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Questions tagged [magic]

For questions that have to do with magic, as opposed to science/technology. Remember to explain any limits.

235
votes
22answers
41k views

What's the smallest change to physics required to allow magic?

Yesterday my 7-year-old daughter asked me: Why can't I do magic for real? I answered: because of the law of conservation of energy! And I briefly explained this law. Thus she grumbled "a single ...
176
votes
38answers
26k views

How do I protect my shop from teleporters?

I live in a world where magic is common. Most people have enough magic to do simple tasks like lighting a candle or healing minor injuries. Higher magic is very rare, and those individuals mostly ...
131
votes
16answers
11k views

A Most Subtle Magic

Rynn is not flashy at all. In fact, you would be forgiven to think she's a bit of an introvert. Sure, the people in the town are strangely reluctant to talk to you about her, but you are a newcomer, ...
107
votes
32answers
19k views

Why would a staff increase the magic power of a mage?

Similarly to the question How would it make sense that spellbooks or grimoires teach only one spell? I was thinking about typical RPG games and how to design the magic system therein. While thinking ...
91
votes
33answers
14k views

How would it make sense that spellbooks or grimoires teach only one spell?

In a JRPG-like setting; Spells are chanted, mana is consumed, and spells can be learned through grimoires or spellbooks, how would it make sense that a spellbook teaches only one spell? If it is like ...
85
votes
30answers
12k views

Awesomeness powered magic - why would a group of awesome magicians want to keep their “kryptonite” near them?

Fair warning - just rewatched Bill & Ted, so this is going to be a bit crazy. Imagine for a moment there exists a world where “awesomeness” is a true force of nature. Awesome people have the ...
76
votes
33answers
27k views

If magic is real, can it be true that rational scientific thought should exclude it?

"Magic and science coexist." A tired phrase by now, because it's found in so much fiction. But can it make sense? Assume a world broadly parallel to our own. It has experienced its Age of ...
73
votes
27answers
12k views

Sword in the rock - make it last the ages

Merlin the wizard has a problem. Sure, it was a piece of cake to move forward in time to the 21st century, procure a sword that was made with the highest 21st century standards, go back in time, and ...
73
votes
27answers
11k views

Why would a decision making machine decide to destroy itself?

A mad scientist creates a machine that simulates the world with very high precision. The machine is capable of running several slightly different simulations simultaneously, the difference being some ...
73
votes
19answers
15k views

How can Elsa's power fuel my Industrial Revolution?

As a Duke in the Kingdom of Weselton, I've been commanded to exploit the riches of our trade partners and cement our dominant economic status. It was my good fortune to attend the coronation of our ...
71
votes
36answers
13k views

How can a pacifist country protect itself?

Think of a more or less traditional medieval fantasy world: multiple races, magic, some alchemy/magitech that is of comparable power and reliability to ordinary magic. And in this world there exists ...
70
votes
18answers
4k views

How to prevent tiny mistake in 'programmable language' magic spell causing horrible disasters?

I have seen a few stories use the programmable magic trope. The most well known I believe is the wiz-biz series, though it's rather old now. The idea is that magic works just like a programming ...
70
votes
14answers
6k views

Must magic be tied to medieval tech?

Most settings with a magical component, whether this means wizards, magical races, or something similar, seem to be parked at a medieval level of development in terms of technology and society. Is ...
70
votes
18answers
13k views

Would a culture with magic consider it magic? [closed]

I was discussing with a buddy of mine about magic and how it could easily be explained using alternate laws of physics. She replied simply "Magic that relies on alternate physics is only magic to ...
68
votes
34answers
20k views

What (modern) weapons could be used to destroy skeletal enemies as completely as possible?

As per the cliché, after getting hit by a truck, our protagonist finds herself in a 'swords and sorcery' fantasy world. Also as per the cliché, she is granted an overpowered ability to make her new ...
67
votes
29answers
13k views

How to monetize magical mirrors in today's world?

This is kinda a followup question to my earlier question about magical mirrors: Magical internet - unique addressing system Two months ago, I discovered an ancient house in the middle of woods. As I ...
66
votes
12answers
9k views

How can the NSA capture Santa Claus?

