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Local Authors => Writing Group => Topic started by: BrandonM on April 05, 2010, 01:09:06 AM

Title: Magic-How can I...
Post by: BrandonM on April 05, 2010, 01:09:06 AM
Is their a way to use magic without it being flashy? I mean, I wanted to use magic in real world myth and religion, meaning that I wanted no fireballs or lightnings, but that means the "flash" is toned down, but the flip side, is that the way problems may be solved takes another turn.
Title: Re: Magic-How can I...
Post by: ErikHolmes on April 05, 2010, 01:55:53 AM
Sure, there is a role-playing game setting that I really liked called GURPS: Voodoo - The Shadow War that used magic like I think you are looking for. It dealt mostly with Sorcerer, etc. who lived hidden in the modern world and practiced magic.

Their magic was very powerful but not really flashy. One example I remember was a voodoo priest that wanted to kill a certain politician. He stayed up all night doing a ritual to summon evil spirits and bound them into a tailsmen which he wore. The next day he approached the politician, gave him the evil eye and released the spirit. But the politician was working for a powerful western Lodge sorcerer and was protected by a tailsmen of his own which reflected the spirit back upon the priest. The spirit attacked instead attacked him and stopped his heart, causing a heart attack that killed the priest.

No one saw the spirit of course, but the priest felt it coming for him.

It was the type of magic where spirits could cause Final Destination-like coincidences and accidents.
Title: Re: Magic-How can I...
Post by: daranthered on September 29, 2010, 02:40:43 AM
Magic can be as flashy or as subtle as the creator wants it to be.† People tend to forget that the magic in The Lord fo the Rings is really rather subdued.† No fireballs or Magic Missiles at all.† Gandalf's magic usually manifested in a presence which inspired the good and frightened the bad.† The elves thought of their magic as nothing more than craftsmanship.† There are some exceptions, but the magic in the book isn't very overt.

the magic you see in Dungeons and Dragons books is sort of the opposite.† It's flashy, but also demystified to a degree I don't much care for.† Magic should be mysterious and a little scary, not something that can be learned sum total from a spell book.

The best breakdown of magic from a socio cultural perspective, at least from the point of the modern western fiction writer, is the Golden Bough, by Sir James Frazer.† Specifically Chapter 3, section 1,† "The Pricipals of Magic."

Which can be found on project Gutenberg here"

Title: Re: Magic-How can I...
Post by: Ottilie on December 17, 2010, 08:30:46 PM
A good example of an excellent subtle magic system is Ian Irvine's Three Worlds series'. Read Geomancer and you'll see what I mean. It's not flashy at all, except for those who use tricks to make it *seem* flashy. It's based on the ideas of patterns and knots, and using "the talent" to mentally undo the pattern or untie the knot. Irvine ruined the series at the end of Chimaera, in my opinion, but his magic system and how the characters relate to it is still a huge inspiration to me.
Title: Re: Magic-How can I...
Post by: AndreaGS on December 18, 2010, 06:48:48 AM
I think the "flashiness" of magic is often dependent on the mood of the writing.

If your character is throwing fireballs left and right and yelling "Take that b#$^#es!"...well, that's definitely flashy.

On the other hand, if your character is undergoing a religious ceremony by which he will create a sphere of flame meant to last sixty days and sixty nights (to symbolize the end of a holy war), it changes the mood.

They are both technically "fireballs".

I think a lot of flashiness hinges on the price of magic.  If it doesn't cost someone anything (time, effort, energy, their soul, etc.) or very little to make magic, then the use of it becomes blasť.