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Thread: Magic system glitches?

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  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Ms.Pencila's Avatar
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    Magic system glitches?

    My current fantasy wip doesn't have many fantastical elements in it, (takes place in an invented secondary world, but no strange creatures or bizarre things, really) but I thought of this possible magic system that might fit with it. However, having little experience trying to work out a magic system (and having read only so many magic systems myself), I'd love to get any second opinions on the viability of this idea before I try to reconfigure the story to work with it. And fresh eyes are always best for catching glitches and inconsistencies that could make those oh-so-fun plot holes down the road.

    I've been trying to come up with an origin story for the magic, but I'll leave that raw draft out of here for now (basically, I think the leaders of the people who first came to Aeri asked for particular gifts of memory to keep the experience of their great journey to their new home fresh for future generations, but kind of bungled the details).


    In the world of Aeri, you can give memories to another person so long as there's mutual consent and trust between both of you; the stronger the bond of trust, the more vividly the memory is transmitted. (Manner of transmitting would include something like clasping each other's wrists and staring into each others' eyes or something like that). The giving of memories would be considered a very special gift, a milestone in a relationship, often the gift of grandparents and others approaching death, and not particularly frequent--because you typically are left with little more than a shell of the memory (if even that) once you've given it, unless you give it to a memory Keeper.
    Memory Keepers can give and receive memories from anyone without any loss on either side, and never forget anything, so they are often sought as special repositories for really special memories. They often combine the roles of artists and historians, chronicling the important events (as well as the more mundane) of each generation in works of zeitgeist that take varying forms (often poetic songs and tapestries, though the different peoples of Aeri all have their own traditions). Keepers never forget anything--except for when a memory thief takes memories from them.

    Memory thieves can only take memories from Keepers, given an initial permission by each Keeper. (While I would love to play around with thieves being able to take other peoples' memories, I haven't been able to come up with a really good reason for them to have that ability).
    A thief's ability to navigate through a Keeper's memory is limited by how much the Keeper trusts them (though a thief's training is also a factor. I'm picturing entering someone's memory being described as entering a forest or a garden where the trees and plants are each events, and individual leaves are different kinds of details-some aural, some visual, olfactory, etc; things come into better focus the more a keeper trusts their thief, but knowing where you might find certain things or what kind of events look like as trees or plants does make a difference for a thief). Entering someone's memory only needs to be initiated by eye contact with the keeper (once?). Memory thieves tend to choose a single Keeper to partner with, and don't remember memories they take for very long (to begin with, maybe a few days?), but the more they look at other people's memories (without permission?), the more they forget.

    A more iffy point I'd like to add but seems liable to just be a plot-hole generator:
    While all the above has always been true, at some point shortly before the story takes place a memory thief discovered how to access the memories of other people through the memory of a Keeper that they'd given memories to (or received them from). They probably still have to have made eye contact with the person, but do have the ability to then take memories from them as well. However, taking other people's memories decreases their eyesight (in direct proportion to the importance of the memory to its owner; so a really big steal could result in total blindness, or a thief could go blind over time with small, incremental losses). Still, this discovery made people all of a sudden really afraid of thieves, who they would often blind when they discovered them, and made them more distrustful of keepers.

    Keepers and Thieves are born that way, but training is necessary for them to actually make use of their abilities. Some people can live their whole lives never knowing that they could have been one, and some people only find out much later (usually on accident).

    The bearing of all this on my (as-yet-unfantastical) story? The family that it follows would be made up almost entirely of keepers and thieves (rare, because neither of these run in families, and both are usually found only far apart. But, since the family gets split up and scattered to different corners of Aeri for most of the story, not too inconsistent). The eldest son also happens to be both a keeper and a thief, and being the one who gets the most training, wrestles the most with just how he's supposed to use these skills for good (as exploitation for less-than-noble purposes come up a lot, especially as he works as an intelligence agent/spy for different people).

    Is this making any sense? Does this sound too close to another story's magic? (I know it's next to impossible for this to be completely new, but I am concerned everyone will think of The Giver, what with giving memories. Of course, mentioning any others you think sound close would be welcome--I only found a romance called The Memory Thief that didn't sound all that similar in a lot of other ways).
    Last edited by Ms.Pencila; 04-17-2018 at 12:33 AM.
    "Here dies another day during which I have had eyes, ears, hands and the great world around me; and with tomorrow begins another. Why am I allowed two?" -G.K. Chesterton

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