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 Post subject: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:52 pm 
Smeric
Smeric

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I don't know to what extent people here are interested in conmagic. I'm going to post general ideas for a framework that allows for magic, but is not settled in any particular conworld. So I'll mainly talk about conmetaphysics and how it operates.

The background

Even if this is not meant for any particular conworld, it has to be similar to this universe: with a similar physics, a similar chemistry and a similar biology. A sine qua non is conscious life: magic can't exist without consciousness, and in particular intelligence. The world is dualistic. Humans are made out of a material or physical body and of an incorporeal soul. Just like the brain controls the body, the mind controls the soul. There are elements of reality, like rocks, which only have a material dimension; others are incorporeal and lack a matter constituent.

When I talk about energy, I'll be talking about energy as in this world: it's physical. Matter contains energy, be it in the form of mass (E=mc^2), kinetic energy; expressed through heat, through work, etc.

It's also pertinent that the conworld which allows for this framework has different species and is teleological. Not necessarily gods, but I use the concepts of order and chaos, related to good and evil. Humans would be neutral beings with the ability to seek order or seek chaos, being thus good or evil. Angelic beings are, by their nature, forced to seek good and demons are, by their nature, forced to seek evil. There is a wide spectrum inbetween for other species.

Not every human can do magic. It's like music; there's something about it which is innate. It's not genetic, though, but it's correlated and usually parents apt for magic will have children apt for magic. There are a lot of species which can be apt for magic, but they all have to have intelligence. There are two concepts I'll use which will be potestas and voluntas. Potestas, "power", is possessed by any intelligent species. However, not every species has voluntas. Voluntas or "will" is related to intent, and thus a purpose; it involves a moral dimension. Not every intelligent species is moral. Certain kinds of magic require the two, others only potestas. No magic can be performed without power.

I'll describe next the very nature of magic.

But before, I'd like to know if anybody has ever made anything about conmagic or is interested in the topic. If possible, I'd like to see other ideas on magic (for example, I liked Zompist's view on magic).

So, does magic exist in your conworld?


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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:42 pm 
Avisaru
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I take it this is your specific magic system more than requirements for magic in general (which would be too broad to really define any requirements for).

I have several different types of magic in my fantasy conworld. Only two are worked out to any real degree.

Spirit Magic

Spirit magic works by commanding spirits that inhabit the air and the earth. There are two kinds of spirits: Aeruyo (air) and Malviz (earth), which were once one race of spirits but were separated due to a war and subsumed to the will of humans in different ways. Those who worship and command the Aeruyo practice "white magic", which can have a variety of effects depending on the "mask" called upon. Those who worship and command the Malviz practice "black magic", which also has a number of masks with different portfolios, but is mainly used for creating and commanding the undead.

Alchemy / Elemental Magic

This is based on five elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Metal, and Wood (yes I stole that from Taoism). Alchemists learn to manipulate all the elements, but specialize in one. They can manipulate their chosen element more directly, and other elements must be manipulated using complex glyphs. Alchemists can use their elemental powers to create and control a variety of homonculi, and also learn to mix various potions, poultices, and poisons.

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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:51 pm 
Smeric
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Last edited by Thry on Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:51 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:58 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:32 pm 
Lebom
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I always liked Tolkien's view on magic. In his world magic was based on the power of words. Just as Iluvatar and the valar spoke the world into existence, in middle earth it's the words that have the power. Gandalf cast a spell to rid the company of wolves, and the end of the incantation was the elvish Lasto beth lammen! listen to the words of my mouth!

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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:39 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:06 pm 
Lebom
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Magicians always mutter something in a strange tongue before doing a trick. Abracadabra!


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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:11 pm 
Smeric
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There is magic in a conworld that I am writing about, but the details are spotty. I was thinking about making geometry an absolute necessity to tapping into the magic that surrounds everything. A shape must be fairly exact and words must be spoken in order to use magic. So a square with a certain incantation can produce one kind of magical effect.

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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:02 pm 
Smeric
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Magic (Magia)

Magical ability or magic is defined as the capacity an intelligence has to transform the mind's ideas into real energy; expressed as change in reality.

There is a principle which states that energy can never be created nor destroyed. Magic seems to break this rule, but it doesn't. This may seem obvious when, for example, a magician invokes a burning ball of fire between his hands. The world, which is dualistic, also contains another kind of non-physical energy which I'll refer to as aether. Remember that energy is purely physical.

