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Ok, ok. 1 Like = 1 interesting magic system / cost for casting magic. I don't guarantee that all of these will be original as this is pretty well-trodden territory, but they'll certainly be made up on the spot by me.
1. Spellcasting feeds on ambient heat. Magic users leave trails of frost, ice crystals glinting in their hair. Strongest wizards operate in equatorial regions - deserts, tropical rainforests home to key mage colleges.
2. Magic requires pain. Pain is the remorse of matter, magic the expression of this remorse. Mages practice self-flagellation, electrocution, ice baths in order to cast spells. More powerful effects possible in throes of agony. Mage duels quickly escalate as combatants are hurt.
3. Magic costs time. Spells age the caster - for a minor conjuration, a few hours; for a grand ritual, perhaps years. Wizards' reputation for being venerable, elderly types a symptom of casting. Archmages employ young apprentices to cast on their behalf.
4. Magic uses smoke. Mages huff pipes stuffed with dried hortix poppy when spellcasting. Allows them to synthesise, manipulate & transform their environment. Cultivation of hortix poppy strictly & violently controlled.
5. Magic consumes hair. Casting spells burns down hair all over the body like a fuse. Mages will spend years preparing for a grand conjuration while their hair grows long & wild. Punishment for rogue wizards = forcibly shaving them. However, few would dare cross a very hairy mage
6. Magic costs love. Each spell makes the caster lose irrevocably all love they have for a single person. This price is exacted by extraphysical entities in exchange for manipulating the material world. In return, the entities get to experience love.
7. Spells are cast via lenses & stained glass made in part from meteoric sand. Mages work with grozing pliers to shape little tableaux depicting outcomes they wish to manifest, magical servants. When moonlight shines through the finished work, the casting is complete.
8. Magic costs calories. Casting burns a huge amount of energy. Mages gorge themselves on dense, fatty foods & oils to make up the calorific deficit, trying to store up reserves. Overcasting is a very real danger that induces fainting, malnutrition & even death.
9. Magic is democratically-assigned. Every person has a small, almost negligible amount of magic power. By many people pooling their power in one person, magic is possible. This is voted on every 3 years, the recipients tasked with using their powers for society's benefit.
10. Magic is generated by 7 ancient towers round the world representing the visible spectrum. Red = kinetic magic. Blue = psychic. Etc. Mages must visit & attune to tower of chosen school. Rumours of secret, invisible Ultraviolet & Infrared towers.
11. Magic costs originality. Magical powers are rewards from divine beings delighted by creativity & concepts as yet unmanifested in the universe. Mages improvise nonsense chants to create sentences never before uttered & propose bizarre hybrids. Children are dangerously powerful
12. Magic costs luck. Casting spells creates a kismet imbalance around the caster, & their luck gets temporarily worse. The intensity & duration of this bad luck depends on the power of the spell. Spellcasters demand a high price for their services as a result.
13. Spells are grown. Mages plant & cultivate spells. Different strains require radically different conditions, from light rain & sunshine to total darkness, widower's tears & a mulch of human bone. When ripe, the spell is generally picked & activated by ingestion.
14. Magical power directly proportional to your number of living descendants. This skews magical power in favour of those with sperm, since they can theoretically sire more with multiple partners. Powerful mages targeted by assassinating their children, thus heritages are hidden.
15. Magic costs memory. Mages memorise complex geometric mandalas, the knowledge of which they can sacrifice to cast spells. Without this formal training - or in a crisis - one can sacrifice any memory. The more detailed the better - hence emotionally-charged = most powerful.
16. Magic costs one of your senses. One may trade one of the 5 senses for basic magical abilities. Trading a 2nd sense yields an order of magnitude enhancement in these powers, & so on. Magic cannot be used to restore lost senses, though it can boost remaining ones.
17. Those who cast magic renounce the flesh. They cannot touch another living creature without experiencing excruciating pain. They go about gloved, heavily-clothed. Often retreat to colder climes with fewer insects. Water purified & strained for tiny organisms.
18. Magic arises from holy song. Longer, more elaborate voicings = more powerful spells. Mages harmonise to create even more powerful effects. Great domed amphitheatres of steel are constructed as weapons of war, resonating, amplifying.
19. Spellcasting costs composure. In casting a spell, a mage experiences a sudden increase in muscle mass, they become flooded with adrenaline & the orbitofrontal cortex is stimulated, producing feelings of intense anger. Years of training is necessary to stop them raging out.
20. Magical power is gained through secrets. One can gain the ability to injure, control or even heal another by learning a secret about them - some hidden shame they keep from the world. Mass public confessions are held by folk wanting to protect themselves from manipulation.
21. Spells cost intellect. Any sort of conjuration results in a temporary drop in IQ proportionate to the power of spell cast. Small cantrips create only mild neural fuzziness. Dangerous lapses in judgement are possible after major castings.
22. Spells can only be cast while moving at speed. Nations in race to achieve ever higher velocities. Mages fight in battle on galloping horses. Powerful conjurations possible by jumping off high cliffs.
23. Magic costs emotion. Various arcane effects may be created by siphoning the caster's emotional state. Schools of Fear, Love, Rage, Joy & many (often hotly disputed) subschools specialise in different magic styles. Senior mages eerily affectless - emotion purely instrumental.
24. Spells pull matter from adjacent realities. With successive castings, the barriers between worlds grow weaker & bigger changes from more distant worlds can be dragged across. Dangerous - creatures from dark dimensions wait to enter through these temporary rifts.
25. Magic a degraded form of original art, involving allowing 1 of 8 founding mages to possess you. Mages represent the portfolios of Architecture, Sex, Commerce, Oceans, Astronomy, Tailoring, Control & Death respectively.
