I'm trying to write a story about the transformation of the protagonist's role in the community that matters most to them, and that community just happens to be a community of mages in a fantasy world constantly at war. But this is just plot.
I've come up with a magic system for the world that hopefully balances it with the rest of society, but I want to run it by an objective audience to see if it makes any sense.
I know magic is notoriously hard to write so I will try to explain as much of my system as possible.
It goes like this:
Imagine a fantasy world where there are these free currents of invisible magical energy that moves through the world randomly and unpredictably. The energy ebbs and flows gaining in strength and fading in strength based on a number of factors such as the time of year, the time of day, and the geological features of the world. No one can predict where they will show up and for how long they will stay in the same spot.
The energy itself is actually the metaphysical material of another universe where everything and anything can exist at the same time and is in a state of total anarchy, basically hell. The random anarchistic material of hell is leaking into my world and joining with the ordered material in it to create a new ordered hybrid material that can be harnessed as energy.
But, the energy can only be harnessed by individuals who are sensitive to the energy and are born being able to see the flows themselves. They are living conduits of the energy. These are the magic users. When the energy becomes into them they perceive it as nine separate aspects which are associated with different spellcraft.
Now, simply being sensitive to the energy isn't enough to use magic, the mage has to understand it, control it, and know how much to expose themselves to. Because if they don't three things can happen. One: prolonged contact with the energy will cause the mage to slip into insanity, at which point they can no longer function. Two: the more energy they take into themselves the greater danger they will become possessed by demonic beings from the other universe and the demon will eat their soul. For this reason, mages have to learn to master their minds and their willpower. If they manage this they can avoid danger to themselves, but they will never be totally safe.
a mage has to go through years of training and study to be able to master controlling the magic and protecting themselves from it at the same time. They learn these skills through established academies of magic that are sanctioned by their country's government. The governments then use the mages to serve the state and military for the benefit of their country. The mages really have no say in this matter they are made to serve the state regardless of how they feel about it because really what the state is doing is neutralizing a potential problem in their population. They can't have powerful magic users running around free because they pose a threat to public safety and the government itself. So they make the mages work for them and redirect their power.
But even once a mage is trained and working for the government, the extent his/her power is still limited. When they go through training they have to choose to specialize in one type of spellcraft based on the nine aspects of energy, and each specialized magic type has its strengths and weaknesses against other magic types. So if a fire mage goes rogue, a water mage can take him out, because water magic is stronger against fire magic. This adds an extra layer of security over the mages.
A mage will work to benefit the people in their daily lives by using their magic to help in various tasks like helping crops grow, healing the sick and wounded, fighting fires and making weapons and armor. But assistance is limited by the availability of the mages, rather or not the currents of magic are in the right place to make the spell work successfully, and rather or not the mage needs to distance himself from the energy to avoid going insane or being possessed by devils. The magic is not always reliable, so the average people also have to depend on their own work and technology to keep the society moving, but if a mage's help is offered and the conditions are right they won't refuse it. Mage's aren't paid for their services because the state takes care of them and the state is paid by taxing the people. So in a way, Mages are agents of a state-funded welfare and assistance program for the people when they need it.
The same rules apply to military applications, Mages can fight and use their magic for war, but their usefulness in battle depends on if the currents of magic are right, and they can't cast huge spells repeatedly against an enemy or defense spells because they will take in too much energy and endanger themselves. So the military can't rely on them too much and they need to field full armies of average soldiers to win a battle. Not to mention the enemy will have their own mages who can counter a mage's magic with their own.
One thing that I am concerned about in my system is the nature of the relationship between the mages and their governments. The governments are forcing the mages to serve them and their needs so in my mind that is exploitation, even though the governments take very good care of the mages and train them and give them a mission in life. The mages are putting themselves at risk by using the magic for almost no reward of their own and they would have the means to resist the will of the state. But then again I'm thinking this is a don't bite the hand that feeds you situation.