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World Building - Magic System

Creating a magic system. Sounds easy right? And it is, to a point. When creating the world of Aileryan, the first thing I needed to do was work out what magic would look like. I had to first understand the role that magic would play in my world and how it worked, with the system becoming the framework that supported that magic. Any magic system asks the reader to suspend their disbelief but it's also really important that your magic system, whatever it is, makes sense within your world.

So, I had to work out what would the rules would be. Would it be hard or soft magic? Hard magic has a strict set of rules that are explained to the reader so they know exactly what to expect. Soft magic on the other hand asks readers to simply accept it for what it is - little explanation is given on how this magic works. I think my magic system sits somewhere between these hard and soft.

With that in mind, I set about working out what sort of magic I wanted my characters to possess. As there are elements in the world strongly based on Celtic myth and paganism, like the Wheel of the Year and the sabbats and seasonal festivals that accompany it, I wanted my magic to suit this. I settled eventually on elemental magic, for both my fae and human populations. That led me back to my books on paganism and wicca and what each element represents, how it works, what its attributes are and how someone uses the elements in making magic.

In Aileryan, those humans born with magic are called mages, and are proficient in one of three elements: earth, air or water. Fire, the fourth element, is a forbidden power due to the creation of the Rift and the dangers it brought. It is also uncommon for a human to be born with more than one elemental power, and those that are, are known as Anomalies and are destined to die for the threat they pose to the natural way of things. Mages use their magic in subtle ways - earth mages can, of course, manipulate anything associated with earth: soil, plant life, rocks. Water mages can manipulate water and air mages...air was a little harder. In the end, I settled on an air mage being able to control the air around them or around another person, but I also included the ability to use air magic to be able to read thoughts and emotions of others, influence thoughts and emotions and enter the mind of another and manipulate thought, not something most air mages do lightly, as it is a true violation of free will. There are, however, certain characters who don't really care for that rule.

Fire is the only element that does not exist in a natural state. Fire needs something to fuel it, something to give it life. So the way fire magic worked was going to be a little different. A fire caster can give birth to fire - they can create and control the element of fire and fire calls to itself - fire casters are influenced by a fire burning in a hearth, for instance. They can shape fire and control it with their mind. The magic of a fire caster comes from within themselves. But fire is volatile, and has its own will, as some of my characters discover.

Magic for the fae is also based on the four elements, although it is more common for the fae, known as witches instead of mages, to possess more than one elemental power and they use their magic much the same way human mages do, although the combination of more than one element makes for more powerful magic. The fae possess other magics as well, simple things like tricks and glamours, as well as enhanced senses that work alongside their magic. They are more attuned to the power of the earth and whoever rules the fae lands at any time is chosen by the goddess and given a boost in their powers, if that makes sense, for it is their power that protects and maintains the earth and everything in it, like a life force.

My next series, however, is shaping up to be much more complicated in terms of magic and the framework that supports it within my new world. Stay tuned for more on that later.

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