I am looking for help on my system of magic spells and spell casting. The system is made up of three parts; your alignment, your element, and how those two interact.

  1. Alignment: Your alignment works on a system similar to Shin Megami Tensei where you can be an agent of Order or an agent of Chaos, and this gives you special buffs according to that alignment. For example, agents of Order are defensively oriented, with several abilities that block, reflect, or trap attacks, as well as buffing their own abilities and their allies' abilities, and their fighting styles are incredibly refined. On the other side, agents of Chaos are offensively oriented, with attacks that cause explosions, debuffing their opponents, and their fighting styles are wild and unpredictable. Each alignment also has specific abilities only they can use. In addition, if certain conditions are met, there are two other alignments, Cosmic and Void, that combine elements from both Order and Chaos along with new, significantly more powerful abilities. It is also possible to not have an alignment and just be Neutral, but this one doesn't give you any significant advantages; you're just balanced. It is also important to note that Order isn't good, and Chaos isn't bad, it's just the way you achieve your goals.

  2. Element: Elements are specific forms of magic that you use for spells. There are six elements that I have currently: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Light, and Dark. Each element counterbalances each other, i.e. Water beats Fire, Earth beats Wind, and Light beats Dark, but this is where the alignment system comes in. This is just how the elements beat each other normally, but when you add in the alignments, it is possible for Fire to beat water, Air to beat Earth, and Dark to beat Light. In addition, each element has smaller groups of spells that are based on that element; for example, Light has lightning spells, Water has ice spells, Dark has gravity spells, Earth has nature and metal spells, Wind has speed and healing spells, and Fire has lava spells. Multiple users can combine their attacks into powerful combination attacks as well.

  3. Interaction between the two: Your alignment affects your fighting style and the techniques you use with your element. For example, Orderly Fire and Chaotic Fire have the same element, but they are different styles entirely. Orderly Fire has you using small, controlled fire blasts, along with shaping your fire into guardians or barriers, with not a lot of super destructive explosions, whereas Chaotic Fire uses destructive bursts of flame and explosions in their fighting style. In addition, if your fighting style and element are in opposition of each other, you have a better chance of winning the fight. For example, if you are a Chaotic Fire fighting an Orderly Water, you have a better chance of overpowering them.

You use this fighting style by tapping into your Chi, and then using it to power your spells. The more Chi you have, the more powerful spells you can use, and you can use other spells more frequently.

What I want to know is how can I make alignments and elements interact better, a better explanation of how it could work, and a nice name for this system of magic. As well as this, the spiritual energy of Chi does more than just cast spells and I want to see what other kinds of power that this system can run on. If you know a way that I can use two different power sources for magic, let me know.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Renan, Frostfyre, Ryan_L, Mołot, Joe Bloggs Oct 5 '18 at 17:30

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    $\begingroup$ "What I want to know is how can I make alignments and elements interact better" define a metric for "better". $\endgroup$ – Renan Oct 4 '18 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Please keep in mind SE's Q&A model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. Please keep questions as focused and objective as possible. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 4 '18 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP "buff" is gamer slang for anything that temporarily increases one's attributes - for example a potion that increases one's stamina by 5 for 30 minutes . It is derived from body builder slang, where "he's really buffed" means "he's really strong and muscular" $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Oct 4 '18 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP - And "debuff" is a negative effect, not the removal of a "buff." $\endgroup$ – Battle Oct 5 '18 at 6:14
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    $\begingroup$ Hello. Please read Magic is primarily opinion-based by definition, so what does a POB VTC mean? to see latest discussion on magic questions we had. I voted to close as unclear what you are asking, because there is no question mark in your question at all, and from the context I couldn't figure for sure what your question actually is. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 5 '18 at 7:59

I would suggest dropping your element system to the Five Eastern Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) or Wu Xing. It achieves your balancing requirements in that each element "creates" one element, and halts another. This is easy to visiualize as the elements aide in pentagon cycle (With Wood at the top point of the Pentagon, Wood creates fire, Fire creats Earth (ash), Earth creates Metal (mines), Metal holds water (buckets), and water creates wood.), but each element also harms another one in a Pentagram cycle (Wood splits Earth, Earth Dams Water, Water stops Fire, Fire melts Metal, Metal chops Wood).

These also work well into your first requirement as a negative and positive, as Each Element has an associated negative and positive traits. Wood Elements, for example, are negatively associated with anger, but positively associated with Altruism. In addition, a general trait (wood is flexibility). This works well with a "nature" magic as nature is beautiful and can provide lots of useful plants that can be used as healing elements... but nature is cruel and plants can also be poisonous... and sometimes that that poison is, in small does, the cure. Flexibility is mostly due to Bamboo being the default eastern wood concept, but think of it as pulling a tree branch back and then letting it go to smack someone trying to run through what they see is a safe path.

