PDA

View Full Version : Poke some holes, or just ask a few questions, please!



Foeofthelance
2009-07-18, 08:19 PM
I'm working out a world for a new story, and part of that involves developing the system of magic that the world operates under. Trying to make it coherent (especially when there are three different sources and five different schools) is a bit of a challenge, and would rather have people scratch their heads now then when I get it typed up and printed out. So here goes!

----------------

Schools of Magic in the Arcane University story-lines

Wizardry- Wizardry is the result of Eastern and Western attempts to manifest control over the Well, the primal source of all magic. It is very similar in nature to science, in that following scripted procedures will produce a scripted result, with the only variation being the amount of power being drawn from the Well according to the individual wizard's ability.

Shamanism- Shamans draw the energy to fuel their magic from the living things around them, whether willingly or unwillingly. (Power freely given is much more valuable than power stolen, as stealing power also requires breaking the bonds that held it to the source.) As such, the average shaman keeps some sort of familiar or pet as an extra "battery", as drawing power from plants always requires stealing it. (Plants aren't sentient, and thus don't recognize what they are being asked. There are a few exceptions to this rule, based on size and age, but few plants reach that point.) Two shamans may conduct a ritual in the exact same manner, and still produce radically different results, based on what the Shaman's intents were at the time of the ritual.

Technomancy- Technomancy is similar to wizardry in that it relies on power being drawn out of the Well in order to function, but is really much closer to normal technology. Potion making falls under this category, as do most artifacts. Technomancers require some medium in order to channel their powers. They can't throw a fireball, but they make swell grenades...

Vodun- Vodun falls somewhere between wizardry and shamanism. Its practitioners rely a series of highly stylized rituals to communicate with the various "other" spirits that inhabit this reality. They do not actively draw power from any one source of power, as most of their effects are generated as a result of the spirits (which do draw from a power source, but on their own levels.) Often a spirit will require some payment or equal service, but some build actual relationships with their summoners.

Necromancy- Little enough is known about the rules governing necromancy, other than that it draws on the powers trapped behind the shroud of death when a living being passes. Necromancy had its highest points back during the rise of ancient Egypt and her cohorts, but fell heavily during the last few centuries of the Roman Empire, and what little remained was almost entirely obliterated by the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition, at least as far as Western magic users are concerned. There are a few areas in Asia where it is still somewhat acknowledged, but many magic users find necromancy to be a distasteful practice, and frown on anyone who uses it. Several organizations have been established with the sole intent of wiping it out entirely, and the rise of modern technology has made their task even easier...



The Sources of Power-

The Well is the original source point of all things, and its opening was in fact what caused the Big Bang. The primary source of most magic users, it also has the easiest to access once one knows how. Most magic users to believe the Well is infinite in depth, though there are a few who are coming to doubt this belief as magic seemingly grows weaker with the passing centuries. All energy returns here once used to fuel a spell.

Nature is, well, nature. All life requires energy of some sort, and this energy can be tapped into by all living things. (Life itself is a grand ritual that draws energy out of the Well. This is why all things need to eat, breathe, etc. It also produces just enough energy to support life.) Natural energy was in fact the first form of magic to be tapped into, as they were already using it to live. Magic users did not begin to be able to access the Well until they started gathering together and sharing the information on their particular rituals and experiments.

Necromantic energy is the result of life not quite being as eternal as the Well. All living things continue to harness energy from the Well until their moment of death, and not all of that energy is necessarily used. But once a creature dies that energy remains trapped, as living things do not interact well with the dead. Only once the energy is freed (generally by using it in some manner) can it then be returned to the Well to start the entire cycle once more. Unfortunately, the dearth of necromancers in recent years has meant more and more energy has remained trapped behind the Death barrier as living things are born, age, and die.


Flow of Energy

Well---> Life---> Death---> Well

The Dark Fiddler
2009-07-18, 08:43 PM
So Vodun is essentially a Medium; talking to/gaining help from ghosts (spirits)?

And if your story is to be published, are you ready for people to claim your story is corrupting their children into joining the occult? :smalltongue:

I don't really see too any problems with it, but I've come to expect myself to miss things when reviewing stuff.

Foeofthelance
2009-07-18, 09:45 PM
Its a fantasy story that once written will probably end up in the Young Adult/Children's section. (The only question to that is how much gunplay gets involved in this. I freely admit to getting the idea after my girlfriend asked why there weren't any American Harry Potter students, and started to wonder what I would do differently. So the school has a military base next door for a cover story. I expect there to be some shootings, but only at inhuman monsters/undead things.) So yeah, I will probably end up ticking off someones with this. Right now I'm just trying to make sure that the magic system is both understandable and not too contradictory.

And yeah, Vodun is primarily channeling/summoning, though not of any human spirits. That would fall under necromancy, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure how sentient I want the dead to be yet.

Mr.Silver
2009-07-19, 04:55 AM
The Vodun looks dangerously irrelevent, to be honest. Pretty much everything it does is already covered by Shamanism and Necromancy unless you have a large and varied 'spirit world' developed which it doesn't look like you do. Technomancy also doesn't deserve to be classed as a seperate power, as it seems to just be using normal wizardry to craft items. I'd just split wizardry into a few distinct 'disciplines' depending on effects of spells and have it be one of those.

One thing that does not make a lot of sense to me is why necromancy is seen as being 'the bad magic' when shamanism, which seems to involve literally ripping the lifeforce from living beings (which, if we're applying logic, would include humans) is all fine and dandy.



