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Background Magic Field

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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."

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 the 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 background magic field is dense, strange things happen, including spontaneous miracles, bizarre weather, and 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 weak or absent, magic might not even be possible. If a background magic field exists in a setting, you can be quite sure that at least one school of Functional Magic will involve the channelling of this magic into a more focused form. Often it's the sole source of magic in the setting.

Note that while many settings can be assumed to have this, examples should only be included where the Background Magic Field 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 geography and climate to enhancing or inhibiting Functional Magic by its very presence.

The Background Magic Field may be composed of, or easily turned into, Mana. Currents in the Background Magic Field may lead to Ley Lines. Said field will usually be detectable, resulting in Supernatural Sensitivity. See also Place of Power, Minovsky Physics.

The trope name is intended to echo real-world 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 Sentient Cosmic Force.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Clover, mana is a supernatural energy used to activate spells that exists not only inside people but also in the world. Environments with strong and wild concentrations of mana, such as Strong Magic Regions, make it harder for mages to properly use their magic. Some powerful mages can use Mana Zone to control the mana in the area around themselves, increasing their spells' power and range.
  • Spiritual Energy in Bleach, which manifests in the form of Reishi (lit. "Spiritual Particles") and can be used to fuel/enhance the inner-derived soul force known as Reiatsu. In Soul Society, where Reishi 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.
  • Played with in The Devil is a Part-Timer!. The fantastical world the protagonists were displaced from was this trope, so when they got shunted into Earth and couldn't feel any magic, they assumed Earth didn't have any. It does, but under very different rules; instead of being diffused throughout the world, it naturally coalesces in the hearts of people.
  • Magic in Fairy Tail relies on this. Face disrupts the particles in the atmosphere that make magic possible. This is a very bad thing, considering just how much the world of Fairy Tail relies on magic.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Amestrian alchemy draws the energy necessary to perform transmutations from the movement of the planet's tectonic plates. Xingese "alkahestry", on the other hand, draws its power from the "Dragon's Pulse", a living energy force that flows throughout the world from the mountaintops that breathes life into the planet the same way blood flows through one's body.
  • Nen in Hunter × Hunter works in a manner reminiscent of Bleach's reiatsu. It predates Bleach by years.
  • In The Mage Will Master Magic Efficiently in His Second Life, Mana serves as this. When it mixes with different things in nature, it can create monsters. Enough of it in one place will spawn a boss.
  • The magoi in Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, 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.
  • It's mentioned during Kanna's introduction in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid that Earth is lacking in ambient mana (unlike the other world). While Tohru and Lucoa are able to produce their own, the other dragons have to convert other forms of energy (like electricity from outlets or fire from gas stoves) in order to recharge themselves.note 
  • The "spirit corridor" in No Game No Life is the source of all magic. All living beings contain spirits in their body, and having these spirits controlled can have a strong effect on them. Additionally being exposed to high levels of spirits can be crippling or even fatal to races that are less magically inclined, like humans.
  • Psi in Psyren is yet another... with the future being more conducive to the brain wavelengths.
  • Fantasia in Radiant, a magic power present in the atmosphere and used by the Nemesis to attack. People who have survived the contact with a Nemesis become able to manipulate it with the proper equipment − handling Fantasia barehanded normally burns the skin… except for Seth, which is one reason he's hunted by the Inquisition.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Magicules are the fundamental particles that permeate the world that are both a major source of magic and the building blocks of magical life. Magical life flourishes in areas of high-magicule density, and in turn that life releases magicules with their presence. However, magicules are toxic in sufficient quantity to life not adapted to it (which is why humans unless they can use magic must live in low-magicule-dense areas or use special devices to lower ambient magicules), and high-enough levels can even harm low-level monsters. For example, the Sealed Cave was so saturated with Veldora's magicules that nothing short of an A-Rank monster could survive and thrive in there. As a consequence, what life that could survive there was magicule-rich down to the plant life (which serve as the major component to the most potent of Healing Potions) and even the inanimate objects there (much of the ore was the rare and highly-sought-after Magisteel ore). This presents something of a problem for the budding Monster Town of Tempest, as Rimuru realized that the sheer number of monsters (not even factoring in how crazy-powerful many of them are) were producing such a thick magicule concentration over the area that they were spontaneously generating high-level feral monsters in the Forest of Jura, not to mention it would be toxic for regular humans to come for trade or entertainment. The science team of Tempest had to engineer generators that would safely absorb the excess magicules in order to solve both problems.

