marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

Consistent Magic Systems in Fantasy

Consistency -- one panelist objects to the notion, because well, it's magic.

He had a point.  Drinking willow-bark tea used to be magic.  If we know too much about what it does, in real life we no longer call it magic, and in fiction, we complain it doesn't feel like magic.

But we need consistency and rules to avoid springing surprises on the reader.  If the hero can do something in the climax, we need to be warned that it's possible.  And to have a good enough grasp of the villain's powers to believe it will work.

Changing the rules on the magic can be very tricky indeed.  Especially if you use it to make something easier or possible for the heroes.  Like having the hero be told that you must use the Language of Magic, and then being told that no, really, you don't.  Much better, even if the seventh book of a series, to figure out some creative use of the rules to let you do what you want.

Then you get the Gandalf or Obi-Wan character.  One comic showed a RPG based on The Lord of the Rings and the Gandalf character went oh boy -- followed by "What can you do?"  "I can talk to birds"  Actually he lit the fire in the snowstorm and a few other things, but he gives very little evidence of magic.  Obi-Wan only fought one low-life in a bar, and we're all prepared to see him go up against Darth Vader.  That archetype is powerful.
Tags: arisia, heroes and villains, world-building: magic (technique), world-building: metaphysics
Subscribe

  • spring sweet spring

    A gray and dreary day, all the scene brownish from dead leaves, dead plants, and bare dirt, but one bird is singing a clear crystalline note, and…

  • winding of winter

    The sky is clear, clear, clear, not a cloud in it as far as you see -- except for the small white bit -- that's round on both sides but not exactly…

  • fall and frost

    Spake too soon. Several of the purslanes died in the frost, but others are shoving green sprouts up through the dead and rotten leaves that the frost…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 8 comments