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I'm currently working on creating a fantasy world that's somehow inspired by Tolkien's work, the Warcraft universe and lots of different RPG games (Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons, Demon the Fallen etc.), and so far, in most of the stuff I came up with, I struggle to accept that using magic, be it divine or arcane, does not come with a proper price.

In the world that I'm building, each time magic flows through mortal veins it leaves some kind of mark. When it's divine and granted by a benevolent deity it probably won't cause any damage and will make a folk euphoric, if said deity isn't the nicest then I think the price might be merciless.

But what about arcane magic? In this world it's magic that was basically 'stolen' from ancient entities and converted into something more or less usable by mortals. Said magic is extremely addictive.

With that context, how would you show such an addiction? Would it drive one crazy, take a toll on ones physical appearance, or show up in some different manner?

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  • $\begingroup$ This just looks like showing off your world, you already offer some possibilities so that exactly is your question? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ Replace magic with Technology and you will find lots of case studies with reasoning. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close as there is no criteria in which one answer is more valid than another besides what the OP likes more $\endgroup$
    – BKlassen
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ "Would it drive one crazy, take a toll on ones physical appearance, or show up in some different manner?" well, I don't know. What do you prefer? That's what'll happen. Your world, your magic, your rules. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ Addiction itself has no obvious physical effects, there will be nothing to see. With addiction you get harm when the addictive material isn't available and the substance to which you are addicted may be harmful itself (although most of the harm we see to drug users is from impurities, not the actual substance of addiction.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 4:12

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To me it seems you are asking two different questions but I will try to answer them both

1. How can the substances be addictive:

I would suggest for the same reason as most drugs work in the real world. They make you feel good, not all in the same way and they do not have the same effect on everyone - at least not immedietly. Perhaps you decide that elemental magic fills the user with feeling of power, then people who crave power and feeling powerfull become even more easily addicted to magic. For the downright chemical reason of why they become addicted I would suggest the same reason as in our world. Magic usage feels good and effect dopamine, seretonin and other hormones production and release into the brain. Addiction is one hell of a thing even without magic.

2. What effect does magic usage have apart from being addictive:

Being addicted to something in the real world can be a real horror by itself if supply is somehow suddenly cut(withdrawal is really unplesant even if your drug of choice is something as mild as coffe). But drug usage often have prolonged side effects besides addictiveness and here is where your idea gets really interesting. I think a good angle is looking at the element or 'type' of magic together with how the user feels. Is the caster conjuring lightning as power feels like it is surging through the body? With prolonged use the veins with litterally burn onto skin much like when lightning strike people in real life (Some images here). But more than just cosmetic it might damage nerves causing twitchiness, loss of control and perhaps even paralysis in the long run. If its healing magic perhaps a low glowing light appear out of the users eyes that damage retinas over time causing reduced vision and blindness.

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  • $\begingroup$ It suits your answer better than mine, what about the attributes you use during the ritual? Say that magic needs a specific mindset and to achieve it you can use a few assorted chemicals... there are also types of magic that people believe in right now where emotional states are important, and sex is often used during the rituals. That can be addictive as well. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 16:23
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Power at a price is a very common thing in fiction. You can make it change a person's body or mind, as you like. People who start using magic and can't stop using it, while the magic itself takes a toll on them, would be one example. From your setup, it sounds like human bodies are not really designed to handle something as powerful as arcane magic. But really your imagination is the limit.

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Cant the addiction be simply using it? How many times havent you wished you could get a drink without getting up? Or for larger scale problems, be able to circumvent things like the hassle of finding someone who wants to be with you if you can force them? Or fix your car without having to go to a garage or learning how the car works? Have you ever moved to a new home? Then you know how much time (and money if you let someone else do it) it costs to get the house ready. Things need packing, moving, the house needs cleaning, painting, floors, some odd jobs done to get rid of whatever the previous owners thought useful or add what is missing, safely install it and maneuver all your stuff through the house to their spot...

Using magic is addictive because it saves you the trouble. This can cause problems like with people who get super rich and can always get what they want, but that soon doesnt satisfy anymore increasing risks of suicide. It will most definitely skew your vision of the world. Why should you listen to that smart guy, what does he know he's got no magic! Why should I pay for stuff, I have power and thus I have to be important right? Arrested for stealing and misconducts? That is for ordinary people, I am a MAGE, I twist reality to my WILL, you have listen to me and LET ME GO DONT SEDATE M-

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I will answer your question with another question: Why it wouldn't be? Magic is powerful, is empowering, allows you to do marvelous and terrible things. It is certainly adictive, at least psychological addiction, addiction to power.

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