Created By: Krendall on March 1, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on July 25, 2016

Different Laws Of Magic

When a person travels to a different world or dimension, he/she finds his/her powers/magic don\'t work the same way.

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Trope
Sometimes characters in a fantasy or superhero setting travel to a different world or a different dimension. Once there, the character finds that his/her magic or super powers don't work the same way as in his/her home world, or perhaps not at all.

Contrast with Magic A Is Magic A.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, traveling from each world causes the world's magical laws to change, to the point that certain worlds don't even have magic.
  • In Fairy Tail, when the main characters get transported to Edolas, they find out that their normal magic doesn't work, there are limited magic energy resources, and people have to use magic tools.
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. Makoto finds that science doesn't work quite the same on El Hazard as it did on Earth.

    Comic Books 
  • In JLA/Avengers, the Speed Force doesn't exist on the Marvel Universe's Earth, so The Flash's Super Speed doesn't work.
  • Green Lantern
    • When GL and Zatanna travel to the pocket dimension of Ys, they're initially handicapped by the fact that neither GL's power ring nor Zatanna's magic operates correctly under that dimension's rules.
    • Green Lantern Rot Lop Fan comes from an area of the galaxy without light, so there is no concept of "green" or "lantern." He becomes F-Sharp Bell instead.

    Literature 
  • In a Spin-Off novel of Labyrinths of Echo, Nests of Chimerae, Max is Trapped in Another World and apparently De Powered by its magic functioning differently from the magic in Echo. By the end of the book, however, he picks up a few nifty tricks and returns home.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia. In The Magician's Nephew, a British mob is narrowly saved from Jadis' wrath by the fact that her magic doesn't work in London.
  • Earthsea Trilogy novel A Wizard of Earthsea
    • When Sparrowhawk (Ged) travels to the island of Osskil in the far north, his magic fails because he isn't familiar with the differences in magic there.
    • The mage Vetch tells of the differences in magic between locations.
      Sparrowhawk: They say, Rules change in the Reaches.
      Vetch: Aye, a true saying, I can tell you. There are good spells I learned on Roke that have no power here, or go all awry; and also there are spells worked here I never learned on Roke. Every land has its own powers, and the farther one goes from the Inner Lands, the less one can guess about those powers and their governance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, when the gang goes to Pylea, Angel is surprised to find out he can be under the sun without bursting into flames. Less good is that putting on his vampiric "game-face" is replaced by a uncontrollable berserker monster, thus his combat potential is actually a bit lower than on Earth (unless he risks hurting innocents).
  • The Sliders went to more than one universe where magic was possible, most using different rules than the others, if that counts.
  • On Charmed, going to Limbo greatly increases one's magical ability. Phoebe's ability to levitate a few feet off the ground on Earth practically became full-on flight while in this plane between life and death.
  • This is one of the major premises of Once Upon a Time. The fairy tale characters have been brought to our world, the "land without magic", and turned into average people. After the curse is broken and magic is returned to Storybrook, Mr. Gold finds that while traveling beyond the town's limit, he cannot use magic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Advanced D&D and 3.X edition: When creatures from the Prime Material Plane travel to other planes of existence they find that magic (spellcasting and items) don't work the same way they do on the Prime. Some spells/items have different effects, some don't work at all and some backfire. On rare occasions it's possible to use magic that can't be used on the Prime.
    • BD&D Immortals set. Some planes (such as triplanes - no, not the airplane) lack the extra dimensions that are necessary for magic, thus preventing anyone - including visitors from other dimensions - from using magic while in them.
    • Module I12 Egg of the Phoenix. In one of the mini-adventures the PCs go back in time several hundred million years to the time of the dinosaurs. Magic was much more potent then, so spells have double normal effect.

    Video Games 
  • The opening for the Kanna class in MapleStory has her in Japan on our world at level 200 with all her abilities. At the end of the tutorial she's transported to Zipangu in Maple World and she has to relearn all her magic.
  • In Ultima VIII, Avatar is trapped in the world of Pagan, where magic is ruled by the Elemental Titans, servants of the Guardian. He then has to learn their magic from scratch and Beat Them at Their Own Game.

    Web Original 
  • Among the major activities of StarDestroyer.net is what they call a versus debate: theorizing what would result if two sides from different continuities fought it out. One of the rules is that each side's Applied Phlebotinum and super powers work just as well in the other side's setting as it does in their own. So, for example, a Star Wars Jedi can still access the Force in the Stargate Verse, and a Warhammer 40,000 psyker is not rendered powerless by landing in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms (although he might prefer the alternative). This also extends to theorizing that (from one thread) the Yuuzhan Vong would be just as resistant to the Warp as they are to the Force.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, He-Man travels to Orko's home world of Trolla. He-Man is surprised when he's immediately turned back into Adam and all of Orko's magic works perfectly. Adam realizes that magic on Trolla works the reverse as Eternia so he says his By the Power of Grayskull! backward in order to transform.


Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • March 1, 2013
    MokonaZero
    In Tsubasa traveling from each world causes the world's magical laws to change, to the point that certain worlds don't even have magic.
  • March 1, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • In Angel, when the gang goes to Pylea, Angel is surprised to find out he can be under the sun without bursting into flames. Less good is that putting on his vampiric "game-face" is replaced by a uncontrollable berserker monster, thus his combat potential is actually a bit lower than on Earth (unless he risks hurting innocents).
  • March 1, 2013
    Krendall
    Sorry, I should have added examples. Also, maybe Dimensional Laws of Magic would be a better title?

    • The opening for the Kanna class in Maple Story has her in Japan on our world at level 200 with all her abilities. At the end of the tutorial she's transported to Zipangu in Maple World and she has to relearn all her magic.
    • In an episode of He Man And The Masters Of The Universe He-Man travels to Orko's home world of Trolla. He's surprised when he's immediately turned back into Adam and all of Orko's magic works perfectly. Adam realizes that magic on Trolla works the reverse as Eternia so he says his By The Power Of Greyskull backwards in order to transform.
  • March 1, 2013
    Koveras
    Compare Unequal Rites?

  • March 1, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
  • March 1, 2013
    DracMonster
    Your Magics No Good Here

    EDIT: Crap, that probably fails the dialogue test. It'd be perfect otherwise.

    Wrong Context Magic would be a subverion of this.
  • March 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In JLA-Avengers the Speed Force doesn't exist on Marvel Universe's Earth so The Flash's Super Speed doesn't work.
  • March 2, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Different World Different Magic ?

    • In Fairy Tail, when the main characters get transported to Edolas, they find out that their normal magic doesn't work, there are limited magic energy resources, and people have to use magic tools.
  • March 2, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Advanced D&D. When creatures from the Prime Material Plane travel to other planes of existence they find that magic (spellcasting and items) don't work the same way they do on the Prime. Some spells/items have different effects, some don't work at all and some backfire. On rare occasions it's possible to use magic that can't be used on the Prime.
      • BD&D Immortals set. Some planes (such as triplanes - no, not the airplane) lack the extra dimensions that are necessary for magic, thus preventing anyone - including visitors from other dimensions - from using magic while in them.
      • Module I12 Egg of the Phoenix. In one of the mini-adventures the PCs go back in time several hundred million years to the time of the dinosaurs. Magic was much more potent then, so spells have double normal effect.
  • March 2, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    In The Magician's Nephew, a British mob is narrowly saved from Jadis' wrath by the fact that her magic doesn't work in London.
  • March 2, 2013
    SKJAM
    • When Green Lantern and Zatanna travel to the pocket dimension of Ys, they're initially handicapped by the fact that neither GL's power ring nor Zatanna's magic operates correctly under that dimension's rules.
  • March 2, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • The Sliders went to more than one universe where magic was possible, most using different rules than the others, if that counts.
  • March 2, 2013
    thewriter
    • On Charmed going to Limbo greatly increases one's magical ability. Phoebe's ability to levitate a few feet off the ground on Earth practically became full-on flight while in this plane between life and death.
  • March 3, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Green Lantern Rot Lop Fan comes from an area of the galaxy without light, so there is no concept of "green" or "lantern." He becomes F-Sharp Bell instead.
  • March 5, 2013
    TomWalpertac2
    El Hazard: Makoto finds that science doesn't work quite the same on El Hazard as it did on Earth.
  • March 5, 2013
    Arivne
    This can occur between places in the same world.

    Literature
    • Earthsea Trilogy novel A Wizard of Earthsea
      • When Sparrowhawk (Ged) travels to the island of Osskil in the far north, his magic fails because he isn't familiar with the differences in magic there.
      • The mage Vetch tells Sparrowhawk about the differences in magic between locations.
      Sparrowhawk: They say, "Rules change in the Reaches".
      Vetch: Aye, a true saying, I can tell you. There are good spells I learned on Roke that have no power here, or go all awry; and also there are spells worked here I never learned on Roke. Every land has its own powers, and the farther one goes from the Inner Lands, the less one can guess about those powers and their governance.
  • May 4, 2013
    FastEddie
    Unlaunched. Name was dialog-like and the description needs more flesh.
  • May 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Web Original:
    • Averted on Star Destroyer Dot Net. Rules for versus debates include that each side's phlebotinum works just as well in the other side's territory as it does in their own. For example, Jedi still have access to the Force in the Milky Way, and psykers can still do their thing if they wind up in the Forgotten Realms.
  • May 6, 2013
    dalek955
    • This is a major plot point in Kid Radd, due to the different mechanics in various games. In particular, while the bad guys are collecting RPG end bosses with huge attacks and health pools, the resistance is collecting odd guys like invincible NPCs who can attack, and in particular a kid whose Charged Attack is limited only by the hardware.
  • May 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Pasted the current trope page into the draft. Didn't want my cleanup to go to waste...
  • May 6, 2013
    DunDun
    Was this intended to be specific for when characters travel to a different dimension or planet? The description says that but the name opens itself to misuse for when there are Different Laws Of Magic between shows or adaptations, which is not this trope.

