On Writing: hard magic systems in fantasy [ Avatar l Fullmetal Alchemist l Mistborn ]

Hey Subfuries.
Fantasy stories are known for a lot of things: vague, often contrived prophecies; gallant, amazingly gifted chosen one heroes with no parents, because
they’re inconvenient for the plot; and lots and lots of mythical races. But arguably, the thing that really sets fantasy apart from other genres is magic: its role in the world you create,
how characters can use it to solve problems, and the problems it can create. Oftentimes, a really unique magic system is what sets one fantasy story apart from another. In writing your fantasy novels, something to think about is how Hard or Soft you want your magic system to be. Now we have to thank our Lord and Savior of
Hard magic systems, Brandon Sanderson, for popularizing the terms Hard and Soft, but what do they mean? This video will be delving deep into Hard magic systems so I’ll only be lightly touching on what a
Soft magic system is, but broadly speaking: Soft magic systems often have a vague, undefined, or mysterious set of rules and limitations to being used. If you like fantasy, then you’ve definitely seen this in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: everyone knows Gandalf can do wizardy things
with his pointy hat and his staff, but when it comes down to the specific limitations of what he can and can’t do, Gandalf tends to skimp on the details. [Gandalf Europop Nod meme music] A Hard magic system, on the other hand,
has clearly defined rules, consequences, and limitations that govern what one can or cannot do with magic; that your hero can use telekinesis, but they can only use it on things
they could realistically lift themselves, and the things have to be within 10 metres of them. A great example of a Hard magic system is
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which if you haven’t seen, has amazing characters, world-building and story structure. If you enjoyed Avatar The Last Airbender,
there’s a good chance you might enjoy that. In Fullmetal, they call magic “alchemy”,
and it’s governed strictly by: which trust me, you’ll get to know
very well as you watch the series because they repeat it at the start of
Every. Single. Episode. For example, Alphonse transforms all of the pieces of a broken radio into a working radio; all of the pieces are there, they just have to be put in the right place and order in order to work again. Alchemy never ever breaks that first rule, the viewer knows pretty well what the characters can or can’t do in any given circumstance. Now, your story can have a magic system that is anywhere on the spectrum from Soft to Hard and both styles have their merits and
limitations for different kinds of stories, but let’s talk about Hard magic today. Sanderson wrote essays on what
he calls his Three Rules of Magic, but the most important one
for Hard magic systems is the first: Writing is all about how you set up
problems and conflicts, and how they’re resolved in a way that that makes for a good story. If we have no idea what Gandalf can do and he just solved every problem the Fellowship has with random unseen-before magical spells and moments of tension, then it wouldn’t be a satisfying resolution, and feels like the author is just writing — — and expecting you to be happy
with a clear deus ex machina. [Meme returns] Sticking to Sanderson’s first rule in Hard magic systems means the reader understands what characters can or can’t do, their capabilities; and are always thinking about how magic can be used to solve problems, within those
strict rules that you laid out Magic becomes a defined tool that doesn’t feel cheap to use because it’s not screaming — — at the reader. [You know what’s up] Readers can feel cheated by Soft magic because it’s much harder to predict where it
can be used, or what it can do, but Hard magic allows the reader to feel much more a part of the story; aligning themselves with the characters as they earnestly predict how magic could be used in any given circumstance. In Avatar The Last Airbender — and forgive me for using it as the benchmark for all
things good and holy in writing — — the bending magic system is relatively Hard; it’s not all that mysterious, with the exception of an occasional new alternate bending style thrown in and the rules are relatively clear. It’s established numerous times throughout the series that water can be bent from a variety of sources, it doesn’t just have to be water flowing in a river, say, but you can bend it from trees, vines,