    Card Games 
  • The page image comes from Magic: The Gathering, one of the most definitive examples. Mana is present in, and can be drawn from, the land by magic-users in order to cast spells. Enough mana can do basically anything, up to and including creating entire races.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw the degeneration of the Background Magic Field is what kicks off the plot.
  • In The Flash this is, at its core, what the Speed Force is. Its exact nature is unknownnote , but it's known to be energy from another dimensional plane that leaks into this dimension and, besides allowing speedsters to generate the infinite amount of energy needed to use their powers, also serves as a 'Valhalla' for them once they've ran past their limit. There's some level of sentience about it, and it's apparent that once they've 'joined' it, speedsters continue to live on inside it (how happy they are varies: for many it's a heaven, but recent years have treated it more like a prison). As it's more than just 'speed energy', it also means that one who understands it on a spiritual level (such as Wally West), has a greater range of abilities to use, including converting their natural protective aura into energy armour to create clothing.
  • Lanfeust has a variation: There is a worldwide magic field, but it can only be tapped into if within range of a sage of Eckmül, who function something like village priests as the range is of several miles. While everyone is born with a unique magical power that takes a while to emerge, the sages themselves exchange the power they were born with to become relays (and can reverse it with another ritual).

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has magic as the Fifth Fundamental Force of the universe, and, like the stories it draws from, large amounts of magic in certain areas can cause some very odd things to happen.
    • This oddness varies from 'fries electronics' to 'punches a hole in reality' - and more generally, in intensely magical areas, the laws of physics become less 'laws', more like 'guidelines'.
    • Some areas on planets are more magically potent than others, as they're where leylines well up or converge. Likewise, some planets are more magically potent than others, with all the Nine Realms being particularly potent, and Earth being one of the most potent in the entire universe. When the raw magical power of the Earth is forced out by an Arc Villain in the sequel ("cracking open the Earth to get to the gooey magical centre" as one character memorably puts it), the results include a worldwide Mass Super-Empowering Event for anyone with a speck of magical potential, downright bizarre reality warping at the epicenter and, as a mere side-effect, terraforming multiple planets, all while empowering two high-end Physical God level beings with the power of pantheons (as in, pantheons, plural).
  • Present in With Strings Attached 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 Sailor Moon Z; largely explored in the episode where Hotaru gets a little too close to Saturn for her own liking.
  • An important plot point in the Thor and Being Human crossover Housemates.
  • In the Undertale Fan Fic Visiontale, the background magic field emitted by the barrier trapping monsters underground powers their magitronic devices (magic is their electricity equivalent) and transforms DMT, present in humans, into determination.
  • In The Maretian, this is the main difference between the ponies' universe and ours: Their universe has magic pretty much everywhere, including the void of space, whereas ours only has magic around biological life.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Magic in The Acts of Caine series exists as "Flow," which magical adepts can channel for their own purposes.
  • Piers Anthony's works:
    • In Incarnations of Immortality, 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.
    • In the Apprentice Adept series, magic is a natural force generated by Protonite/Phazite, a substance formed in the vicinity of a certain kind of Negative Space Wedgie and found abundantly only on Proton/Phaze; the Functional Magic itself only works on the Phaze side and where the two worlds overlap. Because the series runs on Magic Versus Science, Protonite (the scientific equivalent) is a very potent source of fuel and energy, the rarity of which drives the central plot.
  • In Circle of Magic, while academic mages are able to produce their own spells, ambient mages are able to draw upon and manipulate the magic already inherent in the world. Different ambient mages are attuned to different parts- e.g. Green Mages draw power from plants, 'Stitch Witches' from thread-work and clothes, etc.
  • The different types of fae from the Coldfire Trilogy — earth, solar, tidal, and dark — are this, with an emphasis on volatile.
  • The Cosmere: Magic comes from a set of 16 beings/collections of energy called Shards. Different shards have different kinds of magic associated with them that are accessed in different ways, but any planet with one or more Shards in residence has a significant magic field.
    • The Jesker religion from Elantris believes in the existence of a pervasive energy field called the Dor which guides the universe. Turns out the Dor is actually the manifested power of the two resident Shards. the Elantrians draw on the Dor for their power (through Aons), and there are other ways to access the Dor, however, and at least a few are less than pleasant.