He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows you when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good, so the NSA wants him to take. Santa Claus' intelligence collection systems are state of the art. ...
65
votes
18answers
14k views

Why would society not cremate its dead in a world where necromancy is possible?

Necromancy is a type of magic that forces a soul back into a body after it has been killed. Through a dark ritual, the soul is forcefully removed from its eternal rest in the afterlife and is anchored ...
64
votes
21answers
7k views

Dealing With Dragonslayers

The setting is mid-medieval in technology, vaguely European. There exists no magic in the setting except what is explicitly defined in this question (which all relate to dragons). Dragons are the ...
63
votes
30answers
16k views

How can I imprison a wizard who can walk through walls?

There are reasons why we can't walk through walls. Using magic, though, those difficulties fall away. In fact, for a wizard in an otherwise-almost-magic-free world, walking through walls or falling ...
63
votes
36answers
17k views

Why might wizards be unable to wear armour?

Inspired by this question, this question and this question, I, too have been thinking about typical RPG-style magic systems. It's a truism in RPGs (and fantasy in general) that armour and magic don't ...
63
votes
26answers
10k views

Magic rules without logical loopholes

Let's start with Sanderson's-first-law. Although I like reading stories with soft magic, this is not question about them. I would like to work with hard magic - the magic bound by strict rules. So ...
62
votes
17answers
11k views

How does vampire-dad keep the masquerade to his daughter

A new girl moves into town with her eccentric parents who are self-proclaimed, professional vampire-hunters. They, for some reason, are completely convinced that their new neighbour is a vampire, but ...
61
votes
14answers
9k views

Physically, how do dragons grasp and *transport* the contents of their hoards?

If we accept that dragons are big and they hoard gold and gems (and don't make or mine these baubles, themselves), how do dragons physically manipulate and transport human/elf/dwarf-sized coins and ...
57
votes
20answers
18k views

Why is my Dark World so dark?

My hero has to journey into a mirror world. This world is much like our own except evil. Almost everything there is an enemy and there will be very little kindness. On top of that the world is visibly ...
57
votes
14answers
7k views

How would I limit the amount of magical bling a person could wear?

So, in my setting, there are magical weapons, armor, tools, and jewelry. They are quite the standard fare, ranging from swords that can cut better to amulets that let you breath underwater and the ...
55
votes
18answers
11k views

Plausible explanation for lack of reflection in a mirror

Thanks to the commenters in the question sandbox for helping refine this question before posting. In many vampire stories the vampires do not have a reflection in a mirror. This is generally not ...
54
votes
30answers
8k views

How to subtly identify a weapon as powerfully magical?

I don't want to outright go out and say it: "Billy found the +5 magical staff Rynn's Lament," since a) that would be a n00b mistake and b) my character is not called Billy. In my worlds, magic is ...
53
votes
15answers
16k views

How would exposing a female warrior's (mostly) bare bottom help her in combat?

There's a valid discussion about feminism and objectification of women to be had. This is not the place for it, nor do I attempt to make it one. I noticed that in Fire Emblem: Fates (and probably ...
53
votes
25answers
9k views

What all stops working when I pause time?

Somewhat, not really related. In my young adult story, the main character has a mechanism that allows her to pause time, and do things while everything is frozen. I have no problem 'magic'ing the ...
53
votes
14answers
6k views

Realistic economic impact of a Hero

You've probably played this game before — the hero goes out into the wilderness, slaughters hordes of beasts and bandits, then returns to the town and promptly sells all his loot to the nearest ...
52
votes
37answers
13k views

Create a world where Necromancy isn't considered as an “evil” type of magic

In most stories regarding movies, games or books, the art of necromancy is often seen as a "dark" and/or "evil" type of magic. I've not really come across any characters using this type of magic for ...
51
votes
26answers
9k views

How do you assassinate someone who is protected by precognitive people? [duplicate]

The US government is desperate to kill the superhuman rebel leader, but the man is surrounded by "precogs". They can see any attempt on his life before it happens. What plan will the government form ...
51
votes
29answers
9k views

How can humans be important enough to be the deciding factor in the war between gods?

