A Sci-Fi take on Magic?

If I’m going to be completely honest, I like fantasy fiction, but sci-fi has my heart. I grew up watching Star Trek: TNG, Star Wars, the X-Files, Blade Runner, Close Encounters, Back to the Future… I could go on (and I have gone on with newer sci-fi like Avatar, Battlestar Galactica (2009 series), Inception, Eternal Sunshine, and sci-fi anime). I would write sci-fi if I had enough knowledge of science to produce something viable (I do not consider the Time Traveler’s Wife as viable sci-fi).

One aspect that’s particularly appealing that sets sci-fi apart from fantasy is that sci-fi produces reasons for phenomena: causes. Fantasy tends to present a world, and the things within the world are there because they are. Gandalf has spells because he does. Or because he’s a god-being or whatever (what are those called?). Elfin cloaks can hide you from Orcs because they’re elfin and they do (not because their fibers contain light reflectors or benders that trick the eye). And I know Tolkein, being Tolkein and all, probably does go through reasoning as to why these things are, but for lesser fantasy, things are because they are – and that’s what makes magic. It defies explanation, it’s mystical, it’s magical.

While there’s no doubt that The Lotus War falls squarely within the “fantasy” genre – for example, the Lotus itself exists without explanation of where it came from or why or how it emanates its energy (or why its energy has the properties it does) – I have carried over some of my sci-fi-loving background into the development stages with me. In the case of magic for instance-

Magic in the world of Genos,  is “the manipulation of nature by non-mechanical means.” Not “mechanical” in having to do with machinery or technology, but without application of physical force to produce an affect. Magic might include encouraging a door to bend open without touching it. Or drawing items closer by shortening the space between you. Basically, it’s the manipulation of space-time – and that makes it very dangerous.

Even when tapped into a force that allows you to manipulate space-time (like when linked to the Lotus), if your brain can’t conceptualize the changes necessary to accomplish your goal, you can fail at magic. Or you can succeed at magic but fail at accomplishing your goal, instead affecting another facet of reality – usually for the worst.

Essentially, magic in the game is as strong as the mind of the person utilizing it – but weakly performed magic can cause untold damage to the fabric of the universe. And therefore magic had been banned but for a group of adherents to its practice.

What do you think? Does this explanation of magic in our game-verse take something away for you or does it add another layer of mythology?


6 thoughts on “A Sci-Fi take on Magic?

  1. I’m not fussed if how magic works is explained, providing that some ground rules are established detailing what is and isn’t possible with spells. This protects a story from deus ex machinas were magic fixes everything at the end. Although technically sci-fi Star Wars didn’t benefit from the prequel explanation of what the force is.

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