For my Thaumaturgic magic system I chose five elements

  1. Fire (Heat).
  2. Light.
  3. Electricity.
  4. Force. Which includes Alchemy, by using vibration to warp the structure of matter.
  5. Entropy.

Other abilities such as teleportation, and physical augmentation are all non-elemental.

I chose the word entropy because it sounds cool, and the name is more distinct than necro-something. The name is all so closer to the power that I want the are not to have, it doesn't control the force of death, manipulate the souls of the dead or allow the creation of zombie.

Entropic magic is all about erosion and dissolution, fires go out, stone turns to dust, metal corrodes, wood and flesh rot away its touch. The problem is that the other elements all do the same thing, just only within their domain. Entropy can affect everything it's just a matter of targeting, it takes without giving back.

Thus leaving the element of entropy without distinctive feel to me, the only unique thing that entropy possibly could do is tamper with probability. The problem is the ability to rig the game, is very, very dangerous and mechanically speaking one of the most unbalanced powers to allow.

I already have people that can influence probability, the clerics, priests and shaman. Divine magic in my setting is probabilistic in nature. Through their connection to their respective deity or deities a priests can touch the wyrd and can bless or curse things within their gods purview. Tying the ability to affect the roll of the cosmic dice to a deity's purview was my way of constraining the ability, entropy though would only cause disorder (errant luck) would affect everything, thus being unbalanced.

Aside from affecting probability through chaos what could entropy do that's distinctive, and if we stick with probability how do we limit its scope.

  • $\begingroup$ Should your 5 elements all be considered set in stone? You may consider Entropy (or "decay" magic) being a category of elemental magic, (Opposite of Genesis, or "generating" magic) - rather than an element itself. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ Without going back and changing the metaphysics of magic then yes. I went with elements because more abstract magic system gave me nothing but headaches. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ If you want more focus on affecting probability, you may want to edit it out of this question and make it a separate one. I think it would do better that way if you are looking for ideas on it, since this question seems focused around "Defining and Balancing" the element in general. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble I made my edits, also what do you think whould be a better title. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ I'll ask another question. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 20:15

3 Answers 3


Entropic magic is all about erosion and dissolution, fires go out,stone turns to dust, metal corrodes, wood and flesh rot away its touch.

Entropy is Time Magic.

Specifically, Entropy is the magic of making time go faster. Extinguishing fires, rotting flesh, corroding metal, all of those things happen naturally over time. If you want a school of mages who can achieve those things, they can do all of them with time acceleration.

Keeping their abilities limited strictly to speeding up the flow of time, you can come up with constructive applications for this magic which avoid the problem of "All this magic can do is destroy". For example:

  • Speed up time around a wound to accelerate natural healing
  • Age crops, animals and even humans to maturity
  • Fit eight hours of sleep into a few moments of real time to quickly refresh yourself
  • Haste spell: Double the rate at which someone experiences time and it will be like they're moving twice as fast compared to people experiencing normal time

We should avoid time travel, because everyone knows that's ridiculously powerful, but a natural extension of this time magic is to allow it to slow the passage of time as well. Slow the rate at which something experiences time and you'll slow the rate at which it feels the ravages of entropy. Sick or wounded people can be put into temporal stasis to keep them alive until you find a medic, metal can be enchanted so that it takes a thousand years to rust, and a person's natural lifespan can be extended, all of which stays firmly in the domain of entropy-themed magic.

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    $\begingroup$ Holding back death by retarding "decay" is closer to entropic magic than out right healing. But time manipulation is not something that I want, especially since it opens a backdoor for folding space which was a power that I really didn't to available. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Trismegistus Time control doesn't necessarily open the door to folding space. (If you believe it does, I'd be interested in hearing why) - to be more specific, rather than time consider it to be control over the advancement of age. You can slow or speed the advancement (which happens over time), but in no way do you have control over time itself. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Because of interrelation of time and space, if one can tamper with time then tampering with space is well within your capabilities. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 16:08

Currently, it seems as though four of your elements can do any of the following in their domain (Though let me know if I have assumed anything I shouldn't have):

  • Create
  • Modify
  • Destroy

Compared to "Entropy" - which can only "Destroy", but from all four of the other elements. I think they may be more powerful than you give them credit for - so here are some examples of what they may be capable of:

Heat Mage: Can redistribute heat, or make things hotter, or colder. It sounds lame, but it's really cool! Other than the obvious abilities of frying or freezing people/objects, and keeping himself at a comfortable temperature, he may be able to cause massive weather changes if he's got the area-of-effect to do so - possibly causing sudden fog, rain, tornadoes, etc. Heat is energy, and heat mages could pump energy into, or suck it out of, just about anything.

