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Solus Magus

Magical Systems

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Hey there. I'm a huge fan of magic and there are a lot of examples from different shows, movies, books, manga, anime and comics. But establishing a magic system can be quite challenging. I've read a bit on Sanderson's Law of Magic plus a discussion on "soft" and "hard" magic systems.

In a nutshell, soft systems are often ambiguous. There's that mystical vibe and the logic behind it is unexplained and magical. On the other side, hard magic systems have established rules and can have a bit of predictability. They're a bit realistic to the point that you'll know if the author broke his own rule just to further the plot of the story.

Here are some examples of soft and hard systems:

Soft - Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Song of Ice and Fire, Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars

Hard - Mistborne, Wheel of Time, Avatar the Last Airbender, Full Metal Alchemist

Maybe I can have some thoughts on these things from you guys? Or maybe let's categorize systems from pop culture of they're soft or hard. (No pun intended LOL)

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Either is fine as long as they're consistent.  A hard ruleset that is suddenly broken is one of the few things that will make me stop reading a story.

You can also have a story that starts off looking like a soft system, but then gradually reveals the rules as the story progresses.

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There are a lot of books and resources out there for World Building.  Magic systems get a great deal of focus.

My biggest takeaway from reading all of that stuff is that whatever you do, your magic system must have a consistent set of operational rules.  Even if those rules are explained to your reader.  You can even build in a great big cheat if you want... say the rule is "Any time you use magic, a random event (good or bad), happens near by."  You can use that sort of rule to create a great deal of comedy.  And random event scales with power used.  Bringing someone back from the dead, might bring them back and then start a zombie apocalypse because it also raised a handful more dead then intended.

A website like World Anvil gives you a lot of prompts and it has a lot of resources on World Building.  Their YouTube Channel runs different topics and gives you pros and cons of different methods.  All very handy.

On your list of different magic systems, you left out one of the hard rules systems... Dungeon and Dragons/Pathfinder/Cypher System.

Generally speaking, Dungeons and Dragons magic rules tend to underlie magic in my worlds.

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12 hours ago, Fae Briona said:

Either is fine as long as they're consistent.  A hard ruleset that is suddenly broken is one of the few things that will make me stop reading a story.

You can also have a story that starts off looking like a soft system, but then gradually reveals the rules as the story progresses.

This actually makes sense. It's not quite practical to dump the rules all at once all at the beginning. I think it's a more logical route to make the lore expand along with the progress of the plot without breaking inconsistency. And yeah, that's kind of my pet peeve as well. The 'deus ex machina' trope can be quite annoying. There are a lot of shows wherein the protagonist simply get to break the hard set of rules due an emotional power up lol. I couldn't help but cringe every time!

I think it's only allowable if there is decent foreshadowing that emotions do strengthen the character. But to break natural laws is kind of iffy.

9 hours ago, Myr said:

There are a lot of books and resources out there for World Building.  Magic systems get a great deal of focus.

My biggest takeaway from reading all of that stuff is that whatever you do, your magic system must have a consistent set of operational rules.  Even if those rules are explained to your reader.  You can even build in a great big cheat if you want... say the rule is "Any time you use magic, a random event (good or bad), happens near by."  You can use that sort of rule to create a great deal of comedy.  And random event scales with power used.  Bringing someone back from the dead, might bring them back and then start a zombie apocalypse because it also raised a handful more dead then intended.

A website like World Anvil gives you a lot of prompts and it has a lot of resources on World Building.  Their YouTube Channel runs different topics and gives you pros and cons of different methods.  All very handy.

On your list of different magic systems, you left out one of the hard rules systems... Dungeon and Dragons/Pathfinder/Cypher System.

Generally speaking, Dungeons and Dragons magic rules tend to underlie magic in my worlds.

Right right! I really think that the user's weaknesses and unintended consequences of using powers make the plot more interesting than the strengths. It should always be a double-edged sword or something. 

Hmm. I should really take a look at that World Anvil closer. It's still quite confusing for me. I guess I'm just not quite used to it yet. For the meantime, I'm using Scrivener to compile all of my notes on the world I'm building. It took years of research and absorbing information from different genres to create dynamics. It's really hard to proceed with the plot without establishing a set of rules for the world. It might bite me in the arse later on! lol.

I really really wanna learn D&D. It's the mother of all RPG that we enjoy right now. But sadly, it's not really thing here in our culture. Looking for players can be quite challenging. :(

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10 hours ago, Solus Magus said:

I really really wanna learn D&D. It's the mother of all RPG that we enjoy right now. But sadly, it's not really thing here in our culture. Looking for players can be quite challenging.

There are a bunch of online options now, especially since many places can't meet in person.  I haven't used them myself, but there are links on World Anvil to online RPG gaming options.

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4 hours ago, Myr said:

There are a bunch of online options now, especially since many places can't meet in person.  I haven't used them myself, but there are links on World Anvil to online RPG gaming options.

I also heard that it takes long hours depending on the campaign. More than 12hrs? Not sure. But dang, that's literally a pain in the butt.

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