    • The Stormlight Archive has the titular Stormlight. Every few weeks a Highstorm (basically a hurricane) blows through, recharging any gems left exposed to it. It can then be used for light, Fabrials, and Surgebinding.
    • Warbreaker: Due to the background magic, everyone born on Nalathis has a single magic Breath. They can be given to others and collecting large amounts gives special magical enhancements like resistance to diseases or perfect pitch. It can also be used to animate objects through a process called Awakening.
  • Cradle Series: "Vital aura" is the natural energy of the world Cradle, and it gathers in all kinds of forms, such as fire aura, life aura, and even sword aura. Normally, aura is invisible and harmless, but sacred artists can cycle it into their bodies using special breathing exercises, eventually refining it into madra, which they use for all their techniques. Ruler-type techniques control the aura in the area for a certain purpose; Yerin's famous Endless Sword technique causes all sword aura in the area to go wild, basically attacking her opponents with the edges of their own weapons.
  • The Dark Sword Trilogy: While wizards of Thimhallen are quite capable of casting spells using their own life force, this is limited. In order to cast stronger spells they require the services of a catalyst who can draw upon the ambient life energy of Thimhallen itself.
  • Magic in the Discworld, including the unstable magic areas where crazy things happen. In fact, the Disc would fall apart without this trope. (In The Last Hero, it's stated that a temporary but total disruption of the world's magical field would result in The End of the World as We Know It in a very decisive manner within seconds.) Bonus points for actually being a very close analogy to radiation in some books. Possibly a case of Write What You Know, as Terry Pratchett used to work as a press officer for the nuclear power industry. The background magic field in the world and its universe in general is also used to explain a lot of their weird metaphysics.
    • 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 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. An early book established that the local speed of light is about the same as the speed of sound, and in fact red shift is noticeable at proportionally slow speeds.
    • Sourcerers, the result of a wizard having eight sons, are insanely radioactive in this way, and (unlike normal wizards) generate their own magic, adding the magic field just by existing. It's one of the only known ways the background radiation can actually increase.
    • In The Last Continent, the wizards end up in Fourecks while it's still being created, meaning the magic field is enormous, causing all sorts of aggressive spellcasting and imbalanced morphic fields. Ridcully, the Dean and Stibbons briefly end up as a baby, a teenager and a decrepit old man for a few seconds, and the mere memory of becoming the kind of person he has to deal with every day causes Stibbons (Stibbons) to roll up his sleeves for easier casting when he suggests they find the Creator, noted as equivalent to a sliding back the pump on a shotgun.
    • In some way, the existence of the background magic field maintains the Law Of Narrative Causality in the world, causing the whole universe to run in a different way from ours. In The Science of Discworld, the wizards of the Unseen University use the huge energies from splitting the thaum to conduct a previously hypothetical experiment of sucking all the background magic from an area. This results in their having a Bigger on the Inside pocket universe with no magic in their hands — and soon they're wondering how the hell it can have obviously nonsensical things like round planets and life springing out of nowhere without a Creator...
    • A higher magic field is also equated with thinner reality. The normal Discworld level of magic is high enough that tropes and memes from other realities can intrude into it, explaining some of its parody elements. And using a lot of magic goes even beyond that and risks the metaphysical equivalent of Dug Too Deep, enabling the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions outside reality to start pushing through.
    • Combining this with the GURPS game and magic system, the GURPS 3rd edition version of Discworld Roleplaying Game states that High Mana is the normal background magic level for the Discworld, as opposed to the typical fantasy world's standard of Normal Mana. Very High Mana is where the weird things happen. (The 4th ed version takes advantage of the more flexible thaumatology rules to create a magic system from scratch.)
  • In The Dresden Files, each person has their own personal pool of magic, however, excess power can be drawn from a Background Magic Field. 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), but allowing for delicate spellwork that would otherwise be disrupted by background energies. Magic energy will instantaneously flow back into the sealed area as soon as the circle is broken.
  • In Harry Potter, areas of intense magic such as Hogwarts cause electrical devices to stop working.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, magic acts much like running water — always around, but in unequal concentrations. Life Energy bleeds off of living things into the background magic field, then collects into Ley Lines, which meet at nodes. 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.

