259 World Building Prompts for Creating Magic Systems

These world building prompts come from 3000 World Building Prompts, which you can get at Amazon. This section is focused on creating magic systems.

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The term “wizard” may be used in place of practitioner, even if you go with another name.

  1. What is the name of this magic or magic type?
  2. What nicknames does it have?
  3. What name (wizard, witch, etc.) are practitioners called? Is there more than one?
  4. What nicknames are they called?
  5. Is this a soft or hard magic system?
  6. Are you modifying a known type or inventing something new?
  7. Is there a symbol associated with it?
  8. Are there colors associated with it?
  9. What is this magic type famous for?
  10. What stories about it are not true?
  11. What impact does this magic have on society?
  12. Is magic used for art and what effect does it have?
  13. Is that effect just on the art or on the observer?
  14. How do non-magical artists feel about this?
  15. Is it so easy that they can be mass produced? Are there natural or legal limits on this?
  16. Does someone need a license to sell magic items?
  17. Do wizards stay out of politics?


  1. Is training needed to perform this magic at all?
  2. Is training needed to master it? Or is training optional?
  3. What aspects can only trained wizards [usually] do?
  4. What kind of training is available (apprenticeship, university)?
  5. What must happen before someone is accepted into training?
  6. Do people have to be formally accepted somewhere to be trained in it?
  7. What must someone do to pass training?
  8. How common is a fully trained practitioner?
  9. Does this vary by a criterion and what is it?
  10. How much does training cost and is it something other than money?
  11. Are there any training sites that are famous/infamous and for what?
  12. Are there sites where something important happened with magic? What happened? When? Who was involved?
  13. Are any races forbidden from being taught a type of magic? Why?
  14. What does such a race think of being forbidden? Are they okay with that?
  15. Have any of them become practitioners anyway, and how did they do so?
  16. What happens to those who are forbidden from doing it if they are caught?
  17. Is training done all at once like college and then it’s over?
  18. Is there continuing education?

The Practitioners

  1. What skills of the wizards are famous/infamous?
  2. What reputation do the wizards have?
  3. Are wizards shunned? Why?
  4. Are they welcomed as heroes? What have they done to warrant this?
  5. Are they envied or feared? Why?
  6. Are there special events surrounding the wizards? Positive or negative ones?
  7. Are the wizards reputed to have certain character traits? Are people wrong?
  8. What can the wizards do?
  9. What can’t they do?
  10. Does society except people who can do this or shun them?
  11. Must these people live in fear?
  12. Are there any famous practitioners in the past? The present?
  13. What is their story?
  14. How common/uncommon is the ability to do this magic?
  15. Is the ability more or less widespread today than in the past?
  16. What caused the change?
  17. Is that change speeding up?
  18. Has the golden age already passed or is it now?
  19. Who are the famous practitioners and what are they famous for?
  20. Are they still alive?
  21. Is anyone a cautionary tale and of what?
  22. Is anyone a hero? To whom?
  23. Is anyone badly misunderstood and what is the truth?
  24. Are these practitioners welcome in some societies but feared in others? What is a common reaction?
  25. Does society honor them and how?
  26. Are their customary ways they are treated?
  27. How does one greet them?
  28. Do they have a title?
  29. Do they have ranks?
  30. What must they do to advance through the ranks?
  31. Is there any official governing body that confers rank?
  32. Where is that body located?
  33. Who is in charge of it?
  34. Does it answer to anyone, such as the head of government in a sovereign power?
  35. What is each magic type’s relationship with each races/species?
  36. How does each race view practitioners of each magic type?
  37. How prevalent are practitioners in each race?
  38. How well does each military group get along with practitioners?
  39. Are practitioners members of any military and in what capacity?
  40. How many practitioners are in each military?
  41. Who is a famous living practitioner?
  42. Who is a dead but famous practitioner?
  43. What are they famous for?
  44. Where are they now and what are they doing?
  45. How did they die?
  46. Are there any symbols of acceptance, such as a tattoo?
  47. Are practitioners allowed to wield weapons and what kind?
  48. What restrictions exist on possessing or using weapons? Why?
  49. What sort of armor are practitioners allowed to wear and why?
  50. Are practitioners expected to wear any particular garb and what is it?
  51. What typically happens to wizards who are no longer at the height of their power?
  52. Are there safe havens for aging wizards?
  53. Does the ability to do magic change with age?
  54. Is it possible to be a professional wizard?
  55. What sorts of jobs do they have?
  56. Are they well-paying and respected?
  57. Are some of them considered crooked and untrustworthy?
  58. Are there any ranks for wizards to attain and what are they?
  59. What causes someone to rise to each rank?
  60. Does this rising happen by itself or must it be approved by someone? Who?
  61. What new abilities or spells are gained in each rank?
  62. Can people fall in rank? What is the consequence?
  63. Are there magical means of transportation? What form do they take?
  64. Do they all require a wizard to be present, or are some a device?
  65. What are the drawbacks of this form of transportation?


