Swimmingly

Magic System - Diagrams

9 posts in this topic

So, I'm writing an urban fantasy (think Dresden Files) and I want to have a world where there are an indeterminate number of magic systems, all supporting eachother in one way or another, and possible to group in any number of ways depending on your perspective. Anyway, the system I want to focus on is diagrams.

My idea for diagrams is that they're very specific geometric figures which invoke agreements with abstract entities. These deals can be set up by shamans, priests, summoners, diabolists, whatever, but they come down to an agreement whereby the entity agrees to cause such and such effect whenever a particular geometric shape is drawn and traced with activation dust. For example, a minor spirit of gravity might agree to power a small region of weightlessness when such and such diagram is inscribed. The price might be worship, it might be a symbolic offering of power, it might be an inch of height, it might be the chance to corrupt the negotiator with some measure of mental and bodily influence.

Anyway, I want to explore the way that, while there might be an official guide to designing these diagrams, in the end, it's really up to the negotiator what it looks like. I could draw some interesting parallels between this and language, I think.

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Sounds very cool! I can see a lot of potential here. A few questions.... 

 

Can someone make a deal on behalf of another person?

How does this affect the art culture?

Can a child make a deal, if they know how?

What happens if one party doesn't keep their side of the deal?

Is there a big "God" figure, and can he be summoned via the diagram?

Is it possible for someone to convince and entity only to obey them?

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Basically, when a deal is made, it's in "the public domain" so to speak. The negotiator can keep the diagram secret, if he wants, but anybody using that configuration of shapes can access it.

Also, the deals are by no means a required art for the diagrammists. That's something entirely different, even if it's a logical progression. An analogy that works is that the negotiators are electricians, connecting the switch to the power line and the lightbulb. Diagrammists just flip the switch. The only difference is that, because the wires are metaphysical, the lightbulb can be anywhere.

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Can you use a diagram more than once?

How are the spirits limited? Why would they make deals?

How are the powers of the spirits limited?

Why can't the spirits affect the human without a deal?

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Ok, I'm going to try to describe this a different way:

Imagine that each diagram is function in a program, which accepts only spacial parameters. So long as the deal's valid, anybody can call it by inscribing the diagram with red dust (this is usually done by tracing it in an adhesive and brushing the dust over it).

As to capabilities, I want to leave that more open-ended. Because of the changeable nature of deals (e.g, if there's a diagram tied to a person's lifespan, or tied to the power of a dead or imprisoned entity, or only works every other day) it's most effective to memorise well-documented diagrams tied to powerful entities with few restrictions. It also means that, if you mess up, your diagram either doesn't work at all or does something entirely different. I want to roughly confine the effects to the purely physical, but even that has some wiggle room.

Again, you do not use the diagrams to summon anything. That's entirely different. And the spirits can affect people without a deal. They just tend to move through pawns, worshippers, or negotiators who traded a favour for a diagram.

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I think to get this to work though, you might need to have some limits on how much a spirit/entity can effect the world without a deal or diagram. It has to be worth it (as in, they get more powerful the more worshipers they have or the more deals that they are able to make)...even spirits have to deal in magical economics! :)

Edited by Nymp
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I think to get this work though, you might need to have some limits on how much a spirit/entity can effect the world without a deal or diagram. It has to be worth it (as in, they get more powerful the more worshipers they have or the more deals that they are able to make)...even spirits have to deal in magical economics! :)

 

Well... Swimmingly, how do you intend to portray these other spirits? Are you going for the classic image of eldritch beings--beyond mortal comprehension, with seemingly no reason for doing the things they do? Or are you interested in exploring their culture and behavior with more depth?

 

Either way would be interesting, of course, and I love the idea behind this. :)

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I haven't actually worked out the spirits' behaviour yet. I figured that could wait for another time, as the focus of what I'm going to be doing is the diagrams.

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I'm always way to paranoid to mention my ideas on forums for fear that my ideas will be taken some way. I used to love to write but since my kids were born that's been cut down to no writing at all the past decade. I applaud you for sharing. It does sound interesting.

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