I am attempting to construct a magic system for a fictional modern world akin to ours. In this world, like ours, magic has largely been forgotten, so it is no longer part of the world and has had no influence on it. However a small number of people begin to rediscover it in the current day.
Here’s what I have figured out about the magic system:
Magic is cast using spells. If you follow the spell instructions, you will get some amount of expected magical effect, anyone who follows the instructions well enough can do it. Each spell is different, requiring spoken words, gestures and/or components as the spell describes.
Each spell is powered by Force, generated via the caster’s emotional intensity. More emotional intensity means more intense/bigger results.
Each spell is controlled by Focus. The more self-control the caster has, the more successfully they will be able to cast the spell and keep the effects under control – for example, directing it to a target.
Since self-control and emotional intensity can be opposing natures, it’s hard to accomplish both. People who have access to the emotion of cold fury are a notable exception.
The behind the scenes truth of the matter is that the spells are NOT the magic, they are merely the trigger for the magic. Way back at some point in the past, someone crafted an effect (like throwing a fireball) and tied it to a spell (like saying “Sadhi Kahlum!” and holding a large ruby while pointing with two fingers.) Once the spell trigger was tied to the magical effect, anyone who knows the trigger can use it. Think of spells almost like universal macros for pre-created magic.
However, the spellcaster may not know any of this, all they know is when they do the steps, they created a directed fireball – and the more emotion they channel, the more energy it contains, while the more control they mentally wield, the more the fireball does what the caster wants.
I really like this system because it explains why there is no necessary rhyme or reason as to which spells trigger which effects, and it also explains why spells are often in an ancient language – because that was the language the spell-crafter used.
Here is my problem, I have no good answers for how spells are crafted, and why magic works in the first place!
Take the fireball spell. I know that someone very long ago created this effect and tied it to the spell – that is, made it so from that point on, performing the specific steps anywhere in the universe triggered the effect they assembled/crafted.
But assuming that the spell merely invokes the pre-designed magic effect like a trigger, how and why does that magic edit and/or change reality? How is it physics can be defied and science ignored? After all, there is no conservation of energy/matter, momentum can be ignored, etc.
Here are some answers I find do NOT work for me and my intentions:
The magic comes from divine or more powerful beings. (There are no divine beings in this world, no afterlife, etc. Somehow in molding the spells effect, the crafter is working on reality itself.)
The world is a simulation or virtual reality – like the Matrix – and spellcrafters are just coding. (I don’t want the world of the story to be a fake layer on top of a realer world. I also would vastly prefer that magic does not wind up being akin to programming or interacting with computer-like systems.)
The magic comes from an alternate reality or dimension. (I want there to be just the Earth.)
The magic comes from life force/faeries/gaia. (Well, there are no faeries/elves/mythic creatures, plus I want spellcrafting to be possible anywhere, even the depths of space. It should be part of reality itself.)
The magic comes from belief – either the crafters belief, or the communal beliefs of the human race. (I want magic to be as independent of “belief” as gravity itself is.)
So, there’s my conundrum. I need to explain spell crafting and how and why magic alters reality to produce its effects, without just hand-waving over it.
Specifically, how is it that all of our understanding of reality that we call science – physics, chemistry, etc – is reliable and true, while at the same time it can be countermanded by magic – without resorting to the undesirable explanations above?
And whatever the explanation is, it has to be non-trivial enough that over three centuries of science our best scientists haven’t stumbled onto it.
Thus my actual question: What options do I have that conform to all of the above, on which I can base such a magic system on? Or have I eliminated all possibilities by the above constraints?