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There is a lot of focus on destruction spells in fantasy worlds and I've not personally come across much more in regards to creation magic than the typical "conjuring bread" in a widely known MMORPG. The fantasy universe is not a currently published IP and is not bound by the rules of any other IP.

The Character:

  • The character's default disposition is creation, not destruction.
  • The environment requires high levels of destructive magic.
  • The character's creation spells are relatively low in comparison to their destruction spells.
  • I want to give the character a secondary focus on creation oriented magic as destruction is not their goal.

The Spells:

  • Should feel as close to scientifically sound for a fantasy universe, e.g. more basic building blocks than instant-gratification.
  • Spells shouldn't contribute to anything that exists beyond real-world Earth's ~1700s.
  • Spells should be considered useful at some point, even if not immediate.
  • Spells may be considered useful even if their effects must be combined with one or more other spells.
  • Spells should explicitly not be "cool for the sake of being cool" nonsense.
  • Creation spells with destructive uses do not get disqualified so long as their creative uses are meet other conditions.
  • Spells may or may not require physical ingredients (e.g. fuels other than physical energy, mental mana or "ki").

The Medium:

  • Spells may directly detected by one or more of the five senses.
  • Effects must be minimally indirectly detectable by having an effect on the environment.
  • Spells/combinations should be more useful in a story centered around a journey.
  • Spells/combinations may prove useful in service to others not on a journey.
  • Spells can be both considered small and insignificant (if it helps someone who would consider it a significant help towards their goal(s).
  • Spells can be massive in scale as this character becomes exceptionally powerful over time.
  • Spells should not be derived from things exclusive to video games (e.g. Elder Scrolls spell that creates a light path towards an active quest marker).
  • The fictional universe is a fantasy yes, though let's stay away from "really stretching it" like spells that in the real world would require nuclear fusion.

Some spells I've already got on my list:

  • Teleportation
  • (Summonable) Portals
  • Levitation
  • Telekinesis

What creation oriented spells do you think would help a character on a journey who has occasional interactions with other characters both on the same journey and those they encounter who are not traveling?

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    $\begingroup$ What is your question? Are you just looking for a list of possible spells, ideas for spells, or guidelines for defining a magic system? As is, I wouldn't know where to start to write an answer. $\endgroup$ Aug 10 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ @JoelHarmon Updated. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 10 at 2:57
  • $\begingroup$ For starters, check out the D&D spells (all versions). You'll find plenty there, like talking to animals (creating friendship?), mine control, magical shields, calling lightning (powering stuff, maybe), passing through walls/trees/shadows, creating golems/undead/other stuff, raising walls, controlling weather or climate, locking things, "seeing" things (divination). $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Aug 10 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ As is, i think you have a bad question, because you're talking about "creation" but 3/4 spells in your list is not related to creation, which is confusing. You need a summary and cut out all the extra, irrelevant information. It would also help if you included examples and anti-examples for your criterion, because I feel "teleportation" is pretty instant-gratification to me. $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Aug 10 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ You should look at narrative focused table top systems like Vampire the Masquerade, Mage the Awakening, Fate, etc. I would not recommend power fantasy systems like DnD, but even it has more applicable spells and abilities that you may be used to based on your background. While videogames tend to focus on combat powers, table top gaming is much more flexible. So, many of these systems really play up the "stuff you can't do in a video game" aspect of what table top can be; so, powers that assist in solving non-combat conflicts are just as important and diverse as combat powers. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Aug 10 at 20:01
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There's a few things that could be useful for a traveller on a journey. Part of it will obviously depend on your character's abilities as a whole -- are they a generalist or a specialist when it comes to magic?

Create Food and Water

For those that play D&D, this Level 3 spell helps deal with the starvation problem. It's not good food, but you won't starve and it's nutritious enough to live off of at least.

For your world, this could take on many forms. I think it would be interesting to see it as an overall plant growth spell, or a set of plant growth spells. Calmly guided, one could cause fruits and vegetables to grow to harvest to have sustenance without causing too much disruption to the environment.

Likewise, creating water (or drawing it from somewhere) prevents things like dehydration and droughts. One does not need to make a large quantity to fill a cup or water skin. This is, of course, provided that the water invoked is pure.

Turning those same spells towards a destructive use is more than just providing materials for tools and floods -- it is the unrestrained mass of vines and grasses that claw at enemies and potentially smothering them. It is the ability to draw water from anything that has it, like plants or even potentially people.

Transmutation

Another way to create is to use what is around to create something. Think less of turning a pile of lead into gold, but creating things from materials, even if said material is the ground. Perhaps the limitation is by size of object -- your mage can't create a mansion out of nothing, but a dome of stone to shield from the elements is doable, as is simple weapons and tools from whatever is handy.

