Is there a way to have a unique magic system for a fantasy series. Or successful ones?
Magic is a tale as old as time, so therefore there is no such thing as a truly unique magic system. It’s one of those funny little things that can be customized to the greatest of extents but still has the same basic functions. Magic systems can depend on culture, region, or type. It is imporant to realize that it all stems from the same concept. Some of the most famous books series (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) use a magical system that is derived from basic English lore. Because magic is (unfortunately) mythical, you can make it work however you want as long as you keep the rules consistent and rational.
What do I mean by rational?
A rational magic system is a system where every spell obeys the same (metaphysical) laws. The reader does not need to know how or why things happen at any given point, but they should feel like everything fits together. While the magic is mysterious, every move seems to be a logical extrapolation of previously observed rules.
You don’t have to make a fully understood and outlined system of magic in order to have a fatasy series. That’s what differentiates hard and soft systems. A hard magic system is one where the magic is fully outlined and ruled, and people may or may not follow these rules, and there are consequences to breaking them. In these cases, magic is actively used by the main characters to solve problems (Dresden Files, Harry Potter). Soft magic, on the other hand, is a system where magic exists in the universe but is more ethereal. It is there to enrich the environment and lore. Magic is not actively used by the main characters, usually is the cause rather than the solution to problems (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones).
Here’s a list of questions that might be useful in fleshing out the type of system you desire:
I went to a convention this weekend with a friend and watched her baby while she was doing her panel, services, voting, etc. And I don’t know if you guys know this, but it’s really hard to push a stroller from a wheelchair-that’s just facts-so I used my crutches to be a more effective nanny.
I set my crutches aside and pick Cowan up bc it’s time for his lunch and this lady approaches.
“You know, you’ve been on my church’s prayer list since the beginning of your illness what—seven years ago? It’ll be so good to return to the home front and be able to tell them I saw you up and walking about, and with crutches you don’t even really need anymore. Prayer really does heal. So lovely to see you!”
I haven’t been able to get out of bed since I got home Saturday evening because I traded two days worth of energy for crutch use and impeccable nannying. But yeah. I’m healed all right.