1. It's Really Really Hard

Magic is something like advanced calculus, superstring theory, or theraputic aromatherapy, its just hard enough that there are only a few people at a given time who can learn it. It is possible to learn about it, but still lack the necessary comprehension to execute magic. This sort of magic will be very heavy with arcane formulae, circles and wards, and elaborate rituals, gestures, and such. The number of true masters are going to be rare, possibly less than a dozen or so individuals at a given time would claim such comprehension.

2. Either You've Got it, or You Don't

Magic is controlled by an impartial and arbitrary factor such as genetics, and the ability to do magic is an inherited trait. Magic ability drives breeding plans and practises, creating wizarding families that court inbreeding in the name of magical power. While there are a few rare wild magi who come out of the common populace, these individuals are outnumbered 10 to 1 by those born of magical blood. The ability to use magic is strongly tied to a certain physical trait, such as having eyes or hair that is a certain color, like redheads can only use magic, or people with purple or gray eyes can.

3. Dealing With the Devil

Magic power comes only from pacts with extra-planar beings. While it is certainly possible to make pacts with Angelic forces (Good luck getting one willing to wheel and deal) or things that should not be (Good luck keeping your sanity) demonic and infernal forces are the most likely to let you have the power you want. Magi are not trusted, and for good reason. Oh and when your time is up, you're going to be a chew toy in Hell.

4. He Who Controls the Spice, Controls the World

Magic cannot be performed without a certain perishable dangerous expensive hard to acquire ingredient. Perhaps only dragonspice, collected from the lairs of living dragons can induce the mental state required to perform magic. While magi are able to perform their art, they are marked by regular use of this material and without it they are powerless. Even better, while under the influence of the stuff, their perception of reality is altered and communicating with a mage is tricky at best. Most will keep just enough of the 'spice' in their system to cast magic readily, and who knows, it might be addictive... or poisonous.

5. Mitichlorians

Magic ability is determined by the presence of a blood born agent/pathogen. This pathogen is not contagious, and cannot be spread, it does mean that the blood of magi is valuable... to other magi. The presence of this agent is entirely random and attempts to study it have lead many a scholar into the grips of madness.

6. Shredded Sanity

Rather than causing insanity, only the insane are able to cast magic. This limits the number of people who can become magi as it is difficult to just go bonkers because you want to do magic. The specific insanity colors the magic of the magus, Paranoia manifests as violent pre-emptive strikes, catatonia and other introversions produce wards, shields, and other defensive magics. War mages are soldiers who lost their sanity on the battlefield, their battles are fought with hallucinatory foes, while they are directed around by orderlies and kept facing the real enemy.

7. Magic Power Needed

Magic use is entirely dependent on localized natural resources, these confluences of ley lines, dragon nests, nodes of power, fairy glades, and such are hotly contested locations with entire armies and nations fighting over possession of ancient stone rings, access to a remote mountain peak, or hidden grotto. Outside of these areas magic is impossible.

8. Lifestyle Choices

The common person cannot use magic, as they are a part of the meta-species. To perform magic, the mage must be homosexual, not contributing to the gene pool or the next generation. An alternate to this is the possiblity that a magic user must remain sexually inactive for their entire life. Magic users would look down on the filthy 'breeders', or they could run the gauntlet from asexual people who slowly become androgynous, or are decadent in their sexual display, sorceresses keeping vast harems of women for their entertainment, or sorcerors who are flamboyantly gay. Magi consider themselves outside, and superior to the common folk.

9. Props!

Magic requires a prop to work, said props can be rings, wands, rods, or anything else suitable. The materials must be rare and exotic, such as precious metals, or components such as demon bone, unicorn hair or heartstrings of a dragon. This is also limited by the fact that the prop in question must resonate with the magus. A magus who loses his prop must go on a personal quest to replace it, making these items incredibly valuable to magic users, and targets for the enemies of magi.

10. Theurgy Only

To be a magus, an applicant must devote themselves to the mysterious and aloof God/dess of Magic for the rest of their lives. In exchange for magical ability, the magus must devote himself to the tenets and ethos of a strange and inhuman god. These tenets could range from common (dont share secrets with non-magi, protect the church of the God of magic) to the bizarre (Must never eat fish, must never wash their feet, must kill one person a month as directed by the god, etc). Breaking a tenet or violating the ethos means suspension or outright loss of magic ability.

