Okay, if it must have rules, here are mine.
Defining Magic in My Writing
The Science of Magic
I have read countless books from other authors, instructors, coaches, and mentors about our writing craft. All in hopes of learning that elusive secret about how to join the ranks of that select group we call with reverence "Best Selling Author."
Each of these Mentors has shared the things they have learned or observed about their genres, and there are many. In fantasy, the art of Magic is frequently used. I have been told that it is essential that the writer has a complete understanding of how their magic works, that it has rules, and that it has consequences. 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 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. Perhaps you may find some 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. Maybe they might even include my name in their acknowledgment page. Wow, that would be fun.
Magic as Science: the mystical former, a term used by humans, one of many sentient beings in our universe to explain the energies that make up everything around us. While the interaction between these energies is far more complicated than this narrative can possibly 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. Generally, their names change with the type of energy or magic they work with.
Dynastic Magic: is 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 are dependent 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, something that can be 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 there is no contact with anything it is drawn 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 is dependent on two primary forms. It is incredibly powerful, and as such the costliest for humans to wield. It can affect both living and the non-living. With its manipulation, one can conceivably 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 attached firmly to the physical universe, or they can be sucked into their spell and lost and dispersed as random particles across the cosmos.
The two forms or families are named as Archaic Energy, which pushes, it is called the light, is warm, and provides the essence for living flesh. And Sardonic Energy, pulls, is generally dark or shadow cast, it is almost always cold, and it holds together undead flesh.
Both energies are said to channel through the caster's core, that point of reference to the outside world, that base is also referred to by many as the Soul. When channeling the energy, the caster loses part of the capsulation of their being, called the Chi-mana. One might think of this as the vessel that holds their soul, their existence. As the Archaic or Sardonic energies scrub through the caster, it rubs off layers of this Chi-mana. If one cast to long, or too powerful a spell the caster just ceases to exist, they disintegrate and their essence is absorbed by the energy of the spell they were channeling. A good Mage is sure to carry ample supply of an herbal elixir known as Chi-mere oil, it doesn't replace the body's Chi, but rather stimulates the caster's body to produce the natural insulating essence more quickly.
Elemental Magic: effects matter that is made of non-living energy, things that have, no intellect or awareness of self, no soul.
This the second oldest of magic's Practitioners: Shaman or Earthens: who manipulate and interact with the base elements or blended non-living matter gathered by Gravari Catalyst. These energies form into five groups; Earth, Metal, Water, Air, and Fire.
Matter consisting of crystalline rock or its granulated form make Soil and are known as Earth. Elements formed by molten forces of non-crystalline salts form the ores for Metals. Air or The Wind is made from the divining of Water. Water is then the compressed form of Air, and lastly, there is Fire, which is the result of the 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 is very dependent 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 as they can be trapped, smothered, or consumed by the elements they control. The world's greatest Shaman was said to have raised a mountain with, but his hand dug deep into its stones, yet he was crushed 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, the third oldest magic. The Practitioners: are mostly called Druids. They delve in two forms or types; 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. They are often shunned by others in the human world because they 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 thing 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, the caster may not be able to return to their human form. This may be why researchers who study the animal world sometimes 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 King or Queen. What of those 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 type of magic fed by the Humanoid essence created from the energy of humanoid existence. It is the caster's faith, their thought energy, or the sharing of their 'id' often call the soul. It is believed that 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 is the source of the magic.
Primera is the youngest of all the magic. Its practitioners are usually 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. It is often classed 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 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, they have learned to take 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 in hopes that 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. More simply described as Time, it is the ability to travel 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 result in the elimination of humankind.
The practitioners are referred to as Lords, and they are rarely human beings. We are typically too flawed to make decisions without being swayed by the emotional baggage we tend to carry about. These lords of space and distance are almost never seen or heard from, For Etherial beings to interact with creatures of a linear existence, is detrimental to us. 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 to be changed. Yet, it is 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 are a collection of the essence of those who were once the living. And it is in this ethereal space between everything, we go when we die. Likewise, where our consciousness comes from when we are born into this existence. Those who dwell on the Temporal for any extended period, almost always, go mad or are at least perceived as such.
But there are a select few humanoids who have learned to tap into this field of magic. They slow or speed up the flow of energies in the world. It is not truly time travel, but rather short spends 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, these types of magic are costly, they drain the user of life forces and generally, 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 strolled through the king's larder or treasure vault. And then there is the problem that 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 to be used 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 are taught to be used as a last resort.