and even human blood So it’s a logical and satisfying conclusion to have Katara escape prison by water bending her body sweat the viewer could have figured it out just as Katara did, after all, the human body is full of water. But how do you actually design a Hard magic system? Firstly, you have to keep in mind its Predictability. Typically, the harder your magic system, the more specific you have to be
about its rules and consequences. Soft magic can be mysterious and unpredictable, but: That if our gallant hero with his suave look and 11 inch wand does magical action [x], he can expect magical consequence [y]. Now this doesn’t mean that your Hard magic can’t have the possibility of disastrous or unpredicted consequences, should the magic go horribly wrong, but it does mean that those unpredictable effects will often come from the character’s lack of knowledge, mistake, or misuse of the intended magic, not because the magic is inherently unpredictable. Once again, my baby Fullmetal Alchemist demonstrates this perfectly, when an attempt to bring someone back from the dead creates a ghoulish monster and destroys Alphonse’s entire physical body, not because the magic itself was unpredictable, but because they didn’t understand The Law of Equivalent Exchange, the rule that governs all alchemy. While Sanderson didn’t say this explicitly, I do feel that the guidelines for designing Hard magic systems are best encompassed fundamentally in his essay, “The Second Law of Magic”. If you want to read it in more detail, there’s a link down in the description below to it. Seems pretty simple, right? That Harry Potter’s magic is limited because he can only cast spells when he has a wand — though, later on we do learn that wand-less magic is a thing for, like, level 99 wizards with really cool hats. [The return] Hard magic systems often boil down to three things: These essentially create the rules your magical characters have to obey. What limits are there on their powers? Can your suave hero mind-control people, but only as long as they can see them and they’re naked? The most common form of limitation is a vaguely defined limit of strength, or training, or mental acumen of the practitioner.
Avatar the Last Airbender is kind of like this. There’s no explicit limit to how much fire a person can conjure, or how strong a wind they can muster, but we know it’s kind of limited by their training, willpower, strength, and talent. Think of it as the rule of: If you’re really trying to differentiate your Hard magic system from this common trope, then think about not relying on this particular limitation, but maybe something else. Perhaps certain powers can be negated or are affected by certain things in the environment around them, like the Moon, certain plants, or minerals. That way, your magician has to be aware of their surroundings at all times, or it can be used against them by their enemies. Secondly: Weaknesses in magic systems can create interesting dynamics in a story where magic would usually make a character a lot more powerful than those around them. Maybe they can transform into a werewolf at will, but that makes them vulnerable to silver bullets though, once again, making these limitations to your magic too simple can be … uninteresting. Don’t just give your super suave hero with fantastic hair and gorgeous eyes a Kryptonite factor that completely incapacitates them. If you have multiple different powers in your story, it could be interesting to have the use of one power making them more vulnerable to another, so your character has to be cautious about using their powers around someone who could take advantage of that. At its heart, I personally feel that: Finally and thirdly, perhaps the most common way that people create rules for their magic system is through magic costing something. Fullmetal Alchemist requires the exact materials to turn [x] into [y]. In a lot of series, the magician requires certain materials for their spell or enchantment. “Bone … of the father … ” ” … unwillingly … given.” “Flesh … of the servant … ” ” … willingly … sacrificed.” “Blood … of the enemy … ” ” … forcibly … ” [Harry screams] ” … taken.” In Harry Potter, this ritual had costs in terms of ingredients as well as the way the ingredients had to be acquired. But perhaps the most common magical cost is that of bodily energy. In The Wheel of Time and The Inheritance Cycle, doing something with magic exhausts you, which is fine until you try and be TOO magically heroic, and you