11. Devouring Magic

This sort of magic draws vibrant living force from the world around it for power. As more and more magic is used, it creates areas of dimished magic, or even dead areas. Once an area is depleted it could take centuries or longer to be restored. Magi are rare, as those willing to ravage in the name of their art are a minority. Those who are willing to do so, are generally hunted down and killed by nature aspected folk, or commoners who would rather have green fields than dead fields and monsters to deal with.

12. Reality Check

Magic bends the laws of nature and reality. Like a piece of metal, reality will spring back. Depending on the size of the spell used determines the size of the backlash. Big spells cause big backlash, a fireball could cause all the fires in an area to extinguish themselves, or could turn on the mage in question. Reality has a sense of irony, so the backlash might not be instant. A fire weilding magus might one night find himself trapped in a burning inn, or the wanton summoner might find himself the victim of another's summon spell.

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13. Aura of Madness

Magic use somehow influences the minds of non-magi around the caster, evoking a primal response. While an apprentice may have a sufficiently strong aura that you feel an irrational need to slap him, an archmage engaged in spellcasting will drive anyone berserk.

For an added twist, the response need not be necessarily rage, but rather the emotion the individual is most predisposed towards, leading to maidens madly in love and jealous rivals.

14. Pilgrimage

To become a wizard, you must travel to the nineteen most sacred places in the world, which is rather difficult, especially without magic. Many would-be magi perish on the road.

15. The Rider Within

Magic is performed by calling a spirit to enter your body - and then keeping him in check. A mage must have an exceedingly strong will to prevent the spirit from escaping or taking him over.


Casting a spell deprives somebody of his or her voice for a certain amount of time, depending on the power of the spell;a cantrip for 30 seconds, whilst a really large spell might silence somebody for years. And a silenced person cannot cast further spells until he or she regains the power of speech again.

17. Transformation

Magic use leads to irreversible transformations of the body. These may be mutations, or more structured phenomena, such as all mages of all species slowly becoming a specific race, turning into the other gender, or becoming amorphous and invertebrate.

18-Hard Labour

If you use magic, after a certain period of years you will be sucked into another dimension to work as a slave for an extra-planar being. How long you are a slave before being returned and set free depends on how much magical energy you used.

A small spell will have you toiling away for an hour or so, a really big one will see you enslaved until death,and beyond.Most mages and wizards never use magic unless they have to.

19) It is Fate

Magic intervenes with the order of the world, changing the very Fate of all things. The raw power of a spell is not as important as its effect. Changing the life of somebody with magic will appropriately change the life of the caster - not always for the worse, but usually in an unpredistable way. Most wizards are seriously freaked out from doing any but the most minor of spells. It is said powerful spells attract the attention of higher beings, who don't like too much messing around with Reality.


Casting any spell makes your body feel a little old and stiff, and each spell you cast adds up. At first it just makes it a bit hard to loosen up your muscles, then it starts to hurt to move...one spell too many and you stiffen into a stone statue, only your eyes able to move...with your mind trapped inside.

21-I See Dead People

Casting magic makes the caster able to see and hear ghosts for a ertain amount of time depending on how big the spell is. Whilst very few of these ghosts are strong enough to harm the caster,and most have no malice towards him anyway, they can and do pester him constantly to pass on messages to the living for them.

22-It causes sickness

Casing spells lowers the immune system of the caster, and casting powerful spells will lower the immune system of others. Should they die/get seriously ill the caster is likely to get in trouble for supposingly using black magic.

Even without this problem the wizard or witch is likely to get ill more often then others,and in the long term magical healing compounds the problem in the same way that scratching a rash makes it worse. The only cure is refraining from magic for a certain amount of time.

23-Foot In Mouth

Over time, wizards find themselves speaking their mind even when it would be a very stupid thing to do, like to the local noble when he is holding court. Those who want to get involved in politics,at least, cannot afford to cast spells.

24-Absolute power...

Power corrupts, and magic is very powerful. Thus, all magi are corrupted to some point, depending on their skill. An apprentice wouldn't be evil or mean or anything, but he would develop an arrogance that wasn't there before, while a master would have no care for others and prefer to set people alight with magical fire than to argue with them. Essentially, the more magic you use the more you think that you can use it for anything and that since you can use it you are better than everyone else, even other magi. The reason that so few people can use magic is that it's a dangerous life. Anytime that you cross ways with another magic-user and both of you are adepts there is almost always blood, the only spark needed is a difference of opinion that comes up.

