Worldbuilding — Magic — Types of Magic-Workers

I’m doing another Wolfglen Legacy worldbuilding post here, again regarding the magic-system. Mostly this is meant to be a quick-and-dirty guide to some of the different types of magically talented people (which are a small segment of the population, according to my post on the system of magic in my world). If I develop any other types of magic-workers, I will add them on in another post.

As always, criticism or suggestions are welcome. Hope you enjoy it!

BASIC INFO

Theoretically, it’s possible for a given magic-worker to do most or all of these things, but their expenditure of energy is usually enormous outside of their specialty. A seer, for instance, can spend hardly any effort in seeing what’s ahead of her on the road for dozens of miles, but could break into a sweat if she uses her powers to lift a large book several feet into the air.

As said in the last post on my magic system, active spells cannot directly affect living tissue, apart from the magic-user’s own body (although the spell’s physical effects can affect others, and elixirs and certain objects already imbued with magic can have an effect). Different cultures and languages will have different names for these varying ranks.

A magic-worker’s strengths and proclivities are largely dictated by his or her physical environment during the magic’s formative stages. If there is a lot of combat or destruction around them during that time — anything from the rending of bodies to earthquakes to the demolition of houses — their magic is more likely to be violent and destructive in nature. Or if they get little sleep and use their eyes more actively than most (reading, hunting, picking out faces in a crowd, etc.), they are more likely to become a seer. If there is much water around them, they’ll have a greater sensitivity to controlling water. And so on.

VARIOUS TYPES

Seer ~ Can transfer the sense of sight from their eyes to their seer’s gem, a transparent stone about 9 inches long and made of diamond, smooth and shaped like a flattened egg. They can then hover and guide this stone a great distance from their body; some of the strongest seers have been known to send their stones almost a hundred miles away and could still call it back. The farther the stone goes, the weaker their sight through it. If the stone is broken or goes too far while their sight is still attached to it, they will go permanently blind.

“Warrior” ~ Loosely defined, someone with magic that is immediately practical for causing destruction on the battlefield, and who has been appointed to do so. Typically, this means they specialize in spells involving explosions, heat, or shockwaves.

Carrimva ~ Magic-workers who can change the color of an object without using pigment, even though they are often nicknamed “painters” or “dyers.”

Witch ~ Any magic-worker who has cast spells through a pitch diamond (a Founder crystal altered from its original state). This process permanently alters the way magic pours through their body and mind, making their spells harsher and harder to control.

Hilnarra ~ Someone who can sculpt, fracture, or otherwise alter the structure of a solid physical substance. They are often renowned artists and craftsmen, especially when they focus on glass, wood, metal, ceramic, or stone. Ice, dead bones, and leather are also popular materials for them to use.

Conduit ~ A magic-worker who can turn themselves into a channel for magic to flow from one place to another, rather than turning it into physical energy. The most common use of this talent is putting energy into crystals that are depleted and can be recharged, or to imbue mundane objects with magic for a spell.

SUPPLEMENTAL NOTE: THE SARNOUTHAN SOCIETY OF MAGIC-WORKERS

Sarnoutha is the country where the first book takes place, and like in most developed nations, its magic-workers have their own institution. Through some donations and a lot of private funding, the Society takes care of its members’ education and training. Its members are divided into seven ranks based on ability. From least to greatest:

Fledgling

Conjurer

Druid

Magician

Wizard

Summoner

Warlock

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“The Hobbit” – Second Trailer

My day has gotten off to a tremendous start, thanks in part to this astounding new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I am sitting here, grinning ear-to-ear.

Even if I was worried about Jackson expanding his two movies into three (which I’m not), those worries would be completely dead by now. I am thrilled at the promise and quality on display here. See you at the midnight showing!

The Everwind Times: A Newspaper for Another World

Author and friend Janden Daniel Hale (a pen name for Dan Donche) has begun promoting his dark science fiction series Everwind in a lot of unique ways online. There are the posts on Facebook and the interviews a lot of authors do, but I like his unique style in using spoken word and graphic design to build up a deeper online picture. So far he has a few short stories published on Amazon here and here, but there is a lot more to his world than that (you can read another short story for free here).

I’m posting about him here to show you one of the ways he is promoting his series: a newspaper chronicling events in his intricately built and detailed fictional world. The Everwind Times is a refreshing, creative way to immerse readers, generate interest, and show you more of the gritty, harsh setting Hale has created. The fascinating articles include topics like “1 in 3 Eggs Sold Are Bad – Here’s How to Tell Them Apart” and “String of Murders Linked to Cursed Deck of Arcanum Cards.” If you’re a worldbuilding nut like me, this is one site that is especially worthy of your attention.

Even if dark sci-fi isn’t your thing, I recommend giving it a look, especially if you’re a writer fixing to do some promotion on your own. Marketing is an area where more authors than ever before are taking the reins. The internet (and physical promotional objects, from coasters to pens) has taken this marketing in a lot of strange but exciting directions. Maybe it will give you some ideas as well.

Are there any neat strategies like this that you’re using to promote your work? Are they more physical promotional tools like paperweights, decorated coffee mugs, or T-shirts? Or are you using the many available tools online to pique peoples’ curiosity?