overdose on magical heroin and DIE. Magic causing fatigue is so common because it’s an easy way to separate the strong from the weak. A powerful magician doesn’t flinch as she vanquishes an army, while a weak one collapses from trying to zap a fly. It’ll ask for a lot of wiggle room for the author, because you can make it so that your hero has just enough energy to do impressive magical thing [x] without much more justification than a short training montage beforehand. but you’ve got to be careful about how you use this cost: We’ve already talked about how Hard magic systems require a level of predictability and consistency and the exhaustion cost can challenge their predictability and suspension
of belief if not used wisely. One of my favorite examples of a magical cost is actually from one of the softest fantasy magic systems, in A Song of Ice and Fire. In that, Beric Dondarrion is brought back to life dozens of times using magic and it changes him.
George RR Martin described it as such: Coming back from the dead costs Beric Dondarrion something of himself — what, precisely, we’re never told, but it’s visible in the character in his books. “Pieces of you get chipped away.” Look for unique ways to make your magic cost, if you want to distinguish your
magic system from others. Maybe manipulating the element of Earth causes plants to die around you. The ramifications of these effects could be widespread and fascinating to explore: if this kind of magic was common, would it be outlawed
to protect the crops and forests? Interestingly, both Avatar and Harry Potter have very little cost in terms of their magic. The exhaustion that the Avatar characters experience seems to be primarily from the physical exercise they get doing what essentially amounts to martial arts, and while we do see that it requires effort at certain points, exhaustion never plays the large cost-like role that we see in The Wheel of Time or The Belgariad, where overusing magic can kill you. Likewise, casting spells in Harry Potter very rarely seems to draw on the strength of the caster. There are vague lines in the books that refer to powerful spells requiring powerful magic, but it rarely acts as a true cost
to the witch or the wizard. The reason for this in both series, I think, is that their magic systems are restricted heavily by limitations rather than cost. Bending is limited pretty strictly by ability and practice, while magical ability is limited by knowledge and skill. It really just depends on which kind of rules you want your Hard magic system to rely on. Finally: You need to pick a style for your Hard magic system, and this can be a lot of fun. Typically speaking, Hard magic systems need to be more specific about this than Soft magic. Maybe you want a theurgical magic system, where your characters channel the power of Gods, angels, and demons — [Once more, with heart] — or maybe they need special magical devices, like various items of glamorous jewelry; or it requires blood and sacrifice; or maybe they’re tapping into the ubiquitous Force that permeates everything and everyone conveniently. I often find that writers focus on designing the style of their magic system more than the other parts we talked about before, and while it’s a lot of fun to design the aesthetics of it, it’s the — — that will play into the conflicts, problems, and character interactions of the story the most. But of course, as I always say, there’s no right way to write, and it’s all up to how you feel that you work best. These guidelines will work for some people,
and they won’t work for others. This is going to be a three-part writing series on magic systems, and next time, I want to talk to you about Soft magic systems: how to design them, and their place in your fictional, fantastical world. I hope this helped, and if it did, please give it a like and leave me a comment down below. My question of the day is:
What is your magic system like? How would you design one? If you like what I make, please consider
supporting me on Patreon for as little as $1.00. You can get early videos,
as well as plenty of other perks. In the meantime, come follow me
on Twitter, Wattpad, Facebook, email me stuff you’ve made at the address,
or links in the description below. That is all from me today. Stay nerdy, subfuries.
I will see you in the future.

