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What’s up storytellers?

When possible, I like my videos and articles to get into the details of building magic systems and tweaking them, how they work and how to fix them. This one is less technical and more fun as we look at three magic systems that I really like and I think you should check out. I’m just a little overloaded at the moment.

I just finished running an Indiegogo campaign for my next book, The Magic System Blueprint, and it went phenomenally well. It was nearly 130% funded, and now I’m focused on getting all of the rewards in place and getting the book finished and ready for publication. I’ve got a lot to do if everything is going to come out on schedule.

If you missed the campaign, no worries because the book is now available on Amazon for preorder!

But enough about that? Let’s look at the first system.


He Who Fights with Monsters by Shirtaloon

He Who Fights with Monsters by Shirtaloon


This is a LitRPG series that I found about two months ago and I absolutely adore. I’ve already listened to all three audiobooks twice through and am currently working on a third pass. They’re fantastic! If you’re not familiar with LitRPG stories, which stands for literary playing games, this is a fairly new genre that combines the elements from role-playing video games and tabletop games with science fiction and fantasy plots and novels.

This series has a wide array of magical effects and magical systems within it, everything from racial abilities, magic items, and nightmarish monsters. What really drew me into the series and kept my attention was the essence abilities available to all of the characters.

Every character in the story can unlock up to four essences, which become tied to one of their attributes, and each of these essences can provide up to five individual essence abilities. This gives each character the potential for 20 unique abilities that they can learn, use, and improve.

For example, the main character, Jason Asano, ends up with the dark, blood, sin, and doom essences. Now, I promise you, he’s not evil. That’s something he belabors heavily throughout the story. Regardless, some of Jason’s abilities include Midnight Eyes, Cloak of Night, and Path of Shadows for his dark essence, Sanguine Horror, Leech Bite, and Blood Harvest for his blood essence and Punish, Sin Eater, and Castigate for his sin essence. And that’s just some of Jason’s abilities!

Jason and his friends
Left to Right: Gary, Jason, Farrah, and Rufus

So Many Different Abilities!

Now, I would love to go into the details of the system, what each of the abilities do, the patterns and structure in the system itself, the logic behind what abilities get unlocked based on the essence you have, and the awakening stones that you use, but we don’t have time for that right now. Suffice to say that this is a fantastic, soft-rational magic system where you have no idea of what might be lying around the next corner, but anything that you have seen is highly rational. You are well within your rights to just assume how it can work in different situations, and to plot and plan and structure battle strategies and all kinds of awesome stuff.

And on top of that, the writing, the writing is just phenomenal. It’s engaging and it’s funny. I was laughing so many times throughout these books. That’s part of what has brought me back the second and third time, even though I just got the series, so you really should check it out.

Grimslingers by Greenbrier Games

Grimslingers by Greenbrier Games

I fell in love with this game pretty much the moment I saw it. Everything from the stunning art to the setting and the magic combines into this cool, Weird West deck-building game that you can either play PvP with your friends in a duel mode, solo in a campaign, or you can bring your friends in and play through the game in co-op.

Like most board games, the magic system in the Grimslingers is a hard, rational system because you know they need to explain everything that’s possible and all of the rules so that we can rationalize and build our strategies around it. The magic of this game consists of the six core elemental spells and a fairly impressive stack of unique signature spells that you can start with or gain over the course of the game.

The elements are separated into two variations of the Rock Paper Scissors triangle. Depending on the spell you cast, the spell cast by your target, and the order in which the two of you go, a number of things can happen. Your spells may both go off without a hitch or your spell may be neutralized by the energies that your target is gathering. Conversely, you may actually disrupt and cancel their spell before they have a chance to cast it.

Elemental Spell Triangles

All of this blends into a really cool strategy mode where you have to keep track of what spells you’ve cast, what spells your opponent has cast, what effects they’re likely trying to use from the additional things that the elements can provide, and the turn order. It’s all about this balance of “I really need this healing effect to go through, but are they going to counter it?” I find that very interesting and quite fun.

And then the signature spells come into play.

There are 24 different signature spells that you can either start your duel with or you can gain over the course of the campaign. Each of these spells is unique and carries some pretty powerful effects. Depending on the ones you get, they can drastically change your strategy and your playstyle as you go through the rest of the game, which I think is super cool.

That’s the magic of Grimslingers. I also think the tone that they use in the rules and in the campaign is a lot of fun. And, of course, the art. My god, the art!

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater is an incredible book that I read as part of the book club. I’m actually not going to do a ton of pitching for this because I’m going to let the book blurb do most of the work for me.

Rosewater is a town on the edge, a community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome. Its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless — people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He’s seen the inside of the biodome and doesn’t care to again. But when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer. Facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.

Book description on Amazon

What the blurb doesn’t mention is that Kaaro is actually a sensitive that can connect to this weird network called the Xenosphere where he can actually tap into the emotions, thoughts, and memories of others. There’s also a ton of cool stuff that he can do within the mindscape that the Xenosphere creates, especially when he’s dealing with other sensitives. Altogether, this makes for a terrific, soft-irrational magic system where I have no way of knowing or predicting what lies around the next corner, but I’m super excited to find out.

Beyond the magic system, the book itself is just fantastic. It combines elements of cyberpunk, bio-punk, Afrofuturism, and elements of the noir genre into this intoxicating blend I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Rosewater is just book one in the Wormwood trilogy. I haven’t read the rest of the trilogy, but if the other two books are anywhere near as good, it’s all worth reading.

Those are three magic systems that I absolutely adore, and I think you should check out. Lastly, I know a month can be a long time to wait between articles, so if you want more regular tips about magic systems or engagement with me in general, you should definitely check out my mailing list.

Otherwise, please check out these magic systems and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And that’s all for now. So keep building and stay awesome.

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