Farnsworth

Is my magic system to drug-like?

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I made this magic system where if people burn this certain type of moss that grows on snow (I know that moss doesn't grow in cold climates, but this is special moss) it produces this special smoke. The smoke causes no discomfort when breathed in, and is absorbed by the person's skin. They feel a minor amount of discomfort as they are sent to a "world of smoke." They see the real world and can affect it a bit, but it takes lots of energy to do even a small action such as pick something up. They see another layer on top of the regular world, and the layer consists of currents of gray smoke that push them around. However, even if you are shoved hard by a current of smoke, your position in relationship to the regular world doesn't change. From within the world of smoke, you can do various things to affect the regular world that i'm not going to go into, partially because they are complicated, partially because they're not fully worked out yet. 

Anyways, I was reading my brother this one scene where Spider, one of my major characters, is sitting at a desk breathing smoke from moss which is in a bowl next to her, in a meditative trance, using the abilities she gains from the world of smoke to bend and warp metal in front of her to make a sword. He commented that this was very drug-like, so I changed it a bit. I'm still worried that the system in general is very druggy. I'm okay with it being a little druggy, kind of like the petals in Twelve Kings in Shakarai if you've read that, but not that much. 

Any suggestions? Also, any tips on my magic system in general? Thank you all!

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Your magic system sounds really interesting, and while I don’t see any reason why it being drug like is a problem, there is one potential potential solution I can think of in the moment that wouldn’t create a major restructuring. I’m going to assume this story doesn’t take place on earth. Something you could do is create a drug in the world that is not a like any drug on earth, then have every character assiociate drugs with that non earthlike drug. That way the reader doesn’t form an association with drugs. You could also have them intake it in the least druglike way possible (not smoking, or inhaling it)

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I can't offer any advice on the magic system itself, as you haven't really told us anything about it - only how to start using it, not what it can actually do, how it works or what are its limitations.

As for the imagery - it is very invocative of drugs. A lot depends on how you write it, though. But even if you describe it in a way that doesn't invoke drug association in the reader right away, on its core it still will be.

Edited by Oversleep
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I guess it depends what you mean by "too drug-like." The fact that it's drug-like isn't inherently bad. Unless you're trying to get this published in a middle-grade book, I'm sure you won't have any problems with censorship.

The problem, as I see it, is that it's too drug-like not to be about drugs. It looks like a story inspired by drug use, commenting on drug use. I can't tell if the commentary is pro-drug or anti-drug or somewhere in between, but this story will say something about drugs whether you want it to or not. So you should probably figure out what you'd like to say about drugs, and make sure you're not inadvertently saying the opposite.

Or, of course, you could make it less drug-like. If that's your goal, I recommend you remove everything about burning moss and inhaling smoke. Find a way to get into the smokeworld that doesn't involve ingesting strange chemicals.

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Thanks for the advice guys! 

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I like it tbh. In my eyes it comes across as no different than someone using incense when they meditate. 

Are there any other side effects? Do they have withdrawals or symptoms? Can they get addicted? 

I feel if its just the one effect (slipping into the next layer) you should be fine. 

However, someone is always going to relate it to drugs at some point. Just comes down to how its written. 

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@XtafaThere is a minor sense of discomfort when first entering the realm of smoke that fades quickly, but that’s the only symptom. Thanks for the feedback, and glad you like it!

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For what it's worth, Allomancy is quite druggie in a lot of ways... I will say, your moss reminds me of

Spoiler

the moss drug in the Stormlight Archive...

Again, for what it's worth.

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This is a cool concept. Take an electrum ring

I will say that the system does invoke imagery about drugs.

Based on the scene that you did share, it feels a lot like drugs, especially the meditative trance. It would really depend on the timing and how you used it during the rest of the book. Like others have said, it really depends on how it is written.

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2 hours ago, Ripheus23 said:

For what it's worth, Allomancy is quite druggie in a lot of ways... I will say, your moss reminds me of

  Reveal hidden contents

the moss drug in the Stormlight Archive...

Again, for what it's worth.

That actually is what my friend compared it to when he first read it!

 

Thanks for all the tips guys! I think what I'm probably going to end up doing is expand the magic system a bit so that there are multiple ways you can get to the smoke world, and breathing the moss is just one way you can do it. The trance state is still going to be a little druggy, but like many of you said, that's not entirely a bad thing.

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