26. Magic is a refutation of reality. As they grow in power mages steadily become lighter, less corporeal, until their bodies are papery wisps that must be anchored with ropes & weights to stop drifting away. Eventually, they simply cease to exist.
27. Swatchers possess a genetic mutation that allows them to temporarily switch bodies with someone they touch. Switch is increasingly hard to sustain & both parties suffer violent nausea on snapback.
28. Magic powers bound to patrons representing canonical hours. Powers wax around the hour, wane far from it. Patrons equivalent to noon & midnight are at war.
29. Mages summon creatures via clocks. Manipulation of mechanism to represent different times acts like coordinates. Size & powerful of creature dependent on size & type of clock.
30. Magic performed through manipulating paintings. Retouching arcane art representing target works equivalent changes on target. Different styles permit different things to be altered - physical, emotional, conceptual, etc
31. Magic a violence against reason. Hence spellcasting costs the mage's sanity. Mages range from mildly eccentric to feverishly paranoid to utterly divorced from reality. Unclear if this process implies revelations from a supranormal reality. Magic a hugely perilous pursuit.
32. Magic fueled by the consumption of human flesh - the fresher the better. Such flesh may be surrendered willingly or otherwise. May include mage's own flesh. Spells of great virtue which heal & comfort may be cast thus.
33. Summoned creatures paid in plays. Love theatrical productions, high & low art - childishly awed & moved by them. Bored to see same story twice, so new ones must be constantly written. Ending of play withheld until they have performed service for summoner.
34. Spells cast through sacred dance steps. Complicated series of moves gradually accrue arcane momentum until magic is released at culmination. Casting gruelling, intense. Mages trained young in brutal academies. Many burnout before graduation.
35. Arcane capacity increases the longer you stay awake. Going without sleep for 3, 4 days awakens tremendous facilities to manipulate reality, while producing concomitant degradation of fine motor skills, concentration, mood & perception.
36. Each person may cast one spell in their lifetime, chosen on their deathbed & empowered by their passing. This final casting is traditionally performed alone & is known as the endura.
37. Shapeshifting abilities may be gained by performing a service or obedience for the relevant animal. The nature of this obedience changes according to the animal & is not always the same, revealed through hallucinogenic trances. Extended transformations risk loss of self.
38. Magic drains ambient noise as fuel. Mages grow acutely sensitive to sound & often retreat to acoustically-neutral, soundproofed redoubts to recuperate, which double as safehouses against arcane attack.
39. A spell requires 3 casters, working together:
The One Who Desired
The One Who Bore Witness
& The One Who Sacrificed
This final participant will experience blowback from the casting - physical trauma, up to & including death with very powerful spells. Roles chosen by spell.
40. Magic is gifted by a number of primal dragons who exist in remote corners of the world. Each specialises in a different form & may grant powers in return for service. The nature of this service varies from emissary to sworn thrall depending on the dragon.
41. Dwellings slowly absorb psychic energy over decades from their residents. Empath mages may draw off this energy to power their spells. Strong emotional events generate more energy. This makes magic essentially a fossil fuel, used up faster than the world can generate it.
42. Mage power is a capricious sort of arcane weather, directly perceptible only to those with the kenning. Strange phenomena increase wherever it waxes, & its tides may be predicted by talented scryers. The Society of the Ivory Staff exists to prevent abuse of arcane storms.
43. Magic may be infused into material focuses known as 'wands' at great expense. Wands are crafted for specific owners & bond with them on use. A fringe movement believes wands demonstrate signs of sentience & are manipulating wielders to their own - unknown - ends.
44. All magic springs from a single stream which flows from the Mountain at the Top of the World. As it joins other rivers it grows increasingly dilute. Water taken from the stream retains its potency for just a few hours, so magic itself centres around the remote mountain.
45. Arcane talent comes as a side-effect of a kind of wasting disease that strikes the miners of a gas-impregnated chain of islets. Sufferers have weak lungs & raw weeping eyes, earning them the name the Mournful. They are granted powerful visions, but invariably perish young.
46. Magic is a form of devotional practice that involves the copying out of long, complicated texts & grants - for the most part - only minor powers. Impractical for most applications, it exists as spiritual regimen & curio, the glowing spheres & brief levitation proof of piety.
47. Magic elixirs are brewed & must mature in special arcane cellars to gain potency. This process takes years, sometimes decades or even centuries for particularly rare vintages. Elixirs of unknown purpose lie gaining strength even now in collectors' private cellars.
48. Spells are powered by noisy, smoky machines built & maintained by magechanics. Each machine is custom-built & reflects the personality of the caster. Fuel sources may include logs, paraffin, wine, books, bone or a single human heart.
49. Magic is catalysed by gravedirt. Gravedirt must be obtained through special ritual & the powers it unlocks depend on who the person was in life. Particularly heinous criminals denied proper burial for this reason - powerful graves guarded. Keen trade in bogus dirt.
50. Spells are brewed in cauldrons. They often require ingredients that are rare, take time to create or are hard to obtain (a spoonful of honey spat out by the spell's intended target, a goose egg bathed in the light of 3 full moons, etc) & may take days to brew.
51. Magic arises in the fertile space between a word & the thing itself. Through wordplay, puns & double-meanings mages twist & transform reality. Rhymes have strange power, & the strongest mages are polyglots who produce elaborate arcane poetry in multiple languages at once.
52. A subset of the population have a heritable mutation that means they absorb arcane energy. Though these people cannot use magic themselves, they may be used as arcane 'batteries' by casters, often known as 'channels'. The process of extraction is mildly unpleasant, & tiring.
