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Author Topic: Best Magic System in Fantasy?  (Read 13941 times)

Overlord

Best Magic System in Fantasy?
« on: October 07, 2011, 12:09:59 PM »
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  • Personally it has to be the whole Allomancy and Feruchemy system of the Mistborn world by Sanderson. Burning metals to get powers, different people having different powers, certain people having access to more powers and so on - it really made the series.

    Question though - is there a better one?


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    Author: "Son of…" in 1853 (2013)
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    Bahl

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #1 on: October 07, 2011, 01:13:17 PM »
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  • Sure there is.

    The Warrens and Holds of Erikson. It was bloody brilliant.

    Spellwright from Blake Charlton is also interesting with them pulling the spells out of their muscles.

    And the Poets from Daniel Abraham is brilliant. It subtle, making the magic part of the background in stead of one of the big things in the book, which I appreciated.

    Ye olde Will and the Word of Eddings always just made sense to me.

    The Runes in Painted man is also cool.

    Rothfuss' magic system is just too weird, with the mind splitting etc to entice me.

    These are all just of the top of my head, I'm pretty sure there are loads I'm forgetting.

    I like my magic in my fantasy, but some books *coughblackprismcough* seems to be quite smarmy about their magic system. The characters are  mere furniture next to the awesome magic system dreamt up by the writer. And I do not like that.
    Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
    Terry Pratchett

    Majin Paul

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #2 on: October 07, 2011, 01:27:03 PM »
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  • I'd agree with Mistborn, but I also like the Elantris magic system too.

    jdiddyesquire

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #3 on: October 07, 2011, 01:55:08 PM »
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  • In general, Sanderson puts so much time into his magic systems.  Spellwright's stuff is cool, although I still have a hard time imagining what it "looks" like.

    WOT is a lot of fun.  Hard to beat old school Dragonlance style.
    Justin
    My reviews and other malarkey:
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    Rhevian

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #4 on: October 07, 2011, 01:59:27 PM »
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  • Niven's corollary to Clarke's law states "Any sufficiently rigorously defined magic is indistinguishable from technology." Personally I prefer magic systems that have some element of mystery to them (unless used as a basis for a roleplaying game)

    michaelramm

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #5 on: October 07, 2011, 02:54:46 PM »
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  • I'd agree with Mistborn, but I also like the Elantris magic system too.

    I also agree about the Allomancy being the coolest magic system that I have read. I like the magic in Elantris as well, but it kept reminding me of the Power Rangers Samurai (thanks to my 9YO son) drawing the aons in the air and seeing them materialize.
    Currently Reading: Asssassin's Apprentice, Theft of Swords, Gardens of the Moon, Prince of Thorns

    Favorite Authors: Tolkien, Sanderson, Kemp, Salvatore, Sullivan

    goodreads: michaelramm

    mitleid

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #6 on: October 07, 2011, 02:59:55 PM »
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  • Hard to beat old school Dragonlance style.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

    ChristinaJL

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #7 on: October 07, 2011, 03:33:15 PM »
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  • Mistborn and all of what RSAShark said!!   ;D

    Overlord

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #8 on: October 07, 2011, 03:46:43 PM »
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  • Worst Magic system? Tolkien's Gandulf. His magic seems to vary from nothing useful at all to Godlike.

    It seems to be especially useless when he needs it, right? :P
    Founder: http://fantasy-faction.com
    Editor: Fantasy-Faction Anthology (Aug 2014)
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    EatthePen

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #9 on: October 07, 2011, 03:47:11 PM »
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  • I really didn't find the Mistborn system that interesting. The reasons behind it and what it meant about the world were OK*, but it just felt videogamey to me. Using powers didn't really affect the characters' personalities very much, except that some enjoyed it and were comfortable with it, and some weren't.

    *footnote due to spoiler too big to trust to just spoiler text, absolutely DO NOT READ unless you've already read the trilogy:
    Spoiler for Hiden:
    The stuff about the bodies of Ruin and Preservation was awesome from a world/system point of view, makes me quite excited for further trilogies
    .

    The (very limited) clerical magic in A Song of Ice and Fire really appealed to me, because it actually forced the characters to make compromises they didn't want to make; I'm thinking of people having to change religions or violate their personal moralities (or oaths) to get the magic to work for them.

