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So this is an issue I have been thinking about for a while. Both in the fantasy world I'm making and in many examples of fantasy media magic users are able to bring in new amounts of physical matter into the world. For example ice wizards in Warcraft launch shards of ice out of thin air to attack enemies, a Final Fantasy mage creates a crystal shield, druids/plant mages make plants grow out of the ground or their hands, a nasty goblin warlock conjures acid out of his mouth, etc. Logically, wouldn't the world eventually fill up with new matter from mages using generic spells such as these until people literally run out of space to live? How could I avoid this issue while still having a magic system that allows the creation of new matter as depicted in fantasy media such as the examples I listed? Let's further assume that launching things off into space is not an option.

Something I came up with is that my world has an ambient "mana field" (similar to how the real world earth has a magnetic field) that takes magically created objects and slowly converts them into ambient mana (effectively destroying them from a physical perspective).

Are there other options for dealing with this issue? Or a way for me to improve my idea? I'm hoping for a solution that would be as inconspicuous as possible, ideally something that would take centuries to notice is happening on a large scale, and for most practical purposes is indistinguishable from a world without such a process.

Also, I'm hoping for a solution that would still make it possible to keep magically created items around indefinitely, ideally through completely mundane means. I was thinking for example that my mana field would be linked to natural processes such as weathering and erosion, meaning that you could theoretically keep a magically created item around forever if you maintained it by keeping it clean and making sure it's not exposed to the elements for long periods of time without maintenance.

One last thing, I couldn't seem to find any other examples of people asking this question or something similar, even in places like this dedicated to worldbuilding. Is it possible that maybe I'm overlooking something really obvious to most people that would render my dilemma a non-issue?

Edit for clarification: I'm not asking about specific item summoning spells or "magic-item hoarders" or similar. I'm asking about an aspect of magic in general as seen in fantasy media such as books, games, etc. For example, in the game Skyrim there are spells such as ice bolt that launches a shard of ice created out of thin air, or say a generic fantasy druid that makes plants grow to enormous sizes. Logically, wouldn't the world eventually run out of space from mages using generic spells such as these?

The solution I'm looking for is more something along the lines of some aspect of the world or a law of "physics"/magic. The best solution in the context of this question is something both effective and also importantly inconspicuous, as in as similar as possible to a world without this solution/magical law/etc, meaning that constantly creating "bags of holding" or pocket dimensions for storage probably don't fit.

The "ambient mana-field" I came up with and listed as a solution is an example of what I meant. Does this make sense as a solution? Or are there better solutions (better here meaning more inconspicuous while still effectively solving the issue) or a way to improve it?

Edit 2: Reading this https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ElementalBaggage is part of what inspired the questions. I noticed a lot of you brought up conservation of mass. Once again I want to emphasize that I really appreciate everyone's help here, but I'm highly doubtful that conservation of mass could be at play in many of these cases. For example, the idea of using water vapor from the air to create ice, the issue is that there's only so much water vapor in a given area. In order to do the kind of feats someone like Iceman or a fairly typical fantasy ice mage does they would need to be drawing in water vapor from literally miles away, but they're almost always depicted as not being able to manipulate their element much further than a couple hundred yards away or so, if that. And that doesn't even get into cases where they're inside somewhere, like a building or dungeon, in which case they would need to draw in water vapor literally through the walls. Not to mention that this much matter being drawn in to one location logically would be easily visible. So if for example Iceman was drawing in water from the air for his power it would look like a huge cloud of mist (aka water vapor) suddenly gathering to him. Something like creating a block of ice would require enough water vapor to fill a large auditorium. Same thing applies to other examples like dust in the air for rocks or carbon for crystals etc.

Edit 3: Just for clarity and emphasis, I'm specifically asking for something "inconspicuous" (as in as similar as possible to world without such a solution while still solving the problem) and more specifically if there is a way to improve my idea to make it more inconspicuous assuming it’s effective in the first place or if there’s a better (more "inconspicuous") solution. Such a solution would ideally allow someone to keep magically created matter around indefinitely through completely mundane means, such as in my example where the absorption back into mana is tied to natural processes such as weathering, erosion, evaporation, decay, etc, meaning that you could theoretically keep a magically conjured object around indefinitely by maintaining it by doing things such as cleaning it, not leaving it exposed to the elements for long stretches of time without cleaning and maintenance, etc. essentially exactly the same way you would maintain a mundane object and keep it from breaking or eroding away, etc.

In other words, how can I solve this issue while still leaving the world in as similar a state as possible to a world without such a solution?

Edit 4: As I mentioned, I already came up with an idea of my own on how to deal with this issue, and I'm mainly hoping for feedback in regards to its viability (hence the reality-check tag) and if there's a way to improve it by making it even more inconspicuous. I'm not really hoping for people to come up with completely different solutions unless they better meet the criteria (effective and inconspicuous, as little difference from a world without the solution as possible) then the idea I already came up with, for example, as I mentioned is there perhaps something really obvious most people take for granted that I'm overlooking?

