Writing Fantasy – Magic

If there is one thing that defines a book as part of the fantasy genre, it’s probably the fact that it has magic in some form or another in it. From stories like Game of Thrones where magic is a very mysterious force to Mistborn where it is heavily explained magic is a key part of a fantasy tale.

Creating a Magic System

When creating a magic system, you need to think about a few things. Where does the magic come from? How is it used? What are the limitations (if any) to those using it? In this post, I will use detail the magic system of my Sundered Crown Saga as an example. In the novels themselves, I’ve chosen not to divulge too much to the reader as I want to keep it mysterious and allow them to learn about it as they read the books.

The Origin

In the Sundered Crown Saga magic is a power that was harnessed by the gods. The world in which the saga is set was created by it. (You can read more about that here and read the origin of humans in the saga here)

As all humans in the world in which the saga is set are descended from those created by the gods, magic is hereditary. As the aeons have gone by and people spread across the world and developed technology, bloodlines have diluted to the point where most people can no longer use magic easily. Those that can are the mages. Bloodlines are vital to the amount of power a mage can wield. For example, Luxon Edioz the main character of the series has a very strong bloodline (I won’t give why its special away).

Magical Abilities

In the Sundered Crown Saga magic can be used for a wide variety of things. From creating light sources to destroying entire cities the things that magic can do is only limited by the abilities and strength of the person using it. There are various skill levels or circles as they’re called in the saga that range from the Lowest Ring to Highest Ring. The Lowest Ring covers simple abilities such as creating light, limited enhancing of physical abilities and lobbing weak fireballs. The Highest Ring, however, covers things like levitation, devastating elemental magic and the trickiest of all; Transmutation.

Bloodlines are important but so is the skill of the spellcaster. Through years of training, a mage with a relatively weak bloodline could cast the highest ring of spells, the only difference being that they would only be able to use it once. This brings us onto the limitations.


When creating a magic system, you need to include limitations. From a story perspective, it can get very boring if the spell caster is invincible. There is a reason why characters like Superman have a weakness. Having someone who is invincible often doesn’t make for good story telling. In the Sundered Crown Saga, using magic too often leaves the caster exhausted. Concentration plays a key part in using magic and focusing for long periods of time is draining. Their natural abilities also limit casters. A mage will tire far quicker than a wizard. Even the villain of the saga, the all powerful Danon is restrained at what he can do. Too much overuse can lead to permanent damage to the caster with the worst consequence being death.

How do you go about planning your magic systems? Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments, or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter


Writing Quest Part 6 – Lore, Magic and Dragons

So, my week off is coming to an end already (sad times), but the good news is that I’ve managed to get a good few thousand words written for Quest. These past few days have been great for recharging the old batteries and getting me back into the writing zone.

The first draft chapters finished so far are the prologue, the opening chapter which gets the book off to a pretty epic start (think a mahoosive battle), chapter 2 focuses on the knight Kaiden and his plans and chapter 3 is about Luxon. I’m aiming to make this book as long as Heir and introduce a lot more lore and magic into the story. A popular request has been for more dragon action, fear not for I will not disappoint.

As a treat here’s the first draft for the prologue –


The fisherman was nervous. The seasons were turning and soon it would be impossible for him to take his little boat so far out to sea. This latest trip had lasted longer than he had anticipated, already the waves were growing in size.

“We should have turned back weeks ago Oaki,” said the fisherman’s wife.

Her name was Ruti and always accompanied him on his trips out on the Boundless Sea, the Sea that lay to the west of Delfinnia and their homeport of BlackMoor. The Cod season was nearly over as the cold of winter began to affect the waters temperature, Oaki had hoped that by sailing so far out that they would be able to make one last catch that would provide them enough coin to sit out the winter in comfort. Now, as the clouds grew darker, he was beginning to regret his decision. The gravitational pull of the two moons that orbited Esperia would soon be at its strongest and when that happened the seas would become un-sailable until the spring.

“I know woman, I know,” Oaki muttered under his breath.

His wife was always right.

He pulled in the nets that he put over the side the previous night. The wind up winch that he had built onto the boats aft began to whir as he turned the wheel. The net began to rise from the Boundless Seas murky depths with little resistance. Another empty net. Oaki swore loudly and kicked the deck in frustration.

At this rate, they would be forced to work the land for that bastard landlord Edgar if they were to earn enough. The fat landlord was the bane of Oaki’s life, the man worked his people like slaves and often made them work in horrid conditions. Oaki had lost two of the fingers on his left hand from frostbite after Edgar had made him work outside at the height of winter.
As her husband began to rant and rave at their ill luck Ruti was watching the horizon.
“Where are we Oaki?” she asked, confusion in her voice.

“How the bugger should I know? We’re in the middle of the Ocean according to the charts. Ah, sod it, not a single fish!” Oaki wailed.

Ruti scowled at her oaf of a husband.

“There’s land over there,” she said.

Oaki looked up from the nets and was about to tell his wife off for being so stupid when he too spotted the landmass in the distance. A sense of panic filled him upon seeing it. Throwing the net down he hurried over to the rudder and yelled at Ruti to set the sail.

“What’s the matter? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost?” Ruti cried.

“We’ve drifted well off course you daft bat. That land is Vucrar, it’s the land of the dragons!”

Oaki had been told tales of the mysterious island ever since the dragons returned to the world and none of them tended to end well for the fishermen. He set the boat on a course away from the island before hurrying to help his wife with the sails. As they pulled on the ropes to set the mainsail a roar pierced the air.

In the sky and amongst the clouds a massive black shape moved. Oaki and Ruti held their breathes. The sound of huge leathery wings flapping carried clearly above the noise of the lapping sea and rattling of the rigging.

They watched cowering in fright, as more and more dark shapes flew through the clouds. The sound of giant wings flapping grew deafening. Oaki looked at his wife wide-eyed.

“There must be hundreds of them,” he whispered.

“Where are they all going?” Ruti asked as she clung to her husband.

“East. By Niveren, they’re heading east to Delfinnia. An army of dragons!”

A roar came from overhead. A dragon had broken through the clouds, it was diving towards them.

“We’ve been spotted! Hurry Ruti we have to move” Oaki shouted in panic.

The mighty beast had tucked its wings flat against its flanks as it dropped like a stone from the sky. As it got closer, the dragon opened its massive mouth. Fire spewed down towards the little boat.

Ruti screamed.

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image by http://www.deviantart.com/art/Hellfire-389654862