100 thoughts on “On Writing: hard magic systems in fantasy [ Avatar l Fullmetal Alchemist l Mistborn ]

  1. I've got a video on writing stories with soft magic systems up next. I hope this video helped you in some way and that you're looking forward to the second part. I have to say – it was really fun to touch on stories I haven't talked about on my channel before. If you enjoyed this, then let me know of any other writing topics you'd like me to talk about down below. Question of the Day: What is your magic system like, or how would you design one? Stay nerdy!

    ~ Tim

  2. wait, are we talking about Brandon Sanderson, the author? if so, he's my absolute FAVORITE

  3. Tolkien could't have written a harder magic system. The dude is the godfather of modern fantasy, he literally invented elves, dwarves, and orcs as we know them today. Tolkien does a much better job explaining Gandalf and his power in his books than peter jackson does in the movies. Movie Gandalf is an adaptation MADE to be mysterious by the director because it enhances the movie experience. It would be great if you could make an edit to make a distinction between the two, or just say "…you've definitely seen this in Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings movies…".

  4. While your content is great, please avoid wasting half of the screen time dedicated to that one set of sketch. Due to excessive repetition, instead of complementing your narration, it is making the narrative an exhaustive monologue albeit pain to watch till the end. Its presence at the corner of the video, is more than enough

  5. I'm sorry if I'll make some mistakes in writing this comment, but English is not my first language. This video made me think a lot about the fantasy novel I'm trying to write and I really want to thank you. In my novel, there are some robot creatures with a human-like-look and, of course, every "type" of robot needs an energy source. In particular, there's a robot girl who has enemy blood as an energy source. In the video, you said that the characters must be aware of their location, so I immediately thought that, in an arctic setting, my robot girl will freeze and be totally unable to fight because the blood inside her will be turning to ice because of the low temperatures. I've never really thought about the weaknesses that my characters can get from the locations, so I really have to thank you; with this tip in mind, I'll be more careful in using this rule to give a more realistic feeling to my novel.

  6. Please remember to take action against the climate and ecological crises today fellow humans

  7. Please remember to take action against the climate and ecological emergencies today fellow humans

  8. Hello future you! Haha I was wondering if you could please put together a video about cyberpunk and or technology worlds and how they operate (and even good source material like shows, graphic novels, movies etc.) or link some previous videos of yours if you’ve already done this. I’m in the midst of planning a book at the moment and I love you’re channel and content, this would be a super helpful video for me! Love your work and also planning on buying your book! Thank you!

    the Steel Ministry has blocked this message

  10. Harry Potter:(casting magic) "It's pinned to.. My Scrotuuuuuummm!!"

  11. I had an idea for a magic system that arose from getting mad at Scarlet Witch and other super-heroes who have the ever-vague ability of "eNerGy MAniPuLaTIon."
    What does that mean? Where does the eNerGy come from? What kind of eNerGy is it? How is it being manipulated? Can they do it indefinitely? Nobody knows!
    What I did was think about what using eNerGy might actually entail, instead of one big hand wave.
    What I came up with is that magic people can make fire, move things around, heat stuff up, cool things down, manipulate brain-stuff, and make lightning. However, to do any of that they need a source of another kind of energy to do it. You wanna light someone on fire, or fly? You'll need another source of heat to draw on, or something generating kinetic energy like a river, or even the force of gravity. If they wanna freeze someone, they need to draw the heat out of their body and move it somewhere else, r change it into a different kind of energy. If something is moving very fast towards them, like an arrow, the can stop it in midair, but they'll have to do something with all that energy that was propelling the arrow. They could shatter the arrow by doing nothing with the energy, or if they're creative, send the arrow whizzing back at the archer. If they wanna erase someone's memories, mind-control them, or manipulate their perceptions, they'll need to move around electrical energy in the brain.
    The costs I came up with are as follows: If you are distracted, you could accidentally draw energy from your own body and start to lose body heat. You need a source, otherwise you could draw from yourself or other's around you, and that would be very unpleasant indeed. The other big cost is that magic itself can do very strange things to your body, and you need to limit how much cool stuff you're doing, unless you want cancer or three arms. Magic is great, but it isn't harmless, and using it too often slowly mutates you. If you're lucky, your eyes will fall out and you'll just go on living. If you're unlucky, you'll be transformed into a hideous, mutated blob of cancer and too-many eyes.
    So there you go. The limits of this power are only how creative a magic-person can get with where they get their energy from. Some of them live in volcanoes so they have a lot of heat energy to draw on, others pitch themselves off of cliffs to kinetic energy, one dude even tried to harness the power of the sun. It didn't go well. If someone wanted to, they could even use the movement of the earth rotating to do cool stuff.
    Did I do good? Please exploit as many loopholes as you can, I want to know what I missed.

  12. “It’s a good thing I’m immune to silver bullets in human form then”

  13. Hey so I am writing a novel with both Angels and Demons but I want to create a hard magic system for my characters. Do you have some tips that will help me out?