    A mage's ability to tap these sources of power depends on his training and his innate potential. Apprentice and Journeyman mages limit themselves to their personal power and what they can draw out of the background field, and your local village wizard or hedge-witch will specialize in making effective use of small amounts of power. Master- and Adept-class mages access the ley lines and nodes to produce more impressive effects.

    After the Mage Storms trilogy, as a result of efforts to avert a second Cataclysm, the magic field is reset — all of the ley lines and nodes are drained, and magic "rains" evenly over the world. The field is still there, but useless for accomplishing any powerful spells until the ley lines reestablish themselves.
    [Darian] had heard it spoken of as "fog" by Starfall — sure, there might be enough water in a barn-sized mass of fog, but it did you no good if you wanted a drink of water.
  • In the Hurog duology, there is background magic everywhere, but it is stronger in some places, and it feels different — Ward is able to tell when he's at home, because he's connected to the magic there. Castle Hurog was intentionally built in a location with strong background magic.
  • InCryptid: Spelunking Through Hell introduces the concept of the "pneuma", or the soul of a world, that keeps it alive and can be drawn on for magic power. The Crossroads are an example of a parasitic entity that usurped the Earth's true pneuma.
  • Journey to Chaos: The reason why Eric can perform magic on Tariatla and not on Threa, is because the former has one of these and the later does not. Not only does it provide the mana for spells but it also gives rise to monsters through mana mutation and enables non-human animals to be as intelligent as humans. Ceiha, an island nation, is the only place in the world that isn't covered by this field, and as such, magic is much more difficult there.
  • Both types of common magic in Labyrinths of Echo feed off a background magic field: the Plain Magic is powered by a field generated by the World's Heart — a sort of metaphysical axis that goes through the planet, with one end touching the eponymous city of Echo (and the other lost somewhere on the ocean floor). Just over a century before the novels take place, the power of this field had been nearly depleted, almost bringing about The End of the World as We Know It, and while the Heart has since begun to recover, a Ban on Magic is still enforced very strictly in Echo. Meanwhile, the True Magic uses the background power field of The Multiverse itself, which is infinitely more abundant than the power of a single world—but only a select few ever learn how to access it.
  • The Machineries of Empire: Through "calendrical mechanics", a regime of social norms, ritual observances, and technological amplifiers create a zone where "exotic technologies" and other physics-defying effects work. The Hexarchate Galactic Superpower depends on its High Calendar and takes great pains to fight heretics and invaders who could weaken the Calendar or even replace it in a region. In the climax of Raven Strategem, La Résistance succeeds in creating a replacement.
  • Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away was about what happens when a world of magic users hit Post-Peak Oil 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, "keep it together" fails and centrifugal force makes it fly apart.)
  • In Mind Games, something called "Mana" fills the entire Earth, although it has different levels in different places. Where Mana levels are higher, living things can absorb it faster, making them more powerful. Humans can use Mana to perform magic, as well as to enhance their bodies and minds.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's Night Watch (Series): 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 Big Bad 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. When he gives a lesson on the subject in School Supervision to newly-initiated Others, he explains that the Others will never go into space, at least until sufficiently large offworld colonies are established to allow them to do magic. This is a big letdown to the sizable number of Others who like science fiction.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Everywhere has ambient magic, which is concentracted by certain buildings specifically constructed to do this. It's stated that if magic isn't used enough in a given area, mages there will often find their spells going out of control, with dire results.
  • Old Kingdom: Seven ancient Physical Gods created the Charter, a field that filters the raw chaos of Free Magic into a (relatively) safe system of runes. Charter magic is usable by anyone who's baptized with a Charter Mark, so long as they're near the Old Kingdom. Far away, or in areas where the Charter Stones have been badly corrupted, it's unusable.
  • The Saga of Recluce has the 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 the Sparker book, there are two kinds of people: kasir and halani. Kasir (magicians) can influence the Background Magic Field through incantations and gestures. However, each spell has byproducts, which can be helpful, useless, or even harmful. Naturally, the kasir developed spells to neutralize the negative byproducts.
  • The Tradition in Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms 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 rurant in Tough Magic is mentioned as being a field of magic that a caster can draw upon.
  • 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 Wheel of Time 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. Magic itself, known as the One Power, is channeled from the True Source.
    • In the Age of Legends, there existed something called the "Standing Flows" which enabled a variety of enchanted objects, such as telephones and airplanes, to be usable by non-mages.