Edit 5: Some people brought up the size of the earth and that it would hundreds of thousands of years for this to happen. The problem is that this still makes it an issue in fantasy. Timescales of tens or even hundreds of thousands of years are not at all unheard of in fantasy, some stories such as the Wheel of Time series (I'm not asking about the Wheel of Time, I'm just using this as a random example that hopefully some people are familiar with to better explain what I mean) even feature feature worlds that had been around for possibly eternity, with civilizations going through cycles of rising and collapsing. The fact that it would take a long time to happen doesn't solve the issue, because it would still happen at some point. This would particularly be an issue for my story because I am in fact planning on having long-lost civilizations from thousands or even millions of years ago in my story, with some of the oldest ones having a very "Lovecraftian" element to them.

Edit 6: Great job guys! I'm loving the suggestions! One change I decided to implement was to change my "mana-field" idea into a "Matter Absorption Field" basically the same idea except that instead of converting magically created matter into mana it simply absorbs it into nothing (destroying it in other words). The reason for this is that as Vilx- mentioned, all that extra mana could cause problems.

Edit 7: This is just a modified version of my solution made in response to the comments and suggestions here. I thought it would be better to just repost it instead of going back and changing the original statement, not to mention that having the previous version easily visible could be helpful in answering the question. Once again I would very much appreciate feedback in regards to its viability as well as how it could be improved to be as inconspicuous as possible. Or maybe you have an alternate, better solution that better meets the criteria of effectiveness and inconspicuousness.

-My Idea: I have an idea of my own that I'm planning on using in a story I'm writing. It involves a "matter absorption field" (similar to how the real world earth has a magnetic field) that slowly absorbs magically created matter essentially into nothing. It would work through natural processes such as weathering, erosion, evaporation, decay, etc. Meaning that this would usually be too slow to notice at first and that theoretically you could keep a magically created object around indefinitely as long as you maintained it by keeping it clean, making sure it's not exposed to the elements for long periods of time without cleaning and maintenance, etc, basically exactly the way you would maintain something in the real world through perfectly mundane means.

For instance you could keep a magically created sword around forever by maintaining it using exactly the same mundane methods you would use to maintain a normal sword, by cleaning it, making sure it doesn't rust, etc, no special enchantments needed. However if it gets abandoned in a field it would most likely rust and weather away and thus be absorbed by the "matter absorption field".

This also means that you could still have magically created objects from thousands of years ago still be around because they were somehow well preserved, similarly to how in the real world we still have some things like swords and buildings from thousands of years ago long after most of their contemporaries rusted and eroded away.

Also this means you could still have things like a mage creating a building from magically conjured stone, and not worry about it suddenly disappearing into nothing without warning, as long as they don't abandon it and occasionally maintain the building just like people in the real word do.

Lastly you wouldn't need to worry about magically created food or water suddenly disappearing right out of someone's stomach, or worse their bloodstream or brain, and it would only be absorbed into the field when it leaves the person's body and starts evaporating, decaying, etc.

Also, I think this solution could potentially work in pretty much any pre-existing setting and not change anything noticeable about the story or setting (this last part doesn’t matter much if at all and can be freely ignored, all that really matters is that my idea works for my setting, this is just a random observation on my part).

Edit 8: I just realized that buildup of extra heat from the magical energy could be an issue as well, in which case absorption of extra ambient heat originating from magic energy use could be a feature of my field as well. Also I know that the name I thought of is very awkward, so I thought of changing the name to a “homeostasis field” as that is essentially what it does, helping maintain a certain set of conditions on the planet, i.e. the planets homeostasis.

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    $\begingroup$ This question raises a great point: Magic-using Hoarders suggests disaster as the Earth gains so much mass from conjuring junk that our surface gravity increases. Habitat lost to endless acres of Self Storage units accelerates species' mass die-off. Eventually, some idiot would conjure a pristine new Earth...inside our Roche limit, destroying both planets. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Aug 7 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ I never had this problem because I always assumed that what comes from mana must return from mana because it's unnatural and will fall apart without a spell holding it together. Food made directly from magic won't really feed you, for example. It's interesting that not everyone has that assumption that I took for granted. $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Aug 7 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @HenryShao, you seem to be the only one who actually correctly understood what I was trying to ask. I tried editing my question multiple times for clarity for this reason. So just to clarify more, I'm not asking about a weird special "magic item creation magic" or what have you, I'm asking about essentially generic magic as depicted in most fantasy media. $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 7 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ Take a look at Keter Cakes (SCP-871) $\endgroup$ Aug 7 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ at least one fantasy show appears to have thought about this: theworstwitch.fandom.com/wiki/Vanishment $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Aug 7 at 17:42

17 Answers 17

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Living things/constructs emit special magic fields

Magic Fields are kind of like "laws" dictating how mana inside them acts. In most of the world, the ambient field is mostly neutral, tilting toward chaotic, which means that mana constructs are usually stable but deteriorates really slowly and inevitably (kind of like something with a long half-life).


