14.10: Magic Systems

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

Let’s design magic systems! We talk about how we do it, and how the principles of magic system design apply to the science fiction systems we create, and vice-versa.

NOTE: In this episode we’re talking about “hard” magic systems, where there are well-defined rule sets (even if the reader isn’t shown them explicitly.) Next week we’ll talk about “soft” magic.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.


Take a “soft” magic system, and turn it into a “hard” system. Give Gandalf rules

The Third Eye, by Mahtab Narsimhan

4 thoughts on “14.10: Magic Systems”

  1. Great episode! Although it would be nice to make a practical example, like making a sort of magic system on the episode, ir in a bonis episode, sort of what you did with the Shadows beneath episode.

    Either way, I’ve enjoyed this episode very much!

  2. Dan said everybody wants to go to Hogwarts and use the cool spells and stuff. I’m not so sure. As fun as the spells are, I would definitely *not* want to go to Hogwarts! It’s described as a place where students are routinely put in serious danger and the staff, who ought to be responsible adults, all too often either do nothing to help with the problems or actively make them worse.

    Just imagine how many problems Harry & co. would simply not have had, or which would have been far less severe than they turned out to be, if there had been open, clear, honest communication between Harry and the main trio and Dumbledore and the professors, just for example.

  3. The aliens, Brandon, Dan, and Howard, welcomed Mahtab into their house to talk about… Magic systems! How do you design one, what are readers looking for, what makes a favorite magic system? Lots of interesting talk, and who knows, if you listen to the podcast, or read the transcript, you too might find you are a wizard in waiting… so, go read the transcript, available now in the archives or over here:


    and see what happens!

  4. My favorite example of hard magic is hunter x hunter’s nen system. I love how each person’s magic works best when they make the magic follow their personality.

Comments are closed.