With the preamble of history out of the way it's time to move on to the first round of world building. Initially I mentioned that the world I created for Tale of the East Wind was something that has stayed with me over the years. Like our own world the Earth that has been ravaged by the strange horrible Miasma is just a smaller crumb in a larger cosmos. The year's NaNoWriMo novel will be set out in the stars of that universe so it is important that I impart some knowledge about it's inner workings. For a working title I'll just refer to the universe as Mage Star.
Mage Star is very much a science fantasy setting. To help you better understand what I am talking about I want you to think about Star Wars. I can see some of you in the back raising your hands going, “But isn't that Science Fiction?” In truth, if you look at it closely it is a fantasy story with some science fiction trappings. Think about it. Faster than light travel is easy enough that almost anyone can keep it running, technology as a whole starts looking a lot like magical artifacts, and there are mystic powers available to anyone with the skill and the talent to use them. These are the sorts of things I am talking about when I say science fantasy.
A good place to start with any fantasy setting is the magic, and thanks to my work on Tales of the East Wind I already have a foundation to start with. In Mage Star, magic is literally everywhere, and those who can interact with it are broken up into three very broad categories based on the source of their powers. These categories are Mages, Talents, and the Imbued.
Mages are the most abundant and have the ability to manipulate the ambient magic of the world. They can sense, shape, and even summon things into being and have all types of further sub categories and secret orders based on their specialties. This social structure is one of their greatest strengths, since working their arts is often a tiring process for a mage. Alone they can do one great thing, but together they are capable of lasting wonders.
Talents are a rarer breed able to manipulate magic innately for a sole purpose. Some talents are able to bolster their own physical prowess. Others are able to manipulate a specific element or type of energy. No two talents are exactly alike, so they do not have the social structures built around them that mages do. The innate nature of their power means that they are able to come to terms with it faster than those who have to learn to work their arts.
Imbued are those who have been given the ability to manipulate magic through some external means. This could be because they have become bound to some extra-dimensional demonic entity, or found themselves in possession of a powerful alien artifact. At times it can seem like the Imbued have limitless power, but it always comes with a price. They always have a master to serve. The most they can hope for is that it is one that
When you take magic and those who interact with it into account it is important to think about how it will shape the setting. The science fiction trappings of the Mage Star universe means that an easy intersection point is that of technology. If magic exists, then it stands to reason that there will be machines that are designed to interact with it as well. Equipment made for those specifically with the ability to interact with magic, as well as mages who specialize in aspects of technology would both be of extreme importance.
The most important of these would be the mages that are referred to as the Ship Worth or just Worthy. Their specialty is shaping energy, and it is what makes faster than light travel possible. Through will alone the Worthy can hold ships together as they approach the speed of light and their mass starts to spread out infinitely. This talent also allows me to easily explain the energy based weapons so common in many aspects of science fiction that are not as readily possible with our current understanding of physics.
Magic's relationship with technology could also create interesting story possibilities through the way the world deals with it's absence. If magic is required for things like FTL and shields, then the prospect of traveling without a mage to power those elements of the ship become a much longer and scarier process that only the desperate would resort to. Mages become one of the most valued members of the crew, and the constant target of recruitment efforts or violence from rival crews.
Entire industries and corporations would be built up around mages. People would want devices to enhance their powers, ways to replace them in the standard running of spaceships, weapons to counteract their powers, and even ways to create mages artificially. Of course any attempts to replace mages have been largely unsuccessful. Any high yield power cells can only power ship systems in a few very short burst before they need to be recharged. Mage free FTL drives can only be used for one way jumps and don't have a perfect success rate. This gives the layman ways around having a mage, but nothing that is truly as effective.
In addition to the legitimate commerce that would be built around mages, there would be all types of black market dealings built around Talents and the Imbued. This would range from items that supposedly boost someones talent to giving a talent to normal people. Items of power are traded amongst the rich and powerful in the hopes of gaining more power for themselves. All of these deals have been outlawed in almost every system. This doesn't stop government officials from trying to conduct such deals themselves
With the basics of magic and technology covered, the next place we'll be building upon these basics as we start looking at the general state of galactic society as a whole. What sort of major powers are lurking around and what threats might the cast of this year's novel might encounter.