In fantasy magic is almost universally represented as some type of maleable energy, be it the "force" or "elemental schools" its all a type of accessible and usable energy if you have the right stuff (training, bloodlines, equipment).
I would be interested in seeing another model of magic. One idea that I think about at times is to make it personal and an expression of a communion...that is to say one who wields magic of some sort or another does so by virtue of an affinity/communion with a being whose life presence is manifest as what we might call magic...and it too can have its life via participation in a yet more refined being...or something like that. Of course I see a certain gnostic sensibility/worldview ... nested powers thing... but I wonder if it is tweakable away from the worst aspects of that. Still I wonder what if magic was not the exercise of a type of energetic power but the "making present" in a sense of a person, albeit a nonhuman person.
Could be, but doesn't have to be...could be some lesser but still pretty great power. I suppose it could even be the wielder himself with the right setup...magic requires a kind of identification in order be exercise. For example you don't make a "magic carpet" fly without the carpet becoming a part of you...and at least for a long while staying a part of you. You don't cause the roots of a tree to ensnare your pursuers without the tree being part of you as well. Thus magic comes with a cost, the more one spreads oneself the "thinner" one's being....indeed one can become "lost" in all one's magical dissipation. This would also explain why it's easier/more pragmatically desirable to work magic in league with a greater power, but that too has a price, one becomes an extension of that being.
Sounds like you've got it pretty well worked out, and there's only so much room to change the system. I imagine that's a good thing for an author. I, on the other hand, tried something, and am now in limbo because both of my revisions received negative feedback for opposite characteristics . . . You are set, I could go either way, and both conditions could be a strength or a weakness.
But on to the point. Because you've developed this system of magic to the extent you have, you could easily write a book using it, and just be sure that the reader understands what the system is. What are the basic assumptions? Tolkien doesn't explain the magic at work in the Lord of the Rings, and neither does C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia, but we understand what's going on. That these characters are drawing on power provided to them either by coming into compliance with the "deep magic," the rules that govern the universe, or inherent in them as divine servants of Illuvitar, in the case of Gandalph (almost like someone baptised in the Holy Spirit, in a way.) So be sure that your reader understands where the power's coming from, and how it's used, but don't stop the story to explain it. Jeff doesn't like that. *playful evil grin*
But here's what gets to me: If I understand it right, the practitioner of the magic under your system, is using power for their own ends, to work their will on the world around them by non-natural means. So magic is still the person trying to exercise their will. This is, in my view, mutually exclusive of the work of God, which requires that the person allow the Holy Spirit to do what the Holy Spirit wills, through them, for His glory rather than their own.
I suppose you could still have the hero using magic. Like I pointed out earlier, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis did it, and Karen Hancock and Stephen Lawhead were both borderline. You couldn't really be sure if the divine chose to act on behalf of the petitioner, or if the practitioner caused stuff to happen beyond their natural capability. So there's a precedent for servants of the divine using magic, or something very like magic, in speculative fiction. This in-spite of the teaching in the Bible against the use of magic.
So, IMHO, write your story using the magic system you've outlined here. Make it in the context of our universe, and our God, or create something new. Let it be magic, and thus condemned by the divine, or let it be the divine working on behalf of the characters that serve him/her/it. Any of these things could work, and it could still be considered Christian Speculative Fiction, IMHO. I think you'd venture outside Christian Spec. Fic. however, if you had people taking from the Divine, harnessing his/her/its power, and using it for the character's purposes and glory, and had the character being successful and heroic therein.
BTW, it's interesting to note that there are Christians who have taken prayer, and tried to use it to work magic. They try to push or manipulate God into working according to their will, for their blessing or that of others, and for their glorification. A specific example: God gives people a gift of discernment, so they try to look into people they meet, to see what's wrong with them, in-order to utter "words of knowledge" over the people, thus impressing them and convincing them to do whatever it is the practitioner wants. Beware of these false prophets.
Some struggle through the desert because He said . . .[br][br]". . .If you would be my disciples, you must take up your cross daily and follow me"
I would have to add in such a system, that demons would be a constant threat. Reach out and call for power like that, and you may find someone willing to answer who does not have your best interests in mind.
There are those who say that no true story ever ends.[br]There are others who say that there is only one true story and we are all a part of it.
In principle I think it would work the other way...the magic works because it is consistant with the person/will of the source. There could be no manipulation of the source because the wielder would be an active participant/sharer in its life and persona. If it were not so, there would be no expression of "magic".
The whole demon/angel thing is quite relevant for this potential magical system does not in principle lie far afield from possession. I think for the sake of argument we could say possession is a forced/delusional or illicit species of this kind of participation. It may be theologically too sticky to engage usefully.
Another way to look at it is the creation of eusocialities....mystical ant farms of sentiences that act as a corporate being...with varying degrees of individual recognition of their place in the scheme of things or grasp of the big picture...the will that drives their will.
On another note, if one had to have an 'energy' system one could always dust off Douglas Adam's Improbability Drive mechanics. That is a drive that taps into the enormous power of the improbable. For example you could wave your magic mystical stick and a troupe of flying monkeys in lavender tutus would swoop in through the open window (that just moved from the south wall to the east wall) to serve you tea and jam out of porcelain hiking boots...because that is so much more improbable than waving an amputated section of Hamamelis Virginiania at a tea pot across the room and expecting it to fly over and pour a wee dollop its contents into your waiting cup.
All of which would explain why the wizards with the greatest power are the mad or delusional ones.
Last Edit: Dec 12, 2008 13:05:53 GMT -5 by seraphim
Another idea that occurs to me, getting back to a person/being based system is to keep the element of communion/participation with "greater powers" but make them not necessarily superior beings per se. Consider man's relationship with the animal world. There are certain species he has domesticated as servants or resources. Others on occassion he tames and may even push towards domestication. So what if there were a whole world of non corporeal "animals" with great potential power in our world, but no natural points of access. Magic users then might have some sort of perceptive/interactive capacity with these creatures and may even have whole domestic strains of them, individuals of which they bond with...we might even say "possess" in some sense. Being of both worlds they can make use of the creature's potentialities in this world so that the magic user can extend himself to further take in and manipulate more mudane objects and energies.
Magic users then might be classified not by arcane schools and elemental associations...but by their "livestock", so to speak. The types of things the "sheep" herder can do might be similar to the "cattle barron" but with some subtle differences, but both of these will be much different than the wizard "mahaut" analog...(a mahaut is an elephant trainer/companion), and these would be very different than the sorts who raise parrots or finches or dachshunds. For example an apiary type magic user might be able to manage/manipulate many tiny things/energies all at once...like a 1000 magic bees, but the magic user mahaut might wield just one very great power. The bee mage might "conjure an intricately woven article of clothing with a wealth of ornamental/magical details, where the mahaut mage might pick up a castle off a cliff and throw it into the sea or cast fireballs the size of tour busses. And of course if mages fight, then battle is raging in two spheres of existance at once...and to make things more interesting there can be interlopers on either side. For example the mahaut mage's beast in mid battle might be startled by the random scurryings of a "mouse" near its "feet" on the other side....and the magic would falter this side...maybe dropping the castle on the mage's head instead. Also, since these are creatures...if they are badly wounded and abused or frightened then that would spill over...magic might go wild a bit or the mage compeltely loose his powers when the creature dies or runs away. Finch mage might be able to do a lot of cool stuff...but if the "finches" that side have to deal with a prowling "cat" they are not going to stick around to do parlor tricks.
Last Edit: Dec 12, 2008 15:12:10 GMT -5 by seraphim