[[quoteright:350:[[TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/MtG-Mana-Seism_2340.jpg]]]]
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->''"While typically invisible to the naked eye, high densities of Mist will occasionally manifest in very visible phenomena. The highest concentrations of Mist can even do damage, leading to over-rapid changes in the environment, and violent behavior among animals and those more sensitive to the Mist's effects."''
-->-- ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII''

In some settings, magic is more of a raw natural phenomenon than something derived from designated gods or demons, acting as a kind of atmosphere enclosing a planet or permeating a universe. This background magic field, then, is magic in its rawest untapped form as a pervasive energy field that can and does affect the setting in much the same way that radiation or weather might affect our world. In areas where the [[PlaceOfPower background magic field is dense]], strange things happen, including spontaneous miracles and [[BodyHorror hideous mutation]]. However, it can also greatly (if unpredictably) increase the powers of mages who tap into it. Areas of calmer magic are much more predictable, and in areas where the field is [[AntiMagic weak or absent]], magic might not even be possible. If a background magic field exists in a setting, you can be quite sure at least one school of FunctionalMagic will involve the channelling of background magic into a more focused form. Often it's the sole source of magic in the setting.

Note that while many settings can be [[{{Fanon}} assumed to have this]], examples should only be included where the BackgroundMagicField is explicit, apparent, acknowledged, and has tangible impact on the world ''without'' anyone even having to do anything to disturb it. This may range from supernaturally altering the [[PatchworkMap geography and climate]] to enhancing or inhibiting FunctionalMagic by its very presence.

The BackgroundMagicField may be composed of, or easily turned into, {{Mana}}. Currents in the BackgroundMagicField may lead to {{Ley Line}}s. Said field will usually be detectable, resulting in SupernaturalSensitivity. See also PlaceOfPower, MinovskyPhysics.

The trope name is intended to echo real-world [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation background radiation]], which captures many of the trope's aspects in a less fantastical way.

If the Background Magic Field has a will of its own, then you are dealing with a SentientCosmicForce.
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!!Examples:

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* The magoi in ''Manga/MagiLabyrinthOfMagic'', which comes from the rukh. Magoi causes all of the world's natural occurrences like storms. Most magic users can only harness the magoi within their bodies, but magi can tap into the magoi and rukh outside of themselves.
* Reiatsu in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', although this is more of an inner-derived soul force. In Soul Society, where reiatsu is a lot more dense, the characters can use their powers a lot more effectively. And Hueco Mundo, the realm of Hollows, it's even denser.
* Nen in ''HunterXHunter'' works in a manner reminiscent of ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'''s reiatsu. It predates Bleach by years.
* Psi in ''{{Psyren}}'' is yet another... with the [[spoiler: future]] being more conducive to the brain wavelengths.
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* The page image comes from MagicTheGathering, one of the most definitive examples. Mana is present in, and can be drawn from, [[GameplayAndStoryIntegration the land]] by magic-users in order to cast spells. Enough mana can do basically anything, up to and including creating [[FemaleAngelMaleDemon entire races]].
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* Present in ''Fanfic/WithStringsAttached'' around the world of C'hou. With proper training, a resident can learn to manipulate the Field to perform magic. Also present but rare are those with a natural genetic gift to manipulate the Field without training.
* Also present in ''Fanfic/SailorMoonZ''; largely explored in the episode where Hotaru gets a little too close to Saturn for her own liking.
* An important plot point in the Film/{{Thor}} and BeingHuman crossover ''Fanfic/{{Housemates}}''.
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* The Force from ''Franchise/StarWars''. While the Force is probably the TropeCodifier for a pervasive magical field in Western minds, its fundamental influence is more strongly felt in the [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]].
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* Larry Niven's ''TheMagicGoesAway'' was about what happens when a world of magic users hit PostPeakOil by ''using up'' their Background Magic Field. One character invents a device that depletes an area of magic (and then signals the completion of its task by EXPLODING!) called the "Warlock's Wheel." (It's a flywheel with two spells on it; "spin faster and faster," and "keep it together." When the out-of-control "spin faster and faster" spell finishes eating up all the area's magic, "eep it together" fails and centrifugal force makes it fly apart.)
* Magic in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', including the unstable magic areas where crazy things happen. In fact, the Disc would fall apart without this trope. Bonus points for actually being a very close [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything analogy to radiation]] in some books. Possibly a case of WriteWhatYouKnow, as Creator/TerryPratchett used to work as a press officer for the nuclear power industry.
** ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' does a fair amount of this. The Unseen University Library is the greatest collection of magic tomes on the Disc, so efforts must be made to avoid the magic going critical. ''The Science Of Discworld'' mentions that the last place to try splitting the thaum (the [[MinovskyPhysics basic unit of magic]]) is now a very large crater, and anyone who explores it suffers weird consequences.
** The Discworld also has spent magic spells/tomes/wands leaking magic like spent reactor fuel, causing unpredictable mutations in the nearby flora and fauna.
** The magical field is so thick that it manages to noticeably slow down ''light itself'', causing it to behave much like a liquid, "flowing" around and over mountains and fields -- this explains why the Disc, a completely flat world, still experiences a gradual sunrise in the same way that Roundworld does.
** Sourcerors, the result of a wizard having eight sons, are ''insanely'' radioactive in this way, and add to the magic field just by existing. It's one of the only known ways the background radiation can actually increase.
* ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' has the True Source, a sort of pervasive invisible magic that is available ''almost'' everywhere, except in Ogier steddings and the city of Far Madding, which block access to it through natural phenomena and ancient relics respectively. [[FunctionalMagic Magic itself]], known as the One Power, is channeled from the True Source.
** In the [[CrystalSpiresAndTogas Age of Legends]], there existed something called the "Standing Flows" which enabled a variety of [[{{Magitek}} magic-powered technology]], such as telephones and airplanes, to be usable by non-mages.
* The ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' series. Not only do ley lines run everywhere, but in places where they get muddled, Bad Things tend to happen. Like people and animals mutating, sometimes even overnight. Naturally, the Kingdom of Valdemar backs onto a whole wood full of muddled ley lines and mutated creatures, one of the remnants of the catastrophic war that occurred over three thousand years ago.
* Magic in ''Literature/TheActsOfCaine'' series exists as "Flow," which magical adepts can channel for their own purposes.
* ''Literature/TheSagaOfRecluce'' has the [[OrderVersusChaos Order/Chaos Balance]], which can be manipulated by those sensitive to it, but exists in everything and alters the way that the laws of physics and thermodynamics affect ordinary matter, weather and climate, technology, living organisms, and geography in that universe.
* In PiersAnthony's ''IncarnationsOfImmortality'', Magic is the result of a "fifth fundamental force", expressed through particles called "magicons"-- the Magicon field of Earth has an effective radius not much larger than Earth itself, so magic cannot travel between planets.
** And in his ''Literature/ApprenticeAdept'' series, magic is a natural force generated by Protonite/Phazite, a substance formed in the vicinity of a certain kind of NegativeSpaceWedgie and found abundantly only on Proton/Phaze; the FunctionalMagic itself only works on the Phaze side and where the two worlds overlap. Because the series runs on MagicVersusScience, Protonite (the scientific equivalent) is a [[{{Unobtainium}} very potent source of fuel and energy]], the rarity of which drives the central plot.
* Magic energy in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' is drawn from a BackgroundMagicField. Magically-closed circles will "seal" the enclosed area off from the rest of the Field, limiting the magic that is available to magic-users trapped within (and keeping purely magical beings from crossing in or out). Magic energy will instantaneously flow back into the drained area as soon as the circle is broken.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotter'', areas of intense magic such as Hogwarts cause electrical devices to stop working.
* The Tradition in ''TalesOfTheFiveHundredKingdoms'' is an ambient magic native to the land and acts like the laws of nature. Specifically, it causes people's lives to follow the fairy tale they most resemble... without regard to how nice, happy, or even feasible those stories are.
* The different types of fae from the ''ColdfireTrilogy''--earth, solar, tidal, and dark--are this, with an emphasis on ''volatile''.
* The Jesker religion from ''{{Elantris}}'' believes in the existence of a pervasive energy field called the Dor which guides the universe. Turns out they're right, and [[PhysicalGod the Elantrians]] draw on the Dor for their power (through [[InstantRunes Aons]]). [[spoiler: There are other ways to access the Dor, however, and at least one is [[BlackMagic less than pleasant]]]].
