Author Topic: Need ideas for what Magic can do  (Read 2759 times)

fardawg

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Need ideas for what Magic can do
« on: May 31, 2011, 12:46:05 PM »
I find myself coming up with what I think are fairly interesting ways to receive, transmit, use, and limit magic. Yet I constantly get stuck on exactly what I want it to do. I usually end up with the basic Elemental magic, or magic that enhances natural abilities and properties of people and items: strength, speed etc.  but I want something different. Any suggestions?
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 12:49:46 PM by fardawg »

Shiael

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011, 03:23:54 AM »
Magic can simply be a tool. It could be used by wizards to create supernatural stuff.  Even though it can teleport people or whatever,  it could be used as an independent, mindless entity, therefore proving itself as magic...or, randomly,it could dissemble the inner workings of several worlds and re create life by the hands of some god or demon :P
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fardawg

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011, 12:03:51 PM »
Umm....OK....? Thanks?   ???   :P

Shiael

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011, 06:22:44 PM »
lol. meaning it could shoot sparks or light stuff on fire by just thinking about it. or you could create weapons out of nowhere by drawing power from someone or something. I guess it depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you don't know, then the best i can do is give you random suggestions like before...
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dhalagirl

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2011, 05:09:39 AM »
You could use magic to change a person's perceptions.  For example you could use it as an anti-depressant or to turn a squad of soldiers into berserkers.  It wouldn't physically change anything about the person or the world around them, just how they react to it.  You could easily turn people into puppets without them being aware of it.

fardawg

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 01:47:05 PM »
Shiael
That makes a lot more sense  ;D  I'm am just looking for random (but intelligible  ;) ) ideas that can spark something.


dhalagirl
Great idea! I'll have to see what kind of variations I can come up with. It could even be used as a Sci-Fi idea. I'm already coming up with a lot of uses for it as I type. Thanks for the spark!

Shiael

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 01:37:09 AM »
headless monkeys are considered magic..... ;)
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dhalagirl

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 06:48:04 AM »
Headless monkeys are considered lots of things.

fardawg

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2011, 02:26:56 PM »
"headless monkeys are considered magic....."

They are when you use them for Simiamancy! 

Jason R. Peters

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2011, 01:36:27 PM »
I find myself coming up with what I think are fairly interesting ways to receive, transmit, use, and limit magic. Yet I constantly get stuck on exactly what I want it to do. I usually end up with the basic Elemental magic, or magic that enhances natural abilities and properties of people and items: strength, speed etc.  but I want something different. Any suggestions?

I think the exercise for this is simple. Any situation you've ever been in where you thought, "I wish I had X" is a candidate for magic.

In a fantasy world, magic can replace any of our modern technologies. This is often done with healing, but less-oft-explored for movies/television/radio/multimedia, video games and other entertainment (instead of playing a video game to control avatars, characters could create creatures to fight for them in the same way we play Mortal Combat and Soul Calibur), transportation, cooking, lighting, heating, cooling, cleaning, yardwork, storage, cartography, communication, etc.

Science fiction technologies are more obvious candidates than modern technologies, but no less so, certainly.

Religion and mythology are excellent sources of what magic can do. Transubstantiation, atonement, and baptism are powerful ideas that we understand largely symbolically (for most people, there are exceptions) in the real world, but could be literal transformations in your fantasy book.

There's a second way to go looking for magic, and that is instead of asking "What does it do?" you ask, "What does it alter?"

Many of the powers in video games are just enhancements of other powers. Run speed. Attack speed. Attack damage. Reduced cooldowns (another form of speed). Physical attributes like how hard your skin is, or size, color. Visual spectrum. Magic could give your characters infrared and ultraviolet vision modes like the Predator, or reveal tactical information to them like the Terminator (or like Colonel Kassad's battle armor).

I also find the following helpful:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FunctionalMagic
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Whatevermancy
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StockSuperpowers

One of my favorite exercises is to take a selected list of powers from that last page, and form a grid of them in rows and columns (plus any other powers I can think of). Then I try to write describes for the COMBINED version of them.

Some are obvious, like Super Breath combined with Fire element.

A less obvious combination is something like Super Breath combined with Teleportation. Your brain might ask "How the hell would THAT work?" But I submit that Aslan's breathing Jill Pole and Eustace to Narnia at the beginning of The Silver Chair is exactly the result of this odd combination.

Vampiric Draining is a fun one to combine with almost anything. Perhaps it only drains heat. Or speed. Or electricity.

This page is also helpful, particularly the "Types of Powers commonly covered by this" section:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RequiredSecondaryPowers

It just gets you thinking about the LOGIC behind various magics and powers. Sometimes taking a stock superpower and limiting it in more logical ways than previous fiction can make it a lot of fun to play with.

___

Personally, my favorite types of magics have some measure of cost associated with them. One of example is a Dragonlance prequel (yeah I know) called "Dark and Light" where all these gnomes developed superpowers like super vision, super hearing, etc.

The problem is that the power grew in strength WELL beyond where it was merely useful. The cool aspect was it was related to the character's career.

So the ship's captain gained super vision. But so much so that he had to wear a blindfold to block out all the extra light. And eventually even that did not help.

The ship's rigger developed adhesive hands so he could more easily manipulate rope. But his hands became too adhesive to touch ANYTHING.

One had super hearing, but had to muffle his own ears,

fardawg

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2011, 02:12:47 PM »
Thanks, Jason! That actually helped a lot. I especially like the combining of seemingly unconnected powers.

Jason R. Peters

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2011, 01:43:23 AM »
Glad to help.

The powers-matrix was actually created for a video game I intended to design, an RTS where you could...well...combine powers.

I wanted to see what would happen if you crossed Starcraft with Chronotrigger, but on a massive scale.

fardawg

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2011, 02:35:52 PM »
The powers-matrix was actually created for a video game I intended to design, an RTS where you could...well...combine powers.

I did something similar to that to get an interesting story idea. I looked at my DVD collection, closed my eyes, and grabbed two or three at random. I then forced myself to combine the core storylines. I tried to find common elements between them no matter how odd. I actually combined Shawn of the Dead with the live action Popeye movie. You would be surprised at how well that worked.  When I tried this with the Stock Superpowers I got Your Hearts Desire combined with Powers via Possession. Hilarity ensued!  ;D

Jason R. Peters

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2011, 07:03:14 PM »
I want to make one final plug here that I respectfully disagree with the premise behind your original question.

It is phrased in such a way as to indicate:

1. You have an existing world or story and
2. You want to add magic over the top of said world/story

I challenge you, rather than using magic to SUPPLEMENT your existing world (adding fire magic or healing magic), build a story AROUND the magic (or in SciFi, technology).

I'm a firm believer that a love story with elves should just delete the elves, or a mystery story with fireballs should just delete the fireballs. Tolkien's story, however, would not have worked without rings of power. Without Feruchemy and Allomancy, there is no story for Mistborn. Without runes, Elantris is meaningless. Without a tainted Saidin, the fear of men channeling doesn't exist.

In each case, the magic is as vital to the story as the characters and setting (in good fantasy, magic is indistinguishable from setting), not something the author added to an existing story which could stand alone without the magic.

dhalagirl

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Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 03:58:32 AM »
Good point.  Having a magic system that's only window dressing is a complete waste of effort.