also the source of the energy is
(click to show/hide)
(click to show/hide)
^^
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 03:24:26 PM by veekie »
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Offline Mooncrow

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2011, 02:41:00 PM »
Rachel Aaron's Legend of Eli Monpress
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C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy
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Gordon Dickson's The Dragon and the George series
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Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea
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Offline veekie

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2011, 06:49:56 PM »
Any details on their capabilities, limitations and requirements?
Everything is edible. Just that there are things only edible once per lifetime.
It's a god-eat-god world.

Procrastination is the thief of time; Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves; The vast concerns of an eternal scene.

Offline Mooncrow

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2011, 04:23:07 PM »
Any details on their capabilities, limitations and requirements?

They'll take some time to write up, as most of them are fairly detailed and complex, but I'll try. 

Offline Bozwevial

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2011, 05:43:32 PM »
Oh, why not. I have a few minutes to kill.

Source: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.
Magic: Magic.
(click to show/hide)
That ought to do for a rough outline.
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Offline veekie

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2011, 05:53:49 PM »
Ooo, right, Harry Potter.

I think their herb and potion stuff probably could count as their own systems, as does enchanting objects(they do a lot of that, given that even their pictures are animated for no reason)
Any details on their capabilities, limitations and requirements?

They'll take some time to write up, as most of them are fairly detailed and complex, but I'll try. 
All the more fun that way.
Everything is edible. Just that there are things only edible once per lifetime.
It's a god-eat-god world.

Procrastination is the thief of time; Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves; The vast concerns of an eternal scene.

Offline Bozwevial

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2011, 06:37:29 PM »
Ooo, right, Harry Potter.

I think their herb and potion stuff probably could count as their own systems, as does enchanting objects(they do a lot of that, given that even their pictures are animated for no reason)
You can make an animated photo just by developing it in the right potions and even someone with no magical experience can brew a potion as long as they're good with the directions, so I guess that'd be separate from the various magical skills.
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Offline Libertad

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 01:00:00 AM »
Source: 1,001 Arabian Nights
Magic: Magic

Method: Special rituals, objects, and verbal invocations; magic is separated into "domains," representing concepts like "fire"
Acquisition: Pacts with otherworldly beings, such as genies, demons, and fallen angels
Abilities: Can shapechange into animals, do the same to others; teleportation, lift entire castles and mountains into the air; manipulate the elements, cure the sick, bestow and remove curses, bind genies and make them perform services and grant wishes, imbue items with extraordinary abilities (magic carpet, spyglass that can see anywhere)
Limitations: Your power is not your own, and your patron can take it away.  Learning certain domains is highly dangerous (only the greatest of mages can master the domain of fire without burning from the inside out).  Magic is generally seen as evil or heretical by the orthodox clergy and society in general.  Of course, this didn't prevent some characters from using the services of a magician to do good.  Then again, many heroes in the Nights weren't devout, law-abiding Muslims.
Cost: Unknown, although some forms of magic need a physical object to achieve the desired effect.

Note: I haven't read all 1,001 tales, so there may be some elements I missed.  Hope you don't mind that I used your template, Veekie!
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 12:23:25 PM by Libertad »

Offline veekie

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 01:33:47 AM »
The template's cool, though if you kept the bolding it'd be a bit easier to read :)

Weren't the magic to move very large objects basically binding whole legions of Jinn to do the lifting?
Everything is edible. Just that there are things only edible once per lifetime.
It's a god-eat-god world.

Procrastination is the thief of time; Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves; The vast concerns of an eternal scene.

Offline archangel.arcanis

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 10:58:03 AM »
For the Wheel of Time Channeling system there are some drawbacks you missed. First is the need to embrace/sieze. If you aren't already holding the power then it takes time to grab it and use it, unlike most magic systems where it doesn't matter. The second item is addiction and burning out. Anyone who uses the One Power has some level of euphoria while holding the power and they always want to try and pull in more, eventually you surpass your own limits and burn out. I'll toss in the Yin to the One Power's Yang and that is the True Power. It is used by both sexes equally but is only usable by the highest servants of the Dark One (the evil god of the setting for those who are unfamiliar). If the One Power is a recreational drug then the True Power is worse than crack in how addictive it is.

Offline Libertad

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 12:24:44 PM »
The template's cool, though if you kept the bolding it'd be a bit easier to read :)

Weren't the magic to move very large objects basically binding whole legions of Jinn to do the lifting?