As such, when a sorcerer casts a spell he's not creating energy, he's obtaining physical energy from non-physical energy or aether. He's transforming aether into energy. This is done through intelligence, through consciousness. Aether isn't generated either. The universe contains a fixed amount of total energy, which is the sum of physical energy and aether. Aether can turn into energy through magic and energy can turn into aether through some natural processes and (reverse) magic as well. There is equilibrium.

Not all aether is transformable. There is non-magical aether which can't be used to generate energy. There are several types of aether, which will correspond to the different schools of magic (types of magic). The relationship between aether and energy is not well understood, but it's known through experience: there is a kind of aether, for example, which corresponds to water. Even though matter has only quantitative difference (gold is different from iron only by the number of protons), the different types of aether seem to be qualitative. If they're quantitative, the underlying structures are not understood.

Aethers can have counterparts. For example, the counterpart of igneous aether (fire) is aqueous aether (water/ice); this is the reason that fire magic opposes water magic, even though, physically, water and fire wouldn't disappear if meeting. Magically-generated fire and magically-generated water would.

But before that, it's important to talk about the different states of aether and the cyclic nature of reality.

Aether-Energy balance or cycle.

Normal aether permeates space and doesn't have a physical representation. It's called inert aether. Some magical beings are purely made of inert aether and have no body; they can feed on physical energy by turning it into inert aether by something we should call "inverse magic". The effect is like if energy was unexplainably dragged from our universe.

Inert aether is attractive to itself. Pure aether can be called "arcane aether". It's also attracted by intelligent minds, but the attraction to itself is much bigger. It tends to naturally form rivers and lakes of aether, but different types of aether meeting can provoke all kind of reactions and cycles. For example, the two aethers described above (igneous and aqueous), if meeting, would behave something like an electron and a positron: they annihilate, liberating "energy" (and exploding). But since aether is already "energy", what they liberate is just a different type of aether. It's all very complex, but the result is a world with a capricious but stable distribution of aether, the "rivers" are called ley lines and it's rare to find a "dry area".

When inert aether is close to an intelligent being, it's attracted. Intelligent beings store different amounts of energy in their souls. Normally, it's full, so if you're close to a ley line all the aethers won't stop their flux to follow you (and if you weren't, they probably wouldn't either since they're moving due to more powerful forces). When aether enters the soul, it turns into static aether. The content of static aether measures the amount of energy that can be produced by the being through magic. It's a special aether, since it has a physical correspondence called mana. Mana is commonly called magical energy and is the amount of physical energy a being has to produce magic. The maximum depends on the species and training. This maximum quantity is called the mana pool, and you measure mana in mana points which correspond to joules, since it's a form of energy. It's consciousness which makes the aether have a physical expression.

The mana pool has a limit because a given intelligence has a limit as to the energy it can contain. If it gets saturated, it will stop controling some of it which will become inert aether, vanishing from the physical world.

Static aether can be converted by the intelligence into dynamic aether. Dynamic aether is dualistic: it has an underlying reality in the non-physical world, but it has a direct physical effect, dependent on the non-physical one. It's the real magic. It's the effect a spell has: it provokes motion, heat, transformations, creates matter... to sum up, the aether creates a shade of physical energy. As long as this is controlled by the caster, it will maintain a dualistic nature. When that ceases, if the physical part is still present, the energy will simply turn into (well, it is) normal energy and the aether part will completely disappear, since its representation now has gained the real existence.

After this, the cycle can begin again by a non-physical entity dragging energy from the world to transform it to non-physical aether. There is an equilibrium.

Let's see a simple practical example: two sorcerers casting two wind spells in the same direction. Let's say the motion the spell provokes in the air needs you to waste 5 J of energy. Well, at some point, aereous aether (wind aether, for short) has entered the sorcerers' bodies. Aether is measured in aetherials ("ae" is the unit symbol; "ar ae" for wind). This inert wind aether turned into static wind aether upon entering their souls. Since they are casting a wind spell, they know they need to have wind aether in their mana pools. Intelligence can generally change at will one type of aether into another one, so it doesn't matter which kind you have stored, it's all "unmarked". They cast the spell, turning 5 ar ae into dynamic wind aether and their shade: 5J of real energy in the motion of the wind. They add up creating a breeze equivalent to 10 J of motion, because there are 10 ar ae in the non-physical world operating that way. Once they finish the spell, at a given time, this energy still lingers the real world, but the 10 ar ae have disappeared. This shows that, while casting a spell, the physical vs. non-physical distinction is blurred, which is why magic operates distinctly from physical events. After the spell, there are 10 J more of energy in the total net energy of the universe, but 10 ae less, creating a balance.

