Tag Archives: Fantasy

Megaladon [Flash Fiction]

Ocean swells over four meters tossed the timber long boat from left to right. The Watchmen, Hans, son of Vorge’s thick, furry hands gripped the figurehead as the sea crashed across the bow.

“Heave,” came the cry from the back of the ship. They had taken in sail and lowered the oars. The team of Nordemen rowed in perfect rhythm. “Heave.”

Lightning broke across the deepened blue clouds as rain begun to spray on the crew. “Heave.” Hans grit his teeth and held on tight, his fur cap flapped in the wind.

They had been sailing south for nearly eight days. Their target, the Southern Grasslands and the bounty of its arable lands. In the north they had no crops, and raising livestock was tough even in a long summer.

Hans knuckles whitened as he gripped the bow. Another wave crashed across the figurehead, sprayed his matted beard and stung his eyes.

“Brother,” Hans shouted back as a wooly man with a thick jaw responded from the side-mounted rudder at the stern with a nod. Hans continued, “Something roams these waters.”

“What do you see, Hans.”

“Top fin, near the size of our ship!”

The eyes of the crew shot wide as they continued to pull on the oars. As one man dropped his oar, Hans’ brother was on him. “Row you dog, the sea witch toys with us. There is no beast! Row!”

The crew grunted as they heaved, and the ship cut along the ridge of a towering swell. “Harpoon!” Hans cried as not more than twelve meters to his right, a beast the size of a house tore up out of the ocean. It broke through the surface and with what almost sounded like a wolf’s growl it flipped in the air then fell back into the deep.

His brother hurled Hans a two meter harpoon. He cut the rope that tethered it to the ship with his short sword, and locked the figurehead of the boat between his thighs.

Sweat mixed with sea water as the Hans raised the spear and beast revealed itself once more. What it looked for he did not know, but first the tip of its nose appeared, followed by a hollow black eye the size of a man’s fist. Thousands of teeth came forth from its gums as Hans stared straight down its pinkish throat.

He steeled himself. Kissed the rune of water that hung around his neck, his muscles tautened as he hurled the harpoon. It soared through the deepened sky and embedded itself in the animal’s gullet. The beast twisted fiercely. It would not die, but perhaps the wound was enough to scare it off. The creature descended into the abyss once more and Hans grit his teeth. Despite of the darkness he could still see the animals shadow beneath the surface of the water.

Hans called for another harpoon.

—-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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World Building: Miracle Magic

handmade jewelleryIf you’ve got gods in your world, chances are you have magic. Herein I’m going to give you the tools necessary to develop an in-depth god-based magic system for your fantasy world. A “Miracle” based magic system works better when you have multiple gods, because it allows you to assign a different school of magic to a different god. In my world [Etheros] there are 5 gods; Wind, Water, Stone, Fire, Life (very captain planet) and each one gifts its chosen in different ways.

The first thing you need to know is; who are your gods? I’ll be writing a separate section on manufacturing religions in world building, but for now, I leave that up to you. But consider what role your gods have played in the world, and what they represent. The god of love is not going to rain hell fire on one of her disciples enemies.

Forgetting Monotheism

Monotheism is a religion that worships a single deity, and unless you are creating a Christian fantasy I would recommend avoiding mono-theism. When creating a magic system powered by gods, there needs to be rituals and homage paid to a god to generate the desired spell. If you have a single god, it could get confusing for the reader.

Questions to answer

You need to answer the same questions that apply to every other article on world building magic, but there are a few extras when creating deity powered magic.

  • Ceremonies – Does calling on the gods for magic require a ceremony?

  • Homage – Human or animal sacrifice? Acts that the god likes?

  • Commune – Do characters speak with the gods? Do the gods talk back?

  • Will of the Gods – How much of the god’s own will a part of the magic system? In Etheros, magic combines all the systems, and is believed to be the will of the gods. Though, it may not be. I leave it up to the reader to decide whether the gods are real, or whether it is the belief of the people in Etheros.

  • Personality of the Gods – Is the god jealous? Tricky? How does that effect the way in which magic is used.

The limitations of miracle magic is defined by the strength of your gods. Can your gods shift mountains? Split the earth? Part seas? They do require some limitation though, which you can define by the characters connection to the god. Which is why I would advocate using a commune or ceremony to invoke magic of your gods. So unless your character has eighty goats handy, he won’t be able to lay waste to an entire army.

