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Looking for Help Developing a Magic System


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Well, consider a few thing: Who can use it, How can they use it, When can they use it, and why can they use it. Next, you need to consider the nature of the conflict(No pun intended). Is nature magic and technology not? Or do nature and machine have their own forms of magic? What level of technology exists, and how doe sit effect magic? Is one replacing the other? These questions are just a few ideas to help guide your world-building experience. 

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I want to run with what Morzathoth said. We can harness sunlight, and turn it into electricity - sunlight can power the mechanical. Many times, "technology" and "nature" will harness the same resource in different ways. It's kind of like ethanol-based fuels - corn is food to people, but corn is also used to produce fuel for vehicles. Same resource, still harnessing energy, but it's naturally through digestion and mechanically through combustion.


Furthermore, technology is all drawn from nature, just refined and modified to ensure it does what we want it to. Electrical charges accumulate between the sky and the earth, causing lightning; we figured out a way to store charge between two parts of a battery. Viruses reproduce in the human body, so we take small pieces of humans (cell cultures) and introduce viruses in bioreactors to create vaccines. Rubber and Glass occur naturally, but we produce them in controlled circumstances to get the best quality. So, if you develop a "natural" magic system first, you can step back along the "how" until you get to a place you can diverge to get "technology."


To illustrate, here's a crazy idea that popped into my head (when I read the OP, before I'd actually seen Morzathoth's post):

  • When I think natural, I think plants, I think fruits and flowers - different colors.
  • When I think mechanical, I think lasers, I think lenses - different colors.
  • "Magic" comes in through sunlight, but you have to filter out the right wavelengths to get the right kinds of power. You can harness it through photosynthesis (natural) or lenses (technological).

So, if you have something with a specific power source in mind, and a specific end result in mind, you can have multiple bridges between the two, and that can give the conflict between "natural" and "mechanical." That's something we kind of see in the Cosmere - there is a source of power (Investiture), but different ways of accessing powers. One Aviar in Sixth of the Dusk can reproduce an ability like Atium in Mistborn; both provide some future sight. That's a good example of "natural" vs "mechanical," actually - you can go find a bird in nature, or you could ingest a specific metal, but both give you a power.


Hope I gave you some good food for thought, without getting too specific. (There's no fun in worldbuilding if someone else does it all for you...)

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How about a magic system where magically created technology can control aspects of nature. For example: a magically created radio could control sound. For this this magic system to work, technomancers (people who can create magical technology) would have to be rare. Technomancers would grow in power as they age. The oldest technomancers would be able to create incredibly powerful devices and would be able to turn the tide of entire wars.

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