53. Magic costs money. Spells are essentially services performed by demons - extradimensional beings of dubious intent. They demand cash for their services, sometimes exorbitant amounts, though it simply burns away in their hands. The human love for wealth is what they feed upon.
54. Magic comes from cats. Cats existed before the world & move among us as strange aloof aliens. Contact & bonding with a cat means some of its energy rubs off on you. Powerful practitioners live in houses filled with cats & begin to lose their regard for human taboos.
55. Magic costs friends. Magical powers are granted by elemental familiars representing things like heat, stone, paper & strife. These familiars are legendarily jealous & resent anyone who might rival their bond with their mistress. Casters may not maintain close friendships.
56. Olfactory magic ties a magical effects to certain smells. Mages undergo long training & learn to associate complicated arcane mindstates with particular strong fragrances. In the field they carry bandoliers of vials, sniffing the relevant scent to activate the spell.
57. Spells are manipulations of vibrational fields. Mages play viola-like instruments called aetherbows, coaxing out sweet eerie melodies which warp the air & manifest their wills in the material world. A duel between 2 aetherbow masters exchanging phrases is a scene to behold.
58. Magic may only be cast deep underwater. Far below the waves, where humanity's dulling miasma has not yet reached, the old ways are still open. Those who venture this far & survive find that fate softens, becoming pliable & the very world may be twisted to face a new direction
59. Spells are orally-administered, available in pill form. There are official, government-controlled varieties given to workers in various professions, giving masons spider-like climbing powers & the strength to lift blocks, etc. Black market pills offer all manner of boons.
60. Magic is mostly gone from the world, faded & spent, but here & there in forgotten corners, a few faded drifts lie dormant. These last vestiges produce weird phenomena in the local area: UFOs, faeries, poltergeists. A skilled magician could use up the energy to harm or heal.
61. Frail & deadly, magic is tamed through flames & candles. Many spells require the burning of a particular comixture of incense, & last as long as the flame is maintained. Rumours of a mage who has lived for over 300 hundred years, maintaining the same flame.
62. Spells cost blood. A few drops for minor divination. A pint or more mixed into wax to make a duplicate of someone. Gallons to summon a storm to thwart an opposing army. Must be human & drawn less than an hour ago to retain its arcane potency.
63. Spellcasting leaches life from the land, withering plants in a circle radiating from the caster. The most potent spells may be cast in fields before harvest, in orchards, or in jungles. Casting anything but the most trivial cantrip impossible in a desert.
64. Spells cost body parts - the more potent the incantation, the more extensive the loss. Casters never know what the spell will take - could be a finger, some teeth, an eye, their tongue. Magic is a last resort, & few people will cast more than a couple of spells in their life.
65. Magic comes from disaster. Floods, earthquakes & hurricanes briefly shake the primal lifestuff out of reality & generate huge psychic runoff, creating fertile theatres for arcane manipulation. Some folk discover magic talent in the midst of crisis - some mages seek crises.
66. Magic drains vitality from people around you. Mages go into battle with retinues who they draw life from to cast spells. Process need not be voluntary. Overdraining can injure or kill. Rumours of grand conjurations only possible by draining 10s of 1000s simultaneously.
67. Spells are fueled by unresolved erotic energy. Mages engage in elaborate flirtations & courtships with one another, teasing & provoking. Desire must be genuine. Many are the tales of mages who consummated years of accumulated lust in explosive unions & lost all their power.
68. Spells granted as part of ancient pact with angels. Humans may ask for 1 magical boon a year. Angels rather trusting, however. Mages are experts in disguise who petition the angels under assumed identities & thus claim multiple boons per year. Hugely sacrilegious.
69. Spells may only be cast while barefoot, in contact with the earth. Cities paved, without parks, to prevent magic. Mages often dwell in wildernesses. Special pools of soil carried on ships who want mages aboard to disperse storms.
70. Magic based around papercraft. Spells cast by folding paper to create animals, patterns, miniature dioramas. Powerful variant school sculpts paper servants from books, prayer scrolls, old love letters. Powers possessed by said servant vary with nature of text.
71. Spells cast by means of specially-forged keys woven into hair. Said to unlock the 10,000 Gates of Perception. Powerful mages jangle under the weight of 100s of tiny keys hanging from head, armpits, beards, pubic hair, even eyebrows. Fakers clad in many keys common.
72. Spells hidden around the world by capricious imps, erstwhile servants of a long-dead creator god. Finders inherit permanent ability to cast spell. Teams hunt for spells, often stowed in remote, dangerous locales. Imps give clues, amused by drama of searches, chaos of magic.
73. Roadmagi are obsessive mechanics who maintain custom-built vehicles infused with magic. They have a reputation as eccentric loners, often living in their strange contraptions constructed in part from artefacts recovered from the ruins of an ancient civilisation.
74. Magic is intimately bound to the moon. Mages engage in lunar worship & spellcasting is tied to the phases of the moon. Rare, possibly apocryphal suppressed texts claim the moon is a trap for souls too weak to resist its pull, & magic uses these as fuel.
75. Spells are cast by walking the length of giant runes scored into the ground. As the mage walks the circuit created by these symbols in the original tongue of the gods, arcane energy builds in their body like a pot boiling. Casting demands great focus & endurance.
76. Magic is unlearnable. Some folk are born with innate magical talents, or knacks, which they can learn to use with practice. These are often unique to the caster, though they fall into clear categories. Heritability unclear - secret breeding programmes operated by cabals.
77. Magic restricted to a members of ostracised beggar-class. Signs of arcane power mean being disowned by family, cast out onto street. Credo teaches that mages are intended to suffer as atonement for humanity's sins. It is strictly forbidden to harm them.