Living things (and maybe things like golems if you want) possess a different field from the rest of the world. Lets call them Bio-fields.

Bio-fields: Magical matter that enters a living creature will be broken down by the bio-field, turning into mana. What happens afterwards will depend on you. The mana can then leak out into the outside world, be absorbed by the creature for their use, or give them mana poisoning.


There also exist other kind of magic fields: Preserver-fields

Preserver-fields are fields where the mana inside is hyper-stable. They can naturally form or be manually created. Most creator of magical items that want the item to last will encase the item in its own preserver-field that will prevent the item from naturally deteriorating. The field may or may not require it's own maintenance. Locations like dungeons may have their own fields that prevent the treasures contained within from disappearing. Masters of castles will probably also put their castles in these fields.


Naturally, this means that if you want, you can have areas of unstable fields that will rapidly destroy magical items.


Summary: Mana constructs like spell-water are subject to the whims of magic fields that they are in. Bio-fields mean that living things won't suffer the effects of nutrients suddenly disappearing but will instead evolve to know that some things can't be eaten to sate them. Preserver-fields will keep the items you want to stay around for a time. Otherwise, all magical things will slow disintegrate on the time-scale of decades to centuries or even longer depending on the ambient field as well as the natural stability of the object.

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One can turn liquid water into vapor and vapor into liquid water.

Your magic can turn nothing into things and also things into nothing. Why would you store something away, when you can materialize it on demand?

The wise users of this magic would simply vanish the item after use, the sloppiest would neglect doing it, letting the most entrepreneurial to have a paid vanishing service for them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Exactly, just as people get paid to de-clutter other people's houses, or to haul off "junk". And then there are garage sales and Craigslist, since it presumably takes less effort to acquire an already-made object than to magically create a new one. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Aug 7 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ "Magi-Hoarders every monday 8 p.m. on A&E" $\endgroup$
    – Josh Part
    Aug 7 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ garbage disposal becomes a lot easier when you can simply vanish the garbage. so there should also be destruction to offset creation. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 16 at 2:02
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Suppose you have a billion mages casting an ice blast every second. Every thousand seconds they'll fill a cubic kilometer of water.

Oceans have a mass of around a billion cubic kilometers. So it'll take around a trillion seconds to make a notable difference, or around 30 millennia.

If we use more realistic assumptions for an industrialized society- a hundred million mages who use an ice spell every thousand seconds, for a tenth of a cubic meter, then it'll take around 3 billion years to make a difference.

One solution to add some drama and scale with events is have the world convert objects into mana in the background through weathering, as you said. When a mage casts a spell they're tapping into the plant mana, or ice mana, or whatever mana. Normally there's an equal balance of mages to keep the balance- water mages to desert mages, plant mages to city mages, enough to stop the ambient mana from being unbalanced.

An excess of one type of powerful magic users can unbalance this, and they can crystallize a large amount of the natural magic into the world. This will increase the rate of natural erosion against that element, and weaken their own magic type, and encourage them to invade rival kingdoms to use their magic.

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Your magic system is unbalanced

It's important that your magic have both advantages and disadvantages. Allowing people to make something out of nothing, and allowing those created things to last "indefinitely," is massively unbalanced. You know this, or you wouldn't be asking your question.

Curiously, you appear to be asking us for a way to keep your system unbalanced. From my perspective, that isn't valuable. But, before suggesting ways to have a more balanced magic system, let's see if I can come up with ways to keep the system rationally unbalanced.

  1. Your magic is whomping hard to enact. Yes, what's created lasts forever... but it's so hard to create that there isn't much of it around.

  2. Magic users, and magic consumers, must be whomping careful because if any two magical items happen to touch, they explode in a magnificent way! We're talking about shadows of you eating your Wheaties on the wall magnificent. People won't create a lot of items, nor own a lot of items, because they simply can't risk them ever touching.

  3. You can create as many things as you like, but they can't be bigger than a cup. No houses, no carriages, certainly no towers... The world might eventually fill up, but it's likely it'll be hit by a meteor before it happens because it's only filling up with trinkets.

Frankly, none of that is satisfying — It's better to have a balanced system

The problem with forcing an unbalanced system to exist is that there's always a kind of odd limitation that keeps it from running amok. Honestly, why bother even uttering the word "mana" when it doesn't actually matter? In an unbalanced system, magic users are actually gods... which isn't all that fun in the long run. Think about it, if magic users can create money out of nothing, chickens out of nothing, cloth out of nothing, willy-nilly and without consequence, you have no poverty, right? No economy, either. No politics with any stability. In fact, all you might have is war because there's really nothing else to do.

It's better to design a real list of limits and costs for your magic. This will create a more natural solution, one that will let you build all kinds of very human solutions that people can relate to. For example...

