There are as many magical/tech systems in use in the world of science fiction/ fantasy as there are authors to write. I could write about the various sets and subsets, but I think I will leave that to another post. I feel like any list should be descriptive though and not prescriptive.
Each time I read a book that comes up with a new approach, such as Brent Weeks’ Black Prism, I am thrilled. For those of you not familiar with this series, it is a somewhat novel approach. They take light and break the visible spectrum into separate colors and each has unique characteristics.
The key though is this, the more light they bend the closer they get to going crazy. There is a finite limit on their abilities.
My initial forays into writing were often tied into free form role-playing where it often seemed like the only real limit was how creative you could be with whatever loose rules you start with.
There are limits. To help people relate to a story there has to be a barrier to what people can achieve. The limitation for many people is time, money, and abilities. The same should be true of a story.
I am sure there is someone out there thinking now that it shouldn’t apply to them because they have rewritten the universal laws for their story.
Great, more power to you, but without an underlying structure or overarching superstructure to guide you there is no sense of foundation or starting point for people to gain perspective. Meaning: have a history, religion, superstition, laws of physics, something to guide your story both in terms of science and magic.
After all; a sufficiently advanced technology might as well be magic to someone. Ever split an atom? Seems like magic to me.