Light Mage: Create light where there is none, or create darkness where there is light. With high levels of control, can modify light to bend around objects - or reflect objects that aren't there! In other words, invisibility and illusions. Oh, and lasers. Burn a hole through something at the speed of light? Sounds good.

Electricity Mage: Aside from obviously tasing anything, by controlling the movement of electrons you can control magnetic fields. Think "Magneto" from "X-Men" - pretty much capable of "controlling" metal. In a medieval world, this means you can stop weapon attacks - assuming the weapons aren't wooden. In a modern world, this means a lot opportunities to fry, wipe, and destroy electronics. You'd also be able to melt (or weld if you stop early) just about anything.

Force Mage: Consider that the forces in control by a force mage are what control pressure, sound, the state of matter(and can manipulate it), and are the causes of devastating natural events such as earthquakes and tsunamis. A force mage could instantly blow an enemy's eardrum, followed by vibrating a single point into an explosion while shattering the earth and turning it to liquid.

Without any restrictions on all of the elements so far, there is no "balance" at this point. All the magic is capable of ending the world. You'll have to scale how "hard" it is to do each different type of magic according to how you want your world to be.

For instance, you seem to think Entropy magic is overpowered because it essentially gains the "low-level" spells of all the other elements. Which means, at low level, they have 4 times as many spells available, even though later they may be lacking. Yet, maybe through Entropy magic these "low-level" spells are much more difficult than using that specific element.

I look to RPG systems with classes such as Paladin or Death-Knight for an example of where, since they are essentially "Warrior+Cleric" or "Warrier+Necromancer", they receive the same spells, but much later than they normally would if they were simple clerics or necromancers. Some of the high level entropy spells may accomplish the same thing as low-level heat mage spells, but require a lot more "effort".

  • $\begingroup$ You got the magic mostly right with the exception of light which is just light and doesn't touch the rest of the EM spectrum. Also create is only accessible at higher levels. Which begs the question from where is entropy tapped. Entropy screwing with probability is unbalanced because its too abstract and non-specific working across enumerable vectors. Time control opens the door to folding space an ability that I cut from the magic system. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Trismegistus I've cut that part from my answer, as well as my suggestion about Entropy magic being a mechanism of time, since another answer covers that better than I do and that way I can focus on balance. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ I like your ideas, its come down which is going to causes the least problems in setting. Unfiring the arrow of time(your idea) or scrambling probability(Mage the Ascension). $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 18:53

One solution you can use to balance entropy is to make it the most powerful, but the most dangerous to try to control. It's a razor's edge.

You could allow your entropy magic to permit some control over the decay of order, like you are looking at, but make it very hard for the mage using those abilities to control how that decay occurs within the spell. The tricky bit is that you, yourself, are within the spell because you're the one casting it. Make a wrong move with a fire spell, you may set your hair on fire. Make a wrong move with an entropy spell, you may go catatonic... forever. Try to know something you weren't supposed to know, and forget how to speak.

Interestingly, most magics have a good and a bad side to them. Fire can warm, or it can burn. Entropy is typically thought of as only a bad side, it's the thing we fight against. However, there are many theories that point to Life being a chaotic solution to maximize the entropy of the universe. This suggests a few options. First is that Entropy magic could be thought of as true dark magic, sucking the life out of things, but Entropy magic could also be thought of as being the chaotic genesis of life.

  • $\begingroup$ Entropy being difficult to use is definitely something that I had considered, along with it potentially being the most powerful element. The most interesting idea that I've seen for entropy is the retardation of decay. Another possibility is that entropy is good at making things go from bad to worse. While entropy can be used to attack, its very good at breaking down things that are already compromised; in game terms making every hit a critical. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 8:00

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