  • Just as $e=mc^2$, suggesting that mass and energy are interchangeable, you have $mana=mass*x^2$. There's only so much mana in your universe! Or, more specifically, there's only so much that can be accessed without problems. And the only way to get the mana needed to create something new is to eventually recycle some of that mana-embued mass. That variable "x" is important as a limiting factor. The bigger "x" is, the less stuff can be created without recycling.

  • Mana isn't tied to the objects so much that it's tied to the magic users. So long as the magic user lives, the created objects survive. When the creating magic user dies, the protection of mana is lost (mana is returned to the universe) and the objects decay like normal things.

  • Nothing is actually created from nothing. Mass is removed from the environment to create the object. This can lead to fun things like sinkholes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and breached castle walls. In this way, there's never any more mass in your universe than what it started with.

Just as you can't print an infinite supply of money without destroying the economy, you really can't have infinite creation without a consequence. Call this a frame challenge. I've proposed a few ideas, but I think you'll have a more satisfying solution if you introduce real limitations.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi @JBH I think there has been a misunderstanding about the question I was trying to ask, and I have edited a few times to try and clarify. The question is not about some special "magic item creation magic", my world's mages can't create anything they want like money, chickens, etc for nothing anymore than say a Warhammer wizard can. This question is essentially about generic magic as depicted in most fantasy media. I don't blame you for the misunderstanding, almost everyone who answered the question so far did, and exactly the same way, which means it's my fault for not being clear enough. $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 7 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ @TheBored1 A question about "generic magic as depicted in most fantasy media" is a question about 3rd party and/or commercial worlds and is off-topic. Are you sure that's what you want to ask? $\endgroup$ Aug 7 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty sure he just means the common "whoosh mana in fireball out" generic magic, which is by no means 3rd party or commercial. $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Aug 7 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH I respectively disagree. I did not at all change the INTENDED meaning of the post. I already previously admitted that the initial version of the question was badly worded, which was why I edited it. The rule clearly states that you're not allowed to change the meaning of the question to a different question entirely. As the rule clearly states you are very much allowed to edit for clarity in case there was confusion over what the question was asking due to lack of said clarity. $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 8 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ Furthermore @JBH I assure you I read over the rules and made absolute sure to the best of my ability that this post adheres to both the spirit and very letter of the rules. This appears to be the 2nd attempt you made to try and have this question closed under extremely flimsy justification. Please refrain from doing so unless you genuinely think there is a serious problem with the post for which it should be deleted. $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 8 at 3:30
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Extra-dimensional (or hyperspace) storage

Once you have conjured enough barely-used junk to fill your house, and the next house over, and then your whole block (elephants take a lot of room), and then your whole neighborhood...

...you start to notice that it takes too long to get to your friend's house, or down to the local pub.

While you could conjure up a teleportation cabinet to save you the walk, it doesn't bring your belongings any closer (just your friends, and who needs those?)

So instead, conjure a hyper-sphere and store your square-kilometers of elephant-cars and cookie-robots and game-mistresses and fart-castles and scorpion-tanks within it's infinite number of collapsed dimensions. Everything you made is still there, within easy reach wherever you go, but their mass and footprint are no longer associated with the Earth.

It's like wishing them away, but they are still there and still yours.

Just remember that you must still feed and water and properly care for your stored living pets! Stasis models cost extra.

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I'm going to ignore the "storage" part of your question and focus on what I think is your main problem: a spell like Ice Shard leaves unintended ice in its wake after use, this will turn into water and suddenly theres half a liter of water extra on the world. The same for any and all other types of magic which use a created physical object as part of their spell.

This does not seem to be a huge problem. The earth already loses and gains thousands of tons each year. It mostly loses hydrogen and helium as it escapes high in the atmosphere into space while the earth keeps collecting dust and particles in its path as it circles the solar system. This is a net gain of thousands of tons each year. This isn't a big problem for the earth, and I suspect that the addition of a few million mages casting spells at each other over the course of a year will have little impact on that total balance. We dont see masses of dust collect everywhere and I suspect that some spells like those that create water could help replenish the gas that leaves the earth.

To significantly impact the earth and especially its gravity your mages would need to get REAL busy. Overpopulation would sooner be a problem than magic detritus covering the planet.

Material dissipation:

When it comes to material dissipation the idea of letting stuff desintegrate over time seems a nasty option. Imagine drinking magically conjured water and having it disappear from the molecular bonds it made within your body, chemical imbalances and weird chemical processes would mess you up, not to mention that losing a liter of the water in your blood or brain matter could kill or permanently incapacitate you. And thats just water, imagine all the other magical materials that could seep into the ecosystem and wreak havoc as it dissipates. You could just let natural processes take care of it, ignore it or introduce destructive spells. The spell desintegrate is usually depicted of turning an opponent to just a little dust, the lack of an explosion means that material needs to have vanished. Similar spells like implosion must also remove matter in order to work. A teleport spell could also completely remove a portion of the matter you teleport into (the air hopefully) etc.