  14. For the magic systems I'm using my story, I'm sort of mixing mana fatigue along with needing to understand how the spell works, mental association (AKA chants), and some Pokemon/Jojo style countering.

    For example, for one of Fairy Tail fanfics, I had a character who used magic bullets. However, his opponent had the ability to see a few seconds into the future, so he could easily evade the bullets.

    Also, while a wizard can increase their inner mana reserves by training, all of that means nothing in my systems if they can't figure out to properly utilize it.

  15. I think mocking the writing style of TLotR and by extension, J.R.R Tolkien himself, is a sign mental fragility, as well as, a failure to understand writings beyond one's ken.

  16. instead of a "wizard did it", Gandalf barely has any magic.
    Light up crystalt. Weaken the bridge. A shield. Heat metal. Ligh aura. Lightbeam. Aaaaand thats it. In 3 movies.
    GtW was supposed to replace Saruma, who was Sauron's equal, if I remember correctly. The entire world on the brink of destruction because of someone who can only do that much, and because that much is considered near almighty in that setting, it makes the entire world feel weak.

  17. A really awesome example of cost in a hard magic system is used in Divinity: Original Sin 2. A main drive of the story is that you're a "sourceror" who can use a special, more powerful type of magic called "source magic". Source, strictly speaking, is the magical essence that makes the gods divine and immortal beings. As you progress, you need to find tutors who can help you expand your "well" of source, allowing you to use stronger source magic and progressing the story. Each tutor has specifically associated costs that they inform you about before they impart their knowledge. For example: one draws the life force from all of the wildlife in the forest, killing every single animal and removing your ability to speak with them permanently (if you had it). Another siphons the captured souls of all those whose bodies reside in his graveyard, destroying them to empower you. Yet another tells you to consume the heart of a voidwoken, horrid creatures from beyond the veil whose very presence corrupts the natural elements, etc. etc.

    I found it really interesting.

  18. Even in the real world there is hard magic. The potergiest phenomenon has limitation.

  19. So in a small summary.Hard magic is specific to the viewers while soft magic is random.🤔 ☺️☺️☺️

  20. Could you please do a video on Hunter x Hunter’s magic system? Great video!

  21. Anyone here read Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles)? I feel like it uses a very odd combination of both soft and hard magic, and while you would think that wouldn’t work, it is actually my favorite magical world, and I was curious what other people think of it

  22. 10:12
    Replace "manipulating the element of earth" with "any arcane magic" and you basically have the Dark Sun setting. The whole world is a wasteland because wizards were dicks, in a nutshell.

  23. You missed an awesome and very deeply explained magic system in anime: hunter X’s Nen!

  24. real shame you didn't include Hunter X Hunter, nen is probably the best example of a hard magic system.

  25. Voldemort had to split his soul every time he came back from the dead, so he loses a piece of himself just like Beric

  26. I liked the magic system in the Night Circus, I guess it was sort of halfway between hard and soft because parts of it were well defined with limitations and weaknesses and other parts were unpredictable and varied depending on the character's emotions and the situation. There's no "we must save the world!" or evil villain in the story though, the whole drama and tension is based around who will win a bet 2 magicians make on their apprentices, the consequences of the bet, and the relationships between the characters.

  27. Dungeons and Dragons is an example of a hard magic system. All the spells are clearly laid out in writing, and spellcasters can only use a certain amount of spells everyday. There are also spells that require material components.

  28. Limit your magic? MANA!
    Aka the answer to almost every magic system in games. Unless they use cooldowns. God I hate cooldowns…

  29. The limitations thing has always been a big thing for me. How come just about every hero that can fly seems to be immune to the wind ripping off their flesh (even without a suit of iron or being from another planet)? I think more flying heroes should be limited to speeds that the human body can actually handle. I also think it would be more interesting if you had them confined to the atmosphere where a human can actually breathe (seriously, enough with the flying next to airplanes thing), and have their top flight speed limited to their top running speed. I know super-powers might not count as magic to everyone, but the same principles should apply.

