Normally I’d make a proper blog post out of this content, but I am currently swamped managing the Indiegogo Campaign and editing my book. For now, I have simply added the video transcript.
What’s up, storytellers? I’m C. R. Rowenson, The Magic Engineer, and it’s time to talk about magic. If you’re new to the channel. Welcome. Here’s where we talk about how to build, repair, and utilize magic systems in our stories. So if you’re a fan of magic systems and storytelling, consider subscribing. That said, this video is going to be a little bit different from the others that I’ve posted. I was recently a guest on the Exolore podcast with Dr. Moiya McTier, where we worked together to build a magic system, both using the Magic System Blueprint and my seven stages on how to create a magic system.
If you aren’t familiar with that, you can find the video link up here or in the description down below. Either way, I thought it would be interesting if we talked through the magic system that Moiya and I built and how it fits into the Blueprint. If you’re interested in seeing the entire process or rather listening to the entire process that we went through as we analyzed and developed this magic system, I am absolutely going to leave links to the episodes in the description below (Episode 1 & Episode 2).
You should absolutely check it out, especially if you’re a fan of scientific, fact-based world building. That’s what Moiya is all about. One last thing before we get into the details, I’m actually currently running a crowdfunding campaign for the Magic System Blueprint because it’s a worksheet. It’s also a book that I have written. I’m going to be independently publishing this book, which gets expensive if you’re doing it right. So I’m running the campaign to help defray some of those costs, and I really hope that you check it out if you find this video interesting.
If you want to know more, I’m definitely going to leave more links in the description below. Please check it out and consider backing. And now, without any further ado, let’s dig into the blueprint. This is the blueprint right here, and that’s the core of it. This single page is the major functionality of the tool, and that’s what the entire rest of the book is all about. So let’s start going through these piece by piece and talk through what Moiya and I decided about her magic system.
First, in the top left, we have one of the most important pieces, and that’s the seed crystal. The seed crystal is the core concept or point of inspiration for the entire magic system. Whenever I’m working with people, it’s almost essential to have some kind of seed crystal before you get to building, and that can be just a general concept. It can be a plot, it can be a world that can be a character. It really doesn’t matter just something to latch onto and grow from. Now, Moiya and I didn’t have any of that. We didn’t have any characters. We didn’t have a world, we didn’t have a plot. All we had was a single concept for the world. And that was the idea that this world was going to center around the concept of an ever changing night sky. The astral bodies were so plentiful and so rapidly moving that every night and even throughout the day, the stars that are in the sky were changing. Tat ever-changing night sky is the seed crystal for the magic system that we put together.
Next up is perspective and perspective is really important when you’re building a magic system because it is the point of view, the specific point of view that you were adopting when you were analyzing and developing your magic system. This can be a reader, a character, a specific culture in the world. In our case, we went with the creator perspective because again, none of the rest of that existed. All we had was us and what we knew, which was that the magic was going to come from the stars themselves, and that’s why the ever-changing sky was so important. So we had to take the perspective of us looking at the world as a whole to understand the broad strokes of what we wanted it to do. Next up is the types of Magic Quadrant, and I’m not going to dig into the details here because I already have multiple videos on that topic.
So if you want to know more about the different types of magic, you should go, check out those videos. For our purposes, Moya and I decided that we were going to target a soft, rational magic system. We were going to go with a soft magic system because the magic was tied to the individual stars. The stars present had an impact on the magic that could be performed on a daily and nightly basis. And we didn’t want to spend the time defining and mapping out the abilities and powers and influence of every single star. So because of that, pretty much whatever we did, it was going to be soft because there’s so much more of the magic that could be explored and explained than what actually was. For the rational aspect. Well, I mean, come on, you put an astrophysicist and the chemical engineer into a room. It was going to come out rational, whether we wanted it to be or not. So there you go. And that’s where we transition into the lower portion of the blueprint, which is all about what I call the magic system variables.
These are the broad, sweeping aspects and attributes of your magic system, and we’re going to go through them one at a time. Most of them are sliding spectrums. Some of them are a little different. But let’s go ahead and start with transference. Transference is about how readily the power is gained, lost or moved around between magic-users. We ended up deciding that the magic in this case should be a low transference system, mostly because we wanted magical power to be tied to the timing of your birth with celestial objects. And there were some things you could do like maybe under special events, particularly eclipses, you might be able to steal somebody’s power. But those occurrences were fairly minimal, meaning overall transference had to be pretty low. Right next to that we have prevalence, which is all about the abundance or absence of magic in the world. We knew that we wanted, or we decided that we wanted there to be a relatively small percentage of magic users in the world compared to the total population, though there would be some various magical effects that just existed in the environment.
