Aug 11 2011
This questionnaire will help you design a solid magic system which won’t have your readers asking questions of their own.
1. What can magic users do?
- Do they use tools, their body and/or sheer willpower?
- Are there subtypes or specialties?
- Is magic a born talent, a learned skill or both?
- If there are races, which ones are most adept at magic and why?
- Are there certain areas with high concentrations of magic? What happens in those areas, and how are people who inhabit those areas affected?
2. What costs and limits affect the use of magic?
- Are there personal costs like running out of energy or the possibility of physical/mental damage?
- Are there societal restrictions like actual laws affecting magic use? What is the main goal of these laws? What are some of the consequences like for disobeying these laws?
3. How do magic users learn to control their powers and obey the above laws?
- Are there schools, like in Harry Potter?
- Do they have one-on-one apprenticeships, like in Star Wars?
- Do they teach themselves?
4. Besides killing them, what countermeasures can those without magical abilities take to prevent magic users from performing? (For example, silver shackles or handcuffs are often used to restrain werewolves).
- If there are no countermeasures, why not?
- Are there any circumstances where magic cannot be used? (For example, perhaps there are dead zones where magic does not function or certain holy days where magic is forbidden and/or unavailable).
5. What is the relationship between magic, magic users, and non-magic users?
- Is there prejudice, or general acceptance?
- If there are more specific types of magic users, or races defaulting to magic use, how do magic users treat different magic users? Do they band together, have a friendly rivalry, or is there infighting?
- How do families with magical ability treat those born with no magical abilities? How do families with no magical ability treat those born able to manipulate magic?
- Is there a ranking and/or caste system for different kinds of magic users?
- Is there a specific form of address for magic users? (For example, knights and noblewomen would be addressed as Sir or Dame as a sign of their high status).
Jonie Legaspi is a perpetual scholar, aspiring novelist and middling-to-fair seamstress that enjoys studying the world, language and fiction of all sorts.