Provided the tools created don't break easily, one could create shovels and hoes to help till land, or possibly weapons and shields to defend the land. It would be a skill bound by power and knowledge/imagination as one would either have to be able to envision what they want, or know what it is.

For imagery, I'm thinking more Ed's transmutations in Fullmetal Alchemist where there is more a change in shape than materials -- that one scene where he pulls a spear out of the ground being the one that came to mind first. For something cruder, Avatar's earthbenders are capable of creating infrastructure to live around.

For those RPG guys, think D&D's Fabricate spell where you turn raw materials into items.

Turning Down the Destruction

Something else to consider is that one does not start with the destruction spells by making big booms. One would have to learn how to conjure fire in small flames, and work their way up to learn to cast a fireball, then master it to where you're throwing them around like a flat-cheseted sorceress on a good day.

But those early fire spells that were more training tools? They light cooking fires. Perhaps it's even possible to power a forge with those flames for a while.

This might be the opposite of what you're looking for -- taking destructive spells and working backwards to make them into more creative spells, but it is something worth considering. Creative uses of less powerful spells are the order of the day here. Of course how useful they are long-term might depend on the number of people that are willing to use them and/or their availability.

It might also explain why creation magic is weaker than destruction -- they aren't actually using specialized creation spells. The retooled spells work, but not efficiently.

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I will consider this an "I want a finite list of things" question.

A spell that makes plants grow faster will go a long way towards creation. You will get a lot more seeds and crops in a given period, and you may also use this to get more wood as well. All that extra wood can be used creatively to build homes, carts, boats etc.; Or destructively by making bows and catapults.

Transmutation of metals is another way to go. If you can turn the silicon in sand and rocks into iron, or lead into gold, you can creatively bring abundance to some places. But you can also destructively provide iron for war or destabilize economies based on gold rather than fiat money.

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Facilitated spontaneous generation - Hoodoo

The Magical Revolution on your world was foreshadowed by the pioneering efforts of Lazzaro Spallanzani, who was able to demonstrate the emergence of small vermin from samples carefully ground and boiled to destroy all life. At nearly the same time, an alchemist by the name of Linnaeus founded the organized study of the Mineral Kingdom, determining the taxonomic relationships between minerals and observing how ancient mines, over many centuries, would regenerate themselves. With the rise of modern cultures and universities such as the Onesimus Institute, such isolated observations were organized into the formal science of hoodoo, by which workers could understand and to varying extent control the processes of spontaneous generation.

Workers used small satchels of substances which, in combination, directed these processes in predictable ways (culminating in the standardized modern industry of mojo bag manufacture), and directed thought (invocation), and communication with extracorporeal directed thought focused by symbolic representation (minkisi) or the invocation of gestalt figures from the collective thoughts of cultures (i.e. loas), and comprehension and invocation of cosmogram symbols, as guided by natural astrology, and above all, formal integration with the potent powers of religion to amplify the effectiveness of these powers.

Routine applications in modern society include:

  • Mojo bags included with food shipments to preserve meat and produce
  • Farming rituals that increase the number of crops harvested per year
  • A leyline ritual aligning with Mars to initiate a new iron mine at a desired location
  • Medical workings, whether to heal the patient or harm a tumor

Your character's focus is on destructive workings, perhaps from other traditions, but like any educated person he should have a reasonable grasp of hoodoo principles, which with his natural power should give him substantial potential to create simple life forms, summon spirits to help, warn, or harm, invoke manna, cultivate pearls and gems, and heal wounds, all with more dramatic speed than most workers would dream possible. That said, despite all his power, hoodoo is an immense field of study - without consultation and advice from experts, he cannot be nearly as effective as he could be, and might still be outwitted by weaker but better-trained practitioners.

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If you're trying to think of what kind of spells there might be (besides "enemy go boom"), you need to think about what ordinary problems people need to solve

If you start at the level of the needs that people have, they can be broken down groups:

  1. Food / Water
  2. Housing / Shelter
  3. Clothing
  4. Tool-making
  5. Medical / Health Care
  6. Decoration
  7. Entertainment / Games / Challenges
  8. Gathering information
  9. Communication
  10. Transportation
  11. Protection
  12. Etc...

Depending on how powerful or direct you want the magic to be, housing could be solved by conjuring a complete house or fortress. Or the magic could be capable of addressing just a small part of a problem - heating food, making bricks stick together, convincing the ox pulling your wagon to keep going the direction you want, or to not wander off over night...

The difficulty with the question is that basically any step of any process in a medieval economy could be individually replaced by a magic spell, or entire chains of processes could be replaced by a "bigger" spell. Do you make the plants grow better? Do you heat the stew with magic instead of fire? Can you conjure water but not nourishing food? Or can a wave of the hand make not only an entire feast, but the table, plates, and cutlery?

And whether a non-magical economy exists at all then depends entirely on how many people can solve how many problems with magic.

