My second attempt at getting help with defining how magic works in my fantasy setting

Discussion in 'SciFi & Fantasy' started by Jadebrain_Prime, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. Jadebrain_Prime Atheist now Registered Senior Member

    Hello! I'm designing a Pen and Paper RPG set in a fantasy setting of my own creation. As a fantasy setting, it will, of course, have magic in it. What I'm trying to do differently from other fantasy settings involving magic, however, is make it so that the magic in my setting is actually defined by the laws that govern the universe, as in the laws of physics. In my setting, using magic shall not merely be "bypassing" the laws of physics, nor shall it be based on use of mere symbols, words, or gestures, and it certainly won't simply be "wishing." What I need is help to define magic, going beyond what it is and into what its "form" is in the universe, how it is controlled, and so on.

    Now, some of you may already recall the previous thread I created to accomplish this very same thing. The problem with that thread, though, is that most (not all) people replied with the assumption that I wanted help with determining what magic should or should not be able to do in my setting. That is NOT the case! While I will eventually work on that, it's not the subject of this thread, and I kindly ask that any mention of what magic can or can't do be limited to the role of further explaining or otherwise supplementing (such as with examples) ideas on the actual subject of this thread, or otherwise not mentioned at all. The reason I am making this thread is simply to help me define what my setting's magic would be and how and why magic would work at all, given its existence and function being a part of physical law.

    For your convenience, here's some of what I typed in the original post in the previous thread.

    "To explain magic, so far I have the idea that the use of magic involves "arcane energy," a by-product of reactions involving "Qi," or "life energy" (much like how Thermal Energy is given off as waste when other forms of energy are used in real life). This arcane energy is then stored in and around the brain of a creature, where it "receives instructions" in the form of the various processes in the brain. To clarify, these "instructions" can be given by thinking certain thoughts, but the thoughts themselves are not the instructions. The "instructions" are sort of similar to a computer language in function in that they're rather complex and require combination in order to use effectively; for example, where in other settings there is single step to create and throw a fireball, my setting will have an "allocate arcane energy to act as fuel" instruction, followed by an "increase heat" instruction (which would need to produce enough heat to ignite the fuel), followed by a "move fuel to target" instruction, with optional additional instructions for further effects. Also, to use spells effectively, one would have to have knowledge of how things work in a general sense; in other words, magic is merely a tool to apply knowledge of science.

    The problem I'm having, though, is actually determining and visualizing the physical manifestation of the arcane energy itself. For a long time I've struggled to find an explanation of energy beyond variations of "the ability to work," and so I have little idea of what the physical manifestation of energy actually is. Recently, however, I came up with an idea which would hopefully allow me to at least work around my lack of knowledge: that the universe of the setting actually has multiple parallel "layers" of space-time, and these "layers" allow one to work around the physical restriction that two things can't exist in the same location at the same time. With that, there could be a layer which there would be a plasma-like material that would serve to contain the arcane energy (and there'd be another layer for qi as well), and where in the observable layer of space-time there would be the brain of a living person, in that same spot in the "arcane" layer there would be the plasma containing the arcane energy that the creature would use to power a spell. However, given my lack of knowledge I am unsure of the plausibility of such an idea.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
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  3. Mazulu Banned Banned

    I don't know if this helps, but I've tried to figure out how to augment the laws of physics to make things I want possible. I do things like add more standard model particles. I also add other kinds of space-times. Getting them to interface with this universe takes more thought. Does this help?
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  5. Balerion Banned Banned

    My suggestion would be to read China Mieville's work, particularly his Bas-Lag novels. They do a nice job of making the fantastic seem credible and consistent with the universe he creates. Iron Council especially does a fine job explaining the principles that make golemcraft possible, but the other two novels, The Scar and Perdido Street Station, touch on other aspects. They're also great reads, so it won't feel like study.
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  7. Jadebrain_Prime Atheist now Registered Senior Member

    Unfortunately it doesn't, but the problem is on my end; I'm not all that educated when it comes to particle physics, so adding and defining particles would require more knowledge on my part. Adding "other kinds of space-times" sounds a lot like one of the things I'm already doing; again, working out the details is where I'm having trouble, assuming that I continue with the current idea.

    I've never heard of this author. From what you've described, I would assume the setting's physics aren't just hand-waved as technobabble, but rather actually important to understand in order to understand the story itself? If that's the case, I may end up reading his works.

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