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Worldbuilding: More magic!

06 January 201304:11AMworldbuilding

Time to go back to magic.

Fluff

I'm splitting this into fluff (the in-universe mythology) and crunch (the game mechanics I'm going to use). I'm going to make the crunch fit the fluff, and not the other way around.

Magic is literally just another type of energy. It can be harnessed by an appropriately tuned consciousness in much the same way as electrons can be by appropriately tuned silicon. There's no reason you can't take a sufficient quantity of, say, heat, and with the right mental and physical implements, turn it into magic. This is basically what lanterns do. I'm going to stop short of an actual joules-to-spell-effects conversion though, cause I think that'd do my head in.

There are two types of mages in the world: Blood Mages, and Lantern Mages. What makes them different is where they draw their power from. Which should be pretty obvious from their names. Blood mages' magic is intrinsic, Lantern mages' is extrinsic.

I'll start with Blood magic. Blood mages are born, not taught. They are the lucky few who have both an intuitive grasp of how the patterns of magic fit together and have some intrinsic pool of energy to power it with.

This power could come from anywhere. In the majority of cases it's heriditary (or at least runs in the family), but I like the idea that you can just end up with power by some cosmic fluke as well. Maybe there are unmoored pools of what for the sake of convenience I'm going to call mana floating around the cosmos waiting for something to earth themselves into. And maybe when a Blood Mage has a kid, their mana is passed on. So not only does a first-born child inherit their parents magic, but said parent loses their own magic at the same time. This conveniently explains why such a large proportion of adventurers are mages - mages tend to be younger, un-familied people anyway.

Actually, there's your career path right there. Hone your skills under the tutelage of your parents. Seek your fortune in the world. Then retire to some tiny village in the middle of nowhere and pass your wizardry on to your kid. Rinse, and repeat.

I'm not sure whether I want these mana pools to be sentient or not. I'm leaning towards not, in general... but maybe, very rarely, if it's been in a family for long enough, or if a mage was powerful enough... maybe some of their personality 'leaks' into the pool and makes it just a little bit alive.

Blood mages channel huge amounts of energy through their bodies with nonzero resistance. This is neither comfortable nor sustainable. Their endurance can be trained up with time, but they're always going to need to rest eventually.

Then there are Lantern mages. Rather than having their own power, they harness energy from their environment. Their name comes from their habit of carrying lanterns filled with a highly unstable alchemical reagent which they can ignite to use as a portable source of energy.

Though alchemical lanterns are the most common source of raw energy for Lantern Magic, they're not the only ones. For starters, the lanterns can easily be jury-rigged to burn any sufficiently energy-dense substance, though they stop short of actual mass-energy conversion.

More intriguingly than that, it's not unheard of for Lanternmagi to stumble across artifacts with properly earthed pools of mana they can tap into. This is obviously much more convenient and efficient than having to light up a barely-contained white hot alchemical inferno every time you want to cast.

(Incidentally, this is also why wizards build towers - to literally catch lightning in a bottle.)

Lantern mages get their knowledge of magic from years of study and perseverance. They use the same mental patterns as Bloodmagi, but are less fluent and confident with them.

Understandably, there's a bit of tension between the two schools of casters. Blood mages see Lantern mages as tryhards, their theory unnecessary and their methods inelegant. Lantern mages think Blood mages don't have nearly as complete an understanding as they do, and find their unpredictability and unscientific approach to magic annoying.

Both of them are right.

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