Hi! How are you? In my story, I have powers that are separated into certain elements (air, lightning, earth, plant, water, ice, fire, light, and dark are the categories). However, while I was planning out a minor villain with the power to control mercury, a friend pointed out to me that the villain shouldn’t be able to control mercury in both its liquid and solid forms if water and ice are two different categories. Should I combine water and ice into just water? Or leave it? I really want to leave it, so how can I make this work? Thanks!
Looking at the elements you have as categories, I do see a few inconsistencies that could make them feel contrived.
While the ice vs water one is an issue, I can think of a fairly simple fix for that. You have light and dark, so fire and ice might actually represent heat and cold. That would mean ice elementalists shouldn’t be conjuring frozen water out of thin air, but they could freeze whatever’s around.
The bigger issue is that some of your categories are very general, and some are quite specific. Mercury is one element on the periodic table, whereas earth generally represents all of the elements found in nature in a solid state. You have three different types of energy: fire/heat, light, and electricity, but all gasses fall under the broad category of air.
The more specific you get, the more people will ask “what about x?” and the more elements you need. If mercury is an option, why not carbon or silicon? If you have plant elementalists, what about animal elementalists? Fungi elementalists? (Fungi elementalists would be pretty cool.)
If you’re having trouble coming up with a natural-feeling set of categories that allow you to have your cool mercury villain and eat him too, you could change the way your magic system is presented to make irregularity feel natural. Instead of presenting a specific number of categories, you could say that the elemental control everyone has comes in endless varieties. Some people have broad control, some people have control over very specific things, some elements are more common for people to have than others, and rare or unheard of elements inevitably pop up from time to time.
If you do that, you’ll want to consider power balance. If some people control earth and some just mercury, are the earth elementalists superpowerful in comparison to mercury elementalists? Or do people get better control if their element is more specific, thereby balancing out the power levels somewhat?
Since I don’t know the details of the story, I can’t say what the best solution is for you. However, you have an option other than getting rid of the elements you like.
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Comments on How Do I Make My Story’s Elemental Powers Feel Natural?
Yes, getting into too much detail will only lead to troubles there. Perhaps cut back to the states (solid, liquid, gas, plasma) or fuse lighting with air or fire and water with ice, so you get something a little more flexible. Or add ‘metal’ as a category.
If it were me, I’d take out lighting, ice, and plant completely, narrow it down to the elements plus light and dark. Ice would fall to water then, lighting might be possible for both those who control air and those who control fire (I’d rather connect it to air myself). Mercury could then fall into the water/liquid area and that would include its solid form (as water includes ice). Mercury is liquid under regular temperature, so that should work out fine.
A fungi elementalist would definitely be cool, but then raises a new question… What about bacteria elementalists ? VIRUS elementalists ? Could they create any pathogen out of thin air and set them loose on their ennemies ? God what a terrifying power for a supervillain…
Is mercury a sub-category of one of the elements? Or its own element?
Anyway, you could just have the guy boast, “I can control mercury in its liquid and solid form!”
Or add Metal to the list of elements, and have mercury be a sub-category of that. The Chinese elemental system is wood, fire, earth, metal, and water
If you are going for real-world elements then can people control molecules? Let’s say that I have a hydrogen bender, can they bend water because water molecules contain hydrogen? Perhaps bending water is like how Toph in Avatar The Last Airbender metal bends, i.e. I have to look for the hydrogen in the water molecules and I control the water by manipulating the hydrogen part of it.
I can see mercury if the villain is a very advanced earth specialist. Like if they’re able to control fine metal bits, or separate the fine particles of earth.