Okay, if it must have rules, here are mine.
Defining Magic in My Writing
The Science of Magic
Hoping to learn that elusive secret about how to join the ranks of that select group, we call with reverence, "Best Selling Author." I have read countless books from other authors, instructors, coaches, and mentors about our writing craft. These mentors shared the things they have learned or observed about their genres.
Often used In the fantasy genre, the art of Magic. As a consequence, I am told that it is essential that the writer has a complete understanding of how the Magic in their stories works, that it has rules, and that it has repercussions. I have found that nothing helps me understand a concept better than to put those ideas into writing. Hence this exercise, an attempt to examine the world of Magic in a fantasy story, one I have been playing with for some time.
The following is a draft of my concept of Magic. I share it not as a guide for you to follow, but rather as an example of what works for me in this story. Perhaps you may find value if only to inspire. If I am never to succeed in our art, it would be a good second prize to have helped someone else find their breakout bestseller. They might even include my name on their acknowledgment page. Wow, that would be fun.
Magic as Science: Magic the mystical former, a term used by humans to explain the energies that make up everything around us. While the interaction between these energies is far more complicated than this narrative can tell. I will attempt to provide at least a rudimentary understanding of its definition.
Magicians Are humanoids called by many names, i.e., Mages, Wizards, Witches, Warlocks, Shaman, and Druids to the example but a few. They are a broad range of the Practitioners of the Energy manipulation known as Magic. Their names change with the Energy or Magic they work with. As a general rule, the name of the Practitioner gives a clue to their type of Magic. Although those called Mage rarely restrict their Magic use to one type.
Dynastic Magic: The transforming or deforming of "Gravari" the universal Energy that makes existence possible. It the oldest of all energies, it is what gathered and brought our Universe into existence. This magical Energy is the force that causes the planets to circle the stars, and the moons to dance with their spawning worlds.
All other forms of Magic depend on or affected by Gravari. And It is strongest when the bodies within the Universe align. It is the simplest to understand because it has only two facets, those being, push or pull. Where these facets touch they battle and consume each other, it is at this point of contact that existence becomes tangible, as something touched or felt. It is on this battlefield, our Universe exists.
From its birth, it grows and expands until it is beyond imagining, then when it has reached a point where no contact with anything else is possible, the Universe folds back upon itself until the combined mass becomes too great to exist, then it implodes, again expelling the Energy and forcing it through a dimensional rip to form a new reality. It is this resuscitation that is the breath of existence.
While the Magic is one Energy, it depends on two primary forms. It is powerful, and the costliest for humans to wield. It can affect both living and the non-living. With its manipulation, one can alter anything.Its general Practitioners are Wizards and Mages. They learn to be conduits for the Energy, directing the powerful ebbs and flows in differing directions. But they must have an anchor or focal point that attaches the magician to the physical Universe, or they risk being sucked into their spell and lost, dispersed as random particles across the cosmos.
The two forms or families Archaic Energy, which pushes, often called the White-light, sensed as cool to warm, it sometimes smells of summer thunderstorms and it provides the common essence of living flesh. And Sardonic Energy, pulls, called the Dark-light or shadow cast, it is almost always felt in extremes of hot or cold, it smells of sulfur and the rot of decay it the essence of the demon and the undead. Both energies channel through the caster's core also referred to by many as the Soul.
When channeling the Energy, the caster loses part of the capsulation of their being, the Chi-mana. One might think of this as the vessel that holds the Soul, their existence. As the Archaic or Sardonic energies scrub through the caster, it rubs off layers of this Chi-mana. If the magician's spell is too long, or too powerful the caster just ceases to exist. They disintegrate, their essence absorbed into the Energy of the spell they were channeling. A good Mage carries an ample supply of an herbal elixir known as Chi-mere oil. This elixir doesn't replace the magician's Chi, No, rather it stimulates the caster's body to produce the natural insulating essence faster.
Elemental Magic: It effects matter made of non-living Energy, things that have, no intellect or awareness of self, things without a Soul. This the second oldest of Magic's Practitioners called Shaman or Earthen. They manipulate the base elements or blended non-living matter gathered by Gravari Catalyst. These collections of matter form into five groups; Earth, Metal, Water, Air, and Fire.Matter comprising crystalline rock or its granulated form, make Soil also called Earth.
Elements formed by molten forces of non-crystalline salts form the ores for Metals. Air or The Wind from the divining of Water. Water is the compressed form of Air, and last, the last, Fire, a mixing of Air, Heat, and an ashen fuel of anything non-elemental, primary items made from the flesh of either plant or animal.
The form of these elemental energies depends on the temperature of the dominant or primary power. That is what the Shaman learns to control. Here too, there is a danger to the caster. They risk being trapped, smothered, or consumed by the elements they control. The world's greatest Shaman raised a mountain with, but his hand dug deep into its stones, yet it crushed him when in arrogance he held it over his head in triumph. He forgot that flesh is most often the weakest of magic's creation.
