World Building: Magic, Getting Started

worldbuilding: magic

I feel like I say “things to consider” in almost every post. Perhaps I’m a terrible writer, but either way, I know world building and in this post I shall impart some of the jewels in the crown that is; creating a brilliant magic system.




  • Origin
  • Capacity
  • Who?

First thing to work out is the origin of magic in the world. Keep in mind that it is perfectly fine to say “it’s just there” but to better understand your own magic system there are a few questions you should answer that will help give your magic depth:

  1. Where did it come from? Do people know its origin?
  2. Who discovered it? – Was there an ancient wizard? A demi-god?
  3. How long have the races in your world been using it?
  4. Is it considered good or evil?
  5. Why is it considered good or evil?
  6. Does it come from something, or someone? eg. Winds of Magic (Warhammer), The true source (Wheel of Time).
  7. Are items required to use it? Wand (harry potter), crystal ball (that creepy woman at the carnival).
  8. How is it controlled? Mental, hand gestures, voice, items?

The uses of your magic, or magic’s capacity is another extremely important thing to consider. You need to give characters a level cap, so to speak, and you also need to have room to grow. A magic user who just discovers their power need to learn how to use it, or perhaps control it. There are some questions to ask yourself about the capacity of your magic.

  1. What can your magic do? Break mountains, cause rainstorms, move things around? Generate a list of stuff that people in your world do with magic. But keep in mind that this is a loose set of guidelines and not a strict can or can’t system.
  2. How is use attained? Is the person simply gifted? Is it taught? Little form column A, little from column B?
  3. How do they improve? Practice harnessing the powers or do they read spell books and learn new things?

Who uses your magic? It was a question answered loosely in the capacity section but I wanted to go more in depth. Can the magic in your world be taught to any old joe? Can it be used by anyone who possesses a certain item? Are wizards a secret order? Or does everyone know (and perhaps fear) them?

Hopefully you took something from this piece, maybe even got a few ideas for your current project. What do you think?

Thanks for reading,




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