25-It stops your heart

Werelight is safe to use, but any spell bigger spell then that stops the heart whilst keeping the mage alive as an Undead. At first he or she might not even know that, as there is no pain, but then the rotting sets in,along with serious pain,leading to insanity if something is not done quickly.

There are magic-users who have managed to arrest the rot by becoming Liches, but they are feared and hated by humanity and often hate humanity in return.

26-It sets off volcanos

Magic can cause volcanos to erupt, earthquakes to happen,tidal waves to rise from the sea. Whilst only the really big spells sets off one of those disasters by itself, smaller spells have the same effect as poking a dog-too many will have the same effect.

Many areas have either banned magic outright or strictly resticted it's use.

27 - Warped Perception

Honing his senses to perceive magic, the wizard sees things as patterns, strands and constructs infused with energy; once his eyes are open to the magical truth, there is no going back. Beauty fades for him, for what is a flower but a fragile pattern with a miniscule, ever-decreasing amount of energy? To him, every person is just a shape carrying its own death-clock, with rainbow serpents of emotion and thought running through it, a beautiful sunset is reduced to a drop in ambient energy density, and all loses its wonder.

Most mages become enstranged and depressive, drifting away from humanity and sanity alike.

28 - Once gone, forever gone

Magic is basically used to cheat the universe. Sadly, the universe will fall for each trick exactly once. Every spell is one-shot; mages have to constantly develop new ones, and the best wizards actually rarely resort to spell use, but rather hoard their spells like treasures.

Teaching is also hard to come by, for in teaching someone to perform magic, you create another competitor for a finite and precious resource.

29 - Enchanting harmony

To weave magic, you have to use the threads of harmony and melody. Music alone can bring magic into being, and talented muscians have the greatest aptitude in this regard as well. A circle of enchanters may play together as a band to enhance their sorcery, a wizardly school would be an orchestra.

For added fun, styles of music correspond to schools of magic. The battle-mage plays some mean riffs and solos on his vortex guitar, while the healer is a master of his harp. If you're into necromancy, you will have to haul that annoying diva around, for gothic metal is not any good without the female vocals.

30-It raises the body temp

Cantrips raise the body tempreture by a third of a degree per cantrip,small spells by a degree per spell, middle spells by two degrees,large spells by five degrees, and for each degree rise, it takes a day or two to get back to normal whilst making the caster feel really sick.

Anything too big may well kill the caster outright.Most magic-users hate using magic.

31 - There can be only 6666

There is a limited number of wizards in the world, period. The only way how a new wizard can com into being is when an old one dies.

If the transfer of talent is random, say, to newborns at the time of the wizard's death, this effect will be a curiosity, but if the transfer of power can be influenced, then wizards have to fear for their lives. Of course, if a hunter succeeds, he will instantly become prey...

32 - The Xanthian Solution

Everyone is a magic user. Yet powerful and versatile magics are very rare, while the powers of the many are weak - For every Storm King or Evil Magician Trent, there are ten thousand men who's greatest power is no stronger than the ability to change the color of their urine at will. Or determine the proof of a liquor to the third decimal place after drinking a pint. Or to smell like a citronella candle. In any case, while occasionally useful, these abilities make it more useful for the adventurer to take up the sword.

33 - The Power of the Blood

Wizardry requires the sacrifice of life-energy, and it's attending blood. Great magics require the exsanguination of human sacrifices, and the sacrament is considered murder by the authorities. However, rituals such as the Great Ghost Dance, while illegal, represent tremendous power.

34-It nearly allways gets out of control

Magic is banned for all but a handful of people, who are the only ones to have mastered it in the world, and have special licenses to prove this. For everyone else, it gets out of control.Vastly out of control.

To take just three examples...a fireball spell can easily create a fire big enough to burn down a town, a love spell makes all the women (or men) in the area fall in love with the caster, and a rain spell can make a river burst it's banks.

35 - It's fickle and capricious

Magic can be gained by courting fey creatures - yet it is difficult to gain their favor, and even more so to keep it; many would-be mages end up with a nasty curse instead.

36-it messes up tech

In a modern/sci-fi world, magic interferes with tech, making Internet connections crash, cars stop in the middle of the road, and TVs go fizzy.Tech-rich areas might ban magic outright or restrict it to a small area of the country. Magic-rich ares might not have tech at all.