Creating a Magic System – Guest Post by Karina Fabian

Creating a Magic System

By Karina L. Fabian


Amber asked me to write a little about how magic works in the Faerie world and how I came up with its rules and philosophies. I’ll be frank–a lot of it is working itself out in the stories, so with each story or book where magic is involved, some new aspect comes to light. That’s how I think–seat of the pants–and it makes it exciting for me. However, here are some basics.

Three “Qualities of Magic”: Because I have a very firm Good Vs. Evil undercurrent in all the stories and an adapted for of Christianity, but wanted to have everyday magic as well, I adopted a three-way system. Natural magic is a force, something like mental electricity, that certain people can manipulate; holy magic comes from God, sometimes through the intercession of the Saints; evil magic from consort with Satan.

Natural Magic: Magic as a natural force is limited to a talented few who also put in a lot of time and study (and, it just occurred to me, a lot of athletic training). The better trained and healthier you are, the more complex a spell you can weave. There are some everyday spells and potions, limited in use and scope. Magic, thus, isn’t a cure-all. Some creatures can handle magic more adeptly than others. Pixies, for example, shape shift as easily as thought; for a dragon can’t do it on its own. Natural magic is also necessary for the survival of many of the Faerie creatures; too long or too far away from the Gap between Faerie and the Mundane, and a Magical will get sick, like a plant that’s too long out of the sun.

Holy Magic:  Only those who have dedicated their lives to God can properly wield this magic: nuns, priests, monks, and the like. They often have an affinity for natural magics, too, but Holy magic is stronger, and often less under their control. As Vern said, “God is not a vending machine to spit out answers to your prayers. He will consider every one, of course, but in His ineffable wisdom, he’ll take into account everything from the lives at stake to the butterfly effect, not just at the moment of the prayer, but from all time before and after.” When you think about it, the fact that they can do so much is a miracle in itself. Sister Grace, Vern’s partner, is a mage and nun of the Order of Our Lady of the Miracles

Evil Magic: This is your pretty typical Satanism stuff: blood sacrifices, rituals, giving up of souls. Usually those who wield natural magics do not go for evil magic. We’ll be learning more about it in future books, as the Dark One brings the war against Good to the Mundane.

Magical items: Magic energy can be stored in a trinket, usually with a particular purpose. Holy magics tend to be stored in religious items, like saint medallions, with the saint directing the particular spell. So a St. Michael the Archangel charm would hold protective energy. Potions tend to be more in the realm of natural magics. Sometimes, a particular item will absorb magic, but these items are dangerous unless in the hands of an expert mage.Vern’s first case involved a magical fruit which was grated and put into fertilizer. It made the plants come alive in a spooky and murderous way.

Magic and the Mundane: No creature of the Mundane dimension can handle magic. They simply are not genetically suited, as the mage Bill Gates (pronounced Gae-tez) would say. He advised those who wish to work magic major in computer programming, which is as close as you can get, in his opinion.

Every writer has their own vision of what magic would be like. Some create a, pardon the pun, magical world where powers can be used with ease for everything from creating a glass of cold water to giving a school bully warts. Others have a complex system of rules and magical mathematics. In the end, it’s the needs of the world and the needs of the story that define the kind of magic. If you are building your own magical system, consider your world first. Let it tell you what it needs and what it can carry. Let it define your magical “space.” Then let your imagination soar within that space.

1 comment

  1. I enjoyed hearing how you constructed your magical rules and elements. I appreciate your sound advice relating to magical conditions that must conform to the world that the writer creates. It is important to be creative yet consistent when designing alternate histories, settings, or premises in a fantasy world.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge