Magic System:
The following is a set of notes on a randomly-generated fictional magic system -- that is, a set of beliefs and practices about magic -- designed for a fantasy/science fiction setting such as a story or game. It can be wholly or partly true in the context of that setting, or just help to stimulate further ideas. The words "mage" and "mundane" refer to anyone who can or can't use magic, respectively; exactly what "magic" means is the point of this exercise. This generator program is meant as a reaction to fantasy settings like those of "Final Fantasy," "Lord of the Rings," and old-school "Dungeons and Dragons," and what are now cliched representations of magic. Let's come up with something new and creative for our own work!

The notes below may seem inconsistent, but that's a hint that something's inaccurate about them -- people's beliefs are wrong, or the situation is changing due to new discoveries, or you should re-interpret one comment in light of others.

This program's output is public-domain; use it freely. The program itself is by Kris Schnee.

The Nature of Magic:
Where Magic Comes FromSpiritsSupernatural beings within the universe lend their aid to certain people; are these beings intelligent, and what are their motives if so?
How Powerful Is It?Non-existantMagic doesn't really exist! Everything below is a lie, a delusion -- but people believe it anyway! Look at the profusion of magical beliefs in the real world for evidence that this is possible. Even though it's fake, it can have major social effects.
Who Has Magic?Few peopleMages are rare and feared for their power. Governments want mages either working for them, or dead.
Nonhumans and MagicCertain speciesWhole species of creatures exist that can use magic, or that even depend on it.
How Is It Gotten?RandomSome people can use magic better than others, and it's not clear how or why. Their existence baffles scientists and philosophers, who seek a more satisfying explanation.
FormalityChaoticMagic seems to vary so much among people, times and places that it's hard to describe or study in a consistent way. Magical instruction focuses on how to find useful patterns in one's own magic.
RitualPropsMagic requires having certain objects on hand, such as a staff. These can be stolen or destroyed... or secretly replaced.
Magic and TechnologySynergyThe only thing better than a giant robot is an ENCHANTED giant robot. Students study magic with an electronic device known as a Speak 'n Spell.


The Drawbacks of Magic:
-Karma: The good or evil will put into a spell comes back to the caster in some way, so that destructive spells eventually harm the mage. See eg. Haitian Voudoun.
-Duty: A mage is often bound to serve some teacher or organization. This isn't necessarily bad, as this master may also provide income, protection and equipment.

Special Aspects of Magic:
-Familiars: Can be created -- Some mages create "familiars" out of normal animals or spirits, maybe as assistants or for their own amusement.

Theme / Elements of Magic:
These are the main actions and substances that magic works with.
Sustain / Heal: Moon


A plainly-formatted version of these notes you can copy elsewhere:-- Magic System --
Supernatural beings within the universe lend their aid to certain people; are these beings intelligent, and what are their motives if so? Magic doesn't really exist! Everything below is a lie, a delusion -- but people believe it anyway! Look at the profusion of magical beliefs in the real world for evidence that this is possible. Even though it's fake, it can have major social effects. Mages are rare and feared for their power. Governments want mages either working for them, or dead. Whole species of creatures exist that can use magic, or that even depend on it. Some people can use magic better than others, and it's not clear how or why. Their existence baffles scientists and philosophers, who seek a more satisfying explanation. Magic seems to vary so much among people, times and places that it's hard to describe or study in a consistent way. Magical instruction focuses on how to find useful patterns in one's own magic. Magic requires having certain objects on hand, such as a staff. These can be stolen or destroyed... or secretly replaced. The only thing better than a giant robot is an ENCHANTED giant robot. Students study magic with an electronic device known as a Speak 'n Spell.

Drawbacks of magic: The good or evil will put into a spell comes back to the caster in some way, so that destructive spells eventually harm the mage. See eg. Haitian Voudoun. A mage is often bound to serve some teacher or organization. This isn't necessarily bad, as this master may also provide income, protection and equipment.

Other notes: Some mages create "familiars" out of normal animals or spirits, maybe as assistants or for their own amusement.

Theme: Sustain / Heal: Moon

Links:
Seventh Sanctum: A collection of random content generators like this.
World Tree, an RPG with a great setting and detailed magic system.
Ars Magica: An RPG with a detailed magic system, especially re: familiars. A version of it's available for free.
Rym: A detailed fantasy/sci-fi RPG setting, maddeningly incomplete, with an emphasis on magical technology.

Other Suggested Reading:
Steve Jackson Games' "GURPS" books (fictional background on many topics, Religion is an especially good one), Stephen Pinker's "How the Mind Works" (a readable guide to a lot of real mysteries), E.O. Wilson's "Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge" (the universals of human culture), and Carl Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle In the Dark" (re: why people believe the things they do).

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