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In the book I am writing, certain people can use a hard magic system with the usage of outside or supplemented energy. I originally thought some sort of liquid energy that comes from springs on the planet could fuel this, but I would like other ideas.

Main Questions:

  1. Are there any other possible sources of energy that I should consider to power my magic system?

  2. What way could this new energy be produced or harvested, or what would be an efficient way to harvest the energy liquid?

Guidelines:

  • I would prefer the energy source to be an external source.
  • The tech available is Industrial Revolution era.
  • The energy source should be something that is renewable or continually produced, but it should be relatively uncommon.
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closed as primarily opinion-based by Frostfyre, T.J.L., James, Xandar The Zenon, The Anathema May 17 '16 at 14:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Matt. While I appreciate that you want an answer to this question, we expect questions to have a "best" answer. That is, questions should have an objective means by which answers can be judged and one determined to be a better solution than another. Since this is a question about magic sources, everything is equally valid, so long as you depict it well in your writing. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre May 17 '16 at 12:11
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(Burning wood logs and other carbon-based sources, usually produce water vapor)

"Mana crystals" (precious rocks found while digging deep, looking for precious elements, ores or coal) can be burnt to produce "vapors of mana", which, once collected and cooled, produces "mana liquid".

So, as today's world, ores and crystals are external resources and can "easily" be extracted, but you still have to dig and find extraction points just like petrol or precious stones ...

You can then imagine an intensification on "many crystal" digging, increasing the activity of your industrial world (Which would cause a nowadays-like climatic change because of Mana Vapor saturating the atmosphere and causing weird magic things... whatever you see fit your universe)

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Every fourteen days, when (insert appropriate name for your setting) crystals are exposed to the full dark of the new moon, or the complete light of the full moon, they exude precious mana water. The shadow water from the new moon is most powerful for passive magics, those of water, earth, and darkness. And the bright water of the full moon provides greater power to active magics, those of air, fire, and light.

Something like that maybe? Not particularly common since it can only be gathered one day every two weeks (or four weeks if you want the specific light or dark flavor). But still fairly available, depending on how rare you make the crystals.

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Here is my suggestion. Make you magic energy that comes from another dimension, through portals on the particular plaint. This would explain why it can break the laws of physics, because it comes from another world were the laws of physic don't apply.

  1. It would be continuous supply because it would be coming from another dimension.

  2. Since it comes through a portal it would be found it greater cluster around the portal and decrease in quantity as the farther you go from the portal. This way it could be renewable yet still uncommon.

  3. It would odiously be an external energy source.

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The novel Atlas Shrugged had motors that ran without fuel. The in-novel explanation was that they ran off of the static electricity which is generated in Earth's atmosphere (which otherwise slowly accumulates to give forth lightning).

In the the novels The Magic Goes Away and The Magic May Return, magic's source of energy was a phenomenon named mana in the novels, which was generated by the sun, so that the Earth slowly accumulated mana over time. At one point a being wanted to cut off this avenue of replenishment, and created a screen that admitted light, but kept the mana out. Earth's mana eventually ran so low that it led to the catastrophic collapse of Atlantis and other societies, although a small quantity of mana could be obtained by killing living things.

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To give a contrast to your idea:

In Brandon Sandersons Mistborn Trilogy certain people, so called Allomancers, can burn metals they previously ingested to gain certain magical powers. These powers are limited by the amount of metal ingested as it gets used up when applying these powers (the metal also is quite limiting, because bigger amounts can lead to poisoning (I'm in joke-top-form)).

An alternative system could i.e. be based on certain herbs or similar plants that are extremely difficult to cultivate in your plot-area. This would also allow, at any point, to introduce another are/country/etc. where they are easier to grow thus give a cultural contrast and open up more venues to explore.

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