Magic Mechanics

Tags worldbuilding
Target Audience Not you.

This is about the mech­anics of magic in a world where all power stems from one be­ing. This being does not ne­ces­sarily want others to know that this is the case, and so it cre­ates a con­sistent system of magic for oth­ers, wiz­ards and ma­gi­cians, to use. Where this being gained the power of magic is ir­rel­ev­ant, all that mat­ters is the system which it has built up.

True Magic

Magic is the ability to modify the world in any way, without lim­it­a­tion. The wielder is om­ni­po­tent, able to alter the world at a thought.

True ma­gic, as op­posed to in­direct magic (next major sec­tion), does not have any rituals, in­cant­a­tions, or spells. Think of it as like moving a limb: you don’t direct the op­er­a­tion of your muscles, it’s a wholly sub­con­scious pro­cess. True magic is the same: the wielder does not direct the ma­gic, they just want the world to be as it is not, and the change hap­pens.

Wielders of Magic

There is only one wielder of true magic at any given time. This being is, for lack of a better term, God.

The Transfer of Magic

A wielder of magic can transfer the power to an­other be­ing. This is a total transfer of power: it’s not pos­sible to con­di­tion­ally grant power, or to grant some power but not all power. It’s an all-or-nothing deal.

If the cur­rent wielder of magic dies, then the magic dies with them and the world be­comes a sadder place.

In­direct Magic

In­direct magic is magic per­formed by the wielder of true magic (here­after “God”), on the be­half of someone else (here­after a “ma­gi­cian”). From the per­spective of the ma­gi­cian, they are per­forming the ma­gic. They draw the circles, wave their arms, say the spells, and the world changes. They don’t know that what ac­tu­ally hap­pens is that God no­tices this and per­forms the ap­pro­priate ef­fect at the ap­pro­priate time.

This is a lot of work for God, but as He is an om­ni­po­tent being it’s not that bad.

Ma­gi­cians be­lieve they have ma­gical power. They do not know about true ma­gic, or that what they do is in­direct ma­gic. They are de­ceived, and would be hor­ri­fied to learn the truth.

The Age of Myths

A time in human his­tory when the pop­u­la­tion was small enough for God to mon­itor the en­tire world, and per­form in­direct magic as He saw fit. Mighty sor­cerers walked the earth, calling forth power from their fin­ger­tips with a shout. Mon­sters lived in the dark places, and heroes wielding ma­gical weapons hunted them down.

It was an age of chaos, where just about anyone who God liked the look of could cast ar­bit­rary ma­gic. But as the pop­u­la­tion grew, it be­came more work for God to keep everything go­ing. This led to God cre­ating a more ritu­al­istic system of ma­gic, which was gradu­ally re­vealed to the ma­gi­cians of the Age, and the non-ritu­al­istic system phased out over cen­tur­ies.

The Magic Ma­chine

The Magic Ma­chine is a device cre­ated to mon­itor the world, and let God know when magic should be per­formed.

It is a fairly in­tel­li­gent ma­chine, but a ma­chine non­ethe­less. It is only cap­able of re­cog­nising what it has been pro­grammed to re­cog­nise. This ex­plains why ritu­al­ised magic in­cant­a­tions and draw­ings ex­ist: they are com­posed out of a ma­gical lan­guage which the ma­chine has been cre­ated to re­cog­nise. When a ma­gi­cian casts a spell, they are com­mu­nic­ating a pro­gram in the ma­gical lan­guage (even though they may not know the full de­tails of the ma­gical lan­guage), which the Magic Ma­chine re­cog­nises and com­mu­nic­ates to God. God then per­forms the ap­pro­priate ef­fect.

The cre­ation of the ma­gical lan­guage and the ma­chine has greatly lessened the burden on God, at the cost of a much more rigid system of ma­gic, and the end of the Age of Myths.