Imagine a world with many gods that have been in constant battle with each other. However, the gods are exactly equal in strength, the very nature of godhood enforces a sort of balance in their ...
50
votes
15answers
10k views

What good are herbivores in an animal army?

This is a multi-species animal army with predators of all shapes and sixes, foxes, lions, bears, tigers, leopards, wolves, lynx, eagles, falcons and so on. The herbivores have been excluded from the ...
49
votes
25answers
7k views

The magical map - how to stop it being too powerful

In a Middle Earth type world, there exists a magical map. It has the property that anything that happens to the map also happens in the real world. The map can be 'zoomed' in or out to get the right ...
49
votes
27answers
10k views

What circumstance would produce a society filled with parents willing to let the children be exposed to life-threatening Danger?

My world has a school dedicated to the teaching of magic. Nearly all parents who can send their children to the school do so. The school, as part of their teaching method, exposes their students to ...
49
votes
31answers
7k views

Why leave magical runes exposed?

So, just to clarify, you needn't worry about vague rules - this question is relevant to my own fantasy universe. In this such universe, magic is not a separate energy, it is the ability to control ...
49
votes
14answers
12k views

Explaining where energy comes from to power magic

I'm trying to create a realistic magic system, this may be a lost cause. Imagine in our story we have a wizard who wants to cast a spell to start a fire. In some magic systems there are magic words, ...
49
votes
2answers
6k views

How tall can a humanoid creature be without alerting the rest of the planet with earthquakes?

Planet is earth sized. Fantasy medieval setting that takes place on Continent A, which is on the other side of the planet from Continent B - about as far as South America is from Asia. Continent B ...
48
votes
27answers
12k views

Why would a god tolerate an impostor in his church?

I have a noble god in my world that is answering prayers, guiding his believers and bestowing divine powers onto selected priests. Now his church is fragmented into several factions on ideological ...
48
votes
19answers
17k views

How to conceal my immortality without hiding for a hundred years?

In my story, I have this character that cannot die and cannot grow old. She got this from a curse. When ordinary people see her, she probably looks like 20 or so. How can I make it so that nobody ...
47
votes
32answers
10k views

Why isn't a magical obligate parasite living in a wizard library exterminated?

This is related to my last question here. The library here is not necessarily the magical sentient library mentioned in the previous question, but can be any wizard library. This library can be in ...
47
votes
21answers
8k views

In an era of instantaneous travel, would more mundane methods still be used?

Let's say that teleportation (magical or technological, it matters not) is perfected to such a great degree that you can go anywhere from a few dozen yards, to the other side of the planet (basically) ...
46
votes
19answers
9k views

How could a magical, sentient library defend itself?

This magical library is old as the history of magic itself, storing scrolls and tomes of all† spells ever devised by powerful wizards and apprentice mages alike. The scrolls are ready to be activated ...
45
votes
13answers
11k views

A person with no magic in a magic dependent world

In the story I am writing has a person, let's call him John Doe, who has been transported to an alternate reality/parallel universe. This world is very magic dependent (he doesn't know this yet of ...
45
votes
11answers
8k views

How do I keep my slimes from escaping their pens?

Hmm... Time to take inventory of the slimes real quick... Lamp Oil Slime, O- Slime, Yellow Paint Slime, Pur-... Red Paint Slime? Blue Paint Slime? You two didn't...! Great... So I need a new RPS and a ...
45
votes
30answers
9k views

How can I make humans NOT WANT to investigate how a supernatural ability works in an intelligent, non-human creature?

We've had a few questions where answers state, to a lesser or greater degree, "humans would investigate this ability to figure out how it works" in another creature with abilities not readily ...
45
votes
7answers
29k views

If accelerated natural healing were to occur, what would happen to the human body?

The Details: The human body is capable of impressive acts of self-repair, but such processes take a lot of time, and can take a toll on the body. Infection or other complications can also develop, and ...
44
votes
15answers
13k views

How could elves survive without any fat cell in their body?

Have you ever seen a fat Elf? I haven't, and I think there's an unexpected reason. You see, Elves aren't really the best workers or at least working the land and cultivating food is not something ...