Magic Schools Beyond the Norm

Rill from Black Clover

Two of the anime my son and I have watched are ‘Fairy Tail’ and ‘Black Clover’.  We finished the former and are halfway through the latter.  He loves these series because they have magic.  I enjoy them too.  It took me a long time to realize why I find these series fairly unique in terms of magic systems.  At least, when I compare them to what I’m used to seeing.

First, I’ll do a brief overview of these two examples:

Fairy Tail–  This is a world where a lot of people have magic.  Those who do can get trained and become wizards.  Once they are skilled enough, they join a guild or go solo.  Madcap hijinks ensue.  You have standard elemental stuff, but other things like word magic, dance magic, pulling equipment from a pocket dimension, and metal magic.  Even types that seem similar and somehow different.  So, you never know what’s going to turn up.

Black Clover–  This is a world where everyone has magic, except for the main character, but that’s not important here.  At age 15, a person will go to a ceremony and gain a grimoire, which gives them a type of magic.  There are the basics alongside cooking magic, wool magic, mirror magic, thread magic, ash magic, tree magic, and the list keeps going.  As you can see above, paint magic exists too.  That character can even change his magic to be the opposite element of whatever he is fighting.

So, what is the point I’m getting to with this post?

When writing fantasy, you don’t have to stick with the traditional magical styles.  You can use the elements and other commonly used types as a jumping point, but then you start running in a different direction.  This gives you a greater variety of caster types and you can make battles/adventures more interesting.  It’s not just a flinging of fireballs and lightning bolts like the old days.  The audience won’t know exactly what’s going to be flying around if the casters are so specialized.

The trick here is to think both small and big.  You need to take a single aspect of the world or a general concept.  Then, you need to expand it without hopping into other areas.  For example, taking heat magic instead of fire magic.  You can start coming up with different uses for heat without adding fire.  Starting off simple with heat bolts and heat barriers will get the ball rolling.  Then, you can have the caster creating weapons from pure heat, which bypass armor.  Maybe they’ll create a heat golem.  You’ve now taking a small portion of one element and made it a bigger school of magic.

Doing this does require a lot of imagination and creative bending of nature.  A character may have to get the aspect to function differently that what it normally would.  If someone has dust magic, you wouldn’t expect them to be able to do any damage.  It’s just dust, so maybe blinding and hiding.  This is where an author would have the caster mess with the traits of their aspect.  Altering the density of the dust can make it hard enough for armor even if it doesn’t look like it.  Maybe it can be turning acidic.  You can even have them start conjuring sentient dust bunnies that have actual teeth.  Your imagination can still run wild even with the limitation.

That’s really the gist of this whole thing.  Can’t even deep dive into it because the concept is simple to explain, but the challenge is putting it into practice.  Just sit back and think of a type of magic that you haven’t seen much of before.  If you aren’t sure about something then research it to see what its properties are.  I know, chemistry is the most hated science of high school. (Don’t get cocky, physics! You come in second only because most people get to opt out of you.)  Anyway, the more you learn about something, the newer types of spells that you can figure out.  It doesn’t have to be much, but enough to add some versatility to the new school.  After that, let the magic fly.

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.
This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Magic Schools Beyond the Norm

  1. I’m a big believer in trying new things when it comes to magic. You have some here that I hadn’t thought about, and that’s wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    I’ve never watched an anime – I’ll see if I can find one on Hulu.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are great tips for the fantasy writer. Let the magic fly.


  4. L. Marie says:

    Great tips! I hope you cover this in your fantasy writing book!

    When I read the post, I thought of magic schools currently in books and on shows like The Magicians, Wednesday, and in books (though The Magicians is based on a book), which seem to feature Harry Potter-like boarding school situations. Like Naomi Novik’s Deadly Education series. Any thoughts on those?


    • I didn’t really go into it that much. Most of that book is more general while this is fairly specific. Maybe I’ll be able to publish it one day.

      I didn’t really think of Wednesday as a school of magic. Felt more like a boarding school for non-human species and those with special powers. Closer to Xavier’s School for the Gifted than Hogwarts. I’m trying to remember how varied the magic was in The Magicians. I remember mostly illusions and rituals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. Marie says:

        There are other books like The Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend (The Trials of Morrigan Crow being the first book), Amari and the Night Brothers (B.B, Alston), The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.


  5. I do enjoy having something that seems innocuous become much more powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. V.M.Sang says:

    This is a challenge, Charles. I need to put my mind to it. I have a stalled novel and perhaps I can come up with something along these lines to kick-start it again. Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post – a lot of inspiration here! I use a mixture of traditional and chaos magic in my writing. With chaos magic, anything goes!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s