Power Systems settings (Magic, Cultivation, etc.)

Discussion in 'Author Discussions' started by NegativeBlack, Feb 13, 2021.

  1. NegativeBlack

    NegativeBlack New Member

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    I need help with setting up different power systems for my works. I looked at a lot of places and read a lot of different works from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean authors. Magic power systems are comprehensive for Chinese novels while Korean novels are mostly mana circles from 1-9. CNs are also the only ones I've seen with systems for Warrior classes. Japanese rely heavily on game systems to explain magic or skills. Anyway, starting this thread to hopefully make better power systems to help other writers so we don't have to read over-saturated stories about I HAVE A SYSTEM AND NO SKILL.
     
  2. phucanhcr02

    phucanhcr02 Well-Known Member

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    Why don't you try out a power system like in Reverend Insanity.
    It has quantitative strength (dao marks), comprehension and innovation (attainments) and versatility (obscure paths and seemingly infinite paths to choose from).
    Of course this has a demerit: Your creativeness and ability to handle power balance.
    I once read an original novel named Paragon of Sin. The author's writing skills amazed me, I would have thought that I was reading a translated if not for the original mark on the title.
    However, I think that he kind of dig a hole for himself as the power scale rose up, which is probably why he's not updating for quite sometimes.
     
  3. perspherspley

    perspherspley Apink - I.O.I - Loona - IZ*ONE - fromis_9

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    Try the system from Mother of Learning or from Daniel Black Series
     
  4. LordBS

    LordBS Well-Known Member

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  5. Martialegg

    Martialegg [World's most powerful Egg] [HazyPrecise's Senpai]

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    I'm not an author, but I think these bits are quite essential to create a completely new power system:
    1. The Source (Mana, Qi, Life energy/Aura, Exp, etc)
    2. The Core/Transformer from source to controllable energy/Input (Magic circles/Mana core, Dantian, Heart/DNA, System administrator, etc)
    3. The Body/Energy storage (Mana vein, Meridian network, Blood, Exp bar/Level, etc)
    4. Accumulation method (Knowledge of magic circles, Qi absorption, Eating, Killing another life, etc)
    5. Accumulation level (1-9 Circles, Foundation Establishment->Nascent Soul->etc, Hatchling->Maturity, Lv1-Lv99, etc)
    6. Power control method/Output (Magic circle application, Meridian control, Will/Intent, System application, etc)
    7. Variant of Output (Fire/Water/Earth/Dark/Etc, Unlimited, Strength/Speed/Defense/etc, System limitation, etc)
    8. Cost of Output (Everything should follow the concept of equal exchange, except the system)
     
  6. NegativeBlack

    NegativeBlack New Member

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    LotM power system is complex and simple all at once. You choose a pathway that most suits you and the path you chose comes with enemies because of your pathway. I think about the descriptions for those pathways and it still confuses and amazes me.
     
  7. deepon

    deepon One who inevitably awakens

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    A good power system require the following components :
    1) Consistency - MC should not be treated any different from other characters as much as possible. If MC can do something by using the system. It should be possible for others to do the same, theoretically. Eg: Makoto from zero believers goddess. He has no special ability that others do not or cannot have. He simple hones his ability to the extreme.
    2) Equivalent Exchange or Balance - Everything must have a price. This is best described using Shiba Tatsuya from Mahouka as an example. He is born with two special magic. But both are just extreme versions of what any magician can do. And in exchange for those two magic, he is unable to use any other magics, even the simplest ones, not to mention the other side effects from using the special magic. Again his mind is modified to create an additional artificial magic casting area allowing him to now use other simple magics, in exchange he loses almost all his emotions. Basically, If you gain something special, an appropriate price must be paid.
    3) Exceptional cases : there will always be a need for some things beyond the system, like some exceptions, rule breakers, etc. The MC however being the only exception ever is a big no. If something can happen once, it can happen twice. Otherwise, it's just a plain plot armour.
    4) Causality : Just as everything has a price, every effect must have a proper cause. Things should not happen without a good reason. A good cause must(usually) come before the effect. If someone is born with some special power, then such an event being randomly caused should be the last possible reason. Instead there should be a proper reason like his ancestors inheritance or treasure, even if it's revealed later.
     
