So you want to use Elemental magic in your story?

Vivi from FF9

Vivi from FF9

Last week I talked about elements in fiction. Today, I’ll make that helpful . . . entertaining . . . I promised a list, so I’m going to do it. Don’t say I never deliver even if the end result makes dogs howl at the moon. Sorry. That’s my excuse for avoiding karaoke.  Now on to the sane stuff.

  1. Have some rational reason for when one element will trump another. You can go easy with ‘water puts out fire’ or go different with ‘fire evaporates water’. This tends to be a ‘rock-paper-scissors’ type of deal to avoid one element being stronger than the other, but this is only for combat magic.
  2. Not every spell has to be an attack one. Air spells have flight and shields. Water spells can help cross a desert.  Fire spells can create light.  Earth spells . . . can be used to turn a regular bed into a massaging one.  My point is that you need to think beyond offense with these things. Magic is also defensive and helpful outside of the battlefield.
  3. Remember what happens to various materials when they interact with certain elements. Specifically, fire can ignite flammable items and water can destroy delicate materials.  Air can toss lightweight things around too.  Earth . . . can knock over an expensive vase.
  4. There is a difference between magically created elements and their natural counterparts. The latter can be handled easier than the former. A regular bucket of water can douse natural fire, but won’t get very far with magical fire. After all, if you can defeat a dragon’s flame with the local well then it isn’t that big a danger.  This isn’t to say a lot of water can’t do the job like ducking the beast into the ocean.
  5. Everyone laughs at the one who masters Earth magic.  At least until they’re swallowed by the very ground they’re standing on.
  6. Mix and match elements for interesting creatures and spells.  A flaming bolt of lightning can take a lot out of a caster, but the effect is worth it.  This can be done with defenses and other spells too.  Though it really depends on your system.
  7. Try to figure out if an alcohol-based spell school would be from water or earth.  I guess it depends on the potency.
  8. Just have fun and forget the rules.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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18 Responses to So you want to use Elemental magic in your story?

  1. I think the only time we have to follow rules is after we’ve alread built something into a story. Other than that, we get to make stuff up.

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  2. Interesting post. There are so many angles to consider. Good food for thought.

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  3. I had to laugh out loud at this line “Everyone laughs at the one who masters Earth magic. At least until they’re swallowed by the very ground they’re standing on.”

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  4. A class full of kindergartners would love rule #8. 🙂

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  5. L. Marie says:

    I’d love that massaging bed! If I had to pick an element type, I’d go earth.
    People laughed at me for playing Pokémon, but the game is a good way to practice battling with elements. 🙂

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  6. >Everyone laughs at the one who masters Earth magic. At least until they’re swallowed by the very ground they’re standing on.<

    Or until there's famine and only the Earth wizards have a good crop coming in..

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    • Good point. I always wondered if that would be earth or water wizards. Maybe life wizards. So many things seem to be multiple elements in fiction. Funny how we still try to categorize things though.

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  7. Great post Charles, this just shows how much planning needs to go into this type of fiction. With that many possible elements involved it obviously can be both difficult and confusing.

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