Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Endhaven's Magic System

For the longest time, I did not think that Endhaven had a magic system. I thought that it had a variety of magic systems, each of which was confoundingly inobvious to the other.

I was wrong.

Endhaven has a magic system. It is metaphorical magic. As magic is beyond all people, simply too infinite to grasp and nothing at all of what a mind can conceive, it must be cast as a metaphor in order to be understood. Once you understand something as a metaphor, then you can express yourself through that metaphor, but are also limited by the natural limitations of that metaphor.

So, let's say that magic is like a rock. You can then use magic to smack someone in the eye with it, to smash a window, make a sound in the bushes far away, or maybe even bang open a nut with it. These are all natural extension of the metaphor. I suppose that if you wanted to sink like a stone, you could do that as well simply by gathering more rocks. If you wanted to weigh someone down with a curse, put many rocks on them. You see how this goes. The metaphor can do all these things, but what the metaphor can't do is most everything else.

The advantage to the reader is that this style of magic takes remarkably little effort to explain. Once you set up the metaphor, the reader can easily follow the metaphor, which acts as the rules-set for the power. They'll appreciate clever uses of the power within the limitations. And you as an author are given a symbolic set of vocabulary to go both with the power and the character.

"Scrog's stony gaze fell upon the goblins. With a flick of wrist, Scrog let out his stone spell. The chief goblin's hand flew to his face. 'My eye!' it whined piteously, like a child caught being naughty."

Action reinforces the metaphor, and the metaphor reinforces the action.

"Meerkat threw her flaming blade to the ground, red hot, the blade forever twisted. She met Targa's surprise glance. 'What? That's why I only buy cheap swords.'"

The great thing about this system is that I can explain the entire system, in all its complexity, in one short blog post.

Another great thing about the system is that the system pulls me away from the "energy/elemental" style magic systems which predominates fantasy today. I'm able to achieve a distinctive verve without sounding pretentious or descending into naval gazing. I can take anything typical and the system turns the power from something exceptional into something naturalistic.