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Magic A Times Magic B

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Using one Functional Magic system to enhance another.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
intastiel on Aug 9th 2017 at 3:28:49 PM
Last Edited By:
intastiel on Oct 13th 2017 at 10:03:06 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Formerly "Syncretic Magic."

When Magic A Is Magic A, you might be able to overcome its normal limitations by combining it with Magic B. This might be managed by spellcasters from multiple magical disciplines working together, or by one multi-talented mage drawing on two (or more) disciplines at once. Taken to its extreme, they might even try to merge Magics A and B into a unified body of Fantastic Science.

How well this works depends on the setting's source of Functional Magic. If it's drawn from a Background Magic Field or the like through an inherent gift or set of rules, Magics A and B could be as relatable as branches of math or chemistry. On the other hand, if it's gifted by a deity, these mages could end up in hot water for tinkering — to say nothing of what could happen if they get the deity's competitors involved. Even without cosmic oversight, trying to rewrite the rules on the fly might invite a Magic Misfire like none other.

This is distinct from All Your Powers Combined, where the user's strength comes from the variety of powers at their disposal, although the two can overlap. Compare the Yin-Yang Bomb, which is powered by uniting two diametrically opposed forces; and Wrong Context Magic, where someone either simply ignores the limitations of Magic A or bypasses them by not using Magic A in the first place.

Contrast Mutually Exclusive Magic.

Rolling Updates. Indices: Magic and Powers


Examples:

Literature

  • In Dragaera:
    • The title of Wizard is granted to those who are skilled enough in multiple types of magic to synthesize them, producing results that no one magical discipline could accomplish.
    • Vlad Taltos dabbles in combining Eastern magic with Dragaeran sorcery and psionics. He once invokes a Sympathetic Magic principle of witchcraft to let a Psychic trace someone's mind through an object they used to own; later, he kludges all three disciplines together to eavesdrop on Telepathy, a feat previously thought to be impossible.
  • In Mistborn, Feruchemists can use metal as "batteries" to store up personal attributes, then draw on them later for an Equivalent Exchange power boost; while Allomancers can consume metal to gain supernatural abilities. A "Compounder" with both powers can consume their feruchemical metalminds and generate vastly more energy than they invested: Miles "Hundredlives" Dagouter compounds his reserves of health to gain a nigh-unbeatable Healing Factor, while the Lord Ruler compounds his youth to live for over 1000 years.
  • In the Old Kingdom series, the Abhorsen bloodline tempers the dangerous Free Magic of Necromancy with the runic magic of the Charter, allowing them to manipulate the forces of Death without suffering Free Magic's corrupting effects.

Tabletop Games

  • In Ars Magica:
    • The Order of Hermes' Functional Magic is the product of a massive scholarly effort by Bonisagus the Founder to incorporate every magical tradition he could find into one Fantastic Science. Centuries later, many of his followers dream of rediscovering some branch of magic that he'd missed and using it to expand Hermetic theory.
    • The Order of Odin worked its magic through highly specific but long-lasting magic runes, in contrast with the Order of Hermes' more versatile but shorter-lasting magic. By anchoring Hermetic spells with Odin's runes, a mage can enjoy the best of both worlds.
    • The House Merinita mystery cult can learn the lore of faerie magic, which enables them to rewrite the laws of Hermetic Magic with fae trickery and fairy-tale logic.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, several Prestige Classes let characters combine the powers of different magic systems:
    • Eldritch Theurges are warlocks who supplement their innate powers with arcane study. This lets them rewrite the normal range and targeting rules for acane spells or merge them with a warlock invocation.
    • The Ultimate Magus combines Vancian and non-Vancian traditions of arcane magic. Blending the two forms of magical energy makes all their spellcasting stronger and powers additional "metamagic" effects on their spells.
    • An Anima Mage combines arcane magic with the Powers via Possession of spirit binding, siphoning power off their bound vestige to enhance their spells in ways that they couldn't on their own.
    • Mind Mages combine psionics with arcane magic, which lets them blend arcane and psionic powers with hugely enhanced effect, ignore normal Spell Construction requirements, and draw on the two sources of power interchangeably.

Webcomics

  • In Autumn Bay, a unique information-gathering ritual is cobbled together by blending the magic of an innately gifted sorcerer, a classically trained bibliomancer, and a "moon-Wicca-Earth-mother" witch.
  • Casters in Erfworld can form a Mental Fusion called a Caster Link. While linking users of the same magical discipline lets them take that discipline's powers Up to Eleven, joining different disciplines lets them create entirely new effects, like synthesizing Necromancy and Dishing Out Dirt to reawaken an extinct volcano.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the magic that affects the Snarl and its extradimensional prison is a precise fusion of arcane and divine forces. The gates that connect its reality to the setting's were sealed by a druid and a wizard working in concert; the high priest of the Goblin god is working with a sorcerer on a ritual to relocate those gates with said god's guidance.
  • Mentioned in Our Little Adventure: one historic character trained in both psionics and wizardry, which helped him discover certain theories of magic but didn't have much practical use otherwise.
  • In Unsounded, the Fantastic Science of pymary works according to a precise Language of Magic, which lets wrights cast spells and imbue First Materials with complex enchantments; while the Two-Toe Lizard Folk have a secret "esoteric art" of their own. Combined, they can create a living, shapeshifting construct of First Silver, angry ghosts, and twisted flesh, that's sustained by the pain of the children whose bodies were assimilated into it.
  • In The Young Protectors, Spooky Jones tries unsuccessfully to combine Enochian and demonic magics to break a barrier set by a Time Abyss archmage. How either of those magic schools work is uncertain, since Spooky is quite cagey about the powers he gained in Hell and every mage besides the aforementioned two is completely bonkers.

Feedback: 5 replies

Aug 9th 2017 at 3:30:31 PM

Given that "syncretism" doesn't show up in some spell checkers, the name might be a bit too obscure to be useful — I'm open to suggestions.

Aug 9th 2017 at 3:46:52 PM

Maybe Magic A Times Magic B, to go with Magic A Is Magic A?

The Mistborn stuff, maybe expand and be explicit that the bypass is storing Allomantically derived attribute enhancements in Feruchemicals, so that the attributes stored in Feruchemicals aren't limited to being from the hard limit of 1 person's energy, or something.

Oct 12th 2017 at 7:49:19 PM

Thanks; I've renamed it as per your suggestion, cleaned up the wording a bit, and added some examples.

Oct 13th 2017 at 2:44:04 AM

Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers from A Song Of Ice And Fire was part-Valyrian, part-First Man, so he could use both the Valyrian magic of spells and fire and sacrifices and the magic of the First Men, of bond creatures, warging and greensight. This was most likely the reason why he was considered the most powerful sorcerer of his time: he could combine them.

Oct 13th 2017 at 10:05:58 AM

Sounds like the stalled Ability Mixing TLP. Also an advanced form of The Red Mage.

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