Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thought of the day, There are no Magicians in Harry Potter

A common question from my play testers and groups is : Can I do X in your game? how would that work?

I've said it a few times, I developed the system to be compatible with all known books on the subject, and am constantly updating, tweaking the parts that I know I haven't spent a lot of time on.

Train hormonal teenagers with nuclear level powers? I don't think so
I have also vocalised my dislike for the Harry Potter system/world, reducing magic to a school subject that children learn is probably the reason why the world is in such peril to begin with, As I belong more to the group that prefer Gandalf and Merlin style worlds, the rare few that can truly understand magic, while a handful of hedge wizards scramble around with a few rabbits & hats.

But all that changed when someone asked, If all systems can fit in your system..

How does Harry Potter match your system...?

The discussion started with how mages cast spells.

Firstly there is conjuration, the usage of 'mage power' or 'mana', difficult to master, rare to be a master in. We don't see magic glowing from their fingers.. so thats not it.

Then there are incantations, The words of magic learnt by the mage, cause the spells to activate the inner magic or mana.. usually this is a string of variables infused into the magic, causing an algorhythm of magic to create the desired effects.. at first this looks like HP magic.. but it isn't, since the kids rarely create the spells, they merely say a final word.. 

But wait, isn't that (not actually vancian) D&D style 'activation' word? do the kids pre-cast their spells and then activate them? no..

 Ok, so Material spell components? I remember some classes being about potions and plants, but the bulk of wizards just wave a wand.. so surely then it must be..

Magical Items! Of course.. the Wands, magical items that store magic, and are used to focus spells or cast spells for the user.. quite often a wand has pre-built spells into them allowing lower level magic users access to a wider range of spells, rather than having them learn said spells over years and year.. Oh wait.. whats going on here... The wands.. they are 'chosen' to ensure the least dangerous effects to the child.. the wands cast spells that the kids say the 'activation word' for, the child never actually casts a spell, its always the wands.

Not only do the children use wands, adults do too, and have done for years.. the school has been around for centuries, they all have wands, it seems that only the goblins & house elves have anything to do with any real magic, and that appears to be limited (though wandless)

In Conclusion

I can only surmise that the Harry Potter world and its magics were somehow accessed by someone years ago, who had actual magic (Merlin?) and wanted to train the gifted into spell casters, but finding that humans for the most part divided into muggles, who were unable to use even wands, and mages who could, but couldn't be trusted to learn real magic, because its far too powerful, decided to ensure the survival of the species, by creating a society in which mages are 'shunted' off into the HP world, where the residual magics allow the fantastic creatures to exist, all spells have been 'pre-scribed' into wands, made by the goblins, allowing these mages 'magic' but in a controlled fashion.. and its been going on so long, no-one knows anymore that real magic can do so much more..

Maybe This guy is the "one"
Except maybe the guy stirring his coffee with his finger.. reading a book on time by stephen hawking


Greg Szulgit said...

Hi Bannister, You already know my thoughts on the ridiculousness of the magic in Harry Potter, but it's a question of target audience. Part of me wants to say that Rowling is an idiot because so much of her world is entirely nonsensical and not satisfying to me (Quiddich, by the way, is a rubbish game). The other part of me says that she's a genius because she matched her target audience to a tee. While hard-fantasy and sci-fi readers want well-conceived magic and science, the average 12 year old doesn't. If my rpg players were 12 years old, I might actually use her silly tropes. It would be truthi for the players.

Chris Gonnerman said...

My take has always been that established spells form a sort of metamorphic field. This is related to the concept of a morphic field, where the shapes of real living creatures are based on templates impressed into a higher-order reality. In the same way, ancient powerful wizards created spells, and by using them repeatedly impressed their form into the field. Use of these spell templates by gifted people (non-Muggles) is thus fairly easy; doing magic that is not part of the field is very hard, and only the most gifted and powerful can do it. Remember, Severus created Sectumsempra when he was a student... it was not pre-existing, or built into the wands. Harry was able to use the spell once he knew the word to activate it, but did not know what it would do until he tried it.

This explains the silliness of some of the words (Wingardium Leviosa, for instance)... the wizard who created the spell was whimsical, or perhaps a bit touched. The spells are chosen to be words not used normally, to prevent accidents.

On another front, Ollivander is said to be a maker, not just a seller, of wands. The wands are a tool to help the wizard control and direct the magic; it is indicated that casting spells without a wand is possible, but difficult.

Bannister Nicholas said...

Interesting points, thanks for your comment.