There is also the "just teleport everything" option. Rather than creating ice, you basically teleport particles of ice from all over the planet into the spell. There is a change in the energy budget of the planet due to this but use across the planet should cancel this out.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer @Demigan! In response to your statement about material dissipation, that's why I both specified that the process needs to be "inconspicuous" (so not causing imminent ecological collapse for example) and why my idea with the mana field involved it working through processes like weathering and erosion. So for example magically made water or plant matter, etc inside someone's body would not dissipate as long as it's in their body but wants it gets out (through sweating and.. other means) but once it's out the body it would slowly dissipate as it evaporates, decomposes, etc. $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 7 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ So my question would be, is my proposed solution viable, if yes could it be improved or is their a better alternative? Better here meaning more similar to a world without that solution (more "inconspicuous"). If my solution is not viable, why not? And is there a way to change it or a different solution I could use for this dilemma? $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 7 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ It is completely up to you I guess. There does not NEED to be any dissipation. If you do want one, an almost quantum answer of "if it is not part of a living thing and unobserved it can dissipate into mana again" like you are using is plenty good. Alternatives is things like teleporting mass around from all over or introducing spells that remove matter from the planet. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Aug 7 at 18:52
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The question is most certainly an interesting one, and not one that I had thought about.

The Rules

Since the goal is to be able to create objects that persist without outside interference, but still can return to being magical energy at a future point in time, the rules set up here will aim to address that. I don't make any assumptions about spells other than those addressed in the question -- evocations and/or conjurations that create things.

As a thought, the primary rules of the world are:

  1. Things made of magic must return to magic
  2. The spell that creates the object defines its existence
  3. Once an object is created by magic, it is subject to natural laws
  4. Only when an object, or a part of it, is unrecognizable from the whole does it return to magic

While those four rules don't necessarily cover every situation, the idea is to create a starting point where the rules can apply to the majority and what doesn't fit can be dealt with after

Rule 1 -- Return to the Source

The first rule is bolded because it is the most important I think. The core point of the rule is that while the object created from magic is physical, when time or action has destroyed it will not remain as physical stuff and instead return to be magical power.

This could be a plot point at a future point in the world -- destroying magically created objects in order to steal the magic that created it.

Rule 2 -- Definition of Form

The point here is that while a spell might appear to do something, how it creates the thing is just as important as what the thing it creates is.

To use one example given: An ice lance is a chunk of ice yes, but how cold is that ice? Is there any considerations in the spell that might make it more or less resilient to melting or damage? At what point does the spell end and nature is allowed to take over on the ice lance?

For your druid growing plants -- it's not just about how big the vine gets, but does it actually grow the roots and supporting systems to be able to handle its new size? All those fiddly details of the spell are important.

Some objects may be specifically designed to only last a short time and return the object to magic when done. Or possibly designed to be released on command so as to not tie up large quantities of magic in a single object.

Rule 3 -- Natural forces

The gist here is that once magical energy is converted to a physical object and the spell has run its course, nature holds sway over it. The main reason for this rule is to prevent objects from immediately disappearing as per the request in your question. Yes, this also means that by this rule, certain spells will not have results present as long as others.

If a spell created a kilogram of ice in the form of an impaling spike, then once the spell has run its course, the ice can only be acted on by nature -- notably magic cannot melt this magical ice on its own.

In the case of the plants, once the growth spell has run its course, the plant matter created does not disappear, but the plan is now subject to trying to maintain its new size by natural means -- photosynthesis on the green parts, and drawing in nutrients through the roots.

Rule 4 -- Self Cleanup

Rule 4 provides the mechanism for returning magic to the world. By waiting for the broken bits of stuff to be basically unrecognizable from the original whole, it creates a subtler refuelling of magical energy from the conjured stuff then if it just vanished in a day or two.

Consider ice again. Your ice lance, once the spell has run its course, will start to melt from ice to water. Eventually you get a puddle where your lance was. As the water evaporates, it does not evaporate into a vapour -- instead it vapourizes back into magic since the gas is both unrecognizable from the ice lance, and invisible to boot.

For the druid plant growth example, as the plant decomposes, much of it does not break down into soil, but breaks down into the magic that created it. As a living plant before, it could be that as it tried to live at its new size, it was able to make new cells that weren't essentially products of magic.

Certain conjured items may not break down so easily given their sturdier construction and possibly other magics woven into them.

Application of the Rules

I will fully admit that the rules are not perfect -- they likely leave themselves open for abuses and interesting side effects. Perhaps that might be the point of them once somebody can figure it out.

For other things that are created, it is about applying whatever rules to the objects created in a logical manner. Well, as logical as magic can get anyways -- consistent might be the better term.

