Welcome to Part 11-1 of my World Building blog series 😀 I’ll be covering just about every topic I can think of that goes into world crafting. If you have any topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know 🙂
Magic is one of the biggest perks of writing fantasy. The possibilities are endless and you can explore so much with this topic. There are dozens of types of magic, but we’re mostly going into general set up and how things work in this post. I won’t be going into detail on magical healing, combat magic or animals, because those will be getting their own posts.
First things first, where does magic come from in your world and how is it expressed? Are rituals required to invoke magic or is easily accessible? Is there an ultimate power source people can tap into or does it come from the individuals? How much energy does it take to wield magic? What effect does magic have on the user? Are users corrupted by too much power? Does it have a physical effect? Most commonly, if you’re having the magic come from the user, you’ll encounter exhaustion, nosebleeds, fainting, etc. from excessive use. How is magical energy recharged if a person exhausts their resources?
Are magical artifacts used and if so, how? Magical artifacts come in lots of varieties, the most common being jewelry and weapons. How are artifacts created and how available are they to the average person? Here is a fun place to do some research and see what is used through various cultures to get yourself some ideas. Herbs, crystals, writing, etc. are components of magic around the world and you can expand beyond the simple magic rings and swords.
How strong is the magic in your world? What I mean here, is how much of magic exists? Your world doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can limit things to only specific types of magic (elemental magic in Avatar the Last Airbender), require tools for spell casting (wands in Harry Potter), have low level magic (divination tools like tarot.) or you can make magic really difficult to master.
How noticable is magic in your world and how integrated is it into society? Can people tell when magic is being used or where magic is coming from if it’s not visible? Is there a way to mask magic use? Is it a hidden part of the world or is is openly integrated? If you have magical segregation, is it between types of magic users or is it a magic vs. non magic situation? I’ve read lots of stories where magic people are treated as a marginalized community or are alternatively the ruling class simply because of their magic, so it’s entirely up to you how you want to place magic users in your world.
Are there any illegal forms of magic? Most commonly you’ll see this with necromancy or blood magic, but you could also set it up so that other varieties are illegal, or even all magic. If magic is illegal and your characters have magic then you have an automatic conflict. Maybe magic isn’t illegal, but is strictly controlled.
Are people born with magic? If yes, at what point does it manifest? Do certain types run in families? How does training and education with magic work in your world? Who can receive training and how long do they train for? Is training mandatory and what happens if someone refuses training or is somehow missed/doesn’t know they have magic? I usually see this go one of two ways – either the person’s magic never fully develops or it develops erratically to the point they’re a danger to themselves and others, which usually requires extreme intervention.
Can magic in your world be countered or undone? You can bring a lot of tension to your story with this concept. If there are no counter-spells or ways to undo magic that’s been done, you’re stuck with impulse decisions. How are curses handled and managed? Do they follow generations or are they only applicable to the person/object that is cursed? What are the views on love potions? A lot of people don’t really take into consideration that love potions are basically magical assault since it removes the recipient’s ability to consent to anything.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully I covered enough to help.