  8. HamsterOverlord-sama

    HamsterOverlord-sama Silently preparing for a Hamster military invasion

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    You want to have either a fantasy or cultivation story, right? Also, no skills or game systems?
    Then there are several paths I see you could take that wouldn't be too heavy on the settings but be pretty interesting and allow for some room for creativity.
    1) people are born with abilities/acquire them at some age. Think doomsday wonderland, dominion's end etc.
    2) there are magical beings and materials and by combining them and doind things with them, you can get magic.
    Example
    magical mushrooms that you have to breed and then go through a manufacturing process so that they will become magical berserker/healing potions, collecting grudges of sentient creatures and using rituals to curse equipment and make golems, using rare magical minerals to create magical swords that are super sharp/durable/have strange abilities
    3) pokemon route
    4) casting spells at the expense of one's lifespan and have characters run around doing stuff to increase their lifespan through various machinations
    5) offering sacrifices to gods to make miracles
    6) the weave from dnd
     
  9. JrX

    JrX Well-Known Member

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    How about Soul Land (Douluo Dalu) power system you get 1 ability per tier. It's pretty fun coming up with useless ability that became god tier because of it synergy with other abilities. Whether you got it from monster like Soul Land is up to you to decide.

    I also like mushoku tensei's power system. Swordmaster are one man army while magician are nukes.
     
  10. Warlock Of The Void

    Warlock Of The Void Well-Known Member

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    I personally like the system idea used in Legend of Randidly Ghosthound , The New World and Towers of Heaven. They have the simplicity of the system to state power levels but also heavily dependent on the skill and their mastery then just power level. Both LoRG and TNW use paths as a way to make skill more important while ToH just has skills on tiers as u go from novice->hero and every tier has levels like hero lvl. 2 for sword art making it so that u need skill more than u need power or levels. I don't know if others have done it but these r ones I remember. A good power system in my opinion is a combination of both power level and skill really. It gives u a way to make MC special without actually making him special, just make sure the MC focuses more on skill and is able to take them to the extreme and u have a well balanced story with people able to emulate MC but unmotivated to do so.
     
  11. Fishy_MC_FishMan

    Fishy_MC_FishMan The Fishiest of Fishes

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    There are so many possibilities in regards to the power systems. The limit is the imagination, I guess. Anyways, here are some of the things I think it helps to keep in mind.

    1) Think about what you want to explain, and what you want to keep mysterious.

    You don’t actually have to explain everything, and really I don’t think you even can explain everything. So when making a power system think about what you want to explain, and how doing so will benefit your story. It all depends on what type of story you want to write.

    2) Think about how much you want to quantify things.

    You don’t actually have to assign numbers to everything, and using numbers to describe how strong someone is also isn’t necessary. Lot’s of Japanese stories (e.g. Yu Yu Hakusho), and wester stories, don’t really quantify power levels. So anyways think about exactly what you want to measure with numbers in your story, and why that works for you.

    3) Think about where you want to put the limit, and why.

    All power systems need limitations in order for the story to make sense so think about what limitations are right for the story you want to tell.

    4) Ultimately it all depends on what type of story you want to tell.

    Different magic systems can be used to tell different stories. For example you can’t tell the story ‘lord of the rings’ with the power system from ‘I shall seal the heavens’, or vise versa. Think about the story you want to tell, and build your power system around that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  12. Hamski

    Hamski Well-Known Member

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    A lot of power systems are fairly typical and boring. Some of the most interesting and creative power systems I have seen are from Brandon Sanderson's novels. Both the Mistborn and Stormlight Archive have extremely interesting power systems that tie into the world well. Check these out to get an idea of how not everything has to be superpower/cultivation/magic. Legendary Mechanic also has a great power system on the webnovel side.

    Another thing I want to say is that personally, I prefer cultivation power systems over magic power systems. This is because the variety of techniques and power systems is astonishing. When I am reading a magic power system, combat feels very boring because it is literally almost always elemental based. That's fine, but I've seen it done so many times that it can no longer capture my interest without some twist.

    It pretty much always boils down to some dudes throwing fireballs at each other and I'm kind of over it. I had this issue with pretty much any magic circle or magic core novel I read, including Beginning After the End, Book Eating Magician, and Supreme Magus. Perhaps I'm slightly biased after reading stuff like Wheel of Time, but I think a magic system like this is not enough to capture interest in your story without a great plot and characters.

    Alternatively, with cultivation systems somebody can literally cultivate the "Divine Chair Art" if the author wanted them to. Imagine it, the author can have different levels of the technique to wielding a chair, and he can attack by sitting there menacingly. It feels quite free without feeling like the author is just letting the character do whatever they want. A soft magic system might just allow the character to do what they want without any systemic explanation, while cultivation techniques usually come with a host of requirements, levels, and specific powers.

    Really, I'm just sort of jaded with European magic settings, as I found Irregular at Magic High School to be an acceptable power system. Unless I know heading in that the plot and characters are top notch, I won't touch these novels.
     
