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What’s up, storytellers?

I’m Clark Rowenson, the magic engineer, back again to dive deep into the enchanting world of magic systems. Today, we’re unraveling the mystery behind what I like to call “magic system seed crystals.”

I recently covered this magic-crafting topic in a live stream and wanted to revisit it. You may also remember this topic from my video, How to Create a Magic System. So, let’s dive in and break down the essence of seed crystals and their importance when it comes to crafting immersive magical worlds.

A fantasy author works to build a magic system for his books in his library.

What is the Seed Crystal in a Magic System?

Ever wondered what kickstarts the magic in your story? Some call it inspiration, I like to call it the seed crystal.

Think of a seed crystal as the cornerstone of your magical universe. You need to have an idea for the magic system before you can really work on building it out. This is true with a lot of things, including stories in general. And a lot of what I cover when I’m talking about how to build magic systems can be applied to other aspects of writing as well. Regardless, it’s incredibly valuable to have that starting point, that North Star. It is the center of what everything else is going to grow around.

I use the term seed crystal because crystals can’t grow from nothing. They have to grow off of a substrate. Laboratories will put little, tiny specks of the desired material into supersaturated solutions. This creates the perfect environment for the rapid formation of crystals. And, when you have the right seed crystal, you get a higher-quality product.

The same concept applies to fictional magic systems in a variety of stories including fantasy, LitRPG, and others. You want to create the right magic environment for everything to click into place really fast.

A woman examines a magic system seed crystal to see what potential it may have for developing a fantasy world with an intricate magic system.

Why are Seed Crystals so Important?

Think of your magic system’s seed crystal as the foundation upon which you will build your entire magic system. Without a seed crystal, your magic system can lack direction, coherence, and may fail to captivate the reader’s imagination.

  • Having a great starting point helps you through the entire process of developing your magic system.
  • It helps things snap into place.
  • It helps things come together a lot faster.
  • And it catches people’s attention.

If you ever get confused or disinterested or even apathetic, you have a thing that you can return to that you were once excited about. And if you can identify that thing and get it written down, returning to that seed can get you excited about what you are building again. That is incredibly valuable.

Also, without a magic seed crystal, explaining or summarizing your magic system or book can be really difficult. In essence, the seed crystal for your magic system can often double as the logline or elevator pitch for the system itself, or book as a whole.

Without an elevator pitch for your book, you’ll have a hard time grabbing people’s interest. The same goes for your magic system. In either case, if you describe it as “complicated,” that’s not enough. You need to understand the core of the system you’ve built to be able to pitch it well to potential readers.

A group of adventurers from a fantasy story look upon a magical crystal guarded by a dragon.

Finding Your Seed Crystal (With Examples)

A lot of people get stuck because they don’t know where to start. They haven’t found the seed crystal for their magic system yet. The key is to take your magic system ideas and nurture them to create that seed crystal. Your magic system seed crystal should get you excited. If it doesn’t, then you may need to find a new seed crystal or may need to try a new approach.

A group of fantasy adventurers investigate a magic system crystal in a world of epic fantasy.

Magic Seed Crystal Examples

The Reckoners Series, starting with Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson has a pretty simple magic system seed crystal. The seed crystal for this series is that people start getting superpowers. The twist is that all of the people who get superpowers are villains. There are no heroes with superpowers. That’s the seed crystal.

People start getting superpowers, using those powers, and it turns out that the powers are what turns them into villains. This aspect of his magic system seed crystal is what spirals into the makings of a popular series with worldbuilding, storytelling, plot, characters, and on and on. Things snap into place all around that concept.

Another example is my viral magic concept, which I will use in a story in the future. In this example, the seed crystal is that magical virus strains grant unique powers, and these powers are the most potent when the host is most sick.

Others from the Spells and Specialists include things like the pharcane magic that we did with Navarre Bartz. Humanity has discovered a new energy quanta, allowing people, creatures, and places to act as electrodes and magical batteries.

We also explored a seed crystal with Moiya McTier that involves magic potential forming into miniature stars that determine the nature of the magic for a person or creature.

Fantasy adventurers find a massive magical crystal that controls all of the magic in their world.


I hope you now have a clear idea of what magic system seed crystals are, why they’re important, and how you can find and evolve magic into an integral and interesting part of your worldbuilding and story. Keep writing, and stay awesome.

If you have any questions that you’d like me to address in any of my live Q&As or if you have topics you’d like me to cover, fill out the forms and I may select your topic for a future livestream or video recording.

A magic seed crystal grows from a fantasy book symbolizing the connection between well-planned magic and great storytelling and worldbuilding.