Magic and the supernatural

An important aspect of most fiction is the presence of either magic or the supernatural or both. That is why this week we will be looking at some of the things you will want to keep in mind when developing this part of your world.

Firstly let’s look at magic to begin with you will want to decide whether or not magic even exists in your world and if it does you will need to make decisions around what forms it takes, what are its limitations, can it be learnt or is it innate, do animals and plants contain magic or can they simply utilise it. For example is the magic elemental based and if so say someone can use fire can they summon it at will or can they simply manipulate it if it’s already present.

You will also need to consider how the magic is performed, does the user require an aid such as a wand or a staff or are words enough, saying incantations and the like. Perhaps the magic is simply controlled by thought alone or perhaps by body movements.

Another interesting thing you might like to consider is whether there is a price, are there any adverse effects which can occur because of using magic, does it require some sort of sacrifice on behalf of the user or a non-user, to put it simply what is the cost.

What we are aiming for by asking ourselves these questions is to create a magic system that abides by some sort of rules or laws, this helps to further the reality of your world. It also helps to protect characters from becoming over powered which can cause problems within the plot of your story.

As for the supernatural this could mean things such as spirit and ghosts, angels and demons, gods and deities, or extraterrestrials. Now you may want to ignore the supernatural completely however once again by having myths and legends to draw upon your world becomes more believable.

Note that we will discuss how to construct myths and legends at a later date, for now we will simply discuss the supernatural beings which are behind them.

First of all you need to decide whether there is a clear distinction between good and evil in your world or are there simple several opposing views who consider themselves good and the other evil or is there no good or evil such as a push and pull relationship, think Ying and Yang. Once you have made your decision you might like to place deities or gods behind these, or you might wish to have only one god with some lower or lesser being which rebelled against god thus becoming evil, think Christianity.  When decided upon you will want to think about what your higher beings look like and what their powers are, were they creators, destroyers, etc. Also what is their purpose, if any, and what might their purpose be now if they have become corrupted.

Speaking of lower or lesser beings are their beings which are similar to angels and demons in your world and if so what do they look like and what are their powers. And once again what was their original purpose and what is their now corrupted purpose.

You might also want to create a different plane on which they live like heaven or hell or perhaps they dwell within your world, think Mount Olympus. When thinking on this you will inevitably be faced with the question where do the people in your world go when they die. Now this is a very important question as what a person believes about the afterlife can greatly influence their behaviours and decisions especially in life or death situations. Is there a spiritual aspect to people, do their spirits move on from the world to another plane when they die or are they reincarnated or further more can on occasion people become trapped between this world and the next becoming ghosts.

You may also wish to have several answers to these questions which are believed by the different people in your world, this will further your development of the cultures and factions which may be found in your world and that is what we will be discussing further next time.

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