My name is Mark, the developer of Tales from Trinity City, a dark sci-fi TableTop RPG set in the last unoccupied human city. You create a superhero that protects the city from aliens and threats within. You can download the rulebook, lore book, and character sheet here.
Today’s blog is the last on world-building, and it’s all about magic and superpowers.
Since I was a kid, playing D&D, watching Christoper Reeves as Superman, and watching SpiderMan at school, I was in love with characters with magical powers. Flying in the air, dodging bullets, and being invulnerable to any physical attack was pretty cool!
In many sci-fi or fantasy stories, some people have extraordinary abilities.
Many sci-fi franchises have people with psychic powers, even StarTrek – I’m looking at you, Betazoids!
First, when you create a power system, you have to know how it works. It’s important never to tell people how the powers work because that raises speculation – how are they accomplishing such Herculean feats.
What gives people these powers? Do people learn these powers by studying great magical tomes? Is the magic just living n them, or did they make dark packs for power, or are they born from genetics like X-Men?
Are there hybrids of power types? After all, can’t an X-man also study some magic to enhance their powers? How about enhancing a shotgun with magic – after all, the Holy Shotgun slugs make small explosions when they hit the unholy!
As I said, don’t tell people how the powers work. You should know, but they should speculate!
Look at Dragon Age – we still don’t know what created magic in the world or how the fade remains separate from the material world. There are only mysteries.
Once you create the rules/laws of how magic works, you can implement how this fits into your world. Magic and Powers will always make sense to you.
All power should have a cost to them. In Mass Effect, Biotic individuals consume 3,000-3,500 calories a day, especially during days with heavy combat, typically 1000 more calories than regular soldiers. Their abilities may make them powerful, but there’s a cost.
Look at Barry Allen! He needs to eat over 15k calories every day because he’s the Flash.
Kurall, one of the protagonists in Tales from Trinity City, prematurely ages as he uses his powers to see the future.
In the Death Gate novels, all magic had to be balanced. Does that sound easy to do – not so much when magic users in one world started to raise their dead, which slowly killed off all the other magic users in the different worlds.
And in the Shannara novels, Allanon used magic by using his life energy. The more he used it, the more he aged. After fighting through powerful foes, he had to hibernate for decades before he could come back into the world!
Creating a magic and power system for your universe is a difficult task. Almost any kind of power system has costs and explanations.
Wizards in D&D sacrifice their time to learn how magic works and create magic fields – at the same time, sorcerers have magic in them but can only know a few spells, much less than a wizard. Warlocks give their lives to dark entities for power.
Take time to think about how your powers work because it will help create a realism that your audience will appreciate.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and going through this series.
Good luck with your creative works. I hope this gives you some ideas to incorporate into your projects!
Have a great day, guys!
One thought on “World Building for Game Devs and Writers – Lesson 20 – Magic and Powers”