World Building Part 13: Magic

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Howdy! Another Monday and another World Building blog! I know, sometimes I amaze myself with how much detail one can possibly go into. And while some of it may overlap, I’d rather overlap than miss something. Today we’re going to talk about magic, so let’s get started!

Who Has It?

Who possesses magic in your world? Everyone? A select few? Every tenth person? It can go either way or have other factors determining who possesses magic. In my own world, Alperin, only select races possess magic. The elves, the dragons, and the fae. Any humans who possess magic have the blood of those races somewhere down the family line. In Anne Coffer’s book, Edge of Ridiculous (sorry but I’ve read it recently and I’ll use examples probably from here on out XD), magic is a natural resource like air that’s accessible to everyone, but they have to learn how to channel it properly.

Someone doesn’t have to be born with magic. They could have access to a magical item or it’s learned like any other skill. Determine who has magic or magical capabilities in your world. If anyone does.

Tolerance

Once you know who has magic, is it accepted? Whoever possesses magic can determine that, and vice versa. For example, if only the followers of EVILE GOD MAN THING have magic, then that would make anyone in the normal realm suspicious if they too have magic. Association is an important influence on acceptance. If in the history of your world only evil people wield magic, or in turn only good, it can affect how society perceives and accepts/rejects it. In DB:C, which takes place in the Draak Empire, only the dragons are allowed to possess and use magic. Anyone else who does is tried for heresy because of their suspicions of fae spies.

Authority

Who is the authority on magic? Who determines laws? Who determines if magic users are outcasts or welcome heroes? Who in the religious houses and government determine what magic users can and cannot do? Who’s in charge? In Harry Potter you have the Ministry of Magic. It makes sense for there to be an authority on magic practices and laws as there would for any other branch of government and laws. Is it a council? A group of elders? A single worshiped figure? Is it exclusively magic users or non-magic users? Is it a mixture of both for the sake of variety in points of view?

Schools Of Magic

When I say schools of magic I don’t mean the literal institutions (although that does come later), but the different types of magic. Take a look at the way Skyrim divides magic schools. I quite like there being a focus on specific types of magic. It’s realistic for there to be different types of magic just as there are different types of everything else. It can depend on the individual. Even if you don’t name specific schools, you can have a broad spectrum of variety. Such as destruction, healing, and manipulation. For each school there’s likely a place of learning, books, artifacts, teachers, etc. And there can even be division within the school itself. For example, in the school of destruction there could be a divide between those who believe in using fire spells to destroy their enemies while others only argue fire should be used to save lives in the winter. Are there schools of magic that are forbidden? Like necromancy?

Teachers

Who qualifies to teach magic? If it’s a radical concept is it just Jim Bob down the street who’s dabbled in healing most of his life? Is there a school they graduate from? Are there degrees? Are there master/apprentice relationships? Do magic users go rogue and learn for themselves? If magic is present in everyone then magic would likely be a subject included in the curriculum of the current education system you have set up in your world.

Institutions

If magic is acceptable, what kind of schools are there? At what age do young students begin to learn? Is there a safety concern? This can affect how young or old someone is when they learn magic. And where do they start? What kind of curriculum do they have? If you wait too late to teach someone magic it can get out of control, but due to the nature of magic if they start too young they might could hurt themselves or someone else.

Besides places of learning, what establishments are there? Where does the authority on magic meet up? Is there a government building for it? An office? Is there Jane’s Wizard Emporium where you can rent out magic services? Is there a group of old lady mages who fly around saving the world from mayhem? Where’s their secret layout?

Laws

If there’s an authority on magic there are laws. In fact if there is no authority on magic there are no doubt laws. If magic exists there’s going to be laws made about it. Whether the laws are to forbid magic or to tone down its uses you need to determine what laws there are, who made them, where they fit into your governmental structure, and how it affects everyday people as well as those they’re meant for.

Let’s also not forget that there are laws at the local, state/province/regional, and national level. Depending on your world’s borders and government they’ll extend beyond that. In one town it may be okay to use magic to heal while in another it’s punishable with a fine.

Laws Of Magic

I’m not repeating myself! When I think laws of magic I think of laws of physics. “A physical law or scientific law is a theoretical statement “inferred from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present.”–Wikipedia. There’s a limit to almost everything and magic is no exception. What are the laws of magic and their limits?

Can magic make someone fall in love? Or only lust? Can the human body only take so much magic use before it’s torn to shreds? Can a mage who’s gifted in fire in the school of destruction manipulate only existing fire? Or can they call it from the air? Laws of magic basically equates to limits of magic. And there will be limits. For the average person at least.

How Is It Conducted?

How do the vessels of your magic conduct it? Do they recite spells in a specific language? Can changing the slightest inflection or accent change the spell? Do they have conduits to focus their magic such as wands? Do they have to do hand gestures? Is it a combination of these things?

If you do decide that they focus their magic through conduits, remember it doesn’t have to be a wand. Wands are traditional and hella cool and even their design makes sense as they come out to a point from the hand. It’s natural to use our hands as direction, especially if you’re directing a force from within yourself. You could use gloves, or rings, staves in place of a wand. If you’re feeling slightly comical there’s always the option of having it focus out of another part of the body…such as the nose. XD

Artifacts

Magic isn’t just limited to people. There are magical artifacts scattered throughout real history and more so in the history of fantasy worlds. The Nazis were obsessed with finding and using magical artifacts during their height of power. In D&D there are entire parts of manuals talking about magical artifacts. Consider what those artifacts could be. Would they be obvious and shining and shimmering with power? Or would they be ordinary objects? Do the artifacts serve as the source of magic power or simply amplify the user’s capabilities? Are the artifacts intelligent? Where did they come from? Who made them? What purpose do they serve? An example of what could be considered a magical artifact is the one ring from the Lord of the Rings. Can anyone use the item? Or does it have to be someone with knowledge of magic? Can a hapless hobbit come across it in a cave and change the fate of the world with it?

Something else to consider, can animals use magic? If so, is it limited by their intelligence? Is it a second nature to them? Does the fox put thought into her ability to turn invisible, or is it a conscience decision?

Texts

I think what I mean is obvious here, but still consider what sort of texts you have on the subject of magic. Are they accurate? Who wrote them? What makes that person an authority? Are there forbidden texts? Are some required for school? Is the book an artifact itself?

Deities & Origin Of Magic

You may already have a god/goddess of magic. If not, consider the religious structure of your world and determine what unearthly force may drive magic. Or magic can be a natural resource like in Anne’s book. Basically answer the question: Where does magic come from?

Until Next Time…

For some reason I’m having trouble thinking clearly, so as a warning I might edit and add more to this post later. Until then, however, I hope it’s helpful in further fleshing out your world. When will these world building posts stop? NEVER! Although seriously I still have more ideas and details for us to go into. I imagine by the time we’re all done with these you’ll have a lively, realistic, and three dimensional world. I hope! ❤ Until next time!

Dragon Bloode: Covet is out everywhere ebooks are sold.