Alright, so I've been trying to figure out my magic system for my story, and I'm trying to figure out how I could have water mages that were actually powerful. My fundamental idea behind the magic system is that magic doesn't produce energy which subsequently effects the physical world, atleast not most of the time, rather they are manipulating quantum phenomena by selecting between possible physical states on a large scale which ultimately allows for their powers.

So, I was looking through intermolecular forces and learned about London Dispersion, the thing where the random position of electrons within an atome causes a temporary polarity that can induce polarity in other atoms leading to weak and very short lived intermolecular bonds. True, these kinds of bonds are weakest, but unlike the other intermolecular forces it is the only one that is entirely random, atleast if like me you believe the position of quantum particles is random and probability based. So, it seems that if my magicians caused matter to co-ordinate London dispersion on a large scale, but there seems to be atleast some limitations.

The most notable limitation seems to be that my mages will have a very hard time influencing gases. Controlling the exact position of electrons seems far more powerful the denser your material happens to be as the artificial polarities you create would affect atoms more powerfully the closer they are. Because of this, it seems like they could do things such as:shoot lightning bolts, cause rocks to split in two, make massive waves, create salts and chemicals that should not be possible, etc... But, gas? With how not dense has is, it seems like at some point the london-dispersion mages wouldn't be able to meaningfully affect it.

What I am wondering is if controlling air via London dispersion at earth-like pressures would have a practical purpose in my magic system or if they would really only be able to affect liquids and solids.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm definitely not an expert on London dispersion force (never heard of it before reading this question), but I'm noting that the second last sentence of the Wikipedia entry on LDF says "Dispersion forces are usually dominant over the three van der Waals forces (orientation, induction, dispersion) between atoms and molecules, with the exception of molecules that are small and highly polar, such as water." The last 3 words suggest this may not be a great mechanism for explaining water mage powers. $\endgroup$ Aug 9 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 yes, Polarity is stronger than London Dispersion because London dispersion is random and temporary polarity. I should probably clarify that they have the ability to change the polarity of molecules by controlling the position of electrons within an atom. $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Aug 9 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ @skout In that case, couldn't they use that ability to move the air around by carefully manipulating the charges, even without involving things like the London force? Presumably they would be able to alter the ionic charge of the air itself to guide it, although it might still be weak enough to be defeated by a fan or a stiff breeze. $\endgroup$
    – techno156
    Aug 10 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ The "London Dispersion Mages".. makes me imagine a mix between fantasy and V for Vendetta :) $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Sep 6 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


The ability to create intermolecular bonds could be extremely powerful if the bond is strong enough. The magic could potentially create a strong temporary bond which fades to normal levels when the magic is removed. If so, the manipulation of these bonds would allow for the free manipulation of matter. Air could be formed into a solid shield. If the air is linked to the ground or building walls, it could block a path or road. It might involve linking a considerable amount of air to form a decent shield, but if the atoms and molecules are linked together, I do not see why it would not work. It is like building with Legos, which have weak connections, but using superglue (magic) to make the bond stronger. Maybe only the most powerful of mages are capable of bonding gases into a solid form due to the amount of magic required. I do not see it being capable of producing wind because that involves the application of force, not the creation of an intermolecular bond.

A lot of this depends on if you want your magic to be able to do this. As long as the internal logic is solid, people tend to accept a magic system. It is often the limitations of magic which make it more interesting than the applicability. The Lord of the Rings is interesting in part due to the One Ring not instantly making Frodo god-tier. Sure, it is potentially the most powerful magical artifact on Middle Earth, but it has side effects. It makes him invisible to normal people, but visible to the Ring Wraiths and Sauron. Even Sauron, became more powerful after crafting the ring, was rendered nearly powerless upon its loss. The ring also corrupts its holder, which adds a ticking clock to the story. Superman is most interesting when facing challenges which cannot be solved using his strength or speed. Why do you think kryptonite is used so often? It is his weakness which makes the story interesting. One Punch Man is interesting because it shows the danger of becoming an over-powered character. If everything is easy, what is the point? In Overlord, the readers know Momonga is likely the most powerful character in his new world. He does not know this, and thus reacts as if he can be killed. His weakness is his ignorance, which is often played for laughs.

My point is, make your magic do what it needs to do for the story.


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