    Live-Action TV 
  • How the Spiritual Nexus works in Charmed: it provides the the upper hand to whichever faction controls it by enhancing their magic and helping their alignment spread (Good through good deeds, Evil through possession). Halliwell Manor is considered a Place of Power because it sits atop a Nexus, and several episodes revolve around Evil trying to claim the house and its power. One drawback is that the Nexus' inherent neutrality will influence whoever is born near it: both Phoebe and Wyatt were born in the Manor and are therefore more prone to taking trips across the Heel–Face Revolving Door.
    • In a broader sense, a Background Magic Field seems to exist everywhere in nature and even common objects; its power increases on certain occasions, such as the Equinoxes or All Hallow's Eve. When the Charmed Ones time travel to the past, which automatically strips them of their powers, at first they're unable to do any magic at all. By learning Ritual Magic from Eva, a Practitioner, and they're able to access natural magic and make up for their lack of active powers.
      Eva: "Remember, there is magic all around you, especially on this night."
  • Power Rangers: The Morphing Grid is the source of all Ranger powers in the setting regardless of if the Rangers are magical, technological, alien or human. The exact nature of the Morphing Grid hasn't truly been explored and at times it has been contradicted. The Morphing Grid was first mentioned in the fourth episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in some offhand Technobabble by the Blue Ranger Billy. Lord Zedd, the Big Bad of MMPR season 2, states that the Grid is maintained by a Balance Between Good and Evil. The Morphing Grid is also apparently multiversal as seen by how the RPM Rangers were able to access it despite not being in the main Power Rangers universe.