  • $\begingroup$ Also, there's a destructive cycle which goes in the opposite direction of the usual controlling cycle. Water may quench fire in the normal cycle, but sufficient fire can vaporize water. That might be a useful feature for weaving in the idea of alignments. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 4 '18 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ This was one of the reasons I enjoyed Avatar's use of the Elements. No one element was better or worse than the other, but the skill of the wielder was much more important. Also I don't think the reverse cycle is an actual thing. $\endgroup$ – hszmv Oct 4 '18 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ It's known as an insulting cycle, or "wu". It doesn't fit well with the narrative the Chinese philosophers prefer, so they don't exactly recommend it as a course of action. But it's useful to understand what can happen in some unskilled situations. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 4 '18 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ For example, wood usually parts earth, as in how the actions of the growing roots can unsettle the soil. Usually this is healthy and leads to movement from earth to metal. However, if the person using an earth approach doesn't want to move to metal, they may bury the wood under heaps and heaps of earth. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 4 '18 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ This occurs when innovators in a company start coming up with hundreds of brilliant ideas, and those who are keeping the harmony with earth-style thinking aren't willing to codify it into the iron-clad rules that would constrain those ideas. instead of shifting to metal, they may simply bury the inventor, such that they can't breathe enough to actually invent any more. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 4 '18 at 21:14

I like this question, but its one of those questions no one except yourself can really solve. Remember this is your magic system and the interactions, actions and consequences of it are up to you to define as you wish.

That being said, there are some approaches I have seen that you could apply to make sure that your system feels good and is consistent.

  1. Defined Spells and Affects. You have a list of defined spells that every one uses. Elements can be applied to spells, so something like, Water Ball, Fire Ball and Boulder Throw are all the same type of spell. You can also apply this to your alignments, with Chaos resulting in explosions (exploding ice shards, shattering boulders, violently agressive wind) or with Order taking a fixed shape (e.g. water shield, fire shield, rock shield). It actual effect is up to you to decide, but once you have figured it out, its easy to apply it to your entire magic system.

  2. Elements and Alignments have certain properties. In this case, you give you elements and alignments certain properties, but don't fix their effects. Rock is strong and steady, so all their spells related to that. Have a look at the way Avatar the last airbender did it. (Specifically basing the bending styles off different martial arts and mixing the bending together with the martial arts to make each element type have a very distinct style). You don't need to use martial arts as a basis, you could also design a set of spells that each element has access to and how each alignment affects each of these spells. You will notice that generally you don't need a lot of spells (Think of Harry Potter) to build a good story but you will need to have them in place for game designs.

  3. You can let the magic be very free form and based on the user. This lets you have unique spells that don't fit the system, but hey its magic anyway so why not. An example of this could be "Ice Make" from the FairyTale Manga, where the ice magic can be formed into any shape the user wishes, or something like the laser beam from sparky sparky boom boom man from Avatar.

Finally, you can mix and match the above. Its magic and its worldbuilding, you just need to make sure things are plausible and consistent. Not realistic and feasible.


Well, I already like the fluidity of this system and how it serves to characterize its users as much is it allows for engaging battles and tactics.

At the moment I'm having some trouble seeing if your talking about a linear story or a video game, so I'm going to assume story. I think this is worth highlighting because a video game would have to be more rigid for gameplay mechanics to work.

My first suggestion is to have the elements be the first thing the story and people within the story focus on. After all, its very flashy to behold and a can imagine a lot of people focusing all their attention to elemental rock-paper-scissors and ignoring the alignment aspect altogether. Its takes a wise mentor to point out the additional layer of the magic system, which could make for an engaging moment for the reader.

Secondly is the specializations you mentioned. Making mages focus their training to become Fire mages, Dark mages, or Wind mages has the advantage of forcing creative use of their powers. Take a locked door, for example. A fire mage could blow the thing down or melt the pins out of the hinges. A dark mage might crush the tumblers in the lock. Wind and water might cut the latch. A light mage, depending how you write them, might just be stuck in the room. By keeping magic users from learning a bit of every element, either by making specialization a necessity or having people be naturally predisposed to an element, you can have characters playing around with the elements more.

The other option is to allow for "multiclassing", aka characters who can use multiple elements. This gives your characters more abilities to master, which could be interesting depending on the combativeness of mages in your world. A character might spend all their time mastering a single element, or they could try and have a technique or two in each elements so they could be more flexible.

In either system, alignments could serve to further specialize mages. For example, a Fire mage is getting pissed that they can't make huge amounts of fire only for their teacher to inform them that their character (alignment) isn't compatible with that technique. Instead, they should focus on small fires with a lot of intensity. Blowtorch claws!

As for a name for all this stuff, I'm not sure if I can help you. If their are other forms of magic in this world (like, golem-makers or enchanters or something) it would make sense to refer to this system as Elemental Magic or World-Shifting. If its the only form of magic, their really isn't any reason to not call it just magic (or shaping, casting, summoning, whatever).

Linking this to chi is a totally fine idea and would make total sense for a setting incorporating martial arts. Some other ideas might be making magic users be demi-gods, meaning descendants from divine beings, and have the ability to alter the shape of the world because of it. Or you could go for a more western idea by having the mages double as paladins in that their abilities are given to them after they pledge their fidelity to their god/gods.

Best of luck with your idea!


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