78. Magic entirely intuitive. The moment you think, it fails. Mages must work themselves into intense trance-states to cast. Great ritual spellmeets use repeated chanting by thousands to induce intuitive casting state. However, spellcasting often spreads via social contagion.
79. Magical arts derived entirely from fragments of the text 'Esken Of Swyndid Kaisere', previously thought to be an early work of fiction describing the trials of T, a 'fine crafty smyth of fantoums'. The scholar Rana Harrisian tried one of the elaborate spells & found it worked
80. Spellcasting made possible via artefacts deriving from ancient war for humanity's independence, the exact nature of which is disputed. Passed down through noble families to safeguard against future peril. If a lineage runs out, grand tourneys are held to decide new custodians
81. Casting magic makes you bleed. Mages haemorrhage as they launch waves of arcane energy from their fingertips, blood streaming from their ears, nose, mouth & eyes. Sustained casting risks unconsciousness, death. Hire apprentices from whom they receive transfusions after battle
82. Magic power a side effect of parasitic fish laying its eggs under subject's flesh. Eggs release arcane energy into bloodstream, a co-evolutionary mutation that increases likelihood of host surviving incubation period. Characteristic speckled scarring from (painful) hatching.
83. Spellcasting only possible at high altitudes, where planet is surrounded by a thin belt of invisible magic vapour. Mages resort to freezing mountain redoubts, hot air balloons, & potions in tiny vials, tied to bird's feet for empowering. Mages duels conducted by hangglider.
84. Spellcasting requires such incredibly complex calculations for even the most rudimentary cantrips that mages use integrated AR systems built into phones, which handle location, targeting, ID of spell components, & chanting of lengthy incantations in range of dead languages.
85. Spellcasting powered by depression. Only those with chronically-inhibited dopamine receptors & an atrophied nucleus-accumbens are able to perceive the strangeness flickering around the corners of the world & manipulate it.
86. Spellcasting draws mass emotion from crowds. Mages once rode at the head of great armies of frenzying warriors, siphoning their rage for spectacular destruction. But their dynasties fell, & now secret practioners of the lost art use concerts & sports to cast.
87. Magic draws power from books. To cast a spell, a mage must find an appropriate book - one whose content 'rhymes' with the effect. On casting, that book - AND ALL COPIES, DIGITAL, AUDIO, ETC - are erased. The pages go blank. The story is wiped from the cosmos.
88. Magic is wind-powered. Mages dwell on open plains in windmills - often with multiple sails, powering arcane drive trains & paddles stirring cauldrons of elixir. When on the move, a mage wears a mobile apparatus attached to a backpack or trolley that allows minor conjurations.
89. Magic is derived from pixies. Mages breed pixies in captivity before boiling them down into a broth which grants them the ability to see the holes between reality & the umbral lands, & pull molten energy through, where it cools into matter. Many consider magic unethical.
90. Magic empowered by paper lanterns. Casters use coloured lanterns carried on long hooks to battle monsters wandering down from the Sombre Massif & the darkness beyond. Different colours & sizes offer different powers. Lanterns hanging from palings offer a last line of defence.
91. Casting spells slowly turns mages to glass. Exposure to mystic forces over time causes slow vitrification, starting with extremities & working towards torso, vital organs. Veteran mages eventually rely on alternative means of locomotion as their legs become smoked glass.
92. Magic released as an immuno-response by a dying world. Empowers druids to fight rapacious industry, defend habitats & cull population through natural disasters. Druids must decide how to wield these powers that may be the salvation or the destruction of humanity.
93. Magical powers are given out as prizes in biannual royal tourney - entrants from all over the kingdom compete in tests of strength, skill & ingenuity to win arcane powers, bestowed by the Snake King & the moonrod that proves his lineage to the gods.
94. Magical power is transmitted via unused radio frequencies. People can be given special implants (generally in the form of a false molar) which allow their body to pick up arcane energies transmitted from obelisks via mundane masts. Normal impediments to reception block powers
95. Magical powers the result of 200 year old accord between humans & the Marine Witch. Humans are granted arcane powers while floating in water. Mages travel in mobile casting baths on wheels. If at any stage they touch the sides their link to magic is immediately severed.
96. Spellcasting made possible for humans by enchanted hat. Only one such hat in the world. Impossible to sleep while wearing. Current owner lives in castle defended by multitude of golems, summoned imps, conventional traps.
97. Alien parasite grants ability to channel arcane energies swirling round resource-rich planet. Gives huge power, temporarily deadens sense of self. Parasites in fact neural network of emergent intelligence using mages as nodes.
98. Magic possible via rods capped with the gemmed teeth of rare, ornery goat found in treacherous mountain range. Rods burn out after a certain amount of uses. Goats resist being bred in captivity, lose arcane power. Trappers make living tracking & killing them.
99. Destructive, painful, deforming spells powered by love. Healing, kind, protective spells powered by hate. Feelings must be genuine within the mage - the stronger, the more efficacious.
100. Spells cast via holy/profane geometries: glowing mandalas & sigils etched in air with casters' fingertips, become gateways, conduits, maws as the caster's style dictates. Spells require incredible focus - one error leads to failure, misfire or worse.
101. Magic cast by projecting oneself into a plane of arcane tides accessible only while asleep. Spells are harvested from the dreamscape by skilled dreamers to be used the following day. Many predators lurk in this plane - areas have been lost to creatures preying on the unwary.
102. Magic functions only within a giant impact crater left by an ancient unknown celestial event. Nations battle for possession, where industrial capacities may be increased 100 fold, diseases cured, etc, but also where weapons are far more devastating. Shaky truce holds.