I believe so.  King Solomon was a wizard king who probably did this kind of stuff.  He was a pretty smart summoner: using bound demons to scout out areas for dangerous traps and enemies before going there himself.  Sounds just like a D&D Wizard!
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 02:00:28 PM by Libertad »

Offline veekie

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2011, 01:40:42 PM »
For the Wheel of Time Channeling system there are some drawbacks you missed. First is the need to embrace/sieze. If you aren't already holding the power then it takes time to grab it and use it, unlike most magic systems where it doesn't matter. The second item is addiction and burning out. Anyone who uses the One Power has some level of euphoria while holding the power and they always want to try and pull in more, eventually you surpass your own limits and burn out. I'll toss in the Yin to the One Power's Yang and that is the True Power. It is used by both sexes equally but is only usable by the highest servants of the Dark One (the evil god of the setting for those who are unfamiliar). If the One Power is a recreational drug then the True Power is worse than crack in how addictive it is.
Well, burning out, once you have control over your use of the power, is very rare, since its painful to even hold that much power. Most of it is accidental(experimenting with the Power or objects of Power may generate a self-severing weave), but the couple of cases where people do burn out seems intentional and violent overstraining.

As for the addictive aspect, the True Power warrants that, but the One Power, as an always available supply with few ill effects, isn't exactly a cost or restriction. Just a speedbump to learning it.

I should add a note on the 'draw up' time though. Would you say its about as fast as drawing a weapon? Drawing power is common to a lot of settings, especially with violent dynamic magic(off hand I can see it in Wheel of Time, Trudi Canavan's Age of the Five(I should make a post on this sometime) and Dresden Files).
Everything is edible. Just that there are things only edible once per lifetime.
It's a god-eat-god world.

Procrastination is the thief of time; Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves; The vast concerns of an eternal scene.

Offline Libertad

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2011, 01:47:56 PM »
Source: Dragon Age
Magic: Magic

Method: Physical gestures and verbal incantations, and possibly physical objects, are necessary to cast a spell.
Acquisition: Some people are born with a special connection to the Fade, and thus can use magic.
Abilities: Manipulate elements, heal, create items, make portals into the Fade (theoretically possible, but hasn't been done since ancient Tevinter), summon demons, shapechange, mind control (Blood magic), enhance physical and mental prowess
Limitations: Mages need a certain amount of mana to cast spells.  The body recovers mana over time, while lyrium potions can speed up the recovery rate.  Lyrium dust is required for the super-powerful stuff.  Blood is necessary for blood magic.  Demons are attracted to Mages, so there's the constant need to defend oneself against this threat.
Cost: Mana, lyrium, certain physical objects for rituals

I hope that Tabletop RPGs are permissable

Source: Deadlands (Classic and Savage Worlds)
Magic: Mad Science, Shamanism, Martial Arts, Sorcery, Miracles
Method: Certain rituals and focus bring forth magic (bless preacher invokes wrath of God, shaman calls upon spirit for aid, martial artists uses chi)
Acquisition: Some people are born with sensitivity to the Hunting Grounds (Spirit World) and gain their powers from this plane of existence.
Abilities: Usually varies by the discipline.  Prophecy, element manipulation, mind control, enhanced mental and physical prowess and skills, healing and flesh-warping, create small and minor items
Limitations: All disciplines use Spell Points that recover over time.  Additionally, each discipline has trappings necessary to cast a spell (mad scientists need strange devices, hucksters need to play a mental mind game with a spirit, martial artists need to direct their chi)
Recovery: Time.  Additionally, Hucksters can enter a game with a spirit.  If they win, they get spell points.  If they lose, they lose some of their own power (whether Spell Point drain or ability damage).
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 02:46:29 PM by Libertad »

Offline archangel.arcanis

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2011, 02:32:05 PM »
For the Wheel of Time Channeling system there are some drawbacks you missed. First is the need to embrace/sieze. If you aren't already holding the power then it takes time to grab it and use it, unlike most magic systems where it doesn't matter. The second item is addiction and burning out. Anyone who uses the One Power has some level of euphoria while holding the power and they always want to try and pull in more, eventually you surpass your own limits and burn out. I'll toss in the Yin to the One Power's Yang and that is the True Power. It is used by both sexes equally but is only usable by the highest servants of the Dark One (the evil god of the setting for those who are unfamiliar). If the One Power is a recreational drug then the True Power is worse than crack in how addictive it is.
Well, burning out, once you have control over your use of the power, is very rare, since its painful to even hold that much power. Most of it is accidental(experimenting with the Power or objects of Power may generate a self-severing weave), but the couple of cases where people do burn out seems intentional and violent overstraining.

