WARNING!: What follows is sure to be boring rambling thoughts by a geek that has way to much spare time on his hands.
Ok So I have to say I’m kind of addicted to this game. I love the world and think it is well thought out, internally consistent, and very interesting. I’m going to make some general observations, theories, and queries based on what I’ve seen in my 4.5 playthroughs. To help give some context I’m going to be comparing and contrasting this with the two most similar franchises I know of, Harry Potter (Duh) and the Dresden files novels by Jim Butcher. All three are Fantasy creations set in a modern time period featuring a secret world of magic below the mundane layer. All three also feature human characters that have an inborn ability to perform magic that must then be honed through study. Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s begin shall we?
Let’s start with magical talents emerging and education after the fact. In all three setting magic is something that comes into play a significant period of time after birth, luckily for the parents that don’t have to deal with exploding rattles, though the time frames seem to be different for each. Harry Potter seems to have magic emerging earliest, with schooling starting at 11 and Neville Longbottom’s family growing concerned when he hadn’t shown magic by six. Dresden files seems to show it latest, Dresden was twelve and his assistant at least 14 when their first displays of untrained magic occurred. Magical Diary is in the middle and interestingly seems to have the only strict limit to it, Everyone that mentioned their first use of magic that I recall gave the age 13, and Ellen seemed convinced that her sister wasn’t a witch when her birthday rolled around and she hadn’t done magic yet.
Harry Potter wizards take an incredibly irresponsible route with their earliest education. Despite Rowling stating that the birth of all magical children in England is recorded with a magical quill those born outside of the magical world are told nothing about it till they get their letter. Wild displays are simply covered up, leaving the child freaked out and alienated until a random bureaucrat is assigned to help them buy school supplies their first year. Or if you’re lucky Hagrid. Dresden has no such formal system. At the best of times there are people who make a point to look for these people and find them teachers ASAP, there’s no centralized schooling in the setting, it’s still very Master/apprentice, worst of times the newly minted Wizard falls into using the wrong kind of magic, goes crazy, and the magic police execute them. Magical Diary, we don’t know how they find magical kids but they seem to have the best system for dealing with it, find the kid, explain the basics, and turn off the magic till they’re old enough to handle it then teach them.
Now for the actual schooling, No formal schooling in Dresden so I’ll leave that out. Ok, so both Harry Potter and Magical Diary segregate their student bodies by personality, a recipe for alienation, bullying, and clichés if I ever heard one. Harry Potter does this via magical mindreading headwear, we don’t know how Isis Academy does it but it’s apparently much looser as William was transferred and I heard that the PC can be as well. Possibly just a small questionnaire or something. Isis Academy education is much quicker, 4 years not 7 though we don’t know if there are higher education facilities in the setting. I would assume so though. Both seem to break their classes up similarly on the surface. I’d say the Isis is broader than Hogwarts and also better at teaching students how one applies to the other. Isis also seems to focus less on pure academics and more on Practical problem solving and giving students the tools to do so. I’m actually quite curious what the post school society of the culture looks like given this focus. It seems you’d have a lot of people that don’t know a terrible lot but can get things done very well.
Magical theory is next. Harry Potter really dropped the ball on this. Since the protagonist was a skate by on the skin of your teeth student we don’t actually know much. It all seems to be repetitive motions and syllables. Spells have to actively be developed. Magical Diary seems to have some of that but a lot also seems to rely on willpower, concentration, and creativity. Many times spells are cast without any motions needed (Donald dispelling you during the practice duel) or even the caster being known (empathy spell on Virgina for example). Using spells for other than their intended purpose seems plausible here. Dresden Magic is based on belief, basically if you think you can do it, have enough strength to do it, and a good enough mental or physical construct to form it, it happens. It’s the most freeform of the three and you can often see people making up spells on the fly. I think Magical Diary in the end gives a nice
Foci and rituals: I think Harry Potter is the biggest user of Foci, you don’t ever see a wizard above the age of 11 using magic without a wand outside of fan fiction and the choosing or breaking of a wand is generally a huge deal. On the flip side Rituals, while occasionally used, are rare, possibly just because Potter is to lazy or distractible to ever bother paying attention and learning them.
Dresden files, Foci are useful and take a great deal of time to make, and are also personal, you can’t just by one in a store. Ritual magic is common. Even “from the hip” magic is ritualized to a point.
Magical Diary seems to have a lot of rituals, though the PC is to much of a novice for us to know if more than a small handful are more than tradition or superstation. Foci seem to be completely optional. Most people don’t seem to have them and what you do get is store bought and probably mass produced.
Planes of existence: Harry Potter ignored this completely but it seems to be a big factor in the lore of both Magical Diary and Dresden. Magical creatures tend to come from the Otherwold or Nevernever respectively in both settings. In the case of Magical Diary at least on spell seems to hint at Otherworld being the source of all mana. Creatures from other planes are restricted to rules and weakened on Earth. Humans must be careful when traveling in different planes. Otherworld apparently has dungeons and treasure that wizards will go after, who put it there? Why? Don’t the creatures living there get annoyed? Who runs the Otherworld?
And that’s it for now. Sorry for my pointless rambling. Hope some of it was at least passingly interesting.
Female protagonist, in the hall for adventurous girls.
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