Building Viral Magic: A Stage 1 Walkthrough
I had a crazy thought today.
How about, instead of talking at you with a bunch of gibberish you may or may not understand, I show you part of the magic building process. More specifically, I’ll show you how I used my brainstorming pillars to work through Stage 1 and develop early sketches of a Virus-based Magic system.
Read? Thumbs up, let’s do this. LEEEROOOY—
A Refresher on the Three Pillars of Brainstorming
Oh… No battle-cry? Okay then. Let’s see what Past-Clark had to say about the topic.
“Whenever I set out to brainstorm, I choose several core concepts I want to explore. I call these my Pillars of Brainstorming. As I brainstorm, every idea branches off one of these pillars.”
Thanks, Past-Clark. You can be pretty smart sometimes, when you aren’t busy screwing over Future-Clark. Seriously, why do you two hate each other so much?
Anyway, when building ideas for magic, I recommend three simple brainstorming pillars.
Unless I’m helping someone else, I usually go into a brainstorming session with at least some ideas rattling around my skull like loose change in the dryer. In this case, I already knew I wanted this magic to center around the use of biological or magical viruses. I had a couple ideas beyond that, but looking at Themes seemed the best place to start.
Viral Magic Themes
Honestly, I didn’t spent much time on this pillar. I didn’t have to. The main theme had already been decided: Viruses.
From there I just explored possible mediums the magic could funnel through and potential methods of exposure.
As you can see, I didn’t end up with much in this area, and that’s totally fine. Remember that as you generate ideas for your own magic systems. Different areas will need varying amounts of exploration depending upon the ideas, requirements, and inspirations you already have before you start brainstorming.
Sometimes you’ll know exactly, without hesitation or waffling (mmmmm waffles) on what you want your particular brand of mages to do. Other times you might have mapped out exactly how the magic is killing the world and how it must be stopped, but you aren’t sure what it can actually do.
Fear not, for the other two pillars remain.
Really Cool Hats for Viral Magic
Honestly, you can move through these pillars in any order you choose, targeting one until their corpse stops twitching and all witnesses are dealt with or relying on hit-and-run tactics to manage all at once and win the day.
It really doesn’t matter. You do you.
Personally, I moved to this pillar next because it was the second most developed in my mind. Before I even opened my MindMapping App, I had an idea some of the cool things I wanted to do with a virus based magic. In the end, those ideas were just the tip of a very contagious iceberg.
You may notice, there aren’t really that many ideas here. Given how much I harp about having swarms of ideas, this might seem a little disappointing. Well, there are two reasons for that.
First, there’s a bit of auto-filtering that goes on while brainstorming. I’ve done this enough that I can toss out the ideas I know won’t be used.
Second, this was just my first pass. As I continue on, certain areas will become more developed, some will be good but won’t fit in the story, and others will bloom into a new landscape I never considered.
Also, note the question marks. Your ideas don’t have to be fully formed or understandable to earn a place on your map. Just keep anything that peaks your interest and move on.
Viral Magic Effects
For this particular magic system, the Effects Pillar was the hardest for me to explore. I knew the theme and had lots of cool hats in the closet, but none of them pointed towards specific effects. The field was wide open for an abundant, though admittedly eclectic, harvest of ideas.
While I did come up with some interesting ideas, most of them are still very general. In the future you may find yourself in a similar position.
Guess what: It’s Okay!
This MindMap is still very early in the overall development of the magic. I will be able to circle back later and develop some of these concepts more fully. The point is to get some cool stuff out there, and that most certainly happened.
And That’s It. Stage 1 Complete
There are still tons of unanswered questions about this magic system, but Stage 1 has served it’s purpose. I now have a host of ideas that I can carry forward as the development continues.
Refinement and uniqueness will come later as I move through the other stages and iterate the entire process. Sometime soon, this system will be fed through Stage 2: Alignment as I develop it around a story.
Keep your eyes open for that.
I hope this has been helpful. Talking about something and seeing it in play are two, very different things. If this was useful to you, please share it with others on your social media platform of choice. Maybe we can make this post go as viral as it’s arcane namesake.
Thanks for stopping by and we’ll talk again soon. Rowenson, out.