A runner can't run forever. Eventually their well trained body will get tired, they'll thirst, they'll hunger, they'll ...

     A runner can't run forever. Eventually their well trained body will get tired, they'll thirst, they'll hunger, they'll need to rest. Every human being has limits; they can only push themselves so far. 

     It's the same with magic.

     From the tiniest snippet used, to a massive explosion that could wipe out the enemy army, there has to be a cost to magic. But before we dive into that, if you haven't caught up on this blog series yet, you can check out part 1 and part 2

     That brings us to the two essential questions this week:

What is the cost of magic? What are its limits?

     As Rumpelstilksin famously says in Once Upon a Time, "Magic always comes with a price, dearie."

1) What is the cost of magic?

     There are rules and consequences that apply to Earth. You don't eat = you get hungry. You drop something = gravity pulls it down. Likewise, your magic system should be full of consequences. This will not only make your story seem realistic, but could also escalate conflict if your character has to make sacrifices to use their magic.

     Examples of consequences of magic use include making characters hungry, draining their energy, or deteriorating their body. Using a lot could even end with their death! 

     The more extreme the cost, the higher the stakes.

You can also fulfill your fictional food dreams at the same time!
2) What are its limits?

     It wouldn't be great if every evil wizard ever could complete their evil plan in a blink, would it? There would be no realism in that (unless they obtained some otherworldly source, and even then they're pushing it). The limit of how much magic can be used at once ties in with the source; not enough source, not enough magic. Also, if the cost is great then your characters will have to fight to get to their magical goal.

     While developing your magic system, make sure that magic can do great and bold things, but keep it on a leash. We don't want worlds accidentally blown up in training, do we?
Think of limits as a wall separating what the magician can't reach, and can.
     So that wraps up the How to Develop a Magic System blog series. I had a blast writing this, and I hope all your magical systems are going along well. Keep telling your magical stories!

Did you find this series helpful? Any other blog topics you'd like me to talk about? Let me know in the comments; I love hearing from all of you!

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  1. The limits of magic are something I tend to forget about when I'm creating a magic systems, but it really is so important! Without limits, there wouldn't really be a story because everything could just be solved so easily, so this post has definitely given me something to think about in regards to my own writing.

    1. Limits are definitely crucial in magic systems. You're right, without them characters could reach their goals far too easily! I'm glad this post gave you something to think about. Thanks so much for commenting, Laura! XD

  2. Oh my goodness, I'm definitely bookmarking this series! I've been struggling with the magic system in my sorcery trilogy for a LONG time - I want to get away from it being element-based, but I don't know how. I'm going to go back and read the other two parts now :)

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. Yay! I'm super happy I could help you out with your magic system. I struggled with my own for a long time before I decided to really figure out everything and did a lot of research on how to make one. Hopefully the other posts are just as helpful to you! Thank you so much for dropping by, Ellie! :)