In my world, there exists another dimension right above our universe. Only a fraction of the population have the affinity to sense and interact with this extra dimension. A user can siphon energy from this extra dimension and manifest that borrowed energy into our world with real consequences: for instance a user could infuse his breath with energy borrowed from the extra dimension and in the real world breathe fire as a consequences. In actuality he is controlling the enthalpy by tapping the mysterious force of the extra dimension to alter the state of reality in this world.

Mechanically, there are 2 ways to increase the size of the fire breath:

  1. Dupe - doubling the magic bandwidth to allow twice as large a channel for the energy to seep in. A side-effect is that the user becomes exhausted and needs to rest anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days depending on the duration of exposure to the extra dimension.

  2. Boost - modulate the frequency of the energy without changing the bandwidth. A side-effect of this technique is that the user becomes hyperactive and energetic for a brief period of time. This is detrimental because the user needs to remain focused at all times, otherwise the boost will be lost and the time is wasted.

However, despite the overwhelming advantage of boost magic its popularity wanes. Why might this be?


Boost is unstable.

If you use the dupe technique, and become exhausted, you eventually just stop casting. It's a safe failure. Boost, on the other hand, makes you more active. It gives the illusion that you could keep this rate up forever. This leads one to overextend into potentially disastrous conditions.

All nuclear reactors are designed along the "dupe" style of thinking. As they overextend, they just naturally shut themselves down. This is safe, which is very important for nuclear power plants. You want to avoid the runaway effects that come naturally from the fanning of the flames "boost" offers.


Boost is addictive

You say that boosting makes someone energetic and hyper. It probably feels good too. Maybe a bit too good. As with many feel-good drugs, the caster becomes used to that high and eventually cannot feel happy except when casting. But the world only needs so many fireballs. But as the addiction gets worse, they tend to just open the channel and let it rip, burning themselves and others around them. This leads to a backlash in society against those who use the technique... they aren’t just dangerous to themselves!

Note that the other answers are things that would keep boost from ever being popular. This is one where it would become popular and then decrease in popularity over time, which is what the question requests.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is my favourite one. It opens really interesting narrative consequences. While the other suggestions are mostly in the "you will hurt yourself/won't be able to pull it off reliably", this one resonate with real-world examples, like amphetamines and such. It doesn't sound like an excuse for not doing it, but like it has a price those who are willing to pay won't be able to pay for long, whether they want it or not. Also: burnt-out mages are a really sad sight to imagine. $\endgroup$ – laancelot Jan 20 at 23:02

Boost is high-risk high-reward

Now, the "risk" in this case is actually not too high. It's not going to kill you or anything but it's still quite risky compared to the more reliable Dupe.

Typically high-risk high-reward options are popular for a while because the reward is quite lucrative. However, also typically once people get enough failures, the high-risk is factored as "not worth it" in the popular opinion.

Think of the lottery and how many people used to play. They did it because - "Hey, I could win the jackpot". After a while they stop and the rationalisation is along the lines of "I could just spend my money on something worthwhile". So, overall lower-risk avenues are preferred. Or at least different high-risks - "I can't seem to win the lottery but sports betting is much easier".

That's not to say that nobody would pursue high risks. Again, the existence of the lottery, and gambling in general, is proof that some people do like it. But in a lot of cases, it's not exactly the reward they are after, they become addicted to the thrill of potentially winning. It can have a powerful draw by itself.

At any rate, just judging on how people in this world react to risk systems, it seems perfectly natural that Boost will be "the next best thing" for a time but gradually it will be used less and less. It will likely not fall into obscurity unless there are severe drawbacks but people will prefer other avenues to increase the effects of their magic. Some would go for more moderate risks or might choose a different (newer) high-risk high-reward option. Dedicated Boost users would remain forever. Some might even get addicted to the energetic effect it has on themselves. Others might like how it improves their magic. However, they would be less than the initial popularity boom and the Boost users would likely stabilise over time.

Finally, as a personal anecdote:

user becomes hyperactive and energetic for a brief period of time, user needs to remain focused at all time otherwise the boost will be lost and the time is wasted.

This describes me in my university years. I'd want to finish so much work, that I'd devote myself to pulling all-nighters and depriving myself of sleep. To do so, I'd consume a lot of caffeine and energy drinks (ironically, one such drink was called Boost) that would leave me hyperactive and energetic. I'd also need to remain focused else I might literally just fall asleep even while doing something and wake up after, say, 12 hours wasting time I could have spent doing more work or studying. In some cases, I could have even missed a submission time.

