157 – Magic Classifications

The Mythcreant Podcast
Where does Evocation end and Abjuration begin? Should a fireball require Prime magic? What even are Charms? That’s right, this week we’re talking about how different settings classify magic, from novels to RPGs to video games. We discuss the purpose behind dividing magic in the first place, how to make classifications that don’t feel artificial, and how distinct the different types of magic need to be. We also spend a lot of time arguing about if muggles can make potions.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

The Classic Greek Elements

Mage Spheres

Avatar: The Last Airbender


D&D Schools of Magic

Harry Potter Magic

Dragon Age

The official answer on whether muggles and squibs can make potions or see dementors. Take it for what it’s worth.

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  1. SunlessNick

    Regarding blood magic in Dragon Age, you can use blood magic to everything regular will-magic can do, but not the other way round – some things require blood magic, notably mind control, directly wrecking people’s bodies, and demon summoning. Plus of course anyone’s blood will do.
    That said, healing comes under regular magic, though logically it ought to be blood magic (some guidebooks suggest it is blood magic, but the authorities look the other way).

    Earth, air, water and fire have been independently created as elemental breakdowns at least three times (though each system differs in the kinda fifth one it adds).
    They match up pretty well to solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.

  2. Jeffrey Chilson

    When talking about Harry Potter alchemy. If purity and amounts are precise to the power of the potions, I find it odd that they are not using nice measuring devices and chemist labs. I feel like centrifuges, molecular sieves, etc would make potions ungodly powerful. They always seem to brew potions like many people cook, a pinch here or there and wait for boiling. I think some book would say 3cc of purified mandrake root added when brought 55 degrees Celsius yada yada yada.

  3. Julia

    I really liked the Ars Magica system, where you had a set of five magical techniques or actions you could take, and ten forms or elements you could affect. You cast spells by combining a technique with a form. So if you wanted to start a fire, you would use creo (create) ignem (fire.) The power of your spell depended on your mastery of your techniques and forms. They also differentiated between spontaneous vs. formulaic spells, with spontaneous being more flexible but the formulaic more powerful. Your character could specialize in a technique or form (like being really good at working with animals) or be a generalist.

    I do like magic in stories that is focused or specialized in some way. So if our heroine can only affect light for example, she has to get creative on how to use it to get out of jams.

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