  1. Does black or white magic exist?
  2. Does alchemy exist?
  3. If so, are there multiple stages to it?
  4. What is each stage called? What is its symbol?
  5. What is distinctive about the alchemy of this setting?
  6. Does witchcraft exist?
  7. What is distinctive about the witchcraft of this setting?
  8. Does necromancy exist?
  9. What is distinctive about the necromancy of this setting?
  10. What prerequisites exist for becoming a necromancer?
  11. What specific skills do necromancer possess?
  12. What sacred talismans do witches or necromancers possess?
  13. Are their specific materials, such as blood or bones, that witches or necromancers need?
  14. Do shamans exist?
  15. What goals do shamans have?
  16. Can shamans heal the spirit, mind, body, or all?
  17. Does elemental magic exist, where a practitioner may only perform spells of certain elements?
  18. If so, can anyone do multiple elements and what are they called?
  19. How rare is such a person?
  20. Does clairvoyance exist?
  21. Can practitioners see the future (precognition)?
  22. Can practitioners see the past (retro cognition)?
  23. Can practitioners do remote viewing of the present?
  24. Can practitioners also hear (clairaudience)?
  25. Do empaths exist?
  26. Is mind control possible (without spells)?
  27. Can people gain foresight by touching objects (psychometry)?
  28. Does telekinesis exist?
  29. Does telepathy exist?
  30. How rare are each of these skills?

How it All Works

  1. Are there “schools” of magic and what are they?
  2. What defines and distinguishes each school?
  3. Are the gods the source of magic?
  4. Are elements the source?
  5. Is the universe the source?
  6. Is the solar system (sun, planets, comets) the source?
  7. Are other dimensions of planes the source?
  8. Can the source be exhausted?
  9. Does every species have the same source of magic?
  10. Did someone, like a god, make magic possible for the species/races?
  11. Was there an event that made magic available?
  12. When a spellcaster is summoning power, does the energy come from people?
  13. The environment?
  14. Themselves?
  15. The gods?
  16. What impact does performing magic have on the environment?
  17. On the caster?
  18. How long term are those effects?
  19. Are there “natural” laws that govern how magic works?
  20. Does the “school” of magic enforce laws or rules that are part of the magic system?
  21. Can those rules be bent?
  22. Broken?
  23. What happens with the magic when the laws are violated?
  24. What does that magic system cause to happen to the wizard?
  25. What does the wizarding world do to punish the wizard?
  26. What can magic not do?
  27. How do people get around the limits?
  28. Can two or more wizards combine their powers in a spell?
  29. Can people perform more than one type or school of magic?
  30. If not, why not?
  31. Is it rare or actually impossible?
  32. Are there a few people who’ve done it?
  33. Are their identities known?
  34. What is their reputation?
  35. What is the physical toll of performing magic?
  36. What is the mental toll of performing magic?
  37. What is the social toll of performing magic?
  38. Does training reduce these tolls?
  39. Are the results of magic predictable within defined parameters?
  40. Can completely unexpected results happen?
  41. What happens when a spell fails?
  42. Is gathered energy safely released?
  43. Are spells needed or can people do it by force of will, like a god?
  44. Are spells “typical” in needing words, gestures, and materials, depending on the spell?
  45. Are there places where magic does not work?
  46. Can such a place be created on purpose?
  47. Are these places random?
  48. Are they detectable before entering one?
  49. What happens when something magical, or a wizard, enters one?
  50. Do people with the talent feel different on entering a place where magic doesn’t work?
  51. Are there places where magic is augmented?
  52. What causes them?
  53. How common are they?
  54. Are they known? All of them?
  55. Are they guarded?
  56. Is there a monster living off the energy there?
  57. Is there a magic language and what is it called?
  58. How difficult is the language to master?
  59. What impression does the language give when spoken?
  60. Is there a governing body for any types of magic?
  61. If so, who is in charge of it?
  62. How long do rulers rule?
  63. What qualifies someone to rule?
  64. Are any races unable to perform a type of magic?
  65. Are any races very well suited to a type of magic?
  66. Must people be born with the talent?
  67. Can the talent be gained? How?
  68. Can the talent be lost? How?
  69. Can the talent be regained? How?
  70. Can magic be used as a weapon or defense?
  71. How much has magic replaced technology?
  72. Do magic items exist?
  73. How easy is it to create magic items?
  74. Is it possible to become addicted to using magic?
  75. How does one escape from this addiction? Is it even possible?
  76. What happens to those going through withdrawal?
  77. Do people use magic for fun?