  13. Darius Drake

    Darius Drake A poster of verbose posts

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    If you started this thread to help other's make power systems that avoid the cliche, you're bound to fail. The cliche exists and is used not because the writer can't come up with something objectively better, but because they want to write a straight forward power fantasies and the cliche's are effective at producing power fantasy's, often due to glossing over individual limitations.

    And that's what I think is really the issue with many of the now most common form of Power Systems, they ignore individual limitations, particularly as they progress. One person cannot be good at everything, and if they try they won't be able to compete with a specialist in a field. At most, a talented person can learn how to do two or three things that require skill at a professional level of quality, and even they will likely never reach the level of a skilled specialist. The number of stories where this is held true in recent memory, however, particularly from novels of Asian origin, have been significantly lower than they were back before the internet allowed writers to sidestep publishing companies, and some publishing companies started using internet popularity to select some of their publishable works.

    I do feel like this is on the decline in writing, however. While I doubt it will ever go away, I suspect that it would end up being phased out over time as more people get bored with "I (essentially) became the ultimate god of this world/universe, and this is the story of me walking on top of the common people to become that god". I am also under the impression that this process has already started.
     
  14. Feng Tian

    Feng Tian Well-Known Member

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    Price:
    Any power but the smallest needs one, else the entire thing turns into a dumpsterfire. Be it physically taxing, burning one's own lifeforce, some random version of mana. As long it has one (or maybe multiple?) its fine. There may be limited ways to circumvent the cost, but make sure they have drastic downsides and are strictly worse than the primary casting method.

    Scaling:
    Keep the scaling somewhat linear. Exponential scaling always ends in a broken setting and usually ruins everything. Most CNs do this mistake.
    If excessively powerful being exist: Make sure to introduce them early.

    Abilities:
    Specialists beat generalists in a direct contest of power, but might lose out when a threat happens to hard counter them. An extremely powerful entity might even beat a scrub in his speciality with their trivial knowledge, but in the same ball park? Never.

    Strengths vs Weaknesses
    Anything has a weakness, or it is overpowered.

    The setting breakers:
    Keep your hands of the big 3: Time, space and reality warping. Their impact on world building is massive and odds are you don't have the skill to handle even a single one of them properly.

    The golden rule:
    Last but definitely not least: Think shit trough so it makes bloody sense. Nothing is worse than an inconsistent system. Few rules can result in near infinite complexity, so keep it simple, stupid.

    Notice how cultivation tends to break at least 3 of these? Thats why xianxia sucks 99% of the time.
     
  15. Chillz

    Chillz Active Member

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    This is one of my favorite discussion topics. Cultivation systems are what draws me to xianxia/xuanhuan novels. The best part about reading these stories for me in addition to getting to know the characters, plotlines, and the setting, is slowly figuring out how the cultivation system of the story works. I like to re-read stories with good cultivation systems and see how they slowly revealed the inner workings of the cultivation system along with how well they foreshadowed future events.

    I also appreciate it when authors have multiple overlapping systems that still come together coherently and exist separately, like Warlock of the Magus World, Lord Xue Ying, World of Cultivation, and Desolate Era, just to name a few. I also like class system novels that dont revolve around a game system, like Lord of Mysteries, Second Coming of Gluttony, and Night Ranger in terms of depth and class progression. The best novel that went the Pokemon route is in my opinion The Charm of Soul Pets, where depending on your cultivation, you could pact with and summon 10+ soul pets.

    I do take issue with the criticism of systems revolving around elements. You can argue that theyre overused to the point of being cliche, but I would go the opposite take and ask any author to explain exactly why elements ARENT a main part of your magic system. The fact of the matter is, elements are everpresent in magic/cultivator storylines for good reason, because theyre fully fleshed out over countless decades of storytelling. When it comes to elements, I would say the standard count is 9 - fire, water, earth, wind, light, darkness, lightning, metal, and wood. Many stories have less than 9, but theyre still choosing from these elements. Each of them have strengths and weaknesses that can be utilized against other elements as well be exploited by other elements. Coming up with other elements/attributes that can compete with the standard 9 is difficult, and you have to ask yourself the question of why even bother coming up with an alternative instead of just letting your MC just use one or more of the standard 9. One novel that does a great job of doing that is Reverend Insanity, which introduces so many alternative pathways that are cultivated and just as strong - time, space, strength, wisdom, enslavement, luck, blood, soul, shapeshifting, sword, etc. I cant recommend that novel enough and glad to see it already mentioned.

    Overall, I think novels in general are being held to a higher standard, where they have to come up with a unique power system that hasnt already been done before but still balanced enough to hold together an interesting story. I think this is a good thing overall. But stories that just uses a system that already works and just focuses on plot, character development, and world building shouldnt have it held against the author.

    I have more I want to write about but Ill just save it for a followup reply.