Magic Resistance
rating: 0+x

Basic Information

Unsurprisingly, magic resistance is the phenomenon of resistance to magic. How this works, and to what degree, is an important part of any magic system and will require a thorough grounding in the laws of magic as they apply to that setting.

Key issues will be:

  • The distinction between direct and indirect magical effects. What works on what (or whom)?
    • Do souls make any difference to what works?
  • Is magic resistance inherent or is it something you train up?
    • Are some races or species more or less resistant?
    • Does magical training make you more or less vulnerable?
    • Is it belief based? That is, does believing in magic make you more or less vulnerable? (Very interesting in wainscot fantasy).
    • What about true faith or other religious factors?
    • Does being resistant impede your ability to work magic? If so, how and can you learn to work around it? Is learning magic at least in part the trick of learning to overcome your own inherent resistance?
      • Does being resistant keep you from using magic items?
  • How does consent apply to magic?
    • Does it matter at all?
    • Does being tricked into consenting (or having tacit consent deduced) have a bearing on things? (See humbug).
    • Can "consent" be forced or constructively obtained? ("kill me and suffer my curse!").
    • Can resistance be involuntary? (Hilarious when someone is bleeding out and healing spells just keep bouncing off).
  • Is resistance an active process that takes an act of will (which ties into the consent above)? Alternatively does it tie into some other statistic?
  • What does the resistance do? Bend the working back on the sender? Make it fizzle out? Reduce the effects? A system where spells are "all or nothing" will be different from one in which resistance simply makes the end result less effective and both will be unlike one where ineffective magic redounds on the sender.
  • Do some spells bypass resistance? Would a magically summoned anvil disappear upon touching someone? How about one hurled magically but otherwise perfectly ordinary? Does beneficial magic (such as healing or enhancement) bypass resistance? If someone resistant learns magic, does their resistance apply against their own spells? Can spells be specifically designed to affect the resistant in exchange for some drawback?
  • How does someone resistant appear to magical senses? The same as they otherwise would? As an obvious blind spot? As an invisible presence that affects visible things?
  • Environmental conditions are an edge case of this - spells that only work by night or cannot cross flowing water are favourites.
    • "Dead magic zones" and suchlike are out of scope … unless you're one of those people who carries a dead zone around with you.

A great many wards and amulets and similar things are also to be expected to assist in resisting magic - a magic system will need to account for this sort of thing.

Where (some) magic depends on working with spirits, the right kind of person may be able to resist magic by interfering with the working spirits, either by subverting them (as a shaman might) or by binding and/or consuming them (as a sorcerer might).


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • All of the above needs to be considered (but often isn't) when writing a magic system.
  • "certain RPGs" have, in the past, construed magic resistance as being a radius around the resistor in which magical effects were prone to cut out. This was occasionally applied to creatures which had their own inherent magical abilities … this was found to be too incoherent even for the RPG in question and was phased out in later editions.
    • This treatment could actually be congruent in context of something so powerful that it had absolute control over the fabric of reality in its personal space … but that sort of thing should be used sparingly, not applied in an incontinent and inconsistent manner to fairly minor league adversaries1.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License