World Building with a Magic 8 Ball

So perhaps I wasn’t as ready to start a new novel as I thought, but I needed to do something while I wait to see what happens to my novel “Ice Debt” (see this post – update 7).

But I was stuck. I love building worlds but it wasn’t coming to me this time.

I tried the normal routes. I tried answering a questionnaire someone sent me once to help you build your world, but I couldn’t answer any of the questions. I made a map, a pretty cool one too, with names of cities and places, but it wasn’t telling me anything. All I knew was that I wanted to write a Fantasy story since “Ice Debt” had been Science Fiction.

So I turned to my trusty old friend, the Magic 8 Ball.

I decided to start off big. I needed to know what kind of magic system this world had before I would know how it affected cultures and people.

Does this world have gods? My sources say no.

Ok. So if Magic didn’t come from gods bestowing it on their followers…

Does the magic come from the land? Outlook not so good.

Well where else?

Does it come from the animals? Definitely.

How about the plants? Signs point to yes.

Interesting. So I have a world where the magic is tied into animals and plants. But I needed more detail.

Can anyone tap into this magic? It is certain.

Well I couldn’t have a world where everyone had Magic. That would be boring wouldn’t it? But if Magic 8 Ball said everyone, then that’s what it would be. But…

Do different animals give different abilities? Reply hazy, try again. (damn)

Do certain animals have different gifts to give to people? Definitely.

Alright. So it sounded a lot like shamanic beliefs about Power Animals. I would need to do research on that, but I still didn’t have enough information.

Is the magic from the animals and plants limited in some way? Outlook not so good.

Limitless power that any human can tap into? There had to be a catch.

Must an animal or plant agree to give the magic? Absolutely!

Now things were getting interesting.

Are the plants and animals in this world sentient? Maybe.

Hmmm, maybe they are in a different way. Like spirits or something. Maybe sentient was the wrong word. But if they have to agree to give Magic then they must be aware, but perhaps not like talking animals from Disney.

Alright, so what did I have? I have a world where magic comes from plants and animals, and they must agree to give this magic to a human before the human can use it. This magic is limitless but is different for each kind of animal or plant. And any human can access the magic.

I think I can work with this. But I needed to ask about the opposite of this magic.

Is there something that can defeat the magic of this world? Absolutely.

Is the thing that can defeat this magic man-made? Maybe.

Is the thing that can defeat this magic from nature? Maybe.

Are there sentient creatures other then humans in this world? No.

Well, what the hell. That’s not helpful. There is something that can defeat Magic that might be man-made and might be from nature, and to make sure things aren’t too easy for me, there are no other sentient races on this world that might hold the answer. Maybe robots can defeat it.

Just for the hell of it Mr. Magic 8 Ball…

Are there robots? Absolutely.

Crap. Now what have I gotten myself into. I was hoping for Dragons not robots.

Are you telling me that there are Dragons and Robots in this world? Definitely.


Bloody hell. Next time I think I’ll use Tarot cards where the interpretation can be bent a little. Just to be sure…

Mr. Magic 8 Ball, am I writing a Fantasy? Outlook is good.

But Robots… Does the story have a touch of steam punk? Yes.

Well, there you have it. I’m off to build a Fantasy Steam Punk world with Robots, Dragons and Magical Animals. I’ll keep you posted.

2 thoughts on “World Building with a Magic 8 Ball

  1. Pingback: Daily Bookmarks 8/18/09 « The Write Chronicles

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