  • In The Adventure Zone: Balance, there are Bonds, the invisible force that connect all things in existence together, ranging from physical, to emotional. Bonds extend between planes of existence, and when a plane is severed from those Bonds, it begins to decay. Magic users that rely on a divine source, such as clerics, lose their power, and the world begins to fade to grayscale. If starved of Bonds for too long, the plane degenerates into ash.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Wholly averted in the Dark Sun 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 elemental forces. Wizards draw upon the energy of plants (and sometimes animals and people) in quantities relative to how powerful the spell is, with overuse of said magic being the reason the setting is largely a wasteland. Only psionics really come from an undefined source, although they are usually attributed to being an expression of the user's own personal energies.
  • 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, Rule Magic 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 does not work anymore.
  • In Eberron, the background magical field is extremely stable, especially as compared to worlds like Krynn and Toril. Magic is so reliably abundant that that it has actually been 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 city of Sharn stands within a permanent manifest zone that enhances anti-gravity magic and allows for otherwise impossible towers and floating structures.
  • Equinox: Mystic fields come in two types: natural ones, found on planets, that ebb and flow over time, and artificial ones formed by Shanrazi technology, which are used to provide spaceships and stations with fields that will keep magical equipment (and people) functioning. Babies conceived and gestated in a natural mystic field may have metagenes express themselves, being born as a human subspecies.
  • 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 Heroic Mortals) are capable of channeling it to full effect.
  • Forgotten Realms:
    • Magic 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 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.
    • The most powerful forms of magic can raise a mythal: an enchantment that permanently alters the rules of magic in a region. This can enhance or suppress specific forms of magic, grant passive magical abilities to people within, or allow people to cast spells they wouldn't ordinarily have.
  • In the Greyhawk campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons, 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.
  • GURPS has had this from the beginning, with a setting's (or potentially even individual location's) "mana level" directly impacting who can work magic there (if at all) and how difficult it is for them, from "no mana" areas where there is just plain no magic at all to "very high" mana levels where anyone including non-mages can cast any spells they know and mages recover expended energy just about instantly but every failure is treated as a critical one (and an actual critical failure rolled there bids to be truly spectacular). There are even advantages/disadvantages allowing a character to alter the mana level in their immediate area (and yes, they're expensive). The Celtic Myth source book also had rules for wonders generated by wild mana levels. Aspected magic and mana are also covered.
    • Ley Lines 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 particular religion or specific god.
  • In Mage: The Ascension 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Shadowrun, this is the Earth's aura, or rather the combined auras of all living things on the planet. Mages have a hard time in space.
    • Also in 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 Mana Warp.)
    • In contrast, Splicers is explicitly said to be in a mystic "dead zone". Magic spells cost twice the P.P.E. for half the effect.
  • Both Warhammer universes. The results of high background magic can cause anything, from random mutations and spontaneous deposits of Green Rocks, all the way to a downright Negative Space Wedgie.
    • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • This is actually a battle mechanic in Chrono Cross. 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 Summon Magic the field needs to be the specific entity's color.
  • Daemon X Machina has Femto particles, a form of energy that was discovered after a chunk of the moon broke off and hit the earth. Femto particles are not only toxic to life, but also causes artificially intelligent machines to rebel against mankind. On the other hand, Femto is also the key to the development of Arsenals, the only machines capable of combating the rogue AI. Many Arsenal abilities, such as energy-based weaponry and Super Mode powers, are powered by Femto particles, which can be collected from destroyed machines or in large concentrations on the battlefield. Unfortunately, very high levels of Femto can cause interference with radar and broadcasting systems.
  • Destiny: The series notably has two Background Magic Fields — the Light and the Darkness — upon which all beings can draw power for magic, which takes the form of (sometimes rather esoteric) Elemental Powers. The characters initially believe that these fields are good and evil respectively, but it's later revealed that this is not the case and the fields are neutral in natural, capable of being wielded safely or misused no matter which one you draw upon. Light embodies material and physical phenomena, Darkness embodies psychic and abstract concepts. The Myth Arc of the series was kicked off because the Witness, a being that wields Darkness magic exclusively, believes that the two fundamental forces are in conflict and that Darkness must prevail to end the universe's suffering… and is willing to destroy anything that contradicts this view.
  • Divinity: Original Sin has the Source, which is essentially the Life Energy from which all magic is derived. Anyone can use regular magic, but only a select few are capable of using Source itself which comes with its own slew of risks, making it a Dangerous Forbidden Technique.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, Magic on Mundus (known as Magicka) flows in from Aetherius, visible as nebulae in the night sky. It flows through the sun and stars, which are actually holes punctured in reality by escaping spirits (Magnus and the Magna-Ge) during the creation of the world. They fled in an attempt to maintain their divinity, rather than become bound to the mortal world like the Aedra and Ehlnofey.
  • The Mist in Final Fantasy XII provides the page quote. It's an unstable, intangible and (usually) invisible field, which impacts everything from geography to 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 Final Fantasy Tactics A2, 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, Final Fantasy IX'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. Its origin and its role in the creation of the Black Mages are also major plot points.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has aether, the lifeforce of the world of Hydaelyn itself. Magic is performed by drawing on aether, while primals are considered extremely dangerous due to the fact that they draw so much aether to maintain their physical forms, they can possibly drain the planet dry if left unchecked. Red Mages, taking the dangers that come from leaving the planet depleted of aether seriously, forego drawing ambient aether and instead use the aether in their own bodies to cast magic.