  30. Talking about a "hard" magic system and playing Akabur's Witch Trainer background music… Well, I guess, I understand that hard-soft system already

  31. I find that a good way that I keep track of how much magic costs is to assign each character a number (kinda like a stat in DND) and then have each spell cost a certain amount and then keep track of how much magic they use by subtracting the spell cost from they’re magically ability and that keeps me from going too far and making the magic system seem random.

  32. Avatar the last Airbender doesn't have magic. The writer's made that pretty clear is the first ep

  33. The Magicians probably has one of the hardest magic systems at the start, but that breaks down a bit over time.

  34. As a fullmetal alchemist brotherhood fan , this video made me very happy

  35. Finally, a Inheritance cycle (Eragon- inheritance) comment in a video.
    AWSOME book series

  36. What if you have a magic system that can basically let the user do everything they want, but they have to be dead for it to work. And no, zombies aren't a thing. So it's basically useless.

  37. In asoiaf magic actually cost life or blood sacrifices. And all spells and invocation depend of the ambiguous intention of that proper deity or demon. An example of that is beric dondarrion is alive just to resurrect lady catelyn and then dies definitely. Mellisandre need to burn people or royal blood to make magic. The rule is if you want to make magic in asoiaf you need a proper sacrifice to a proper god. And that's not even a warranty

  38. In my long-term RP with a friend, our magic system has varied limitations, with each person having their own inherent level of aptitude which cannot be altered except by the acquisition of a unique being that only one person can have at any given time, and who require a particular aptitude to obtain in the first place. But even within each person's aptitude, what and how much they can do depends upon skill, training, and/or natural talent. There's a large variety of powers to be learned, but each person will have a limit to how many varied powers they can learn before their ability to learn more is tapped out. So there is some occasional 'I learned new power conveniently when needed'…but rarely and limited to the young who will not have yet learned all they can, as the ability to learn more can also stagnate with age…so no "i'm saving my powers to see what I'll need later". And those who learn on the fly will still be stuck with whatever power they attained and never able to exchange it for a new one.
    The cost is that sort of vague 'exhaustion' system, but it's vague even to those who wield the magic, only knowing that too much can kill them, and because they don't know the limits themselves, they limit their own use themselves out of caution, and will typically stop the moment they begin to feel any signs of exhaustion to avoid the risk of dying…again with each person having their own inherent limits on how much they can and can't use before they begin to tire.
    Those with the 'unique being' gain sort of one-time powers, and there's where the 'back from the dead' magic falls. Magic that brings people back from death comes at the cost of a multitude of living souls needing to be sacrificed to attain ONE in return, and once the power is used cannot be used by that person ever again, regardless of them having the unique being.

  39. Hard magic systems are awsome Harry potter seems pretty soft in my opinion lord of the rings you have to be a avatar of the host to do magic or a created race gifted it by your avatar. Which is also soft. Dresden files by jim butcher the craft sequence by max gladstone very hard magic there. Its more of a bell curve for me. Casting without a wand was obvious the wand like any foci is a mental cruch the magic being in your blood or channelled through it the wand is a single point a wizard can focus on to guide there will. It's also sort of like a convention to make the practice of magic uniform.

    The wand also has its own native magic which acts like a beacon to the user. It's what I read most days is hard syfy or urban fantasies. Theres the iron druid chronicles which has a toss up of magic systems that follow basic principles. Harry potter seems vague to me and im kinda disapointed there are little to no no wand spell slingers like wizards who were born to normal parents and developed based on practical experimentation. Don't even need the latin either apparently it's like teaching somone how to street fight based on sports dueling.

  40. What people need to understand about magic systems most of the time in anime (specifically Shonen) is that the magic system is primarily used for combat/ fight scenes.
    Like Bleach, Naruto, HxH, Shaman King, and even FMA uses its “magic” for fight scenes to make fights more unique and engaging.

