Need helping determining how magic works in my world


I have an unwritten, mostly unclear rule that magic is not something one can cast stealthy or in a low-key way. Magic is always presented as something that is uncommon and outside the normal order of things. I always ask the magic users in our groups to tell us the the hows of casting spells and what it is it that gives away a spell is about to be cast.

I was thinking about codifying the rule into some specifics. My first thought was that if magic is an unnatural occurrence in the world, that the mortal races have a sixth sense when magic is being manifested in an area around them.

Any ideas are welcomed.


It sounds like you’re mostly there already. If I were a player in your game, I’d wonder how big my magical “noise” radius is: NEAR? FAR? A mile? Is there a difference between WIS and INT magic?


In sticking within the ICRPG worlds you could force the use of the School of Yog (Core pg 47) and make Yog crystals rare and hard to keep items. Whenever casting, a Yog crystal needs to be in hand somehow and perhaps it glows brightly (red?) which would alert those near it that something magical is about to happen. Maybe it could also make some sort of ominous crystal sound?


I really like this idea! :+1: I use Yog crystals to lower the occurrence of magic in certain games and I’m going to incorporate the NEAR/FAR alerting concept now. Thanks, @Andreas !


Another question @slingstone brings up is, what do mortal races experience when they feel this sixth sense? Is it visual light, as in the yog crystals, or the Stormlight Archives? Is it a smell of ozone, like in Sabriel? Is it just a feeling of nails on a chalkboard?


I agree with @Andreas. You are almost there. If it helps, one thing I always ask my magic users, not clerics, but mages, wizards, and warlocks is to choose a sense detail to differentiate their magic from the rest. Examples include the smell of brimstone for warlocks, colored light or magical sigils for wizards, and loud bangs and zapps for mages. But it really depends on the individual player and his thoughts on the class type he wants to portray. Give the player the choice and you can never go wrong, just present them with some options as ideas and let them run with it.

I also agree with the range for detection, anyone within FAR should make a INT or WIS check to tell if they “sense” magic being used nearby. Maybe smaller less eventful spells are NEAR, but fireballs, lightining and the like are detectable at FAR… good food for thought on magic.


Was reading the responses and thinking about what people feel. Spine-tingling & goose bumps. As for how big the magical radius is - I’m thinking it does not go beyond a person’s immediate area. If someone is in the 2nd floor of a house and on the first floor someone is casting they get the spine-tingle/goose bumps, if magic is being used 2 houses down they don’t feel anything, depending on the magnitude of the magic being used.


Awesome discussion… i wanna say that i like the idea of certain magic being stealthy… like a wizard that is tied up but can wiggle his finger and make the key fliat thru the bars… or the whisper of a “charm” spell …but its a shot call… cant stealth a fireball


Make it so magic has to obey the laws of the universe. Conservation of matter and energy, action/reaction, etc. So when you use magic, there are side effects in the surrounding world. Use a fireball? It suddenly gets really cold and there’s a wind rushing towards the caster as the heat is being gathered. Try to cast lightning? Everyone’s hair stands on end and the caster starts to have a minor seizure. Healing? plants around the caster wither as he steals their life force to channel it into the target. Casting levitation? You feel really heavy for a moment as the caster slowly starts to rise.