    • The Endwalker expansion added Dynamis, a second type of energy that reacts to emotion; it's very difficult to detect by magical means since it doesn't interact directly with aether, but apparently makes up most of the universe and outer space is full of the stuff. Basically, it's this trope combined with Our Dark Matter Is Mysterious.
  • Golden Sun:
    • The main conflict 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. The plot of the first two games are essentially a Secret Test of Character by the Wise One to determine whether or not people can handle Alchemy responsibly and by doing so it's subverting its own programmed directive to keep Alchemy sealed. While the 2nd game ends with Alchemy restored, the problems that crop up in Dark Dawn go a long way to explaining why the ancients felt Alchemy needed to be sealed in the first place.
    • As Mia notes after her battle with Saturos, she could cast Psynergy without ever depleting herself (that is, the Mercury Lighthouse gave her MP regeneration). Later Lighthouses also restore the MP of their elementally-attuned adepts.
  • Occasionally mentioned in Kingdom of Loathing.
  • Mana in the Nasuverse comes from both the world and from the human soul; the former is sometimes dubbed the "Outer Source", while the latter is dubbed the "Inner Source" or "Od". While a powerful magus can commence a spell relying on nothing on their Od, most spells are cast by starting it up from their innate energy and then sustaining it with the local mana. Because of this, magical territories often work by giving the magus control over the mana in the area, meaning that other magi who attempt to enter it will find it much more difficult to cast their spells because they only have access to their Od. The timeline of Fate/EXTRA takes place several decades after a certain incident that caused the verse's Background Magic Field to fade away, which ended magecraft as people knew it and forced the remaining magi to evolve (mainly by learning how to access the Moon Cell's cyberspace and then using magecraft from there).
  • Pokémon Sword and Shield has Galar particles, a form of energy from meteorites known as Wishing Stars that is harnessed by the people of the Galar region for electricity. Galar particles are also responsible for the Dynamax phenomenon, which allows Pokémon to grow to the size of a building and increase their strength severalfold.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet has this trope appear in the endgame: the crystals that grow in Area Zero the Great Crater of Paldea give off energy that allows Pokemon to Terastalize, similar to Galar particles in Galar. The energy they give off does not extend beyond Area Zero, however, so Pokémon that leave the Crater lose their Terastalized state. Tera Orbs were invented using these crystals to allow Terastalizing outside of Area Zero. Professor Sada/Turo also created a Time Machine powered by this energy to research Pokémon from the distant past/future.
  • Skylands, the main setting of Skylanders has magic flowing through everything. The fact that Earth has no magic is the reason why the Skylanders are turned into toys when banished there.
  • The Void, in the StarCraft franchise, a manifestation of space itself, which provides the Dark Templars with special psionic powers.
  • Aer in Tales of Vesperia 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 Tales of Symphonia. The source of it is a Mana Tree (or the seed of one), and it's concentrated around the homes of the 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 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...
  • Warcraft and World of Warcraft has six Background Magic Fields, each bordering on being a Sentient Cosmic Force, and each being an anathema to one of the others, which is anathema to it in turn. but this is where their similarities end. They are known as The 'Light', 'Life', 'Order', 'Death', 'Void'note , and 'Disorder'note . Originally only the Light and Shadow fields existed but through their interactions, the other four were created.
    • Each of these Background Magic Fields cannot directly influence the universe, and instead, their presence causes the existence of the 6 main schools of magic in the universe: Holynote , Nature, Arcane, Necromancy, Shadow, and Fel respectively. In places where one Background Magic Field is strong enough, its corresponding school of magic can coalesce into a sapient avatar made almost entirely of the corresponding magic school which is very much capable of interacting with the world: For The Light, you get the Naarunote , Order begets the Titansnote , Life begets Wild Godsnote , Disorder begets Demonsnote , Death begets The Undeadnote , and Shadow begets Old Godsnote .
      • Where these schools of magic interact, you get the 6 elements that make up all mortal life in the universe: Arcane and Life come together to make Water, Nature and Holy create Spirit, Holy and Fel creates Firenote , Fel and Necromantic brings air, Necromantic and Void creates decay, and Void and Arcane creates Earth.
      • Tapping into these schools of magic brings any more in tune with its underlying Background Magic Field and with the corresponding Avatars. This is not a good thing, no matter which school of magic it is:
      • Naaru are seriously Knight Templar about the whole 'smite everything not good' thing, and are fully willing to employ Brainwashing for the Greater Good.
      • The Wild Gods are supersized immortal animalsnote  who embody Nature Is Not Nice.
      • The Titans want their vision of Order to be followed and — spoiler warning: fleshy mortals susceptible to corruption are not part of it.
      • The Old Gods are C'thulu mythos expies, with all the insanity that entails.
      • The Undead are very susceptible to Compelling Voice mindcontrol, and as such serve the most powerful amongst themselves, and most of them are mindless — those that aren't see the whole 'living' thing as a curse they should rid everyone else of.
      • and the Demons are out to cause chaos, corrupt, and burn things.
      • The only school of magic that is 'safe' to wield is the elemental offspring born from the interactions of the main six schools, and even then, this magic is granted by sapient Elemental Embodiments that make up everything in creation barring the avatars of the main six: If you want to use their magic, ask them nicely; forcing them into your servitude is just asking for trouble.
    • One Warcraft III level has the mages of Dalaran come up with an anti-undead magic field that constantly damages undead units caught in it, which are cleared up by killing the Archmage channeling each field.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has ether, the substance of the Homs' being, which allows Shulk to have his vision through the Monado by predicting the exact area, amount, and concentration of ether in the universe.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 also has ether, although in this case they're specifically identified as particles, and subject to Minovsky Physics and normal physics as well, at least as far as thermodynamics is concerned. Humanity (a very broad term in the setting) can't access it on their own, and rely on a Blade to draw in ether particles and pass elemental energy along to them. Ether energy can also be harvested by machines and used to perform mechanical work, although this is a developing technology.