103. Arcane powers acquired by grafting body parts of vanished progenitor race onto own body. Mummified limbs recovered from ruins. Power depends on original owner, though it seems arcane talent was ubiquitous. Digs for tombs lucrative business. Grafts sometimes rejected.
104. Spells cast via chalk drawings. Requires surface, specially-cleansed chalk, caster channelling energies into it. Largely involves stylised images of thing one wishes to evoke, which rise out of image. Some esoteric schools involve pictograms, glyphs, formulae.
105. Magic dredged up from the floor of vast, dark oceans by ill-paid crews assailed by the bizarre beasts that feed upon it. Powers siege weapons in an ongoing war against shadowy legions emerging from rents in the north.
106. Magic is a living, vivifying force that possesses people, things, & takes control of them. It can be harvested by killing or destroying the thing & sucking the raw arcane energy from the remains. Hence the magic-ridden are hunted, using their powers to evade capture.
107. Spells can only be cast via strange, arcane mountain bears. Mages capture these beasts as cubs & learn to channel their raw energies into magic. The creatures are increasingly dangerous as they grow & though they may be tamed, the species has proven impossible to domesticate
108. Magic comes from salt. Saltcasters use sea salt boiled in huge cauldrons, shaking it out into protective circles, hurling it, drawing powerful glyphs. Wards against devils that have conquered so much of the rest of the world.
109. Spellcasting relies on incantations spoken within a single breath. More powerful spells require longer incantations. Mages train with aerobic exercise at high altitudes & breath-holding exercises.
110. Spellcasting ability is transmitted as a viral infectious disease that temporarily inflames the hypothalamus, granting temporary autokinetic powers, control over local ambient temperature, etc. Can be caught from active mages. Immune system eventually expels virus.
110. 'Spellcasting' abilities accidental byproduct of extreme biomodding undergone by mining caste to survive extreme conditions on mineral-rich moon. Presentation inconsistent through population. Mining corps both fearful of phenomenon & keen to exploit for military contracts.
112. Magic an ambient, invisible miasma available for mages to draw upon & use for spells. Slowly growing stronger, making once theoretical conjurations real. Speculation it is blowback from apocalyptic future event, blasted backwards through time.
113. 'Magic' a frivolous, chaotic force, as likely to make hot gravy pour out the caster's fingertips as to transform the ground beneath them into a mile-deep pit. Antimagic menhirs erected in palings round settlements to keep it at bay. Rumours of magic savants in wilderness.
114. Magic a function of the unity of two or more minds. The greater the emotional & ideological synchronisation between two or more casters, the greater their power. Wizard cabals overthrown by internal conflict - spies & intrigue surest way to unpick arcane power structures.
115. Arcane power is based your date of birth. Magic is divided equally between everyone born on that day. If you kill someone who shares your birthday, you claim their share of power. All children born on the Emperor's birthday are slain. Agents hunt down secret births.
116. Ancestral mage arts allow initiates to form weapons from pure mana. Require intense focus to maintain but can cut through any substance, only blocked by another mana weapon. Some arts impart additional effects - rotting wounds, blurring of fighter, flight, teleportation.
117. All magical power in the republic emanates from a great clock tower in the capital shaped like a giant stone owl called The Horrorlog. Hands turn in a clockface set into its belly, & upon the hour a thunderous grinding sounds from within its skull. Maintained by robed cabal.
118. Arcane arts are mostly hedge magic passed secretly down the generations by cunning folk, in a world where the fae, known as the Gentry Below, have risen to colonize the human world, & practising magic is punishable via inventive, often bespoke centuries-long tortures.
119. Arcane powers granted to survivors of disease unleashed by miners who unsealed a millennia-old cavern full of mummified, now-unidentifiable remains. Disease has 90% mortality rate. Area is quarantined in approx 30 mile radius. Mages still carriers. Transmitted by touch.
120. Magical powers - telekinesis, blink-teleportation, size-change, beastmorphing, tornado-fists, etc - granted to competitors in globally-popular gladitorial arcane combats. Process takes years of steeping in elixir vats. Purportedly unpleasant, painful, with high failure rate.
121. Arcane power deeply alien to human body. Casting induces nausea. Extended or intense spells cause double-vision, vomiting. Cooldown akin to bad hangover. Mages keep supplies of stomach-soothing elixirs & analgesics on hand.
122. Magic a kind of vital force that may be generated in & released via the 7 chakras:
Root: kinetics, gravity, quakes
Sacral: desires, mood, illusion
Solar Plexus: speed, air, wind
Heart: strength, fire
Throat: communication, sound
Third eye: scrying, prophecy
Crown: command
123. Magic was discovered by semi-sentient cryptology AIs producing strings of random text in dead scripts. Ancient incantations accidentally reawoken. Several bots now demigods in a world in which a tech-infused magic has flooded back in. Mage-hacker caste exploits this power.
124. Spellcasting costs teeth. Caster's or those belonging to someone else. Animal teeth do for small cantrips. Powerful spells call for crushed teeth of humans. People have teeth pulled, sell as ingredients & replace with false. Mark of wealth to have full set of original teeth.
125. Spells are, in effect, demon names - once spoken, the creature appears, releases its power - a tempest, location of riches, healing - before being permanently erased. Short, easily-pronounced names all used up. Vast mainframes calculate long, increasingly obscure demon names
126. Magic energies wane & wax according to the days of the week, different schools becoming more potent on their patron day then fading. 6 schools: mind, destruction, abundance, time, journey, & beast. 7th day a Sabbath when all 6 schools wane equally weak. Rumours of 7th school
127. Necromancers' power bounded by contracts brokered with the living, promising service in death. Signees paid an advance fee, become employees on death, delaying their moving onto judgement & the afterlife. Work as spies, servants, even assassins.