The following prompts help with the invention of a spell.

  1. What is the name of the spell?
  2. What are its nicknames?
  3. What for type of school of magic is it?
  4. Can more than one school of magic do it? Which ones?
  5. What does the spell do?
  6. How does the spell achieve its effect?
  7. Under what circumstances can it be cast?
  8. Under what circumstances can it not be cast?
  9. What is the spell’s reputation?
  10. How hard is the spell to cast?
  11. What level or rank does the wizard need to be to succeed?
  12. How long does it take to cast?
  13. How long does the spell last?
  14. What happens if the caster doesn’t do it right?
  15. At what range is the spell effective?
  16. Does the spell’s effectiveness change based on a criterion like distance? How?
  17. If it affects an area, how big is that area?
  18. Is that area centered on the caster or at a point elsewhere?
  19. Can the caster choose where to center the spell?
  20. How many targets can the spell impact?
  21. How much damage/healing does the spell do?
  22. What words, if any, must be said to cast it?
  23. What purpose do the words serve?
  24. What materials, if any, must be used, how, and in what quantities?
  25. What purpose do the materials serve?
  26. How hard is it to gain each of the materials?
  27. Is it easy/hard to keep the materials available?
  28. What gestures, if any, must be made and for how long?
  29. What purpose do the gestures serve?
  30. Can the spell be cast without some requirements and how successful/dangerous is it likely to be?
  31. Is there a race or species that has difficulty or ease in casting it?
  32. Is there a race or species that is more impacted by it? Why?
  33. In what ways?
  34. What do they think of practitioners for casting it at them instead of something else?
  35. Are there any tactics that can mitigate the effectiveness of this spell?
  36. What is the cost of casting this spell? Fatigue?
  37. How does a caster feel after doing it?
  38. Do practitioners look forward to or dread casting this?
  39. Are casters or others afraid of this spell? Why?
  40. Are there stories about this being cast? What happened?
  41. Is the spell legendary or overlooked?
  42. Can the spell be used in ways it was not intended for and what are they?
  43. Can potions be made from this spell?
  44. Can the spell be put into magic items?
  45. Are there limits on that?
  46. Is the spell associated with a being like a deity?
  47. Is the spell a cantrip?
  48. In what ways does the spell become more potent when the caster is stronger?
  49. Is the spell associated with a time of day, month, or year so that it is stronger/weaker then?
  50. Is the spell associated with a season?
  51. Is the spell associated with an element?
  52. Which classes (wizard, bard, priest, etc.) can cast it?
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