  • In Drowtales, Mana is a Functional Magic — like cloud of energy generated by the Life Energy 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 El Goonish Shive, 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. By design, it has been growing stronger in and around Moperville; many of the feats pulled off by the main characters would be impossible anywhere else.
  • In one filler arc of Elves With Mecha, one character complains that the Steampunk world he all-of-a-suddenly finds himself in has no Magical field Harmonics.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court has the Ether, which is the fabric of existence and the force behind magic. To beings that can perceive the Ether natural features such as forests, waterfalls and even stones appear vividly colored but artificial or worked materials like most clothing and all buildings appear completely grey and lifeless. The titular court performs experiments on the Ether, calling it Etheric Sciences, even though etheric phenomena consistently gives inconclusive results under observation. The only observable evidence is the intended consequences of using it such as a fire that gives heat and light but doesn't burn what the user doesn't want it to. The ether is also at least partially molded by the memories and beliefs of all human spirits that pass into the afterlife, which can allegedly deify certain idols of worship.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Lux is another natural field, explicitly compared to 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 (much later on) even 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 Tower of God, most of the Magic by Any Other Name is done by manipulating Shinsu. Shinsu fills the Tower and replaces air, but it doesn't behave exactly like matter; Shinsu would be created out of nowhere in a vacuum within the Tower (although it's still somehow possible to drain away all Shinsu from an area, which would kill living beings in it). Higher concentrations of Shinsu hurt those who don't have the natural ability to deal with it, and very high concentrations hinder the movements of anyone without exceptional resistance. It can also manifest as water, fire and lightning, apparently replacing the normal versions of those elements too.
  • The "Khert" in Unsounded controls its universe's version of the laws of physics, breaking down everything into "aspects" — color, sharpness, pressure, practically any adjective applies. "Wrights," i.e. wizards, perform magic by manipulating aspects. Poorly-handled magic can disrupt reality, causing bizarre things to happen spontaneously. It also comes with a version of The Lifestream; memories of the dead end up in a surreal parallel universe, and it's implied that new souls are also generated there.
  • Explained by Treneth in 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.

    Web Original 
  • In the Web Serial Engines of Creation, the Pactlands are engulfed in The Veil, an example of this trope.
  • All kinds of mystic forces in 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.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Dragon Prince, Primal Magic consists of six Primal Sources — Ocean, Sky, Stars, Earth, Moon, and Sun — each of which is an example of this trope. Each Primal Source is stronger or weaker depending on the presence of background "primal energy" (for instance, Moon magic is strongest in the presence of a full moon, Sky magic is strongest during a storm). Every single creature besides humans are born with a connection to one of these Primal Sources, which is what allows them to use magic.
  • In The Owl House, the Boiling Isles is a Giant Corpse World, with said corpse being that of an ancient, magical Titan. The environment itself is inherently magical as a result, allowing Token Human Luz (as well as Eda and Lilith after season one's finale) to cast spells despite lacking the natives' internal stores of magic. Because of this, their particular brand of magic ceases to function if attempted on Earth or the Void Between the Worlds due to being cut off from anything to fuel their spells, while witches can still use their magic even outside their realm. "Thanks to Them" shows that there is an exception to this, as Titan's Blood is so magically potent that a small vial of the stuff is enough to create a localized area where glyphs will function (with them becoming more powerful the closer you are).


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Magic as a force of nature

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