* SergeyLukyanenko's ''[[Literature/NightWatch Last Watch]]'' reveals that the Power is more complicated than Anton thought. While he knew from the beginning that the Others get their Power from humans, he didn't realize that the level of Power in the world depended on the human/Other ratio. There's a physiological property that each person has, a "magical temperature" of sorts. Most people have a higher magical temperature than the ambient one. Thus, they produce magic and fill the world with it. A small percentage has a lower-than-ambient temperature. They absorb more magic than they produce. Thus, they can manipulate it. They become Others. The lower the temperature, the more powerful the Other. Zero-level Others don't produce any magic and can theoretically absorb any amount of ambient magic and make use of it. This realization allows Anton to defeat the book's BigBad [[spoiler:who teleports into orbit after making himself a zero-level Other and is unable to get any ambient magic before burning up on re-entry]].
* In Sean [=McMullen's=] ''Voyage of the Shadowmoon'', Verral is a moon in the van Allen belt of a gas giant. Some of the inhabitants of the moon can use magic, which is explicitly the high levels of radiation found there.
* The rurant in ''Literature/ToughMagic'' is mentioned as being a field of magic that a caster can draw upon.

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* In the ''{{Greyhawk}}'' campaign setting of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', magic is considered to operate this way. While there are gods of magic, they are more defined as deities with supreme knowledge and mastery of magic rather than being the source from which it emanates.
* Magic in ''ForgottenRealms'' is derived from the Weave (''or'' the Shadow Weave), which is mostly all-permeating. In wild magic zones it's "snarled" or mildly damaged , and places where it's severely damaged or suppressed are [[AntiMagic dead magic areas]] (both can be repaired, but it's hard). In last tens of centuries it's also rather broken as a whole.
** During the century-advance for the setting to reach 4e, one of the goddesses of magic died, and vast areas of the Realms lie now under a dense area of wild magic, called the Spellplague, that either makes you very, very sick, before mutating into a terrible monster, turns you into a terrible mutated-monster right away, or gives you cool ''spellscars'' that come with interesting powers. In 4e FR, players may optionally be allowed to start with one such scar, and there's a theme (an optional PC element equivalent to a low-level Prestige Class that you get on top of your other class for free, much like Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies in 4e are to Prestige Classes at higher levels) called the ''Spellscarred Harbinger'' that grants multiple spellscars over the course of the first ten levels of play.
* In ''{{Eberron}}'', the background magical field is extremely stable, especially as compared to worlds like Krynn and Toril. Magic is so reliably [[DungeonPunk abundant]] that that it has actually been [[{{Magitek}} commercialized]]. The nation of Cyre was destroyed mysteriously during ''The Last War,'' and where it once stood, a terrible mist of wild magic now stands, and no one goes in there now except for clans of Warforged, crazy villains, and crazy [=PCs=]. However, this had no effect on the stability of magic beyond Cyre's borders. There are also areas called "manifest zones" where the planet Eberron is magically linked to other planes of existence. In these locales physical laws may become a fusion of both worlds. For example, the [[SkyscraperCity city of Sharn]] stands within a permanent manifest zone that enhances anti-gravity magic and allows for otherwise impossible towers and floating structures.
* In ''{{Ravenloft}}'', the supernatural Mists form the boundaries of the Core, Clusters, and Islands of the world, and likewise manifest within these territories at the whim of the Dark Powers. New lands can congeal from the eerie Mists when a new domain is created, and domains whose darklords have been destroyed may disperse into Mist as if they had never existed.
* The ''{{Dragonlance}}'' setting, however, mostly subverts this. The availability of "primal magic" is directly connected to the amount of Chaos active in the world. The more Order the gods imposed on the world the less available this magic became, until Chaos reasserted itself. Otherwise, RuleMagic powered by energies furnished by the Gods of Magic, embodied in the planet Krynn's three moons, is the primary source of arcane power. While one could technically utilize this system of magic without swearing allegiance to one of the gods, if the gods are absent then this kind of magic [[TheMagicGoesAway does not work]] anymore.
* Wholly averted in the ''DarkSun'' campaign setting. The world of Athas has no ambient magical energy at all, which means that all magic has to come from a specific source. Divine spellcasters draw upon [[ElementalPowers elemental]] forces. Wizards draw upon the [[LifeEnergy energy]] of plants (and sometimes animals and people) in quantities relative to [[EquivalentExchange how powerful the spell is]], with overuse of said magic being the reason the setting is largely a wasteland. Only [[PsychicPowers psionics]] really come from an undefined source, although they are usually attributed to being an expression of the user's own [[LifeEnergy personal energies]].
