Magic Systems, or Writers are Often Masochistic

Since I’ve strayed from world building and, arguably, writing a bit lately, I thought I’d get back to my recent world build. To set the stage, this is an Earth-based urban fantasy with some high fantasy elements potentially possible. But, the important thing, as per my title, is the magic system(s) I’m developing.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, this world has four types of magic wielding beings:

Mages—basically human, somewhat extended lifespans, and ability to harness and shape magical energy

Mage-Born—once human mages, changed over 600,000 years ago into different species

Adepts—basically human, have some magical talent but not enough to do true magic, they can channel very tiny amounts of magical energy that become concentrated if they remain in the body, e.g. are used on the adept, but are virtually non-existent otherwise.

Non-Humans—Centaurs, Dragons, Dwarves, Elves (Sidhe-ish), Elflings (Little People), Giants, Nymphs, and Satyrs, each species has its own magic abilities.


Mages have access to seven different methods of using magic. These are really more techniques or styles than they are different systems. To compare, they are sort of like Rowling’s magic subjects—ex. a Harry Potter wizard can make someone happy via Charms or by getting them to drink a Potion, same effect but different method.

Alchemy—magical chemistry, more or less; the creation of elixirs through mixing myriad ingredients

Cryptomancy—use of words and symbols to focus and direct power

Enchantment—use of magic to permanently imbue objects with spells (versus short term, temporary imbuement that other methods can do)

Hermetic—use of, often complex, tried & true exacting rituals; “scientific magic”

Sorcery—use of a familiar to focus and direct power

Wizardry—use of a specially prepared and attuned staff to focus and direct power

Witchcraft—use of ad hoc rituals and ingredients, often whatever feels right at the moment, never the same ritual twice for any given spell

The mage-born were once human practitioners of some of the oldest forms of magic in real Earth history. Then magic changed, and in the process those mages became something else. They are the only people in the modern world capable of using their specific magics, and they sometimes produce mages of their own (but not adepts). Human mages are, if they can find a teacher, able to learn the basics of these magics, but only the specific mage-born species can go beyond the “apprentice” level.

Geomancy (Gargoyle)—the magic of ley lines and earth

Lithomancy (Hadean)—the magic of gemstones (genetically embedded in hadeans)

Necromancy (Lich)—the magic of spirits and the dead

Sanguomancy (Vampire)—blood magic

Tantromancy (Siren)—sex magic

Thaumaturgy (Treefolk)—the magic of trees and other plants

Yantromancy (Goblin)—tattoo magic (genetic; each goblin is born with specific tattoos)

Adepts are basically wuxia-style chi wielders, except they channel general magical energy not chi/ki.

Non-Humans were never human, still aren’t, and cannot produce offspring with humans. And they each have at least one magic-like ability specific to their species:
Centaur—Brewing (basically beer-based alchemy), Healing (uncommon to rare)

Dragon—Air Control (Eastern), Fire Control (Western), Water Control (Eastern)

Dwarf—Crafting Enchantment (uncommon), Earth Control

Elf—Glamour (illusion)

Elfling—Concealment (easily, magically, hide), Land Connection (sense things about the land)

Giant—Magic Resistance

Nymph—Feature Control (move trees, cause rockslides), Feature Sense (know what happens around associated natural feature)

Satyrs—Emotion Control (music based; fear, panic, desire, etc.)

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