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lithos

My "constructions" on magic

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I've posted this around in a few places, but it's essentially my view on magic. I'd like some questions/coments/concerns/insults on it. Analyzing magic in fantasy worlds. I think that people are approaching magic somewhat incorrectly. Basically if there were a world that had magical forces humans would likely treat that as nothing more than a form of science, even if it's one that is a bit more human centric. What I'm going to attempt to do is build up a world where magic make sense in that application, culturally, developmentally, and how this would affect the world. I'm also going to admit that all four of these topics are quite large and will be focusing mostly on "rules" and how they affect the four topics. Note: I'll be analyzing high magic/fantasy, where the stuff is everywhere and anywhere. Step one We must define what magic can do: Enhancement: Enhancement magic takes properties that are already in an object and increases or decreases them. For instance a sword is sharp so you can enhancement how sharp it is. Likewise you could also take something like phosphorous which glows and enhance or worsen that property. Metaphor: Is the ability to relate an unrelated object to something else to take on those effects. For instance you could take a sphere related it to the sun/moon and cause it to glow, obviously the closer the object is to it's metaphor the easier the effect it is to trigger(gold/silver globe). Mentalism: This is the ability of living things to relate to each other through thoughts and emotions. In it's purest forms this would be similar to empathy and telepathy, feeling or thinking someone else's thoughts. Mancy (mastery): Each object has the ability to store energy potential or otherwise. Mancy is the ability to bring the energies that you want to the "front" and controlling how they are released. For instance someone could start dry wood on fire by bringing forth it's potential energy to burn. Mancy also lets the user "force" energy into objects from elsewhere, for instance adding more fire potential energy to the dry piece of wood. Conjuration: Is the ability to bring something from somewhere else to some place else without direct contact. In it's simplest form this is just moving energy around, but could go all the way up to drawing things from other planes. Spiritualism: Is the ability of contacting and communicating with spirits(including gods). These spirits essentially view the world in a completely different way. For instance a god draws energy from worship. Where as a celestial/infernal being draws energy from positive/negative feelings. They will trade effort/time/energy if they know that they can get more back of the same back. Investment: All living things have the ability to convert their energy/time to something else. For instance if you think it you could generate raw fire energy from the investment of that thought. Granted it might take a few hours for a human to "invest" enough. Now that what magic can do, it's easier to figure out how it's used. The first rule that is added is that all forms of magic must use use at least one of the above classes of magic, and likely more than one. These are the "physics" and "science" of magic for the world that's getting defined The next rule is that mortal races(and semi-mortal) cannot channel the above forms of magic in a "raw" form. They must go through a "mind set" / "school" to do so, this limits the amount of energy required for working magic, defining a simpler goal, and also limits what magic can do. A school also defines it's own rules that the caster must follow. An example would be elementalism which mixes mancy and conjuration/investment to achieve effects like bringing forth fireballs. Rule three is that all magic is caused by something(usually living) interacting with something something else. If something exists in a complete vacuum by itself it is not magical no matter what. However such a non-existence does not exist, and if it did we'd have no way to prove it did without interacting with it(obviously meaning that it's not a non-existence). Even thinking about something is considered an interaction. (Basically Magic must exist no matter what) Rule four is that all things are magical to some extent or another. Magic in this world is a raw force that always exists, much like friction or gravity. By definition this means all things can use magic to some extent or another, in practice some are just plain better than others. Rule Five magic must be able to happen by accident. Otherwise it will have never been discovered nor will it be able to advance. Optional rule six: the world does not need to know about the classes of magic, just the schools of magic. Mix and matching of classes to make schools of magic Elementalism: uses mancy with conjunction or investment shape shifting: uses a insanely strong metaphor along with various uses any other class of magic healing: uses spiritualism and conjuration or it could use enhancement, conjuration, and mancy (enhancing bodies ability to heal and giving it the energy to do so). Step two We need to look at the application of magic and how it's used. The first thing that must be said is that "Magic" is "Science", like wise "Magic" is "Technology". The natives of the world would likely be completely incapable of knowing the difference between physical sciences like our own and mystical arts, chances are they would likely use the two in conjunction with each other. Another thing that we must look at is what effect adding another "dozen" or so branches of "advancement" would do to a culture. The first thing that we need to admit is that when a culture latches onto a solution they are likely to keep that solution, develop it further, and likely not use "new" solutions as they come