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', this is the Earth's aura, or rather the combined auras of all living things on the planet. Mages [[YourHeadAsplode have a hard time in space]].
** Also in ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', areas of highly aspected magic to a particular (usually toxic) element are rated by their background count. The higher the background count, the tougher it is on the mage. (2 is discomforting, 3 is Nausea, 4 is utter revulsion, and 5 is called a [[OhCrap Mana Warp]].)
* ''{{GURPS}}'' has had local {{Mana}} levels since at least 3d edition, there are even advantages/disadvantages allowing a character to alter the mana level in their immediate area (Yes, they're expensive). The ''Celtic Mythos'' source book also had rules for wonders generated by wild mana levels. Aspected magic and mana are also covered.
** {{Ley Line}}s and Feng Shui are also mentioned in [=GURPS=] source books as being representable by local Mana levels.
** The 3rd edition Religion source book also has comparable variable levels of "sanctity" for a [[ReligionIsMagic particular religion or specific god]].
* Both ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' universes. The results of high background magic can cause anything, from random mutations and sponaenous deposits of GreenRocks, all the way to a downright NegativeSpaceWedgie.
** Warhammer's background magic behaves less as a fixed field and more a roiling, chaotic climatic system. The Winds of Magic blow into the Warhammer World from the collapsed warp gates at the north and south poles, and drain slowly back through the High Elves' magical vortex on the Isle of the Dead. Different types of magic manifest as different winds, which behave differently depending on their nature (the wind of Light Magic is diffuse and permeates solid objects, the wind of Jade Magic falls like rain and is absorbed by water and living things, the wind of Amethyst Magic pools in places of death and despair etc.). In the game itself the strength of the winds varies from turn to turn - the roll of 2D6 (or 4D6 in Storm of Magic games, set during great hurricanes of magical power) determines the amount of magical power available to cast spells with that turn, and also empowers or enervates magically attuned creatures like daemons and phoenices.
* ''{{Exalted}}'' has Essence, the energy that makes up and gives form to Creation. Every person has a little Essence in them, but the Exalted (and a few [[BadassNormal Heroic Mortals]]) are capable of channeling it to full effect.
* ''{{Rifts}}'' uses this idea as the foundation of the magic used in the setting, concentrated into "Ley Lines" that criss-cross the landscape like glowey highways. Magic is boosted near these lines and starts getting a bit wonky where they cross each other.
** In contrast, ''TabletopGame/{{Splicers}}'' is explicitly said to be in a mystic "dead zone". Magic spells cost twice the [[{{Mana}} P.P.E.]] for half the effect.
* In ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'' reality is composed of quintessence, the "thread" of the "fabric" of the tapestry of the world. Everything is suffused with quintessence to varying degrees, and can have different Resonance, or magical impressions based on how the world perceives that object or person. For added fun, mages can make use of the Sphere of Prime in order to manipulate quintessence and restructure the magical nature of people and objects around them, including shutting off the flow of quintessence to such things, effectively erasing them from existence.
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* The Mist in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' provides the page quote. It's an unstable, intangible and (usually) invisible field, which impacts everything from [[PatchworkMap geography]] to [[CoolAirship technology]].
** This is even carried over to game mechanics. The rate at which your party's MP regenerates depends strongly on the thickness of the Mist in the area.
** Mist also carries over to ''FinalFantasyTacticsA2'', which also takes place in Ivalice. It doesn't play as much of a story or gameplay role, though there are some battlefields where the "weather" is a thick Mist concentration, which lets Geomancers use their Mist Storm spell.
* To a lesser extent, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'''s Mist, too. It's less dramatic in its wildness, but still responsible for the shape of travel and civilisation on the Mist Continent, as well as its hordes of ravenous beasts.
* This is actually a battle mechanic in ''VideoGame/ChronoCross''. The magic field is always of a certain elemental type, and can be influenced through spellcasting. The (elemental) color of the magic field determines how powerful magic of that type is, and in order to use SummonMagic the field needs to be the specific entity's color.