  41. I’m glad wheel of time got a shout out! One of the best fantasy series out there!

  42. SPOILERS… duh

    I feel like The Young Elites did this really well. Each Malfetto aligned with certain gods that represent emotions like fear and joy. Someone aligning with joy is weaker in times of sadness and turmoil. Adelina and her sister both align with fear because of their father, so they are most dangerous in frightful situations. The problem with Adelina was that she also aligned with hatred and anger, as well as fear, which is a dangerous combination. In The Midnight Star, the powers of each character starts killing them. Adelina loses her mind, Violetta falls ill, Maeve loses her grip on the people she brought back from the dead, and a bunch of other amazing stuff happens. There was one part of the story that felt a little forced, but the conclusion was epic and the characters were resolved in the most satisfying way possible

  43. Best hard magic system I've seen : "Super Powereds" book series by Drew Hayes. Clearly explained rules with good balance makes for satisfying problem resolution.

  44. You name dropped FMA Brotherhood but your example came from OG FMA. I am offended.

  45. So interesting! Never thought about hard/soft magic much before. Thanks for the informative and educational video man 🙂

  46. Thank you so much for this! I'm an aspiring fantasy writer, and I've been struggling for a long while now on how to make the magic system in my world feel more 'realistic' and keep from feeling too much like a quick solution. This really helped me a lot.

  47. For another example you could look at "Darker than Black", there anyone who wants to use their contracted power has to pay some price pr use
    one guy for instance needs to break a finger pr use of his power
    another is extremely anti smoking and he has to smoke 1 cigarette pr power use
    The prices can be anything and you might be able to give some more insightful takes on that magic system than I.

  48. My favorite magic system is from the Valdemar novels by Mercedes Lackey. In Valdemar, magic exists invisibly unless a person or creature has a natural talent for seeing it and flows through the world like water. There is a little bit everywhere and anyone can learn to use that basic amount but generally it collects in streams and rivers. Where two or more rivers intersect they create a node. Magic users are classified by the level of magic they can handle. Apprentices for tiny streams and ambient magic. Journeymen who can channel rivers and Adepts who can harness nodes. Magic is limited by the amount of power a spell takes, the available power, the natural limitations and skill of the magic user.
    There are instances of Journeymen defeating Adepts because of a large difference in skill despite the Adepts massive power reserves!

  49. I just noticed that eragon's magic system is basically just computer coding, but for reality. Like, phrasing something wrong causes a 'bug'(be a shield instead of be shielded) , and sometimes a crash(death). It also requires a in depth knowledge of a specific language and syntax is imperative. So basically they're the most accurate hacking scenes (that are still fun).

  50. I can't believe there are no mentions of Pat Rothfuss' King Killer series. The hard magic system in that is phenomenal! Well defined, there are costs and limitations, and the rules are clearly explained to the reader right at the onset.

  51. Everytime gandalf showed up I died laughing for some reason I never sawit coming and then all of a sudden there was and there was the horn hahaahaha

  52. So what is the Nen system from HxH, it has all the rules, restrictions and complexity, but with seemingly infinite creativity

  53. And then there's HxH who says fuck this hard system Imma include specialists and it's frickin amazing.

  54. my magic system works via enviroment some magics are more effective in place A rather tha place B as its using that places matriels to work

  55. I still try to think up a system were magic can actualy BE magic and exist on breaking reality and logic into pieces.
    The problem of course is allways the power factor. *sigh

  56. For the best in limitations costs and vows look no further than Yoshihiro Togashi's HunterxHunter. Jojos is a nice runner up too :^)

  57. What is the title if that book in between the Avatar and Fullmetal on the magic chart and 2:23

  58. My favorite use of hard magic is in video games, where you have a resource and you run out and then you have to figure out another way to win a difficult battle, or just drop your hands and accept your fate.

