B&A: Fantasy Poll: Magic System Preference?

If you're a fantasy writer then you know the headache of creating a new, viable, and interesting magic system. What I'm interested in for the sake of this "poll" is what level of magic you're most interested in reading. So, please choose one of the following.

*** Soft Magic System: Where the magic's capabilities aren't explained, the rules aren't defined, and the reader is left with a sense of knowledge that many different things are possible beyond what's explained in a book. This is the magic system that lends the most mysticism to a story because it's mysterious. (Eg: LOTR..the reader never learns the rules to magic or to what extent of magic Gandalf is capable of. Narnia is another example)

*** Hard Magic System: Where the rules and capabilities are thoroughly outlined and lend realism to the story. With this magic system, the magic itself tends to act like a separate character in the story but at the expense of that mystical atmosphere. (Eg: Superman, where his abilities are well known)

*** Gray Magic System: A combination of Hard and Soft but in well placed areas. (Eg: Harry Potter. Hard portion includes spell work and wand use, Soft portion includes World/setting's magic capabilities itself...how Diagon ally or Hogwarts remain hidden or how platform 9 3/4 is accessible, for instance).

1) Which magic system appeals most to your tastes?

2) Does the type of story (or age of target audience), influence your preference in magic systems?

3) What magic system have you used?

4) What did you have to sacrifice (realism, plot direction, etc), in order to use that particular magic system?

9 Answers

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  • 8 years ago
    Best answer

    1) Grey/Soft. I like my magic users to be people with flaws. Like... Harry Dresden is a Wizard. He can do this. He can't do that. He sucks at Earth Magic. He's really good with fire. And he gets to a point where he's exhausted and just can't do anything. I do like to have a few limitations that are known so that you don't have an all powerful wizard who should be able to just solve the problems. For the longest time Allanon from Shannara is sort of that mysterious Druid and at times I wonder why he has to have the Hero do things instead of just dealing with it himself (you know other than that whole... there'd be no story if he just did it)

    I like to get at least a little info on how magic works. For example. Dresden's magic works because he has talent for it and he believes that it will work. He can't do things with magic that he doesn't believe can be done.

    2) Doesn't really matter. As long as it fits in with the world.

    3) I'm actually sort of in the middle of figuring that out. I'll call it Grey on the hard end. for the story I have to sort of define bits of magic that has been lost... My Wizard has to learn about new things he should be able to do.

    And for 4....I don't know yet? Part of learning about the magic is the plot. And my world is 'real' not like our world but it has an internal logic. I'm hoping that I don't loose anything... but gain something I'm not expecting.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    1. I haven't read much fantasy but I didn't know that the magic systems could be divided like this, that's interesting. I guess based on what I have read I'd go with either soft magic or gray magic because I think that sense of mysticism is important in a story so long as it doesn't compromise the realism of the story. I wouldn't like a magic system that was technical because it reads like an engineering manual and takes away from the mystical feel.

    2. I bet it does influence it. Fairy tales don't explain the magic much do they? So I would assume soft magic was more appropriate for younger audiences? Then again, your example of Lord of Rings was true.

    3. I don't write fantasy so none.

    4. Doesn't apply

  • 8 years ago

    1) Which magic system appeals most to your tastes?

    Definitely the grey magic system!

    2) Does the type of story (or age of target audience), influence your preference in magic systems?

    I'm not really sure... Normally I just go with whatever I'm reading.

    3) What magic system have you used?

    I've never completed a story, and have mostly half-finished ones. I once tried to write a story about witches where every ingredient of every spell/potion had a meaning and a reason, and oh god it sucked. Now I just try and write superhero stories, where some people have one or two superpowers, and they have limits. I guess that would be hard, I dunno...

    4) What did you have to sacrifice (realism, plot direction, etc), in order to use that particular magic system?

    I didn't use rules for my magic, I just used the powers within my plot. In the really bad witch story I invented a really unbelievable herb though, so that failed.

  • Chae
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    1) Gray Magic. I simply love the complexity. Hard magic is really well done in some instances - although it tends to become cheesy or over-wrought. I haven't seen soft magic done badly before, so I'm biased towards it. :D

    2) I was starting to think that target audience did influence which magic system was used (thinking of Naruto (children's show) - where magic; or chakra - is manipulated by a stringent system of hand signs and other rules), but then I thought of fairytales and the like - where magic is given none or little explanation, but are also aimed at children. So no - I target audience doesn't influence preference of magic system.

    The type of story might though :)

    3) I try very hard to write Gray or Soft, but my stories seem to lean towards Hard. :D

    4) Realism, definitely. I always struggle with writing realistically but also magically.

    :D

    xxChae

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  • Hazel
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    1. Honestly, I'm not that picky. I love all kinds of magic in books. My preference is extremely small, but I think if I have to choose, I'll go with Grey Magic System.

    2. Not really. Sometimes I think a certain story might call for one or the other.

    3. I've used the Soft Magic System. This is mostly because I couldn't figure out what types of rules I wanted to have, and it turned out just a little chaotic. But it matches the story alright.

    4. Realism, definitely.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    1) Which magic system appeals most to your tastes?

    The Gray Magic System appeals to me, and not only in the fantasy genre. I like the overall mysticism, but that element of logic behind it. It's the perfect compound.

    2) Does the type of story (or age of target audience), influence your preference in magic systems?

    Somewhat, but it really depends on the quality of the work itself. Harry Potter, although aimed toward children, managed to snag a few adults. As long as the story is enticing, I don't care what magic system is used.

    3) What magic system have you used?

    Hard Magic System, mainly. I have this inability to leave things be when they are not fully explained or have no logical reason behind them.

    4) What did you have to sacrifice (realism, plot direction, etc), in order to use that particular magic system?

    I never sacrifice realism. Plot direction is a "can do" in my opinion, and I have put it on the line.

    ~~ ††AnkhesenKheper††

  • 1.) Gray Magic System. I enjoy the realm of possibility, and for some reason - that makes it feel more magical to me. Though I like for some things to be explained. Not for me to be thinking, "Okay. But why."

    2) Does the type of story (or age of target audience), influence your preference in magic systems?

    ---Nope.

    3) What magic system have you used?

    ---I believe I've used all three. But I definitely use the Gray Magic System the most.

    4) What did you have to sacrifice (realism, plot direction, etc), in order to use that particular magic system?

    ---For my current story, I think two characters' type of magic break a little bit of realism. I hoping to work on them and make them more realistic.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    1. Um, I'm not too hot on the fantasy genre outside of horror or paranormal. But I have read a few and the ones I've read had pretty hard magic systems. The soft fantasy seems to be a more appropriate option for my taste but that might have to do with the fact that I like paranormal. I would say in between, the gray.

    2. I would think so, yeah. Soft fantasy, like you just said, allows for more freedom and suspense so I prefer it. I think hard magic wouldn't work in fairy tales though because of the sort of transcendent nature of a moral fairy tale. It would kind of defeat the purpose and put too much importance on the rules instead of the latent messages.

    3. Soft because I write paranormal

    4. Um, the nature of the speculative genre sort of requires you to sacrifice realism in a sense don't you think? I would say I had to sacrifice realism just based on the topic alone.

  • Mandy
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    1. Gray.

    2. I suppose it could. If you're writing for a younger audience, you'd probably go with Hard Magic.

    3. Hard and gray.

    4. For Hard, I had to sacrifice time...ahaha. It took forever.

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