marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

only enchantments

There's no law saying that your world, replete with magic, has to actually let any character do any of it.  Your hero, your villain, your man-on-the-street, may have no more magic than can be snatched on the coattails as it sweeps by.  They may have no choice but to stand and stare and not benefit at all at their choice.


Though there you have to balance between the pretty but irrelevant to the plot local color -- to be used only sparingly --vs the danger of making them a deus ex machina.  Or a diablous ex machina.  More tolerance for that, especially if it happens earlier, but it's not infinite.  (Whatever some how-to-write books may tell you.)

Much depends on how frequent they are.  If bright colored songbirds flit about the city, singing magical songs, someone will look to make money from them, and only small children will find them objects of wonder except in the rarest of cases.  If, ripping off medieval lore, you have the very, very, very finest rubies and garnets glow in the dark like live coals, it's going to be Very Rare indeed, and a wonderful marvel to all who behold it --at least, in the dark -- no matter that it's used like a lantern. 

Enchanted locations might be exploited too, though obviously it would be harder, since the mission of there and back again might dwarf the effect you could get.  Still, it would nicely motivate a quest.

Hijacking the virtues of gemstones, herbs, etc. would produce a close approximation of working magic, though burdened with plentiful stuff.  It doesn't work as well for enchanted belts, swords, and so on, since those obviously had to be made, though you could pull something off with the ingredients.  Or ignore the matter of making it.  The chivalric romances usually had them appear out of nowhere.  A messenger boy would just show up with a belt that was supposed to be wearable only by a chaste wife -- though I wonder how they would know that.  (Hard to test it against a standard.)  But it changes the mood a lot if all the people who actually work magic are off-stage and invisible.

Tags: local color, quest, sensawunda, world-building: clothing, world-building: economics, world-building: enchantment, world-building: geography, world-building: magic (objects)
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