As such, there are three types of events in the universe: purely physical events (no change in aether), magical events (changes in both planes), and purely non-physical events (which only comprise changes in aether, but not energy).

By the way, one aetherial (1 ae) is defined as the non-physical energy needed for an intelligence to cast a spell which expresses an energy of 1 J (joules are the units of physical energy in our world).

Next time I'll post a bit about the different schools of magic and more about magic generation (spellcasting).

I hope you find this interesting, sorry if this post was too long. I'll be glad to clarify or respond to any question.


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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:50 pm 
Sumerul
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I have a conworld where magic is not only present, but central to the world's existence.

The world would appear, to an Earthling observing at ground level, physically pretty much the same as Earth (though biologically different), but if she could get up into the "atmosphere" she would very quickly deduce that there's something else holding it together, because from as she went higher and higher, she would notice:

- the sun is literally a smallish ball of fire in the sky, not a massive ball of fire in outer space
- there are mountains taller than the sun
- the world is flat
- the world has no visible edge; it carries on until it's obscured by a white fog, and the fog carries on indefinitely in all directions
- above her there is no 'outer space', only more white fog
- suddenly she is drowning and under immense pressure; she's gone up so high that she's portalled back down to the bottom of the ocean

... among other things too numerous to mention. ¬¬

So, the magic! First, what is it? I suppose it's a force, really, like gravity or magnetism. It's invisible, it's everywhere, and you can't escape it, but you can harness it and use it. So. There are different sorts of it.

First, the "ordinary" stuff. This is the sort of ordinary magic that ordinary folks do on an ordinary day at their ordinary home, to keep bad spirits and monsters away from them at night, to get a big harvest, to make your chickens lay faster, etc. It involves saying a little song or rhyme, as well as correct placement of the correct object of the type that Earthling children pick up and pretend is a magic item, such as a piece of shiny quartz, a yellow snailshell, a pretty feather, a broken wild bird's eggshell, whatever. The important thing about this magic is that, besides needing the song and the object as a focus for the spell (like how a piece of metal is a focus for a magnetic field or how a planet is a focus for a gravitational field), it only works if it is believed in. Now, it may seem obvious that a person from this world would believe in magic, since he has grown up with it after all. But it doesn't just take belief from you, it takes belief in it from every human that's involved in it (and this is the reason it can't be used to wish something for/on someone else without them knowing about it - if you try to spell bad luck onto your mother-in-law without her knowing, she can't believe that your spell will work, and your spell will fail from her non-belief). So if you've spelled the bedroom you share with your husband to keep it free of monsters, but your husband doesn't believe you have and wants to do it himself, your spell will fail from his disbelief and his spell will fail from being overlaid on top of yours, and you'll both end up sitting awake all night with an amulet in one hand and a hefty club in the other in case a monster materializes in your closet (yeah, monsters can materialize in any location. This world gets hella scary at night...).

Second, the more obviously magical magic. This is more like the sort of big showy magic that is taught at Hogwarts - changing objects into other ones, making objects fly, magic used as a weapon, etc. It can't be performed by humans alone, it requires spirits, who are like a strong focus for the magical field (like using a star's instead of a planet's gravitational field), so you need to be able to summon a spirit, which takes a lot of practice, plus a song and an object as above, plus your own personal magical field as an extra focus for the spirit's magical field to grab onto. Not many people have a strong enough magical field; it isn't a hereditary thing, it's more about the type of person you are - for whatever reason, magical fields form more strongly around people who are isolated and emotionally unstable than around happy people. Most people don't want anything to do with this type of magic, because a) it involves witches (refers to males and females), who are isolated and emotionally unstable and thus not very nice to get along with, and because b) it involves risking your souls (yes, souls are real) because if the spirit decides not to like you it will eat your souls. Occasionally during battles someone very powerful will force witches to summon spirits to defeat the enemy, but this isn't very common.

