So, this would be my first short story, one that is set in a medieval world with sorcerers and magic and stuff. But the main problem comes when I decide to introduce a different character.

The main characters are two close friends, one of which is a powerful sorcerer. But the other character is one who uses energy based powers, the kind that are more sciency than magic. But scientific research back then wasn't that advanced, so half the story everyone is ambiguous on how his powers work.

Is there any way I could show the scientifically-inclined powers and differentiate his powers from the other magic users’ ? How can I show science and magic together? And I have made the systems for the two types, but how would they flow together?

His powers are more of the energy attacks/defences and his friend, who is trying to help him tame his powers has the usual elementary powers (but stronger)

  • Maybe they're both sciency powers, just the sorcerer is extra-complicated sciency powers, thus using Clarke's Third Law (Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic). Then you can...actually, I don't know where I was going with this. Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 11:47
  • This seems more like a question for world building. Can you give us an example of your science powers from other stories? If Harry Potter is a Sorcerer, is Avatar Aang a science-bender?
    – hszmv
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 13:16
  • So, for the Sorcerer, it's a lot like Avatar Korra. He's the kind of guy who is bustling with life. His magic comes from himself, like a core which provides him with fuel (magic). That magic is soft magic and can be molded to any shape, size, concentration or strength he wants. The other guy uses raw energy from his surroundings, so he isn't affected to that much of a level as the sorcerer would be from overuse. His is usually the energy attacks and manipulation-Ergokinesis. A lot like any other superhero one would find on the internet
    – Christiana
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 14:05
  • Science in a world of magic will incorporate magic, because science is about explaining the world as it truly is (not as people imagine). If you want one person to have a science-related magic set of abilities, then make the powers resemble the physics/chemistry/biology principles of science. But there can't really BE separation between magic and science in a world.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 14:19
  • Everyone is basically confused as to what exactly that person does. Science and Scientific powers are considered arcane, and people don't usually take interest in things like that except curious old wizards. And he's the only energy user/person gifted with Ergokinesis . People don't really have a problem with his powers. The story is focused on the journey of how they manage to take control of his powers. Anyways, thanks for the help : )
    – Christiana
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


Magic is Magic, and Magic is Feeling

Your Sorcerer, and other Magicky-Magic users, have powers that are inherently inconsistent. Whatever a piece of magic does at any given moment is different depending on the exact circumstances surrounding the user and their perception of the situation. The results are based on how they feel rather than any objective shared reality. Magicky-Magic users train their entire lives to gain mastery over their emotions and their perception of reality. Their study would be almost spiritual in nature, since they would essentially need to convince their inner consciousness that their upper consciousness should have control over their perception of reality.

Trained mages would be able to force themselves to feel whatever combination of ways to perform a particular specific spell, within some acceptable level of deviance. They have to immerse themselves in a feeling of true fiery rage in order to blast out a fireball, whereas an untrained mage might just light a match with a fake anger. This also explains where the "energy" comes from-- it temporarily saps the capacity for emotion and perception. A burnt-out mage would be "dead inside" and unaware, almost drunk, until they recharge.

In a way, this is still somewhat 'sciency', but it's under enough layers of emotion and feeling and abstractness that it doesn't feel like it at all.

Science is Science, and Science is Rules

On the other hand, our Sciencey-Magic friend has strict rules and specific physical actions required for certain spells. He has to follow exact formulae in order to make his 'magic' work. His magic is the equivalent of controlling a drone using lines of code. He has to provide the instructions ahead of time, and only then funnel power into his magic-machinery 'construction'.

Just like Science in real life, Sciencey-Magic progresses by experimentation to determine the rules he has to follow, documenting those rules, and iterating on those discoveries. The way he thinks about his magic, the way he uses it, would all be completely different from Magicky-Magic.

What's the Common Denominator?

The important part here, and the part that's most relevant to Writing, is that the way these are described, the words used, are completely different. The Sciencey-Magic uses words that are specific and measured, that describe strict rules. Magicky-Magic uses emotional words that evoke a flowery nature of perception-based reality.

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