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Old 09-04-2019, 11:56 PM   #1
Whitewings
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Default Magical Theory Development

I'm toying with an idea, that magic use goes through three broad eras. The first is spell magic, everything is cut-and-try, commonalities aren't known or at least aren't understood. The second is ritual magic, where broad areas of practice fall under broadly applicable theoretical frameworks. The third is syntactic magic, where the basic principles are at last brought together in a sort of Unified Magical Theory. Interestingly, under standard rules, the older styles have reason to persist after the newer styles are developed: the new styles are a lot more work to master.

The obvious question becomes "how does the whole process get going?" How does the first spellcaster develop the first spell? Also, commentary on the above is welcomed.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:43 AM   #2
awesomenessofme1
 
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Default Re: Magical Theory Development

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Originally Posted by Whitewings View Post
I'm toying with an idea, that magic use goes through three broad eras. The first is spell magic, everything is cut-and-try, commonalities aren't known or at least aren't understood. The second is ritual magic, where broad areas of practice fall under broadly applicable theoretical frameworks. The third is syntactic magic, where the basic principles are at last brought together in a sort of Unified Magical Theory. Interestingly, under standard rules, the older styles have reason to persist after the newer styles are developed: the new styles are a lot more work to master.

The obvious question becomes "how does the whole process get going?" How does the first spellcaster develop the first spell? Also, commentary on the above is welcomed.
Well, the simplest explanation for a fantasy world is that one or more people are gifted magic and knowledge by the gods, but that doesn't fit every setting. Another explanation could be that magic is discovered before spells, but it's only through research and experimentation that the first spells are discovered.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:47 AM   #3
Daigoro
 
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Default Re: Magical Theory Development

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The obvious question becomes "how does the whole process get going?" How does the first spellcaster develop the first spell?
Divine inspiration - a mortal is directly given the gift of spellcraft by one of the gods.

Magical mentor - similar, but with a more hands-on, teacher-student approach. The mentor could be a Promethean figure, wandering the land and teaching spells to scattered tribes, a dragon, natural spell-using elves, etc and so on.

Vision quest - the first spellcaster has a dream or astral journey where they pick up the fundamentals of magic.

Ritual evolution - there are traditions of rituals in our non-magical history, so in a magical setting, some of these may have had a slight actual magical effect. Those techniques which were successful are then improved and built on.

Fated birth - the first spellcaster is the product of some fateful, divine, fae or magical union and is born with natural magical abilities.


Really, I'd say think more about the setting first, what the metaphysics of magic is, and what kind of world you want it to be.
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:57 AM   #4
maximara
 
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Default Re: Magical Theory Development

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Originally Posted by Whitewings View Post
I'm toying with an idea, that magic use goes through three broad eras. The first is spell magic, everything is cut-and-try, commonalities aren't known or at least aren't understood. The second is ritual magic, where broad areas of practice fall under broadly applicable theoretical frameworks. The third is syntactic magic, where the basic principles are at last brought together in a sort of Unified Magical Theory. Interestingly, under standard rules, the older styles have reason to persist after the newer styles are developed: the new styles are a lot more work to master.

The obvious question becomes "how does the whole process get going?" How does the first spellcaster develop the first spell? Also, commentary on the above is welcomed.
In our world, once they actually stopped dismissing it outright, anthropologists found that magic theory methodology was very similar to the scientific method: Observe, Hypothesize, Predict, Test Predictions, and Reproduce.

Isaac Bonewits' Authentic Thaumaturgy lists the 26 "laws" of magic that appear in cultures all around the world.

One of the most common concepts is the idea that the world was created by some form of intelligent being(s). This being (or beings) are still around or has successors that can be bargained with - you help it and it will help you.

In our world any "success" with magic can be explained by random chance, the placebo effect, or selective remember. In a world where magic can be performed on demand things are on much firmer ground.
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