Psychics Versus Mages

We’re getting closer and closer to Halloween, and I’m feeling more and more incentivized to talk about The Repossessed Ghost, because it starts off on a Halloween night, and I would love it if more people picked it up and read it.

As part of the effort to promote the book, let’s talk a little bit about Mel and Isabelle, the main character and a supporting character in The Repossessed Ghost. Specifically, let’s talk about psychics and mages.

In Mel’s world, but there are many different types of magic, and they all operate differently from each other. Does this mean I have several complicated magic systems laid out in excruciating detail? Have I gone full Sanderson in my world building. Does Mel have to eat some metal in order to look into the past?

Well… no. Not really.

I have an idea of how the different types of magic work, and the whole purpose of this post is to describe two of the systems in at least some detail. But these are more or less guidelines and not necessarily hard rules. Whenever these elements become load-bearing, as in, the plot depends on some piece of magic in the world, I provide the information and setup so that it is satisfying. However, I’m not wasting time writing up things like necromancy, because none of the characters within the pages of the current book use that particular magic. To spend a lot of time working out necromancy at this point would be a waste of my time and get in the way of the actual story I’m trying to tell, even though I know that necromancy exists in the world.

Two types of magic that do appear within The Repossessed Ghost are psychic abilities and witchcraft, for lack of a better term. Mel is a psychic, and Bella is a witch.

Psychics awaken into their abilities, and require no special training. They can practice and improve their use of their abilities, but a psychic does not need to study in order to attain their gifts. Imagine someone that is able to wiggle their ears or other weird tricks with their body. Psychics are like that. It’s a part of who they are. It may or may not run in families. A psychic may have a latent ability that manifests later in life, or they may begin using their gifts at a young age.

Witches and warlocks are also born with some innate talent, but they cannot access it until they have studied and practiced. In some cases, they’re ability can be improved through a significant sacrifice. Someone can have the magical ability bestowed upon them by certain powerful, extra-dimensional beings. Witches and warlocks typically require spell components in order to perform magic, though some possess magic items or talismans that allow them to perform some magic without preparation.

Are witches stronger than psychics? Not necessarily. It’s easier for a psychic to access their “mind’s eye.” It’s easier for witches to do things that affect the world. However, there are psychics that can move things with their mind or conjure fire out of the air, and given enough prep time, there is no psychic trick that a witch or a warlock can’t mimic or duplicate.

What have I based this on?

Well… I don’t know. It didn’t come from a video game or any one book I have read. The magic in Mel’s world isn’t particularly compatible with the magic from Jim Butcher’s world.

While considering the things that go bump in the night, I asked myself, “What seems true?” The first thing that came from that was the significance of reflections and mirrors. I knew early on that Mel would be able to see Kate in reflections, and that became a part of the world building. It’s relatively unique, and good flavor for Mel’s world.

And I just kept going from there, with one detail moving into the next. I knew Mel would be able to look into the past. I knew he’d be able to touch things and get visions. And I knew he’d be able to open his mind’s eye and attain supernatural sight, though most of these things weren’t available to him until the story progressed.

Now I’m thinking about what will go into the second book. How do I complicate things and still have it satisfying?

That’s the rundown of psychics versus mages. If you’ve read The Repossessed Ghost, let me know if this description matches what you picked up in the book.

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