Archive for July, 2011

Worldbin: Magic

Ah, Magic. How does it work? Well, there are tons of explanations for it, and quite a few cop-outs. So here is a list of the most common ones, and ways to explain each of them, and expansions on them.

General Cop-Out: Entropic Manipulation

Basically, you can summon Laplace’s Demon. You make somewhere very, very cold, and use that energy to create something. i.e. you create a fireball by making the centre of the “ball” cold, and the outside hot. This is the best explanation for heat/temperature stuff. Also, it allows stuff to be created from nothing. Energy is mass, so if you cool a sufficiently large area enough, you can create stuff from nothing. This also explains why there are elemental planes. All the hot stuff goes to the plane of fire, and the cold to the plane of ice, because they are magic, or something. This can be extended – the plain of air is a very low-energy place, due to it being basically an endless sky, whilst the plane of earth is a very high-energy place, due to all the ground there. So those two planes act as buffers to stop everything spiralling out of control, as they act as two “sinks” for magic, stopping there being too much or too little. Which explains why it is so damn hard to destroy the world with a magical doomsday device.

Blood Magic

Now this is the classic “evil” magic. You kill someone to become more powerful. This does make some kind of sense. Say that all people are at least slightly magical, and that magic regenerates over time. Therefore, over a person’s lifetime, there is a maximum magic that could have used. This is the magic that you are stealing. Simple stuff. Now, of course, they may die well before their natural lifetime is up. Instead of getting the big lump sum of magic, you get the most probable amount that they would get. So you need someone young, to get more magic juice, and healthy, so that the chance that they may die is slim. That’s why they always need someone, or something hale and hearty. Secondly, blood magic is also sometimes used to heal people, or extend their natural lifespan. This operates on the same principle as the magic – you gain their most probable amount of healing that they are able to do, and this revitalises you by that amount.

True Naming

Now this is always a tricky subject, as there are two types of this. The first is that you cannot lie in that language – if you say “I am an eagle” you become  an eagle. That one’s simple. The second one is that you can make anything you know the true name of do anything you wish, with in the laws of physics, of course. Now, in the first example, you are basically talking with God’s voice, here. Think about it. It’s not going to be easy, as a syntax error can destroy the world, and will most probably take something out of you for speaking in it. You know, with great power comes horrific immolation, and all that. It is more of a crutch – you use it to give shape to the magic you use, instead of trying to do it all by yourself.

Now, for the second version, the problem with that is that everything has a true name. Say, for example that there are 50 different consonants. Say that 125 billion people have lived, and only humans have true names, and each name is different (this allows you to use ghosts and all that jazz). That means that each person have a unique name of 6 consonants, if no more people are to be born. Now you can’t just shout streams of random gibberish to use true naming, otherwise it’d be too easy, so you’ll probably have to picture who you are naming, and have some hair or skin or something – the standard fantasy staple. Remember, though, that this is just for one world, and not allowing non-sentient life. If you have a sprawling multiverse, you’ll need another consonants for every 50 worlds, depending on the amount of people that live and die in them. Also, it would be weird if everyone had the same vocal chords, wouldn’t it? So you would assume that the true name depends on the range of sounds that species could make. It would be hard to Name something that lives 20,000 leagues under the sea, or a living zeppelin, or an elemental, without extensive modification, though they would be able to Name each other.

Druidism 

This one is the standard earth/nature/hippie magic. You make flowers bloom, crops grow, and generally green the place up. If there is a big Gaia-thing in this is simple – she (it?) wants a bountiful earth, gives you some of her power, and so you go forwards and cause it to happen. If not, there needs to be some duality, as you are creating something from nothing. Although grass grows at your feet, it dies with your passing. You can cause the flowers to bloom, and crops to grow, but you are simply accelerating their lifespan, and so they die faster. It’s the “give with one hand, take with another” kind of thing – you are dedicated to balance, and both cultivate and cull. You see, just making things grow, per se, is bad for everything – the (eco)system collapses, and there is needless death and destruction. Everyone seems to forget the second part.

Possession/Divine

These two are basically the same thing, when it comes down to it. You have some hugely strong magical bloke who wants to loan out his power to people. The God gives it to his priests, and the demon/devil/whatever gives it to whomever they made the bargain with. The question that arises when this stuff happens is why don’t the gods/devils/etc do it themselves instead of delegating all the time? Firstly, if they are sufficiently powerful, they could be delegating to thousands, or for gods, millions, of people, so they need to delegate in order to do so much at the same time. Secondly, they will all be powerful. If they are powerful enough, if they leave their realm, people will notice, questions will be asked, and things will be killed. I mean, if a demon prince popped up in the material plane, how long would it be before someone took a shot at him, and an all-out war erupted? This neatly brings us to the third point – safety. If I delegate my powers, and the idiot dies, I get my magic back, and the knowledge of what he did, without ever being in danger. It makes sense to loan your power out to someone, and them collect on it later, especially if your are a demon/devil/whatever, and you are simply doing it as a relief from boredom.

Well, that’s it. I know that there are other disciplines out there, and I’ll cover them in another post, if I ever get round to it.