along. For instance if an enchanter could enhance a tree roots ability to draw enough water to produce water pressure in a piping system, such a system could easily become preferred to hydraulics, which would also mean that further down the line things like steam power would have never discovered or seriously considered(as it uses lessons learned from hydraulics). While this may not be a good example it's still an example. Another thing to consider about application is that if you're going to use the energy to summon a fireball of 5 trillion degrees, there's probably a better way to put that energy to use for something more efficient. For instance you could use half that energy to contain high pressure steam in a "grenade" and affect more people with it. It's also worth noting that there are some interesting things that could come about from being in a high magic world. Most notably some of the materials you have have access to without advanced "material sciences". Most notably exotic stuff we're just starting to research ourselves like spider silk and it's use in armor(high fantasy universes always have giant spiders). To even top that off you can even enhance materials just by using magic, you also have access to very advanced research tools in figuring out how stuff works(using some kind of third eye spell like a microscope). Step three we need to look at some cultural effects. The first thing we always see about magic is that there is a MASSIVE focus on the caster of the spell. As a matter of fact which caster you use also has an effect on magic. This means that our culture is going to be a culture that values the individual abilities a lot more than our own. As a matter of fact we could even see kings staying around in the modern era for this reason, I would also consider "kingship" a powerful "metaphor"(king is country and similar). However at the same time since there is such a focus on the individual we're also going to see the class/caste system function differently(competent can rise, incompetents die/fall quickly). Another thing we're going to see is mass production of some goods unable to take off in any form. For instance if your version of the TV is a powerfully enchanted mirror that uses mystical wiring you're not going to just mass produce it because it requires sentient energy and a skilled person somewhere along the line to charge/invest in it. Sure you'll see some mass production of products and even some amazing production like growing crops and similar, but true mass production is probably unfeasible unless you have one of those rare systems that don't use any type of magic to function(which isn't likely). Another thing to consider about magic is that with it you bring along magical races like "mer-people" and similar. This means that land that just isn't very useful to use is suddenly lucrative and trade worthy(dwarfs and underground, ect). Another thing to consider about geographical lines is that of naval battles in consideration to water dwelling races. Step four I'm going to briefly look at combat and how it's affected by the above two factors. The first thing we're going to need to look at is the fact that since magic is identical to our "math and science". That means that all soldiers will know a little bit of magic, much like how soldiers in our world know a little bit about physics and similar. The next thing I'm going to say is that weapons themselves due to the fact that the culture is much more focused on the individual's power will be much more centric on weapons of "skill". For instance I can't see many people wanting to use something like a gun(point, shoot, get a wound), nor something like a gun getting developed far enough to be battle worthy. Another thing to consider with gun like weapons would be that with a little bit of magic tampering the whole thing becomes useless(a bad club). This means that for people with minimal magical experience the favored type of weapon will be something that's useful even without any enchantments(or moving parts) on it(IE sword and shield). Another thing to consider is the fact that since a sword is more "iconic" in the human mind that means that it becomes easier to enchant than a gun and a few dozen bullets. Likewise an enchantment on a sword would be easier to defend from magical tinkering as a person wielding is more likely to see it in a personal light. It's also worth noting that the battlefield will be very varied. This comes from the fact that if you're only using "electrical" type attacks in a unit the enemy magicians can enhance their defenses to work against that, to top that off they wouldn't need to use a supply line they would just need people who know how to work those properties in order to enhance their defenses. Another interesting thing to consider is that everything will be enchanted to some extent or another. For instance a soldier believing that he will not get hit makes it more likely to be so(investment). So this means that the battlefield becomes pretty interesting because there's not just "visible" magic flying around, there's all sorts of instinctive magic hovering over the field and interacting with everything else. Especially considering "Magic must be able to happen by accident". With the above things in consideration that means that even a "modern" magical battlefield will likely have quite a few people prepared for close combat, even if it's not their primary weapon. [Edited by - lithos on December 6, 2009 6:41:52 AM]

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This is a nice breakdown of how magic might actually "work".

I've often thought about how magic might be combined with technology and how relatively few works of fiction even consider this possibility in any depth.

Other potential ideas include machines which can greatly focus, store or aggregate this magical energy

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