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I am setting up this community wiki to develop explanations of standard magic systems. The idea is that in a question, you can link to a post here that explains the core ideas of the system in question, instead of repeating that information in every question.

So. First I think we should define a template of what needs to be documented for each system. Please post answers of your recommended template and we can merge/swap etc to get a standard single template. Once that is completed we can populate the standard template for each system.


Use cases might help us write the template, so here are some examples of systems we might want to write up. This question is not about these systems. This question is about a template that we could use to describe systems like these.

System 1: I can do cool stuff but it costs me

System Name: The Feedback System

This system allows a caster to trigger incredible skills but the energy required to accomplish the task comes from the caster's body. Conservation of energy is required.


System 1.5: I can do cool stuff but it costs someone or something

System Name: The Siphon System

The energy comes from the world around me, any living thing can provide the fuel I need to perform magic. Conservation of energy is required.


System 2: The elements are mine to command

System Name: The Elemental System

I can manipulate the elements but only within the rules of physics. I can create fire with my will power but oxygen must be consumed (for example).


System 3: BOW TO ME YOU PITIFUL MORTALS

System Name: The Deus Ex System

My power apparently knows no limits or the limits are ambiguous and vague and only apply as a story-telling constraint.

Note: I include this system mainly to point out that questions based on it will (in my mind) always be idea generation. This system should not be used to ask questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ What is the goal -- to have posts that questions can link to for context -- "in the context of a thus-and-such magic system (link), how do I..."? If so, I recommend one Community Wiki answer per system, for easier linking. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 25 '15 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio That is precisely the goal. And I was thinking one answer to this question per system (once we have the standard template down). I think that is what you are suggesting as well, just wanted to clarify. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 25 '15 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, that makes sense. So first you need a template and then people will fill it out for different systems. The discussion in the question of different systems was a little confusing to me; you're not (yet) asking for descriptions of those (or other) systems, just a template. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 25 '15 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio I hadn't really thought about it to be honest. I am ok with the idea of multiple answers and then merging them together as appropriate once we discuss, or we could just have a single answer and have everyone edit...doesn't particularly matter to me. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 25 '15 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ I edited my comment when I saw your edit to the question. Please proceed; I'm not trying to micro-manage. :-) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 25 '15 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio no worries. a sanity check is always welcome. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 25 '15 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ Is this related to the old question How To Talk About Worlds? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 25 '15 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Donald.McLean Now there is a typo. Thanks for the catch. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 25 '15 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ I think the system could use more serious names. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Mar 25 '15 at 23:47
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    $\begingroup$ So If I could make a summary. The source of power is: 1-me, 2- others people/object 3- my surroundings 4- I don't even need a source of power ? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Mar 25 '15 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ When I tried to create a wiki for this I was informed in no uncertain terms that this would cramp people's style and isolate us by creating a jargon... $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 26 '15 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ I was and still am against formalising definitions of magic, that should be done in the question. Generalising them runs the risk of either removing the individualism from someone's system, or having them all turn into "Like this except...". Consider a tag if a certain kind of magic comes up often. But it really comes down to this: Reading meta should never be a requirement for posting a question, and we should not be dictating question formats. $\endgroup$ – Mourdos Mar 26 '15 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Mourdos my understanding is that this is an option, not a requirement. (I would most definitely oppose a requirement.) As a simplification from having to explain it in each question, for systems where it makes sense, people may write up a description once, here on meta, and then link to it. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 26 '15 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio Completely agree with this. I have no desire nor intent to make this a required reference tool for all magic questions. But magic questions can quickly become cumbersome and having a generic framework that we can use would, I think, be helpful. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 26 '15 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent pretty much yeah. Either you have to take energy from yourself or the environment, OR there is no conservation of energy and the only rules are basically arbitrarily set by the creator...in which case do what you want. Have I missed any options? $\endgroup$ – James Mar 26 '15 at 15:57
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Drawing on what the community has previously talked about with regards to terminology, I stand against this idea.

We have time and time again concluded that there should be no barrier or obstacle to posting a question on this site. You shouldn't need to know a piece of terminology in order to be able to ask a question. But you might say, "You don't need to use this, it is there for those who know it!", except that I can very easily see one of two things happening.

  • Firstly, people might see it in questions and attempt to copy it, but not actually read the meta post on what the format is, which muddies the water, this leads to people going in an editing questions in order to make them conform, not something I particularly like.

  • Secondly, we will (and you know we will, there always is) have at least one person who goes around and tells people that they are asking their questions wrong, because they need to use the template.

  • In addition, while there are comment elements that magic can share, people will still need to explain their particular system because even within a general type of system, it will be different. Are we going to have to specify the way you cast spells? What about the knowledge required to be able to cast a spell? Are there items that change these rules? and a hundred others that I can't think of, because Magic is ever changing.

I think that relevant information about magic should always be included in the question about magic itself. A template feels just as bad as a vocabulary in this case. Finally, this feels like an attempt to solve something that isn't an issue, and if we have a common system of magic system being used, make a tag for it. Otherwise leave it be.

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  • $\begingroup$ Mourdos. There is nothing in this suggestion that will REQUIRE people to use one of the outlined systems. This would merely be an easier way to link to content that already exists and that some users may be more familiar with. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 26 '15 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ I would oppose a requirement too. But as James said, this is for convenience where it makes sense, not something to be imposed on all questions. I'll even go farther: if somebody asks a question and describes a system that's covered in a description on meta, but he didn't know about that, then that's totally ok. Someone can point out the link to him, but he should not be required to edit for that. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 26 '15 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ Also...this effort is more than just the template. The template is step one, I was never suggesting a template for use in questions on main actually. Step two is to create a couple basic magic systems that can be used as an framework, if the poster wants to, I wanted a common template for those frameworks here on the wiki question. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 26 '15 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @James I know that it isn't intended as a requirement. I can just easily see a lot of people taking it as such and it getting out of hand from there. That is my concern. $\endgroup$ – Mourdos Mar 27 '15 at 10:13
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Necromantic magic :

Depends on the will of the spirit of the dead.

Herbal magic :

Depends on the reaction of herbs and other compounds to create potions and cast spells using such potions.

Mana magic:

Depends on a immaterial force called Mana that has limited quantity. Sorcerer uses his own mana or mana from the ambient, or mana from a special talisman/focusing tool that can recharge its mana from time to time.

Relic magic:

Depends on relics to channel spiritual force into a spell. Relics might be the bones of an ancient saint or sage, a talisman or something similar.

Pseudo magic:

Depends on unknown laws of physics, like creating an artefact that collects sun energy to form a laser. Being unknown to the era, people cannot tell magic from science.

Elemental magic:

Depends on the will of the spirits of nature.

Religious magic:

Depends on the action of gods and can archieve its porpuse by summoning them. Gods have their own business and might not want to do what you ask from them.

Unlimited magic:

Has no limits known besides the will of the magician.

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    $\begingroup$ Couple comments Jorge. First, I am looking to define a template first, before we get into individual magic types. Second, the groupings I am going for are far more general than what you have listed which I would call schools of magic. For example, with the exception of Herbal magic (which could be distilled to chemistry/biology) all of yours could be slotted into any of the four options I have listed out. To make these useful for the site we need to define rule sets that allow for objective answers. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 25 '15 at 18:59

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