  59. I'm late to the party but skulduggery pleasant earth magic has massive drawbacks often being cited as a last resort as shown when one character uses earth magic to avoid death by becoming a statue at the cost of being stuck like this until it is reverted by means that aren't discovered until 2 years later in fact it is mentioned that there is a storage for people this has happened to.

  60. Best Magic system I've ever seen/read was from "The Lightbringer" by Brent Weeks. It's also probably the most original.

  61. My magic system is kind of based on avatar and World of warcraft. There are three types of magic; Creation magic, Elemental magic, and Arcane magic. Creation magic does what it says on the tin, someone who is able to wield it can create things using their own life force. Elemental magic can manipulate things that are already made, who's cost is neutral, and Arcane magic is used to destroy things that were created, returning some of the life force used to create it. Most people can only use one form of magic.

    Everything in my setting was created and shaped with these three types of magic by very powerful beings. Those beings how ever, didn't know about the costs of using the magic and eventually devolved into elves over millennia.

  62. I prefer hard magic systems, simply because the plot tends to make more sense when this is used. Soft magic systems are often to cover up poor writing. But having a defined magic system is only part of the issue. The other is related to conservation of energy. An act of magic requires energy, thus its seems reasonable that someone can only expend a level of energy related to the energy within a person. A real life example is the ability to use a sword, this requires skills and the energy required to wield the sword. A magic example is the ability to pick up a huge stone and to throw it. This requires an amount of energy beyond what a normal person could do thus when it occurs it loses some credibility. Skill and exhaustion must always be a factor, as doing any non-magic act would be, but considering energy is another critical factor.

  63. watch hunter X hunter it's system of covenant and restriction is pretty in depth I always call it a smart Dragon ball Z.

  64. anyone interested in this video should also read the broken earth trilogy, which handles the rules of its magic system in really interesting ways.

  65. if you think avatar and fullmetal alchemist have really good hard magic systems, you should read Leigh Bardugo's book. they all take place in the 'grishaverse" and the grisha magic system is a hard magic system that is just flawless. It's called the Small Science because its not really magic, they can only manipulate what is already there. and the whole theory of the Small Science is that "like calls to like"

  66. LOTR magic is well described in the books from tolkien and other work from him…
    you should do better research.

    the rest of the video is fine. avatar was well explained by you.

  67. Hey yall. If ur a fan of sanderson, read will wight. Thanks. Will get buried (pun intended) but at least i tried

  68. Gandalf is a part-god immortal creature taking a human form. He is conflicted about the fate of middle earth and technically should only be an adviser, but he says "screw the rules, I'm helping my friends and this world." As far as his magic goes – he uses Light and Fire. He can't pull a rabbit out of his metaphorical and literal hat for every scenario. Although it is a soft magic system, I wouldn't call it "the softest". Maybe I should have saved this comment for the other video, but oh well…

  69. In Avatar, what happens if two people from different nations have children? Which element could they bend or would they be able to do both of their parents’ bending?

  70. Just found this channel. Damn it helpful, started to try writing a fantasy ss but really dont know how to develope the mc power. Real helpful, I hope you do other writing video also. One more subs for you man, great work.

  71. Thank you for the video, it was very interesting. Im working on a pen and paper system and all the considerations you mentioned were very important for us, too. I feel for pen and paper the magic system has to be very good designed because many players enjoy the role of a mage and they want to cast powerful spells a lot, because its fun. On the other hand You as the system creator have to balance it very carefuly because you have to avoid the “the wizard did it“ moments. The mages should shine in some moments, but not all the time.
    We solved the problem by designing spells relatively weak, so a mage can cast a lot without draining a lot of mana. But the power of the spells is low. If the mage wants to shine by casting a mighty spell, he has to increase the power by draining himself a lot of mana. By doing that we ensured that a mage can decide if he wants to cast a lot of weak spells or a few powerful ones, when they are needed to solve a key problem.
    Have a good day!

  72. How to design a hard magic system:
    1. Predictability

    2. Limitations

    3. Weaknesses

    4. Cost

    5. Style

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