Finally, the central-to-life magic. This is basically the same idea that magic is a force like gravity - if it didn't exist, neither would the universe, and that's just a fact. However, this type of magic is in actual fact inexplicable, because it doesn't obey physics in the slightest and wouldn't give a sniff if it was told it's violating universal laws. It's basically holding the entire world together, and it's what the world was created from - raw magical energy.



So that was long and rambling and disjointed and confusing... Apologies.


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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:59 pm 
Smeric
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I have always sought to incorporate magical and metaphysical systems in my conworlding somehow. Most of my past projects and experiments have leaned toward some combination of science fiction and fantasy and I intend to develop my current conworlding project into a full flowering of that idea. My ideas for this remain rather sketchy, though, and I do not have much to present on them.

My past experiments with magic have generally run into some vexing difficulties, though, when pitted against the more naturalistic aspects of the setting. Things get rather messy when conventional notions of physics and social structure clash with eldtritch abominations from another dimension or god-like wizards. Many of the generalizations we currently make about society and technology simply go out the the window because they rest on physical limitations that would no longer exist as we know them, and so forth.

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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:00 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:02 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:10 pm 
Sumerul
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:20 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:40 pm 
Sumerul
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:01 pm 
Avisaru
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:18 pm 
Sanno
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:29 pm 
Sumerul
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:37 pm 
Sanci
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I toyed with three different systems of magic:
1) Arcane Theory - the pseudoscientific one. Arcane theory posits that two elementary substances comprise the known universe: arcana (energy) and neutra (matter - not related to RL neutrons). Arcana and neutra aren't merely energy and mass; they are the basic, indivisible, most essential forms of energy and mass, and the cunning sorcerer will use them to create things, ranging from a sphere of lightning (arcanon magic) to a wall of earth (neutron magic). Magic is the study of the manipulation of arcanons and neutrons; the conversion between the two (a la E=mc^2) is at the foundation of the divide between wizardry (arcanons) and magecraft (neutrons); since mages cannot move masses at that speed, the two particles remain divided.
2) Magic as Art/Music - similar to your idea of natural talent, although slightly subverted. Everyone can at least clap, or hum, barring those with deformities, impediments, or physical/mental defects; so too can everyone use magic, to a degree. One can imagine children being taught simple spells, just as we would teach children simple songs. Music is the most basic art, along with storytelling and dance, but is the least permanent; basic magic (spoken, moved, or sounded) only lasts for as long as the motion or noise is sustained. While everyone can at least sing or use bodily percussion, some people elect to take up instruments; with magic, they might choose wands, or cards, etc. More difficult crafts, such as smithing or painting, require more skill, but last longer; magic inlaid into objects (enchanting, artificing, chamwork, or alchemy) is equally difficult and permanent.
3) Magic by Powers - inspired by Zompist and the Bartimaeus trilogy, to an extent. Magic manifests itself almost exclusively in a physical form, both in substances such as herbs, woods, gems and metals, and as animals, elementals, or imps, or djinni. If these are captured and bound, they can follow commands and provide services. Djinni in particular are quite useful, since they can grant requests (usually one request granted will extinguish the binding, although stronger ones can last for hundreds of wishes) as long as they do not transgress natural laws. Some people might be born with magic in them; they are known as the gods-cursed, since few can control it, and they are prone to causing wanton destruction. This is due to the mother's overuse of or overexposure to magic during the pregnancy, similar to FAS although usually without the mental deficiencies and physical handicaps that accompany it.


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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:10 pm 
Avisaru
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Magic is bending the possibilities. Like if you have a wall, there is always a possibility that there could be an door in it. Nothing more, nothing less.

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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:27 pm 
Avisaru
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:54 pm 
Smeric
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 Post subject: Re: Theory of Magic
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:11 pm 
Avisaru
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I imagine most people here have toyed with the idea of a Magical Language, used only for spells because anyone who says something in it is casting a spell of some sort. ("Good morning, Bob!" "Now that you cast that, it is.")

I've been thinking about how to "read off" a 2-dimensional planar tiling (hexagonal "magic rune" tiles, or some other shape -- Penrose tiles would be "interesting") in a way that makes sense for a language, but it just gives me a headache.


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