What Are Your Goals as a Writer?

No real advice or musings here. Rather, this is a post of inquiry. I’d like to hear from my readers who are also writers. Specifically, I’d love to know, what keeps you going? Do you dangle a carrot before you that encourages you to keep typing, revising, submitting, or even thinking? Heck, it doesn’t have to be a writing-related goal.

It seems we all need incentive of one form or another. For myself, I have an agent expecting the full novel whenever I can send it to her. So, I have sworn off on watching certain movies until the book is finally revised and sent off (if you’re wondering, the movies are The Hunger Games, The Avengers, and even the beloved John Carter).

So, how about you? Any goals you want to try speeding along by giving yourself a reward at the finish line?

Characters Need to Feel the Burn

…whether by real fire, a horrible boss who’s always on his case, or a gallon of coffee in his lap.

One of the lessons I’ve been learning and applying recently in fiction writing is that characters (especially main characters) should suffer in some way, throughout the story. They cannot only have fun as the tale goes through its motions, and they cannot be given everything they want, certainly not at the moment they want it — where’s the drama in ordering a cup of coffee and getting it without incident?

And they can’t always shrug it off when they aren’t getting their way. If nothing is important to them, why would the reader think it important? Protagonists need to be hit where it hurts, because then the reader is more invested in their story. Pain breeds empathy, and the more your reader can connect with your character, the better.

To demonstrate, I will link to a hysterically funny clip from the Robot Chicken Star Wars parody, about Emperor Palpatine’s visit to the second Death Star. All copyrights and such belong to Adult Swim, Robot Chicken, Cartoon Network, etc. Go check it out.

Are you back? All right. That should start to give you a general idea of what happens to characters worth reading about: throughout the story, things keep happening that get in their way. Whether it’s from external conflict or their inner flaws and fears, characters’ journeys should not be easy.

Keep the pressure on your character by having new tortures thrown at them, or else one half of the novel will rivet your eyes to the page, and the other half will drag you, bored, through cold and dull mud. Readers want to read about people triumphing over adversity, not going for a pleasant stroll in the countryside without drama or danger.

Of course, there are many ways to make someone suffer, and different people should encounter adversity in various ways. Depending on the effect and the kind of story you’re telling, your character doesn’t need to be in constant pain or terror. It seems less than honest when the character (and reader) gets no chance at all to breathe and gather their thoughts. It varies, and you might have to trust your instinct a little. Tristan Thorn got to relax, smile, and take in the scenery quite a bit in Stardust, and Buttercup and Westley had many tender moments together in The Princess Bride, with episodes of adventure and peril in between. On the other hand, Arya Stark hardly ever catches a breather from trauma and tragedy in Game of Thrones, and Kvothe in Name of the Wind similarly has a devil of a time navigating a city or a magical academy on his own initiative.

Even if they win in the end, your beloved characters should get a rough ride. Now for the real challenge: to try applying that in my own work….

Fiction: Allosaurus Attack

Another brief fiction exercise. Forgive me for not posting for a while. This has been a very fast week. I hope you enjoy this, one of the writing prompts I did at a workshop last week.

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The man didn’t make a sound except for his annoyed grunt. He willed shivers away, despite the freezing water coating his skin as if to encase him in ice. The hem and lapels of Carter’s trench coat slapped him like wet flippers. Needlelike rain and temperamental winds pushed on him, the shelter of the barge’s wreckage enticing him to come back and leave the newly opened clearing. His feet planted all the harder in the mud, plasma rifle as steady as stone in his callused grip, his gaze searching the splintered trees and wounded earth. He swore there was something big behind the foliage the antigravity barge had cleared on its way down. Something from nightmares and horror movies.

How much longer until the beacon’s cry for help could be answered? Carter didn’t look away from the jungle to check his wristband’s readout. The jungle on this continent needed to be watched. Always. Rescue teams would get here when they got here.

A glint of white teeth showed behind the branch of a giant tree fern. He cracked off a round of sky-blue light, an involuntary “Aha!” fired off with it. The big something bellowed out a cry like an avalanche when the bolt flashed against its hide, like a lightning strike.

It strode out toward Carter, three clawed fingers flexing on each hand, legs bent and rippling with power. The leviathan pressed on in furious strides, resisting the momentary sting of more rounds of plasma.

Why? Carter thought. Why was he still shooting? Why did the cannons all have to break when the barge dropped out of the sky? Why didn’t he have anything effective?

Scaly jaws with fangs as long as a hand opened and descended on him with a revolting stench. Rotten meat. Hot decay.

Carter only ripped away from the trance just in time to veer off at a 45 degree angle, tripping on a stone hiding under the ferns. A flaying pain traveled over his leg, and the plasma rifle was gone. He searched for it through the undergrowth, but the roar seemed to catapult him into the jungle.

Blinded by the rifle’s rounds, with hardly any of the overcast sky to light his way, he shot through the jungle, into denser vines and trees until he was sure the monster wouldn’t follow.

He groaned and winced at the wound his stumble had opened, the pain that forced him back to reality. What had he been running from?