Magic In The Dominion

By Patricia C. Wrede
Copyright © 1996

Rules of Magic

What things can magic not do? What are the limits to magical power?

Where does magic power come from? Do different races/species have different sources for their magic, or does everybody use the same one?

How does a magician tap his/her magic power? Does becoming a magician require some rite of passage (investing one’s power in an object, being chosen by the gods, constructing or being given a permanent link to the source of power) or does it just happen naturally, as a gradual result of much study or as a part of growing up?

What do you need to do to cast a spell — design an elaborate ritual, recite poetry, mix the right ingredients in a pot? Are there things like a staff, a wand, a familiar, a crystal ball, that are necessary to have before casting spells? If so, where and how do new wizards get these things? Do they make them, buy them from craftsmen, inherit them from their teachers, or order them from Wizardry Supplies, Inc.?

How long does it take to cast a spell? Can spells be stored for later, instant use? Does working spells take lots of long ritual, or is magic a “point and shoot” affair?

Can two or more wizards combine their power to cast a stronger spell, or is magic done only by individuals? What makes one wizard more powerful than another — knowledge of more spells, ability to handle greater levels of power, having a more powerful god as patron, etc.?

Does practicing magic have any detrimental effect on the magician (such as becoming addictive, fomenting insanity, or shortening life-span)? If so, is there any way to prevent these effects? Are the effects inevitable to all magicians, or do they affect only those with some sort of predisposition?

How much of what is commonly known is wrong (e.g., Aristotle’s ideas about human anatomy, which were wrong but accepted for centuries)?
What general varieties of magic are practiced (e.g., herbal potions, ritual magic, alchemical magic, demonology, necromancy, etc.)?

Does a magician’s magical ability or power change over time — e.g., growing stronger or weaker during puberty, or with increasing age?

Can the ability to do magic be lost? If so, how — overdoing it, “burning out,” brain damage due to fever or a blow, etc.?
Can the ability to work magic be taken away? If so, how and by whom? (Traditional example: certain spells that can only be worked by virgins; raping such a witch robbed her of her powers.)

Are different races/intelligent species good at different types of magic? If so, what types are associated with what races/species? Are there species that use magic more or less unconsciously — for instance, dragons using magic to fly without being consciously aware of it, or werewolves using magic to change?

How do local people view wizards? Are they good guys, bad guys, Clint Eastwood (call in only to get rid of dragons), regular working stiffs, ivory-tower academics, nuisances who make it rain when you’re plowing, dangerous folks to stay away from?

Do wizards have a special language that is used for magic? If so, where do they learn it? Is it safe to chat in this language, or is everything said in it automatically a spell? If so, how can it safely be taught to new students?

Is magic considered a science, or are scientists and wizards enemies or rivals? Are magic and science compatible? To what degree does the presence of magic, magical objects, and wizards replace technology (for example, a chest that is enchanted to keep its contents cold could replace the refrigerator)? Duplicate technology? Supplement technology?

Are wizards above or below the law — I.e., do they have full rights as citizens, no rights, or can they do as they like without regard to anyone else’s rights?

Is a magician’s lifetime normally longer or shorter than average? Why? Does this vary for different races/species? Are there races/species all of whose members are magicians?

Magic and Technology

Are there magical means of rapid communication? How commonly are they used? For what purposes?

How has the presence of magic affected weapons technology? Can an ordinary, non-weapon-type object be enchanted to make it extremely lethal (the Frying Pan of Death) or will this work properly only on things that are already weapons? Can ordinary objects be enchanted to make them (or their user) supremely good at something (the Frying Pan of Ultimate Gourmet Cooking, the Comb of No Bad Hair Days Ever)? How common and useful are such enchantments?

To what degree does the presence of magic, magical objects, and wizards replace technology (for example, a chest that is enchanted to keep its contents cold could replace the refrigerator)? Duplicate technology? Supplement technology?

Can spells and/or magical items be mass-produced? Are there magic carpet factories and boutiques selling magic rings?

Can spells and/or magical items be used to increase the efficiency of manufacturing or mass production? Do businesses keep a wizard on retainer, as modern businesses might keep a lawyer or efficiency expert? What, exactly, are they paying for?

Miscellaneous Magic Questions

If there are imaginary animals (dragons, unicorns, etc.), how do they fit into the ecology? What do they eat? How much habitat do they require? Are they intelligent and/or capable of working spells, talking, etc.?

Where did civilization begin? What directions did it spread? How was its development affected by the presence of magic? The presence of non-human races, if any? The direct or indirect action of the gods?

In what ways can magic or spells be abused? How often does this happen?

Which peoples/races/cultures are considered the most civilized? Which are most technologically advanced? Which are most magically advanced? Least advanced?

Is magic legal? All magic, or only some types? Do laws vary widely from country to country, or is the attitude generally similar?

Are there magical beasts, like dragons and unicorns? If so, which ones? How many? Are they common, or are some endangered species? Have any been domesticated?

What are the major political factions at present? How long have they been around? Which factions are allies, which enemies? Are there any potential new forces on the political scene (e.g., a rising middle class, a university gaining unexpected power because of certain magical discoveries, etc.)

What level is medicine at? Who are the healers? Do you have to have a talent to heal, or just training? Who trains healers, herbalists, apothecaries, surgeons, magical vs. nonmagical healers, etc.?

Dominion Residents

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