Origins of Magic in a Fantasy Roleplaying World

In my recent article about fantasy magic I complained about the lack of any explanation for the phenomenon of magic in D&D. Now to be fair to Wizards of The Coast, the more recent editions of the game have a greater emphasis on the system itself and progressively less on ideas and content if you get my meaning. I personally dislike this approach but that’s for another day. One poster asked about my thoughts on the subject so here they are.

I like the idea of magic being an energy that binds the multiverse together. Everybody harnesses it (subconsiously) to a point in that they exist in the multiverse. Some individuals can attract, harness, manipulate and release it. This approach rationalises divine magic as that associated to any given god (and therefore bestowed to divine casters in a form that is codified to their deity). Wizards are individuals who have a bit more talent than the norm and can also harness it.

I like the idea that wizards harness “raw” magic that is “unrefined” by gods or other manipulators through their spells and rites. Spell preparation, is the process of drawing magic in the appropriate form to the caster to be unleashed later. Components, casting rites and a focus are the tools to shape and release the magic to the task intended (the spell outcome). I like this whole notion because it creates threads to play with. What happens if something (like a demon) interferes with preparation and “changes” the state of the magic? What happens to the magic if a spell is not cast correctly? As you can probably tell, I never understood why magic is safer in D&D than any other aspect of the game. Looks like I’ll be posting my thoughts on spell failure soon so watch this space.