    Critical Superpower Failure, Superpower Import Ban, Magic With Borders, Magic Import Failure?
  • May 6, 2013
    Damr1990
  • May 7, 2013
    Melkior
    • In the ElfQuest backstory, when the elves first arrived on the Earth-like World Of Two Moons (later to be called Abode), they found that their "magic" (psychic) powers don't "flow" well on that world, leaving them almost helpless against the brutal, primitive humans on that world.
  • May 9, 2013
    SharleeD
    • Literature: In Secret of the Seven Realms, each of the worlds visited by the questing heroes has its own laws of magic.
  • June 15, 2013
    Shieldage
    Piers Anthony's Virtual Mode series has dimension travel replace the mage's normal versatile transfiguration magic with destructive fireballs.
  • June 15, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • GURPS Infinite Worlds has the player characters exploring a number of different universes, many of which have magic, and various different rules of how it works. As such a single party can include shamans, wizards, Lovecraftian cultists...
  • March 17, 2015
    DAN004
    Can this be expanded to "different laws of nature/physics"? (I'm in favor of doing it, so I'm grabbing this. Unless somebody objects.)
  • March 18, 2015
    DAN004
    Fast Eddie said he unlaunched this and yet the page still exists under the stock phrase name.

    What to do?
  • November 30, 2015
    DAN004
    Found Your Magics No Good Here.

    So... what to do?
  • December 3, 2015
    MysteriousZorua1994
    Video Games

    • Discussed in Kingdom Hearts II, where Sora, Donald, and Goofy ask if the laws of magic in Port Royal are different for them, since the Grim Reaper Heartless failed to curse them like it did with Jack Sparrow.
      • Also inverted in an earlier visit. Pete warns Barbossa that the trio have special powers that don't belong in this world, and no one knows what it will do to him, especially when the moon shows his true form.
  • December 3, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Danger Duck of the Loonatics Unleashed discovers that his superpowers work very differently in water, and is delighted by his boosted effectiveness. Lexi Bunny also discovers her psionic powers travels in waves, and can rebound back on her. She becomes gun-shy as a result while dealing with the aquatic villain Adolpho.
  • December 3, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    ^^^If you want to turn it into that "different worlds have different laws of physics, etc," that could differentiate it (assuming we don't have that). Your Magics No Good Here could be a subtrope in some instances.
  • December 3, 2015
    DAN004
    "different worlds have different laws of physics, etc,"

    I would agree, maybe.

    But the point is that YMNGH has a Stock Phrase title and was launched without 5 hats. It's still a work in progress.
  • December 3, 2015
    PaulA
    The book from SharleeD's example is Riddle of the Seven Realms, by Lyndon Hardy.

    I don't think randomsurfer's example about Rot Lop Fan really counts: Rot Lop Fan's ring works on exactly the same principles as every other Green Lantern's, he just uses a different metaphor to describe it.
  • December 3, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    ^^ Hasn't it been around a long time though? It's basically grandfathered in at this point. And how is it's title a stock phrase? I've never heard of any character in the history of the world saying this.
  • December 4, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Any title that sounds like a phrase someone can say (even if you won't think anyone would say that) is a stock phrase title. As No New Stock Phrases say, it's a no-no.
  • December 5, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    ^We can't do anything about it here regardless, that's Trope Repair's business.
  • December 5, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ well, I'm actually confused as to what we can actually do.
  • December 5, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^^^^^The ring works the same, but it isn't charged with a green lantern. It's charged with a bell that produces an F#. Additionally (according to DC Comics' wiki) all the constructs he makes with the ring are sound-based.
  • December 5, 2015
    Exxolon
    The magic in the Ultima Underworld series is Rune based rather than Reagent based like the main series.
  • December 5, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^^^No New Stock Phrases. Any stock-phrase named trope created before that edict is not covered. They may be renamed, maybe not. Nothing new can be created with a Stock Phrase (which includes "sounds like a line of dialog").

    Wait a minute...The ykttw archive linked to at Your Magics No Good Here is this very ykttw.
  • December 5, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ THAT'S my problem here.
  • July 25, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump, I'm still having problems
  • July 25, 2016
    Chabal2
    Avatar The Last Airbender: Benders don't keep their ability in the Spirit World unless they entered it through a portal.
  • July 25, 2016
    rmctagg09
    • In Soul Calibur, when Link visits Earth in Soul Calibur 2 in order to destroy Soul Edge, it's mentioned in the Great Fairy Sword's Museum description that its magical protective capabilities did not survive the trip from Hyrule fully intact, though the rest of his magical weaponry doesn't appear to have suffered any issues.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ljho3p98mdup2mg3s92jrjg8&trope=YourMagicsNoGoodHere