In my make believe world of Bladetree, there exists "Symbolic Magic" Where you are able to create magic powers and effects with "special" symbols. I will explain, before asking my question.

These magic symbols are special in that they are basically circles, that are shaded half way, at different angles, such as vertical right side, shaded, top half shaded, etc. Then there are also circles completely shaded, and some not at all.

Now add a stem, to the outside of circles, positioned so one end touches the circle, and the stems point away, at different positions along the circles, like a compass. Each circle has only one stem, that points in one of eight directions of the compass. Now with these symbols, which amount to about one hundred. You can position them in such a way in order to create a 2-dimensional pattern. Each symbol is the alphabet of the peoples of Bladetree. The patterns created are infinite. These symbols create realities in Bladetree.

How was the magic created, or by what?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Hello there, Conrad! Unfortunately, you question falls into something we call "Idea Generation Questions". They are in the form of "make my world for me", and are generally not well accepted. You question will probably end up closed on this current format. $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ It's your world and your magic system. Do you really need to define the origins of the system? Regardless, the origin can and will be whatever you want/need it to be for the purpose of telling your story. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


This is a very broad question as written, so I'll interpret it more narrowly as "what would give rise to such a system?".

Let's suppose you divide your circles into eight segments, each of which can be shaded or unshaded. (Choosing eight because you mention eight compass points.) Imagine a pizza cut into eight slices, with some of the slices missing. This gives you $2^8 = 256$ possible variations on the inner circle.

If you only have a single "stem" on each character, that gives nine options (eight directions, or no stem at all). So you would have 2304 possible symbols. If, on the other hand, you allowed multiple stems on the same character, you would have another 256 possibilities, giving $2^16 = 65536$ different symbols. I'm going to take this latter interpretation, even though it's a bit different from your question as stated, for reasons you'll see in a moment.

These numbers would be intimately familiar to anyone who works with low-level computer programming. Each of your symbols perfectly represents two bytes. Each "slice" on the inner circle and each "stem" on the outer circle represents one of the bits.

As far as humans are concerned, this is a very difficult system to use: there's a reason nobody writes out numbers in binary! A real-life analogy might be punch cards, which used a series of blanks and holes to represent bits. They were very easy for computers to read and write, but rather less pleasant for humans to work with.

So I'd say such a system was more likely created to transfer information between humans and non-humans. The non-human doesn't need to be a computer: compare Stross's "Laundry" series, in which "magic" involves applying mathematics to affect eldritch horrors from beyond the world. Or such a precise and logical writing system might have been introduced to humans by some divine or diabolical entity to get past the language barrier, leading to its use in dealing with spirits. But somehow, people learned that precise application of these symbols could have magical effects on the outside world. Eventually the mathematical underpinnings were forgotten by everyone except specialists; most people just know that "you activate protective spells by writing ◐ ◔" and "drawing those without knowing what you're doing can be fatal".


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