    It's perhaps ironic that I haven't been impressed with Sanderson's magic systems; I probably would have been if I hadn't heard this episode of Sanderson's writing podcast, in which they discuss how to make a magic system interesting by coming up with costs for the characters which aren't just 'you run out of MP and get tired' (i.e. videogames, where it's not necessarily a bad thing because the interest is a more vicarious thing). The 'Way of Kings' systems (Shardblades and the Wild Magic, at least) are a bit more interesting than Mistborn.

    Actually, now I think of it, the talking-to-wolves ability Perrin has in Wheel of Time and the similar ability (is it Wit? I can't remember) in Robin Hobb's Assassin books are among the most interesting magic systems I've read (I dislike both stories for entirely separate reasons), because there's the serious risk of the magic consuming the character in a way which is distinctively linked to the character of the magic. Something similar goes for Lovecraftian 'magic', in that the limiting factor is the character's own sanity.
    How about a free short story? You like free stuff, don't you?
    I Can See Clearly Now (episode 1 of The Second Realm): Rel can see any future except his own.

    Bahl

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #10 on: October 07, 2011, 03:53:12 PM »
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  • EAtThePen, I'm not going to quote your whole post, but I agree with you for the most part. Some of the more interesting magic systems are those who has a cost bonded to them, be it years of study, physical or mental. To just be able to eat a nail and then have power back seems a bit unfair.
    Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
    Terry Pratchett

    Toc the Youngest

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #11 on: October 07, 2011, 10:19:58 PM »
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  • I vote for the holds and warrens of Erikson's world.  A pretty unique and weird magic system can be found in David Farland's Runelord series.  When a runelord put a rune on someone with this branding iron thingy then put the same one on himself he took whatever attribute from the persone the rune was designed for.  Strength, beauty, grace and voice were some of the runes, the more runes you had the stronger you are.  But if the person you are linked to dies you lose the attribute.  If I remember right the books weren't the greatest but I enjoyed the first few.
    "Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place, and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living." - Duiker

    zeropysche

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #12 on: October 07, 2011, 10:30:43 PM »
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  • I actually like the magic system of the Jim Butcher's the Dresden Files. Sure It might be a little normal compared to some others but it's enjoyable, nothing ever just happens.

    Douglas Hulick

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #13 on: October 07, 2011, 10:48:54 PM »
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  • I liked that Sanderson's system in Mistborn was unique and interesting; I didn't like that he got down to the cog-level in telling you how it worked. Magic has to have some mystery for me, and if it's just a set of builds/adds that you can slap on a character for a period of time, I lose that sense. I think he did some very interesting things, but the sheer internal-ness and game-feel of it ultimately caused me to go "meh" by the end of the book. (I had other issues, too, but we're talking magic here, so I'll stick to that. :) )

    Now PVBrett's I like. There's mystery and power and consequences there beyond "you will get tired, etc." to it. Glyph magic isn't exactly new, but he took it in an interesting direction and, more importantly, built a world around it where it had a dynamic impact.

    I think Chaos magic in Zelazny's Amber universe was interesting. It got a little too twitchy at times, but overall the idea of using a core power of the universe to manipulate your reality hit pretty true to home in what magic kind of should be. You got a sense of where it came from, although I think there could have been more risk/cost involved.

    As may be obvious, I'm not as big on building clock-work magic systems as some other writers. Give me a reasonable premise and a sense of wonder, and I'm usually willing to go along for the ride. Even Tolkien's stuff didn't bother me too much since you were essentially talking about mythic/saga type magic at that point, and in those tales there's no consistency in the magic to begin with (I mean, have your read any Icelandic sagas? The Mabinogion? Older fairy tales? A person has earth-rending power one verse, and is brought low by a thrown rock in the next. Crazy, great stuff.). I think we got a lot more worried about the "How" behind magic when RPGs and the like gained traction, since by definition, you have to have rules for a magic system in a game. Prior to that, magic was more like the stuff from legends and myth; after, we got more into the clock-work/dice-rolling type of magic in SFF.
    « Last Edit: October 07, 2011, 10:53:23 PM by Douglas Hulick »

    subwoofer

    Re: Best Magic System in Fantasy?
    « Reply #14 on: October 08, 2011, 03:27:05 AM »
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  • well, it's kinda outside the norm of "fantasy" and into the sci-fi, but I am partial to Jedi myself.... the good stuff, without the prequels, y'know ;)

    WoofTM.
    WoofTM.

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