128. Seers consume steeped petals of red mountain flower & are shackled & caged. Temporarily transform into wild, murderous beasts plagued with visions of future catastrophes. Assistants transcribe their hollered, fragmentary ravings from a considerable distance. Amnesia follows.
129. Casting magic creates arcane waste runoff in adjacent b-universes. Disease, crop failure, poisoned rivers, monster plagues. Not all mages realise they're turning alt realities into wastelands & the top echelons keep it secret.
130. Magic power granted in return for pledging one's firstborn to twenty years' mandatory 'apprenticeship' with one of several subterranean warring nations of demons unable to bear the light of the sun. Defaulting on contract carries the harshest of penalties, pursued ruthlessly
131. Football-sized dormouse-esque creature emits raw arcane energy as a stress response. Originally co-evolutionary ability that empowered fleas living in fur to repel predators. Mages keep them in cages, starving & torturing them to fuel spells. Liberation leagues seek to free.
132. Magic available to those who have nearly died before being revived. Due to loophole whereby ancient treaty with demigod promises arcane abilities for journey to afterlife, granted upon death. Mage initiation involves highly dangerous ritual where acolyte's heart is stopped.
133. Magical abilities given away in global lottery by legendary powerful magus recluse. 5 winners invited to his mountain fastness to receive powers & tour the network of secret arcane laboratories, libraries & catacombs hidden away for decades.
134. Magic powers granted via bonding with pale rabbits which descend from the moon once a year. Extremely dangerous; fiefdoms organise extermination squads to fight the plagues of magic rabbits. But in very rare cases someone may find a newborn & train it to direct its powers.
135. 3 coastal nations have mystic affinities with sand, conjuring sandstorms, golems, fortresses out of long sandy beaches & inland deserts, swimming through sand as if it were water. Shifting power between the 3 & history of conflict means war a constant threat.
136. Magic a form of gourmet chefcrafting where exquisite puddings & cakes have potent wyrd power. Fudge likenesses of target can be used for mind control, inflicting pain. Sugary confections grant shapechanging abilities.
137. Spells fuelled by bloodletting, & feeding ravenous leeches from certain swamps impregnated with eldritch energies. Mages increase their blood volume by eating a diet high in salt, & have swollen bodies covered in sores & bloated sacs where over time blood collects.
138. Magic ability tied to insulin spikes - mages consume sugary drinks, cakes, etc, to stimulate the release of insulin into their bloodstreams, at which point genetic mutation possessed by 5% of population allows the warping of reality to the caster's will.
139. Magic ability tied to sackcloth poppets stuffed with caster's hair & left in sacred cave at site of ancient cataclysm. Access strictly controlled by imperial guild. Gaining a poppet not only robs owner of magical power but grants ability to harm them & influence their mind.
140. Spiders are impregnated with arcane power. Mages crawl with dozens of spiders, which they encourage to bite them to pass on their mystic potency. Mages often partially deaf from spider eggs laid in ear cavities. Homes dripping with cobwebs.
141. Arcane power derived from clots of waxy magical sludge that collect in whales' skulls. Whale hunting grounds viciously fought over by rival nations hungry for mages. Lone druids on rickety houseboats defend whale pods against whaling ships, borrowing a little of their power.
142. Incredibly complex mental spellcasting rituals learned through years of crushing rote learning, each one anchored to a specific potent scent. Mages carry bandoliers of perfume bottles. To cast spells, they uncork the relevant bottle & inhale to trigger olfactory recall.
143. Spells are powered through blasphemy. Mages perform rites designed to enrage one of a wide pantheon of demigods, with a portfolio relevant to the magical effect required. The resultant explosion of psychic energy may be siphoned off by skilled mages before it kills them.
144. Ornithomancers read portents in the great murmurations of starlings that appear over the eastern plains come sunset, posing questions & watching for shapes & images to appear in the swirling static of birds.
145. Sorcerous powers are gained by killing an angel & eating their heart. Angels are supranormal beings of opaque motives. Those encountered on Earth seem to be exiles from greater angel society. Powers can include flight, a fearsome presence & calling down thunderbolts.
146. Magic costs vigour. Spellcasting has a deleterious effect on the mage's immune system, rendering them vulnerable to sickness, infection & disease. Wizards live in isolated mountain fastnesses, where low temperatures inhibit germs & remoteness discourages infectious visitors.
147. Magic costs birds. Avian sorcery uses raven skulls as wards, pigeons as spies, dove entrails for divination, cuckoo hearts for shapechanging, buzzards as tomb-guardians, pelicans as curse-bearers. Usable spells shift with seasonal migration, altering balance between nations.
148. Cunning folk tell the future on feast days by heating tin in a pot then tossing it into cold brine. The shapes the molten metal forms give clues about what lies in wait for the querant. It is considered incredibly bad luck to break, damage or otherwise alter one's castings.
149. Magical powers earned by undergoing a series of secret trials. Rumoured to involve extreme pain, sensory deprivation, & breaking of taboos. For an initiate to fail is neither unusual nor shameful, but they are bound to never discuss the nature of the tasks, on pain of death.
150. Magic is fragments of slain god scattered about the mortal world They created. Formidable arcane power may be gleaned. They can be anything: a spire's shadow on wet grass, a snatch of whistled melody, the yearning in an old man's heart for his long-grown-up baby daughter.
151. Magic is debug settings for the universe, left by apparently long-absent (possibly extinct) architects. Mages access this reality-warping power via ancient nodes disguised as ruins, from which the laws of matter emanate. Failsafes protect more extreme system settings.
152. Magic is a form of photosynthesis, transmitting the life-giving energy of the sun into spells that manipulate elemental forces. Mages are most powerful on long, clear bright summer days. Utterly helpless at night, save weak residual energy on a full moon.