I freely admit to getting the idea after my girlfriend asked why there weren't any American Harry Potter students,
To which the answer is: because it's set in Britain :smalltongue:

That said I do not think mixing a military base and a school is a good idea. Aside from the obvious constraints that's going to put on things (you are not going to be able to mirror a normal school environment in a place run by the military) there's also the rather troubling 'child soldiers' vibe this is going to be giving off.

Xondoure
2009-07-19, 06:45 AM
Yeah, your going to have to develop your spirits a lot more if you want to justify Vodun. Technomancy needs to have something to distinguish it from wizardry as well. Perhaps you draw the dormant energy hidden inside an object, and improve upon that energy? Theme... I assume it's some sort of training center? Seems okay to me as long as you can justify it.

Talwar
2009-07-19, 08:02 AM
Five schools and three sources of energy may be difficult to explain to the casual reader. The inclusion of "Voduns" seems like an overlap of both shamanism (energy of living stuff) and necromancy (energy of dead stuff).

Does the well/life/death/well cycle for magic also apply to souls/spirits/etc? It would have profound implications for religion (not that I'm trying to get the thread locked, mind you).

Finally - if magic has noticeably weakened over the span of recorded human history, it implies that magic in the universe (or perhaps just this planet) is strongly tied to the amount of sentient life in/on it, since total global biomass probably hasn't changed much over the past few hundreds of millions of years. Interesting philosophical (Drake Equation, etc) and practical (humans versus trees as energy sources) implications to that.

Helanna
2009-07-19, 10:45 AM
I had three questions while reading this.

One, can anyone choose any of the magic systems to practice? It seems so, but you said "Technomancers require some medium in order to channel their powers. They can't throw a fireball, but they make swell grenades...", implying that Technomancers, at least, have no choice. How is it decided what powers a person will have? Is it random, or does it rely on external influences? What are the most and least common powers, or are they all equal?

Note that if there isn't a choice, then technomancy is sufficiently different from Wizardry to count as a different school, but if anyone can use any magic then it's virtually the same thing. Perhaps Technomancy would be a technical term for it, but it still falls under the Wizardry category.

Second, can wizards create potions and other things that Technomancers can, or are they limited to direct effects the way Technomancers are limited to indirect effects?

Third, if life energy is drawn directly from living things, does that kill whatever it's being drawn from? If not, why?

And one other thing - shouldn't Vodun fall under Necromancy? Communicating with spirits is usually thought of as either Necromancy or Shamanism, so yeah, Vodun seems a bit redundant.

And one thing I would caution you about is making Necromancy seem evil. If it's a natural power that people have been using for ages, then it should be accepted at the very least within the school. Luckily, it actually seems like you're making it a necessary and natural thing, so this shouldn't actually be a concern for you.

Foeofthelance
2009-07-19, 12:52 PM
Going to answer some of the questions posed, while I think about the others.

------


One, can anyone choose any of the magic systems to practice? It seems so, but you said "Technomancers require some medium in order to channel their powers. They can't throw a fireball, but they make swell grenades...", implying that Technomancers, at least, have no choice. How is it decided what powers a person will have? Is it random, or does it rely on external influences? What are the most and least common powers, or are they all equal?

The schools of magic, with the exception of necromancy, are taught equally to students, but for the most part an individual has a specific talent with one area. It isn't entirely random, but the more a person relies on one source of talent then the less of a connection they have with the others. So you can teach a technomancer to manifest fire, but it probably won't be good for much more than lighting your cigar.


Third, if life energy is drawn directly from living things, does that kill whatever it's being drawn from? If not, why?

And one other thing - shouldn't Vodun fall under Necromancy? Communicating with spirits is usually thought of as either Necromancy or Shamanism, so yeah, Vodun seems a bit redundant.

Does the well/life/death/well cycle for magic also apply to souls/spirits/etc? It would have profound implications for religion (not that I'm trying to get the thread locked, mind you).


Life draws some energy to sustain itself, but doesn't use it all. What doesn't get used is trapped in the equivalent of magical fat cells. Its that trapped energy that shamans draw on, and so while it is possible to kill someone by drawing out all of their energy, it isn't the first thing that happens, and is incredibly time consuming.

Vodun spirits are not dead humans. Souls and spirits are different things for all intents and purposes. A spirit is closer to an angel or Cthulu. A soul is a manifestation of life energy which can end up trapped behind the Death barrier.


That said I do not think mixing a military base and a school is a good idea. Aside from the obvious constraints that's going to put on things (you are not going to be able to mirror a normal school environment in a place run by the military) there's also the rather troubling 'child soldiers' vibe this is going to be giving off.

The military does not run the school. The military built a base next to the school at the school's request, because A) weapons testing makes for a handy explanation for all the bangs and flashes of training spellcasters, and B) its really handy to have some tanks on the scene when little Amy Vodun accidentally summons Cthulu. Think of them less as instructors, and more like heavily armored cops.


One thing that does not make a lot of sense to me is why necromancy is seen as being 'the bad magic' when shamanism, which seems to involve literally ripping the lifeforce from living beings (which, if we're applying logic, would include humans) is all fine and dandy.

The difference is that shamanism does transference. Healing, making elemental effects, making plants or animals grow, etc. Nothing you wouldn't see normally, just on a different scale. Necromancy makes Great Aunt muriel sit up in her casket and start barking orders while smelling like a corpse. The problem with necromancy, at the end of the day, is one entirely of appearance, and not actualy effect.