Naturi Magic: Nature's Living Energy. It the third oldest Magic. The Practitioners called Druids. They delve in two classes; Animalia or animal Energy. And Plantae /plant Energy.
The Druid learns to mix and exchange their personal essences with the other living creatures around them. These naturalists see all living things as one body, where a bird has the same value to the world as does a tree, a deer, a fish, or a man. Often shunned by others in the human world because Druids talk to and think of plants and animals as equal to humans, which often goes against the egos and vanities of those non-naturalist humans.
Again, there is a cost to the Practitioner, for each time they interact with these plants and animals, they leave a small part of themselves and keep a small piece of the life-form they mixed with. This effect is minuscule when the exchange between the human and Nature is short-lived. But if one should step inside a creature and transform themselves into, say a bear or some other animal, for an extended period, it sometimes is difficult to return to their human form. This may be why researchers who study the animal world come across examples of creatures that seem to possess intellect not shown by their contemporaries. There are many tales of creatures able to rule the forest as their kinds King or Queen. What of those our pets that act and show more compassion for others than their masters. Perhaps this failure to return to human form is the explanation.
Primera Magic is a hybrid Magic, fed by the Humanoid essence created from the Energy of human existence. It is the caster's faith, their thought Energy, or their 'id' often called The Well of Souls. This focal point in human existence is where their lives touch all other forms of existence in the Universe. But unlike Dynastic Magic where the caster uses and directs outside Energy through their body. With Primera, the caster themselves are the source of the magical Energy.
Primera is the youngest of all the Magic. Its Practitioners are Priest, Witches, and Warlocks. This Magic is not as powerful as the others concerning its ability to affect the world around the humanoids. It will not move a planet, a continent, or even a small mountain. However, it is the most influential on humanity itself.
Divided into two forms; Photonic or the light, and Demonic for the darker side of these human-based powers. Many people think of the Magic as different, often, as good and evil. But that may not be an accurate analogy as with all things, the definition is in the mind of the beholder. What is beautiful to one, is hideous to another? What is evil to one, is nothing more than a way of life to another?
Again, as with all Magic, it is not free. A typical example of a Primera Practitioner might be a magical healer tending to the care of a squad of knights or archers. They watch over and render aid to the sick and often heal the wounded with herbs, bandages, potions, and elixirs. And they often perform Magic with an ancient art of hand laying.
To the untrained, it looks like Magic, but the healer does not cure a warrior's wound. No, these Paladins use sacrifice, an art they have learned to take or share the injury from their charge as his or her own. They accept the pain, disfigurement, injury, and danger as their own, transferring it to themselves hoping they have trained their bodies to heal fast enough to repeat the gift a second time. They do these things by force of will, in the fervent belief that their reward will come in an afterlife.
Temporal Magic is the last, or is it the first, of the forces at play in our existence. Defined as Time travelers, it is the ability to travel within the space between existence and non-existence, to move between the beginning and the end. It is also the most dangerous to humanity as the tiniest of errors could eliminate humankind.
The Practitioners referred to as Epochs or Ethereal Lords, and rarely human. We are too flawed to decide our direction without being swayed by the emotional baggage we carry about. Most interactions between these Lords of Time and beings/creatures of a linear existence is detrimental. We don't seem able to grasp the concept of being everywhere at the same time. We want the things that have adverse effects on our lives changed. Yet, it's too difficult for us to understand that all things that can happen, must happen, and do. If not on our timeline, then on the innumerable ones next to us.
Some who have studied these things have surmised that these Time Lords may not be creatures at all. But instead s collected essence of those who were once the living. In this Ethereal space between everything, we go when we die. Likewise, it is where our consciousness comes from when born into this existence. Those who dwell on the Temporal for any extended period, almost always, go mad or are at least perceived so.
The most common human users are Rogues. Although, because of the cost to their bodies, these Practitioners most often use a mixed hybrid form of Primeria and Temporal Magic to bend light Energy around them like camouflage.
But there are a select few humanoids who have learned to tap into deepest of this field of Magic. They slow or speed up the flow of energies in the world. It is not time travel, but rather short spans of manipulation, an altering of perception used to advantage, a typical example might be the use of invisibility, where a Practitioner moves through a room unseen. They are not invisible but have altered their existence by speeding up the resonance of their essences to a speed not visible to the naked human eye.
Again, this Magic usage is costly, it drains the user of life forces and the recovery period is exponential. While it might only take a Time Stopper ten minutes to recover from a one-minute walk across a room crowded with armed guards. It would take weeks of recovery for a ten-minute stroll through the King's larder or treasure vault. And then, there is another problem, while the caster might not be visible to a human, our four-legged friends possess a greater sense of smell and they also have a better range of vision.
Time altering spells are rare as the cost to benefit ratio is often too broad to be practical. But still, there are a few occasions when nothing else will provide an answer to the Mages situation. But always these time spells should be the last resort.