Created By: Dentaku on July 24, 2011 Last Edited By: Dentaku on August 5, 2011

Magical Side Effect

Performing magic has some unwanted or unnecessary extra consequences.

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In some fictional worlds, using magic doesn't only get a certain desired effect, but causes something else to happen as well. This could be something small, like snowflakes appearing every time a character shouts "Shazam!", to more serious issues, like the appearance of items that could be potentially life-threatening. Depending on the story, this might be a big problem for if the magic practitioner can't handle the side effects very well, or it might just be a cute little quirk, likely of a symbolical nature. In any case, the side effects do not have to have any influence on the magic spells themselves, or threaten the practitioner directly.

Compare Equivalent Exchange, where the use of magic does have a direct influence on the practitioner. See also Electromagnetic Ghosts, which deals with one specific side-effect.

Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • July 24, 2011
    I swear there was a YKTTW around here that described when magic as inherently disruptive to electronics ("Magic is EMP" or something), with plentiful examples.
  • July 24, 2011
    This has nothing to do with magic interrupting electronics, unless it's an unwanted side effect.
  • July 24, 2011
    Yes, it usually is. You cast a simple spell, all electronics around you go blank. Counts as an unwanted side effect in my book.
  • July 25, 2011
    Then causing an EMP might be a sub-trope of this one. I didn't find the trope, by the way.
  • July 25, 2011
    I think it wasn't about magic so much as it was about ghost or paranormal. It was like Electromagnetic Ghosts or something. Oh hey, it was launched.
  • July 25, 2011
    Oh yes, I see it now. Nice trope, but it doesn't have much to do with this one. I mean, sunflowers are not electromagnetic, nor are they ghosts.
  • July 25, 2011
    Ah, right. I missed that launch, and since the original idea was more about tech-disrupting magic, I remembered it wrong...
  • July 27, 2011
    compare Casting From Hitpoints

    Seems like a borderline example, becaue of your "not threatening the caster" clause, but every time Bastian makes a wish in The Neverending Story Part Two he loses a memory.

    Don't remember the name of the trope, but it's something like Castin grom Other People's Hitpoints or something about Cosmic Balance - anyway, it seems like a subtrope, or at least an overlap. I'm thinking of the main character in Carneval, who can heal people, but it drains the life from nearby organisms as a side effect.

    This happens to people in Discworld when they become the avatar of some God or other, but as a passive effect. So, grass growing where they walk, and suchlike.
  • July 27, 2011
    Although not a directly observable side-effect of magic in the game's battle mechanics, characters and guidebooks in Final Fantasy VIII warn you that junctioning Guardian Forces - the game's chief source of magic - causes memory loss.
  • August 4, 2011
    Tabletop RPG
    • Ars Magica. One possible magical disadvantage a magus can choose is "Flaw". It causes any magic you use to have an annoying side effect such noises, smells, flashes of light, disturbed animals, wind or a smelly slime.
  • August 5, 2011

    Video games

    • Viki, a bumbling mage, from Konami's Suikoden series, has the Blink Rune, which allows her to teleport your party to any location you've previously visited. However, there's a 1:10 chance she'll goof (noted by, "Oops" or "Huh?") and warp you to an unknown, random location instead.
      • Ironically, this is the only way to enter the locked room on the second floor of the Northwall Inn. But the odds of it happening are extremely remote, given the sheer number of random destinations, 1:64 to be exact, according to the official guide!