So overall, that put us at medium, medium-low prevalence, we decided to err on the side of medium low. Which brings us right into the next variable, which is flux. Flux determines whether the prevalence of the magic, so the abundance or absence of magic, is changing over time. And it can be one of three settings. It’s either positive and increasing, negative and decreasing, or neutral. This was especially interesting for our magic system here because it depends on the perspective you take, and that’s most of this. But if you took the perspective of the magic users and the culture, it was going to appear to have a positive flux because they started to figure out the quirks of what caused somebody being born with magic or not. And they started tilting those scales. More magic users were being born every year. Moiya and I though, we know that the overall amount of power is consistent and is just starting to be diluted across all of the magic users, which means from one perspective, it’s positive. But from the creator perspective, it’s neutral. Next up is source, which is all about where the magic comes from. How much is present and whether it can run out or not. This one was a fairly simple decision. Since the magic is going to come from the stars, it is external from the magic users. And beyond that, the magic is there as long as the stars are, so it’s practically infinite. I mean, if we talk about celestial bodies, especially talking with Moiya, it’s not actually infinite. But for our purposes it is. Then there’s naturalness, which is a scale determining how natural or normal the magic feels compared to the rest of the setting. This magic obviously has really close ties to the world and the environment because it comes from the stars. It’s been around for a really long time, meaning all life and civilization would have adapted and formed around it.
And that’s going to lead to a high sense of naturalness, even if the magical effects are bizarre. It’s going to seem normal to anybody in the world. Then there’s ease of use, which is all about how easy and intuitive it is to use the magic safely and effectively.
This one took a little bit of discussion, or at least a little bit of meandering in my head, but we ended up deciding that the ease of use was rather low, and that goes back to the capricious nature of the celestial bodies. They’re always moving and always impacting the magical environment, which means to be effective with magic and safe with magic. You have to know all of the stars that are in the sky when any new ones show up, know what they are and you need to know all of their powers and how they influence each other.
That’s a lot of information to keep track of, and that’s before you even actually get into any of the potential complexities of actually performing the magic. So this magic system is not going to be easy to use. It’s just not. And that ties at least partially into one of the last variables, which is reliability. Reliability is the extent to which the magic repeatedly produces the expected results. Well, like I just said, the magic that can be performed and the strength and nuances of it are entirely determined by the stars that are overhead, and that’s always changing.
So what was a very powerful healing spell one day may not be the next and certainly won’t be a month from now. Definitely not in a season. And we talked in the episode a little bit about how there will be near and far bodies, so there will be some types of magical effects that will be more permanent and more stable than others. But it’s still not going to be the same result all the time, which obviously means it is going to be a low reliability system. Next, we have consistency and consistency is different from reliability. Reliability focused on repeatability of the effects. Consistency looks at the extent to which the system can deviate or cannot deviate from its defined settings, so it’s easiest to think of it like error bars on your data or degrees of variance. In our case, we set the consistency to medium, which meant any of the other variables that we had set could probably shift a notch or two in either direction, depending on the specific details of what you were looking at. And that’s what consistency is all about. And that’s pretty much it. That’s a quick rundown of the capricious Astral Magic that Moiya and I built and how it fits into the The Magic System Blueprint.
If you found this interesting and you want to hear the full discussion, you should absolutely check out the episode. Moiya is amazing. Even if you don’t listen to these episodes, you should check out her other stuff. It’s great and generates tons of ideas.
There is a second episode about this magic system where we actually walk through the seven stages to better define this magic system, and I will leave a link to that as well. It’s my hope that at this point, your head is spinning and you’re potentially reeling from the potential that you have with the Magic System Blueprint.
I’m hoping that you can see how easy it is to really go through your magic system and figure out these broad, important pieces. And if you are interested in this and you want more information again, please check out the Indiegogo page that’s going to be running through September 4th, and there’s a whole bunch of cool rewards that I have set up. You can always reach out to me if you want more information, and yeah, I would love to hear from you and I hope to see you there. Whether you do or not, keep building magic systems and stay awesome.