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It's not really a problem. Quoting wikipedia:

Earth's mass is variable, subject to both gain and loss due to the accretion of in-falling material, including micrometeorites and cosmic dust and the loss of hydrogen and helium gas, respectively. The combined effect is a net loss of material, estimated at 5.5×107 kg (5.4×104 long tons) per year. This amount is 10−17 of the total earth mass.[citation needed] The 5.5×107 kg annual net loss is essentially due to 100,000 tons lost due to atmospheric escape, and an average of 45,000 tons gained from in-falling dust and meteorites. This is well within the mass uncertainty of 0.01% (6×1020 kg), so the estimated value of Earth's mass is unaffected by this factor.

So the mass added via magic is probably not going to affect the total materially. If this gains industrial proportions though, it could become a kind of magical environmental pollution, which will just have to be dealt with just as we deal with CO2 emissions (ahem, ie., not).

Note that some of your examples can be explained without additional mass, eg. a plant growing is just the normal process accellerated, ice shards can be from extracted atmospheric water vapour.

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Created objects need sustained magic inflow

Or otherwise they vanish. So a wizard can sustain so many pure magical created objects, at same time. If they create more than they can sustain, old objects lose their magic influx and vanish.

But pure margical object mass is a waste, anyway. Wise mages realize that normal matter and a little magic glue is way better effective way to make sobrenatural objects, with very little magic drainage, and by going matter+magic route they can sustain a vast superior arsenal, archive, gadgets, palaces. The powerfull mages prepare in advance: they put a lot of matter in dimensional pockets to easy and fast retrieval, be raw materials or prepared ingredients.

The mage enters with a little magic, the world enters with mass, so the last is constant.

Example: an ice spike machine gun. The wizard opens a bag of holding full of water, at the border solidifies and shoots ice spikes. After the splikes done the damage, the mage cut the solidify spell on old splikes, freeing MP to the next wave.

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Perhaps these 2 approaches will be somewhat helpful.

1. Matter created by magic is unstable

This is similar to your proposed idea: Mages convert mana into the matter, but it is not stable and after some time it reverts to mana state. The stable period may depend on the mage's power, specific spell, ambient conditions, mana availability, etc. This would be very consistent with magic depictions in games where physical manifestations of various spells disappear once the spell is fully activated or once the combat is finished.

This approach makes the accumulation of magically created matter impossible, which solves your problem of running out of space. However, it also makes it necessary to explain how magical objects and materials can exist. Perhaps, some, especially strong and skilful, mages can somehow stabilise matter or can lock mana into specific objects/materials. Alternatively, magic objects need a constant supply of mana to support their form.

This approach also requires additional explanations for conjured consumables or make them impossible. For example, it might be impossible to feed people with conjured food. Alternatively, if living organisms can sustain themselves with mana, conjured consumables are no longer a problem and are just another form of mana (however, this would be closer to Eastern fantasy).

2. The flashy effects of spells are illusory

This is a fundamentally different approach and it does not involve matter manipulation. All magic is based on mind manipulation.

Mages do not create any new matter. They make other people believe that they create matter. Illusions have real power in the world of magic and if a person believes they were hit by an ice projectile their body will manifest corresponding symptoms.

This might seem very unrealistic. However, please consider phantom pain, false pregnancies, somatic symptom disorders, psychosomatic disorders, and hallucinations. All of these show that the state of mind can and does affect our perception and our bodies. So, it is not entirely impossible that magic affects minds and those affected minds create somatic symptoms.

This approach also creates problems with magical objects and conjured consumables. Magical objects can be explained by faith and/or magical energy imbued within them. However, conjured consumables can only have a placebo effect.

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Mana scavengers creatures

Organic dead matter in out world never accumulates. This is because there are scavengers animals. Some of them are big animals, like vultures or hyenas, other are insects (like ants or dung beetles), and other are fungi/microbes. They eat this matter and bring it again in the circle of life.

At the same time, the conjured-from-nothing matter is still made of mutated mana. This has created some evolutionary pressure on some of the most magic-sensitive creatures, both big and unicellular (dragons, pegasi, midichlorians...), which have evolved to assimilate these substances and revert them to pure mana.

When wizards summon mana and convert it to matter, they need give it some energy in order to bring it from "mana dimension" (like lifting a rock against the gravity) to this world and make it change state.
The mana-scavenging creatures, assimilating these substances, revert them to pure mana, which soon comes back to mana dimension, freeing energy in the process (like when the rock is released), which is harvested by the creature's organs or cells.

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Creating matter or energy out of nothing simply breaks physics. There are plenty of magic systems which say it’s impossible for that reason.

Instead, they say it’s only possible to move or convert matter which already exists. The energy for this conversion or transportation has to come from either the user, from the matter being converted or from other sources (i.e. the environment).

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Dark Energy Expands Space

The essence of your problem is entropy. It takes only one spell to make an ice shard or a baby rattlesnake (or a thousand), but to dispel the contents of an average mage's dresser drawer you need a different spell for every Tarot card, herb, body part and unidentifiable crawling abomination inside. It's just not practical.