As for the addictive aspect, the True Power warrants that, but the One Power, as an always available supply with few ill effects, isn't exactly a cost or restriction. Just a speedbump to learning it.

I should add a note on the 'draw up' time though. Would you say its about as fast as drawing a weapon? Drawing power is common to a lot of settings, especially with violent dynamic magic(off hand I can see it in Wheel of Time, Trudi Canavan's Age of the Five(I should make a post on this sometime) and Dresden Files).
For the addiction it is that most who have achieved a solid level of ability, Aes'sadai, are used to the desires and have it in check. However only about 1/3 of those who go to the tower reach that level. For draw up time it is hard to say. In the books some characters can draw on the power and weave in reaction to an attack but at other times it takes them a fair bit of time to draw on it. In the d20 book it was a full round action with fan made feats that cut it down some. I'd say it takes slightly longer than drawing a weapon for the average channeler as the primary examples of someone doing it quicker were Rand and the 3 wonder girls, and those 4 seem to ignore the rules whenever it would be cooler without them.

Offline archangel.arcanis

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2011, 02:33:43 PM »
Source: Dragon Age
Magic: Magic

Method: Physical gestures and verbal incantations, and possibly physical objects, are necessary to cast a spell.
Acquisition: Some people are born with a special connection to the Fade, and thus can use magic.
Abilities: Manipulate elements, heal, create items, make portals into the Fade (theoretically possible, but hasn't been done since ancient Tevinter), summon demons, shapechange, mind control (Blood magic), enhance physical and mental prowess
Limitations: Mages need a certain amount of mana to cast spells.  The body recovers mana over time, while lyrium potions can speed up the recovery rate.  Lyrium dust is required for the super-powerful stuff.  Blood is necessary for blood magic.
Cost: Mana, lyrium, certain physical objects for rituals
There is also the hazards of a demon possessing your body and all.

Offline Libertad

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2011, 02:46:44 PM »
I'll include that.  Thanks!

Offline veekie

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2011, 03:39:02 PM »
Added in the draw-up time for channeling. As for addiction, we don't really get to see it a lot, and its consequences are indirect. By my count they are:
-Holding the Power all the time. This makes Power accidents more likely, as well as heightening fatigue but also increases skill, stamina and capacity rapidly. For Saidin users, it also means corruption happens faster. Is a lesser issue because most channelers can't really hold it at any peak for long, and it takes a certain level of mental fortitude to maintain the channeling state. Ability to hold the power all the time also comes with ability to deal with holding it all the time.
-Careless use of Power. More an issue with novices, who'd try to apply the Power to everything even if they don't know the right effect to use.
-Using too much Power. Also never seen to be an issue(unless you're going mad), since as you approach your limit theres a mention of the pleasure turning to pain.
-Long term withdrawal. Only really matters if you get Severed, then you kinda die from despair.

Other than the last the rest are indirect and self limiting. Unless you're using the True Power of course.
Everything is edible. Just that there are things only edible once per lifetime.
It's a god-eat-god world.

Procrastination is the thief of time; Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves; The vast concerns of an eternal scene.

Offline SneeR

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Re: Magic systems in myth, fiction and games
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2011, 04:42:41 PM »
Source: Demon's Souls
Magic: Miracles and Magic
Method: Gesture with a focus and cast magic. Miracles are focused on healing and warding, while spells are focused on trickery and damage.
Acquisition One must be taught spells from a scholar and miracles from a priest of God. The strongest require breaking down the soul of a demon to gain (spells) or refute (miracles) the demon's powers.
Abilities: You can emulate the powers of demons, or gain wardings against them. Miracles like Second Chance let you come back to life upon death on the spot, while spells like Firestorm send pillars of flame all aroound you.
Limitations: You must have a talisman in hand to cast miracles, or a catalyst to cast spells. You must have a high enough Intelligence to learn spells, and a high enough Faith to learn any miracles. You only have so many spel slots, and each spell or miracle known occupies one or more of those spell slots.
Cost: MP runs out pretty quickly, so you need to ingest Old Spice to get your mojo back. I'm not even kidding...
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 04:44:42 PM by SneeR »
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