Created By: Dentaku on July 24, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on October 15, 2017

Magical Side Effect

Performing magic has some unwanted or unnecessary extra consequences.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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.
Examples:

Anime and Manga

Literature
  • In Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou, Koyomi's attempts at performing spells always causes washtubs to appear out of nowhere, which is regarded as rather useless in the beginning.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • July 24, 2011
    Koveras
    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
    Dentaku
    This has nothing to do with magic interrupting electronics, unless it's an unwanted side effect.
  • July 24, 2011
    Koveras
    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
    Dentaku
    Then causing an EMP might be a sub-trope of this one. I didn't find the trope, by the way.
  • July 25, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    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
    Dentaku
    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
    Koveras
    Ah, right. I missed that launch, and since the original idea was more about tech-disrupting magic, I remembered it wrong...
  • July 27, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    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
    benjamminsam
    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
    Arivne
    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
    MiinU

    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!
  • October 13, 2017
    darkemyst
    Literature
    • When Numair transforms an enemy mage into a tree in Wolf Speaker it causes a tree somewhere to change into a terribly confused man.
  • October 13, 2017
    Koveras
    • This is a gamemplay mechanic in Monster Of The Week: whenever a Player Character uses magic but only rolls a partial success on the dice, they must pick one from a standardized list of unwanted side effects, which the Game Master then works into the narrative with appropriate detail.
  • October 13, 2017
    Chabal2
    • Arcanum Of Steamworks And Magicka Obscura: Magic and Science are at odds with each other, due to working in opposite directions (science is based on the laws of physics, magic breaks those laws). As a result, using magic around small/weak machines causes havoc with them (a train conductor has to interview every passenger while looking at his watch, if it starts behaving oddly, the mages ride in the caboose where they won't mess up the engine), but magic tends to fail in industrial environments.
    • Discworld: One of the reasons Commander Vimes refuses to use magic in his Watch (for interrogation or rehabilitative purposes) is that he knows magic always has a cost. The wizards of Unseen University are also aware of what happens when too much magic is used (it attracts the attention of the things living in the Dungeon Dimensions), and thus their job isn't so much teaching people to use magic as it is teaching people not to use the magic they know.
    • Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40 K: Magic comes from the Warp, an alternate dimension infested with daemons. Casters face a permanent battle in their minds to prevent the very real possibility of losing control and exploding into a portal vomiting forth horrible monsters.

  • October 13, 2017
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons. When wild magic is used (either spells cast by a Wild Mage or spells cast by anyone inside a Wild Magic Zone), the spell can have random effects.
  • October 13, 2017
    Arivne
    Some tropes that cover side effects of magic use on the user are Cast From Hit Points, Cast From Calories, Cast From Stamina, Cast From Lifespan, Cast From Sanity and Cast From Experience Points.
  • October 14, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In Ironclaw, when there's a necromancer on the field you do not want to roll three sixes at once. If you're lucky, you get scared by spooky noises, if you're not, somebody gets possessed by the restless dead.
  • October 14, 2017
    Malady
    Namespace fixes.
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