How do YOU magic in your settings?
What I mean when I ask is, how exactly do the mechanics of the arcane come to fruition in the games that you play.
Does it "just work" or is there some sort of process to it? Maybe a higher mindset, maybe some specific magic words?
Magic as a practice is basically hyper-physics. You draw a diagram with a bunch of funny symbols and shit actually happens. Traditional "wizard with spell-slot" magic just involves drawing the diagram mentally. Thus far, my players have found it detailed enough without actually requiring an in-depth explanation.
Magic itself as a force is a lot like radiation. One of the PCs is actually suffering from light Arcane Poisoning.
Magic as a practice consists of rituals. You must draw right magic figure, find right reagents, and utter right words at the right time in the right place. If you did that right, magic happens. If you did not, staff happens.
Magic itself is bending reality by caster will, and magic theory consists of knowing where and when push so that concluding avanche profits you. There is also theurgy, which is often muddled together with magiců if magician acheives result by his own will, theugist acheives by bargain with divine entity.
In my setting Everything that happened in the world is written in the sky among the "stars". That was a form of the firs god give their godlike childrem omniscience about the world they were living.
By interpreting those writings, those who can read them are able to mimic the gods drawing magical power from a power center that suport all the existing planes.
It's a physical skill, like riding a bike. Unlike riding a bike though, you'll never figure out how to do it just from watching someone.
Human bodies can just innately do magic and only some people can access the education necessary to get a handle on it.
The dragonblooded, the strongest magical humans ever created, are generally considered woefully limited and inept at magic because they can't benefit from the same magical exercise regimes as normal people and thus have taken generations to find a small handful of spells by fluke and accident.
Mechanically, it's just a penalty to Vigor and constant Fatigue. In terms of fluff, it's exactly the same as radiation poisoning, except a lot more survivable; provided he stays the fuck away from magic for the next month or so, he should be fine. It's only a light case, after all.
As for how he got it? Too much spellcasting in a short time span.
System is Savage Worlds, by the way.
It's basically engineering with a metaphysical field that permeates reality.
Those magic circles and runic diagrams? Basically circuit boards for the arcana to channel through. Through them, or through a wizard's own life energy, the arcana is shaped and given ability to do work. It is then usually filtered into another kind of energy or substance and released. (Conversion rates between arcana and matter are far more efficient than energy and matter, of course.)
I made up a fun little system that I don't use. I just made it for shits and giggles.
Basically it's "arcane programming," and what the mage does is prepares certain codes and writes them on parchments. These codes are able to bend reality to their user's whim, within the guidelines of ancient arcane programming. For effect I used the Coptic script and Latin-inspired vocabulary.
Here's a translation of pic related and how it works.
>Fakere --, inkantamentum --> ;ignis est
Do --, spell --> ;the spell is fire
>paro --> ;iakulum
set value --> ;javelin/spear
>indikatio par #5
indicate for 5 feet
>si ;magus (speech symbol)kapeso(speech symbol)
if ;mage says "kapeso"
Basically the wizard would write the code on a parchment, then seal the parchment with a sigilum magicis (just a "magic ribbon" you tie around the rolled up parchment symbolizing to the unknown forces of the universe that you intend to use this for magical purposes). The wizard then holds the parchment somewhere on their person and activates it with the predetermined code they scribed onto the parchment itself, then the action is made. In this instance, the user would shoot a bolt of fire approximately five feet.
I've been working on a 'general theory' of magic that would make sense in most settings. Never put it to paper before, but a few cornerstones are the following:
1. Magic is the art of manipulating energy in one of its many, many forms, to create and apply a force for a certain purpose. The force created via use of magic adheres to the laws of physics and general relativity, unless said force is designed specifically to alter said laws locally.
2. In order to create a force, magic uses energy ambiently residing in space and matter, which is called Mana (or whatever other term for 'raw magical resource' the setting uses). Mana adheres to the law of energy conservation and thermodynamics. Manaless casting is also possible, but requires drawing energy from material sources (ex. ritual campfires, warmth of human bodies, geothermal etc.).
3. Much like atmosphere or solid matter, most of Mana is concentrated around/within stellar bodies. Mana is not equally distributed around all regions of a planet/solar system/galaxy/etc. I refer to this as 'magical density' - a certain world and certain locations in that world may have an overabundance of Mana, whereas another may be devoid of it entirely. The availability of this resource obviously has a great impact on the power of magic users on site.
4. Mana may be stored in matter, much like thermal energy may be stored in a hot iron, or electrical energy in batteries. Different material elements have different capacity for Mana, with organics having an especially high capacity.
5. Any conscient being from a microbe to complex organisms may use magic (which is an incorrect way of phrasing it, as magic is not an item; rather, 'manipulate energy', but semantics aside...) to some extent. As an organism increases in complexity, so does its capacity for using magic and storing Mana, like a larger engine holding more fuel and producing more torque.
...The cause of that is a phenomenon unique to organics, which can be referred to as willpower, or determination, or strength of wit, or whatever else; ultimately, a mental effort that shapes the energy into a force and gives it direction.
6. As every conscience is unique, every being has varying levels of magical power, with some being able to perform it effortlessly, and others being born with a mindset not only incapable of mental processes that are required for magic, but sometimes even actively repulsive. The latter have a 'negative' magical capacity in a way.
7. Many systems of magic recognise a set of 'magical elements'; which are, observedly, natural elements directed by magic. Matter and its elemental forms are forms of energy, hence the ability of a magic user to manipulate them. Using elements available on-site is good form for any magic user; while it is possible to create them out of raw Mana, the cost increases rapidly as the material density of the element involved increases, and the entropy in it decreases. Consider a basic magical missile - a projectile of high-entropy energy of various forms, very often immaterial, cheap. Now, consider summoning a meteor - the atomic structure of the elements in soil/rock is dense, and as the meteor's primary means of damage is high weight, a lot of it is required. It is thus very energetically expensive to create out of raw Mana, and a much better solution is just using an on-site boulder as a projectile.
That should be the gist of it, I think. Take notes, this will be in next week's test.
The Weave is an infinite field that carries magical energy identical to the quantum fields (gravity, electron, Higgs) that make up all known matter.
Arcane magic is best thought of as probability manipulation. As a force of The Weave, its aura is one of chaos, as it pulls through all possible outcomes until yanking the desired effect into reality.
Divine magic, on the other hand, manipulates reality directly. Divine casters, through force of will, can use the power of The Weave to pack order into a spot where there once was chaos.
The two represent the ebb and flow of The Weave.
I like this, especially the Dark Matter bit. Did your setting have a birth of magic?
some people are born with tarot based sign - which will appear near them when they awaken to their powers.
what they can do? they have no idea unless they research it, or just try it out.
you get better with practice.
depending on card they have different powers - one of PC has Tower sign with powers of gravity and reversal.
at first he could just very slightly boost his jumps... now he can reverse gravity(both aspects at once), 'reverse' wounds by exchanging wounds - with friendlies and enemies.
one could mentally tie the specific power/magic usage to gesture or phrase.. it would be way faster to utilize that, it could get stronger faster... but it would limit his flexibility - because one would be weaker at using his power in freeform way.
You have to be born with it, meaning starting play with either a caster class or magic potential based on system. Mages also can see magic in others as a soft gold glow. It's a manipulation of the world's natural energy that fatigues the body.
The gods are magical, and you have to in some way make physical contact with them so that some of their power rubs off on you, that you can then perform magic with it for awhile.
Usually this means drawing a gods attention, and then having sex with them.