Category: Writing, Reading
Both of my WIPs have an element of magic in them, The Gifted more so than the other (will it ever have a title?). In The Gifted, the magic is limited only by the individual weilding it and not a lot of people can. The thing about magic – the thing that really makes it pop – is its side effects. To create a truly believable magic system there need to be a set standard of limitations as well as consequences to using it.
Lets take a look at a well known fantasy series where the magic system is well thought out: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. There will be spoilers so if you haven’t read it, be warned.
|Book 1 in the series.|
In the beginning of the series, only women are allowed to use magic. There is a “taint” on the male side of the magic that causes them to go mad if they use it. For this reason any man with the ability to use the magic is cut off from the source of their magic or killed because they have powers. For the women of the world, they go through years of training in the use of their magic before they are allowed to use it without supervision… That is, if they survive the ability to access the source of their magic for the first time. Usually, they don’t unless with older women who have. (Men suffer from this as well.)
The use of magic can be dangerous. If one of them try to hold too much of the source of their powers, they can be burned out and never able to use magic again or killed from it. Every person is different in how much magical power they hold.
Something happens in the plot of this series though where we get to see first hand just how unstable men become when they use magic… We also get to see the taint on the male side of the magic source cured by magic. (Although, any madness that started before the cure is still there.)
As you can see, Robert Jordan created a magical system with limitation and consequences, and what I’ve explained doesn’t even do it justice.
If you create a world with magic, don’t allow this magic to save the day. If it can create tension within the story without being used as a fix-all then you are on your way to a believable magic system.