153. Magic is a tantalizingly elusive placebo effect, where the belief of caster & observers that it will work directly correlates to its efficacy. Useless in the presence of skeptics, devastating/miraculous amongst the credulous.
154. Arcane powers granted only to the humble & selfless by agencies unknown. Wane if user gives into hate, vanity, greed. Very few powerful mages exist in world, though many folk exhibit minor talents in times of generosity.
155. Magic facilitated by legions of invisible nanobots left roaming after devastating global war. Genetic switch to communicate with them dormant in most humans. Activated through imbibing poisonous brew. Requires intense focus, training in secret techniques.
156. Minor arcane effects woven into garments created by diaspora of tailor-mages from vanquished city state. Common items include silk scarves that enhance beauty, calligrapher’s gloves that ensure poems written contain only truth, hoods for restful sleep & waistcoats of luck.
157. Magic came Earth via meteor shower over 3 nights. Global impact locations & inhabitants twisted by weird energies. Different magic paradigms grow around each crater, from verdant healing springs to time deserts to perilous shadow forests.
158. Magic costs language. Embedded in whispers of nature. Druids seek solitude, observe the prelinguistic world of flora & fauna. Gain fortitude & keen intuition of future but with their estrangement from words, struggle to communicate their knowledge to outsiders.
159. Magic a series of knacks & subtle enhancements indistinguishable from skill, charm & legerdemain to the layman. Practitioners focus psychic wit to teleport small objects short distances, implant temporary false memories, dig footholds in a stone wall, etc.
160. Magic carried by giant copper cables around republic. Powers lights & skytram system in capital, arcane sentry towers that keep wraith legions from borders. Generated by facilities built over deep fissures in the earth, extracting planet's energy.
161. School of magic entirely devoted to growing & shrinking. With practice, students can become hill-shattering giants, or tiny lighter-than-air wisps. Does not affect clothes. Lasts as long as they can hold their breath.
162. Magic is in the names of things. By finding anagrams of objects, actions, & writing them in special arcane inks or speaking them in vapours, mages may warp reality. Thus a closed door may become a loosed cord; a nasty firebreathing dragon = a fit horny gingerbread satan.
163. Arcane powers granted by 5 nails – govern 5 elements: stars, tides, seasons, sleep & regret. To gain powers nail must be driven into flesh of caster. Nails divided between 5 mage-governors across the republic & protectorates.
164. Magic costs water. Spells consume moisture in volumes proportional to their power. Mage wars lead to drought, desertification. In emergencies, mages can draw water from their own bodies, but whilst *very* powerful this magic risks death from overcasting.
165. Magic practised by clique of monkey shamans who copy troop of monkeys living in the ruins of an ancient temple. Grow long hair, climb trees, caper on all-fours & - crucially - mimic the arcane gestures performed by the monkeys, learning how to stir long-forgotten spells.
166. Magic a genetic mutation, fuelled by unsightly mana-bladder that swells beneath the jaw like a toad's throat. Fluid within drained by casting. Replenishes through sleep, though direct transfusions from other mages possible, allowing sustained casting / very powerful spells.
167. Magic repelled by water. Spells don't work well cast directly against living creatures, so mages will levitate a slab of rock & stand on it rather than trying to lift their own (water-filled) bodies. Rain makes casting impossible. Deserts used as venues for mage duels.
168. Magic a kind of eroticism of the everyday. Mages drop bowls of soup from hot air balloons to watch them smash, lie under tables wrapped in blankets, push fingers into ripe oranges. Attune themselves to the intense sensuality of the universe, then play it like an instrument.
169. Magic harvested from orchards of twisted, stinking plants halfway between trees & fungi. Poisonous in its raw form, but may be distilled into tinctures & oils that enhance cognition, strengthen the sinews, & may even be used to transform a person's appearance entirely.
170. Spells may manipulate anything untouched physically by humans. Areas of extreme wilderness, wild animals, meteorites, the deep ocean are all rich venues for magic, though as humanity expands, so magic retreats.
171. Magic cannot affect silver. Spells fail, illusions fizzle out, summoned beasts return to their dimensions. The Argent Republic spreads from a mountain range abundant in silver mines. Beyond its walls, outposts face increasingly perilous lands of wild magic.
172. Mages, upon passing out of apprenticeship, descend into great ossuaries in a rite where the skulls of deceased casters lie in great drifts. The most prestigious sit in lavish bespoke crypts. Skulls call out, offering powers in return for a trip to the world of the living.
173. Magic allows the transmutation of matter from one of 5 elements - earth, air, fire, water, spirit - into another. Must be in sight of the caster, only works with raw elements. Feels like a kind of resonance thrumming through caster's bones. Spirit = soul, visible w/ training
174. Puttymonks a sect of arcane ascetics who purify themselves through fasting, breathholding, extreme cold & calisthenics to achieve alchymical mastery over their bodies. Can bend their bones like ligaments, distend their skulls without injury, compress themselves into a bucket
175. Kettletalkers are a class of wandering magic user attuned to old household objects which have, through years of use, acquired a soul. Go door-to-door offering to treat with butter churns, or interrogate beds on behalf of jealous spouses. Many frauds amongst genuine article.
176. An open-mouthed kiss gives a mage a temporary bond that may be exploited to peruse the kissed's thoughts & dreams via pendulum work & automatic writing, to track their movements, & even plant thoughts in their head. Wears off after 24 hours. Works both ways.
177. Magic powered by cheese. Spellcasting ability entirely dependent on volume of cheese mage can cane - the richer & stinkier the better. Some voluntarily have tastebuds cauterised. Furred arteries & aneurysms common professional hazard.
