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The classic approach of categorising magic spells based on a variant of elemental groups a well-established trope, but has never had me particularly convinced.

We're used to seeing Earth, Wind(or Air), Fire and Water, sometimes with Life/Death, Psychic and spiritual, and sometimes Electric, Ice and Bio-energy are used too.

My gripe with resorting to these tropes for the classification of Magic when making my own world is that the magic I'm trying to convey is about manipulating the energies in the world around us.

Mages in this world identify with a certain type of energy, and train in a school aligned with that energy. The mage's focus may be on manipulating:

  • Temperature (both hot and cold)
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism
  • Gravity
  • Light
  • Sound
  • "life-force" or Spirit energy ( because in this world is essentially it is established as own distinct type of energy)

What I'm struggling with though is how to group these. Based on our understanding of the Electro-Magnetic Spectrum, a lot of these energies are on there and behave similarly, but having a school of Electro-mag would leave LOADS of potential spells all in the one school, leaving the other energies (Gravitational, Acoustic, Spritual, and Thermal) potentially looking a bit weak.

So I turn to you for help! I'm looking for up to 8 schools or disciplines to divide the magic arts into, based around the above energies that drive them, instead of elemental association, in a slightly more balanced way.

If you think I've missed any energy categories out, or would like to point out a different approach to the classification I'm open to the idea.

edit: (to clarify... life-force does not closely resemble "the force" of Star-Wars fame)

The life-force referred to here is an energy present in living things, that leaves the living thing upon death, it is to all intents and purposes the soul. When a concentration of stray life energy has been released into the world, and is not dissipated, then there is a chance it may be observed by the living in the form of a ghost.

Science leaves us to suppose that the collection of energies that are present in a living thing, like the chemical reactions and electrical impulses going on in the human body, are all that there are to life - that the difference between a living thing and a dead thing are the presence of absence of all these things in tandem, and when we die these processes become interrupted and shut down. One of the fictional concepts that this world is employing is that they are not.

Uses of this kind of energy are mainly focussed around Healing/harming the living and being able to disperse ghosts, or at a very advanced level being able to conjure spectral apparitions or avatars.

What this life force is not is a means to manipulate physical objects, project energy or control peoples minds. It has nothing to do with microscopic organisms existing in living cells, and does not offer an individual a sense of connection to a greater unseen network of energy.

I hope this clarifies any confusion.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by StephenG, Vincent, Aify, Renan, Gryphon Aug 4 '18 at 2:07

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Temperature is not an energy, rather an indication of the heat inside a body. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Aug 3 '18 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, I assume AshLewis meant thermal energy. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Aug 3 '18 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ Motion might be a good addition, in the sense of Newtonian physics. $\endgroup$ – Chris M. Aug 3 '18 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ ATTENTION VTCers! While this Q may have other problems, by definition a question about magic is never off-topic/not-about-worldbuilding (or, more accurately, the OP would need to go so far out of his/her way to make a Q about magic OT:NAW that they should get a badge for it). $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 3 '18 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ My then 6 year old son once observed that all magic systems are energy "bending" systems. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Aug 4 '18 at 2:24
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I propose the following:

Photonic: magic that manipulates light, radio waves, microwaves, and any other form of the electromagnetic spectrum. Useful for your your cousin Alice, who could use a bit more spotlight now and again. Also useful for your 3rd cousin twice removed Rudolfo, who needs the beat down of his life for insulting Alice two weeks ago. He needs a tan... a really deep tan... Oh, yeah, the tanning of his life....

Kinetic: magic that manipulates the force applied to something to create everything from beautiful music and clear weather at Alice's wedding to a hole in Rudolfo's castle (conveniently on the side of the approaching Orc army). I call this kinetic, but what it really is, is the ability to move mass around by its small nuclear force.

Electric: magic that manipulates electrons including sophisticated magentic effects that made you the talk of the town with your juggling act at Alice's wedding to the crude but effective lightening bolt that reminded Rudolfo he owes you money.

Gravity: magic that manipulates gravitational attraction, both toward and away, making things like Alice (who enjoyed just a bit too much cake at her wedding) very light or Rudolfo's pant zipper (who wasn't invited) very heavy.

Biologic: magic that enhances, manipulates, or degrades life. Such as ensuring Alice's throne is always covered with fresh roses and Rudolfo feels excruciating pain when he urinates. It can temporarily reanimate the dead (like Rudolfo's ex-girlfriend... heh-heh...) and temporarily bestow fertility. Alice's swans needed a little help.

Heat: magic that manipulates the generation of heat, absorbtion of heat, and resistance to thermal change (cold or hot) by manipulating the natural vibration of substances. This is great for keeping Alice's castle spring-like all year round and for making sure not a single flame can be kindled in Rudolfo's castle. Ever.

Quantum: deep magic that manipulates time and space. One of the most difficult of the occult sciences to master, it ensures Alice always looks 21. It also ensures Rudolfo's left sock is never where he left it. Luck, fortune, and fate (as some people suppose) are more deterministic than they think....

Human Spirit: the true name of this dark magic is never spoken aloud. It controls the mystery of human thought and emotion, compulsion and revulsion. It definitely helped keep Alice loving you, even after that @$)!& Rudolfo had acid thrown on your face, but it also keeps Rudolfo from ever feeling satisfied. About anything. Ever. It can make the local half-wit a genius and it can make the saint living in a cave at the top of the mountain worse than the Dark Reaver of Thornbarrel. It's no small thing to change what a person is, and it extracts the highest price of all the sciences.

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  • $\begingroup$ you get the +1 for the wit alone, and that's before the answer! I like the inclusion of the Quantum, but I'm a little bit wary of the Human Spirit option, as I'm sure the mages would be too, so having it be the forbidden dark art would make sense. $\endgroup$ – AshLewis Aug 3 '18 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ I guess my concern with the Human Spirit school is that the manipulation of psychological constructs like emotion or opinion is nowhere similar to controlling photons. One thing that I like in the others is the potential for more than one school to provide an answer to problems that traditionally might be tightly typed: A sunny day? A mage from the Heat or Kinetic discipline can help you out. $\endgroup$ – AshLewis Aug 3 '18 at 17:45
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Heres mine

Convergence - Selectively target particles at one point while ex-pulsing of other non target particles

Dispersion - Interferes with the interaction of particles

Movement - Modification of velocity and path of target.

Vibration - Ability to control the repeated motion called wave

Absorption - Affect the interaction between the same particle

Release - Interference upon particle movement and interaction.

Weight - Affect an objects interaction with gravity

Non-systematic type - Magics that are out of scope of the 7 great systems of magic.

This system of magic based from your criteria which affects all of the 8 elements that you've said.

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