Fortunately (from an external perspective), neither mage towers nor their contents are impervious to harm. A simple Thermonuclear Fireball spell can send up all the contents as "dust", and let them settle as "earth" - not elemental earth, but the mundane variety known by farmers who can never guess quite what is eating their vegetables. Impurity rules the day.

Now what happens as all this fine dust settles to earth over the ages? Well, the ground rises a little higher every day because of it. (Ignore all commentary by a certain well-known fellow ignorant of magic, who failed to understand the spontaneous generation and degeneration of vermin)

Now the nether realms are infamously filled with a dark energy from whence terrible things emerge; and as the ground rises, this dark energy inevitably pools beneath. The artifacts and creatures of the depths gradually turn more terrible, until they become part of the Underworld itself.

Just so, the underworld experiences an unlimited expansion to accommodate the ranks of the dying, while the ordinary world appears to remain always the same. This compensation is not instant - if the wizards are especially prolific, they cover the earth in dust, and the power of dark energy weakens, and with it, their more prominent powers. Yet if they stop entirely, the dark energy continues gradually to rise, until every wayward child is at risk of summoning abominable creatures with a word. But always, the Underworld rises, ever hungry for the souls and works of all that live in the light.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow this is a very interesting idea! Thank you! The only issue is that I'm specifically asking for something "inconspicuous" (as in as similar as possible to world without such a solution while still solving the problem) and more specifically if there is a way to improve my idea to make it more inconspicuous assuming it’s effective in the first place or if there’s a better (more inconspicuous) solution. But I really do think that nevertheless you deserve credit for creativity, nice job! $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 7 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it's inconspicuous if you have a classic flat planet with an Underworld ... otherwise, not so much. :) Still, with any flat planet you can suppose some less dramatic force holds the land up, and can compensate if the whole world keeps getting heavier. If it's a round planet, well ... maybe the Sun-eating dragon of the eclipse ate the square-cube law for an appetizer. :) $\endgroup$ Aug 7 at 22:52
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I think you really should also think about the extra energy they create. In our universe, mass and energy is interchangeable and there's a fixed amount of it. You can't create it, you can't destroy it. Mess with that, and... well, probably nothing bad is going to happen on small scales like mere solar systems, but summon enough matter/energy for entire galaxies and things get weirder in the long run.

Anyways, I like your magic field. But I think it could be a even bit more mundane and "scientific".

See, the mana field could allow you to pull matter and energy out of the earth's core. There's plenty of both in there. After these things are summoned they obey the quite natural laws of the world - ice melts, plants rot, iron rusts, etc. All in all you don't get THAT much extra matter on the surface and it returns to the ground pretty soon anyway.

In the long run, your planet may cool off a bit faster (since you're using up energy from the core, and teleporting/transmutating matter takes quite a bit of it), but the overall mass and energy don't change. The extra stuff will decay and go to the ground (as all things do), and in response, plate tectonics 'n shit will ensure that a bit more matter from the crust gets converted to the mantle, etc.

The best bit is that this way you can still follow mass-energy conservation laws and entropy etc - so nothing gets seriously out of whack in the long run.

Btw - this also adds an opportunity for more storytelling - as human understanding of this effect increases and they can manipulate the mana field even better, they could start using grand magic machines to summon matter/energy from the sun instead. Could be useful for spaceships and maybe make up for the core energy used with regular summoning.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like your ideas. I was thinking about of changing the mana-field into a sort-of "magic matter absorption field" basically it's the same idea but instead of turning magically created matter into mana it absorbs it into nothing. You have a great point that all that extra magical energy could cause issues down the line. Just one clarification, I'm not really worried about conservation of matter/energy per se, just avoiding issues from the steady accumulation of magically conjured matter. $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 8 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ @TheBored1 - Well my basic idea is - it comes from earth, it returns to earth. So you don't get issues like the planet getting more massive over time. Conservation is useful there. But simply stuff lying around - as long as it decays faster than it is being summoned, I don't think there's much problem. Like... think about modern society. We dig up a LOT of resources out of the ground, leaving big holes in one place and lots of shiny new stuff at another place. Cities, mostly. And eventually it becomes a garbage management issue. $\endgroup$
    – Vilx-
    Aug 8 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ @TheBored1 - as long as your mages aren't more proficient in stuff creation than 7.5 billion of people who are currently living on the planet, I don't see much of an issue. And over very long timescales (millennia), most anything crumbles to dust anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Vilx-
    Aug 8 at 0:20
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I think I understand your question, so I'll give it a go. You want an inconspicuous system, so that means probably you wouldn't want to have your wizards "consume" water for their mana fields to later turn to ice shards or whatever (though it could add a layer of interest- an ice Mage is forced to be more connected to ice, a fire Mage to fire, etc.).