This is not too dissimilar to the Boost mechanics, I feel. Even if the effects are that of the Dupe. The thing is that with Dupe, you have reliable system in place. Or more reliable, at least. If I could have made my work or study more effective at the cost of guaranteed need for a nap, I would have done it. But sleep deprivation comes with a lot of unreliability to it. After 24 hours you may feel "fine" (for now) or you might feel quite tired. After 48 you might feel "fine" as in not sleepy but your brain just refuses to work and you stare at a page of text as if it's written in Klingon. And if you do go to sleep, you might wake up after 10 hours or 20. Alarms might fail to be effective, either - I've slept through more than my fair share of them.

This seemed worth it at the time. Nowadays, I wouldn't subject myself. I'd pay money to avoid it. The reward of sleep deprivation could be good, but I don't believe it's worth it any more.


Boost induces long term damage.

Constantly pumping adrenaline from fear/fight or flight causes long-term accelerated aging, nerve damage, heart issues, immune issues.

Boost is exactly like this, very short uses infrequently is not likely to cause too much damage. However boosting high, long, or often increases the damage taking place. This leads to Boosters dying young from old persons diseases.

This in turn means that no one actually becomes skilled in boosting. Therefor there are no teachers. Even if there were, society deems that teaching boosting is too risky and students/pupils must first obtain suitably licensing (to absolve the state of their health care).

That is a lot of risk and a lot of negative feedback when there is a less risky, more socially acceptable, and probably highly lauded skill of Dupe.


Boost is more difficult

As you said, an effective boost requires the magician to stay focused, which is made particularly difficult by the state of "hyperactivity" he finds himself in.

So, the magician must undergo an extensive training to keep his mind clean and sober even in this condition of hyeractivity (think something like the training of Shaolin monks).
After a bit the people (and - more important - the kings) realize that the superiority of the boost is a diminishing return, because the training of a boost user takes the time and resources necessary to train a dozen dupe users. Similarly, less people will decide to undergo such a stressful training, when they can be good wizards without too much effort (and have a really good excuse to take day long naps).
Only a handful of very ambitious people would lean to master the boost (for personal prestige in 1 vs 1 challenges), but they would still be defeated on the battle field by 5-6 "cheap" dupe wizards, which in the long run will make boost magic less wanted.

For a real world example, the first musketeers were less effective than archers, but since they required less training, they were preferred in the armies and supplanted archery (of course, I'm simplifying a bit)


Boost hurts.

Not necessarily in a debilitating way (unless you're really pushing it), but it's like a searing, shooting pain all up and down your arm while you're channeling magic like that. Something about the frequency of the magic interfering with nerve conduction or something like that. Anyway, you feel energetic and hyper while boosting because the pain causes your body's emergency reflexes to dump adrenaline into your bloodstream in order to respond to the source of the pain.

If you can grit your teeth and bear it, you can get a lot done boosting, but most people prefer to just dupe instead. Much less painful.


Boost is harder to master

Looking at the two enhancements, one way they they can be summarized is as such:

Dupe overchannels yourself to give more power now at the cost of cost of needing to pay this energy debt later. Hence tiredness and lethargy afterwards.

Boost uses the energy to resonate with the energy of the world in a constructive way, creating a sort of 1 + 1 = 2+ kind of effect.

However, those that try to learn Boost use it on themselves to power up their spells. As they are in the area of effect, their own energy too gets amplified by this resonant effect, causing the standard side effects of excess energy and hyperactivity.

Now we generally understand the concepts that Dupe runs under -- extra energy now that is paid later. It is similar to how exercise can build up a type of debt that has to be repaid later. Since we understand it, we can not only plan for it, but learn how to mitigate and master it much easier.

Boost does not have this ease of understanding. Sure, there are people that will understand the concepts behind constructive interference on at least some level. But as opposed to light or ripples in the water, this is multi-dimensional energies interacting to enhance a physical effect. Overall, it is a more difficult thing to fully understand and master.

Because of that, there are more people that try to master Boost and fail. This is for a myriad of reasons, but the side effects certainly do not help the caster. In addition, as Boost is losing popularity, it is entirely plausible that the true secrets to mastering it are either much harder to find than the secrets of Dupe, or that they are lost entirely by this point.

As such, while Dupe is less advantageous, it is easier to master and mitigate the drawbacks. Boost is much more advantageous but since it is more difficult to master, most to all do not master it.


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