* Arcane magic in ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}}'' setting is energy from the Twisting Nether that is channeled to the mortal world through leylines. Mages tap into this energy to cast spells. Warlocks draw their power directly from the Nether (and by making pacts with demons that live there). Shamans, Paladins and Priests rely on being granted power by deities or elemental spirits. Its somewhat unclear how Hunter magic works, and Hunters using mana could simply be a case of GameplayandStorySegregation. Death Knights use some sort of runic system that channels leyline energy through predesigned patterns to create effects, rather than using the Death Knight's personal will.
** Hunters using mana is entirely for game design convenience. Back in the alpha they operated off of focus, a resource more similar to energy and it has now been brought back for Cataclysm.
* Aer in ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'' is one of the main elements present in the atmosphere of their world. Anyone with the proper magical bracelet and a basic knowledge of how to do so can cast magic using aer.
* This is how {{Mana}} works in ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia''. The source of it is a [[WorldTree Mana Tree]] (or the seed of one), and it's concentrated around the [[PlaceOfPower homes of the]] [[PhysicalGod Summon Spirits]], although the cause and effect of this is not entirely clear. Either way, the strength of this Background Magic Field is a central point driving the plot of the game, since [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt everything will die if it fades completely]], and the Seed that provides mana to the two worlds at the start of the game only provides enough to supply one of them...
* ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' has Seithr, which is made of particles of the Black Beast. It is the power source for the Ars Magus, but causes harmful effects in high concentrations. Unfortunately, it has completely saturated the surface of the planet, meaning humanity is forced to live at high elevation.
** {{Magic}} (which was unconnected to seithr) already existed before the Black Beast, but only a handful of people could use it. Ars Magus was invented by a magic-user as an alternative system so that more people could fight the beast.
* ''Franchise/DragonAge'' combines this, SpiritWorld and DreamLand in the Fade, which is more like a paralel dimension. During sleep, human, elven, and kossith souls enter the fade, but mages have a permanent connection even when they are awake in the world of the living, which allows them to do magic. And also allows demons from the Fade to possess them through the same connection.
* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'', Magicka is energy that is bleeding off into the material plane from the plane of Aetherius where the gods reside, through the plane of Oblivion. The sun and stars are holes in Oblivion, leading to Aetherius.
* Occasionally mentioned in ''KingdomOfLoathing''.
* The main conflict of the ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' series revolves around whether or not such a magic field should be allowed to exist. Hundreds of years prior to the start of the series, the power of Alchemy was sealed away, because power-hungry people would tap into it and use it for war. With Alchemy gone, though, neither advanced civilizations nor the physical world itself could be sustained, which would have resulted in a very slow apocalypse.
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* In ''DrowTales'', {{Mana}} is a FunctionalMagic - like cloud of energy generated by the LifeForce of the Fey races (elves, fairies, drow, etc.) and is necessary to sustain their immortality. It fills the cities where they live, and it can even be seen by drow but is invisible to humans.
* In ''TalesOfTheQuestor'', [[{{Mana}} Lux]] is another natural field, explicitly compared to [[http://www.rhjunior.com/TotQ/npc0000.html#Comic=107 heat, light, electricity, sound waves, atomic forces, and gravity]], generated by living things. Most humans can't sense the field or how it is manipulated, but other species like the Rac Cona Daimh can sense and use it, and many fairly simple physical phenomena manipulate the field. In particular, Lux can be artificially produced with mechanical generators, allowing it to power everything from household appliances to quarrying equipment to ([[Webcomic/QuentynQuinnSpaceRanger much later on]]) even ''[[CoolStarship starships]]''.
** Also unlike most examples, even very strong lux fields are harmless to life. In fact, the most lux-rich areas tend to also be the ones with the most life around.
* In one filler arc of ElvesWithMecha, one character complains that the SteamPunk world he all-of-a-suddenly finds himself in has no Magical field Harmonics.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', there is an ambient magic field that can be utilized by magic users or magic-using tools in addition to or instead of their own internal magic reserves.
* Explained by Treneth in Webcomic/{{Visseria}}, magic in the setting occurs because some individuals can tap into surrounding spiritual flows, doing so by the writing of diagrams that shape the effects.
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* In the Web Serial ''Literature/EnginesOfCreation'', the Pactlands are engulfed in ''The Veil'', an example of this trope.
* All kinds of mystic forces in ''Literature/{{Phaeton}}'' are omnipresent, without them, birds couldn't fly, trees couldn't grow and people could call down bolts of lightning from the sky, granted that last one takes millions of times more energy than the other examples, most of the time.
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