I'm looking for help balancing my magic system. In my world I have two overarching forms of magic that manifest themselves. But I'm stuck on how to link the two.

The first form of magic is like this: There are two worlds, the waking and dreaming world. All things come from the dreaming world and to the dreaming world they must return (death). Everyone is tapped into this form of magic because everyone has a "dreaming eye". The dreaming eye is what allows someone to see into the dreaming world which manifests, as you probably guessed, in dreams. However not everyone has a clear or fully opened dreaming eye. For most their vision is clouded. But the few that have a opened and clear eye are able to peer into the dreaming world with clarity. This clarity gives them visions. These visions are commonly of events that have not happened just yet. This allows these individuals to become Oracles as well as the ability to write prophecies. Oracles are also able to specifically focus on a single individual and receive a vision. This lets Oracles have visions of specific people, locations, or items.

The second system is a bit different. It's based on physical spells and magic symbols. Anyone can technically use a spell, but this magic is very unpredictable and unwieldy. Lore-wise it is because the languages these spells are written in are both ancient, but also numerous on top of this people might not even understand the words or meaning of the spells but can understand their effects since hardly anyone truly understands the "magical languages".

For the most part spells are hoarded by "Mage Families" who have accumulated spells, magic books, and other artifacts over generations. With these spells the mages sell miracles to the populace. Some spells are common enough to be transcribed and used by many, but others are rare and seldomly used due to being unpredictable.

This form of magic is only restricted by two main factors: who owns the spell and understanding of the spell. So while technically anyone can wield a spell a mage who's used the spell numerous times and has a decent understanding of the spell can wield this spell far better then a peasant that only mangles the words.

My main problem is how would I connect these two systems, that function differently, together to have some cohesion between the two systems? Or is it better to just have two different systems that coexist?

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    $\begingroup$ What do you hope to achieve by "connect"? Because something as simple as "the magic languages came from the dreaming world" or "the energy for magic flows from the dream world" would be a very quick and easy connection (which might run the risk of oracles being able to [re]discover spells independently of the mages...) $\endgroup$ May 18, 2019 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Starfish Prime I'm hoping for a way they can complement each other while still remaining distinct. Without making one stronger or re moving the unpredictibility $\endgroup$ May 18, 2019 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime, that sounds like an answer. The dream world is the ancient primordial magic realm. Over millennia of time and human development, dreamers and oracles have managed to partly verbalize this primordial magic into the real world (partly accounts for the uncertainity, millennia accounts for the multiple ancient forgotten languageS). These ancient spells have then been hoarded by the powerful families...as they tend to do of anything of power. $\endgroup$ May 19, 2019 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ @everybithelps that actually helps alot! Although mage families aren't the most powerful families in the present. Maybe they all have lineages that stretch back to the ancients. Or stumbled into a ruin full of spells. $\endgroup$ May 19, 2019 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


I think the best way to link the two magic systems in to use the main point of commonality between them. Namely, (in system 1) everyone came from the dream world and (in system 2) everyone can use spells. Both magic systems apply universally. This is important, because this is correlation. And there are four possibilities for correlation: A causes B, B causes A, A and B are caused by C, or the correlation is just a coincidence. We'll discard the later two, because you only have two systems and because you want them to be linked.

My thoughts went along the lines of 'the magic is caused by the dream world' (System 1 causes system 2.) It should still be possible for them to be distinct and keeping the unpredictability. Let's say that the magic spell casting is as follows: It allows the mage to bring the dream world to the physical world. However, there's a catch - dreams are unpredictable at the best of times. The chants exist to try to lock the dream world into what you're trying to bring into reality - a fireball, gold, etc. This is why the magic system is unpredictable, and why repetition helps you - because you get better at visualizing your dream.

Now, let's try distancing System 1 a bit. System 1 uses the dream world to see into the future. So let's say that it's a unique dream world - a dream world not of space, but of time, which is only accessible to a mind that understands time. In other words, the dream world is unique to whatever interacts with it. When a human attempts to bring a rock out of the dream world, that's possible, because rocks are simple and do not have minds. But if a human attempts to interact with the dream world directly, than the world becomes more complex. And, as a result, it allows the human to see the future, but also carries the penalty of being incapable of interacting with the world at that stage. Does that help?

  • $\begingroup$ that's does help. My idea of miracles works really well with this because miracles are dreams come true in a way. The visualization also works. It could explain why people have a hard time learning spells: they're not words of power instead they're describing a dream. And with all languages metaphors or even phrases don't always translate well $\endgroup$ May 19, 2019 at 13:03

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