Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Filling the Taxonomy of Magic: inspiration & spark

Filling the Taxonomy of Magic: using the structure to develop content www.DNFrost.com/spark #TotKW Inspiration and spark by D.N.Frost @DNFrost13 Part 3 of a series.
This post is Part 3 of a series to augment the Author's Manifesto available for free download. Start with Part 1 here.

This and other inspirations of mine are gathered in the Spark Directory for you to explore.

Find more magic-related content in my Magic Directory.


In Part 1 of this series, I started what would become an in-world taxonomy of magic for the Known World, as codified by scholars through the ages. This academic taxonomy forms the organizational structure for my magic system, mirroring how the taxonomy of species serves to organize all the organisms known to science.

I love this notion of content vs structure. It's all over in my work. I find it really helpful to differentiate between the two, the structure that provides internal logic and consistency, and the content that provides all the specific details and cool features that make my work stand out.

For the magic system, I used the taxonomy structure as a guide, and I filled it in with all sorts of magics. Some magics fit in easily, and I could mirror spells and magic types throughout one particular branch of magic. For instance, all the elemental magics have symmetry, regardless of what element is leveraged.


Check out this Author's Manifesto for more of my inspirations!


Other magics required some creativity to iron out. Much like with the real taxonomy of species, whenever a magic didn't fit the current taxonomy, I could restructure the taxonomy itself to allow for a whole new branch of content.

Then inside this branch, I could mirror spells and magic types so there was still symmetry, even though it was distinct from the symmetry of other branches. I love this approach! It's flexible, redact-able, and it allows me to move forward in my saga without fretting over every detail being correct from the start.

For example, the Ether magic branch was originally a type of Life magic, some weird offshoot that allowed for teleportation but didn't quite fit. After I got more clarity on the magic itself, I split it into its own branch of magic, and in the Magic Codex I wrote that scholars once believed it to be a form of Life magic, but it was reclassified over two centuries ago.

I find that this in-world approach not only adds flexibility for me as I invent new stories and places and cultures for my Tales of the Known World saga, but also adds depth and realism to the world as a whole. Science is a very human endeavor, and like any other human construct, it mutates and changes to suit the perspective of the times.

My magic taxonomy reflects the latest understanding of magic scholars, but it also reflects and informs the opinions of the culture of its day. The stigma against the use of Dark magic is a great example of this -- it's simply an elemental magic with purview over fire and lightning, but the name itself reflects the stigma, and also perpetuates the perception of Dark magic as evil.

That's it for this post! Up Next: Creating limits for limitless magic...

Download the Author's Manifesto here, or start your adventure below.






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