The mana-field idea seems like a good one to me. I assume you want to more or less maintain conservation of matter, so you will probably want a way of drawing matter out of the world into the mana field (like erosion, as you mentioned). Someone with better science smarts can help me here, but you could say that in your world all chemical processes "shed" subatomic particles into the mana field which can be retrieved later and formed into ice, fire, or whatever else you want. This has the benefit of making people, stars, plants, and water - anything which has lots of chemical reactions going on - assume a more "mystical" air. It is also hard to notice on a short timescale and yet it solves the problem of too much matter in the world. Of course, you would have to work out the matter economics. How many reactions over how long a period do you need to make one shard of ice? What happens if all the mana gets used up? How do you access it in the first place?

Another option, though more conspicuous, is to make your magically-summoned matter mimic its computer-game counterpart - make it act just like the real-world matter, but give it a life span after which it vanishes into nothing. You can still keep magically-created items with [insert magicsplain here], but by default they vanish.

As a side note, if your wizards are using telekinesis to throw stuff around, they're also creating energy, possibly increasing the total amount of energy in the universe. Of course, Einstein et al showed us that matter and energy are kind of the same thing (see matter-anti-matter reactions for a concrete understanding of E=MC^2). Whatever your system ends up being, you can show your smarts by addressing how matter AND kinetic energy are drawn to/from the world or the mana cloud. Of course, since this is fantasy, we don't need to maintain conservation of energy or matter where magic is concerned, but it always feels neater to me when fantasy worlds still do this.

Hope that gives your imagination something to chew on! Have a good one!

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  • $\begingroup$ this pretty similar to my idea except that the mana field would be a feature of the world itself not individual wizards, similar to how the real world earth has a magnetic field. I'm not concerned with conservation of matter per se, just making sure that magically created matter doesn't build up to the point that there's no more room left and the entire ecosystem and every person on the planet dies. Mana itself would both exist in the ambient environment and be produced internally by wizards, with most spells using internal mana while ambient mana is used for larger scale rituals. $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 7 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ I forgot to mention that another difference is that being converted to ambient mana only applies to matter originally created with magic, not all matter in general, and that it would be done through processes such as weathering and erosion, etc. I guess my question is, if this is done at a slow rate such that you'd only notice it after a few centuries, does that make sense or is there a better option? $\endgroup$
    – user88381
    Aug 7 at 7:00
  • $\begingroup$ It's really up to you. Another commenter pointed out that a typical planet is big enough that this new matter really shouldn't affect things too much. I would say that the more important thing to think about is how to make your system complement the story you're trying to tell or the characters you're working on. $\endgroup$
    – Mr. Mister
    Aug 7 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ Now you've got me thinking about magic powered by a kind of subatomic particle that is in fact shed by nuclear reactions: the neutrino. Neutrinomancers would have to be constantly aware of the position of the sun, even when it's below the horizon at night, because that's where most of the neutrinos passing through the Earth come from. This style of magic would likely also be very adept at long-range communication, since neutrinos travel at nearly the speed of light and can pass all the way through the Earth almost completely unhindered. $\endgroup$ Aug 16 at 2:09
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The stability of conjured objects existence could be tied to not only the physical form as you suggested (keep it clean/rust free/intact/protected from decay) but also the usage of said item by a being. To word that another way a conjured item will only continue to exist if it is used and is useful for the intended purpose decided at the time of conjuring.

As an example a conjured robe left on a shelf and never used would eventually cease to be. On the flip side if a wizard is using that robe it would last as long as a equivalent robe made in a none magical way. (without intervention or magical repair) A damaged robe would remain until the point it's no longer usable for the intended use.

Having a conjured item becoming worn out through normal usage or damaged just like a equivalent quality item made in non magical way would also assist with keeping conjured items unobtrusively distributed in the world.

This way (if you so choose) will allow a unskilled user of magic to create a conjured a tool fit for his/her intended purpose but the slightest variation from the exact intended purpose will undo the item.

On the other hand a much more experienced and powerful magic user could create a conjured item that will last much longer by imbuing the item with as many possible variations and contingency's of use imbued in to it if he/she is inclined to put in the effort/magic.

The "contingency of use" could even have a physical attribute associated with it. Might make for some interesting visuals for conjured items where each extra use case becomes a tangible part of the items physical form.

You can then decide at your leaser:

  1. How strict that "useful for the intended purpose" is.
  2. How long a unused (but still fit for purpose) item lasts. (dependent on magic users skill/effort used?)
  3. If summoned items can even be used by anyone other then the one who conjured it. This could be tied in to the "intended purpose" qualifier, as in did the one who conjured the item intend the item to be use by others when it was created?
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Classic: Magic effects are dispersed on the user death - the old trope that killing the mage will repair all damage caused by him.

You also give mages ability to regain (some) magic by dispersing created objects they will be eager to do it, effectively cleaning up in the process.

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