In fantasy, you tend to have magic all over the place. Often times, it is used by elves and wizards, while regular people don’t tend to use it unless there’s some kind of magical object. But in a story, what kind of magic system works best? How do you know the magic isn’t too overwhelming but at the same time know it has a purpose in the fantasy world. Well, today I’d like to answer that.
One of my favorite authors has developed a set of rules for how he makes his magic work. One of these rules is fundamental to my writing, and that is that your magic system should provide the character with some kind of power, but it should have limitations, costs, and weaknesses.
In my novel Kingslayer, the main villain possesses a ring that grants immortality and prevents all injury, with one exception. There is also a magic sword that can cut through any object, including the flesh of immortals. This means that the magic ring has a fatal flaw: the one who owns this sword can still kill them. This is a weakness and a limitation to the magic that works quite well in my opinion (though I’m biased).
Another example of how this works is in Lord of the Rings. The Ring of Power can do all kinds of crazy things, but there’s a terrible cost involved. Eventually, the person who owns the ring goes mad and becomes addicted to the intoxicating power. If that’s not a cost, I don’t know what is.
The bottom line is that, when making a magic system, you have to create some kind of balance or your readers won’t be able to suspend their believe in your fantasy.
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