178. Elite military school of island nation trains cadets in telekinetic lash technique that allows the manipulation of whips of force which extend from limbs & can bond to & slingshot objects up to 5x weight the caster can lift. Can be used like grapnels, or to siphon liquid.
179. Magic consumes light. Spells draw power from the visible spectrum, rapidly plunging areas where casting takes place into pitch blackness. Many acclaimed mages blind, some voluntarily. Adeptness in performing without sight essential for successful spellcraft.
180. Spellcrafting a lengthy & bureaucratic process of negotiations with extraplanar delegations who offer to manipulate weather / supply golems for war efforts in return for humans. No one knows what becomes of citizens handed over (generally criminals) - slavery? Eaten?
181. Magic potions brewed in port city at confluence of 5 rivers by multicultural abundance of colleges, all fierce rivals. Source rare ingredients from across continents & demonstrate & sell wares at celebrated monthly potion market, to varying levels of success.
182. Arcane servants fermented in steaming chemical vats - artificial skeletons dipped into mixture then vivified via nodes transmitting the wizard's mental essence. Each a temporary clone of sorts, though usually crude, smelly & able only to follow basic commands.
183. Stuffed toys, loved truly, sometimes gain souls & may be enlisted as powerful familiar, granting spellcasters enhanced powers, or offering advice dependant upon temperament. Fragile, but often possessed of intelligence comparable to or surpassing that of their master.
184. Gentle floral school of magic uses flowers as casting components. Sprinkle petals on an object or person to affect them. Generally powers disguise a thing's nature, ease sickness, or bring emotional relief. Used by assassins to sneak, disorientate, & poison.
185. Powerful magical artefacts lie lodged in the bellies of millennia-old megasaurs & vast apex predators in ravaged adjacent reality revealed by recent reactivation of dormant gate. Highly risky business of attempting to retrieve treasures from inside beasts by being swallowed
186. The Egressi practise portal magic. Can be created from any opening, from the mouth of a jar to the door of a clock to the shadow cast by a mountain. Exploit them to travel great distances, banish foes, drop objects from the sky or hide. Takes focus, & knowledge of exit.
187. Censer-bearing warlocks able to shape smoke to their will & harden it by sustaining a single hummed note. Create momentary shields, stairways, blades, bridges. Any interruption to the note turns smoke gaseous once more.
188. Spells cast via intricate lead seals imprinted with minute contracts, melted over the lids of jars containing animal foetuses. Extraplanar entities are tricked into inhabiting the animal, then command to perform magical tasks by the mage before they may be released.
189. Magic cast through dioramas which replicate as precisely as possible a location & its inhabitants, before - once 'sympathetic resonance' is accomplished - changes being introduced, for good or ill. Skilled artisans may devote years to a diorama depicting national prosperity.
190. Magic ability boosts when one comes into alignment with True Fate. Mages cast bones, consult shapes in ashes, draw cards to ascertain their future, then seek to achieve that future as perfectly as possible. Alignment experienced as a kind of hyper-reality of enhanced senses.
191. Magic powered by infanticide. One may gain knowledge of the hidden weft of the cosmos by eating infants less than a week old. With each baby consumed, one's arcane power increases, the child still steeped in the energies of soul creation.
192. Roving trollmages blast the wilds with eldritch energy, channelling natural tides of magic intuitively. Their swollen brains press against their cramped skulls, causing them immense pain & rage. Often surrounded by retinues of weaker, nonmagical trolls who worship them.
193. Mages command & tame fabric & textiles of all kinds, making scarfs whip out like a lash or throttle foes, capes to act as parachutes or curtains to billow & entangle. Material retains its original strength but can hold a shape, forming into sails, floating as a safety net.
194. Mages can adjust their personal gravity with a thought, making themselves light enough to bounce, doubling their apparent relative mass when throwing a punch, or touching a surface to treat it as their new subjective down, running over ceilings as long as contact maintained.
195. Spells stirred from the air. May only affect the same spot in physical world one year hence. Thus spellcasting must be done well in advance, guessing at conditions. Direct effect size limited to rough proportions of caster's body. Mainly used for divinations, item creation.
196. Magic the chaotic dreaming id of the demiurge, contrasted with countervailing structured scientific superego. Magical strength waxes with acts of irrationality, superstition, iconoclasm & wild artistic creation, that stir the sleeping god's buried passions, dark or glorious.
197. Sensitives may broadcast their thoughts, perceptions & frequent frightening prophetic visions to wychglasses, special lenses that allow others to watch or - by touching the glass - directly experience what they see & feel. Done recreationally as well as to read omens.
198. Magic costs repentance. Only the truly sorry, the truly cowed & penitent are granted gifts. Flagellants brought to battlefields in iron cages, mortified with barbed chains & torches, directing great tidal waves of righteous ire at the proud, unworthy soldiers who oppose them
199. Magic costs innocence. With every spell cast, a mage sees a little more of the true nature of reality, illusions peeling away, friends now gestalt sentient flesh, life transitory, emptiness yawning between atoms. Often lose all desire, beatific or hollow with ennui.
200. Magic costs karma. Mages must perform virtuous acts from a list of 228, including prayers for the dead, cleaning graves of murderers, washing a layperson's feet & transcribing the 228 Virtuous Acts. Each act is assigned a value from 1 to 15. Karma may be spent to cast spells
Hey - I'm a full-time Fantasy author. If this thread has given you enjoyment, pls consider pre-ordering my upcoming novel THE ICE HOUSE, which has magic & battle nuns, portals, intrigue & all the good stuff:
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(I'm going to keep going with the thread, obvs! Fighting the rising Like tide one increasingly bizarre magic system at a time)
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