What do you think about miracle based magic systems? I actually don’t know of any outside of Norse, Greek and Roman mythology. Have you read a book where the gods where the source of magic wielded by the people? What did you think of it?

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

 

Old Magics [Flash Fiction]

flash fiction“Geoffrey, I have found another one,” Erys called from across the dig sight. The lean archaeologist stood up and ran her thumb across the stone. Round, and smooth, it sat in the palm of her hand, smooth imagery depicting a crescent, wrapped around a circle had been carved into its face. She had not seen one like this yet.

Geoffrey marched across the site, he hopped over a ditch and rounded a boulder at the centre. The crew of ten Mes Leonirian archaeologists had stopped work and slowly meandered toward the young woman who held the rune stone.

Erys handed it to the man and Geoffrey took out his looking glass. A steel disk, a little bigger than a man’s hand with a magnifying class set at its middle. “I have never seen this rune before,” he said.

The crowd murmured and nodded their heads. The dig sight, some sixty leagues north of Stena had been filled with these things. The sight of a High Elven tower during the immortal age, the budding historians had expected to find swords, gleaming armour and beautiful artwork. But, amidst the rocks, all they had found was more rocks.

“Put it with the others,” Erys said.

Geoffrey nodded as he wiped the rune stone on his cloak. His brow furrowed as he looked at it and turned away as the group went back to their work.

They had a pile of them, thirty, maybe more. The rune of fire, stone, water, wind, strength, sleep, longevity, life and even beer. They were dwarven relics, and their purpose seemed purely ornamental. “Maybe we can sell them,” Geoffrey called as he walked.

Erys laughed. “Perhaps, but they belong to the university now. They will probably release them once–” Erys trailed off and she dropped her pick onto the dusty ground.

The entire dig sight went silent as they looked to Geoffrey who stood over the pile of rune stones. All now glowed. Reds, greens, blues, purples, they lit up like a Summer’s End festival night.

“What is –” Geoffrey started but was cut off by a flash of light. Out of the pile it curved, like a fat, luminous serpent, then spread itself like frayed leather. The lights danced across the dusty ground, assailing the archaeologists. They turned to run, but as the light streaks hit them, they fell to the ground.

Silent as they grave they fell. Erys ran, her hips swayed and her arms pounded. Tears welled in her eyes. She did not want to die, were they dead? A read serpentine light streak coiled itself around her leg. She shrieked. It wrapped itself around her body before working its way into her screaming mouth. As it did, her vision faded to black.

—-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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Quote Coupon Code CORTEZWP and get 25% off any of my stuff. [ends June 1st (tomorrow) 2013]

World Building: Caster Magic

worldbuilding: magicCaster magic is by far the most common form of magic in fantasy writing. Throughout this post I am going to give you ideas, and a things you need to solidify when creating a magic system that is hinged by the people who use it.

The first thing, which was detailed in my last post “World Building: Magic, getting started” is to decide who uses the magic. Everyone? A select few? A chosen one? In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, only women can use magic, while men go insane when they harness it. There are two major factors in developing caster magic;

  • How is it used?

  • The spells

The how needs to be answered first and foremost. How do wizards or witches; warlocks or liches utilize the magic in your world? Beneath is a list of different method that can, and have been used in fantasy.

  • Vocal – Power words, incantations. If your spells need to be vocalised you also need to actually write what needs to be said. Tips for writing incantations:

    • Maintain a theme within incantations. Take Rowling’s Harry Potter as an example. The spells have a whimsical, Latin feel to them.

    • Consider having the incantation imply the effect of the magic – Lumos [Harry Potter] illuminates their wands. Luminous means lit.

  • Tool – Do your characters require a item to utilise magic? Be it a wand, a book, some other item of power [see Item Magic].

  • Ingredients – Do the spells require any special ingredients. Powders, leaves.

  • Gestures – This is a tricky one to write. If you put in a complex list of hand gestures, people will lose track of what the characters are actually doing.

    • KISS it [Keep it Simple Stupid]

    • Use simple gestures

    • Use blanket terms e.g. Peter’s hands moved all about in all directions, before flame sprung from his finger tips.

Creating spells is fun, and to be perfectly honest I would recommend you write them into your story as necessary. Creating a list of spells is a great way to better understand your magic system, though. But it should act as more of a guide to creating spells as you write, as opposed to an end-all list of what a magician can or can’t do.

