Vampire Magic: Creating a System

October 9, 2022

My Vampire Magic Challenge  

"Noir or humorous, hard-boiled or cozy, mysteries are the descendants of morality plays, and in an increasingly ambiguous world, they provide the comfort of the absolutes of right or wrong..." - Gillian Roberts, You Can Write a Mystery  

While what Gillian Roberts says here about right and wrong is usually true of mystery and crime fiction, it often NOT true of the genre I write in (paranormal fantasy). This is at least partially because it can be hard to reconcile some of the elements of the paranormal fantasy genre with what what we know to be true about morality. Or at least for me it is.

But I am trying.

This week I'm struggling to create a vampire magic system that draws a line between good and evil - in a way that makes sense for my story.

In some ways creating my system is relatively easy.

I am definitely not starting from scratch. Like Bram Stoker's Dracula, for example, my vampires are sensitive to holy and blessed items. Unlike Stoker, my vampires are not the undead - or irredeemable. Instead they are creatures who fell, just like the rest of us, but harder. 

I still have a lot to work out. But I do know this. I want to divide good from evil, in my story, while still leaving room for hope.

Creating a Vampire Magic System

"As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop there." - Arthur Clarke

Like Clarke, Brandon Sanderson came up Three Laws. While Clarke's laws were about science fiction, however, Sanderson's are about fantasy.

They are:

  1. An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic. 
  2. The second law can be written very simply as: Limitations > Powers
  3. Expand what you already have before you add something new.

My magic system is very simple compared to the systems of most fantasy writers. It incorporates the rules I liked from Stoker and leaves out those that I don't.

Here's what I have so far:

  1. Vampires and to a lesser degree fae are not the undead or truly immortal. Instead they are ancient magical races with particular, fairly believable, abilities.
  2. All magical races possess a discernible energetic signature (name to be determined) that can be tracked by special fae trackers.
  3. Vampires hunger for and feed off human blood but since they are not the undead they also eat regular food and don't die if they can't get blood - though they are affected.

I have a long way to go with this.. Especially in terms of expanding what I have before I add new rules.  But I am going to keep at it.

Wish me luck.


You Can Write a Mystery (affiliate link) is available on Amazon in book ebook and print copy.

For more about Brandon Sanderson's Laws of Magic please visit his FAQ page here

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a book through one of my links, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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