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This is somewhat of a frame challenge. I don't think you want some individual spells, but rather a method to create spells for your character.

Spells in fantasy are almost always non-sensical. Fantasy is most often focused on a power fantasy or uses magic to create obstacles. This might make sense in a world where magic users are part of a pantheon of demigod-like creatures but less so in one where a commoner can become a mage.

Magic would most likely develop like we do tool use, rather than learning how to throw fireballs. This means there are 3 pillars for your magic rests on: Sex, Shelter, Sustenance (yeah its food but now I have 3 S's).

Sex includes everything from finding a mate to getting healthy children to making sure they get their own healthy children. That means this magic can be as small as making a zit disappear to make yourself more attractive or helping with childbirth or teaching children and yes also sexual pleasure magic to increase the chances of keeping a mate.

Shelter can be as simple as making a fire, increasing protection provided by clothes to warding off insects from your home or making heating/cooling in your home or outside possible. Your character could focus on creating things for shelter for people. Dont focus on "he cast a spell and now his walls have grade A insulation" but rather on all the tools and equipment to build it. Hammers, cranes, substitutes for nails etc.

Sustenance is anything to do with acquiring, creating and preserving food. From making it easier to find and kill prey to finding food as a gatherer to making it easier to farm. Don't go for something as direct as "cast spell and a ton of food has grown", but rather look at the tools and equipment to get it. A coolbox to use as refrigerator, making it easier to use a hoe, enriching the soil, the ability to spot and identify tracks of prey more easily, (attempts at) purifying water etc.

The point is that magic at its core would not be about throwing fireballs. That kind of magic would develop later. The most extensive and complex magic would be about the 3S's. Also make sure that magic isnt an instant solution. A healingspell often heals in seconds, if not instantly. On top of that they are often universal, able to be used for both an infection or a broken bone with little problem. Most spells are like that: blanket spells that solve a multitude of problems quickly. Make your spells TOOLS, designed to help rather than instantly solve everything and anything.

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I invented these types of healing spells for this idea. In what way would a regenerating undead be "undead"?

I really dig them! So I am bringing them back to serve in this different world.

  • Healing magic is for the living. Your hurt dog is back up. Azombie dog is unaffected. A broken bike is just that. Simplest, easiest from a game mechanics perspective.

  • Healing magic restores a thing to least damaged, most functional condition. Your hurt dog would be back up, barking and begging. Your undead dog would be undead, but frisky and pieces firmly attached. Your broken bike would be ready to ride. The leftover Chinese food from last week would be safe to eat.

  • Healing magic augments an ongoing process. My hurt dog was not dying and was healing itself, and its own healing is augmented but it is also several months older. A dog with progressive cancer will succumb to the cancer. The bike gets rustier and the leftover food rots completely. If a zombie is more like leftovers and is slowly decaying, it will rot completely. If it is like the hurt dog and can heal, it will be like case 2.

  • Healing magic pushes a thing towards its ideal condition. It might push it past its ideal condition to something better along that same path. My hurt dog is unhurt. It might be better than unhurt - lost teeth are back, its torn ear is intact, it runs like it is 2 years old. The zombie dog has more zombie going on - undamaged, more durable, more relentless, harder biting. The bike is like it was when I got it. The Chinese food is truly excellent, like the stuff they serve on the day when the old guy is back in the kitchen.

  • Healing magic adds life energy. The hurt dog is better, or totally healed. The zombie dog is now just dead, or back to life and sickly, or back to a normal dog depending on how much life energy you add. The broken bike stays a broken bike except the moldy seat is moldier. The Chinese food has become a very small pig and several different tiny live plants.

  • Healing magic adds weird energy. Maybe the weird energy is the stuff that animates the dead. The live dog is still hurt, but it is back on its feet - it is sustained while it is healing. It is unhurt in the way the zombie dog is undead. The zombie dog may be something different and scarier - dog shaped, moving, but something other than a zombie - maybe whatever the next tier up in the undead hierarchy is. The bike is broken but you can ride it. The Chinese food does not stink, but after you have eaten half you get a strange feeling and put the rest away.

A cool thing about this is that you in effect catch the thing and support it artificially while it heals. I could be grievously wounded but up and running. I could be recently dead but up and running, and still me if the mage got to me quick enough. I could have been dead a while in which case I am going to be pretty mentally impaired when I come back - a zombie.

  • Healing magic turns back time. The hurt dog is unhurt. It is not healed; it has never been hurt. It does not remember getting hurt, or anything that happened after that. Depending on how much you use, the zombie dog is undamaged, or maybe dead, or maybe a live dog and no longer a zombie, or maybe a puppy with no memory of what it had once been. The broken bike is unbroken, or might be a collection of bike parts. The leftover Chinese is as good as when they brought it, or maybe still raw.
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