  • Purpose of the Spell – What does it do? Why would you use it?

  • Who can use it – Does your character need to be a skilled mage to use this spell? Or will a young, new wizard be able to use it?

  • Gesture(s) or incantation or tool required.

  • Ingredients (if any)

These are just a few of the things one needs to consider when developing caster magic. It is a massively complex process but this is a good starting point. Once the initial set of articles are up, I will be going more in depth into each element of caster magic (eg. Ingredients, tools, etc).

Hopefully you learnt something that you can apply to your own world building exercises.  Is there anything you would add?

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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,

Cortez

 

World Building: Magic

worldbuilding: magicSo your world has wizards? Where does their magic come from? I dunno, and you need to tell me. In this post I’m going to give you some of the tools necessary to create a solid magic system for your world. This will be a five part piece, covering everything from developing spells to how it works.

To start things off, you first need to decide what kind of magic your world has in it, so, to make things easy I’ve broken down every kind of magic that exists! I’m just kidding, but here are some loose categories:

Miracle Magic

Mircle magic is any type of magic that involves gods. I don’t necessarily mean the christian god mind you. I consider the magic in the world of Etheros (my world) to be miracle magic, because it is used by communing with one of the five gods.

Caster Magic

Incendio! Caster magic, is magic that is cast by a magic user. Caster magic is seen in Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons, Pratchet’s work, and well nearly every piece of fiction that shows off a wizard. It is also one of the most complicated forms to make believable, but don’t fret, there is a full guide in store!

Item dependant Magic

Enchanted items that are used to make magic, if your wizards require wands, you have an item dependant magic system.

Elemental Magic

Earth, fire, wind, water, heart, go planet! Elemental magic is any kind of magic born from one of earth’s resources. If you are developing an elemental magic system, try to think outside of the box. What about wood magic?… Fear the incredible ability to make a table…

Creating a solid, believable magic system is the true sign of a master fantasy author. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series has the best explained system of magic I’ve ever read. George R.R. Martin depicts it as almost superstitious, and Rowling makes it exciting and hidden.

If you want magic in your world, even if you do not explain it to the reader, you must solidify how it and why it works in your own mind. If not, you will have one wizard capable of bending time itself and another unable to start a small fire. You need limits, and you need the power to grow. It is the reason RPG video games are so popular.

Over the following days I will go over techniques you can use to add validity and realism (such a funny word to use here) when developing your magic system.

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

Life bringer [Flash Fiction]

flash fiction

Mikel’s frail form heaved with each heavy cough. His mother, Lian, pressed a handkerchief to his mouth, but once she removed it, it was stained red. She grimaced beneath deep brown eyes and wiped sweat from her brow.

The boy’s fever had only gotten worse since he awoke in the middle of the night less than a week before. Wracked with pain, he cried out that creatures crawled under his skin. But he made no cries any more. Either he had grown accustomed to the pain of Red Crawl Fever or the parsites had burrowed deeper, and he would pass during the night.

Mikel’s mother folded the handkerchief and patted him on the head, when a knock finally came at the door. She had sent of the life-bringer, an eccentric healer. Considered a hack, and a con-man by many, but there was no know cure for the Crawl, and Lian would try anything.

She opened the door.

Because of a hunch, the life bringer stood shorter than five feet, his staff in one hand and leather satchel slung over his shoulder. His moustache bristled as he scratched his grey stubble and frowned at Mikel who lay with his eyes shut on the bed.

“How long –” Lian started.

“Leave us,” The life bringer said.

Every motherly instinct in the broad woman told her not to, but leave she did.

—-

No noise came from within the locked room. No talk, no scratching and no coughs. It felt like years before the life bringer finally emerged.

His staff dragged along the floor as he stepped from the room. His bones creaked and his moustached bristled as he shook his head. “I have done all I can.”

“What – What have you done? Will he live.”

The man scratched his stubble. “He may. If he survives the night, then he will live. Do not touch him, though you make speak with him. He should have strength enough for that.”

Lian fought back tears, but thanked the life bringer. She stepped into the room to see Mika, still in bed but breathing easily. She stepped to his side and looked down at his closed eyes, around his neck hung a stone amulet with rune of life emblazoned on it. It glowed dimly in the candlight, a light green light illuminating the child’s palid face.

“Duos, help me,” Lian said softly, then sat on the small timber stool next to the bed.

——-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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